Journal

Journal # 1-Pidp 3240 Media Enhanced Learning

The point here is not that online learning is better but just that it is here.

Objective Questions

In Teaching Naked Jose Antonio Bowen explores the changing face of adult education. He boldly states that the “New classroom is a flat-screen.”(Bowen, 2012, p. 3) Bowen repeatedly compares the current state of mainstream educational institutions to the Detroit car empire just prior to its collapse.  The exponential increase in the availability of online educational content and online learning communities and in the interactive ways that that content can be delivered has not really affected the way that many institutions deliver content.  Many institutions are not taking a proactive approach to an evolving educational market and are instead quite comfortable with a system of delivery that has served them well for a long time. Much as the Detroit car-empire suffered from a lack of insight as to its global position and potential exposure, mainstream educational institutions are dangerously complacent and unaware of what the drivers of educational marketplace needs are.

A large global market wants cheap, high-quality, online education, and American students increasingly want more flexibility and convenient schedules.  Someone will meet that demand.  American not-for-profit higher education needs to adjust to meet this new competition.(Bowen, 2012, p.9)

In 2010 some 6.1 million American students were taking at least one college course that was delivered at least 80% online. (Bowen, 2012, p.12).  The British Columbia Institute of Technology, where I am an Instructor offers some 364 online courses. I am actually receiving training from BCIT on how to use Desire2Learn as part of the way I deliver curriculum. http://www.desire2learn.com/   Desire2Learn is a way to deliver curriculum in an online and interactive format. It bears some similarities to a Moodle but provides a different way to interact with the content and students.

Reflective Questions

My response to Teaching Naked is a complicated one.  As a female electrician and mother I am very drawn to the idea of making education accessible and egalitarian. The flexibility of on-line content and instruction are greatly appealing to those of us with demanding schedules and conflicting responsibilities.  The presentation of online content is egalitarian and non-intimidating and as such much more accessible to the socially and economically disadvantaged.  I also frequently use on-line technology and communities as a resource in my work as an electrician.  As an instructor I have to take a considered approach.

I am concerned about having a lack of face-time with students, especially when teaching skills involving manual dexterity and wiring methods.  There is often industry and governmental pressure to reduce and even dumb down the level of training for electricians.  It is a grave concern that under-trained and under-qualified electricians may make decisions that will affect life-safety and property.  In an effort to modernize and compete it is possible that important curriculum content will be lost.

There is also the affective domain to consider, I am preparing students to work, to be self-confidant and reliant, to be able to work hard and to be able to understand what un-safe work is and to refuse it. I am unsure how to communicate that in a digital format.

When I took PIDP 3100, Foundations of Adult Education I was particularly drawn to the learning theory Situated Cognition.  I liked its’ direct relationship to the apprenticeship structure and the idea of learning communities.  I wonder how these learning theories and even apprenticeship structures will evolve with technology.

 

Interpretive Questions

The writing is writ large on the wall, change is coming, change is here, we must respond to it.  Will there even be in-class instruction in the future?  What will my role as an instructor be? How can I make technology contribute to the classroom environment rather than distract from it? How do I properly vet information from the Web as to its accuracy and relevance?  When I consider Situated Cognition I wonder what my classroom will be like in the future.

(1) Learning and thinking are generally social activities, (2) thinking and learning abilities “are profoundly structured by the availability of situationally provided “tools”, and (3) thinking is influenced by interaction with the setting in which learning takes place (Wilson,1993b, as cited in Merriam and Brockett, 2007, p. 156)

It is evident that technology is going to shape not only the way that curriculum is delivered but also the content.  The classroom will be much more fluid and interactive.  The electricians that I train will go into the work place with new skills and new attitudes.

Decisional Questions

I have already made steps to incorporate new learning technologies into the classroom.  The use of tablets, laptops and smartphones is fine.  My classes have Facebook groups where we share resources, class memories, announcements and homework sheets. These Facebook groups will act as a tremendous resource for the students and me even after our class is officially over.

I am beginning to build my own Desire2Learn course content.  It seems natural to bring the technology that I used in the field into the classroom.  I am also tremendously excited about the idea of trades’ job training being available to the under-resourced and disadvantaged.  It is important that that technology help engagement and connection with curriculum rather than acting as a distraction.  I know that the classroom environment is evolving and that I have to change.  If I make that change in a thoughtful and considered matter I will have the chance to evaluate the interaction of technology and the classroom.  I will have the opportunity to be proactive.  I want my students to be competent electricians and good workers. I want them to be able to use their strengths and abilities to improve their lives and forge good careers.  In a time of great change I feel a great sense of responsibility to make informed and proactive choices. The other instructors in my faculty have been a tremendous resource for helping keep me informed about new technologies that are available. I also continue to work occasionally as an electrician on jobsites which helps keep me appraised of new technologies and their application in the field.

 References

Bowen, Jose Antonio, 2012, Teaching Naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. & Brockett R, 2007, The profession and practice of adult education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Online:

Retrieved from http://www.bcit.ca/study/courses/list?ct=&n=&l=5&t=0 on May 7th, 2014

 

 

 

 

Journal # 2- Media Enhanced Learning

In the workplace, the ability to evaluate the reliability of information and know how to use it is more important than where the information comes from

 

Objective Questions

As a Service Electrician operating in diverse and complex environments I became accustomed to using the Internet and On-line resources such as Electrical Help Forums to help me with work-place challenges.  Moving into a new role as an instructor at BCIT I found myself often surprised by the lack of integration of new technology and learning techniques into the classroom. In “Teaching Naked” Jose Antonio Bowen speaks to the fluid and interactive nature of today’s workplaces and classrooms. Rote memorization is much less important, with information being only a click or swipe away.

The Internet is also redefining cheating. With so much information available, both good and bad, why is it cheating to use the Internet to find information you need on a test?  In the workplace, the ability to evaluate the reliability of information and know how to use it is more important than where the information comes from.”  (Bowen, p178)

This speaks to me of a learning environment where information is freely available, not necessarily memorized and the role of the instructor is to help students to access, evaluate, analyze and prioritize data.

 

Reflective Questions

My immediate response is to like this paradigm shift, from rote learning and memorization to freely using available resources, much as I have done in my working life as an electrician.  Why not use on-line forums, smart-phone applications, manufacturer’s manuals and pdfs to come up with ideas, code rules and solutions?  Then I think of some of the struggles that I have had as an electrician, with some 17 years of experience, in assessing the value of information available on-line.  In order to be a functional electrician one must assimilate and organize a vast amount of information about wiring methods, Canadian Electrical Code, physics and common trade practices.  Is it possible to accurately assess the vast quantity of data and opinions available on the Internet without familiarization, memorization and internalization of principles?  It would involve a different type of instruction and evaluation, with an evolved and evolving relationship with technology, education is different from simple interaction with technology in that it shifts the focus from thinking about computers in education as a form of a media delivery device to that of a communication tool in an authentic setting for learning.(p266. Steinbronn & Meredith)

My main focus as an instructor has been to prepare my students to learn in the workplace.   The scope of the electrical industry is vast; with some 27,383 electrical parts listed on the electrical wholesaler Thomas and Bett’s website and dozens of different wiring methods; it encompasses high and medium voltage transmission, low-voltage residential and commercial wiring and extra-low voltage communication, security and human-machine interfaces.  Will technology and my students’ captivation with that technology help or hinder them in their ability to function in the classroom and the workplace?

 

 

Interpretive Questions

Some of the hardest tests for Electrical Apprentices are open book.  They will have current copies of the Canadian Electrical Code, where they will hopefully have marked out errata and amendments. They will have Bulletins and Directives from the Electrical Safety Authority.  They will be given a long list of questions and they will need to find and interpret answers from their Code Book.  How would a code test work if the students’ were able to search for the answers online?   I am afraid that it would be a rough go, unless the students found the actual test posted online.  When searching online for answers to code questions I have been frequently directed to American forums, where many of the rules are substantially different, even on Canadian forums participants present themselves as experts when to an experienced eye they are clearly not.  These forums can be immensely helpful, but there is a great deal of skill and trade knowledge involved in using them successfully.

Using the Code book involves flipping back and forth between different Sections, Tables and Appendices; it can be almost maddening trying to use the Code on a tablet or in any electronic format.  When the 2013 Canadian Electrical Code came in with a host of changes about calculating conductor ampacity I actually stopped using my app “The Electrician’s Helper” as it was not able to accurately make calculations with the convoluted new rules.

Will a student who is constantly on his/her smartphone be an attractive employee?  The time for them to use online resources is probably after work or on their breaks.

Designing better courses starts with designing a structure that motivates and enables learning. Technologies can increase the possibilities for these experiences, but only if it is thoughtfully placed into a larger context. (Bowen, p. 76)

For my students I think that the most functional part of technology in the classroom will be the establishment of learning communities.

Decisional Questions

I am committed to bringing an interactive and supportive element to my classroom with the help of technology.  Using an LMS like Desire2Learn can help me track what parts of the course my students are accessing and through quizzes what they are integrating and understanding.  My actual face-time with them in the classroom can be much more functional with this assessment tool.  Feedback from my students is also much more fluid, and I think involves less effort and less of a sense of intimidation.  Fink “defines high-quality feedback as being frequent, immediate, discriminating, and loving (FIDeLity)” (Bowen, p.95)

Social Media helps continue the learning community past the end date of the class.  Using closed Facebook groups we are able to keep a professional and courteous distance and a warm and supportive environment. This community is a safe place for people to ask questions, seek feedback and help for technical and workplace problems.

I am curious about how technology will evolve and make the Code more utilizable in an online format.  My main focus for now will be to encourage my students to use caution and discrimination in their online electrical explorations.

 

 

References

Bowen, Jose Antonio, 2012, Teaching Naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. & Brockett R, 2007, The profession and practice of adult education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Steinbronn, P. & Merideth E. 2007,  Perceived utility of methods and instructional strategies used in online and face-to-face teaching environments.  Springer Science and Business Media

Online:

Retrieved from http://www.tnb.ca/en/web-catalogue/ on May 23, 2014

 

 

Journal # 3 – Media Enhanced Learning

Objective                                                                              

As I have learned more about Learning Management Systems and the plethora of new interactive educational tools I have begun an internal dialogue on how the way I teach shapes the content that I am delivering. There is also the consideration that the way content is delivered changes the learning experience, learning outcomes and the way lifelong learners will continue to learn. As Jose Antonio Bowen opines in Teaching Naked

Delivery and course design influence learning, and I believe that faculty will find unique and better solutions for content once they are focused on learning outcomes, progression, and innovation. (Bowen, p.266)

Information that was once held close by academic institutions, societies and associations is now freely available on the internet.  The holding and with-holding of information has much less force as a motivator for the learner.  Faculty must consider what will motivate learners to take the courses they offer as the learning environment becomes increasingly competitive.

Most faculties spend a lot of time thinking about content and what to cover, but content delivery is not the core strength of a university, just as it is not for newspapers. The core strength of a university is integration (Bowen, p. 285)

The focus is shifting from “what” content is being delivered to “how” that content is being delivered.  The interactive nature of the LMS and the ability of an instructor to accurately gauge what content students have absorbed and processed is changing how success is quantified and qualified.

Reflective

It has been my personal experience that the way I interact with Online content has shaped the process of my decision making on the jobsite.  I have sometimes felt overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available and felt unable to weigh information as it to its significance. Alternately, I have also found myself able to be more creative and more innovative; it’s almost as if a portion of my brain once devoted to the recall of code rules and important facts is now freed up to make cognitive jumps and associations. I shared documents via Dropbox, marked up photographs and Google Earth images to convey information to my colleagues, we had group-messaging using applications like What’s Ap, we were connected to each other in a highly functional manner. I also have access to a community of electricians and their questions and solutions. In my current job things like having an S Drive where Instructors share course content with each other is an invaluable resource. The PIDP has also given me the opportunity to connect with colleagues at BCIT who are very involved in the online delivery of course content. There is little doubt that the way education is being delivered is changing and that the rate of change is accelerating.  Information that was once closely guarded is now freely available. This enables instructors to focus on higher level learning outcomes such as analysis, evaluation and creation. bloom’s taxonomy

Interpretive Questions

What effect on learning outcomes does new educational technology have?  Is the very way that students learn changing their internal frame of reference for using information and trade concepts? When addressing the then new technologies of television and radio Marshall Mcluhan spoke to the effect of the medium being more important and more pervasive than the effect of the actual content being delivered. (Mcluhan) There is little doubt that a student’s ability to work with technology in the classroom will greatly assist them with dealing with similar technologies on the jobsite.  From social-media and the LMS the student will move to interacting with Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) and Security Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).

In understanding the role I play as a trades’ instructor I have been greatly drawn to the learning theory Situated Cognition, which was formulated in large part from studies of apprenticeships in traditional societies.  I think this theory translates well to the electronic frontier.

Etienne Wenger summarizes Communities of Practice (CoP) as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”  This learning that takes place is not necessarily intentional.  Three components are required in order to be a CoP: (1) The Domain, (2) The Community and (3) The Practice. (Situated Cognition)

This then is the role that I think traditional learning institutions should pursue.  Now that knowledge is freely available, expert advice, support and community are what will differentiate them from others.

For universities, having a shared mission, a social conscience, and an ability to make a difference can create a great working environment and can foster risk and change. Looking for where the innovation will be is another important tactic: it is simply more motivating to work in an area that has potential.  (Bowen, p284)

It’s interesting to consider technology as an extension of our central nervous system and to consider the effect of the medium as being stronger than the effect of the content.  (The Medium is the Message) A huge part of what makes an Electrician successful lies in the affective domain. There must also be a massive integration and synthesis of knowledge coupled with keen psycho-motor skills. A caveat to the functionality of the internet on the jobsite:  there is often no good 4G or wifi connection on many job-sites, the use of smart-phones is often frowned upon.  It is necessary for the apprentice to be able to function while “disconnected”.

 

Decisional Questions

In order to stay relevant as an instructor and to keep my students engaged I must explore new educational technologies and incorporate them judiciously into my classroom.  I already use closed Facebook groups with my students. I must use discretion and intelligence as I explore these new domains with my students.  Through the use of these technologies I hope to form online and lifelong learning communities or communities of practice.  Support and interaction are two defining words when I think about what would differentiate my courses from other available courses.

One of the interesting things about these interactive technologies is that the “rules” of these new communities are still being explored.  What is appropriate language, appropriate “sharing” and even appropriate use of on-line learning communities.  These rules must be clearly laid out and reinforced with regularity.

New educational technologies also enable me to forge connections with other instructors and to learn what works for them in terms of implementing LMSs and other tools. Through the Associate Dean at the School of Construction and the Environment I am meeting with other instructors at BCIT who are involved in using various different LMS and educational tools.

Education will challenge all of our packaging units, and now would be a good time to rethink some better ways to organize our product. Even if the model that taught all of us is a good one, there must also be other units in which to package learning, especially with new technology. We need lots of new models and we need to apply the same rigorous methods we use in our disciplinary research to determine which of them will most enhancer learning. (Bowen, 255)

 

I will continue to seek out those who can help me become a more effective instructor.  I will seek input from faculty, from the administration at BCIT and from my students.  I will continue to build my Community of Practice

 

References

Bowen, Jose Antonio, 2012, Teaching Naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. & Brockett R, 2007, The profession and practice of adult education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Online:

Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom’s_taxonomy on May 30th, 2014

Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaH51F4HBw on May 30th, 2014

Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/communities-of-practice-lave-and-wenger.html on May 30th, 2014

Retrieved from http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/  on May 30th, 2014

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