A digital toolbox by and for Ontario literacy educators

As part of the Educator Network Blended Learning program, literacy practitioners share the resources that are most helpful in creating lessons and activities that engage learners and enhance and expand learning.

This is the collection from the Winter 2022 group.

These are the blended learning resources, activities and tools that practitioners have tested and are recommending. On some pages you will see their reviews or tips.

We start with an explanation of some of the terms we used and a link to a website about curating resources.
We have included an index. Some topics have several pages. If you open the PDF in a browser, you can use the back button to return to the index.

Use the link in the sidebar to open and download the collection.

Synchronous Learning

Synchronous learning is where learner(s) and facilitators(s) meet in the same place, at the same time, so learning can take place. This can happen in bricks—and-mortar classrooms or online meetings. Synchronous learning may include a whole class, smaller groups or one-to-one instruction.

In synchronous learning, learners usually go through a learning path together, accompanied by a facilitator who can provide support while learners are completing tasks and activities.

Examples of synchronous learning tools:

  • Phone, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams…

Asynchronous Learning

Asynchronous learning is a teaching method where learners use their agency and autonomy differently and is widely used in online learning. Its basic premise is that learning can occur in different times and spaces particular to each learner.

In asynchronous learning, facilitators usually set up a learning path which students engage with at their own pace.

Examples of synchronous learning tools:

Email, What’s App, Google Drive, Google Sites, Learning Management Systems such as Canvas, BrightSpace or Moodle…

Reference: Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Learning: A Quick Overview by Maria Ocando Finol

The Digital Inclusion Playbook is filled with ideas, information and resources you can use to support local digital inclusion efforts. We hope the site builds awareness at a provincial and national level on behalf of all literacy and basic skills (LBS) programs and the many learners who find themselves excluded from full and equitable participation in a digital society. 

Resources, articles and mini-infographics you can use

Digital inclusion and literacy development work together, and LBS plays a key role in digital inclusion as a provider of digital learning opportunities for adults. LBS educators, volunteers and program co-ordinators are on the front lines of digital inclusion work and often address issues — such as access to devices for learning and low-cost internet plans — that go beyond everyday teaching and learning work. The playbook’s facts, resources, articles and mini-infographics can be used to:

Information, ideas and strategies to help build awareness

Digital inclusion is bigger than LBS and involves affordable and adequate broadband internet service, internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user, quality and affordable technical support along with applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration. The playbook contains information, ideas and strategies that explore the following topics:

We invite you to explore the site and share your feedback with us. We’d also love to hear about your digital inclusion initiatives and stories.

You can also contact Christine (Christine@alphaplus.ca) or Alan (Acherwinski@alphaplus.ca) directly. 

When students receive their own computer  and it’s really theirs  it sends a strong message. You don’t just own the computer; you own your education and your own future.

Alison Canning, executive director of Let’s Get Together

Access to Technology

Literacy practitioners know that limited access to technology can create insurmountable barriers for lifelong learners in Ontario.
Learn more about the issue of access to technology

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Blended learning curriculum frameworksarrow

These frameworks were developed to help educators design and develop technology-rich learning environments. The frameworks help us determine the level of technology integration in the learning environment and evaluate if the technology is enhancing, extending and/or transforming learning.

Tracey Mollins

Contact me at tracey@alphaplus.ca to talk about blended learning delivery models.

These are the Frameworks described on the website

Blended Learning Research

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Blended Learning Resources

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What are some ways to empower learners with choice?

We can make sure learners have agency over the elements of learning such as

Using hyperdocs as part of a blended learning approach can enhance these opportunities.

Choice Boards are a type of hyperdoc where activities are organized in a grid, often like a tic-tac-toe board or a bingo board. Learners make choices about what activities they do and mark them on the grid as they finish.

In Educator Network (eNet) and Planning Your Digital Toolbox, participants learn about choice boards using this choice board. Join us or try it out on your own.

Some samples that eNet participants found:

If you’d like to learn more about Choice Boards, contact Tracey or sign up for Educator Network (eNet) or Planning Your Digital Toolbox.

P.S. Here is an amazing collaboration non-hyperdoc choice board I saw from @modernclassproj on Twitter.

Collaboration and self-pacing? Totally possible in a Modern Classroom! Kim Myers Manning shared with our Facebook group how she sets up her whiteboard to facilitate both.

Canvas is a robust learning management system you can use for free.

Often called an LMS for short, a learning management system is an online platform that provides the framework and tools to handle all aspects of the learning process – it’s where you house, deliver, and track your training content.

An LMS is designed to make life easier for curriculum designers, instructors and learners. An LMS can streamline the process of identifying and assessing learning goals, keeping track of progress and collecting and presenting data for evaluating learning and how the learning environment is supporting learners.

If you’d like to learn more about Canvas or schedule a demonstration, contact Tracey or our Quick Tech Help service.

Jamboard is a whiteboard that has an online version that you can use for free. Users can add text, sticky notes, images, and links. You can create online discussions and opportunities for synchronous or asynchronous collaborative or individual learning.

If you’d like to learn more about Jamboard or schedule a demonstration, contact Tracey or our Quick Tech Help service.

Padlet is an online bulletin board. Users can add text, documents, images, videos, and links. Depending on the choices the Padlet creator makes, users can comment on posts and rate, like, grade or vote for posts. It is a mini interactive website where you can create online discussions and opportunities for synchronous or asynchronous collaborative or individual learning.

Here is a Padlet about how to post to Padlet: padlet.com/traceyehm/padletpost

Here is a Padlet Tracey uses as a workshop warm up: padlet.com/traceyehm/meal (The map in this Padlet is a wallpaper, not the Map option.)

And here is a writing prompt about time capsules: padlet.com/traceyehm/tceNet

If you’d like to learn more about Padlet or schedule a demonstration, contact Tracey or our Quick Tech Help service.

AnswerGarden is place where you can ask one short question online. Users can add text answers. You can choose between 20 characters and 40 characters for the answers.

If you’d like to learn more about AnswerGarden or schedule a demonstration, contact Tracey or our Quick Tech Help service.

AlphaPlus creates microsites for programs.

We curate program-specific collections of resources. Here are some examples:

If you’re interested in curating a collection for your program, please get in touch. 

If you’d like a copy of any of these sites to use as a starting point to adapt and expand for use in your program, please get in touch. AlphaPlus can give you a copy and support you in learning how to use a website builder such as Google Sites or Weebly as online learning spaces for learners, staff and volunteers.