Are You a Digital Immigrant? Probably Not




About a decade ago I started hearing about this idea of “digital natives” and “digital immigrants”, terms coined by Marc Prensky (and frequently repeated by such speakers and authors as Don Tapscott) to describe generational differences between technology users. In his 2001 book Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Prensky argued that “Our students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.” (Presnkey, 2001). He went on to argue that the rest of us (I wasn’t quite 30 when the book came out) will never be quite as good at technology as those young “natives”. Even then I was skeptical of what he was saying, and the research and literature since then seems to confirm my suspicions (Mark Bullen at the Commonwealth of Learning has been researching and tracking other research in this area for several years).

When we assume that students know everything about using technology because of their year of birth, we’re making a big, and wrong, assumption. Even if they know how to shoot a video and upload it to YouTube (and many of them don’t), do they know how to determine a credible Website?

And the flip to that is also a problem. When we assume that anyone who may be older than 30 doesn’t know how to use technology, or can’t learn to use it now because they didn’t grow up with it, we are again making a wrong assumption. Unfortunately, too many people have been hearing that they are digital immigrants or that they are simply too old to be trying out new technology, and they have come to believe it themselves.

We do a great disservice to people of all ages when we continue to operate under the premise that there are two distinct groups.

In her recent book It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens, danah boyd (yes, that’s how she spells her name) wrote:

“Rather than focusing on coarse generational categories, it makes more sense to focus on the skills and knowledge that are necessary to make sense of a mediated world. Both youth and adults have a lot to learn.”

My colleague Nancy Turner recently pointed me towards an article and video by David White where he makes the case for a different perspective. White argues that individuals aren’t digital natives or digital immigrants, but rather that they fall on a continuum between “visitors” and “residents”. This continuum is not about what you know about how to use the technology (or your ability to learn to use it), but rather your views on what technology is for and the ways you use it. Do you “go online” to look up information or do you go to connect with others and share? Do you watch YouTube videos or do you watch some and post some? If you use the Internet for anything, White argues,  then you fall somewhere on the continuum and it’s not about what generation you’re part of.

I work with a number of instructors across a wide range of disciplines. I can tell you that they span the continuum of visitors and residents depending on what they work on. One may teach online, but is uncomfortable with Twitter, Facebook or even blogging, while these forms of technologies are not outside of his or her knowledge grasp. Someone else may never have touched Blackboard, but they are excited to integrate a variety of learning technologies into courses. And yet others pleasantly surprise me that they are already using wikis or Twitter or other such forms of social media in their teaching and could teach me a thing or two about this.

In the following video, White walks us through how to map where we fall on the continuum. Note that you may fall in different places for your professional life than for your personal. This is also something that you can walk through with your students to help you, and them, to help you decide on appropriate teaching strategies or assignments.

Lynda.com Open to All at U of S



By Lavonne Cloke
Have you ever wanted to learn new software, design or business skills to enhance your personal or professional goals but don’t have the money for expensive courses?

U of S faculty, staff and students now have the opportunity to fully access thousands of unlimited, free tutorials, seven days a week, day and night with lynda.usask.ca – a valuable online training resource.

Lynda.usask.ca is an online training library that contains thousands of professional grade Windows and Mac tutorials accessed through streaming video. In these videos you will find information that covers many software titles, scripting languages, design and web development platforms as well as popular online sites. The video tutorials range from topics such as:

  • Microsoft products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Adobe Suite (Acrobat, InDesign)
  • Apple products (iPhone, iPad)
  • Development and programming
  • Web and mobile app design
  • Google products
  • Time management and business skills

The site employs expert instructors that are true masters in their fields. They can answer all your questions and will offer useful advice. Their mission is to impart knowledge regarding correct workflow and they will also teach you how to develop skills.

Visit Lynda.usask.ca now to discover the training opportunities available to you.

In addition, a free Webinar about Lynda.com will be held on April 30 from 2 – 3 PM Saskatchewan time. If you are on campus you are welcome to join us in the Collaborative Learning Lab located on the first floor of the Murray Library. You may also join in from your own computer through https://www3.gotomeeting.com/join/664691710.

Curating your Experience – What an ePortfolio can do for you




I recently spent some time on a project to move a learning log used by a non-profit organization to track the progress of their young participants into an online environment. I have since learned a lot about the various tools available to create and publish such documents online, but I remained curious about the rationale behind creating an online learning log or, as it is commonly called, an ePortfolio.

Luckily, the TOOC (Introduction to Learning Technologies) currently running through the GMCTE covers e-portfolios extensively in week 11.  My goal with this post is to provide a summary of what I have learned about ePortfolios, some of which draws on the resources you can find in week 11.

What is an ePortfolio?

An ePortfolio is a collection of ‘artifacts’, which can be photos or text documents – anything that represents a task or a step in the learning process. The sort of material that composes an e-portfolio can be representative of either educational or professional development.

How is an ePortfolio used?

An ePortfolio is also a map of the learning process and a means of reflecting back on what one has learned or accomplished.  As such, it is a means not only of demonstrating what you have learned or accomplished, but can itself become a means to better identify goals and more intentionally direct one’s path.

How do I put an ePortfolio together?

There are many tools available online to help you build a visually appealing ePortfolio. Before you choose a tool, it is important to remember that, as pointed out in an article by Suzanne Bowness for University Affairs, “Even fans acknowledge it’s not so much the tool as the philosophy that makes e-portfolios compelling.”

If it is the case that the ideas underpinning an ePortfolio are more important than the tool used to build it, then it is with this step that you should ideally begin.  Bowness also claims it is the “dual function of reflection and record keeping that is one of the e-portfolio’s most compelling features.” I believe this dual function applies to both learning and professional ePortfolios.  As such, a portfolio should contain artifacts as well as some context, or reflection on the artifacts.

I also believe that there is no set recipe that needs to be followed when putting together a portfolio, since the ideas underpinning each different portfolio will themselves differ.  That said, if you are having a tough time getting started, do your homework on the topic of ePortfolios first. For instance, you can review the resources in week 11 and the University of Waterloo’s excellent summary of ePortfolios.

2014 Higher Ed Horizon Report Released




Every year the New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative release a series of reports on what they see as the coming trends in learning technologies. One such report looks specifically at higher education and the 2014 edition was recently released.

While the report has always included what these groups see as the “important developments” that will be adopted in this area in three time frames (within one year, in two to three years, and in four to five years), this year’s report also includes “Key Trends Accelerating EdTech Adoption in Higher Education” and “Significant Challenges Impeding EdTech Adoption in Higher Education”.

The “key trends” are broken down by likeliness and the expected time frame until they “create substantive change”, while the “significant challenges” are in categories of “solvable”, “difficult” and “wicked”.

Both of the “important developments” that they see as being adopted within the next year are already happening here at the University of Saskatchewan – flipped teaching and the use of learning analytics. Contact the GMCTE for more information on these initiatives.

You can read the entire report or a shorter “Preview” version on the NMC Website.

The following is a brief video summary of the report.

Why You Should Consider Lecture Capture




“Lecture Capture describes technologies instructors can use to record voice and data projector content and make those recordings available digitally” (ICT University of Saskatchewan). At the University of Saskatchewan, many rooms are equipped to allow instructors to easily record their live lectures and distribute these recordings to their students.

Now that I’ve defined what lecture capture is, let’s explore why you should consider using it. Research has shown numerous benefits. A study found that, after using lecture capture across a variety of disciplines, class sizes, and teaching styles, students and faculty were both in favor of using lecture recordings. Benefits for students included:

  • being able to review material that was confusing,
  • study for quizzes and exams, and
  • pay closer attention in class rather than frantically scribbling notes (May, 2008).

A recent series of interviews with instructors on our campus explores these and additional benefits of using lecture capture:

These additional benefits included:

  • support for DSS and ESL students who struggle with the speed of the lecture.
  • support for sick and injured students who cannot attend class.
  • ability to view your classes as a way to critically reflect on your teaching.
  • ability to share your videos with other instructors who teach the same course or complementary courses.
  • ability to share the videos with your teaching assistant(s) to help them prepare for grading, tutorials, or labs.

When it comes to lecture capture, there is always the concern that students will stop attending class. Research around this issue has been inconclusive (Bond & Grussendorf, 2013). The interviewed U of S instructors noticed no difference in attendance between lecture captured classed and their other classes:

With all these benefits in mind and the major concern set aside, what reasons remain to not try lecture capture? The system is in place—give it a try!

For more information on Lecture Capture at the University of Saskatchewan please visit:

References:

Bond, Steve and Grussendorf, Sonja (2013) Staff attitudes to lecture capture. The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK. Retrieved from: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/54870/

May, V. V. (2008). Lecture capture pilot project results. Retrieved from: http://2009ctconferencecommunity.campuspack.net/Groups/2009_CT_Conference_Community/Workshop_M

Using Google Hangouts to Bring in Guest Speakers



This post was originally published on Heather Ross’s blog on February 28, 2014.

I’m considering myself very fortunate that I’m the instructor for Introduction to Learning Technologies. I get to meet with students in the blended cohort. I get to communicate with participants in both groups through email, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and a couple of weeks ago I got to sit down and have a Google Hangout with John Boyer, a geography professor at Virginia Tech. He’s done some amazing things with learning technologies in his World Regions course.

I started following John some time ago on Twitter and he was kind enough to respond to my tweets and follow me back. While planning this course I got it in my head that he would make a great guest speaker. During initial planning I thought that I could bring him in through Skype to chat with the students in the blended cohort during one of our face-to-face sessions, but then we decided to offer the course as a TOOC so I had to come up with an alternative.

In early 2013 I took a MOOC on Gender Through Comic Books through Ball State with Christina Blanch as the instructor. Every week she brought in guest speakers to this online class using Google Hangouts. This allowed the sessions to be live, open and recorded for viewing later. Students were able to watch the sessions live from wherever they happen to be and send in questions to the speaker through Twitter (questions could have been emailed to the instructor ahead of time as well).

I asked John if this would be acceptable to him (the live, open and recorded part) and he was all for it. We did a test on the Friday before our live session on Monday February 10. John had his technical advisor Katie at his side and all went well for the test, which thankfully was the story for the live session as well.

I received a couple of questions from students through email before hand and the Twitter stream (the course hashtag is #ilt_usask) was a buzz with questions for John that I relayed to him during our hour long chat so that he didn’t need to watch Twitter. He was gracious, insightful, funny and I can completely understand why he literally has thousands of students wanting to take his course.

Everything worked perfectly with only a few second delay between our conversation and what others were seeing live. The link for the live stream automatically became the link for the recording which meant that I didn’t need to make any changes once I initially posted it.

As I was setting up my laptop in our unit’s boardroom, Ryan Banow reminded me that I should use an ethernet cable to hardwire my Internet connection instead of relying on wireless. This is very good advice if you’re going to live stream a Hangout. Also, I picked the boardroom for the quite and used headphones to reduce chances of feedback from my laptop’s speakers.

Overall, this was an amazing experience for me and have heard only positive feedback from those who have watched it. You can view the entire recording below. If you have any questions about how I did this or the course in general, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

What? A Menu of Assessment Options?




I have recently come upon a few interesting ideas about the conditions we create for assessment in higher education, especially with respect to deterring academic dishonesty.  Standing out to me right now is a 2013 book I’ve been reading by James Lang titled “Cheating Lessons.”  This book provides inspiration, encouragement, and practical advice to teachers in higher education. Lang’s premise is that cheating is an inappropriate response by students to environments that convey an emphasis on performance within the context of extremely high stakes and where extrinsic motivators overpower the “intrinsic joy or utility of the task itself” (p. 30).

Slide of a Weird Grading System

Lang points his readers to an innovative assessment practice I found quite intriguing.  Professor John Boyer, in his apparently infamous World Regions class of 2,670 (!) students at Virginia Tech, affords students maximum flexibility in assessment.  He structures a multi-choice assessment system that pushes students away from performance orientation and instead puts the responsibility on students to choose ways of demonstrating their learning via a point system.  I highly recommend a visit to Boyer’s web page for more information on his innovative approach at http://www.thejohnboyer.com/new-education/.

Visual Note Taking As A New Way of Listening




Text notes are not the best method of note taking for many students. Some do better simply listening and taking it in, while others thrive on visual representations of what is being said.

I just watched Giulia Forsythe at Brock University describe her visual note taking. The video is about 4 minutes long and brings together the why and the how of this technique. It makes great sense from a “how the brain learns” perspective, and can be viewed below.

After watching the video I did a little digging and came upon this resource that is indeed comprehensive if you want to learn more—a LOT more about visual note-taking using something other than some colored pens and a piece of paper!

Another train to follow on this topic is A field guide to TED graphic notes, which includes a six minute TED Talk by Sunni Brown where she gives a brief history of doodling if you’re interested. You may also wish to look over Visual Notetaking 101.

Give it a try and see what you come up with at your next meeting—or see what your colleagues are coming up with!  Or introduce it to your students as a new way of listening and engaging.

Pedagogy First When Selecting Learning Technologies




I teach the Introduction to Learning Technologies course from the GMCTE. In the past I’ve also taught a similar course for undergraduate students in the College of Education and over the past several years I’ve given a number of workshops on to the topic. I always give the same one bit of advice and the same caveat related to learning technologies. The advice is to never put post anything online, including in an email that you wouldn’t want your mother, your boss or your grandchildren to see. You don’t want to embarrass Mom or get fired from your job, and your content will be out there long enough for your grandchildren to see it, whether you want it to be or not.

Hammer and Screw

The caveat has to do with coming to me for help with learning technologies. I welcome you coming to me with an educational experience that you want to create or improve, possibly with the help of learning technologies. Do not come to me with a shiny new technology and ask me to help you find a use for it. I liken this to going to a hardware store and buying a hammer and then going home searching for a nail to drive into a wall and discovering that you have things that need to be done that would be better accomplished if you had a miter saw or even simply some carpenter’s glue.

Before selecting a particular learning technology for use in teaching and learning, you need to be clear of what need you are going to meet with it, much like when choosing a teaching strategy or type of assessment. Pedagogy must come first. For a given situation an enterprise solution, such as Blackboard or Echo 360 might be best pedagogically for your students. But perhaps what will be best, again pedagogically, for your students may be a free and / or open source tool like Mahara (for ePortfolios) or Skype. And the reality is that there are many situations where the best pedagogical solution will still be pen and paper (which are also considered learning technologies).

The point is, don’t try to use a hammer for a job that calls for a screw driver or paper clip just because you want to try a new tool or it’s the one your most comfortable with. Choose a tool based on what will help you accomplish your goal. Choose a learning technology that will be the best pedagogical solution for you and your students given the learning goals you want to meet, never the other way around.

Picture courtesy of Justin Baeder via Flickr with a Creative Commons license (Attribution – Some rights reserved)

Shall I Google That For You?




A vital skill for faculty and students alike is to make effective use of search tools.  Google is used millions of times every minute yet most folks are using only a tiny fraction of Google’s ability.  In particular, when we wish to use Google for supporting our scholarly work, there are particular strategies, tactics, and features that everyone ought to know.

I recently came across a blog post at LifeHacker.com on “Google tips and tricks every student should know

The best part of this post was the 41 minute video resource (embedded below) on making effective use of Google Scholar. A default Scholar search results are normally sorted by relevance, rather than by date.  For example, to find newer articles you can click “Since Year” to show only recently published papers, or click “Sort by date”.  The library search link is also of great benefit.  Watch the video – it’s well worth your time.