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June, 2010:

Educational Technology Research and Development

Educational Technology Research and Development [UW Access] is the only scholarly journal in the field focusing entirely on research and development in educational technology. The Research Section assigns highest priority in reviewing manuscripts to rigorous original quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods studies on topics relating to applications of technology or instructional design in educational settings. The Development Section publishes research on planning, implementation, evaluation and management of a variety of instructional technologies and learning environments.

Reflections on Teaching with Social Media

In the Chronicle of Higher Education (full article), Brian Croxall shares his experiences with using social media tools in his classes:

Twitter

Did Twitter help establish a social sixth sense for my classes? I believe it did for the one where everyone tweeted on a daily basis. We suddenly knew about one another’s lives outside of class and that enabled conversations to happen in class more easily than they otherwise would have. The students also learned something about creating online personas that at times differed in significant ways from their real personas. While there’s certainly a fine line between teacher and student relationships, we made this subject a portion of our class discussions and found it useful. In the second and third classes, I got less of a sense of a classroom shift, and I believe that this was due to less overall buy-in to the tool.

Wiki

I tend to use a PBworks wiki as my LMS of choice. But as I have mentioned previously I not only post syllabi and assignments on the wiki, but I have students use it as well, with a Jason’s wiki notes assignment. I’ve used this assignment for four semesters in a row, and while it takes a little bit for the students to understand both the idea of collaborative note taking and the wiki itself, it’s probably the best thing that I do for getting my students to understand the material that we cover in class. Even the students like the assignment–especially when it’s exam time. What I like about using the wiki this way is that it makes use of a wiki’s natural advantages. I’ve not had to change my approach to using it much for the last three semesters, and I don’t think that I will in the future.

Google Wave

Like Kathleen, we were going to use Wave as a way of taking collaborative notes. But where I differed from her approach was that I had the students use the wiki for the first half of the semester for these notes; we then transitioned to Wave. The point of doing this was to allow the students to evaluate two different media for collaborative document writing. But looking back, I think that it was a bad move. When it came time to switch, the students understood the wiki and were working well within it. Wave was similar in many ways, but different in enough ways that it was as if they had to learn the assignment again from the beginning. The result was a sort of tool fatigue. My take away from this experiment was to pick one tool for an assignment and stick to it. I’ll use Wave again in the future, I’m sure, but I believe I’ll use it like Kathleen and just start with it from the beginning so we can iron out the problems. This will be easier now that Wave account creation is no longer by-invite only.

Zotero

We here at ProfHacker are big fans of Zotero, the Firefox plugin for collecting, managing, citing, and sharing research. This semester I decided to have one of my classes do an annotated group bibliography in Zotero. I had two reasons for giving the students this assignment. First, I wanted them to learn to use what I consider to be a tool that could be useful in classes outside of my own. Second, I wanted the students to benefit from one another’s bibliographies when it came time to writing final papers.

And so on…

I’ve most learned from a semester with heavy social media use:

  1. Be ready for problems. Even if you’ve never had any yourself, the number of students and of students’ computers (whether personal or in a lab) will insure that you have some.
  2. Be conscious of tool fatigue. The classroom should be a place where lots of learning takes place and where the patterns of learning can be shifted in interesting ways. Just don’t overdo it.
  3. In the end, I still think it is worth it.

Read the full article at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Horizon Report

The Horizon Project, as the centerpiece of NMC’s Emerging Technologies Initiative, charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative expression and produces the NMC’s annual Horizon Report. Since the launch of the Horizon Project in March 2002, the NMC has held an ongoing series of conversations and dialogs with hundreds of technology professionals, campus technologists, faculty leaders from colleges and universities, and representatives of leading corporations. Each year, an Advisory Board considers the results of these dialogs and also looks at a wide range of articles, published and unpublished research, papers, and websites to generate a list of technologies, trends, challenges, and issues that knowledgeable people in technology industries, higher education, and museums are thinking about.

Read-Write Matrix of Web 2.0 Tools

The Read-Write Matrix of Web 2.0 Tools for Learning
Paul Left

The horizontal axis shows who can read the published documents, the vertical axis who can write to them. In each case the mid-point relates to the group of peers – eg learners within a single course. A wider group (ie between the mid-point and the ‘world’) could include members of a broader community of practice, or the local community or family.
The plotted points could be exemplified by:

  1. A personal reflective journal with no audience
  2. A personal wiki or blog which other learners can read
  3. A personal wiki or blog which a wider group can read
  4. A personal wiki or blog which is publicly available on the web
  5. A collaborative wiki for a sub-group of learners
  6. A collaborative wiki for the course
  7. A collaborative wiki for the course which a wider group can read
  8. A collaborative wiki for the course which is publicly available
  9. A collaborative wiki for learners and a wider group
  10. A collaborative wiki which is fully open – publicly readable and writable.

Note: These are typical examples only – the matrix is intended to relate to other tools in addition to blogs and wikis.

View Presentation

Read Extending Read-Write Matrix

Link: http://www.verso.co.nz/mw/index.php?title=The_Read-Write_Matrix

Boosting student engagement using Twitter

In many large universities where class sizes may have upwards of 100 people or more, professors and their TA’s face the continuous problem of how to engage students in discussion and participate in the class. Dr. Monica Rankin, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas experimented with using Twitter in her history class as a means to increase participation.

According to TA Megan Malone, “It’s been really exciting because, in classes like this, you’ll have three people who talk about the discussion material, and so to actually have 30 or 40 people at the same time talking about it is really interesting,”. Students in another class at Purdue University using Twitter also agree that digital communication helps overcome “the shyness barrier”, especially in large classes.

You can read more about Twitter in the classroom at http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/twitter-classroom/. The YouTube video below showcases the opinions of the instructor and students to using Twitter.