This week I am going to highlight a few things from each article that really stood out and resonated with me as well as some questions for further considerations. Having spent most of my time in Special Education, both teaching in the classroom as well as working as a Learning Service Teacher and not having had as much experience with using technology to its fullest potential I often find it more challenging to connect with the material. However, I felt like I could really connect with the material this week.
Neil Selwyn, Thomas Hillman, Rebecca Eynon, Giselle Ferreira, Jeremy Knox, Felicitas Macgilchrist & Juana M. Sancho- Gil (2019): What’s next for Ed-Tech? Critical hopes and concerns for the 2020’s, Learning, Media and Technology. https:// doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2020.1694945
“Schools around the world continue to face deficiencies in resourcing, significant inequalities of educational opportunity, alongside poor-quality teaching, curriculum and school organization.”
One would hope that Ed-Tech will be able to support and extinguish some of these disparities, making education more attainable for those who lack opportunities to engage with it, but even still we face many challenges when looking at education and technology in the future.
This article looks at the inequalities in the ways that people use and access technology both informally and formally.
“While the technologies are fast changing and these explanatory models are increasingly sophisticated, the basic message remains the same. Those individuals who are well-resourced and have strong educational backgrounds are likely to benefit the most from digital education.”
This is a challenge for me having spent most of my teaching career in Special Education. This idea that technology should make things inherently “easier” is not the case when the access to technology is not equitable. The increased use of technology I have seen in the schools in my district, however increasing the amount of technology used in school has little or no effect on the access of technology available in marginalized homes.
“To date, policy makers have tried to ‘fix’ these problems by focusing on improving technology access in schools and homes and/ or supporting the development of digital skills.”
Our district has thought about installing kiosks in each school so that technology such as (I pads, laptops and computer stations) are accessible to all. This idea was thought of to encourage families that do not have access to technology at home to come in and use the kiosk to look at student work on fresh grade (as an example). This does not address the socioeconomic, systemic and historical disparities which has kept much of the marginalized population out of the education system in the first place. I don’t currently see this solving anything.
“Initiatives that focus on access and skills are likely to remain an ‘easy’ way for policy makers to signal that they are ‘dealing with’ inequality. Instead, the 2020’s need to be a decade when researchers spearhead a change of approach.”
Questions for further consideration:
When does inclusion exclude?
Who is responsible for making technology in education accessible for all students?
How do we address the inequalities in these wider social structures?
How should we be preparing ourselves for the ed- tech that is still to come?
In addition, the article also speaks to the responsibility of establishing a digital society that is sustainable. In the past, digital technologies have been used in excess. The level of consumption and discard is overwhelming, and this is all so true in schools. We see education come and go, like fads and trends. We often get excited about the “next best thing” and educators are often pressured to keep up with the new and ever evolving technologies, however due to budget restraints, schools often find themselves without technology or worse… teachers start to feel proficient in using new technology and before you know it, it is replaced with something else.
“Digital technologies have been excessively consumed and discarded over the past 20 years in the name of education ‘innovation’.
The environmental and ethical impact of digital technology is completely overwhelming. Where do all the old technologies in districts go to die? I am sure there are rooms in every district littered with debris that once was “the next best thing” in school technology. I can appreciate the authors thoughts on these considerations. As part of the planning process, thinking about what ed-tech could look like in the next 10-20 years we really do need to consider how we might adopt more mindful approaches in how we and what we select for digital technology, looking more at the big picture and considering the long-term effects of unnecessary over consumption.
Stephen Downes, Digital Technologies Research Centre National Research Council, Canada.
The article from the International Journal of Open Educational Resources, written by Stephen Downes addresses the consequences when looking at the future of open educational resources. He discusses how the flow or process of information transmission will change through open ed. The previous format of information transmission was from the producer to the consumer. When we now look at open ed, the model will work more as a tool for consumers to use as a means of creating their own content, which they can then consume or use/ share with other consumers.
Through the ever-changing format of open ed, the development can focus on what is required or necessary in that moment in time.
“Developers are now able to use live data for real-world applications, or local or downloaded data for training or for simulations.”
The learning becomes more relevant because it connects learners to real-world applications and experiences. Learning though open-ed therefore becomes less about information transmission and more about learning process and the practical application. I appreciate this shift when we think about learners and meta cognition. We know that students learn best when they can explore and connect with ideas and materials and create their own meaning.
Other questions for further consideration:
I am curious to see what impact open education and the assisted learning design systems that Stephen Downes talks about will have on teachers and their practice?
I wonder if assisted learning design will lead to students having more options to demonstrate their learning through greater means of expression (varied learning styles)?
I am curious about this, because while I am not as comfortable with technology, I do look to differentiate as much of my teaching as possible to allow students to engage and connect with the material I am presenting but also allow for multiple means to explore and demonstrate their learning through varied learning styles. I would hope that AL will lend itself to more flexibility.