Author: Nikki Andersen

How NGL can inform my role as a teacher

How NGL can inform my role as a teacher

My role as “a teacher,” is a librarian at a higher education institute, where I assist academic staff with copyright, educational design and digital literacy. NGL can inform my role as a teacher by creating an equalised relationship between technology and pedagogy, and by ensuring a student centred learning design through the employment of NGL principles.

Technology & Pedagogy

Selwyn (2014) states that even if teachers use technology in their classrooms, it does not mean they are “harnessing the power of technology.” NGL has shown me that despite the advancement of technology, digital technologies cannot stand alone in supporting student success. This is supported by Toyama (2011) who believes that attempts to use technology as a replacement for instruction are bound to fail. Additionally, Eamon (1999) states that transformative teaching involves more than the conveyance of information. It involves socialisation, interaction and group activities, which…cannot be replaced with technology (Eamon, 1999). As a teacher, I find there is a pedagogy vs. technology debate within higher education. This is because when technologies are introduced, teachers often focus on the technical features without drawing links to the context of the actual teaching practice (Kligyte, 2009). I explored this issue in my post “Pedagogy vs. Technology: It’s time to stop the debate.” Through NGL, it has become clear that the “digital” needs to be de-emphasised in higher education discourse (Jones and Bennett, 2014). This will result in the reimagining of educational technologies and allow for the reassertion of pedagogy-led design, where digital technologies are seen as equivalent, not superior, to effective non-digital alternatives (Jones & Bennett, 2014). NGL supports this equality by permitting teachers to take the role of the facilitator in which students can construct their own knowledge, ideally connected to real-world scenarios in which technology plays a fundamental part of 21st century life. The Toolbelt Theory supports this sentiment by encouraging students to select the technology that fits their TEST (Task, Environment, Skills and Tools) framework (Socol, 2008). As a teacher, NGL has informed me that students should be in control of their “toolbelt” in order to cater for personal differences.

In addition, the SAMR and RAT models show that despite technological evolutions, the importance of pedagogy still thrives in a teacher’s emphasis on teaching skills, rather than the conveyance of content (Downes, 2011; Siemens, 2006). In my teaching context, this includes teaching digital literacy. This is important because digital literacy must accompany technology to ensure students will be able to understand the information and tools provided (Campbell, 2004). However, as discussed in my post ‘It’s crucial to be critical’ there are limitations to NGL technologies. In fact, equitability and accessibility to technology is problematic for incarcerated students, indigenous communities, and students who live in rural or low socioeconomic areas. Technology may emphasise wealthy disparity, and the digital divide does hinder NGL’s inclusiveness. Despite connectivity limitations, NGL has the capacity to bridge the digital divide through the development of technologies that do not require internet. However, getting students to engage with technologies and a course requires more than just access – it requires the employment of appropriate pedagogies, the fostering of social capital and a unification with educational technologies (Farley et al. 2015). As a result, NGL has informed my role as a teacher by encouraging me to grasp pedagogy in one hand, technology in the other, and to bring them together in order to create transformative learning experiences for my students.

Student-centred learning design

Additionally, NGL has informed my role as a teacher by changing my perception of a teacher to  “facilitators,” and “designers of learning experience,” where NGL principles are used to enhance student experience (Lavoie et al. 2011). Traditionally, teachers were seen as subject experts. However, through connectivism and social constructivism the role of a teacher has transformed into that of a facilitator, where students are able to construct their own knowledge (Le Cornu & Peters, 2005). Teachers need to cater for a diversity of students, all of whom have differing needs and skills. Therefore, universal design and the Toolbelt Theory need to be considered in order to ensure the unique needs of each student is met. This is supported by Laurillard (2012) who advocates the concept of “design science,” which focuses on educational theories to attain student learning. As a teacher, I would like to foster student individuality by allowing my students to be in control of their learning journey. This includes the exploration of technologies that suit their context, as well as a promotion on peer-learning and industry collaboration. Up until now, I feel my teaching experience has been governed by the organsiational structures that I work within. Learning Management Systems, synchronous Zoom sessions with chosen times and compulsory readings are familiar features within higher education. However, NGL has informed my role as a teacher by encouraging me to think outside the box, especially in relation to learning design and student experience.

As a copyright librarian I am currently thinking of events for Open Access Week, which runs in October. My current ideas include the creation of a blog where students can discuss their experience and challenges with openness, and the idea of what “open” means to them. In addition, I am thinking of running a “replace your copyrighted material with open access ones,” workshop where my students will be able to bring along an existing activity (i.e. textbook, course) and I will facilitate the development of open approaches. The importance of this workshop resides in the fact my students get to pick an activity that is of value of them, and they get to choose the tools they wish to use to accomplish the task. I believe these ideas have stemmed from NGL, which shows it has definitely informed my role as a teacher.

References

Campbell, S. (2004). Defining Information in the 21st Century. Paper presented at World Library and Information Congress: 70th IFLA General Conference and Council, Bueno Aires, Argentina. Retrieved from https://era.library.ualberta.ca/files/nv935310f/IFLA_2004_InfoLit.pdf

Downes, S. (2011). ‘Connectivism’ and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved 8 September, 2017, from, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html

Eamon, D. (1999). Distance Education: Has technology become a threat to the academy? Behavior Research Methods, Instruments and Computers, 31(2), 197-207. doi: 10.3758/BF03207711

Farley, H., Dove, S., Seymour, S., Macdonald, J., Abraham, C., Lee, C., Hopkins, S., Cox, J., & Patching, L. (2015). Making the Connection: Allowing access to digital higher education in a correctional environment. Paper presented at ASCILITE 2015, Perth, WA. Retrieved from http://www.2015conference.ascilite.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/ascilite-2015-proceedings.pdf

Jones, A & Bennett, R. (2014). Dissolving the online-offline divide: Re-conceptualizing space in higher education course design. Paper presented at proceedings of the 23rd annual Teaching Learning Forum, Perth, WA. Retrieved from https://clt.curtin.edu.au/events/conferences/tlf/tlf2014/refereed/jones.pdf

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. Paper presented at ASCILITE 2009, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf

Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a design science: Building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lavoie, D., Rosman, A., & Sharma, S. (2011). Information Literacy by Design: Recalibrating Graduate Professional Online Programs. In T. Mackey & T. Jacobson (Eds.). Teaching Information Literacy Online (pp. 133-152). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Le Cornu, R & Peters, J. (2005). Towards constructivist classrooms: the role of the reflective teacher. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 6(1).

Selwyn, N. Technology and education: why it’s crucial to be critical. Retrieved 8 September from, https://www.academia.edu/7771394/Technology_and_education_-_why_its_crucial_to_be_critical

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved 8 September, from, http://www.elearnspace.org/KnowingKnowledge_LowRes.pdf

Socol, I.D. (2008). The Toolbelt and Universal Design – Education for everyone. Retrieved 8 September, from, http://speedchange.blogspot.com.au/p/blog-page_2046.html

Toyama, K. (2011). There Are No Technology Shortcuts In Good Education. Retrieved 8 September, 2017, from http://edutechdebate.org/ict-in-schools/there-are-no-technology-shortcuts-to-good-education/

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As a learner, participation in NGL was useful to me

As a learner, participation in NGL was useful to me

I have always had a self-directed mindset to my own learning, especially in finding the methods that are most effective and motivating for me. I chose to use NGL to learn Auslan, and in doing I began to question my learning process. Overall, NGL did not help me learn Auslan. NGL might have been useful if someone learnt Auslan with me, or if I had chosen a “digital” learning task that had the potential to foster within an online environment (such as Samanthi’s endeavour to teach children to code, or Madelein’s decision to learn Second Life). The struggle to learn Auslan was discussed in my post, “A Learner’s Reflection.” Throughout my learning endeavour, I yearned for human interaction, or for someone to learn Auslan with me. This sentiment is endorsed by Costa and Kallick (2008) who acknowledge that learning is enhanced when we learn with others. However, I did not seek support from my fellow EDU8117 peers in relation to Auslan. Instead, I took a close look at my learning network and used CLEM (Communities, Literature, Examples & Models) to seek out practice-based communities (Jones, 2017). I discovered an eight week Auslan class at my local library. Upon attending, I determined the class was a combination of a practice-based and knowledge-based community (Riel and Polin, 2004). By undertaking Auslan classes, I learnt the basics of signing, which EDU8117 could not provide me. You can check out my amateur signing abilities in the clip below.

Although EDU8117 did not help me learn Auslan, it paradoxically pushed me outside my comfort zone and compelled me to make connections via networking, both within formal and informal environments. Unfortunately, I have not become fluent in Auslan. However, I believe my Auslan inefficiency does not reflect the usefulness of NGL principles. This is supported by Downes (2011) who states that the value of a learning experience resides in the process, not the content. As a learner, participation in NGL was useful to me as it showed me the imminence of networked learning within day-to-day experiences. NGL principles such as CLEM, Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and connectivism showed me that learners can “access endless sources of information, build relationships, collaborate and develop knowledge outside formal educational environments (Kligyte, 2009). This reinforces the notion that lifelong learning occurs beyond the classroom. This is supported by Tobin (2000) who states that “real learning” – the information that is retained and used beyond a course – can only be determined by the learner themselves. Therefore, similarly to my experience as a student, it became clear that “as a learner,” I was in control of my learning journey, and was subconsciously using NGL principles to aid my learning process.

In addition, participation in NGL was useful as it gave me the opportunity to reflect and gain insight into the way I learnt and constructed knowledge (Siemens, 2008). NGL encouraged critical thinking by allowing me to question myself and others, thus “courageously risking the stability of our social worlds,” (Hearn, 2013). In exploring PKM, I discovered the value of “sensing,” and appreciated the fundamental role it played in the digestion of information. I acknowledged this in my PKM post, by stating that;

Sensing is a big part of my PKM routine. I mostly do this by writing. I am a crazy writer. I write about everything…just to make sense of it…writing challenges my views and perceptions, which I believe is a core of the sensing element,” (Andersen, 2017).

As a learner, blogging was the perfect channel to “sense,” and “share,” (Jarche, 2014). Blogging also represented the true nature of NGL. This is supported by Barnes (2017) who states;

Blogging is an assemblage of loaded words, meanings, images, and politics which can set up relationships across time and space. The writers, the humans who are the creators of the online text, are both simultaneously human, machine and text. Cyborgic assemblages which take on a life of their own once “Publish” is clicked. Cyborgic text which co-functions in symbiosis, in sympathy but not necessarily in harmony. Blogging is an act of inquiry. Blogging, if the author of the text is willing and open, is an act of becoming,” (Barnes, 2017; Deleuze & Guattari, 1987).

The characteristics of blogging, as described by Barnes (2017) are also the characteristics of a network (Downes, 2011). As a learner, this quote resonated with me, as it made me realise the connections between everything I have learnt in my past, everything I have learnt through EDU8117, and everything I have learnt on my quest to learn Auslan. The “distributed world of information [suddenly] appeared to be coherently connected,” and I realised I was experiencing the integrative features of the Threshold Concept (Kligyte, 2009, p. 531). In using NGL as a learner, I have felt like “a restless, nomadic, unruly thinker who settles down for a while to explore a new terrain, building on…earlier adventures, and then picking up what was most worth keeping and moving on (Barnes, 2017; Soja, 1996). I believe this is a reflection of connectivism (Siemens, 2008; Downes, 2011), which is imperative to lifelong learning.

Overall, participation in NGL was useful by allowing me to understand the meaning of my experience via blogging (Costa and Kallick, 2008). According to Barnes (2017), blogging as inquiry is a method which challenges the notion that writing is a natural and linear process. In fact, Barnes (2017) argues that blogging is liminal. I agree with Barnes (2017), and do not wish to box my learning process in a framework for fear of limiting its liminality.

NGL has helped me discover my identity and process as a learner. I have stepped over the “threshold” and understand the knowledge obtained from NGL cannot be “unlearned,” (Kligyte, 2009). NGL has shown me that learning – true lifelong learning – will always involve “messy journeys back and forth across conceptual terrains,” (Cousins, 2006), through endless connections (Downes, 2011).

This leads me to conclude that lifelong learning thrives in liminality.

References

Andersen, N. (2017). Personal Knowledge Management. Retrieved 4 September, 2017, from, https://openpagesweb.wordpress.com/2017/08/13/my-personal-knowledge-management-pkm/

Barnes, N. (2017). Blogging as a method of inquiry. Reconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology, 8(1), 17 -26. doi: 10.7577/rerm.2236

Costa, A & Kallick, B. (2008). Learning through reflection. Retrieved 4 September, 2017, from, http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108008/chapters/Learning-Through-Reflection.aspx

Cousin, G. (2006). An introduction to threshold concepts. Planet No 17, December 2006, Retrieved 4 September, 2017, from http://www.gees.ac.uk/planet/p17/gc.pdf

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus. (Brian Massumi, Trans) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Downes, S. (2011). ‘Connectivism’ and Connective Knowledge. Retrieved 4 September, 2017, from, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html

Downes, S. (2011). Groups vs Networks: the Class Struggle Continues. Retrieved 4 September, 2017, from http://www.downes.ca/post/42521

Hearn, A. (2013). Situation critical. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 10(2-3), pp. 273-279.

Jarche, H. (2014). What is your PKM routine? Retrieved 4 September, 2017, from http://jarche.com/2014/03/what-is-your-pkm-routine/

Jones, D. (2017). An Experiment in Networked & Global Learning – Week 4 – CLEM and Community. Retrieved 4 September, 2017, from, https://netgl.wordpress.com/study-schedule-2/week-4-clem-and-community/

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. Paper presented at ASCILITE 2009, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Retrieved 2 September, from. http://elearnspace.org/Articles/systemic_impact.htm

Soja, E. W. (1996). Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell.

Tobin, D. (2000). All Learning is Self-Directed. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

 

 

As a student, participation in NGL was useful to me

As a student, participation in NGL was useful to me

From the moment I started NGL, I found it difficult to engage deeply and overtly. The structure of NGL intimidated me because it did not comply with the conventional format and familiarity of tertiary courses that I have previously undertaken. As a student, I have mostly participated in formal learning environments. Therefore, I became rather disoriented in an informal environment (Jarche, 2006). However, I sought comfort in Kligyte’s (2006) threshold concept. I allowed myself to experience liminality, defined by Cousins (2006) as “messy journeys back, forth and across conceptual terrain,” but I was also determined to retrieve an “integrative” and “irreversible” learning experience (Kligyte, 2009).

As a student, participation in NGL was useful to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, I found immense value in peer learning. “Peer learning is an educational practice in which students interact with other students to attain educational goals,” (O’Donnell and King, 1999). Throughout NGL, I was enthralled by Mitch’s knowledge on blockchain technology and Web 2.0, and I gained practical value from the technologies within Lauren’s “toolbelt,” including the Bubbl.us software, in which I used to construct my own learning network (Socol, 2008). Additionally, I was fortunate enough to have my colleague Samanthi undertake this journey with me. Samanthi and I were able to escape the confines of online learning by bouncing ideas off one another in a face-to-face environment, especially in relation to our assessment requirements as a student.

By reading my peers’ thoughts via their personalised blogs, I was able to analyse the way others learnt and could apply this to my own work as a student. In my post on PKM, I labelled observation as a key factor in the seeking phrase of Jarche’s (2014) Seek, Sense and Share framework. By reading other students’ posts and listening to the recorded Zoom sessions, I was able to engage “intellectually, emotionally and socially in a constructive conversation…by questioning each other’s views and reaching consensus or dissent,” (Boud, 2001). Despite the value I gained from peer learning, I believe that as a group, we did not harness its full potential.

This is reasoned by our small class size, low levels of interactivity and the accredited aspects of the NGL curriculum. As a group, we were governed by learning objectives and timeframes, which are the characteristics of a task-based community (Riel and Polin, 2004). These attributes imposed significant limitations on the empowerment of peer learning. For example:

  • As students, we all focused on the quality of our own blogs, instead of generating discussions on the blogs of others and;
  • The management of multiple blogs meant there was no centrality for authentic conversation, and further opportunities for peer learning

In addition, Siemens (2008) acknowledges that accreditation drives higher education. This leads me to believe that marking rubrics drive student participation. Consequently, adhering to NGL assessment requirements (such as linking to other people’s blog) averted me from the true potency of peer learning. Despite this shortcoming, I obtained more value from peer-learning than NGL’s course content. This is because content has a short life-span (Siemens 2006). Despite my perception that certain assessment requirements hindered peer learning, participation in NGL has taught me to let go of “I” and embrace “we,” (Barnes, 2017). Blogging within NGL has created a community, where “I continuously am a record of my becoming,” and “am linking to the becoming of others,” (Barnes, 2017, p. 24). As such, blogging is a method of inquiry, as well as a method of collaboration (Barnes, 2017). Cross (1999) acknowledges that learning is about making connections and exploring new ways of thinking. These characteristics were active within peer learning, and thus useful to me as a student.

Participation in NGL was also useful to me, as it gave me a sense of student ownership. Siemens (2008) states that “different learners have different needs,” thus, arguing that learners should be in control of their learning journey. Tobin (2000, p. 12) agrees by stating that “all learning is self-directed,” and that “we foster our growth when we control our learning,” (Costa and Kallick, 2008). A sense of self-directedness and self-ownership was present within NGL. Firstly, Socol’s (2008) Toolbelt Theory gave me ownership over the tools I used in alignment with the TEST (Task, Environment, Skills and Tools) framework. The idea behind Universal Design Technology and the Toolbelt Theory, is that as human we differ – “our tasks differ…our environments differ…our circumstances differ…and we pick the appropriate tool,” to suit our differences (Socol, 2008). With this ideology, the Toolbelt Theory gave me ownership over technology, and its use within different contexts.

In addition, my student ownership was enhanced with the realisation that Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is driven by personalisation (Jarche, 2014). In order to establish an effective PKM routine, people have to find out what works for them (Jarche, 2014). The importance of personalisation is reinforced by Siemens (2008) who states that some students prefer high degrees of social interaction, while others prefer a more individual approach. Looking at the blogs of my peers, our individuality and self-directedness is seen through each of our posts and the way we have tailored them in association with Chris’s facilitation skills, and the NGL curriculum. Having control over our ideas via blogging meant that as students, we could construct our own knowledge, based on a constructive learning framework (Le Cornu and Peters, 2005; Siemens, 2008). This level of control intrinsically motivated me to produce quality work on my own blog.

Overall, participating in NGL taught me that:

  • I owned my PKM routine. The way I sought, sensed and shared information could only be determined by me;
  • I owned my “toolbelt,” and could select the tools I needed in relation to the task and environment
  • I owned my blog and the ideas expressed within it. I realised that as I shaped my blog, my blog shaped me, and as a result “I have become more grounded in my world view,” (Barnes, 2017, p.21).

This leads me to agree with what Siemens (2008) has been saying all along – that as a student, I own my learning journey.

 

References:

Barnes, N. (2017). Blogging as a method of inquiry. Reconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology, 8(1), 17 -26. doi: 10.7577/rerm.2236

Boud, D. (2001). ‘Introduction: Making the Move to Peer Learning’. In Boud, D., Cohen, Ruth & Sampson, Jane (Ed.). Peer Learning in Higher Education: Learning From & With Each Other. London: Kogan Page Ltd, 1–17.

Costa, A & Kallick, B. (2008). Learning through reflection. Retrieved 2 September, 2017, from, http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/108008/chapters/Learning-Through-Reflection.aspx

Cousin, G. (2006). An introduction to threshold concepts. Planet No 17, December 2006, Retrieved 2 September, 2017, from http://www.gees.ac.uk/planet/p17/gc.pdf

Cross, P. (1999). Learning is about making connections. Retrieved 2 September, from, http://djames84.net/Cert_51/Learning%20Is%20About%20Connections.pdf

Jarche, H. (2006). Formal education needs more informal learning. Retrieved 2 September, from, http://jarche.com/2006/10/formal-education-needs-more-informal-learning/

Jarche, H. (2014). What is your PKM routine? Retrieved 2 September, 2017, from http://jarche.com/2014/03/what-is-your-pkm-routine/

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. Paper presented at ASCILITE 2009, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/auckland09/procs/kligyte-poster.pdf

Le Cornu, R & Peters, J. (2005). Towards constructivist classrooms: the role of the reflective teacher. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 6(1).

O’Donnell, A. & King, A. (1999). Cognitive perspectives on peer learning. Lawrence Erlbaum

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved 2 September, from, http://www.elearnspace.org/KnowingKnowledge_LowRes.pdf

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Retrieved 2 September, from. http://elearnspace.org/Articles/systemic_impact.htm

Socol, I.D. (2008). The Toolbelt and Universal Design – Education for everyone. Retrieved 2 September, from, http://speedchange.blogspot.com.au/p/blog-page_2046.html

Tobin, D. (2000). All Learning is Self-Directed. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

It’s crucial to be critical

It’s crucial to be critical

Critical reflection involves questioning ourselves and courageously risking the stability of our social worlds (Hearn, 2013). One issue that troubles me, especially within the UX and LX design space, is the emphasis on designing learning environments with the persona of the typical student in mind. This is a shortcoming, and an issue that I will face when using NGL to design an intervention as a teacher.

In order to cater for the evolving university market, higher education in Australia is a digitalised affair. As educators, we tend to forget that access to education should be for everyone, not just those who can afford technology and internet access. In fact, technology might actually emphasise wealth disparity. Equity and accessibility to technology is problematic for incarcerated students, indigenous communities, and students who live in rural or low socioeconomic areas. I have briefly explored this in my previous post – “Pedagogy vs. Technology: It’s time to stop the debate!”

Ironically, connectivity is imperative for students undertaking tertiary study with academics designing courses on the assumption that students have reliable internet access (Hancock, 2010). This is not always the case. In fact, UNESCO’s Broadband Commission (2015) has revealed that 60% of the world is without internet, with Google (2015) stating that “even when online access is available, it can be spotty.” Cooper (2000) elaborates on this by explaining there are different levels of connectivity, including:

  • The fully connected (those with an Internet Provider or high speed Internet)
  • The partially connected (those with basic Internet and email service)
  • The potentially connected (those without Internet but who are in possession of a digital device)
  • The disconnected (those without Internet and a digital device)

These varying degrees of connectivity can have a profound impact on social capital with the accessibility and mobilisation of resources affecting the outcomes of people’s social action (Chen, 2013). Therefore, integrating technologies and NGL principles within learning environments is a paradox, when these social justice initiatives lie at the heart of the digital divide.

This flaw extends to blind and visually-impaired students, and other marginalised cohorts who do not fit the persona of the “typical” student. Selwyn (2014) addresses this issue by stating that even if a teacher uses technology in their classroom, this does not mean they are “harnessing the power of technology,” especially if their students are “atypical.” Universal design reinforces the need to utilise multi-modal learning in order to cater for the learning needs of all students – not merely those who have easy access to technology.

How do we ensure that courses are student-centred in relation to student diversity? How do we ensure library catalogues and websites are accessible to students with visual impairments? How do we teach digital literacy skills to students who do not have internet access?

These are questions we can’t really answer, at least not holistically.

According to Siemens (2013), “there has been growing creep of ‘rockstar-ism’ in education where we look for ‘the person’ to give us ‘the solution.’”

We do not need the answers, at least not right away. Critical thinking is about discovering the problems, not necessarily the solutions.

Siemens (2013) states “I’ve answered many questions from audience members [at conferences] with ‘I don’t know’ and ‘that depends’. People seem to find this unsatisfying. We like our so-called rock stars in the education and technology field. We like clear answers. And it’s not healthy for us or for our field.”

It’s crucial to admit our shortcomings.

It’s crucial to ask questions of ourselves and our learning communities.

And it’s crucial to be critical of the responses.

References

Chen, W. (2013). The Implications of Social Capital for the Digital Divides in America. The Information Society, 29(1), 13-25. doi: 10.1080/01972243.2012.739265

Cooper, M. (2000). Disconnected, Disadvantages, and Disenfranchised: Explorations in the Digital Divide. Retrieved 27 August, from http://consumersunion.org/pdf/disconnect.pdf

Google. (2015). Navigate and search the real world…online or off. Retrieved 27 August, 2017, from https://googleblog.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/navigate-and-search-real-world-online.html

Hancock, V. (2010). Essential, Desirable or Optional? Making distant e-learning courses available to those without internet access. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 2(2). Retrieved from http://www.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2010/Val_Hancock.pdf

Hearn, A. (2013). Situation critical. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 10(2-3), pp. 273-279.

Selwyn, N. Technology and education: why it’s crucial to be critical. Retrieved 27 August from, https://www.academia.edu/7771394/Technology_and_education_-_why_its_crucial_to_be_critical

Siemens, G. (2013). Done doing keynotes. Retrieved 27 August, from, www.elearnspace.org/blog/2013/09/07/done-doing-keynotes/

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2015). The State of Broadband 2015. Retrieved 27 August, 2017, from http://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/reports/bb-annualreport2015.pdf

Tensions and reflections

Tensions and reflections

Throughout this course, an aura of positivity surrounds NGL. I do not know if this is because no one wants to bring the negative aspects to the table, or simply because NGL does have transformative abilities within the educational space.

Reading the articles “Technology and education – why it’s crucial to be critical” and “All models are wrong – but some are useful” made me realise that there is an absence of critical thinking within NGL. This made me question the negative aspects of NGL.

Firstly, the amount of technology, and its constant promotion can be an overwhelming experience for students. Throughout this course, I felt like new technologies were constantly shoved in my face, (right from the blog’s creation to the integration of Diigo, Reddit and nameless other tools). Would it have been better to integrate the technology gradually? Or was the constant promotion of technology a deliberate strategy to compel students out of their comfort zone? Was it a way of enhancing deeper reflection? Collaborative learning?

Or, were some students left behind because of the way technology was introduced? . My statement stems from the lack of posts from other people’s blog, which in turn, makes it difficult for me to comply with my requirement as a student, to link to other people’s posts.

In addition, as students, I felt like we struggled to “take off” as a network, simply because each of us was moving at a difference pace within the NGL environment, with most of us (including me) hovering in liminality. A few weeks ago Mitch and Keturah disagreed with my post “Are we a group, network or collective?” I still stand by my view, even stronger than before. In truth, I think we are evolving, but believe as a learning community, we have not established ourselves as a network, but as a group or task-based community that is simply aiming to meet student requirements.

One of the shortcoming of NGL that I have found is a sense of isolation.  No one has commented on each other’s blog, and there as been a lack of presence from the facilitator. As a result, the NGL course and the connections within it, did not provide me with feedback or motivation that could have enhanced further action within my own learning.

This post was not meant to be one of negativity, but as acknowledged by Hearn (2013) it takes courage to critique, which is “required if technology and education is to become a genuinely significant area of academic endeavor,” (Selwyn, 2014).

References

Hearn, A. (2013). Situation critical. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 10(2-3):273-279.

Jones, D. (2015). All models are wrong, but some are useful and its application to e-learning. Retrieved 27 August, from, http://djon.es/blog/2015/08/28/all-models-are-wrong-but-some-are-useful-and-its-application-to-e-learning/

Selwyn, N. Technology and education: why it’s crucial to be critical. Retrieved 27 August from, https://www.academia.edu/7771394/Technology_and_education_-_why_its_crucial_to_be_critical

 

Is technology making us stupid? No.

Is technology making us stupid? No.

This week, we were asked to be more critical of NGL. Applicably, I could critically see both sides of the argument in Lodge’s (2012) article, “Is technology making us stupid?” I am a millennial, so I am technically classified as a “digital native,” (Prensky, 2001). However, I felt like I grew up in the transition phase, where technology was slowly been integrated into our daily lives. To be frank, I was quite oblivious to the digital revolution and I credit that to my upbringing (being raised in the country). However, like Madelein mentioned in her post, I can say that nowadays I would be slightly lost without my iPhone, social media and the ability to Google pretty much everything. As a student, the ability to search for information on the web is transformative…but does that make us lazy? Incompetent? Stupid?

No.

Students have always subconsciously used Jarche’s (2014) framework of seeking, sensing and sharing knowledge. When I apply SAMR to this argument, it is evident that Google is a substitute for library books. We are still seeking the same knowledge, just in a different way. The rise of virtual classrooms might have made us more anti-social, but it definitely has not impacted student intelligence.

In fact, education in the information age has fostered independent and critical learners. This is reasoned by the fact that students have more control over their learning, as supported by Siemens (2008).

As an educator, I teach academics about issues that are connected with internet use including: copyright infringement, plagiarism, incorrect information, critical thinking, and open education. Although information on copyright law is easily accessible on the web, my students need to use critical thinking skills to interpret legislation for their own context.

Are my students stupid because technology allows easy access to a digital copy of the copyright act?

Definitely not.

In fact, when you add copyright and digital technologies together you get incredibly complex and messy conundrums (as Samanthi mentioned through her blog on copyright frustrations), simply because the Copyright Act 1968 does not fit into today’s digital world.

As stated by Lodge (2012), the “future of technology-enabled learning and education is in a synthesis of the science of learning and the art of teaching,” which will help us “figure out how we can educate the future generations of students to become wise and knowledgeable in a world where information is cheap and easy.”

Is technology making us stupid?

No.

It’s just making us different.

References:

Prenksy, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants: Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 6.

Jarche, H. (2014). What is your PKM routine? Retrieved 13 August, 2017, from http://jarche.com/2014/03/what-is-your-pkm-routine/

Lodge, J. (2012). Education in the information age: is technology making us stupid? Retrieved 25 August, from, https://theconversation.com/education-in-the-information-age-is-technology-making-us-stupid-10844

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Retrieved 24 August, from. http://elearnspace.org/Articles/systemic_impact.htm

 

 

Some things change, some things stay the same

Some things change, some things stay the same

The literature by Siemens is a familiar discourse within higher education. In fact, the questions posed on the NGL blog are the same questions Siemens asked a decade ago, and ones that continued to be asked today. It seems, with the advancement of technology, the higher education sector is in a race it can never finish, nor win – with the ultimate goal of fulfilling student needs within evolving, uncertain, and rather elusive learning environments.

What is the role of an educator?

I believe educators have two primary roles – the role of facilitators and the role of learning designers. Educators are people who facilitate connections, knowledge and conversation. They prompt engagement and new ways of thinking by encouraging creativity, innovation and reflection. Based on social constructivism, the role of an educator as a facilitator allows students to construct their own knowledge (Le Cornu & Peters, 2005). Additionally, I believe the needs of students will not be met until educators become designers of learning experiences (Lavoie et al, 2011), with an understanding for the unique needs of their students. This is also supported by Laurillard (2012) who advocates the concept of “design science,” which focuses on educational theories to attain student learning.

What is the role of the learner?

The role of the learner is to be a self-directed explorer of ideas, learning initiatives, and connections. Siemens (2008) states that “different learners have different needs,” thus, arguing that learners should be in control of their learning journey. Tobin (2000, p. 12) agrees by stating that “all learning is self-directed,” and that “real learning – the information that is retained and used beyond a course – can only be determined by the learner themselves.” As a learner, this is something that resonates with me. According to Siemens (2008), some students prefer high degree of social interaction, while others prefer a more individual approach. I have always had a self-directed mindset to my own learning, especially in finding the methods that are most effective and motivating for me. I believe this is important for other learners too. Looking at my fellow peers, this self-directedness is seen through each of our blogs and way we have tailored them in association with Chris’s facilitation skills, and the design of the main NGL blog page.

How would curriculum be created and share?

Curriculum needs to be created in a structured and relevant way. According to Siemens (2006), relevance is not just about the nature of content, but rather the process of ensuring currency for students. Siemens (2006, p. 43) acknowledges that content has a short lifespan and that “through the connectivist approach to learning, we create networks of knowledge to assist in replacing outdated content with current content,” in order to ensure curriculum worthiness.

In addition, the curriculum should allow for networking, communication and opportunities for students to connect knowledge to real life scenarios and practicalities. In Lauren and Mitch’s blogs, there has been a significant focus on technologies. This will drastically influence how curriculum is created and shared. As digital technologies are used within courses, information literacy must be embedded within the curriculum to ensure students will be able to use, find and share the information provided (Campbell, 2004). Digital literacies and information skills are paramount in the digital age (van Deursen & van Dijk, 2010). These skills include: computer literacy, information literacy, media literacy, network literacy, e-literacy, web literacy, game literacy and digital communication literacy (Lankshear & Knobel, 2008). This diversity means that digital literacy is often seen as a “framework for integrating other literacies and skillsets,” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2008, p.4). From Siemen’s comment on currency, and my own experience as an educator within the information science field, I believe the curriculum needs to be created with digital literacy in mind.

How would research be conducted?

Research would be collaborative and methodological, qualitative and quantitative. Networks would be the core of research conduction. This would be achieved through task-based, practice-based and knowledge-based communities (Riel and Polin, 2004). Technology would also play a fundamental role in research management.

What would be the role of the university in society?

Universities are hubs of learning, knowledge and discovery. Despite the changing roles of educators and learners, the role of universities is rather static. By comparing ancient and contemporary universities throughout history, it is evident that despite technological progression the goals of universities have remained relatively the same. These goals include: learning and teaching, research and more recently entrepreneurship via networking. Although universities have a stagnant core, they must constantly evolve in a rapidly changing economy.

What would ‘education’ look like? How would we mark it? Accredit?

Education will be more student-centered, with an aim of creating independent and critical leaners. This will be achieved by focusing more on skill, rather than content. Education will be more flexible and integrative. There will be a favour of virtual environments over physical classrooms. As a result, there will be further exploration on the concept of “place” within education. This is also supported by Northcote (2008, p. 677) who emphasises the importance of “place,” in physical and virtual environments by stating that “a sense of place is often experienced more at the individual level than the community level.” That is not to say a student cannot create a “place to hangout” with others within their online learning environment, but rather, as determined by Siemens, the student is in control of their learning experience, rather than the teacher.

I think education will look more digital. To be truthful, as an educator, this scares me. In my previous post ‘Are you digitally included or a useless digit,’ I mentioned the rise of robots in the workforce. I anticipate education following a similar path with an emphasis on “self-service,” automation and artificial intelligence. However, despite the inevitability of technological advancements, I hope that humans remain the heart of education.

Accreditation and graduate attributes will continue to drive higher education. According to Siemens “universities better serve their role of accreditation…on sufficiency of learning when they look beyond formal classrooms.” I envisage this to be achieved through an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning (and graded participation) and stronger partnership between students and industry.

References

Campbell, S. (2004). Defining Information in the 21st Century. Paper presented at World Library and Information Congress: 70th IFLA General Conference and Council, Bueno Aires, Argentina. Retrieved from https://era.library.ualberta.ca/files/nv935310f/IFLA_2004_InfoLit.pdf

Lankshear, C & Knobel, M. (2008). Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a design science: Building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lavoie, D., Rosman, A., & Sharma, S. (2011). Information Literacy by Design: Recalibrating Graduate Professional Online Programs. In T. Mackey & T. Jacobson (Eds.). Teaching Information Literacy Online (pp. 133-152). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Le Cornu, R & Peters, J. (2005). Towards constructivist classrooms: the role of the reflective teacher. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 6(1).

Northcote, M. (2008). Sense of place in online learning environments. Paper presented at ASCILITE, Melbourne, Vic. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/melbourne08/procs/northcote.pdf

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved 24 August, from, http://www.elearnspace.org/KnowingKnowledge_LowRes.pdf

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Retrieved 24 August, from. http://elearnspace.org/Articles/systemic_impact.htm

Tobin, D. (2000). All Learning is Self-Directed. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

Van Deursen, A & Van Dijk, J. (2010). Internet skills and the digital divide. New Media and Society, 13(6), 893-911. doi: 10.1177/1461444810386774