Personal Learning Challenge (Post #5)

Over the last 6 weeks I have had a tangible improvement in my skill with this bike. While it will be a while before I am zipping around with no hands I am able to safely maneuver around town with minimally fatal tendencies. This course has given me a chance to start fresh at a new skill. With this learning opportunity mindful learning has been a big for me, whether that be through actively concentrating on my form, or integrating new aspects of this class into my program.

We have seen that understanding not only what we will learn, but also how we will learn is necessary for effective learning and is pivotal to success and retention. Right from week one extra effort has been taken to engage with the course material. This has aided in the consolidation and encoding of the class content, encouraging the highest level of storage and retrieval. On that note, I have and will be doing the bulk of this post purely from memory to test my recall:

If you want a breakdown of my learning challenge take a look at Step 3 & 4 of this outline: https://theyearntolearn.home.blog/2019/05/19/personal-learning-challenge-post1/

Several methods have been implemented during the course of this project with varying levels of success. In the spirit of behavourism I gave myself positive reinforcement when I adhered to my project plan (I am now 146 dollars richer). With the money I put aside as a reward I have used to purchase a fitbit so that I can track my biking with far less effort. This is because I intend to continue this project beyond the scope of this class. While I initially kept my travel diary on a trip-by-trip basis, after a few weeks it was relegated to bare-bones status; I was still tracking distance and time, but the feelings were less important as it was not particularly useful anymore. This may actually have been a natural part of the experience, as one of my goals was to adjust my lifestyle. At a certain point the biking became so mundane and natural that it no longer required significant thought. I was still careful to note when I felt inefficient, but they more specific questions that could be found quickly without needing long explanations. Sore neck? Stop hunching? Painful hand? You are squeezing too hard. Foot hurting? Don’t use feet as breaks…

As we progressed through the course we learned about different styles of teaching and mentorship. This was very important in my improvement as there were very knowledgeable people around me who were veritable fountains of information. With some one-on-one help with bike maintenance I was zipping around lickity-split.

To see some of the problems with my bike and how my brother helped me fix them take a look at: https://theyearntolearn.home.blog/2019/05/26/personal-learning-challenge-post-2/

The uses of learning communities cannot be underestimated, as they are an effective way to voice questions and concerns as well as receive feedback and support. These communities, which can be online or face-to-face, have played a huge role in the development of my biking. The amount of expertise that goes untapped is frankly quite sad, as people are reticent to engage with experts when they can get an amateur YouTube tutorial. During my third week of this project I engaged with the Uvic biking community to get some pointers on how to improve my biking. If you want to see the tracking of my trial data you can check it out here: https://theyearntolearn.home.blog/2019/06/02/personal-learning-challenge-post-3/

While I have found that my psycomotor learning has been aided best through face-to-face interaction and repetition, this is due to my learning circumstance. I have ready access to my bicycle and I can easily meet up with anyone from the biking community at the drop of a hat. But if I were, for example, renting a bike or living in a remote area, either of these could be limiting factors. In the latter example an asynchronous method of teaching could be useful. If I was limited to only a few specific hours for my practice, following an online training guide might be the only way to go! In the former example going to a weekly webinar group class (yes, online spin classes are a thing!) could be the only interactive/real time exposure to an instructor.

In this class we were constantly given new aspects to mull over and possibly integrate into our projects. This has had some mixed results in my case. After making what I thought was a fairly straightforward plan initially, I found that there were entire aspects of digital learning that were missing from my plan. In some cases these were easy to add to the plan, as seen with the joining of biking chat rooms and forums. But other resources like open source learning platforms were not really compatible with the scope of my learning plan. For the most part I was able to retain the general structure of my challenge will adding when I felt there was merit. Honestly this is how I feel that teaching should be done. Not every aspect of learning can be crammed into every lesson, otherwise we end up with a counterproductive conglomeration of methods that more closely resembles Frankenstein’s monster than a lesson plan…

looks… neat

Of the many neat projects that have spawned due to this class I have been regularly following those of Chloe, Chelsea and Alex’s. While for the most part my improvement has been straightforward, their projects have been more nuanced than “can you make wheels spin good” My favourite posts have involved the obstacles that they found and worked to overcome. I hope that Alex continues with some updates so that one day we can see a video of him performing his coin tricks. Generally when I am feeling lot for direction in these posts, I like to read their thoughts on the previous week and usually it inspires some idea for my own posts. Sometimes I just look at Chloe’s site because it’s pretty. LIKE WOW. Check out their sites here:

https://chloesplace.home.blog/
https://alexdeweert.home.blog/
https://onlineacademiccommunity.uvic.ca/chelseacrawfordedci335/

At the conclusion of this project I intent to continue biking. If I am still enamoured by the end of the summer I will look at investing more that 40 dollars into a more trustworthy bike. I would like to thank the members of Spokes in particular as they have been pivotal through their contributions of both materials and expertise. Definitely check out their website if this piques your interest:

https://www.uvic.ca/sustainability/involved/spokes/

Thanks to every who made this project a blast to complete.

Thom Campbell, signing off…

References

Bates, A. (2011) Marshall McLuhan and his relevance to teaching with technology, Online learning and distance education resources

https://www.uvic.ca/sustainability/involved/spokes/

Krathwohl, D.R. (2002) A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview. In Theory into Practice, Vol. 41, No. 4  College of Education, The Ohio State University. Retrieved from http://www.unco.edu/cetl/sir/stating_outcome/documents/Krathwohl.pdf

6.1 Choosing technologies for teaching and learning: the challenge

Response to Crypto-currency Resource

The topic of cryptocurrencies can be a difficult topic to address and explain adequately so I think this is a more than worthy topic to choose. From what was posted, it seems like the resource is composed of a PowerPoint presentation and a quiz. The PowerPoint presentation had very nice visuals as well as voiced portions, which I thought was a nice touch, as it is easy to start skimming regular PowerPoints. I think the presentation would be improved by including the learning outcomes, or at least the intended topics in an early slide, like a table of contents. The second portion of the resource was a quiz. It involved both written answer and multiple choice questions. The answers to some were humorous. Some of the questions were purely for feedback which is nice in an online resource that can be easily changed based on what is received. There were videos in line with some of the questions, so there was an element of “watch then answer.” While the presentation explained some of the strengths and weaknesses of cryptocurrency it could benefit from explaining what the heck it actually is. A huge pitfall in crypto currency is its nebulous description. An overview of what it is and how it works would both beef up the amount of content in the presentation (9 info slides) and give the learner a base of knowledge to work with. Don’t forget to add some references (which my group also forgot to add #solidarity). Overall I feel like your great eye for presentation graphics will make this a captivating presentation, there just needs some addition to get all the way there!

Resource Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uRnjZaGmYt59vubpeLj6y520pBbirctw/view

Quiz Link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfDFa03wLe4GCFsJhZCC8iOZEl7TUaMW6GszpqcUwGe2CP0ow/viewform

Personal Learning Challenge (Post #4)

Hey! Here is a fun chance for me to update my thoughts on this weeks readings. Originally my post was focused on how we use technology in innovative ways, allowing us to reduce our focus from “maintenance chores.” This saved time and effort can be offset by the amount of time spent by an individual (or institution) on initially implementing them. This is something that I have found in another aspect of my life: martial arts. Bear with me.

In my experience finding the perfect block or strike is less important than working hard to make the one you have polished. This means that while it would be fantastic to know the “best” or most blockiest block, a movement that is practiced endlessly is far more effective than a good block that isn’t given the same amount of practice. In the same way, a good system does not always need innovation for the sake of change. AND NOW I SOUND LIKE DOLORES UMBRIDGE

Dolores Umbridge - Change for change's sake Must be discouraged

This does not mean that innovation should be stopped, it just means that due time should be given to each modality before it is thrown out the window. Especially when these new systems do not look at the old ones to parse out what is working and apply that to the new generation. This is the equivalent of the adage “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” The difficulty in this is that stagnation is tricky to escape. This leads to arrested development followed by catastrophic overhauls. The ideal condition would be gradual systemic change, which sound a bit oxymoronic.

Generally I agree with Colin’s assertion that technology is neutral. It is usually the application of the technology that is questionable. The rush to integrate new ideas is exciting and often try to mass produce before the infrastructure is ready. This is especially dangerous with volatile or potentially dangerous technologies.The problems that are caused by new technologies are probably most apparent in the psychological example of the hype cycle:

How human is that? Inflated expectations and disillusionment. This is like the description of a bad date. In the case of the Turnitin resource, we see that while the intended use is to increase writing quality, the technology is being used in a way that exceeds its capabilities” to detect plagiarism.

Now educational technology seems pretty low calibre when compared to nuclear devices and datamining but it can have lasting effects on how people learn throughout their lives. While having a fluid system that allows for flexibility in regards to the learner, a system that tries to reinvent itself every few years is bound to cause problems.

JUST A THOUGHT: Maybe technology is evil, as it is actively throwing digital sticks in my spokes. IE this post.

But honestly this could be an example of trying to adapt to another unfamiliar system.

DUN. DUN. DAAAAAAAAA

References:

A Guide for Resisting Edtech: the Case against Turnitin

Knewton Is Gone. The Larger Threat Remains

Teaching in a digital age Chapter 8.7 Organisational issues

Rethinking higher education

Personal Learning Challenge (Post #3)

This week I am focusing on two aspects of my learning challenge: my Travel Journal and Road Trials. The Travel journal has been how I have tracked mode of transportation used as well as distance traveled. It also allowed me to track areas that I believed needed improvement, my observations on skill improvement, and any notes on my general feelings. Rather than posting the entirety of the journal, I have condensed the statistics to a weekly level and marked down the highlights of the comments.


Week 1

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Week 2

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Week 3

Biking     37.2 km Busing     0.0 km Driving    2.8km

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Biking     44.7 km Busing     10.5 km Driving    0.0 km

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Biking     57.1 km Busing     0.0 km Driving    22.8km

Shaky when in bike lanes, sticking to quiet backroads, shifting is difficult so hills are a challenge. Reduced speed on downhill sections due to riding the breaks, balance is still not great so signaling is problematic. My bum is pretty sore from seat. Hands get very sore, very fast. Not sure what that’s about.

Much less shaking, still riding the breaks on hills, but I am trusting the bike a lot more. Traveling busier roads and better at taking corners more sharply. Bum isn’t as bad, but hands still getting tired quickly. Big hill on cook and hillside is still tough, often dismounting halfway through.

Using the right shifter is much easier, still working on using the left. This is making hills much better. The sore hands were from over-squeezing the handles so I am practicing a more relaxed grip. Added some downtown biking to my daily biking. Car drive was to Costco and to grandparents house.

The second focus of this week’s post has been to evaluate my improvement in a quantitative way. With three trial I have been collecting data to chart my improvement. The first test is a test of balance. I set out a long corridor of cones and must bike slowly through without running over cones. I count the number of hit cones. Finally, the test must take AT LEAST 20 seconds to complete to avoid speeding through the run. Each trial was run 5 times and the scores averaged.

The second trial involved stopping distance. There is a large hill in my neighbourhood that I use for this trial. The distance and inclination of the hill is consistent and a landmark is to mark the initial breaking point. After coasting down the hill and passing the marked spot, breaks are applied and the distance needed to fully stop is measured. 3 repetitions are made and then averaged.

 The top speed calculation is taken over a short distance of 300m. The distance is traveled at maximum speed and then converted to km/h. This test is done 3 times weekly with the scores averaged. This is better than doing three consecutive sprints which would have diminished results.

The final trial is a course to test maneuverability. This tests is used to practice the ability to make sharp turns at both high and low speeds. The course is set up in the same configuration using a parking lot markings for consistency. The time to complete the course is measured. Each cone” hit” adds a further 5.0 seconds to the final time. Three runs are made each time with the scores averaged.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the trials so I will try to upload a video next week.

A particular strength inherit with learning how to do a physical activity is the unconscious repetition that must occur. Even after the skill begins to become a “background process” your brain and body continue to refine the execution. As opposed to learning how to ride a bike initially, the adaptation of technique to a different style of bike can seem quite passive when compared to learning skill from scratch. While not entirely similar, I can see parallels surface learning and essentially coasting along with previous knowledge. To increase in skill, one must constantly invest energy into not only practice but critical assessment of results. In the case of biking, the mindfulness of your actions shows deep-learning, rather than “going through the motions” which exemplifies surface understanding. Engaging with a group for discussion and discord is a proven way to increase understanding of a topic. There is a group of bikers at Uvic that have lunches on Wednesdays and I was added to their mailing list. This way I am able to meet with other bikers and benefit from their experiences. It also will give me a chance to express my experiences and perhaps get some feedback. A large focus of this weeks readings revolved around blended learning. This led me to go onto some biking threads on Reddit to get involved in their online community.

Roadbike Reddit
https://www.reddit.com/r/roadcycling/

The Handbook of Blended Learning: Global Perspectives, Local Designs

Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMZA80XpP6Y&feature=youtu.be

Teaching in Blended Learning Environments:
Creating and Sustaining Communities of Inquiry

Personal Learning Challenge (Post #2)

After getting off to a shaky start (pun intended), my learning challenge is back on track. After taking my bike back in to get the rear wheel fixed I was informed that the wheel was almost too big for the bike. After realigning the breaks and tightening everything back up it was apparent that there was still a problem. Excellent. Great. Wonderful. But actually it was a good chance to do some research on common bicycle issues. After doing some perusing on Speed River Bicycle I found that my wheels were in need of truing. This is what an untrued wheel looks like.

This is what a wobbly boi looks like.

Fortunately for me my brother is in town (a sentence I can’t believe I just wrote). He has long been a biking fanatic so he has been my biking guru this week. He gave me a rundown of what was the problem and how to best fix it with the tools at hand. While we were at it we tightened up the breaks a little because they were”squishy.” Aside from the mechanical aspect I also attached all of my new lights and reflectors. So my bike is officially up and running and all kitted out.

Does it need a name? Bertha?

It was quite fortunate for me that this weeks readings covered the Apprenticeship teaching method as this was a prime example of its strength. It has been shown that hands-on learning is an extremely effective tool for long term encoding (Pratt and Johnson, 1998). This has been established since the 60’s as psycho-motor skills constitute one of the domains of learning established by Benjamin Bloom (1976).

I have found that this project has aligned with many of the qualities associated with experiential learning. Although I am still in the early days of my experience, I am using concrete experience and reflective observation to increase my skill. The experience is obviously gained by daily biking (which my sore rear will attest to) and the reflection aspect is why I have been keeping a travel diary.

On that note, I would like to address a few observations I have noted in the last week. Mainly, I am very good at not using a car to get around. Unfortunately it is because I can justify not leaving the house AT ALL. For this reason I have amended the criteria for my challenge to include a minimum of 3 kilometers of biking every day. This will force me reinforce my practice daily.

I was please to see the Veritasium and Smarter Every Day videos in this weeks lesson plan. I have been a long time subscriber to Veritasium (and what a throwback to his early days that was). Below I will leave a link to Derek Muller’s (aka Veritasium) thesis on multimedia training Additionally the Smarter Every Day video was something that I REALLY identify with. The experience of re-learning to ride a bicycle is something I am still struggling with. There are two real challenges I have been facing. The first of which is is quite similar to the issue Destin was having with balance. While I have been mostly fine while in motion, at slow speeds I have had great difficulty not wobbling. More distressingly I am unable to bike with only one hand. This is a useful skill… if you like to signal at all. Since even my problems are constructivist in nature, my second issue is based on the first. My old school bike design has down-tube gear shifts, which require one hand to operate. This has led me to leave the bike in a moderate gear while I acclimate my balance.

look at my levers, and the new light

I will be waiting until next week to post my trials data, as two points do not a trend make. I feel like this project as a whole feels very similar to the “agile” course design (Bertram et al., 2013). As we are learning new concepts we are adjusting our method and adapting our current plan. I am interested to see how it will change over the next few weeks

References

  1. Pratt, D. and Johnson, J. (1998) ‘The Apprenticeship Perspective: Modelling Ways of Being’ in Pratt, D. (ed.) Five Perspectives on Teaching in Adult and Higher Education Malabar FL: Krieger Publishing Company
  2. https://www.speedriverbicycle.com/articles/wheel-truing-basics-pg266.htm
  3. Bloom, B. S. (1976). Human characteristics and school learning. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.
  4. http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au/super/theses/PhD(Muller).pdf
  5. Bertram, J. (2013) Agile Learning Design for Beginners New Palestine IN: Bottom Line PerformanceLarman, C. and Vodde, B. (2009) Scaling Lean and Agile Development New York: Addison-Wesley

Personal Learning Challenge (Post#1)

Step 1: Identifying the Problem

Since beginning classes at Uvic in September I have had an ongoing issue: transportation. While its true that I live “relatively” close (by someone’s standards I’m sure), I have found it to be a constant issue that I revisit monthly.

If you have an aversion to math close your eyes and start spinning your mouse wheel, if you are lucky the next few paragraphs may look like the green screen in the matrix. Everyone else, strap on your math caps and get out your calculator watches, because you are in for a treat.

I live approximately 4.2 kilometers away from school, by foot. This should take around 53 minutes per trip, according to Google. On most days I can get this down to 45 minutes, but I tend to average around 50 minutes. Assuming that I actually leave school on a daily basis, that means 1hr40min of my day is walking. Each semester has around 75 school days after breaks and long weekends are taken into account. That means in total I would walk about 125 hours in a semester.

While it can be nice to have the walk, some days it is just not feasible. Homework starts to chew into your free time, you constantly feel rushed, and god forbid if you ever forget something. And some days you look at the mean looking clouds and say “nuh-uh.”

I can hear what everyone is saying, “Thom, take the bus! You have a bus pass.” But, you see, I have a love-hate relationship with BC transit… minus the love. I have put a lot of faith in BC Transit over the years and it has done nothing but disappoint me. Like a bad lover, I keep coming back to it, telling myself “it’s changed” or “maybe it will be different this time.” How sad and naive I was. If I had a nickle for every time an overfull bus has trundled by leaving me standing at a stop, or refused to come at all, I would have almost enough money to pay for this course. But more realistically, due to the fact that I live in a “grey-zone” for buses, it takes about 35-45 minutes to get to school, even assuming that everything works like a well oiled machine. When this is coupled with 45-75 minute wait times (I kid you not) the bus doesn’t beat walking by much and there is too much room for error.

Ultimately this leads me to walking about half the semester while driving more and more frequently as it progresses. More math, hang on.

Driving half the days to school at 8 dollars a day for parking ends up costing around $300 a semester not to mention gas and insurance money.

This is money that I have decided is not worth spending, even if it means I can get to school in under 10 minutes.

Step 2: Stop Whining

There is only one solution to this problem: *internally cringes* get a bike. (The one thing that I have avoided for my entire adult life.) I just don’t know what it is about biking. I just don’t like it. It probably comes down to my mistrust in the drivers that I have seen in Victoria. I grew up in Oak Bay where the average age of the driver is 1,000 and the drivers licences are drafts of their obituaries. Needless to say, there are some careless vehicles on the road. It only takes one mistake to kill someone and I have been pampered by my mobile metal cage of safety.

Actual footage of me thinking about biking

Step 3: Identify the Goal

I am going to use this as an opportunity to do two different things:

  1. Learn how to ride a bike with drop handlebars (riding proficiency)
  2. Integrate cycling as my primary transport (lifestyle change)

This may not seem like a difficult task but as I have avoided cycling for around 15 years and have never used this style of bike before; I am less than proficient at cycling. Lets be honest, I look like a giraffe climbed onto a penny farthing.

Step 4: Assessment of Learning

I am going to assess my two goals independently of one another.

To determine my riding proficiency I will be making a series of standardized tests which I will use to chart my progress initially and over the duration of this course. These tests will assess:

  • balance
  • maneuverability
  • safe stopping distances
  • top speed

I will record any skills that I find challenging and make additional goals as needed to improve in these areas. I will find online resources for information about proper biking form and how to best increase in ability.

The second goal of integration of biking into my lifestyle will require a different approach. I will be making a travel diary which will indicate where I travel in a day and the method of transportation. When I bike somewhere I will record the distance and time traveled as well as my feeling about using the bike whether positive or negative. If I don’t use a bike I will have to justify why I did not. Periodically I can review my entries to help make adjustments to my lifestyle to make biking more reasonable. I will also have to learn about proper care and maintenance of bikes which I will gain through instructional videos as well as in-person help from professionals.

Learning Methods

It may seem counter-intuitive to have the section on Methods placed after the one on Assessment, but to find the best learning methods I felt like I first had to decide what would be the most feasible styles for this kind of learning. Since I will be learning a new skill as well as making a lifestyle change, I think overlap between styles will be inevitable. Most notably Constructivist and Behaviourist methodological styles will be used.

Coming from a science background my initial tendency is to start making structured tests that will crank out some numbers I can chart. Who am I to go against me? The beauty of concrete numbers and verifiable facts is something that I revel in, but it doesn’t have to be the sole approach taken. I plan on using Behaviourist methodology by instituting some positive reinforcement for days that I exclusively bike. Since the parking costs at school are $8 daily, I will be giving myself half that for extra spending and saving the other $4. As I improve my general proficiency I will try to integrate new techniques on top of basic form. Biking requires a development of balance and coordination, both examples of procedural knowledge, but as the acquired knowledge becomes second nature more advanced techniques (signaling, riding form, quick turns, etc.) can be integrated. This is an example of contructivist methodology, as previous experience is used to integrate new information.

Step 5: Materials and Costs

Several materials are required for this project:

  • Bicycle ($40)
  • Helmet ($20)
  • Bike Lights ($10)
  • Notebook ($5)
  • Disk cones ($20)
  • Stopwatch ($3)

UPDATE: I picked up a bicycle from SPOKES for 40$ but the rear wheel was misaligned so it will be repaired by Monday. They also had a smokin’ hot deal on helmets and lights so I have put the new prices.

I will be using this weekend for collecting materials and preparing my project plan, with next weeks update covering my control measurements and first week results. Stay tuned for more updates on my progress

Who am I?

       Hey! Hi! Hello! My name is Thom Campbell. I am in my 3rd year of a Bachelors in  Biology. After completing my degree I will enter the Post-Degree Professional Program with the goal of teaching in secondary education. I enjoy rock climbing, board games and trivia nights. I also teach martial arts in my down time. I am taking a range of summer classes including Conservation Biology, Photography, and Geocaching. This is my summer of fun elective classes before I hit the grindstone in September.

My Learning Experience

        Since starting at Uvic this fall, I have had a chance to dive in and pick up a new activity: bouldering. It has been an interesting learning experience in some unexpected ways. For starters you would be surprised how short a time you can climb before your arms transmute into el dente spaghetti. This forces you to use your energy effectively, otherwise you have a very short session. It also promotes observation of the other climbers technique, as much time watching (if not more) than actually doing. It has been an experience that I intend to continue into the summer.