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No more teachers, no more books: a project for CULT 3020 by Imogen Thomas.


My Production Project for cult3020, digital culture. Should be viewed in partnership …

My Production Project for cult3020, digital culture. Should be viewed in partnership with:




Published in Education , Technology
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    a discussion regarding the application of digital technologies in the classroom.
    Imogen Thomas
  • 2. abstract
    It is fair to say that “digital culture” is an inherent part of the way most people in first-world countries go about their daily lives. Technology is constantly advancing at an alarming rate, often revolutionising our way of life- particularly in the workplace, classroom and social interactions. The aim of this project is to consider how use of these burgeoning technologies can be applied in a classroom situation, and what the potential benefits and drawbacks of their use may be.
  • 3. step one: thought process
    I started this project by using mindomo to create a mindmap: a simple way to get some starting ideas written down in an organised fashion that helped inspire some lateral thinking. You can find my mindmaphere. Encouraging lateral thinking is not the only outcome of using online tools for academic purposes...
  • 4. the brainstorm
    I brainstormed many other points, including:
    The benefits of increased access to broader sources, and a faster and more efficient way of searching through them. That said, there is also an abundance of unreliable sources, and one must be careful to scrutinise anything they find.
    Ability to “spark individual thought” and provoke further thinking through conversation (blogging, commenting etc)
    People learn in many different ways (for example, the Vark model suggests different people learn through visual, aural, written, or kinesthetic means) , and the multimedia nature of digital tools suits this.
    However, working online reduces social interaction, and can thus impede development of “people skills”.
    Limitations are created- to learn using online tools, access to the internet, some literacy and a level of computer skills are required.
  • 5. step two: research
    Using key words from my mindmapping exercise, I was able to start conducting searches using google scholar, amongst other search engines and online databases (including JSTORand Project Muse.) I used many different keywords, but interestingly I found that my searches turned up the most useful results when I included the word “academic” in my search string (eg. “academic blogging”). I used social bookmarking tool delicious to tag and annotate useful sources that I found. I also used delicious itself as an alternative database, by exploring the tags of others. All the sources I used for this project are tagged “prodproj3020”.
    I also used other, more specific tags, including:
    I found I had a little difficulty at first in deciding what tags to use as when first setting out you don’t know what will be useful later.
  • 6. step three: discussion
    What kind of information did I gather? I had to wade through some useless and irrelevant articles (particularly, a large number of book reviews), but eventually I came across some pertinent journal articles and webpages, mostly discussing how to successfully integrate technology into the classroom, and some interesting case studies.
    Here, I will briefly discuss what some of these sources had to say on this topic. I have chosen not to analyse all my sources, but rather create a sort of “annotated bibliography” of literature that considers a diverse range of information relevant to this topic.
  • 7. Jeff Cain
    “Online Social Networking Issues Within Academia...”
    Cain’s article “examines the existing literature on the issues of newer online social networking technologies pertaining to higher education in general...”, finding that “actual scholarly research is sparse.” What he can ascertain from the information available is as follows:
    Websites such as Facebook help students in “developing their identities and finding their ‘fit’ within a college community.” Helping students develop a sense of belonging within their academic community is a major benefit of social networking.
    However, students are representatives of all their networks, including educational ones, and both students and staff need to recognise that social networking means their private, social life, is now in the public eye. Cain offers the example of a student who was refused their education degree because her profile picture was deemed “unprofessional”.
    Cain says that “several universities have either mandates ‘sterile’ profiles or banned student athlete Facebook profiles completely, for the stated purpose of protecting student identities, privacy, and university image.”
    It is clear that online networking tools, despite being able to extend and develop the social experience of students (and staff), it is not without significant drawbacks. Apart from the obvious distraction issues, there are matters of privacy and reputation that must be considered.
  • 8. Arja Veerman & Else Veldhuis-Diermanse
    “Collaborative learning through computer-mediated communication in academic education”
    This paper involves four studies that were part of an academic course, where students worked collaboratively using a computer-mediated communication system. In each study, students, peers and tutors communicated via text-based messages. Veerman & Veldhuis-Diermanse then compared the success of each of these modes, and analysed the roles of those involved. The studies were:
    NetMeeting, which “facilitates synchronous communication and the sharing of applications between several users”. It is unstructured and unrestricted with regards to “turn taking”.
    Belvedere, where students use a “synchronous chat box and argumentative diagram construction tool” concurrently. Adding data is done by using a “predefined set of text boxes”.
    Allaire Forums, an “asynchronous CMC system, in which messages can be organised by ‘threading’ and ‘branching’ them around themes.”
    Web Knowledge Forum, also an asynchronous CMC system, where users choose a “view” to work in- a “thematic discussion list” where that can read and write messages.
    After qualitatively analysing this data, Veerman and Veldhuis-Diermanse found that Allaire and Web Knowledge provided mainly constructive discussion, whilst NetMeeting and Belvedere contained more non-constructive and non-task related comments. As a result of their in-depth analysis, they were able to create a list of “practical tips for the effective use of educational technology in collaborative learning situations”, which include using an open-ended task with the potential for multiple perspectives, using structures that “regulate organisational and planning issues” and providing guidelines regarding participation, collaboration and communication.
  • 9. Eric Fredericksen, Alexandra Pickett, Peter Shea et al.
    “Student Satisfaction and Perceived Learning with On-line Courses...”
    Using google books, I am able to access this chapter that is an analysis of the State university of New York’s (SUNY) Learning Network (SLN), their “online instructional program”, whose primary goals are to “bring SUNY’s diverse and high-quality instructional programs within the reach of learners everywhere...” The paper considers factor that contribute to the “high levels of learning and learner satisfaction that students have reported in the SLN”. By looking at this case study, we can see evidence of how to successfully establish an online learning environment.
    In brief, here are the steps that are suggested:
    “Get started” (12) : they recommend that “faculty begin to visualize their courses in an asynchronous online environment, even before beginning work on the course template, assessing current instructional practices and “relate them to distance learning principles”.
    “Create an Orientation” (13) : Fredericksen et al.’s research found that some specific orientation information was effective in introducing a student to an online learning environment.- a welcome, contact information, course overview, readings/materials, activities, expectations and so on should all be included.
    “Chunk course into modules”(13) : faculty should examine their content and how they desire to teach it, and “see if chunks naturally emerge”. They recommend that staff look at examples of how others have applied this doctrine.
  • 10. Eric Fredericksen, Alexandra Pickett, Peter Shea et al.
    (Continued from previous):
    “Create learning activities in course modules” (13) : It is essential, whilst doing this, to consider navigation (“faculty also need to think about how their students will interact with the materials and navigate the course”, 14 ) and evaluation (how to evaluate students must be carefully considered here).
    “Walk through the course” (15) : it is essential to evaluate and revise course modules as they are developes.
    “Get ready to teach”: at SUNY staff are provided with help and tip on how to use the online learning environment- staff should be able to look to their faculty for similar guidance.
    “Evaluate and revise” (16) : Fredericksen et al encourage faculty to “keep notes during the teaching phase of their courses.”
    The structure of CULT3020 itself is an excellent example of almost all of these elements, and has been what I consider to be a successful learning environment- it is, in itself, an example of how to apply online tools to academic pursuits.
  • 11. Anne Bartlett-Bragg
    “Blogging to Learn”
    In her paper, Bartlett-Bragg “introduce[s] the blogging phenomenon and present[s] some options for educators” (1) . She starts by examining what a blog actually is, quoting Paquet, who lists five features of a blog: “personal editorship, a hyperlinked posting structure, frequent updates, free public access to the content via the Internet, and archive postings” (2). Prima facie, it would appear that some, if not all, these elements make blogging an useful academic medium. She makes examples of some current, practical applications of blogs and considers the further possibilities available.
    There are many different types of and uses for blogs, as she lists:
    group blogs (“popular where an educational institution may not have the facilities of technical infrastructure...to provide discussion forums or bulletin boards”, [3])
    as a place to publish student writings (this “gives students a real audience to write to and, when optimized, a collaborative environment where they can give and receive feedback...” [Kennedy qtd. 3])
    Field notes, journals of professional practice
    Personal opinion publishing, where “short essays of comments are posted about current trends and issues, with the intention that another author will weigh into the debate on their own blog...an informal network of debate.” (3-4)
    Academic blogs and research journals
    Learning journals- where “individual ownership of the content” differentiates this from other forums- “the content becomes the sole responsibility of the author.” (4)
    She also suggests there is a “5-stage blogging process” (establishment, introspection, reflective monologues, reflective dialogue and knowledge artefact) (6). This article affirms blogging as an effective pedagogical practice: it seems to be clearly developed that blogs do have a role to play in learning environments, and can be a valuable teaching tool.
  • 12. conclusion
    The sources I have discussed in the previous slides barely scrape the surface of the information that abounds on this topic. The intention of this project (although I also mean for it to demonstrate my research and critical thinking) is it that it should more importantly be reflexively considered a reflection of how to use online tools for academic purposes.
    At times, the tone I have used throughout this project is somewhat less formal than is used in most scholarly work. I believe this is appropriate, as it is my opinion that one of the great benefits of using digital technology for academic purposes is the ability to use it to make information accessible, comprehensible and cohesive.
  • 13. conclusion (cont’d)
    Although we are not ready to do away with traditional classroom methods, it would be a great shame to ignore the innovative technologies that are readily available. The potential benefits of their use spread across many areas. For example:
    Geographic (particularly in isolated areas, it allows access to resources such as journal articles and increased contact with experts in the field through blogging and discussion forums.)
    Environmental (digital information doesn’t take up space in the same way a textbook does, and there is obvious benefits in the reduction of paper used.)
    Economy of both time and money (many resources are now available free online, and searching through them is made quicker thanks to the many search engines available.)
    To me, these benefits far outweigh the negative aspects of a “digital classroom” (such as unreliable sources, reduced social interaction and potential for distraction). Perhaps the most significant area where online tools might not be hugely beneficial academically is in terms of social networking. Even with that in mind, however, I still firmly believe that digital technologies can (and should) be successfully integrated into academia.
  • 14. works cited
    Bartlett-Bragg, Anne. “Blogging to Learn”. The Knowledge Tree 4 (2003): 1-10. Web. 31st Oct 2010.
    Cain, Jeff. “Online Social Networking Issues Within Academia and Pharmacy Education.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 72(1) (2008): 10. Web. 31st Oct 2010.
    Fredericksen, Eric, Pickett, Alexandra, Shea, Peter, et al. “Student Satisfaction and Perceived Learning with On-line Courses...” Online Education: Learning Effectiveness and Faculty Satisfaction. Ed. John Bourne. Sloan Center for Online Education: 1999. 7-34. Print, accessed on Web. 31st Oct 2010.
    Veerman, Arja, and Veldhuis-Diermanse, Else. “Collaborative learning through computer-mediated communication in academic education.” 2001. 31st Oct 2010.