How can we remain relevant in distance learning in a time of constant and accelerated change?
I can remember being in 7th or 8th grade when the first computers arrived at our school. We were required to take a class that taught us how to put in formulas that would result in a pixel on the screen. We built pictures of dogs, cats and flowers in pots; this was a BIG deal!!! I also remember the fear that came with the availability of computers to be in every home. I heard several sermons at the Baptist church we attended that warned against the dangers of this new technology and how, some day, everyone in the world would be able to connect with one another through it…a true warning of the “end of times” that the book of Revelations in the Bible spoke of.
I never thought I would own a computer or have a cell phone growing up, I couldn’t fathom it. But now my cell phone is a computer and I’ve just purchased the latest and greatest ASUS laptop that has only been for sale for 6 months and is apparently out of date…Sheesh!
I’m blogging and texting and tweeting and emailing and paying bills on line…I can take a picture with my cell phone of a check and have it deposited into my bank account. I would say I was a bit naive before because boy, have things changed.
I think one of the most important things our reading this week addressed was digital literacy. Moore and Kearsley point out that “digital literacy goes beyond basic reading and writing skills to encompass being able to input (I.e., type) information into a computer, phone, or other electronic device, and be able to understand the output of such devices. This includes navigating through screens, operate controls, troubleshoot problems (a big part of technological use), create and process information in multimedia formats, and search for and locate information” (pp. 280). Just being knowledgeable about how to use a computer is a great head start on remaining relevant. I found a Microsoft digital literacy assessment at http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/citizenship/giving/programs/up/digitalliteracy/asmt/instructions.aspx?lang=eng&aid=as26a I took it and received 27/30 questions correctly…90% not too bad in my book! But there is so much that I don’t understand about computers. the searching and finding what I’m really looking for is one of my greatest challenges…I just don’t know where to look for some things such as scholarly journals or articles…maybe I’m too impatient or maybe I just don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
Another important component in staying relevant is actually embracing new technology and not being afraid of it. Just last week I overheard two colleagues talking about another instructor who refused to use Blackboard (UAA’s mode of operates preferred) to communicate with students because they preferred the “old” way of teaching. It boggles my mind that there are still hold-outs when it comes to online integration into the classroom. I’m determined to create a blended classroom…the more I learn about what students technological reality is, the more I realize it just makes good sense to reach out to them in a medium they are engaged in for over 7 hours of their waking day (Lewin, 2010).
Online instructors ultimately need to keep up to date as best as they can, which is hard because technology changes more rapidly than you can blink an eye. But if they train themselves to understand the fundamentals of how it all works and embrace this amazing vehicle to stay relevant to a generation raised on technology, they will maintain relevancy.
Lewin, T. (2010, January 20). If your kids are awake, they’re probably on line. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html?_r=0
Moore, M., and Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Microsoft Corporation. (2006) Digital literacy: certificate test. Retrieved from http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/citizenship/giving/programs/up/digitalliteracy/asmt/instructions.aspx?lang=eng&aid=as26a
Digital Literacy-Using Technology in the Classroom . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5ySocUyI7I