By David Wells, editor at Surviving the OU

In this installment David looks at future trends in technology and metaphors

Hello everybody! If you’ve missed any of the previous posts then find them here: Entry 1, Entry 2Entry 3Entry 4, Entry 5Entry 6Entry 7, Entry 8 , Entry 9Entry 10 and Entry 11.

Week 22: Implications and Future Trends

The little meter gauge on my Student Home page says 77% completed so this tells me that we’re nearing the final countdown on the module! It’s been enjoyable, frustrating, boring and challenging at various stages but I suppose I’m kind of glad it’s nearing a conclusion. In the last entry week 21 started on Implications and Future Trends and week 22 picks that up and runs with it. We finished on Activity 2 Part f so all that’s left to round off is Activity 2 Part g and then Activity 3 and it was on to week 23.

I’m glad I got the bulk of my reading for this fortnight done last week because this was a tough segment to complete. I’ve contributed next to nothing in the forums this past week or so as I’m really busy at home. The final part of Activity 2 was about blogging and we had to write a blog post on Personal Learning Environments (PLE) and where we think they are heading. We then looked at other students’ entries to see what they thought. I did a whole lot more reading of others’ than my own if truth be told but I am planning on returning to it soon to add in some more blog content of my own.

Horizon Report Technology

Activity 3 finished off the off the week and it was about broader perspectives and some further reading. In A3a we read a Higher Education paper on the adoption of technology in HE and the key trends behind them. These are called Horizon Reports. A3b was a return to the Ecar study (we read about this in a previous week) and for A3c we were required to choose an alternative paper, one that talks about the future of technologies or sets out directives on strategy and policy with respect to technology in an area relevant to you. All pretty standard stuff. I spent the last few days of this week mulling over TMA04 and a bit of the EMA.

Week 23: Meaning-making and Metaphors

This week promised to be a bit more interesting than last and so it proved. Grainne Conole, a tech bod from previous weeks, was writing the week’s activities and providing the articles to read and reference. We’ve dealt with metaphors before, in the shape of the Acquisition and Participation metaphors written about by Anna Sfard, earlier in the course. As usual, let’s lay out the key themes and issues:

  • Firstly, there is now a rich body of research looking at students’ use of technologies. This is giving valuable insights into how students are using technologies and their expectations of how technologies can be used to support their learning. However, there is some controversy as to the extent to which students are fundamentally changed by their interaction with technologies.
  • Secondly, as discussed in previous weeks, effective integration of new technologies into the curriculum has implications for how modules are designed and the ways in which students are supported in their learning.
  • Thirdly, researching the learner voice has methodological implications – different methods will bring into focus different aspects of the student experience.

Activity 1 was about terms used in technology-enhanced learning and a trip over to the group Wiki. I’ve neglected the group Wiki a bit of late but luckily some of my peers have been maintaining it. If you’re wondering what they mean by ‘terms’ the one of the questions is: What do terms such as ‘computer-assisted learning’ mean to you? So…what do they mean to you?

Activity 2 was making sense of complexity and I could certainly use some help here as things have taken a turn for the complex in this module. But, it is after all a Masters so what did I expect?

Activity 3 required some introspection. Titled ‘Thinking about your own learning’ in this activity we had to take a few hours thinking about our own learning, the resources and tools we use, where and when it takes place. Activity 4 was about the ‘Network Metaphor’ and networked learning. We tackled this in previous weeks so it was not a completely alien concept.

The idea of networked learning has been developed in the UK since the late 1990s. It has gained some force, especially within European research, where it has been expressed in a number of publications and a series of international conferences…

Activity 5 built on this idea and invited us to read two papers from 2004, by Jones and Ingraham respectively. Ingraham firstly raised concerns about the use of the network metaphor, while Jones responded to these concerns. Finally for this week was Activity 6 entitled ‘Mycorrhizae and wild fires’ which is a metaphor in case you’re a bit perplexed (I certainly was). I won’t go into the minute detail about it as you really don’t need to know. Suffice to say all was revealed in a 2007 journal chapter by Engestrom, so you can Google for it if you really wish.

Next week we move on to contexts and technology practices before going on to the changing roles of practitioners. Find out all about in Entry 13 which will drop in two weeks’ time.

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