Khan Academy-Pioneer in open access education


Sal Khan is a huge contributor to the worldwide phenomenon of free educational resources. It all began in 2004 when he started tutoring his niece through a digital video platform. Sal Khan saw a need to fill the gaps in student’s education, and in 2006 on advice of a friend, posted his first recorded “micro lesson” to YouTube. In 2009 the Khan Academy became a full time venture for Sal as a non-profit online education institution. Since 2009, the Khan Academy has ballooned to a multi-million user platform that spans the world. Sal’s dream of providing access to free world class education to everyone has been realized.

The idea of the micro lesson is the foundation behind the success of the Khan Academy. Each lesson is roughly 10 minutes long and use a variety of visual aids and verbal lecture to produce a simple yet accurate learning style. The Khan Academy was arguably the first mainstream free video learning tool. It’s emergence on YouTube in 2006 was pioneering for the time, gaining views alongside videos of feline antics and practical jokes. Today lessons from the Khan Academy can be found right alongside mainstream education, from formal classrooms to home computer screens, helping students all over the world. The Khan Academy is a milestone representing the progress to open learning. I’m sure we’re all familiar with it as a household name which only further signifies how far reaching it is. The Khan Academy lessons confirm how successful open resources can be, one huge step forward for open access education.

Visit the Khan Academy here:  https://www.khanacademy.org

Educational Technology in Healthcare-Reflection on 25 years in Ed Tech

25 Years of Ed Tech written by Martin Weller reviews the advances in digital technology over the last 25 years (from 1994-2018).  Some of these topics are largely used in healthcare, and some are less so. As a member of the healthcare field I see the value in the use of technology as an educational tool and the way it can enrich the learner’s experience throughout one’s education.

One idea that is highly relevant to healthcare is Weller’s chapter on virtual worlds. Virtual technology or simulations are heavily used for education in healthcare. Clearly there isn’t an ability to use real life patients in all aspects of training for healthcare so virtual simulations are a close second for patient assessments, playing out treatment plans, and practicing hands on skills. Technological advances in virtual reality simulations are very important to the quality of learning from these simulations. The closer you can get to a real world scenario, the better the student experience. Weller identifies the virtual worlds having strong roots in role playing. This is largely practiced in healthcare education where students “act out” scenarios in order to gain experience.

Weller’s chapter on e-portfollios is the least relevant to my field of healthcare. In the healthcare working environment, most employees are organized by license level or scope of practice through an external licensing body. Once your education is achieved, you usually achieve an external licence that acts as your resume or qualification. Little else is needed when applying for a job or building a collection of education (formal or informal). E-portfolios are typically used to store resources, proof of education, and proof of skills or acquired learning. In healthcare this is generally replaced by work experience in the field or other forms of merit such as references etc. E-portfolios are not widely used in the field of healthcare (yet).

25 Years of Ed Tech

25 Years of Ed Tech by Martin Weller

 

The book reviews educational technology since 1994, arguably since internet became more prevalent and common for home use.  This accurately reflects the history of educational technology in respect to the digital age, however various technologies have been used in education since technology began. In various fields new tools and technologies are constantly used in practice and learning, suggesting that the use of technology in education is not new, rather the use of digital technology is. Weller accurately reviews the use of digital technology since its inception roughly 25 years ago. He self identifies that the review could also be referred to as the “internet years.”

One of the arguments in this book I found particularly interesting was the idea of a year zero mentality in the field of educational technology, that ideas and theories are being discovered in the field and presented as new, rather than looking at the complete history and building upon it. I found this interesting because it almost undermines the work previously done and possibly inhibits forward progress in the field. If every new researcher is claiming to have “discovered” ideas and methodologies, the focus shifts to WHO developed the theory rather than the theory or work itself. This theme shows up again when Weller speaks about learning objects in chapter 7. Weller identifies one of the challenges in the field is agreeing on the terminology itself, and how many researchers spend time debating the term or definition (in this case what a learning object is), rather than progressing the research. I found this perspective interesting and very reflective for someone in the field to identify a very real barrier to progress. Weller demonstrates a very comprehensive reflection throughout the initial chapters of his book.

 

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

25 Years of Ed Tech

A perspective on research and a career in education

Steve Jobs Said Follow Your Passions But What He Really Meant Was Do This Instead | Inc.com

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Commenting on looking back on his career, the question was posed to George Veletsianos  “as you look back on your career in research, what would you have liked to know from the start?” His answer was largely in part to see the big picture, to focus on his part in the change; his passion. This stood out to me because I often treat education in general as a hobby of mine, an extra limb that has always been there and I’ve learned to depend on it, but happy to have it just exist. I notice I feel more productive if I am taking courses or learning something new. However, it is important to narrow down the topics that I am passionate about and focus on how they can lead me down the path I want to be on. The Learning and Technology program is a step forward for me discovering exactly where in education my interest lies and how I am going to contribute to it. Reflecting on how others have made their way through their own careers I am inspired by the need to acutely diagnose your part in the future of education.

Another topic that was interesting to me is the idea of permanence with digital presence. When you contribute to a personal blog the topics discussed, points made, and perspective shared become part of your discoverable digital identity. Others can search, read, and comment on your unique work. This remains part of your digital identity and can appear again in social or work situations. It is important to be cognizant of the tone and content, and the way you represent yourself professionally and socially. Interestingly enough, the work done is discoverable, but only to those who seek it out, Creating a blog or online presence does not immediately mean it will be read by large groups of people. Discoverable yes, but popular maybe not. This begs the next question; is it more responsibility to be popular in your field?

 

For more insight from George Veletsianos, visit his blog at https://www.veletsianos.com

Veletsianos, G. (2021, August 11). Personal interview [Personal interview].

Ever wonder…?

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Research… We all wonder about things, so how do we go about answering these questions? Aside from obtaining fundamental knowledge, research can help guide additional understanding in a field, answer practical questions, provide solutions, and guide further research. Almost everyone is familiar with some type of research whether it’s formal or informal, basic or applied.

So you’ve decided to do some research… but where do you start? Most areas of formal research require a fair bit of planning, funding, organization, even an ethics review or permission from government for example. How do you decide what to research? What is the purpose of your research and what do you hope to gain? First, you will need a good research question.

Some common themes emerge when we look at developing a research question:

  • Is the question clear and logical?
  • Is it testable or reproducible?
  • Is it free of bias?
  • Will it produce quality evidence?

When we develop research strategies, these qualities are important in developing and carrying out quality research. The goal is to produce strong evidence that answers your research question. Research is not about “proving” a theory, rather building evidence in support of a theory. If the research question is ill defined it will be difficult to reproduce. If the research question has bias it will not produce quality evidence. Research is about exploration of knowledge. When thinking about a research question, keep in mind the road to discovery may not lead where you expect. Keep an open mind and focus on obtaining quality evidence to answer the question.

Digital Learning in a Modern World

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Digital Learning has impacted the teaching of 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Schools. 21st Century skills are evolving, and sources, including The Conference Board of Canada (The Conference Board of Canada, 2014) and Tony Wagner (Tedx Talks, 2012) have aligned on a number of essential elements including: communication, collaboration, critical and creative thinking, media literacy, and digital fluency. In our discussions, Alisha Hadley, Conor Topley and I found that digital learning has had both positive and negative impacts and we’ve curated a selection below:

 

Positive Impacts: 

  • Learners have direct access to unique communities that may not be available in traditional education delivery environments (Yotam et al, 2018).
  • Digital learning increases accessibility to learning activities that develop 21st century skills through open educational resources, subject matter experts, flexibility, personalized learning, diverse media, and Universal Design for Learning (IGI Global, 2018,  Chapter 5).
  • Participants are transitioning to modern facilitated teaching versus traditional transmission pedagogy (E.g., from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side”) (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1) including learning models such as Community of Inquiry and Fully Online Learning Community with social-constructivist or connectivist theoretical bases (Blayone et al., 2016).
  • Soft skill development in areas such as those identified in the BC Ministry of Education Core Competencies, including communication, thinking, and personal & social is essential to 21st century learners and can be enhanced by digital learning (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1), particularly critical thinking (Beetham, 2019).

 

Negative Impacts: 

  • Knowledge gap: “Rapid development in educational technologies means that instructors need new skills and frameworks for assessing the value of different technologies” (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1.7.5).
  • Inconsistent experience due to poor access or lack of resources: “55% of rural Canadians do not have high-speed internet access” (TRU, n.d.) 
  • Uncertain quality assurance standards with Open Source Content (Cormier, 2017).

 

References

Bates, T. (2019). Teaching in the Digital Age—Second Edition (2nd Edition). Tony Bates Associates Ltd. https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/teachinginadigitalagev2/ 

Beetham, H. (2019). Trouble with critical: reframing critical digital literacies as real-world interventions. [Video]. YouTube. https://oer19.oerconf.org/sessions/trouble-with-critical-reframing-critical-digital-literacies-as-real-world-interventions-o-161/

Blayone, T., van Oostveen, R., Barber, W., DiGiuseppe, M., & Childs, E. (2016). New conceptions for digital technology sandboxes: Developing a Fully Online Learning Communities (FOLC) model. Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology, 665–673.

The Conference Board of Canada (2014).  Employability Skills 2000+ Ottawa ON. Conference Board of Canada. https://www.conferenceboard.ca/edu/employability-skills.aspx 

Core Competencies. Building Student Success – B.C. Curriculum. (n.d.). https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/competencies

Cormier, D. (2017). Values of open. [Video]. https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/recordings/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/

Hod, Y., Bielaczyc, K. & Ben-Zvi, D.(2018). Revisiting learning communities: innovations in theory and practice. Instructional Science, 46, 489–506. https://doi-org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1007/s11251-018-9467-z

IGI Global. (2018). Ubiquitous inclusive learning in a digital era. (E. Ossiannilsson, Ed.). IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-5225-6292-4

TEDx Talks. (2012, May 30). Play, passion, purpose: Tony Wagner at TEDxNYED [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvDjh4l-VHo 

TRU (n.d.) Digital Detox 5: The Harm was always there. Retrieved from https://digitaldetox.trubox.ca/digital-detox-5-the-harm-was-always-there/

Unit 3 Reflection

I found the most thought provoking article to be the research done by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, in which they discuss the 3 main factors for success in delivering educational programs: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence (2000). Garrison et al (2000) showed that social presence, or the ability of the learner to identify with others as real people, is critical to not only the development of critical thinking and therefore learning, but also the creation and maintenance of cognitive presence, one of the 3 main factors for success of the educational program itself. Garrison et al (2000) further stated that when using computer conference mediums, the lack of visual cues may contribute to challenges in developing a social presence.

I found this extremely interesting as we continue to increase physical barriers between people. Even in-person interactions have been altered with the development of Covid-19 precautions becoming the norm, we are further reducing our visual cues of each other through facemasks and plexiglass barriers. An online or screen based communication system might prove to be in fact a way we can increase visual cues between learners instead of decrease it.  Can you tell if I’m smiling? Would an emoji be easier to understand?

I find the importance we place on human interaction highly interesting in relation to learning. Emotion, attention, reaction, and physical closeness tend to be common themes when we look at motivation and learning, even critical thought.

I also found interesting the discussions on how we participate in the web and being conscious of how we are contributing. Dave Cormier spoke of moving towards a more pro-social web, increasing the quality of our participation on the web (Stewart, Phipps & Cormier, 2019).  In his discussion about open government in the UK, Lawrie Phipps talks about how open is not the same as inclusion, how the poorest people often have the least access to devices and internet and are being disenfranchised by the increased transparency of their government. He states “…at the same time as putting things online, also putting things in place, but structurally take things away from the most vulnerable in our society” (Stewart, Phipps, & Cormier, 2019, 15:11). I found this to be increasingly relevant today where it’s almost impossible to keep up with the world if you don’t have access to internet.

References:

Garrison, R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in text based environment: Computer conferencing in higher educationThe Internet and Higher Education2(2–3), 87–105.

Stewart, B., Phipps, L., & Cormier, D. (2019, April 10). The Participatory open: Can we build a Pro-Social, Pro-Societal web? [Video]. You Tube. https://oer19.oerconf.org/sessions/the-participatory-open-can-we-build-a-pro-social-pro-societal-web-o-127/

My Network Map

I used Kumu to draw my network map and started with the four main networks that I am a part of: Professional, Personal, Recreational, and Educational.

Then I started the simple task of drawing connections between these networks and myself. In error I placed the arrow end ending at myself indicating that there was a connection between the element and myself in a one-way fashion. (I had originally thought to place the arrows extending outwards from myself). Once seeing this however, I think this is more accurate. All these networks or elements are shared between many people and would extend further out to other people if we were to place our maps overlapping. I wanted to show what connected these elements to ME, rather than why I was connected to THEM. In other words, how do each of these elements connect to my life or identity, to me specifically.

Within each of the four key elements of my map I extended the map to include key factors in each area. Some are people, some places, and some tools that I use to keep that network active. Some networks such as Facebook have a circular relationship both with personal and recreational as I use it to sustain relationships as well as build new ones. Facebook for example also has a recreational component to it that is self perpetuating.  As far as my professional network is concerned, most of these elements are also connected to my educational networks, as this is where a lot of my professional and educational contacts overlap. My professional networks are also closely linked to my friends. I’m not sure if this is the case for all industries but I have found some of the closest friendships in my networks have been born from working relationships.

I thought my network map would be a bit cleaner, but I’ve noticed there is a lot of overlap between networks themselves, and often I am the reason these networks overlap so much. This had made me see how important my relationships to these networks are and how they sustain one another.

Creating, Cultivating, Reflecting on my Digital Presence

 

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When I started my thoughts on what is a digital presence, I asked friends, collogues, and even several inherent strangers what they thought of their own digital presence. Most of the responses centered around social media, and the degree to which they participated in these platforms.

This got me thinking, is this the only way we can create a digital identity? Is a digital identity the same as knowing someone in real life, but simply replaced with pictures instead of memories? Written words and comments instead of spoken conversations? I think not. I challenged myself to think about the word identity first, and digital second. Let me present a concept to you: my nephew is 16 months old, and if you go to take a picture of him with your phone (sigh..digital), he immediately strikes a pose, then wants to see the image. Now I am by no means an expert on child developmental psychology, but is this him forming an identity of himself? When do we start being aware of our own identity? And if I post this picture online, does this start to create his digital identity? Are we even responsible for creating our own digital identity or can other people form part of it too?

Alas, I had to rein it in and focus on who I wanted to be in this digital existence, and the purpose of creating my own digital identity.

My approach to creating a digital presence focusses on growing my knowledge of the tools available to me. I hope to use these tools to expand my presence online in the areas I want to be a part of. My goals include contributing to the conversations, not just observing them. First, I need to know where these conversations are happening.  Second, I need to establish myself as someone who is worthy of being in the conversation. By creating an identity of an educator, a student, and a contributor I can form an identity as an active participant, not just an observer. Third, I hope to measure these successes through you all, all who read this, who also learn and contribute. My goal of creating a digital identity is to allow me to be a member of digital communities. Rheingold (2010, p.20) spoke of the use of technology, its influences, and moving from participation to collaborating “in general doing things together gives us more power than doing things alone.”

 

Rheingold, H. (2010, p.20). Attention, and other 21st century social media literacies. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2010/10/attention-and-other-21stcentury-social-media-literacies.

My use of digital technology

RRU digital map

Creating a map of my own use of digital technology was, dare I say, eye opening. I found I was forced to examine the apps, tools, and sites I use both frequently and infrequently.

This proved to be a very reflective experience as the only person I was accountable to was myself. I asked the question “why do I use these, and are they helping me?” I think of my map as a layered outline of how I approach these tools. The largest influence being Google. Google tends to be at the center of my technological use, for everything from “who is that guy in that movie?” to “how to site a blog using APA format.” I placed Google at the center of my map to show its foundation use throughout my personal and professional typology.

My other tools are layered on top of the foundation of google, Gmail for personal use, Outlook for professional email, and the more interesting one being YouTube. I have found an increasing use for YouTube relating to the “How To” videos. I feel that for myself, this has been a very effective and increasingly used tool for my own learning. YouTube has proved to be my most reliable source of open education, something I had not realized until it was right there staring at me.

I enjoyed Dave Cormier’s take on the analogue/digital and collaborative/individual map from his March 2018 blog post (http://davecormier.com/edblog/2018/03/). This seems to capture the use of resources much better than the individual use map we did in our mapping exercise.

Both would have their place, as I learned a lot about my own reasons for using digital tools in the mapping exercise. I can see a huge benefit for teams to do this exercise together. For example, imaging a group of instructors sitting down and analyzing how they share resources or interact with each other. Where can they improve? And what tools or information are they sharing well? Starting with an individual exercise to improve an understanding about oneself, and then using that to engage in a team exercise would be an interesting look at each team members role within that group. Maybe an exercise for the future MALAT?