EDU 807, Tech Review

Tech Review: “Voxer” – Using Gifs to Build Community

“Rather than see these forms of visual media as leisure-time pleasures, we believe they hold potential to engage students in class and provide another vehicle by which to demonstrate concepts and communicate with each other.” (Reyes, Kaeppl & Bjorngard-Basayne, 2018, para. 1)

In 2018, Faculty Focus published an article titled “Memes and Gifs as Powerful Classroom Tools” where the authors argues that these types of media allowed students to interact with their peers and faculty in a non-threatening (and less awkward) way. Instead of students fumbling for words to express their feelings about specific classroom content they may choose to post a gif or a meme that more succinctly communicates their message (with a dash of humor). This is even more crucial when teaching an online class where engagement and community building are often a struggle. That’s where Voxer comes in!

Voxer is a free mobile application (but can be used on desktops) that allows for team communication in a forma very similar to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The application allows for users to send messages in a variety of formats such as text, text-to-speech, audio clips, videos, photos, and you guessed it  – gifs! While Voxer is primarily marketed to businesses who have project teams, it also works well for small groups and classroom discussions in an online environment. Initial setup is quick and the user-interface is straight-forward and user-friendly that it does not take long to begin using it. Once an individual has downloaded the app and signed-up for an account that are able to search for other users and create chat-groups to begin communicating with one another.

So why should educators care about Voxer and using gifs in their online classroom discussions? In 2015, Rebecca Glazier conducted a study to understand how student rapport can be increased in online classes to increase retention rates. Glazier’s (2016) results strongly suggest that faculty who build rapport with their students have greater success in terms of their students performing well in the online classroom. Glazier comments “students notice a difference when a course is taught with rapport-building measures,” such as implementing a tool like Voxer (Glazier, 2016, pg. 13). By utilizing Voxer, faculty and students are able to engage in a much richer format than just emails and standard discussion boards housed within an LMS. Voxer provides the tools for a more ‘human’ feeling connection that includes real-time responses and expressions of emotions and reactions through the use of emojis, images and gifs. Do you have to utilize the gif and image feature to enjoy and benefit from Voxer? No – but you will be missing out on a really engaging feature that sets the tool a part from traditional LMS discussion boards.

I have experienced Voxer first-hand in my doctoral class and found it to be far more engaging (and dare I say fun!) than other discussion based applications that have been used in my program thus far. While it may cause some initial push-back from students who already use a variety of messaging apps, once they start to use it to discuss course content and engage with their peers – I strongly believe they will forget that they were ever resistant. As an instructor, I believe that I will utilize this in my online classes moving forward, rather than the standard discussion board posting as it seemed to create more meaningful and natural conversation about the topics at hand, rather than students simply mirroring what they read in their articles/textbooks. I can not recommend this tool enough for online discussion with adult learners!

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References

Glazier, R. A. (2016). Building rapport to improve retention and success in online classes. Journal of Political Science Education12(4), 437-456.

Reyes, M., Kaeppel, K., & Bjorngard-Basayne, E. (2018, November 26). Memes and GIFs as Powerful Classroom Tools: Faculty Focus. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/memes-and-gifs-as-powerful-classroom-tools/

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Native American Representation in Mass Media

Leavitt, P. A., Covarrubias, R., Perez, Y. A., & Fryberg, S. A. (2015). “Frozen in time”: The impact of Native American media representations on identity and self‐understanding. Journal of Social Issues71(1), 39-53.

Summarize.  This article takes an exploratory approach to understanding how Native American representation in mass media effects members within the community in terms of individualization, self-stereotyping, and how it impacts their experiences within professional and education environments. The authors spend time reviewing the current representation within mass media and the negative impacts that it has within the Native American community. The authors also suggest that more research be done on this topic, and that those who create media be mindful of how they are representing cultures to ensure avoidance of negative outcomes.

Evaluate. The article itself serves as an informative, yet broad literature review on the topic of Native American representation within mass media. The authors take great care in ensuring the reader is informed and has a basic understanding of this type of representation, what the situation is currently as well as areas of concern. The authors utilize appropriate source materials, which is commendable given the small amount of research that has actually been done on this topic. The authors are also good at explaining bias within their research and being candid about the lack of first-hand research that has been done.

Application. So far in my research I had not considered mass media as an area of study but after reading this article, it does give some foundation information on why Native American students may face difficulty with motivation and self-efficacy within education settings. While this was not a research study, it did get me thinking about how educational technology is a form of mass media, and that it too must create space for representation and consideration of all cultures alike. I would like to continue to find and read articles that are similar in nature to this one to better understand the effects media plays in Native American student motivation.

 

Additional Resources

Covarrubias, R., & Fryberg, S. A. (2015). The impact of self-relevant representations on school belonging for Native American students. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology21(1), 10.

Guillory, R. M., & Wolverton, M. (2008). It’s about family: Native American student persistence in higher education. The Journal of Higher Education79(1), 58-87.

Reyhner, J., & Dodd, J. (1995, January). Factors affecting the retention of American Indian and Alaska Native students in higher education. In first annual Expanding Minority Opportunities national conference, Tempe, AZ.

Rhodes, R. W. (1988). Holistic teaching/learning for Native American students. Journal of American Indian Education, 21-29.

 

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Video Games, Storytelling, and Education – Oh, My!

Padilla-Zea, N., Gutiérrez, F. L., López-Arcos, J. R., Abad-Arranz, A., & Paderewski, P. (2014). Modeling storytelling to be used in educational video games. Computers in Human Behavior31, 461-474.

Summarize. This article explores the relationship that storytelling within educational games and student motivation. The authors created a model for educators on how to implement storytelling effectively within educational games as refer to their model as VGSCL (a reference model for educational game development incorporating collaborative activities). The authors were very mindful about trying to find balance between fun and education in terms of the games they were implementing in their study. The authors took an interesting approach to the storytelling aspect of the games, and used it as a reward in that the more students participated and completed, the more story they were exposed to which is fairly common in popular video games.

Evaluate. I felt that this was a well-rounded study in that the authors clearly defined the problem and ideas that they were going to be exploring throughout their article. The authors also created a clear framework with which their study and results were framed. The article itself was broken up into logical pieces that provided the reader with easy navigation. The authors were aware and candid about their small sample size and the age of their participants not necessarily being applicable to broader types of education. However, the authors still worked to give suggestions for broader groups of students even while admitting limited data.

Application. Storytelling plays a crucial role within Native American culture and is primarily how information was passed on throughout the generations. Considering my topic of research for my doctoral program is how to implement technology and culturally responsive pedagogy within online courses, this article was of great interest. While not all courses are appropriate for educational games, I do want to look at all options for implementing storytelling while using technology in a meaningful way. This article provided me some information on what practices are already in place and the impact they are having on student motivation.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

MMORPGS & Higher Education – Could it be a ‘thing’?

Anagnostopoulou, E. (2017). Educational Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games as a future technology enhanced learning for adult mathematics. Numeracy: A Critical Skill in Adult Education, 34.

Summary. This article is a literature review on the possible ability of MMORPGS to increase motivation in adult learners within higher education, more specifically when it comes to mathematics. The MMORPG market has already been fairly popular since their creation in the 1990’s but have been steadily growing in popularity more and more with games like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV (Anagnostopoulou, 2017). The author of the article argues, that in addition to being fun, these types of games can also be used in educational settings because “players are constantly and willingly expanding their knowledge and skills in many sectors in order to advance, be competent and therefore contribute to more fun” (Anagnostopoulou, 2017, pg. 37). The author then goes on to describe how different aspects of these types of games can be used in education in areas such as history, languages, geography, fashion, management, team-work, leadership skills, problem solving skills, social skills, and mathematics. The mathematics portion, based on the literature review done by the author, is very prevalent as each character has sets of attributes and stats that effect their abilities to be successful within the game, players must have an understanding of calculations to know hot to improve their stats.

Evaluation. This article was written in such a way that not only would academics be able to glean some useful information, but non-academics as well. It was refreshing to see an academic article related to this style of gaming and not lean so heavily on outdated games such as Second Life, which makes it more credible in the eyes of current gamers. The article was brief and did not go in-depth on any particular concept and calling it a literature review may be too kind of a classification as it was so broad. However, despite being more of a magazine article in terms of tone and style, it does provide an interesting jumping off point for someone who may be interested in this area of research.

Application. While I may not use this particular article directly, it did get me thinking about how games such as an MMORPG could be utilized in higher education to enhance culturally responsive pedagogy. The Native American community prefers to teach through oral communication and storytelling, which are major components of these games. I also, believe this area needs to be researched more, in general, how MMORPGS are related to student motivations to learn as well as build communities in an online environment. Is creating an educational MMORPG just an example of “edu-tainment” or just a current niche, or is it something that will continue to grow in the future and become a very real means of education?

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Research & Blended Learning

Dziuban, C., Graham, C. R., Moskal, P. D., Norberg, A., & Sicilia, N. (2018). Blended learning: the new normal and emerging technologies. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education15(1), 3.

Summary. The purpose of this study was to better understanding the impact blended learning has on teaching and learning for faculty and students within higher education. The authors take care to point out that currently there is not a lot of consistent study or research in this area as there are multiple definitions of what blended learning is, and more specifically how to measure it’s effectiveness and standardize it in a meaningful way. The authors narrow their scope on blended learning by looking a student perceptions and access and how blended learning is becoming the ‘new normal’ in higher education. The results of their study found “blending maintains or increases access for most student cohorts and produces improved success rates for minority and non-minority students alike (Dziuban, et. al., 2018, pg. 11). Despite these results, the authors still take care to state that there is still no definitive evidence that blended learning is the new normal, or that it will be the most effective teaching and learning modality.

Evaluation. This offers a very basic literature review that does not overwhelm the reader with information that is not of high value as some other articles I have read tend to do. This study is strong in its ability to be concise and focused on the problem at hand. An obvious disadvantage of this study is the pool of participants was limited to only students attending the University of Central Florida. This study would have greatly benefited, and perhaps more meaningful data could have been exposed had the researchers increased their population. The data was collected from end-of-course surveys which I thought was an effective collection instrument given the population and the context of the research.

Application. I may not utilize the content of this article in my future research, but I may use the data collection methods and the study itself as a foundation for how I may conduct my own research. The goal of my research for my doctoral program is going to involve collecting quantitative and qualitative data on student and faculty experiences based on the specific topic I am researching.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

TPAK & Design Thinking

Koh, J. H. L., Chai, C. S., Benjamin, W., & Hong, H. Y. (2015). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) and design thinking: A framework to support ICT lesson design for 21st century learning. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher24(3), 535-543.

Summary. The authors of this article define design thinking as “the reasoning process used to manage the various demands underlying acts of creation” (Koh, Chai, Benjamin & Hong, 2015, pg. 535). Using this definition, the authors argue that in order for faculty to achieve twenty-first century learning in their classrooms, they must “construct TPACK using design thinking as a strategy to address the complex factors surrounding information and communication technology (ICT) integrated lesson design (Koh, et. al, 2015, pg. 535). The authors suggest that in order for faculty to use design thinking and TPACK, faculty should make themselves part of the “knowledge-creating culture” to ensure they can develop and grow their ideas and then implement (Koh, Chai, Benjamin & Hong, 2015, pg. 541).

Evaluation.  This article is not a study or literature review, but instead a conceptual paper which contains some bias from the authors in addition to research from studies. The structure of the paper is very compartmentalized in that a read can easily skim through and review headings to read small chunks that may pertain to their own research. The paper itself reads a bit disjointedly in that concepts don’t smoothly transition from one to the next. This paper, like the literature reviews I have discussed in previous posts, may be more better suited to brainstorming and laying foundations for ideas, rather than being explicitly used or cited in an academic paper. This paper lacks any qualitative or quantitative research.

Application. While I would more than likely not use this paper in my writing, it did provide me with a good overview of how design thinking could be paired with TPAK and ICT. The article also provides some broad background knowledge on other common instructional design practices/concepts such as ADDIE and ASSURE which are important for me to keep in mind throughout my doctoral program.