#2162-2301-002 Social Media Activities 2A

There are three options to earn up to 100 points (75 pts + 25 pts for commenting on other posts/tweets).

      Nefertiti Image

  1. Read the article “Want to 3D Print Nefertiti?” (retweeted 2/29). What do you think about what they did? Should museums retain the rights to historical artifacts such as these? Why or why not? Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag (may require multiple tweets). After posting, check out the post “The Nefertiti Hack: Digital Repatriation or Theft?” (retweeted 3/8). Does this change your opinion in any way?
    Gladiator Movie
  2. Have you seen a movie based in the period of study? If so, have you noticed anything that could have been historically inaccurate? What would it be? Are these “errors” harmful or harmless? Why? Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag  (may require multiple tweets).
    Tweet
  3. Find an article or blog that is relevant to the Unit 2 material. Share the link, and provide a brief summary of the article/blog and how it relates to our course. Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag  (may require multiple tweets).

Unit 1 Project Sharing Option #2162-2301-002

If you so wish, you may share your Unit 1 projects with your peers on the Facebook page (as a comment) or Twitter (using the class hashtag). How you share it will depend on what you did. For example, if you made a video, it would be easiest to upload and share a link to YouTube, or if you created an infographic as an image, you could insert a high-resolution picture. This is not required and please let me know if you have any questions.

Professor D.

Can the Students Speak for Themselves?

The answer is, yes, of course students can speak for themselves. The real question is will we listen to them, and even start including them in the conversation about their own educational experiences? This is not just a question for the established educational power systems that we typically associate with ignoring the student voice, but also for the educational reformers that seek to change those entrenched structures.

Recently I have been digging more into the work of the Indian-born philosopher Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Possibly one of her best known works is “Can the Subaltern Speak?”, an eye-opening critique of the post-colonial movement. For those that haven’t read Spivak, I would recommend Benjamin Graves one extended paragraph review of “Can the Subaltern Speak?” as a quick introduction.

The basic concern is that those who wish to help the subaltern (the economically dispossessed) gain their voice are still forcing them to adopt one voice for the entire group, ignoring the differences that exist within that group. In other words, the post-colonialists are becoming a different type of colonialist. This leads to two problems: “1) a logocentric assumption of cultural solidarity among a heterogeneous people, and 2) a dependence upon western intellectuals to “speak for” the subaltern condition rather than allowing them to speak for themselves.” Sound familiar?

What if you replace “subaltern” with “student”? How about replacing “cultural solidarity” with “connectivism”? What about the recent claims that scaffolding is colonialist in nature? Pretty much insert any modern educational reformer’s idea that there are absolute good and bad solutions for all learners: “if we can just convince all learners that connectivism is good and that scaffolding is oppressive, we can improve education!”

But what if we are forcing learners to take on epidemiological solidarity when the are actually a very heterogeneous group? What would they say about that if we listened to them when they speak for themselves?

We would find out that some learners want to follow the instructor. We would find out that some want to follow their own path. We would find out that many want both, just at the time of their own choosing. We would find that some love connectivism, while others find it inefficient and pointless. We would find that some hate scaffolding, while others think it is necessary. While scaffolding might be oppressive to some, it could be supporting or liberating to others. Or it could be both at different times to the same learner. Contexts shift. People change their minds.

These are not speculations. This is based on what learners have stated in the research for my dissertation. Learners are all over the map once you give them true choice, true personalization.

Which takes me to my problem with what many call personalized learning. Those of a certain age will remember the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. The basic idea of this book series was that the stories were not presented as a singular, linear path. Readers would read a few pages and then be presented with options. They would choose an option and turn to that corresponding page for that option, and so on until the adventure ended. Usually it ended poorly or kind of neutrally, but the goal was to keep trying until you arrived at one of the “good” endings. There were generally about 12-40 full story lines in each book to mix and match.

Most people that read these books developed a strategy of gaming the story lines, usually by bookmarking the last few choices with various fingers. If one choice led to death, just back up a step or two and try again.

The reality was that these were less “Choose Your OWN Adventure,” as much as “Choose One of 40 or so Pre-Determined Pathways to Entertain You With the Illusion of Choice.” This is also the premise of many (but not all) personalized learning systems. The programmers create a pre-determined set of options, and the learner has the illusion of “choice” and “personalization” as they choose various pre-programmed scenarios.

To me, true personalized learning would allow learners to speak for themselves, while not forcing them to follow one person’s view of the “correct” way to learn. True personalized learning would treat learners as an epistemologically heterogeneous group, giving them the ability to speak for their own personal epistemology.

Because the bigger problem is that when the experts come in and say “connectivism is good, scaffolding is bad, here are the ways you are going to connect with others”, they are really just creating a form of neo-instructvism that still forces learners to follow what the expert at the front says to do (even though it may be pre-prescribed connected learning).

These neo-instructivist connected learning activities are not theoretically – they currently exist in online courses. Learners are told to go to write their own blog and then comment on three other blogs in order to pass. Or compose a tweet and then respond to three other tweets. Or post a picture on Instagram and then comment on three other pictures on Instagram.

Sure, that is connected learning and research tells us that learners will retain more because they applied it while connecting to others. But where is the student voice in forcing them to all have a blog and then forcing them to comment and interact (or else don’t pass the course you took out a big loan for)?

Or what of the instructor that doesn’t provide any guidance and just dives into student-centered learning… whether the learners want it or not? Where is the student voice in that pre-determined student-centered design?

edugeek-journal-avatarSure, these instructors will win awards and be praise all over the Twitter-sphere for innovative, connectivist learning. For fighting instructivist colonialism. And so on. But what if these post-instructivist crusaders are causing the same damages to learning that the post-colonialist crusaders were causing that Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak noted? What if we are mistaking a statistically significant research result for the lone “voice” of what works for all learners at all times?

#2162-2301-002 Social Media Activities 1B

There are three options to earn up to 100 points (75 pts + 25 pts for commenting on other posts/tweets).

     

  1. Find an interesting historical object from our current period of study. Post an image of it, give some basic information,  and explain how it is relevant to Unit 1 materials. Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag (may require multiple tweets).
  2. Read the Smithsonian article tweets about 3D Scans and Digitally Reconstructing Lost Monuments.  What impressions do you have about these articles? How do you think that technology like this can impact both research and learning? Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag  (may require multiple tweets).
    Tweet
  3. Find an article or blog that is relevant to the Unit 1 material. Share the link, and provide a brief summary of the article/blog and how it relates to our course. Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag  (may require multiple tweets).

Start of Week 3 Update

Hi All,

Dr. Breuer posted a larger announcement in Blackboard, so make sure to check it out! I also have two quick comments:

  1. When using Facebook for social media A/B participation assignments, please post as a comment on the main announcement (currently #2162-2301-002 Social Media Activities 1A). This is going to help us keep better track of your assignments. It works the same way as the visitor post, so there isn’t any difference except where the post resides. If you have posted in the visitor section, we ask that you add it as a comment instead. Please let us know if you have any questions. As we mentioned, we are trying out a few things and determining what works best.
  2. As we start to get toward the end of Unit 1, We are going to post a research survey in Blackboard. We will ask about the bootcamp, course design, learning preferences, etc. This will help us greatly as we move forward in the course.

Great work so far!

Professor D.

#2162-2301-002 Social Media Activities 1A

There are three options to earn up to 100 points (75 pts + 25 pts for commenting on other posts/tweets)

Vote for Pedro Pic

  1. In the spirit of the current presidential race, pick one of the following Mesopotamian rulers and create a campaign poster for them: Sargon, Hammurabi, Sennacherib, or Nebuchadnezzar. Include an image, mention of achievement(s), and creative element. Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag.
    Siberian Mammoth
  2. Read the Smithsonian article tweet about The Siberian mammoth.  Respond with some implications of the discovery and how it relates to the materials found in Human Prehistory in Unit 1. Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag  (may require multiple tweets).
    Tweet
  3. Find an article or blog that is relevant to the Unit 1 material. Share the link, and provide a brief summary of the article/blog and how it relates to our course. Add as a comment on the Facebook post or use the Twitter hashtag  (may require multiple tweets).

People are Not Generalizable Cogs in a Wheel

One of the issues that we are trying to get at with dual-layer/customizable pathways design is that human beings are individuals with different needs and ever-changing preferences.

That seems to be an obvious statement to many, but a problematic one when looking at educational research. Or more correctly, how we use and discuss research in practical scenarios.

For example, when ever I mention how instructivism and connectivism can also be looked at as personal choices that individual learners prefer at different times, the response from educators is usually to quote research generalizations as if they are facts for all learners at all times:

More advanced learners prefer connectivism.
People that lack technical skills are afraid to try social learning.
Learners with higher levels of self-regulation hate instructivism
Students that are new to a topic need instructor guidance.
Student-centered learning makes learners think more in depth.

While many of these statements are true for many people, the thing we often skip over in education is that these concepts are actually generalized from research. It is not the case that these concepts are true for all learners, but that they have been generalized from a statistically significant correlation. That distinction is important (and often ignored) – because studies rarely find that these concepts are 100% true for 100% of the learners 100% of the time.

But practitioners typically read these generalizations and then standardize them for all learners. We lose sight of the individual outliers that are not included in those numbers (and even of the fact that in the data there is variations that get smoothed over in the quest for “generalization”).

Then, of course, we repeat those experiments with different groups and rarely check to see if those outliers in the new experiment are different types of people or the same.

We also rarely research courses where learners have true choice in the modality that they engage the course content, so do we ever truly know of we are finding the best options for learning in general, or if we are just finding out what learners will do to make the best out of being forced to do something they would rather not?

Are we losing sight of the individual, the unique person at the center of educational efforts?

My research is finding that, when the given freedom to choose their learning modality (instructivism or connectivism), learners stop falling into such neat categories that often comes out of research. For example, those that are advanced learners with high self-regulation and well-developed tech skills will sometimes prefer to follow an instructivist path for a variety of reasons. Or, for another example, sometimes learners have already thought through an issue pretty well, and therefore forcing them to go through student-centered learning with that topic is a boring chore because they don’t need to be forced to think about it again. Or. for even another example, some learners with low self-regulation and low tech skills will jump head first into connectivism because they want to interact with others (even though the research says they should have been too afraid to jump in).

edugeek-journal-avatarWhen you actually dig into the pathways that individuals would choose to take if one is not forced on them, those individuals tend to defy generalization more often than expected. But when you point this out, the establishment of education tends to argue against those findings all kinds of ways. We like the comfort of large sample sizes, generalizable statistics, and cut and dry boxes to put everyone in. I’m not saying to abandon this kind of research – just put it in a more realistic context in order to make sure we aren’t losing the individual human behind those generalizations.

Ancient History Meets Advanced Instructional Strategies