wk2:EDET:EmergTech.The Promise of Open Learning

Open learning has been a useful tool in my classroom. I have not used it much as I teach mostly K-3 students but have had some experience with its usefulness. I have enjoyed its use in my personal life and do believe it has advantages when used in meaningful ways.

Our reading for this week is showcased from academia.edu which states that Open Learning “occurs in a shared and transparent manner in which others can reuse, revise, remix, and/or redistribute the evidence of learning with others.” (O’Byrne,Roberts, LaBonte, Graham,n.d).  My version would simply say open learning is another place where information is shared and adapted by many users for anyone to use. Having a resource that is easily accessible and, in most cases, free would be invaluable if it was a resource that could be added to my students learning goals.

O’Byrne and associates go on to say that open learning “encourages collaboration, networked learning and interdependence between educators and learners.” Online platforms are full of collaboration by bringing many people together on the same topic. Everyone involved can “hear” where the other participants stand on certain issues or can give valuable constructive criticism on an essay. One issue that can be argued is it is more difficult to keep students safe in an environment where not all people are known as well as their face-to-face peers within the regular classroom setting.

But why such a large jump from traditional, face-to-face  classrooms straight into open learning resources? Let us not forget about the buzzword of the times-Blended Learning. In my opinion, blended learning is just the gateway to gaining a more open source learning environment and educational toolbox. As more districts/teachers/researchers test out which types of learning apparatus will suit the needs best, more information will become public and mainstream.

While seeking out information on open learning, I stumbled upon many articles about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). An article presented from a MIT Technology review delves into a little bit of research based on open learning classes at college level. The article states that “90 percent of students drop out from these MOOCs.”(Pope,2014) This would be a staggering percentage of dropouts but it seems there may be more to the story pertaining to who is actually taking these courses and to what purpose are these classes labeled? The article covers many interesting topics within the scope of open learning. I had enjoyed reading through it simply to know what kind of research is being conducted, even at college level.

Another amazing (and long) article I fell into was Blurring Boundaries in Education: Context and Impact of MOOCs. (Loeckx,2016). This article goes very deep into the different aspects of open online learning to show how culture, society, technology, and economy can be affected but mostly how they are all interconnected. This article provide advantages and disadvantages from each subtopic above. Like I said, it is a pretty deep read but it may further cement some ideals you may have had before about open learning or may change your whole outlook.

Just a side note while searching for other resources to include within this post, I had not read much of a concern for validity when dealing with open learning. I am sure those articles are out there and I wanted to keep my post to have a more positive spin as I do support open learning. It is inevitable, however, to always pitch advantages and fail to mention possible disadvantages to open learning tools. It has been my experience through many college classes that would not want an open learning site such as wikipedia to be among the references in a paper for the possibility of not being completely valid information if just anyone, professional in a field or not, can alter the contents.

Loeckx, J (april 2016) (vol.17,n.3) Retreived from www.irrodl.org/

O’Byrne, I., Roberts, V., LaBonte, R., & Graham, L. (n.d) Open Learning in K-12 Online and Blended Learning Environments. Retreived from www.academia.edu/10311797/open_learning_in_k-12_online-and_blended_learning_environments

Pope, J. (2014) What are MOOCs Good For? Retrieved from www.technologyreview.com

Reflection 1:Emerging Technologies

This has been an interesting and fast paced first week. Emerging technologies is an interesting topic to start a class with that is filled with new-to-me-technology usage. It is exciting to be learning new tools but it is also a little nerve wrecking I am going to miss something important. My classmates have some of the same opinions and questions pertaining to emerging technologies as I do.

After reading through the blogs and reflections, it is clear just how unclear technology is and where it is headed. Everything depends on who uses a tool and what it is used for that makes it worth having. This concept seems to be as individual as fingerprints. Well, maybe not fingerprints but in a classroom setting, I want a tool to be thought out and useful, not thought of as just a game. As a teacher, I am willing to try anything that could add engagement and learning to my classroom. I look forward to learning more about technology but I am even more excited to learn how to use a little bit more too!

Week 1:What are Emerging Technologies?

Technology seems to be in a constant state of adaptation and is still being tested for validity.  The term emerging, in my opinion, means the current technology being presented may not be used to its fullest extent. It is a way of labeling a technology that is coming into its own time. A large learning curve comes with new or improved technological tool. Educators want to make sure any emerging technologies brought into their teaching/learning environment will be beneficial to their students’ learning goals as well as continuing to provide a meaningful education, in this fast paced, digital world.

The NMC Horizon Report (Johnson & Adams, 2015) delves into the types of trends most noted in the world of Emerging Technologies (ET). The first, short-term trend, states the use of blended learning for the students with the integration of technology into teacher professional development trainings. The short term trends seem to fade into non-existence if not made mainstream. Mid-term trends are still around and effecting decisions made by educational stakeholders. The current long-term trends are affecting decisions of what school districts and state governments are looking to be taught in schools. The term “trends” seems to jump out as a descriptive word through this article as a trend is something that comes and goes and may come back only to go again.

Can all Emerging Technologies be so cut and dried to fit exactly into one of these categories? I believe it would be most difficult to sort some emerging technologies into these defined trends. Veletsianos (2016) notes a characteristic of ET as not being caught in “hype cycles”. Understanding the reason in the emergence of a technological improvement, shows a large amount of information as to what type of trend, as stated earlier by the NMC Horizon Report, that a particular ET could be placed.

Social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become an avenue for communication across the world. People can share ideas and thoughts, collaborate with others and gain differing perspectives on important topics. It could be stated that these platforms were solely created just as a quick and simple way to communicate great distances. People like to communicate and will do so more often if it is convenient and easy to use. Why would schools not jump into a similar platform if one has already become “mainstream” and used by so many people?

I have found a few great articles about using social media within a classroom environment. (www.edutopia.org/blog/making-case-social-media-in-schools-jim-asher, 2015) Within an educational context, there are many opportunities to communicate with others around the world. Students are able to communicate anywhere with their classroom quickly through the simple use of the internet.

Here is another good article about policies within schools pertaining to the use of social media.(Varlas, 2011) This is a springboard article to read if looking into proposing a change to your district for more technology usage.

Asher, Jim (2015) http://www.edutopia.org/blog/making-case-social-media-in-schools-jim-asher

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2015) NMC Horizon Report:K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Varlas, Laura (2011) Vol.17,n.4 Can Social Media and School Policies Be “Friends”?”

Veletsianos, George (November, 2016) http://www.veletsianos.com/2008/11/18/a-definition-of-emerging-technologies-for-education/