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Over the past several days, I have observed the aftermath from the TLT 2012 Symposium from afar. This synthesis explores the symposium through the highlights, ideas, moments, and design elements that surfaced in blog posts for our class. Roi, Dan, Phil, MJ, and Laura attended the symposium due to their affiliation (and instructor coercion - no harm intended!) with this course (albeit Phil clearly is a committed tech follower and likely would have attended... I believe a couple of the others would have been eating elsewhere... or sleeping).
Yet, for whatever reason, they gathered and shared a mutual experience. My intent is to explore their conversations formed as reflective posts for this blog. I am interested in pointing out both singular and common threads in their comments. Although not all offer interpretations of their experiences, I will dare to tread as I offer my own reactions to their writing and extend the conversation through questions or comments inspired by ideas they offer.
TLT Symposium: Design & Lasting Impressions...
The sections appearing later in this post offer comments to specific presentations. However, to begin, I offer brief comments on the design elements of the symposium that seemed to leave marks upon the bloggers for this course.
- Food, food, food, and a little drink - Make people happy and focused (on more food if nothing else).
- Online broadcasting facilitated distance attendance that accommodated peripheral participation - A key benefit as noted by our classmate who made the choice to participate at a distance due to food and comfort desires. However, additional advertising prior to the event related to the types and abundance of food may have modified his choices for the morning. Given that designers can never be certain and will likely increase overall participation, distance options benefited both participants and designers interested in expanding the audience.
- Weak or inconsistent wireless signals were observed - an ironic aspect given the purpose for the day.
- The mobile app, Guidebook, was an aid discussed by the more tech savvy member in attendance. This feature is likely to become more popular at future meetings as designers might expect participant use of mobile apps to increase. Suggestion: Add the food menu to the app to encourage broad participation from individuals with wide ranging interests.
Down to Business - Presentation Reactions & Comments
McGonigal - Keynote Address
Discussion of lifestyle benefits indicated some unanticipated ideas involving health in addition to engagement and online collaboration.
Learning through play - As a side note, this reminded me of conversations surrounding learning through play that tend to emerge in early childhood education. To what extent is gaming opening conversations about learning through play for learners in older age groups?
One blogger, Roi, questioned the relationship between increased activity and increased learning. I share this question - 'activity' in Roi's post seems consistent with the use of 'engagement' in Phil's and to an extent in MJ's - Perhaps the speaker enters dangerous territory if assumptions are made about causal relationships for learners. Certainly, not all learners engage with game play or with the same types of game play.
Community & Identity - MJ discusses these aspects in relationship to the keynote address. I offer the questions: To what extent did McGonigal address the gamers critical engagement? Did she explore the extent to which gamers demonstrate a meta-awareness of the contexts surrounding, supporting, or providing access to gaming experiences? To what extent did she discuss gamers awareness or evaluation of social, cultural, or political values and beliefs of creators or distributors of specific games? Were the relationships among gamers and larger media forces in their lives explored?
Games & Gamification
This session was discussed in multiple posts. Interested readers should scroll down and read those posts for themselves. However, I am struck by the 'voting' activity explored by one of the presenters. I interpreted this as a negative experience for Dan, and I agree. Based on the brief summaries here and my own tendency to favor collaborative learning environments, it seems that this practice reinforces competition among individuals in the class rather than the cohesion achieved through collaborative practices. In my view, the goal must be kept in mind: How do our enacted practices model particular habits of mind and particular pathways to learning? Do students collaborate to vote? Perhaps, but that collaboration is not intended to mutually benefit the group as a community of practice. Voting in a classroom with external prizes as the benefit for the 'victor' reinforces hierarchal social practices and erodes opportunities for peripheral participation and differentiated learning.
General Observations Related to Technology Use & Decision Making
As a reader, several interesting points emerged.
First, participants form expectations regarding the context when they engage in activities (see Laura's exploration of TLT as an occupied space and expectations related to ease of wifi access, electrical outlets, and presenter use of technology at a technology symposium).
Second, technology for technology sake is not always the answer. See Dan's post regarding Animated Flying Electrons - Did the use of technology really provide a new way of seeing or knowing? Or was it simply a thing to do or use? If technology does not provide new ways of knowing or learning, then questions must be asked about expending additional time and resources.
Third, sometimes in-person, 'old-school' ways of knowing surface as effective tools (see Phil's response to the massive thumb war during the keynote address).
Finally, fourth, might successes in online spaces help us to reconsider or reframe innovation related to in-person, classroom learning (see Dan's comments related to the panel discussion, Roi's comments related to cross-cultural experiences).
A disclaimer... as noted in the title, I was not able to attend the symposium. I apologize if I misrepresented the intents of the presenters or the event organizers. This is a mere commentary and extended conversation related to the class blog posts. I am inspired to eat if nothing else...
Intellectual: study, reflection, speculation, creative use of intellect
Mash-up: combination or mixing content [mash-uhp]
Artist: creative juxtaposition, appropriation, and re-contextualization
Also, Stayin' Low.
April 19th, 11:15am -12:30pm
In room 113 IST building (Cybortorium)
at the URL below to view the talk live.
The digital revolution has hit education, but are schools tapping into the learning potential of today's technologically sophisticated generation?
Allan Collins and Richard Halverson in their new book "Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology : The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America" argue that to keep pace with a globalized technological culture, we must rethink how we educate the next generation.
They offer a vision for the future of education that goes well beyond the walls of the classroom to include online social networks, distance learning with "anytime, anywhere" access, digital home schooling models, video- game learning environments, and more.
Collins is Professor Emeritus of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He is a member of the National Academy of Education, and a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the Cognitive Science Society, the American Educational Research Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Learning Sciences Group
Affiliated with the colleges of
Education, IST, and
Department of Psychology
2 Main goals: By 2020, 1) raise the proportion of college graduates from 39% to 60%. 2) Get all students, regardless of race, income, or neighborhood, to graduate from high school.
We need to rethink 3 things: learning, assessment, and teaching. There is a drive to rethink learning as connections and collaborations (much as Wenger believes, or Siemens). There should be core competencies, but students should get tailored learning experiences according to their interests. Students should be connected to parents, experts, others via technology. Assessment should be non-intrusive, formative, and real-time. Teachers should use technology to improve their own practice, by learning from others.
Rethink assumptions: 1) Why should education be seat-based or time-based? Why not organize around competency rather than rigid semesters/years? Why not do other schedules instead of "you have to be in your seat at 7:30 until 10"? 2) Why group students together by age? Why not by competency? 3) Why group students into separate academic classes? Why not combine math and reading together? 4) Why are classes all the same size?
Goals put forth by the administration (that I think are relevant to our class):
1. Revise, create, and adopt standards and learning objectives...that reflect 21st century expertise and the power of technology to improve learning.
2. Design, develop, and adopt technology-based content, resources, and online learning communities that create opportunities for educators to collaborate for more effective teaching.
3. Develop and adopt a common definition of productivity in education and more relevant and meaningful measures of learning outcomes and costs.
4. Rethink basic assumptions in our education system that inhibit leveraging technology to improve learning.
5. Design, implement, and evaluate technology-powered programs that ensure our students progress through K-16 and emerge prepared for the workplace and citizenship.
So true that I only use twitter IN class.
At the symposium, I was gonna post my thoughts/notes in Plurk but soon realized there would be no comments (then, kinda no meaning) after my first two postings. So, wisely, I switched to twitter and tweeted the following stuff. <--One evidence to show that I value community more than design.
- Is hands-on or interactive activity the key to students' encouragement? #ci597
Afterwards: Often teachers are encouraged to have a more interactive teaching so their students would be more willing to participate. I am for it. However (<--for me, this is the most powerful word in English), we and our students are more or less taught to manage learning in a more effective way. Unfortunately, to be effective in most cases means to gain higher score with the least possible efforts. Sadly, from my experiences, activities with more links to the success they need are more likely to engage students. If the evaluation of edcation remained, it would be hard for both teachers and students to think out of the box.
- I wondered whether it's avoidable since the resources of traditional literacy is running out..#ci597
I was surprised that I could focus on the presentation of Google Earth and meanwhile commented on other's posting for a different topic. I should actually think about allowing students to conduct multi-tasks?
- @msm26 innovation, indeed. But, I think there's room for creativity.
I was cut short in this reply since I heard something that triggered a thought about the Google Earth one.
- It has to be fun.........for the instructors as well. Technology or not. If you didn't enjoy it, no one else would! #tltsym #ci597
- @dboder Sadly, it's often the case. I know some teachers expect technology to take over their works in a click, but they don't like/trust it
- It's an idea to engage students by having a say in grading process. But I was trapped by the outcome(s) often...#tltsym #ci597
For more information about the presentation, go to this: http://symposium.tlt.psu.edu/conference/sessions/s1_googleearth
Maria White, one of the first students to have used the blog ePortfolio system throughout her entire teaching program, spoke about her experiences with the system, walked us through her own portfolio, and answered questions. One thing I really thought was useful was that all of her course work for several different classes was included within this blog, divided into categories. Although she did not explicitly mention it, this would be a useful way to turn homework in to the right professor (through the use of an RSS feed gathering from only one particular category), while simultaneously providing a compendium of knowledge and experience gained throughout one's education. Although I am not a pre-service teacher and am not required to create an ePortfolio, after seeing this presentation, I am excited to create my own public record of my own learning experiences here at Penn State.
Well, now that I came up with a catchy title, I have your attention...right?
I saw, and heard, a lot of interesting things yesterday. Unfortunately, I did not see ONE sweatervest. Anyway...one question that I heard in every talk that I went to was "This sounds great but how are you assessing participation?" or some variation of this. It kind of started to nag me a bit and I have to blame that all on Scott and Cole. Before this class I was a typical student, feeling pressured to produce or say something, ANYTHING, so that my teachers would know that I knew something, or at least hope that it would appear that way. I did not want to lose my participation points!! They have to be the easiest points to earn in a class. Say something, even if it is wrong or does not make any sense, and you get a few points tossed at you; quantity seemed to reign over quality. I now have a different view on participation. If you are going to use old school participation to assess your students, you have to give points to ANY student who say ANYTHING in your class. If you award participation points based on quality rather than quantity, does that mean that you are punishing students because they are unable to learn/understand the content? Could that not be in turn seen as a failure on the part of the teacher? So if a student is going to lose, or not gain, participation points because they are not learning anything, the teacher should also be losing participation points. If learning happens through participation, and a student is showing evidence of learning, can it not then be assumed that they have participated in some way; whether through reading, listening, or googling outside of class? So if you follow along with this philosophy of learning, there would be no need to assess the participation of students since learning would be a sign of participation.
So this leads me into what I saw at the symposium. The first talk I went to was "First Year Students Blogging: Lessons Learned." Students were asked to blog and keep an online journal or sorts. Every student had their own blog space and, if I remember correctly, they were to comment on one anothers' posts as well. I was really interested in hearing how this had changed the class and the "learning" of the students, but there were a lot of questions being asked about logistical issues, and the talk was rushed at the end. (The symposium should have longer session times BTW) There were some "snags" in using the blogs for this class; some students just did not blog; others would blog but not "participate" in class (participation = speaking in this class); and students were not always tagging their blog posts so it was hard to keep track of who was leaving blog posts and responding to them since all of the students had their own blog sites. I think that the use of blogs in any class can only benefit the teachers and the students by extending the discussion outside of the classroom. There is an adjustment period for both the teachers and the students, they need to become familiar with the medium and all that it can offer. Getting students, especially first year students, to think outside the classroom is probably a big challenge. How do you get them use to the idea that learning is continuously occurring? Another theme that I heard at the symposium, was the idea of engaging students by making the information seem relavant to them and their lives. What are they going to need to know and use 10 years from now?
Switching gears a bit...the second session talk I went to was: "Evolution of Biology Instruction to Increase Student Success in a Large Class." This was interesting to me, not only because it was biology related and they mentioned snakes, but also because the idea of getting a large lecture-based class to be more engaging and interactive for the students. I was not impressed at first because they were talking about Angel and having students taking quizes online instead of on paper. An electronic test/quiz is no more engaging than a paper one. But then it started to get interesting. They discussed how they were able to link Angel to GoogleDocs, Kaltura, which I had never heard of before, and a few other various applications. They also have the students working in wikispaces and they are creating wikibooks of the course which will be available as OPEN CONTENT once completed. What an awesome idea! The students are more than just consumers, they are active participants in their education. They also need to know and understand the content in order to apply it and explain it to others, rather than just regurgitating the textbook definitions. Speaking of textbooks, the students are not required to buy a textbook which they will most likely never even open. All the information they need is available online. Open content and no textbooks??? Shhhhh, don't tell the publishers!
Overall, I think there was a lot of good discussion going on at the symposium about where the future of education is going. It was pretty inspiring to hear some of the talks, especially Dr Wesch's keynote speech.
2 of my fav quotes from the symposium:
"...your grandma can google you and find out you're not straight..."
"...for a high school student, wikipedia is like porn..."
In this session, Professor Laura Guertin started from some statistics or surveys, which show that quite amount of people have no habit in reading beyond the school work or even going to a bookstore. In addition, there is also lack of basic geographic knowledge among 18- to 24- year-old Americans. Because of these, Professor Guertin started to do the research focused on the effective integration of innovative technologies to improve student learning in introductory-level geoscience courses.
By demonstrating QUEST, the presentation gives us a basic idea that how Google Earth utilizes satellite imagery for virtual tours across the globe and interconnects between people, places, and environments. The most two interesting parst to me is that it is interactive, two-way learning and it is user-friendly. For example, the project showed where the ancestors came from, where they moved around, which can give students a whole picture of not only locations but also history or other interesting fields. Students have right to extend their information, they are not only knowledge receivers, but also designers, (e.g., you can play around by changing background colors or styles, or you can embed audio/video, make an easy link to more related information, and you can even put your voice on it.) Because of the two advantages, it is easy to be applied it to any other discipline.
After the presentation, I am thinking about connecting language learning and geography in 7th-9th students. (But first of all, I need to make sure is there other language for using it because I don't think they have enough ability to read through all of it.) I hope it will be a good try to motivate them to learn by introducing this technological tool.
I've been sitting here reading all of the definitions and reflections on the notion of open education and have been waiting for someone to take on the issues related to the openness of our class. I'm of the mind that any one of the posts that are made here is an open educational resource (OER) that can be taken, re-mixed, reused, and generally consumed by anyone to gain a better insight into a topic. Looking at the last three weeks of analytics indicates that people from the outside are showing up ... some are even leaving comments.
The thing that is striking to me is that much of what we consider open courseware consists of top-down, University mandates -- look at MIT's Open Courseware Initiative or Yale's Open Courses as two examples of top down approaches. These are costly, albeit impactful, examples that may or may not have long-term sustainability issues. My interest lies in the notions of what I'll call Incidental Openness ... when faculty and students don't need a mandate to open things up. I find the most interesting things happen when we just openly invite people because we feel it enriches the experience.
It leads me to ask what does a course like this mean in the open? Do our collective posts and comments add up to something of value to those on the Internet? I know we get access to classroom discussions and ultimately a grade, but what do the people out there get from this?
Given the video above, perhaps the more interesting question for us comes when we simply ignore the, "what does this course add up to for someone" questions I have read so much here?
According to Pea, learning can be viewed as much more than "problem solving" and more broadly in terms of each of the desires. This can take the form of activities of play that create and find as much problems they "solve". Similarly, the design of new technologies can support human activities by serving as experimental platforms in the evolution of intelligence - by opening up new possibilities for distributed intelligence. Pea's research optimism constructs learners as inventors of distributed-intelligence-as-tool, rather than receivers of intelligence as substance- ready not only to adapt to change but to contribute substantially to it (p. 82.)
Technology should be designed to enhance the exchange of intelligence. By designing better devices or applications we have a greater impact on the sharing and creation of intelligence via our interactions with the technologies we have created. Pea argues that we cannot only emphasize the effects of working with technology because that is similar to emphasizing the effects of working with tools like pencils or measurement scales. If we are comfortable teaching students how to exploit those tools (pencils, measuring tapes etc.), then why the uneasiness with electronic tools?
The NMC and ELI 2010 Horizon Report is illustrative and supports Pea's article. The issues makes it clear that there are and there will be technologies designed to further our abilities in certain areas, such as accessibility to learning materials through the use of electronic books and other. These technologies can be seen as tools for distributing intelligence (gesture-based computing, visual analysis tools, augmented reality) or to aid in access to distributed intelligence (mobile computing, open content, electronic books). The overall impact of the Horizon Report is to inform and challenge us to strive for and investigate what technologies are available and how we can use them to enhance the learning experience for the individuals we educate.
In his book, Design for the Real World, designer and educator Victor Papanek (1985), exclaims that we are all designers and that designing is integral to all human activity because it is "the conscious effort to impose meaningful order." That meaningful order however is very much caught up in the tools, materials and the process that we use. As an example, he offers up the case of early Swedish settlers who when they began building in Delaware, "had at their disposal trees and axes. The material was a round tree trunk, the tool an axe, and the process a simple kerf cut into the log. The inevitable result of this combination of tools, materials, and process is a log cabin." This definition of design therefore further supports Roy Pea's view of distributive intelligence which emphasizes that educators should attempt to make use of their environment in designing learning and creating activities that promotes the acquisition of intelligence and therefore knowledge.
Both Pea and the Horizon Report have valuable points talking about utilization and integration of technology design in education. This is evident here at Penn State, where we have designed technologies that are enabling us to provide education to the global market. We can discuss any variety of subjects with students from around the world. This also speaks to Pea's discussion on how the technologies we design have the ability to transform the world in which we live. By interacting on a global level, we have new opportunities for understanding others, exchanging ideas, and enhancing our knowledge to better improve our environments. As human understanding of the world becomes more complex, we'll need more and more tools to off-load intelligence in order to deal with the complexity.
What disruptive technology means to me....
As I was going through the readings, I started to think about the class title and what it meant. What makes technology "disruptive" and who does it "disrupt"? I came to the conclusion that disruptive technology is only disruptive to those who don't understand it, can't use it, and are affraid of it. One arguement that I hear all the time is that bringing technology into the classroom creates a distraction for students. I think this is complete bologna. When I was in middle/high school I didn't have any technology in the classroom and I still managed to find plenty of things to distract me: looking out the window, doodling, and day dreaming. Instead of passing notes to one another in the classroom, students are sending text messages or IM's. Technology didn't suddenly create distraction in the classroom, it just changed the type of distraction.
I'm still not sold on the notion that technology is "disruptive"; at least not from the viewpoint of the students. Students know and use such technologies in their daily routines; to me, it is more disruptive to strip the students of these technologies. If anything, I think technology is disruptive to the educators and administrators, who may not understand or be comfortable using them.
We are spending a great deal of time in this class learning to become familiar with technology and finding productive ways to incorporate them into the classroom. What are the chances that we are going to be working in a school district that is going to have the funding to support technology use in the classroom? If resources are available, will we have the freedom we need to use these tools? A friend of mine teaches in West Virginia and informed me that the school's network blocks sites like youtube and other social networking sites. How do we handle those students in our classroom whose socioeconomic status doens't afford them the access to such technologies? Technology can be used to give shy or non-english speaking students a voice and engage students, but it can also further single out those disadvantaged students. So I guess the use of technology can be disruptive to those students as well...
I have been told that my interests are diverse, but I don't really see it that way. I believe strongly in the power of the freedom of information. Hence, a number of my research projects in the English department have focused on eighteenth-century periodicals, which I believe were as revolutionary in their time as the Internet is in ours.
I'm excited to take part in our discussions of disruptive technologies. Although I'm not an enrolled member of CI 597, I do hope to be a part of the course community.