Syllabus – Educational Technology and the Adult Learner ed366

Introduction
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argue that if we do not bring it into our classrooms we are doing our students a disservice and becoming increasingly out of date.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.

Assessment
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.

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19 thoughts on “Syllabus – Educational Technology and the Adult Learner ed366

  1. hmmm

    George’s tweet said comments were needed. Is this where they are needed?

    If so, here are my comments:

    1. Probably should get away from the idea of that it is necessary to prove the value of social networking technology – it is a given at this point

    2. Peer – reviewing: are the participants providing evaluation for each other/self assessment? Why not?

    3. You sound a little unsure of yourself. What weight will the facilitator have in the learning process? Guide on the side? Sage on the stage?

    4. This is a 10-day course? Seems there are too many assignments/requirements for that time. Are your goals appropriate to the time allowed?

    5. Enthusiasm seems high.

  2. Hi Ulop,

    Thanks for the excellent questions. They’ve helped put me in mind of more of the concerns that my students may have when they begin the course.

    1. You and I would agree on that… i doubt the feeling is consistent across all of my students. Serious thinkers (nicholas carr et. al.) have raised serious concerns about modern communications tech and society.
    2. Peer reviewing. That, i believe, is the thing that takes alot of time. I don’t think it can be done effectively in two weeks.
    3. I think a little unsureness is a good thing. The teacher is sage on the stage and guide on the side, depending on what is needed.
    4. ITs alot of work. No doubt.
    5. :) i hope so.

  3. Dave,

    Is this a F2F, blended or online course?
    It sounds ambitious especially when considering no prior knowledge is needed. Many of us have undergone paradigm shifts over time but I hope you facilitate the change that is individualized for each participant.

    I do like the fact you are promoting change and collaboration beyond the course. Who are the patrticipants? Do they want to be here or is this an expected/assigned course? That always makes a difference.

  4. Hey, Dave:

    My second try at this, probably even less useful than before because of the short timeline. Cuppla comments:

    1) I’m sufficiently old school to think of other peoples’ “knowledge artifacts” as part of the network. Might be interesting to have a couple of alternative perspectives to the “community as curriculum” and associated frameworks.

    2) The strong element of uncertainty inherent in this course contradicts much of what is accepted with respect to adult learning—at least as I understand it—notably clearly defined goals and outcomes. I think it would be interesting if the students’ reflections grappled with this.

    Have fun! I’d guess it will be a great course and one which addresses some of the issues raised in the recent “Creativity Crisis” article in Newsweek:

    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis.html

  5. Well….a few words stick out after reading…”fun”…”interesting”…

    After reading the syllabus, the actual work seems “do-able” which is great considering the time-frame, and summer season! :>)

    It seems thorough, yet vague…..interesting, challenging, and my favorite…abstract! :>)

    Love the reflection component!

  6. I am somewhat excited and scared at the same time. I will have a better comment later on as the course progresses.

  7. I am very excited to take this course, as I believe that it is true that we need to keep up with technology in order to teach (especially the youth of today). We had the discussion at the end of this year about rather than shutting down technology, but to teach students how to use it properly instead.

    I am, however, very nervous about the writing part. I am very week in my writing skills and it looks like there is a lot of writing in this course.

  8. I can’t wait to get started. I have never used Twitter before so that is going to be interesting. I feel that Martha’s course was like baptism by fire and this one has a simular theme from what I read in this blog post.

    I need to get settled in order to further absorb what is expected of me and what I will get out of this course today, during and well after it ends.

    Rachel Ellsworth

  9. Well, this is going to be interesting! I am looking forward to the class and learning how to incorporate all of these technologies but I am nervous about the concept of networking. I am a great technological social networker; all of my friends live in the computer… but in real life I am a bit antisocial. It will be interesting to see how these meld.

  10. Looks like this course will be hugely student centered and lots of peer help will be utilized. Looks vague on objectives but with technology changes the outcomes are varied and can be for each student.

  11. The course description was interesting, to say the least. Lots of work to be done in class, working together which is good. Overall looks good for my first course.

  12. I believe that this course will be challenging, and it does cover topics using social networking that I am unfamiliar with, however I will endeavor to discover and implement technologies which will allow me to be more effective in my teaching practice.

  13. The Syllabus is certainly different, very open minded. I think the idea of getting your head around what you have to do and putting the parts together will be the toughest thing for me.

    The main idea of having each student help each other in collaborative learning is key to learning and really follows the activity based learning that I use in the class today which leaves to discovery which is real learning.

    This is all different but as long as I have an idea where we are going that will be fine.

    I am sure I will have lots of questions and that is how I learn.

    Patrick

  14. I believe that Twitter and Facebook are successful not because they are useful, but because they provide entertainment for their users. Adults collect “friends” & “followers” like children collect Pokemon. I think this encourages people to promote a fictional version of themselves in order to be popular and entertaining…

    Right, bye then.

  15. I have never thought about it that way before. The idea of “collecting” friends and followers appears to be quite accurate, it appeals to our sense of belonging and popularity that we may never have experienced before.

    It also really comes down to content as well, I usually only change my status on facebook about once every few weeks, I really am not concerned with statues such as “STEFFEN HOOD is combing his hair and eating a bag of chips”.

  16. I’m looking forward to the course. I’m not a huge user of technology but only because I have this thing for privacy and I haven’t really seen much use for a lot of different technology except for what is required in my day to day work tasks. I’m usually pretty quick to adapt to technology once I see a need or valuable function for me personally, and I’m intrigued by this course.

    Realistically, though, I’d suggest that we “reflective” learners will likely require more than 10 minutes per day outside class time to fully absorb the material :)

    Cheers.

  17. I appreciated having the time to mull over the course syllabus and read all of my fellow classmates’ comments.

    Although I enjoyed reading the “syllabus”, I feel there were a few basic points missing from traditional syllabuses I have read and written in the past. i.e.,
    – Instructor office hours or best communication practices
    – Clearly defined goals and outcomes
    – Course calendar or schedule
    – Resources (other than ourselves)
    – Course policies regarding attendance and late work

    Having said all that, I am excited about breaking free from the traditional course mold. On July 12th, Sandy posted that “The strong element of uncertainty inherent in this course contradicts much of what is accepted with respect to adult learning”. I would somewhat agree with this statement. However, the fact that the learner’s prior knowledge is valued, that they are the center of the learning experience, and the learning is hands on and interactive all jive nicely with andragogy principles.

    I am anxiously awaiting more details regarding the assessments and their expectations. Will rubrics be provided?

    I too am skeptical about the 10 minutes per evening time commitment. But, I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t call it homework, just an extended reflection period.

    It seems to me that the challenge here is not to keep abreast of all new technologies, a feat which is monumental, if not impossible. However, a teacher should at least be open to the idea of new and emerging technologies and recognize both their limitations and strengths for use in an educational setting.

  18. Ok, so I decided to sleep on it before making up my mind on the syllabus. It definitely sounds interesting. I always like learning something new especially when it’s something that almost all my students are heavily invested in. Invested is an appropriate word here because they spend a substantial amount of time on social media, even as they work. Myself, I’ve always been a cautious user. I don’t like to jump on the bandwagon to quickly but I usually end up there anyway.

    It is undeniable that social medias have unlimited value on many facets such as personal, business and entertainment but there are also many downsides such as time wasting, distracting and sometimes even personally dangerous. I wholeheartedly agree with the point a view brought up yesterday that students need to be taught, or more appropriately mentored on how to use these platforms responsibly. It makes sense, if that’s the goal, to learn as much as we can about them. Let’s not forget that people have lost their jobs in part because of Facebook addictions.

    That being said, the thought of Twitter really stresses me out but I will give it my best shot. I’m really looking forward to the presentations of next week and finding out what other new technologies I’m going to learn about. Thank you very much Dave for all your hard work preparing for this class. See you on Twitter…

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