We are about halfway through this audio book club project now that chapter 12 is out. In this bonus episode of “Between the Chapters” Martin, Clint, and I take a pause to get meta — it’s a podcast about the podcast. We share about our audio labour of love, specifically as we discover what it means to augment text to audio and how to share an aural history of ed tech through these episodic personal/professional reflections.
Consuming information online is no more than a click, scroll, or swipe these days. All searches are not created equal and rarely do we think about fact checking what we find on the Internet. I am not alone in thinking about how “…the Internet is actually changing the way we read the way we reason, and even the way we think, and all for the worse” (The Death of Expertise, Nicols, 2017, p. 111). In higher education, I think it is imperative we teach our learners and colleagues about what it means to participate and interact in digital spaces and places. How can our institutions help students, staff, and faculty “be” online and consider how both information and digital environments impact knowledge sharing and learning?
Definition: Digital Literacy and Information Fluency
Digital literacy is multifaceted. The New Media Consortium provided a Digital Literacy Strategic Brief (Alexander, Adams Becker, & Cummins, 2016) to identify the role policy, practice, and curriculum can have on all facets of our campus. Alexander et al. (2016, p.1) defines digital literacy as “not just understanding how a tool works but also why it is useful in the real world and when to use it.” To improve our practices for improving this literacy we need to think broadly about strategic planning and the creation of standards at our campus. There are new opportunities to encourage learners to become content and media producers, identify technical competencies for the workforce with industry-education partnerships, and develop smart collaborations within the community entities, such as governments, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage organizations. This report offers insights across universal literacy, creative literacy, and literacy across disciplines by offering exemplars in practice at institutions that include digital literacy in program and curriculum design.
Beyond digital competencies, we need to develop media and information fluency in higher education. The Association of College and Research Libraries (2016) has updated their literacy competency standards by developing a Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education to offer guidance “to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” Scholarly inquiry requires analyzing information for credibility and understanding if an online resource is primary, secondary or irrelevant. Information is constructed in context to digital environments and is often created as a process of knowing, reflection, editing, and production online. Beyond this, the Institute of Museum and Library Services are offering suggestions for data information literacy to help us understand how we manage, curate, and design curriculum around data and information. To encourage both digital prowess and information awareness online, we need to develop skills around: outline critical thinking for research, encourage digital teaming, and identify privacy, security and data issues online.
Critical Thinking and Online Research
Much of what we want our students, and perhaps colleagues, to develop is a technical competency with information management in the digital realm. Digital literacy and information fluency help us improve our understanding and acquisition of knowledge to move beyond the #FakeNews fallacies and make meaning of what we are learning. In seeing how fast information travels with inaccurate content, I often wonder if my learners understand how the Internet works? Part of our responsibility, as educators, is to teach effective search processes online, to investigate databases, and examine scholarly repositories with our students and co-authors.
Part of being a member of a college or university community is the opportunity for discussion and discourse among peers. Scholarly inquiry and debate cannot and should not happen in a vacuum. Learning experiences should offer ways to evaluate information and to participate in civic online reasoning helps our learners beyond course discussions, class activities, and assigned projects. With the advent of the social web and networked communication platforms, there is an increasing opportunity to gather virtual teams or to support distributed group work. How can you enhance distributed collaboration for learners and support your peers online?
The new social learning helps us “join with others to make sense of and create new ideas…[it] is augmented with social media tools that bridge distance and time, enabling people to easily interact across the workplace, passion, curiosity, skill or need. It benefits from a diversity in types of intelligence and in the experiences of those learning” (Bingham & Connor, 2015, p.8). These digital environments need to be woven into our pedagogical considerations learning design and considered in context to support virtual teaming among scholars. Much of the creative problem solving, production development, and final products for learners can be self-directed via peers online. Some examples, I have used in practice and for instruction include shared documents for education, planning virtual group meetings, supporting hashtags for learning, and offering on-demand, online office hours. There are many ways to learn and work from a distance – decide what your purpose or goal is first, and then explore what digital platforms to use.
Digital Privacy, Security, and Data
To further this notion, we need to consider how we thrive in the digital age and this should start at our colleges and universities. The US Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity put out a Report on Securing and Growing the Digital Economy. As human behavior and technology are intertwined, it will be vital to secure our technologies, processes, and products online. As we “live” online and continue to get hacked online, we need to identify how we will operate in digital spaces and also prepare cybersecurity workforce capabilities online as outlined in this report. Higher education IT colleagues are continually thinking about ways to respond to cybersecurity attacks; however, prevention and awareness among campus stakeholders should be priorities at our institutions. I often have my students and peers think deeper about their privacy and security online by introducing them to ideas shared by WNYC’s Note To Self: Privacy Paradox 5-part series and the Privacy Paradox tip sheet, specifically to have all understand how to protect personal information and perhaps to take control back of their shared personal data online. Beyond this short course, I often encourage colleagues and students to read recent news reports, or listen to podcasts, such as CBC Spark and Reply-All, to prompt discussions about current issues and events that apply to their own digital life to ask more about their own Terms of Service.
In @BreakDrink episode no. 5, we chatted about LOADS of things related to our assumptions about access, policies, and practices in have higher education, specifically with regards to technology and learning. Last year for 2016 #OLCInnovate, I invited Chris Gilliard to share his work on Digital Redlining for a short “Ignite-like” talk. Why do we assume everyone has access to the Internet? Or a device? Or access to the same digital learning resources? What do we know or care about privacy and our data? Thanks for joining us to podcast on the topic, Chris. We suspect you’ll be back to chat more with us sometime about similar issues… and anime, of course
Here are a few show notes, ideas, and resources shared in @BreakDrink episode no. 5 with Chris:
What do YOU know about the Internet?Does your institution block certain searches or key search terms in search OR sites? Is your institution “watching” or monitoring what is being accessed AND do you know what you’re not getting?
With so many possibilities for digital learning, selecting media and technologies for appropriate course instruction is a very complex process. Although there are a wide range of options in the ed tech realm, pedagogical considerations should always come first. Instructors should reflect on the learning objective and desired outcomes for their subject matter before identifying technological applications for the course.
The SECTIONS model, developed by Tony Bates (2015), is a pedagogical framework for determining what technology, specifically how this technology will be appropriate for instructional approaches. This might include identifying and determining pedagogical characteristics of text, audio, video, computing, and social media. With this framework, Bates (2015) asks five critical questions for teaching and learning for technology and media selection:
Who are the learners?
What are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
What instructional strategies will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
What are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
What resources are available?
In thinking about the interplay of technology and learning, higher education courses will need to consider how this design process is developed. In this book chapter, Bates shared an alternative approach to the ADDIE model for instructional design – Learning + Technology Development Process Model (Hibbitts & Travin, 2015).
Regardless of the model for learning design, it will be important to assess how technology will impact the pedagogy. The SECTIONS modelis an effective framework to best inform instructors when deciding what media or technology to use for face-to-face, online or blended learning courses:
Ease of use
Teaching functions (including the affordances of different media)
Security and privacy
I would encourage you to utilize Bates’ (2015) Questions to Guide Media Selection and Use, to support your learning design when consider technology adoption for teaching. This open, shared educational resource will provide you with a broader reflection on issues and considerations for your digital pedagogy. Here is an abbreviated checklist for selecting technologies for learning I adopted for a learning module. It was developed for faculty who would like to consider the broader issues for teaching with technology, and how to navigate this course planning process for digital/media inclusions.
Checklist: Selecting Technology for Learning
Review accessibility mandate or policy of your institution, department or program.
Determine demographics of the students and appropriateness of technology.
Consider student access to technologies, both off campus and on campus.
Determine digital skills and digital readiness of your students with learning expectations.
Justify students purchases of a new technology component (if needed) for learning.
Assess prior learning approaches & how technology can support student learning.
EASE OF USE
Select the technology for ease of use by instructor and students.
Identify technology that is reliable for teaching and learning.
Verify the technology set up, maintenance and upgrade are simple.
Confirm the technology provider/company is stable to support hardware or software use.
Outline strategies to secure any digital teaching materials you create should the organization providing the software or service cease to exist.
Locate technical & professional support, both in terms of the technology and with respect to the design of materials.
Determine technologies to best support edits and updates of learning materials.
Outline how the new technology will change teaching with to get better results
Assess risks and potential challenges for using this technology for teaching and learning.
COST & YOUR TIME
Consider media selection by the length of time and ease of use during course development.
Factor the time it takes to prepare lectures, and determine if development of digital learning materials will save time and encourage interaction with students (online and/or face-to-face).
Investigate if there is extra funding for innovative teaching or technology applications; if so, determine how to best use that funding for learning technologies.
Assess the local support from your institution from instructional designers and media professionals for media design and development.
Identify open educational resources for the course, e.g. an open textbook, online videos, library page of articles, or other potential open educational resources.
TEACHING & LEARNING FACTORS
Determine the desired learning outcomes from the teaching in terms of content and skills.
Design instructional strategies to facilitate the learning outcomes.
Outline unique pedagogical characteristics appropriate for this course, in terms of content presentation and skill development, specifically for:
Textbook, readings, or other online text materials;
Audio, such as podcasts, streaming audio from news, etc.;
Video, such as slide presentations, lectures, tutorials, and screencasts; and
Social media, such as blogs, wikis, microblogs, photo sharing, curation, etc.
Plan learning aspects that must be face-to-face (in-person or online).
Identify the skills for development and interactions that are most to determine the best type of media or technology to facilitate this learning.
Determine the kinds of kinds of interaction to produce a good balance between student comprehension and student skills development.
Estimate the amount of time the instructor will be interacting personally or online with students, and the type of medium for this interaction.
Determine institutional support in choosing and using media or technology for teaching.
Identify if the institutional support is easily accessible, helpful, and will meet the needs for the learning technologies for the course.
Determine if there is funding available to “buy me out” for a semester and/or to fund a teaching assistance/support to concentrate on designing a new course or revising an existing course.
Locate institutional funding or resources for any learning technology or media production.
Review the standard technologies, practices and procedures for teaching and learning, to verify requirements for utilizing institutional technology resources, i.e. the learning management system, lecture capture system, etc.
Determine if the institution will support trying a new technological approach to learning, and will support innovative media or digital design.
Outline the importance for learners to network beyond a course, i.e. with subject specialists, professionals in the field, and relevant people in the community.
Identify how the course or student learning can benefit from networking and learning from external connections.
Determine the appropriate network and/or social media space to integrate for your learners to network with each other and connect with external community members.
Integrate these networking mediums with standard course technology.
Delegate responsibility for its design and/or administration to students or learners.
SECURITY AND PRIVACY
Determine the student information you are obliged to keep private and secure.
Identify the institutional policies for security and privacy for teaching & learning.
Outline potential risks and challenges of using a particular technology where institutional policies concerning privacy could easily be breached.
Identify who at your institution could best advise you on security and privacy concerns, with regards to learning and teaching technologies.
Itemize the areas of teaching and learning, if any, available only to students registered in the course.
Identify the types of technologies to best restrict or limit access to course materials (if any) for my registered students.
At the #DETAsummit a wide variety of folks gathered with interest to discuss what research should look like for technology and distance education. Looking around the room, it was like a tweet up of all online learning levels of support, instruction, development, planning, and research from around the US. The focus of the meeting was to work on the DETA Yea 1 goal: Develop a research model.
In facilitating one of the many round tables discussions, our group swapped ideas about potential research questions that should be asked, common definitions under the distance education umbrella, standard variables to measure, known frameworks for inquiry, and shared models being used for online/blended learning assessment. Although we were only given about 3 hours in total, I think the entire room was buzzing with ideas and wanted to continue talking. The conversations were driven to list our top choices on large post-its and vote on top our top choices after seeing what other groups discussed [See post-it voting from my Flickr album]. For the short amount of time, I think the #DETAsummit was a very productive, and we managed to gain some broader insight into what a research model could look like. With a mixed participant list, there were insights and questions from varying perspectives and it was rather REFRESHING.
Based on the small group discussions and voting process, the research questions selected are:
What are the definitions of success from student’s perspective? | 33 | Wicked Hop
What patterns of behavior lead to increased student learning for different populations? | 26 | Safehouse
What are the different design components (content, interactivity, assessments) that impact student learning? | 29 | Rochambo
How can we define and measure student success beyond traditional outcomes (learning and competency)? | 25 | Benelux
If you are interested in distance education research (e.g. online learning, blended learning, hybrid pedagogy, etc.) I would suggest digging into the conversation and resources from the #DETAsummit. The DETA group is very open and transparent with their development process, as you can find our discussion notes shared in Collaborative Google Docs, listen/view the G+ Hangout Recording, and check out the Presentation Slides that give an overview of the day.
Congratulations to the DETA Team (who I now call the #DETAdivas) on a successful start to the work you have ahead. I look forward to following along with your progress on the grant, learning how your group utilize these research questions, and, hopefully, contributing to a better way to measure/assess online and blended learning.