Who are we talking about?

Kuhn, C (2018) Who are we talking about? In: Open Education Global Conference, 24-26 April 2018, Delft, Netherlands.

Official URL: https://conference.oeglobal.org/2018/

Abstract

There is a tendency to think that the emerging media and the new technological landscape brings with it a dose of magical change. Furthermore, those changes are mostly seen as inexorable and always for the better, enabling students to access ‘effortlessly’ some sort of inevitable progress. Thus, the usual questions asked in the field of educational technology tend to be related to ‘what works’, ‘performativity’, and ‘efficiency’. In so doing it narrows the understanding of these issues and avoids as Selwyn (2017) reminds us, the problematisation of the use of (open/closed) participatory technologies in every day educational practices. Despite the euphoria and enthusiastic rhetoric of many educational technologists and educational researchers (Oliver 2011; Selwyn & Facer 2013), the participants of my study have not yet changed their behaviours nor their attitudes towards learning, nothing seems effortlessly let alone seamless. Instead what is observed is how students cling to the structures and practices they are familiar with being reluctant to explore even less adopt new open tools for their digital academic practices. This reality reinforces an increasing ‘digital inequality’ the participants of my study have not yet changed their behaviours nor their attitudes towards learning, nothing seems effortlessly let alone seamless. Instead what is observed is how students cling to the structures and practices they are familiar with being reluctant to explore even less adopt new open tools for their digital academic practices. This reality reinforces an increasing ‘digital inequality’ (DiMaggio et al., 2004) stemming from individuals who have access to the Internet. I believe that this reality devotes a closer look and a more in-depth examination so that we can explore different ways in which we, as educators and members of the open education community, can support students in becoming more agentic and confident when navigating the open and unbounded 'wild' web. With agentic, I am referring to students being agents, and in that sense, it means to be able to make things happen by one's actions intentionally. This Action Lab aims to challenge some of the assumptions people make, and in particular, educators and policymakers, around young people, being digital natives (Prensky 2001) hence the belief that students ‘seamlessly’ use (open) digital technologies to mediate their learning experience. For this the audience will be immersed in a guided debate where they will create scenarios, personas and a learner profile, using as inputs qualitative and quantitative data from my PhD study. Personas and scenarios are mainly used in Human-Computer Interaction, also called User Experience, to find solutions to particular research problems. It has been lately used in learning design. In particular, I will use the approach and materials designed by Prof. Rose Luckin1 and used in an Online Learning Design course I attended at UCL. Briefly, personas are a research-driven narrative about an ideal person, and scenarios are based on observed activities in related settings, description of experiences (Carroll, 1999)and capture the essence of use or in this particular case, student's engagements. They will help us to reflect and find potential solutions to the research problem. After the creation of personas and scenarios, I will tell the story of thirty-two undergraduates (the participants of my study) at an English University that struggled to understand and engage with online tools and services, finding themselves more like visitors of the Web than residents (White & Le Cornu 2011) In so doing I intend to open the space for discussion around participants stories and how some of their assumptions prove to be wrong. But more importantly, we will explore how those assumptions guide some of our decisions as teachers and policymakers. The content of the session will be manifold. It will touch areas related to the impact that such false beliefs have in Higher Education policies and decisions around the provision of digital education for students. It will also include elements regarding digital literacies as sociocultural practices, the interplay of structure and agency in open and closed learning spaces and the importance of agency in a digital ecosystem as a means to flourish in a digitally mediated society and of course, emergent topics that arise organically from the group discussion. The workshop offers a space to reflect together what can be done once we have acknowledged that not all of our students feel comfortable and confident navigating the web let alone exploring for new (unknown) tools to mediate their learning experience.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Keywords: digital inequality, assumptions, digital natives, narrative research
Divisions: School of Education
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2021 09:50
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:56
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