It’s almost that time again, where summer break is over and everyone heads back to school… and the start-of-the-semester approaches…
The students coming through our doors were born in 1990 and will be graduating in 2012. Beloit College has published an incoming profile of freshman “mindset list” since 2002. They haven’t yet updated their list for this year, but here is a link to the 2011 list. Highlighted in this list are things like:
- They’re always texting 1 n other.
- Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, autobiography can happen in real time.
- Fox has always been a major network.
The reason I thought I would bring this up is because I believe it’s important to know, connect with, and understand the students that are coming to our institutions.
While listening to a keynote from New Media Consortium by Diana Oblinger, the president of EDUCAUSE. It occurred to me, that it is becoming increasingly important to take a step back and place ourselves in our student’s shoes. It’s time for educators to dive into the technology realm to better understand our students.
Here are a few notes I took while listening to Diana Obliger’s opening keynote “Technology and the Global Commons” at NMC:
- Context in which we teach has changed drastically.
- Contextual constructivism learning is intertwined within the context in which we learn.
- Community. We know our students are social learners.
- We cannot overlook the fundamental differences we have between them (students) and us (faculty).
- Today’s students are experiential learners, however, they are often not world-wise…
- Assumptions can get you in trouble.
TIME SPENT IN THE CLASSROOM VS SOCIAL NETWORKS
Are students learning in class? How much time do they spend in class?
- ONLY 7.7% of students time is spent in formal learning environments.
- So who are the teachers? And where are they?
- If you look at the behavior of students most of them are learning through their social networks. They are using MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, etc.
- Students are learning in these environments, so as we look forward we need to look at these Web 2.0 spaces for awareness, examples, and ideas.
- Games offer an opportunity to be part of the learning.
- By college 100% of students have experience some type of electronic games.
- There are over 710 million game players worldwide.
- 5 hours is the amount of time an 8th grader plays video games per week.
- Finding things, creating things, mashups,
- 57% of teens are media creators (blog, web, art, photos)
- 33% share what they create online
- 22% have their own web site
- 19% have their own blog
AMATEURS AS AUTHORITIES
- Everyone contributes their expertise!
- We don’t just receive information we learn by contributing.
- Collective intelligence: everyone has something to contribute.
- Knowledge is created not possessed.
- Shift in emphasis that knowledge is a process not a product.
- Social connections are important.
- Needs include “skills for participation” not just individual skills.
- “How does this relate back to how we design our learning experiences and structures for our students?”
- Keep this new way of learning and participation in mind. Focus on context.
- Broadband is required…
- The US is behind on broadband speed which negatively impacts education, health, economy.
- The US doesn’t have a broadband policy/fund.
- The environment is much more than databases and archives.
- We have a participatory web culture.
- Data deluge: data is doubling every year.
- Open education resources are becoming more available.
- Ubiquitous computing is a given.
- We can use collections of information that allow us capabilities we have never had before.
- Put learning first and infrastructure second. Learning is based on students interactions with data and systems.
- Learning is influenced by context.
- The physical environment and space defines the context (lecture hall, movable furniture, group spaces, problem solving and team spaces).
- We have a spectrum of experiences from formal to informal.
DEFINITION OF LEARNING
- Experiences such as learning-by-doing may be more important than information.
- Knowledge is distributed across a community rather than held by an individual.
- Assessment through reputation, experiences, and accomplishments rather than tests.
- Self-direct, informal, web based environments are important.
- It is not possible to separate learning from context.
- Context is an interaction between the learner and the surroundings.
- Students build an understanding of context in context.
- Context is both embedded and interactive.
- Learning and context shape each other.
- World to the desktop provide anytime/anywhere access to information.
- Multi-user virtual environments allow interaction.
- Ubiquitous computing provides wireless devices in the real world.
- Professors are the orchestrators of collaborative knowledge creation.
- Learning activities are flexible and focused on creating room for student creativity, social networking outside of traditional boundaries.
- Loose institutional affiliation and relations; regional and institutional boundaries breakdown.
- Students have a strong sense of ownership of education, co-creation of resources.
Here is a screenshot from the recorded keynote:
How can we better know our students and better design our learning environments, instruction, courses, services, and activities?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the BbWorld’08 Developers Conference keynote. Luckily the Mike Wesch’s keynote was captured on video!
Here are my notes after watching the keynote:
Presentation: A Portal to Media Literacy
- Delivered at the Blackboard Developers Conference, Las Vegas, NV
- Dr. Michael Wesch
Dr. Wesch became known with the YouTube video: “A Vision of Students Today” (See below.)
On the first day of class he asks of his students… “How many do not actually like school?” Over half of students said they didn’t like it.
Then he asks “How many do not like learning?” No one raised their hands.
Dr. Wesch also conducted an “open activity” whereby students could send message around the question “What is it like to be a student today?” Students ended up saying many interesting things: students use Facebook during class, neighbor paid for class and doesn’t come, students purchase textbooks they never read, etc. This turned into the popular video on YouTube:
He often hears some faculty say “Some students are just not cut out for school.” Really? That is a ridiculous statement because that is like saying that students are not cut out for learning…!
“Students learn what they do…” – Dewey
Mike then asked… what if these classroom walls could talk, what would they say: (These would end up being the great myths of education.)
1) To learn is to acquire information, room is setup for an information dump. – No
2) Information is scarce and hard to find… that is why you have to come to class. – No
3) Trust authority for good info from professors. – No
4) Authorized information is beyond discussion… isn’t needed. – No
5) Obey the authority. – No
6) Follow along. – No
Student expectations end up being the same as the above. Students wait to be fed the info. That is what they are “used” to…
What students say in these walls:
1) How many points is this worth?
2) What do we need to know for this test?
3) How long is the paper need to be?
There is the crisis of significance… What does education really mean to students?
Well… there is now something in the air! Most classrooms have wifi access. Most of the information is at hand, with a click.
Is information is scarce? No. There are 70 exabytes this year will be created this year (70 billion gigabytes) = 350 feet of a stack of books.
With education, we generaly look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. “Marshall McLuhan” Ask the question, is tagging better than organizing via folders… most likely but we are stuck in the old metaphors.
On paper, we thought of information as a thing… with a material form, you could point to it, had it’s own logical place in a hierarchy. Early web sites replicated this with Yahoo categories and disciplines.
Enter hyperlinking, and now information can be in more than 1 place at a time! For example, Google harnesses links and shows us we might night not need the hierarchies.
Blogging teachings us that anybody can be a creator of information. 112.8 million blogs… they aren’t even counting anymore.
TV is a form of information. In 1948 ABC started broadcasting after NBC and CBS. 60 years ago… they would have produced 1.5 million hours of programming. YouTube however has produced this much in 6 months. There are over 9000 hours per day are uploaded to YouTube. There are over 200,000 3 minute vidoes… 88% is new and original.
So information is NOT scarce.
The idea of follow along… is going away. We can work together on the web through Wikis such as wikipedia that would rival even the best resources and experts through collaborative and community efforts.
The idea of obeying the author is on the way out… you can have discussions and transparent comments on the materials. Go beyond the front page, look at the debates and so on. The expert and author is breaking down in favor of a wide array of resources, commentary, and discussions.
Information is not hard to find… in many ways we have information overload. Students can mark up information and provide context for other students. Tags can also help organize the web without folders.
Personal Netvibes framework and be public and recieve fresh updates from Flickr and blogs by tags or keyword… information can find us… it can be delivered to us!
Testing students based on bubble sheets and scantrons is bizzarre. To learn is to acquire and discuss information. We are not teaching students how to discuss, challenge information, critique information, share information, create information, making connections, and making significance within the context of what they are learning.
How can we create signifcance, and meaningful connections, how can we create students who can create meaningful connections? What is out there?
The Web2.0 landscape…YouTube, digg, Facebook, Blogger, MySpace, Google… the challenge is to start creating learning environments that support these with a platform of participation. And leverage this new media environment we have. Students need help using these resources in their learning.
- A platform for participation that allows students to realize and leverage this emerging media environment.
- To begin moving toward ubiquitous networks where computing, information, speed, is available everywhere and accessible from anywhere. Have we prepared our students for this world? We live in a download and upload world. We need to move toward a participation paradigm. From closed… to an open… from knowledgeable to knowledge-able (critique and create information).
It’s time for educators to push the envelope. To enabling students “outside of the classroom” that will enhance in the classroom application. It’s time to meet students where they are and add Facebook because they are there… meanwhile they can also view course related info. How about creating a course wiki so students can upload their notes, videos, links along side course content. Students will mark in bold things that are important to them, each page has a discussion component updates. Insert a Twitter stream for an informal thread of thoughts. Use tools like Diigo to highlight pieces of a website and allow comments. How about provide students with collaborative video projects that can be placed on YouTube? Students can find the latest research, share discoveries, study together, talk back, share notes, collaborate, assess each other, research together, share with each other, be creative with each other, co-create content for the course in this new Web2.0 environment.
What is it like being a student today?
What is it like being a faculty member today?
The GRCC Lens: How can we move together to transform learning at GRCC? Could we, for example, make better use and leverage Blackboard for:
- Engaging students outside of the classroom using the vast array of communication (Blackboard Connect, Discussion Boards, Wimba Pronto) tools for discussion, instant messaging, text messaging, etc. in Blackboard?
- Bringing in resources and engaging students with tagging content with Blackboard Scholar?
- Allowing students to create content within the course through Blackboard Wikis and Blogs?
- Extending Blackboard updates into the Facebook environment with applications like Blackboard Sync or CourseFeed?
What are other ways we can leverage technology for teaching and learning?