A storified archive of tweets with #EWECE.
A storified archive of tweets with #EWECE.
In the recently published NMC Horizon Project Regional Analysis, Technology Outlook for Australian Tertiary Education 2013-18, it stated (p.3) that (shock, horror) there is a need for more faculty training to improve digital media literacy ‘before being asked to teach, and for more professional development opportunities once in the profession’. More significantly, though, the report points out that:
While a lack of adequate training opportunities is a part of the challenge, ultimately a change in the mind sets of disciplines and individual faculty will be required, along with cultural shifts within institutions, before emerging tools and technologies are routinely adopted and implemented as a matter of course.
I do have an anecdote, though, dating back to 2003 when @joannejacobs and me tried out a group blog for the first time with an MBA class (we published a paper on the subject in AJET the following year). In this class, one individual developed quite a following because of the high quality of their posts. The person in question had a Chinese name and I’m ashamed to say that — at this time — I did not know if they were male or female. It was quite a large class, and it only ran for six weeks, so I didn’t get to put a face to everybody’s name. At the end of the term, the mystery blogger — a mainland Chinese woman — stayed behind at the end of the last class to personally thank me for allowing her to participate! She was a very intelligent individual who had not been game enough enter into the verbal jousting with the group of extrovert Australian males that had tended to dominate proceeedings during in-class discussions.
The lesson I learnt from this is that, online, everyone has an equally loud voice. Importantly, people get to contribute who might otherwise not, and others in the group benefit considerably from their insights.
Image source: adi-news.com
The key message is that using laptops and tablet computers in class is less about technology and more about effective pedagogy. In the industrial age we had no alternative to ‘factory-style’ education, delivering programmes en masse, invariably catering to the lowest common denominator. Under this model, students with learning difficulties are left behind and able students aren’t stretched, leaving educators with the issue of student disengagement, and the attendant problems of unruly students, truancy, drop-outs, and so on.
In the digital age, with easy access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), there is no reason to continue with this outdated mode of delivery. Yes, it will take time to make the transition, as professional development of educators is imperative, and — as the NYT article makes clear — there will be pitfalls along the way, but this is not a reason for delay.
The striking thing about this infographic is not just the stunning penetration of Twitter, but also LinkedIn. It is also interesting that the bastion of tradition in the US higher education sector, Harvard University, has the greatest reach in terms of its social networks. Among the challenges noted, is that it is not enough to simply have a presence within the social media. To maintain credibility — in terms of marketing and communication, at least — an institution’s social media profile requires full-time attention.
Michael Wesch of A Vision of Students Today fame gave a TEDx talk last year that I revisited the other day when I found myself (frustratingly) having to justify the case for authentic assessment. “But they’ll cheat won’t they?” is the classic response I get when I present the case for an open-book, open-web summative assessment. Some research I did with Amy Wong back in 2009 suggests the contrary but a much more important question is why someone would want to cheat in the first place.
If the test of a person’s ‘knowledge’ is the ability to dredge information from the brain and use this to piece together something resembling a coherent argument in the unnatural setting of an examination hall, then resorting to unethical means for the dredging process will never be beyond temptation.
If, on the other hand, the knowledge to be tested is a person’s ability to think on one’s feet to solve unstructured, real-world problems, generating unique, meaningful and useful responses, how is it possible to cheat?
Wesch uses the term knowledge-able to describe this attribute, which amounts to a little more than being ‘knowledgeable’. The difference between the two is that the latter does not necessarily require you to practice your knowledge, where you go beyond critical thinking to actually create meaning.
Acquiring knowledge-ability effectively ‘future-proofs’ your learning … it is learning that lasts way beyond the ‘test’.
Image source: mobl21.com
I spoke with a group of training professionals at a large company last week and, for the first time in a long time, I found myself presenting the argument that there is more interactivity in an online class than in a face-to-face (F2F) class. I’ve had to do this on many occasions over the years, but I hadn’t realised that this question had all but disappeared off the radar.
That so few people now would venture to suggest this in the post-Web 2.0 era is testimony, perhaps, to the maturity of online learning. But it’s not just about the increasing popularity of social networking per se. The growing sophistication of handheld devices — or what we used to call ‘mobile phones’ — has added fuel to the social media fire, such that connectivity and interaction levels have reached fever pitch.
In an F2F setting, interaction will always be limited to the number of people who can talk at once. In an online setting, numerous conversations take place concurrently, more people can participate, and they participate with people they perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have participated with.
This is facilitating student engagement on a scale few educators could have dreamt of just a few years ago — myself included. I poured scorn on the idea that anyone would want to read a large amount of text from a mobile device, but then that was before iPhones and iPads, and the advent of ‘the App’. Astonishingly, Apple now claims to have 140,000 apps in the App Store, and some 40,000 of these are educational apps.
Having mucked around with computers in education for almost two decades, from something we used to call computer based teaching (CBT) to what commonly became known as ‘e-learning’, I am confident that, today, the use of ICTs in education is sufficiently ubiquitous, that it’s okay now to simply refer to it as ‘learning’. My rationale for this statement is very simple: this is what people do in spite of the formal education system. The data for the US in the infographic below is fairly compelling. One point it makes that is worth emphasising relates to the current crisis in education where students are so disaffected they are dropping out in record numbers. This is why — as the infographic states — it is Education’s Internet moment! If paradigm shift does not occur now, it never will.