Exploring Open Learning
As much as we hear that technology is always changing, I did feel that the overall theme of the reading for this week demonstrated that technology and education might not be adapting as quickly as we might think. This can be a huge issue and frustration for many educators and school districts as are looking for immediate results and want change quickly, however change can be difficult and when your looking at the use of technology in education, its important that both technologies and educational practices compliment each other. In addition, its also vital that time be given to practice using new technologies, analyze and reflect on its usage to determine its potential (both how appropriate it is in supporting our learners and how effective it is in enhancing the overall learning experience.) One frustration I often have, is seeing technology used for the sake of using technology and not evaluating how the technology enhances the learning experience. If the technology doesn’t make learning more fun, engaging, accessible or effective- what is the point?
Despite the fact that I graduated from teachers training in 2005, I am not as familiar with using a lot of technology that is out there to support learners. I am familiar with the obvious tech that our district has promoted such as the use of Ozobots and Spheros which are used to teach coding skills, however I feel really removed from so many of the other ways technology is incorporated into everyday teaching practices. In particular when we explored the use of Social Media during our summer course. I was honestly, completely oblivious to the fact that both high schools and universities would be using social media services such as Facebook and Twitter as a way to connect students to the greater school community and their professors.
Weller points out that social media has both negative and positive effects on education. While Facebook and Twitter can be used to allow students and educators to connect and communicate in ways that have not been previously explored, many of these social media platforms are used for other means other than communication. They are often end up being chains for communication that can easily misinform or twist information as well as present an outlet for people to breed negativity about a particular subject. What bothers me the most about exposing or encouraging young people to use these platforms as a way to communicate, is that they are young and vulnerable and I worry about the perceptions that many students have, especially with famous figures, influence-rs etc. that are portraying particular lifestyles or painting a picture that is not reality, therefore causing unnecessary pressure on young people to feel that they need to be more, that they are not enough. This is a huge problem.
While we do provide education to support our students to learn how to safely navigate the internet and stray away from negative figures, bullies etc. Much more needs to be done to support preventative measures. Students don’t need lessons on navigating social media, they can teach us a thing or two, but rather how to protect themselves while engaging in social media.
I do however like the idea of using Blogs for educational purposes. I could see using blogs with older students to document thoughts, ideas, explore questions and curiosities with others. I could see this being an effective practice to use to for novel studies or perhaps for a Social Studies unit, to have students reflect on content and share with one another. Having said this, I am not really sure how much reflection takes place after a course is over. I can’t see myself going back and further reflecting. In the context of our courses, it is helpful however for the purpose of curating ideas, thoughts and overall themes covered.
There have been many technologies that have come and gone, in one minute and then out the next, or built up so much that by the time schools have the money to implement these technologies district wide, the tech has changed and we are on to the “next best thing”. While these technologies seem encouraging, they too change with the evolving teaching practices, curriculum and overall methodologies.
- Weller, M. (2018, August). Twenty Years of Edtech. EDUCAUSE Review, 53(4). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/7/twenty-years-of-edtech
- Zawacki-Richter, O., & Naidu, S. (2016). Mapping research trends from 35 years of publications in Distance Education. Distance Education, 37(3), 245–269. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2016.1185079