Academic Technology Staff Blog
AT staff members post thoughts and ideas about educational technology
I participated in some very heated discussions after Bonk’s presentation at ELI last week. (He is a professor at Indiana University and book author, blogger, speaker.) Ok, it did feel like I was hit by a train after the information-overloaded rapid slide show, but I was left intrigued by the information that came right at me. A colleague had coincidently mentioned to me that there wasn’t much on open education at ELI right before I walked into Bonk’s session. He was definitely all about open education, sharing, and open course content. There is something to what he is saying, although I don’t think I need to repeat “We All Learn” five to ten times an hour to “get it.” His recent article talks about 10 ways to share information -- from coaching, translating, and blogging. http://travelinedman.blogspot.com/2010/01/sharing-journey-prequel-to-world-is.html Take a look and see if what he says appeals to you. Can you see yourself and/or our institution operating like this in ANY way?
Wednesday Morning Musings
This is my attempt to blog at least once a week, to talk about and perhaps question what is happening in the field of learning technology and our profession, all in my efforts to "get it."
Google Wave: Ok, I created my account, tweeted about it to some CIC colleagues and tried to figure out how Wave could replace email, like the article “Seven Things to Know about Google Wave” describes. I still don’t “get it.” I’m convinced that if the highly respected SLOAN-C is sponsoring a webinar about the topic, there is something there to this (beta) software that is related to higher education issues. But what is it? Can anyone help me understand?
A Panacea for Local Learning
Mobile technology is a panacea* for learning, and warrants a full rethinking of how we structure education. This is a strong statement, but one that I feel deserves consideration.
Where and When We Learn
A major game-changer in learning (but less so in formal education) was the development of the Internet – a series of networks developed to facilitate the sharing of information from research centers with each other, then with businesses, schools, and 'average citizens' (who could afford a computer and internet service). The paradigm of teacher as knowledge expert began to disappear when schools and students began to have access to the cumulative knowledge available via the Internet. The paradigm of textbook as knowledge content is not far behind.
Mobile technology also changes the game, by offering access to the collected knowledge of the Internet, available 24/7 – whenever questions arise. Instead of waiting until the next day to ask the teacher a question about a topic that catches their immediate interest, or waiting until the next month or year when a unit touching on the topic in question is taught at school, students can look it up with an Internet-accessible device in their pocket. If they don't have the time to do an Internet search, they might take a picture of the item in question with the built-in camera, tag it, and look it up later.
Access to collective knowledge is shifting. Schools are no longer the major arenas of education. But this shift goes well beyond distance education, where student desks are merely housed at a home computer. If developed and structured well, and built around the use of mobile technology, schooling can become more than anywhere, anytime learning – indeed it can become everywhere, every-time learning.
How We Learn
It's not difficult to argue that mobile learning aligns historically and more naturally with how we have typically learned. Sociocultural and experiential theorists have been linking what we know, and how we know with the day-to-day and moment-to-moment events in our lives and the communities we participate in. What mobile technology adds is a tremendous increase in the convenience of accessing those communities, and options to increase the numbers and broaden the scope of communities (family, affinity, occupational, etc.).
Local Play and Design
My research interests focus on learning through the exploration of local communities via the playing and design of mobile games and tours. This two-headed approach to learning draws on the benefits of experiential learning through interactive narratives (local tours and games) that others have designed, and design learning through the creation and refinement of interactive narratives for others to experience.
I focus on local communities because learning begins with our bodies' physical and emotional experiences – our families, friends, and communities – which are the root components of citizenship, which is the charge of public education. One of the advantages of mobile access to the Internet is that it allows and even encourages a following up on natural curiosity, so sharing and comparisons of knowledge and understandings about the items and experiences of the human condition(s) can easily move far beyond our local communities. This can aid in the understanding of, tolerance of, and even acceptance of diverse cultures and beliefs in ways that the classroom education that has been typical in the U.S. cannot match.
*What Needs To Be Done
Yes, panacea is too strong of a word. I use it for effect. Like all panaceas, this cure-all is not yet realizable (and will never be — that's the nature of panaceas). There are huge questions of accessibility and universality that need to be answered, as well as issues of controlling and administering students (arguably, the biggest problem in some schools). The 'digital divide' is shrinking from where it was when the term was coined, but it is still significant. Although it may seem like it in some malls and streets of cities across the U.S., not everyone has an iPhone. However, if the growth and pervasiveness of mobile technology continues as it has, we may not far from a time when such devices are as universal as televisions, paper, or that most ubiquitous of learning tools, the pencil. We should begin to prepare public education for this next era of learning by creating and refining local design experiments utilizing mobile technologies for civic learning.
In the next few days I'll begin posting examples of learning scenarios that center around mobile devices (a few: bird identification, field surveys, marketing research, Biology and Civics, History and Urban planning). Many of these have already been piloted and are under way. I hope that they will act as a starting point for you to think about (and share with me please!) other learning activities that can be enhanced with mobile devices.
This in from my favorite potentially-nausea-inducing presentation software—
Prezi: Free Education License
Students and teachers! You'll love our new Education License, which makes Prezi Enjoy available for free (yes, FREE) to users with a school email address. And, get Prezi Pro with the Prezi Desktop at a special educational discount. Read about how you can switch to an EDU license.
I'm still sort of surprised that no one has made a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book with this web-based tool.
Not seen a Prezi yet? You should. Apart from their queasy-but-cute habit of rotating views (keeping things level would avoid the problem), there are some pretty cool tricks for organizing and presenting your thoughts on a topic available in Prezis that aren't avilable in PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. Here's an example:
The most recent issue of The Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment (shorter article in Ars Technica) reports that 1:1 student laptop programs do have an impact on student learning in a K-12 setting. Perhaps the most compelling finding:
The analysis suggests that access during school hours wasn't clearly associated with improvements in test scores. But allowing the students to take the laptops home was: "Home Learning—which measured the extent of a student's laptop use outside of school for homework in each of the four core-subject areas and for learning games—was the strongest implementation predictor of reading achievement." Similar things were seen with math scores.
While there are other studies with conflicting findings (perhaps most prominently showing gains when the instructor embraces the technology), the idea of computers as enabling self-learning is compelling. It's good to remember these students will be coming to college one day--with their expectations in tow.