Home » Gedi2018-Grad 5114 » Cyberspace is NOT Culture-Free!

Cyberspace is NOT Culture-Free!

Networked learning facilitates the relationship between digital technologies and education and learning1. The central concept in network learning is the connections. Connections include interactions between the user, digital technologies, and resources. However, the question is whether all interactions with technologies constitute networked learning. In other words, despite a growing demand for efficient ways of using networked learning to enhance student learning in higher education, do you think the networked learning initiative reach the point is designed for? My answer is “NO”! I think there are challenges in networked learning concept, developing, and maintaining connections with digital technologies that it still cannot be considered as add-ons to the academic research.

Misusing the digital technologies: This semester I am a TA for a class (~100 undergraduate/graduate students). The instructor does not let the student use computers during the class for any purposes. Students must silent and stow away their cellphones, tablets, and laptops during class meetings. Do you know what the result was? Students engaged more in discussions, took notes, and listened carefully. This makes me think that what are the differences between the classes use the digital technologies and those focus on traditional instructor-student technique in term of level of student learning. I talked to the instructor, and he clarified his intent by explaining that digital technologies disadvantages are more than advantages. He believes that digital technologies make distractions and the students misuse these technologies. I agree with him. To overcome this challenge and increase learning, the central question is how to inspire the student to use digital technologies for learning purpose? And how to teach them to use these technologies in a right way?

Lack of trust in cyberspace: Moreover, in higher education, most of the graduate students and scholars worry that sharing their research in public through cyberspace will allow another scholar to steal their ideas3. Their concerns come from lack of trust in cyberspace and cultural deficiency in using e these technologies.

Miscommunications: All of us suddenly are fallen into the digital technology era without knowing the basics of handling effective public communication. There are several instances of miscommunication in cyberspace information exchange between culturally diverse learners2 which not only not increase learning but also impoverish the learning. After inspiring students to use digital technologies to enhance learning, it is essential that student learn how to solve the misunderstanding, pave miscommunications, and facilitate interactions and learning through networked-learning technologies.

All of the factors I have discussed in this blog reinforce the role of culture in networked learning. On the other hand, it is undeniable that our culture also “absorbed a range of new media platforms and practices.”4. So, to keep up with the relative rapidity of change in digital technologies platforms being used, facilitate developing and sharing knowledge, and underpin practical pedagogical knowledge in a networked learning environment, all of us must learn the culture of using these platforms accurately. But how?

 

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References

  1. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_129-1.pdf
  2. http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/975/896
  3. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/07/28/twitter-and-blogs-academic-public-sphere/
  4. https://books.google.com/books?id=AHfiCgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=culture+and+networked+learning&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEwJGA–fYAhVDY6wKHROAAxAQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=culture%20and%20networked%20learning&f=false

4 Responses so far.

  1. Mary says:

    I have struggled for a long time with technology in the classroom. I have seen how it can be detrimental to student learning, and indeed experienced it myself. (I am having flashbacks to a statistics course that I had zero desire to be in). But, I think as instructors we need to be more realistic about our current culture around technology. We rely on it every single day. Our students, and us even, are immersed in a digital world where anything can be found online. Scrolling through Facebook results in endless amounts of clickbait and a variety of information that ranges from true to completely false. I think it behooves us as teachers to engage our students in discussions around how to navigate the information that is found online. If we do this, I think we can begin to use technology to our advantage and implement it into our pedagogical approach.

    I came across a post on The Chronicle of Higher Education that is related to this topic as well. It is a good read: https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Distracted-Classroom-/240797?cid=rclink

  2. Armin says:

    Good topic! I usually don’t blame communication technology for creating a distraction. Rather, I blame the disengaging boring atmosphere and environment that is already present in the class. My understanding is that engagement itself is an outcome of the interplay of several factors, e.g., course content, teaching method, teacher’s competency, class size, etc. If these factors are strong enough to make the class an interesting one (proper class size, effective teacher, etc.), chances are high that every student is engaged even when he/she possesses a device. Sometimes the most boring content could be delivered with such passion and expertise that grab everyone’s attention. This physics class (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FfKaIgArJ8) is an example. Before we blame technology, we may need to ask questions such as “what percentage of professors deliver their course content with passion and competency?”, “what percentage deliver their course content in the most boring traditional ways?”, ‘How many professors bother themselves to make their classes interesting like that physics professor did?” etc. If the students’ perception is that a professor is simply repeating or reading from a set of slides in the most boring way, they feel they do not need it. Therefore, they become disinterested and disengaged because they do not find a value in listening regardless of having immediate access to a device or not. On the other hand, there are many educational applications (e.g., Kahoot) that are quite engaging especially for freshman students. In short, my opinion is that if the professor sets proper strategies to deal with technology in advance and spends enough energy to make the class interesting, communication devices could work as supplementary tools to make the classroom experience more fruitful.

  3. Amy Hermundstad Nave says:

    Thank you for your post! I think you bring up a lot of really interesting points. The discussion around technology in the classroom has been great. I don’t think there is one solution/approach/method that works all the time and works for everyone. Using technology in the classroom can be a great tool and allow students to explore and engage with a topic. And like you and Mary stated, we as educators need to help students understand how to use that technology. But, on the other hand, there are also situations where an instructor may want students to really think about and engage with a topic on their own without being able to look up what someone else says or what the “correct” answer is. As instructors, we have a lot of options and opportunities when structuring and facilitating learning environments. I think it is important to be intentional when figuring out how to engage the students in that learning environment. That might be a combination of lectures, discussions, group work, peer learning, etc. And some of these activities may use technology while others may not.

  4. A. Nelson says:

    Thanks for this, Sogand! I really appreciate the care and research that went into this. And judging by the quality of the comments you received, your points really resonated with your readers.

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