Revisiting Prensky’s digital native/immigrant debate

Prensky’s polarisation of students and teachers into digital natives and immigrants was simplistic, but the KIS (Keep It Simple) approach can be an effective stimulant for debate. Prensky has been responsible for a lot of debate. Dig underneath the surface and the core of Prensky’s polemic remains relevant. The question of how can the social shift to digital ways of working best enhance teaching and learning remains unanswered.  Prensky was right. Those with Britannica feet are being replaced by generations whose only reference source is Google. The image below is simplistic but contains a valuable message for anyone wanting to see digital literacies and scholarship embedded into the curriculum.  How can an institution manage change and adapt to the digital impact of technology?

Prensky - what children should learn in schools

Neil Selwyn* offers a realistic appraisal of Prensky, usefully reminding us of the social shaping of technology and how usage mirrors existing social structures. The  literature of digital divides should underpin all policy and strategic approaches. In the meantime digital technology is becoming more pervasive. Soon won’t need the T in ICT; it will be taken for granted. It’s ironic how the strata of digital engagement has ‘shallowness’ as the deepest and widest layer.

The key problem is the solid curriculum. It seems unable to flex enough to incorporate essential requirements for the century, namely individuals who can tell the difference between knowledge, information and personal opinion – online. The skills to manage vertical searching and differentiate between authenticity and conspiracy theories are the core basics of digital literacies, alongside the presentation of self and parameters of access.  However, embedding all these into the curriculum, and focusing on digital graduate attributes, is only part of the answer.

It isn’t only about student education, it’s about teacher education too. In 2001 Prensky was saying ‘today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach’ but a decade later no one is saying today’s education system is no longer training the teachers it needs for a digital age. Calling people natives or immigrants drew attention to digital technology for education, but as well as redesigning the curriculum for students, we need to revisit support and resources for the teachers who are implementing it, something  Prensky, Selwyn  and other contemporary commentators appear – so far – to have missed.  


Educating the ‘Digital Natives’ (2011) from Neil Selwyn’s Education and Technology, London: Continuum –available from Continuum (now Bloomsbury) Companion website http://www.continuumbooks.com/CompanionWebsites/book-homepage.aspx?BookId=158591


Down – but not defeated…OLDsMOOC Week 4 summary

In Week 4 we’ve been sharing pedagogical patterns, engaging with the BOTWOO concept (Building On The Work Of Others), been patronised (‘This is what we all do as researchers, but do much less as teachers. Teachers don’t find it that easy’) and partially ignored (many in the DIY Multimedia group and in Cloudworld are learning designers external to education; I’m in HE but not a ‘teacher’. The diversity of participants seems unrecognised yet we’ve agreed on the importance of designing for your audience and learner context in week 3. It’s been a good week – honestly – but maybe not in terms of MOOCing.  I don’t mean to be grumpy – but OLDsMOOC is reinforcing some of my attributions and I never like it when that happens. In Week 4 I investigated the PPC Pedagogical Patterns Collector using the Pedagogical Patterns Collector guide  but didn’t get very far – other than finding myself here in Week 5 and looking at making prototypes of my learning activities. Now we have moved into the realms of fantasy. I don’t know how to access to a programmer but I know I want one!!!

As if this were not enough cause for frustration, then the Wk 5 video transcript simply depressed me. I wanted to capture the part of the Week 5 video where DL compares ‘...something you can do yourself like a PowerPoint or sequence in Moodle‘ to how you communicate your idea for a digital design to a programmer. I thought this was a useful reminder of the digital divide between technologists and the day to day experience of most academic staff, but got sidetracked on finding the transcript is an image and this defeats the objective of providing one. Week 4 transcript was pdf. Not ideal but it could be copied into Word albeit with inconvenient line breaks. Text as an image is useless and misunderstands the potential of digitally inclusive practice.  http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/HTML/wiki/Media_Accessibility_User_Requirements  

In DIY Multimedia we’ve stressed the importance of alternative formats from the beginning and it’s been reassuring to share awareness of the importance of this element of learning design.  Providing digital content in a single fixed format assumes the MEE Model of computer access where users work via a Mouse for navigation and their eyes and ears for images and sound. This fails to reflect the diversity of ways people use computers and access the internet but the MEE Model underpins 99% of digital content.  Learning designers have a critical role to play in challenging the limitations of single formats while championing the inherent flexibility of digital data to be customised to suit individual requirements.

One of my many problems with MOOCs is the divide between their potential and the reality. I blogged last week on the EPIC 2020 and Turning Point 2012 videos which present the threat posed through mass education by MOOCs. Back in the late 1980’s, the founders of the internet heralded the internet’s potential for democratic access. This isn’t happening and some days trying to keep inclusive practice high on the agenda feels like hard work.

End of MOOC week 1; reflection

At the end of week 1 I’ve tried to follow the activities http://www.olds.ac.uk/the-course/week-1 It hasn’t been easy to find a way through the different technologies. This in itself has been an interesting experience. It’s good to step outside your comfort zone and one way to engage with new ways of working is to have a definite task in mind. My proposal is the development of DIY approach to Multimedia. This aligns with an on going project, so OLD with audio and video is relevant to me. My work role is to find ways to support people to use technology for education and I worry that here on OLDsMOOC  I’ve been unable to translate the initial interest in my proposal into a working team. Cloudworks seems unnecessarily complex with too many ways of doing things resulting in information being scattered with no obvious mechanism for pulling it all together and establishing a single communication channel. I’ve tried to understand Cloudworks. My cloud profile and links to my clouds and cloudscape is here http://cloudworks.ac.uk/user/view/4427 

I set up an alternative area for DIY Multimedia on Google Groups, this is here https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/olds-mooc-diy-multimedia 

Open education is part of my role at Lincoln. Having just completed a 12 month JISC/HEA OER Change Academy programme, I’d suggest engagement with the philosophy and practice of OER comes before MOOCS.  With OER you can have a more gentle and less public introduction but OER practice requires a sophisticated use of the internet and attention to specific digital literacies and MOOCs even more so. A key issue for me after this first week of OLDsMOOC is how many people may have tried and been defeated by the barrier of the technology. Rather than celebrating the affordances of online learning, this MOOC may have confirmed individual techno-fears and widened existing digital divides rather than helped bridge them. The spectrum of engagement with digital practices is wide. Many late adopters on the far side benefit from scaffolded approaches to increasing their digital confidence. Too often the technology is presented and users left to get on with it; reminiscent of early days of the VLE when attention was paid to the embedding of the technology and systems rather than the changes in practice necessary to shift from face to face to digital ways of working. OLDsMOOC has been a bit like these.

This is my OLDsMOOC story so far. I’ve been trying out MOOCs for some time and blogging about it herehttp://suewatling.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk where there are also OLDsMOOC musings and reflections. I’m looking forward to Week2 and to working with colleagues who have found there way onto the DIY Multimedia Google Group. Those who made initial contact and are still out there – I hope our paths cross again in one way or another.

Having posted this on yet another cloud http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/7459 and added it to the Refelction Cloudscape http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2787, I’ve applied for my first ever MOOC badge – and am waiting for approval…

Working with teams of staff developing OER for the past year http://oer.lincoln.ac.uk) I find engagement with openess demands a sophisticated understanding of the internet so is useful for developing digital literacies, but also making work freely available under a creative commons licence encourages the revisiting of learning design principles and practices. The smaller scale of OER reduces the massiveness of the MOOC so can be a useful starting point with online design..  

 Afterthoughts

Working with teams of staff developing OER for the past year http://oer.lincoln.ac.uk) I find engagement with openess demands a sophisticated understanding of the internet so is useful for developing digital literacies, but also making work freely available under a creative commons licence encourages the revisiting of learning design principles and practices. The smaller scale of OER reduces the massiveness of the MOOC so can be a useful starting point with online design..
Learning design with multimedia must include attention to accessibility and inclusion. Making sure content is provided in alternative formats is something to be considered at the beginning of the process, e.g. transcripts, captions, subtitles etc, and not bolted on as an after thought at the end (see TechDis for advice and guidance). This process needs to be meaningful otherwise the result becomes tokenistic. See http://suewatling.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2013/01/16/tokenistic-captions-on-nss-official-video-2013/ for an example of careless attention to these things!
When designing online learning environments  build in time for induction, finding your way around and making sure everyone in familiar with the channels of communication. This can help people disappearing before the fun begins 🙂
Oh and the ethics of using multimedia – permissions, consent, copyright, health and safety etc…. more on this to follow

OLDSMOOC: a learning curve in massiveness

MOOCs are great on so many levels. It’s hard to know where to start but already its’ clear that prioritising and organisation are key to MOOC success. How the tutors are managing to keep up with all the postings I don’t know; possibly lots of caffeine and late nights/early mornings lie ahead.

A key challenge is the proliferation of places to work in. It’s early days on the OLDs MOOC but already there is additional email traffic to manage and multiple new online places to explore (Cloudworks, Google Groups, Bibsomony etc). The summary of all the blog posts which mention MOOCs is a neat example of how the internet draws together shared interest. But is it all too much?  Digital confidence directly relates to existing experience – in particular with finding your way around social networking platforms –  for participants new to working online this in itself may pose a barrier.

When it comes to online presence, I prefer less to more – like single sign-on in reverse – one post appears in multiple places. I would be interested to know how other people manage their online lives and have posted this question in google groups – or was it my cloud in cloudworks?  I’ve had so many MOOC windows I was getting confused. Friday activities included View and discuss the presentation introducing learning design for the OLDS MOOC. Somewhere I saw an instruction not to start a new thread but couldn’t find where I’d read it.. There didn’t seem to be one which fitted the instruction. It all got a bit messy.

Is OLDs MOOC is using reverse psychology where having a proliferation of places to post is showing less is best? Or an example of technology dominating the pedagogy and/or the user experience. OLD is open ended – there are always new tools and new ways of using them so by definition OLD can never be finished – but in terms of learning design there is a risk the practice gets lost in the process. For me, learning design has to focus on the affordances of the software and keep the interface simple. As tweeted on #oldsmooc this is a learning curve on massiveness.

My response to Friday’s activity was to comment on the use of automatic captions on the YouTube presentation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc9u91y0RJ0&list=PLmkRbbm6LeNWQl3AgFP2eKE1akOeN1jfB They are inaccurate and difficult to read.

You Tube captions are inaccurate and difficult to read

The use of Multimedia in learning design offers powerful opportunities for meeting a range of learning preferences but all too often the provision of that information is limited to single or inadequate formats. It would be good to see OLDs MOOC following JISC TechDis advice on inclusive practice and setting an exemplary example with audio and video for others to follow.

My cloud – probably invisible in the cumulus mass – is here http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/6837

Where enthusiasm can be a disguise….

FutureLearn Ltd is the brand name for the twelve UK universities getting together with the The Open University to provide free online learning opportunities – now commonly referred to as MOOCs. The MOOC twelve are BirminghamBristolCardiffEast AngliaExeterKing’s College London, LancasterLeeds,  SouthamptonSt Andrews and Warwick. It’s early days with little information about business models or other structural essentials but FutureLearn Ltd will be majority owned by the OU who are providing initial funding and technology. With their long standing experience in delivering education at a distance, the OU are in a good position to make this happen and exert influence over the processes of design and delivery of materials. UK universities in online launch to challenge US from the BBC tells us courses will be offered on the FutureLearn online platform next year with the twelve universities being responsible for their own content, quality, accreditation and cost of courses. Cost? Not truly open then?  The article goes on to say there will also be social networking-style communities for students and materials will be designed for portable devices, such as iPads or mobile phones.

All of this represents a huge shift from traditional HE with massive implications for curriculum design, content production, teacher education, learning development and ICT support. Not to say this shift isn’t already happening, but those universities taking the lead will be those who already have already taken steps to ensure support is in place. Online distance education is so much more than filming a 50 minute lecture and uploading a powerpoint presentation. It requires a different approach to constructing content and social networking-style communities don’t just happen, they require shaping and supporting if they are to have relevant form and function. If open education is to work it needs appropriate support and resources around digital scholarship and digital literacies. MOOCs are the word of the moment and care needs to be taken so initial enthusiasm for the affordances of online learning are not disguising some of the potential problems underneath.

Remembrance Sunday – Armistice Day

Remembrance Sunday commemorates British and Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in world wars and other conflicts. British forces across the world, including 9,500 soldiers on duty in Afghanistan, will also pause to remember the fallen. This year Remembrance Sunday falls on 11 November itself, the date of the armistice which brought World War I to an end.

Poems for Remembrance http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/RemembranceB.htm 

open education – applying theory to practice

Embedding OER Practice is HEA/JISC funded project with a dual nature; one part has been engaging with the philosophy and practice of OER and the other looking for ways to embed OER practice as a whole institution strategy http://oer.lincoln.ac.uk  At Lincoln we’ve been looking at making units of learning freely available under a Creative Commons licence, while elsewhere in the world the principles of open academic practice have extended into full courses (OU, MIT, Stanford) and free online learning platforms (P2P , OERu)

The move from individual learning activities to modules and courses is an inevitable transition and, as with all educational content development work, it’s valuable apply theory to practice and have the experience of being a student.  These past two week I’ve been taking part in Designing for Collaborative Learning, an online course for members of the JISC community. The course has come out of the P2.0PLE project (Peer-2.0-Peer Learning Enhancement), led by the Beyond Distance Research Alliance, University of Leicester and was free, although the small print says the University of Leicester reserves the right to charge a fee of £100 to any individual who registers and fails to take part. Run through Course Sites (www.coursesites.com) which is Blackboard’s contribution to open education, students are given evidence of participation (no HE credits) and the course materials (including all e-tivities) are open educational resources, released under a Creative Commons BY (attribution) licence. A blog about the experience of being a p/t online student will follow shortly.

I’ve also registered on Open Content Licensing for Educators a week long course in December.  OCL4Ed is available through   http://wikieducator.org Use this link to register http://wikieducator.org/Open_content_licensing_for_educators/Home

Designed for educators who want to learn more about open education resources, copyright, and creative commons licenses,  OCL4Ed is sponsored by the OER Foundation, the COL Chair in OER at Otago Polytechnic, the UNESCO-COL Chair in OER at Athabasca Universityand Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand  The collaborative development was enabled by volunteers from the:WikiEducator community, OpenCourseWare Consortium and Creative Commons. This should be an interesting first hand experience of what international open education is all about.

Poor access, no access

 

Being poorly connected to the internet is so frustrating. I have my usual collection of mobile technologies in a place with no wifi and a weak phone signal. A dongle and a wifi hub are offering intermittent connections but the laptop doesn’t like the wifi and the dongle offers one bar out of a potential five. The mouseover message informs me connection is poor.  As if I need reminding. Sitting in the furthest corner of the smallest bedroom, next to the window, I can access email.  If I’m patient I can get onto the university blogs. That should say very patient. Downloading sites reminds me of the days when you could click a document link, make a cup of tea, and it would still only be two thirds of the way through. Images reveal at the rate of one pixel line at a time. But I’m lucky. These frustrations are temporary; inconvenient but not permanent. To be honest, this needs to be a compulsory staff development activity for everyone who works with educational technology and takes fast connections for granted. One a year for at least a week they should be forced into digital wastelands and made to try and do their work in places like these.   The more we become dependent on reliable internet access, the risk of exclusion being invisible increases. Ultimately the only way to remind ourselves of the tragedy of digital exclusion is to experience it.