User:Davecormier/Books/Educational Technology and the Adult Learner

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Educational Technology and the Adult Learner

community as curriculum

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The term ‘educational technology’ is a difficult one to pin down. There are some who would argue that every tool we use, from a ballpoint pen to an electronic whiteboard, is an educational technology. Others strive to pin down best practices with choice technologies and advocate for this or that brand of technology enhanced pedagogy as scientifically proven to better the learning process in some way. Some people think that social networking is faddish, or, worse, a sign of the decline of our civilization. Others will argue that if we do not bring it into our classrooms we are doing our students a disservice and becoming increasingly out of date.

As an educator working on such slippery foundations, I have taken the position that all these things are true. Social networking is both faddish and dangerous as well as critical to moving forward. Our tools are both simply a reflection of the same tools and methods of millennia and complex mechanisms fraught with implicit pedagogy. This course takes all opinions on education and technology as valid and mixes them together, to be interpreted by our own class as well as being validated by a wider network of educators.

This method, of taking all ideas and having them peer reviewed by a wide network of peers, is hardly revolutionary. The big difference in how it is approached in this course, is how quickly that reviewing is done, the degree to which certainty is required (or even desired) and the degree to which a given perspective can be personalized. The curriculum of this course will be made by, and I would say the curriculum of this course IS the people that will be engaged in it. That will include me as the facilitator, the learners who have chosen to take it, as well as a wider network of educators drawn from my own community and hopefully found and added by the students over the two weeks of the course.

Students taking this course come from a wide variety of contexts. Some will be classroom teachers from the k-12 system, some trainers in the corporate world or faculty members at a university. The needs and requirements of different participants will not be the same and learners in the course will not be required to come out of the course with the same thing.


Student success in this course will be measured by how well a student has planned for their own context. Students will be assessed on three specific ‘projects’ (for lack of a better word), each reflecting the work that they have done in trying to take the concepts, the examples, the activities and the reflections of this course. Sadly, rules require that I give a number grade for this course... so this is broken down to make that possible.

30% – Learning network plan

Throughout the course students will be expected to gather people, tools and approaches that will help support them in integrating educational technology into their own context. Students will be responsible for handing in a draft learning network plan by the halfway mark of the course and a final version on the last day. These should be between 500 and 1000 words and, ideally, be full of links, commentary and ideas for how they can continue to learn, network and use technologies after the course has ended.

Grading theory

week 1 10% - The first week of the learning network plan is mainly intended to be a check-in to guarantee that students have understood the purpose of the plan and have found a way to make the plan work for them. There is no distinct format for the plan but students should be able to present that they have been using the plan to keep track of information, links, connections and possible leads for their return to their professional environment.

week 2 20% - I'm seeing this broken down into two different sections. The first, and largest (10%), is a continuation of the work of week one. Keeping track of points of integration with practice and changes in their thinking. The scale of grade would go up depending on the depth and clarity of thinking on how they will actually do things. Second (10%) will be tracking the ways that they are collecting things that will allow them to continue their learning. This could include networks of people to get involved in, online conferences to check out, communities to join, blogs to read etc...

30% – Classroom project

The majority of the second week of the course will be taken up by class projects developed and taught by the learners. These projects should involve the integration of a technology into their contexts that had not occurred to the students when the course began. The idea is to workshop an idea with the whole class while introducing an approach to using a technology. Students will be graded less on the ‘success’ of their classroom project, but to the degree in which it demonstrates an effort to integrate the models of the course into their own context.

Grading theory

10% presentation topic reflects goals presented in the class - the project demonstrates an attempt to use a new technology (to the student) in a way that will actually apply to their own actual or imagined (some of my students don't currently teach) classrooms. It should be collaborative, in some manner, and demonstrate some of the uses of that technology.

10% preparation/presentation The student demonstrates adequate preparation for the presentation and a clear method by which they are trying to do the work. This grade does not reflect the 'success' of the presentation, but rather the depth of the planning.

10% Critical friend Each student is responsible for being the critical friend for another student. They will moderate the discussions during the presentation and lead the feedback discussion after the presentation.

40% Reflections and collaboration

Students will be expected to maintain a personal log of their reflections on each day of the course. Ten days. Ten reflections. They will also be responsible for engaging with other people’s reflections. Half of this grade will be the students ‘pitch’ for how they were effective members of the learning network that we tried to create in the class. The ‘pitch’ will be 300-500 words and should contain the same type of ‘links’ and ‘commentaries’ as the learning networks plan.

Grading theory

10% Reflections week 1 - This is pretty much a participation grade. Students need to make a reasonable effort to reflect on their work. As this is going to be the first foray into blogging for many of them, there is no expectation that they be 'good' bloggers... rather that they give it an honest effort.

20% week 2 reflections - During this week the expectations will be higher. Students 'getting their reflections in' can expect a passing grade by simply maintaining their week from week one, but getting a higher grade will require their reflections to 'stand on their own'. The pieces should be reflections on ones own practice but with an eye to them being works that can be understood an learned from by a broader community of educators - their compatriots first and foremost - but the wider community as well. The goal of the course is to make the 'community the curriculum' good honest blog posts that show a reflection on the broader topics from a educators point of view are an excellent way of making this happen.

10% commenting - This is a simple record of the places in which students have engaged with other students or educators more broadly. Simply going to blogs (etc) and commenting your encouragement is sufficient for a passing grade, but including content that may answer a persons question or get them thinking in new directions is the stuff that will get the highest grade.

Notes (you should still probably read these)

No significant prior knowledge of technology is expected for this course. Students with broad technological backgrounds often find this type of course more challenging than students who come with less pre-described standpoints with regards to technology.

This course will also involve the use of a large number of technologies. We will try them out, do projects with them, hopefully have fun with some of them, and learn together. The course will happen (almost) entirely out in the ‘open’. While you may choose to use a pseudonym for the course, all students in the course will know the identity of other students, and work will be (almost always) done in the open. We will be using the googledoc suite for some of our work, which will allow for a backup communication system as well and semi-private space when necessary.

We’re going to be using twitter. Alot.

This course is based on my own research in the field of open education, the nature of knowledge and the intersection of education and technology. This research is ongoing, and critiques of the approach are not only welcome they are encouraged.

I can’t wait to get started.