Digital learning because access to learning

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Information about Digital learning because access to learning

Published on February 19, 2014

Author: literarytech



Presentation formatting slightly mangled in upload. Was originally designed for Keynote. Contact me for the original. Discussion about why we integrate digital or online learning tools into the classroom centered on access to learning with some discussion of ways to approach this that do not compromise the effectiveness of the classroom or coursework. Presentation has been offered in some form at TXDLA 2011 and at various university faculty days, most recently at Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.

Digital Learning Teaching to the Future David Gibson, Director of Solutions Engineering, Blackboard Greetings! My name is David Gibson. I currently lead a team of Solutions Engineers for you at Blackboard. Our mission is to make sure you have the information and resources to be successful as an institution and as instructors. I came to Blackboard more than three years ago after two decades in educational technology with content publishers and Microsoft. I came because I saw a shift happening. Blackboard is more than just a vendor of a single software solution. We are a vendor of software solutions, but we are first and foremost about solutions. And not just any solutions, but solutions in education. ! Today I want to discuss the significance of these digital technologies in the learning space. I'm not here to talk about online courses. I'm not here to talk about MOOCs. I'm not here to talk about the disintermediation of instructors. Quite the contrary. ! These digital technologies can facilitate your instruction. But it can be a bit much...

Blackboard Learn MOOCs Blogs Assignments Wikis Journals Messages SMS Texting Announcements Content Quizzes, Tests, Exams Grade Center Email Graphics Discussion Boards Accessibility Rubrics Publisher Integrations IMS LTI Video Response McGraw-Hill Connect YouTube Flickr Pearson MyLabs Facebook Twitter Cengage Wiley Pinterest LinkedIn Goal Alignment We are surrounded by digital technologies in education. You are asked to consider MOOCs with really large online courses and regardless of online or face to face, there is email, messages, texting and other communication with students. Then you have content to prepare and structure and that leads to interactions with the content in wikis, blogs, journals and discussion forums. Then there is publisher digital content from McGraw-Hill Connect, Pearson MyLabs, Cengage, Wiley and others. People talk about LTI to connect and then there are aggregators like YouTube, Slideshare and Fliker. Then having learned and discussed, you have assignments for formative assessment and rubrics to evaluate and tests or quizzes and all this has to go into the grade center and it may involve goal alignment and it all has to be accessible to the students and... ! Whew! ! May I just ask???

WHY? Why are we doing this? Is it really an advance on blackboards? Do these tools make things better than fat pencils and Big Chief writing paper? Why are we using these tools? There is a lot one could say, but I want to focus on a single idea...

Access Access is something we discuss a good deal. Often times, in education and educational technology circles, we discuss this in terms of universal accessibility. This is a noble endeavor and one Blackboard takes seriously. ! Today, however, I want to talk about access without direct reference to accessibility regardless of physical or mental differences. Even with that focus, we still have a challenge because we usually see this other perspective through an institutional lens...

Availability Access Reach! Engage! Expand! Opportunities Reach The first way we talk about access at the institutional level is in terms of the ability of the institution to reach a student that was previously outside. How do we as an institution reach students whose life does not allow for traditional course work? How do we accommodate more students? Engage We also talk about institutional engagement. Is the student connected to the institution in a way that facilitates retention and completion of courses and programs of study? These digital tools can help with challenges to engagement. How do we get the student to really dig into their education here? Expand Related to reach is the idea of expansion. We want to expand the mission of the institution to groups in society that have not previously been able to benefit from further education. Or perhaps we simply want to expand beyond our local geographies. In any case we want to expand the minds of our students at the institution so they leave with more experiences and understanding than they had before. Opportunities Finally, access is about providing access to opportunity. What sort of opportunities? Depends on the student, but part of the reason our educational institutions exist is to facilitate access of the capable to realize their potential to benefit themselves, their families, their communities and our society both national and global. !

Learning Access Present! Engage! Refine! Master! Present When we talk about access in the classroom, we should start where the student so often starts: with content. How I can present learning opportunities has a material impact on my success as a teacher, and my students access to learning. Many of these technologies make possible different way to present learning that makes the content of my discipline accessible to students from different backgrounds. Engage Furthermore, these digital technologies allow me to increase engagement with the materials I've presented. Putting your hands on a topic and really working with it as an idea or a physical reality can made a what was esoteric and lofty suddenly accessible to my student. These digital technologies can facilitate that engagement. Refine One of the ways that digital tools increase access to learning is through my ability to refine the learning experience. If I can identify a student who is struggling, I may be able to intervene. If I can identify the specific cognitive, affective or psychomotor gap, then I can really shine as a teacher because our greatest moments are when the struggling student understands. Master And all that leads us to competence or mastery of the particular goal or outcome. In fact, the digital technologies can make possible competency based learning where my whole objective is oriented not toward the grade, but toward mastery of the domain. Hopefully before one is as old as my father is in

HOW? All this is very well, but if we accept the relevance of digital learning to the work we do in our classroom, we still have the challenge of all those tools and technologies and buttons and switches. How do I get started? How do I proceed?

Starting Out • Choose Basic Tools • Syllabus • Announcements • Assignments & Basic Grade Center • Turn Off What Isn't Needed • Tidy Navigation • Include links to student support info I would suggest that we start with the basics. If, in addition to a syllabus and posting other content files, I were to take on assignments and basic use of the grade center, it would be enough for a start. ! Turn off what I don't need. Keep it simple. ! You didn't achieve mastery of your discipline in a day or a week or even a year, and the domain of learning technologies is similar. Give yourself permission to take things on in manageable stages. I will say here that the use of the assignment tool will make your life easier and the use of the grade center will make you much more popular with your students. The number one complaint we get from students about Learn is the lack of use by some of their instructors.

Going Deeper • Adopt More Tools • Content Tools • Interactive Tools • Quiz, Test, Exam • Engage Social Learning • Mirror Known Content Structure If you have that down, move on to the next level. Deepen your use of the content tools. Put up more interesting content that helps the student understand the knowledge and skills you are looking to impart. Take on the use, or deeper use, of some of the interactive capabilities. Work a wiki or a blog into your course. Look at the social learning possibilities. What about a little flipping of the classroom? Also, go deeper in structuring the student experience in your digital classroom. Even if it is a face to face, the students need scaffolding for their learning. Structure your digital space to reflect, as much as possible, the structure of your discipline and course.

Going Wider • Refine Structures • Build Adaptive Release Experiences • Nurture Collaborative Learning • Refine Formative Evaluation Tools • Enrich Content • Flip and Engage with Social Learning • Deepen Student Activity Refine Structures So, with that, a third level might be to go wider. Broaden the tools in play. Take a look at the possibilities of adaptive release where you can manage the availability of learning based on criteria. You could experiment with competency based learning. Take your social learning from the deepening level to a broader basis. Utilize Bb Collaborate and Learn together. Examine your use of formative tools. Can your assignments use the capabilities offered to greater advantage of student learning? ! What about content? Is there more out there that might help? What if some content experiences are adaptive of released when a student demonstrates a lack of understanding. ! All of this should be used to Deepen Student Activity. How a student engages with the material has a direct bearing on their mastery of it.

Availability Access! Reach • Engage • Expand • Opportunity Digital Learning Learning Access! Present • Engage • Refine • Master And so we've examined digital learning. Through the lens of access, we can see the institutional reasons that we have all heard for adopting digital technology. They are real. They matter. But on a more immediate level, there are access reasons for these technologies in my classroom. I can use them to improve instruction. Improving instruction makes the learning more accessible to all my students.

David Gibson Director of Solutions Engineering @literarytech

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