Richard Clark and Robert Kozma

LRNT 523 Activity 5: Cheryl and Wendy joint blog post

Richard Clark and Robert Kozma researched, theorized, and debated within the educational technology (ed-tech) field. Richard Clark argued that media are simply vehicles that deliver information to learners and do not influence or motivate learning (Clark, 1994). Robert Kozma, on the other hand, argued that the media do influence learning (Kozma, 1994). The great media debate continues to be relevant long after its origins. This blog post demonstrates how knowledge of the media debate is helpful to critique and question the claims made by current actors in the ed-tech industry. It is essential to review the great media debate because we as educators are responsible for contributing to the improvement of education and learning and for finding ways “to use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations.” (Kozma, 1994, p. 23). The two software/app companies, currently active in the ed-tech industry that exhibit signs of techno deterministic thinking are Classcraft and Ripple Effects.

Classcraft

Using technology, games, and storytelling, Classcraft creates a learning environment that is culturally relevant to today’s youth (Classcraft, 2020). Classcraft uses a modern approach that is effective in the classroom because it drives intrinsic student motivation and learning outcomes, allows teachers to intervene when necessary, and provides clear insights into student behaviour and school culture. Students introduced to Classcraft improved personal accountability, technical capabilities, digital citizenship, and digital literacy (Pole, 2019).

Clark would argue that Classcraft is too expensive and that there are other ways to motivate students without this technology. The technology doesn’t influence learning because, without it, the teacher is still able to provide the environment necessary for student engagement. Kozma, on the other hand, would say Classcraft influences students by motivating students to engage in their learning. Not only does media provide models learners couldn’t provide for themselves and activate prior knowledge by connecting students to new learning, but media also motivates. Kozma would now have a third example of successful technological interaction in a third environment to demonstrate technology’s usefulness to education. Classcraft motivates modern students to use their devices for learning (Pole, 2019) and therefore provides additional evidence that media influences learning.

Ripple Effects

The mission of Ripple Effects is to use “emerging technologies to prevent social injury and promote school and life success for all children and youth, especially those most at risk of failure” (Ripple Effects, 2020). Ripple Effects gives students a self-directed, personalized experience, including engaging assessments to track benchmark progress. The technology removes literacy barriers by using built-in text-to-speech. As well, educators are able to access data to track student progress and make informed decisions that benefit both staff and students. Teaching kids to persist through failure, to show empathy for others, and to problem-solve lead to greater academic achievement and consequently, career and life success (Berlinski, 2016). 

Clark would respond by saying there are other ways to foster success in students and that this type of technology does not influence learning. Kozma would insist that “only technology can effectively tailor instruction to the varied needs of a group of learners at one time” (Berlinski, para. 9), especially in this modern, complex world. Ripple Effects provides one more example that media influence learning.

References

Berlinski, Jessica. (2016). 5 ways tech can strengthen social and emotional learning. https://www.gettingsmart.com/2016/11/5-ways-tech-can-strengthen-social-and-emotional-learning/

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299088

Classcraft (2020). Our approach. https://www.classcraft.com/our-approach/

Classcraft (2020). Want to know where dragons come from? https://www.classcraft.com/about/

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7–19. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299087

Pole, Corrinne (2019, March 19). Research into the use of electronic devices in school shows how educators miss the mark. Retrieved from https://www.classcraft.com/blog/research/electronic-devices-in-school/

Ripple Effects (2020). Award winning WBME on a mission. https://rippleeffects.com/about-us/#our-mission

Attribution: Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash

Seymour Papert (1928-2016)

Although researching the work and contributions to the field of educational technology is a reasonable task, choosing one particular individual is not easy. However, while reading Watters (2014), the name Seymour Papert caught my attention. I admire this man for two reasons: his philosophy of education and his inclusive approach to working with others.

I instantly connected to Papert’s philosophy of education because he was passionate about sharing how technology changes the way children learn. He was always looking for procedural, hands-on activities for children and the opportunities to relate programing to other activities such as juggling, unicycle, bongo boarding, and cooking (Transformative Learning Technologies Lab @ Stanford, 2013). Rather than teachers simply giving an algorithm or formula and students practicing, he believed a mathematics curriculum must have a larger purpose full of ideas (Downes, 2011). His Constructionist theory of learning, where people gain knowledge by building things, is widely used by many educators. He compared computers to pencils—they are personal instruments we should access when we need them and when we want them (Papert, 1999). In collaboration with Wally Feurzeig and Cynthia Solomon, Papert created a computer program called Logo. This program was instrumental in the development of the LEGO Mindstorms robotics kit. (MIT News on Campus and Around the World, 2016).

A second reason I chose Papert is I admire him for working on a variety of projects, in particular with the less fortunate populations like troubled teens or people from remote villages (“Works by Papert”, n.d.). He touched the lives of many, including one of his fellow female Logo developers, Cynthia Solomon. Through his  Logo Foundation, the vision of thinking, learning, and teaching in a computer culture is his legacy.

References

Downes, Stephen. (2011, September 22). Seymour Papert on idea aversion [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/8fNNWdrg1d4

MIT Media Lab. (2016, August 1). Professor Emeritus Seymour Papert, pioneer of constructionist learning, dies at 88.MIT News on Campus and Around the World. https://news.mit.edu/2016/seymour-papert-pioneer-of-constructionist-learning-dies-0801

 Papert, Seymour. (1999). Diversity in Learning: A Vision for the New Millennium. http://papert.org/articles/diversity/DiversityinLearningPart1.html

Transformative Learning Technologies Lab @ Stanford. (2013, June 27). Cynthia Solomon on Seymour Papert [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/14gcdiU7-lM

Watters, A. (2014). The monsters of education technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0.

Papert, Seymour. Works by Papert. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://papert.org

Attribution

The History of Ed-tech part 2

Is The 25-year history of ed-tech (Weller, 2020) relevant to my work?

The middle section of The 25-year history of ed-tech (Weller, 2020) provided the opportunity to reflect on the relevance to my school. With the launch of Linden Labs in 2003 and four years later, Second Life and Virtual Worlds, came a unique, virtual 3-D meeting space, allowing universities to deliver virtual lectures using virtual islands (Weller, 2020). The problems experienced during this time of ed-tech history are very similar to what we experienced with online learning during the start of the pandemic. In 2007: 1. imagination was lacking and viewers experienced nothing more than a straightforward lecture, 2. glitches occurred due to computer hardware and lack of high-speed broadband connection, 3. there was interference with classes held in public spaces, 4. some learners were at a disadvantage because there was no screen reader support, and 5. students with dexterity issues suffered. At the end of the last school year, schools in K-12 experienced these issues—the tools did not reach the range of students’ needs. The tools failed.

My school is a physical building filled with social connections between a diverse group of people—students, parents, teachers, administration, and support staff. This unique community of learners is the social piece that guides the future of our students. As I continue reading The 25-year history of ed-tech, I cannot help but focus on the years of failure. Did the failure year after year occur due to the lack of social connections? According to Weller, the use of twitter and social media was revolutionary; however, we do not use these social media tools in our school. As of last week, we are back in the building teaching live classes. The race is on to connect to students and build relationships. Physical distancing and masks are barriers. We have an opportunity to slide into the digital private space in Office365. I’m hopeful and full of wonder. Will this year be a pivotal moment in the history of tech-ed? Will we finally see a contradiction to the theme of ed-tech failure? Give me a moment and let me check my email for parent responses to the increased use of screens.

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of ed-tech. Athabasca University Press. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781771993050.01

History of Ed Tech

25 Years of ed tech by Martin Weller is required reading for LRNT 523 in the Masters of Learning and Technology (MALAT) program at Royal Roads University. After reading the first eight chapters, I couldn’t help but parallel the history Weller (2020) presented with my own 25 years of technology use. I found it fascinating that my teaching career began in the early ’90s and realized how much I have tinkered with technology throughout those 25 years. I questioned Weller’s choice to align chapter one with 1994. Surely the significance of ed-tech was earlier than 1994? I remember my fascination with tech toys, the TV screen, and the red digital calculators. I was and still am fascinated with the technology used to create a more efficient, effective, and more enjoyable life. But why do the tools continue to change? Do specific tools change because the users demand more efficiency, more effectiveness, and more fun?

In the eighth chapter, Weller (2020) provided a climax to the history of ed-tech from 1994 – 2001. “The Internet was no longer dismissed as a fad, and most universities were engaging in some form of e-learning, even if only as a support tool for campus students” (p. 57). This statement also serves as a preface to the history that follows. Readers begin to see a common theme that even though the history ed-tech is full of failures, “the ideas and people involved develop the key ideas into more successful versions” (p. 62). I will keep this in mind as I read on. Will we finally meet an ed-tech tool that will stand the test of time?

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of ed-tech. Athabasca University Press. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781771993050.01

Attribution

Photo “Christmas with the Little Professor”  by Iris Lang

Two pathways to the WORLD

There was a time when humans were only born into the physical world and we marked this date with a birthday. The physical world is limited by geography and therefore our connections are limited. But in the modern world, humans choose to have a second birth into a digital world. The exact digital birth may or may not happen and also varies for each individual. Nonetheless, a birth into the digital world is limitless and often has no boundaries. “It is not unreasonable to [think that soon] every human on the planet may be able to connect with nearly every other [human] in order to share information, knowledge, and ideas in a myriad of ways, virtually instantaneously” (Anderson & Dron, p. 2). I am slow in developing my digital connections. It is overwhelming for my brain to connect with so many people online and maintain my offline connections. Perhaps if I creep slowly, I will eventually adapt to the new digital environment and find ways to survive in both worlds.

The visual of my own network that identifies where and how I am situated has two parts: the digital world (left side) and the physical world (right side); the pathways within the two parts eventually lead to the WORLD. Even though my digital footprint is small relative to other graduate students’ pathways, the number of digital pathways to the WORLD is greater than the number of pathways that exist in my physical world. Perhaps the quest for a successful and fulfilling life involves increasing the number of digital pathways rather than existing solely in the limited physical world. I will keep this in mind as I attempt to increase my digital footprint in the next few years.

References

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2014). Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781927356807.01

Who am I and where have I been?

The Plan to Support the Cultivation of my Digital Presence and Digital Identity within the MALAT Program

After mapping my individual engagement with the Web using the Visitors and Residents continuum (White & LeCornu, 2011), I thought about how my online activity has changed over the last ten years. Initially, my online activity was strictly as a visitor, seeking information and guidance, saving my talking for off-line. However, I recognize a movement towards the resident’s side, where I am sharing information about myself, including my activities and thoughts. I find this fascinating because traditionally, I have always been a very private person. I am surprised at my current level of presence on social media, mainly Facebook.

My overall goal and purpose for cultivating my digital presence and identity is to find ways to gravitate to the resident side of the continuum. I am not saying that existing on the visitor side is a bad thing. White and LeCornu pointed out that a visitor’s technical and intellectual skills may even be greater than those of residents (2011). I am saying I’d like to experiment with digital online presence through a different lens.

While attempting to move closer to the resident side of the continuum, I will begin with increasing the number of blog posts in WordPress to two per month. The skills I will need to develop for this goal are critical thinking and academic writing, two of my personal weak areas.

The strategies for addressing my critical thinking and academic writing learning gaps will be to continue reading and writing within the MALAT program and to review activity and assignment feedback from instructors. As well, I plan to seek guidance and mentorship from the RRU writing center and especially my cohort; I am lucky to be with several amazing thinkers and speakers. At the end of every month, I plan to review the goal (posting at least two additional entries in WordPress per month) and in three months, I will revisit my plan and redo the mapping.

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i9.3171

Conceptual map: My technology use as it pertains to the resident-visitor typology

 

The conceptual map includes icons representing only those areas I have visited in the last month. It is a continuum both horizontally and vertically. The left side (visitors) represents where I use the web as a tool and simply visit to get information; whereas the right side (residents) is where I live out a portion of my life and leave a trace of myself behind. The larger the icon, the more time spent in that area. There have been a few new places that I frequent quite regularly (What’s App and Slack) and some I have not (Twitter). Facebook’s location is the only surprise as I now use it for connecting with colleagues as well as friends and family. I initially signed up for Facebook years ago because I could follow my children’s extracurricular activity information; however, it has grown into my largest social network.

I often think about reducing my personal and work online use. For years, I sampled various web applications, both in my home at work. Some places I have visited once or twice; others I have completely forgotten about after the original sign-in. Do I need all those digital footprints left behind? Should I attempt to close those areas of my life? Perhaps I may downsize to a few favourite places. I look forward to revising this map as I continue in the MALAT program.

A new type of mentorship

Virtual Symposium Critical Academic Reflective Blog Post: A Requirement for the Master of Arts in Leadership and Technology (MALAT) program at Royal Roads University

In the past few weeks, I viewed several live recordings of MALAT virtual symposiums (2017-2019), consisting of experts in the field of digital networked learning. I was most intrigued with the theme of openness (Cronin, 2017) and was forced to examine not only my personal beliefs about openness, but how openness is related to teaching within secondary schools. Extending past my own limits of openness may be a way for me to expand my current definition of digital literacy and consequently, strengthen my teaching of digital literacy.

Childs (2019) stated that the definition of openness is “a continually negotiated space who’s definition is always a ‘work in progress’” (20:00). As well, openness refers to “collaborative practices which include the creation, use and reuse of OER, as well as pedagogical practices employing participatory technologies and social networks for interaction, peer-learning, knowledge creation and empowerment of learners” (Cronin, 2017 as cited by Childs, 2019, 20:00). Since the 1980’s, online privacy has been an issue that has grown in urgency and importance (Dixon, 2011). Open digital practices expose people to potential dangers. Watters (2015) pointed out that in attempts to safeguard student data from advertisers, unscrupulous people and companies, 170 bills have been proposed in the year 2015 that would regulate student privacy. Most secondary students have their own technological devices such as phones, tablets and computers and choose to connect with others in the digital open. They are doing what humans do; they are seeking mentorship and making connections to ensure survival of their environment. This is normal behaviour since social networks “are an essential part of being human” (Rhiengold, 2010, p. 20). Unfortunately, at my school, administration and teachers have reached a roadblock; and students are left experiencing most open learning on their own. Students are not provided authentic, open digital lessons because teachers are limited due to having to follow privacy laws. After listening to many of the virtual symposium participants, I was reminded of the benefits of openness and my constant battle with extending the limits of my own digital openness. As I thought more about openness, my thinking was directed towards digital literacy. How do we teach life-long skills in digital literacy if we do not allow students to fully experience a complete, authentic version of openness?

Digital literacy “includes a wide variety of ethical, social and reflective practices that are embedded in work, learning, leisure and daily life” (Media Smart, 2012). Using, understanding, and creating are believed to be three main principles in digital literacy and of the three, understanding requires the greatest degree of openness. “Understand is that critical piece – it’s the set of skills that help us comprehend, contextualize, and critically evaluate digital media so that we can make informed decisions about what we do and encounter online” (Media Smarts, 2012). If we are graduating students into a virtual world, why are we not providing students with authentic experiences in digital navigation and developing life-long, critical thinking skills within that world?

Childs (2019) pointed out that openness is complex. Marin Weller once said, “It has never been more risky to operate in the open; it has never been more vital to operate in the open” (as cited by Cronin, 2017, 5:00). Nonetheless, extending past my own limits of openness may be a way for me to expand my current definition digital literacy and strengthen my practice for teaching and learning digital literacy. “Openness is a vehicle for educational change” (Childs, 2019, 9:15) and should not be feared. At the very least, I plan to experiment with extending my personal limits of openness and be ready for the opportunity to form a new type of digital literacy mentorship to my students. In the meantime, I may just sit down, relax and colour Catherine Cronin’s page from the Uncommon Women colouring book (http://uncommonwomen.org/colouring-book-pdfs-now-available).

References

Childs, E. (2019, April 15). Openness and networked learning in a MA degree. [Video recording]. Retrieved from http://ow.ly/fFHu50qnns9

Cronin, C. (2017, April 20). Open culture, open education, open questions. [Video recording]. Retrieved from https://ca-sas.bbcollab.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2017-04-20.0917.M.260AD3030AD273255B9B9C087E6864.vcr&sid=2009211

Dixon, P., & Gellman, R. (2011). Online privacy: A reference handbook. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/royalroads-ebooks/detail.action?docID=766988

Mediasmarts. (2012). Digital Literacy Fundamentals. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy/general-information/digital-media-literacy-fundamentals/digital-literacy-fundamentals

Rhiengold, H. (2010). Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies. Educuase Review, 44(5), 14-24. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2010/10/attention-and-other-21stcentury-social-media-literacies

Royal Roads University. (2013, September 23). Program Description Key Features [Text]. Retrieved from http://www.royalroads.ca/prospective-students/master-arts-learning-and-technology/program-description

Watters, A. (2019). The web we need to give students. Bright Magazine. Retrieved from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713

What makes a good research question?

A good research question:

  • initiates an investigation and guides the researcher in developing a thesis
  • is engaging to both the researcher and audience
  • differs depending on whether the research is quantitative or qualitative
  • most importantly, follows the criteria for writing the question: is clear, focused, concise, complex and arguable (George Mason University, n.d., para. 1)

Reference

Gearge Mason University. (n.d.). How to write a research question. Retrieved from https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/guides/how-to-write-a-research-question

Links to useful resources

https://sites.duke.edu/urgws/files/2014/02/Research-Questions_WS-handout.pdf

https://libraries.indiana.edu/sites/default/files/Develop_a_Research_Question.pdf

https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/tutorials/question

https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/22782_Chapter_7.pdf