“A Vision of Students Today”

is the title to this video by Dr. Michael Wesch and the students of Introduction to Cultural Anthropology,  Class of Spring 2007 at Kansas State University:

which presents a question about how to effectively employ web technology in the classroom.

As an experimental and experiential response, these are materials for a class presentation:

Research overview:

Donnelly (2004):

In this era of rapid change, we, as educators increasingly recognize that students must learn how to develop and apply knowledge creatively, not simply remember what they have been told (Wiske, Sick, & Wirsig, 2001).

… The role of technology in learning is to provide a flexible learning environment that supports student learning rather than the transmission of ideas for passive use in a highly deterministic educational regime. It is this constructivist approach to teaching and learning which is the critical feature of all successful learning environments.

Fidishun (2000):

Technology is a perfect path for the facilitation of self-direction. The ultimate ability of initiatives such as web-based learning to be non-linear allows an adult to follow the path that most appropriately reflects their need to learn.

It becomes extremely important for those who are designing technology-based adult learning to use all of the capabilities of the technology including branching, the ability to skip sections a student already understands, and multiple forms of presentation of material which can assist people with various learning styles.

Rohleder et al (2007):

Amongst the claims and acclaims made about the virtues of e-learning, Johns (2003, p. 431) ascertains that they can be divided into five categories:

1. Material is made more accessible to learners who can log on at any time which suits them.

2. Web-based material offers the opportunity for learners to explore those areas of the work they find difficult to understand, spending as much time as they wish to with these materials.

3. Web-based material can provide bridges between theory and the world of practice through, for example, organisational sites of social service practice on the web.

4. Web-based learning offers more opportunities for active learning, where students would engage with materials rather than passively receiving knowledge from lecturers.

5. This type of learning offers opportunities for learning activities such as problem-solving and information-gathering skills, and, from a pedagogical perspective, being conducive to ‘‘deep learning’’ rather than ‘‘surface learning’’.1

Yudko et al (2008):

… students tend to recommend a greater level of computer/Internet preparedness prior to taking online courses (Richards & Ridley, 1997). In other words, helping students to develop strong computer/Internet skills prior to taking distance education classes may be critically important to improving student engagement.

Kwan et al (2004):

Though the Computing team (department) is experimenting with “Active Learning” as described by McIntyre and Wolff (1998), different instructional tools on the Web (Gray, 1998), and the hypertextbooks (Boroni, 2001) for the Web, more research has to be done before we can subscribe to what Makkonen (2000) did when he claimed, “hypertext enables learning as a knowledge construction process…, hypertext as a cognitive tool for knowledge construction” (p. 1057).

and then there is this

Web tools:

adequate access to the internet (Rohleder, 2007) (Donnelly, 2004)

web pages, e-mail and web-based discussion boards (Donnelly, 2004)

online library of relevant key articles and reports (Donnelly, 2004)

hypertextbooks (Boroni, 2001) (Kwan, 2004)

multimedia elements (Kwan, 2004)

online reflective journal (Donnelly, 2004)

a common e-mail account for a single department, frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Web and interactive web forms (Kwan, 2004)

Ideas for instructors:

1. Assess the computer and Internet skills of students at the beginning of the course:

“helping students to develop strong computer/Internet skills prior to taking distance education classes may be critically important to improving student engagement.” (Yudko, 2008)

“establishing whether they have access to their own PCs at work or at home, so technical support issues can be dealt with. The questionnaire also refers to file management requirements. These are established by asking the lecturers if they can create, save, and manage files on their PC. Some basic Internet skills are determined by asking them if they know how to attach a file to an e-mail message.” (Donnelly, 2004)

2.  Set clear guidelines about the use of online tools, and encourage questions and feedback:

The generalized fear that Weimer (2002) identifies as a reason students may resist a learner-centered approach (e.g. “what are students supposed to do? How are they supposed to behave? Who is responsible for what now?”) (p.151) seems potentially minimized by the clear articulation of expectations. Weimer notes that the “best solutions” for “overcoming the resistance” “involve communication” and that “nothing about the approach should be assumed to be obvious.” (p.157).

“[the instructor] still had to read all messages to ensure that acceptable standard ethics were observed and incorrect answers posted by students were not perpetuated.” (Kwan, 2004)

3. Encourage a collaborative learning environment:

“it is important for the group to physically meet each other” (Donnelly, 2004)

“the problem-based learning aspect played an important role in allowing them to experience the benefits of collaboration” (Donnelly, 2004)

Key concepts:

active learning: “where students would engage with materials rather than passively receiving knowledge from lecturers” (Rohleder, 2007).

constructivist learning theory:  According to Donnelly (2004), this theory asserts that “learning occurs in a social context through collaboration, negotiation, debate, and peer review” (p.244, citing Grabinger & Dunlap, 2000), that “interaction is a critical component of contructivist learning environment” (p.244) and that the “role of technology in learning is to provide a flexible learning environment that supports student learning rather than the transmission of ideas for passive use in a highly deterministic educational regime.” (p.244).

deep learning: “refers to the enhancement of meaning-making, analytical, transferal and conceptual skills as well as the ability to relate knowledge to own position. Surface learning, on the other hand, refers to knowledge that is reproduced in a rote fashion (Prosser and Trigwell 1999; Ramsden 2003)” (Rohleder, 2007, fn 1).

problem-based learning: According to Donnelly (2004), “problem-based learning is centered on a problem which has to engage students’ interest, compel them to take it on as their responsibility, support the development and application of problem-solving and conceptual skills and stimulate self-directed learning into areas of study relevant to the curriculum (p. 240, citing Barrows, 1999)

self-directed learning: “learning in which “the learner chooses to assume the primary responsibility for planning, carrying out, and evaluating those learning experiences” (Merriam and Brockett (2007), 16, citing Caffarella).

social media: Matt Scoble, writing in October 2007, identifies “the legs of the social media starfish” to include:

1. Blogs.
2. Photos. Flickr. Smugmug. Zooomr. Photobucket. Facebook. Et al.
3. Videos. YouTube. Kyte. Seesmic. Facebook. Blip. DivX. Etc.
4. Personal social networks. Facebook. BluePulse. MySpace. Hi5. Plaxo. LinkedIn. Bebo. Etc.
5. Events (face to face kind). Upcoming. Eventful. Zvents. Facebook. Meetup. Etc.
6. Email. Integration through Bacn.
7. White label social networks. Ning. Broadband Mechanics. Etc.
8. Wikis. Twiki. Wetpaint. PBWiki. Atlassian. SocialText. Etc.
9. Audio. Podcasting networks. BlogTalkRadio. Utterz. Twittergram. Etc.
10. Microblogs. Twitter. Pownce. Jaiku. Utterz. Tumblr. FriendFeed. Etc.
11. SMS. Services that let organizations build SMS into their social media starfishes. […]
12. Collaborative tools. Zoho. Zimbra. Google’s docs and spreadsheets. Etc.

technagogy: Barse defines the term as “the method and practice of teaching through modern technology, esp. as an academic subject or theoretical concept.” In reference to part of the Knowles definition of andragogy described by Merriam and Brockett (2007), I think it may be fair to describe technagogy as “the art and science of helping people learn with web technology.”


Barse, AJ. (2008, Feb 17). Technagogy View.  Posted at http://talesfromthegradstudent.blogspot.com/2008/02/techagogy-view.html

Donnelly, R. (2004). Online Learning in Teacher Education: Enhanced with a Problem-based Learning Approach. AACE Journal, 12 (2), 236-247.  [pdf]

Fidishun, D. (2000). Andragogy and Technology: Integrating Adult Learning Theory as We Teach with Technology. Proceedings of 2000 Mid-South Instructional Technology Conference, Middle Tennessee University.

Kwan, R., Chan, C., & Lui, A. (2004). Reaching an ITopia in distance learning—A case study. AACE Journal, 12(2), 171-187. [pdf]

Merriam, S.B., Brockett, R. G. (2007). The Profession and Practice of Adult Education.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Rohleder, P., Bozalek, V., Carolissen, R., Leibowitz, B., Swartz, L.  (2007) Students’ evaluations of the use of e-learning in a collaborative project between two South African universities. The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 56(1), 95-107. doi: 10.1007/s10734-007-9091-3

Scoble, M. (2007, Oct 31) Naked Conversations 2.0: How Google is disrupting the social media starfish. Posted at http://scobleizer.com/2007/10/31/naked-conversations-20-how-google-is-disrupting-the-social-media-starfish/

Weimer, M. (2002) Learner-Centered Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Yudko, E., Hirokawa, R., Chi, R. (2008). Attitudes, beliefs and attendance in a hybrid course. Computers & Education, (50) 4, 1217-1227.  doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.11.005.


One Response to ““A Vision of Students Today””

  1. ajbarse Says:

    What you may also want to read.

    “Technagogy, Technogogy…Technology Pedagogy
    Ever since I posted the idea of the term Technagogy- I did some internet searching. Here I thought this grad student thought of something unique, then trusty and quasi-omniscient Google pops my inspiration bubble. It appears there are others who have tried to coin this term- but appears to have two versions Techna vs Techno. The idea is still the same: technology and pedagogy, but I am curious if anyone knows who was the first to coin the term and what they defined it as?….

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