Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My writing on our Blended Doctoral Program in Educational Technology

Ask me about, "Blended Learning Across Disciplines: Models for Implementation", edited by Andrew Kitchenham, and published by IGI Global.

Chapter 10
I wrote the 10th chapter in this book, entitled "A Case Study of a Blended Doctoral Program in Educational Technology". Here is the abstract:

Educational technology is a hands-on, minds-on discipline that emphasizes knowing and doing. In this field, doctoral education needs to reflect digital and communication realities in the twenty-first century. In this case study, a blended learning approach to graduate education in educational technology is explored from the perspective of the author’s own classroom. The course design and blended delivery of an Advanced Concepts in Educational Technology seminar is described in detail. Active learning opportunities, using wikis, blogs, avatars and virtual worlds, learning managements systems, email, and face-to-face learning experiences engaged doctoral students in the collaborative investigation and critique of educational technology trends and research ideas. Doctoral students investigated their emerging digital lives as scholars and developed a personal cyberinfrastructure that they can continue to build, modify, and extend throughout their educational technology careers.

A Decade of Experience and Research on 1-2-1 in Maine Gives a Passing Grade

Great newspaper article, with research to back it up, on the decade of 1-2-1 laptop use by teachers and middle school students in Maine:
10 years after laptops come to Maine schools, educators say technology levels playing field for students

Key ideas:
- each seventh- and eighth-grader in Maine public schools and every grades 7-12 teacher has a laptop paid for by state taxpayers
- Teachers, students and administrators interviewed for this report said laptops are giving several kinds of return on that money:
-- Laptops make learning and schoolwork more interesting, students and teachers said. “When kids are engaged, you can teach them anything...
-- Writing test scores have improved
-- Math skills have jumped. The number of students who need remedial math in the ninth grade has been cut in half. In 2001-02, Freeport Middle School's eighth grade passing rate on basic math tests was about 50 percent. In 2009-10, it was 91 percent.
-- Laptop critics worry that laptops are a distraction from learning: Students spend too much time on social-networking sites, including Facebook and Skype. 
-- Overall, educators say the laptops have done what King promised: level the playing field of access to technology and help students become technology-literate. 
-- Before laptops, students had to learn where to find the information on the library shelves. Today, finding information online is easy. Students now need to learn how to critique the information. That is a higher level of thinking skill, Robinson said.

Ten years later, King believes the laptop program was the right thing to do.
“I'm as enthusiastic as ever,” King said. “We did the right thing at the right time. It's been tremendously successful.”

There is a great video with students at the end of the article; I encourage you to watch it!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A faculty member's wish list

I became a university professor because I love to teach and I am very curious and passionate about my research on learning and teaching with technology. I look forward to developing as a leader and becoming an associate dean in the future. As a female faculty member, I would like to see more opportunities to develop as a leader - more mentoring, professional learning opportunities, and support for the development of female leadership capacity and competency within my faculty and across campus.  I would also like to see female faculty valued as much as their male counterparts -- female faculty are often balancing the huge demands of being a research and teaching professor, with family and home and senior care responsibilities -- I believe we can be creative and innovative in higher education at better supporting and recognizing the contribution that female faculty make to teaching and research, as well as better investing in them as the next generation of leaders on campus.

I am feeling MORE positive than in my last 10+ years as a professor because of our new president - Dr. Elizabeth Cannon is extremely competent and effective, and she is breathing new life, integrity and good management into our University. I fully support Dr. Cannon and believe she is exactly the right president that the University of Calgary needs.  I am also feeling very positive because of the excellent leadership in my faculty - great changes are afoot and many of these are long overdue. So, I am feeling very positive and hopeful about the direction this university is going, and the role my faculty will play in achieving the vision and goals that have been set for this University, and the role that I can play as a faculty member and as a future leader. 

As a faculty member, I need my faculty and my university to better invest in the infrastructure that supports innovative, technology-enabled LEARNING and TEACHING, and the RESEARCH on same. Our university has fallen behind in our infrastructure -- both human and technological - in support of innovative, excellent and cutting edge teaching and the research on educational technology.  We need to invest heavily in the professional development of our faculty - see the Institutional Learning and Teaching Plan - our faculty need support in becoming better teachers with 21st century competencies. However, this investment will be for nought unless the university invests strategically and intentionally in creating 21st century learning environments across campus.

Monday, March 21, 2011

CEP 952: Jacobsen's Doctoral Pathfinders

Hello to Michigan State University from University of Calgary!!

Patrick Dickson:  I am delighted that you found value in my online website and resources, and that you are recommending your doctoral students in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology [] consider these as they build their own online portfolio and presence as emerging scholars.  

I encourage you to invite students to comment on any one of my blogs [] -- I am not looking for "two thumbs up" - instead, I encourage active debate and questioning of any of these ideas, and I really appreciate getting URLs to other useful sources.  I moderate comments because I got too many spam type comments from businesses and vendors, etc. But, I am fairly quick at getting comments published.

Here is a task that I assign my own doctoral students, and have written about in a book chapter about our doctoral program that will be published this year:  An online doctoral research pathfinder: 

As a doctoral student becomes immersed in a graduate program, s/he builds a professional library of resources and an academic community of colleagues and researchers related to their research interests. Beyond books on a shelf, or articles in a folder, an effective method for keeping track of a growing list of contacts, experts and online sources is to build and populate a personal website related to your doctoral research.  Borrowed from the world of library and information science, a Subject Pathfinder is an online gateway that organizes resources from across the Internet, and quickly guides a user to key information and people that will best provide information related to a specific topic(s). A Doctoral Research Pathfinder is a personal web that brings together a diverse, high quality, comprehensive set of researchers and resources related to a doctoral student’s proposed research topic. The Doctoral Research Pathfinder will serve as an evolving, multimedia knowledge resource based on your doctoral study and individual scholarship (Jacobsen, 2011).

You can link to these on my TEACHING site under Graduate Teaching [].
I welcome your comments, suggestions and observations on the doctoral pathfinder, on creating an online scholarly presence, on my scholarly website. Sincerely, Michele

Group Intelligence, Enhancement and Extended Minds

Interesting post by Phillippe Verdoux, Ethical Technology, in which he asks questions like:
What do we know about the nature of collaborative work?
What is the relation between the capacities of individuals and the capacities of the group?
How might cognitive enhancement technologies amplify the abilities of groups to solve the problems they are confronted with?

As part of his approach to exploring these questions, he cites a 2010 study by Wooley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi and Malone, published in Science, to claim:

1. There is such a thing as collective intelligence.
2. It is not possible to accurately predict how well groups will perform on a range of cognitive tasks simply by averaging the IQs of its members, or by noting a single exceptional individual within the group.

The Key to Smarter Groups
First, the greater the social sensitivity of group members, the smarter the group.
Second, the more turn-taking within the group, the better the group performs.
And third, the more women in the group, the higher the group IQ.

Verdoux ponders a question near the end of the paper, "It would seem to be much easier to raise the intelligence of a group than an individual. Could a group’s collective intelligence be increased by, for example, better electronic collaboration tools?" and goes on to suggest, "Maybe the best way to improve the enterprises of science, government, business, and so on, would thus be to focus on enhancing group intelligence – a goal that may or may not have much to do with enhancing individual intelligence".

Gee on Getting Beyond Mindless Progressivisim

Check out James Paul Gee's recent blogpost:  URL.  Well worth a read.

Gee "advocates what he calls “post-progressive pedagogy” and a particular variety of it I he calls “situated learning”."   Then, Gee provides 12 characteristics of what he describes as well designed learning environments.

Awesome stuff - to see what it LOOKS LIKE, go to the Inquiry and Technology Exemplars found on Galileo Website:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In 2011, Technology is global, ubiquitous, social and inexpensive

Yes, we can put a powerful computer in every child's hands for learning. See this Carpe Diem post about the great deflation in computer prices:

The question is whether the education SYSTEM, namely the ministry, school jurisdictions, schools, leaders, teachers, parents, community stakeholders, business partners, have the appetite to do so.  When considering "costs", the education system has to take a sharp look at the cost of NOT investing in the creation of twenty-first century learning environments for EVERY child in this province. From research we know that the greatest gains in learning with technology are found in schools where the teaching changes to reflect inquiry and knowledge building, the assessment focuses on the improvement of ideas and outcomes, and the technology is in hands of every teacher and student. 

As my colleague, Therese Laferriere, recently argued (EduTech Summit) - connectivity is another issue that school systems have to address.  We need to find solutions for increasing connectivity and bandwidth in schools, and also knocking down the firewalls between teachers, students and the online knowledge base.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hands On Vs. Hands Up: Technology Enabled Knowledge Building in High School

Really looking forward to feedback on and interpretations of this latest Michele Jacobsen & Sharon Friesen 2011 article in CEA's Education Canada:

Web Exclusive - Hands On vs. Hands Up: Technology-Enabled Knowledge Building in High School
In a landscape in which learners can be creators of ideas, it is vital for high schools to become technology-enabled learning environments that are sharply focused on knowledge building, idea improvement, and collaboratively creating community knowledge. Most students use personal connectivity for socializing and play, not for knowledge building, exploring problems, or building on each other’s ideas. They need engaged teachers more than ever to make the leap from digital technology as play to digital technology as a tool for knowledge creation. If we really want our children to face the challenges of the future with confidence and skill, we must teach them not only that they can acquire current knowledge, but also that they can help shape what their society comes to accept as knowledge. Participatory digital technologies and new social media landscapes, combined with engaged teaching and designs for learning, offer new opportunities for knowledge building and interconnected relationships.

Please comment on GirlProf, or on the Education Canada website. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rationale for Hard Work in Graduate Courses in Educational Technology

A while back, I prepared this rationale for the way I designed my graduate courses in educational technology.

Hi. Thank you for the breakdown (of tasks that you provided) -- and thank you for trusting me with your feedback about workload. I do realize and do appreciate that the workload is higher in my graduate course than other graduate courses. However, I have to tell you that I believe that your assessment of my graduate course, "this is the heaviest workload in any of the grad courses I have taken thus far" also says a great deal about the expectations of other instructors, and (perhaps even) their beliefs about what graduate students are capable of accomplishing.

The work that I invite students to do in my graduate courses reflects design, development, production and evaluation work conducted by educational technologists; so I am confident that it is authentic to the discipline and reflects industry standards (to the extent possible in a 13 week semester). Blogs:  Reflection on learning is a metacognitive strategy that is well supported by research on how people learn well in community - so, I am confident that the blogging work is also authentic to graduate level knowledge building.  

I realize that the work is a challenge and I do hope that it is motivating enough, as students have chosen the problems that they work on during the semester, to sustain interest and energy to do the work well. Over the years that I have offered this pair of courses, the feedback has been positive and has indicated "heavy work load, but worth it for learning in the discipline". I do hope that our group this year will also feel that the effort and investment has been worthwhile.

-- Although I may take some heat for some of the frank opinions expressed in this post, I do believe that teachers need to design challenging, authentic and meaningful work for learners that leverage technology appropriately - learners in elementary school, learners in high school, learners in undergraduate and graduate programs.

Seymour Papert describes it as "hard fun" - work that engages learners in powerful ideas.

In Sharon Friesen's and my recent Education Canada article, Hands On vs. Hands Up: Technology-Enabled Knowledge Building in High School, we elaborate on the need for engaged teaching and the design of great tasks.