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UDUTU Collaboration: Keeping the Learning Fire Ignited in Hard Times

By Reegan MacKenzie

empty classroom

I went into teaching with dreams of changing the system to be an inclusive, safe place for all. I was struggling in my work until I met Jennifer Foster, an instructional designer at Udutu and former teacher. Jen and I began exchanging teaching war stories and Jen brainstormed the ways in which technology would have helped her in the classroom. How could technology help teachers on call in their daily, chaotic teaching experiences? Jen had an idea–a light bulb lit up so bright over Jen’s head that it blinded our little house.

Jen’s idea was to co-create engaging, multimedia, choice based, Udutu courses with me that could be used while teaching on call. The goal is to empower the teacher and also engage learners, so we are learning together, rather than managing challenging behavior all day. We would like to create a library that can be accessed by other teachers and eventually have teachers creating content to share as well, similar to teachers pay teachers. Teachers pay teachers is an online resource in which teachers share and purchase resources from each other—teachers supporting teachers. Udutu has the power to revolutionize the teaching on call experience and empower the substitute teacher to bring quality, easy to understand material to the classroom.

You may be wondering why using Udutu may be a higher quality resource than google slides. Most teachers use google slides for their presentations. Udutu has capabilities of creating options for the learners. It’s easier to aggregate and combine different assets, like the power points, and embedding video. For example, I may build a course with an educational video, a few quizzes and several opportunities for discussion. In this context, learners can choose their own adventure and decide which of those options they’d like to try first. Furthermore, if school were to go online again, Udutu makes it very easy to simply send learners the link to the course and they can go through it at their own pace with the authoring tool. The teacher can keep track and it would make remote assessment much more manageable.

As exciting as this, our idea remains in the infancy stage. Between pandemic teaching and Jen having a child to raise, we have not gone as far as we dreamed. Thus far, we have created a course on natural disasters, mindfulness, self-regulation, neurodiversity and I am currently working on building two music courses to use in my work.
Above all, my collaboration with Jen taught me that substitute teaching can be engaging, meaningful and fun. Admittedly, building online content requires a lot heavy lifting at the beginning. It is made light through collaboration, using what’s already existing and Udutu considers this and you can add as many collaborators as you want and allows you to embed any web content. If it lives on the web, it can live in your course. The next update will surely include the number of teachers we’ve enlisted in order to expand our course library.

Bio: Reegan MacKenzie is a teacher on call in the Greater Victoria School District 61. She works as a contract writer as a side hustle. Jennifer Foster is an instructional designer at Udutu and former teacher. Reegan and Jennifer are friends who collaborated together to begin creating online courses that can be utilized in teaching on call. They hope to have thirty courses in the library by September of 2022, as well as other teachers on board creating courses.

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