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Is this the ‘designed’ purpose of the student blog: to reflect on the process.

The differences between the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MA ODE) and Masters in Business Administration (MBA) module already strikes me. In the MAODE programme the expectations are that students come from a wide range of backgrounds, interests and positions; this is the case. The MBA however, by its very nature, draws from people in business or organisations who are managing other people. Might I suggest that this is Sandhurst for the officer class, rather than the ‘intellectual mixed bag’ of the MAODE and its cosmopolitan stance.

The MBA is designed to be applied from day one, both from a learning point of view, but also to give immediate value and relevance to the manager and the organisation for whom they work.

Am I being disingenuous to say ‘manager’ before ‘student’?

The MAODE is entirely online; perhaps the Institute of Education Technology (IET) have or had a point to make. They make it well, after 18 months and three modules with a book, CD or face to face tutorial or residential school I feel wholly content with the approach, even some bonding with fellow students with whom I am in touch through social networks (this blog, others, Google+ and Linkedin).

I am preparing for our first tutorial.

I have joined and contributed to a general and a specific forum. I have listened, four times now, to an audio, podcast-like, business ‘radio interview’ on the importance of creativity in the modern, flourishing organisations. I have read the first two chapters of Block 1 (and could well be a few weeks ahead of myself … or not). I have also read three out of the four books offered as additional reading. I have also, finally, stumbled upon the relevance of the Media Book and its background notes to the audio.

I commend the mixed media.

I value the effort required to extract understanding from text, discussions and audio. I have stumbled upon further bits and pieces (largelly because of a desire to see the speakers). I have taken notes almost entirely into iWriter on an iPad and bounced this into this blog where it is titled and tagged and as often as not left thus as I use this platform as a fail-safe e-portfolio.

(the B822 tag aggregates everything from the module, additional tags, such as TMA1B822, for example, will in due course help identify content I wish to pull together for the assignment. I would historically have used relational database software Filemaker Pro to do this. Having it online allows me to pick up on whatever computer/device comes to hand. I am currently at my son’s PC. Yesterday afternoon I was at my wife’s laptop. I often work from the iPad. I may pick up on my own laptop outside office hours evenings when away from home. I could just as well be in the local library).

Reflection over?

It strikes me how different my notes and thoughts are regarding the content compared to the notes provided. This has to be because of the value put on the individual’s context. This is informed further because I happen to be on Jury Service. I’m starting to see the books, audio and forum as witnesses. The course chair as the Judge, the barristers as truculent students for or against what they are being told!

Making the case

Whilst a debate, very weakly in my opinion, is sometimes used to winkle out the arguments (academics in all my experience fail totally to stick to their side of the argument, both parties inevitably sitting on the fence) I wonder if a trial as a learning experience (or metaphor) has merit?

As a juror the trial is directed entirely at us.

Though passive in court, there is collaborative learning/sharing in the Jury Room. Is this the unmoderated social learning forum?

Coming from the MAODE my interest is in learning design. Entering the MBA I am stepping back into the shoes of a producer, a role I have played professionally for decades. I reassures me that one commentator, Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter talks of the Hollywood ‘Effect’, the idea of project-based practices in business, that like a movie, are resourced, with a clear outcome, then run by a producer, who has to assemble a team, make the case for funding, the schedule, cost, manage and motivate through to completion. I can relate to this.

The next question has to be, who am I in the production team?

I cannot be the producer, director, writer, technician, runner, executive producer, client yet working in social media the division of roles, even into producer, writer, designer, programmer, PR expert are not always apparent.

Here, the ‘applied learning’ approach could offer immediate suggestions.

Returning to the prospect of a tutorial

We laughed in the MAODE to discover a fellow student or two attending while propped up in bed with a laptop on their knees. Others in from the garden or sipping wine. Certain modes of common courtesy and manners will mean that we are dressed and washed, and at 10.00am drinking nothing stronger than coffee. It is a 90 minute drive. It is unlikely that I will meet these people outside this circle. Are we any more or less likely to meet online as a result?

Whilst each of the MAODE modules begins with an ice-breaker, I presume that his tutorial, or seminar, serves this purpose.

My desire is to learn. And to understand how best to impart knowledge and see it put into practice.

Increasingly I am understanding the role of intrinsic motivation, of guiding, nurturing and supporting others rather than Sergeant-Major like telling people what to do when to do it, or equally, like an intellectual, presuming that my opinion carries more weight than another’s. I am especially interested in the point of view of young people, teens and twenties because of their youth.

All thoughts of Generation X and Digital Natives has been well and truly debunked by academic research

I am not playing to their digital experiences and internet/interactive, rather I am interested in their exuberance, openness, hunger, habit of pulling in ideas and information at the click of their fingers and running with that, points of view that a previous generation may have to wait days to extract physically from a library book or journal.

Tutor as host – its your party and your responsibility to make it work

This from Mary Thorpe (2009)

If face-to-face is the answer, how do you  replicate the combination of informal and formal discourse opportunities that characterise the face-to-face campus. (Crook and Light, 2002)

The answer is in social networks such as Linkedin being alerted every time someone in your circle updates, or adds friends or writes something, though different, there is at least an inclining of this meeting serendipitously around the water-cooler, or passing in the corridor. Also the random offering up of ‘people you might know’, even if they haven’t instigated it.

This is beyond face-to-face, but designed to replicate the chance encounter that makes up human interactions.

In Diaryland (1999) a similar trait is offered as within a set number of 75 friends you always know who has updated i.e. who is active and therefore around and more inclined to engage. All that matters is this sense of sharing the same space. It matters therefore that you are present often enough to be someone in this environment and that the affordances of the platform alert others to your presence.

The debate over the differences between face-to-face are dry

Why hybrid?

What community?

As the two worlds are now so familiar to many people, this is like saying, what is the difference between the Rugby Club and the Bridge Club.

There is no other difference. The means of engagement are ultimately the same, between one person and another. Like everything as you become familiar with these platforms, and as your friends are online too, you accept their presence or otherwise as if you have bumped into them walking the dog or a conference.

This isn’t revolution, it is barely even evolution, it is us being people with a bunch of different tools as we crafty humans have done for millenia.

‘Technologies, such as social networking, can be used to construct personal learning environments designed by the learner precisely in relation to their interests and goals across a range of practice boundaries.(Anderson and Dron 2007)

Better still you start to allow tools like Stumbleupon and Zite to do this for you, by feeding in a specific, tailored profile you can get these aggregators to draw down who you are and feed back intelligence.

The day we don’t trust it we drop these tools like a hot-potato and go somewhere else.

They CANNOT afford to get it wrong.

I signed up in error to MY LIFE, I say this because I only wanted to trial it on a monthly basis. The moment I was on the phone was the moment I was reimbursed, which actually is a sound thing.

This expression, this test of ‘trust’ might be enough to take me back (except that I feel the entire idea was mine in 2001).

‘Technology self-evidently involves tools, understood as both the physical resources and practical skills required to make use of them, but to focus primarily on the tool or the virtual space would be to make a categorical error, mistaking a component part for the system as a whole (Jones and Eshault, 2004)

We still use pen and paper, we still talk to each other face to face, we may even share how we are getting on with our parents over Sunday Lunch.

This isn’t replacement technology, it is hyper complementary technology, it is as convenient as having a hanky on which to blow your nose, no more. You pull out your smartphone to share a thought. Or in my case at 3.10am I get up, doodle an idea for a video production and then stick up a discussion question to a number of Linkedin groups.

Serendipity

Thinking of my late grandfather’s garage with all its tools, the context would be the mix and combination of tools, some complimentary, some one offs, and the space (once he’d rolled the car out of the garage). Most importantly it would include him, both actively engaged in a task and from my point of view, someone who was always keen to pass on skills and insights.

Issues regarding identity -practice/familiarity

Trust and authenticity (checking/verification) ‘Students may not take up the opportunities offered, or may do so to little good effect.’ (Thorpe, 2008:122) ‘Asynchronous conferencing for example has fostered both utopic and dystopic views of its potential (Haythornthwaite 2006)

The importance of the beginning of the course the same as in face-to-face, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

‘That particular aspect of getting everybody involved right at the very beginning really sets the scene for the rest of the course.’ (Thorpe 2008:123)

Tutor as host.

A good start is forgiving. A poor start is far harder to retrieve. The problem institutionally is if your are overwhelmed by students. Are there enough tutors? Are there even intermediaries to step in? ‘The design in effect performs a mix of compulsion and engineered interaction that combines formality with informality.’ (Crook and Light, 2002)

Too much of either is a killer. Overly familiar and talking about pets and holidays in the middle of a forum puts your off. So do course materials on the rare occasion with The OU when it is if your are interrupting the conversation between a couple of professors who have developed their own private language that only means something to each other. (This isn’t far from the truth). ‘The potential for expansive learning’ (Tuoni-Grohn and Engestrom, 2003)

We all want our heads cracked open like a part-boiled egg. ‘This is learning that crosses the boundaries of different activity systems, expanding involvement with others and developing both individual and collective learning’. (Cole and Engestrom 1993)

I call it Pixie dust over Object 3.

Object 3 must be the moment Dyson and his team come up with the airstream device. Innovation, inspiration and originality is there in front of us, like Macbeth’s dagger, tantilizingly before our hands.

So talk to Lady Macbeth and your colleagues, let it out, share your thoughts, make the dagger real, You may find it’s more of a tickling stick.

‘A context has to be reconstructed and participation invited through the use of activities, structured formats and textural genres operating at various levels.’ (Thorpe, 2008:130)

I no longer think this is the case. We aren’t creating false or mimicking landscapes or environments online, rather we know what these environments are and behave accordingly.

This comes with experience, it IS NOT, and has NEVER BEEN GENERATIONAL.

I am not the only forty something who despite my children being infront of a computer before they could walk have vastly more experience of the internet and computers than they do. I challenge them to keep up or catch up, indeed, I am quick to run after them if I think they are discovering something I too have not tried.

Ask me for evidence, research by educational institutions in the UK, US and Australia, that debunk Generation X and Digital Natives as utter TOSH.

Engestrom (2007) emphasizes the importance of learning across multiple activity systems where knowledge is being developed across many sites, from the formal academic context through practioner-focused websites and fora to the workplace.

Technologies, such as social networking, can be used to construct personal learning environments designed by the learner precisely in relation to their interests and goals across a range of practice boundaries (Anderson and Dron 2007)

True.

But like an allotment you might start as an idea, the worth comes from putting in some time and effort.

A hybrid mix of community and network. (Thorp, 2008:129)

Yes, like weeds in the allotment and a few cacti on a tray of sand in the shed.


Three approaches to the same content: reseach, report, presentation. All we’re missing is the article in a popular magazine.

The Smith and Caruso (2010) ‘The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2010’ is on objective report, a snap shot in time, professionally executed and commented upon objectively.

Kennedy’s survey (2006) ‘Questioning the net generation: a collaborative project in Australian higher education’of the same cohort of undergraduate students from three Australian Universities had an objective, a problem to solve i.e. is there any foundation for the idea of a ‘Net Generation’, or ‘Digital Natives’.

The third type of presentation Conole et al. (2008) ‘“Disruptive technologies”, “pedagogical innovation”: What’s new? is an easy read the style is lucid, persuasive and conversational, as you’d expect from a seasoned speaker.

Each is different and ought to be commented upon for what it purports to be.

The insight here is three fold:

  1. the different ways information is presented,
  2. how all three approaches offer valid course materials or assets
  3. and because of their differences will evoke and expect a correspondingly different kind of comment.

You could say that with each of these in turn presentation style, and the skills at the presentation technique increase, while the academic content becomes diluted, more fluid and conversational. When in comes to comment or critique this should be born in mind; Grainne Conole’s presentation would not warrant the kind of scrutiny you’d give a report.

The final step would be an eight minute professional video, or covering all three, drawing in further reports and interviews with the experts and students, a documentary.

Though informative, I’d consider the first and second papers to offer the most calories to a student. The choice is down to the academic team: dean, academic expert and learning designer.

Can I destroy the idea of the ‘digital native’ without using the term? Apparently not.

The moral panic engendered by authors who talk of ‘digital natives’ disguises evolutionary progress

The likes of Prensky (Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’) are pandering to our innate base desires, the belief or wish that there is a narrative to our existence that says it is rubbish now and can be fixed by reading their book, with its oh too neat title.

Moral panic (Cohen, 1976) … Mary Whitehouse caused many in relation to smut on TV.

There is a pressing need for theoretically informed research – the concept of ‘Digital Natives; is popularist and designed to sell a book(s) and the lecture/consultancy services of the person who coined the phrase, ‘Marc Prensky.’

So what is a ‘moral panic’, anything that gets JPF (just plain folk, a John Seely Brown expression I love) to have a rant … ideally to rant about how this prophet Prensky is right about everything and the educational world will be saved if we only listen to him (then praise him to the hilt).

There has been:

– Little critical scrutiny

– Undertheorised

– Lack of sound empirical basis

Dangerously ‘to address this proclaimed challenge, some high-profile commentators are arguing for radical changes in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and professional in education.’

Frankly, Prensky and his lot deserve to be lampooned and satirised

Worse, they are given genuine educators working with technology a bad name. Actually, ‘we’ if I can use that term now, are on the side of teachers and lectures creating tools that are convenient, easy, transportable, and hopefully engaging, best of all permitting a large class, or cohort to have some sense of ‘student-centred’ learning through tools that enable a taste of the one-to-one tutorial.

Prensky has no answers, and befuddles it all for us, worse academics have initially picked up his thread and have been terribly slow to get the research done that quite frankly demonstrates the nonsense that has been used to sell Prensky’s books and lecture series.

Claims are put forward with limited empirical evidence ( e.g. Tapscott, 1998) or supported by anecdotes and appeals to common-sense beliefs (e.g. Prensky, 2001), who also cites Captain James T Kirk form Star Trek (sic) … as if a fictional character, or the show (rather than its author) should be the one to cite at all.

The reality is complex and diverse, not just across a nation, but probably in many classes themselves.

It’s as if Prensky and his crew are suggesting that this generation were born with a third eye or six fingers. (Actually, they are ‘The Simpson’ Generation and we need to worry that they’ll all turn yellow and chop of a finger from each hand).

Can we take seriously an academic writer who cites Star Trek? Whose references can be as basic as ‘Tim Rylance in the UK?’

He could be, and is, making it up.

And by getting into this debate we are no doubt helping him sell even more books. I bought one and am delighted that it served its purpose – unreadable, unacademic twaddle from beginning to end.

So what is a ‘moral panic’, anything that gets JPF (just plain folk, a John Seely Brown expression I love) to have a rant … ideally to rant about how this prophet Prensky is right about everything and the educational world will be saved if we only listen to him (then praise him to the hilt).

Academic writers and current research, writing in calm, objective tones (Kennedy, Conole and others) knock flat every piece of ‘hear say’ from these authors for what it is – journalistic, sensationalist nonsense.

I simply cannot believe an academic with a Harvard MA could possibly write like this, indeed I want to ask Harvard to confirm that this is the case … and if necessary disown him.

‘The researchers found that only a minority of the students (around 21%) were engaged in creating their own content and multimedia for the Web, and that a significant proportion of students had lower level skills than might be expected of digital natives.’ (Bennett 2008:02)

Kennedy’s research in Australia says it all.

Emerging technologies are NOT the lifeblood of a generation, far from it. Research amongst students in three Australian universities showed that:

  • 21% blog
  • 24% used social networking
  • 21.5% used podcasts

i.e. far from universal in this generation as the self-publicists of ‘Net Generation’, ‘Digital Natives’ or ‘Millennials’ would have us think.

Is there a theoretical or empirical basis to the arguments that are presented using the terms, Net Generation, Digital Natives or Millennials?

None whatsoever.

As Bennett said, we had a go a kids watching too much TV in the past. This is their lives and ours; it is the world as it is today. Nothing whatsoever has changed physiologically or psychologically about us humans, how we develop and grow.

  • Differences related to:
  • Socio-economic status
  • Cultural/ethnic background
  • Gender
  • Discipline specialisation
  • Internet use by teenagers is far from uniform
  • Widely varying experiences according to children’s school and home backgrounds (Lee, 2005)
  • Family dynamics
  • Level of domestic affluence

Multiskilling claims … are facts that equate to young people at this stage in their developmental processes and is the same today as it was a thousand or ten thousand years ago – ability to work in fine detail, to work on several tasks at the same time.

‘A significant proportion of young people do not have the levels of access or technology skills predicted by proponents of the digital native idea. Such generalisation about a whole generation of young people thereby focuses attention on technically adept students. With this comes the danger that those less ale will be neglected and that the potential impact of socio-economic and cultural factors will be overlooked’. (Bennett, 2008:02)

Although such claims may appeal to our common-sense perceptions of a rapidly changing world, there is no evidence that multi-tasking is a new phenomenon exclusive to digital natives’, (Bennett, 2008:02)

Just because something resonates with our personal observations doesn’t make it so. Frankly, Prensky et al should be stand-up comics – you have to laugh, at their nonsense and how gullible we are to want to believe them.

‘Generalisations about the ways in which digital natives learn also fail to recognise cognitive differences in young people of different ages and variation within age groups.’ (Bennett, 2008:02)

People change their approach according to their perceptions of the task.

  • ‘It is apparent that there is scant evidence to support this idea, and that emerging research challenges notions of a homogenous generation with technical expertise and a distinctive learning style’. (Bennett, 2008:03)
  • ‘Our analysis of the digital native literature demonstrates a clear mismatch between the confidence with which claims are made and the evidence for such claims.’
  • ‘Arguments are often couched in dramatic language, proclaim a profound change in the world, and pronounce stark generational differences’ (Bennett, 2008:03)
  • ‘Such claims with appeals to sense and recognisable anecdotes are used to declare an emergency situation, and call for urgent and fundamental change.’ (Bennett, 2008:04)

The problem is that Prensky is an easy read

Too many people prefer this than wading through dry, hard-nosed analysis of the truth. The truth? Business as usual. E-learning to education is what a whole raft of tools were to the housewife in the 1950s and 1960s … they make it easier to get the job done. They make life more convenient.

In the case of education it makes realisation, for some, the dream of more student-centred learning, possible. If there is a generational shift it ought to be that more people are gaining access to an education on their terms. We have moved from a teacher-centred model of teaching (Kember, 1997) … which only existed/exists of necessity (not everyone has ever been wealthy to give their children a personal governess then tutor) … to supporting students’ active learning, the student-centred model (Gibbs, 1995).

If there is, what do you think are the key features of this change in generations?

In the case of education it makes realisation, for some, the dream of more student-centred learning, possible. If there is a generational shift it ought to be that more people are gaining access to an education on their terms. We have moved from a teacher-centred model of teaching (Kember, 1997) … which only existed/exists of necessity (not everyone has ever been wealthy to give their children a personal governess then tutor) … to supporting students’ active learning, the student-centred model (Gibbs, 1995).

How might these changes affect education?

Did serendipity bring me to this?

‘An evaluation of students’ perceptions and engagement with e-learning components in a campus based university’. (2011) Afam Itum

Questioning the idea of a ‘Net Generation’ – there never was one

The Smith and Caruso (2010) ‘The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2010’ is on objective report, a snap shot in time, professionally executed and commented upon objectively.

Kennedy’s survey (2006) ‘Questioning the net generation: a collaborative project in Australian higher education’of the same cohort of undergraduate students from three Australian Universities had an objective, a problem to solve i.e. is there any foundation for the idea of a ‘Net Generation‘, or ‘Digital Natives‘.

The third type of presentation Conole et al. (2008) ‘“Disruptive technologies”, “pedagogical innovation”: What’s new? is an easy read the style is lucid, persuasive and conversational, as you’d expect from a seasoned speaker.

Each is different and ought to be commented upon for what it purports to be.

The insight here is three fold:

  1. the different ways information is presented,
  2. how all three approaches offer valid course materials or assets
  3. and because of their differences will evoke and expect a correspondingly different kind of comment.

You could say that with each of these in turn presentation style, and the skills at the presentation technique increase, while the academic content becomes diluted, more fluid and conversational. When in comes to comment or critique this should be born in mind; Grainne Conole’s presentation would not warrant the kind of scrutiny you’d give a report.

The final step would be an eight minute professional video, or covering all three, drawing in further reports and interviews with the experts and students, a documentary.

Though informative, I’d consider the first and second papers to offer the most calories to a student. The choice is down to the academic team: dean, academic expert and learning designer.

 

Humbug, journalism, popular writing, academic writing, dumbing down, engagement, access and democratization – the maelstrom of e-learning.

Have we dumbed down in the last decade?

I was on H804 BR227 Block 2-A1 on the 19th March 2001. I was in Barbara’s Tutor Group.

The block reading was extensive; it had arrived in a large cardboard box, along with CD-roms. Books galore. I’ve numbered the 33 items from which I need to read x paper or chapters. Have we dumbed down in the last decade?

Is reading, if only on a Kindle, no so valid?

Has quantity of content provided been replaced by the quantity of content we generated between each other? If so, it makes contribution the peer group and module cohort all the more important.

We are meant to browse through these and select one. Skim reading as a ‘good study technique’ of the 1990s at the OU. Is this no longer so? I fancy an Amazon reviewing approach to all required reading. I’d then pick one five-star, one three star and one that hadn’t received a rating. It’s about as good as my old technique – alphabetical order. Skim read 33 items then choose one? Never. Read all of them, then choose surely. In business if I had to review products, or interview new candidates would I do the job properly, or just give them a cursory glance? ‘If you find something on ODl course design in the set books, or in H80X Resources, which is not currently listed in the Reading guide, just email me with the details. I’ll add it to the list. John (John Pettit).

Interestingly an article we then read from Cisco does something similar to the review suggestions above, not as basic as a start rating but ‘Sounding Off’ in which the first few words of comment and listed from sixteen or so commentators.

I then turn to printed off pages, marked up with a highlighter pen. (I can’t find myself stumbling across such paperwork with such Serendipity in ten years time should I care to reconsider the contents of MAODE 2010-2011. It will be buried in, by then, 10,000 assets in my e-portfolio. As I call it, like looking for a needle in a stack of needles. Something no string of tags can save you from … because every item has a similar set of tags. Where is ‘serendipity’ 2021? Years ago I put an ‘Enter@Random’ button in my blog., I’m yet to think of a more advanced way to tap into my mind).

In this article John Chambers CEO of CISCO says

‘The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education.’

This is too often misquoted outside the realm of corporate training – what he has in mind here is how to keep 4,000 Cisco sales people up to speed and better able to sell, not how to educate classroom based school kids.

Is the next step the Open School?

To home educate? It would make better use of what the Internet offers. I do wonder how or why I’ve ended up nailed first to the locally primary school and then an affordable private school within walking distance. My wife and I are both freelance, who cares where we could be in the world as we do everything online.

Remind me to go to the estate agents. We’re selling up!

Meanwhile, I’m glad to see ‘e-learning’ used here; I was convinced it was a term coined recently. ‘Ultimately, Tom Kelly says, e-learning will be most effective when it no longer feels like learning – when it’s simply a natural part of how people work.’ If you do things in small chunks, she continues, they become just another part of your job. And what I like most of all, ‘E-learning will be successful when it doesn’t have its own name.’

My children wouldn’t call it e-learning

It’s just homework, whether in a text book or using a computer, which may or may not go online. Do we different where our TV feed comes from anymore? It’s just more TV. It is has taken me exactly one week, courtesy of a Kindle, to drop any idea of e-readers, e-books or e-reading … these are books, this is reading – the means of distribution is different, that’s all, it’s as if I have an electronic butler handing me one sheet of the book at a time. Bliss.

I’m still some way off why I’m reading this and writing about, just picking up echoes from the past as I go through it. Kelly had some insights on e-learning (which he defines as Web-based education):

    1. Small is beautiful
    2. Blends are powerful
    3. Measure what matters
    4. New technologies require new leaders

      Was I listening back then?

      I think we were too busy trying to reinvent the world.

      These four points are understood today as:

      • Chunking
      • Participation across platforms
      • The business of measuring outcomes.

      Simply put ‘If technology adoption occurs faster because the sales force is better-trained, we have real business impact that’s measurable.’

      And then the punch line

      “One real; problem with e-learning is that traditional training people are in charge of it. No wonder it doesn’t work! Can you imagine if the post office was in charge of email?”

      Does this apply to libraries?

      Think of a book as a parcel, a report as a letter. Do we want it delivered by the Post … or by email? Are librarians best equipped to migrate digitised content to the e-brain?

      There is then a paper, I guess the equivalent of a lecture, a piece of content purpose-written for the course.

      It is good to see Vygotsky, Piaget and Papert in here .. but what of Prensky from ‘The Power of Digital Game based Learning’.

      Prensky makes this suggestion via research done by cognitive psychologists ‘such as Bruer and Tapscott in the late nineties who speculated that the young people’s minds have been literally ‘altered by the effect of a key set of digital formative experiences‘.

      Prensky then, no better than a salesman links a truism with an unproven (and unfounded) suggestion.

      ‘Tapscott’s research indicated that young people are living, playing, communicating, working in and creating communities very differently than their parents (truism) and that the ‘hard wiring’ of young people’s brains has been effectively altered by digitally based learning experiences in the last decade.’ (unfounded, ‘effectively altered’ is what alerts me).

      Let me see what I can find, where all just a click away from Google

      So I buy this to feast on:

      I’m going to have to go through these notes.

      Courtesy of Kindle I can highlight and take notes.

      I find myself rattled by everything Prensky says and how it is presented, from the glowing recommendations, to his extensive biography, to the unqualified, uncited, unresearched ‘hear say’ that considers itself to be serious study.

      He mentions the ‘popular writer Malcolm Bradbury’ but falls into the same trap of conjuring up presumptions that have no foundation in fact. This is less than journalism. It is invention. It may be what he thinks, but no one gets a word in edge ways to say whether he is right or wrong.

      As I read I felt as if I was at best listening to an after dinner speech, at worst a stand-up comic

      Prensky preaches to the converted, a certain group of secondary and primary school teachers who I can see nodding along to every platitude that Prensky offers.

      That’s my summary; the report will follow

      Book by book, blow by blow.

      Seeing Prensky so often quoted in the OU files, in 2001 and still, surprises me.

      I feel like the little boy in the crowd pointing out that the King is wearing no clothes.

      I may eat my words, I often do

      But for now, this is my stance, which I prefer to sitting on the fence.

       

      REFERENCE

      Cisco’s Quick Study by Ann Muoio. From FC issue 39, page 286. http://www.fastcompany.com/online/39/quickstudy.html

      Prensky M (2001) Digital Game based learning, McGraw Hill.

       

      There are no ‘digital natives’ – there never were

      Is it academically sound to quote Star Trek as your source?

      ‘We want young people, like rockets, to “boldly go where no one has gone before,” (4) and partnering offers the best prospects for getting them there’ (Prensky, 2006)

      Click on the reference in this ‘Prensky-ism’ and it kindly tells us ‘opening sequence of the Star Trek television show.’

      Hardly Harvard Referencing.

      When you read Prensky beyond the gushing plaudits from his fans in teaching, this is what you find. Nothing is referenced. Everything is hearsay. Personal anecdotes pass as fact. Just because he spoke to a teacher at a school somewhere passes as research, it is not.

      Everything is ‘Planet Prensky in scope i.e. American kids with laptops and iPhones.

      As I’m inclinded to read everything I can, I’m also starting to find far too many of the ideas put forward by Prensky as his own, as well developed, often academically sound ideas expressed elsewhere, in earlier publications that Prensky then pointedly fails to acknowledge.

      He claims, for example, as his own this notion of ideas to tackle the digital learning environment as ‘verbs’ and ‘nouns’ which, for example, is the exact same premise of William Horton in ‘Web-based Learning’ and more recently (though pre-dating Prensky) in ‘E-learning Design.’ William Horton has been working in technology enabled learning, computer-based and web-based learning since the 1970s.

      The thing is, I find myself compelled to read Prensky. His truisms are simply that; the reality is profoundly more complext and dull.

      Do we want academics who grab the headlines or academics who have a professional and scientifc, academically sound approach to research and what they publish?

      Is there an inevitable blending of the formal and informal, or the popular media and academia when in effect, a shelf of academic books on the shelves of the Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford are mixed up with the trash (magazines and novels) you can pick up from the airport?

      REFERENCE

      Horton, W (2006) E-Learning By Design

      Horton, W (2003) E-Learning Tools and Technologies

      Horton, W (2002) Using E-Learning

      Horton, W (2001) Leading E-learning

      Horton, W (2001) Developing Knowledge Products

      Horton, W (1996) The Web-page design cookbook

      Prensky, M (2006) Teaching Digital Natives

      Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives (article)

      Prensky, M (2009) Education as Rocket Science (article)

      Prensky, M (2006) Do they really think differently? (article)

      Prensky, M ) E-enough. E-learning is a misnomer (article)

      There are no ‘digital native’s or ‘digital immigrants’ … there are however ‘digital residents’ and ‘digital visitors’.

      NOTES INTERVIEW WITH GREGOR KENNEDY

      The idea of the Digital Natives piqued Dr Gregor Kennedy’s interest as did the alarmist talk, particularly from North America that radical change in teaching would be required because a generation of Internet savvy students were entering tertiary education on mass.

      Dr Kennedy, with a background in psychology, was particularly interested because he doubted the claims made by Prensky regarding neuroplasticity.

      What Kennedy wished to establish was what are students’ experiences with technology and what therefore would be the best course of action for institutions as it is they, not the student who would have to make the decisions about the technology being used.

      What is more, if these students were ‘Digital Natives’ then the staff would be ‘Digital Immigrants,’ so by including them in the survey Kennedy could consider both facets of the claim.

      It was revealed that staff were more familiar and advanced with the practical tools, though a minority of students (15%) had more experience with Web 2.0 tools than some staff. i.e. there is a mixed and complex picture.

      Kennedy and his eight person team took a measured and evidence-based approach.

      This research debunked the idea of the Digital Immigrant as well as the Digital Native. It wasn’t surprising to find that academic staff were more adept in their information literacy skills than student, in this population at least the digital divide was in fact in the opposite direction to that promoted by Prensky.

      Importantly there was ‘a raft of core technologies where students and staff show similar profiles’. i.e. there is no sweeping generational divide between groups at all or any suggestion that the way teaching and learning is carried out in higher education should undergo some radical change to accommodate these students.

      The reality is that students come in with a rather simplistic reliance on just two or three limited tools, such as Google and Wikipedia.

      Just because they are using widely available and hugely popular tools, in 2006 MySpace, though by now surely Facebook. What is more there is great diversity in students’ familiarity with blogging, podcasting and wikis, using the web for general information, instant messaging and mobiles.

      There are cultural differences in the way different groups in the community are using technologies. In one papers a student asked “what is a blog?” Some students were just unaware of some of these technologies – which greatly surprised the researches, while in other cases some students were more familiar and adept at Web 2.0 tools that university staff.

      Access to and familiarity with Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 tools is complex; nothing suggested a single cohort could be identified, certainly not one based on date of birth.

      ‘If you’re going to use these kinds of technologies, you need to be mindful of the diversity of the student groups that you’re using them with’.

      The Three universities studied:

      Around 2,000 student surveys.

      1. Melbourne, traditional, founded around 1850. 2. Wollongong in the 1970s with broader teaching and learning and often the first time someone from a family has attended university. 3. Charles Sturt University a newer university.

      The thing that’s important is that we’re going in to try and find evidence to support a construct that has been talked about in our community.

      LINKS TO PAPERS:

      Questioning the net generation: A collaborative project
      in Australian higher education (last accessed 18/10/2012)

      http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/sydney06/proceeding/pdf_papers/p160.pdf

      The net generation are not big users of Web 2.0 technologies: Preliminary findings

      http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/kennedy.pdf

       

       

       

      There is such thing as ‘The Google Generation’ – True or False?

      Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Written in 2007 (published 11 January 2008). Reviewed in 2011.

      Part of the Week 1 jollies for H800.

      (This picks up where I left off in the Forum Thread)

      After a year of MAODE, a decade blogging and longer keeping journals (and old course work from both school and uni I might add) I feel I can tap into my own first, second, third or fourth take on a topic.

      Increasingly, where this is digitised my preferred learning approach is to add to this information/knowledge, often turning my ideas inside out.

      We are yet to have a ‘generation,’ (a spurious and loose term in this context) that has passed through primary, secondary and tertiary education ‘wired up’ to any consistent degree from which to gather empirical research. Indeed, I wonder when things will bottom out, when we’ve gone the equivalent journey of the first horseless-carriage on the Turnpikes of England to the 8 lanes in both directions on the M1 south of Leicester – or from the Wright Brothers to men on the moon.

      I’d like to encourage learners to move on from copying, or cutting and pasting in any form, to generating drafts, and better drafts of their take on a topic, even if this is just a doodle, a podcast or cryptic set of messages in a synchronous or asynchronous discussion i.e. to originate.

      I lapped up expressions such as Digital Natives, an expression/metaphor only that has been debunked as lacking any basis in fact.

      I fear this is the same when it comes to talking about ‘Generation X, Y or Z.’ It isn’t generational, it is down to education, which is down to socio-economic background, wealth, access (technical, physical, geographic, as well as mental), culture, even your parent’s job and attitude.

      My 85 year old Father-in-law is Mac ready and has been wired to the Internet its entire life; does this make him of this ‘Generation?’

      If x billion struggle to find clean drinking water and a meal a day, where do they stand?

      They’ve not been born on Planet Google, so don’t have this generational opportunity.

      I find it short sighted of the authors not to go for a ‘longitudinal’ (sic) study. It strikes me as the perfect topic of a JISC, Open University, BBC tie in, the filming part funding the research that is then published every three years for the next thirty, for example.

      Trying to decide who is Generation X, or Generation Y or the ‘Google Generation’ strikes me as fraught as trying to decide when the islands we inhabit became, or could have been called in turn England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

      We could spend an unwarranted amount of time deciding who is in and who is out and not agreed.

      We can’t it’s like pouring water through a sieve. The creator of IMBD, a computer geek and film buff was born in the 60s (or 70s). Highly IT literate, then as now, he is not of the ‘Google Generation’ as defined as being born after 1993, but is surely of the type?

      Personally I was introduced to computers as part of the School of Geography initiative at Oxford in 1982.

      Admittedly my first computer was an Amstrad, followed by an early Apple, but I’ve not been without a computer for the best part of thirty years. I can still give my 12 year old a run for his money (though he does get called in to sought our browser problems).

      And should this report be quoting Wikipedia?

      Surely it is the author we should quote if something is to be correctly cited; anyone could have written this (anyone did).

      Reading this I wonder if one day the Bodleian Library will be like a zoo?

      The public will have access to view a few paid students who recreate the times of yore when they had to read from a book and take notes, and look up titles in a vast leather-bound tome into which we strips of paper were intermittently stuck. (not so long ago).

      Is there indeed, any point in the campus based university gathered around a library when all his millions, or hundreds of millions of books have been Googliefied?

      Will collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Durham (Edinburgh and Dublin? Harvard ?) become even more elite as they become hugely expensive compared to offerings such as the Open University?

      There may be no limit to how much and how fast content can be transmitted … the entire Library of Congress in 3 seconds I am told, but there are severe limits to how much you can read and remember, let alone make sense of and store.

      Is this not the next step?

      To rewire our minds with apps and plug-ins? I smile at the idea of ‘power browsing’ or the new one for me ‘bouncing’ the horizontal drift across papers and references rather than drilling vertically, driven by a reading list no doubt.

      I can give a name to something I did as an undergraduate 1981-1984. Reading Geography I began I the Map room (skipped all lectures) and then spent my morning, if necessary moving between libraries, particularly the Rhodes Library and Radcliffe Science Library, by way of the School of Geography Library, of course, and sometimes into the Radcliffe Camera or the PPE Reading Rooms.

      I bounced physically.

      I bounced digitally online as a preferred way of doing things. Though this often leaves me feeling overwhelmed by the things I could read, but haven’t read, that I’d like to read. Which is good reason ONLY to read the latest paper, to check even here if the paper we are asked to read has not already been superseded by this or fellow authors.

      Old digitised news keeps like a nasty smell in the wind?

      Users are promiscuous, diverse and volatile and it is clear that these behaviours represent a serious challenge for traditional information providers, nurtured in a hardcopy paradigm and, in many respects, still tied to it. (p9)

      The problem with the short read and low tolerance of readers is the way papers have thus far gone from print version to digital version without, yet, thorough transmogrification.

      We await new acceptable ways to write, and submit and share knowledge that is less formal and to anyone versed in reading online, digestible.

      All authors for the web would do well to read Jakob Nielsen on web usability.

      There is a way to do it. If it looks like it belongs in a journal or book, you are getting it wrong

      Do the authors appreciate that labelling the behaviour ‘squirreling’ is self-fulfilling?

      It normalises the behaviour if anyone reads about it. Whilst metaphors are a useful way to explain, in one person’s words, what is going on, such metaphors soon become accepted as fact.

      There is a running debate across a series of article in the New Scientist on the way humans think in metaphors (good, can’t help it), and how ideas expressed as metaphors then set unfounded parameters on how we think (not so good, and includes things like the selfish gene, competition and so on).

      This dipping, bouncing and squirreling, horizontal browsing, low attention span, four to eight minute viewing diverse ‘one size does not fit all’ individual would make for an interesting cartoon character. I wonder if Steven Appleby or Quentin Blake would oblige. ________________________________________________________________________________

      Why ‘huge’ and why ‘very’ ? Qualify. Facts. Evidence. And why even, ‘very, very.’ This isn’t academic writing, it’s hear say and exaggeration.

      There’s a category missing from the graph – branded information, such as Wikipedia, or Harvard Business Publication, Oxford or Cambridge University Press and Blackwell’s, to name put a few.

      Where so much information is available, and so many offerings on the same topic, the key for anyone is to feel they are reading a reliable source.

      The point being made later about ‘brand’ presence for BL … something we will see more of with the commercialisation of information. Even Wikipedia cannot be free for ever, while the likes of Wikileaks, for its mischief making and spy-value will always be funded from nefarious sources.

      There are very very few controlled studies that account for age and information seeking behaviour systematically: as a result there is much mis-information and much speculation about how young people supposedly behave in cyberspace. (p14)

      Observational studies have shown that young people scan online pages very rapidly (boys especially) and click extensively on hyperlinks – rather than reading sequentially. Users make very little use of advanced search facilities, assuming that search engines `understand’ their queries. They tend to move rapidly from page to page, spending little time reading or digesting information and they have difficulty making relevance judgements about the pages they retrieve. (p14)

      Wikipedia and YouTube both exhibit a marked age separation between viewers of content (mainly 18-24s) and content generators (mainly 45-54s and 35-44s respectively). (p16, ref 17)

      ‘there is a considerable danger that younger users will resent the library invading what they regards as their space. There is a big difference between `being where our users are’ and `being USEFUL to our users where they are’.

      Surely it would be easy to compare a population that have access and those who do not?

      Simply take a group from a developed, rich Western nation and compare them to a group that are not, that don’t have the internet access, video games or mobile phones.

      REFERENCE

      Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. UCL 11 JAN 2008

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