Imagining Multi-Roles… Learning with Emerging Technologies – Chapt 3 from the ebook

August 3, 2010

And now it is time to talk about the chapter that I co-authored with my colleague, BJ Eib.

First, a bit about us (BJ Eib and Elizabeth Wellburn).

BJ Eib

BJ Eib

Elizabeth Wellburn

Elizabeth Wellburn

We’re both instructional designers at Royal Roads University in Victoria BC. Canada — a place that focuses on distance/online learning. To do our daily work we’re immersed in Moodle, Elluminate, Wikis, blogs, etc.

Both of us have a long history of research and practice related to technology use for education (I wouldn’t want to add up the number of years), and we have K-12 experience in the classroom, online and at the curriculum/policy development phase (government). Also,  we’ve both worked at providing instruction about ed tech and distance learning to teachers at all levels. So we welcomed the chance to write about our take on Emerging Technologies in Distance Education,

BJ and I wanted to focus on how there are many traditional roles (teacher/learner, author/reader, amateur/expert) that almost any individual can embrace in new ways — perhaps moving towards participating at multiple levels — through social media. We wanted to explore the exciting and positive ways that these multi-roles might relate to both formal and informal education and to changes in society in general, but we didn’t want to ignore the accompanying concerns either. There’s no need to say a lot here about the ideas presented in the our chapter — it is freely available 🙂

But since our writing was largely directed towards the exciting possibilities, we’re glad that there are others who offer  critiques in the spirit of guiding educational social media use away from some of the potential pitfalls.

Veletsianos posted to his blog recently with links (and he is looking for more) to well-thought-out critiques of social media for education.

So while we hope that you’ll read and be inspired by our chapter and others in the Veletsianos book, we also hope that you’ll consider the issues raised by the authors he highlights in his blog post. Again, I won’t summarize too much because the links are available.  That being said, I’ll address a couple of issues from those critiques. Personally, I agree with Selwyn that in open education, it could be difficult for learners to determine where their learning gaps might be (how do you know what you don’t know?). Just the same I believe there will eventually be online assessment tools and other strategies that will address this. It does have to be considered though and educational policy makers need to acquire a good understanding of the environment to come up with effective solutions. And perhaps things are moving more slowly than the social media proponents want to believe but it doesn’t seem like a bad thing to be forward-thinking and prepared even if the potentially dramatic shift doesn’t quite materialize as envisioned.

I am less inclined to agree with Selwyn’s arguments about access in developing parts of the world because it seems that mobile is poised to become truly ubiquitous and the signs indicate that this will happen soon. Again, being prepared seems like a sound approach.

(b.t.w., how did the vote go at Ed-Media 2010 Toronto? – I tried to find the answer but couldn’t.)

And I think Tony Bates is correct when he speaks of admissions policies and the complexities of open education. Again, policy will have to be developed.


This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).
———————————–  – a 2016 revision.

Emerging Technologies in Distance Education – how do we choose?

July 24, 2010
My plan for the next while is to blog my way through the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version)
As a contributor to the book, I had the opportunity to read an early proof but was unable to talk about it in any detail until the completed book was made widely available. Now that it is (and being mentioned on Twitter, etc.) I think the time has come for some great conversations about s the ideas presented.
So… starting with the introduction, which of course outlines the basic premise of the book and also describes the need for a definition of emerging technologies and the need for a greater understanding of how these are used in distance education, Veletsianos describes a theme of choices and opportunities (p. 13)

A repeating dilemma will arise with each new wave of technology: Should this be used for formal education or is it a personal/social tool better left in the realm of information communication?” Anderson (chapter 2), Wellburn and Eib (chapter 3), Martindale and Dowdy (chapter 9), and Kop (chapter 14) implicitly raise the same question. While a strong desire (and perhaps pressure) exists to employ new and emerging technologies in formal distance education (see chapter 1), it is important that we critically evaluate (and experiment with) a set of technologies with respect to the opportunities that they afford.

Veletsianos mentions the Wellburn and Eib (that’s me and BJ) chapter as presenting technology for empowerment and he mentions that we look at “connected and social distance education” and I think that is a good lead-in to our particular approach to the dilemma he mentions. I’d say a technology should be considered for use if it has the potential to empower learning and that in the arena of distance education, “connected and social” are key considerations. A step further would be to say that if *not* having fluency (for lack of a better word) in a technology has the potential to dis-empower (e.g. not being able to search for and evaluate information online takes power away), then the education system has a responsibility to address that technology.