The past 2 months have witnessed my learning experience to make critical inquiry of discord, a digital learning platform, as well as a learning events of how to use this technology in establishing social connection in the first year of engineering course.
During the process, our team explore all elements of community of inquiry to analyze the pros and cons of Discord. By investigating the technology from 3 dimensions, namely teaching presence, social presence and cognitive presence, I have build a profound understand of the use of the new technology in digital learning environment withr reference to the 3 principles. First is the instructors’ role in digital education environment, who should be responsible for the overall design of the course and learning environment and act as the facilitator of engaging discourse. Apart from that, from the social presence perspective, I learn how individuals merger their authentic selves into a group via a specific communication medium. Finally, I understand the value of cognitive presence in the construction of meaning by sustained discourse and reflection. It is from all the 3 aspects of inquiry that I reach a holistic overview of the technology of Discord: the positives include the common identity and improved discourse among learners, while informal and other inappropriate communication inevitably result in problems such as marginalization, and Subjugation to core values.
It is with this project of critical inquiry of Discord that I reflect on the use of COI and the holistic analysis of the digital tools used in education.
The specific issue I am interested in for critical inquiry is the problem with accessibility to digital learning platforms in the globalized learning environment. The reason why I focus on this factor is that the difficulty of accessibility to digital educational platforms has become an important conundrum for both students and schools; it doesn’t undermine the learning efficacy but also impact schools’ recruitment of international students.
It is imperative to recognize that in the globalized trend, international students have become an important source of incomes for many schools in western countries. Particularly, students from China have witnessed a stable growth for the past decades and will continue to be a catalyst behind the trend given the fact that the number of high-income households (whose earnings are more than USD40,000 per year and therefore able to afford overseas education) is expected to increase by an average of 16.4% a year between 2021‑2030, which means a potentially fierce competition to attract Chinese students in the following decade; based on this prediction, schools will need to tailor their courses to fit student needs (EIU’s Country Analysis service., 2020).
Sadly, the COVID 19 has prevent the majority of Chinese students going abroad, and most of new students have to embark on their university career in digital learning platforms in 2020. That begs a challenge: many platforms, tools or apps are blocked by local firewall set by the government in mainland China, and what is beyond the conundrum is consideration of the social political impacts during the course design and the selection of learning tools. The overriding problem here is: digital tools are initially used to jump start community building and facilitate educational efficacy; however, the issue needs to be considered from a critical perspective with reference to cultural and political milieu of the countries where the technology is expected to be used – this is where my personal learning plan aims to elaborate on, hoping the study can be contributive to the critical inquiry of the our team on technology relevance to the community building.
EIU’s Country Analysis service. (2020). How will the coronavirus affect outbound Chinese students? https://www.eiu.com/n/how-will-the-coronavirus-affect-outbound-chinese-students/