Educational Technologies

We’re talking ed tech this week in #IDE16ALA.

technology is a tool, not a learning outcome

First off, I just wanted to post this image that Erica reminded me about in this week’s lecture (originally from Bill Ferriter on Flickr). I came across it last year when I first started thinking about academic libraries’ use of ed tech for IL learning and totally fell in love with it. Technology is great and has the potential to take learning to new heights, but it’s gotta be linked with a learning goal or it will become yet another pointless tool to have to master.

So my task this week is to reflect on some technologies I might utilize for the ultimate implementation of my curriculum. I’m going to take a leaf out of Amanda’s book, because I  think it’s important to consider my learning goals while I’m thinking about the technologies that might support them. And I know we thought of goals for each of the six facets of significant learning, but I think I can really boil them down to two:

  • Students’ learning will become visible when they are able to understand their own processes of undertaking research within the greater research context. They will be able to recognize the various forms of work that go into developing and communicating knowledge, and will think critically and creatively about doing the same to answer their own questions. (side note: I think this is way too broad and I will definitely work on it. I still haven’t mastered writing the learning outcome.)
  • Students will be prepared to engage in self-directed learning as they feel more confident in their ability to answer their own questions and better grounded in the information ecology. (again, think this needs work. But the point is this course will have an impact on students’ affect and perception of their abilities to think critically about research.)

I’m a big fan of collaborative apps like Google Docs and I think both could work well for these outcomes, but I can see being excellent for my students in both making the research process visible and reflecting on their own progress of developing as researchers. I might assign a short article and pose a prompt like “let’s hash out the types of perspectives this writer included in their article. Why did they choose to include these particular ones? Are there perspectives excluded from the article? Why might that be?” This can demonstrate the process of research as human and relatable, as students begin to consider the research that went into writing that article. And I’m sure there are tons of other applications of and questions I haven’t considered posing to my hypothetical students, but really what this technology allows that a regular class discussion doesn’t is it requires each student to individually engage with a common material and empowers them to also collaborate and share ideas in a less nervewracking environment than a typical discussion can be.

This past semester we used Google Docs for students’ research journals to give them a mechanism for reflection, a portfolio to look back on and view their progress from start to finish, and a way for us to provide timely feedback, but the effort kind of fizzled out before it got started. I think I might be able to rework it, I just need to come up with some better ways to engage and motivate students to see the journal as valuable.

This week we took a look at some ed tech trends noted in the most recent New Media Consortium’s Horizon Reports to see whether they mention anything that aligns with our ultimate course outline or our learning outcomes. One trend I took note of was the 2015 Horizon Report: Library Edition’s mention of the “evolving nature of the scholarly record” toward openness and alternative means of publishing. I thought that aligned well with my objective of teasing out and making visible the processes of developing and communicating knowledge. Scholars who blog their work make my job easy when I start talking about scholarship as an ongoing conversation. I want my students to think of the skills and understandings they develop in this course as pertinent to the outside world as well. As research communication becomes more varied and transparent, existing even in places like Twitter, it’s easier to see it as a life skill and not limited to just college paper-writing.