LRNT 523 Assignment 1 — Felicitas Macgilchrist

     Felicitas Macgilchrist is a multi-disciplinarian with backgrounds in education, linguistics, and cultural studies. Her research interests within education technology (EdTech), can be summed up as being in the pursuit of equity and equality for all learners. Essentially, she is working to close the gap between today’s EdTech practices and the higher ideals of a better future.

      Macgilchrist is head of the Media-Transformation department at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media-Georg Eckert Institute, Braunschweig, Germany, which explores the implications of educational technologies in schools. She is professor of media research at the University of Goettingen’s Institute for Educational Science, and is co-editor of Learning, Media and Technology. Among her collaborations, Macgilchrist is a member of the research project Reconfigurations of Education in/Equality in a Digital World (RED), which concerns itself with global perspectives in datafication, education, and inequality. 

     I chose Macgilchrist because of her desire to see digital learning become more equitable for all on a global scale, for her futurist perspectives and for her varied research interests, which include understanding how learners’ interactions with software and hardware is being converted into data and how EdTech professionals can use that data to enhance learning, pedagogy, and research. Another research interest seeks to understand how digital technologies may affect and enhance the rewriting of history books as history books move into the digital realm where space is unlimited and the presentation and readability of material is layered, rather than the linear nature characteristic of print materials. And within that re-writing, Macgilchrist is curious to see whether a broader range of perspectives and voices will be included, ones that are not as common in print books. Macgilchrist is also an advocate for collecting data through storytelling and other forms of ethnography, arguing that the words of participants provide rich context and detail that surveys do not typically allow. can then be used to generate broader themes. For these reasons, I also believe Macgilchrist has made significant contributions to EdTech, and may continue to contribute as she continues to examine the questions she has, and further develops her collaborations.

Follow Macgilchrist on Twitter @discoursology

References

(2021, July 11). Introduction video Felicitas Macgilchrist [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkNJ5woyZzg

Macgilchrist, F. (2018). Cruel optimism in edtech: when the digital data practices of educational technology providers inadvertently hinder educational equity. Learning, Media and Technology. 44(4):1-10
DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2018.1556217

What makes a good research question? Good question

As one of our assignments in this LRNT 522 class, we are asked to write a blog post answering the question: What makes a good research question? Good question, and it is one that drifts in and out of my mind because I have an idea for my final project, though am not clear on the specifics of would like to investigate.  

Using our readings as a starting point, I decided for this post to see what other universities and college were offering on YouTube. I chose YouTube as a way of also observing how other schools used the audio and visual platform to present their message. I discovered a range of methods that included a person speaking to the camera as if it was a one-on-one lecture or a friendly conversation with the viewer, while others used animation and a voice over, and others chose a hybrid of the two.  

As for suggestions, there was overlap, including Sheridan College and Laurier University suggesting concise and focused wording, to remove vague words, and ensure the question is manageable within a timeframe or page count. Colorado State University and University of Melbourne suggested questions be open-ended, be debatable, and expand the existing knowledge already in the area of interest.  

University of Melbourne went so far as to provide example question frameworks, such:  

  • What factors affect … ?  
  • How do the effects of …. influence …?  
  • How does … relate to … ? 
  • Why is … and issue in relation to … ? 
  • Does … mean that … ? 

Meanwhile, Georgia State University backed the process up and offered tips for choosing a research topic, which included finding an area of interest and brainstorming a number of questions within that area of interest.  

REFERENCES

“Colorado State University Morgan Library. (2020, June 2). Developing Good Research Questions [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YHv3vFJMG0” 

“Centre for Instructional Innovation (CII) Georgia State University. (nd.). Creating a Good Research Question [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89NonP_iZZo” 

“Laurier Library. (2017, Dec. 20). Developing Research Question [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oJNO6PYZe4” 

“Sheridan Library. (2018, May 24). What makes a good Research Topic? [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyKC0-PJmtw” 

“Academic Skills, The University of Melbourne. (2018, Feb. 14). Developing a research question [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrWeLJZydUU” 

Feeling positive about LRNT 522

Just as I am keeping the scary black bear at a safe distance in this photo, so too am I keeping away the scariness of academic writing by understanding what literary devices I can weave into my writing to make it more enjoyable to write and to read. Bart Cummins photo

I am excited for LRNT 522 because I have found some studies and resources suggesting that our academic writing does not have to be lifeless, dull, and complicated. Sword (2012) says, “…elegant ideas deserve elegant expression; that intellectual creativity thrives best in an atmosphere of experimentation rather than conformity…most academics enjoy a far wider range of stylistic choices than they realize (Sword, 2012).”

This is heartening for me because I come from a background in print journalism, communications, and marketing where the goal is to engage with the audience on a level that asks, “Why should they care?” In contrast, I was finding the majority of academic writing to be complicated and stripped of personality and appeal in an effort to be viewed as credible, reputable, and even intelligent. Just as we have come to believe that good teaching has the power to inspire, motivate, and even change someone’s trajectory, so too can good writing be of similar service. I am excited to see how I can blend more creativity and liveliness into my academic writing while still fitting within the scholarly rules.

REFERENCES

Sword, H. (2012). Stylish academic writing. Harvard University Press.

Brief, briefing brief

This post is a work in progress, with updates being made to the text, to the citations, and to the references. Check back to see how this document takes shape.

The following is an abbreviated version of an assignment, asking us to prepare an extended brief on a topic related to our learning. I’ve chosen “Education after the pandemic” and within that, the statement: “Learners need the continuance of some form of video replays.”

I tend to think of life in terms of opportunities and solutions, and from an interdisciplinary viewpoint. Which got me thinking about one of my classmate’s observations that their institution has an eagerness to return to the way things were, and in doing so, almost dismissing some of the key learning points that rose out of the pandemic’s forcing us to shift almost entirely to learning online and by distance. 

For my briefing, I’m looking at education post pandemic and am tackling the statement “Learners need the continuance of some form of video replays”, and use the business world’s analysis tool of SWOT — Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats — to help make the case. 

STRENGTHS 

Of the argument “Learners need the continuance of some form of video replays.”

Recorded lessons and instruction mean the video and the audio can be played back at the learner’s convenience, and multiple times. Replaying allowed learners to play back at different speeds, to reverse to fast forward, and to pause. Pausing allowed learners to  take notes.

The pandemic reminded us that learners have different learning styles and how the rise of prominent video platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are being used as informal means of education. 

WEAKNESSES 

Of the argument “Learners need the continuance of some form of video replays.”

Live streaming, while better than replays, did not allow for the spontaneity and richness that occurs during in-person interactions.  

We have witnessed an imbalance in connectivity once away from learning institutions and places where reasonably stable connectivity is available. 

OPPORTUNITIES 

Of the argument “Learners need the continuance of some form of video replays.”

A library of learning addresses inclusion and flexibility goals of education while staying in step with technological advances and the growing trend toward hybrid models of education delivery.  

Technology and software providers have recognized the growth potential of education and are eager to partner with learning institutions to not only form stable and long-lasting partnerships, but to spur growth in new directions. 

THREATS

Of the argument “Learners need the continuance of some form of video replays.”

By its nature, video is a passive medium and is not as interactive as being in-person. We need to keep using features that encourage engagement and lively discussion, whether that is posing questions during the lessons, incorporating individual or group exercises, and breakout rooms. 

Example References

A network map of my local running connections

Map created by Bart Cummins

In learning about network connections, we were asked to create a network map of some part of our life. I chose my running world as I thought it would make for a simple and clean map, while still illustrating that members of my network can have connections with each other outside of myself. I learned through this exercise how even simple networks can become complicated in themselves, and even more complicated when mapping it out.

Note: The two-way arrows indicate a relationship that is reciprocal and balanced. There isn’t a significance to how the blue boxes are configured around me, nor is there any significance to the size of the arrows.

FOLC method advocates learners having a role in designing their evaluations

One of my interests is surveys and other tools to unearth meaningful and insightful data, that can then be grouped into themes, then used to develop theories, and then to test those theories. And with the ultimate goal of making enhancements and improvements.

Because of this, I took special interest in one of our required readings in Unit 3, the article: Developing a Fully Online Learning Communities (FOLC) model, by van Oostveen, R., DiGiuseppe, M., Barber, W., Blayone, T., & Childs, E.

The authors advocate FOLC for a variety of reasons, and among them is the notion that if learners have a role in designing their evaluations, then more accurate means of assessments will be created. 

When engaging in FOLC structured environments, learners and instructor/facilitators not only co-design the digital learning space, but they also co-design the means, timing, methods and types of assessment that most accurately indicate learner success (p. 8). 

The authors say that such involvement is another step forward in the democratization of learning and its processes. This “places greater emphasis on the community and the nurturing of learner empowerment and social engagement,” (p. 4). 

FOLC DEFINED
A brief description of the Fully Online Learning Community method as described in the article above: FOLC builds and expands on, previous research into learning environments, including the more recent Community of Inquiry (CoI). (p.4) Among the more significant ways FOLC departs from the earlier studies, is the role that teachers play in the learning experience. Instead of a hierarchy with the teacher at the top and learners somewhere lower, teachers themselves take on the equal role of learner. In CoI, there are three distinct spheres: Cognitive Presence, Social Presence, and Teacher Presence. With FOLC, Teacher Presence is absorbed into into each of the cognitive and social spheres (p. 4, 10). 

REFERENCES

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

Additional mapping thoughts

Following are two items related to the mapping exercise “Create, Cultivate, and Reflect on your Digital Presence (Individual)” we conducted with ourselves as part of our course activities and readings.

Commenting on Leah’s post

Reading Leah’s post, Mapping My Technology Use, prompted me to leave this reply:

Your mention of “social trace” led me to considering my “overall digital trace” and how digital information can be quantified and put through a variety of filters to reveal patterns and trends. It’s possible then that those trends could be used for a range of purposes, by a range of agencies, with a range of intentions, and under a range of approvals. While it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to not participate in the digital world because of convenience, practical reasons, or for safety, it doesn’t hurt to reflect on the matter from time to time.
Thank you for leading me to the insight.

Cormier’s tension map:
Another tool in decision making?

Dave Cormier’s tension map as he tells us about in his post Digital Practices Mapping – Intro activity for digital literacies course, led me on few thinking paths.

One of them was how the tension scale could be used as a complement to the standard “pros and cons” tool most of us lean on during decision making. Perhaps this form of tension scale could reveal more nuances within the question being asked, thereby uncovering considerations we hadn’t considered.

The pros and cons tool is in many cases, more of a “black and white/right and wrong” type of scale that dismisses the rough edges of ambiguity as serving no purpose, rather than regarding ambiguity as equally valuable in the decision-making process.

Mapping my digital identity and my digital presence — Part 2

What follows is additional thoughts on the digital identity and digital presence exercise we carried out as part of our readings.

My digital identity and digital purpose is still being shaped, so for the time being, what I’m providing is a mix of high-level notes and clear steps that are doable and easy to implement. In all, hopefully what follows provides an idea of who I’ve become online, and what my mission is, what my values are, and what my sense of purpose is. And because it doesn’t stop there; who I’m striving to be each day and what I’d wish my digital person to be next month, next year, in five years from now, and beyond. 

PURPOSE OF MY DIGITAL PRESENCE AND IDENTITY

  • Stay connected to others for sense of personal belonging.
  • Stay creative so spontaneity and aliveness thrives in me.
  • Stay inspired for personal balance and optimism.
  • Keep learning for personal growth, resiliency, and perspective.
  • Keep exploring current interests for the continuity it provides.
  • Keep finding “old” content for a sense of exploration and seeing how it connects to today.
  • Share my interests and discoveries with others as a way of thanking the creators of the content, and as show of good will in general to creators everywhere.
  • Inspire others to be better.
  • Motivate others to take action.
  • Provide others with perspective to hopefully ease anxiety.
  • Help others grow for their own reasons.
  • Keep all facets of my writing skills sharp because I love words in all their shapes, sizes, meanings, and how they mix and mingle with one another to create clarity, confusion, and chaos.

HOW TO MAINTAIN MY DIGITAL IDENTITY AND PRESENCE

  • Do something every day, whether it’s posting, commenting, sharing, researching ideas.
  • Continue to communicate everyday with at least one person I’m reasonably close to.
  • Always be looking for content of interest for myself and for others.
  • I also intend to continue posting to Instagram an average of one piece of content a day starting May 1, 2022. This will be done manually or through an automation software called Later. My Instagram account

WHY FOCUS ON INSTAGRAM?

  • Allows me to keep my image creating skills sharp
  • Is a low-stakes publishing outlet with low barriers to entry
  • Is portable
  • Is a gallery for me to quickly review
  • Pushes my creativity
  • Keeps challenging me to examine how I take photographs
  • Keeps challenging me to think about how I edit photographs
  • Keeps challenging me to critique what I choose to upload
  • Keeps challenging me to try experimental ways to edit photographs
  • Keeps challenging me to seek ways to better leverage hashtags (# symbol) and profile tags (@ symbol)
  • Challenges me to keep exploring the online design software Canva
  • Keeps challenging me to post content that may not resonate with others
  • Keeps challenging be to be okay living with ambiguity and uncertainty
  • Keeps challenging me to explore advertising designs, concepts, theories
  • Keeps challenging me to explore typography and negative space
  • Keeps challenging me to explore the complexity of simple design.

HOW I COULD MEASURE MY SUCCESS

  • Create report cards. I am looking for a minimum of an 80 % success rate.
  • Create a network of three to five people to be my accountability partners, or what’s called a challenge network in some circles. Maybe have two challenge networks, one made up of friends and another of people who can challenge me, people I aspire to be like, and to even surpass.
  • Assess every week, month, quarter, year. After assessing, take time for reflection and then implementation of changes if necessary. Repeat the process.  

In closing, my intentions going forward are to be more mindful and intentional with what I post, how I respond, and how I represent myself online, because it is a recorded somewhere, even if it’s a back channel messaging platform such as WhatsApp or Messenger. boyd, d. (2010) writes:

           While spoken conversations are ephemeral, countless technologies and techniques
     have been developed to capture moments and make them persistent. The introduction of
     writing allowed people to create records of events and photography provided a tool for
     capturing a fleeting moment (p. 7).

A good starting point is to begin asking myself each time I interact with the online environment, “How would I feel about re-living this experience months from now, a year or years from now?” A good example of this is the Facebook “Memories” feature. Memories shows me a post I made on that day in a previous year. Because I have the option to re-post the memory or not, no one else sees the memory but me if I choose not to re-post. I would like all my interactions with the online environment to be worthy of a re-post.

REFERENCES

White, D. (2013, Sep 13). Just the Mapping [Video].

danah boyd. (2010). Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications.

In Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (ed. Zizi Papacharissi),

pp. 39-58.

Do I have a role to play when online?

This area monitored sign
in the physical world we often have to be mindful of how we conduct ourselves. The same applies when online, especially when interacting with social media. Copyright: Cummins, B. 2021.

Of all the assigned readings for this week, it was the longest reading that had the biggest impression on me. 

The first three chapters from Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media by Jon Dron and Terry Anderson, had me reflecting on my roles and responsibilities as a social media creator, the content being created by people I know, and by society at large. Am I part of a movement forward, or am I part of growing number that treats social media as entertainment, as a space to waste some time, and as an online shopping mall. 

As the authors write, social media’s ease of use and wide acceptance by people of all ages, affords tremendous opportunities to go beyond entertainment to become surrogate teachers, mentors, and advisors to many. And through the content we create, we in turn have the opportunity to be educator to one and many (Dron, J., Anderson, T. 2014).  

"… social software can be used to aggregate the opinions, beliefs, and discoveries of many people in order to guide    us through our learning journeys with little or no direct social interaction at all. Social software is not just social glue but an enabler of the creation, discovery, and presentation of new knowledge (Dron, J., Anderson, A. p. 29)."

The authors also put forth the idea that with great power, also comes great responsibility, because while it’s become easy to create and publish content that 25 years ago might have needed a personal printer and people to physically distribute, we must be even more mindful of what we’re creating and how it may be received in what has become an era of instantaneous communication where one person can reach many people the world over with the tap of their mobile phone, whether that’s through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube or messaging options like Messenger, WhatsApp and SnapChat. 

The greater our capabilities, the easier it is to do things badly. Now that such systems are entering the toolsets of amateurs, the risks of poor design and inappropriate use have been magnified. It is too easy to forget that we are doing more than simply creating content, but embodying processes and patterns of learning and teaching that may tie us to systems that imprison rather than liberate us (Dron, J., Anderson, A. p. 33).

In conclusion, while I would find it impossible to always be educational in my content, it does afford me the opportunity to pause and consider what I’m posting, and even put it on a scale of 1 to 10 — one being low and 10 high — and subjectively assessing the educational contribution. And if it scores low, ask what can I do to boost the score? 

REFERENCES

Dron, J. 2014. Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media.
doi: 10.15215/aupress/9781927356807.01

Mapping my digital identity and my digital presence — Part 1

This hand-drawn map represents where Bart spends his time when online. Photo created by Bart Cummins.

We were asked to map our digital presence and digital identity using the Visitor/Resident and Personal/Institutional tension map as demonstrated to us through a video by Dave White (2013). This exercise had me examining what I do online in ways I hadn’t experienced before. This examination, led me to asking myself a number of probing, and even uncomfortable questions that I felt compelled to address, and even determine taking action might be required on my part. Some of the questions I asked myself:

  • Should I be re-evaluating particular areas of my online presence?
  • Is my current online presence changing me?
  • If my online presence is changing me, how do I determine whether it’s healthy change or not?
  • How is my online presence affecting others?
  • How could I modify my online presence to affect family, friends, and colleagues both positively and negatively?
  • How can I suggest others examine their online presence?
  • What do I want my presence to look like a year from now? 5 years? 10, 20, forever? 

HOW COULD I RESPOND TO THE QUESTIONS?

As a short-term measure, perhaps I can create a checklist of three to five steps to quickly determine whether the platform/software is serving me and my goals, aspirations, dreams, who I want to be, and overall health. After running through the checklist, I could come up with two to three recommendations for the short term.

REFERENCES

White, D. (2013, Sep 13). Just the Mapping [Video].