Collaboratively written by Melissa Miller & Zac MacDonald
Wong, W. (2018, April 2). School STEM Labs Inspire Students, Power Innovation. Ed Tech Magazine. https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2018/04/school-stem-labs-inspire-students-power-innovation
The Bullis School in Maryland opened a $25 million-dollar STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) center in 2017. The state-of-the-art building includes Creston control panels in each classroom, a 3D VR computer lab, a digital media room, and a maker space with robotics and 3D printers. The facility was built to facilitate the growth of STEM course offerings for students from K-12.
Unique classroom setups in the Bullis School allow students to collaborate in groups and share their screens with their groups by plugging into a shared display screen. The school claims that the setup allows for collaboration and project-based learning, specifically for subjects that are not usually associated with project-based learning, such as math (Wong, 2018).
Likely, Kozma would argue that the technology is part of the learning process. Kozma shared this quote in his 1994 article,
Rather, learning is an active, constructive, cognitive, and social process by which the learner strategically manages available cognitive, physical, and social resources to create new knowledge by interacting with information in the environment and integrating it with information already stored in memory (Shuell, 1988, as cited in Kozma, 1994, p. 3).
Kozma’s perspective would likely be that the technology is part of this process and therefore is influencing learning.
Clark, would likely make the “replaceability” argument that the same instructional methods could be used with learners collaborating and sharing their work without the technology therefore the media is not influencing learning the instructional methods are.
The school’s STEM Coordinator states that “It’s making sure that technology is not the thing that takes over. The priority is the pedagogy and ensuring that we have the technology to support what we are trying to accomplish” (Wong. 2018, Discovery Center Lets Educators and Students Explore section, para. 8). Clark would appreciate this acknowledgment by the school that the technology is there to support learning and the technology without the pedagogy would not accomplish the learning goals.
Babich, N. (2019, Sept 19). How VR In Education Will Change How We Learn And Teach. XD Ideas. https://xd.adobe.com/ideas/principles/emerging-technology/virtual-reality-will-change-learn-teach/
Adobe is a large computer software company that creates a multitude of programs, many of which are used in Ed-Tech. How many times have we seen job posts in the Ed-Tech field noting you must know Adobe Captivate? Adobe’s XD Idea site is an article space focused on the practice, business and impact of design. In the article the author stated the bold topic “How VR In Education Will Change How We Learn And Teach”.
The author makes multiple claims regarding Virtual Reality (VR) and that it is the next natural step in the evolution of education. VR is generally used in the form of a motion-tracking headset with video display and handheld controllers to create a simulated environment. They preface this idea that as a society we are always striving for the easier, quicker and more efficient ways of transferring knowledge in teaching and learning. They go further to say most technology helped in enabling access to information, but did not fundamentally change the way in which it was consumed.
Virtual Reality (VR) was boasted to allow both visual representation and the ability to interact with the content in a new way. The role of the instructor will shift from “content delivery to content facilitation”. This allows near realistic conditions in digital spaces that may not exist anymore, are inaccessible, or break rules of reality to allow for teaching and learning.
They claim there are 5 properties of good VR learning experiences,
- Immersive: create an experience to bring the subject to life
- Ease of Use: use simplistic design choices to reduce the need for VR skills
- Meaningful: develop stories to spark more than understanding, spark interest and inspire
- Adaptable: give learners control to pace learning and adjust difficulty
- Measurable: instructors should have measurable criteria for success
Kozma would likely argue the use of VR fundamentally changes the process in how we learn. The use of this technology is a different experience and environment for teaching and learning to occur in a new way. The abilities of this digital format allows for events that cannot occur in an interactable 3D space as accurately or practically.
Clark would likely argue this is just another vehicle in which to deliver learning experiences. It may provide economic benefit in the means of being less expensive or the most cognitively efficient way, but it may not pass the replaceability test as there is likely another method available.
Looking at these articles through the media debate lens, we are able to identify techno-deterministic claims and critically evaluate how and where the technology effectively fits into the learning experience. Adobe’s claim that “VR will change how we learn and teach” immediately solicits a critical response. Perhaps, Adobe would be more accurate to claim, VR can support learners by providing real-life examples or VR will support teachers in problem-based learning scenarios. Although their claims likely have some merit, there is still a potential bias for the technology itself as the “next step in evolution for education”. Adobe does not directly produce VR gear (yet) but financially benefits from VR use as their software is used in the planning, design, and implementation of VR environments. Knowing what we do about the media debate, reading the Bullis School article, it can be appreciated that the school acknowledges that pedagogy is the priority and the technology is there to support it. This provides credibility to the school and the programs offered using advanced technology to facilitate learning.
In conclusion, we agree both perspectives of Kozma and Clark can have merit when applied to several scenarios. Clark and Kozma seem to agree that the technology itself will not be the determining factor of successfully meeting learning outcomes, how the teacher uses the technology to support meeting the learning outcomes will be (Clark, 1994; Kozma, 1994). We think the recent advancements in technology make it easier to argue in favour of Kozma’s stance today versus the time of the debate.
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.
When initially thinking of people in the learning and technology field, my first thought was Dr. Tony Bates. When I started working at a Learning Technologist in January 2019 , Tony was one of the authors given to me in a reading list regarding educational technologies. I was happy to see some of his writing pop up in our first MALAT course and again in LRNT523 as additional readings. Although we’ve highlighted his latest writing, Dr. Tony Bates has been focused on distance/online education as early as his first book published in 1977. With 11 books published and numerous publications, presentations and resources, the longevity of personal experience has allowed Dr. Tony Bates to capture the thoughts, processes and innovations of the time they were written. As someone born in the 1990’s, it’s so valuable to hear the perspective and stories from those who experienced past innovations and ideas. We may dismiss the use of radio or television broadcast in education now, but not long ago it was seen a huge potential in distance education. As discussed in Weller’s book, 25 Years of Ed Tech, there hasn’t been a great success or effort in recording the history, successes, failures in Ed Tech, but Tony’s publications and posts are a strong example helping prevent that.
Dr. Tony Bates is actively involved with the Learning and Technology field through his website and twitter. His blog alone contains over two thousand posts :
Both sites are consistently getting updates regarding a broach range of subjects tied into distance/online education. His latest book Teaching in a Digital Age (2019) is also being updated to help capture the rapid changes in online learning that occurred through the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Tony Bates is gathering information and feedback with hopes of releasing the Teaching in a Digital Age Third Addition by April 2022. Through these history capturing publications and continual discussion in the Ed Tech community, we will continue to see a focus, refinement and progression in online/distance learning.
In this third of Weller’s book we were asked to target some claims or arguments that have current relevance and others that conflicts or contradicts our work. What particularly caught my imagination was the concept of a “double edged sword” on so many of the technologies/processes discussed. It’s a constant challenge to weigh the pros and cons and it seems impossible to have the perfect solution to fit all scenarios.
I personally flip-flop on my opinions and use of Twitter and Social Media. Weller’s mention of the almost monopoly style presence of some programs/platforms I think is a point of caution. “We no longer talk about whether you prefer Lycos or WebCrawler now, we just Google it” (Weller, 2020). While these essentially universal platforms such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, or Zoom are great for compatibility and interoperability I’d add a critical lens to other aspects of their success. Can there be lack of innovation when a program already has a most of the market share? Do their policies on privacy, appropriate content, banning users reflect or unknowingly shape our beliefs? Do we ignore other options that may bring benefits due to it not being the industry leader? I think we all agree the sense is familiarity and ease of use is great, but I wonder the longer-term impacts of their use.
I was also intrigued with the concept of a Personal Learning Environment. While I don’t think they are necessarily explicitly popular, they likely happen informally quite regularly. Your content may be centralized within an LMS, but more than likely there will be aspects that make you search resources, post on our blogs, make a tweet, watch a related youtube video, ask a colleague a related question. In this essence a Personal Learning Environment can regularly occur, just not in a strictly formalized process.
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.
The first third of Weller’s book was a fun reading journey. I was born in 1994 and going through some of the major milestones in ed-tech starting at this time was a good look into the past. I hadn’t really considered those early day technical restrictions, untested processes and lack of experience in the context of ed-tech. I agree with the sentiment that it’s easy to get stuck on the “year-zero” (Weller, 2020) mentality and staying focused on the future. It can be very powerful process to learn and incorporate history in all subject areas to avoid mistakes and potentially rediscover lost methods.
The concept of skeuomorphism came to mind when using the past in future technologies. For those unfamiliar, skeuomorphism is designing a tool that uses physical attributes or ques of another object to create familiarity. An example could be a radio app on a smart phone that is setup similarly to a car radio for the interface. With that I’ve added a new lens to my “MALAT eye” to search the past (sometimes further than expected!) for answers or context.
My personal experience with any technology only really started in the early 2000s as a K-12 student. If I were to write a similar book I think I would take the approach taking snapshots in how ed-tech has changed and impacted my educational journey. I grew up in a time frame where technology rapidly developed and was accessible to most people. I remember in Grade 1 we shared a classroom computer with no internet, high school the first smart phones were being released and now I’m taking a fully online courses through the MALAT program. Capturing my experiences could then be kept and compared to the past and into the future which would be amazing!
Peaking at some chapters ahead I’m excited to explore subjects like Learning Analystics, AI, Blockchain and the “ 2018 – Ed Tech’s Dystopian Turn”. An update to this book capturing the year of COVID would be interesting too.
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.
After listening to Dr. Veletsianos responses to our MALAT cohort’s questions, a common theme came out that really resonated with me. Dr. Veletsianos mentioned it’s easy to focus too much on the technology itself rather than the root of the problem or an external solution. I totally agree it’s an easy pitfall to be pulled into the newest application or technology as the solution to our learning problems. New technology can absolutely be part of our research and problem solving, but it is important to take a step back and examine from other perspectives.
By avoiding getting stuck on the technology itself, it creates opportunity to incorporate the aspects of pedagogical practice, economics, sociology and more into our work to create better learning solutions. Not only can this provide us with a more comprehensive understanding, it also provides fascinating opportunity to research areas that may have been ignored previously. My hope is to expand my scope in future MALAT projects to include these other aspects that can impact our learning-technology problems.
Dr. Veletsianos’ statement on predictions was also insightful. Predictions can very easily shift with the time and are not held to any standard or means of accountability. Who would have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s impact on post-secondary education alone? The pandemic alone would have delayed or disproved many predictions in anything from the financial markets to the feasibility of an all remote workforce. By focusing on the present problems we can have a better mindset to allow for considering multiple approaches. I wait with great anticipation to explore these issues and ideas further in LRNT523 and beyond!
Veletsianos, G. (2021, August 11). Personal interview [Personal interview].
Through various readings and videos I’ve started to shape my ideas in what makes a good research question. A good research question should be:
Controlling the scope of your research is critical as it can easily get overwhelming trying to incorporate all the variables and details on a research subject. Restraining from expanding too far outside your subject area and maintaining focus will help create a clear hypothesis and conclusion.
- Flexible, especially in the early stages
It is very likely the question you start with will shift as your begin to conduct more research. You may find there is an abundance of information that covers your idea already or in contrast that your particular question hasn’t been explored much. The more exposure to information will help steer and narrow your question to fit your research.
- Relevant and Intriguing
Using “relevant or intriguing” I’m trying to describe the research questions addresses something that is cared about or could change future understanding in that research area. It shouldn’t be an “open-and-shut” case and needs a level of complexity to allow for discussion that may spawn further research.
To see the interactive version of the map, please see the Kumi link here. I decided to break down my network by how individuals and groups interact with me through various technologies and my personal “role”. At the center is Zac as a whole; this is then broken down into the 4 role categories. Each role is uniquely colored as they have distinct connections in how my network interacts with me. Crossover can be observed between my roles, but I assume this is amplified given I am a student and staff at RRU. For simplicity, I took technologies established in my Technology Concept Map post and colored them green. For this diagram I wasn’t focused on usage, preference or importance of each technology and kept their size and color the same. From each technology, the grey nodes connected represent a group or individual and how they interact with me through certain technologies. Due to sheer numbers, I found it difficult to try to capture every case or individual as these grey nodes, but made sure each one created had an example that could explain the relationship. Upon reflection of my network map, I observed separation from the top and bottom of the diagram, being RRU and non-RRU related network connections. These connections will likely develop more over time as the MALAT program progresses and I continue to work at RRU.
My goal is to continually develop a digital presence and identity that allows me to share and expand my technical expertise while actively collaborating and learning from my MALAT colleagues. After completing our conceptual map on David White’s visitors and residents typology, I found that I am a resident in a few select technologies. These few residencies are highly influenced by my role requirements at work, so my hope is to find alternative ways to interact with these technologies. Campbell inspired me in saying innovation can be found by “Explore[ing] old ideas in new context”(Campbell, 2009). I hope to achieve this and additionally apply new ideas in old contexts to my work and MALAT studies
Identification of skills and knowledge gaps
Actively using multiple technologies through work and personal interest allows me to learn digital environments quickly. Once I am using a technology, I am skilled at conveying its use and capabilities in an easily consumable format. Currently, my struggles revolve around supporting my creations with correct design principals, pedagogies and other concepts I haven’t heard of yet. Filling these knowledge gaps will be key in developing my digital presence and ability to collaborate within my network as I will be better able to communicate the reasoning behind my ideas.
Approach for achieving my goal
To achieve my goal, I will actively avoid getting stuck in the technical aspects of my MALAT journey and focus more on the rationale and theories behind my endeavors. Following Boyd’s description of behaviourist pedagogies to “… [build] on a richer psychological understanding of learning and how it occurs” incapsulates the attitude and objective setting I will use throughout the MALAT program and beyond (Boyd, 2011). In addition, I will purposefully push myself to share more of my experiences and thoughts through posts and comments. This will provide solution to help decentralize my technology residencies and intrinsically expose myself to a diverse array of information.
Defining my goal success
At this moment I find setting specific objectives to achieve my goals difficult and hope that these will develop over time. For now I will measure success by ensuring to do a self check-in every week to acknowledge the achievements and challenges I encountered. An example achievement could be applying new theories to my work or MALAT studies. A challenge could be noticing myself getting too focused in technical aspects of a project instead of driving for richer understanding.
Campbell, G. (2009). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Educause Review, 44(5), 58-59.
Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press. (Note: free PDF available for download). Chapter 2.
After reading Dave Cormier’s Digital Practices Mapping article and comparing it to my concept map, a couple observations emerged for my “professional practice” (Cormier, 2018).
1) Analogue processes are not very common for my role as a Learning Technologist because the digital alternative almost always brings an efficient or worthy attribute that makes analogue seem impractical. Technology is quite literally in my role name so it can be uncommon for me to working without some type of digital component. Specifically issues of scalability, accessibility and consistency are key to a lot of my work and digital technologies are the prevalent solution to most of these issues. The exception to this observation was face to face facilitation and in person teamwork, but both of these have been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2) In my concept map I had observed that many of my technologies had shifted right to more residential as I have worked remotely the past year. Using Dave’s map I realized that many of my tasks have become more individual as well due to less ability for ad-hoc group work. Pre-COVID my office was a large open space and we would commonly stand up and ask the room questions. If needed we could then easily consolidate to collaborate in a separate space. This practice is still going digitally through Slack, Collaborate, etc, but lacks some of the small nuances the in person presence had. Seeing if an coworker is on the phone, away from their desk or actively working on something isn’t always represented well in software user statuses. I find myself reading through resource material and previous requests more as some questions don’t feel worth bothering the whole group with a notification.
3) Dave asks “Is email ‘really’ a digital practice? Write a letter, send it to someone, wait for a response? Not so digital. ” (Cormier, 2018) For my “professional practice” I do believe email is a digital practice. (Cormier, 2018) Some of the functionality email brings transcends the non-digital capabilities of a letter and is key to email’s use and success. It’s not uncommon for my emails to be sent to multiple stakeholder groups simultaneously that will rely on each others responses to determine the next step in our common goal. With emails there is also the ability to share resources, allow access to other systems or introduce more participants near instantaneously. Email can be directly or indirectly connected to every technology I use and is integral to my “professional practice” (Cormier, 2018).
Cormier, D. (2018, March 31). Digital Practices Mapping – Intro activity for digital literacies course. Daves Educational Blog. http://davecormier.com/edblog/2018/03/31/digital-practices-mapping-intro-activity-for-digital-literacies-course/.
This was an great chance to reflect on some of the tech I use day to day. For simplicity I consolidated my interactions with technology at RRU as a student and staff together under institutional and anything else under personal. I do have the pleasure of doing freelance contract work, but found adding those specific technologies cluttered the map too much.
My presence on the resident side to appeared be lighter than many as I don’t use some of the popular services that are “more visible and leave any kind of a trace” (White, 2013). Notably lacking for me would be Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as I have found my use of them rapidly decreased to essentially zero over the past five years. This is likely a result of my active effort to reduce “screen time” which is always a challenge especially with the added dynamic from the covid-19 pandemic.
Web conferencing tools has shifted to be quite central within my map due to the covid-19 pandemic, as meetings, facilitation, troubleshooting and informal conversations have all ended up in one of the various web conferencing platforms. It is also quite common for these web conferencing interactions to be recorded and added to support ticket requests, knowledge base tutorials or sent to other teams to information share. Working online since March of 2020 has definitely resulted in a shift of many of my technologies more to the residents side when previously much of my interactions would have been in person/ over the phone and not as visible.
White, D. (2013, September 13). Just the Mapping. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ