Archive for September, 2007

Hyper Literacy

September 24, 2007

“Most people will have technologies at their fingertips not only to communicate but to create, to manipulate, to design, to self-actualize. “

This statement is more in line with the continuation and confirmation of the feeling I have every time in Dr Bonk’s class. The myriad and amazing possibilities just blow me away… the possible ways of communicating… ‘networking’

One of the interesting points in the “Connecting the Dots” article lead me to wonder what they are trying to say here…. is it whether there is more stress on technological competency rather than on learning through technology…. The literacy issue raised here seems to be more about ‘relevant’ education and learning rather than the ‘necessary’ learning.  I think the point about focus more on technological awareness and skills clashes with the ideology of what kids should be learning at a young age. It could be because of the fact that some or most of the teachers are not competent enough to deal with the kind of technology they are expected to handle as a part of their curriculum. Because of this the technology becomes the focus instead of a subject. It should be used only as a platform to different kinds of learning styles and not the main focus in any subject or class. As the author rightly says this needs vision and help from professionals like Dr Bonk to create enough confidence in the teachers about technology as tools and not the end all of their teaching techniques. Of course there are a lot of other issues in this completely unrelated to learning or teaching which probably may fall under the ‘administrative’ category.

I like the term digital literacy. It really puts the point of the article in great perspective. Its like talking about etiquette to someone who has already become a board member in an important social business group. We have gone far beyond ourselves to keep up with the technology. But it needs a certain amount of sensitivity and understanding which is sorely lacking. It’s not just about understanding technology it’s about how it should be used for maximum efficiency and using it for our needs and value addition. To continue another point about the literacy, teaching professionals need to change their view about the computer mediated education… they need to look at it as a value addition in the learning process, just another means for the students to broaden their horizons… for this they themselves need to be confident and fearless, literally, to explore the virtual world. Instead of teaching the students, the educators need to be aware of the exciting possibilities.

A completely unrelated topic which came up in my mind was that the amount of technology used in learning nowadays has made it possible for all kinds of learners to take part in online forums, blogs etc to overcome the fear of public participation in a very different way. Still I don’t think this has been solved, it has made such kind of people a lot more introverted. They do not have to venture off their computer chairs to network with anybody, they can sit right there and express their opinions and views without the fear of being ridiculed or recognized as a part of their ‘virtual’ personality.  As has been my personal experience too much of a dose of the cyber world makes the thin line between reality and ‘virtuality’ fuzzier than ever before. (Sometimes I am lead to believe that I am a brilliant ‘online’ student whereas my ‘live’ personality ain’t that smart! The immersion, for me, in this case, is complete! J)

‘The medium is the message’. I think this has gone to the next level of being the medium is the most important message. Cyber world, the most important development in our world of networking, education, communication ability…. The hyperness of it all… it makes me wonder…. It is the need of the hour to flow with this new wave but is this one of those irreversible events which needs further scrutiny and caution on our part as users of this media? It’s the new concept that everyone is hooking on to, does this concept need more analysis considering some of its features which may just come back to us a few years down the line taking us to the other extreme of becoming ‘anti-virtual’?



Distance and Motivation!

September 17, 2007

There have been a lot of talks about motivation for learner. What is it that will keep them hooked to something that they may lose interest in. this article talks about the motivation for the teachers. That is a very interesting thing as I myself never wondered about it till today.

Should these teachers be different than the ones who are teaching live classes? Do teachers from other fields than education; need to be trained on the finer aspects of distance education and how a distance learner is different than a regular in class learner?

There has been a lot said and done on learner motivation. This is the first time that I have read something that deals with motivation and returns for distance teachers. It has been an interesting article to read and the question I have top off my head is whether the motivation for tradition classroom instructors is different than this.

On the basis of this article, I thought it would be interesting to find out what kind of technology are other faculty members at IU from other departments using as a part of their teaching. I had a short conversation about my Web 2.0 class with my roommate over the weekend. She was fascinated with the idea that I have to post a blog as a part of my assignment. She has no idea what podcasts were and said that they used very little integrative technology to learn. I found this very interesting and was wondering how much technology will be really used in other departments and schools which do not really deal with technology as a subject.

Moreover, after reading about the ION effort it struck me that instructors and teachers who take online classes need to be quite proficient at the technology they are using. According to the findings, the logistical time is increased in developing a distance class, which makes it all the more essential that the person taking the class is completely aware and confident of what he is doing.

To tie this in with the ION effort- goals of the ION initiative are precisely targeted at taking care of these issues. Offering a Master of Online Teacher certification is one of the best ways to acknowledge the increase of an instructor’s role from formal classroom teaching to being a pro at distance teaching. The findings show a great amount of increase in the confidence levels of the faculty after taking the certification. The overall statistics in the article prove that the initiative was pretty successful and made a difference for the instructors. I would like to throw up a few observations here…..what was the profile of the instructors who take this certification? Are they from a specific background where they constantly need to upgrade their technological skills? The advent of internet demands that now the whole world should change and get used to a more integrated approach to not just education but life in general. After sitting in Prof Bonk’s classes the realization of this integration and its strength has finally dawned upon me. Is it necessary for traditional classroom teachers to be good at distance teaching as well? Or can a specialized distance teacher play a better role, someone who has never been involved in traditional face to face teaching? Will such a teacher understand the finer points of distance students, the way they function, much better? It would be very interesting to look into something this, if there exists a teacher who has never been a part of the traditional way of teaching.

Although the findings have rated flexible schedule and wider audience as number two and three, I don’t think these can hold together in the longer run. There is something very tangible in face to face learning that is missing in a distance program as an instructor. The instructor has to rely on a lot of clear and concise communication with the help of technology to understand his students. Apart from being a logistical and financial headache, I am not sure how much distance learning can play a satisfying role in an instructors life.

First Post

September 17, 2007

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Hello world!

September 17, 2007

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