It has been awhile since I blogged…but as I move into retirement from faculty development and spend more time teaching adjunct, my blog offers a place to reflect on my online teaching.
I am currently teaching a graduate course for Northeastern University – Technology as a Medium for Learning (EDU6323). I was asked to completely redesign this course to add more learning science to the course flow. As the course objectives aligned with a course Jeff Nugent developed several years ago, I took the basic flow from Jeff’s course, but added Michelle Miller’s book as the course textbook, so that we would examine the various digital technologies through the cognitive lens of Attention, Memory, Thinking and Multimedia.
To start the course off, the students read Mike Wesch‘s From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able, The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment, and an interview by Mary Grush on moving from course management to course networking, all within the context of learning in a networked environment. They also viewed the Networked Society video:
The students are tweeting to hashtag #EDU6323 weekly, as well as analyzing the readings and discussing their insights in our Blackboard discussion board. My students span the country.
Some are in K-12 as teachers or coaches, some are in community colleges, and some are in higher education administration or educational technology. Yet it was interesting how these readings and video in some ways overwhelmed my students. While living in it, they had not reflected before on the pace and magnitude of change occurring in learning environments. Some questioned who was ahead in dealing with this change – higher education or K-12? There was some discussion on the potential gap that can exist between haves and have-nots, but also a recognition that in some ways, developing countries now have access to learning – leading to the question as to whether it is the middle that is being squeezed.
What is gratifying is that my students appear focused on student learning, not tools and technology. There was discussion as to whether more or less technology in the classroom was the answer, but they kept coming back to the affordances technology “could” give for learning. One student summarized:
“E-learning empowers the individual by putting information in the hands of everyone, not just the elite. It affords everyone, even those in the remotest of regions and in the most un-institutional places, the invaluable advantage of learning, of being both the holder and creator of knowledge.”
Given that I have several students in health care education, there was some push-back on Mike’s article. These students teach in programs that lead to students taking national certification exams, so “teaching to the test” is a bit of the norm. We had some good discussion in both Twitter and Blackboard around assessment of learning. As one student noted:
“With all of the personalization and every aspect being chosen for the learner (ie review questions, etc), how does this bolster dedication, motivation, perseverance, and most of all organizational skills?”
Some questioned whether the concept of “learning management systems” is an outdated concept. We will dig deeper into this in a few weeks. There was comfort in the structure that LMS‘s provide, but recognition that they also limited both teaching and learning. Some noted that this comfort has more to do with teachers than students, and that fear of change may keep teachers from experimenting.
It was nice to see the concept of “free” surface in the first week. There are many free apps and softwares available for teaching and learning – but there are “costs” associated with the selection of these free apps, particularly when it comes to time for teachers to tinker and play.
Please join us at the Twitter hashtag #EDU6323 in the coming ten weeks as we explore digital technologies for learning. Next week, my students will be exploring educational blogs and trying to answer the two questions – Should students blog? and Should teachers blog?
How would you answer that question?