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Automated: OTAN-- Outreach and Technical Assistance Network.

Melinda Holt: Hello, everyone. I'm Melinda Holt, the Project Specialist for OTAN-- the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network. And I will be your host for this OTAN Tech Talk. The title for this OTT is student voice and empowerment through technology. And we'll discuss research-based strategies that explore digital preferences when learning in adult education settings. Our presenter Yecsenia Delgado Lorenzo is a counselor at Hacienda La Puente and is also an OTAN subject better expert. Yecse, it's all yours.

Yecsenia Delgado Lorenzo: Thank you, Melinda. And thank you for being in today's presentation. Today, I'm going to be discussing student voice. And we're going to be talking about how we can improve that through technology, and how we can empower our students.

So as Melinda mentioned, we're going to be looking at research-based strategies that explore digital ways that we can help our students express themselves. So what is student voice? It refers to the expression-- sorry, give me one second. I'm having a little bit of technical difficulty. Here we go.

So what is student voice? It refers to the expression of values, opinions, beliefs, and perspectives of individual groups of students in the school to instructional approaches and techniques that are based on students choices, interest, passions, and ambitions.

So student voice is really more than just simply listening to our students in the classroom. It's listening to the entire student body. And as we listen is really responding to what really matters to our students. So our response is going to be one of the most important things.

So as we learn about student voice, students voice gives our learners a chance to share their opinions about something they really believe in. The learning environment changes as you encourage voice and can see learners taking more control over their own learning.

And when we talk about student voice where we're actually looking at a student continuum of learning, which includes all cognitive, intellectual, and emotional and behavioral change through a lifetime of new experiences, which modifies the way that they look at the world and the way that they learn. The spectrum of voice was actually adopted through research that was done by Toshalis and Nakkula. And they looked at research and motivation engagement and student voice.

One thing that we do know about student voice is that it's personal, right? It's very individual. When we talk about voice, our personal, our individual voice is very personal. And it changes and it's different for everyone. So one learner may be at one expression level when we look at the continuum. One learner may be at one expression level because they feel comfortable with sharing, or in a particular class, or in a particular situation, but yet that same student is going to be in a different place on the continuum based in a different environment or a different situation.

So in one class, a student may not feel very comfortable. So they might be on the continuum in the expression. They might just be volunteering information. Where in a different class, they may be at a leadership level. So when we look at the continuum, it kind of travels from expression, consultation, participation, partnership, activism, and leadership. And we're going to be discussing the continuum to this so we can learn a little bit more about how student voice travels along this continuum.

So teachers can be the catalyst for students to find their voice and their own learning. However, as we know, learning is personal and voice is very personal to each learner. So that's why it's important for us to know what role this continuum plays.

Research has shown us that without motivation, there is no push to learn. Without engagement, there is no way to learn. And without a voice, what we have learned through research is that there's no authenticity in learning. So having this knowledge, knowing that we need not only to teach our class, but also to provide that motivation, that engagement to give our students that voice. We're going to take a look at the spectrum a little bit more closely, and we're going to discuss the continuum at each level.

So the first level we're going to look at is expression. So in expression, the goal is for learners to have a voice in the partnership, activism, and leadership roles. As one moves from the left side of the continuum of the spectrum to the right side, the roles and responsibilities and decision-making authority grow.

So our learners are going to be coming to school with preconceived ideas, right? They become with different notions of about what learning is. And as we know in adult education, we have a broad spectrum of students that come from all over the world, all places of life, and all different age spans. We're not teaching our basic K-12 class. We're teaching a very large population and very broad base of learners.

So really our learners are very individual and they each come with all these preconceived ideas of what they believe school should be like, what they believe their teachers should be like, what they believe the teacher should teach with. So at their level, we should be asking our students to-- in the expression level, we should be asking our students to really volunteer their opinions.

If they're at this level of the spectrum, then we need to inquire for their opinions, help them create answers, answer your questions while other instructors are really praising and directing the flow of their voice, or are asking them to share their ideas with us.

And there are some tools that help us. And some of these tools are very individual. And we'll talk a little bit at the end. But some of the tools that help with supporting expression are going to be tools like Kahoot, Clickers, Nearpod. All of these tools are going to be able to provide some real-time feedback that are going to help you adjust instruction on the spot.

We want to be able to make changes. A lot of us come to class and we think our lesson is going to go a specific way. And right in the middle, you start to see expressions in our students faces. They're thinking something completely different. And a lot of us have to make those on the spot decisions of where are we going, right? And some of these tools can really help us with guiding and adjusting that instruction. It gives us those fast responses that we need.

So some teacher-driven discussion topics that are tools that we can use to help us are Google Classroom, Padlet, Flipgrid, and Microsoft Teams. A lot of us already use these. So these are just some of the tools that we can use with supporting expression.

Next is consultation. So in consultation, the teacher really invites students to take surveys and polls for a consensus on issues. The students consult with the teacher to share how they learn best and have conversations about their strengths, interests, and challenges.

During consultation, the teacher and the student determine the most appropriate tools, resources, and learning strategies to support their learning. And this conversation should be happening every day in our classrooms. Maybe some of our students may have different points of views. As we develop different lessons, as the semester goes on, there's going to be different interest levels. And we want to continue to do those surveys throughout our classes so we can know what are some of the challenges that are happening, right? What are some of the interest changes?

Sometimes even the news, our world, COVID changes the way that we think and how we want our learning to happen. So we do want to determine the most appropriate tools and resources, and learning strategies to support our student learning. This is where the teacher really as instructors we begin to develop that relationship that's individual with each learner that helps us change things as we teach a class on an everyday basis.

So this is the consultation part of the spectrum where we're really asking our students to tell us, what do they like about our class? What don't they like? How do they want us to change that instruction? And how do we provide that space for them to feel comfortable in giving us that feedback? In this space, our instructors really become vulnerable in accepting that constructive feedback from our students to us as instructors.

Some of the tools that may help us in consultation to develop these personal learning plans are to find out their interests are going to be like SurveyMonkey, SurveyPlanet. Google Forms are one of my favorites to use because you can create a Google Form really quickly and develop it and send it off right away.

But these are going to be more tools that are going to help you get that informative feedback that you need right away. And they also provide a chance where students can provide that feedback in an anonymous way where they won't be afraid to share their thoughts and concerns.

In participation, students are going to define their learning targets with the teacher. So how they plan to meet their learning goals. And in this area, they start to articulate how they will demonstrate their mastery or their evidence of learning. What is their goal? Where do they plan on going? And how do they plan on getting there? The student's voice and participation is encouraged because now they are more invested in how and what they want to learn.

So once we do consultation, once we know the way that they like to learn or what is helping them best learn in the classroom, now they become a little bit more invested in how and what they want to learn. They are encouraged to attend class meetings and participate in brainstorming ideas.

A lot of us are so used to just going through our book. We pick up one of our English as a second language books or any subject that you're teaching as a matter of fact and we just kind of go through chapters 1 through 10. How many chapters or how many units does that book have? And we just kind of go straight through the book.

But what if we are able to modify and change the different units? We kind of use our book as a guide, but yet we're really teaching to the needs of our students. And that's really where it becomes important for us to consider our student voice. So each student is going to be working alone or with other students as they design their thinking process around topics either individually or in groups. So this is where we begin to get these ideas of what they want to learn, how they want to learn it, and we begin to build the interest groups so they can have their voice and their learning process.

So in this step, students are really responsible for how they design and meet their learning goals. How are they going to get to that next step? If they're in an English class, how are they going to get from level 1 to level 4, right? They demonstrate evidence of their learning and their participation. And they discuss their ideas and their plans for moving along the spectrum, or for moving along within their goal that they have in mind for themselves.

To increase participation, there are some tools. So this is where we really want them to start sharing their ideas, having choices, being able to utilize their knowledge and what they come with, and being able to use that to participate within class activities. So there's some blogging tools such as 365Project, Seesaw, Weebly.

Creativity tools such as Do Ink, Screen IOS, Microsoft Sway, or Scratch are going to be tools that really meet different several or several different learning styles. They really foster learning ownership, right? We want our students to own their learning. That's really what's going to get them engaged. And they're going to be solid in your class. So they're able to really participate and have a voice in your classroom.

Partnership becomes really important. So partnership is when learners begin to make plans that contribute to the lessons. So this is where we begin to look at students not just as individual learners, but really they're the owners of our classroom. They're the ones that really own what is going to be taught next. How are we going to guide that discussion in the classroom?

And they build a partnership not only with their instructor, but also with your school as a community and other students within the classroom, right? What is the classroom feeling going to be like? What is that collaboration and that partnership among students? A lot of the times, the students are able to build that partnership together. Then they're going to have a stronger bond. They kind of pull each other into the classroom and create that positive learning environment.

So tools that allow students to share with their partner or their teacher are going to be Microsoft Teams, ClassDojo, Edmodo, Seesaw, Flipgrid. Zoom is going to be a tool that we are currently using a lot with COVID times. So these are all collaborative tools that help students with learning and sharing, and having that partnership in their learning process.

In activism, learners have identified an authentic and real world problem or challenge that they want to tackle. So here's where we ask our students what are they passionate in, what motivates them, what keeps them coming to our class. Is it immigration? Is it getting a degree? What is something that they are really passionate about that they want to make a difference in?

So you may see learners in areas in your school with excitement about maybe a specific information. Maybe they've discovered something new and they're brainstorming ideas and generating solutions. So these are going to be us bringing those real-world subjects into the classroom and not being afraid to discuss them with our students, or letting them guide that discussion. And through that, create our learning process.

So learners are using-- in activism, they're also using technology effectively to make connections and build a network of peers. So they're starting to use those tools that they know to research. So they are showcasing evidence of what they have mastered, right? They're demonstrating how they're going to be solving the problem. So they may even create a plan to maybe exhibit or maybe even becoming activists for themselves, developing the self regulating skills.

This is the area where students really become their own empowered activist within the curriculum of our learning class. It is OK for students to ask to questions, right? And it's OK for them to wonder about different things that maybe are not in the book. This is how we're going to have our students and teach them how to resolve those problems, how to find those answers, and how to do something about something that they're really passionate in.

Tech tools that support activism are going to be tools-- maybe a lot of our social media tools through Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok. I see a lot of our students using TikTok videos. Flipgrid, Google, and then Skype are going to be some of our tools that are going to promote students to reach out outside of the classroom walls, to build their own connection, and to be able to express what they're learning through social media tools.

Leadership-- so this is at the end of the spectrum, right? So this is where learners take on leadership roles around their passions, interest, and what they want to do to make a difference. They believe in the cause to the point that drives everything that they are doing now. They self-direct their learning and are responsible for outcomes. So the teacher takes on a role of an advisor providing feedback and any support that the student needs and finding those connections and meeting the goals around what each learner believes is their own purpose in their learning.

So some of the tools that are going to help us with leadership is going to be-- again, we have World Wide Workshops, Scratch, Google Expedition, Google Sites. All of these tools are going to help our students connect and have resources globally that are filled with different projects that they can do, they can find different causes. So really they choose their own inquiry-based question or problem in getting some of their own personal research.

So as we look at student voice, really student voice can be defined as any attempt to represent and utilize the opinions of students, to promote a change in adult education practices. So student voice research has really changed, right? And we're looking at a specific population with our group of students. We're looking at adults.

So student voice research has followed a trajectory away from simple elicitation of student views to improve student teaching standards towards a more complex conceptualization of students as equal collaborators in educational practices. So this takes us, as instructors, to really actively allow that role of our students being equal collaborators within our own classroom to engage in that practice of being free and open to express that voice.

Student engagement is going to be the key to attempt to amplify student voice through traditional power imbalances that are going to be redistributed from teaching professionals to students, right? And we're going to change the dynamic of our classrooms where the students are really empowered to make that change, to be involved having that voice.

So it's giving back the power to students by further involving them in the actions taken as a result of listening to their views. So this is going to affect the way that they view the classroom and the way that they feel as they're learning a specific topic.

So student engagement is going to be super important. In this process, it is the engagement of learning that makes learners come alive. That's what's going to hook them. That's what's going to engage them. So early studies of student engagement have composed of physical and mental energy. A lot of these early studies support social construct of learning engagement as incorporating three key areas. So behaviors, emotions, and cognitive engagement.

Behavioral engagement involves students participating in activities that they really enjoy doing. We want to play close attention to the engagement when we build our course assignments, and what we're asking our students to do in our classrooms. So one of the first questions we ask ourselves is, is this engaging? Am I just teaching out of the book, or am I meeting my students' needs? Am I teaching to those who need this the most?

So we want to really tap into emotional engagement and really tap into allowing our student connections and their cognitive engagement. So them evaluating the course content, both of how it's relevant to them and how they're going to be using that information. So research indicates that as students gain experience through learning, they're going to come to take more responsibility of their own learning.

So here's some ideas to improve engagement and student voice. So we want to help our students lift up under-engaged voices. So listen to students whose voices are seldomly heard, including students from minority group, students that are really quiet, maybe have different cultural backgrounds. Maybe they're sitting in the back of the class and they never speak. Students that are maybe not doing so well in class.

The quieter students, students that usually just kind of come to class and not say very much, we want to really lift up those under-engaged voices and ask those questions, get them to express, right? Start with the first part of the spectrum.

And we want to communicate to them in different styles. So we want to be able to use those communication tools to engage our students through email, audio, video, messages, any type of message that we can get to our students that's going to increase their participation in the class.

Provide active learning opportunities and more discipline-- and more discussion time. I do apologize. So provide active learning opportunities and more discussion time to explore and develop their ideas. A common misconception about learning is that students only sit in the classroom and absorb knowledge. We're talking about banking education, right? They come to class and we just feed them. And they're kind of just absorbing it.

So that might be true if the course is designed that way. But one way to engage your students is to get them out of their chairs or their beds if you're teaching from home, and get them involved and active in their learning. So one definition of active learning is hands-on learning, which is not only a suggestion, but actually assigning our students to interview, right? If we're teaching a specific subject is going out into the community and talking to others about that subject.

It's hard to formulate an opinion on something when you are still trying to figure out what it is. But if we're providing opportunities for our students to go out into the community and discuss it with others and understanding the topic from many different perspectives, they're going to be able to engage in that process.

So giving them that time to allow for creative expression is going to be one of the most powerful tools. And encouraging them to maybe write their voice down or express it through those social media outlets, right? So making your lessons personally relevant, having students express those diverse opinions and providing that voice to understand is going to create confidence with their familiar environments.

So making learning social. Encouraging our students to post what they learn in some of their social media outlets. What are they learning? Sharing with each other, creating groups within the social media of students where they're able to share their different thoughts and opinions. So finding ways to incorporate some of the social media is going to be effective because students are already using it.

Provide timely and useful feedback. So we want to provide students with their performance in a timely manner. So quick responses is going to be key to keeping them engaged. The turnaround time of us giving feedback is going to entail positive nature trends that are going to be more effective as the students become more engaged in the learning process.

Add self-assessment opportunities, allowing students to take more responsibility for their own learning, grading some of their own work, even providing feedback on their own discussion. Those critical thinking times at the end are walking out the door ticket. What are their thoughts on their participation that day? Providing them with opportunities to really be humble about their experience and their own learning process.

Recognize those who speak up and encourage debate. Don't forget. We want to be able to reward risks. Creating classroom culture where students are rewarded for taking the risk. Showing courage can foster a more open environment and a more open learning environment. So encouraging that debate to create that curiosity, listening to them, and articulate arguments that foster a stronger voice.

So engage different forms of leadership. Leadership is not always demonstrated through outspoken students. So students can demonstrate leadership by teaching and mentoring others, visual storytelling through maybe community or even volunteering opportunities.

So when students have a voice, they are three times more likely to experience self-worth in the classroom. They are five times more likely to experience engagement in school. And when students have a voice, they are five times more likely to experience a purpose in their goals. So we want to make student voice an important part of our learning process and our teaching process.

Research has highlighted the need to encourage teachers to become more enthusiastic and embrace technology in order to make a change in their classrooms. So what we see through research is that there's a reluctance amongst teachers to really embrace technology. So through the use of technology, students can be more engaged in the classroom participation and dialogue.

In a democratic classroom, students have a voice that becomes feasible when we begin to include technology as a means to empower students to really express what they're feeling. So technology opens a door to new opportunities for students who are reluctant, maybe students that have a disability or are unable to speak up and discuss things openly. So just provides that outlet for them to really be able to open up and share their voice.

So as teachers, a question that we should ask ourselves, are we a digital native, or an immigrant? So students are now in our-- the classes that we're teaching right now really our students are digital natives, right? They know technology. They have phones in their hands. They know how to use them. They use social media outlets. So we are working with students who are natives to technology. They're used to multitasking and finding answers through digital means.

I taught an ESL level 1 class. And a lot of my students were already researching a vocabulary word before I even put it on the whiteboard. So a modern teacher who is not proficient in the use of technology can be considered a digital immigrant or perceived as an instructor with an inability to speak, teach, and learn using technology. So technology has a direct impact on changing the way students learn, and therefore can have a major influence in their education.

So education should be reshaped around the need of the student learner rather than the learner conforming to the system of the teacher. There's still a lot of teachers that are very resistant to technology, right? And we're making our students conform to not using technology in the classroom. I still have one of our instructors that says there's no cell phone use in the class, instead of trying to embrace the technology that our students are holding and utilizing that as a tool and a resource that we can use in our classroom.

So there is a lot of innovative ways. But I did want to share one with you before I let you guys go regarding student voice and technology. So a research that was done at the Oxford University in England. They looked at an adult education setting, which showed that through the use of technology and appointing leaders, empowered students to have a greater use of technology and really amplify their student voice.

So the way that they did this research was teachers worked with other departments. So their technology specialist, the technology teacher that taught their Microsoft class to emerge in learning technology. And really what they did was they created this culture shift by embedding really high quality experience and training and learning together.

So what they did is they took one tool. So let's just say we're going to take Google Sites. They took one tool and they created a lesson around that specific tool. What they did was the instructors chose what they call digital pals. They were identified in a classroom, so they chose two digital pals out of every classroom setting. And together what they did is they built a partnership.

So the instructor and the students that they identified as leaders, their digital pals, took the course or the learning class together. And what they did is together the instructor and the student learned a specific application, which then in return, they would come back and teach it to the classroom.

So Digi-Pals were given a leadership role. They kind of went through the whole study, looked at how they kind of went through an interview. They applied for the specific position. So they utilized different resources to have students apply. It was a non-paying leadership position at the school where they were working as collaborators with the teachers.

So the way these students got paid was really interesting, which they were really excited about. Students were given identifying hoodies, T-shirts, buttons, backpacks, different things that kind of marketed their role as Digi-Pals along with their teacher, and to carry out their new roles. And one of the things that the school did do is they provided them with the school issued iPad or Chromebook. The positions did include the students signing a contract with the expectation of regular attendance both in the training sessions and classroom class meetings, OK?

So what they did together was-- so they would learn a specific tool. They would come back to class and assist the teacher in teaching that application, that technology application back to the students. The research that they found or what it showed was that the Digi-Pals felt their role to be significant and their voice to be heard. And their contribution was valued.

They also served as motivators within the classroom and many times served as co-collaborators with the teacher in learning that application and mastering how it was used within the classroom walls. So they describe their role as empowering and as a partnership with staff, which was truly collaborative.

So one of the amazing things about the study is that it really showed how innovation is fostered through collaboration, not only internally, but externally. And that what it really did was it bridged that gap between teachers, learners, and technology. So through the use of technology, students can really be more engaged in the classroom participation and dialogue.

I wanted to bring this research to you not only to kind of motivate you, to maybe identify a technology leadership leader or a technology leadership group within your classroom that you can come back and teach them or have them research a specific application with you, and utilize them in turn to motivate the other students to start using it.

Even us as teachers, a lot of the times our students know a little bit more about phones and technology than we do ourselves. So not being scared to have that collaboration with your students where we research something together, whether it's a technology tool, whether it's a specific classroom subject, but we research it together as a group. And then we teach each other what we learn from that application, and how we can use it within our classroom walls.

So I really want to encourage you not to be afraid of technology, but actually utilizing it to increase your student voice in your classroom. So with this, I'm going to end my presentation. I am running out of time. I'm going to hand it back over to Melinda who is our OTAN representative. Thank you.

Melinda Holt: All righty. Thanks, Yecse. And that is the end of this OTAN Tech Talk. I'd also like to encourage everyone to subscribe to OTAN's YouTube channel where instructional tech videos related to adult education can be found, including more OTAN Tech Talks. All of this information and more is available on the OTAN website at OTAN.US. Thank you for watching this OTAN Tech Talk.