Using Student Technology
How does one create a ‘hands-on’ science experience for students who aren’t physically meeting their teacher? Andrea Belczewski, Senior Teaching Associate at the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre in Fredericton, worked with CETL to give the students in her Science Education class just that.
Belczewski taught First Nations students living in various locations around New Brunswick and the Gaspé Peninsula. She met with them online once weekly for three hours. Additional material was shared over D2L Brightspace, and she also used interactive whiteboard apps like Doceri to exchange with her students. She says that teaching an online course was appealing to her because her students wouldn’t have to leave their communities.
“I still wanted the feel of face-to-face interactions, but in an online setting. I wanted students to be able to make a mess in their kitchen, and know that other people were making a mess in their own kitchens, and then be able to share that experience together.”
It was important to Belczewski that her students become familiar with using their technology. Whatever devices they had were incorporated into lessons; students took pictures and made videos to be inserted into a whiteboard app. Belczewski admits that the process was not only a bit daunting for her, but her students as well. “I really pushed them to use technology in ways they didn’t know about.”
Belczewski has received positive feedback from students who have taken the course. One student appreciated the instantaneous nature of feedback: “I liked that we could do experiments online as a class and be able to express our feedback and ask questions right on the spot.” Another liked the different ways they were able to participate: “I was really pleased with the activities we had to do during class time. I was able to be engaged and make a greater connection with the material being covered, which I feel is huge for an online course.”
Says Belczewski, “The thing I’ve appreciated so much about CETL is that I can just fire off a message to Emily, Brock or Kevin and say, ‘how do I do this?’ They always answer me directly- the personal support has just been terrific.”