In the beginning of spring April 2019, a group of students set out to start their Master’s of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT) offered at Royal Roads University, Victoria, British Columbia. I was one of those students. These students in question are professionals within their occupations and seek to further their own education and moreover, seek to improve the workplaces and learning environments to which they are part. The MALAT program is unique in that the entirety of the program is done via online. The first course of the MALAT program is Digital Learning Environments, Networks and Communities or LRNT521. This particular course is an appropriate start for students in that they must make a digital presence plan at the beginning of the course which fosters their development within the field of learning and technology and helps them start sojourn on their overall MALAT journey. This paper is a culmination of my digital presence plan within LRNT521 and also an introduction to the overall purpose of starting the program: “to be an agent of change with regards to air traffic control learning within the Canadian Armed Forces” (Regan, 2019, para. 2).
Childs (2019, 9:34) stated that openness in learning can be described as “a vehicle for educational change.” Cleveland-Innes (2019, 15:50) stated that “the role of instructional designers and learning designers is to be agents of change.” This theme of instructors and educators being ‘change agents’ has been echoed throughout LRNT 521. Garrison and Vaughan (2013) further indicated that leaders of change and the institution of education are not separate entities within educational and learning frameworks. Within the dynamic realm of technological globalization, educators are not immune to having to change their ways of thinking and educating. Herrera (1997) states the accelerated rate of globalization change is largely in part due to technological changes. Within LRN521, I have had to push myself in order to better understand and navigate the dynamic technological digital learning environments of today. Within my digital presence plan I stated, “I must cultivate my inner ‘resident technology user’ within me” (Regan, 2019, para. 1). Prior to cultivation, I was able to create a resident-visitor typology map to visually see my technology use, see Figure 1.
Figure 1. Resident visitor typology map by Regan, M.J. (2019, April 28). Visitor resident map typology [blog post]. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0114/sample-page/
By producing the visual representation of my technology use, I was able to better understand where my day-to-day technology usage was concentrated. Moreover, by analyzing Figure 1. I was also able to better gauge a way forward in order to cultivate my digital presence plan. It is clear that I need to better my technological presence in terms of my identity, as opposed to only using technology as a tool. The more I work with technology the greater understanding I have for its uses within an educational standpoint. In reflection, I surmise the aerospace community learning environment typology map would look similar to Figure 1. The aerospace control community is a very dynamic learning environment which uses a lot of simulator technology in order to instruct new air traffic controllers. Combined “with rapid advancement of technology, complex systems have evolved in which operators must adapt their decision making and performance in the face of dynamic, ever-changing environments, concurrent task demands, time pressure, and tactical constraints” (Loft, Sanderson, Neal, and Mooij, 2007, p. 376; see also Moray, 1997 & Sheridan, 2002). It is not extreme to deduce that the aerospace community would need to better utilize educational learning in the form of online technological presence or greater use of educational technological tools available. Bates (2000) states that “teaching through technology, under the right circumstances, have advantages over traditional teaching” (p.27). The aerospace community uses many traditional teaching methods and tools such as power point presentations and handouts. Bates (2000) continues by stating that one of these advantages to using technology over classroom-based learning is “new technologies can be designed to develop and facilitate higher-order learning skills, such as problem solving, decision making, and critical thinking” (p. 28). In the aerospace control community, air traffic control is described as a “dynamic environment where controllers constantly receive a large volume of information from multiple sources to monitor the changes in the environment, make decisions, and perform effective actions in a timely manner” (Xing & Manning, 2005, p. 1). In an environment such as this, innovated technological changes to digital learning must be emphasized within the aerospace control community. Realizing this, it is incumbent upon myself to aid in this realization within the Canadian Armed Forces. Not merely to only fulfill my purpose of the MALAT program or to cultivate my digital presence, but to genuinely continue to enact change within the dynamic aerospace control community learning environments.
This specified task seems daunting from the perspective of taking this challenge solely upon myself. In actuality, success is more likely to occur through the process of collaborative learning and collaborative instructing. In terms of collaborative instructing, the realization of one’s own impact structures in reference to digital learning can aid in the success of one’s digital presence plan. What is meant by this? Impact structures such as networks or communities allow for and foster collaboration towards a goal or end state. “Networks are an organizational structure that may exist in digital learning environments” and “the term community is frequently encountered in the education literature” (Dron & Anderson, 2014, p. 245). Dron and Anderson (2014) suggest that by simply learning online with others, allows for greater opportunity for learner and instructor. Moreover, they indicate that technology allows us to connect with networks and communities (Dron & Anderson, 2014). By fostering collaboration within my impact structures, it is not over-reaching to conclude that by doing such I will be aiding in the culmination of my digital presence plan and also aiding in the positive learning development within the aerospace control community. It was noted by Wilson, Parrish, and Veletsianos (2008) that high‐ quality learning experiences are rare and suggest that educators and designers should aim to design socially just and transformational learning experiences, and not simply pursue instruction that is effective and efficient (see also Dron & Anderson, 2014). High stress learning environments, such as those within the aerospace control community, could benefit from early facilitated networked and community learning initiatives to help transform the learning experience. This could in turn foster a relational aspect to aid students during times of greater stress. This relational aspect is echoed and supported by Reese, Jeffries, and Engum (2010) when they noted, through the use of simulation, that innovative collaborative-learning from students fostered helpful instruction with the use of multiple learning and teaching materials; moreover, students felt more engaged and learned from others to whom they were collaborating with fostering good work habits for the future. In my opinion, collaborative learning should be a key component for the realization of instructional and learning changes within the aerospace control community. The realization of effective learning and educational designs can be accomplished with critical components that would allow a measurable aspect to the needed change. The components as suggested by Veletsianos (2011) state that “instructional designers should: design opportunities that allow engagement beyond course activities; design for lasting impression; design for intrigue, risk-taking, and challenge; design for engagement; and design for reflection” (p. 42). I concur with these base components and would seek to further translate these components to items that can be actioned within the framework of aerospace control community learning and education.
Driven change within the aerospace control community learning environment must have an end state of success and success of my digital presence plan must be realized in order to help facilitate me being an agent of change for the aerospace control community. In perspective of these realizations Hannah, Smith, and La (2017) suggest that success within higher learning is difficult to define as most students have differing views of what success looks like. They continue by stating “[learning establishments] should offer a range of experiences for students to feel successful” (Hannah, Smith, & La, 2017, p. 261). Also, Ironic to my digital presence plan along with my purpose of this course, Mujis, Ainscow, Chapman, and West (2011) suggest the “measure of success is based on the ability to see real change” (p. 123). Success in my goal to be “a leader of change by committing myself to be a team player within a collaborative learning environment” (Regan, 2019, para. 3) could be defined by change simply having taken place. As simple as this is, further defining would be helpful. I suggest success would be realized change within specific digital learning within air traffic control. Change could be in the form of a new digital learning technology or new initiatives for innovated collaborative-learning techniques being employed. Overall, clear change must also be tangible and seen. Muijs, et al. (2011) further speak of tangible success as being realized by successful and positive student outcomes. To elaborate on this, one measure of successful change within the learning in the aerospace control community could be empirically based such as, how many students are successful on course and/or metaphysically based such as, producing positive respondents who were successful on course. One particular dilemma with this type of measuring would be how one would have to correlate or relate the success of students to the actual changes that were made to the learning program. In other words, how does one know that the change introduced was the actual cause of more success in the course? If that was the true end result. Further research into how to implement and measure the change would be prudent to any educator introducing new or adapted digital learning to a course.
In conclusion, within my LRNT521 course I have created a digital presence plan in order to help realize my goal to be “a leader of change by committing myself to be a team player within a collaborative learning environment” (Regan, 2019, para. 3). LRNT521 has enabled my digital presence plan to unfold through the creation of a website blog. This blog has enabled me to digitally collaborate both on an instructor-student and student-student relational level. Through specific assignments, I have learned what it means to collaboratively learn within digital learning environments. I have been able to see how impact structures effect learning. Muijs, et al. (2011) suggests networked communities allow for developments to occur aimed at relocating innovation…in order to generate greater collective capacity for change. I concur with this statement and have noted to myself to foster a mindset to generate greater collective capacity for change. The course has allowed me to visually see my technology use (See Figure 1.) in order to gauge a way forward to cultivate my digital presence plan. At the end of the course I feel I am now a bit closer to achieving my goal within the MALAT program.
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Regan, M.J. (2019, April 20). Inauguration of my metacognitive journey [blog post]. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0114/the-inauguration-of-my-metacognitive-journey/
Regan, M.J. (2019, April 28). Visitor resident map typology [blog post]. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0114/sample-page/
Regan, M.J. (2019, April 29). Cultivation of digital presence [blog post]. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0114/cultivation-of-digital-presence/
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Xing, J., & Manning, C.A. (2005). Complexity and automation displays of air traffic control: Literature review and analysis (Report No. DOT/FAA/AM-05/4). Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration.Read More