Ecosystems … Online again?

Photo credit

      Yes … I’m sure you’ve seen this image before…. in every science text ever published…

The common ground of middle years brought Lindy Olafson and I together to design our course prototype project.  As a grade 7/8 teacher, I teach almost all subject areas so I was fairly open to any option for a course related to middle years.  Lindy works as an instructional coach and has worked in many capacities with a great deal of experience in grade 6/7.  After some discussion, we decided to pursue a course around the grade 7 science unit – Interactions in Ecosystems.  It’s been a while since I’ve taught this unit and it is coming up again in the late spring, so I’m hopeful that we will create something that can be used beyond the scope of EC&I 834.

Ironically, after Lindy and I decided on this topic, I remembered that in my undergrad ECMP class, with none other than Mr. Alec Couros, I designed a website around ecosystems.  I tried to do a quick search for this website, but alas, it has disappeared into cyberspace.  This is for the best.  I still have flashbacks to the home page – a cranberry- coloured, overly patterned page with ugly font.  Oh, if only I could find a photo for you…  In hindsight, it was terrible – but I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d created.  It’s funny how a changing world and changing perspective shift my understanding.   I am hopeful that this project may have more longevity than that initial website.

Photo credit

As I consider the design of an online/blended course, I feel fairly overwhelmed with the “how-to” of the process.  At this point, as Amy mentioned in her blog, finding a learning management system (LMS) to use seems the most daunting.   For me, until I try to utilize a system, it’s hard to know its benefits/drawbacks, but I know I won’t have enough time to explore them all, so I am really hoping for some suggestions within class and from classmates.  Google classroom is the only platform that I’ve had any experience with at this point.

Additionally, as an educator, I am used to looking at curriculum and deciding how to plan and implement it; however, I am not sure how to do this well in an online format.  Oblinger and Hawkins (2006) discuss how learning is an active process and that students learn through interaction with each other.  I wholeheartedly agree with them, but I am not really sure about how to make this happen in an online environment.  How can I be sure that the learning is engaging and meaningful and not just data in, data out? Also, the idea of studying ecosystems online seems counter intuitive.  Can this be done well?   How do I reinvent the info in that ecosystem diagram published in every science text in a meaningful way?

As I think of my student population, for whom I would be creating this course, I am inspired by the following image.  I want this to be true for my students whether or not they are working face to face or learning within an online environment.

Photo Credit

So, as I head into these unknown waters of online course creation, I welcome your feedback about LMS as well as how to fully engage kids and facilitate meaningful learning and interaction.  Share away …


13 thoughts on “Ecosystems … Online again?

  1. I, too, had a website that I thought was pretty nifty and looking back on it, I cringe. Ugh. It’s so incredible what a little bit of time and a whole lot of knowledge can do to alter perceptions.
    I think the open endedness of our project is the most daunting, yet most freeing part. We have the ability to choose anything to suit our needs. We just have to figure out what those are!


    1. salut merci pour cet article puis-je proposer un sujet …l'on nous dit sans cesse "le monde ne va pas s'arréter de tourner" ou "la terre s&93Ã;arr#©teré de tourné pendant 24h" mais si cela arrivé que ce passerait il? merci bisous et bonne continuation


  2. Your course sounds interesting Natalie! I think there are so many interactive possibilities for middle years Science – I taught it for four years, and although it was never my strength, the curricula can be engaging when taught properly. Your online version I am sure will be a success and I look forward to seeing it. I also do not have any experience with anything except Google Classroom, so unfortunately, I don’t have any other insight to share with you. Good luck!


  3. I am also hoping to take what Amy and I do for our project and use it later this school year! I like that you’ve asked questions about your students and how engagement and purposeful learning are already part of your planning. Looking forward to seeing your project come together!


  4. Great post and insightful questions Natalie! Hopefully, these questions will be answered as we progress throughout this course. I too have many questions about how to offer a course online and what exactly it entails.
    Also, I do believe that in ECMP 355 with Alec, the online portfolios we created were only going to be posted for 2 weeks (I think?) and then would come down. Does that sound familiar?


  5. 1) Push-pulla) Bryst, skuldre, triceps, fremside beinb) Rygg, biceps, bakside bein, mage2) DCetlpist-na) Bryst, skuldre, triceps, Ryggb) Biceps, bakside lår, fremside lår, mageDette er trolig de mest brukte 2-splittene


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