Tag Archives: critical research

Broadband for education (bb4edu) in SA

Last month I gave a presentation at the National Broadband Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa (SA), on what broadband enablement would mean for education here. The forum aims to collectively produce a strategy for making broadband a priority in SA post the upcoming elections, similar to the recent bb4us campaign in America.

The presentation was blogged about on the South Africa Connect website, as well as covered by ITWeb.

See the forum day’s activities on Flickr and Twitter.

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New Media Literacies, Student Generated Content, and the YouTube Aesthetic (ED-MEDIA 2008)

ED-MEDIA 2008 paper: New Media Literacies, Student Generated Content, and the YouTube Aesthetic.

Abstract: The proliferation of content generation and sharing through Web 2.0 tools has created what Henry Jenkins refers to as new media literacies. We explore the application of new media literacies through digital media creation with eighth graders. This pilot project promotes online video capabilities in conjunction with the time-honored practice of adolescents reading classic and young adult literature. Through the project’s curriculum design and pedagogical apparatus, student-generated digital stories illustrate that complex thinking and learning and the YouTube aesthetic do not need to be mutually exclusive. We provide the theoretical foundations for our work as well as preliminary analysis of student-generated products. We will introduce a revised scaffolding process that incorporates a series of rubrics (based on Henry Jenkins framework on new media literacies and Biggs and Collis SOLO taxonomy) to facilitate evidence of complex thinking in the students’ next round of video products.

In-class project and at-home work. Only four students involved.

Benefits to learners:

  • Improved critical research skills
  • Discussed and appreciated copyright issues

This study related to the student skills gap — identified in the 2007 Horizon Report — “between understanding how to use tools for media creation and how to create meaningful content. Although new tools make it increasingly easy to produce multimedia works, students lack essential skills in composition, storytelling, and design.”

Complexities of student-created video:

  • Creativity vs appropriateness (tensions with popular culture: adult teachers and teenage learners have different views on appropriateness)
  • Levels of scaffolding? Modeling? Too much and the learners simply repeat what is given back to them
  • Distributed expertise: change in traditional teacher role
  • Copyright and IP issues: need to appropriately cite and sourced material

A lesson learned was that students lacked many of the basic skills needed for the project:

  • Computer skills
  • Reference skills
  • Downloading skills
  • Flip video skills
  • Video editing skills

Future directions for the project:

  • Provide learners with a tech pack: camera, tripod, USB drive, headphones — one convenient toolkit
  • Pilot with entire class

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Authors: Hiller Spires, Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, NCSU, USA; Gwynn Morris, Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, NCSU, USA

The need for 21st century skills

Intel EducationAt the plenary session of eLearning Africa, William Swope from Intel spoke about the Intel Teach program. He said that African teachers and learners in 600,000 schools need 21st century skills, such as media literacy, problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills. The goal is to transform Africa from consumer to innovator. This requires moving from a “silver bullet” focus on ICT to holistic transformation of teaching and learning. The new focus must be on technology access, connectivity, teacher training and content.

Much of what was said resonates with what the Shuttleworth Foundation is doing in my theme: Communication and analytical skills development. These are the key 21st century skills.

The need for critical research skills

We often hear educators complain that when their learners use the internet to find information for projects they simply copy and paste from the first reference that comes up on Google.

Vicki Davis, a teacher in the US, posted an interesting blog entry about this:

If students take the “first thing they come to” to determine their opinion, then we are sorely at the mercy of Google’s algorithms and the determination of webmasters who desire to be heard. Understanding how to search, how to validate sources, and even how to use deep web resources is an essential part of being literate.

Citing multiple sources is also essential for the critical researcher. The blog post describes what needs to be done in schools to teach these skills, as well as the barriers to curriculum change that make this a challenge. Some interesting comments from other teachers are also posted.

I support her argument: that “the ability to form one’s opinion and validate sources is the key” for digitally enabled youth. These qualities form part of communication and analytical skills in the 21st century.