The need for critical not passive …

The articles this week were interesting in that they addressed the need for students and teachers to be more critical when consuming and creating content. Jacobs (2012) introduces us to Jenkins et al. (2009) 12  required skills and notes “these skills are not about how to use different technologies but about the type of thinking that engagement in the new media brings about as well as the ethos or changing relationship to knowledge, information, and society” (p.100). This means that it is not just simply a matter of providing students with the opportunity to interact with the technology we must also give them the opportunity to develop these skills while working with the technology. Jacobs (2012) acknowledges that this can be a challenge for teachers who are already tasked with doing so much for their students but she warns “classrooms lacking opportunities for participation in a globalized, information-based economy risk limiting students to being consumers and bystanders rather than producers, designers, and members of vibrant online and offline communities” (p. 101). So how do teachers do this on top of everything else?

For me, I think the first step for those educators is to ensure they themselves are critical consumers and contributors. Jones and Hafner (2012) present the concept of understanding that each technology has affordances and constraints and we must be able to identify both in order to be critical consumers and contributors. They caution that “often the constraints of new technologies are less visible to us than their affordances. We tend to be so focused on the new things we can do with a new tool that we don’t pay attention to the things we cannot do with it” (Jones & Hafner, 2012, p.10). As I read this I thought of the tetrad we all incorporated into our tool presentations. When I first was introduced to this tetrad I was confused by it. It felt complicated and a little too “deep.” Once I applied it to our tool for the presentation, it made a lot of sense and really helped me to see the impact of the tool beyond just the affordances. I think applying this tetrad to all technologies can help us to see the affordances along with the constraints. This is the beginning step to be critical consumers and contributors.

References:

Jacobs, G. E. (2012). The proverbial rock and hard place: The realities and risks of teaching in a world of multiliteracies, participatory
culture, and mandates. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 56(2),98–102. doi:10.1002/JAAL.00109

Jones, R., & Hafner, C. (2012). Understanding digital literacies: A practical introduction(pp. 12–27). London and New York: Routledge

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Paper abstract … finally!

Here it is my paper abstract. A little late you might say? Yes, you are correct. It took me a while to re-work my original paper idea. I should actually say ideas. As Laura so nicely pointed out to me, my paper proposal lacked a true focusJ. There was so much I wanted to include it would not have allowed me to really dive deep into any of the topics. There is just so much to learn.

My “new” paper idea is to focus on the organizational factors that impact the success of e-learning. The focus will be on organization cultural factors that impact success. Initial research indicates there are quite a few including the need for managerial and collegial support when learners are engaged in e-learning (Sela & Sivan, 2009; Rabak & Cleveland-Innes, 2006; Gunawardena et al, 2013), incentives for completing e-learning (Sela & Sivan, 2009; Rabak & Cleveland-Innes, 2006; Gunawardena et al, 2013), and whether time is provided to actually complete the training on the job (Sela & Sivan, 2009; Rabak & Cleveland-Innes, 2006).

Using this factors and another other identified, I will be completing a case study of how these factors affect the e-learning initiatives at an international retail financial institution. My hope is that the paper will help me to identify some key factors that my organization is doing well on and also identify any areas of improvement that I can present to our Executive team.

References:

Gunawardena, C. N., Linder-VanBerschot, J. A., LaPointe, D. K., & Rao, L. (2010). Predictors of Learner Satisfaction and Transfer of Learning in a Corporate Online Education Program. American Journal Of Distance Education, 24(4), 207-226. doi:10.1080/08923647.2010.522919

Rabak, L., & Cleveland-Innes, M. (2006). Acceptance and Resistance to Corporate E-Learning: A Case From the Retail Sector. Journal Of Distance Education, 21(2), 115-134. Retrieved from http://www.jofde.ca/index.php/jde

Sela, E., & Sivan, Y. Y. (2009). Enterprise E-Learning Success Factors: An Analysis of Practitioners’ Perspective (with a Downturn Addendum). Interdisciplinary Journal Of E-Learning & Learning Objects, 5335-343. Retrieved from http://www.informingscience.us/icarus/journals/ijello/publications


Digital Divide….can I do anything?

I have to admit, while doing some of the readings this week, I went through two emotions. The first was surprise and the second was more like depression.

My surprise came from reading and listening to the information about the digital divide. Although I had heard the term before, I did not really understand what it meant and why it was so important. Schradie (2013) suggests that one of the myths of the digital divide is that it is over (p.1) and I have to admit, this was one that I believed to. I knew that not everyone had access to technology but I did not think it was too bad and I did not realize what a lack of access really meant. For me the biggest learning was that it is not just access that is important but how easy that access is. When your access is limited it means you can’t “play” with technology and make sense of it. As Karlie Robinson points out, this ability to understand the basics can affect even if you can apply for a basic job.

My second emotion was depression because I think for the first time I really understood just how important this divide is. Even being able to apply for a job can feel impossible. I think about people working in our stores. They have to know how to use a computer as our entire POS (point of sale) system is on a computer and they often have to read updates via email and use a computer to order cash, enter their shifts, completed their new hire training, and request education reimbursement. If you did not know how to navigate on the Internet, you would really struggle. We design all of our training with the assumption that the person hired has more than basic computer skills. As I was doing additional research I came across this video and it gave me a little hope. There are ways that we can reduce the digital inequalities.

Now I have to ask myself, what am I willing to do? What are you willing to do?

Reference:

Schradie, J. (2013, April 26). 7 myths of the digital divide. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2013/04/26/7-myths-of-the-digital-divide/


Continue reading

Some fears and the reason we need to overcome them

 

This video (above) is powerful for me as it highlights how the world of learning is changing. Although I do not work in a post secondary setting, I feel that the power of social media is still present in the workplace. When I talk about changing the way learning takes place in organizations and harnessing this explosion of conversations, I often come across a huge sense of fear. The biggest fear I hear is that the conversation is no longer controlled. This fear is not organizational specific; almost all of the companies I have worked at have expressed this fear. For example, if we provided an open forum for discussion for our new hires, the management team is often worried about how we would handle negative messages? What they do not seem to recognize is the negative conversations are already happening. They are happening in-branches, in classrooms, and on social media outside of the organization. People already post about their lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other tools I know nothing about. Pretending like this is not the case does not help. The control no longer exists (if it ever truly did). Instead, how could we use this technology to help our employees become more knowledge-able about the company, the industry, the consumer, the regulatory environment?

 

Another fear that comes across is what about the people who don’t have the skills to use these tools? For me, this is the same kind of question we have to ask about literacy in general. Are we as a company willing to help our employees with any type of literacy issues including media literacy? This means that we hire for attitude and help with all types of skills development. 

What kinds of fears do you encounter when you try to incorporate the “new” conversation tools into your training environment?

 


Arghh… well at least now I know why I get so frustrated!

facebook-frustration_full

I was intrigued with the Digital Habitats article. Part of me was happy to not really be responsible for this type of analysis on a community and the other part of me was thinking about the communities that I am involved in and what their tools are like.

Of particular interest, was the section on the Integration through the platform concept. As I was reading this section I kept thinking about one of the communities I am part of. The community is an international training group that puts on many webinars and has articles and discussions boards. The concept is great, the integration is not. Wenger, White and Smith (2009) suggest that questions to be asked when evaluating integration should include “Can members use just one sign-on to access various tools? Can data be passed between tools used at the same time or at different points in the community’s history?” (p.48). When I was reading these questions, I felt like screaming “NO!” for this community. My biggest complaint is that I have to log into the website in order to register for a webinar; however, EVERY time I was to enroll, I have to retype ALL my information including useless information like my address (can you read the frustration or perhaps the image above indicates it – so frustrated I feel upside down).

As I read a little further I realized that although originally I was happy to know I wasn’t responsible in my work for this type of thing, this was not really the case. In my organization we have to provide annual compliance training for our Operations and corporate staff. This training occurs through our LMS. For the Operations team this is no big deal. They are in the LMS quite frequently. However, for our corporate group, this annual process is very painful. This is because they are rarely in the system and do not know their user name and password for the system. So every year we have to be very clear in our instructions on how to access the system and Help Desk gets inundated with incidents on having issues connecting to the system.  Wenger et al (2009) suggest “a good platform creates a seamless integration of tools and the possibility of linking the corresponding activities” (p. 49) and for our organization we would be better suited if our LMS was integrated into the more commonly use systems instead of being all on its own. “Tools that are seamlessly integrated into a platform are likely to feel more close-at-hand and accessible since they are designed to work together” (p.50). Maybe if we did this, our annual compliance training would not be so painful. I have realized that our corporate group probably feels as frustrated with our system as I do with my training community’s platform…..gasp!

Reference:

Wenger, E., White, N., Smith, J, and Wenger, B. (2009). Digital habitats: Stewarding technology for communities. Portland, OR: CPsquare


Oh how I remember

Salmon (2011) presents a five stage model to be used when creating online learning opportunities. Using this model should result in higher participation rates and increased student satisfaction” (Salmon, 2011, p.30).

I found this article to be very easy to read and helpful. In fact, I was able to link my own experience in this program with the different stages. I thought it would be fun and hopefully helpful to share this with all of you.Tech-cartoon

The purpose of stage one “is to expose participants to the platform (not train them), and to enable them to become successful in using technology and see the benefits” (Salmon, 2011, p.30). “The participant needs information and technical support to get online, and strong motivation and encouragement to put in the necessary time and effort” (Salmon, 2011, p.31) and “this can be fairly daunting to start with” (Salmon, 2011, p.31). When I started my first class in this program (seems like yesterday but is actually over three years ago now!) I was so terrified. My first class was Quantitative Research Methods. I sucked at math and that was the first class I decided to take and I had never taken an online class before and had no idea what to expect. I kept wondering what was I doing?! I remember logging into BlackBoard the first time. I had no idea what was going on. Thankfully the link for the course was obvious so I clicked and clicked and clicked within the course shell. Eventually I came across the Discussion Board; the syllabus said I had to post to that 3-4 times a week. I kept thinking “What am I going to say about math 3-4 times a week? How many times can I say what does this mean?” I did not post, I just couldn’t. I did browse though and read all about my fellow students. Good thing that was not intimidating (sarcasm here). These people all knew what they were doing! I had a scheduled class the next day and thought how am I going to go to class when this is an online course…. that lead me to stage two.

“In stage two, participants get used to being in the new online environment” (Salmon, 2011, p.33). I eventually arrived in class and was told to do the audio set up wizard….the what? I found it and was able to do it although I sounded really tinny. Who knew I needed a microphone? Where was the supplies list, like I used to get in grade school? And then class began. All these people started introducing themselves. It was so nice to hear how many of my fellow students were scared of math too. Alas I was not alone; if I could just get my mic to work, when I tried to introduce myself. Thankfully my instructor and fellow classmates were very understanding and applauded and gave me smiley happy faces when they could finally hear me. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief at that. Who knew smiley faces could be so encouraging J

In stage three “participants look to the e-moderators to provide direction through the mass of messages and encouragement to start using the most relevant content material” (Salmon, 2011, p.39). Once I attended class, I felt a little better about posting and I was able to make my first introductory post. Then it came time to start posting about the course materials and what I thought about them. I remember writing my first post five times. I was so scared I would say something “wrong” and misinterpret the readings and then it would be obvious to everyone that I did not belong in this class (and maybe even this program?) I finally posted that first post and waited and waited from my instructor to respond. I was hoping to be told that I did it right. Days went by and no comment from the instructor. I was pretty disappointed. In fact, I was so needy for some direction I searched the entire discussion board for his name. He had commented on a few peoples post, just not mine. Did that mean I was “right” or he had not got to it yet? I was so confused. Classmates replied to my discussion and no one told me I was wrong. So I just hoped for the best and read everyone else’s posts.

After three weeks of trying to keep up with the posts, I was exhausted! How was I ever going to get enough time to do the readings, create my own response, and read all the posts in the discussion board? How did people do this? Once the panic set in, I was not sure what I was going to do. Luckily I had a meeting with my group at about this time and we had one person who was not new to the program who told us we would probably never be able to keep up. She suggested that we read a few posts and reply and then move on to the next week. That was very helpful. I was back to thinking I might just be able to do this. I stopped looking for my instructor to tell me I was right and just enjoyed the conversations and the learning. Salmon (2011) states that in stage four it might be necessary for the e-moderator to explain that their role is not to provide the “right answers” but instead to encourage participation in discussions (p.45) and I really wish I had known this. I would have gotten over my desire to see approval a lot sooner.

Over the next few weeks, I realized I gravitated to the same six or seven people when it came to posts that I understood and could identify with. So, for the remainder of the class, I really focussed on the posts on these people and of course my own. This is stage five where “participants become responsible for their own learning through computer-meditated opportunities and need little support beyond that already available” (Salmon, 2011, p.48). I kept this up and was able to complete the course quite successfully. I was finished my first graduate class and I had learned. Now three years later, I am still learning and the light at the end of the tunnel is visible. I am a successful online learner!

Reference:

Salmon, G. (2011). E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online (3rd Ed.) New York and Abingdon: Routledge.


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