Category: Week 12

Week 12 – Activity 24: Considering open learner literacies

Timing: 5 hours

  • Draw up a set of open learner literacies.These should be based on what you have experienced and researched so far in this block. They should cover the types of skill you feel are important for an individual to learn successfully in an open learning context (whether that is using OER, in a MOOC or through informal, lifelong learning).The level of detail is at your discretion: you may choose to operate at the abstract level, such as Jenkins’s list, or at a more detailed task level if you prefer. You could use the web literacies as a starting point, or approach the task from a more learner-centric perspective.

    The number of skills is up to you, although they should cover most of what you feel is important in being an effective open learner. Each literacy should be accompanied by some explanation and justification.

  • Blog your list of literacies and look at those suggested by others. You should reflect upon the following:
    1. Are there literacies that are particularly related to the open element, or would your list apply to all learners?
    2. Did you find literacies suggested by others that you would like to add?
    3. If these are important literacies, how would you go about developing them for learners?

Answer:

Personal note: This table can be found as a Word document under Week 12. 

 

Literacy Explanation Justification
Navigating the web Can you find what you are looking for in a timely manner? Do you know where to start to gather the particular type of information you need? Furthermore, do you possess enough experience of searching to conclude/predict the quantity of the information you might receive ahead of time? When doing any form of research, finding information quickly is of great importance. Are you aware of what websites will be good starting places?

I.e. If you are looking for a brief introduction, and links to further materials, searching Wikipedia will provide more useful than Google Scholar.

Using search terms Can you use search engines in a more advanced manner? Do you understand the basics of how search engines work? For example, that ‘site: Wikipedia.org’ will limit results to only Wikipedia entries. Or that conjunctions and particles will have limited effects on results. In navigating the web, a starting place is normally, and should be, search engines. Therefore, knowing what to type to provide a broad or specific set of results is important.
Evaluating materials Can you differentiate between high and low quality resources? This includes the knowledge of how certain types of websites are constructed and developing a certain attitude towards these sites. For example, if a website is ‘something.tumlbr.com’ not only is it likely to be a self-published article with little critique, but the hosting service (Tumblr) is known for lesser academic material, so some wariness should immediately arise. In contrast, if the website has a ‘.edu’ domain, it will be a registered educational institution, and therefore quality is likely assumed. With a web that is increasingly easy for any to contribute to, through sometimes very well rounded and good quality production, it becomes difficult to separate unbiased fact from opinion. This can greatly effect online research and the information the searcher holds as true, and very likely result in wrong information being believed.
Understanding licensing Are you aware of different online licensing? For example, if a website or material has a CC license it is more likely to be legally copied by you, however the letters below it (or often clicking on the licence logo) will provide more information about the legal use. This extends to more standard copyrights. When looking for open materials, and in being mindful of not breaking any laws, having a knowledge of the different online licensing is important. Furthermore, if you own your own material, understanding what licensing you wish to use can define the type of educational material (open or not) you share.
Creating your own materials Are you able to create your own online materials, including the ability to copy or embed other materials into another website? Are you able to make videos, blog posts, or edit wiki’s? It is of value to be able to contribute to a learning community. This can be done through discussion, though having your own online presence through personalized material allows for increased interaction with the community.
Remixing Are you able to take copyright free materials and remix them to suit your needs? This includes the ability to rework materials to be explained in new ways, as well as the technical ability to understand formats and accessibility. In addition to being able to change documents and blend online content together to form new materials, we also need to be aware of the restrictions some formats/coding languagaes/connections inflict. For example, reworking multiple videos into a larger package can restrict learners based on internet speeds, and those with disabilities due to transcripts or other aids being required.
Sharing Can you successfully broadcast your own to an audience? Do you know how to use the various channels, such as Twitter, to connect with others? As the rise of constructivism, connectivism, and other more interactive pedagogies arise with the affordances of the internet, knowing how to publish your own materials and have others engage with them can significantly improve your reach and influence in an area of interest/expertise.
Safety Are you aware of the dangers of being online? These are not limited to viruses, but include the oversharing of information through location tracking, privacy controls, and overall awareness of the potential harm what/how you publish could arise. As more of our learning and lives is occurring online, our online presence is growing. Along with this, we are exposing ourselves to an unprecedented number of strangers. Keeping your online identity in check, such as hiding personal information, and evaluating the trust within an online community is of importance.
Design Can you create online spaces, such as blogs, wikis, and videos? Are you aware of the tools on offer and the limitations of the tools? Creating a blog or editing a wiki is becoming a more common task in formal education. Chosing between different options depending on your aim is a an important skill in forming your online presence.
The open world Do you know what OER are? Are you aware of where to find ‘free’ learning materials? In addition, are you aware of common websites, such as YouTube or blogs and their learning potential? Not online can making use of OER benefit you financially, but also for students wishing to learn more about a topic having a knowledge of where to find free learning online can assist in improving scores and understanding.
Contributing Are you able to contribute to other’s learning materials? Can you make commencts on blogs, respond via forums, or even create responses to what you have read online? This goes beyond creating your materials, as it involves with direct interaction with an individual or whole community. Being able to gather what you have learned your opinion in an appropriate manner is important in expanding your engagement and understanding of different content online.

 

  1. I would apply them to all learners. However, the bolded points above relate to skills that are particularly useful for the ‘open environment’.
  2. Many of these literacies can be taught/experience through simultaneously through a single task. For example, requiring students to post their responses on blogs, encourages sharing, contributing, remixing, designing, evaluation of materials, and other skills. It would be necessary for the teacher to provide some instruction initially, through much of these literacies take time to develop (evaluating resources) and require experience.
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Week 12 – Activity 23: Review of web literacies

Timing: 2 hours

The Mozilla Foundation has created a ‘web literacy map’, which breaks literacies into three main areas:

  • building (writing)
  • connecting (participating)
  • exploring (reading)

It defines web literacies as ‘the skills and competencies needed for reading, writing and participating on the web’. These therefore have considerable overlap with the types of skill open learners might need to develop.

  • Look at the web literacy map (new version)and consider your own skills and competencies under each of the headings they provide.
  • Was this a useful exercise? Did you feel that the literacies listed matched what you need to do in your study or work?

Answers:

webliteracy

Literacies (as defined from the chart on the site) My skill
Navigate Generally good understanding of the navigation principles of the web. This including SEO and other ways the web is ‘connected’.
Search On standard search engines I have some advanced skills. For specific search engines I am confident I could apply some of the principles to develop my skill.
Connect Have done so in previous projects. This is a challenging task as it has to do with understanding others and connecting/juxtaposing their thoughts with the manner in which you set out your own work online. A challenge for me in doing such (e.g. asking for research help through Facebook) has been in defining what it is I need, and investigating responses to look for connections to what my research needs (for both supportive or contradicting views).
Protect  Can you ever be 100% safe online? Likely not. I am generally aware of privacy concerns, but admittedly fail to implement these on any grad scale. This is due to difficulties in limited my use of key web services such as Google apps. This sheds some light on the challenges of implementing such technologies in the classroom, as we are effectively somewhat forcing students to give away some of their privacy.
Open practice  I have used an open CC license on my previous blog, and run a website that is under CC license.
Contribute  I have not achieved this in an open sense, but have so through the OU. Possibly my joining of casual social groups on Facebook such as for political ideology discussion count towards such contribution.
Share  My photos and some all work through Open South Africa is is shareable and allows for contribution.
Design  I do not have experience in this area. Possibly I could stretch this to include the creation of teaching materials from open access repositories.
Code  I have completed some basic level Java programming and have an understanding of HTML, CSS, Python, and possibly others.
Compose  I have fair bit of experience in this area, from creating content for university and professional means.
Revise  I have little experience in this area. I would be interested in unmaking a project with such aims.
Remix Same as above.
Evaluate  I feel I have lots of experience through researching for assignments and work.
Synthesize  This is a critical skill for researching through journals and other academic information online for assignments.

Did you feel that the web literacies matched what you need to do in your study and work? (was something missing?)

I would add the ability to explain online content as another literacy. This is particular to a teacher’s context. It involves taking a skill or set of information found online, and relaying it competently to a live audience of different ages. I find this to be something I do quite frequently at work, and has taken some practice to steadily improve the angles, difficulty, word changes, practical application examples, and more, needed to convey understanding to a class.

Week 12 – Activity 22: An open education technology

Timing: 2 hours

  • Write a short blog post suggesting one additional technology that is important for open education, either from the role of a learner or a provider. The technology can be one that has been significant, or one that you feel is going to become increasingly relevant.What you include as a technology can be quite broad: for instance, it can be a general category (such as social networks), a specific service or a particular standard.
  • In your post briefly explain what the technology is, and then why you think it is important for open education. The emphasis should be on open education in particular, and not just education in general.

Answer: Virtual reality.

 

Some thoughts:

We have begun to see the first commercial wave of VR, in the form of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. The main attraction, or marketing point of these technologies currently has been around gaming, though I propose that within open ed this technology will have profound impacts in the following ways:

  • Immersion – students will be able to experience a range of scenarios in great detail. This immersion, which would include more sounds, visuals, and a natural feel, could well have impact on learner’s retention due to the ‘experience’ being more real (as appose to reading about something or watching a video). This could be particular useful in the realm of education for remote locations.
    • I.e. it is difficult to train as a surgeon in rural communities. This could be bridged by virtual representations of surgery, taking the student not only into the surgery room, but through the view of the professional – or even acting as the surgeon in a simulated environment.
  • New environments – Similar to how access to remote telescopes or 3D printers is steadily increasing in schools, VR could provide another way to experience an array of new environments through opening up new locations to students.
  • Remote locations – For students learning remotely the ability to share a virtual classroom space or visit a lecture hall could provide a good transition from standard schooling to distance education. This is similar to how Second Life and some colleges have tried to recreate their campus online to bridge this gap. Notably it is very arguable if such an experience is necessary, although it will possibly be tried by at least a few institutions.
    • Moreover, the use of Skype, blackboard, Google Hangouts, and others has brought about advanced capabilities in conferencing. With the increased mobility (be it in a small area) and angles of view that VR could being, a more ‘teleporting’ type presence could be achieved. The ability to virtually walk with a teacher through a museum from anywhere in the world, could increase the level of immersion as well as feeling of connection with peers.
  • Moving towards connectivism – As stipulated above VR could increase our ability to experience realities around the world in a more authentic manner. As such, I see VR as having a profound impact on the popularity of networking. Sharing links and videos is fine currently, but as seen with the recent launch of Facebook live video and 3D videos, the level of immersion being achieved is greater than before. I predict this trend to grow even stronger with the rise of VR where our standard of media consumption moves to more active and virtual worlds. It is understandable that from this the ability to really engulf ourselves within other communities and ‘see’ their world could result in a surge in connections being made online. The CoI/CoP (Wenger) and Connectivist work could provide a good starting point through which to view such a transition.

Week 12 – Activity 21: The chicken and egg conundrum – technology and pedagogy inter-relate

Timing: 3 hours

  • Use the forum to discuss the relationship between technology and pedagogic theory and practice, drawing on your own context and experience.
    1. What is your own experience and view?
    2. Do you regard either pedagogy or technology as more significant than the other?
    3. How do technology and pedagogy influence each other?
    4. Do you have experience where either technology or pedagogy has been given more weight than the other?

Answers:

1. What is your own experience and view?

I have looked for my pedagogy to guide what technologies, if any, are applicable to the aim. I feel that we shouldn’t design learning around a technology, as ultimately then we are condoning ourselves to that technologies function.

If we look at MOOCs as an example, they were built on the internet, but the tools (forums, blogs, interactive assignments, videos, etc.) that are incorporated in achieving the ultimate pedagogical aim of the course are widespread and differ depending on course aim/pedagogy.

In a nutshell, whilst looking to design a course with a particular aim I will consider the technology that could support this. This is not limited to recent technology, but rather accumulated on top of whiteboards, projectors, and other means.

2. Do you regard either pedagogy or technology as more significant than the other?

I believe that pedagogy is more slightly more significant, though I am not ultimately too sure. As mentioned above, you can get trapped in a technology, and ignore other options. As appose to using various technologies to meet your pedagogical goal.

However, in practice, when technologies get developed/used as a response to inefficiencies  in teaching practices. These can then be considered separately when designing the new set of lessons/courses. In this case, notably the technology has led the way for this transition/cycle.

3. How do technology and pedagogy influence each other?

If I were to be considering a particular angle or pedagogy to a course, and there was a technology that could vastly improve said course, it would be worthwhile to consider it. Therefore, it such a technology does not yet exist, it would be worthwhile considering the plausibility of its creation.

The role of technologies, inversely, is to note what these gaps are, and see fi they can be filled in a more efficient manner. Noting however that sometimes technologies, such as Twitter, can be used for education without initially being intended for such. This would be an instance of teaching/instructional design noting the use of a technology and adopting/adapting it to fit.

4. Do you have experience where either technology or pedagogy has been given more weight than the other?

When I was newer in my line of work I found myself fascinated by the possibilities of iPads in the classroom. As such, I over emphasised their usage, and looked to apps to substitute what I was doing. This led to fundamental changes in my lesson plans.

In retrospect I find these lesson plans to be insufficient in their goals and lacking in other pedagogical practices such as contextualisation, group work, and even repetition.

Had I used the iPad as tool within a decided upon pedagogy or lesson plan, it would likely have fit in to a bigger picture and contributed rather than taken over the direction of the lesson.

 

Additional:

It should also be noted that using technologies, such as Twitter, requires an understanding beforehand of the pedagogical effects, both positive and negative. This knowledge is not only unknown by some teachers, but sometimes altogether un-researched. Issues around the safety of children online, distractions in class, and actual depth of learning aligned with sound pedagogical research need to be considered.

Forum posting

In response to Andi’s initial points.

Does it matter which comes first: I would suspect it would be of concern if we are talking about students who might not have access to a particular technology (have and have nots scenario), or in the case of managing accessibility concerns for those with disabilities. In such a case I would think it is better for pedagogy to lead the way, or at least for some careful consideration to be given before decisions are made regarding technology adoption.

My personal thoughts are that from my work experience I tend to to be stuck somewhat in the middle of the argument. Possibly slightly to the pedagogical side :/

If we consider technology to include whiteboards, smart boards, projectors, etc., we seldom would design a lesson/course around such tools. In doing so would likely result in a very one-dimensional or linear approach, as you pointed out with Udemy.

From experience, I previously designed some lessons with too much emphasise placed on the use of iPads (when they were really beginning to boom with regards to education apps). I found the lessons to lack the depth of learning that might have been achieved had I began with a broader view and used the iPads as one of many resources.

If we consider this course, we are using multiple tools in the assignments (viewing through videos, reading texts, commending on blogs, and so on) and generally coming together on the forums. As such it would appear that the pedagogical led to the selection of the different technologies to achieve its aims.

However, if a particular technology, intended for education use of not (i.e. YouTube) provides a better way to deliver material, it could lead to affecting the popularity of particular pedagogical approaches (possibly constructivism in this sense).

I see the role of intentional educational technologies therefore as ‘plugging the gaps,’ or looking for ways to improve what is being done currently. This creates a cycle of educational and technological development as the pedagogies respond (catch up) to the technologies and the technologies in turn continue to attempt to improve the pedagogies.

I have responded more fully to the questions on my blog here.