Let’s Not (Use Social Media in School)

Yeo, M. L. (2014). Social Media and Social Networking Applications for Teaching and

Learning.  European Journal Of Science And Mathematics Education, 2(1), 53-62.

Yeo (2014) attempted to persuade the reader that using Facebook and YouTube videos for learning has benefits such as the ability to create and share videos, social networking, peer feedback, and reflective thinking.  Because using these two forms of social media is popular, and because it supports constructivist theory, Yeo supports including the technologies into a regular face-to-face classroom.  “The necessity of face-to-face-lessons for communication and for the facilitation of academic and formal learning” (Yeo, 2014, p. 53) exists, but “it is no longer sufficient” (p. 53).  It is unfortunate that Yeo (2014) is so convinced of this inclusion, because students themselves do not want Facebook and YouTube to be used for formal, academic endeavors planned by the school.  As shared in the article, they want to be able to use these tools informally (Yeo, 2014).

This frustrating article never did change the tone or purpose, in spite of evidence from student quotations that yes, it is interesting to be in contact with a professor through Facebook, but they would rather just use their social media for informal interactions.  The students enjoyed learning from Facebook and YouTube, but they felt that the distractions inherent in those tools make the tools inappropriate for formal academic learning.

I enjoyed the topic because I have a teen who uses these tools for exactly that.  I have not seen her school try to incorporate these exact tools into any lessons. I have seen schools incorporate Twitter and that seemed adequate for brief discussions on a topic.  There aren’t any tools from social media that I would seek to research.  I think that just because something supports constructivist theory, it should not necessarily become part of the curriculum.  Perhaps research will continue to offer directives.

Using Peer Feedback

Ertmer, P. A., Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G., Lei, K., &

Mong, C. (2007).  Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings:

An exploratory study.  Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 412-433.

International Communication Association.

In this case study, which focused on peer feedback, authors Ertmer et al. (2007) considered the effect of peer feedback on the quality of students’ postings.  The proposal was that peer feedback would positively affect the depth of responses and discussion replies to posted questions for the 15 graduate students in an online technology integration course.  Using Bloom’s taxonomy as a guide for evaluating the responses, peers gave scores to each other, which were part of the grade the students would receive.  The effect was suggested to be threefold:  faster response time, greater appreciation for peer feedback, and higher-order cognitive involvement as they responded to peers.  Through various surveys and interviews, data was collected and evaluated for trends.  Unfortunately, the results were not significant.  There was not an increase in the quality of responses given by students, though the quality did not decrease.  Through the open-ended survey questions, it became clear that students did value what their peers said, though they consistently valued the professor responses more.  Students did not like having to give a point value to their peers since grades were depending on these evaluations.  Overall, the students felt that as they were evaluating their peers, the process served to challenge them cognitively and be of benefit to their own analytical skills.

A thorough approach, this case study began with a valuable and clearly-written literature review that established that student discussion was extremely valuable in the learning process.  Peer feedback supported that goal, but had not been studied in the online setting sufficiently.  The study included many protocols to ensure quality of research such as a variety of surveys and interviews, instructor review of peer evaluations, training on the scoring rubric, knowledge of Bloom’s taxonomy, modeling of quality responses, anonymity of responses from peers, and precaution to ensure that scores were not influenced by the timing of the posts. As mentioned, though, results were not statistically significant to advance the research questions, though the interview responses did support the value of peer feedback overall.

While it is established in the cited references that feedback is valuable to students, it is not specified that peer feedback in included in that cycle.  No studies were cited that offer statistical support for the use of peer feedback in any setting.  There were no studies cited for using peer feedback positively in online courses, either.  As a K-12 teacher in Language Arts, I believe I understand how that can be.  Peer feedback in a high school writing course, for example, is not the same as teacher feedback on that level.  While some young writers are more skilled and can offer some quality feedback, they cannot offer consistent, quality feedback to all the students in their classes–that is the job of the teacher.  Students distrust peer feedback for good reason.  The logic and thinking skills of peers may or may not be sufficient to offer quality feedback.  The editing preferences or understanding of one student may be sketchy at best, so how can he or she correct a peer?  That said, I think there would be a way to study the effect of peer feedback in higher education courses, but I would let peer feedback be feedback and not grading!

New Literacies for Digital Citizenship (Week 10)

Simsek, E., & Simsek, A. (2013). New Literacies for Digital Citizenship. Online Submission

Seeking to contrast old definitions of citizenship (and how technology did not guide it) with new definitions of citizenship (and how new forms of technology definitely play a significant role), authors Simsek and Simsek (2013) began by exploring various theories of technology in civic society.  The theory of autonomous technology claims that technology “evolves in its own course, regardless of outside factors….Technological determinism defends the idea that technological development itself has created social changes because technology has such a revolutionary power” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 127).  The political selection approach claims that “technology has been determined by political forces and capitalist needs” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 127).  A final emphasis, called the critical approach, is fully negative toward technology and society, positing that “technology hides reality by mass communication devices” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 128).

After this discussion, the authors explored the various literacies of modern culture– information literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, communication literacy, visual literacy, and technology literacy–stating that it is the civic duty of all in the modern day to manage all of these well and to participate in citizenship responsibilities that use all the modes of modern  technology.  Further, they expect that “in the new world of virtual technologies, digital citizens are expected to combine cognitive, affective, psycho-social, and technological skills.  The interaction of all of these skills produces an ideal digital citizen for the 21st century” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 131).  They admit, however, that having the technology will not guarantee participation and that “there is not an ideal world in which new media and democracy interact” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 134).

Authors Simsek and Simsek researched extensively to write this article, summarizing various other authors’ descriptions of the digital citizenship opportunities apparent in the 21st century.  The several paragraphs that explain the various positions move quickly with brief descriptions and little interpretation or evaluation.  The idealist tone of the article surrounded the idea that responsible people must use technology well to participate in a global digital community and promote democracy through the new modes of technology available.  The enthusiasm of the authors culminated with the comment that “digital citizenship could create a more transparent, connected, and participatory democratic environment via its interactive, non-hierarchical, user friendly nature” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 132).

I expected the article to focus on the new technologies primarily, and upon citizenship secondarily.  Such was not the case.  There were two lists of tech options new to modern citizens and many paragraphs of theories and conceptual frameworks from those in the conversation.  The political tone was not motivating for this reader.  A follow-up article could certainly approach the topic from a more technological paradigm.

K-12 Online Learning

Patrick, S., & Powell, A., (2009).  A summary of research on the effectiveness of K-12

Online Learning.  iNACOL. http://www.k12.com/sites/default/files/pdf/school- 

         docs/NACOL_Research Effectiveness-hr.pdf

This “memo contains three sections: 1) a summary of the major study done by the U.S. Department of Education, 2) a brief literature review of online learning research and studies, and 3) future research recommendations” (Patrick & Powell, 2009).  An encouraging collection of findings, this article bullet-pointed twelve major findings in a meta-analysis of 51 study effects.  The “meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction” and that “blended learning is effective and worth the effort required to design and implement [the] approach” (Patrick & Powell, 2009).

Within the literature review, three states and two different levels of schooling were targeted for discussion.  West Virginia Virtual School reviewed results for students learning Spanish.  The students doing online courses did as well or better than the students in traditional settings.  In Florida, a non-profit “watchdog” group agreed that the virtual schooling in their state was not only successful academically, but a “bargain for Florida taxpayers.”  The teachers in Florida who learned to teach online claimed, also, that the experience made them better classroom teachers.  In Washington state, where there was an increase in on-time graduation rates, the credit was given to their Digital Learning Commons (online courses).  The public schools studied claimed their online students did not suffer socially since they “engaged in activities outside the school day.”  Finally, in higher education, students in online learning performed “equally well or better than classroom-based learners and experienced better use of higher order thinking skills, integrative thinking, and reflective learning” (Patrick & Powell, 2009).

The extensive coverage of this meta-analysis provides tremendous positive rationale for schools and programs making decisions regarding online learning programs.  The momentum of success documented–including the “List of Effectiveness Studies” at the end of the article–will no doubt encourage adoption of the proven practices of blended and online learning courses.

Future research needs to “show correlations between program models, instructional models, technologies, conditions and practices for effective online learning.”  It was suggested to look at standardized achievement test scores, supplied by state departments, from the 18 states that have virtual charter schools.  That data compared with end-of-course testing for all students (traditional and online) would provide for a larger-scale study (Patrick & Powell, 2009).

I am already convinced that online learning and now blended learning are excellent opportunities for both teacher and student.  These studies show to be true what we have been learning in our courses all along this semester.   I would like to continue to explore program models and instructional models for blended classrooms, so that I could design my higher ed courses differently in the fall.

Teaching teachers to incorporate gaming

Becker, K. (2007). Digital game-based learning once removed: teaching teachers.  British

Journal of Educational Technology, 38(3), 478-488.

Karen Becker (2007) explores why teachers are hesitant to adopt technology into their on-ground courses.  Because they typically do not have resources of time and equipment, because they may lack an understanding of how to use games, and because they may not read the journals that discuss current practices, the teachers remain aloof to the possibilities inherent in the field.  There are disconcerting voices they may hear in media and from principals and other colleagues to further deepen their nervousness  Some courses are available to teach teachers to think differently about technology (see www.minkhollow.ca/KB/PF/PFGacademe.html#courses) (p. 480).  While teachers have opted to use computers for some things–email, in-class use, reports, presentations and for reference–this is certainly nothing compared to a full integration of technology into content and pedagogy.

The second half of the article focuses on a class in which Becker (2007) is involved.  The goal of the class is to introduce various games teachers could incorporate and how they might think differently about how much and when to use games and other technology in their classes. In one final quotation, Becker (2007) pushes strongly for the use of interactive programs as opposed to the linear technology of television, etc.  She says, “It should not be surprising that today’s learners easily grow bored and restless with books as a medium of learning.  Traditional lecturing approaches require passivity and acceptance, but games are fundamentally dependant on the concept of agency.  ‘Agency is our ability to alter the world around us, or our situation in it.  We are able to act, and that action has effects.  This is probably the first thing we learn as babies.  This is the crucial distinction between interactive and linear entertainment’” (qtd. In Becker, 2007).

The focus of this article drifted, even though Karen Becker (2007) occasionally made strong points.  She began with a clear case of why teachers may shy from incorporating technology, but then only barely supplied an answer:   teach them in teacher preparation programs.  She did not mention the importance of deepening their ability to understand how to blend technology with content and pedagogy.  Perhaps it was assumed that would follow, given the course she was proposing to solve the problem.  This article, coupled with others about TPCK and other preservice teacher coursework, helps provide a stronger foundation for those in teacher prep programs.

Since I am fully involved in a teacher preparation program, I am already interested in encouraging teachers to use technology well.  Our program offers one three-hour class in Educational Technology.  In conversation just this week with the professor, I learned that she is doing well in the overall goals of TPCK.  Students are learning to incorporate technology into both pedagogy and content.  After reading articles such as this (Becker 2007), I am able to speak with more knowledge and guide our professor somewhat for now, and more so as my CMU program continues.

How to give excellent directions to your students

Flynn, R. M. (2007). Giving directions: A teaching art. Teaching Artist Journal, 5(1), 37-46.

Retrieved February 12, 2018, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/

This refreshing article outlines one teacher’s attempt to compile for all teachers in any setting how to give better directions to students. The author believes that “engaging students productively in even the most thoroughly planned and richly meaningful arts activity requires giving effective directions” (p. 37). Working where she does (in an arts school), she noticed that the skill of giving directions properly was one that some teachers did well and other not. She sought a primer on the subject, but finding none, wrote her own. This informal research endeavor, then, is the primer she sought.   Her list explains five categories of thirty considerations that she believes are involved in proper direction giving: tell students, show students, rehearse students, help students and let students. After listing each category, she expounds on each consideration. Deeming her content worthy of the risk of posting a long review, I submit her list as printed:

Tell students:

  • To have their desktops, laps, and hands free of any objects
  • While they are silent
  • How to respond to an “all-quiet prompt”
  • The name and the objectives of the activity
  • Why they are doing the activity
  • That they are listening to learn the activity directions
  • How they will participate in the activity
  • The basic steps of the activity
  • What they are not going to be doing
  • Any new words, terms, phrases they need to know
  • What materials they will need
  • The behavioral guidelines of the activity
  • Why certain behavioral guidelines are required
  • The qualities of excellence in this activity
  • More than once

Show students:

  • An example of what they will be doing or creating
  • A written step-by-step breakdown of the activity

Rehearse students:

  • By guiding them through a version of the activity
  • By explaining and practicing their cues

Help students:

  • By asking them questions
  • By inviting them to ask questions by asking a student to explain the procedures
  • By reminding them
  • By establishing time limits
  • Understand how they will assemble in groups
  • Value what you are saying by refusing to continue giving directions when they are failing to listen

Let students:

  • Assemble in groups
  • Do the activity
  • Hear your praise of their good work
  • Share their group’s work with the rest of the class

There are studies that address the basic idea of giving directions and what impact that will have on student learning. Erhel & Jamet (2013) discuss this at length and draw a distinction between instructional instructions and entertainment-like instructions, but they do not explain what those types of instruction styles look and sound like. Indeed, Flynn asserts that no such research exists and begins her own field of inquiry with this article.

As an instructor who has received student feedback regarding my own poor instruction giving, I am now a student of the art. I had not realized that anything was going poorly until the student evaluations were completed, compiled and circulated. Now I pay attention every single day to what I am doing (and not doing). This list will help me to further analyze my own growing skills. In time, I hope to read on those same course evaluations that I am very clear with my directions.

Erhel, S., & Jamet, E. (2013). Learning: Impact of instructions and feedback on motivation and learning effectiveness. Computers & Education, 67, 156-167. doi:10.1016

Educating for digital futures

Bridgstock, R. (2016). Educating for digital futures: what the learning strategies of digital media professionals can teach higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 53(3), 306-315. doi:10.1080

This article explores the learning strategies used by professionals in the digital media field and then proposes new directives for digital media curriculum in higher education. After conducting in-depth interviews with “eight successful Australian digital media professionals working in micro-businesses” (p. 307), Bridgstock described the learning environments of the interviewees. They consider the fast-changing face of technology both a blessing a curse, admitting that they do not have time themselves to keep up with the needed learning. They prefer to hire college graduates—even though they believe the curriculum is lacking—because people who finish a degree are committed to the field (and others change jobs too often). These professionals learn much of what they need in the quickly-changing market by taking non-accredited courses on Lynda.com, for example (because the content is up-to-date), by social learning in a “community of practice” (p. 310), and through Twitter and Google plus. “Self-motivation and curiosity, and an immediate sense of task relevance underpinned the interviewees’ professional learning processes” (p. 311). Pre-packaged curricula (common in higher education) that takes three years to modify simply does not meet the needs of a career in digital media. Students in the university may “have difficulty transferring what they have learned in a decontextualized classroom situation to a contextualized, authentic one when they eventually encounter one” (p. 312). Instead, universities need to integrate authentic learning into more than just a capstone class. “They must become ‘meta-universities’—overarching, accessible, empowering, dynamic, global, communally constructed frameworks of open materials and online platforms….[These universities] will be the most successful in the learning and teaching sphere” (p. 314).

Bridgstone (2016) has summarized valuable feedback from successful practitioners in the field of digital media. In her clearly written descriptions, she has outlined several vital areas of need and concern for those universities striving to be cutting edge in the area of training digital media experts. Even if universities choose to ignore her work, the needs will remain and graduates will be left to find their way to the “community of practice” on Twitter or Google plus.

I am thinking to study how digital media (and training in all media opportunities) can play a larger role in the training of pre-service teachers. This article instructs me to consider the possible curriculum modifications our institution ought to analyze. Hopefully, it will not take three years to instigate!