Unit 2, Activity 5: Media Debate in Current Events (John and Alison)

Clark (1994) and Kozma (1994), in their semantic war, would likely still disagree on the influence of media in learning today. Their debate is complicated because Kozma re-frames it in terms of a future where media will influence learning whereas Clark, in a sweeping statement, claims that “media will never influence learning”(Clark, 1994, p.1).

This 2017 article in The New York Times reports on the move into public education by big tech companies. These efforts are changing many aspects of K-12 education in an “experiment in education [by] influencing the subjects that schools teach, the classroom tools that teachers choose and fundamental approaches to learning” (Singer, 2017). However, Singer (2017) notes that there has not been much oversight by the public, and research of benefits to students has been limited.

Kozma (1994) has the edge in his debate with Clark (1994) though as the power of artificial intelligence (AI) was not yet conceived in the early 1990’s. Clark (1994) might state that the advanced AI tools such as DreamBox mentioned in a report, analyzed by Harvard University, are individually chosen and implemented by teachers choosing a particular methodology and have no educational attributes on their own. Singer (2017) states “so far there is little proof that such technologies improve achievement”.

Kozma (1994) however, might argue that DreamBox which uses 50 000 data points per hour per student (Singer, 2017) to tailor lessons for individual students is an example of an AI product that is essentially teaching the learner on its own, an example of media influencing learning. Facebook used a similar approach in its collaboration with Summit Public Schools mentioned in the article. “Teachers use the software to track students’ work and may intervene when a child is struggling” (Singer, 2017). 

As post secondary classes are progressively moving online, this 2020 article by the Eyeopener reports on how professors at Ryerson University are adapting. While most professors are offering live and/or pre-recorded classes, some professors are choosing alternative methods, including using Zoom, Minecraft, and Miro (Rafique, 2020). 

Dr. Alexandra Bal, a professor of new media, is currently offering a first-year introductory course called “Creative Processes” over Minecraft and Discord (Rafique, 2020). In an interview posted on Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication & Design website, Dr. Bal explains that  “we decided to build a social environment in one of our students’ digital habitats. Since we can not be together physically, we need an environment that simulates a space and allows us to build and make [it] together” (Bartnicki, 2020) . 

Clark (1994) would likely argue that Minecraft serves as the vehicle that “delivers instruction but does not influence student achievement”. However, Dr. Bal suggests that “using our students’ established digital culture and modes of communication will engage them meaningfully in a virtual space and get them to show the digital facet of their identity” (Bartnicki, 2020). Furthermore, she proposes that students will learn digital communication practices they can apply to any field, as well as virtual professional practices for working remotely (Bartnicki, 2020). As such, it could be argued that these outcomes may not occur if media was not being used or the course was taught in a traditional classroom.

Kozma (1994) would likely apply his argument that Minecraft allows for “the potential for a relationship between media and learning [by considering it as] an interaction between cognitive processes and characteristics of the environment…” (Kozma, 1994, p.3). Likewise, Dr. Bal contends that “Minecraft is a sandbox and we will be able to model the experimental and explorative processes we want our students to celebrate” (Bartnicki, 2020).

In closing, Kozma (1994) stated that “if there is no relationship between media and learning it may be because we have not yet made one” (Kozma, 1994, p. 9). His contention that media is more than a “vehicle” in learning may have more weight in 2020 than it did 26 years ago.

 

References

Bartnicki, N. (2020, August 18). New Media professor enriches virtual learning experience with Minecraft. Retrieved from https://www.ryerson.ca/fcad/news/2020/08/new-media-professor-enriches-virtual-learning-experience-with-minecraft/

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.

Center for Education policy Research Harvard University. (2016). DreamBox learning achievement growth in the Howard County public school system and rocketship education. Retrieved from https://cepr.harvard.edu/files/cepr/files/dreambox-key-findings.pdf

Facebook for education. (n.d.). Preparing for a new school year Resources to help educators go back to school, however or wherever. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/fb/education/educator-hub

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.

Rafique, R. (2020, September 23). Rye profs adapt to online classes through unique learning styles. Retrieved from https://theeyeopener.com/2020/09/rye-profs-adapt-to-online-classes-through-unique-learning-styles/ 

Singer, N. (2017, June 6). The silicon billionaires remaking America’s schools. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/technology/tech-billionaires-education-zuckerberg-facebook-ha

Summit (n.d.). Equipping every student to lead a fulfilled life. Retrieved from https://summitps.org/

Assignment 1: Dr. Robin Sargent

Dr. Robin Sargent describes herself as “half teacher, half artist”, with her resume calling her a learning and development consultant, she has a PhD in Education, with a specialization in Instructional Design and eLearning and work credentials including instructional designer/trainer for IBM Silverpop and director of learning and development for ACS Group (Robin N. Sargent 2017).

I became familiar with Dr. Sargent after seeing an advertisement for the Instructional Designer bootcamp offered through her academy, IDOL courses. Her name stuck, and soon after I saw several of her posts on an instructional design Facebook group I follow. After reading about her and listening to her podcast, Become an IDOL, I realized that she wasn’t just trying to promote herself as an instructional designer, but wanted to promote the field of instructional design.

Dr. Sargent took a somewhat unconventional path to instructional design. She earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Bible and Theology, and then landed a part time job as a librarian at Shorter University (Halwani, 2019). After a chance encounter with the Dean, she ended up developing the first online program for the College of Adult and Professional Programs. She embraced the technology side to education and became the resident expert on setting up the LMS and creating curriculum (Halwani, 2019). It wasn’t until later that she discovered that “instructional design is a thing” (Halwani, 2019, 00:00), after which she built her brand as an instructional designer to target corporate training (Halwani, 2019).

To learn more about Dr. Sargent’s path to instructional design, check out this interview she did with the TLDCast Podcast.

Dr. Sargent’s contribution to the field came when she founded IDOL courses, an instructional design and online learning academy. Established in 2013, and transitioning to it full-time in 2018, not only has Sargent created a company that keeps her working, she has created a community for instructional designers at all levels. She has developed unique instructional design programs that bridge theory, hands-on practice, and group coaching with the end goal of building a portfolio that will land a job (Clarkson, 2020). Upon completion of the 8-week IDOL courses Academy program, students may be considered for the IDOL Talent Pool, a network of vetted contract instructional designers, eLearning developers, and other related positions (Digital Course Product Design and Development 2020). IDOL courses also features blogs written by academy members and a podcast hosted by Dr. Sargent.

To learn more about IDOL courses, check out this interview Dr. Sargent did with the eLearning Alchemist podcast.

 

References

Clarkson, C. (Producer). (202, April 9). How to Transition to a Career in Instructional Design with ROBIN SARGENT [Audio podcast]. eLearning Alchemist. Retrieved from https://poddtoppen.se/podcast/1438799169/the-elearning-alchemist/ep-32-womeninlearning-how-to-transition-to-a-career-in-instructional-design-with-robin-sargent

Digital Course Product Design and Development. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.idolcourses.com/digitalcourses

Halwani, R. (Producer). (2019, August 5). From Biblical Studies to Instructional Design: Dr. Robin Sargent [Audio podcast]. TLDCast. Retrieved from https://www.tldcast.com/episodes/287

Robin N. Sargent. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.mrsrobinsargent.com/resume

 

Unit 1, Activity 3: 25 Years of Ed Tech (Chapters 9-18)

As I continued reading Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed Tech, I assumed the subsequent chapters covering the noughties would discuss technologies I was more familiar with – I was surprised to discover this was not the case. While I didn’t live entirely under a rock during that time, the technologies I didn’t know outnumbered those I did, and even with the ones I did know, I don’t think I’ve ever considered their use in education. Despite this, I have had experience with the learning management system.

My first experience with a learning management system was in 2015 when I worked for the municipal government in Calgary. I worked for the department that managed training and development programs related to software and technologies used by internal employees. One of my first projects was to create an online user manual for the new corporate Moodle LMS. An in-house developed course registration system had been used in previous years that allowed users to perform basic functions such as creating courses, registering for courses, and recording attendance. Much like what Weller (2020) says, “…when a new technology arrives, it tends to be used in old ways before its unique characteristics are recognized” (p. 64), the Moodle LMS was used for the same basic functions as the previous system. While many other features were available, they were not turned on – the idea was to that more features (e.g. SCORM) would be added in future deployments. While a few users inquired about other features, most users were unaware of what Moodle could really do.

Sadly, a couple of years after I left that department, I learned the Moodle LMS was no longer being used. I don’t know what it was replaced with, or the reasons for its demise, but I imagine Weller’s (2020) explanation of how “one of the issues with enterprise systems such as the LMS is that they require significant investment in terms of finance, expertise, time, and resources” (p. 65) seems to ring true.

I suppose the lesson here would be to explore why the LMS didn’t work – was the City not ready for it or was the wrong approach taken? While corporate LMSs exist, was it simply that we picked the wrong one? At any rate, I think back to all the work that put into getting it off the ground and can’t help but feel it was all in vain.

References

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.

 

 

Unit 1, Activity 2: 25 Years of Ed Tech (Chapters 1-8)

Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed Tech provides an excellent overview of the history of educational technology, and I enjoyed the first eight chapters spanning the years 1994-2001. Even though the Wikipedia article states that “the use of media for instructional purposes is generally traced back to the first decade of the 20th century” (“Educational Technology”, 2020), I thought Weller starting with the year 1994 was a good choice, since he indicates that “in 1994…the web was just about to garner mainstream attention (p. 6). An interesting note is that the first online high school, CompuHigh, was also established in 1994 (“CompuHigh”, 2019).

While the first eight chapters covered some technologies I had never heard of (e.g. Bulletin Board Systems), I was pleased to see there were some I did know and even used (e.g. Netscape, Microsoft Encarta). Although I had been using the Internet for personal interests for a while, I would say that the first time I used it for educational purposes was when I started university in 1999 to do research for assignments. I seem to have a memory that I had a professor who opposed Internet sources at that time. I don’t think many of us adhered to her instructions, and I wonder how long it was before she got on board.

What struck me the most in these first eight chapters was that despite the stumbling blocks encountered with some of these early technologies, they weren’t abandoned. For example, I couldn’t believe when Weller indicated that “asynchronous online group became a possibility but at the same time, it was also a very frustrating experience for students. A collaborative activity that could usually be completed in an afternoon in a face-to-face setting would probably occupy students for three weeks or so when completing it online and asynchronously” (p. 22). Nowadays we live in such a fast-paced technological world, I wonder if we would be willing to continue pursuing a technology with such downfalls, as well as wonder where we would be had those early technologies been abandoned.

References

CompuHigh. (2019). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CompuHigh

Educational Technology. (2020). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_technology

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.