In my journey through INF530 I have learned a great deal. The course has particularly helped me to develop my understanding of:
- Digital literacy
- Connected Learning
- The value of educational technology
- The ethical consideration of educational technology
Early in the course I was challenged by the concept of digital literacy. I came to an initial view of what digital literacy meant to me but that was just a starting point. As the course evolved, so did my understanding of the term. My new understanding added in concepts of digital security and Steve Wheeler’s description of “digital residency” that I found thanks to June’s tweet:
— June Wall (@junewall) April 11, 2018
Digital residency, meaning someone who uses an app in their daily life, is a better and fairer description for what I had labelled “active digital literacy”. I have realised how important it is for the education professional to have an understanding of digital literacy so that it can inform their interaction with students.
The discussion on my blog post around connected learning helped me to think about how connected learning could be promoted at different stages of education. Connected learning was a new concept to me but in my work context, the need for us to be able to promote and acknowledge connected learning resonated with me. Claire challenged me to think about how this promotion of connected learning would differ for various age groups:
The course has helped me to appreciate that educational technology (EdTech) is a diverse field. I have usually had poor experiences with EdTech and previously felt it was too heavily focused on behaviouristic principles but others within the course helped to highlight examples where it was making a positive difference:
I came to the understanding that digital learning is not just a extension of behaviourism but can provide a much more nuanced approach to education. The Communities of Enquiry championed by Garrison (2016) show what an important role digital environments can play in helping to promote digital learning. The work by Kara and Sevim forced me to reconsider my beliefs that adaptive learning was a simplistic tool that had limited benefit to education professionals in helping to develop the skills needed by the jobs of the future (Kara & Sevim, 2013). However, Audrey Watter’s presentation holds the sobering view that the EdTech industry champions the benefits of digital learning based on the benefits to an “imagined ideal student… unconstrained by materiality, by the body, by place – by race, gender, geography”. The benefits of EdTech is still a complicated topic for me, but I now understand the potential benefits and have a wider understanding of the potential disadvantages.
Ethics of EdTech
Reviewing the ethical considerations of the storage and use of data within education gave me a new appreciation for the expanded role that education professionals have in digital environments. The difficulty that students and their parents have in fully understanding the systems being implemented means that the education professional now have a role in ensuring the privacy of their students is protected (Boyd & Crawford, 2012). The role of privacy advocate is a challenging one as technology rapidly evolves and education professionals do not always get a say in what systems are being implemented. Having read about Cambridge Analytica and recent reports about ClassDojo sharing data, I wrote a blog where I questioned what would change the attitude to data retention within education coming to the conclusion that:
It may not be until schools or the workplace experience their own Cambridge Analytica moment that things will change.
INF530 has been particularly useful in exposing me to a range of perspectives from education professionals in a range of fields. I have been challenged to rethink my belief that there was only one dimension to education technology. The result has been a discovery of a complex and nuanced environment that provides opportunities and challenges that I will need to grapple with for many years to come.
Boyd, D., & Crawford, K. (2012). Critical Questions for Big Data: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 662–679. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878
Garrison, D. R. (2016). Thinking collaboratively: learning in a community of inquiry. New York ; London: Routledge.
Kara, N., & Sevim, N. (2013). Adaptive Learning Systems: Beyond Teaching Machines. Contemporary Educational Technology, 4(2), 108–120.