PhD Blog Assignment – WK 2

The NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Report is a collaborative report published to highlight big picture themes in educational change. This week we examine two educational technologies that could be implemented in the classroom that are oriented toward long term goals of developing deeper learning approaches. The two technologies discussed are “Sharing Power to Promote Deeper Learning” and “Strengthening Deeper Learning through Virtual Teams in E-Learning.”

Link: The NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Report

Deeper learning approaches focuses on engaging students in critical thinking, problem, solving, collaboration, and self-directed learning (Johnson et al., 2017). These technologies emphasize that students need to make clear connections between coursework and the world they experience in order to stay motivated (Johnson et al., 2017). Deeper learning initiatives have been shown to improve graduation rates and help instructors to leverage tools that relate to real life experiences.

  1. Sharing Power to Promote Deeper Learning

The concept of “Sharing Power to Promote Deeper Learning,” was developed and integrated into the classroom by Maura Rosenthal, a sociology professor at Bridgewater State University. Rosenthal (2015) begins a new class by partnering with students and explaining to the students that the course is theirs and she is the guide to help them learn. By doing so, both students and teacher are actively working towards learning. Rosenthal (2015) then uses a fishbowl discussion approach by having students in the core circle discuss weekly material while having students on the outer circle take notes on themes discussed. The instructor serves as both facilitator and observer in the early process. By repeating this process throughout the course Rosenthal (2015) is able to help students who are shy to overcome shyness and be more vocal in discussions and she was able to help students develop deeper discussions without causing students to be hesitant about potentially offending someone within the group. As the semester progressed, the Rosenthal (2015) played “devil’s advocate” to challenge the students while keeping dialogue ongoing. Several lessons have been learned from using Rosenthal’s approach:

  • When students were given more power in this learning environment they gradually took on more challenging assignments and assessments
  • When taking on student suggestions it is good to try the suggestions, even when they fail. When projects fall flat, students have the opportunity to learn from, grow, improve, and overcome.

This technology was selected because it reflects the professional environments I have worked in. Over the years I have sat in meetings that were productive and meetings that were exhausting and seemed to be pointless. As a person who often remained quiet in meetings, I have had many opportunities to watch and study the people who just want to be heard, the people who are always negative, the people who have great ideas, and the people who speak up after the meeting who should have contributed during the meeting. This type of technology could be incorporated in my professional environment in many ways. First, this method could be used for our Domestic Security Grant Funding Groups. Each year 10 groups get together and fight for funding. People with projects from the same category could be put in the center while groups of different categories could be put on the outside. This would allow for the group in the inner circle to hash out true needs while the people in the outer circle will see the issues and themes that arise. On a smaller scale, this method could be used for new employees to learn to discuss projects and relevant issues. This would be great practice for new employees coming out of college.

  1. Strengthening Deeper Learning through Virtual Teams in E-Learning

Online learning continues to grow globally, but the full potential of how to use online learning is lacking. To better understand what “Strengthening Deeper Learning through Virtual Teams in E-learning” represents, a few explanations will be provided. Deeper learning has been described by the Hewlett Foundation as learning that prepares students to mater core academic content, think critically and solve complex problems, work collaboratively, communicate effectively, have an academic mindset, and learn through self-direction (Makani, Durier-Copp, Kiceniuk, & Blanford, 2016). E-learning is described as an approach to teaching and learning that represents the use of electronic media, devices as tools for improving access to training, communication, interaction, and adoption of new ways of understanding (Makani et al., 2016). Virtual teams are groups of people committed to a common purpose that are separated geographically that use a variety of communication technologies to transcend the limits of time and distance to collaborate and work together (Makani et al., 2016). Using these concepts, Makani et al. (2016) developed an e-learning framework that facilitates communication, collaboration, teamwork, and student engagement. The key element is using a technology that drives open conversation, which can be done through many different social technologies. Open conversation allows for students to have a feeling of trust so they can discuss freely and have a sense of psychological closeness with their peers. Having a learner-centered approach is critical to ensuring that students stay engaged, participate, and in promoting a sense of community.

I have been engaged in an online learning environment since 2011. I earned my Master’s online and have now been with Walden a few years in pursuit of a PhD. Because I have been involved in online learning for almost a decade it seems natural to me and it is eye opening to realize that a majority of people I work with have not participated in some type of online learning. This technology can be used to deepen learning, engage subject rich conversations, and facilitate communication within an organization. This technology could be used to discuss statewide cases. By creating a e-learning medium for discussion employees from across the state could contribute and reference other cases that could be studied or reviewed. This technology could also be used with our legal advisors as a way to disseminate information and case law that employees need to know. This information is often disseminated via email and due to the large amounts of information sent via email, this information is easily lost. By having the discussion are in one place, employees can go through and read the most recent developments without having to search through their own archived emails to figure out what the most recent changes are.

Reference

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC horizon report: 2017 higher education edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Makani, J., Durier-Copp, M., Kiceniuk, D., & Blandford, A. (2016). Strengthening Deeper Learning through Virtual Teams in E-Learning: A Synthesis of Determinants and Best Practices. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 31(2). Retrieved from Walden Library Databases

Rosenthal, M. (2015). Sharing Power to Promote Deeper Learning. In Faculty Scholarship (SoTL). Paper 7. Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/otl_fac/7

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