522.1.3 – What makes a good research question?

Welcome back! My fellow MALAT students and I have shifted into our next course, and we are now exploring the tenets of quality academic research. But what makes a good research question? This quick blog post summarizes some of the components that create engaging and effective educational adventures through research. Whether your paper is 1000 words or 100 pages, choosing a topic that you find attractive is essential. But how can we frame our inquiry and hard work into a product that moves the field of study forward? Here are some bullet points to remember.

Scribbr (2020) suggests six components make up a good research question. These include the following:

  • Focused – can be fully answered within your word limit
  • Researchable – data is currently or can be made available
  • Feasible – within your time and financial bounds
  • Specific – explores one topic
  • Complex – cannot be answered with a simple or a yes/no answer
  • Relevant – relevant to your program or society

Conversely, Seburn (2021) suggests a more condensed checklist and includes the following:

  • Concise – clear to the audience and author, provides strong direction for exploration
  • Complex – avoid yes/no answers and requires full word count to explore
  • Arguable – does the question matter? Can the author argue, defend, or explore the topic?

So depending on how long you prefer your checklists, we can decide to cross-check and design our research question against the above points. But are there any rules of thumb that help us get started?

Choosing a topic that interests you is an important step. It is always more fun to write about things that interest you. Scribbr (2020) also recommends that we start articulating our research question by first choosing a broad topic. Then begin preliminary reading to help understand if there are unanswered questions in the field of study, like the data available and how feasible the data analysis will be (Seburn, 2021). After reviewing the information and understanding the field of study, narrow it down to a niche that needs more study (Seburn, 2021), but how do we know if it is the right area? Seburn (2021) explains that this step can be the most fun and is where you can play devil’s advocate to try to poke holes in the current research literature and find areas of weakness. Who doesn’t love to play the skeptic? Once the above process is complete, begin drafting your research question.

Drafting a good versus a significant research question boils down to how concise, complex and arguable it is. Rules of thumb to set you in the right direction include the following from Miller-Wilson (n.d.):

  • Avoid value judgments; instead, explore the characteristics of what makes something successful
  • Use ‘how’ questions instead of ‘why’ (too broad)
  • Open to debate (will your work move a complex issue forwards?)

I hope this first blog post is helpful to readers who are exploring the fundamentals of research, why it is essential, and how we can set ourselves up for an engaging and practical learning experience by choosing research that is relevant, feasible and, arguable. Until next time!

 

References:

Scribbr (2020, January 2). How to develop a strong research question. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71-GucBaM8U

Seburn, C. (2021, January 10). How to write a strong research question for research papers. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF2FQeP5wpI

Miller-Wilson, K. (n.d.). Examples of Good and Bad Research Questions. Your Dictionary. Retrieved from https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-good-and-bad-research-questions.html

521.4.1 – DLEs in rural areas

Authors: Ben Chaddock and Myrna Pokiak

We wish to start by bringing our thoughts to the 215 children forced to attend a residential school in Kamloops, BC, never to return home again (CBC News, 2021). This heartbreaking news is another reminder of the dark history of Canada’s maltreatment of First Nations peoples. The Residential School system will forever tarnish the history of our country and other maltreatments of the First Nations people across this great land.

The last Residential School closed in 1996 (Gray, 2021), but the healing will take generations. We would like to acknowledge that for many Dene, Metis, and Inuit peoples, the current school system continues to be a reminder of the pain and grief caused by past governments and religious organizations. During this most difficult moment, we can only wish that the spirits of the children find their way home, and the world takes notice to ensure such things never happen again.

In today’s post, Myrna and I explore the challenges surrounding the application of digital learning technology in rural communities. We decided to explore these challenges in the context of Canadian rural communities, including the Far North.

Many challenges are facing Canadians in our rural communities. With regards to education and the advent of digital technologies, there is a mix of positive and negative impacts. We have accumulated a list of these impacts and summarized the notes below. Suppose our goal is to aim towards a future where as many Canadians as possible have access to the tools and resources they need to achieve their personal, professional, and community goals. In that case, our ability to communicate our needs and carefully allocate our resources will contribute to achieving this equality of access in due time. In the meantime, great awareness needs to be taken by our education leaders to maximize the experience of our current student body.

Positive Impacts – things that are going well:

    • Attending educational programs from home communities
        • In areas where internet capacity is adequate, students can remain in the comfort of their home or community environment and participate in educational programs.
            • This can be helpful for children who still rely heavily on their parents or need support in balancing their academic studies with the rest of their day-to-day activities.
            • For example, remote learning students were able to get more sleep, reduce chatter or bullying, lower the stakes, and focus on the development of the whole student, and discover the power of self-pacing and self-determination (Fleming, 2020).
        • Teaching in Canada’s Far North is very challenging; yet, the number of schools has increased over the past 4 years, from 7 to 20 institutions (ECE, n.d.).
            • The Northern Distance Learning (NDL) program uses a blend of online and in-person high-school classes to help students access a greater variety of courses (ECE, n.d.).
            • At From East Three secondary school in Inuvik, NWT, classes of up to 20 students can participate at a time (ECE, n.d.).
            • Student success rates are promising (about 70% credit acquisition rate), and are made possible by strong relationships between students, teachers, and administrative staff (K12 SOTN, n.d.). The NDL illustrates how distance learning can help fill a need in the community given the right tools and resources.
      • Expand cross-cultural connection
          • Khoo (2019) frames digital learning not as a commodity, but as an aspect of a gift economy, whereby learners can interact and build connections with students and teachers outside their immediate social and cultural groups (34:17).

Negative Impacts – things that need more attention:

    • Limited Infrastructure:
        • Currently, only 45% of rural Canadians have access to high-speed internet (Broadband Fund, 2021).
        • Two financial projects have been announced to help bridge this gap, “the federal government’s $1.75-billion Universal Broad-band Fund and the CRTC’s $750-million Broadband Fund (Brownell, 2021).
        • However, Byron Holland, chief executive of CIRA suggests that $6-$12 billion is needed (Brownell, 2021).
        • This situation is attracting interest from large players in the communications sector, who are using this situation as a consolidation powerplay.
            • For example, “Rogers, one of the country’s largest service providers, recently promised to create a $1-billion fund to increase connectivity in remote, rural and Indigenous communities if its proposed takeover of Shaw Communications is allowed to go through” (Brownell, 2021).
        • Although digital infrastructure and broadband capacities have improved, consumers continue to increase their reliance on digital technologies. If consumer needs and use of the internet remain stable, then hardware infrastructure and broadband capacity may have a chance of catching up; however, until then, there will be a lag since current capacity already lags behind consumer need (White, 2020).
    • High cost of internet
        • The price and quality standard of internet access is also different in northern Canada (Latour, 2018).
        • For example, the internet provider Northwestel is currently able to provide 150 GB/month for $129. However, this marks an improvement with Northwestel offering just 100GB/month for the same price back in 2018. In comparison, that same year, Bell Canada offered Toronto customers unlimited monthly data for $50 a month (Levinson-King, 2019).
        • The Nunavut territory is the only region of Canada without access to fiber-optic internet. To reach the Canadian household average data usage, a Nunavut household would have to spend $7,000 annually, approximately 5-6 times more than the average (Tranter, 2021).
    • Cultural
        • To maximize the use of online learning technologies, greater attention needs to be placed in areas of curriculum design to “respect and build on aboriginal ways of learning. In fact, that might also benefit non-indigenous learners as well” (Bates, 2019).

It is in our nation’s best interest to create opportunities that maximize the creative and intellectual capacity of the peoples of this land. As more and more Canadians are required to use the internet for personal, professional, and educational activities, increasing access to the digital landscape will help us maximize the value each Canadian can share with their community (Canadian Internet Use Survey, 2019). Improved internet infrastructure will aid in this goal. Until then, support for programs that blend online tools with in-person learning will help young Canadians reach their academic goals. With regards to educational design, administrators need to strongly consider the needs and limitations of our rural learners and incorporate alternatives into curriculum structure and assessment resources.  For example, eLearning programs should include access to printed materials. Moreover, digital tools should be used as a supplemental resource, not a replacement for professional and caring teachers in each community. Using a combination of communication and consideration, together, we can innovate and build towards an educational experience that helps all Canadians reach their creative potential (Kuu, 2019).

References:

Bates, T. (2019, March 3) Why are there few online programs in Canada’s Far North? https://bit.ly/3i6ciXk

Broadband Fund (2021, March 19). Canadian Radio and Television Communication: Broadband Fund Closing the Digital Divide Canada. Retrieved May 30, 2021, from https://bit.ly/3i50Hb6

Brownell, C. (2021, April 8). The pandemic has exposed Canada’s internet problem. Maclean’s: Technology. https://bit.ly/34tNpga

Canadian Internet Use Survey (2019, October 29). Statistics Canada. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/191029/dq191029a-eng.htm

Education, Culture, and Employment (n.d.) Northern Distance Learning. Government of Northwest Territories. https://bit.ly/3gc5kO7

Flags on federal buildings to be lowered in memory of Kamloops residential school victims. (2021, May 30). Canadian Broadcast Corporation: Politics. https://bit.ly/3yPf4pS

Fleming, N. (2020, April 24) Why Are Some Kids Thriving During Remote Learning? Edutopia. https://edut.to/3yR4ChG

Gray, B (2021) Digital Detox 5: The Harm Was Always There. https://bit.ly/2RWLu11

Gray, B (2021) Digital Detox 6: Build Back Better. https://bit.ly/3vCRSci

Internet Performance Test (n.d.) CIRA. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://performance.cira.ca/

ISED National Broadband Internet Service Map (2021, March 25). Government of Canada. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/sitt/bbmap/hm.html?lang=eng

Khoo, Su-Ming. (2019, April 11). Openings: bounded (in) equities: entangled lives. [Video]. YouTube. https://bit.ly/34tGX97

K12 State of the Nation. (n.d.) NWT Northern Distance Learning Program. State of the Nation. https://bit.ly/3c4Q6sQ

Latour, J (2018, August 23). Canada’s north deserves a better internet. CIRA. https://bit.ly/2SHO2Qu

Levinson-King, R. (2019, September 9). Huawei heats up the battle for internet in Canada’s north. BBC News Toronto. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49415867

Tranter, E. (2021, January 24). Deeply disturbing: Nunavut internet is still slower, more costly than the rest of the country. CTV News. https://bit.ly/3p313jK

White, E. (2020, October 20). After decades of promises for better northern internet, progress has been made — and the promises keep coming. Canadian Broadcast Corporation: Sudbury. https://bit.ly/2RZjgmn

521.3.2 – Reading Reflections

Originally published May 31, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

As I alluded to in my last blog, in Unit 3, we explored different educational methods and their respective strengths and weaknesses. In today’s reflection, I wish to outline the more significant structures at play so that you can also acknowledge such designs in your learning environments.

There are three major teaching philosophies or epistemologies:

    • Behaviourism
    • Cognitivism
    • Constructivism

Aside: Most interestingly, this unit’s reading proposed a 4th and new teaching philosophy, Connectivism, whereby learners optimize digital tools and maximize a learner-centred approach through social discourse.

John Watson’s theory of Behaviorism, influenced by Vladimir Bekhterev and Ivan Pavlov, proposed that learning results from external stimuli (Sprouts, 2020; Amin, 2017). For today’s discussion, this model is also considered a “teacher-based” approach. Examples include learning environments that rely heavily on lectures and assignments crafted by the teacher.

Cognitivism instead shifts the emphasis to the learner and explores the “thought process behind the behaviour” (Amin, 2017). Examples include the work of Jean Piaget, who hypothesized children build an understanding of the world through their senses, from breastfeeding to inductive reasoning, and this scaffolding or schema helps them understand how to interact with the world in a productive manner (Cherry, 2020). Alternatively, Lev Vygotsky believed that each generated passed down learning and that cognitive development could only be understood when social and cultural contexts were considered (Cheery, 2020). Cognitive theory presupposes that people make decisions based on logic, informed by information and memories (Amin, 2017). Therefore, although cognitivism lends well to the learner-centred approach, now held in high regard by academic intellectuals, it lacks an appreciation for the emotional component of learning.

Constructivism accommodates this need and incorporates both an appreciation for logic and humanistic elements (Amin, 2017). As a result, constructivist learning models believe that willfulness, creativity, and autonomy help learners accumulate knowledge in a meaningful way, improving retention, and inspiring interest to learn more (Amin, 2017).

This is where our Unit 3 readings jump in! We explored five different impact structures that our MALAT professors will be using to help facilitate our learning during this distance-education program: groups, nets, set, communities, and collectives.

      • Groups
          • According to Dron & Anderson (2014), groups may vary in size (dyads of 2, demes of 30, or tribes of up to 150) and are closed off to others. Dan Coyle (2010) discussed the benefits of the group and how it can help participants attend their sports practice and engage in deep learning in his book, The Talent Code.
          • Examples include the master/apprentice dyad, grade school class size, grad school seminar size, and project teams like our recent MALAT debate. When building cohesion in the group, leaders can use the work of Tuckman (1965) to help participants understand their role and how they can best contribute before adjourning in preparation for the next group activity.
          • Leaders and participants should remain vigilant to help avoid groupthink caused by “structural (insulation, impartial leadership, lack of methodological procedure, homogeneity across the group) or social (stress of external threats, recent failures, difficulty in decision-making, moral dilemmas) challenges” (Dron & Anderson, 2014, 2014. p. 115).
      • Networks
          • Conversely, networks are open to the public and feature a flexible membership that carries a mix of both strong and weak ties between participants (Oddone, 2016). Examples include discussion forums on the internet, social media websites, and perhaps in a more analog form, even the public library.
          • As a result, networks are very learner-centred, and self-determination is required to discover new information and consolidate conceptual frameworks (Oddone, 2016). This allows for the egocentric needs of the learner and can spark innovation in their field of interest (Oddone, 2016).
          • Veletsianos (2016) describes a network as a bounded system where people use a public or semi-public profile to build a list of friends or connections, and network connections can openly view that list (e.g. Facebook or LinkedIn).
      • Sets
          • To help narrow the overwhelmingly vast amount of information on the public web, sets, like data sets, help learners chose and sort through relevant information and acquire knowledge in a more productive manner (Dron & Anderson, 2014).
          • For example, think of hashtags on Twitter whereby users can drive into a topic or thread with greater efficiency. As a result, sets may contribute to stronger ties between participants, a topic we discuss further when defining communities (Dron & Anderson, 2014).

In summary, Dron & Anderson (2014) illustrate groups, nets, and sets and their respective modalities using the following Venn diagram (p.83).

Shifting the scope of our discussion from the 1,000-foot view to the 10,000-foot view, let us now explore the final two impact structures, Collectives and Communities.

    • Figure 3.1: Social forms for learning: Sets, nets, and groups (Dron & Anderson, 2014, P.73)

      Collectives

        • Collectives are an environment composed of people’s actions and their products (Dron & Anderson, 2014). For example, rating systems like eBay reviews or Facebook Likes organize information from various users to increase productivity.
        • In the right circumstances, they can “replicate or even improve upon the organizational value of groups, networks, and sets without the overhead of group processes, and take on many of the roles of a teacher” (Dron & Anderson, 2014, p.199).
        • However, collectives are susceptible to the Matthew effect, whereby users who submit reviews or likes first will significantly impact the likelihood of future ratings. Examples of the Mathew effect include people who vote in elections early, people who decided to like or not like a post when it is immediately published, and people who first submit an eBay or Google review for a new business. The input of those early users weighs more heavily than later users (Dron & Anderson, 2014); therefore, deliberate manipulation, loss of teacher and learner control, lack of pedagogical intent, and shifting contents can all impact the effectiveness of collectives (Ferreira-Meyers, 2015).
    •  Communities
          • Although some readers may be confused about how the attributes of a group and community differ in the context of online learning environments, as I was for a few weeks, Dron & Anderson (2014) define communities as intersections between the above impact structures.
          • A Community of Practice occurs at the intersection between the group and network environment. For example, such a ‘cluster’ may include many people who “share a purpose, practice, and often location, but [no]… explicit hierarchies, exclusions, and roles of a more defined group [exist]” (Dron & Anderson, 2014. p.80).
          • A Community of Interest, or Tribe, exists at the intersection of a group and a set. This can include a closed group of people who are “often bound by the interest in a topic more than by the group itself, although this may change in time” (Dron & Anderson, 2014. p.80). An example from the world of sport would be a Vancouver Canucks fan group or even a fantasy hockey league, whereby participants may come and go in time. Moreover, if the group agreed, they may switch their interests entirely to another sport.
          • The Circle, or your circle of friends, exists at the intersection between a network and a set (Dron & Anderson, 2014). For example, your friend group may expand and contract as circles of friends change or even combine. Within your circle of friends, invitations to specific events (concerts) are more casual than the traditionally defined ‘group,’ and the choice to attend the event is yours and yours alone (Dron & Anderson, 2014).
          • Indeed, there are many ways to define communities, and in digital spaces, Henri & Pudelko (2003) argue group cohesion is the critical factor in their four definitions.
                • Communities of interest
                • Goal‐oriented communities of interest
                • Learners’ communities, and
                • Communities of practice (COP), defined by Wenger (1998) as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (2). Furthermore, Wenger (1998) argues COP’s include three components:
                      • Mutual engagement (activities that promote social bonding),
                      • Negotiation of a joint enterprise (build something together),
                      • A shared repertoire (of tools and abilities).
          • Conversely, Riel and Polin (2004) identify three types of learning communities:
                • task‐based
                • practice‐based, and
                • knowledge‐based
  • Many factors drive the effectiveness of learning environments. When creating a distance-education curriculum in the digital space, teachers must carefully consider the ‘impact structure’ and curriculum design. Each learner will have their learning preferences, whether they prefer a teacher-based method with solid instruction, a learner-based method with greater freedom, or perhaps a social-based method found in Collectivism, but that is for another day.

In conclusion, I would like to illustrate the differences between groups, networks, and sets using the work of Dron & Anderson (2014). Building upon Paulson’s (2003) model of cooperative freedom (time, place, content, medium, pace, and access), they extrapolated ‘access’ into technology, method, relationship, delegation, and disclosure, increasing the number of metrics from 5 to 10 (Dron & Anderson, 2014). As a result, the cooperative freedom model illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of groups, networks, and sets in the context of a digital learning environment.

Figure 4.1: Notional cooperative freedom in groups (Dron & Anderson, 2014. p.99)
Figure 5. 1: Notional cooperative freedom in networks (Dron & Anderson, 2014. p.138)
Figure 6.1: Notional cooperative freedom in sets (Dron & Anderson, 2014. p.172)

These differences are fascinating and serve as a great introduction to our Unit 3 debate topic: Are digital learning environments equal? According to Veletsianos (2016), “teaching a group might require different instructional and assessment strategies than facilitating learning in a network” (p. 246), which seems apparent given the illustrations above. However, how do we define the word equal? And if definitions differ, who is more accurate? Instead, perhaps, as we discovered today, it is the careful definition of language that will help us arrive at a shared understanding and maximizes the use of the tools available.

Stay tuned for updates from the debate.

References:

Amin, Z. A. (2017, October 15). Learning Process: Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. Slideshare. https://bit.ly/3wJRXuR

Cherry, K. (2020, March 31). The 4 Stages of Cognitive Development. Verywellmind.com. https://bit.ly/3uII6Ew

Cherry, K. (2020, April 16). A Biography of Lev Vygotsky, One of the Most Influential Psychologists. Verywellmind.com. https://bit.ly/34zz6H6

Coyle, D. (2010). The Talent Code. Arrow Books.

Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press.

Henri, F., & Pudelko, B. (2003). Understanding and analyzing activity and learning in virtual communities. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19(4), 472–487.

Oddone, K. (2018, January 21). PLNs: Theory and Practice. linkinglearning.com. https://bit.ly/3uwHilS

Ferreira-Meyers, K. (2015). Dron, Jon and Terry Anderson (2014). Teaching Crowds – Learning and Social Media, Edmonton: AU Press. Journal of Learning for Development2(2). Retrieved from https://jl4d.org/index.php/ejl4d/article/view/123

Paulsen, M. (2003). Online education and learning management systems: global e-learning in a Scandinavian perspective. Information Retrieval. https://bit.ly/3wPTaB9

Riel, Margaret & Polin, Linda. (2004). Learning Communities: Common Ground and Critical Differences in Designing Technical Support. DOI:10.1017/CBO9780511805080.006.

Sprouts. (2020, April 20). Watson’s Theory of Behaviourism [VIDEO]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/V09FuazW8bc

Tuckman, B. (1965) Development Sequence in Small Groups. Psychological Bulletin. Volume 63, No. 6, 384-399. Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland. https://bit.ly/3wMneO4

Veletsianos, G. (2016). Digital learning environments. In N. Rushby & D. Surry (Eds), Handbook of Learning Technologies (pp. 242-260). UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Wenger (1998) Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511803932

521.3.1 – Visual Network Mapping

Originally published May 31, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

In today’s post, I am exploring a visual representation of my network connections. I started with a basic drawing illustrating the numerous groups and networks I have been involved in throughout my life. I then contrast that understanding with a more sophisticated representation of my connections powered by Kumu and data from my LinkedIn profile.

The hand-drawn illustration was an interesting, albeit quick, way to wrap my mind around how the groups and networks I engage with are interconnected. Although it is now represented in chronological order, with my family and grade school connections at the top and the more recent connections lower down, I find it interesting that in my first draft, I started in the present moment, building back from my current position as an employee of Cycling BC. I also represented unexpected changes or non-traditional career paths by perpendicular changes in the flow of the connection bubbles. For example, jumping into university or professional cycling represented a large shift in my life plan. However, I have been fortunate to build a wonderful collection of contacts throughout my studies and professional activities, the quality and interconnectedness of which is difficult to illustrate in a hand-drawing.

Next up is the Kumu-powered visualization of my social networks and groups. Although it did not turn out as I was hoping, it did illustrate how my social network has grown chronologically. Whether it is because I exported the incorrect dataset from my LinkedIn profile or did not manually input enough tags for each member of my community, Kumu does illustrate how my network has changed based on the date of new connections.

Since networks are classified as open and free to join, yet LinkedIn requires you to ‘approve’ connection requests, in LinkedIn a network? Or perhaps an intersection between a network and a group, also known as a Community of Practice (Dron & Anderson, 2014).

What do you think?

To learn more about the definitions of the above terms, please review my most recent post here.

References:

Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press.

521.2.3 – Digital Presence

Originally published May 25, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

I remember the first time I learned about online avatars and the concept of digital presence. In grade 9, I read Virtual Vandals, a Tom Clancy Net Force series novel designed for teen readers. The story followed two teenage protagonists on a virtual reality adventure. They logged into a digital world, created avatars to conceal their identity, and pursued a faceless antagonist driving an evil geopolitical plot (Duane, 1999). The pop-culture hit, The Matrix reinforced the characteristics of the digital avatar again during a grade 10 acting class film critique. In this film, characters could ‘load’ anything from clothing to tools, making their appearance in the matrix different from their real-world selves. The main supporting character, Morpheus, explained the appearance in the matrix as one’s “residual self-image … is the mental projection of your digital self” (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999). Most recently, however, Speilberg’s (2018) film Ready Player One cautioned that digital identity does not infer unanimity. Indeed, the actions of the two protagonists in the digital world created real-world consequences. The concepts of digital identity are not new to the pop-culture, but they are entertaining examples of the pros and cons of our digital age.

During this second unit of our first course in the Royal Roads MALAT program, my cohort and I investigated the importance of digital identity and presence.  In the coming units, we will fully explore the various organizational structures involved in online learning; but at their foundations, learning in the digital environment requires awareness, participation, and collaboration (Rheingold, 2010). Critical thinking and consumption, famously coined as “Crap Detection” by Ernest Hemingway, or an understanding of who wrote it, their sources, dissenting views, and the correct information, will inform our work (Canvas Network, 2017). As part of the awareness phase, we are currently learning about our digital footprint, how others may use the digital space differently, and how rapid shifts from analog to digital environments create constraints.

Today’s blog post helped me articulate the purpose behind my digital identity and explore how I can make further improvements in the future.

As discussed in my last post, my professional work as a leader in the youth sports sector heavily influences my online presence.  Therefore, my goal as a ‘web-resident’ is to further the strategic plan of Cycling BC and represent the values of the Coaches Association of Canada, Cycling Canada, and Cycling BC to help make the activity and sport of cycling as accessible as possible to all Canadians (White, 2011).

I can meet these expectations by carefully choosing the words, messages, and images that I share with coaches, instructors, parents, athletes, and prospective cycling families. For example, I aim to role model the following through my actions in the digital space (and the real world, for that matter):

    • use precise language,
    • show an appreciation for the reader,
    • trust in the reader’s interest in growth and development, and
    • use awareness of calendar and social events to maximize the relevance and effectiveness of my posts.

I also need to recognize that readers and viewers look for different things in their role models. Morgenroth, Ryan, and Peters (2015) showed that role models could either 1) act as behavioural models, 2) represent the possible, and 3) be inspirational, and that ultimately, the viewer will decide the mode their role models fulfill.  In my role as Cycling BC’s Head of Coach Development, I am responsible for the messages that I share in the digital world and take great care in promoting values and actions that will help people create positive associations with their bikes.

At Cycling BC, we are initiating a new coach mentorship program, whereby NCCP ‘certified’ coaches can pursue professional development opportunities to maintain good standing. As the project lead, I plan to use various online technologies to foster an environment that promotes community, knowledge transfer, and opportunities to help coaches take on new and challenging roles. For example, one component of our mentorship program will be our monthly study group.  To help each participant expand their abilities, all participants will receive the opportunity to lead a meeting each year and fulfill the remaining roles.  To help make this initiative a success, I will need to utilize my technical skills in video editing, learning management systems, lecture and facilitation design, and social media to provide resources and set the tone for the participants.  Areas for improvement include my ability to develop an eLearning program from scratch (I worked with a consultant for our 2020 project) and optimizing my audio capture and editing skills to improve the sound quality of our video resources.

To help facilitate a greater connection between our coaches and increase their understanding of how athletes perceive them, we could use various activities to help them explore their digital identity. For example, numerous coaches in our community are now filming and sharing highlights of the skills and activities they complete with the athletes on social media. By sharing this information, coaches help ensure parents understand how their child is improving and help new coaches access helpful examples. In the past, apps like Coaches Eye (now known as Hudl or OnForm as of Sept 1st, 2021) allowed coaches to share information within a private group of coaches. Reed’s Law discusses how the value associated with sharing information with others changes as the number of people increases. Reed’s Law hypothesizes a linear value associated with story-telling between individuals, a ‘squared’ value associated with facilitating transactions, and an exponential value associated with facilitating affiliations and hosting conversations (Rheingold, 2010). Reed’s law also hypothesizes that as the scale of a network increases, the dominant value of the network tends to shift from one category (stories) to another (square or exponential, respectively) (Hogg, 2013). Our coaches are already doing a great job sharing their experiences within their local community and I am curious how I can facilitate more significant connections with coaches in the public network and increase information on the web.

Sports coaching is a mix of art and science, and it is hard to know when athletes will achieve improvement. Likewise, it will be hard to measure the success of our coach mentorship program.  If we set up our program in the context of a community (or a group according to Dron, 2014), we can track the progress through participant attendance, engagement, and satisfaction.  However, I am optimistic the impact of the program will extend out into the online coaching network.  Measuring success in the more public realm is more challenging. One idea may be an annual survey that asks coaches about the content they have been sharing online, supported by analytics data that illustrates changes in the number of follow requests, likes, or views, representing changes in consumer interest. Another marker for success based on Reed’s Law may show how the engaging stories shared by our coaches translate to increased revenues for small coaching businesses or donations to our larger non-for-profit cycling organizations.  As with most of our programs here at Cycling BC, we design our pilot programs on a 3-year time horizon, meaning that our coach mentorship program will need to demonstrate its effectiveness and achieve financial sustainability by 2024.

Over the past decade, the sport of cycling has also quickly matured into a more mainstream activity.  With the core disciplines of the sport now established, coaching and instructor certifications are professionally recognized, trail designs that promote safety and accessibility are more widely adopted, and there is increasing interest from the public to ‘go by bike.’  As a result, our sports leaders carry an even greater responsibility to lead by example and enact their leadership values through best principles (Gilbert, 2016). This can be challenging for some members of the cycling community who experienced the ‘younger version’ of the sport and feel like they have been working with limited guidance and support but have achieved success, nonetheless.  For the coach mentorship program to achieve success, we will need to create an environment that values the experiences of all our members and helps the group aim together towards a common goal.

Regarding leveraging online tools to achieve this, our coach mentorship program could help introduce the concepts of online identity and grow a coach’s business and ultimately increase the quality of information available on the web. Boyd (2006) states that “profile generation is an explicit act of writing oneself into being in a digital environment and participants must determine how they want to present themselves to those who may view their self-representation or those who they wish might” (Boyd, 2011, p. 4). We can initiate this process within the closed community of the mentorship program, whereby the members serve as the imagined audience, or according to Boyd (2011), the intended public. The value of such an exercise would be to imagine “the audience or public [and] to adjust one’s behaviour and self-presentation to fit the intended norms of that collective” (Boyd, 2011, p. 4). In summary, I plan to recommend that coaches first share their content in a private setting, like Coaches Eye. When they feel they have consolidated a digital persona that they are comfortable with, they can then shift to using the open web to demonstrate their skills on the public market.  As a result of engaging in this open sharing, we would also aim to help coaches outside our current community refine their teaching techniques and improve the overall quality of cycling coaching information available on the open web.

References

Boyd, D. (2006, December 4). Friends, Friendster, and Fop 8: Writing community into being on social network sites. First Monday, 11(12). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/download/1418/1336

Boyd, D. (2011). Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 39–58). New York, NY: Rutledge.

Canvas Network. (2017). Crap Detection. Retrieved 05 10, 2021, from https://learn.canvas.net/courses/1659/pages/crap-detection

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University Press. Retrieved from https://www.aupress.ca/books/120235-teaching-crowds/

Duane, Diane (1999). Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers: Virtual Vandals. Berkley Publishing Group.

Gilbert, W. (2016). Coaching better every season: A year-round system for athlete development and program success. Champaign, Illinois, USA: Human Kinetics.

Hogg, S. (2013, October 5). Understand and Obey the Laws of Networking: Ignorance of the laws of networking is no excuse. Network World. Retrieved November 2, 2017, from https://www.networkworld.com/article/2225509/understand-and-obey-the-laws-of-networking.html

Morgenroth, T., Ryan, M. K., & Peters, K. (2015, November 23). The Motivational Theory of RoleModeling: How Role Models Influence Role Aspirants’ Goals. Advance online publication. Review of General Psychology, 19(4), 465-483. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/gpr0000059

Reed, D. P. (n.d.). That Sneaky Exponential: Beyond Metcalfe’s Law to the Power of Community Building. Retrieved from https://www.deepplum.com/dpr

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention and other 21st-century social media literacies. Educause Review, 45(5), 14-24. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/-/media/files/article-downloads/erm1050.pdf

Spielberg, S. (2018). Ready Player One. Warner Bros.

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011, August 9). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049

Wachowski, L., & Wachowski, L. (1999). The Matrix. Warner Bros.

521.2.2 – Visitor Resident Typology

Originally published May 12, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

As a student of one of the first post-secondary institutions on the western seaboard to get invited to ‘the Facebook,’ as we called it back in 2006, I have watched social media grow and change.

Of course, the use of the internet has also changed significantly over the past 15 years, and the process of completing this Visitor-Resident typology assignment reminds me of a family saying, “if you write it, it’s forever.”

For my guest readers, White (2013) describes the way users interact with the internet as either visitors, those who search for information, or residents, those who build and share their personality online. White (2013) is also quick to point out that neither position, visitor nor resident, represents a particular person. Rather it helps users understand what tools they use in the internet age and how they may impact their persona.

This typology activity reminds me of how I have tried to carefully use the internet to reflect my values, attract helpful people into my life, and aspire towards my personal and professional goals. The below map illustrates this heavy focus on work and changes to my use of social media discussed further below.

Alternatively, Cormier (2018) proposes a different typology map that instead asks students to categorize their preference for professional practices in either a group or individual setting and using either digital or analog tools. Reflecting upon this alternative method, I prefer to build my persona and explore new professional tasks in an analog environment, first individually and then with the group. Only once I feel confident that new information will provide social value do I wish to share my ideas with the stakeholders in my area of influence.

Over the past 15 years, I recall 3 moments that shaped the way I use social media and reminded me of our family saying, “If you write it, it’s forever!” As a result of these moments, I shifted my focus away from the digital space and focused on in-person interactions with my social network.

    • 2009 – Facebook expanded outside the confines of the post-secondary space, changing who could view your content.
    • 2013 – A social media post between friends was taken out of context by a public user.
    • 2018 – Facebook was no longer an effective way for me to stay in touch with my post-secondary friends, and I deleted my account, now using What’s App or visits in-person to stay connected.

As a person of influence in sports coaching, I have also discussed the impact of digital footprints with my athletes and am looking forward to using this typology map during future conversations.

References

White, D. (2013, June 13). Visitors and Residents mapping activity [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9IMObcyKbo

White, D. (2013, September 13). Just the Mapping [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ

Cormier, D. (2018, March 31). Digital Practices Mapping – Intro activity for digital literacies course. Dave’s Educational Blog. https://bit.ly/3yhqmTE

521.1.3 – VS 2021 Recap

Welcome to my academic blog. This blog is designed to consolidate my learning experience at the Master of Learning and Technology (MALAT) program at Royal Roads University (RRU).  I hope you enjoy reading, and I am excited to explore the world of teaching and learning, emphasizing technology over the coming 2 years.

The RRU Virtual Symposium took place from April 12th – 16th, 2021. It provided our cohort with the opportunity to listen to leaders in education and meet the 2021 graduating class, albeit virtually.  Our first assignment asked us to summarize our experience at the event, highlight ideas or concepts interesting, and explain why.

In reflection, four topics come to mind. Not only did I find them intriguing, but they also match well with the type of work I currently do as an NCCP Coach Developer in the sport of cycling:

    • Surface learning vs. conceptual learning
    • Adult Learning Environment terminology and definitions (Hatzigeorgiou, 2021)
    • Competency-based coach training and certification programs (Hatzigeorgiou, 2021)
    • “Messy” impact of OPEN learning models (Cormier, 2017)
    • Importance of mentorship at all levels of a learning system (Cronin, 2017)

As an aspiring athlete and later as a professional cyclist, I really enjoyed riding as many roads and trails as possible when I moved to a new area.  This activity helped me understand the shape and feel of the place.  In my professional work, I tend to explore the key tenets of or major obstacles that challenge the organizations I work with.  Dino Hatziegeorgiou’s presentation provided a valuable introduction to competency-based adult learning programs and the supporting literature, concepts that are fundamental to the National Coaches Certification Program (NCCP) since 2014.  Using the presentation as a launchpad, I explored a basic understanding of the Adult Learning Theoretical Framework (ALTF) (Knowles, 1968, 1980) and the importance of Adaptive Learning Environments (ALE) (Hatzigeorgiou, 2021).  As an NCCP Master Coach developer, we are asked to fulfill 3 roles, guide, moderate, and finally, if needed, instruct and are tasked with creating an environment that promotes decision-making, problem-solving, and the coach’s needs.  I found similarities between the NCCP training methods and the concepts introduced in Hatzigeorgiou’s presentation, including the importance of self-directed learning (Candy, 1991; Goodyear, 2000), the need to provide a personalized learning environment that promotes learner choice and control (Knapper & Crople, 2000; Klamma et al. l., 2007; Janssen et al., 2007), and the ability to use these methods on an individual basis (Wooldridge & Jennings, 1995).

It was not until later in the week that I watched Cormier’s 2017 talk discussing the “messiness” of teaching online or in open environments.  However, it proved helpful as Cormier’s Learning Ecosystem illustration summarized the conceptual methods I first learned about during Hatziegeorgiou’s presentation.   The learning matrix not only provided simple action-based suggestions (Cormier, 2017), but it also helped me understand the methods supporting the various NCCP programs that currently exist and those we are currently building.  Most notably, our new coach mentorship program, including a monthly study group, could indeed use a rhizome-inspired design.  I am excited to work on such a program as I begin this new adventure at Royal Roads University.

Open Action
Working Alone Consumes a Learning Object (answers a question) eLearning Rhizomatic Learning(explore a field) Outdoor modules &study group calls Working with others
Participates in a Structure Course Theory Modules Mentor new learners (supports others in questions/concepts) Mentorship, Annual staff training, Coach Developer team
Directed Action

BLUE denotes current or proposed NCCP programs.

 

References

Cormier, D. (2017). Intentional messiness of online communities. [Video]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017, Royal Roads University. https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/

Cronin, Catherine. (2017) Open culture, open education, open question. [Video]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017, Royal Roads University. https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/catherine-cronin-choosing-open/

Hatziegeorgiou, Dino. (2021). Adaptive Learning for Knowledge Currency in Pilot Training. [2021 ARP Padlet]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2021; Royal Roads University. http://bit.ly/HatziegeorgiouVS2021

Knowles, M.S. (1968). Andragogy, not pedagogy. Adult Leadership, 16(10), 350-352, 386

Knowles, M.S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Goodyear, P. 2000. Environments for lifelong learning: Ergonomics, architecture, and educational design. Integrated and Holistic Perspectives on Learning, Instruction & Technology: Understanding Complexity, 1-18. Janssen

Knapper, C.K., & Cropley, A. (2000). Lifelong learning in higher education. Kogan Page.

Klamma, R., Chatti, M.A., Duval, E., Hummel, H.,Hvannberg, E.T., Kravcik, M., Law, E., Naeve, A., & Scott, P. (2007). Social software for life-long learning. Educational Technology & Society, 10 (3), 72-83.

Janssen, J., Tattersall, C., Waterink, W., Van den Berg, B., Van Es, R., Bolman, C., & Koper, R. (2007). Self-organizing navigational support in lifelong learning: how predecessors can lead the way. Computers & Education, 49 (3), 781-793.

Wooldridge, M., & Jennings, N. (1995(. Intelligent agents: Theory and practice. The Knowledge Engineering Review, 10(2), 115-152. Doi:10.1017/ S0269888900008122