I attended the Emerging Learning Design 2011 Conference yesterday at Montclair State University. Here's a recap of key themes and ideas.
Intellagirl kicked off the conference by reminding us that pedagogy comes first, technology second, and gave us a framework for assessing technologies for use in education. She urged us to tinker with new tools and understand what the creators of those tools had in mind from a design perspective and then see how those goals map to our own educational objectives.Smith-Robbins Dissertation Defense Slides
See slide 27 here, to learn more.
Thinking of Teaching Online? Another Take.
I wanted to hear how other folks are talking to new faculty about teaching online, so I attended Suzanne McCotter's Beginning Pedagogy for Teaching Online. McCotter is the Associate Professor, Counseling and Educational Leadership at Montclair State University. She said that students are ready to learn online teaching, and know how to interact. I think a more accurate statement might be that some students are ready to learn online, but in general, I'm skeptical that generation is really an issue. Mark Bullen sums this up well here: Still, the idea that online teachers need to foster a sense of safety and community resonated. I liked how she puts students in her asynchronous class in small discussion groups and then appoints a leader and someone to summarize the discussion for the larger class. I am thinking I may give this approach a try for the research process and methodology course I'm teaching this summer.
Mobile Transforms Teaching?
I was somewhat fearful of attending Apple's sponsored presentation on Mobile Pedagogy in today's classroom by Jon Landis, but it turned out to be one of the day's most interesting sessions. He notes that mobile devices with high speed connections will soon outnumber desktop devices and that approximately 63 percent of college students have smart phones. He chafes at the notion that smart phones aren't allowed in K-12 environments and are merely tolerated in higher education. He then goes onto argue that technology is changing, or should change how we teach. He contends current educational models, whether in k-12 or higher ed, are predicated on information scarcity. Information is not scarce, it's abundant and therefore the educators role changes from being an information expert to a concept shepherd. (This idea echoed Intellagirl's idea that as educators we model the practices of master learners.) His pitch goes something like this:
Content should be consumed by students outside of class. Classes should be experiential. When more materials are available to students and classes focus on doing and discussing instead of content dissemination that attendance goes up.
He closed by making an ethical case for introducing innovations in education. Landis slipped a disc 20 years ago. A surgeon repaired it but it required a 3 inch incision and a 3 day stay in the hospital. Some 10 years later (facts are placeholders to retell the anecdote), same surgery, 1 day in the hospital and a 1 inch incision. A friend had the same surgery (coincidentally, so did I) just this year. 1/2 inch incision and it did not require an overnight stay. The same doctor performed all three surgeries. If that doctor used the same tools or techniques, he would be sued for malpractice. Why are educators allowed to use the same methods? He argued that it's unethical to stick with the same methods. He urged participants to pick a single thing in their teaching that's not working and see if there's a way it could be improved.
Let's Augment Reality
NYU's Craig Kapp presented on augmented reality. He demonstrated how symbols could be embedded in textbooks to augment and update them. If that sounds abstract, imagine a children's book where holding the pages up could produce a 3d image on screen that kids could then interact with through the computer's web cam. Zooburst is an augmented reality authoring environment that lets people create their and share their own books. He also demonstrated how to use QR codes to conduct real time simple surveys in class. When you see a QR code, you see a link to the virtual world.
In sum, we're carrying around tremendous computing power that gives us new ways of seeing, connecting and learning. More about Craig's work on his blog.
This year's presenters were invited. The call for presentations is scheduled for September of 2011. I'd like us to be there to talk about online learning.