Für die Kinder von heute ist der Füller der Touchscreen

Martin Ebner shares  his presentation from a recent symposium where he was invited to discuss the topic of ‘digital natives’.  He looks at digital literacy, digital divides, digital identity, the appropriateness of current educational practices for today’s students. The presentation also provides data about usage of mobile learning and how young people are using their devices

The presentation

Adopting new technologies in class

IDentifEYE blog writes about a series of pilots and discuss use of QR codes and augmented reality in the classroom.

The project’s basic assumption is that online information matters – both the information we share on ourselves and the information that others share on us. From all this online information emerges our online identity. IDentifEYE’s aim is to start a dialogue with youngsters on online information and on online identities. IDentifEYE’s basic instruments are an Augmented Reality game and a lesson program.

One teacher had left a small clue about where to find information, some students watched other students and then began experimenting.  They have noted that children seem more keen to experiment with new technologies whereas adults are a little more cautious and highlight the importance of being emotionally at ease with the technology.

In full

Online digital learning take off at Cocalico

Michelle Reiff reports on the new development, with a district online learning program where the numbers of enrolled students is continuing to increase. Students can complete the learning either full or part time and upon successful completion they will be awarded a high school diploma. They are also using a range of mobile devices within existing schools.

In addition to online learning, Sweigart announced that the district will once again allow digital devices such as eReaders in school. This was done for the first time last year. A student is required to have a sponsoring teacher in order to bring in such a device.

“This past year we have had well over 100 students mostly in the middle and elementary schools,” he said. In the high school, Sweigart said tablets and laptops were used.

In full

Wireless Learning: How Mobile Technology is Transforming Classrooms and Empowering Young Women in Jordan

Ken Banks of Kiwanja, FrontlineSMS and recently MeansofExchange, reports in National Geographic about the Wireless Reach™  program and its effect on young women in schools in Jordan and how they overcame initial concerns

At first, parents were uneasy about the program. What if their child lost or broke their netbook? What if they went to inappropriate websites? JEI addressed everyone’s questions and concerns during intensive training workshops and worked with teachers to help them understand how to integrate the technology into their curriculum. Skepticism gave way to excitement, particularly as parents realized how they too could use the technology to find employment, community resources and other helpful information.

In full

Social Media Literacies: participation

Jennifer Spain shares her experiences about social media literacies in a second language classroom, focusing on participation. She read Howard Rheingold’s article “Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies

She notes links between risk-taking and participation with students needing to talk in another language before being formally assessed. She used a social media rubric that she found via a tweet on twitter, which looks at online participation, posting and language use. She encourages participation that involves the parents too.

Some of the best conversations can arise when students and their parents look at social media tasks in a second language together. Social media such as Twitter can provide unprecedented access to people, ideas and information

In full

Presentation: New geographies of learning: distance education and being ‘at’ Edinburgh

Clare O’Shea provides a fascinating presentation and link to their report, where they have explored what it means to be a student and their relationship with their institution.

In this paper, we report on our exploration of how distance learners construct and describe their relationship with their institution, using visual and narrative methods within a group of 150 students from 35 countries studying on the fully online, distance MSc in E-Learning. Students told the tales of their own ‘arrival’ at Edinburgh at the start of their studies, an ethnographic trope which problematised academic geographies and brought together the ‘concrete’ campus and the ‘distant’ place of study.  Students also provided visual and aural data in the form of digital ‘postcards’, creating a vivid sense of the land- and sound-scape of their study environment.

She explains the themes that began to emerge from the project including a sense of place and placelessness.

In full

Trading a Tweet for Your GPA

Nelly Elzayat on Using Digital Literacy to Enhance Adolescent Literacy. She points out that middle and high school students use a range of digital media but in classrooms there is still a lot of print based communication and face-to-face teaching.  She notes an example where a teacher asked their students to summarize a Shakespeare passage using SMS; and highlights examples of UNESCO’s work in Pakistan with girls being able to become more literate using mobile phones.

Digital literacy plays an important role in adolescents’ lives and will continue to play a role in their future careers. If preparing students for professional life is among the goals of middle and high schools, then digital literacy will have to be incorporated in adolescent literacy school curricula

In full

Sea Change in Knowledge and Education

by Leslie Poston, Magnitude Media

In this post Leslie discusses the relationships between return on investment in education, college and expected employment and highlights examples of how schools are moving beyond initial adoption of social media so that

“access to knowledge in your pocket can break the institution of “school” out of the concrete, rigid shell it lives in and turn it into organic knowledge that students yearn for”

Are we moving towards plugging into the matrix and learning like Neo?


e-learning outlook for 2012: will it be a rough ride?

by Tony Bates

© Firehorse Blog, 2012

Another year, and online learning, e-learning, learning technologies, educational technologies, digital learning, or whatever you call it or them, will continue to grow, become more prevalent, and more a central part of teaching and learning in higher education – but exactly how and in what ways?

The general trends are not going to change much from 2011 (which I identified as course redesign, mobile learning, more multimedia, learning analytics,and shared services), but some of the specifics are becoming clearer. Below I’ve ranked my predictions in order of significance for higher education, and also given a probability rating of the prediction actually happening.

1. The year of the tablet: 99% probable

Tablets – iPadsKindlesAakashes (Sky), etc. – will become a regular component of teaching and learning in many institutions. This will be mostly initially in traditional classroom and lab settings, but increasingly in more mobile applications outside the campus. Why?

  • tablets are more flexible, convenient and mobile than laptops and more practical for learning activities than even smart-phones
  • most LMSs already have almost transparent mobile capacity
  • tablet prices will continue to fall with increased competition, and applications and power will continue to increase with new models in 2012
  • textbooks will increasingly become digital and the tablet will become the mobile textbook library for students
  • functionality will increase, enabling tablets to become creators as well as distributors of learning materials
  • expect to see an iPad 3 with increased functionality released in April, 2012; this will generate even more interest in tablet applications for education
  • expect to see an enormous explosion of online teaching in developing countries, as cheap tablets such as the Aakash penetrate a world hungry for low-cost Internet access.

During 2012, we will see a small but increasing number of educational applications that build on the unique affordances of tablets, rather than merely moving LMS material to a tablet.

Likely barriers to the use of tablets:

  • institutional and instructor inertia
  • possibly some concerns over cost and equitable access
  • lack of standardization (although HTML5 will ease this)
The Aakash $35 tablet

2. Learning analytics: 90% probable

Learning analytics enable easy access to data on the desktop or tablet for instructors, administrators and even students about how students are learning and the factors that appear to influence their learning. The rapid expansion of learning analytics in 2012 is probably going to be the biggest surprise for many people outside the small coterie of people currently using learning analytics. Again, this is not likely to explode in 2012, but it will gain traction quite quickly, and again, there are strong reasons behind this prediction:

  • the biggest driver is going to be appeals and accreditation. Learning analytics enable institutions (and those appealing grades) to access hard ‘evidence’ of student performance, particularly online. Institutions can demonstrate to accreditation agencies what and how students have learned through the use of learning analytics. These may not be the best reasons for using analytics, but they are a very powerful ones, especially as quality assurance boards start latching on to learning analytics.
  • LMSs will increasingly provide the software necessary as part of the standard service
  • identifying ‘at-risk’ students. There is growing evidence that at-risk students can be identified almost within the first week of a course through indicators that can be tracked through learning analytics, such as amount of activity in an online class, response to e-mails, etc. The challenge will then be to find ways of supporting at-risk students
  • tweaking teaching; learning analytics provide instructors with useful data about how and what students are learning, enabling quick changes to materials and to teaching approaches while the course is still running
  • course review and planning: learning analytics will improve the evidence for both internal and external course reviews and future course planning.

Likely barriers:

  • identifying and collecting the data in ways that are useful for decision-making
  • concerns about student privacy
  • data overload for instructors who are already busy
  • lack of integration between LMSs and other student information systems

3. Growth of open education: 70% probable (depending on definition of open education)

I find this the most difficult area to predict, because so much of what is claimed under open education is either not new or not significant in terms of how it is actually implemented. Also open education covers so many different areas, such as content, access to instructors, learner support, badges or peer-to-peer assessment, recognition of prior learning, shared resources, and on and on. So let’s try to unpack some of this:

  • ‘raw’ digital content is already nearly 100% open, but a great deal of well designed commercially-produced digital instructional materials is likely to remain closed, or at least partially covered by copyright, because of the high cost of development. Nevertheless, the trend is towards openness, especially for digital materials created with public money, and this will continue in 2012. The Obama Administration’s $2 billion fund for OERs in community colleges which will start flowing in 2012 will add an immense amount of new OERs. The challenge then will be to find models that ensure massive adoption and use of such materials in formal learning during 2012, as there are few examples to date.
  • open access to high quality (all right, highly qualified) instructors is likely to be limited to idealistic volunteers, or to limited events (e.g. a MOOC), mainly because of a mis-match between supply and demand. Too many people want access to what they may incorrectly assume to be high quality instructors at elite institutions, for instance. This is partly an institutional barrier, as institutions try to protect their ‘star’ faculty, which is why this form of openness depends largely on individual volunteers.
  • one area to watch in 2012 is whether institutions otherwise requiring high academic qualifications for entry to degree programs start opening access to learner support to the general public. This is not necessarily direct instruction, but would include counselling, awarding certificates for successful completion of open courses (such as MITx), even automated exams. There is a cost in doing this, but it is far less significant than opening up faculty to those not meeting formal entry requirements. This would be a welcome move back towards public service rather than for-profit or full cost-recovery continuing education, but is unlikely in the current economic climate.
  • qualifications for open learning. I do expect to see institutions such as the OERuthe University of the People, and possibly the Khan Academy, putting in place ‘challenge’ exams that students will pay for that will provide a qualification such as a degree. Will any of the established open universities move in this direction? This would seem an obvious move if they are to remain competitive and relevant. More importantly, will employers and conventional institutions recognize such qualifications, particularly for entrance to graduate school? In the meantime, expect to see a growth in badges, especially for informal learning.

Likely barriers:

  • lack of recognition by conventional institutions of qualifications obtained through the use of open learning (this resistance has always been there, and won’t go away quickly)
  • lack of cost-effective models for incorporating open educational resources in formal programs
  • demand from students for formal qualifications from elite or ‘closed’ institutions
  • general concerns about the quality of OERs (although I suspect this will diminish during 2012, as more and better quality OERs become available)

The OERu logo