Tech-Enhanced Learning and Mobile Natives

I consult with Eastern International College on topics around online learning. They use the LMS Canvas from Instructure for online courses and only started using it more widely about 3 years ago. It's a for-profit college that offers degrees and certifications in health and medical fields. That is a population of faculty and students who have always been reluctant to go online. These are very hands-on, in-a-lab classes primarily. But the move proved to be somewhat lifesaving when the Covid pandemic hit schools in the 2020 semester.

Instructure sent me some resources to think about for the fall semester and one was strategies for "Tech-Enhanced Learning." I will date myself by saying I recall when we were attaching the term "web-enhanced" to courses and strategies. I also remember very clearly when the term "digital natives" was used to describe the students we were meeting in our classrooms.

Thomas Husson had blogged some time ago about mobile natives from a marketing perspective. He notes that the first iPhone was released in 2007 and, on average, a kid gets their first cell phone around 11 years old. That means the first entire generation that mobile has impacted will enter the workforce about 2025 - but they are already in schools grades kindergarten through higher education. 

kids on phones in class
     Photo: Rodnae Productions

Technology-enhanced (or sometimes "infused")  learning is essential to best learning practices and also to keeping learning relevant. It surely will play a role - as it has already and not always in a positive way - in the survival of higher education institutions. Instructional technology is important to student engagement. The correct approach is not to digitize what is already being used. That's closer to what we called "web-enhanced" when we were starting to put materials online. 

How do you use technology to transform pedagogy to be more engaging, innovative, and inclusive?  here are their suggested strategies.

Though the pandemic forced coursework online out of necessity, digital learning should now be the default. All courses should be designed so that they could be taught online, even if the intent is to teach them in a classroom. When course content is and communication is available online students can access it anywhere and at any time.

As noted above, courses should also be optimized courses for mobile access since mobile phones are the primary tool used by many students and student income levels are no longer the deciding factor for that use. How many of your students have a desktop computer or even a laptop?

Engagement includes interactive experiences between faculty and students, and also connecting students with one another. This is also something that goes across face-to-face, hybrid and fully remote courses.

It is important that this shift goes beyond your classes. A "digital campus" means things beyond coursework. Virtual tutoring, office hours, counseling, tech support, and library access is especially critical for off-campus students to have that on-campus connection. And even residential students will often prefer digital over face-to-face. Mental health resources for psychological well-being are a leading factor for student success and schools can leverage technology to expand access to mental health resources including virtual counseling, staff mental health training, and student mental health apps.

HyFlex learning environments got a lot more attention during the pandemic. This approach is student-centered and offers equitable access to content. Students should be able to move between modalities based on their learning needs and the location - pandemic or not.

For a long time, educators have been told what to expect from Millennials. We have moved on to Generation Z which is usually defined as those 4 to 24 years old - which covers pre-school to graduate school. They are a group that has always had access to the Internet - as did many Millennials - but Gen Z also has mobile devices as their primary way of communicating and getting information in and out of classes.

I added this post to my category "Education 2.0" which for me meant where education was moving. I have seen articles about "Education 3.0" but I stick with version 2 because I haven't seen the really big seismic shift in education yet.

Some futurists say that by the end of this decade workers who still go to a workplace outside their home will walk in, plug their device into the network ( Is say "plug" but it will probably be wireless), connect to a bigger screen(s) and start working. Shifting to mobile is not in its early stage. There are 7 billion mobile subscriptions now. That's not everyone and not every student, but a report from Forrester Research said that mobile phone penetration is at 91 percent of Generation Y homes. (80 percent for all households across North America.) 79 present 13-20-year-olds say in surveys that they can't live without their smartphones compared to 70 percent of 21-39-year-olds.

 

SOURCES
instructure.com/higher-education/back-to-school/faculty

blogs.forrester.com/thomas_husson/14-12-02-mobile_and_mobile_natives...

linkedin.com/pulse/mobile-natives-eric-isham/

ypulse.com/article/2022/03/29/3-stats-on-how-gen-z-is-being-raised-on-smartphones/

marketingdive.com/ex/mobilemarketer/cms/news/research/1576.html

 

Remote Learning Is Not Necessarily Online Learning

remote learnersThe COVID-19 pandemic forced schools and corporate trainers to move their content online. Teaching and training went remote. But are remote and online learning the same thing? I see the terms used almost interchangeably.

Remote teaching, training, or learning has been done before there was an Internet to get online. Correspondence models and instructional TV/video predate the Internet. Today, we are using Skype and Zoom lectures, apps and tools but remote learning is still considered different from online learning.

I have taken classes and done training remotely that don't have many of the elements of a classroom experience. Things like reading assignments and writing assignments, assessments, collaboration on work, or full discussion boards are not used. For example, I have watched a series of history lectures that were mostly one-way experiences. I watched and although there was an opportunity to ask questions in chat or a Q&A time if you were watching live, this is not online learning.

Online learning should be more robust. It resembles more of what we consider to be "education" and would include interactive modules, assessments based on real-world scenarios, discussion forums designed to discuss and solve problems, synchronous learning sessions that involve discussions and problem-solving. There may still be live or recorded lectures, but that is not the only component.

Remote learning certainly has a place, especially in corporate and training situations. This can be pre-recorded content that can be used as needed, has a shelf life, and can be viewed again by users if necessary. Training on using software is a good example of content that works as remote learning. "But it's all online," you might say, "Why isn't it online learning?" Well, it is and it isn't.

Educators have long been trying to elevate engagement in online learning. It is not training. It requires a teacher or facilitator. Some elements are synchronous. Progress is monitored.

I hedged on my title for this post - "Remote Learning Is Not Necessarily Online Learning" - because fortunately, some training uses the elements that we consider to be integral to online learning. And, unfortunately, some online learning seems to be more like just remote training. And training and education have both been experimenting with hybrid models where learners and instructors can be in the same classroom working together but be extending the classroom online.

Remote learning is not inferior to online learning. It has its place in the broader "learning" experience. Remote learners sitting on their couch at home with a laptop may look the same as students taking an online course, but what is being provided to them, what they are expected to do with that content and what is the final expectations for that learning should be different. Putting a label on learning platforms is tricky, but it is important to know the differences.

 

Supporting Faculty for the Fall 2021 Semester

support

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

 

I recently read the teaching newsletter at chronicle.com/newsletter/teaching/ that covered several topics around the question of what support faculty members will most need this fall. Without reading the newsletter, I would have guessed that much of the support needed in fall 2020 due to the pandemic will still be needed this fall. The news this summer is full of stories about how we are returning to some version of "normal." I would also predict that schools K-20 are expecting to not need some of that support. We expect to see students back in classrooms. We expect that there will be fewer online versions of courses.   

The author, Beckie Supiano, reached out to some directors of teaching centers and other faculty developers and asked that question about instructor support. Here are a few takeaways in brief.

We can expect that faculty will now be more likely to mix modalities in their teaching. This is more complex than just teaching in-person versus online. We also have asynchronous versus synchronous formats and hybrid settings. This is due to some teachers having been introduced to new modalities and technologies and discovering that some of it is good and applicable. I would also factor in students who were learning online for the first time who found some positives to learning in that way.

I know of teachers who used threaded discussions, video conferencing (Zoom et al) and simple tools such as polls and breakout room for group work for the first time and plan to continue using them even though they will be back in a physical classroom.

Some courses will not be officially labeled as hybrid or blended in the course catalog, but they will be a blend of in-person and online more than in the past.

The technology that allows this to happen will need IT support and, hopefully, pedagogical support towards its best application. Supiano quotes the director for teaching excellence at George Mason University who says that "We’ve been working this summer to support faculty through our Mixed Modalities Course Design project, but we need ways to reach more faculty with that kind of learning opportunity.”

This question seems to ignore what support students will need this fall. Teachers are often the "first responders" to questions students have about using course technology. The article suggests that instructors will need "a grounding in trauma-informed pedagogy." At apu.edu, a Trauma Informed Pedagogy Series was created this summer to educate and equip professors.

One director suggests that faculty will need opportunities for more conversations about what is happening in other classrooms and online, including "fewer readings and speakers and just more workshops with each other."

I do like the idea presented that faculty who have gone beyond the normal in this beyond-normal period need to be rewarded for their efforts. Presidents, provosts, deans, chairs, and teaching and promotion and tenure committees are most likely not equipped to consider some of the changes and efforts that were made in 2020 and so far in 2021. And full-time, non-tenure-track faculty and adjuncts also made extraordinary efforts that may have been assumed or overlooked. Moving an in-person course online even with a semester to prepare is difficult to do well. Doing it almost overnight in spring 2020 was a big ask.

I would say that the support need for fall 2021 is much the same that was needed for fall 2019, but the biggest change is the increased number of faculty and students who will need that support.

Read the article and if you want to share your own preparations or missing support, email the author at beckie.supiano@chronicle.com.