Tag: EDCI569

Reflection of Online Learning

We have discussed and considered online learning options during this course and have had some really insightful conversations. I have generally been really pleased with my online learning experiences. Courses are engaging, lively and these experiences are helpful when living in an isolated community.

In general, online learning provides students with more options for their education, and creates new learning environments connecting people all over the world.

It is difficult to know where education will take us in the future, because new technologies are evolving so quickly, we often loose track. Online educational platforms are being constructed to maximize students learning potential at an unprecedented rate. Even still there are lots of things to consider when exploring online learning options. I have gone through my notes on online learning throughout the course and have compiled some points on both the benefits and disadvantages when considering online learning options.

The benefits of online learning:

Flexibility- online learning supports students who don’t often fit the norms of standardized education. It can also allow students to catch up on coursework or take courses that may otherwise not be offered. In addition, online learning provides students with a safe place to explore social interactions.

Accessibility- while online learning is not yet providing accessibility for all, it is moving education in a positive direction, especially for those who are not physically able to attend schools in person.  Online courses also allow students to access course material any time. Students are able to refer to material as they need it and refer back to course information and concepts.

Experience- Students can gain valuable insights and online learning offers students opportunities to learn with other learners as well as instructors and guests from different disciplines.

Opportunity- online learning can provide students with the means to personalize their learning, creating unlimited options for learning and should be used as a supplementary or add on, not replacing something that already exists. Online learning options also provide students with more ownership in their learning. It can also provide students with valuable skills to take ed-tech and their valuable skills into the real world.

More opportunity-online learning can also mean more options for coursework in a variety of disciplines. Online courses can provide students with options for equivalently weighted courses offered at educational institutions that are face-to-face classes. In addition, students are provided with opportunities to learn course content from instructors who are highly experienced in their discipline.

The potential disadvantages of online learning:

Student motivation- the level of motivation may be affected by students participating in online course work. Many students choose online learning as an alternative option to high school if conventional schooling has not been a fit. In addition, online learning requires a great deal of self-discipline, as students need to work out time management and organization skills in order to stay on top of their work and ensure they have enough time to complete assignments.

Self regulation- often these skills are lacking, students leave work until the last minute. Students often feel disconnected as they are not interacting with their professors and colleagues face-to-face. Often this idea of not meeting face-to-face can be underestimated and the impact can mean that building relationships with your instructor and classmates require more effort in this online learning environment.

Standards- its hard to say whether the standards are similar from one online institution to another. In addition, when considering options for online learning, it is important to consider whether a program is accredited and recognized by credible universities or colleges.

Accessibility- When thinking about online learning access plays a huge part. While online learning is flexible and provides access to learning, it does not alleviate the issue of access for all. It presumes that everyone has a computer and access to the internet. It also does not guarantee that everyone is familiar with the platform chosen for the course. To further think about access, most schools are not equipped to support students who are participating in distance ed. Furthermore, schools that promote many online platforms for learning do not have alternate options for students who do not have access to technology or whose parents choose for their children not to participate.

Risk- What are the risks of online learning for students? Online courses lack opportunities for hands on learning, which can make reinforcing concepts for students who require practical applications. Online learning also makes us think about the basic needs that are lacking for many students. It does not address basic needs such as nutrition or even additional services that students often can access on campus such as mental health services.

Regardless of whether you are a proponent of online learning options or not, online learning provides students with the autonomy to choose what their learning experience will involve, promotes many transferable skills and narrows the gap of accessibility. While there is still more work to be done in terms of fully addressing accessibility, online learning is a stepping stone in the right direction to see education made more accessible for all.

Comments from the CBC Podcast

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/spark/spark-guide-to-life-google-for-education-1.4806191

Our ed camp discussions focused around the security and privacy of online learning and some of the challenges facing both students and educators. While teachers are encouraged to use technology in their everyday teaching practice, there are some real challenges with upholding the security and privacy for all students. As we discussed, there are often not many alternate options to support families who are reluctant to embrace certain platforms.

It seems that there are many assumptions made around using technology for education these days. Technology should improve and enhance student learning, not replace what is currently being used. As I discovered through this podcast, Google for Education is finding its place in education, however growing concerns around privacy and security appear to be at the forefront of this conversation.

The general worries around technology and security, (establishing informed consent) so that students can use platforms such as Google for Education, lead to misunderstandings around information sharing. While Google for Education appears to be the current trend, this idea that technology bridges the divide among people, by creating greater access, it can actually have the reverse effects when it comes to concerns with privacy and security. Parents have to provide consent for their students use, however as one parent noted, there is often nothing to replace tech options, so if you choose to opt out you are willingly putting your student at a disadvantage.

While in our group discussions it did not appear to be a huge concern, it is still a consideration. While the number of students not allowed to use these platforms are few, it begs the question of what we use in exchange? In addition to general concerns that parents have around information sharing and privacy, these online platforms also lend themselves to greater concerns around online etiquette that needs to be taught prior to using any of these platforms. Our discussions led us into talking about the potential for online cyber bullying and the need for online etiquette to be pre-taught as well as the appropriate measures needed to monitor online platforms.

One example provided for group discussion, that came up was the Whats App, which allows students to participate in group chats, while their teachers can also be included to monitor the discussions and ensure that conversations are about the content and respectful.

Google for education premises their products as offering students with an opportunity to collaborate, communicate, explore their creativity as well as gain critical thinking skills. Ed-Tech should enhance student learning or provide something that is not already in place. Using Ed- Tech in the classroom is incredibly valuable, especially when we can offer students exposure to tools that will be relevant to them later on in the work force. Using technology and  collaborating in a meaningful way, prepares our students for the future and real world applications they may require in their careers.

The podcast went on to address the worries that parents have about their children spending too much time on screens. Google for education would argue that its more about the quality of how the time is spent online. For example, students may be encouraged to read more news online, or collaborate and communicate through various forms of social media or social gaming. Their thoughts are that students may in fact become better communicators because of technology.  While I have seen some improvements in many of students have opportunities to practice their reading in ways that are perhaps more engaging (through online books), I personally am not buying the communication piece. While students do have opportunities to engage socially in online gaming, I do not feel this is adequately equipping them for real life experiences and everyday social interactions. It may in fact be hindering their ability to have face-to-face conversations.  General access to technology is so broad, its really hard to manage both at school and home, and further determine if communication and collaboration are happening in meaningful ways online.

Having said this, the power of collaboration is a wonderful thing, especially if it is used to make meaningful connections. The Podcast drew upon a wonderful example of a teacher that used her connections to communicate with a teacher in South Korea. She was able to do an impromptu lesson via video conferencing / Skyping and was able to share experiences and communicate with one another from the other side of the globe.

There are lots of ed-tech options out there that allow us to connect with others and make information more accessible, however we have to be aware of how that information will be protected. FOIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) is in place to protect the privacy and security of personal information, and its important for educators to explore social platforms that are supported by these laws especially when considering where this information will go, long after we are done using it.

It is difficult to know what might happen to data in the future? Information can accumulate over time through schools (especially if you are using a platform for reporting and information sharing such as Fresh Grade).

As we discussed in our group chat it is vital to use a social/ educational platform that does not infringe on FOIPPA and even better to find a platform that is local, as to ensure that vital information is stored in Canada and not in the U.S.

The experts argue that while you should know about how your child’s information is going to be used, collected and disclosed, most people get hung up in the rhetoric of privacy and security.  They argue that it is a level of “misinformed hysteria” of individuals information being shared. While some may argue that student personal information is going to be meaningless to others (the FBI for example), others feel very unsettled knowing that their information is floating around .

Either way, as long as parents are given the appropriate information and education to make informed decisions for their students, the rest is really preference and comfort level. As educators who are encouraged to use technology to its fullest, support needs to be provided around alternate options for students, who may choose to not participate and have their information shared.  On the flip side these platforms provide today’s teachers with dynamic opportunities to teach and make learning more engaging and collaborative through a shared network.

Thoughts on Module 4

Thoughts from the readings of January 14th

Knox, J. (2019). What Does the ‘Post digital ‘Mean for Education? Three Critical Perspectives on the Digital, with Implications for Educational Research and Practice. Post digital Science and Education.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-019-00045-y

“The post digital might be usefully developed as an alternative view of human-technology relationships, and one that challenges common sense ideas about the sequential progress of technology, which tend to limit responses to either an embracing of futuristic technological enhancement, or the desire for a sentimental return to a more ‘natural’ existence.”

I wonder what would happen if we lost access to much of the technologies we have today?

Would we fall apart both professionally and personally?

Have we created an unnecessary reliance on the technologies used today?

Is technology considered essential to our existence?

How does technology effect our educational experience?

The idea of using technology, (regardless of the capacity) should make things easier to do, or enhance the quality of our education.  Technology should be used as an “add- on” enhancing what we are already doing, not replacing something already. I often wonder if technology is being used for the sake of, rather than used in a meaningful way to enhance the learning experience and promote a greater level of understanding?

“propelling humanity towards social equality, or as a dehumanizing force, set to rob individuals and communities of authentic life experience?”

While the idea that digital technology should bring people together, and narrow the gap in terms of access to education, it appears in many ways to create a greater divide and highlight the inequalities that still exist within education.

Caines, A., & Glass, E. (2019, Fall). Education before Regulation: Empowering Students to Question Their Data Privacy. EDUCAUSE Review, 54 (4). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/10/education-before-regulation-empowering-students-to-question-their-data-privacy

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

“If students want to participate in standard educational activities, they often have little opportunity for real choice or consent around what data is collected. Additionally, once the data is collected, students have little visibility into how that data will be leveraged, monetized, or exposed later on.”

I think students often don’t think about how their data is collected, and most parents are likely unaware as well.  There are consents required for students to participate, however it is questionable how much of what parents are signing off on, they truly understand, recognizing that their participation is voluntary. Schools have a responsibility to educate students around technology, especially if they are going to use it. Part of that education needs to be around awareness and the protection of privacy, while also teaching students about the value of data collection, I think we should be able to have both. In addition to learning about appropriate usage, should also include learning about online etiquette, so that all participants understand their moral obligation to be both ethical and respectful online.

“We believe that the classroom might be leveraged as a powerful site to raise student awareness about the complex struggles occurring with data privacy.”

I think we have an obligation to teach students about safety and privacy of information pertaining to the use of technology within the educational setting. I do worry that we might scare students about the issues of privacy if not careful. The article suggests an approach which includes a statement within your course syllabus that invites students to consider their data privacy and to further discuss concerns with their instructors or other campus members. While I think this is a good start, we do want to caution students, and not scare them.  Engaging in conversations around these issues is a great start and hopefully will lead to greater problem solving around data privacy.

Some questions to ponder further:

How are social networks used for educational purposes being responsible for the collection and safeguarding of information so that they aren’t infringing on FOIIPA?

How do educators know which social networks are safe to use? I tend to follow the lead of our I.T. department, but ultimately how do we know which are truly secure?

What do these social platforms mean for educators today? (Example: who is seeing it? What standards are being set? Who is monitoring these systems? What kinds of pressure is this putting on educators?

How much pressure is put on teachers to use social networks for home/ school communication or in general?

How much pressure are schools putting on families to access these platforms? Especially when looking at those marginalized groups? How are they accessing information?

Who is responsible for closing the gap for marginalized community groups?

How do we create a mutually agreed upon online space where everyone can participate?

Open Education- What does the future of ed- tech hold?

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.

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