"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Connected learning environments

Teachers have forever been Instructional Designers. As teachers we know that the learning space influences so many things about learning. The design of the room, learning material, assessment items, feedback etc. greatly influence how the learner might feel about the subject that is taught or whether or not their curiosity might be stirred. McIntosh (2010) suggests that there needs to be real synergistic design with classroom and blended spaces so that learning moves freely between the two spaces.

Collaboration

Collaboration is a skill that can be developed in face to face learning and in virtual or blended environments. Communication is at the heart of learning. There can be no doubt that collaborative environments will not work for everyone but in an information society it will be so important for our students to understand that the traditional frameworks of our societies have been changed because of social media and knowledge networking have given access to more information, experts and groups of people than any other time in history. Reingold (2008) saw that the internet has disrupted the way we connect and communicate and our students are part of a connected world and connected communities.



Students in a modern learning environment need to be ‘participatory learners’ much like Sieman's view of the concierge, deeply involved in the process and virtual classrooms begins to address this concept but also aligns with Rheingold’s view that human interaction is still an important part of learning. It seems as though some learners are happy to be in a space where the connection is somewhat distant (blog, social media, texting) from an actual face to face interaction with a physical human however technology is really pushing for meaningful connectedness and virtual or holographic learning may be a norm in the future.

Students as innovators 
In designing and developing blended learning courses Blooms Taxonomy can be so useful. It's important in face to face and blended learning to develop all thinking skills. It's easy to get excited by shiny apps and fun games but students need to explore ideas not just in creative ways but really develop critical thinking skills that include thinking outside the box. George Couros's (2015) book 'The Innovator's Mindset' really helps to see that if you aren't an innovative teacher than how can you expect your students to be innovative. Syliva Duckworth's image is on my wall above my computer and is a daily reminder to be the best that I can be. 



References: 
Rheingold, H., (2017, January) The new power of collaboration. [Videofile] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA9a4rEcpCY 
Siemens, G. (2007). 10 minute lecture – curatorial teaching. Retrieved from http://learnonline.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/10-minute-lecture-george-siemens-curatorial-teaching

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Make it a nice blend, not a technology smash up

  1. It seems for some that there is no doubt that blended technology is working. 
  2. U.S. Department of Education’s (2010) “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies,” “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction” (p. xiv) and, notably, “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction” (p. xv).
  3. However in the Vocation and training sector in NSW, Australia this is by far the same case. In some cases as little as 7% of students complete online courses and there are few skilled teachers with experience to use blended technology well. Below is an except from a piece I wrote a few years ago addressing the complexities of online learning
  4. I don’t know about you but I have come to realise that I take the internet for granted. I get all excited by new technology and gadgets and this might stem from a fascination in Star Trek over the last twenty years. Star Trek looked to a future when information, communication, education and life where all intertwined and lived in harmony with each other. Trends in educational developments can’t only been seen in the hardware or software that will be developed but in education theory that drives change and understanding about how and why we learn. 
    Pedagogy in a digital age

    There was a shift in the 1990s from the internet being a suppository of knowledge to a place where crowd wisdom could be harnessed and used for work, learning or pleasure. (SurowieckiCanole, G., 2012.p.49) Once technology afforded new ways of accessing knowledge and information it was a game changer for education. 

    “We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.” Margaret Mead(1980)
     There are many beliefs that currently underpin education pedagogy that predate the digital age, (Heppell,1999,p.20) so the challenge for education specialists is to consider how fixed knowledge can be included in a learning environment where new networks,collaborations, connections and innovation are driving learning experiences that are afforded to students in the new digital environment. (Brown ,S.,2012)When creating learning experiences pedagogy and assessment cannot remain fixed on information gathering and regurgitation of knowledge based on fixed predetermined tests but rather to the broader experience where learning is relevant and meaningful. Starkey suggests that we are moving from ‘knowledge based’ learning to ‘critical thinking’ based learning and this shift will allow for more connectedness when it comes to the learning environment. (2011, p.19)Students will seek to gain autonomy and the ability to be masters of their own learning through experimentation and meaningful dialogue. (Ravenscroft, 2011,p.46,Haesler, 2015)These learning experiences come about through networks, connections and collaboration.(Bereiter,2002, Gilbert 2005, Simens, 2004), p.21, Ford, 2008,p.77)

    Whilst these new learning opportunities may be useful Ken Robinson (2012) goes as far as suggesting that passion and desire to learn are fundamental when we are learning and Dillon adds that curiosity is key to engage in learning. (Dillon, 2012)
    Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!

    Ford suggests three ways in which teachers can develop different pedagogy modes in order to engage with students in the learning environment. (2008, p.77)A cognitive view of learning considers that learners construct and build upon their own internal knowledge structures and representation to engage with new learning opportunities. In contrast he also suggests a humanistic view where the goal of learning is self-actualisation and fulfillment in the learning experience comes from both cognitive and affective levels. Lastly he considers a socially/situated perspective where learning becomes interactive and is between people and real world contexts. When the possibility of these theories are combined with positive learning experiences through structured experimental learning then these theories are useful in supporting the development of learners’ process capabilities. (Levy, 2003, p.303.)Knowledge gathering and use therefore becomes intrinsically woven into the students learning experience.
    Fordspedagogymodel


    Ford’s theories may align with modern pedagogies about the changing nature of knowledge gathering and interaction however Doring adds that the learning experiences afforded in the process speaks to one of the core values of teaching which have not changed , “Education is a fundamentally conversational business.”(1999, 18%) Once knowledge is acquired (in whatever mode it has originated) it then transcends into further application or concept understanding by the learner that may lead to a connection with others and engagement beyond the knowledge itself. (Doring, 1999).Whilst constructivist theory may align with modern approaches to learning it is not new and whilst the use of technology can be incorporated into this view it is by no means only dependent on the use of technology for this engagement to occur. (Imel, 2001,18%) Quality teaching engages knowledge and dialogue in such a way that the teacher and the learner feel safe in the learning environment and they curiously explore knowledge and critically evaluate and reflect on this information to achieve mastery of a skill or concept. (Mayes, 2000, 18%)

    Blended Learning
    With new developments in pedagogy come new opportunities for delivery, engagement, assessment and skill development. Understanding the digital environment is vital to understanding learning in a digital age. There is an expectation by digital natives that technology will be woven into all aspects of their lives and that includes learning and education. (Bauman, 2005, p.30)



    Therefore in the face to face learning environment there is an expectation that blended learning will be part of the learning experience. (van de Ven, 2014) Blended learning might simply supplement course work and reading of online articles however it can also include simulations and collaborative experiences that may occur in more than one place. (Bonk, Kim andZeng. 2006, p.92) Technology enabled learning is only as good as the learning principles that underpin it so planning and preparation are key before implementation.(GlobalEducation Leader’s Program, 2013,29%) With the opportunity for learners to access the internet learning becomes an everywhere and anytime activity and global connectivity soon draws learners from a know-how and know-what activity to one that is supplemented by know-where. (Siemens, 2004.)Learner engagement is at the forefront of curriculum development and including blended learning opportunities will be essentially important to building confidence in learners who are living in a digital age. These opportunities will allow learners to be more creative and innovative than ever before and Craft concludes that learners can “extend ideas or hypothesise using imagination in order to achieve alternative and innovative outcomes.”(2003,p. 115) 

    “Blended learning is both simple and complex. At its simplest blended learning is the thoughtful integration of classroom face to face learning experiences with online learning experiences.”(Kanuta, Heater og Garrison, Randy, D. 2004.) Without teachers who are skilled in blended environments classrooms will continue to use technology as an information repository. Failing to give students collaborative tools and confidence using technology will not equip them to live in an information society of the future and much needs to be done in the area of critical thinking in relation to how students are engaging with technology for learning. 
    References:

    ACARA. (2012) TheShape of the Australian Curriculum: Technologies. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum_-_Technologies_-_August_2012.pdf

    Banks, K. (2014) In De Waele, R. (2014). Shift 2020 How TechnologyWill Impact Our Future[Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HQ5U53E/ref=wl_it_dp_v_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=37FSRQBVI5C5W&coliid=I3TVX8OTAODSWB

    Bauman. 2005. In Selwyn, N. 2011. Schools and Schooling in theDigital Age. Routledge: New York

    Becker,K. (2010). Distinctionsbetween games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education.In R. Van Eck (Ed.), Gaming and cognition: Theories and practice from the learning sciences (pp. 22-54). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch002

    Bentley, (2000). In Selwyn, N. 2011. Schools and Schooling in theDigital Age. Routledge: New York

    Bereiter 2002, Gilbert, 2005 and Siemens, 2004. In Starkey,L (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learningmatrix, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39, DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

    Bonk, Kim and Zeng, (2006) In N. Ford (Ed.), Web-Based Learning throughEducational Informatics: Information Science Meets Educational Computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-741-6.ch003

    Brown, S.(2012) The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown(Highlights from JSB's Keynote at DML2012) [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiGabUBQEnM&list=FLFm4UviNRnYIGksLNvidwNw&index=8
    Craft,A. (2003). The limits to creativity in education: Dilemmas for the educator. British Journal of Educational Studies, 51(2), 113-127.Retrieved from http://web.nsboro.k12.ma.us/algonquin/faculty/socialstudiesteachers/smith/documents/thelimitsofcreativityineducationarticle.pdf

    Conole,G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. Designing forlearning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer. 
    Doring,(1999). In Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. and Furlong, J, 2006. Adult learning in a digital age. Routledge: New York (KindleEdition)

    Ford, N. (2008). Education. In N. Ford (Ed.), Web-Based Learning throughEducational Informatics: Information Science Meets Educational Computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-741-6.ch003

    Fahlvik, M, (2014). Teacherrole in the blended classroom. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/fahlvik/teacher-role-in-the-blended-classroom-itslearning-user-conference-the-netherlands?from_action=save

    GlobalLeader’s Education Program.(2013) RedesigningEducation: Shaping Learning Systems Around the Globe. [Kindle DX Version]Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118022246/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=freetechforte-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1118022246

    Google,(2007) Google Docs in Plain English.[Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRqUE6IHTEA
    Haesler, D., (2015) TM Central Coast 15. [Video file] Retreived from https://youtu.be/ixaRpqIHEc0?list=FLFm4UviNRnYIGksLNvidwNw 

    Heppel,1999. In Starkey, L (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: adigital age learning matrix, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39,DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

    Highfill, L., (2015). Edu on Air:Extreme pedagogy makeover using Multimedia Text Sets & HyperDocs. [Video file]Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWu6h1a-N_w&list=PLlAjDBz2XjkPdBgh1c4wtYoALpZcn28pk&index=2

    IGN, (2013). Project Spark Demo - E3 2013 Microsoft Conference. [Videofile]Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m37sVEgJrOA

    IGN, (2015). Microsoft HoloLensDemonstration Shows off Holographic Minecraft, Apps, and More. [Video file]Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRQv74J7oSk

    Imel, 2001. In Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. and Furlong, J, 2006. Adult learning in a digital age. Routledge: New York (KindleEdition)
    Jenkins, (2006) In Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. Designing forlearning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer.

    Kafai,(2006). In Becker, K. (2010). Distinctionsbetween games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education.In R. Van Eck (Ed.), Gaming and cognition: Theories and practice from the learning sciences (pp. 22-54). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch002

    Kanuta, Heater og Garrison, Randy, D. (2004)In Fahlvik, M, (2014). Teacherrole in the blended classroom. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/fahlvik/teacher-role-in-the-blended-classroom-itslearning-user-conference-the-netherlands?from_action=save

    Kramer, M.(2014) In De Waele, R. (2014). Shift 2020 How Technology Will Impact Our Future [Kindle DX version].Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HQ5U53E/ref=wl_it_dp_v_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=37FSRQBVI5C5W&coliid=I3TVX8OTAODSWB
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    Mayes, 2000. In Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. and Furlong, J, 2006. Adult learning in a digital age. Routledge: New York (KindleEdition)
    McGonigal,J. (2010). Gaming can make a better world.[Video file]Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE1DuBesGYM

    Mead,M. (1980) In Global Leader’s Education Program.(2013) Redesigning Education: Shaping Learning Systems Around the Globe. [KindleDX Version] Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118022246/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=freetechforte-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1118022246

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