EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Digital Literacy in Higher Ed: A Gateway Towards Technology Acceptance?

Tang, C. M., & Chaw, L. Y. (2016). Digital Literacy: A Prerequisite for Effective Learning in a Blended Learning Environment?. Electronic Journal of E-learning14(1), 54-65.

Summary. This article looks carefully at the relationship between effective learning through the use technology and digital literacy within blended learning environments in higher education. The study was performed by surveying students who were currently enrolled in blended classrooms at university. The authors define a blended learning environment as one which has all resources and tools for the course housed within an LMS to allow for online collaboration, but faculty and students also meeting in face-to-face classrooms (Tang & Chaw, 2016).  There study found that “for blended learning to be successful, there is a need for students to be digitally literate,” primarily because it allows students to easily adapt to a variety of tools and learning environments (Tang & Chaw, 2016, pg. 62). The authors then go on to argue that digital literacy can be broken into three constructs: underpinnings experiential learning, and searching, which are all needed in a blended-learning environment (Tang & Chaw, 2016). In order for students to be successful in a blended-learning environment, faculty need to gauge the digital literacy of their students in order to evolve their assessments and tools used to meet students competency levels, according to Tang & Chaw, this is necessary for students to be effective in the classroom.

Evaluation. While this study revealed some interesting data, the pool of participants was small, only 176 students responded to the survey, and only 161 ended up being considered valid responses. Another issue with the study was that many students surveyed found blended-learning environments to be negatively impacting their learning experience, however, they also were students coming straight from high school,  traditionally face-to-face environment. By having students who were more used to face-to-face environments, this could have greatly impacted the results of the survey. The article itself is very accessible and well written in that it would not require a lot of background knowledge to understand it’s contents. While that data pool is small, it is still intriguing data that should not be ignored completely.

Application. This article makes the argument that students need to have digital literacy in order to adapt to classroom technology and online learning environments, and thus this somehow leads to effective learning. If this is the case, this article is interesting jumping off point for asking questions related to digital literacy within Native American communities, and comparing them to non-Native American communities to see if there is some form of correlation. As many Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU’s) do not have online programs, it is an area I am interested in exploring:

  • Why is there a hesitation towards online learning?
  • Could this hesitation be linked to a lack in digital literacy skills?
  • In what ways can this gap in digital literacy be bridged for the Native American community in a way that is culturally responsible?
EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Researching Educational Technology: Stop Beating a Dead Horse, and Narrow the Scope.

Ross, S. M., Morrison, G. R., & Lowther, D. L. (2010). Educational technology research past and present: Balancing rigor and relevance to impact school learning. Contemporary Educational Technology1(1), 17-35.

Summary. The purpose of the study discussed in this article was to take a more focused look on technology usage in a K-12 environment with special emphasis on the following: effective uses of technology in schools “as  topic for research,” “historical trends in research on educational technology,” and “alternative research designs for balancing internal (rigor) and external (relevance) validity,” as well as “suggested directions for areas of inquiry and research approaches” (pg. 18). The authors found that educational technology is a challenging subject to study as those researching must try to sift through the mass of past research, and focus on conducting research that is relevant and addresses contemporary issues. The first step that a contemporary researcher needs to make is identifying topics to investigate that are meaningful and can hopefully apply to the next decade of educational technology. The authors end their article with the recommendation that future researchers should “reduce efforts to prove the ‘effectiveness’ of technology, while focusing on conducting rigorous and relevant mixed-methods studies to explicate which technology applications work to facilitate learning, in what ways, in which contexts, for whom, and why” (pg. 31).

Evaluation. This article, and the literature review study that was conducted was high quality and very accessible in terms of readability and understanding. The authors clearly defined the questions they were going to explore within the study and defended their choices behind their research approach(es). The authors clearly conducted a very detailed literature review and qualitative study, which I believe is often they most effective approach when discussing educational technology.

Application. While I typically review articles that are not part of my assigned reading for my EDU 800 course, this particular piece was very impactful in terms of how I will start to steer my own research. Prior to reading this article, I had focused heavily on the effectiveness of technology, and really I need to be honing in on a specific technology solving a specific problem for a specific audience. We know, as individuals working in higher education and K-12, that technology does have an effect on learning, that is no longer a debate – now we need to focus on more specific technology and how it is being used in a narrower environment. For my own areas of interest, I brainstormed how i would apply the recommendation in this paper, to my own approach to research within this course and my program. For example, I could focus on how certain technologies can allow for storytelling within online classes and how that impacts Native American students in terms of information retention and future application.

Additional Reading
Alismail, H. A. (2015). Integrate Digital Storytelling in Education. Journal of Education and Practice6(9), 126-129.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Exploring Ecology in Educational Technology: The Role of Instructional Desingers

Hokanson, B. (2017). A New Ecology for Education: Refocusing Educational Technology Beyond Content. In New Ecology for Education—Communication X Learning (pp. 1-6). Springer, Singapore.

Summary. Bran Hokanson’s (2017) paper makes the argument that current education and educational research focuses on students retaining content/information, and while this is useful information, researchers should begin to widen their scope and review more cognitive traits. Hokanson likens this new approach to research and learning to instructional design, in that designers focus on “finding” and “redefining” problems: “curiosity applied and formalized” (pg. 2). A designer, similar to students, in solving problems, doesn’t simply need to know content, but needs to also know how to use the content (Hokanson, 2017).  However, Hokanson then points out that even instructional designers have a bit of disconnect from really looking at content in a meaningful way, because they are forced to separate the learning experience from the content but a subject matter expert (Hokanson, 2017). Hokanson proposes that instructional designers should instead begin to focus on developing “instructional methods for persistence and grit, fairness, and curiosity,” rather than just focusing on content retention (Hokanson 2017, pg. 6). In order to ensure continued innovation of education, Hokanson ends by calling out to all instructional designers to develop “an ecology of learning” rather than concepts, practices, and pedagogies that are only focused on content.

Evaluation. This paper is very short, concise, and accessible to any level of academic reader which makes it ideal for an introduction for further research on new ecologies of learning and the role of instructional designers. The paper was published for the HKAECT-AECT Summer International Research Symposium and so it is meant to be reasonably short, but it does read similarly to a literature review with a shorter list of references. With literature reviews there is not any research or raw data included to further show gaps or needs presented by the author, and so the reader has to take the calls-to-action at face value.

Application. This paper is very different from the previous two that I have read and reviewed, in that it does not focus on culture, diversity, or inclusion. However, I believe, as an aspiring instructional designer in a doctoral program, this provides me with the opportunity to brainstorm how instructional designers can utilize the concept of learning ecology and apply it to research on the various cultural contexts that can impact student learning. Learning ecology can be defined as “the set of contexts found in physical or virtual spaces that provide opportunities for learning” (Barron, 2006, 195). What types or sets of contexts do students of color have that are different from their Caucasian peers and how does the effect their educational experience? And in turn, how can instruction designers address these differences in a meaningful way, using educational technology, to innovate and improve the learner’s experience?

Reference
Barron, B. (2006). Interest and self-sustained learning as catalysts of development: A learning ecologies perspectiveHuman Development, 49, 193-224.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Online Learning & Diversity

Bozkurt, A., & Aydın, İ. E. (2018). Cultural diversity and its implications in online networked learning spaces. In Supporting multiculturalism in open and distance learning spaces (pp. 56-81). IGI Global.

Summary. The purpose of this article was to explore the way that different cultural dimensions impact the online learning environment. One of the findings related to the heightened prevalence of interactivity among individuals who live in Western-based cultures and who primarily speak English. The author’s of this article argue that diversity in an online environment is both a challenge and an opportunity for learners and educators. Due to the effects of high and low-context cultures in social environments, online learning environments, that contain social aspects, can differ greatly among participants from varying cultures. The authors also examined MOOC’s as they have very diverse populations of students. Bozkhurt and Aydin (2018) concluded that the use of Universal Instructional Design (UID) would be key in ensuring online learning environments are inclusive and respectful towards diverse student populations.

Evaluation. The article itself is clear and direct in that the two main questions posed by the authors is addressed in their research. However, their findings were anything but earth-shattering in that I was able to guess what the results may be before I actually read them. As stated earlier, the authors found that populations who spoke English where participating the most in online social environments, and those who had a Westernized-culture were also more likely to participate. The author’s study provided nice statistics and graphics for the reader, but I would have liked to see more qualitative research being done on why these specific populations were more likely to participate in these online environments.

Application. As I continue to delve deeper into instructional design and technology and how to apply new concepts to creating diverse spaces, I am noticing there is not much research available. This article was published in 2018, and was one of very few matches to various searches I performed on online learning and cultural diversity. This indicates to me that there is a serious gap in this research which makes me more determined to focus my research, within this program, on effective design strategies and technologies that allow for culturally sensitive and empathetic teaching, specifically for the Native American community within central Michigan.

EDU 800 Annotated Bib

Exploring Culturally Responsive Pedagogy Using Empathy

Warren, C. A. (2018). Empathy, teacher dispositions, and preparation for culturally responsive pedagogy. Journal of Teacher Education69(2), 169-183.

Summary. Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) is a mix of empirical and theoretical concepts being utilized in a way that allows an instructor to teach using empathy and respect to a wide range of students from varying cultures. In Chezare Warren’s article, “Empathy, Teacher Dispositions, and Preparation for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy,” (2017), argues that there is currently a lack in instructor training and development in CRP, and that preparing instructors in this way, will make their teaching more engaging. Warren believes that in order to use CRP in the classroom, instructors need to utilize skills in empathy (2017). According to Warren, “empathy acts as an instructional mechanism that teacher educators might use to help teacher candidates notice patterns in their own beliefs,” and “one modeled, practiced, and discussed during their professional preparation to teach, the process of applying empathy” may be employed to “expand their first-person knowledge” of a specific student’s cultural background (Warren, 2017, pg. 1). Through Warren’s literature review, he finds a lack in teacher preparedness in terms of empathy, and in-turn a lack in CRP being practiced in K-12 settings. Warren then uses knowledge gained from this literature review to develop  a model for an instructors who utilize CRP and how to practice it within teacher education.

Evaluation.  Many research articles based around pedagogic concepts most effective for diverse classrooms are more often than not written by Caucasian individuals with very westernized research practices. It was refreshing to find that this article’s author does not fit the typical mold, and thus may have fewer biases that other articles of a similar nature may have. With that being said, many of the articles cited in this writing for the literature review are older and fit very neatly into the box of Westernized writing with little inclusion or diversity of writers, however, this is not the fault of the author but an example of the lack of diverse voices within the writing community. The main strength of this article is that it is accessible, easy to follow, and readers can possibly develop their own models for teacher education using the information outlined within the article. What could have made this a stronger article is the inclusive of research outside of literature review, perhaps a survey of some form would have been interesting and desirable.

Application. This article is related to my own area of interest in terms of research because it addresses the need for more training and development on teaching to a diverse classroom. Prior to reading this article I had not been aware of CRP, and think it will be a useful concept to help guide my own research throughout my doctoral program. I want to find more research like this to help develop my own theories and pedagogy for teaching, mores specifically, to indigenous students within the United States. Given the negative connotation that Westernized education practices currently have within the Native American community, I think it is vital to provide meaningful training to educators to be more effective and respectful when teaching at Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs).