On Thursday night I gave a talk at NYU Poly and in the Q&A a young man asked me for advice for “those who aren’t technical”. I said he should try to get technical.
This really made me stop and reflect. I’ve always described myself as “not technical.” But I began to think – what if this is just a state of mind? What if it’s just laziness on my part? I started an experiment on myself. Was it possible for a non-techy journalist to get technical by sheer force of will? You can read about some of my efforts on my other blog and judge for yourself.
But by then I’d already become very interested in social media and have been an early adopter with a few tools such as Pinterest.
They’ve become indispensable to journalism so I needed to keep up-to-date with how my profession was changing. I’m by no means an expert but I am comfortable in that environment and enjoy exploring new tools and developments, the challenges and the opportunities. So Prensky’s (2001) assertion that we are either digital natives or digital immigrants – depending on our birth date – seems totally outmoded. Rather the “Digital Me” is surely defined by our attitude and feelings towards the digital world. So I define myself more as a Digital Resident (White and Le Cornu 2011), valuing relationships as well as knowledge acquisition online.
I’m also very aware that social media and digital technology have had a hugely disruptive impact on my industry with news organisations struggling to find an economic model to fit the Web 2.0 era. The same is true of Higher Education and both institutions need to find a raison d’etre in an information-rich world. So although I use technology in my classes and beyond – primarily for engagement with students – I do not feel I use technology for learning and teaching, as such, and I need to learn more about the pedagogy for this. I’m aware there’s a danger of using “warmed-over” traditional approaches rather than using Web 2.0 technologies to their true potential to design and create student-centric learning environments (Barnes and Tynan 2007). Failure to do this will leave students looking elsewhere for their education.
As I develop, I would like to help students use technology to construct knowledge collaboratively, since in the digital era this is a more valuable skill than simple information recall. New technologies offer exciting ways of doing this (Conole 2013). However, this does not take into account the relatively small number of students who may not have access to smart phones and other tools. Higher Education is increasingly diverse and we need to respect the equality of opportunities for learners as defined in the UK PSF (HEA 2011)
Laurillard (2012, p 199) stresses that “technology enables, it does not drive, or ensure success.” The success of any technology-dependent task is still dependent on the teacher who designs the task. So I want to learn more about what my role as teacher should be in a technology enhanced learning environment in keeping with UKPSF (HEA 2011)
If I reflect on how I have worked to develop my own digital literacies in recent years, I find it is always self-directed and usually starts with an online search for the latest tutorials, for instance on Google hangouts which I hadn’t used before this course.
So this experience has led me to conclude that rather than teaching a particular “digital literacy” to our students, we need to create the motivation that makes them want to integrate perpetual learning into their lives (Belshaw 2013).
Barnes, C. and Tynan, B. (2007) ‘The Adventures of Miranda in the Brave New World: Learning in a Web 2.0.’ ALT-J, 15:3, 189 – 200.
Belshaw, Douglas Tedx Talk YouTube. Available TEDxWarwick – Doug Belshaw – The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies Accessed 13.10.13.
Conole, G. (2012). Designing for learning in an open world (Vol. 4). Springer
HEA. (2011). The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education Retrieved from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/ukpsf/ukpsf.pdf
Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. Florence, Kentucky: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Prensky, M. (2001) “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1”, On the Horizon, Vol. 9 Iss: 5, pp.1 – 6
White, D. and Le Cornu, A. (2011) “Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement.” First Monday, 16 (9).
Wilson, F. (2011) AVC Musings of a VC in NYC. Program or be Programmed. Retrieved from http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/10/program-or-be-programmed.html. Accessed 19.09.13.