I was in Vancouver at AERA 2012 last week, where I had the opportunity to present some of my recent work and catch up with colleagues. A few of the conversations I had centered around the increasing interest our field is receiving. This is a great time to be involved with educational technology, though there’s a lot of discussion about what higher education may look like a few years down the road. At the same time however, contemporary discourse on how technology can “transform” education concerns me because it is largely guided by techno-enthusiasm, techno-determinism, and a desire to improve “efficiency,” on models grounded on marginal costs and revenues. This is not a new concern – I wrote about it in the past as well. However, George Siemens does a great job describing what current thinking in the edtech corporate world looks like. My perspective is that, if we want to improve education for all, we have to engage with educational technology critically, involve educators in designing innovations, and use the research that a lot of us have done on learning, education, and technology.
To this end, I decided to share a a list of papers from my research library that offer a critical perspective on the use of technology in education. This is not a rant against the field. Rather, this is an attempt to highlight alternative ways of thinking. Alternative perspectives are important, because they help us question our assumptions and worldview. I thought it was about time for this, as the last entry that I wrote on this issue was about two years ago. If you have any additional work that might fit into this category, please share it in the comments section, and I will update the blog entry with those. Alternatively, you can add papers to this group on mendeley (feel free to join as well).
Amory, A. (2010). Education Technology and Hidden Ideological Contradictions. Educational Technology & Society, 13(1), 69- 79.
Bayne, S. (2010). Academetron, automaton, phantom: uncanny digital pedagogies. London Review of Education, 8(1), 5-13.
Friesen, Norm. (2010). Education and the social Web: Connective learning and the commerical imperative. First Monday, 15(12).
Friesen, Norm. (2011). Critical Theory: Ideology Critique and the Myths of E‐Learning, (February), 1-20.
Kahn, R., & Kellner, D. (2007). Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich: technology, politics and the reconstruction of education. Policy Futures in Education, 5(4), 431-448.
Njenga, J. K., & Fourie, L. C. H. (2010). The myths about e-learning in higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(2), 199-212.
Oliver, M. (2011). Technological determinism in educational technology research: some alternative ways of thinking about the relationship between learning and technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, (November 2010), no-no. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00406.x
Peck, C., Cuban, L., & Kirkpatrick, H. (2007). Techno-Promoter Dreams,Student Realities. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(6), 472-480.
Piña, A. A. (2010). Online diploma mills : implications for legitimate distance education. Distance Education, 31(1), 121-126. doi:10.1080/01587911003725063
Ravenscroft, A. (2001). Designing E-learning Interactions in the 21st Century: revisiting and rethinking the role of theory. European Journal of Education, 36(2), 133-156. doi:10.1111/1467-3435.00056
Sahay, S. (2007). Beyond Utopian and Nostalgic Views of Information Technology and Education: Implications for Research and Practice. Information Systems, 5(7), 282-313.
Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65-73. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x
Selwyn, Neil. (2011). Editorial: In praise of pessimism—the need for negativity in educational technology. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 713-718.
Selwyn, Neil, & Gorard, S. (2004). Exploring the role of ICT in facilitating adult informal learning. Education, Communication & Information, 4(2-3), 293-310. doi:10.1080/14636310412331304726
Warschauer, M. (2007). The paradoxical future of digital learning. Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 41-49. doi:10.1007/s11519-007-0001-5
Weston, M. E., & Bain, A. (2010). The End of Techno-Critique : The Naked Truth about 1 : 1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change. The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 9(6).
It’s digital scholarship week at #change11 and I am in the midst of following the activity on Twitter and a number of blogs. At the same time I am preparing my annual activity report that details the work that I’ve been doing over the past year. In this report, one will find evidence on research, teaching, and service. Evaluation norms for these include: citations, average teaching scores compared to departmental/university averages, journal impact factors, evidence of impact on education and the profession, etc.
One of the issues that often comes up, and one that Martin raises in chapter 11 of his book as well, is the lack of established frameworks to evaluate digital scholarship, digital artifacts, and academics’ digital participation. That’s not to say that all digital participation should be evaluated or that all digital participation is even worthy of evaluation. The lack of frameworks, in addition to indicating that academia may not value digital artifacts, also signifies the difficulty of assessing the impact of scholarship. This is not a new problem, as academia has struggled with figuring out methods with which to evaluate innovations. A similar issue is facing Design-Based Researchers. Collins, Joseph, and Bielaczyc (2004, pp. 40) for instance, note that Design-Based Research generates mountains of data that independent researchers can use in answering their own questions about teaching and learning. But “this would require the community to honor such reanalysis of data with the same status as original research and it would require research journals and tenure committees to take such work seriously.” While other fields have found value in the analysis of secondary data (e.g., bioinformatics), education has yet to make advances in this domain.
Food for thought: Institutions are complex entities that serve numerous stakeholder. How do we create frameworks that value the important work that is being done on digital spaces, while also valuing the cultural norms and values of the institution?
Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 15-42. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1301_2
This week’s session at the #change11 MOOC is focusing on Digital Scholarship. Professor Martin Weller is leading this session and I’m excited to see how the week unfolds. Importantly, Martin’s new book, The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice, has just been published by Bloomsbury Academic both for purchase and for free under an open access format.
I became familiar with Martin’s work within the last year or so. Within this time frame I have been increasingly interested in how academics are repurposing technology tools to improve teaching and research. At the same time, I’ve been studying how traditional research/teaching practices are defining the use of technology, and how technology aligns with or conflicts with cultural values. I was quickly drawn to Martin’s work, and I’m glad that I now have a book to recommend to my colleagues who are looking to understand the issues surrounding digital scholarship.
So… stay tuned… I hope to post some of my thoughts here during the upcoming week, but if you are interested, feel free to tag along through the #change11 site or through the other networks in which conversations are happening (e.g., on Twitter through the #change11 hashtag or on the Open Study change11 group).
I just came across Nancy White’s discussion of her contribution to the 2011-2012 Change MOOC organized by George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier (through Stephen’s announcement). Draft schedule here. I thought that Nancy’s description of her session sounded wonderful – so wonderful actually, that I wish that we had all shared our session descriptions with each other prior to designing them so as to create more synergies between the weekly sessions. There’s always room for re-design however, and I’m sure the #change11 organizers wouldn’t mind (smile)!
I am sharing my session description below, and even though I have tried to draw links to other sessions, you will see that task #2 is asking participants to make connections to other parts of the course in a very specific and personal way.
I would love to hear any input that you may have about this!
Scholars’ online participation and practices (April 30-May 6, 2012)
George Veletsianos, Instructional Technology – University of Texas at Austin
Within the openness movement, we have seen increasing calls for scholars and educators to employ open digital practices. For instance, enthusiasts argue that networked technologies such as blogs, social networking sites, microblogging fora, and other emerging social media can help democratize knowledge production and dissemination. During this week, we will explore how academics co-opt and appropriate technology in their day-to-day professional lives, with specific emphasis on social networking technologies. We will discuss faculty members’ experiences and practices when they adopt online social networks (e.g., Twitter) and online scholarly networks (e.g., Academia.edu) for professional purposes, and investigate whether their online participation is (re)defining academic work (i.e. teaching and research).
My work in this domain has started with a desire to understand faculty member’s digital practices. Professor Weller’s research (2011), which was also presented in this MOOC, has set the foundations for this investigation. Thus, the digital scholarship movement influences and informs my work. In this context, I have studied the relationship between scholarly practice and participatory technologies, and sought to understand (a) what faculty members’ do in online social networks, (b) what their experiences in these networks are like, and (c) what issues and pitfalls we might face when suggesting the use of social media for faculty members’ professional practice. This is an important topic of study because (a) digital scholarship is gaining increasing interest, and (b) a large percentage of higher education faculty have adopted, are considering the use of), or have rejected social networking technologies for professional practice, Importantly, the field is in dire need of empirical data to be in a position to critically evaluate claims with regards to the benefits that social technologies might afford academic practice (i.e. teaching and research).
During this particular week, we will consider whether the rise of online social networking within academic circles is a result of technological or cultural shifts, and investigate the purposes, goals, and pitfalls of networked participation. For instance, we will ask: What are academics doing in online public spaces? What are their intentions and what are their fears? Are faculty members’ altruistically sharing information on social media for the benefit of the community in which they belong? Or, is information-sharing a self-serving activity? Are academics sharing information in order to assist the profession grow intellectually, or are they attempting to develop a “brand” around themselves? Are we seeing the rise of the “public scholar” or the rise of the “celebrity scholar?” A critical evaluation of academics’ participation in digital spaces matters because an understanding of these reasons will allow us to gain a better sense of how and why online social networks are used in the ways that they are. Whether we recognize it or not, we are part of a complex techno-cultural system that is ever changing in response to both internal and external stimuli, including technological innovations and dominant cultural values. An understanding of the cotemporary forces that shape academic work is necessary for enhancing education and scholarship.
2. List of Readings
Hall, R. (2010). Open Education: The need for critique. Blog entry retrieved on August 12, 2011 from http://www.learnex.dmu.ac.uk/2010/07/27/open-education-the-need-for-critique/
Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65-73.
Veletsianos, G. (in press). Higher Education Scholars’ Participation and Practices on Twitter. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.
Weller, M. (in press). The digital scholar: How technology is changing academic practice. Bloomsbury Academic.
Plus two other papers that I am not yet able to share publicly, but will be available by the time this session arrives.
3. Suggested Activities
Task 1: What do academics do on _________________ ?
The intention of this task is to describe academics’ participation on a number of social technologies (e.g., Twitter, Quora, Google +, Linkedin, Blogs, etc). The goal is to evaluate participation and understand (a) how technology and its affordances influence participation, and (b) professional roles influence participation and use of technology. This is essentially a mini research task.
Your “description” can be done individually or collaboratively. It can also take any form that you are comfortable with. For instance, it can be an essay posted as a blog entry, a video narrative, a digital story, or a concept map. You should include support for any claims that you make. For instance, you can use empirical data or references to the literature (or other writing) to support your claims.
Task 2: Create a concept map that explains how the topic studied this week relates to and/or contributes to further understanding the topics studied in preceding weeks.