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 of 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education, other more traditional methods of teaching, such as direct instruction, became ideas that were, in my mind, outdated and to be avoided entirely.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/

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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

Filter Bubbles

In a previous post, David brought the concept of the “filter bubble to my attention. While I was partially aware of the concepts behind the filter bubble I had never investigated the effects of them in detail.

Filter-Bubble-Over-Personalised-Internet-Behrouz-JafarnezhadA filter bubble is usually the result of systems that personalise the information that is viewable to individual users. Filter bubbles are encountered when using services including Google Web Search (Google), the Facebook social networking site (Facebook), YouTube (Google) and Windows 10 (Microsoft). These companies, as well as many others, attempt to provide more “relevant” and “personalised” information and content based on what they know and assume about individual users. This filtering is usually done to achieve more efficient and enjoyable experiences for users and increase the chances of users encountering content that they are likely to spend money on. Customers should be happier and corporations should be more profitable.

Unfortunately, as outlined in the youtube video below, this is not always what users want or in their best interest.

I find it extremely uncomfortable thinking that corporations have control over what content I am able to see and not see. Why should they decide what news or social causes I should be made aware of? Corporations and governments have their own interests that may conflict with my own. Taking this into account, I don’t believe it is an intelligent course of action to rely on them to recommend what content is most relevant to my own needs.

Another interesting concept attached to filter bubbles is the idea of the “echo chamber”.  “Echo chamber” is a metaphorical term to describe situations where information, beliefs and ideas are  amplified through repetition within a closed environment. Filter bubbles create closed environments limiting the diversity of discussion users are exposed to within online communities. Studies have found that this promotes more extreme views and lowers open intellectual discussion (Del Vicario et al., 2016).

So how can we avoid filter bubbles? One suggestion is to use anonymous modes that are built in to most web browsers. This can hide your identity from websites, limiting their ability identify and make assumptions about you. Unfortunately, online tracking has become much more complex than many are aware of and there is no way to truly know if you are still browsing within a filter bubble or not. As a student, I think it is important for me to become more aware of who is supplying the information that I am exposed to, what their motivations are and what kind of liberties they are taking to “personalise” my experiences.

Update: I’ve just noticed an earlier post by Brigitte touched on this same subject. Her analysis brings up some excellent points.

Reference

Del Vicario, M., Bessi, A., Zollo, F., Petroni, F., Scala, A., & Caldarelli, G. et al. (2016). The spreading of misinformation online. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, 113(3), 554-559. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1517441113

Using the CLEM Framework: Examples and Model

For my final self-analysis post using the CLEM framework, I will address the last two components; examples and model.

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Examples:

What examples exist?

YouTube video tutorials have been most valuable for me.

I thought this finals match was a good example of various tactics (including cheating, as pointed out in the comments section). The white player demonstrates how to appear weaker in order to avoid attention from other players.

This video does a very good job of explaining the most common strategies for beginners. It lightly touches on some social engineering techniques to divert the attention of other players. I think deeper examples of strategies will involve more complex social engineering tactics.

What can you learn from those examples? 

Even at apparently “high level” play this game is very easy to follow. Unlike a game like chess, I think the tactics that players are employing are much easier to read. Many of the beginner strategies were things that I had learnt intuitively from simply playing the game. It was good to have some of my assumptions verified as effective tactics.

What makes a good example? 

For me, a good example focuses on demonstrating a small number of concepts. Concepts should be shown clearly with explanations or examples of their outcomes. Secondly, pre-assumed knowledge of strategies and technical terms is kept to a minimum. Lastly, examples should be entertaining to maintain my attention.

What makes a bad example? Are there examples applicable to you?

A bad example would demonstrate play that displays little understanding or use of gameplay strategies. While commenters of the first YouTube video that I posted pointed out that one of the players cheated multiple times, I think this is still a valuable example because it showed me common methods that other players may employ to cheat. This will help me be more aware of cheating tactics in the future. I won’t be employing these tactics myself as I’m a player that gains no satisfaction when a victory is achieved unfairly.

Model:

What else do you need to look for?

Since moving, I’ve lost my network of friends that I often played board games with. I need to link up with a new group to “put into action” what I have learnt.

Can you find it?

There are numerous board gaming groups around, but I need to find the one that suits my personality. Many of these groups focus heavily on the role-playing elements of board games where as I prefer to focus on the strategy behind them. I have found some university clubs that might suit my needs.

Using the CLEM Framework: Literature

Continuing from my last post, I will proceed to the next component of the CLEM framework.

clem 2

Literature:

What academic (and other) literature exists around this practice? Whether produced by the community or elsewhere. What is it? Where is it?

I haven’t been able to locate a lot of academic literature on the subject online through web search-engines. Little of relevance is available from the USQ library archive. The content that I have been able to locate on the web has mostly been created by the Catan playing community on blogs and social networks.

Interestingly, much of the academic literature on Catan is related to the field of artificial intelligence rather than human player strategies. I was surprised to find that few strategy guide books are advertised. Literature really is largely community produced.

One example of relevant academic literature on this subject: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6932884/

For non-academic community literature, I have found boardgamegeek.com, settlers-strategy.com and catan.wikia.com to be excellent sources.

Given its popularity, it was quite a surprise for me to find that little in the way of physical literature or journal articles have been published on this game. With its heavy use of dice rolling, I thought it would be of great interest to those in the field of probability. Perhaps the game features so many variables that it is too complex for accurate mathematical strategies to be designed.

More on this topic to come…

Using the CLEM Framework: Community

Similarly to Angela’s post, I’ve decided to try get a better understanding of the CLEM framework by applying it to my own learning situation. This and following posts will explain what I have found so far in terms of the four components of the CLEM framework. The first of these components is “community”.

What have you chosen to learn “as a learner”? 

I have chosen to learn deeper knowledge and strategies of the game “Settlers of Catan”.

clem

Community:

What, where and how active are the communities around the practice I’m interested in? Are there different communities?

From my investigations, various communities exist online, however few members are invested in the game enough to be actively involved in online discussion. The few avid fans that I have communicated with have been very friendly and helpful. Below are a few of the online communities that I’ve been able to locate:

http://catan.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

https://www.facebook.com/settlersofcatan/

http://www.catanmaps.com/about/

https://developingcatan.wordpress.com

https://www.reddit.com/r/Catan/

How do you engage with this community? Where do you go to get help?

So far Reddit has been the most active community that I’ve been able to connect with. The Settlers of Catan subreddit boasts 8,646 subscribers. I believe this is simply due to the popularity and addictiveness of the Reddit site itself.

Other sites have been excellent resources for gaining new information however my experience has been that their communities are much less active. The exception to this may be the Catan Wikia, however I have read that in order to become an accepted member in wiki sites time and effort are required to build up a good reputation. Wikis are often the targets of vandalism and frequent contributors sometimes have very high standards for the content they see fellow community members publish.

Discussions in public forums have so far been an effective method of getting help. Due to the community’s size, I am receiving assistance from different members each time. I think I am also getting to a point where I am able to offer help to other members of the community.

More posts on this topic coming soon…

A Response to “SAMR Lenses” and “LEARNING AND THE SAMR MODEL”

Angela and Brigitte’s posts on the SAMR model both brought up some excellent points. I agree with them that the model does an excellent job of helping us categorise and identify how and to what extent our use of technology is changing student learning.

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I have a difference of opinion with Brigitte’s suggestion that her blog work would be considered a Substitution in the SAMR model. I agree that if there are no viewers of a blog, it offers little more than a personal journal, however I still believe that it’s digital nature would place it in the Augmentation classification.

I hold this view because blogs allow for “real-time” viewing of changes as they are made and the ability for audience members to peer review through the use of commenting systems. Multimedia content can also be presented directly on the blog. Lastly, it is possible for multiple users to have access to and upload to a single blog. This allows for a great deal of simultaneous collaboration to take place, creating the potential for large scale blog networks such as those maintained by Gawker Media (soon to be shutdown). This connects with the ideas presented in earlier week 3 readings (Dron & Anderson, 2014).

References

Dron, J. & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds (pp. 71-92). Athabasca: Athabasca University Press.

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/