In reviewing the videos and use of digital technology, I chose the lens of how we can truly change teaching from didactic presentation to facilitating student-centred learning.
The video case 7, Tek Grassroots Project at BCIT, deals with the issue of misconceptions. The use of iClickers is a great way to address misconceptions of a large group in real-time. The quick-and-often formative assessment during the introduction of concepts is a big gain over traditional lecturing because it affords “risk free” participation and removes the time restriction barriers of “one-at-a-time” communication. On the other hand, it is ultimately a didactic activity in which the teacher rolls out what is important and students follow along in a Socratic lesson delivery mode. In other words, development of the lesson requires that the instructor ideally has a priori knowledge of the misconceptions of students. Do clickers address misconceptions that are not anticipated? Do they connect the new concept in any meaningful way to the lifeworld in which the student lives?
In Video case 4, pre-service teachers (circa late 1990-early 2000?) share their views on the potential use of digital technologies in their own practice. My overall impression is that they are cautious but see the potential for value. They almost all identify the need for teacher-specific technology training as a major issue for effective use of the tools. In Thwarted Innovation, What Happened to E-Learning and Why, Zemsky and Massy (2004) claim that early failures in adopting technology rests in part with the assumption that teachers would know how to direct their own required professional development to integrate technologies into their classroom. Are these students receiving pedagogical training in the effective use of technology, or merely being introduced to what is available?
Both of these video cases involve effective digital technology teaching tools, but not necessarily in a way that is often called “E-Learning 2.0” in which the affordances of technology allow students to pursue topics with a much higher degree of differentiation and teachers act as designers and facilitators of curriculum rather than as presenters of knowledge. What are the barriers to differentiation and what can be done to help realize the true potential of learning technology by changing the role of teachers?
Edelson, D.C., Gordin, D. N., Pea, R.D., (1999). Addressing the Challenges of Inquiry-Based Learning Through Technology and Curriculum Design, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 8:3-4, 391-450.
Massy, W.F., Zemsky, R. (2004). Thwarted Innovation: What Happened to E-Learning and Why
Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B. (2010). The teacher as designer: Pedagogy in the new media age. E-learning and Digital media 7(3).200-222.
I really like your thoughts about how the iclicker, though it promotes interaction during the didactic lecture, does not change the linear didactic
fashion of the lesson. My other issue with the iclicker is level of participation. We have been encouraged to use these in our lectures as well, but after the novelty wears off, many students “forget” to bring it to class. Participation is completely voluntary, and thus misconception of only those that participated can be addressed. And as you astutely point out, only anticipated misconceptions can be looked at. We may have our own assumptions of the students’ level of knowledge and not realize that certain misconceptions exist, thereby bypassing questions that may help weed these out.
So how would you use e-learning 2.0 in a class size of 100 students or more? I think this is a really challenging problem, and one I struggle with myself. I am hoping that this course will help me to answer this question.
Thanks for the comments, Momoe. The participation piece with iClickers has been dealt with in the UBC Physics department by valuing participation as a part of the course mark. I don’t know what weighting it receives, but I do know that there is no mark for the correct answer, just simply for participating. This may just delay the non-participation though, as students could just press the same button every time without truly participating.
I have never taught a class of 100 (although this was the clear long term vision of our local government). In ETEC 520 we are currently talking about management of e-Learning in post secondary and your question depends on how you use the word e-learning. If it is more passive content (like webcasts) it is easy to scale. More “web 2.0” interactive learning (which is what most students prefer!) can scale when using simulations and small group discussions. Meaningful access to the course facilitator is really difficult (impossible?) to scale. I know that the MET program is limited to 23 students/course perhaps to address that very issue.
I like the fact that you tied in research to your posting.
I wonder if you could explain iClickers in one or two sentences– so those that did not view that video would understand this type of technology.
A good next step might be to research other tools (maybe phone apps) that may replace iClickers.
iClickers are cheap remotes that allow students to anonymously “click” in their answers to (exclusively MC?) questions asked by the presenter. A combo of hardware and software collects the student responses and shows a histogram of responses to the entire class. If most of the class has the right answer, the lecture moves on. If it is incorrect, or split, the students engage in discussion, then “vote” again on the same question. If there is still an issue, the lecturer covers the material again. It is an excellent formative assessment tool.