The Great Media Debate – AR in Autism and AI in Career Development

During the centurial media debate between Clark and Kozma, we were students already experiencing changes in teaching methodology and media evolution.  We feel a deep connection to Kozma’s statement that, “Educational technology is a design science (Simon, 1981, Glaser, 1976), not a natural science” (Kozma, 1994, p. 2). Educational Technology is not the same as physics or chemistry, where we can perform experiments and gather data.  This current era has seen its share of educational experiments, leaving us with more questions than answers.

We navigated our reflecting thought process between Clark and Kozma perspectives and views from two techno-deterministic contemporary news of two different target groups: autistic children and higher education students.

https://www.thestar.com/business/mars/2021/09/21/education-has-just-been-transformed-overnight.html

In the recent Toronto Star article above, the author described the current growing gaps in literacy and numeracy because of a lack of readiness in schools to effectively move to online learning, consequently causing societal losses. She discussed companies like Gepeto that use technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) to help kids with autism and leverage their research to add other digital tools to their toolkit. Like Gepeto, many teachers were tech-aware, but unprepared for a 100% digital teaching environment. While we agree that, as Mann (2001) said, “Instructional technology only works for some kids, with some topics, and under some conditions – but that is true of all pedagogy. There is nothing that works for every purpose, for every learner, and all the time” (p. 241), we no longer have the choice of all of the historically available instructional methods. Also, the parallel rise of social media as the penultimate cool media, requiring little to no completion (e.g. participation) by learners (McLuhan, 1964), yet delivering much (mis)information by reinforcing existing anxieties while people doomscroll (Watercutter, 2020) has shown that we need to close the completion gap so we can get some learning done. This completion gap is what we believe Kozma (1994) predicted when he warned against not having “forged a relationship between media and learning” (p. 7), so we would not “find ourselves on the sidelines of our own game (Reigeluth, 1989)” (Kozma, 1994, p. 7). “he would agree that our lack of integration of media and learning has been overlooked”? On the other hand, we believe that Clark would likely say that, since the majority of our society has adopted virtual applications for learning (e.g. video-based computer use), this is the new “usual uses argument” (Clark, 1994, paragraph 8, line 1) for our age and we can and have gone beyond the former usual uses of this medium. He would conclude, and we do agree that we now have a huge social experiment that we can use to design the studies that he called for in 1994.

Kozma’s prediction of lack of connection between media and learning and Clark’s collective virtual adoption for learning applications have both relevance in the next techno-deterministic news from LinkedIn that we talk about here. Keep reading! 

 

 

 

 


References:

Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-459.

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

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

Mann, D. (2001). Documenting  the Effects of  Instructional  Technology, A Fly-Over of Policy  Questions. In W. F.  Heineke & L. Blasi (Eds.),  Research methods for educational  technology ; v. 1: Methods of  evaluating  educational technology  (pp. 239249). Greenwich,  Conn.: Information Age Pub. 

McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. McGraw-Hill. 

Prensky, M. (2001).  Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.  MCB University Press, 9(5). https://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

 Reigeluth, C. (1989). Educational technology at the crossroads: New mindsets and new directions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 37(1), 67-80. 

Watercutter, A. (n.d.). Doomscrolling Is Slowly Eroding Your Mental Health. Wired. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://www.wired.com/story/stop-doomscrolling/

 

 

I am woman, hear me roar (or maybe code…)

Earlier this year, I was introduced to an online training program called Hollaback that was brought to my workplace (virtually) to provide training on interventions to stop street harassment (Hollaback, n.d.). Hollaback has created a decentralized feminist community of practice using technology to assist storytelling, a “key technique traditionally leveraged by social movements” (Dimond, et al, 2013). They commissioned the creation of a mobile application and website to aid their work. 

Hollaback’s mobile application and blog/storytelling website were created by Sassafras Tech Collective, which is a worker cooperative group owned by Dr. Jill Dimond, who holds a PhD in Human Centered Computing from Georgia Tech, and her partners (Sassafras, 2020). I chose Dr. Dimond because she embodies the intersection of education, technology, and feminism in her work. She specializes in Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Her PhD dissertation sought to “provide empirical evidence on how technology impacts activists” (Dimond, 2012). Sassafras Tech Collective even borrows pedagogical approaches in their day-to-day work, adopting a workplace version of critical pedagogy in their mutual work mentorship (Sassafras, 2020). Dr. Dimond maintains an active Twitter account, where she consistently promotes those same values of social equality and just cooperative work in the tech sector.

As Audrey Watters said, “this is really the crux of my message: there’s a fascinating and important history of education technology that is largely forgotten, that is largely hidden” (Watters, 2014) and I hope that Dr. Dimond is not hidden, or erased (Dimond, 2021).

Links:

Sassafras Tech Collective Blog: https://blog.sassafras.coop/

Dr. Jill Dimond Twitter: https://twitter.com/jpdimond

References:

Jill Dimond, PhD. (2021, August 3). The worst is when other women who work at large tech companies have done this to me, and they don’t even realize it because of how they are situated within institutional power. [Tweet]. @jpdimond. https://twitter.com/jpdimond/status/1422580472501178371

Dimond, J. (2012). Feminist HCI for real: designing technology in support of a social movement. Page 32. 

Hollaback! Together We Have the Power to End Harassment. Get Trained. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2021, from https://www.ihollaback.org/harassmenttraining/

Sassafras. (2020, February 27). Welcome to our new blog!.https://blog.sassafras.coop/welcome-to-our-new-blog/

Watters, A. (2014, June 18). Un-Fathom-able: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech #CETIS14. Hack Education. http://hackeducation.com/2014/06/18/unfathomable-cetis2014

Won’t Get Fooled Again

At the risk of sounding repetitive, the pandemic has made us force our offline lives online faster than we expected. I wrote about this when discussing Fully Online Learning Communities (FOLC) in May 2021 (Houldsworth, 2021). Weller (2020, p. 100) discussed “overenthusiastic initial adoption” of online worlds in Chapter 14 for 2007. He suggests that “virtual worlds for learning may be one of those technologies due for a comeback”. I agree with him, but perhaps not for the reasons he expected when he wrote that. Fortnite and the attempts by Silicon Valley to develop online worlds (Park, 2020) have provided a space for those who can and want to migrate their lives online, partly to avoid contagion and partly because they prefer it. I would argue that it is a smaller step now for schools to follow. As the pandemic continues to drag on, online life continues to pull us forward, while our old life tries to hold us back.

The concept of sludge (Thaler & Sunstein, 2021) or sedimentation (Weller, 2020) refers to the idea that administrative structures “accrue around the system” (Lanier, 2002, p. 222), making change difficult. In my professional life, I am living it due to the way that our systems have developed. When we were first required to work from home, simply accessing anything online was virtually impossible, which made regulating (a legally required activity!), let alone learning, very difficult. The very real risk of lack of nuclear regulatory oversight could have existed, which contradicts how we see ourselves. An organization can try very hard to be agile, but due to years of sedimentation, it cannot pivot very quickly, even when it thinks of itself as modern and responsive. Weller (2020) said, “it is necessary to be aware of every institutional action that adds to the sediment and to be aware that the greater the accrual of such sediment, the more difficult it becomes to implement, or even contemplate, other solutions” (p. 66). Throughout 2020, we watched the LMS, the regulatory activity databases, and even the processes used for hearings struggle along in the sludge, along with the people who use them. Thankfully, senior management is recognizing this now and making meaningful, forward-looking changes so that we won’t get caught again.

 

References:

Houldsworth, C. (2021, May 8). One Week (or maybe a Fortnite?) https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0208/one-week-or-maybe-a-fortnite/

Park, G. (2020, April 17). Silicon Valley is racing to build the next version of the Internet. Fortnite might get there first. Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2020/04/17/fortnite-metaverse-new-internet/

Thaler, R., Sunstein, C. (2021). Nudge: the final edition. Penguin Books.

Weller, Martin (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Canada: Athabasca University Press.

25 Years of Ed Tech – Weller Nails It!

The very readable and friendly, “25 Years of Ed Tech” beautifully describes my professional journey to date. Prior to reading the first third of the book, I knew my own lived experiences with Ed Tech, but I was surprised at how he perfectly encapsulated what I suspected about certain aspects of it. These include how constructivism has a place somewhere but not everywhere, the development of e-learning, and the appearance of digital diploma mills.

As a radiation expert, I agree that constructivism is “an approach that doesn’t apply equally across all disciplines; quantum physics, for example, is almost entirely theoretical and largely counter-intuitive, so bringing your own experience of quarks isn’t going to help” (Weller, 2020, p.30). Even now, critical safety training such as nuclear power plant operations continues to rely on a more traditional method of teaching, which is what I believe Weller meant. Constructivist learning, as well as e-learning, remain generally unpopular in the nuclear realm in my experience.

E-learning when present in nuclear remains asynchronous, low-risk, and regulatory box-checking. Weller provided the cost-effectiveness of e-learning thus: “software simulations are costly to produce, taking time and requiring the input of a range of experts. However, once made, these components are relatively cheap to reproduce, so the costs do not increase greatly as the number of students increases. This model … is well-suited to large population courses which are presented over several years without much alteration” (Weller, 2020, p. 46). I have seen this first-hand and a quick Google search for online safety training backs me up.

As the century progressed, I saw organizations whose officers are described by Reid in 1959 as “unethical self-seekers whose qualifications are no better than their offerings” (Noble, 1998, p. 368). I was unfortunately surprised by Weller’s and Noble’s works to learn that my hunches about this group were right.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Weller’s book has so far described the history of Ed Tech and look forward to connecting his future revelations to my lived experiences.

References:

Noble, D. F. (1998). Digital diploma mills: The automation of higher education. Science as Culture, 7(3), 355–368. https://doi.org/10.1080/09505439809526510

Weller, Martin (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Canada: Athabasca University Press.