Written by: Praba Siva
With the pandemic looming over us in these unprecedented times, many things have changed drastically. One such change was the EduTECH ASIA 2020 Conference being held online on a virtual platform. In 2019, I had the pleasure of attending the conference as a speaker and enjoying the physical event in person. In 2020, the event was held online and they offered an array of Masterclasses to choose from. I had the opportunity to attend 2 such masterclasses on ZOOM: Advanced EdTech Tools for your classroom (HE) by, Eric Hawkinson, Research Coordinator at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, and Digital Assessments methods for Remote Learning (K-12) by Sharon Singh, Head of e-Learning & Innovation, St John’s Anglican College. Both the Masterclasses provided insights into how different learning institutions utilize Educational Technology to boost engagement amongst students for online and blended learning environments.
Sharon Singh’s Masterclass gave us the opportunity to explore and learn about various digital tools, apps, and platforms that can be used to implement formative assessments effectively in my classroom. Furthermore, Sharon also shared the benefits of using formative assessment strategies that can be applied in both online and blended learning; especially in the current pandemic. Last year, her College had used Schoolbox, OneNote, and Teams for assessment via remote learning. With the rise in educational technology and distance learning, more educators are sourcing for tools/websites that can digitize their resources for teaching and learning. As such, Schoolbox, a Learning Management System, was used by their College to replicate Year 10 Physics assessment to conduct their first digital exam in 2020. Although many welcomed the idea of conducting digital exams, some questioned the integrity of such exams, which are usually unsupervised.
During the Masterclass, we also had the opportunity to break out into smaller groups to discuss our personal experiences. In my group, there were Educators from various countries such as Russia, Pakistan, London, and Singapore. All Educators shared about the challenges that they faced in teaching online and the various strategies/tools that they had adopted to deliver the online lessons. Padlet and Kami were top-ranking educational technology tools that were discussed.
In addition to learning about formative assessments and meeting educators, I also had the chance to learn more about the emerging trends in Educational Technology such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality. Although these terms are often confused and used interchangeably, Eric Hawkinson’s Masterclass helped to differentiate and discern the difference. He shared with us the benefits of immersive learning through augmented reality. He introduced the Arientation app that was designed by him to create augmented environments for teaching and learning. The app has been used for various projects and he hopes for more educators to integrate it into blended learning. However, he also acknowledged the concerns raised by using augmented reality such as psychological effects and invasion of privacy by the creators of these apps/devices. I believe that I will be able to use this ARientation app to engage my students while reviewing and learning new concepts.
Overall, the Masterclasses have helped me to gain a better understanding of how to plan and deliver for online and blended lessons, using the various educational technology tools that were shared.