eLearning and teacher education: Crossing digital divides

Hanalei: a real Digital Native on the iPadImage by Wayan Vota via FlickrNoelene Wright started the presentation with a reference to Prensky’s notion of Digital natives and the fact that it was always supposed to be a metaphor, and has since be used in ways that he never initially meant. The notions of digital natives do not replace. for example intuition, good judgement, problem solving, and ability to discern patterns. Also, “in and unimaginable complex future, the digitally unenhanced person, however wise, will not be able to access the tools of wisdom that will be available to even the least wise digitally enhanced human” (Prensky). It suggests that delayed use of these types of tools will be impoverished use. Media should not be regarded merely as teaching aids or tools for learning. Education about the media should be seen seen an indispensable pre-requisite for education with or though media (Buckingham and Burn, 2007).

Critical thinking and metacognitive skills need to be present alongside engagement, intention, deliberation, self-monitoring, and self-regulation (MacDonald et al, 2011). The ability to engage often comes after the means to engage have happened. Engagement does not happen before the ability that they can work on the learning…that it is accessible. while we build self-esteem in students, and that sense of belonging, rather than working with the texts, it will only ever be social. The learners also need to have the confidence to have different points of view, to be able to agree and disagree with each other. “Extended cognition is a core cognitive process, not an add-on extra [because] the brain develops in a way that complements the external structures in ways that people who have not experience these types of interactions would be unable to do. There is a strong link between high achievement and metacognition, which “highlights the importance of learning the self-monitoring and self-regulating behaviours that will ensure task-specific meaning-making” (MacDonald et al, 2011).

The teacher, therefore, guides students through an analysis of the text type, working out what is conveyed, what can be deduced about the writer and/or the origin of the text, how the student located and collected information, and what produce they would create from it.

“Multimodal texts are fast becoming the dominant mode of communication…stdent need to be a discerning user of them” (MacDonald et al, 2011). If the key focus of education is to reduce the distance between a learner and a text, and for the learner to then make that their own – then the role of the teacher is to facilitate the process, and explicit teaching around critical thinking and inference.

Noelene gave some illustrations from initial teacher education, and when she shows them a Web page around a ‘Guinea worm’ there is often no curiosity or motivation to find out more…do they even exist? What are they? Why might they need to be eradicated? In other words there is little motivation to investigate what the text is.

Noelene closed by saying that what she believes is that there needs to be deliberate acts to teach metacognition, and critical thinking about all types of texts.

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About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ (http://www.ethosconsultancynz.com/). I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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