The term ‘educational technology’ is a difficult one to pin down. There are some who would argue that every tool we use, from a ballpoint pen to an electronic whiteboard, is an educational technology. Others strive to pin down best practices with choice technologies and advocate for this or that brand of technology enhanced pedagogy as scientifically proven to better the learning process in some way. Some people think that social networking is faddish, or, worse, a sign of the decline of our civilization. Others will argue that if we do not bring it into our classrooms we are doing our students a disservice and becoming increasingly out of date.
As an educator working on such slippery foundations, I have taken the position that all these things are true. Social networking is both faddish and dangerous as well as critical to moving forward. Our tools are both simply a reflection of the same tools and methods of millennia and complex mechanisms fraught with implicit pedagogy. This course takes all opinions on education and technology as valid and mixes them together, to be interpreted by our own class as well as being validated by a wider network of educators.
This method, of taking all ideas and having them peer reviewed by a wide network of peers, is hardly revolutionary. The big difference in how it is approached in this course, is how quickly that reviewing is done, the degree to which certainty is required (or even desired) and the degree to which a given perspective can be personalized. The curriculum of this course will be made by, and I would say the curriculum of this course IS the people that will be engaged in it. That will include me as the facilitator, the learners who have chosen to take it, as well as a wider network of educators drawn from my own community and hopefully found and added by the students over the two weeks of the course.
Students taking this course come from a wide variety of contexts. Some will be classroom teachers from the k-12 system, some trainers in the corporate world or faculty members at a university. The needs and requirements of different participants will not be the same and learners in the course will not be required to come out of the course with the same thing.
Student success in this course will be measured by how well a student has planned for their own context. Students will be assessed on three specific ‘projects’ (for lack of a better word), each reflecting the work that they have done in trying to take the concepts, the examples, the activities and the reflections of this course.
30% – Learning network plan
Throughout the course students will be expected to gather people, tools and approaches that will help support them in integrating educational technology into their own context. Students will be responsible for handing in a draft learning network plan by the halfway mark of the course and a final version on the last day. These should be between 500 and 1000 words and, ideally, be full of links, commentary and ideas for how they can continue to learn, network and use technologies after the course has ended.
30% – Classroom project
The majority of the second week of the course will be taken up by class projects developed and taught by the learners. These projects should involve the integration of a technology into their contexts that had not occurred to the students when the course began. The idea is to workshop an idea with the whole class while introducing an approach to using a technology. Students will be graded less on the ‘success’ of their classroom project, but to the degree in which it demonstrates an effort to integrate the models of the course into their own context.
40% Reflections and collaboration
Students will be expected to maintain a personal log of their reflections on each day of the course. Ten days. Ten reflections. They will also be responsible for engaging with other people’s reflections. Half of this grade will be the students ‘pitch’ for how they were effective members of the learning network that we tried to create in the class. The ‘pitch’ will be 300-500 words and should contain the same type of ‘links’ and ‘commentaries’ as the learning networks plan.
Notes (you should still probably read these)
No significant prior knowledge of technology is expected for this course. Students with broad technological backgrounds often find this type of course more challenging than students who come with less pre-described standpoints with regards to technology.
This course will also involve the use of a large number of technologies. We will try them out, do projects with them, hopefully have fun with some of them, and learn together. The course will happen (almost) entirely out in the ‘open’. While you may choose to use a pseudonym for the course, all students in the course will know the identity of other students, and work will be (almost always) done in the open. We will be using the googledoc suite for some of our work, which will allow for a backup communication system as well and semi-private space when necessary.
We’re going to be using twitter. Alot.
This course is based on my own research in the field of open education, the nature of knowledge and the intersection of education and technology. This research is ongoing, and critiques of the approach are not only welcome they are encouraged.
I can’t wait to get started.