An introduction to our May, 2010 issue of in education, a peer-reviewed, open access journal. This is also Part II of a two-part series focusing on Technology & Social Media. The previous issue (Part I) can be found here.
A power shift is occurring in higher education, driven by two trends: (a) the increased freedom of learners to access, create, and re-create content; and (b) the opportunity for learners to interact with each other outside of a mediating agent. Information access and dialogue, previously under control of the educator, can now be readily fulfilled by learners. When the essential mandate of universities is buffeted by global, social/political, technological, and educational change pressures, questions about the future of universities become prominent. The integrated university faces numerous challenges, including a decoupling of research and teaching functions. Do we still need physical classrooms? Are courses effective when information is fluid across disciplines and subject to continual changes? What value does a university provide society when educational resources and processes are open and transparent?
Many educators have called for the inclusion of new technologies like blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking in higher education to address the learning needs of the Net Generation. Is there really a discrepancy between the personal and educational use of new technologies by undergraduates? What new technologies do they perceive as most beneficial for their learning? A survey piloted with 26 undergraduates in education demonstrated a huge gap in undergraduates’ informal and educational use of new technologies, but indicated that students independently apply their technical skills to their coursework. In open-ended responses, students explained how they have benefited from professors’ use of online videos, podcasts, wikis and blogs, and how they would like to see them used in the future. The results are discussed in the context of prior research and the need for further empirical evidence on the differences within the group termed the Net Generation is highlighted.
New digital and web-based technologies are spurring rapid and radical changes across all media industries. These newer models take advantage of the infinite reproducibility of digital media at zero marginal cost. There is an argument to be made that the sort of changes we have seen in other industries will be forced upon higher education, either as the result of external economic factors (the need to be more efficient, responsive, etc.) or by a need to stay relevant to the so-called ‘net generation’ of students (Prensky, 2001; Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005; Tapscott & Williams, 2010).
This article discusses the impact of digital technologies on each of Boyer’s dimensions of scholarship: discovery, integration, application and teaching. In each case the use of new technologies brings with it the possibility of new, more open ways of working, although this is not inevitable. The implications of the adoption of new technologies on scholarship are then discussed.
The authors critique the commonly accepted notions of ‘digital native’ students and the widening generation gap between them and ‘technophobic’ faculty. Their case studies, from UK higher education, demonstrate that attempts to introduce new models of learning are inhibited by 1) prevailing structure and culture within universities and 2) expectations (or even a stated preference) for traditional delivery and assessment of knowledge by the students themselves. The authors recommend a strategy for more systemic integration of social technologies and new learning styles into the curriculum to help ensure that universities remain relevant and add value to learners and employers in the digital age.
While originally marketed to college students, Facebook has grown into a popular gathering space not just for students, but also for professionals who are seeking an opportunity to network with others and exchange ideas and resources. Within Facebook’s gathering areas, thousands of teachers that can be observed engaging in discussions related to teaching and learning. Facebook provides teachers with an opportunity to engage in informal professional development that is participant driven, practical, collaborative, dynamic in nature and available 24 hours a day from any Internet connected location.
This qualitative study sought to explore participants’ perceptions of the impact of web-based backchanneling conversations in a variety of learning environments. Backchannels, forms of instant message conversations, take place during synchronous learning sessions. Online interviews with educators from Canada and the United States revealed their perceptions of the uses, constraints, and successful practices of backchanneling. Educators in the study saw backchanneling as a non-disruptive, non-subversive, collaborative activity that expanded participation and interactions; an approach applied with intentionality to enhance learning. Six themes emerged from the data: backchanneling for professional development and networking; backchanneling for engagement; constraints of backchanneling; changes in teacher and/or learner perspectives; examples of backchanneling in educational settings; and suggestions for successful backchanneling.
In this paper, I discuss the implementation of a small-scale Adventure Learning project in a higher education classroom. Data used to evaluate the Adventure Learning project indicates that the learner experience was engaging, meaningful, fun, and challenging. Suggestions for future practice and research include a call to rethink education in terms of pedagogy, social technologies, creative curricula, authentic learning, and narrative. Higher education learning experiences should foster participation and interaction and envision integrative approaches to learning that not only solve problems but also reconsider the kinds of experiences that we offer to learners.
An electronic reflective journaling process is described here. Second year pre-service teachers engaged with their professors through an electronic documentation of learning tool that was transformed over the period of a term. The practice of sharing, analyzing, deliberating and making professional judgments in a supportive, on-line, reflective process enhanced the ability of these new teachers to truly grasp the experiences they were engaged in. The process invited them to explore their beliefs and practices in ways that moved them beyond the simple functioning as a teacher, to truly becoming a teacher.
While the ubiquity of Web 2.0 technologies disrupts conventional notions of schooling and literacy, its impact on learning is idiosyncratic at best. Taking the form of a dialogue based on the fifteen-week collaboration of two colleagues implementing an innovative first-year university writing course, this paper documents some of the successes and challenges they faced as they sought to create a space for those technologies in their classrooms.