DBR proposal plan

Any suggestions or feedback are welcome and appreciated 🙂

Introduction

-Brief overview of why traditional, unconnected teaching methods alone are ineffective at achieving communicative language usage in students

-Brief introduce NGL and digital learning tools and how they may be used to address some of the deficiencies mentioned above

Statement of Purpose

-My teaching context

-Students spend 10 years attending English lessons yet very few achieve even basic conversational level fluency

-Why is this?

-Lessons are teacher focused rather than being student focused -> Student time for application of skills in lessons is insufficient

-English language is almost never used outside the classroom -> lack of reinforcement of what has been learnt

-English usage is almost never authentic -> skills learnt do not transfer to real-life situations/usage

-Students perceive that English is optional, not essential -> lack of awareness that globalised connectedness relies on shared communicative skills (NGL can help bring about awareness of this)

Research Questions

-How can implementation of NGL principles enhance L2 learning for EFL students?

-Which NGL principles best facilitate development of student English use with communities outside the classroom?

Literature Review

-Literature review organised based on time period (pre-90s’ (pre-Internet), 1990-2000 (early Internet ~1994/5+), 2000-present (web 2.0 ~2004+) (difficult to plan before reviewing the literature))

The Intervention

-Introduction of course based on content and media creation

-Example platforms include YouTube, Vimeo, blogging platforms, programming communities (Newgrounds?)

Conclusion

-Summary of research findings and suggestions

Thoughts on the Documentary “Web”

things-087Below is a touching documentary about the impact the Internet is having on learning globally.

http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/single/621208643743/Web

The above documentary “Web” follows Michael Kleiman as he lives with a family in the extremely poor and isolated towns of Antuya and Palestina in Peru. While not going too deeply into the theory of connected learning, I thought this documentary touched on some very important points. Various academics and website founders express the idea that since the advent of television, the original meaning of “community” has largely been lost. It is suggested that “True” communities can only be maintained through face-to-face meeting and a sense of shared experience and vulnerability. The founders of the web services Foursquare and Meetup explain that the goal of their web tools is allow people to focus on exploring, experiencing and learning from the physical world around them without needing to worry about digital technologies.

Kleiman questions a number of politicians about the impact of cultural homogenisation that the Internet will likely cause in these traditional communities. Their response is that the extinction of indigenous traditions is an inevitability and that it is questionable for outsiders to decide whether it is for the best or not that these communities be exposed to connective technologies. I wasn’t convinced that this answer was sincere. The fact that the politicians, business people  and academics questioned about this issue were all Americans meant that the perspectives expressed were influenced by American interests and values. From my personal observations, the Japanese have done an admirable job of trying to retain awareness and value for their own traditions.

Kleiman questions the meaning of the word “friend” and it is suggested that this word has become “damaged” as it is now used to express too many different kinds of connections. I think Aristotle’s three definitions (Pedemonte, 2014) cover the traditional meanings of the word before the digital age. In short, these three definitions of friendship are based on utility, pleasure and goodness. Friendships are now often defined by digital connections. As these digital connections become more automated, what will happen to our real sense of connection? In my opinion I think we are already seeing the effects of this. People are often connected digitally to hundreds or thousands of social network “friends”, yet loneliness remains a worsening issue.

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I really enjoyed watching the lesson Kleiman gave to the students as they were connected to the Internet for the first time. He began by introducing his home of New York city and demonstrating that students could find out almost everything they wanted to know about the city through the use of the Internet. Once students realised there was no information about their own small town, Palestina, they were given the mission to work collaboratively to produce a Wikipedia entry. This was a fantastic lesson plan as it was authentic, formative, collaborative and intrinsically motivational as it allowed students to engage in their own interests.

Reference

Pedemonte, A. (2014). Aristotle´s Nichomachean Ethics: “Three Types of Friendship” (Based on Utility, Pleasure and Goodness).-. La Audacia de Aquiles. Retrieved 18 September 2016, from https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/aristotles-nichomachean-ethics-three-types-of-friendship-based-on-utility-pleasure-and-goodness/

Web. (2013). New York.

How NGL can inform my role as teacher

Networked learning has always been a valuable tool for learning. Recent advances in information and communication technology have helped to make networked learning more implementable in school settings and allowed the reach of networked learning to extend globally. Unfortunately many educational institutions have been “slow to embrace the full social and collaborative strengths of the web” (Harley, 2008). With the ever-increasing ubiquity of the Internet, it could be assumed that students of today have an easier time than ever of sourcing and deciphering information effectively, however recent research indicates that this may not be true (Carr, 2010). As various entities endeavour to “claim control over” and “wall-in” the digital environments that we most frequently access, most users are unwittingly having their experiences filtered to serve the best interests of gatekeepers of information (Cochrane, 2012). Now that I have a clearer understanding of these realities I hope to improve my teaching by implementing changes that focus on students learning to learn, engage, be flexible and adaptive, find communities, and encourage them to have ideas about the things they want to do in the present (Connected Learning Alliance, 2012).

In this post I will present two possibilities for transformative change in my teaching context. Though now, my time in Japan has come to an end, I will use my time there as the context for these examples as that role is my most recent. Though teaching in Japanese schools was an amazing experience and the teachers I worked with showed genuine care for their students, there were a few concerns I held for the teaching methods commonly employed. Teaching was almost entirely outcomes focused. This meant that teachers often lost perspective of why students needed to learn what they were learning, leading to lessons being almost completely de-contextualised from real-world applications. The result of this was that most students were unengaged and quite vocal about their resentment of having to learn English. This is in contrast to the methods of networked and connected learning, which are more focused on finding out what experiences students need, to achieve optimal engagement and learning (Ito et al., 2013). Two major interests that I noticed were shared among my students were visual art and digital games.

The below video (Institute of Play, 2013a) is about an American student named Charles Raben.

Charles discovered that a local newsstand owner, who had been working in that location for 25 years, was being pressured by the local government to  vacate the land that his stall occupied, in order to make way for new commercial developments. The plight of this local community member struck a chord with Charles and he was inspired to gather community support to allow the newsstand owner to remain at the location. Charles achieved this through use of both digital and non-digital methods. From what is shown in the video, it appears that Charles was also driven to use his considerable skills as a portrait photographer to portray the newsstand owner as a valuable asset to the community and an aspect of the city to be valued.

Charles’ sincerity and obvious burning desire to learn and contribute to his community really inspired me to use the promotion and awareness of community causes as a tool for learning. I believe the impact of this, if successful, would be a greater awareness of our moral responsibility to contribute and improve communities, both locally and internationally. If connected with the right cause, students would benefit from intrinsic motivation to design ways for their knowledge and skills to be utilised to assist with meeting community needs. Students would need to seek out organisations and groups with similar goals that could lend examples and models for solutions that have been successful in other locations. In my own context as an English teacher in rural Japan, an good example of a local community cause could be residents of the city who have recently emigrated to Japan. Information about the city and its laws is rarely provided in English so this could provide and excellent opportunity for local students to lend their creativity and knowledge of the English language people in need. The greatest cost would be time and a need for more flexible scheduling. The current culture doesn’t allow for students to deviate from their normal weekly schedules. For this kind of independent work, I think students require some autonomy over their own time-management. Depending on students’ ideas, funding could be sourced from the community. This could be act as an additional opportunity for learning. Sites such as GoFundMe.com and kickstarter.com could offer modern methods of charity raising in combination with effective marketing on social media or other publicly viewable websites. Effective use of these sites offer opportunities for learning to become transformative, according to the RAT framework (McHugh, 2014), as social media allows students’ work to be globally accessible and interactable. The recent invention of online crowdfunding provides simplified methods of donation collection that remove barriers, such as differences in currency or payment method, in addition to the ability for supporters to see ongoing developments and receive rewards dependant on the size or nature of their donations. Limitations that would need to be taken into account include the fact that any use of social media or online publicising may pose privacy concerns or risks. These risks would need to be negotiated with parents and school administrative staff in advance. Administration of monetary donations may be best handled by an adult to avoid legal issues. Risks may also need to be assessed in advance, depending on what kinds of causes and work students choose to devote themselves to.

The second possibility I’ve considered, though a bit more complicated to implement, I think has incredible potential. It is integration of digital simulations. An example of this is demonstrated in the below video (Institute of Play, 2013b).

In this example, students used the city building and management simulator, SimCity. Each lesson, students were given a goal to accomplish, though how this goal was achieved was left up to the students themselves. Two boys are shown discussing considerations for the design of their city such as energy production, cost, pollution generation and job creation. The impact of implementing this kind of learning would be that students would have access to authentic feeling learning expriences and to act in authoritative roles and observe the consequences of their actions and decisions. Classroom work could be given as broad goals, giving students autonomy over the methods they utilise to achieve these goals and allowing their own decision-making processes to be reflected upon. The benefits of this would be heightened levels of student engagement, due to learning being situated (Hanks, 1991). This method of learning, like my first example, is transformative in nature as this simulation software can harness the Internet to allow the decisions that students make to impact other students. In fact, SimCity itself has this functionality as players “in a region can share or sell resources, and work together” (Vore, 2012). The cost of implementing this kind of technology in schools would not be any more expensive than other forms of software often licensed for educational use. Teachers overseeing this kind of learning would need to have a strong understanding of the software in advance to ensure that goals set for students were achievable within the functionality of the software. The greatest limitations with implementing a solution of this kind would be the limited selection and quality of software that is currently produced. Simulations of this kind can be extremely expensive to develop. Increased interest and collaboration between software developers and educational institutions would likely help to resolve this.

Overall, the examples of networked learning I’ve been exposed to from taking this course have really opened my eyes to the ways that transformational learning tools can be harnessed to dramatically improve students’ engagement and attitudes to learning.

References

Carr, N. (2010). The shallows. New York: W.W. Norton.

Cochrane, P. (2012). Internet freedom: Why we must throw off our online shackles. TechRepublic. Retrieved 6 September 2016, from http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/european-technology/internet-freedom-why-we-must-throw-off-our-online-shackles/

Connected Learning Alliance,. (2012). Connected Learning: Interest, Peer Culture, Opportunities. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/37639766

Hanks, W. (1991). Situated learning (p. 4). Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press.

Harley, R. (2008). The Fall of the Wall: Beyond Walled Gardens in Higher Education. Brisbane: ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. Retrieved from http://stereopresence.net/newsblog/the-fall-of-the-wall-beyond-walled-gardens-in-higher-education

Institute of Play,. (2013a). Charles Raben, 9th Grade Student at Quest to Learn. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/59098372

Institute of Play,. (2013b). SimCityEDU: Engaging 21st Century Learners. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/77705483

Ito, M., GutiĂŠrrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., & Salen, K. et al. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design (p. 5). Irvine: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved from http://dmlhub.net/wp-content/uploads/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf

McHugh, S. (2014). The RAT, SAMr, Transformative Technology, & Occam’s Razor. Digital Literacy Blog. Retrieved from http://doverdlc.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/the-rat-samr-transformative-technology.html

Vore, B. (2012). Interview: A New Multiplayer Focus. Gameinformer.com. Retrieved 7 September 2016, from http://www.gameinformer.com/games/simcity/b/pc/archive/2012/07/06/interview-a-new-multiplayer-focus.aspx

My understanding of “All models are wrong, but some are useful and its application to e-learning”

David’s post, “All models are wrong, but some are useful and its application to e-learning” (2015), presented a serious challenge for me to comprehend. I thought a good way to improve the ideas that I took away from it would be to present my current understanding in simplified form for public scrutiny. Apologies in advance if I’ve completely missed the mark.

David believes that new models are frequently introduced by new members of management as a means of trying to assert or build control over an existing organisation or project. I can relate to this after working in an IT position for a struggling retail company that experienced frequent changes to upper management. David asserts that the introduction of these new models are an expensive waste of resources as all models are bound to meet failure at some point because all models, by their very nature, are simplifications or approximations of reality (Burnham & Anderson, 2002). A scenario will always eventually be encountered that will not fit the chosen model. David doesn’t believe that models should be ignored as many models are useful and serve a purpose. The TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) framework is suggested as a potential solution as it provides a structure for using “‘appropriate, context-specific’ combinations of all of the models involved with e-learning” (Jones, 2015).

717c8defd97b729bf5c8be4d5286a70eI must admit that in the past I had a very simplistic view of how pedagogy should be designed. As the benefits constructivist and enquiry based teaching methods were drilled into me from the beginnings of my tertiary education, other more traditional methods of teaching, such as direct instruction, became ideas that were in my mind outdated and to be avoided entirely. I still think that facilitated learning offers greater benefits for most students. Overall I found this reading very interesting. I think I am easily persuaded and cling to models that I am most familiar with and David’s perspective encouraged me, in my role as a teacher, to consider the usage of models on a needs basis rather than assuming one model can be superior to all others in any context.

References

Burnham, K. & Anderson, D. (2002). Model selection and multimodel inference (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.

Jones, D. (2015). All models are wrong, but some are useful and its application to e-learning. The Weblog of (a) David Jones. Retrieved from https://davidtjones.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/all-models-are-wrong-but-some-are-useful-and-its-application-to-e-learning/

What will it take for large scale change of educational systems to occur?

Siemen (2008) states “Large systems do not react and change due to small change pressures. Once change has developed to a point of potentially altering the existing system, significant resistance can be expected.” So what could be the catalyst for this institution wide change to occur?

asda-self-service-checkoutAs covered in my previous post, I believe the rise of automation will ultimately be the catalyst that leads to the upheaval of, not only our education system, but our entire society as a whole. There is rising evidence that despite ever-increasing levels of productivity, employment is declining across the world (Frey & Osborne, 2016). A small-scale contemporary example of this is the introduction of self-service checkouts now common in retail stores across Australia. With the current existence and, in my opinion, inevitable near complete industry wide adoption of autonomous vehicles, a huge percentage of our nation’s jobs, including taxi, bus and truck drivers, are set to completely disappear. Here is a link listing the many benefits and disadvantages of this new technology.

I’d like to think that our society is open-minded enough to embrace new research into what a “school” or “classroom” should be to best meet the modern needs of students, however this will probably only fully be the case when traditional definitions of these words are well past being relevant. I’m looking forward to investigating these ideas more in assignment 2.

Reference

Frey, C. & Osborne, M. (2016). THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION?. Oxford: University of Oxford. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf

Knowing, Learning and Teaching in NGL

elementary school teacher and student high five

What would be the role of the educator? How should we teach?

Similarly to Angela’s post, I think the role of the teacher is to act as the facilitator of learning. If a student asks me for information, I always try to respond with an appropriate question that will lead them to the answer they are seeking. Unlike traditional notions of teaching, I don’t believe the teacher simply transfers their knowledge and views into the brains of students. If students are simply given information, their understanding of why this information is most accurate, relevant or objectively true will be much shallower than if they were to discover and decide truths for themselves. Furthermore, if you teach someone something and they are not convinced of its validity, there is a good chance that information will be discarded. By using teaching techniques that require students to find evidence and draw their own conclusions, learning is much more convincing and valid in the minds of students.

What would be the role of the learner?

As suggested in the reading posted by David, I agree that the learner’s role is that of the wayfinder and should be self-directed. Beyond this, learners need to find a way to make learning interesting and relevant to themselves. This requires deeper reflection in order to better understand what motivates and draws the attention of the learner. In better understanding themselves, learners can identify and harness methods of learning that are most effective for themselves. Finding what intrinsically motivates me is integral if I hope to work to my full-potential. I think this is similarly important for other learners, too.

The role of the learner is also to ensure that sufficient time and resources are planned and made available for the requirements of a course. This again requires self-reflection to identify each learner’s unique needs.

A Response to “Learning via Networked Learning”

In a blog post by Miranda, she experimented using a digital portfolio application called Seesaw. I’m really impressed with how much of the content that we are learning about she has been able to put into practice. I had never heard of this app before so was intrigued to find out about what it had to offer. Ease of usability is one of the most important factors when deciding if implementation of technology is worthwhile for me and I was pleasantly surprised with the benefits Seesaw has to offer. In this post I will share some of my thoughts about how the use of Seesaw could benefit stakeholders in a classroom.

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Seesaw allows students to document their own work by adding it to digital portfolios of their own creation. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from many teachers is that the administrative work involved in being a classroom teacher has increased enormously over the last few decades. In transferring this responsibility to students themselves, teachers are relieved of a great deal of administrative work, leaving more time for them to focus on something more important; facilitating high quality learning experiences.

Some more critical individuals may argue that this is shirking a responsibility of teachers but I think that this change offers significant benefit for students, too. Firstly, students must determine what documentation is most relevant for their portfolios. Secondly, students must curate the work that they are documenting in a way that is logical and best illustrates what they have been learning and creating. This process of reflection “force students to actively think about their work and the portfolio as a whole” and “provides further meaning to the assessment”(McDonald, 2011).

Lastly, Seesaw makes student assessment more accessible to all parties. Teachers are able to share private comments about how their students are developing and parents are able to access their children’s assessment tasks as they are progressing. As a teacher, I believe this kind of accessibility and transparency are effective tools for encouraging parents and other friends and family members to become more involved in students’ academic development outside of the classroom.

I’m curious to hear what the challenges or downsides of implementing this kind of software in classrooms are.

Reference

McDonald, E. (2016). Student Portfolios as an Assessment Tool. Educationworld.com. Retrieved 31 August 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/columnists/mcdonald/mcdonald025.shtml

An End to Meaningless Jobs?

4922970480_04ee575e82_bA recent post (Osborn, 2016) on singularityhub.com has me considering the future of employment in an increasingly automated society. American author, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil, shares this highly optimistic view of the effects our technological advances will bring in the future. His many prediction include the idea that in the early 21st century automation will lower working hours and free most people from menial work, allowing most around the world to make better use of their creativity and pursue their passions (Kurzweil, 1999).

robotbossIn contrast a darker possibility of the future has been described by many. Current trends indicate that while productivity is increasing, employment opportunities are decreasing (Rotman, 2013). If these trends continue, wealth will become even more consolidated into the hands of a few elite and there will be less chance of the benefits of technological advancement, that have been achieved through the effort of virtually all throughout history, being shared among all of humanity.

This trend is evident in online forms of education as technology is allowing more students to by taught by lower numbers of teaching staff. This is not to say that the workload of those teaching online courses is becoming less, only that those employed in these jobs are capable of providing education to greater numbers of students and geographical location becoming less of a hindrance to learning every day.

As a teacher, this will mean I will have to continue to adapt to new educational technologies and an increasing pace. It will also mean that I will need to prepare students for a future economy that no one is able to predict accurately. Whatever the future holds, I believe that the abilities to critically analyse and independently learn will be of great value.

References

Kurzweil, R. (1999). The age of spiritual machines. New York: Viking.

Osborn, S. (2016). The End of Meaningless Jobs Will Unleash the World’s Creativity. Singularity HUB. Retrieved 24 August 2016, from http://singularityhub.com/2016/08/23/the-end-of-meaningless-jobs-will-unleash-the-worlds-creativity/

Rotman, D. (2013). How Technology Is Destroying Jobs. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 24 August 2016, from https://www.technologyreview.com/s/515926/how-technology-is-destroying-jobs/

Reddit as an educational tool?

UnknownA blog post by Elliot Bristow (2014) discusses the potential for Reddit to be used teaching as an educational tool. He believes that Reddit has great potential as it is a great way for students to share and discover new things. The fact that many (or possibly most) young students may already be regular visitors and contributors to the site is evidence of the site’s ability to captivate and addict its user-base.

Unfortunately, I completely agree with the sentiments expressed in the comments below Elliot’s post. Promoting use of Reddit to younger students is a huge risk as extremely adult and often illegal/unethical content is hosted on the site. Areas known as “subreddits”, dedicated to discussion and sharing of almost any subject, can be setup by users with little effort or oversight. Often only a single click away, many subreddits could almost certainly lead to career ending results for a teacher due to the potential damage they could do to students or danger they could place them in.

Reddit has shown interest in policing the content posted on it’s site though I think this could have a negative effect too if undertaken too heavy-handedly. I like the idea of people having an outlet for free speech, whether the ideas expressed in that speech are agreeable or not, so long as that speech or content shared does not cause harm to anyone.

A potential solution could be to have a process of whitelisting content that is certified as viewable by all audiences. Unfortunately, there are several reasons why this would probably not work well in context of Reddit. The strength and attraction to Reddit is the unpredictable and controversial nature of the content that is constantly being posted to it. Whitelisting would require active moderation of content before it appeared to other users. I doubt there would be a sufficient number of volunteers to moderate the amount of content being posted, even in a moderately sized subreddit. Furthermore, this would cause delays in discussions between users, potentially killing conversation. Another issue I can foresee is that standards of what content is appropriate for younger students differs between nations, cultures, and many other identifiable groups. Controversies caused by this difference in values are commonly seen occurring on the social network, Facebook (Hern, 2013). These challenges are a shame because they severely limit the use of a potentially great tool for encouraging authentic and situated learning experiences.

References

Bristow, E. (2014). THE EDUCATORS’ GUIDE TO REDDIT – SHARING, LEARNING, AND WHERE STUDENTS ARE. The Edublogger. Retrieved from https://www.theedublogger.com/2014/06/30/the-educators-guide-to-reddit-sharing-learning-and-where-students-are/

Hern, A. (2013). Facebook’s changing standards: from beheading to breastfeeding images. the Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/oct/22/facebook-standards-beheading-breastfeeding-social-networking

Me as a Teacher

What has been your role as a teacher?

I have worked in various teaching roles but most of my experience has been in teaching English to ESL/EAL students. I’m interested in teaching ICT in the future, which was one of the main reasons I chose this course. I’ve now come to understand that while NGL is greatly enhanced by digital tools, it is not defined by it.

While I did okey in school, I really appreciated and have great memories of the teachers who were passionate about what they did and went out of their way to support my learning needs. I hope to be the kind of teacher that I didn’t always have.

How have you used NGL in the past?

As I’ve taught predominantly overseas, most of the school settings that I’ve worked in were extremely structured and required teachers to use very traditional teaching methods. This was an enlightening experience as it allowed me to see the learning outcomes achieved through the use of these methods and the effects they have on learners as they progress through very rigid school systems. I came back to Australia to receive teacher accreditation so that I could work in settings where I had greater control over the teaching methods that I employed.

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This English First online education tool offered no ability for students to communicate with their peers.

One experience I did have was an online educational game system implemented while I was working at English First in Jakarta. Students were able to practice the grammar and vocabulary they had learnt in class, at home. I believe students could compare their results and scores with one-another, though I don’t think there were any tools for communication or sharing of independent creations. I remember this simple system was a very big and expensive initiative to implement.

How can you see yourself implementing NGL in the future?

From my experience in this course so far, I can really feel the power that allowing students to share their work can have on motivating them. I feel great every time I share something new and receive feedback from my classmates. I’m a big believer in the dangers modern consumerist culture poses (Bond & Stuart, 1998). encouraging students to become creators is integral if “learning and personal development, as well as building self-esteem” (Briggs, 2014) are to be achieved.

I think use of various networking sites such as Flickr, Facebook, Youtube and Vimeo could be excellent tools to allow students to share and peer review one another’s work. Perhaps through the use of security features, students’ identities and privacy can be protected.

References

Bond, E. & Stuart, I. (1998). Edward Bond letters (p. 174). [S.l.]: Harwood Academic Publishers.

Briggs, S. (2014). Students As Creators: How To Drive Your Students To Be More Than Just Consumers – InformED. InformED. Retrieved 18 August 2016, from http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/students-as-creators/