Kijt's #EdTech Blog

Recently I have attended a conference where as usual, I was sitting down at the back of a seminar room. The speaker was focusing on emerging trends in educational technology where it was evident that he was summarising the Horizon report; a report which is of great interest to educators and policy makers as it sets the pace in the area of TEL. On the day, what really got my attention was a particular comment from the audience; a comment which made almost everyone in the room nod in agreement. Basically this was about the fear of robotics and automation and how trends in this area would signify that this would lead to unemployment fearing that this would lead to loss of status in society. The last part of this comment made me shiver as this is something which I have been recently noticing in Malta. Everything seems to be revolving around employment; how attractive is our country to foreign investment, how more women are gaining employment, how unemployment is being reduced drastically leading to an educational system whose aim is that of producing citizens which are employable. In our educational system the focus is on individuals that are prepared to future needs which would be needed by employers.

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Considering the time a person spends in educational settings throughout his life, there are various questions which come to mind. My view is that a student is entitled to become a competent citizen. Thus through the obligatory educational system and beyond, each individual has the right to be given the tools and means through which knowledge, skills and attitudes are formed.

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On social media, the idea of having ‘friends’ lingering around, reading and gossiping about your online behaviour  may be interpreted as not being appropriate. Even more without interacting back, without reacting by messaging back or simply liking your posts might seem awkard, non fitting for a person with the status of ‘friend’.  Read the rest of this entry »

raised-hands-1471189549xg5Where the learning is taking place is important; in a class, at home, online, formal setting, informally etc.
Recently many have been quoting findings showing that around 70% of an individual’s education occurs out of formal education. Brown mentions that learning occurs as an apprentice from activity and social interaction i.e. learning from the situation rat
er than an out of context environment (e.g. classroom).  Brown sees learning as taking place at an individual level; learning as an individual (apprentice) learning from a ‘master’ of skill. Engeström sees learning as collective learning amongst individuals in a real world situation. 
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A term which I recently came across when having the usual informal discussion with some colleagues is Buffet Learning. Learning may be metaphorically be compared to a restaurant. Till this day and age, as students we have been experiencing an educational system which is a la carte, i.e. a choice is made by the chef on what the restaurant goers will be eating, there is little choice; mainly the restaurant goer makes a before choice in choosing the restaurant of his liking. This might sound great as the chef would be setting a menu according to specific ingredients which to the chef’s opinion give the best tastes.

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The Open Education is a very important movement, one which should be on every policy maker’s agenda but as yet sidelined due to its open nature which many times are incompatible with today’s structures and educators.

This movement includes Open Educational Resources (OER) which may be simply defined as freely available and modifiable educational resources. The ‘OER Roadmap ’ publication (Geser, 2007) is an essential information guide about OERs for individuals and institutions interested in providing or using open content. indexAlmost ten year’s ago, this report emphasised the need to foster open practices of teaching and learning that are informed by a competency-based educational framework. This is still relevant today where the key attributes of OER include:

  • Access to open content (including metadata) which is provided free of charge for educational institutions, content services, and the end-users such as teachers, students and lifelong learners;
  • That the content is liberally licensed for re-use in educational activities, favourably free from restrictions to modify, combine and repurpose the content; consequently, that the content should ideally be designed for easy re-use in that open content standards and formats are being employed;
  • That for educational systems/tools software is used for which the source code is available (i.e. Open Source software) and that there are open Application Programming Interfaces (open APIs) and authorisations to re-use Web-based services as well as resources (e.g. for educational content RSS feeds).

Various factors should nowadays be enabling the use of OER in our educational system. Most notably, the urgency of the lifelong learning agenda in Europe and beyond makes OER initiatives targeted at driving participation particularly welcome. Moreover Web 2.0 applications are fertile ground where OER initiatives provides opportunities to offer potentially more effective OER which educators may co author. Thirdly,authors and institutions tend to shy away from OER due to the attachment to self created content. Nowadays, it may be easy to provide OER while retaining some copyrights, the set of Creative Commons licenses allows for doing so in an internationally standardised way.

As educators, the ideal is that we create, share, and re purpose educational material. Nowadays the technology together with its access are ready available. It is up to the policy makers and decision makers to move towards an OER enabled educational environment. With minimal support and training, the teacher in the class will realise that as part of a community which is in favour of such resources, his practice will flourish.

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Collaboration as a much needed 21st competence

Collaboration is one of competences which 21st century skills advocates put forward.
This may be considered by policy makers, theorists and others as an obvious competence which learners should possess. It can be argued that to thrive in today’s society, citizens need to collaborate with other citizens, with services provided by state and private entities. Educationalist promoting the enhancement of 21st century competences, are realizing that nowadays this is somewhat possible much more than in the past. Technology provides a rich platform through which collaboration may propagate.

Why collaborate?collaboration

Today’s workplace, our everyday life, interaction, socialisation has evolved somewhat. Social media one such example showing how individuals or so keen to interact with others. Such interaction might be indepth, many times just lurking around. What’s evident is that we feel the need to collaborate as we constantly need to work with someone else to produce or create.

Learning to collaborate or Collaborate to learn?

In reality, collaboration is a skill, attitude, mindset for which individuals need to unlearn to relearn. From a very young age, collaboration is challenged by another ‘competence’; competition. Youngsters are motivated to learn by reaching goals before their peers, get the ‘best’ grades when compared to their class mates. Competition in correct doses is helpful. Yet too much competition stalls cooperation, mostly it stalls pure collaboration. Rather than learning to collaborate so as to learn from each other and gain in-depth knowledge and skills, we are offering learners knowledge which needs to be learnt as individuals rather than critically reflect upon as groups of individuals. We need to rethink how to learn. In such a quest we need to rethink what, how and where to collaborate.