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An avalanche is coming

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 24 May 2013, 12:42

An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead

An Avalanche is Coming (not)

No it isn't, or rather - no more than at any specific location around our digital universe. And the idea of a revolution is ludicrous. Do we expect to see guns in schools? (US of A excepted).

Pearson Education want to scare us. This paper is doing the rounds and courtesy of is sensationalist title and its massive quoting of the press in its construction then it will get ample press coverage. Most in academic institutions, some years ago, realised that the change, would be more akin to melting glaciers. Not even of the climate change variety.

I've got an essay crisis on at the moment.

The module is Practice-based research in e-learning with the OU.

The first block and the last five weeks has been spent learning how to review literature so that you feel the authors are credible and the subject has been treated in an objective way with research that is empirically based. There are academic papers and books on the likely or potential changes to Tertiary Education, such as:

  • 'Rethinking University Teaching: A conversational framework for effective use of educational technology', Diana Laurillard
  • 'Contemporary Perspectives in E-Learning Research: Themes, Methods and Impact on Practice' Grainne Conole
  • 'Preparing for Blended e-learning' Allison Littlejohn
  • 'Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age' Helen Beetham
  • 'The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice'

I have read all of these and am currently reading 'Teenagers and Technology (Adolescence and Society' Chris Davies and Rebecca Eynon which took me to her paper 'Mapping the Digital Divide in Britain: Implications for Learning and Education'.

My sober response to this 'paper' starts with the title.

We should read anything with a sensationalist title with great caution. There are two traps that journalists fall into, or exploit, either to say there is revolution or to say that disaster looming. The sober, academic, empirically researched view is often far more contained, less exciting and so less inclined to gain press attention for its authors - in this case Pearson.

I'm up at 4.15 to write an assignment where I have had to put forward five papers and argue for their inclusion to help me get to the bottom of a research question.

I've read three books, reviewed some 60 and read some 20 papers at least to get this far. The research question is set in Tertiary Education.

In the last month I have been to both University of Southampton and University of Oxford - I don't for example, see Balliol College, Oxford, marking its 750th Anniversary this year, changing that radically. The model works too well, indeed, if anything, the Internet will make these institutions more appealing to students. Indeed I spent over an hour on the phone to a second year English Literature Student last night - from Perth in Western Australia, clearly very bright and motivated. She described how she Googled 'English Literature', found the top universities, then chose the one of the leading Colleges at Oxford.

My alarm bells start to go when a forward is written by 'emeritus' - however amazing their career has been, they have retired and their choice may be for PR reasons.

Excuse the cynic in me.

Are the other two authors, employees of Pearson, learning academics? Neither.

Then I turn to the bibliography and I find pages of citations ... for journalists.

In my experience of the last three years of a Masters course in E-learning I have learnt that very few journalists should ever be read on the subject as they always have an agenda - the bias of their paper, the need to sell papers, and the need to sell themselves. What struck me is that NOT ONE of the leading academic figures on the shifts that are inevitable to tertiary education are mentioned here, the names I have given above you may notice, were mostly figures from the OLDS MOOC by the way.

I will read and try to offer a balanced review in due course but fear that the response that it usually elicits in me is the same as the sensationalist titles of these things.

In this case, if its snow then wait for spring and the problem will go away ... and what about all those countries that have no snow?

A few years ago I realised that there was something no right with the concept of a 'digital native' or 'digital immigrant' - both are nonsense.

More recently I've given far too much time to stripping down Nicholas Carr 'The Shallows: what the Internet is doing to our brains' more nonsense that at least has be eager to study neuroscience.

Perhaps I like a fight, or debate.

Academia doesn't have to sensationalise - it has to aim to get it right, prove its case, strive for objectivity and 'the truth' and be reviewed.

This looks too like exaggeration 'avalanche' and 'revolution' are well chosen buzz words that will make headlines in the papers - and it lacks the empirical evidence which is a necessity. (And don't be fooled by fellow humans how have been to Harvard or any where else - we're all human, all fallible and usually have an agenda). Must go! J

I may be wrong, but a little more than intuition says read with great caution and make up your own mind - what would or what do fellow OLDS MOOCers think for example?

'Making meaning with metaphors' or some such is a quote from Grainne Conole.

We did a module that was about little else. We cannot help but think in metaphors - neuroscientists such as V J Ramachandran think this is what distinguished us from Neanderthal - we 'think outside the box' as it were. So, metaphors matter and are convincing and plausible and simple.

My take on the Internet and the WWW is to think of Web 1.0 as a digital ocean and Web 2.0 as the entire water cycle (yes, my first degree was Geogrraphy!). So, no harm to have an avalanche in the mix ... but in this context, of a global system, with cyberspace, the avalanche is just one event or a series of events, in one landscape, that is one tiny part of a vast, far more complex and changing system.

I flick open this table I created in order to review the literature for the paper I have to write ... give me a few days and I'l apply it to 'The Avalanche is coming'.

Nice title, what about the content?

TITLE
Who are the players? What are their credentials. Which institutions did they represent and where are they now. What have the written since and what else are they known for?

QUESTIONS / PROBLEMS
What research questions are being addressed?
How does the research question relate to the design of the research?
What is the sector and setting? (e.g. school, higher education, training, informal learning)

LITERATURE REVIEW
In what ways is the wider literature used in the paper?
What theories, concepts and key terms are being used?

EDUCATION THEORY
What views of education and learning underpin the research?

METHODS
What methods of data collection and analysis are used? (e.g. the number of participants; the type of technologies; the use of interviews, surveys, observation, etc.)
What are the limitations of the methods used?

FINDINGS
What did this research find out?
What counts as evidence in this work?
Are there any ethical issues associated with the research?
What are the implications (if any) for practice, policy or further research?

Lord David Putnam is quoted in the opening pages.

He is Chancellor of the Open University, an honorary post, he is a former producer of TV commercials and movies who sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords. Nice chap, but his perspective is to the left and whilst he will listen to the brilliant minds around him when he visits the Open University, he is not an academic himself. i.e. what is expressed are an opinion.

What we need are the facts.

 

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Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Mar 2013, 06:47

Way%2520is%2520EDIT%25202.jpg

Fig. 1. Way is will be ...

  • Way was
  • Way is
  • Way will be ...

Web 1.0 Top down and traditional

Web 2.0 Democratization of information - anyone can publish

Web 30 The data takes over - construction and reconstructing itself to form unique and original combinations, even coming up with new ideas?

This is doodled on the back of a handout from the Web Science Docotoral Training Centre, University of Southampton where I had spent the afternoon. Serendipty really - the long train journey in and back and the iPad had run out of juice obling me to do some reading. In any case, pen on paper is often the best place to express thoughts, to 'get them out there' in a skamp or draft form.

This is how Dion Hinchcliffe expresses it:

Linked%2520Learning%252014thc%2520to%252021st%2520c%2520GRAB%25205MAY2011.jpg

With a link to hundreds of his diagrams

 

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Where did you join the throng and what's missing?

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LYT%25205.JPG

Fig. 1. The Video Arts development journey from linear storytelling on film to multisourced, chunked, networked and open learning.

Professionally I came in with VHS - shot on Umatic then Betacam, edited on 1" tape then digitally. In 1986 Abbey National still distributed staff news on an AV slide carousel - there has always been inertia, though today change, new versions and upgrades are built into the system - or an accepted way of life. Visiting a regional BBC TV Station in 1989 I thought it was behind the production processes used in Soho and Covent Garden - the advertising industry, events and training business were all quicker to develop.

DVD are missing, as are intranets. Computer based learning in house, in a learning lab, then dispersed on internal systems developed in the mid 1990s.  You can put the Philips Laser Disc in there too - mid to late 1980s before the CD-ROM took over.

Streamling and downloads needs to be expressed very differently too - I'd give it a very thin wedge to start with. Great expectations of bandwidth from 2000 for the next decade meant that the DVD quality of 3D animationa, video and so on was impossible - yet the DVD market died. Someone the ease of distribution and ease of response on the network was considered more important.

Production values remain the thing that set Video Arts apart - and humour. If you are not paying suitable attention to the messages then it is fun to spoke the likes of Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant playing bank branch managers or other actors whose names immediately escape you but you recall from a period drama or a sit come, pops up with their arm in a sling with a health and safety story or as a junior manager with autocratic behaviours.

The laptop, after the desk top, was our first 'mobile computer' of course and today as well as the tablet Smartphones are a devise that plays a role in learning - for a start, everything I can do and read here I can manage on a Smarphone.

You do find new ways to learn - my favourite, a genuine creative problem solving technique according to an Open University MBA module I took - is to express some ideas such as this, or have a first swing at answering part of an assignment - then nod of. A ten minute sleep will do it. Either sinking into unconsciousness or coming back to consciousness I will be aware that I am dwelling on some condundrum and I just may have figured something out. Just don't do this a few hours before an assignment is due and decide as a result of your 'dream spirits' that you are going to rewrite from the top.

 

 

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On being nowhere and everywhere

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This journey is a three decades old; I was using technology-enhanced kit as a 17 year old when I sat myself in front of a Sony reel to reel set up used for interviewing technique, looked at the result then made a video on how to produce a slide show.

It staggers me than 30 years on a slide show online is considered to be innovative or even an advance on what was available in the 1970s.

In 1985 Abbey National were sending carousels of slides around branches to inform staff of what was going on; I was part of the company that turned this into video.

Come the late 1990s what happens?

We’re back to slide shows online, better known as the basic website. Far from seeing an advance in communications standards a good deal of the last twenty years has been the equivalent of treading water, efforts to put online what we did person to person, face to face.

The revelation is that with Web 3.0 technology, social networking, online all the time, available to communicate and so learn, to share, whether vicariously, as participant or providing, linking to or creating content all we are achieving is what is done in the real world x10000 … because you don’t have to be there.

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H800: 34 Whereso art though, Webeo 4.0 ?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 20:49

For an H800 WK 5 activity I'm contemplating the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0.

Meanwhile I'm reading a book that wants to move me on from Web 3.0 to Web 4.0.

Marketing%20for%20the%20Social%20Web.JPG

 

Is this akin to the Neanderthal form of teaching that was Modern History at Oxford, ending I think around 1702. My daughter is styding Modern History and takes in the Second World War - this feels like yesterday (though my parents were children during that war).

Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is starting to feel ancient.

Web 3.0 is where it's happening.

Web 4.0 is where it's going ... until and only if we coin a different term to trump it.

Never has my head hurt so much, I feel like all the Dr Who's in one ... a person from each era contained in the same being, loyal to each, while desperate to be embraced by the latest think, very conscious that the religion of tomorrow is of more value that the beliefs of the distant past of ... well twenty years ago.

 

Dion Hinchliffe does it this way:''

Computers%20and%20Communications%201970%20to%202010.JPG

I'm uncertain which or what analogy to use, but if you are studying 'innovations in e-learning' how can what is going on right now not be far more relevant to the thinking of a decade ago, let alone a few years ago?

It's as if this is 1911 and we're style unsure (as they were) if heavy-than-air machines would get off the ground. H.G.Wells had his heroes in dirigibles.

 

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H800 WK 1 Activty 5 Part 1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 05:53

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.

 

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