Final (and Initial) Thoughts About Digital Learning

Constructed Self RecomposedSocial and Communicative Aspects of the Internet and other ICTs class is coming to an end, and I’d like to express my gratitude to Professor Kinzer, classmates and external readers who made this semester a special experience.  Not only did I compose my first academic blog, but I also enjoyed it 🙂 and felt that it is helping me in shaping my research inquiry.  Having an academic blog as a student allowed me to reflect back on our class discussions (that were sometimes cut off by the bell) and expanded my expression by composing my blog entries with images, video and personal stories.  Learning by blogging extended communication beyond the typical classroom boundaries.  

Additionally, it enhanced social engagement and inter-personal communication.  For example, after reading someone’s blog about their Facebook experience I could relate better to the shared experience I may have had with that person.  Overall, I felt more engaged in class and was motivated to listen to people after making the ‘blog connection’.   Entries discussing “who is a friend?”, poetry or artistic take on music and technology added an entertaining aspect and multiple perspectives to my learning experience.  This type of activity afforded me an engaging interaction with people’s thoughts and ideas.  

Furthermore, a variety of people got to know me and my research interest better.  Family members from abroad were able to learn more about my school experience, as I was able to share my journey through my journal.  This had a unique social benefit since sometimes I feel isolated in my academic work.  

Blogging also allowed me to practice writing about my research interest, and expose it to feedback.  At one point a professor from another class, one whose analytical skills and experience I respect and look up to, could relate better to my work after she coincidentally found my blog online.  

Finally, I felt that I’m learning how to orient myself better in technological structures (and cultures) of communication.  Forming a blog and testing grounds on social networks like Facebook, I got to practice my web-based communication skills.  My “friend” was right, after I joined Facebook life will never be the same.

In summary, we are organically moving into digital learning.  Pay Attention, the video that we were asked to watch this week builds the argument (mostly through quotes and statistics) that since technological richness is already an existing domain for most students, why not you, the educator embrace technology and use it as a teaching tool?  A sample assignment for using text messaging is presented, along with references to other instructional technology methodologies.  

Professor Kinzer is asking us (through ClassWeb) “if learning’s a social process (as well as a cognitive and cultural one), why is technology being sometimes significantly underused when it could help meet curricular and instructional goals?”  I say that the answer is in the question – technology is being relatively ignored because teaching is also a social, cognitive and cultural activity.  Most teachers are a product of their own training and social conventions of what is perceived to be acceptable, powerful, prestigious or effective as a form of teaching.  The challenge is to think outside of the box and explore innovative and unfamiliar ways of teaching and learning.

A similar dichotomy involving what may be more effective versus what is perceived as being effective takes place in the game industry.  It is difficult to change the stereotype suggesting that games may be destructive to education or that playing games is merely “a waste of time”. The notion that playing games can enhance learning would require a shift in the social and cultural systems.  

Similarly to the “Pay Attention” video presentation, the following video presents the author of the book “What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy” (2007), James Paul Gee, addressing the issue of “educational systems”, and working to gradually shift educators’ core views through research and practical implementation of video games in and outside of the classroom:

December 9, 2008. Columbia University Doctorate, Video Games and Education. 1 comment.