This is my 13th year teaching in Saskatchewan after teaching 2 years in British Columbia post graduation in 2005 from the Univ. of Regina. I have had a website for most my classes since I started with my own classroom. Originally, it was hosted by the division, but I quickly learned that none of the material could transfer from school to school, so being transferred meant starting all over again. Furthermore, the division asked each teacher to post their syllabus and course outline on their teacher page, which swiftly turned into the three in the school of us who knew how to do this, doing it for every teacher in the school! Since then I have been quieter about my tech abilities and used a Weebly site, YouTube videos (snhojnalyd is my channel) for woodshop and math instruction, posted on Instagram for classes, used Flipboard for animations, Google Sketchup for drafting, made woodshop TikTok's (Wood Yoda is my handle, my son posted some hockey videos during Covid) and now consistently use all Google tools such as Classroom, Docs, Jamboard, Forms, Chat and Meet. Most recently, I have embraced Screen-Castify to add video and audio to basic introductions and instructions for task. I feel very capable in the online sphere. Ironically, I much prefer teaching construction or math face-to-face and just using online platforms to supplement learning and help students who are absent. I would however feel capable of teaching fully online or in a hyflex model. My mother was a software sales rep. for most of my youth so we got our first laptop in 1986 and I have been using them consistently since then. Computers are something I am capable of using, but not passionate about, as I mostly find myself helping others to figure out how to use them!
Many of the positives I have experienced from using online aspects in my teaching include staying connected to students who need to be away from the classroom, which over the years has included cancer treatments, high level athletes travelling, mental health issues and care-giving responsibilities of youth. In my woodshop, creating Youtube videos to show tool usage and steps for projects has helped create 'multiple me's' in the shop. I can be helping a student with a mistake, while another student watches a demonstration they missed yesterday and yet another student learns how to make a knob on the lathe. I makes the knowledge more available and ultimately, the shop safer. Lastly, it keeps me engaged in teaching and modern education to challenge myself with new programs and technologies and using them to relate to and with the students (ie. TikTok, which I would have never used otherwise but was trying to engage a few key students). That said, sometimes keeping up with the change and constantly helping others is time consuming and frustrating.
The challenges I have faced include students staying disconnected and struggling to go from screen to life in terms of performing skills. Many students still have the idea that if I am not at school, I just don't participate. I strongly feel, that if I am going out of my way to put in the effort to have access to all class information online than students need to be responsible to use this service. Even in the hybrid model where students are specifically supposed to work at home on their home day, many do very little work and some none at all (even after asking about hurdles or home situation). But when they come to school, regular high functioning student! I also find that youth are used to watching endless YouTube videos but never actually perform the tasks on the screen. I need them to watch very carefully and learn exactly what is happening and all the instructions and then have them perform the task in math or in the woodshop, this takes some practice and updating of pre-conceived habits for many learners.
As far as Hyflex learning goes, from my research, this is teaching using face to face, synchronous online, and asynchronous online methods, but differs in that the students choose when and which method to use as they see fit. They could change consistently or stick to one method to complete the learning and requirements of a course (ie. all face to face, face to face one day then watch the lesson online the next, or complete a whole course on your own timeline). This seems like truly modern education, removing any and all barriers to success in school outside of socioeconomic factors and personal motivation. I was very intrigued with the possibilities of this type of learning and it is exactly what I envision for teaching in today's world. I would like to learn much more and start to implement many of these ideas, but see hindrances in access to technological equipment, enough broadband and teacher expertise.
As I stated in my Flipgrid introductory video, that I see online and hybrid learning as being able to confront many issues in education around mental health, anxiety, and split familiy situations. Kids should be able to participate in school very meaningfully even if they cannot be present in classes consistently. I would hope they would not choose to stay at home more than necessary for socialization and many other benefits of school culture, but if they do, they should be able to stay connected and even complete outcomes and earn credits. But if we consider online attendance equal to physical attendance then it does not really matter where they participate from. This is especially true during our pandemic and this crisis has hopefully created positive change that will benefit education moving forward. The Hyflex model is a good base to start the foundation of this change.