Educational Trends

Above is a 4 minute video on Social Syllabus, an online teaching and learning platform in development by John Kuiphoff that promotes the democratization of course content through the use of social media. In what ways does John’s platform address the limitations of current course management systems as described by Jon Mott and David Wiley in Open for Learning: The CMS and the Open Learning Network?

Our discussions thus far have touched on communities of practice that facilitate our formal and informal learning experiences and the significance of Web 2.0 as an easy-to-use platform for users to connect, create and collaborate. This week we’ll have the opportunity to explore trends that have and will have an impact on teaching and learning in the near future, and see if we can make better sense of these trends through our understanding of and engagement in communities of practice. We’ll also start to expand on our communities of practice by posting our own and responding to our colleagues’ reflections here on our blog.

Some questions to jumpstart our discussion on this week’s materials if you wish:

  • As more secondary and post-secondary institutions adopt and engage in more open and collaborative learning exchanges, how could this impact our programs, our research and our students?
  • What are some of the barriers to learning that impact you and your students? Based on what we’ve explored thus far, does this shared, networked platform offer potential solutions? Any challenges?

16 Responses to “Educational Trends”

  1. soledadre Says:

    I would like to summarize and comment here what Jonathan Becker expose in his article “Scholar 2.0: Public Intellectualism Meets the Open Web”. He speaks about the need of adapting to the new possibilities of communication and to the scholars’ obligation of sharing knowledge.
    Knowledge dissemination is not knew, then, what have changed? As Becker explains, now we have many simple solutions to disseminate knowledge. However, we see in our daily life how many scholars still see those technologies as the “enemy” and not as a friendly way of sharing knowledge.
    The web 2.0 revolution means that almost everyone can self-publish. Consequently, the author states that there is no better time than now for the “public intellectual” or, in other words, to allow your intellectualism to be public. At this point, Becker throws out a question: what would a truly modern day scholar/public intellectual do? He presents three main possibilities: open access publishing, social media, and digital curation.
    Open access publishing refers to the obligation of sharing knowledge in the most accessible and efficient ways. Blogging, microblogging and many others are great ways of social media, motivating resources allowing the combinations of functions and, maybe most importantly, allowing to reach multiple and larger audiences. In my opinion, the third point, that of digital curation, is the answer to the main “problem” of the so-called “Information Age”.
    In the last decades, the difficulties to get information on a topic have disappeared. Right now, we have lots of information at hand, so many that, apparently, we can not handle it. So, how do we solve this situation? Becker speaks about “content-area experts that can serve as curators” of all those contents. I think that if we adapt to this new era and use these tools, then,we can manage quite better all that information and help others to do so (for instance: tags in a blog, social bookmarking on a topic…).
    In sum, my conclusion after reading this article is that we live surrounded by lots of information but that we cannot be afraid of that. We need to look at the new tools as a great opportunity to receive and give knowledge. Learning how to use those tools, applying them in hour teaching, will make us better teachers for our students. Don’t be afraid, let’s learn.

    • rosariopollicino Says:

      Not sure whether this reply is going to be posted where it actually should however I am trying…

      After reading what Soledad wrote about the article I cannot agree more in everything she says but I feel like adding one little question to all of us as educators. What can we do in order to destroy this fear of this large amount of information we have access to? As educators, (we all teach language o literature courses) we cannot deny that our students are probably facing the same difficulty to handle these huge quantity of information or better to find those they actually need. This perception is real as we have been and we are students too. But going back to our educator position what can we do to change this situation for our students? I believe we should include some sort of technology tool training in our class to help students to get more familiar with the technology tools first but above all introducing the new concept of learning as a collaborative goal to achieve all together which can be done only with sharing information and one example of the many available is exactly a blog!

      • soledadre Says:

        Thanks Rosario for commenting on my post! I think that for helping our students we first need to help ourselves. With this I mean that we need to learn how to use all these technologies and show it to them in a simple but productive way. This course is being opening my eyes about new tools and their use within the classroom but I feel I need to learn much more. But while I learn, we learn (all along our life), it is true that we must start using those tools in our everyday teaching, overcoming our own fear and offering students some helpful tools for learning and managing information. Personally, I would also add that we do not have to directly assume that our students know about technologies… after my first weeks of class some students seem surprise for the Husky CT environment and right now I’m just using the announcement and materials section!! so we really need to instruct them to be able to use these productive tools. Tools like this blog or others social network really promote discussion, sharing ideas, critical thinking… and therefore, collaborative learning since students will learn from each other and from themselves.

        • rosariopollicino Says:

          Hi Soledad,

          Indeed we need to learn and this why we are here but the fact is we do not have to wait to be expert to share especially in this case with our students. We just do it as soon as we have learnt a new tool and this will change our lessons by innovating them either form our point of view as educators and thirs as learners. 😉

  2. edadedebas Says:

    EC&I 831 Social Media and Open Education is an online graduate class taught by Alec Couros at the Faculty of Education at University of Regina. It is basically a web-site that introduces the course, syllabus, course objectives, assignments, some of the readings, the instructors, and past/archived courses. It aims to provide graduate students of education with new web technologies that will help them improve their learning and teaching. It is offered both as credit and non-credit. There are three ways of participation:
    1) synchronous (live) sessions: the class meets virtually 90 minutes every week through a Blackboard system
    2) asynchronous (individual) sessions: each student will work individually by posting in the course blog, creating individual blogs, using Twitter and Diigo efficiently etc.
    3) one-to-one sessions for credit students only: Couros gives the students the options of one-to-one meetings through different means such as face-to-face, phone, e-mail, chat, Skype etc.
    He posted the tentative schedule of class, weekly assignments, student assessment criteria for evaluation, the possible ways of communication (Twitter, Diigo, chat, Blackboard etc.) and his background with his photo.
    What I find interesting in Couros’s model is his juxtaposition of CMS (course management system) and OLN (open learning network) as suggested by Jon Mott and David Wiley. His model includes the Blackboard system as the main site of teaching. However, he incorporates many other things along with the CMS. For instance, he encourages students to engage in the use of different technologies – more challenging ones – by diminishing his own authority as the expert. Secondly, his inclusion of non-credit students opens up the course to a wide of range of students from different backgrounds. It may pave the way for a flexible, open education.

    • rosariopollicino Says:

      I completely agree! what is very important is this article is the flexibility of the way of learning, basically everyone chooses the way they prefer according to the own work and private life schedule. As a student point of view, I have to admit this would be great to have it. The only doubts is do you really beleive that a successful course can be taught completely in an asynchronous way? I mean as a language instructor I hardly believe that in asynchronous way of learning all language skills could be developped but I still respect completely the freedom of learning whenever one actually wants. A tentaive solution, I believe at least for language teaching, could be an online blended way of learning “between synchronous and asynchonous” what do you think?

      • edadedebas Says:

        Rosario, I completely agree with you, too. I thought that I have made my point clear in my discussion of blending synchronous and asynchronous ways in language and culture teaching. I think we need a good balancing of face-to-face, online meetings, asynchronous ways of teaching. In this course, we have a well-balanced system, I think. With the blog posts, we are able to have asynchronous ways and we have face-to-face and online meetings. In addition to this, for language, culture and literature classes, I also suggest that we ask students to become active learners/teachers as well. For instance, two years ago, we created a blog/web site on Roman Civilization. Both students and TAs has the opportunity to post things related to class such as an article, youtube video, an image etc. Perhaps I should have made my point clearer. Apologies 

        • rosariopollicino Says:

          Hi Eda

          Do not even think to apologize 😉 now I know that what I think is actually a shared point of view which does not necessarily mean is somehting good but for sure it is interesting and what is interesting needs to be invastigated at some point.
          I like the attitude and the organization of the online Roman civilization site you are mentioning I actually beleive that this double involvement of students as student but also “teacher”, giving them the chance to add learning material and then make them somehow responsible of it, will definitely inpact our students positively. Now I am not sure whether this project was for undergraduates however I would start with them first in order to give them a sensation of difference and responsability that the University study requires, setting clear differences with the high school level.
          Sometimes freshmen still believe they are at high school while they actually are not and need to change this attitude towards their study! Your project, once again great, coud definitely work this is at least my humble opinion!

          • edadedebas Says:

            Thanks a lot, Rosario! It was for an undergraduate class that Nicole McClure, a former CLCS TA, had started. I had liked the idea that they are active learners and can contribute to the syllabus or class material. Actually, I am planning to do something similar in my classroom project as well. But, it has some challenges. 🙂

      • soledadre Says:

        I also agree that a blending of synchronous and asynchronous is the best option, probably even more in language teaching/learning. Last year I took an online course about education and I liked it. However, I found it quite difficult to establish a schedule for the readings, videos, comments… The framework wasn’t an “institutional” one so it was easy to procrastinate everything, even when I loved the topic (Education for the Development) and there were great experts participating on it. There were also synchronise chats but at times that I couldn’t attend so that was also a negative point that produced a final low involvement on my part. So, definitively, I also think that a synchronous element may be necessary to encourage interaction, create links between the participants, and maintain motivation and active involvement.

  3. paolflor Says:

    “ From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments” by Michael Wesch

    The article’s objective is to show the necessity to rethink education in a world of infinite information. To do so, Wesch highlights not only the advantages of technology towards the creation and spread of information, but also demonstrates how this phenomenon affects positively and negatively the learning/ teaching practices nowadays.

    The argument is presented in three parts. In the first one, the author emphasizes on how information is produced and shared among students. For Wesch, knowledgable is the learner’s ability to know, memorize, and recall information while knowledge-able refers to the actions of sorting, analyzing, sharing, discussing, and creating digital-networked information.
    The second part provides the positive and negative aspects of “information revolution” when being implemented in higher education, and they are: 1.Physical, social, and cognitive structures working against us, 2. A crisis of significance, 3. Not subjects but subjectivities, and 4. New models of assessment for new media environments: The next frontier). So, Wesch concludes that higher education needs to update the ways it conceives teaching /learning practices. For him, there is a constant discrepancy between the teaching/learning spaces and teacher duties, responsibilities, incentives along with the old fashion theories, approaches and methodologies that affect the students’ cognitive habits and challenges that the new era of information so strongly implies. Moreover, the author thinks student should be taught accoridng to “subjectivities”, the more meaningful problem-solving emphasis that takes into consideration the student’s individual approach, understanding, and interaction with the world. In this way, technology will become a means for learning and not distraction in the classroom. Likewise, Wesch insists that those subjectivities can generate learning environments that promote practical knowledge instead of repetition or unnecessary memorizion of information. Finally, and though briefly, Wesch critically points out how assessment and evaluation consider the cognitive dimension while leaving behind the individual’s emotional and affective abilities, capacities for risk-taking, the invidual’s uncertainty and creativity.
    After reading this article and reflecting on my own teaching/learning experience, I do agree that we need a new reformed educational framework in the era of technology. This reformation will provide students and teachers with the opportunity for critical understanding on how to interact, manipulate and evaluate information while applying the technological devices. In this way, various learning styles, personalities and talents can be taken into consideration and further developed during the learning process. Furthermore, the new framework of education in the era of technology will allow educators to concentrate on the teaching activities rather than focus exclusively on the “copy-pasting” of old teaching methodologies and administrative processes.

    • marineuconn Says:

      Thank you for your summary Paola! I like this distinction between “knowledgable” and “knowledge-able”; making the students knowledge-able means that they are more autonomous. Nowadays, technology in the classroom is mostly used as a help for administrative tasks or to reproduce regular in-class exercises online. Technology simplifies and makes teaching and learning more efficient, but it doesn’t altered the one-way transmission of knowledge. I think new forms of teaching such as collaborative learning (blogs for example) can enhance students’ motivation–make them read and think more.

    • soledadre Says:

      I agree with both of you. The present educational system must change and adapt to the new possibilities. It must do so not for becoming a more efficient system for administrative purposes but for becoming a better education. An education that helps our students to “learn how lo learn” or “learning by doing” since, if I’ve understood properly, this is the meaning of “knowledge-able” (sorting, analysing, sharing… doing).
      Just a doubt. When you speak about the negative and positive aspects of the “info revolution” in higher education, when you name “a crisis of significance”, it refers to this feeling of uncertainty that changes (the unknown or not-well known) produces but at the same time the possibilities that it opens? And about “not subjects but subjectivities”, you refer to the individuality of each person (interests, needs, learning styles…), right?

  4. rosariopollicino Says:

    Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0

    This article faces its importance in the open education resources which are accessible to anyone who simply wish to learn. In times like these where most of the countries around the world are struggling with serious economic difficulties the access to an open education can actually be a great help in overcoming these economic problems. There are 30 millions of people who are qualified to go to the University but they simply cannot as there is no place for them. On top of that the work environment is changing now a lot of people move from a career to another one and to be able to do this learning and the source from where this process starts are going to be a constant of our life. To achieve all this than MIT created an ‘Open course ware’ which nowadays represents a perfect example in involving more people in learning giving access to a quality learning material prepared by experts.
    The basic concept than is always sharing a knowledge and the learner is concentrated not just in learning the subject but in learning to be more involved in what is being learned. This concept is actually that sharing and learning knowledge is a ‘continuum’ which expands the education itself. A very important example of this is Wikipedia where one share his knowledge with everyone who is interested in that subject but at the same time somebody else who realizes that that is a lack of information can complete it and so also who had contributed before will learn something. Wikipedia in just a case where education can be expanded there are many other tools which are devoted to that and which are extremely innovating in the approach of learning and teaching for example ‘second life’. Briefly this is a virtual world where everything can be done like the real one where we are living in. The main difference is that people interact through an avatar rather than a human body. This may be scary somehow and it actually is however, I personal know of English language school who are teaching English online to people living in all corners of the globe and these people is actually learning English this way. Another example I would like to bring to you attention is the project for Italian literature from Brown University. They created an online community to study the Decameron of Boccaccio one of the most important author of Italian literature. What is important about this project is the fact that this is a community where everyone do not only have access to a learning material but can observe and emulate scholars at work. This is the key sharing not the content only but above all annotations, commentaries, critical and interpretative essays. This is also an example of how specialized the online learning could be giving the possibility to adjust all kind of learning need.

  5. marineuconn Says:

    On “Visible College” by Bryan Alexander

    The growing influence of social media (“web 2.0”), mobile devices, and open content in the classroom environment lead faculty and classroom staff to reconsider their teaching and learning habits. Soon, the closed classes will be “drawn into a global, visible college,” Bryan Alexander argues.
    Technology is first the element responsible for this change: anyone – students as teachers – has access to mobiles devices that can capture the classroom content and share it with an audience outside the classroom. While the material is not always licensed when it appears on Youtube, the governement is financially encouraging Open Educative Ressources (OER) via a $2 billion grant program.
    Second, social media in general has become a “very big thing:” “we web users create and share media, comment and tag others’ work, edit, embed, and remix.” Education, as so many aspects of society, is transforming under social media’s influence. Sharing becomes fundamental to teaching and learning and receives “unpredictable boundaries”: “A learner in a Chicago classroom and a learner in Paris can consult the same OER document, then find each other through advanced Twitter search and compare notes about how their respective instructors parse difficult problems.” But sharing serves also many other purposes in the educationnal world, like evaluating a class, a professor, or an institution etc.
    Therefore, of course, there are some negative aspects too… Aren’t we heading towards a world of total surveillance? Are we, individuals, going to live in a world of no privacy? [Those questions are actually my biggest concerns and I am happy that the author brings them up !] Probably, as the whole world is now heading in this direction. It might “relax” our expectations though, the author argues, and quoting Davind Brin: “If we can all be surveilled, we can all be embarrassed.” The growing of global sharing may also be a source of many transformations in such areas as privacy policies and intellectual property.
    Anyway, as far as higher education is concerned, the invisible campus might well become the visible college.

    I have noticed that universities are often criticized for having no connection (or not enough connections) with the rest of society. With the visible college, things can change for the best. The research that is being done in universities may be able to spread further than classroom walls. I just hope that “privacy policies and intellectual properties” will change accordingly.

  6. loisramirez Says:

    Diego Leal’s BRINGing it OUT a notch K12 Online Conference 2009 Keynote. puts into perspective the idea that learning in the classroom is not as evolved as we think. He does a comparison of the materials that his teachers used while he was in school and how these are variations on the methods learned by the copyist of the Middle Ages. He uses his old notebooks as an example that demonstrates how a simple margin became the limiting frame of his learning. Through the use of his notebooks filled with paragraphs regurgitated by a teacher in form of dictation, and colorful maps copied from other texts (as a tool to enhance creativity, but how can this happen when it is a mere copy?); he confirms what many of us have probably asked in the past, why am I learning this for? And what is the purpose of it? This is what he calls the modern copyist.
    Leal says that the student only knows that the class will only get harder and that if he does not understand what it is being taught he would just have to go through it all over again. The lack of understanding of the curriculum or ability to have a say on what could be taught, limits the input and interest of the student in its learning process. In addition to class curriculum editing power being only given to the teacher, other subject areas seem to be completely independent from each other. Creating once again a limitation in the student’s learning possibilities.
    He explains how the new generations of students are making use of new technologies, but these practices are being implemented in the same “copyist” style. He blames this effect on the lack of creativity from the instructor’s part.
    He gives a great example of how we can use new media and technologies to reach other people beyond our classroom. This is the story of a small public school located in a marginalized section of a Colombian city. The project “give the keys” was started by a technology teacher who, saw that limiting the student’s access to the school’s computer lab was hindering their learning process and creating a barrier in between student and media. She began to slowly grant access to the students through the usage of student monitors; creating a snowball effect in which the students began to take pride on their school’s resources and its maintenance, something that might seem counter intuitive yet yielded a great result. In seeing the success of the technology program, other members of the community such as working mothers and senior citizens were given access to the computer lab. The program has now grown and diversified, “Give the Keys” is composed of various subjects beyond media and technology.
    Leal brings up great ideas, we have been taught to stay within the lines of each subject matter, and this is the approach many of us have in terms of technology. It is only possible to start building the bridges if we start thinking outside the box. We need to find ways to reach others by enabling the media gap and language barrier. Leal uses the idea translation as a method to learn about a subject a passive way to get a student to learn more about a topic and an active way to build the bridge and reach other people that are on the other side of the gap.

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