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, 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!

Lit Review on Hypermedia and Learning

Chen, W. F., Dwyer, F. M., & Chuang, C. (2000, November 30). Hypermedia on

Learning: A Literature Review. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from


Chen et al. (2000) review literature from hypermedia research and explain how in the increasing demand for and use of hypermedia technology in school and corporate settings, results are disappointing.  The problems with current research in this area include questions that are focused on “the navigational behaviors of information retrieval instead of evaluating learning performances as they [are] related to different types of learning objectives” (p. 3).   The studies were “too technologically oriented and not so well grounded in the knowledge of applied cognitive science” (p. 3).  And finally, theory was missing, resulting in designs by intuition (p. 3).  The literature review also discussed problems associated with learning with hypermedia, including distractions to the extent that students cannot focus on important information, students experiencing spatial disorientation, and simple cognitive overload.  Future research should assess “relevant student’s learning outcomes…, develop reliable and valid instruments for measuring student’s performance…and consider learner’s different learning prerequisites and learning types” (p. 4).

This brief discussion covered several imperative concerns and suggestions:  research must be done well to be credible and serve the future of technology integration in school and business.  As an ever-emerging field, hypermedia usage in these settings has great potential to aid in producing successful learning outcomes, but not if research continues on haphazardly.  Since this article was published in 2000, there are no doubt many more recent studies to which to compare.  Reading more thoroughly would be advisable for a deeper understanding of this topic.

The counsel is sound and I will endeavor to understand all of the implications as I continue to consider my options for the research field to which I would like to contribute during my doctoral studies and beyond, though I would eventually enjoy a wide range of topics, no doubt.  The option of studying hypermedia has not been in my considerations until reading the articles from this week so I would have much to learn to even acquire a foundational basis.  Perhaps it needs serious consideration because so much of technology usage will include this aspect of all the digital options.

Week 4 — Digital Technologies and Pedagogies


Weis, T. M., Benmayor, R., O’Leary, C., & Eynon, B. (2002). Digital Technologis and

Pedagogies. Social Justice, 29(4), 153-167. Retrieved January 28, 2018, from


Digital Technologies and Pedagogies

Weis et al, (2002) explain their use of technology to create assignments for their students associated with the grant-funded Visible Knowledge Project (VKP) headquartered in Georgetown University (see hhtp:// Each teacher utilizes digital publishing formats for finished products. Weis and Benmayor’s courses encouraged minority students to tell their stories, after significant primary research. O’Leary taught a capstone course in digital histories that began with a research phase, moved to a lengthy essay-writing phase and then concluded with a digital publication that is stored for students, professors and historians to access on the Web. Eynon’s undergraduate course at LaGuardia Community College, a fully international institution, requires students to study their culture and prepare oral histories and ePortfolios of their findings. It is evident from the research happening with the VKP that “new digital media are empowering students to become researchers, storytellers, historians, oral historians, and cultural theorists in their own right” (p. 153). The VKP seeks to “bridge the digital divide, and to make visible the stories that have been invisible for too long” (p. 166).

This design-based research by Weis et al was in the second year at the writing of the article. Several researchers shared how they had already modified their approach as they gathered information from the first research effort. All authors focused on multicultural themes and used technology to give a new voice and new perspective to the students and to the readers (and watchers) of their final projects. At the time of the writing, ePortfolios were a new concept as technology was developing to make such endeavors possible. The authors, if writing today, would have very different things to say regarding the newest tech available and how they might incorporate it in their assignments.

As a practitioner in Language Arts, I was thoroughly interested in the project-based and inquiry learning discussed in the research projects. I would like to see the research widened to include topics that go beyond just multicultural or historical themes. I am also interested in what questions could be asked and what research projects could be developed given the array of technology availability now. Language Arts classrooms and curricula should only improve with time. I’d like to help with that momentum.

Impact of E-Learning — positive signs

Tunmibi, S., Aregbesola, A., Adejobi, P., & Ibrahim, O. (2015). Impact of E-Learning and Digitalization in Primary and Secondary Schools. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(17), 53-59.

This case study from Nigeria (Tunmibi, et al, 2015) enthusiastically supports the position that learning happens when technology is utilized, both for the student and for the teacher. Studying the digitalization process, termed Information Communication Technology (ICT), researchers sought to validate current educational practices. Survey questions given to students and teachers in the Greensprings School in Lagos State, Nigeria revealed that cognitive growth was apparent in a long list of ways: E-learning promoted better communication, accountability for learning and success (shared between the student and the teacher), efficiency, critical thinking, and collaboration. Beyond that, students had access to unlimited sources of information to help them conduct research, communicate and create knowledge. And finally, using E-learning encouraged students to learn their preferred way, to connect between subjects, to further their computer skills (for teachers, too) and in general, to bring out their best.

The perceptions of students and teachers in the survey were nearly thoroughly positive. Though a case study, the various charts reported high numbers in favor of the above list of accomplishments in the utilization of technology in those particular primary and secondary schools. If validated by other perhaps deeper inquiry, it would be a great encouragement in the debate as to whether technology affects learning at all.

Nigerian educational researchers have been seeking validation of current practices for some time; it is not a new venture for them. That is encouraging. It is one of the benefits of the world’s interconnectedness that all nations can share their findings and advance the cause of using technology in the best ways for the sake of students and their learning. As I continue to read the work of researchers everywhere, I will have a broader base of knowledge from which to draw (or at least I will have read from a broader base, acknowledging that not all research is fully laudable).

Educational Technology Research That Makes a Difference

Roblyer, M. D. (2005). Educational technology research that makes a difference: series introduction. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 5(2), 192-201.

Roblyer (2005) clearly takes a lead in describing what is not working for educational technology research studies and what solutions would improve their usefulness for the next line of study and their reputation in the world of data collection and generalizability. He charts the complaints against research done so far and then lists a series of models for better quality study options and what makes them so. His strong outline format includes five pillars of good educational research and four types of studies that would increase cumulativity and move the field forward—much as the study of the science of medicine did after 1910.

Both the five pillars of good educational research and the four study models provide ample guidance for researchers now and in the future. Those of us in this field should follow his lead and partake heavily in increasing the significance of our studies, take as our rationale the need to develop and build upon a foundation of quality theory, decide our questions and decide on the best approach (ignoring the advice of voices that would have us limit those approaches), produce comprehensive reporting and strive to encourage cumulativity so that our field would be respected more. We need these ideas so that we have a “lineage that looks to the future as well as builds on the past” (197).

As a practitioner turned researcher, guidance such as this is invaluable. Without such wise counsel, I could easily fall into the “single study syndrome” (197) that would validate the complaints of those who say that educational technology research is weak. With Roblyer’s outline, I can help create the “more organized and persuasive body of evidence on technology’s benefits to [improve] classroom practice” (192).

Online Graphic Organizers — sites to try

10 Sites for Creating Graphic Organizers

  1. Exploratree – A great visual site for creating a mind map with lots of templates.
  2. Mind42 – Nice collaborative mind mapping site with lots of templates and easy to use.
  3. MindMeister – Beautiful looking mind mapping site with the ability to embed into a site or blog.
  4. MindMup – A easy to use site for creating brainstorms or mind maps.
  5. Mindomo – One of my favorite brainstorming apps that also lets a user flip their classroom, collaborate, comment, and much more.
  6. Popplet – A excellent app that allows students to think and learn visually by brainstorming and mind mapping.
  7. Storyboard That – A excellent site with educational portal that educators are using in a variety ways, such as creating timelines, storyboards, graphic organizers (t-charts, grids, etc.), and more.
  8. TotSplash – A fun site for creating and organizing ideas into a brainstorm or mind map.
  9. Webspiration Classroom – From the creators of Inspiration a very popular web-based program for creating visual brainstorms that can then be turned into an outline with a click of a button.
  10. WiseMapping – A great site for creating visual mind maps and brainstorms.

cross posted at

David Kapuler is an educational consultant with more than 10 years of experience working in the K-12 environment. For more information about his work, contact him at and read his blog at

Software for Constructivist Language Arts Classrooms

Wren, P. (Spring 2003). Semantic Networking in Constructivist Classrooms: Aligning Software Acquisition with Epistemological Assumptions. The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 68(3), 15-30.

Wren (2003) supports the use of Inspiration 6.0, used for concept mapping, as software that effectively facilitates the constructivist approach in the language arts classroom. Though the article mentioned several minor limitations with the software, overall the philosophical basis for using the software is sound. The software facilitates everything from instructivist-style assignments to project-based learning in many disciplines, while encouraging higher order thought for visual and tactile learners. Teachers have options for designing assignments while students have freedom to explore the concept mapping templates available or design their own as they develop cognitively through the process of connecting and organizing content.

While clearly supporting this particular software for the purposes above, Wren began by listing many comparable programs that are likely as valid for constructivist language arts classrooms. She concludes with the proposal that all of them need more research to support case study claims that students actually benefit from using such software in this approach. She refutes the minor criticism that linear learners could be inhibited and that the templates are somewhat limited. A more significant issue is that there is no way to observe errors in content connection until the project is finished. Wren suggests that teachers assess the drafts and have students revise–something the program allows.

The list of software options, and especially the deeper discussion of Inspiration 6.0, are valuable because as a trained teacher of English, I am always seeking valuable new software to incorporate. The fact that it is sound philosophically lends itself to encouraging me to place trust in the software. As I train Language Arts Education majors in my newest position, I am able to share with them this valuable resource (and others that are more current). I am also able to continue to contemplate and perhaps study the issues suggested in Wren’s conclusion.

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