Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘edtech

This critique of how people think about the effectiveness of edtech might push some folks to think more deeply about technology implementations in schools and universities.

It first suggested that most people assume that edtech and teaching practices independently impact learning outcomes. The article said this was wrong.

It then suggested that we should consider how edtech primarily influences teacher practices which then influence learning outcomes. While it did not discount the direct impact of edtech on learning outcomes should students learn independently of teachers, it relegated the importance of this route.

I would agree totally if it were not the fact that teacher practices do not necessarily change with technology use. This analysis of 41 teachers and the sample narrative illustrate this point.

I argue that the paradigm needs to shift to one where edtech directly impacts learning when it is in the hands of learners. Why? If teachers and teaching are like chemical reactions, they are the rate determining steps. However, they change too slowly to be noticed or to keep up with the times.

The edtech paradigm needs to match current reality. So what does that look like? Something like this.

Universities then and now.

Universities of old used to be centres of knowledge and learning. There was a nett outflow from these centres to the wider world.

While most universities might still see themselves operating this way in terms of research, much of their teaching is influenced by what is happening on the outside. They no longer are the only or primary lead in determining learning outcomes. You need only see the importance of portfolios, internships, vocational work, on-the-job training, and work-based qualifications to see how this is true.

Returning to edtech implementation, the indirect impact of edtech on learners via teachers is like relying on the university to learn about the wider world of work. The indirect approach relies on teachers to first see themselves also as learners and to change how they teach. If teachers do this, they learn to educate and can be very effective. However, this takes more time than the direct route of students learning how to be more independent with the edtech tools they already have.

Now this does not mean that teachers should not use edtech. It does mean teachers need to learn to be lead learners first. If they do this, they might combine wisdom from their adult experiences with the new found affordances of edtech to co-learn with their students. They become part of the wider world to wield influence not only on their students but also their schools.

People with business acumen might watch the video below and focus on the numbers, i.e., how much the companies stand to make by capturing the education market. They might also view this as a competition, but they are only partly right.


Video source

Prudent schools and educational institutions have learnt to be brand agnostic. Players like Google and Apple seem to recognise this. For example, you might have iPads deployed in classrooms, but users might prefer Google Drive to iCloud, so the two giants co-exist like parents.

I have worked with both in the past and realise that their representatives put their money where their mouths are. I recall Google Education folks toting Macs and Apple representatives not minding my approach to using the Google Edu Suite during a workshop proposal.

All this was a few years ago and the goal posts might have shifted. But I doubt they have moved so far that they try to blow the competition out of the water and risk destroying opportunities.


Video source

Why do some technologies, including educational technologies, fail to integrate meaningfully into our lives?

Viewed optimistically, one might suggest that the technology was “before its time”. The technology was ready, but the people were not.

Viewed more critically, one might argue that the technology was a solution seeking a problem. The core issue is whether the problem even exists or needs to be invented first. If you put the proverbial cart before the horse, do not expect any movement.

Viewed more realistically, technology co-evolves with our use so rapidly that it is hard to predict what people want, expect, or will do with technology. If the proverbial posts keep moving, do not expect to score goals.

 
Edtech tools are not created equally and even the best ones do not survive the test of time.

The first half of 2018 will see the demise of Storify and TodaysMeet. We say goodbye to Storify on 16 May 2018 and ta-ta to TodaysMeet on 16 Jun 2018. (The links lead to the official service pages and announcements, but I do not know how long those will exist.)

Storify was the go-to for archiving and curating tweet-chats. TodaysMeet was a clean and easy backchannelling tool. I have reflected on my use of Storify and TodaysMeet before.

I am sad to see them go, but I stand by what I tweeted earlier:

Already freemium tools like Padlet and Dotstorming — another two of my favourites — are emphasising the premium over the free. Padlet will only allow three free spaces and Dotstorming one board for new users.

The tools evolve and we must expect that and change. If the tools devolve, we should not throw our hands up in despair and cry unfair. There is at least person behind each tool who needs to pay his or her bills. We do not work for free, so we should not expect that of others.

But what might educators stretched for money do? Look for alternatives. It barely took a day for my Twitter PLN and RSS feeds to light up with alternatives.

Here is just one example from Twitter for TodaysMeet alternatives:

I also tweet-shared Wakelet, an excellent alternative to Storify. I discovered Wakelet as I subscribe to the RSS feed for ProfHacker.

The sun sets every day and it rises the next. We expect that so much that we take it for granted. Likewise we might become so dependent on some edtech tools that we forget to stay nimble.

It is not noon indefinitely. Watch as the shadows grow long and disappear. Find your own light and gather with other enlightened folk. This is the best way to learn and model constant learning.

If there has been a theme for my last few reflections including this one, it has been this: Refuse to be confused.

Refuse to be confused.

Recently I read an article whose author claimed that edtech was trapped in the basement of Bloom’s Taxonomy (BT). I agree the author’s conclusion, but not how he got there.

To understand what the author means, you need a visual representation of BT. The taxonomy is traditionally represented as a triangle with the learner’s ability to recall as the base.
 

 
The author’s argument was that edtech companies were not adding much value to schooling and education because they were addressing only this lowest order of thinking.

For critics of edtech companies, the author’s statement makes sense:

The current wave of education technology has been fraught with pedagogically unsound replications of the worst aspects of teaching and learning. Rather than build new opportunities for students to move beyond the most basic building blocks of knowledge, much of Silicon Valley has been content to recreate education’s problematic status quo inside the four corners of a Chromebook, and then have the gall to call that innovation.

I would agree fully except that BT should not be viewed or used procedurally from base to tip. I have rationalised why before.

TLDR? Authentic learning does not happen this way. There is no textbook Q&A or fixed procedure in life and in problem-solving. Authentic learning happens organically and the learner is often confronted with ill-structured and complex problems.

If school is supposed to prepare students for work and the rest of their lives, they should be taught in a natural and compatible manner, not in an artificial and over-structured fashion.

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy in the form of a Verb Wheel.

This is why I helped to develop the Bloom’s Verb Wheel. There is no implied base or start point for learning outcomes. A learner can start by needing to create (e.g., a YouTube video) but concurrently need to learn specific skills and content to enable that creation.

So I disagree that there is a need for teachers or edtech companies to climb up a hierarchy of cognitive outcomes. If they do, they constrain themselves to an artificial structure that does not necessarily help natural processes of learning.

I do, however, agree with the author’s suggestion that edtech companies could create better tech or less tech solutions:

Better tech entails leveraging cutting edge research in areas like machine learning to provide students with targeted feedback that scaffolds their learning experiences as they move up the pyramid. Less tech entails building technology that knows how to get out of the way and allow for more meaningful interactions to take place in the classroom. Today’s education technologists are exploring both approaches.

There is no need to use traditional BT as the reference point. It is better technology that enables natural learning or technology that emphasises social forms of learning. The triangle representation of BT holds us back; I say we roll with the BT Verb Wheel instead.

I reserved this read, Why We Must Embrace Benevolent Friction in Education Technology, for the new year.

A few concepts from the article jumped out at me, but the one that stood out was DRIP — Data Rich, Information Poor. What does this have to do with edtech?

DRIP is a criticism of edtech companies and providers that tout data analytics as a means of controlling, feeding, manipulating, or enabling learners. Data is just that, data. It is not organised information that might become internalised as knowledge and then externalised as intervention.

What edtech providers, particularly LMS and CMS companies, have yet to do is help their clients and partners make sense of the data. This is in part because programmer or provider speak is not the same as teacher and educator speak. There are relatively few people — like me — who can bridge that gap.

So what these providers do is reach out to administrators and policymakers because they all deal with numbers and data. They do so in a way that makes sense to them. It does not help that these discussions are not transparent and also make little sense to teachers and educators.
 

 
A while ago I heard about an interrogative torture technique that involved slowly dripping water onto a victim’s head. The slow drips quickly wear down psychological resistance and the interrogators get what they want.

That method does not transfer via DRIP in edtech. It will only drown clients and partners in meaningless data that does not actually help teachers or their learners.

I was primed when I noticed a video waiting in my subscriptions list in YouTube, Educational Technology: Crash Course Computer Science #39.


Video source

I wanted to know what the presenter had to say about the wide field that is educational technology. The video had a good start — it pointed out that while there was a lot of information online, not all of this information would lead to learning.

The presenter then went on to suggest how to turn an informational video to an educational one. Here were some basic tips on leveraging on online videos like YouTube:

  1. Set the speed to balance the need to understand the content and also be able to reflect on it
  2. Pause for a metacognitive cause, e.g., reflect on takeaways, select strategies, anticipate what comes next
  3. Practice worked examples for active learning

Any learner work needs feedback. The quality of feedback is arguably among the most important factors that influence learning. It is also the most difficult and subjective especially when the number of students far exceeds the number of teachers.

How might edtech help in the area of feedback? The video suggested:

  1. Algorithm-based grading of assignments
  2. Algorithm-informed suggestions for more personalised materials, i.e., intelligent tutoring system

While these are nothing new to those in the edtech field, the video provided more depth on how the algorithms are shaped, e.g., Bayesian knowledge tracing.

The video was a great example of what sets an educational video apart from a merely informational one. Even its duration (under 12 minutes) seemed to be an application of research on designing videos for learning.


http://edublogawards.com/files/2012/11/finalistlifetime-1lds82x.png
http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/best-elearning-corporate-education-edublog-2010/

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code


Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets

Archives

Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: