Research-
February 20

Adolescents Involved With Music Do Better In School

ScienceDaily (Feb. 11, 2009) — A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly reveals that music participation, defined as music lessons taken in or out of school and parents attending concerts with their children, has a positive effect on reading and mathematic achievement in early childhood and adolescence. Additionally, socioeconomic status and ethnicity affect music participation.

See also:**Mind & Brain**
**Reference**
Darby E. Southgate, MA, and Vincent Roscigno, Ph.D., of The Ohio State University reviewed two nationally representative data sources to analyze patterns of music involvement and possible effects on math and reading performance for both elementary and high school students.
Music is positively associated with academic achievement, especially during the high school years.
However, not all adolescents participate in music equally, and certain groups are disadvantaged in access to music education. Families with high socioeconomic status participate more in music than do families with lower socioeconomic status. In addition to social class as a predictor of music participation, ethnicity is also a factor. Asians and Whites are more likely to participate in music than are Hispanics. While young Black children attended concerts with their parents, they were less likely to take music lessons.
“This topic becomes an issue of equity at both the family and school levels,” the authors conclude. “This has major policy implications for federal, state, and local agencies, as well as knowledge that can help families allocate resources that are most beneficial to children.”

Journal reference:
  1. Southgate et al. The Impact of Music on Childhood and Adolescent Achievement. Social Science Quarterly, 2009; 90 (1): 4 DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2009.00598.x
Adapted from materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell.
Wiley-Blackwell (2009, February 11). Adolescents Involved With Music Do Better In School. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/02/090210110043.htm


February 13

H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom

Marc Prensky


The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.
—Albert Einstein
In 2001, I published "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants," a two-part article that explained these terms as a way of understanding the deep differences between the young people of today and many of their elders (Prensky 2001a, 2001b). Although many have found the terms useful, as we move further into the 21st century when all will have grown up in the era of digital technology, the distinction between digital natives and digital immigrants will become less relevant. Clearly, as we work to create and improve the future, we need to imagine a new set of distinctions. I suggest we think in terms of digital wisdom.
Digital technology, I believe, can be used to make us not just smarter but truly wiser. Digital wisdom is a twofold concept, referring both to wisdom arising from the use of digital technology to access cognitive power beyond our innate capacity and to wisdom in the prudent use of technology to enhance our capabilities. Because of technology, wisdom seekers in the future will benefit from unprecedented, instant access to ongoing worldwide discussions, all of recorded history, everything ever written, massive libraries of case studies and collected data, and highly realistic simulated experiences equivalent to years or even centuries of actual experience. How and how much they make use of these resources, how they filter through them to find what they need, and how technology aids them will certainly play an important role in determining the wisdom of their decisions and judgments. Technology alone will not replace intuition, good judgment, problem-solving abilities, and a clear moral compass. But in an unimaginably complex future, the digitally unenhanced person, however wise, will not be able to access the tools of wisdom that will be available to even the least wise digitally enhanced human.
Moreover, given that the brain is now generally understood to be highly plastic, continually adapting to the input it receives, it is possible that the brains of those who interact with technology frequently will be restructured by that interaction. The brains of wisdom seekers of the future will be fundamentally different, in organization and in structure, than our brains are today. Future wisdom seekers will be able to achieve today's level of wisdom without the cognitive enhancements offered by increasingly sophisticated digital technology, but that wisdom will not be sufficient, either in quality or in nature, to navigate a complex, technologically advanced world.

Digital Extensions and Enhancements

We are all moving, by fits and starts and each at our own speed, toward digital enhancement. In many ways, we are already there; digital enhancement is or will soon be available for just about everything we do. This includes—and here is the important part—cognition. Digital tools already extend and enhance our cognitive capabilities in a number of ways. Digital technology enhances memory, for example, via data input/output tools and electronic storage. Digital data-gathering and decision-making tools enhance judgment by allowing us to gather more data than we could on our own, helping us perform more complex analyses than we could unaided, and increasing our power to ask "what if?" and pursue all the implications of that question. Digital cognitive enhancement, provided by laptop computers, online databases, three-dimensional virtual simulations, online collaboration tools, PDAs, and a range of other, context-specific tools, is a reality in every profession, even in nontechnical fields such as law and the humanities (Exhibit 1).
We are already becoming dependent on these enhancements. As philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers (1998) argue, "extended cognition is a core cognitive process, not an add-on extra," as "the brain develops in a way that complements the external structures and learns to play its role within a unified, densely coupled system" ("3. Active Externalism," ¶17). As I recently heard a teenager say, expressing this idea more colloquially, "If I lose my cell phone, I lose half my brain." Many would express the same sentiment in regard to a PDA or a laptop computer; we are already embracing a basic level of digital enhancement, and we will accept ever more sophisticated enhancements as technology continues to develop.
These developing technologies, which will connect us more directly to their power by linking to our brains directly, are already here or on the horizon. Two recently released devices, one produced by Smart Brain Technologies and another by Emotive Systems, allow players to control the action in video games using their minds; NeuroSky is working on another version of the technology. The U.S. Air Force is experimenting with using similar technology to train pilots in hands-off flying (Satnews Daily 2008). Other emerging digital tools promise to facilitate communication and enhance understanding; for example, voice-stress analysis tools will allow users to perceive deception and automated translation utilities will help create translations free of human bias. As these tools become widely available, digital enhancement will become even more vital for everyone.

Digital Wisdom

What should we call this emerging digitally enhanced person? Homo sapiens digital, or digital human, perhaps. The key to understanding this development is to recognize that it includes both the digital and the wise. As digital enhancements develop, so too will the concept and practice of wisdom.
Wisdom, as any search will quickly show, is a universal but ill-defined concept. Definitions of wisdom fill entire volumes. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that wisdom's main component is judgment, referring to the "Capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct, soundness of judgment in the choice of means and ends" (OED 1989). Philosopher Robert Nozick (1990) suggests that wisdom lies in knowing what is important; other definitions see wisdom as the ability to solve problems—what Aristotle called "practical wisdom" (Wikipedia 2009). Some definitions—although not all—attribute to wisdom a moral component, locating wisdom in the ability to discern the "right" or "healthy" thing to do. This is, of course, problematic since agreement on moral issues is frequently difficult to come by. So wisdom cannot be conclusively defined without a consideration of context. One interesting definition of wisdom that is particularly useful in this discussion comes from Howard Gardner (2000), who suggests that wisdom may be seen in the breadth of issues considered in arriving at a judgment or decision. Combining these sources, we can define wisdom as the ability to find practical, creative, contextually appropriate, and emotionally satisfying solutions to comlicated human problems (as Solomon famously did with the baby problem). Many see it as a more complex kind of problem solving.
As technology becomes more sophisticated, developing the capacity to help us make moral and ethical choices as well as more pragmatic decisions, what we call "human wisdom" will reach new levels. Some of that evolution will arise from the breadth of resources available to the wisdom seeker. More development will emerge from wider access to more experience, provided by hours of exposure to realistic simulation, similar to that required for today's airline pilots and astronauts. It is also possible that reflective capabilities will themselves be enhanced; we are already seeing some evidence of this possibility in the speed with which video game players review previous games, searching for ways to improve before beginning the next game. Future technological tools will allow people engaged in making judgments and decisions to evaluate their decisions very quickly in light of collective past experience, just as today financial strategies can be backtested on the historical market. And given the enhanced communications possibilities, wisdom will certainly involve a lot more sharing and testing of ideas while they are in formation than is possible today.
Homo sapiens digital, then, differs from today's human in two key aspects: He or she accepts digital enhancement as an integral fact of human existence, and he or she is digitally wise, both in the considered way he or she accesses the power of digital enhancements to complement innate abilities and in the way in which he or she uses enhancements to facilitate wiser decision making. Digital wisdom transcends the generational divide defined by the immigrant/native distinction. Many digital immigrants exhibit digital wisdom. Barack Obama, who grew up in the pre-digital era, showed his digital wisdom in enlisting the power of the Internet to enhance both his fundraising ability and his connection with the American people. Understanding that his judgment is enhanced by his ability to get instant feedback from his closest friends and advisors, he has refused to give up his BlackBerry. Rupert Murdoch, a self-confessed digital immigrant (Murdoch 2005), has also shown digital wisdom in recognizing the need to add digital news-gathering and dissemination tools to his media empire.
The point is that while the need for wise people to discuss, define, compare, and evaluate perspectives is not changing, the means by which they do so and the quality of their efforts are growing more sophisticated because of digital technology. As a result, the unenhanced brain is well on its way to becoming insufficient for truly wise decision making. When we are all enhanced by implanted lie detectors, logic evaluators, and executive function and memory enhancements—all of which will likely arrive in our children's lifetimes—who among us will be considered wise? The advantage will go, almost certainly, to those who intelligently combine their innate capacities with their digital enhancements.

Wisdom Enhancement

So how can digital technology enhance our minds and lead to greater wisdom? One way to answer this question is to consider where our unenhanced wisdom fails us and explore how technology can enhance our capabilities in those arenas.
As unenhanced humans, we are limited in our perceptions and constrained by the processing power and functioning of the human brain. As a result, we tend to go astray in our thinking in ways that limit our wisdom; for example:
  • We make decisions based on only a portion of the available data.
  • We make assumptions, often inaccurate, about the thoughts or intentions of others.
  • We depend on educated guessing and verification (the traditional scientific method) to find new answers.
  • We are limited in our ability to predict the future and construct what-if scenarios.
  • We cannot deal well with complexity beyond a certain point.
  • We cannot see, hear, touch, feel, or smell beyond the range of our senses.
  • We find it difficult to hold multiple perspectives simultaneously.
  • We have difficulty separating emotional responses from rational conclusions.
  • We forget.
Some of these failures arise because we do not have access to necessary data, while others stem from our inability to conduct complex analyses, derive full understanding from the ever-increasing volumes of data available to us, understand others fully, or access alternative perspectives. All of these factors reduce our capacity to judge situations, evaluate outcomes, and make practical decisions wisely. Fortunately, available and emerging digital tools can allow us to overcome these deficiencies and attain true digital wisdom.

Enhancing Our Access to Data

The human mind cannot remember everything; detailed, voluminous data are quickly lost. In some ways, this is good in that it forces us to be selective, but it also limits our analytical capacity. Digital technology can help by providing databases and algorithms that gather and process vast amounts of data far more efficiently and thoroughly than the human brain can. Expert systems are one example of sophisticated digital tools that can help humans access a wider array of data. These systems gather the expertise of hundreds of human experts in one program in order to provide a more thorough assessment of a given situation than even a highly trained and experienced professional might be able to offer. One example of such a system is the Acute Physiology & Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) system, which helps doctors allocate scarce intensive-care resources to those patients most in need (Exhibit 2).
Few would consider it wise to use an expert system such as APACHE as the only decision maker; expert system technology is both imperfect and still in development. But would it be wise for a human to make the decision without at least consulting it? Wise decisions often involve not just ethical considerations but also tradeoffs; in the context of a complex, delicate decision, such as the one to remove a patient from intensive care, those tradeoffs can be difficult to assess. Expert systems and other sophisticated analytical tools allow for a fuller understanding of the risks and benefits inherent in such a decision.

Enhancing our Ability to Conduct Deeper Analyses

In an article provocatively titled "The End of Theory," writer Chris Anderson (2008) describes how the massive amounts of data now being collected and stored by Google and others is allowing a new type of scientific analysis. In many cases, scientists no longer have to make educated guesses, construct hypotheses and models, and test them with data-based experiments and examples. Instead, they can mine the complete set of data for patterns that reveal effects, producing scientific conclusions without further experimentation because they can rely on analysis of a complete, digitally stored data set. In a similar way, Google's advertising tools draw valid and useful conclusions about what works in advertising without actually knowing anything either about what is advertised or about the projected consumers of the advertising. The software draws conclusions based purely on sophisticated analyses of available data; the analyses improve as the amount of data increases (as it does exponentially), and the analysis tools improve as well. This is the same principle, according to Anderson, that allows Google to "translate languages without actually 'knowing' them (given equal corpus data, Google can translate Klingon into Farsi as easily as it can translate French into German)" (2008, ¶5). Here, too, the tools will improve as more data becomes available. Imagine what will happen when the entire universe of everything ever written is available for analysis.
This approach reverses the generally accepted nature of the human/machine coupling. Rather than the mind imagining possibilities that the data confirm or deny, the data announce facts and relationships and the human looks for explanations or—as Google does with advertising—simply uses the relationships to achieve a goal without knowing or caring why they exist. Surely, such ability should lead us to question what wisdom is in such situations and to consider the relationship between mind and machine in producing wisdom in a digital future. Future wisdom will involve as much skill in eliciting relationships as in imagining them.
On the other hand, there are areas where a human mind's ability to imagine relationships will be crucial to attaining digital wisdom. From warfare to architecture to politics, asking "what if?" has always been critical to understanding complex systems, and human wisdom has always included the ability to what-if well. While simulation, practiced for thousands of years in sandbox, mechanical, and thought experiments, is a sophisticated way to explore possible interpretations of data, unenhanced humans are limited in the number of options and end states that they can explore in this way. Pairing human intelligence with digital simulation allows the mind to progress further and faster. A person's ability to create, interpret, and evaluate the models underlying the simulations plays a large role in his or her ability to use them wisely. In the future, more sophisticated simulation algorithms will allow humans to exercise their imaginative capacity in ever-more complex what-if constructions, allowing for more thorough exploration of possibilities and, in turn, wiser decisions. With the introduction of modern simulation games such as Sim City, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and Spore, this kind of digital wisdom enhancement already begins at a very early age.

Enhancing Our Ability to Plan and Prioritize

As the world becomes more complex, planning and prioritization skills far beyond the capability of the unenhanced human brain will be required; digital enhancements will be needed to help us to anticipate second and third-order effects to which the unaided mind may be blind. The full implications of massive undertakings like human space travel, the construction of artificial cities in the Arabian Sea, the building of huge machines such as large hadron colliders, and complex financial dealings such as those that have recently wrought havoc on the economy cannot be fully perceived or assessed by even the wisest unaided minds. Alan Greenspan, for example, is widely considered one of our wisest financial gurus, and yet, his assessment of the fundamental workings of our economy was mistaken: "You know," he admitted in a Congressional hearing in October 2008, "that's precisely the reason I was shocked [by the economic downturn], because I have been going more than 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working considerably well" (Leonhardt 2008). Humans will require digital enhancement in order to achieve a full understanding of these increasingly complex issues and a full sense of the practical wisdom of pursuing them. We currently do not have, in many areas, either the databases of past successes and failures, or the tools to analyze them, that are required to enhance our wisdom and collective memory—but we will going forward.

Enhancing Our Insight into Others

One of the greatest barriers to human understanding and communication is that we cannot see inside another person's mind. This limitation gives rise to unintended misunderstandings and allows people to employ all sorts of deceptive strategies, both consciously and unconsciously. Some of the ways digital technology is helping us overcome this barrier include various means of truth (or lie) detection, multimodal communications, and digital readouts of our own and others' brain waves. Already, researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU), using digital computer analyses of brain patterns captured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, are able to tell what a person is thinking about (Mitchell et al. 2008). It is likely, according to these researchers, that our children will, in their lifetimes, be able to read people's thoughts and even have access to direct brain-to-brain communication. While these developments will clearly raise ethical issues and privacy questions that will have to be addressed, there can be little doubt that as people gain access to and learn to take into account others' unspoken motives, thoughts, needs, and judgments in their own thinking, their wisdom will increase.

Enhancing our Access to Alternate Perspectives

The world is full of things we cannot perceive with our unenhanced senses, things that are too small, too large, too fast, too abstract, too dangerous, or too far away. Exploring these things through digital enhancements will certainly help expand both our understanding of these things and our knowledge of how they can help or hurt us. It will also expand our ability to assume multiple perspectives—to see things from more than one point of view—and, hence, our wisdom. The perception of things outside our normal sensory range can be enhanced digitally in numerous ways, from manipulable three-dimensional simulations to digitally monitored biofeedback controls that enhance mental and sensory states, which may also enhance memory and emotional control. Access to alternative perspectives can also be attained through increasingly sophisticated digital role playing, using simulations in which people can experience difficult and critical situations from various points of view.
There are undoubtedly other ways in which digital technology will enhance our understanding and wisdom. None of these tools will replace the human mind; rather, they will enhance our quest for knowledge and our development of wisdom.

Objections to Digital Enhancement

Not everyone accepts the power of digital enhancement to make us both smarter and wiser. On its July/August 2008 cover, The Atlantic magazine asks "Is Google Making Us Stoopid?" Google serves as a stand-in for the Internet and digital technology more generally; the author's concern is that digital enhancements such as the Internet make our natural minds lazier and less able (Carr 2008a). While that is certainly something we should guard against, we must also bear in mind that new technologies have always raised similar objections; as Carr points out, in Plato's The Phaedrus, Socrates objects to writing on the basis that it undermines the memory.
In fact, what's happening now is very much the opposite: Digital technology is making us smarter. Steven Johnson has documented this in Everything Bad is Good For You (2005), in which he argues that the new technologies associated with contemporary popular culture, from video games to the Internet to television and film, make far more cognitive demands on us than did past forms, thus increasing our capabilities in a wide variety of cognitive tasks. As Johnson puts it, "Today's popular culture may not be showing us the righteous path. But it is making us smarter" (14). Socrates was correct in his fear that writing would diminish our memories but shortsighted in that concern. While we may remember less and memorize less readily than did humans in Socrates's day, the addition of writing has made us considerably wiser by expanding our collective memory and increasing ability to share information across time and distance.
Worries that ubiquitous GPS systems might diminish our map-reading ability or that spell checkers and calculators will result in a generation that cannot spell or do mental math are similarly shortsighted. Every enhancement comes with a trade-off: We gave up huge mental memory banks when we started writing things down; we gave up the ability to tell time by the sun when we began carrying pocket watches. But we gained a set of shared cultural memories and a more precise notion of time that fueled the Industrial Revolution. Digital wisdom arises from the combination of the mind and digital tools; what the unenhanced mind loses by outsourcing mundane tasks will be more than made up for by the wisdom gained. Wisdom, and particularly practical wisdom, must be understood in light of the digital enhancements that make it stronger.

Being Digitally Wise

So what constitutes digital wisdom? What habits do the digitally wise use to advance their capabilities and the capabilities of those around them? Can digital wisdom be taught?
Examples of digital wisdom are all around us. Leaders are digitally wise when they use available techniques to connect with their constituents for polling and to solicit contributions and encourage participation, as Barack Obama did so well in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. Journalists are digitally wise when they take advantage of participative technologies such as blogs and wikis to enlarge their perspectives and those of their audience. Nicolas Carr exhibited digital wisdom in posting his notes and sources for his Atlantic article on his blog in response to reader requests for more information (Carr 2008b). Digital wisdom can be, and must be, learned and taught. As we offer more courses in digital literacy, we should also offer students guidance in developing digital wisdom. Parents and educators are digitally wise when they recognize this imperative and prepare the children in their care for the future—educators by letting students learn by using new technologies, putting themselves in the role of guides, context providers, and quality controllers, and parents by recognizing the extent to which the future will be mediated by technology and encouraging their children to use digital technology wisely .
The digitally wise distinguish between digital wisdom and mere digital cleverness, and they do their best to eradicate digital dumbness when it arises (Exhibit 3). They know that just knowing how to use particular technologies makes one no wiser than just knowing how to read words does. Digital wisdom means not just manipulating technology easily or even creatively; it means making wiser decisions because one is enhanced by technology. Therefore, the digitally wise look for the cases where technology enhances thinking and understanding. No digitally wise leader would make any major decision, no digitally wise scientist would come to any conclusion without digital tools enhancing their own thinking. They may rely on intuition, but that intuition is informed, inspired, and supported by digital enhancements and by the additional data digital tools provide. Those who are truly digitally wise do not resist their digitally enhanced selves but accept them gladly, even as they make careful judgments about what digital enhancements are appropriate and when.
Being digitally wise involves not only enhancing our natural capabilities with existing technologies but also continuously identifying additional areas where our natural human tools—even when they are developed to a very high level—cannot do the job unaided. As new digital tools appear, especially ones that take hold in a strong way, the digitally wise seek them out actively. They investigate and evaluate the positives as well as the negatives of new tools and figure out how to strike the balance that turns tools into wisdom enhancers. The digitally wise also realize that the ability to control digital technology, to bend it to their needs, is a key skill in the digital age. As a result, they are interested in programming, in the broadest sense of the word, that is, in making machines do what people want them to do.

Conclusion

Within the lifetimes of our children, more powerful digital mental enhancements—the embedded chips and brain manipulations of science fiction—will become a reality just as gene manipulation, long considered a far-off dream, is with us now. Just as we have begun to confront the ethical, moral, and scientific challenges presented by genetic medicine, we will have to confront the issue of digital wisdom sooner or later, and we will be better off doing it sooner. Many of these enhancements will bring ethical dilemmas, but the digitally wise will distinguish between true ethical issues (Is the enhancement safe? Is it available equally to all?) and mere preferences and prejudices.
Nobody suggests that people should stop using and improving their unaided minds, but I am opposed to those who claim the unenhanced mind and unaided thinking are somehow superior to the enhanced mind. To claim this is to deny all of human progress, from the advent of writing to the printing press to the Internet. Thinking and wisdom have become, in our age, a symbiosis of the human brain and its digital enhancements.
I do not think technology is wise in itself (although some day it may be) or that human thinking is no longer necessary or important. It is through the interaction of the human mind and digital technology that the digitally wise person is coming to be. I believe it is time for the emerging digitally wise among us, youth and adults alike, to embrace digital enhancement and to encourage others to do so. With our eyes wide open to enhancement's potential harm as well as its benefits, let us bring our colleagues, students, teachers, parents, and peers to the digital wisdom of the twenty-first century.

References

Anderson, C. 2008. The end of theory: The data deluge makes the scientific method obsolete. Wired Magazine 16 (7). http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-07/pb_theory (accessed January 28, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eBIPrc60.
Carr, N. 2008a. Is Google making us stupid? What the internet is doing to our brains. The Atlantic 301 (6): 56-63. http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google (accessed January 28, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eBJxMMM3.
Carr, N. 2008b. "Is Google making us stupid?": Sources and notes. [Weblog entry, August 7.] Rough Type. http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2008/08/is_google_makin.php (accessed January 29, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eFmKmnMx.
Clark, A., and D. J. Chalmers. 1998. The extended mind. Analysis 58:7-19. http://consc.net/papers/extended.html (accessed January 28, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eBEF2Ncm.
Gardner, H. 2000. Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic Books.
Johnson, S. B. 2005. Everything bad is good for you. New York: Riverhead Books.
Leonhardt, D. 2008. Greenspan's mea culpa. [Weblog entry, October 23.] Economix. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/23/greenspans-mea-culpa/ (accessed January 28, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eBJTVMJi.
Mitchell, T., S. V. Shinkareva, A. Carlson, K. Chang, V. L. Malave, R. A. Mason, and M. A. Just. 2008. Predicting human brain activity associated with the meanings of nouns. Science 320 (May): 1191-1195.
Murdoch, R. 2005. Speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 13. http://www.newscorp.com/news/news_247.html (accessed January 26, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5e6jPyqgB.
Nozick, R. 1990. The examined life: Philosophical meditations. New York: Simon & Schuster-Touchstone.
OED. 1989. “Wisdom,” definition 1a. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd. ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Prensky, M. 2001a. Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon 9 (5): 1-6. http://www.scribd.com/doc/9799/Prensky-Digital-Natives-Digital-Immigrants-Part1 (accessed January 28, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eBDYI5Uw.
Prensky, M. 2001b. Digital natives, digital immigrants, part 2: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon 9 (6): 1-6. http://www.twitchspeed.com/site/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part2.htm (accessed January 28, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eBDhJB2N.
Satnews Daily. 2008. Hands off F-16 lands using Lockheed Martin computer control technology. Satnews Daily, December 11. http://www.satnews.com/cgi-bin/story.cgi?number=1057554591 (accessed January 28, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eBFSBrSt.
Wikipedia. 2009. Wisdom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom (accessed January 26, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5e6jXGyZN.

Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Prensky, M. 2009. H. sapiens digital: From digital immigrants and digital natives to digital wisdom. Innovate 5 (3). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=705 (accessed February 8, 2009). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.


February 6 I came across this in innovate online and I thought it was pretty interesting.

Exploring Microsoft Future of Work Scenarios: Implications for Higher Education

Daniel W. Rasmus
On this page:
The scenarios
Scenario 1: The Proud Tower
Scenario 2: Continental Drift
Scenario 3: Frontier Friction
Scenario 4: Freelance Planet
What the scenarios mean for educators
Conclusion
References
Biography
Copyright and citation information

Synopsis

In 2004, Microsoft undertook the task of exploring the future of work using scenario planning. In this article, the follow-up to “Scenario Planning and the Future of Education,” which appeared in the June/July 2008 issue of Innovate, Daniel W. Rasmus describes what education looks like in the four scenarios that emerged from this process. Rasmus suggests that educators and policy makers can use these scenarios and the accompanying narratives to consider how large and small choices work toward or against a particular future.
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In Scenario Planning and the Future of Education, published in the June/July 2008 issue of Innovate, I explored the process Microsoft Corporation used to create scenarios related to the future of work and how the company applied the technique of wind tunneling to explore how education might evolve in the different scenarios for the future of work. As I noted in that article, since at least one of the purposes of education is to prepare students for the world of work, the future of work will necessarily affect the future of education; economic and political forces will shape student and parent expectations and determine the resources available for education (Rasmus 2008).
This article makes no claim to deep external scholarship around scenario planning; that work has been done elsewhere (Exhibit 1). Rather, in this article, I focus on the scenarios themselves, describing education in the context of the four scenarios that emerged from the future of work project and exploring how work and education may be linked in the various futures.

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The scenarios
The scenarios emerging from the process were based on a list of key uncertainties likely to shape the future (Exhibit 2). Two key uncertainties drive the Microsoft Future of Work scenarios: the strength of globalization and the organizing principle of the world as either hierarchical or networked. These represent high-level, external concepts that expand each other. For instance, a retreat from globalization combined with a networked organizing structure creates a devolved economic world where local groups maintain external relationships because they recognize the limits of local resources but are wary in those choices and suspicious until they build trust through personal relationships.
The scenarios that follow explore different ways in which the forces of market expansion and organizational principles may play against each other. Given that education is a critical uncertainty, the role of education and educational institutions is a factor in each future, with more traditional schools in the upper quadrants and more community-based education in the lower quadrants. In Frontier Friction the focus is on community while Freelance Planet’s approach is holistic and global. The education scenarios were created by playing out additional uncertainties around education, identified in further research, against the four scenarios for the future of work.
To gather further insight and create a student perspective on the scenarios, Microsoft hosted 12 students from Eton College (King’s College of Our Lady of Eton beside Windsor) in March of 2007. The students were presented with the Future of Work scenarios and then broke into teams to explore individual scenarios. Each team was given a series of questions about student life to consider (Exhibit 3). The teams were asked to speculate about the lives of students and their perceptions and attitudes within the confines of the given scenario. We used the answers provided by that exercise to create the various vignettes.
The result is a set of narratives that describe how education might evolve in the context of the various futures of work from the perspective of those students who participated in the exercise. The narratives focus on how education looks to students; a similar exercise with educators, administrators, or parents would yield different perspectives and different narrative details within the constraints of the particular scenarios.
The result is a set of narratives that describe how education might evolve in the context of the various futures of work from the perspective of those students who participated in the exercise. The narratives focus on how education looks to students; a similar exercise with educators, administrators, or parents would yield different perspectives and different narrative details within the constraints of the particular scenarios.
The narratives are meant to be illustrative of the types of exploration possible using persona-building techniques; these are not definitive or conclusive analyses. They provide examples of how scenario planning can create a compelling alternative reality against which to challenge our assumptions about the future and can provide impetus for explorations of innovative products, processes, and partnerships that may help shape the futures described by the scenarios. Within the limited space of this article, I can offer only brief extracts of the scenario narratives; these snippets of narrative may evoke more questions than answers. Formulating answers to those questions within a given future’s constraints will provide some understanding of the power that plausible alternative futures can provide for generating creative ideas or testing current assumptions.
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Scenario 1: The Proud Tower
Proud Tower describes a future where merger and acquisition activities have led to large, centralized, vertically integrated corporations that have subsumed many of the functions of governments, including education and the development of local infrastructure (Exhibit 4). In this future, workers make their careers by climbing the corporate ladder, building relationships within their organization, and shaping their personal lives to the culture and priorities of their employers. Most workers are highly educated through strong, corporation-funded K-12 programs and corporate universities. In Proud Tower, what students learn is linked to what companies need; in effect, students are educated to become workers. Growing up with the knowledge that they are likely to be employed by the corporation that funds their education, students tend to take a much more vocational view of education:

Company staff meet with the students every day. A sign of routine. There is always some kind of free thing, either a product or a marketing gift. Bobby is planning on starting in marketing as soon as he graduates. The college is just a company bus ride away. The company encourages students to start early and build their careers while they learn. It seems to make sense. So much of the old college approach that he has read about was just pointless. Taking a bunch of classes to get well-rounded? If you know what you want, then why take Shakespeare or chemistry if you aren’t going to use them? Nothing wrong with reading, but there is a lot of stuff to learn and the important thing, the productive thing, is to learn the right stuff really well.
As Bobby enters the classroom, he quickly sits down and logs in. Several company logos and the school’s logo pop up as the computer starts. His school is a joint venture, but he knows where he is going to work. And the company knows it too. His classes are arranged to prepare him for a career in marketing pharmaceuticals. Prior to graduation, his scholarship and his job will be properly presented to Bobby and his parents. The scholarship investment will take him through a master’s degree at the local university. It will be nearly impossible to refuse the offer and, with Bobby’s ambitions, well outside the realm of probability.
Today’s English lesson focuses on market messaging and the construction of messaging architectures. Bobby reads the assignment, which asks him to write a vision statement for the marketing plan, and starts typing.

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Scenario 2: Continental Drift
Continental Drift envisions a retrenchment from globalization, perhaps caused by catastrophic economic conditions, an epidemic, or geopolitical tensions, creating a world of competitive nation-states or regional blocs. Complicated relationships between various blocs and superpowers restricting access to manufacturing capabilities, raw materials, overseas markets, and immigrant labor (Exhibit 5). Workforce development and education are huge government priorities, especially in the context of labor shortages driven by demographic trends. Education in Continental Drift is controlled by isolationist governments that enforce a nationalistic world view. School is as much an indoctrination as an education, and even if students are not aware of this (younger students may have nothing to compare their education against), all students are attuned to the state’s perspectives:

Another year, another new set of books. Ever since the Great Divide put a halt to globalization, it seems that history has become less historical. If history is written by the winners, where does truth come from when everybody just makes it through? Parts of Asia were starting to open up, but that was a few years ago. Mi uses many tools just like those of her Western competitors: computers, the Internet, cell phones. She is a member of several social networking sites, including Youth for Bangkok, into which she was automatically enrolled. Her use of the Internet and her personal associations are all, she knows, closely monitored, which means many of her thoughts and ideas stay within her mind, the one place no one can look.
School today is about history and language, music and athletics. Everybody is expected to be really good at something. Mi wants to be a writer, but there isn’t much call for romantic poetry these days. Her phone rings to remind her it’s time to start tutoring some of the younger kids on traditional music.

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Scenario 3: Frontier Friction
Frontier Friction emerges following a severe shock to the global economic system, perhaps a data meltdown in the financial sector following a cyber-attack (Exhibit 6). With economic and educational infrastructure in disrepair, the quality of the knowledge workforce continues to degrade, requiring simpler tools and practical skills. In Frontier Friction, the world has become a much smaller place. With resources tight and mere survival still an important consideration, education has become simpler and more community focused and has returned to the basics. As a result, students, aware of the sacrifices made to get them in school, value education in itself:

Rachel’s mother tells her that school is very important. They are lucky to have so many good teachers and access to the kind of material available here. She moved to this part of the country because she heard they still valued education. The community is a good one. They watch out for each other, and the level of violence is pretty light, comparatively speaking. They even have some computers up and running. People are starting to rethink the whole anti-computer thing, which is probably not too bad if you don’t start depending on them for everything again.
In order to get Rachel into the school, Rebecca started volunteering as a playground supervisor and then as a part-time librarian. The school was self-funded and had bartered for much of their material a few years ago after a threat of disease caused another local community to relocate.
Rachel reads Tom Sawyer out loud; she is proud of the sound her voice makes against the makeshift school’s ceiling. An old factory is a good place to be moving forward from, Mr. Hodgkins tells the students. He always tells Rachel that he likes her reading, and he picks her to read aloud often. Rachel writes down the key points of the passage from the whiteboard so she can remember the plot development and characters better. Rachel looks around the old factory and realizes, like Mr. Hodgkins, that a factory is a good place to be moving on from. We are making people learn again and what better place to make things than in a factory. Rachel can’t wait for the next book. She hopes it’s a mystery.
Mr. Hodgkins looks out at his class and finds solace that they are finally starting to care about something other than survival.

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Scenario 4: Freelance Planet
Freelance Planet is a world transformed by bottom-up networks and mass collaboration on a global scale (Exhibit 7). The flexibility and speed of networked systems renders centralized command-and-control hierarchies obsolete at all levels. Workers move from employer to employer, working on a project basis. They manage their own savings and healthcare or join one of the many guilds or associations that attract people seeking a sense of physical community in the ever-more-fluid and impersonal world of business. Students in Freelance Planet direct their own education, reaching out across national boundaries to explore their own interests and develop the relationships that will bring them work after they leave school. As a result, students tend to develop a fluid, personalized vision of education:

Sometimes Maria is late for school because she spends too much time learning. That may seem like an oxymoron, but it isn’t, not anymore. Maria is up at 6:30 every morning and immediately starts scanning for the news of the day. The phone by her bed has been collecting news feeds all night. If there isn’t anything big happening, she makes time for entertainment news. Sometimes not thinking is the best thinking you can do, she thinks.
Maria has no idea what she wants to be when she graduates; that’s why she isn’t limiting her options. So many choices, so little time. Modeling and biochemistry; Shakespeare and an outside class on practical home repair. One never knows these days. Maria’s mom is a trained accountant but makes her money helping people invest money. “Better to make it than count it,” she always says.
Today Maria will be learning biochemistry from a retired professor in England. He is very old-fashioned about England. The kids always laugh when he corrects references to GB or Europe. I live in England, he says. That may be true, but Maria knows that names are malleable as is time and space. It’s easy to associate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. What Maria really wants to know today is about the chloroplasts they put into the mice in Dankook. She wants to know more from her learning colleagues in Korea about the skinny mice that don’t need to eat.

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What the scenarios mean for educators
Reading over these brief sketches reveals the differences between the scenarios and the richness of the internal narrative and logic associated with each one. The level of detail runs from global, geopolitical forces to the individual worker and consumer. Although these scenarios were not focused on education, their application to education was fairly straightforward given the broad reach of the scenarios and the inclusion of education as one of the uncertainties. The characteristics of education find a home in the broader narrative as the relationship between work and education is shaped by larger forces.
While certain trends may be evident, none of these futures is, at this point, any more or less probable than any other. A scan of current publications will yield evidence to support movement toward any of them (Exhibit 8). Every day, our team “listens to the future” by mapping current events against the scenarios, attempting to illuminate patterns that reveal a directional bias in world events. Most of the time, the research reveals, especially early in the scenario process, that uncertainties are developing simultaneously in different directions and at different speeds. As the late evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould, says:

People are storytelling creatures. We like stories that go somewhere, and therefore we like trends—because trends are things that either get better or get worse, so we can either rejoice or lament. The point of my latest book, Full House, is to show that we mistakenly depict many things as trends moving in some direction. We take the “full house” of variation in a system and try to represent it as a single number, when in fact what we should be doing is studying the variation as it expands and contracts. If you look at the history of the variation in all its complexity, then you see there’s no trend. (Gould 1997, ¶10)

Thus, the direction, location, and pace of change all require diligent examination of the world around us so we can sense where change is occurring that is relevant to our business or our field.
Regardless of the directionality or pace of change, educators and education policy makers can influence these developments by making choices and creating policies mindfully with an eye toward what traits of any given future should be fostered and which avoided. The scenarios can help them generate ideas that might not be obvious if the social, economic, and political factors under consideration remained confined to those dominant in our present. Equally, ideas that look good in today’s context may unravel when examined against a differing set of assumptions. The education scenarios were created by wind tunneling education against the future of work narratives; in a similar fashion, policy decisions can be wind tunneled against scenarios with the goal of seeing how they impact current practice or perception. Using the scenarios, we can ask if policy choices or even day-to-day classroom decisions lead to the future that inspires or to the one that causes consternation. Does a particular policy or practice lead to a future of empowered learning or one that reinforces a particular ideology? Such exercises can be conducted by policy boards, at individual institutions, even by single educators. Scenarios can help ensure that outcomes are intentional rather than accidental, and that the future we experience is shaped by the best planning we can accomplish.
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Conclusion
The narratives that accompany the scenarios are meant to spark imagination and invoke a combination of logic and emotion, reason and intuition that can guide people and organizations as they make choices about their futures. These stories can help educational planners and policy makers, school administrators, and classroom educators examine the choices they make and provide a tool for better imagining the impact of those choices on students, institutions, and communities.
At the most practical level, scenarios exist to inform strategy; they should be incorporated into policy-level thinking to drive innovative thinking and to serve as signposts for policy outcomes. When applying scenarios, uncertainties should not be seen as independent variables. The interactions of the variables can create their own uncertainties. Demographics, for instance, often arrive in scenarios as a driving force, something that is known that does not change in the future. That is true here too, but the accounting for populations proves less important in the future of work and in education than does the interaction of generations and the kind of learning environments those interactions create.
Scenarios can be a passive intellectual exercise, but in that pursuit they lose their meaning too soon. They should be seen as living stories meant to challenge and entice, warn and test as the strategy forms and as it takes shape over time. Perhaps the most important application of the scenarios for educators comes from the reinforcing comfort that no predetermined future exists. In each moment, as the future unfolds, one that can transform passion and dedication into action that helps equip learners to lead, to engage, and to grow.
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References
Gould, Stephen Jay. 1997. Commentary: Stephen Jay Gould. Interview by Michael Krasny. Mother Jones (January-February): 60-63. http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/1997/01/outspoken.html (accessed November 7, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5c9zJZjmY.
Rasmus, Daniel W. 2008. Scenario Planning and the Future of Education. Innovate 4 (5). http://www.microsoft.com/education/highered/whitepapers/scenario/ScenarioPlanning.aspx (accessed November 20, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5cV1zHiYw.

January 29
The Loophole GenerationJennifer Summerville and John Fischettimore »









When we speak to colleagues across campus and across the country, almost everyone who teaches online tells the same stories. An increasing number of students spend considerable energy seeking, finding, and negotiating loopholes in online course assignments. While this behavior is not new or shocking, the anonymous, self-driven nature of online classes may exacerbate the tendency (Kennedy et al. 2000). Rather than the exception, this behavior is becoming the rule.
Social trends and changes in national education policy have combined with technology to influence today's students in ways that educators often do not understand. Some observers have called millennials (those born since 1980) the "helicopter generation," referring to the way many parents hover above even their adult children, involving themselves in the day-to-day business of learning and even intervening on their behalf. Where past students were largely on their own when handling academic issues, today it is common for a parent to e-mail administrators and professors for explanations about a child's poor performance in class (White 2005). This sort of intervention often moves the focus away from the student's performance to a negotiation among multiple parties about grades.
National education policy contributes to these trends with the recent emphasis on high-stakes testing in the K-12 public school environment (Goldberg 2005). High school teachers, in particular, complain about feeling pressured to teach to state-mandated tests. Enlarging the role of tests has had a chilling effect on the curriculum, as it has compelled educators to spend more time on test preparation and memorization at the expense of project-based learning, open-ended assignments, and inquiry-based instructional approaches. Most of our current college undergraduates were the best students in their high school classes, doing well at listening, taking notes, and passing multiple choice tests that primarily measure low-level knowledge. Trained to be good test takers, they frequently arrive in the college classroom unprepared to take charge of their own learning and to pursue knowledge as independent thinkers.
In what follows, we address some of the further factors—particularly related to information technology—that pose special challenges to online instructors as they face a new generation of students, and we outline some of the more typical behavior patterns that such instructors are likely to encounter in their work. We then provide some recommendations for how instructors can disrupt these behavior patterns while stressing the vital link between ethically responsible practice in the university and the similar expectations students will encounter in their professional careers.

The Loophole Generation

We coined the phrase Loophole Generation to describe a group of students whose approach to coursework is influenced by the ease of online communication, hovering parents, a limited sense of intellectual curiosity, and a lack of experience in solving problems imaginatively. These students spend their time (and their instructors' time) exploiting gaps in class policies or assignments—sometimes spending more time than would be necessary to complete a particular project in the first place. This behavior emerges from the conditions prevalent in K-12 education and is likely to manifest itself in the post-academic careers of loophole-seeking students as well (Lanier 2006).
While loophole seeking (or loopholing) is not a new phenomenon, the convergence of online technologies, the opportunities to “borrow” another’s work, and the 24/7 reality of Web-based learning create additional breeding ground for this behavior. Many students work on online course assignments very late in the night or very early in the morning, including when they are very tired or subject to various influences or distractions. The online medium also creates a sense of empowerment to demand certain privileges that a student would not ask for (or would ask for in a more professional manner) in face-to-face situations (Zimmerman and Milligan 2007). Because most online assignments can be completed from anywhere there is Internet access, the level of excuses has risen to include almost any reason why a student is unable to complete assignments as designed or in the required timeframe.
The research on online plagiarism and cyberbullying shows an increase in both behaviors. The increase in plagiarism is primarily due to the ease of access to online resources and casualness about cutting and pasting. As the plagiarism education Web site Plagiarism.org points out, “The Internet now makes it easy to find thousands of relevant sources in seconds, and in the space of a few minutes plagiarists can find, copy, and paste together an entire term paper or essay” (2007, ¶2). Gardiner (2001) writes, “I understand that the temptation of exchanging hours of research and writing for a few minutes of searching seems like a good deal as a deadline looms” (174). McCabe and Trevino (1996) reported that 15% of all students they studied had submitted a paper obtained in large part from a term paper mill or Web site, and 52% had copied a few sentences from a Web site without citing the source. Instant messaging, blogs, and online chats often appear to be anonymous, and a participant's sense of what is appropriate in those cyberspace interactions may differ from his or her view of suitable face-to-face encounters (Summerville & Fischetti 2005). As Patchin and Hinduja (2006) observe, "Although 'power' in traditional bullying might be physical (stature) or social (competency or popularity), online power may simply stem from proficiency" (152).

The Personalities

Four types of loophole-seeking strategies seem to be the most common.
The Excuse Maker is a classic type now enhanced by technology. Old howlers typified by "my dog ate my homework" have evolved into more plausible stories in an online environment without face-to-face encounters. Online teachers constantly hear pleas such as "the system was down," "I have a virus on my computer," or "I sent you the wrong attachment." Appeals to a family or personal crisis remain the most popular source of excuses for not completing assignments, and the technology that makes online education possible makes an ironic contribution to this class of loophole-seeking behavior. Students in online classes enjoy a flexible environment with nontraditional schedules, which should allow them to use time efficiently on assignments. This key advantage of online learning also creates greater possibilities for students to become distracted or preoccupied by the troubles of family, friends, or roommates, or by other factors in their lives.
The Bully is particulary problematic because of his or her potential to disrupt the work of other students. The bully can cast a pall over an entire class, often by combining negative comments with personal insults, threats, and harassment. Some bullies use derogatory or flippant language in discussions and postings that they would not use in live settings. Communications technology can enable this behavior, making students feel less pressure to moderate their self-presentation. Hostile interactions could derive in part from students who have anger management or substance abuse problems that are more freely expressed in the unstructured environment of the online class. After all, students can be online at any hour, in any mood, and under the influence of any drug or alcohol product (Summerville and Fischetti 2005).
The Cheater may use a wide variety of techniques used to avoid work. He or she may copy entire assignments from another classmate, submit work posted as examples by the professor as his or her own, contribute little to no work to group projects, have someone else help with an online test, or purchase an entire paper from an online retailer. These students are fully aware of what they are doing. Even with university honor codes and instructor-developed online codes of ethics, this behavior persists.
The Plagiarizer specializes in creating a mosaic of several sources and presenting the results as his or her own. Many such students have plagiarized their way through high school and basic studies courses in college, often without completing any project that consists of something other than borrowed information (Stengold 2004). The ease of access to an abundance of materials on the Web makes this easy to accomplish, and the emphasis on test-taking in K-12 education has influenced many students to seek answers rather than to explore questions. To the amazement of teachers, many of today's college students are not even aware of what constitutes an academic crime or what consequences can result from it. Plagiarism is so common that almost every class in our own department includes at least one persistent plagiarizer, in spite of online postings, class announcements, Web page reference support, and tales we share with students about the most recent person to receive an F and be removed from the program.

Suggestions for Eliminating Loopholing

What can educators do to minimize loopholing in online coursework? One immediate goal should be to make it more difficult to find and exploit loopholes in classes than it is to actually complete coursework. Crafting policies and designing assignments that thwart these strategies will help preserve the academic integrity of online courses and reacquaint students with the virtues of imaginative problem solving. Educators need to design coursework that rewards independent thought and squashes the idea that loopholing is a productive use of time.
First, instructors must outline clear expectations and governing policies in the course syllabus. One effective method for ensuring that students know the rules is to have them sign and return a course agreement at the very beginning of class (Exhibit 1). Such an agreement might include everything from the importance of having a reliable computer system at home or at school (though not at work) to an online code of conduct governing proper online behavior to create a safe online learning environment (Exhibit 2) (Summerville 2005). Functioning like an employee handbook, the agreement governs how the class operates and keeps everyone on the same page, thwarting the behavior of bullies, cheaters, and plagiarizers.
Instructors must also foreground the goal of closing loopholes when designing assignments and crafting assessments. The language used in a syllabus designed for an online class must be unambiguous. Excuse makers, for example, will find vague terms or point system glitches and create openings for appeals, demands, and grievances. Creating varied, novel, and authentic forms of assessment will help motivate students to see assignments differently (Christe 2003). Tying assessments to the career goals of students is one effective strategy. If students must create products that may be useful in a future workplace, they will have more of a stake in the outcome of their studies. Assigning projects that require individual interpretation of content unique to the course will make cheating more difficult. Acquiring answers to a multiple-choice exam or copying an entire essay to satisfy a general question can be easy to do, depending on how the exam is designed. It is inherently more difficult for students to complete a project with real applicability, such as an individual lesson plan or marketing strategy that uses details unique to the course.
Creating assignments that combine independent and group work is another effective way to manage student behavior in an online class. This approach provides opportunities to assess students in two different working situations and lets them practice both self-direction and collaboration. Assessment of group work should include peer-and-self reporting, which prompts students to reflect on the project and gives group members incentive to do their fair share (Exhibit 3). Students will encounter this style of collaboration when they enter the workforce. Connecting academic projects to their career expectations can effectively impress students with the concept of consequences for unacceptable behavior and, in particular, minimize or expose the bully.
This type of assessment is not always feasible, of course. Exams using multiple-choice, matching, or short-answer formats can be appropriate tools of assessment. Using exams in an online class, however, confronts teachers with the difficult challenge of thwarting cheaters. It is often not possible to expect students enrolled in an online class to travel to a proctored site for a test. Teachers must use other methods to secure the integrity of an online exam. A test bank with randomized answers that change each semester can eliminate opportunities for outright cheating. Timing the exam while allowing an open-note environment is another good option. Students feel less pressure to cheat when they are allowed to use notes and are better able to analyze and synthesize information. This approach requires well-constructed, high-order questions so that content is assessed through interpreting, synthesizing, and analyzing rather than through recalling basic facts. It is also crucial to make sure that students understand the difference betwen open note, which may be allowed, and "open neighbor," which is not.
In addition, today's course management systems include a variety of tools that allow instructors to monitor the progress of students. If these tools are to be used, students should be informed that their interactions are recorded (Christe 2003).

Making Connections Between Schoolwork and the Workplace

Teachers can educate students about the connections between ethical behavior in class and in the workplace, and they can strengthen these ties by adopting some common workplace rules in the classroom. A three strikes policy, for example, governs many workplaces. The first offense typically gets an oral warning. A written warning meets a second offense. On a third strike, the employee is generally dismissed. Many workplace offenses are identical to Loophole Generation course behaviors, such as tardiness, sending bullying e-mail, copying the work of others, and not contributing in a group effort. Instructors can emphasize that both ethical practices and negative habits can easily carry over to the workplace.
Teachers should use a similar procedural awareness and acceptance policy in their course delivery. The first acknowledgement is the student's signed agreement of the university's acceptable use policy, published as part of all official catalogues and signed off on by each student at the time an e-mail account is created. The second acknowledgement is student acceptance of the specific course rules or code of conduct. This formal act at the beginning of a class, which could be included in the course agreement, indicates that a student is aware of the university policies and specific course interpretations of those policies. The third acknowledgement specifies the actual violation and the teacher's response.
Teachers should converse with all colleagues about student ethics, since these issues are not unique to online learning. A faculty member who teaches traditional courses may have successful techniques for reducing plagiarism or responding to excuses. Departmental colleagues working in concert on these issues can create a culture that mentors students toward appropriate and informed attitudes about academic honesty.
There is push-back currently underway for policing all interactions and projects and in protecting students' privacy and freedom of speech rights. Web sources such as Turnitin.com are facing legal challenges that will likely lead to further clarification in the courts regarding how online tools can be used to safeguard academic integrity (Foster 2002). This reality increases the need for teachers to develop assignments and assessments that are more cheat proof and to have a clear procedural awareness and acceptance policy.

Conclusion

Students who are apt to exploit loopholes are not generally successful in many of the careers for which they are going to school. We can teach students that doing their own work is rewarding and lead them by example, but students of the Loophole Generation who are so inclined will continue to find our unintended course and program loopholes. Through continued refinement of syllabi and stronger rubrics for assignments, we can better anticipate how the habits and personal motivations that guide the lives of our students might clash with deadlines for quality work. We can close many of the loopholes and help convince students who are tempted to exploit them that maybe, just maybe, finding loopholes in lieu of doing the work simply is not worth the effort.

References

Christe, B. 2003. Designing online courses to discourage dishonesty. Educause Quarterly 26 (4): 54-58. http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0348.pdf (accessed November 27, 2007).
Foster, A. 2002. Plagiarism-detection tool creates legal quandary. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 48 (36): A37. http://chronicle.com/free/v48/i36/36a03701.htm (accessed November 27, 2007).
Gardiner, S. 2001. Cybercheating: A new twist on an old problem. Phi Delta Kappan 83 (2): 172-174.
Goldberg, M. 2005. Losing students to high-stakes testing. Education Digest 70 (7): 10-19.
Kennedy, K., S. Nowak, R. Raghuraman, J. Thomas, and S. E. Davis. 2000. Academic dishonesty and distance learning: Student and faculty views. College Student Journal 34 (2): 309-314.
Lanier, M. 2006. Academic integrity and distance learning. Journal of Criminal Justice Education 17 (2): 244-261.
McCabe, D. L., and L. K. Trevino. 1996. What we know about cheating in college: Longitudinal trends and recent developments. Change 28 (1): 28-33.
Patchin, J. W., and S. Hinduja. 2006. Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 4 (2): 148-169.

Plagiarism.org. 2007. Plagiarism and the Internet. http://www.plagiarism.org/learning_center/plagiarism_the_internet.html (accessed November 27, 2007).
Stengold, A. 2004. Confronting plagiarism: How conventional teaching invites cyber-cheating. Change 36 (3): 16-22.
Summerville, J. 2005. Developing an online code of conduct. AACE Journal 13 (2): 127-136.
Summerville, J., and J. Fischetti. 2005. How to foil cyberbullies. The Chronicle of Higher Education 51 (42): B36.
White, W. S. 2005. Students, parents, colleges: Drawing the lines. The Chronicle of Higher Education 52 (17): B16.
Zimmerman, L., and A. Trekles Milligan. Perspectives on communicating with the Net generation. Innovate 4 (2). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=338&action=article (accessed November 27, 2006).

Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Summerville, J., and J. Fischetti. 2007. The loophole generation. Innovate 4 (2). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=343 (accessed January 25, 2009). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.


January 22

EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
Going to the MALL: Mobile Assisted Language Learning

Paginated PDF Version

**George M. Chinnery**
University of Maryland Baltimore County

Introduction
In August 2004, Duke University provided free iPods to its entire freshman class (Belanger, 2005). The next month, a Korean education firm offered free downloadable college entrance exam lectures to students who purchased an iRiver personal multimedia player (Kim, 2004). That October, a financial trading firm in Chicago was reportedly assessing the hand-eye coordination of traders’ using GameBoys (Logan, 2004). Yet while such innovative applications abound, the use of technology in education and training is far from new, a fact as true in language classrooms as it is in medical schools.
Practically since their availability, a succession of audiovisual recording devices (e.g., reel-to-reel, VCRs, PCs) has been used to capture language samples, and myriad playback and broadcast devices (e.g., phonographs, radios, televisions) have provided access to authentic speech samples. The espousal of audiolingual theory in the 1950s brought the widespread use of the language laboratory in educational settings (Salaberry, 2001). Influenced by behaviorism, the lab was progressively replaced in the 1960s by drill-based computer-assisted instruction, which decades later was itself surpassed by a more intelligent, interactive and multimedia computer-assisted language learning. The popular acceptance of the Internet in the 1990s advanced the development of computer-mediated communications.

As technologies continue to evolve, so does their propensity to shrink in size. "Other technologies that hold the capacity for language learning include PDAs, multimedia cellular phones, MP3 players, DVD players, and digital dictionaries" (Zhao, 2005, p. 447). Such portable media—referred to in popular and scholarly literature as mobile, wireless, handheld or nomadic—are now social staples. Mobile learning, or m-learning, is a burgeoning subdivision of the e-learning movement, further evidenced by European initiatives such as m-learning and Mobilearn. In this paper, applied fusions of m-learning and language learning follow, after which their benefits and challenges are reviewed.
MALL Applications
As in other technology-enhanced language learning milieu, mobile learning environments might be face-to-face, distance, or online; further, they may be self-paced or calendar-based. Copaert (2004) emphasizes the importance of developing the language learning environment before deciding on the role of mobile technologies and further emphasizes focusing on the learner ahead of the technology. Salaberry (2001) also argues against "technology-driven pedagogy," suggesting that despite their revolutionary status, it is not clear that any modern technology (e.g., television, radio, the PC) has offered the same pedagogical benefits as traditional second language instruction. Beatty (2003) offers a further caveat that "teachers need to be concerned about investing time and money in unproven technology" (p. 72).
Stipulations aside, technologies, mobile or otherwise, can be instrumental in language instruction. Ultimately, though, they are not in and of themselves instructors; rather, they are instructional tools. And the effective use of any tool in language learning requires the thoughtful application of second language pedagogy. Imaginative examples of such applications—using cell phones, personal digital assistants, and portable digital audio players—are illustrated next.
Cell Phones
Since their inception, the dimensions of cell phones have waned as much as their abilities have waxed. Common features of these devices now include Internet access, voice-messaging, SMS text-messaging, cameras, and even video-recording. In language learning, all of these features enable communicative language practice, access to authentic content, and task completion. Though research of such uses is scarce, it is not non-existent.
The use of telephones in distance language learning is not unique to m-learning. Twarog and Pereszlenyi-Pinter (1988) used telephones to provide distant language learners with feedback and assistance. In 1996, instructors at Brigham Young University-Hawaii taught a distance-learning English course from Hawaii to Tonga via telephone and computer (Green, Collier, & Evans, 2001). And Dickey (2001) utilized teleconferencing to teach an English conversation course in South Korea.
One of the first projects using mobile phones in language learning was developed by the Stanford Learning Lab. (Brown, 2001). Specifically, they developed Spanish study programs utilizing both voice and email with mobile phones. These programs included vocabulary practice, quizzes, word and phrase translations, and access to live talking tutors. Their results indicated that mobile phones were effective for quiz delivery if delivered in small chunks; they also indicated that automated voice vocabulary lessons and quizzes had great potential. Their tiny screen sizes were deemed "unsuitable for learning new content but effective for review and practice" (Thornton & Houser, 2002, p. 236). Live tutoring was also effective, but poor audio quality was judged to potentially affect comprehension adversely
Thornton and Houser (2002; 2003; 2005) also developed several innovative projects using mobile phones to teach English at a Japanese university. One focused on providing vocabulary instruction by SMS. Three times a day, they emailed short mini-lessons to students, sent in discrete chunks so as to be easily readable on the tiny screens. Lessons defined five words per week, recycled previous vocabulary, and used the words in various contexts, including episodic stories. Students were tested biweekly and compared to groups that received identical lessons via the Web and on paper. The authors then explored usability and learning issues. The results indicated that the SMS students learned over twice the number of vocabulary words as the Web students, and that SMS students improved their scores by nearly twice as much as students who had received their lessons on paper. Students’ attitudes were also measured. The vast majority preferred the SMS instruction, wished to continue such lessons, and believed it to be a valuable teaching method. The authors theorized that their lessons had been effective due to their having been delivered as push media, which promote frequent rehearsal and spaced study, and utilized recycled vocabulary.
Levy and Kennedy (2005) created a similar program for Italian learners in Australia, sending vocabulary words and idioms, definitions, and example sentences via SMS in a spaced and scheduled pattern of delivery, and requesting feedback in the form of quizzes and follow up questions.
Another program by Thornton and Houser (2003) utilized a classroom polling system, EduCALL (inspired by EduClick), to survey students during class in order to determine vocabulary retention. Poll questions were projected, students used their cell phones to surf to the polling software and make their selections, and the tabulations were projected as bar graphs. In this way, students and teachers alike received immediate feedback.

Kiernan and Aizawa (2004) set out to study whether or not mobile phones were useful language learning tools and to explore their use in task-based learning. They argued that second language acquisition is best promoted through the utilization of tasks, which require learners to close some sort of gap, thereby focusing the learner on meaning. In the traditional classroom, however, such activities are easily defeated by the close proximity of students. The use of mobile technologies would be one way to separate learners. In their study, upper and lower level Japanese university students were placed into three groups: PC email users, mobile phone email users, and mobile phone speaking users (due to cost, this latter group became face-to-face speaking users). Then they were given a pre-test, three narrative tasks, three invitation tasks, and a repeated post-test. While all the face-to-face speaking users completed these tasks in the time provided, only two pairs of PC email users and one pair of mobile phone email users completed the tasks. The face-to-face speaking users had significantly faster performances, and the mobile phone email users had the slowest; however, the latter were not significantly slower than the PC email users. These differences were attributed to relative speed of typing versus speaking, and the relative speed of typing on mobile thumb pads versus keyboards. An interesting side-note was that the fastest mobile phone email user had told the entire story in only a single text-message. In general, fewer words were used by mobile phone email users, yet they were able to communicate effectively. While the upper-level students' performance improved significantly on the post-test, this was likely due to a change in the post-test format for this group (since the pre-test required written translations, but the post–test consisted of multiple choice questions).
Several other free and commercial mobile language learning programs have recently become available: the BBC World Service’s Learning English section offers English lessons via SMS in Francophone West Africa and China (Godwin-Jones, 2005); BBC Wales has similarly offered Welsh lessons since 2003 (Andrews, 2003); and an EU-funded initiative known simply as 'm-learning' provides English lessons directed towards non-English speaking young adults. The goal of such programs is to engage new kinds of learners (e.g., young, disabled) in a time and place of their preference (Godwin-Jones, 2005; Kadyte, 2004; Kukulska-Hulme, 2005). Norbrook and Scott (2003) suggest that portability and immediacy, rather than localization, are the essential motivating factors in mobile language learning. Further, lessons are provided in bite-sized format, a fact appealing to busy students (McNicol, 2004). Lessons are typically delivered several times a week or even daily, include translations, and provide options for further context-based applications.
One of the newest technologies with potential application in language learning is moblogging, an amalgam of mobile and weblogging. Mielo (2005) further defines moblogging as using a cell phone or PDA "in the field" to post words and/or pictures to a web site (p. 29). Blogs themselves are a recent trend in language teaching. They provide opportunities for language creation (i.e., journaling) and collaborative activities. Moblogs offer the potential to expound these benefits by removing time and place boundaries and adding authentic and personal visual content.
While the applications of cell phones have typically been pedagogic in nature, they have also been used for practical or administrative matters, such as simplified and flexible student-teacher communications (e.g., course updates and reminders) and referrals to related web sites and other up-to-date instructional resources (Dias, 2002, Summer/Fall; Levy & Kennedy, 2005).
PDAs
Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are more often associated with m-learning than cell phones. Their use has been integrated into various disciplines within high schools, universities, and medical schools (Carlson, 2002). In language learning, one of its primary functions has been as translator. Software programs such as MobiLearn allege to turn PDAs into 'talking phrase books.'
In evaluating the gains of Chinese learners of English using handheld translators, Myers (2000) made numerous observations: the learners repeatedly practiced saying unfamiliar words typed into the machine; they took written notes about new words and phrases learned from the machine; they typed full words into the machine and quickly learned to recognize word stems; they were shown words in context according to the lexical approach; they soon preferred to look up words and phrases from the English side of the translator rather than the Chinese side, indicating an attempt to function in the foreign language; and they quickly improved their spelling. Despite these benefits, the author promotes the use of a contextual translator only in cases where the target language is similar to the native language.
More elaborate language learning software programs have also been developed for PDAs and the like. Garcia Cabrere (2002) evaluated a business Spanish course developed for smart-phones, encompassing video clips, exercises, and a glossary. Students were reported to be highly motivated and impressed—particularly by the video and multimedia functions—but expressed difficulty in using pointers and virtual keyboards for data entry.
Thornton and Houser (2003) developed an English idiom web site, including definitions, illustrative videos and animations, and multiple-choice quizzes, specifically for mobile technologies. In their study, students accessed these web pages using either PDAs or mobile web and video phones, and then evaluated their usability. Scores were generally positive—and similar—for both media, but PDA users rated their video quality higher than the mobile phone users, likely due to larger screen size and higher resolution. All students expressed difficulty with the listening tasks, though the authors note that neither headphones nor earphones were used in the study, and that none of the actors or writers were native English speakers.
Several foreign language courses at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have also used wireless handheld computers for various classroom activities (Samuels, 2003). An instructor of Norwegian developed web-based grammar and vocabulary exercises to be accessed with the handhelds, allowing her to integrate technology activities into the class without having to move to the program’s language lab. Minor problems were reported, including trouble resizing pictures to fit in the small screen and sporadic difficulties with network connections. A French class used the handheld devices for various small group and whole class online chatting. A Latin class used them to access ancient poems, both in text and audio. Difficulties included slow processing time and font limitations.
PDAs offer numerous other uses, including Internet and wireless access, and therefore file-sharing between teachers and students and amongst students themselves. Data is also easily backed up on personal computers. Further, at present, a standard feature of these devices is handwriting recognition. Despite such functionality, Beatty (2003) believes that the future success of PDAs depends in part on their ability to accommodate voice recognition.
iPods
Digital audio files (e.g., MP3s) provide high-quality sound in a compressed format. The portable media players developed to listen to them are also rather compact. Most renowned amongst them is Apple’s iPod, the latest version of which not only provides audio functionality but also video. Arguably as popular as the iPod itself are its add-ons (e.g., microphones, speakers) and downloadable software, including language learning programs. iLingo, for example, is a downloadable language translation software, or an electronic phrase book.
Several other applications of the iPod in language learning have been explored. In the fall of 2004, Duke University provided all incoming freshmen with free 20 gigabyte iPods equipped with voice recorders. Amongst the pilot courses utilizing the players were several language courses, which utilized both their listening and recording capabilities. Students in a Spanish class used iPods to respond to verbal quizzes, submit audio assignments, record audio journals, and receive oral feedback from their instructor. A Turkish class used them to listen to authentic materials such as news, songs, and poems, and to the instructor’s vocabulary and translations (Belanger, 2005).
Apple Computer itself has taken to promoting the iPod’s educational uses. Available on iPod in the Classroom are lesson plans for the language classroom, as well as success stories. A middle school in Nebraska, for example, is reported to have been using iPods to record speech samples for self and teacher assessment of English language learners.
Students taking distance-learning German and Spanish courses through the United Kingdom’s Open University are similarly using digital voice recorders and mini-camcorders to record interviews with other students and locals and to create audiovisual tours (Kukulska-Hulme, 2005). While the goal has been to ultimately upload their works to web sites for sharing with other students, web space limitations have made this difficult. An additional problem has been that students were provided with these devices at the start of the course, leaving inadequate time to learn to properly use them.
The iPod has also spawned a new form of media known as podcasting, a portmanteau which combines iPod and broadcasting. While the aforementioned blogs are traditionally text-based, audio blogs or podcasts, are essentially downloadable broadcasts with RSS (really simple syndication) feeds which allow listeners to subscribe. Subscribers to such podcasts automatically receive updates. Once downloaded, audio content can be transferred to a media player. Still in its nascency, podcasting is already widely utilized in language learning, both to access authentic content and to record it. Myriad subscriptions are available to English and other language learners. Lessons in Shona—Zimbabwe’s main language—for example, are available for download (Winter, 2005). Englishcaster provides a list of podcasts specifically created for English language learners. Voice of America’ Special English programs have also been made available via podcast. And EFL instructor Graham Stanley (2005) has created a podcast itself on the use of podcasts for EFL teachers.

Benefits and Challenges
Mobile technologies clearly offer numerous practical uses in language learning. In many cases, they are readily available. In Japan, for instance, cell phone ownership has been reported to be nearly universal amongst college-aged individuals (Dias, 2002, Spring; Thornton and Houser, 2005). In a recent study of students in higher education in the United States (Kvavik, 2005), 82% owned cell phones. In the same study, however, less than 12% owned PDAs. Even in cases where they must be acquired, mobile technologies are typically less expensive than standard equipment, such as PCs. The portability of mobile media is another benefit. They can be just as easily utilized outside of the classroom as they can in it; learners can study or practice manageable chunks of information in any place on their own time, thereby taking advantage of their convenience. Ultimately, what these benefits indicate is the potential MALL has in expanding social inclusion in language learning.
Notwithstanding its benefits, MALL also poses related challenges. For instance, inherent in the portability of mobile media are reduced screen sizes, limited audiovisual quality, virtual keyboarding and one-finger data entry, and limited power. Further, their availability can be limited. While cell phone ownership may be almost universal for college-aged individuals, this is not true for other populations or media. The costs to educational institutions of purchasing them en masse could be staggering. Nevertheless, Gilgen (2004) has demonstrated the possibilities of developing mobile labs for schools with limited funding. Other potential drawbacks include limited nonverbal communications, limited message lengths, a lack of cultural context, and potentially limited social interaction. While mobile technologies are advancing, their output is quickly moving from verbal to visual, a clear disadvantage for language learning (Colpaert, 2004). Connection problems are also a concern: web-based language learners might choose to limit their online connection times, or they may not have access at all. Still, as a result of this issue, Trifanova, Knapp, Ronchetti, and Gamper (2004) are developing a program which allows learners of web-based German and Italian courses to hoard online content—a process similar to planned caching—so that it can be used during periods of disconnection.
Conclusion
Yamaguchi (2005) recapitulates: "A computer is better than a mobile phone for handling various types of information such as visual, sound, and textual information, but mobile phone is superior to a computer in portability. And some students don’t have their own computer" (p. 57). So, while m-learning in general and MALL in particular have clear challenges and limitations, the paucity of applications and formal research will indubitably proliferate. Colpaert (2004) observes that in the history of CALL, periods of professional development have been followed by periods of amateur development—coincident with periods of hype—by teachers and researchers, and further portends that "if this prevails, the mobile hype will burst out as soon as tools become available allowing teachers and researchers to develop their own mobile applications and tools" (p. 262). Still, humankind is not likely in the immediate future to reach the state of Salmon’s (2003) Planet Nomadic, where "terrestrial universities and corporate training facilities have disappeared" (p. 141) and wearable devices "help to pace the learners…through their courses" (p. 142). But it does seem quickly headed for a world where m-learning is a fashionable channel for language study.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George M. Chinnery is an English instructor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the Carlos Rosario International School in Washington, DC. He has been teaching since 1998, when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania. He possesses an MA in TESOL and is currently pursuing a PhD in Language, Literacy and Culture at UMBC.
Email: [[maito:george@chinnery.us|george@chinnery.us]]

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From http://llt.msu.edu/vol10num1/emerging/default.html


January 8
November 2005 | Volume 63 | Number 3
Assessment to Promote Learning Pages 44-47
Documenting Learning with Digital Portfolios
David Niguidula
Portfolios must be part of a purposeful assessment program with clear learning goals.
Olivia, a sophomore at Ponaganset High School in North Scituate,
Rhode Island, sat down last June with two of her teachers in front
of her digital portfolio—a multimedia, Web-based collection of her best schoolwork. A menu listing
the school's nine graduation expectations, including Effective Expression, Research Skills, and
Critical and Creative Thinking, appeared on her portfolio's home page. The school's faculty had
worked for a year developing these expectations and aligning them with the state's standards.
Clicking on the link to Effective Expression, Olivia and her teachers reviewed the list of learning
outcomes associated with this expectation, including the ability to express ideas for various
purposes and audiences and the ability to use communication skills in each subject area. The
screen also contained links to about 20 entries, each showing a sample of Olivia's work that
reflected this graduation expectation. During the last two years, Olivia had entered diverse work
samples into her portfolio, including a sonnet, a solution to an open-ended algebra problem, and
an audio file of her flute performance at the school's winter concert.
For each entry, Olivia had written a summary of how her work met one or more of the school's
graduation expectations. Her teachers had assessed each entry using an online rubric and given
her feedback, so that Olivia could review her work and the comments from her teachers at any
time.
This end-of-year review was a chance to look at the portfolio as a whole. By this time, Olivia's
portfolio contained two to four artifacts for every course. The review focused on a few artifacts
that she had selected, each linked to one of three reflective prompts: Where have you done your
best work? Where have you grown as a learner? What is your academic plan for next year?
Because Olivia's teachers had been able to look at and comment on her selected work online
before meeting with her in person, they used this meeting to discuss with her what she had done
well and what she needed to accomplish during her next two years to meet Ponaganset's
graduation expectations.
Making Digital Portfolios Meaningful
Olivia's portfolio review is a snapshot of one moment in a well-coordinated digital portfolio
assessment program. Digital portfolios are multimedia collections of student work stored and
reviewed in digital format. Beginning in 1993, I led a team from the Annenberg Institute for
School Reform and the Coalition of Essential Schools, which researched digital portfolios as an
assessment tool and identified a set of essential questions that schools need to address:
l Vision: What skills and content should students master and demonstrate in their portfolios?
l Purpose: Why do we collect student work?
l Audience: Who are the audiences for portfolios?
l Assessment: How do the entries in portfolios reflect the school's assessment vision, and
how can we assess the quality of those entries?
l Technology: What hardware, software, networking, and technical support will our school
need to implement a digital portfolio assessment system?
l Logistics: How will students enter their work into digital portfolios?
l Culture: Is discussing student work already part of our school culture?
Although the technology of digital portfolios has changed significantly since the initial research,
these questions still provide a guide for designing a digital portfolio program. As the leader of a
team at Ideas Consulting, when I advise schools on using digital portfolios to enrich assessment
of student work, I find that technology is the least important consideration. The essential element
is integrating digital portfolios into a larger assessment system with clear learning goals. To do
so, schools need to identify the purpose of their portfolios, the kinds of work students should
enter into portfolios, and strategies for assessing portfolios.
What Is the Portfolio's Purpose?
The purpose of the portfolio drives the content. Digital portfolios can serve many purposes:
showcasing students' best products; proving that students have mastered expectations required
for graduation; and communicating with parents and other audiences about what students are
learning. Ponaganset High School is at the forefront of implementing Rhode Island's “graduation
by proficiency” initiative, under which students use their portfolios to show that they are meeting
state standards. Starting with the class of 2008, all Ponaganset students will need to demonstrate
their mastery of standards through a set of rigorous performance assessments—such as portfolios
and senior projects—before they can graduate. The idea is for students to demonstrate that they
can meet standards while also showing who they are as individual learners.
Teachers in the elementary schools of Barrington and Bristol-Warren, Rhode Island, use portfolios
to communicate better with parents. At a parent conference, the teacher calls up the student's
portfolio, which displays samples of the student's work in reading, writing, and math from
kindergarten through 5th grade. Because the goal is to show growth over time, the portfolio
contains only two or three samples in each subject area for each year.
For the reading component of the portfolios, for example, twice a year teachers videotape each
student reading a brief passage and answering comprehension questions posed by another
teacher. A 1st grade teacher can use the portfolio to show parents how their child has progressed
from struggling with a level 5 text in October to confidently reading a level 11 text in April.
Teachers report that the video component enables them to powerfully convey a student's reading
skills; just 60 seconds of video footage can provide the starting point for a rich discussion of the
student's progress over time.
What Kinds of Work Should Portfolios Include?
Once a school determines the primary purpose of its portfolios, it can then decide what kinds of
artifacts students should include. If the portfolio is meant to document how students are meeting
graduation standards, then teachers need to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate
their mastery of standards through work that can be digitally displayed. If the school wants to
show each student's growth over time, students must arrange portfolio samples in a sequence
that shows such progress.
For example, Mr. Sangiuliano, a 4th grade mathematics teacher in Barrington, Rhode Island,
wanted to show student progress in an area his students found difficult: solving open-ended word
problems. He taught students a strategy for dealing with word problems: Students restated the
problem in their own words and wrote an “I need to. . .” statement pinpointing the objective (I
need to figure out how many fish were caught), followed by a strategy for approaching the
problem (I can make a table showing how many fish each person caught ).
To document students' progress at various points during the year, Mr. Sangiuliano recorded each
student on video explaining how he or she applied the strategy to a word problem. Videos shot at
the beginning of the year showed students needing prompting, with the teacher asking, “What
was your ‘I need to. . .’ statement?” and helping students realize that there may be more than
one workable strategy. Videos from later in the year showed that these 4th graders had
internalized the method.
Assembling these video clips into student portfolios enhanced assessment in a few ways. As they
watched their child successfully use the same approach to solve problems involving different
mathematical operations, parents better understood the strategy used in class. Second, because
Mr. Sangiuliano can easily pass these digital clips on to the 5th grade math teacher, work on a
common problem-solving strategy can continue beyond his class. Finally, watching themselves on
video helped students review and reflect on their own growth.
At the secondary level, portfolio-worthy assignments must be clearly linked to the portfolio's
purpose. If the portfolio is a vehicle for demonstrating student progress toward specific
standards, then teachers must give plenty of assignments that tap into the skills and knowledge
represented by each standard. Teachers should plan together how to align their assignments with
the school's overall expectations.
For example, several middle schools and high schools in Rhode Island assign a geometry
scavenger hunt. Teachers give students a list of geometric shapes and concepts—such as parallel
lines with transversals, similar triangles, or complementary adjacent angles—and direct them to
photograph buildings or objects around town that reflect these concepts. When introducing this
assignment, teachers explain that the project meets the school's expectations of understanding
geometric concepts and being able to communicate mathematically. The assignment could also
demonstrate successful time management, skill in using technology to convey an idea, and
aesthetic talent in photography.
How Should Schools Assess Portfolios?
Successful schools assess each student's digital portfolio by evaluating both individual entries and
the portfolio as a whole. The entire faculty needs to develop common strategies so that students
receive consistent feedback.
Develop schoolwide rubrics. As Ponaganset High School developed its learner outcomes, faculty
members found that they needed to agree on how to communicate about those expectations. For
example, teachers agreed that a graduate should be able to write a good lab report; but what
made a lab report “good”? The school's science department created a rubric defining a good lab
report as one that includes a clear statement of purpose and hypothesis; data in an easy-to-read
format, appropriate to the kind of information collected; and a conclusion that is clear and concise
and answers the intent of the purpose. Whether a student takes biology, physics, or chemistry,
he or she has guidelines for creating a lab report that meets the school's standard. Ponaganset's
teachers created similar rubrics for each of the learner outcomes. Outcomes such as
demonstrating “initiative, responsibility, self-discipline, and perseverance” cut across all subject
areas.
Include students' self-reflections. Students' reflections on their own work are a crucial part of
assessment. Students should include such a reflection for each entry in their digital portfolios and
for the portfolio as a whole. Reflections can be inspired by a prompt, such as “How does this
entry fulfill the school's expectations?” or “What skills did you use in this project?”
The youngest students can reflect on their performances without writing. During a videotaped
reading session, for example, the teacher might ask a student what words he or she found hard,
or what strategies were helpful in figuring out new words.
When a student has to defend why an entry in his or her portfolio fulfills a particular learning
expectation, the student will more thoroughly understand that expectation. When students make
a conceptual link between their work and school standards, those standards become more than
an abstract document to hang on the wall. As students look through the portfolio and read over
their reflections, they recognize how their skills have grown over time and begin to see where
they can go next.
Generate reports. Teachers and students should regularly create reports summarizing the
contents and implications of students' portfolios. Digital portfolios offer teachers and students the
advantage of creating reports in any number of ways. For example, a Ponaganset High School
junior clicks on the link for each graduation expectation in his portfolio and instantly reviews how
many entries he has for each expectation, and which expectations he still needs to provide
evidence for. An advisor then helps this student plan how to fill in the gaps.
Reports of the class as a whole tell teachers a great deal. When a teacher can click on a button
and see how all her students did on a particular rubric, she can determine how to adjust
instruction. For example, an elementary teacher might use a report generated by compiling
digital portfolio data to examine a class's performance on a writing rubric. She might see that
certain students earn consistently low scores on word choice, a finding that would allow her to
focus attention on these students.
In the end, the success of a digital portfolio relies on the clarity of a school's learning goals.
Although the technology makes it convenient to organize student work and send that work to
broader audiences, the effectiveness of the portfolio relies on a far more traditional practice: the
ability of students, parents, and teachers to create a common vision.
Author's note: For samples of digital portfolios, visit www.richerpicture.com and www.efoliominnesota.com (click on
Gallery).
David Niguidula is Founder of Ideas Consulting, 15 Houghton St., Barrington, RI 02806; 401-785-0401;
david@ideasconsulting.com.
Copyright © 2005 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
from: http://www.curriculumdesigners.com/institutes/Static/Resources/Presenters/87/Materials/digi_port_essential_questions_article.pdf

December 21
Worth the read if you are interested in high school reform.
Full-Text Availability Options:
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ERIC #:
ED491634
Title:
Meeting Five Critical Challenges of High School Reform. Lessons from Research on Three Reform Models
Authors:
Quint, Janet
Descriptors:
High Schools; Talent Development; School Restructuring; Low Achievement; Educational Change; Career Academies; Instructional Improvement; Educational Strategies; African Americans; Hispanic Americans; Minority Groups; Intervention; School Districts
Source:
MDRC
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N/A
Publisher:
MDRC, 16 East 34th Street, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10016-4326. Tel: 212-532-3200; Fax: 212-684-0832; e-mail: publications@mdrc.org.
Publication Date:
2006-05-00
Pages:
88
Pub Types:
Information Analyses; Reports - Descriptive
Abstract:
High school reform has moved to the top of the education policy agenda, commanding the attention of the federal government, governors, urban school superintendents, philanthropists, and the general public. All are alarmed by stubbornly high dropout rates, by the low academic achievement of many high school students, and by the large numbers of high school graduates who are required to take remedial classes in college. These trends disproportionately affect urban and certain rural areas and minority groups: The most troubled high schools are concentrated in about 50 large cities and 15 primarily southern and southwestern states, and the majority of their students tend to be African-American or Hispanic. This is the first in a series of reports for policymakers, practitioners, and others who must make hard choices about how to change high schools. It discusses three comprehensive initiatives evaluated by MDRC -- Career Academies, First Things First, and Talent Development -- that have grappled with the challenges of improving low-performing urban and rural schools. Together, these three interventions are being implemented in more than 2,500 high schools across the country, and various components of these models are being used in thousands more schools. The overall message of this synthesis is that "structural changes" to improve personalization and "instructional improvement" are the twin pillars of high school reform. Whether districts and schools adopt a comprehensive reform initiative like the ones MDRC studied or put together the elements of a comprehensive intervention on their own, much has been learned about what is needed--and what seems to work. What remains is to make sure that practitioners have the support they need to put that learning into practice. (Contains 5 tables, 4 figures, and 45 endnotes.)


December 14
The Time Factor: Leveraging Intelligent Agents and Directed Narratives in Online Learning EnvironmentsGreg Jones and Scott Warrenmore »








Recently, there has been much excitement in the field of education about the emerging use of games, simulations, and other three-dimensional online learning environments as alternatives to traditional classroom experiences (Barab et al., "Embodiment," 2007; Dede, Ketelhut, and Ruess 2006). Research is beginning to show that the use of this technology in educational settings may affect learning positively (Squire et al. 2005; Cox 2006). Online learning environments facilitate meaning making by providing a sense of presence and immediacy through enhanced communication tools and learning objects that help learners construct knowledge (Jones and Bronack 2006; Tuzun 2004). These environments expand current Web- and text-based methods for instructional delivery, facilitating student interactions, increasing student engagement, and enabling deeper learning (Jones, Warren, and Robertson, forthcoming).
While this research is encouraging, the amount of time required for work in these environments to produce improvements in student achievement remains a major hurdle. Students learning in an immersive multiuser environment often require more time to achieve increases in formal learning outcomes than is needed with more traditional, face-to-face learning approaches. For example, research on the Taiga virtual world, a three-dimensional multiuser virtual environment (MUVE) developed as part of the //Quest Atlantis// project, showed that it took 30 hours or more of interaction with the learning environment plus several additional hours of classroom activitiy to achieve significant increases in learning outcomes (Barab et al. 2006; Warren 2006). As critics of classroom uses of open-ended, social-constructivist learning environments and curricula (Airasian and Walsh 1997; Albanese and Mitchell 1993) have made clear, there is little room in today's educational climate for methodologies (or technologies) that do not accelerate or greatly increase learning (Roblyer 2005). It should also be noted that while computer games have been lauded for their motivating power (Dickey 2006, 2007; Gee 2003), the fact that students spend a lot of time playing games does not mean that these games provide a sound model for improving educational outcomes.
We believe that we can develop three-dimensional, online learning environments that overcome one of the primary concerns in formal classroom settings, that of limited time, while helping students to achieve learning objectives. Two important components of these spaces will be the keys to developing better instructional systems: (a) intelligent digital agents that support student learning and (b) engaging narratives within which these agents can act to situate and direct student learning experiences (Barab et al., "Situationally Embodied Curriculum," 2007; Warren, Barab, and Dondlinger, forthcoming). This article will discuss intelligent agents and directed instructional narratives and provide an example of how these elements have been tied together to improve student learning outcomes in the program //Chalk House//.

Intelligent Agents

As technology has improved over the course of the last decade, we have seen digital pedagogical tools transformed from flat-programmed characters like Microsoft Office's "Clippy” the paperclip, which only allowed for a few predetermined questions and did not respond dynamically to typed input, into robust intelligent agents (Slater 2000). Research indicates that such agents can be effective guides for learning in digital environments. Baylor (2002) identifies the following benefits of using them:
  • They allow learners to direct interactions with the agent.
  • They encourage learners to reflect on their thinking processes.
  • They allow learners to take as much time as they may need to accomplish learning tasks and reach learning goals.
Scripted intelligent agents are some of the most commonly found intelligent agents. A scripted intelligent agent relies on a database of predetermined textual responses. The response the agent offers depends on whether or not the learner has met certain conditions, for instance whether he or she has completed a particular task, interacted with another agent, or received a specific item (Exhibit 1). In other instances, agent behavior can change to respond to student needs; agents might reteach material, clarify information, or perform other actions to enable task completion and knowledge construction. While design constraints may somewhat limit the depth and variability an instructional designer can build into agent responses, scripted intelligent agents are far more cost effective than more advanced agents that may rely on sophisticated artificial intelligence, for instance, to predict learner behaviors and problems (Liu and Chee 2004). We have found that embedding repeatable instruction within intelligent agents allows these agents to take over some of the teaching load associated with the virtual environment, leaving the classroom instructor with more time to engage in more productive activities, such as providing detailed feedback on student work, helping students with problems or special needs, or supporting student learning by participating in the learning environment as a character in the game (Warren, Barab, and Dondlinger, forthcoming; Warren and Dondlinger, forthcoming).
Intelligent agents may also free teachers from some of the time-consuming tasks associated with the traditional classroom environment. In face-to-face classroom observations, the teacher who relied on a traditional classroom environment spent substantially more time answering questions that had already been answered, providing high levels of individual writing help, regulating both required and optional classroom activities, redirecting students to learning tasks, and encouraging engagement with optional enrichment tasks (Warren, Barab, and Dondlinger, forthcoming). In the Anytown environment, a project developed to enhance elementary students' writing skills, the characters took on the role of the teacher by providing directions for the learning activities, which students could refer repeatedly to learn (or remember) what to do for both game and writing activities. The character dialogue evolved over time, helping to redirect students to new writing and game activities or providing more detail needed to improve writing for students whose work needed improvement. In this way, the intelligent agents reduced the amount of time that the teacher spent on non-teaching tasks, freeing the teacher to spend more time providing high levels of individual writing help through feedback on students’ descriptive writing pieces.

Directed Instructional Narrative Using Intelligent Agents

Recent learning game designs and research, ranging from Harvard’s River City project to Squire et al.’s (2005) work with //Civilization III//, have begun to examine the power of narrative to deliver educational messages. The basis for this research is the theory that play activities bounded by game narrative motivate learning, which is why games can be effective teaching tools (Barab, Warren, and Ingram-Goble 2008). The interactive narrative of the game provides a context for learners to connect to their experience, which allows students to link their interactions with the narrative to their personal experiences.
Directed instructional narrative is especially useful when combined with intelligent agents. The agents can add necessary information, dialogue, and background to the narrative. In turn, this information provides a hard scaffold (Brush and Saye 2001); students can use the information provided by the agent to help them make sense of the problems that they are expected to solve. Students may even return to particular sets of directions and ask different questions of the intelligent agent to gain additional information. The narrative provides the students with an individualized, immersive experience that gradually increases the complexity and difficulty of the tasks they must complete. In addition, the narrative elements frame the agents as fonts of knowledge that students can return to repeatedly. The agents can clarify the goals of learning activities, provide additional context as to how the activities link to the real world, and supply increasingly explicit directions as students of differing levels require them. The agents may also reward completion of tasks with useful items and other forms of individualized feedback as they react more quickly than most teachers can to provide motivation for continued play and continued learning.
High-level interactions that engage students in solving complex problems by using digital communication tools, developing defensible hypotheses, and expressing understanding of the complex environments that are being simulated require three elements:
  • play activities linked to learning;
  • narrative that drives these activities; and
  • dynamic, intelligent pedagogical agents who offer information about content presented in the three-dimensional space, directions regarding play and learning activities, and opportunities for remediation related to content.
One of the products of the Quest Atlantis project, Taiga, promotes high-level interaction among students and intelligent agents by immersing students in an unfolding story about a national park facing pollution problems. Players are challenged to uncover the complex water pollution problems that have led to declining fish populations. They do this by uncovering clues and evidence from the game environment and from intelligent agents; subsequently, they must apply scientific reasoning to determine which group may to be blame and then hypothesize balanced solutions to the problem. The intelligent agents convey different perspectives on science-related problems and reveal necessary information to shed light on the problem and provide game rewards and activities. A pilot study regarding the use of Taiga in a sixth-grade classroom showed a statistically significant increase in pre-post learning gains as evidenced by standardized test items that required students to use the content knowledge they had acquired during their experience in the learning environment (Barab et al. 2006).

In studying another product of the Quest Atlantis project, Warren, Barab, and Dondlinger (forthcoming) found that the use of the Anytown virtual environment positively affected elementary students' writing ability. Anytown employs intelligent agents along with a driving narrative to provide background information about the game's locations, characters, and history as well as detailed directions for learning activities, reactive help for students who need it, and immediate feedback for student work. The study showed that, compared to the teacher in a classroom that did not use Anytown, the teacher in the Anytown classroom spent significantly more time on teaching behaviors, including providing feedback and reteaching concepts (Warren, Barab, and Dondlinger, forthcoming). In addition, students who used the game completed significantly more free-choice writing activities than the comparison class (26 vs. 0) and showed more statistically significant gains on the pre-test than the comparison class. It remains to be explored which of the elements of the game—environment, narrative, or agents—had the most impact.
Of particular note is the fact that it took only eight hours of supplementary computer lab time in addition to regular writing instruction to achieve these gains over the course of two weeks. By contrast, the Taiga intervention required over 30 hours of classroom and computer lab time to achieve its gains; this number represents much of the average teacher's computer lab time for an entire school year. One reason for this difference may lie in the structure of the games' intelligent agents. The agents in Taiga were structured to provide far less support for students than Anytown's agents; in contrast to the Taiga characters, many Anytown characters could respond to numerous questions as many as seven or eight separate times, and they provided more detailed answers as well. Newer versions of the Taiga unit have been revised to include an increased number of more detailed responses by agents to student questions in hopes of reducing this time disparity.

Making Intelligent Agents and Directed Narratives Work

Both the Taiga and Anytown interventions suggest that if they are to overcome the time factor, games, simulations, and other digital environments must be developed to leverage intelligent agents and directed instructional narratives more effectively. With this in mind, we have developed Chalk House, a narrative-based, three-dimensional learning environment that uses Created Realities Group's three-dimensional online learning environment to present a system that uses complex intelligent agents and compelling narratives to support literacy.
In the spirit of games like Cyan's Myst and the Adventure Company's Syberia series, game information and challenges in Chalk House come in the form of visual, textual, and audio puzzles. Learning tasks are framed by a narrative that casts students as junior reporters assigned to solve the mystery of an old house and a missing heir. Student progress is tracked and reported to the teacher throughout game play. Within the game environment, players encounter three-dimensional graphics, two-dimensional images, and written text, all of which provide direct information about the game tasks or must be deciphered with the help of in-game objects and intelligent agents. Completion of the game requires high levels of reading comprehension and vocabulary use. Prestige points, accumulated by completing learning tasks, allow players to purchase necessary items for completing their investigations. As with traditional game experience points, prestige points help players move toward improved standing within the game and help shape the play experience; more advanced players have access to previously locked locations as well as a different set of agent responses than those available to players with fewer points.
Reading and writing activities emerge through game action and character dialogue. Intelligent agents present learning tasks and assessments within the game, giving assignments and demanding that students answer questions that demonstrate comprehension and recall, but without framing these inquiries as "educational.” Each interaction with agents helps learners complete game tasks, contributes details designed to enhance student writing, or provides clarification of advanced vocabulary that students must understand in order to improve their literacy. Through engagement with the agents, students are encouraged to participate in a continuous process of textual comprehension and interpretation followed by retelling. Through this structure, we expect to help develop automaticity in reading more rapidly than it traditionally emerges (Samuels 2002; Stewart 2004) because students are exposed to more text over time and receive more rapid feedback when they do not understand a vocabulary word or fail to comprehend a passage than when using traditional reading texts.
Students practice writing by retelling their experiences as news stories that are written in the existing lab word processor and submitted through the system for review by the teacher. Since the writing is contextualized within the student's game role as a reporter, the task should be perceived by the students as more authentic and less onerous than traditional writing assignments. We find that learners are more willing to participate in game-related writing practice because they can see links to future work, especially since continued play is contingent on completing such tasks. Decontextualized writing prompts that ask students, for example, to create an argument about whether or not they should have school uniforms provide no such motivation.
As with other games, the system itself drives student play and learning activities and delivers rapid feedback regarding progress to both the student and the teacher. In addition, it is designed to help reduce the time teachers spend on less productive functions (such as repeating directions) by allowing the students to use the system's intelligent agents to access directions, feedback, and clarifications about vocabulary terms and word meanings, freeing the teacher to spend more time giving students additional or remedial support. Players receive feedback on their work from "experts" in the form of agent characters, such as the Copy Editor, who comments on the student's use of vocabulary as well as the depth of comprehension exhibited by the written work. This shapes the play experience to each student's learning needs, reducing the amount of time that the teacher spends providing feedback and allowing students to spend more time practicing reading and writing.
Because of the high level of feedback students receive from agents and the narrative, the structure of this game fits most closely with objectivist, cognitive-processing approaches to learning. In this respect, this game diverges from other attempts to develop games for learning, which typically rely on contructivist, inquiry-based (Barab et al. 2006) or problem-based learning (Warren, Barab, and Dondlinger, forthcoming) approaches. This means providing learners with more didactic forms of computer-mediated instruction, regular assessments of learning, and regular reteaching of concepts that students do not understand, and viewing the game as a supplement to face-to-face instruction rather than a replacement for it.
The Chalk House environment does share some physical characteristics with environments developed in Activeworlds, such as River City and Quest Atlantis, and in Second Life, such as CSI: NY, including rendered three-dimensional locations and digital characters. That said, there are several important differences between these environments and Chalk House. First, although Chalk House is designed as a multiplayer system—many users can engage in the game at once—students experience it as a single-player world; they cannot see who else is in the world at the same time or interact with other users. This enhances security, helps keeps students focused on task, and makes it possible for the teacher, who can see all users, to track what students are doing in real time. Chalk House also offers:
  • highly detailed student tracking and reporting, which is integrated seamlessly into the system and helps support teaching as well as research efforts;
  • a portal-based design that allows targeted streaming to reduce bandwidth issues for schools; and
  • time-restricted modular learning activities intended to accommodate fixed time constraints for teaching and learning.
These features provide support for learning, research, and teaching and go further than other virtual environments in doing so. Chalk House moves beyond the proven models offered by projects like Anytown by merging efficient intelligent agents with a standards-based pedagogical approach that provides direct instruction in a contextualizing narrative to produce a game experience that should result in accelerated achievement of learning outcomes.

Conclusion

As intelligent agents are increasingly adopted in educational computer games, simulations, and other virtual environments, they will become increasingly important as a means of reducing the amount of time instructors must spend on instructional tasks that require high levels of repetition. These agents, which provide reteaching, drive student activity in digital spaces, and provide feedback on student work within the game, promise to allow teachers to spend increased time with the students who need the most help while facilitating additional interactions that fit within the demanding classroom schedule. While developing these agents is a fairly time-consuming task for instructional designers, the technologies that underlie them are advancing rapidly enough that development will become increasingly easy and time effective.
The combination of directed narrative and intelligent agents holds the potential to create exciting instructional designs that will meet the needs of both students and teachers within the time constraints of the classroom.

References

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Albanese, M. A., and S. Mitchell. 1993. Problem-based learning: A review of literature on its outcomes and implementation issues. Academic Medicine 68 (1): 52-81.
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Barab, S. A., S. J. Warren, and A. Ingram-Goble. Forthcoming. Academic play spaces. In Handbook of research on effective electronic gaming in education, ed. R. Ferdig. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference.
Barab, S. A., S. Zuiker, S. J. Warren, D. Hickey, A. Ingram-Goble, S. Herring, I. Kouper, and E. Kwon. 2007. Embodiment as a curricular scaffold for transferable understanding. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL, April.
Barab, S. A., S. Zuiker, S. J. Warren, D. Hickey, A. Ingram-Goble, E. Kwon, I. Kouper, and S. Herring. 2007. Situationally embodied curriculum: Relating formalisms and contexts. Science Education 91 (5): 750-782.
Baylor, A. 2002. Agent-based learning environments as a research tool. Journal of Educational Computing Research 26 (3): 249-270. http://garnet.acns.fsu.edu/~abaylor/PDF/able.pdf (accessed July 8, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5ZAu84IYN.
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Dickey, M. D. 2006. Game design narrative for learning: Appropriating adventure game design narrative devices and techniques for the design of interactive learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development 54 (3): 245-263.
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Jones, J. G., S. J. Warren, and M. Robertson. Forthcoming. Increasing student discourse to support rapport building in web and blended courses using a 3D online learning environment. Journal of Interactive Learning Research.
Jones, J. G., and S. C. Bronack. 2006. Rethinking cognition, representations, and processes in 3D online social learning environments. In Games and Simulations in Online Learning, eds. D. Gibson, C. Aldrich, and M. Prensky, 89-114. Hershey, PA: Idea Group.
Liu, Y., and Y. S. Chee. 2004. Intelligent pedagogical agents with multipart interaction support. Paper presented at the IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conference on Intelligent Agent Technology, Beijing, China, September.
Roblyer, M. D. 2005. Educational technology research that makes a difference: Series introduction. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education Journal 5 (2). http://www.citejournal.org/vol5/iss2/seminal/article1.cfm (accessed July 8, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5ZAtrtnvL.
Samuels, S. J. 2002. Fluency instruction. In What research has to say about reading instruction, eds. A. E. Farstrup and S. J. Samuels, 166-183. Newark, NJ: International Reading Association.
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Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Jones, G., and S. Warren. 2008. The time factor: Leveraging intelligent agents and directed narratives in online learning environments. Innovate 5 (2). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=576 (accessed December 14, 2008). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.


November 28 This article references the research found at this site. http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/report
Study suggests ’hanging out’ on Facebook, MySpace not a waste for teens
By Joe Crawford / St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Thursday, November 20, 2008
ST. LOUIS - Some might call it unproductive. Or maybe a bad habit. Or just a frivolous distraction. Or even dangerous.
Julianne Howell, a freshman at St. Joseph’s Academy, calls her daily Facebook routine time well spent.
"It’s like a social connection," she said. "It’s not a waste of time. It’s like talking on the phone - that isn’t a waste of time."
Howell’s justification for the hours she spends on the social networking site is dead on, according to a study released today by the MacArthur Foundation. A team of researchers working on the foundation’s "Digital Youth Project" concluded that interaction with new media such as Facebook is increasingly becoming an essential part of becoming a competent citizen in the digital age.
And further, all that Web surfing isn’t necessarily eroding the intelligence or initiative of the young generation.
"It may look like kids are wasting a lot of time online, but they’re actually learning a lot of social, technical and also media literacy skills," said Mizuko Ito, a researcher at the University of California, Irvine who led the study.
A team of researchers conducted more than 800 interviews of youths and their parents, and spent more than 5,000 hours observing teens on sites such as Facebook, MySpace [website] and YouTube. The goal was to find out how youths use digital media, such as social networking sites and video games, to understand and participate in society.
Some of their findings should be no surprise to teens or their parents.
For instance, teens like to hang out with their friends online. They learn social skills online. They flirt online.
They develop interests, express themselves creatively, and give each other feedback - all online.
But the kicker?
All that Internet time isn’t rotting their brains. Actually, it’s almost necessary, according to the study.
Kids denied access to new media, because their family can’t afford it or because their parents, school or library restrict their access or time on social networking sites, are likely to be short on skills that members of their generation are expected to possess, the researchers concluded.
"When kids lack access to the Internet at home, and public libraries and schools block sites that are central to their social communication, youth are doubly handicapped in their efforts to participate in common culture and sociability," the study reads.
The research was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, a social advocacy group that focuses, in part, on the effect of technology on children and society.
The study isn’t the first to suggest youths use new media in productive ways. Another study released in September by the Pew Internet and American Life Project suggested that teens use video games to stay in touch with friends - and that some games may even encourage youths to become involved in their communities.
But that’s not the impression most adults have of digital media, according to the MacArthur study. Adults largely underestimate the value of new technology and tend to view online activity as a risky or unproductive distraction.
"There hasn’t been a really good understanding of how kids participate online," Ito said.
Much of the study focused on what the study calls "hanging out" online.
In the past, teens’ hanging out has involved face-to-face interaction, whether at a mall, a movie theater or a friend’s house. Parents have long pushed back against what can seem to be excessive, idle socializing.
But the study notes there is value to at least a reasonable amount of hanging out, be it a physical interaction or meeting up online.
"It’s really about reinforcing a social connection," Ito said.
Basically, hanging out is good, at least in moderation, and kids are now doing a lot of it online.
There are, of course, legitimate concerns about teens’ Internet use.
For example, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has been tracking online harassment and sexual solicitation of children and youths for years. And while the group concludes that teens are becoming more savvy in resisting such threats, it says those dangers persist.
The MacArthur study didn’t seek to refute the fact that surfing poses safety risks related to online predators and cyber bullying. But Ito said other research suggests kids are more likely to get in trouble out in the "real" world than online.
"We don’t think that kids are engaging in activities online that are any riskier than they would have experienced prior to their going online," she said.
Some young people will blow off homework to spend time online. But, Ito said, some kids have always found excuses to avoid schoolwork.
The team of 28 researchers also made these determinations:
_Teens expect privacy online. Even if hundreds of "friends" can see their Facebook profiles, they expect their parents to stay out.
_Youths are mostly "hanging out" online with friends they first met in person, not strangers they met on a website.
_Social networking sites are used to publicly signal the existence and intensity of relationships, whether with friends or romantic partners.
_Creating profiles on social networking sites allows young people creatively express themselves and develop a visual identity. They get feedback from their peers on the same sites.
_Teens tend to understand the social benefits of using digital media while adults often see it as a "waste of time."
Stacey Carman, whose 14-year-old daughter Eleanor has a Facebook account, said she doesn’t worry her daughter spends too much time online. Carman, of Ladue, Mo., said she worries that all the informal writing Eleanor does on the site may be teaching her bad grammar, but she generally trusts her daughter to be responsible online.
Still, Carman said she’s wary of claims that the site is somehow an integral part of her daughter’s social development.
"I don’t know that you get that out of Facebook," she said. "You can find a study that says about anything."

© 2008, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Visit the Post-Dispatch on the World Wide Web at http://www.stltoday.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.



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Microblogging and Relevancy


11/12/2008
By Ruth Reynard



Some college professors and campus services are using Twitter simply because it is a mode of direct communication with students that is reliable and fast. Those who use the technology to communicate directly with students note that they can receive responses in minutes rather than the hours it would take using e-mail or blogs. Additionally, this kind of technology is now being integrated into course management systems.
What It Is
Microblogging technology basically brings the concept of blogging into a more direct and immediate mode. The text involved, of course, has to be condensed, and the connection is by cell phone, which means it is constantly accessible to students with phones. As many current students use cell phones for all or almost all of their communication, this is an effective method to contact students immediately on any issue or information related to the class.
David Parry (2008), an assistant professor at the University of Dallas, cited an example of a class in which one half of the students used Twitter and one half did not. He observed that those students who did use the technology were more engaged and connected overall with the course and that he, as the instructor, knew more about the students' understanding and progress throughout the course than with those who did not use the technology. Parry did note that there is something of a challenge not to over-engage with students but did propose that being relevant with students is a very real challenge in his view of teaching. The more that instructor can and does use current communication tools like Twitter with students, Parry noted, the more students will regard the instructor as relevant. When instructors do not communicate with students using these kinds of tools, according to Parry, students will likely regard those instructors as irrelevant.
What It Does
Microblogging redefines synchronous communication in learning. While conventional distance education has explored the uses of chat tools in this regard for several years and particularly the benefits of synchronous communication over asynchronous communication in support of specific learning goals, this level of immediacy is faster-paced and more direct.
This communication is via a tool (cell phone) that is always "open" and ready for students to use, rather than the conventional login protocols of course management systems. Like a blog, it is sequential and can be responded to directly and, therefore, can remain in context. Additionally, the instructor can initiate the dialog and the information flow that can truly support the flow and interactions of a class group. As I have already pointed out in an article on blogging (2005), the concept of the online log (blog) is both individualized by each student and shared with the group. It is an individual learning space within the larger group. Microblogging retains the sense of an individualized presence within the community but increases the sense of accountability to everyone in the group and also to the instructor.
As an educator, I have found over the years that students respond well to instructors who are prepared and organized and who communicate clearly. An effective use of microblogging in an instructional setting requires the instructor to function at a high level in all three areas. An effective microblogging instructor must be prepared and organized so that he or she can offer the necessary information at precise moments of impact for the student. Additionally, having clear communication skills means that the instructor is able to "strip down" the verbiage to the very minimum in order to convey exactly what he or she means in a very short space of time.
The Importance of Communication
Students most often complain about the lack of relevant information in a course or that expectations were not clearly communicated to them in the first place. Now, as an educator, I am also aware that many times the reasons for this perception are that specific documents like a syllabus have gone unread or that course sites remain un-browsed or that students simply do not pay close enough attention to what is being said so that they can relate the information to required actions.
That being said, another reality is that instructors are often not perceived by students as being either representative of their needs and lives or understanding of their questions or mindset. While some of that may be misconceptions, some of it can be very real. There are generational differences that are always with us; however, with the increasing use of new technology, even larger gaps can occur between students and teachers. Those gaps can be a direct result of a lack of meaningful conversation and a refusal to learn and use the communication tools of the day.
I would venture to say that if a teacher does not spend time learning and using a communication tool for today's students, it could be argued that it is the same as refusing to learn the language of students whom you have been tasked to teach. While the latter is unthinkable for the teacher who really cares about his or her students, the former is often excused as being too difficult, too time-consuming, or even trivial in the face of "real" learning. Yet, if we are not connecting with our students in a meaningful and effective way, we cannot be surprised that they do not hear, see, or understand what they need to. We need to learn to communicate in a relevant way if we want students to respond and stay engaged throughout their learning experience.
Relevancy and Understanding
My educational background is in the area of second language teaching. Borrowed from that field of study is the notion or "comprehensible input." This theory by Krashen (1985) suggests that if effective language is to be learned and the meaning of the language is to be understood, the input of that language has to be relevant to the learner. In other words, if the instructor has a vacuous approach to language learning that insists on grammar only or using stylized phrases and sentences, the student may memorize their use but never understand fully either the language or its use and meaning in any given context. Similarly, in this discussion of using current communications tools with students, it could be argued that if information is not provided to students in a meaningful way, the students may or may not really grasp or understand the intention of the instructor.
The central idea here is relevancy.
Using relevant examples, relevant applications of learning, and relevant methods of delivery have been the front stage of educational debate for many years. What is also important about relevancy, however, is basic communication. People in general desire relevancy when listening to or interacting with any information. Students also will immediately be engaged and interested if course information, assignments, concept building actions, and so on are presented to them in a relevant manner. That is not to say that teachers who do not use microblogging technology cease to be relevant. But I do argue that integrating this newer kind of communication and connectivity into a class of students will encourage students to engage from the first moment in any course of study.
A further relevant outcome of the use of microblogging is that it increases the sense of ongoing learning for the students. Parry (2008) said that he has found that students who use microblogging truly are aware that there are no walls to the classroom and that what happens and is discussed within the class has direct and immediate relevancy outside the classroom. Therefore, students can be anywhere at anytime and faced with study information, dialog questions, or informational announcements that keep them connected to the class no matter what. Distance education has conventionally discussed the benefits of taking the learning outside the classroom with the use of online instructional tools. Microblogging has the potential of reaffirming and enhancing that benefit and keeping students always connected and always participating.
Points To Remember
It is important to think through a course of study and the instructional design of a course before deciding to integrate microblogging. The following is a suggested guide in the use of this technology:
  • Think through the learning outcomes of your course and decide how the use of microblogging can support one or two of these outcomes. To simply add this as a way to keep connected with students without using it to enhance the community of learning would diminish the potential of the technology in instruction.
  • Realize that not all students may have a cell phone. Therefore, make sure that all students have access to the same information and the same communication from you via an online class blog.
  • Think through where the lines of professionalism are, and do not use the tool to create "cliques" of students with whom you blog more or connect more or cross the line to the "in joke group" that only excludes other students. All students deserve to receive the same level of support from the instructor. Also, refrain from referring to your microblog notes in class when you already know that a certain percentage of your students do not participate.
While it is still too early to fully explore and understand the impact of this technology on instruction, it is not too early to integrate it into an instructional space. Many students already use the technology and will, therefore, engage with its use in the class. The important and key factor, however, is to keep the learning outcomes of the course as the foundation for all instructional design and content delivery methods, including the communication tools of the course. As students are aware of the connections with their learning, the tool becomes invisible, so to speak, and the learning remains central in their focus.
References
Chronicle of Higher Education--February 29, 2008
Jeffrey R. Young, "Forget E-Mail: New Messaging Service Has Students and Professors Atwitter". http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i25/25a01501.htm
David Parry, "Teaching with Twitter". http://chronicle.com/media/video/v54/i25/twitter/
Krashen, S. 1985. The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications. London: Longman.
Reynard, R. "Blogs in Higher Ed: Personal Voice as Part of Learning," Campus Technology, January 11, 2005, http://campustechnology.com/articles/38786/



November 14
While this is strictly speaking not research it is a researched article and it ties in nicely with my professional learning page this week.
November 2008 | Volume 66 | Number 3
Giving Students Ownership of Learning Pages 16-19
Footprints in the Digital Age
Will Richardson
In the Web 2.0 world, self-directed learners must be adept at building and sustaining networks.

As the geeky father of a 9-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, one of my worst fears as they grow older is that they won't be Googled well. Not that they won't be able to use Google well, mind you, but that when a certain someone (read: admissions officer, employer, potential mate) enters "Tess Richardson" into the search line of the browser, what comes up will be less than impressive. That a quick surf through the top five hits will fail to astound with examples of her creativity, collaborative skills, and change-the-world work. Or, even worse, that no links about her will come up at all. I mean, what might "Your search did not match any documents" imply?
It's a consequence of the new Web 2.0 world that these digital footprints—the online portfolios of who we are, what we do, and by association, what we know—are becoming increasingly woven into the fabric of almost every aspect of our lives. In all likelihood, you, your school, your teachers, or your students are already being Googled on a regular basis, with information surfacing from news articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, and Facebook groups. Some of it may be good, some may be bad, and most is beyond your control. Your personal footprint—and to some extent your school's—is most likely being written without you, thanks to the billions of us worldwide who now have our own printing presses and can publish what we want when we want to.
On the surface, that's an unsettling thought—but it doesn't have to be. In fact, if we are willing to embrace the moment rather than recoil from it, we may find opportunities to empower students to learn deeply and continually in ways that we could scarcely have imagined just a decade ago.

Networking: The New Literacy

Whether we like it or not, social Web technologies are having a huge influence on students who are lucky enough to be connected, even the youngest ones. Many 7- and 8-year-olds are busy exploring Club Penguin or Webkinz with other 7- and 8-year-olds half a world away, middle schoolers are connecting with global warriors in World of Warcraft, and adolescents preen themselves in front of their "friends" on MySpace and Facebook. A recent National School Boards Association survey (2007) announced that upward of 80 percent of young people who are online are networking and that 70 percent of them are regularly discussing education-related topics. They're creating all sorts of content—some, as we all know, doing so very badly—and they're doing all sorts of things with online tools that, for the most part, we're not teaching them anything about. In the process, they're becoming Googleable without us. By and large, they do all this creating, publishing, and learning on their own, outside school, because when they enter the classroom, they typically "turn off the lights" (Prensky, 2008).
This may be the first large technological shift in history that's being driven by children. Picture a bus. Your students are standing in the front; most teachers (maybe even you) are in the back, hanging on to the seat straps as the bus careens down the road under the guidance of kids who have never been taught to steer and who are figuring it out as they go.
In short, for a host of reasons, we're failing to empower kids to use one of the most important technologies for learning that we've ever had. One of the biggest challenges educators face right now is figuring out how to help students create, navigate, and grow the powerful, individualized networks of learning that bloom on the Web and helping them do this effectively, ethically, and safely. The new literacy means being able to function in and leverage the potential of easy-to-create, collaborative, transparent online groups and networks, which represent a "tectonic shift" in the way we need to think about the world and our place in it (Shirky, 2008). This shift requires us to create engaged learners, not simply knowers, and to reconsider the roles of schools and educators.
As author John Seely Brown (Brown & Adler, 2008) points out, these shifts demand that we move our concept of learning from a "supply-push" model of "building up an inventory of knowledge in the students' heads" (p. 30) to a "demand-pull" approach that requires students to own their learning processes and pursue learning, based on their needs of the moment, in social and possibly global communities of practice. Our students must be nomadic, flexible, mobile learners who depend not so much on what they can recall as on their ability to connect with people and resources and edit content on their desktops, or, even more likely, on pocket-size devices they carry around with them. Our teachers have to be colearners in this process, modeling their own use of connections and networks and understanding the practical pedagogical implications of these technologies and online social learning spaces.

Transparent and Trackable

So what literacies must we educators master before we can help students make the most of these powerful potentials? It starts, as author Clay Shirky (2008) suggests, with an understanding of how transparency fosters connections and with a willingness to share our work and, to some extent, our personal lives. Sharing is the fundamental building block for building connections and networks; it may take the form of ruminations on life in a blog, photos of the latest family picnic on Flickr, or discussion notes students post to a classroom wiki for others to read and contribute to.
Publishing content online not only begins the process of becoming "Googleable," it also makes us findable by others who share our passions or interests. A few years ago, the teacher who stood up in a professional development gathering in Atlanta, Georgia, and voiced his passion for "mountain biking—on a unicycle" would have had little ability to find others who enjoy such pursuits and learn with them about that avocation. Today, he can easily connect to other "municyclists" who share their adventures on their blogs or in YouTube videos. In doing so, provided he knows whom and what to trust, he can learn a great deal.
Although many students are used to sharing content online, they need to learn how to share within the context of network building. They need to know that publishing has a nobler goal than just readership—and that's engagement. Take, for example, the story of Laura Stockman, a 10-year-old from the Buffalo, New York, area. Last December, in an effort to honor the memory of her grandfather who had died the year before, Laura decided to do one good deed each day in the run-up to Christmas. She decided, with her mother's approval, to share her work with the world.
Laura's blog, "Twenty-Five Days to Make a Difference" (http://twentyfivedays.wordpress.com), quickly caught the eye of some other philanthropic bloggers. Within a short time, Laura found herself in the midst of a community of volunteers far outside her geographic reach. The ClustrMap on her site tracks tens of thousands of readers from such places as China, Australia, Africa, and South America (see http://www3.clustrmaps.com/counter/maps.php?user=2cf404cc).
But here is the difference: Laura is not just publishing, and others are not just reading. Now when she wants ideas for charities to work for as her project enters its 11th month, Laura says, "I ask my readers" (Richardson, 2008). She has collected hundreds of books for local libraries and dozens of pajamas for kids in need; she has raised thousands of dollars for charities ranging from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to local homeless shelters. In fact, Laura has become a go-to expert on younger kids doing charity work. Last April, students in Florida who wanted to make a difference in their own community interviewed her live online. Her interactions with her network, on both her blog and the other blogs she reads, teach her much about a passion that is not in the standard curriculum. In the process, Laura is already on her way to being Googled well.
In addition, under her mother's guidance and care, Laura is learning online network literacies firsthand. As Stanford researcher Danah Boyd (2007) points out, we are discovering the potentials and pitfalls of this new public space. What we say today in our blogs and videos will persist long into the future and not simply end up in the paper recycling bin when we clean out our desks at the end of the year. What we say is copyable; others can take it, use it, or change it with ease, making our ability to edit content and comprehend the ethical use of the content we read even more crucial. The things we create are searchable to an extent never before imagined and will be viewed by all sorts of audiences, both intended and unintended.

What Students Need to Know

These new realities demand that we prepare students to be educated, sophisticated owners of online spaces. Although Laura is able to connect, does she understand, as researcher Stephen Downes (2005) suggests, that her network must be diverse, that she must actively seek dissenting voices who might push her thinking in ways that the "echo chamber" of kindred thinkers might not? Is she doing the work of finding new voices to include in the conversation? Is she able to make astute decisions about the people with whom she interacts, keeping herself safe from those who might mean her harm? Is she learning balance in her use of technology, or is she falling into the common pattern of spending hours at the keyboard, losing herself in the network? This 10-year-old probably still needs to learn many of these things, and she needs the guidance of teachers and adults who know them in their own practice.
More than ever before, students have the potential to own their own learning—and we have to help them seize that potential. We must help them learn how to identify their passions; build connections to others who share those passions; and communicate, collaborate, and work collectively with these networks. And we must do this not simply as a unit built around "Information and Web Literacy." Instead, we must make these new ways of collaborating and connecting a transparent part of the way we deliver curriculum from kindergarten to graduation.
Younger students need to see their teachers engaging experts in synchronous or asynchronous online conversations about content, and they need to begin to practice intelligently and appropriately sharing work with global audiences. Middle school students should be engaged in the process of cooperating and collaborating with others outside the classroom around their shared passions, just as they have seen their teachers do. And older students should be engaging in the hard work of what Shirky (2008) calls "collective action," sharing responsibility and outcomes in doing real work for real purposes for real audiences online.
But to do all that, we educators must first own these technologies and be able to take advantage of these networked learning spaces. In this way, we can fully prepare students not just to be Googled well, but to be findable in good ways by people who share their passions for learning and who may well end up being lifelong teachers, mentors, or friends.

Get Started!


Here are five ideas that will help you begin building your own personal learning network.
  1. Read blogs related to your passion. Search out topics of interest at http://blogsearch.google.com and see who shares those interests.
  2. Participate. If you find bloggers out there who are writing interesting and relevant posts, share your reflections and experiences by commenting on their posts.
  3. Use your real name. It's a requisite step to be Googled well. Be prudent, of course, about divulging any personal information that puts you at risk, and guide students in how they can do the same.
  4. Start a Facebook page. Educators need to understand the potential of social networking for themselves.
  5. Explore Twitter (http://twitter.com), a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to exchange short updates of 140 characters or fewer. It may not look like much at first glance, but with Twitter, the network can be at your fingertips.

References

Boyd, D. (2007). Social network sites: Public, private, or what? The Knowledge Tree, 13. Available: http://kt.flexiblelearning.net.au/tkt2007/edition-13/social-network-sites-public-private-or-what/
Brown, J. S., & Adler, R. P. (2008). Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. Educause Review, 43(1), 16–32.
Downes, S. (2005). An introduction to connective knowledge. Stephen's Web. Available: www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=33034
National School Boards Association. (2007). Creating and connecting: Research and guidelines on social—and educational—networking. Alexandria, VA: Author. Available: www.nsba.org/site/view.asp?CID=63&DID=41340
Prensky, M. (2008). Turning on the lights. Educational Leadership, 65(6), 40–45.
Richardson, W. (2008, May 23). I asked my readers. Weblogg-ed. Available: http://weblogg-ed.com/2008/i-asked-my-readers
Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. New York: Penguin Press.
October 31
I think this might be a good jumping off point for looking at how to use these things.

Wikis, blogs, and all that stuff: Pre-service teacher experiences with webbased

technologies in an interdisciplinary methods course

Abstract: This brief paper describes a conceptual approach to facilitating student
learning in a teacher education course using collaborative web-based technologies.
Pre-service teachers in an interdisciplinary language arts / social studies methods
course completed a collection of activities using a course wiki and a separate
course weblog. Research focused on the following question. How do collaborative
web-based technologies interface with more traditional face-to-face and word
processing technologies? Students experienced mixed levels of success using the
blog and wiki illustrating the need for careful consideration when using web-based
collaborative technologies.
Theoretical Framework
Blogs and wikis are facilitating the development of social spaces and communities which may
enable unique, creative, and active learning. These technologies are collectively known as Web 2.0 and like
other new technologies they are draped in hyperbole about potential and progress. Web 2.0 is a collection
of dynamic web-based resources which enable the construction and publication of text, audio, and video
products within social networks. Bull (2006) argues these resources allow students to more seamlessly
create and present their work. Web 2.0 technologies focused on journaling (e.g. blogs), collaborative
writing (e.g. wikis), and social networking (e.g. MySpace) enable people to interact around similar interests
and provide opportunities for social interaction and new learning. But, as economists will often point out all
opportunities come with associated costs. In a review of Web 2.0 technologies such as social bookmarking,
bloging, and collaborative writing, Alexander (2006) expresses concern about the “openness, ease
of entry, and social nature” of these resources” (p. 34) suggesting the depth of quality student learning is
questionable.
Blogs emerged in 2000 as tools for web users to compose journal-like entries on subjects of
personal interest. They were quickly accepted as a means of communication with news media, politicians,
and ordinary people about their private thoughts. Generally speaking, blogs are not intended to be spaces
for formal writing. Rather, they are designed for a form of compact and causal writing that concisely
communicates an idea or position. While blogs have been quickly accepted in daily live, educators have
been more cautious in considering how they can be used in guiding students in learning. Bull, Bull and
Kajder (2003) promoted the potential for the use of blogs in education: “The sharing of messages, the
openness of the thinking, the accessibility of the media … it all adds up to a form of communication that
warrants our exploration.” However, blogs do challenge educators to consider important questions about
how and why this technology is to be incorporated in education.
Much like the blog, Wikis emerged in rapid fashion in the late 1990s as web-based interfaces
designed to support writing activities. Wikis are actually software applications that enable web browser
based text editing and by extension collaborative writing. The best know application of wiki technological
is the massive Wikipedaia project. Lotus Development Corporation founder Mitchell Kapor describes
Wikipedaia as “massively distributed collaboration.”1 It includes over 1.5 million English language articles.
In contrast with this massive public wiki, more private collaborative work is actively being compiled on
thousands of very local and personal wikis across the Web. McPherson (2006) has suggested that public
and private (or even classroom-based) wikis provide context for considering the development of
information literacy and writing skills.
Course experiences
What does it mean to collaborate using a blog or a wiki? How does collaboration in blog and wiki
environments differ from individual work in these environments? What are the conventions and
expectations for collaboration and individual work in blog and wiki environments? These questions and
others compelled this investigate of use of blogs and wikis in a middle grades methods course. We
designed experiences for pre-service teacher education students in an interdisciplinary language arts / social
studies methods course given existing evidence that blogs and wikis might facilitate collaboration and
active learning. Students in this course completed all or part of four assignments in a wiki or blog
environment. These projects are briefly described below.
1. Inquiry project – This work involved students individually conducting inquiries into a selfselected
topic using one of three approaches – historical / social inquiry, I-Search, and multigenre
research. A select group of students developed their work in a wiki environment.
2. Instructional lesson plan – Working in pairs, students constructed instructional lesson plans
using a wiki environment in part for drafting their plan. The lesson was developed over a five
week period of time with three weeks of the work completed on the wiki.
3. Political commentary – Students individually posted and commented on posting related to
election year politics on the course bog.
4. Collaborative instructional unit plan – Students planed and developed an instructional unit of
study using the course wiki and blog.
Methods and findings
As we planned for the use of blogs and wikis in this course, a question emerged related to how and
why these environments might enhance student learning experiences given more traditional course
experiences for which we had already planned. For the purposes of our course, traditional experiences
included face to face dialogue and explanation, email communication, word-processed student assignments,
and formative feedback on student work in written and word-processed formats. We planned course
assignments which made use of blog and wikis given calls for technology to be used in context and in
support of existing learning objectives (Mason, Berson, Diem, Hicks, Lee, & Dralle, 2000; Pope & Golub,
2000).
In designing course experiences and this research project, we were less interested in how the blog
and wiki we used in our class transformed the class experience, than in how these technologies supported
and enhanced course experiences. We felt it important to juxtapose the use of the blog and wiki with more
traditional ways of completing class assignments. In order to determine the added value of the wiki and
blog environments, a qualitative research design was implemented to investigate the following question.
How do collaborative web-based technologies interface with more traditional face-to-face and word
processing technologies?
Data were collected through an analysis of students’ work in traditional and collaborative
technological-enhanced environments (blog and wiki), as well as through interviews and observations of
students’ work. Data were (are being) analyzed using the constant comparative style of Glasser and Strauss
(1967). This process involves coding data according to fixed categories (determined prior to the research
study) as well as categories which emerged during the analysis. Initial categories included the following; 1)
evidence of creative and active learning, 2) evidence of process in students work, 3) evidence of student
acceptance and motivation given the social nature of the technology. As we examined data, initial findings
emerged and we expanding the categories and began to develop tentative findings. Analysis of data
continues at this point.
We propose to present the theoretical framework for this study as well as more complete findings
and conclusions. A better understanding of how emerging Web 2.0 collaborative technologies might be
used in teacher education is a crucial step in the adoption of such technologies. This project has been
designed to determine how blogs and wikis are used in a methods course, given practical considerations
about how Web 2.0 technologies can compliment existing practices. This findings and conclusions of this
study should contribute to an emerging body of knowledge about technology integration in teacher
education
References
Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?
Educause Review 41(2), 32–44.
Bull, G. (2006). Collaboration in a web 2.0 environment. Learning and Leading with Technology 33(7), 23
24.
Glasser, B. G. & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research.
Chicago Il: Aldine Publishing Co.
Mason, C., Berson, M., Diem, R., Hicks, D., Lee, J., & Dralle, T. (2000). Guidelines for using technology
to prepare social studies teachers. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online
serial], 1 (1). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol1/iss1/currentissues/socialstudies/article1.htm
McPherson, K. (2006). Wikis and literacy development. Teacher Librarian 34(1), 67-69.
Pope, C., & Golub, J. (2000). Preparing tomorrow's English language arts teachers today: Principles and
practices for infusing technology. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online
serial], 1 (1). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol1/iss1/currentissues/english/article1.htm
1 For more see transcript of speech by Kapor at University of California Berkeley titled “Content Creation
by Massively Distributed Collaboration” November 9, 2005, available

Lee, J. & Young, C. (2007). Wikis, blogs, and all that stuff: Pre-service teacher experiences with web-based technologies in an interdisciplinary methods course. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2007 (pp. 3387-3389). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. downloaded from http://www.editlib.orgon October 27, 2008

October 24
This is a link to a PDF on Web 2.0 for the Google generation. http://heyjude.files.wordpress.com/2006/08/engaging-the-google-generation-through-web-20_1.pdf

October 3
A Proposal for Accelerating the Implementation and Development of Video Games in EducationGreg Jones and Kevin Kalinowski
During the International Society for Technology in Education's (ISTE) 2005 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), a group of educators began the process of forming a new ISTE Special Interest Group (SIG) on games and simulations. At the group's first meeting, over 100 participants shared their thoughts on games and simulations in education. The group then met online over the next several months and created a mission that encompassed the development and educational use of digital games and simulations with an emphasis on credible research supporting their value in the classroom. As part of their initial planning, the SIG founders discussed problems facing key stakeholders—parents, school administrators, and legislators—on implementing video games in the classroom. Consequently, some members of the proposed SIG recommended the creation of an open, online community of educators and game developers who would collaboratively explore the instructional benefits of video games. This article explores the current issues surrounding the limited use of video games in the classroom and outlines the anticipated online solution.
Video Gaming Technology in Education: Obstacles and Challenges
For years, researchers have discussed the educational potential of video game technology as well as of game play itself (Gee 2003; Prensky 2001), and we are beginning to see published research on the use of video games such as //Europa Universalis II// and //Civilization III// to support instruction in the classroom (Egenfeldt-Nielsen 2005; Squire 2005). However, while efforts are being made to increase interest in commercial video games enhanced to support education (e.g., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Comparative Media Studies Program), video game supporters nevertheless still find limited acceptance of such technology in the classroom. Without a process of aligning games with standardized testing objectives and state educational standards, proponents of the instructional use of video games will be hard pressed to have games accepted in their classrooms. Further, in light of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, stakeholders may have doubts about the educational use of video games without credible "scientifically based research" to document its effectiveness (U.S. Department of Education 2002, B-2). In addition, they may perceive video games as containing content inappropriate for an educational setting (Aguilera and Memdiz 2003; Lombardi and McCahill 2004).
What are the impediments to addressing these very real concerns? By and large, game developers have little interest in working with educators to infuse educational elements into game play or to develop after-market educational materials that can be tied into video games. There are a few exceptions to this situation, notably Firaxis, the developer of Civilization III, which has created a space on its Web site called Teacher Features to support the discussion of video games in education. In addition, independent game developers such as GarageGames and others commonly referred to as "serious game developers" (e.g., the Serious Games Initiative and Team Play Learning Dynamics) are beginning to reach out to educators since the possibility of profiting from the development of video games for the education market increases as each year passes. However, until more game developers actively target the educational market, educators must fill the void by developing their own curricular materials for classroom use. This situation places a substantial burden on educators; creating new materials for each video game that might be used in their curriculum is a time-consuming and redundant process that may not utilize the best pedagogical methods. Decreasing the time and resources required to develop new curricular materials and increasing alignment with state educational standards should increase the acceptance of video games in the classroom.
An Online Community of Open Source Development for Video Game Technology in Education
As a step forward, we envision a project that would tie together the development of open source materials and a self-organized open community to explore and support the use of video game technology in eduational settings. While open source in its strictest sense refers to software published under a free software license, we use the term loosely to refer to the more general concept of materials or objects that are shareable and that draw on other similar objects or materials in an open and communal process. The creations of self-organized communities of shared objects are well represented by Merlot, Wikipedia, and Slashdot. The outcome of our project would be to create a similar online collaborative environment where those interested in video games in the classroom could work together to create a library of learning objects and share advice on their integration in the classroom.
Using learning objects to support instructional design and materials is a fairly recent trend in education (Wiley 2002; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 2002). While there seem to be as many specific definitions of learning objects as there are groups interested in them, Polsani (2003) suggests that in the educational community, the principles of reusability, interoperability, and accessibility are generally understood to be the basic functional requirements of learning objects. In the project we envision, learning objects would include such items as open source mods of video games not otherwise restricted by copyright, modding tools or procedures, custom-designed applications designed to support the educational use of games, or curricular materials designed to support the implementation of such games in learning contexts (syllabuses, assignments, group projects, discussion questions, etc.).
To attain reusability and interoperability, Polsani (2003) emphasizes that the development and eventual use of learning objects should be mutually exclusive processes. The separation between creation and deployment ensures that learning objects do not favor any instructional methodology and can be reused in a variety of contexts. While this general rule may not apply to learning objects such as course-related assignments and activities involving video games, it would apply to learning objects such as modding tools, modding procedures, or customized programming codes that allow developers to create new functions or simulations within a video game. For example, a biology educator might create a set of useful procedures for modifying a video game and apply these procedures in order to meet state science education standards. Later, a chemistry educator interested in the same video game could access these procedures but use them to modify the game to meet science education standards in a different discipline. Still another educator might adopt the same procedures to modify the game to meet state mathematics education standards. In this case the learning object itself (modding procedures) would not be altered, but how it would be used in a variety of learning environments would change over time as long as the object remained accessible in an open community space.
The project we envision would provide such an open community space by including a repository of such learning objects for reuse by project participants. Learning objects must be stored and categorized in an accessible repository if they are to be useful, and several existing learning object repositories have been documented by Neven and Duval (2002). Although the exact format for our gaming repository is unimportant at this early stage of development, it is important to note that learning object repositories can only become successful if they are used. However, if they are to be used successfully, a critical mass of learning objects must already exist (Neven and Duval 2002). This "chicken and egg" problem with learning object repositories prevents them from becoming more widespread (Spalter 2002). Nevertheless, we hope that through active scholarly interest and vigorous promotion at conferences, the online environment of video game learning objects we propose will grow and thrive, both for game developers and educators.
As the repository expands and the community hones the learning objects, game developers using these online resources will be able to adapt newly developed video games to new educational settings quickly. The potential for reusing learning objects from one video game to the next is possible because the majority of video games can be placed into fairly well defined categories or subcategories. Consequently, curriculum elements created for one video game can be modified and moved to support another video game of similar nature. For example, the various tycoon games are similar but do have some specific elements unique to each. In our proposed project, a community could build various curriculum-specific learning objects for one tycoon game (e.g., a gaming activity for a high school economics course) and then port them to another tycoon game by changing details as necessary to fit the design of the new video game. This reusability and interoperability through an accessible environment takes advantage of the similarity of video games within genres and makes developing the subsequent learning objects easier.
Finally, educators using such an online repository could comment on which video games are useful or appropriate in the classroom. Clearly, not every video game can be used in the classroom since appropriateness is influenced at minimum by the age of students, the subject matter being taught, and the learning outcomes being measured. But under the right circumstances, many video games can be implemented in a variety of educational situations. As an example, we are acquainted with a middle-school educator in Texas whose stakeholders find the video game //Neverwinter Nights// inappropriate for use in the classroom because of its fantasy storyline. However, through its scenario-building toolset, the video game becomes an instrument for students to design their own digital stories (cf. Gouglas et al. 2006), which in turn is readily accepted by stakeholders in support of literacy. As educators share successful experiences with video games in the classroom, there will be more examples to help thwart the negative perceptions currently facing video games in the classroom (Aguilera and Memdiz 2003; Lombardi and McCahill 2004).
Overcoming the Reluctance of Stakeholders by Fostering Research
As promising as this scenario may sound, merely creating a self-organized community of video game learning objects will not sufficiently foster their widespread use in education. Various stakeholders such as parents, administrators, and legislators must be convinced of the immediate and lasting benefits that such technology can offer to students.
For years, games of various types have been used in education, and since the time computers first made their entrance into the classroom, computer-based games have had their place as well. However, the existing emphasis towards nationalized testing of established objectives puts the future of educational gaming in jeopardy. Many schools are hesitant to invest resources in any new or unproven technology and may have doubts about the educational use of video games without authoritative research to support their pedagogical value. Consequently, stakeholders are redirecting their limited resources toward high-stakes testing in order to meet required expectations, avoid withdrawal of state and federal funds, and work against the loss of jobs and administrative control. These apprehensions by stakeholders, which are completely understandable given the current circumstances, can be minimized with credible research.
The approach proposed in this article has the potential to foster credible research on the use of video games in the classroom. For instance, in a single online environment, teachers can share classroom success stories, educators and game developers can publish and hone reusable learning objects in a common repository, and scholars can provide theoretical direction for applied research studies. Coupling those intellectual resources with the financial resources potentially available to educational researchers through grants and initiatives opens the possibility for ground-breaking results. With this synergy among developers, researchers, and educators in the online environment, we expect forthcoming research to show how the proper use of video games in the classroom has the potential to increase such educational goals as the retention of facts, the identification of abstract categories, and the analysis of complex situations. Furthermore, we hope that stakeholders will recognize the research, eventually endorse video games in schools, and use them in the best pedagogical sense.
Moving Involvement from After-Release to Before-Release
Today, educators who employ video game technology in their teaching almost exclusively prepare their materials after the release of a particular game, and we feel that this will continue to be the case for the coming years. Therefore, the immediate goal of our project is to focus on existing video games and their use in the classroom in order to create a learning object repository and a self-organized community of educators, designers, and researchers. As new games are released, new learning objects can be added to the repository, reused or modified by educators, and assessed by project participants. However, once the environment and repository have achieved sufficient momentum, the next stage is getting educators involved in before-release game developer activities.
Software developers often encourage their gaming population to become prerelease testers in order to work out bugs and ensure proper game play (e.g., ArenaNet 2006). In this environment, educators and their students have the opportunity to take the initiative and become testers and play the latest video games before their release. In turn, becoming active in video game testing allows for the prerelease development of curricular materials for tested games. Materials developed could then be integrated into the project as soon as the nondisclosure agreements used for testing expire. As noted earlier, as independent and serious game developers enter the educational space, they will actively seek educator involvement in prerelease development. This involvement might take the form of the developers using or referencing materials in the proposed project repository to enhance the design of an existing game or asking educators involved in the project to assist with the alignment or creation of new materials. Through the online environment we propose, game developers will have the ability both to collaborate with an established community of educators interested in incorporating computer games in their classrooms and also to utilize an existing repository of computer gaming learning objects for their own game development. The last stage of this project would encourage software developers to include educators directly in the design and development of future games. In this new role, educators would hopefully be able to shape games to meet educational needs and interests better while still allowing game developers to address their primary profitability channels.
As a first step towards this larger goal, our proposed project would allow smaller game developers interested in designing games with educational tie-ins the opportunity to examine how educators utilize larger mainstream games in their work. We believe that it is possible for educators to participate with interested smaller game designers in the developmental process, especially if doing so gets potentially large numbers of students using their game designs. Smaller video game developers then will be able to show off their game designing talents and receive publicity for their creative developmental procedures and unorthodox partnerships. Working directly with educators, smaller video game publishers and developers have the opportunity to see how educational infusion can work and still be potentially profitable. Ultimately we hope that once larger video game publishers observe the market potential forged by smaller game developers they will show interest in the educational gaming marketplace.
Conclusion
By creating an online environment to maintain a repository of learning objects for using video games in education, we hope to yield several outcomes:

  • an accessible and reusable repository of learning objects that can grow as the technology changes,
  • a community of educators interested in the development of curricular materials for use with video games in the classroom,
  • materials aligned to various educational standards, and
  • communication between video game developers, researchers, and educators.
However, as promising as this proposed project appears, there are nevertheless several major challenges facing its implementation. First, the project is still in its infancy, and so many of the project details, such as the shape of the online environment and the sources of funding, are still unknown. Second, just because the online environment and learning object repository are built does not mean people will use them. It will take strong advocates, both in print and at conferences, to support and promote the need for such a project. Third, gathering interested educators may be difficult since they tend to work in isolation and do not necessarily have the resources to attend academic conferences around the world. In this case, grassroots efforts by researchers, such as communication with educators in online gaming discussion forums, will be needed. Fourth, just like with educators, grabbing the attention of gaming developers will be a challenge. Starting with smaller, more approachable game developers by way of online gaming forums and conferences will most likely need to be done in order to convince larger game developers of the potential value of the project.
This proposed project has recently been discussed at the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) games and simulations group meeting in Orlando in March, 2006. Comprised of educators, researchers, and game designers, the group showed interest in the concepts we have presented here and further discussion will be held on the group's online forum. Additional goals and subsequent action plans are slated to be discussed in more detail over the coming months and during the NECC's 2006 conference. We hope that these initial groups of interested parties will serve as a catalyst to entice other participants to become part of the project, and that as more researchers, educators, and developers hear the "buzz" surrounding the project, critical mass will form, the details of the project will take shape, and tangible products will come to light.
References
Aguilera, M. D. and A. Memdiz. 2003. Video games and education (Education in the face of a "Parallel School"). ACM Computers in Education 1:1-14.
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Copyright and Citation Information for this Article
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Jones, G., and K. Kalinowski. 2006. A Proposal for Accelerating the Implementation and Development of Video Games in Education. Innovate 2 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=239 (accessed October 1, 2008). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.


September 26
Using Student Response Systems to Increase Motivation, Learning, and Knowledge RetentionDavid J. Radosevich, Roger Salomon, Deirdre M. Radosevich, and Patricia Kahnmore »








Advances in technology have transformed both students and their learning environments; the technological environment in which 21st-century learners have grown up means that their aptitudes, expectations, and learning styles are very different from those of their teachers (Oblinger and Oblinger 2005). These students expect that their educators will shift from traditional lecture-based teaching to a pedagogy that creates learning environments where students interact with the material, the instructor, and their peers (Dede 2005; Oblinger and Oblinger 2005). At the same time, instructors must integrate a variety of pedagogical approaches and strategies to create rich learning environments that can address cultural, demographic, and skill-based differences among students (Dunn and Griggs 2000) as well as individual learning styles and multiple intelligences (Gardner 1993; Gardner 1999; Gardner 2004).
Student response system (SRS) technology is one of the many tools available to help instructors create a rich and productive learning environment even within the framework of a traditional lecture-based lesson. The SRS presents questions to the class, prompts students to enter responses using a pocket-sized keypad transmitter (Figure 1), and provides aggregated feedback regarding student responses to the instructor. An SRS can be used to assess students’ comprehension of complex material, affording both the instructor and the students immediate feedback so that instruction can be tailored to student needs. Furthermore, the question-and-feedback process has the potential to promote greater student engagement in class discussions, and group activities in which students solve problems together and submit answers using the SRS can promote active learning. The primary goal of this study is to examine the extent to which SRS can impact student motivation and foster active learning.

Background

SRS has been used to enhance learning across several disciplines, including biology (El-Rady 2006), earth sciences (Greer and Heaney 2004), communications (Rice and Bunz 2006), and family and consumer science education (Gentry 2007). A number of studies have demonstrated the acceptability of SRS to students. While some students in one study reported not liking the fact that they cannot "hide" if the SRS is being used to take attendance, most participants reported enjoying the interaction and appreciating the dynamic feedback (Duncan 2006). Graduate students enrolled in two courses (Research Methods and Mediated Communication in Organizations) had similarly favorable reactions to the SRS, indicating that the system reinforced class material and aided in studying for exams (Rice and Bunz 2006).
The immediate feedback produced by SRS can also create more engagement among students. Master's students who initially gave an incorrect response to an SRS-administered question were more attentive to follow-up questions and corresponding explanations (Rice and Bunz 2006). Similarly, Pargas (2005) describes how class participation and collaboration increased when instructors used an SRS as an assessment tool by polling students and obtaining feedback and opinions on specific topics.
Researchers have also reported real pedagogical advantages to the use of SRS although Duncan (2006) acknowledges that some instructors may find the technology a distraction because it requires them to do two things at once. Abrahamson (2002) describes how this technology can transform the classroom by helping instructors become more aware of students who are having problems with the material. The use of SRS provides opportunities for the instructor to receive immediate feedback, which allows for more focused instruction on the concepts that students have difficulty understanding (Demetry 2005).
While researchers and users of SRS generally indicate that the technology in combination with sound pedagogy can increase learners' motivation and satisfaction, most studies do not provide an empirical examination of those claims using an experimental design. Our study seeks to address this need by empirically examining the effects of SRS on student motivation, student interest, and learning outcomes in our organizational behavior class.

Student Response Systems and Pedagogy

Ample evidence from the learning and psychological literature suggests that providing more practice and feedback enhances the learning process (e.g., Kuh et al. 1994). Studies generally confirm that externally provided feedback enables learners to be more effective (Kulhavy and Stock 1989). Butler and Winne (1995) argue that decreasing the temporal spacing between the presentation of learning exercises and performance feedback may promote a deeper processing of the material by guiding the cognitive activities necessary to learn effectively. Allowing students opportunities to respond to questions and receive immediate feedback on their responses also gives them control over their own learning, which, in turn, facilitates comprehension (Locke and Latham 1990).
The provision of immediate feedback by SRS technology represents a significant advantage in light of the constraints that instructors may otherwise face. Instructors typically provide exposure to practice questions through study guides that are often included with the textbook. Leaving aside the question of whether students actually use these guides, one limitation of this format is that a significant amount of time must pass between the coverage of the relevant material in class and the student's review of the practice questions. Similarly, feedback in the classroom is usually provided by a graded exam or quiz that is returned some time after the test is completed, missing the opportunity to present immediate feedback in a way that would allow students to engage in a deeper process of knowledge construction (Butler and Winne 1995). SRS offers a technological solution to this pedagogical dilemma.

Methodology

Our study was designed to investigate the potential for SRS to increase student motivation and interest and to foster learning. We incorporated an SRS into one section of our organizational behavior class at Montclair State University, embedding multiple-choice questions at key points in the lecture; in turn, we taught another section of the same class without such technology. We then used a survey to compare both student groups in terms of their self-reported interest in the class and their performance expectations for an end-of semester retention test while also comparing both groups in terms of their actual performance on the retention test as well as on a midterm exam.

Implementing the SRS


After selecting and setting up an SRS (Exhibit 1) , we employed it in the classroom by inserting question prompts in the PowerPoint presentations used during lectures; these prompts cued the instructor to toggle over to the SRS software application to display one or more multiple-choice questions (Figure 2). Students viewed the questions and entered their responses on their keypads within a specified period of time with the monitor indicating the frequency count of their responses as they did so (Figure 3). When the time limit expired, the correct answer was shown (Figure 4). Through this format we sought to determine whether the technology could provide sufficient real-time assessment of learning and whether it would allow students to engage in a deeper processing of the material by making adjustments to their knowledge construction.
The SRS also allowed individual student scores to be downloaded to a gradebook application (Figure 5) and offered various reporting options for individual item analysis (Figure 6).

Participants and Procedures

The 145 participants in this study all took the same undergraduate organizational behavior class. Half of the participants (n = 70) were in the control group that took the class in the fall semester without the use of the SRS. The second group (n = 75) took the class in the spring semester with the use of the SRS; this was the testing or "clicker" group. There were no meaningful statistical differences between mean SAT scores and ages for the two groups, suggesting that the two groups were comparable in ability at the beginning of the semester as well as in other demographic characteristics (Table 1).
The quasi-experimental design meant that the groups were not randomized but were comprised of students enrolled in specific courses through the normal student registration process. Both groups were taught by the same professor and received the same lectures and exams. The only difference between the two groups was that the SRS was used to present multiple-choice questions to the SRS group before and during the lecture. The questions focused on recall, recognition, and potential application of the material covered in the class. The control group had access to the same questions outside of class for independent review.
We established a detailed timeline of procedures for the study (Table 2). During weeks 1-7, both groups received the same lectures using the same PowerPoint slides. However, the SRS group was presented with multiple-choice questions on the material both before and during the lecture; the grades of these students were recorded in the electronic grade book, and they were also provided immediate feedback on their responses. Both the SRS and the control group took a paper-and-pencil midterm exam during week 8. For the remainder of the semester, weeks 9-13, the classes proceeded normally, creating a buffer of time to allow for more effective assessment of knowledge retention. During the final week of class in each semester, students in both groups took a survey in which they indicated their level of interest in the class and their expectation of success on a subsequent retention test (Exhibit 2). Each student then completed a retention test that included items from the midterm exam administered in week 8.

Results

Quantitative Evidence

In the main analyses, we compared the means, standard deviations, and t values for the SRS and the control group (Table 3). The SRS group averaged 28% on the pre-lecture questions and 66.67% on the questions presented during the lectures. Since the control group had access to these questions only outside of class, their responses were not recorded.
On the midterm exam, the SRS group (M = 82.72) scored higher than the control group (M = 78.83) by a statistically significant margin (t(143) = 2.40 p < .05). Thus, exposure to the multiple-choice questions and immediate feedback in class had an important effect on subsequent test performance. A more interesting finding was the statistically significant (t(143) = 5.40 p < .01) difference between the SRS group (M = 48.47) and the control group (M = 34.86) on the retention test. Although the percentage of course material retained among both groups was not outstanding, using the SRS had an important influence on the extent to which students were able to remember the information six weeks after their midterm exam.
Additional analyses were performed to determine if exposure to the multiple-choice questions delivered with the SRS in class had any influence on students' interest in the class or their expectations for success on the retention test. On a seven-point Likert scale, the results showed that students in the SRS group (M = 4.13) had greater interest in the class than the control group (M = 3.51), which was statistically significant (t(143) = 2.28 p < .05). Similarly, there was a significant difference (t(143) = 2.78 p < .01) between the SRS group (M = 5.11) and the control group (M = 4.36) regarding student expectations for remembering the content from the midterm exam.
In summary, the results indicated that those students who used the SRS as an integral part of class reported greater interest in the class, higher expectations of success on a retention test, and higher levels of test performance on the midterm exam. More importantly, students who used SRS were able to perform better on a knowledge retention test administered at the end of the semester, five weeks after the material was initially tested in a midterm exam.

Qualitative Evidence

At the end of the semester, students in the SRS class were asked to provide anonymous feedback regarding the SRS as an attachment to the university-issued course evaluations. These comments generally noted increased attention and engagement, appreciation for the opportunity to practice for the test, and usefulness of the feedback. This student comment was representative:

The clickers [SRS] were great! I could focus on the lecture more instead of daydreaming. Plus, I could compare myself with others. It was a relief to know that I wasn't the only one who did not know all of the answers. I was better prepared for the test because the clickers [SRS] constantly had me in the study-mindset. I only wish all my professors used clickers.

However, the instructor had both positive and negative reactions. On the one hand, the technology offered many benefits. The SRS was very engaging and made the class more interesting, and it was very easy to use in the classroom. The RF keypads functioned effectively since students did not have to point directly at the receiver. Finally, the ability to capture student responses in a gradebook and provide visual feedback to students was a distinct pedagogical advantage; the system allowed the instructor to monitor student learning in real time. As a result, misunderstandings could be addressed immediately and the instructor did not gloss over important material under the assumption that students understood the concepts.
On the other hand, learning the application and entering questions was time-consuming. Furthermore, the professor had to bring spare batteries to class. We concur with Duncan's (2006) recommendation that ample time should be provided for both the student and the instructor to get used to the teaching and learning environment using this technology.

Discussion

Our findings support previous SRS research that demonstrates the benefit of this technology in terms of student motivation and engagement. For example, our findings are consistent with both Duncan (2006) and Rice and Bunz (2006), all of whom found positive benefits for students in terms of making class more interesting and aiding in exam preparation. However, our findings go beyond previous research and make a unique contribution to the literature on SRS by demonstrating that students who used an SRS retained significantly more of their knowledge from the midterm than did the control group. Thus, the SRS positively impacted not only students’ expectations of success and interest in the class but also their retention of knowledge.
Overall, the findings from this study indicate that SRS can be effective in enhancing student engagement and learning. In the traditional classroom where lecture is the preferred mode of instruction, SRS technology can provide another mode of learning that may help students engage with the material and let instructors see where learning needs more support. These findings are consistent with the notion that externally provided feedback enables learners to be more effective (Kulhavy and Stock 1989). It may be the case, as Butler and Winne (1995) have proposed, that using SRS to provide feedback immediately after the learning exercise may afford students the opportunity to engage in a deeper learning process than is typically experienced in the classroom. That is, the feedback provided by SRS may facilitate more effective comprehension.
Although our study employed a quasi-experimental design to address the impact of SRS on learning outcomes, there were some limitations that must be addressed. For example, the primary distinction between the treatment group and the control group was the presentation of multiple-choice questions in class to the SRS group. The control group was not made responsible for reviewing the multiple-choice questions outside of class. It may be possible that making time in class for these questions to be delivered to the control group even without an SRS would have affected the results. Nonetheless, this delivery option still would not have afforded visual and normative feedback as efficiently as the SRS did.

Conclusion

This study provided empirical evidence that SRS may play an important role in increasing student engagement and interest, improving performance on traditional exams, increasing confidence in remembering the material, and most importantly, increasing retention of that material. It is important to note that the SRS may not necessarily be the most innovative technology available to educators, but this study demonstrates that it is an effective technology when supported by sound learning principles.
Future research could expand on our findings by examining the impact of SRS in different disciplines or using different types of questions beyond factual multiple-choice questions. Alternatively, researchers may also consider the impact of other technologies that can provide immediate feedback. For example, cell phone technology is nearly ubiquitous, easy to use, and inexpensive. This technology, like the SRS, offers users the ability to participate in polling activities. Future research endeavors could help determine if one system is more advantageous than the other.
Technology has become a staple of the 21st-century learning environment, and as technology changes, so do the opportunities for instructors to empower students to engage in successful learning. Based on the findings from this study, SRS offers one such opportunity for educators to adapt to the changing learning environment.

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Copyright and Citation Information for this Article
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Radosevich, D., R. Salomon, D. Radosevich, and P. Kahn. 2008. Using Student Response Systems to Increase Motivation, Learning, and Knowledge Retention. Innovate 5 (1). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=449 (accessed October 1, 2008). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.


September 19

Why Professor Johnny Can't Read: Understanding the Net Generation's TextsMark Mabrito and Rebecca Medleymore »









In the last two decades, computer-enhanced learning has exploded to the point where almost every college campus markets its cutting-edge technology resources. Part of the impetus behind this growth is an attempt to address the needs of a fundamentally different type of learner who has been identified in the literature as the Net-Generation, or N-Gen, student (Barnes, Marateo, and Ferris 2007; Hendricks 2004). What distinguishes this group of learners, who were born after 1982, from previous generations is the fact that they have come of age in a digitally enhanced world and, consequently, their understanding of the world has come primarily from digital sources (Tapscott 1998). Prensky (2001) characterizes these students as "digital natives" because they represent the first generation of students to grow up with pervasive digital technology.
One indicator of the extent and type of differences between the Net Generation and previous generations of learners are the texts that N-Gen learners create and consume. Surrounded by digital media and technology-enhanced texts of all kinds, these students have developed specific skills and knowledge to read, understand, and create these texts (Pinker 1994). Faculty who teach these students, however, may have difficulty reading and understanding these texts. Much in the same way that Rudolph Flesch’s 1955 landmark book Why Johnny Can’t Read criticized the American educational system for not teaching phonics, we suggest that today's instructors are missing an opportunity by not learning to read the texts of the Net Generation. Failing to recognize these texts as valuable tools in the teaching and learning process, professors dismiss an entire constellation of literacy skills. This article explores the nature of N-Gen texts as a reflection of the cognitive differences between N-Gen students and their older instructors, discusses the unique challenges this group of learners may present for instructors who do not share their technological immersion, and suggests the means by which such challenges may be overcome.

The Challenge of Net-Generation Learners

Much has been written about the way in which the N-Gen learner acquires and processes information (Exhibit 1). Coming of age in an environment saturated by technology, where the digital world interacts more and more seamlessly with the "real" world, means that these students represent the first generation of virtual learners—learners accustomed to seeking and building knowledge in a technology-enhanced environment. When these learners seek information, they are more likely to look for it online than anywhere else since this is the environment with which they are most familiar.
Are educators rising to the challenge of teaching these students? Some evidence suggests that they are not. The most significant problem may be that since most faculty members do not fit the profile of the Net Generation, they most likely do not share the same learning styles as their students. While many faculty members are technologically literate, routinely using computer resources in research and teaching, most did not grow up in the digital culture common to many of their N-Gen students. As a result, while N-Gens interact with the world through multimedia, online social networking, and routine multitasking, their professors tend to approach learning linearly, one task at a time, and as an individual activity that is centered largely around printed text (Hartman, Dzubian, and Brophy-Ellison 2007).
This distinction is important. Research in social psychology suggests that culture influences not only what a person thinks about but also how he or she thinks; that is, strategies for processing information may differ according to the culture in which a person matures (Peng and Nisbett 1999). Additionally, recent studies in brain research seem to indicate that the brain may actually be changed by repeated and prolonged exposure to the same stimuli (Nandini 2005), a phenomenon referred to by Trojan et al. (2004) as "adaptational neuroplasticity" (104). This research points to the possibility that N-Gen students are literally wired differently from previous generations, their brains shaped by a lifelong immersion in virtual spaces. Repeated and prolonged exposure to the digital world may mean that N-Gen students process and interact with information in a fundamentally different way from those who did not grow up in this environment.
Not having been raised in the world of the N-Gen student, then, presents some significant challenges for faculty members who must attempt to address the needs of a learning style they have never experienced, may know little about, and may be unable to comprehend fully because of their different skills in processing information.

The Net Generation and Their Texts

One way of better understanding how the N-Gen student processes and interacts with information is to study the online texts through which they do so. These texts often serve to present the author to the digital world and may be collaboratively composed and edited; they are frequently multimodal, integrating words, graphics, sound, and video. Digital texts are the media by which these learners develop social identity (Exhibit 2) as well as interact and engage in collaborative knowledge building (Exhibit 3). Consider, for example, the popularity of online sites such as MySpace, Xanga, and LiveJournal, all of which started out essentially as online diaries but that have now spawned vast social networks that afford opportunities for the N-Gen student to publish everything from words to multimedia while interacting with a community of like-minded learners. Sometimes N-Gen texts more closely resemble traditional text, such as in blogs (Blogger, WordPress), but even blogging is rich with opportunities for collaboration and interaction not available within the confines of traditional text (Exhibit 4). N-Gen texts may also be visual, presented via photo- and video-sharing sites like Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube. Finally, the texts of this generation may take the form of virtual worlds, such as Second Life, where the text is virtual reality, a graphical representation of a space that a reader may navigate in the form of an avatar (Exhibit 5). The content of these texts is not linear but dynamic, requiring N-Gens to develop ways of thinking that differ altogether from those of their professors (Nandini 2005).
The end result is something remarkably different from the texts of previous generations. Many faculty members developed their writing skills in a print world where text took the conventional form of paragraphs on a page or was packaged as a book or an article, a story or a novel; its production was typically conceived of as a solitary act. Consequently, their previous experiences with and understanding of text are quite different from that of the N-Gen student, which may lead to profound misunderstandings. When instructors perceive linear, print-based texts as a benchmark, the N-Gen’s texts may, at first glance, fall quite short. However, these digital texts do not necessarily lack style, coherence, or organization; they simply present meaning in ways unfamiliar to the instructor. For example, a collection of images on Flickr with authorial comments and tags certainly does not resemble the traditional essay, but the time spent on such a project, the motivation for undertaking it, and its ability to communicate meaning can certainly be equal to the investment and motivation required by the traditional essay—and the photos may actually provide more meaningful communication for their intended audience.
It follows then that instructors could begin to understand N-Gen learning processes by studying these texts. The spaces where N-Gen students construct a social identity, communicate with their peers, and interact with other media should not be dismissed as venues for mere entertainment or social acceptance. Indeed, they are much more than that. The cyberculture and its texts have allowed N-Gen students to cultivate their inherent ability to adapt to new tools, language, and artifacts as they are developed within digital spaces (Steinkuehler, Black, and Clinton 2005; Clark 2002). These spaces are highly active learning communities, producing the virtual textbooks of this generation's life--constantly changing artifacts that may provide a glimpse into how these learners have evolved as readers and writers of virtual texts.

Implications for the Classroom

How does what we learn by studying the N-Gen's texts compare with what happens in the classroom? Gee (2007) points out a key distinction:

Classrooms tend to encourage and reward individual knowledge stored in the head, not distributed knowledge. They don't often allow students to network with each other and with various tools and technologies and be rewarded for doing so . . . . classrooms tend to narrowly constrain where students can gain knowledge, rather than utilize widely dispersed knowledge. (103)

While interaction certainly exists in a traditional classroom, much of the pedagogy is built on models that require solitary, independent learning. A glimpse into the world of the N-Gen's texts seems to indicate that these learners have grown up doing the very things that traditional pedagogy discourages. When viewed in this context, the N-Gen student may appear deficient, lacking the skills necessary to succeed in the academic world. Texts that do not look like books or essays and that are structured in unfamiliar ways may leave educators with the perception that the authors of these texts lack necessary literacy skills. Are these students missing something, or are they coming to us with skills as researchers, readers, writers, and critical thinkers that have been developed in a context that faculty members may not understand and appreciate? The striking differences between the linear, print-based texts of instructors and the interactive, fluctuating, hyperlinked texts of the N-Gen student may keep instructors from fully appreciating the thought processes behind these texts. Learning how to teach the wired student requires a two-pronged effort: to understand how N-Gen student understand and process texts and to create a pedagogy that leverages the learning skills of this type of learner.

Learning Spaces and Alternate Classrooms

One way to build a stronger understanding of the N-Gen student is by participating in the same learning spaces where this generation spends so much time. For some, this requires a shift in pedagogical thinking. We must think of places where N-Gens create, consume, and reshape text not as strictly entertainment or social gathering places but as alternate classrooms (Exhibit 6). Many of the skills that N-Gens develop while participating in these spaces are skills that could serve them well in certain learning environments, particularly those framed by the principles of social constructivism (Exhibit 7). Faculty members can capitalize on N-Gen students' facility with cooperative and collaborative virtual environments to make Web-based social media spaces, such as MySpace, into alternate classrooms (Exhibit 8). By moving learning out of the physical classroom or even out of the more recent online classroom into these other worlds, we can create more effective pedagogies that situate learning in a familiar context, thereby increasing N-Gen students' motivation for learning.
Current curricula in most colleges and universities are constructed within a linear, sequential model, providing distinct courses and programs of study. Faculty members need to consider that such models may not necessarily facilitate the building of alternate classrooms. These classrooms most likely will feature less well-defined boundaries, multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches to learning, and an emphasis on experiential learning.

Pedagogy for the N-Gen Student

Attempting to capitalize on the skills N-Gens already possess will be one effective approach to formulating pedagogy for these virtual learners. The processes we see at work in N-Gen texts are similar to those that social constructivists suggest should structure classroom instruction. Current approaches to integrating social constructivism in the classroom recognize a practice that privileges dialogue among student writers as a means of discovering ideas and developing thinking, assumes that meaning is discovered through shared social experiences (Vygotsky 1978; Bruffe 1984), and recognizes that computer-networked collaboration and communication can help facilitate this experience (Bump 1990; Duin and Hanson 1994). Similarly, Wenger (1998) posits the concept of the community of practice, a group of individuals participating in communal activity and creating a shared identity by contributing to the practices of their communities. Some contemporary pedagogical research has already suggested such approaches, including privileging group work and using technology to meet N-Gen students' particular learning needs and strengths (Exhibit 9).
However, this shift in pedagogy cannot happen rapidly. Even as we are learning more about the N-Gen learner, our pedagogy for addressing the needs of this type of learner has not kept pace. Two factors will drive the adoption of a pedagogy that accesses the strengths of N-Gen learning styles for education. First, faculty members must spend time in the learning spaces of N-Gen students in order to develop an understanding of how N-Gen literacies and learning styles develop. We need to experience these learning spaces as learners before we can understand how to use them as teachers.
Secondly, and equally important, faculty members cannot be expected to construct such classrooms without a tremendous amount of institutional support. Some institutions have already acknowledged the need for support. For example, Ohio University and Harvard Law have established campuses in Second Life. However, a recent Pew Internet research report found that middle and high school students report a substantial disconnect between how they use the Internet for school at home and how they use the Internet at home for personal use (Levin et al. 2002). So while innovation is happening on some fronts, more institutional support as well as a rethinking of educational models needs to happen.

Conclusion

We must continue to find ways to give N-Gen students more control over their learning environments by allowing them to build social networks within and across learning experiences, helping them to cultivate the research and writing skills that they have developed online, and packaging course content in ways that match their learning styles and optimize their strengths. Such change must be built upon a solid understanding and acceptance of the students we are attempting to teach. One of the stumbling blocks to developing a pedagogy for the Net Generation is that not all faculty members are connected to this group of learners in significant ways. What we see here is not a generation gap but an information processing gap. It is not merely a question of learning facts about the Net-Generation culture or how to operate the latest technology; faculty members need to focus more on attempting to experience the digital world in the same way that their students do. It is not enough for instructors to accept that learning may occur in these places; they must go there as well as scholars with information to share, as researchers attempting to gain insight, and, more importantly, as learners acquiring a new kind of understanding.

References

Barnes, K., R. Marateo, and S. Ferris. 2007. Teaching and learning with the Net Generation. Innovate 3 (4). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=382 (accessed June 14, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5Xw2qkEa6.
Bruffe, K. A. 1984. Collaborative learning and the conversation of mankind. College English 46 (7): 635-53.
Bump, J. 1990. Radical changes in class discussion using networked computers. Computers and the Humanties 24:49-65.
Clark, A. 2002. Minds, brains, and tools: Comments on Dennett for Hugh Clapin's workshop on mental representation, Maine, August 1999. http://www.philosophy.ed.ac.uk/staff/clark/pubs/MindsBrains.pdf (accessed June 14, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5Xw2YecaX.
Duin, A. H., and C. Hanson. 1994. Reading and writing on computer networks as social construction and social interaction. In Literacy and computers: The complications of teaching and learning with technology, eds. C. E. Selfe and S. Hilligoss, 89-112. New York: Modern Language Association.
Gee, J. P. 2007. Good video games + good learning. New York: Peter Lang.
Hartman, J. L., Dziuban, C., and J. Brophy-Ellison. 2007. Faculty 2.0. Educause Review 42 (5). http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0753.pdf (accessed June 14, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5Xw4B5bKP.
Hendricks, J. A. 2004. The Netgeneration: The Internet as classroom and community. Current Issues in Education 7 (1). http://cie.ed.asu.edu/volume7/number1/ (accessed June 14, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5Xw1vPY0a.
Levin, D., S. Arafeh, A. Lenhart, and L. Raine. 2002. The digital disconnect: The widening gap between Internet-savvy students and their schools. Pew Internet and American Life Project. http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/67/report_display.asp (accessed June 14, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5XxmDhBzL.
Nandini, M. 2005. Neuroplasticity in children. Indian Journal of Pediatrics 72 (10): 855-857. http://www.ijppediatricsindia.org/article.asp?issn=0019-5456;year=2005;volume=72;issue=10;spage=855;epage=857;aulast=Mundkur (accessed June 14, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5Xw2C8EfN .
Peng, K., and R. E. Nisbett. 1999. Culture, dialecticism, and reasoning about contradiction. American Psychologist 54: 741-754.
Pinker, S. 1994. The language instinct: How the mind creates language. New York: William Morrow and Company.
Prensky, M. 2001. Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon 9 (5). http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf (accessed June 14, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5Xw20Pp6Z.
Steinkuehler, C. A., R. W. Black, and K. A. Clinton. 2005. Researching literacy as tool, place, and way of being. Reading Research Quarterly January-March: 95-99.
Tapscott, D. 1998. Growing up digital: The rise of the Net Generation. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Trojan S., M. Langmeier, D. Marešová, J. Mourek, and J. Pokorný. 2004. Plasticity of the brain in neuroontogenesis. Prague Medical Report 105 (2): 97-110. http://www.lf1.cuni.cz/Data/files/PragueMedicalReport/PMR%2004-02%20Trojan%201.pdf (accessed June 14, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5Xw2JSokK.
Vygotsky, L. 1978. Mind in society. London: Harvard University Press.
Wenger E. 1998. Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Mabrito, M., and R. Medley. 2008. Why Professor Johnny can't read: Understanding the Net Generation's texts. Innovate 4 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=510 (accessed September 20, 2008). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

September 12
I'm taking a slightly different route with this week's column. I want to ask you some questions. Please email me with your responses by next Friday, the 26th, and I'll post what you tell me and then compare CCSD views to the current research.
(This may take me a while so be patient.) The questions focus on the future of one key element of "old school" education in a Web 2.0 world: the textbook. While textbooks have long been a central component in traditional, bricks-and-mortar-based curricula, they have been slow to join the technological revolution. Indeed, in some ways, the textbook is symbolic of "old school" education; as a cumbersome, expensive compendium of accepted wisdom, the textbook could be seen as standing in the way of the personalized, readily modified, self-constructed knowledge that contemporary students demand and developing technology allows. But the textbook has important functions in both the traditional and online classrooms. As centralized collections of key information, textbooks can help students manage, analyze, and filter the mass of information now available literally at the click of a mouse.And the concept of the textbook is evolving along with other elements of education. e-Book technologies can reduce the weighty mass of paper to a single, small appliance. Electronic textbooks offered online can include multimedia resources and reach beyond themselves via hyperlinks that facilitate individual exploration. Online versions are easily modified as information changes; can be personalized by learners via annotation, indexing, and interactive features; and can be made affordable for students around the world. In short, the textbook won't be going away, but it must evolve, both technologically and pedagogically
1. What will textbooks look like in the future? Will the textbook as we know it continue to exist in some recognizable form, or is the future of the textbook limited?
2. How will emerging technology, like the pairing of X-O computers and downloadable textbooks in use in Peru or cell-phone-sized readers with book-size pages, transform the content, function, and uses of the textbook?
3. How can textbooks be made accessible and affordable for disadvantaged learners and those in developing countries lacking the resources to acquire and maintain print textbooks?
4. What is the current state-of-the-art in textbooks? How are K-21 educators already experimenting with e-textbooks and other innovations? What can these experiments tell us about the future of the textbook?
5. What role will wikis and other Web 2.0 technologies play in the textbook of the future?
6. How can the textbooks of the future incorporate the best features of constructivist and authentic learning principles, by tailoring content to individual learner needs (including the needs of disabled learners) or through other technological innovations?
7. How will textbooks shape the interaction between teacher and student and the role of the teacher in education?
8. What developments--in technology, in funding, in pedagogical theory, and in politics and copyright law--will be required to make e-textbooks readily available, especially to students in developing countries?

September 5

An enterprise simulation platform for education: Building a world game for pre-college students with Microsoft ESP

David Gibson and Susan Grasso
Published July 2008
On this page:
Research and development vision
Games for learning
Theoretical frameworks
Digital game- and simulation-based learning
Informal approaches to the cyberinfrastructure of science education
An integrated framework of technological tools
Recent cognitive science findings and learning theories
Conclusion
References
Copyright and citation information for this article
Biographies

Synopsis

Stacey hops into her Explorer Capsule for an unguided exploration of Earth. From her vantage point, flying high in the stratosphere or skimming Earth’s surface, she stops wherever she wishes to observe an animal, chat with a friend, or simply enjoy the view. She observes the weather patterns in the Caribbean, watches melting glaciers over Greenland, sees people and machines scurrying across war-torn regions, and begins to appreciate some of the complexities our world faces.
While flying over New Zealand, Stacey notices herds of wild horses running across the open landscape. She is a horse lover, so she moves in to take a closer look. Landing in the middle of a large field busy with soldiers on training maneuvers, she overhears an officer complaining: “Those Kaimanawa mares are interfering with our war games. They need to be controlled! Get someone on this or kill them!” Near the edge of the field, Stacey also sees two Department of Conservation ecologists surveying plant species, making notes, and pointing. Drawing near, she hears one of them remark, “The horses have damaged these native plants to the brink of extinction.” Stacey has never seen plants like this before.
Clicking on the horses, Stacey becomes one of them. Her actions are now constrained by Kaimanawa horse behavior. Other horses are in the field with her, and she senses that other online users have transformed into horses and joined in. The herd is disturbed and running. Stacey forms an impromptu international team with students from China and Korea who are playing as other horses. She goes where they go, eats what they eat, and talks to them about those strange plants. Noticing a nearby sign that reads “Mission,” she clicks on it and reads:
The International Council on Global Challenges seeks to resolve the issue of the feral Kaimanawa horses in New Zealand. Your help is requested. To be successful, you must within five days:
1. Explain to the Council whether and why you believe the Kaimanawa wild horses should be saved.2. Design a management plan that preserves the wild horse population while addressing societal and environmental concerns.
Will you accept this mission?
Stacey is beginning to understand that there is in this virtual environment a dynamic conflict between human, animal, and plant life that could involve her in any role — even as a plant. As she tries out each role, she is using technology, learning new science concepts, and solving problems.
This scenario, one of several that would appear in an envisioned Global Challenge World Game, shows how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning might be enhanced by engaging students with local and global systems in a realistic virtual earth via a multiuser virtual environment (MUVE). The focus of the World Game will be to engage K–12 students in authentic, immersive pursuits that deepen their scientific understanding in a three-dimensional simulation environment. The vision is to capitalize on computational science, simulation, and telecommunications tools to create powerful informal science learning opportunities. The use of a three-dimensional virtual world simulator powered by the new Microsoft ESP platform, combined with innovative practices in informal e-learning, will offer powerful new ways for K–12 students to learn to think in a structured fashion, work with large data sets, model complex and emergent processes (Colwell 2002), and share resources. In what follows, we provide a more detailed overview of the development of the Global Challenge World Game and discuss its anticipated benefits as a learning tool as well as the theoretical frameworks that inform its design.
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Research and development vision
While most U.S. schools introduce students to earth science in only one course, usually in the eighth or ninth grade, the next generation faces a host of urgent, complex, and globally linked scientific issues, including climate change and the future of energy. Such issues are arising at a time when enrollments in science programs have been decreasing and U.S. performance in science and mathematics has begun to lag behind our global neighbors. There is little evidence that schools can change quickly enough to prepare their students to address these issues and to adjust to the rapidly changing content, culture, and nature of scientific discovery in a globally connected world. Thus, we are proposing to enhance school-based learning with a game-like, Web-based delivery system for learning science, using technology, creating engineered solutions, and applying mathematics in realistic settings. Our rationale is that such a system best fits the next generation, that much can be accomplished through the self-directed and self-motivated inquiry found in games and simulations, and that the delivery system is both scalable and flexible.
The project is in an early stage of planning. The vision and goals of the project have been established by interdisciplinary teams drawn from science education and evaluation, engineering and research, informal science education, and business, and funding for the first stage of development is being sought from public and private foundations and individual sources (Exhibit 1). The goal is to develop a technology and design process for adapting existing STEM materials into a three-dimensional online game and simulation learning experience.
The development plan relies on three components: a new technology, existing curriculum materials, and an active worldwide network of K–12 students participating in online learning. The new technology is the Microsoft ESP platform for visual simulation, released in November 2007 (Exhibit 2). ESP allows simulations to be built more quickly and cost effectively than has previously been possible (Exhibit 3). The materials will be drawn from Lawrence Hall of Science’s exemplary Global Systems Science (GSS) curriculum. The topics selected for the initial development of the World Game include energy flow, climate change, ecosystem change, energy use, diminishing biodiversity, and population growth. GSS also provides a growing network of high school teachers and college education programs that will constitute a pool of early participants. An active worldwide network of students and additional learning materials will also come from the Global Challenge Award project (Exhibit 4).
The instructional activities and materials of the World Game will provide three-dimensional immersive online inquiry and discovery experiences in a virtual Earth. Each of the initial 20 curriculum units will take place in a game-inspired simulation setting aimed at students in grades 9 through 12 and intended for use either at home or in a classroom setting; units for middle school students will be developed later. Each unit will contain several missions roughly analogous to levels in video games. The purpose of the missions is to engage the imagination of young people and motivate them to acquire and demonstrate scientific knowledge as well as reasoning and collaboration skills. Each mission is anticipated to require up to five hours to master, broken up into 10–20 minute segments of self-guided play. The full scope of materials is anticipated to offer the equivalent of a full-year high school curriculum in integrated earth system and life sciences.
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Games for learning
Our proposal to build curriculum units around game-based learning experiences challenges basic assumptions of formal learning, such as those that underlie the traditional role of teachers in the classroom. However, when pedagogy is freed from these assumptions, exciting innovations are possible that allow a multiplayer e-learning environment to infuse K–12 education with cutting-edge content (Morissette 2003; Dede et al. 2004; Galarneau and Zibit 2006; Gibson, Aldrich, and Prensky 2006). A digital game and simulation-based approach to STEM learning both accommodates student preferences and supports the core cognitive processes of learning.
Millions of students have now grown up with ubiquitous access to computers and the Internet, which has both changed how they learn and influenced how they spend their free time (Prensky 2001; Beck and Wade 2004). Meanwhile, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are currently taught at the K–12 level in much the same way as they were decades ago — that is, by disseminating content in the classroom, including an increasing number of online classrooms. The good news is that educators can employ new technologies to target core cognitive processes in ways that are highly compatible with how today‘s students would rather learn. For example, research shows that, in order to learn effectively, students need to construct a mental model — their understanding — from their own questions and experience, and they need to share, compare, and adapt their understanding with feedback from a larger expert community (NRC 2000; Llewellyn 2002; Hammerman 2006). Digital game and simulation-based approaches support these processes while utilizing the fun, excitement, and highly motivating nature of self-directed game play to achieve serious learning goals.
In addition, the low cost of replicating digital learning experiences can meet the need to scale the delivery of learning to very large numbers of students (Mayo 2005). The scaling features of a simulation-based solution support widespread use, offering the possibility of reaching large numbers of potential beneficiaries. In addition, online scalability can overcome some of the barriers of time, training, and administrative support presented by other pedagogical approaches. With built-in user tracking and analysis driving program adaptability, learning units can be individualized for both learning and assessment (Exhibit 5), increasing the effectiveness of learning and reducing the time needed to attain targeted outcomes.
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Theoretical frameworks
Four theoretical frameworks underpin the vision for this project:
1. Digital game- and simulation-based learning2. Informal approaches to the cyberinfrastructrure of science education3. An integrated framework of computational science, telecommunications, and social networking tools4. Recent cognitive science findings and learning theories
Digital game- and simulation-based learning
Digital game- and simulation-based learning present powerful opportunities for bringing cutting-edge content and pedagogy into K–12 education, thereby increasing the number of women and underrepresented populations entering STEM fields (Mayo 2005) and reversing persistent declines in the number of young people entering scientific majors and careers in the United States (COSEPUP, PGA 2006). Games can help achieve these goals by engaging students with a highly motivational structure that teaches as it entertains. Games and simulations attract attention and sustained effort more effectively than other e-learning technologies and far more effectively than traditional educational delivery methods (Aldrich 2004; Bonk and Dennen 2005; Gibson, Aldrich, and Prensky 2006). Recent studies of serious games, for example, indicate that highly invested players (of both genders and all races) spend 15 or more hours per week and up to 45 hours at each level in such games (Beck and Wade 2004; Gee 2004; Becker 2006). Serious games offer an attractive medium that not only elicits playful rather than laborious effort, but also motivates repeated attempts to fulfill learning tasks, allows students to see constant visible improvement of knowledge and skills, and gives opportunities for students to reflect on what they have learned (Prensky 2001; Gee 2004).
The World Game will engage gamers and catalyze learning by using motivational strategies common to serious games (Exhibit 6). Each activity will take advantage of the simulation environment to create intensive, immersive learning experiences; for example, a student may study water resource issues while rafting down rapids or learn about meteorology by riding along as an assistant to scientists probing the eye of a hurricane. Students will be rewarded for successful missions with points, level advancement, prizes, and scholarship funds. A leader board will display students’ points and prizes and allow comparisons with others. As students play each level, they will create artifacts — such as mini reports, field notes, data tables, graphs, and reflective journal entries — that will earn points toward advancement to higher levels. As they create these artifacts, students will be using some of the same Web-based tools and resources that scientists use, thus accessing a fuller network of knowledge outside the space of the game.
Simulation-based games can also engage some of the skills needed to learn about and solve the complex problems scientists face. The global scale of problems, such as climate change and the future of energy, and the variety of fields of knowledge needed to address these challenges require interdisciplinary efforts devoted to complex problem-solving tasks (Grasso 2002). Playing games involves solving highly complex problems by requiring players to understand both the underlying game engine or simulation and the immediate situation. Games also have the potential to embed several layers of concepts and foster the development of interdisciplinary knowledge and crossdisciplinary skills.
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Informal approaches to the cyberinfrastructure of science education
The second theoretical framework for the design of the proposed World Game draws on the wisdom and practice of informal science education and the Web-based tools and resources that make up the broader cyberinfrastructure of STEM and STEM education. While formal science education often utilizes specialized online research tools to support student projects and activities, informal science education reaches large numbers of people each year through museums, Web sites, and CD- and Web-based games. This latter mode of instruction is called “informal” because it involves learners volunteering and directing their own experiences, in contrast to traditional, teacher-directed e-learning frameworks. Khan’s e-Learning Framework (Morrison and Khan 2003) is an example of a framework that supports informal and flexible learning activities and supports learning with well-designed learning resources in a globally and culturally sensitive learning environment. In informal learning, students follow their intrinsic interests and curiosity; they explore, handle things, create imaginative stories, undertake and complete tasks that they select, and interact with people, events, and objects as they see fit (Crane et al. 1994). Students are drawn to this kind of learning because it is engaging and interactive, and they can return at any time and pick up where they left off (Jolly, Campbell, and Perlman 2004). These features, which are also found in serious digital game- and simulation-based learning environments (Prensky 2001), offer freedom of choice and access to tools and resources that allow a range of experiences, such as fantasy trips to Mars or the chance to solve mysteries in science labs.
The World Game will engage an informal learning structure by allowing students the freedom to play or simply to explore. The game environment is being designed to offer many possible paths to equally valid solutions. Students will be free to choose what to explore, where to go, and in what order to pursue tasks and activities. The organizing principle of the experience will not be what someone wants to teach them, but what they want to do and whether and how they want to research further and build on their own ideas to win points and prizes. No single course of study will be privileged over another, meaning that there will be no single right way to win the game so that a student‘s intrinsic interests can serve as starting points.
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An integrated framework of technological tools
The World Game will rely on a new integration of tools and services as the third framework for its design. This integration, which can be broadly characterized as a combination of advanced computational science tools with new telecommunications tools, supports the social networks needed to conduct scientific inquiry (Panoff 2006). Computational science tools are also necessary for understanding the new basics of science, which require the representation of large data sets and complex systems. Topics such as nanotechnology, proteomics, fuel cells, bioinformatics, biodefense, gene therapy, alternative fuels, green technology, graph theory, and others have been illuminated and made clearer due to advances in representing and understanding the large data sets that have become a mainstay of modern science. The World Game will support the creation, representation, and use of large data sets and allow for the presentation of complex systems (Exhibit 2).
New telecommunications tools in the game will go beyond e-mail, blogs, and online databases to incorporate Semantic Web methodologies and support for social networking and team learning. Social networking phenomena such as Ning, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Facebook, and YouTube illustrate the power of the new levels of telecommunication integration available in MUVEs. The power of social networks springs from the thousands of individual users who work together on a common project, whether that be a definition in Wikipedia, a film series in YouTube, or a professional contact list in LinkedIn. Similarly, the integration of social network technologies within massively multiplayer online games can be seen in World of Warcraft, where social groups called guilds are formed to accomplish challenging tasks. The World Game will provide such social groups to introduce students to group work and peer-review practices with an integrated toolset that combines powerful, interactive analytical and visualization methods with discussions, chats, instant messages, and blogs. Examples of this sort of integration can also be seen in sites such as Many Eyes and the newly released Google gadget Motion Chart.
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Recent cognitive science findings and learning theories
The integration of game-inspired instructional design, informal science education, advanced visualization and analytic tools, and social networking capabilities was envisioned based on findings from cognitive science and learning theories. The review of learning theories presented in the National Research Council‘s How People Learn (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking 2000) supports the need for a balance between content- and inquiry-based learning called for in National Science Education standards (NRC 1996). Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) emphasize four primary mechanisms and contexts of learning:
1. The characteristics of the learner2. The nature of the content3. The role of a community in shaping learning4. The integration of ongoing feedback and assessment
The learning environment, according to Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000), needs to be contextualized within real situations and embedded in real communities of peers and experts who communicate and shape one‘s thinking. Finally, the learning environment needs to be laced with ample, timely, and accurate expert feedback to guide the development of knowledge-in-action (Donovan, Bransford, and Pellegrino 1999).
Reflecting an awareness of the student needs and learning mechanisms highlighted by this literature, the World Game will address the National Science Standards by facilitating inquiry-based, constructivist learning methods (Exhibit 7). The game will be personalizable and adaptable to many different kinds of learners and structured to reflect how scientists actually work with existing knowledge to develop new knowledge through modeling and experimentation. Embedded telecommunications and social network tools will provide for the development of a community of peers and experts and connect students to the real-world contexts of working scientists while the assessment mechanisms and the structure of the game will provide constant feedback.
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Conclusion
The Global Challenge World Game aims to provide K–12 students with a game- and simulation-based learning environment that helps them develop an understanding of the complex nature of global systems that are involved in challenges such as climate change and the future of energy. The project will provide an online Web-based environment that invites students to explore, encourages informal learning, and rewards the acquisition of STEM knowledge. Moreover, the World Game will ask students to apply what they know while working collaboratively in international teams and to document their explorations and understandings as they seek solutions to real global challenges. In doing so, the World Game promises to prepare students for a future in which the stakes are higher than ever before in the game of scientific discovery.
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References
Aldrich, Clarke. 2004. Simulations and the Future of Learning: An Innovative (and Perhaps Revolutionary) Approach to E-learning. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
Beck, John, and Mitchell Wade. 2004. Got Game: How the Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Becker, Katrin. 2006. “Pedagogy in Commercial Video Games.” In Games and Simulations in Online Learning: Research & Development Frameworks, eds. David Gibson, Clarke Aldrich, and Marc Prensky, 21-47. Hershey, PA: Idea Group.
Bonk, Curtis, and Vanessa Dennen. 2005. Massive Multiplayer Online Gaming: A Research Framework for Military Training and Education. Washington, D.C.: Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.
Bransford, John, Ann Brown, and Rodney Cocking, eds. 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Colwell, Rita. 2002. “Our Scientific Future: Turbulent, Convergent, Emergent.” Plenary lecture presented at the 2002 FDA Science Forum, Washington, D.C., February. http://www.nsf.gov/news/speeches/colwell/rc020220fda.htm (accessed May 27, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5XcEkLIyl.
Commitee on Science Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPUP), Policy and Global Affairs (PGA). 2006. Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Washington, D.C.: The National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11463 (accessed May 27, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5XdAFZ2Z4.
Crane, Valerie, Heather Nicholson, Milton Chen, and Stephen Bitgood, eds. 1994. Informal Science Learning: What the Research Says about Television, Science Museums, and Community-Based Projects. Denham, MA: Research Communications.
Dede, Chris, Brian Nelson, Diane Ketelhut, Jody Clarke, and Cassie Bowman. 2004. “Design-Based Research Strategies for Studying Situated Learning in a Multiuser Virtual Environment.” Paper presented at the International Conference on Learning Sciences, Mahweh, NJ, June. http://muve.gse.harvard.edu/rivercityproject/documents/dedeICLS04.pdf (accessed May 27, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5XEPETRF9.
Donovan, Susan, John Bransford, and James Pellegrino. 1999. How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. http://www.nap.edu/html/howpeople1/ (accessed May 27, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5XdACPU7U.
Galarneau, Lisa, and Melanie Zibit. 2006. “Multiplayer Online Games as Practice Arenas for 21st-Century Competencies.” Games and Simulations in Online Learning: Research and Development Frameworks, eds. David Gibson, Clarke Aldrich, and Marc Prensky, 59-88. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishers.
Gee, James. 2004. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Gibson, David, Clarke Aldrich, and Marc Prensky, eds. 2006. Games and Simulations in Online Learning. Hershey, PA: Idea Group.
Grasso, Domenico. 2002. “Engineering a Liberal Education.” Prism (November): 76.
Hammerman, Elizabeth. 2006. 8 Essentials of Inquiry-Based Science, K-8. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Jolly, Eric, Patricia Campbell, and Lesley Perlman. 2004. Engagement, Capacity, and Continuity: A Trilogy for Student Success. GE Foundation. http://www.ge.com/files/usa/en/foundation/103078_trilogy_final.pdf (accessed May 27, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5XcFjI8S6.
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Mayo, Merrilea. 2005. “Ender‘s Game for Science and Engineering: Games for Real, for Now, or We Lose the Brain War.” Paper presented at Serious Games 2005, Washington, D.C., October.
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Morrison, James, and Badrul Khan. 2003. “The Global e-Learning Framework: An Interview with Badrul Khan.” The Technology Source, May-June. http://technologysource.org/article/global_elearning_framework/ (accessed May 27, 2008). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5XWfxg4jP.
The National Research Council (NRC). 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washington, D.C.: NRC.
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Panoff, Robert. 2006. “Thinking with Numbers: Sources and Resources for Stimulating Quantitative Reasoning through Computational Science Education.” A paper presented at the International Conference on Computational Science and Education, Rochester, NY, August.
Prensky, Marc. 2001. Digital Game-Based Learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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Copyright and citation information for this article
This article may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes if the following attribution is included in the document:

Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Gibson, D., and S. Grasso. 2008. An enterprise simulation platform for education: Building a world game for pre-college students with Microsoft ESP. Innovate 4 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=586 (accessed July 22, 2008). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.


August 15

Why Professor Johnny Can't Read:

Understanding the Net Generation's Texts

Mark Mabrito and Rebecca Medley
In the last two decades, computer-enhanced learning has exploded to the point where almost every college campus markets its cutting-edge technology resources. Part of the impetus behind this growth is an attempt to address the needs of a fundamentally different type of learner who has been identified in the literature as the Net-Generation, or N-Gen, student (Barnes, Marateo, and Ferris 2007; Hendricks 2004). What distinguishes this group of learners, who were born after 1982, from previous generations is the fact that they have come of age in a digitally enhanced world and, consequently, their understanding of the world has come primarily from digital sources (Tapscott 1998). Prensky (2001) characterizes these students as "digital natives" because they represent the first generation of students to grow up with pervasive digital technology.
One indicator of the extent and type of differences between the Net Generation and previous generations of learners are the texts that N-Gen learners create and consume. Surrounded by digital media and technology-enhanced texts of all kinds, these students have developed specific skills and knowledge to read, understand, and create these texts (Pinker 1994). Faculty who teach these students, however, may have difficulty reading and understanding these texts. Much in the same way that Rudolph Flesch’s 1955 landmark book Why Johnny Can’t Read criticized the American educational system for not teaching phonics, we suggest that today's instructors are missing an opportunity by not learning to read the texts of the Net Generation. Failing to recognize these texts as valuable tools in the teaching and learning process, professors dismiss an entire constellation of literacy skills. This article explores the nature of N-Gen texts as a reflection of the cognitive differences between N-Gen students and their older instructors, discusses the unique challenges this group of learners may present for instructors who do not share their technological immersion, and suggests the means by which such challenges may be overcome.

The Challenge of Net-Generation Learners

Much has been written about the way in which the N-Gen learner acquires and processes information (Exhibit 1). Coming of age in an environment saturated by technology, where the digital world interacts more and more seamlessly with the "real" world, means that these students represent the first generation of virtual learners—learners accustomed to seeking and building knowledge in a technology-enhanced environment. When these learners seek information, they are more likely to look for it online than anywhere else since this is the environment with which they are most familiar.
Are educators rising to the challenge of teaching these students? Some evidence suggests that they are not. The most significant problem may be that since most faculty members do not fit the profile of the Net Generation, they most likely do not share the same learning styles as their students. While many faculty members are technologically literate, routinely using computer resources in research and teaching, most did not grow up in the digital culture common to many of their N-Gen students. As a result, while N-Gens interact with the world through multimedia, online social networking, and routine multitasking, their professors tend to approach learning linearly, one task at a time, and as an individual activity that is centered largely around printed text (Hartman, Dzubian, and Brophy-Ellison 2007).
This distinction is important. Research in social psychology suggests that culture influences not only what a person thinks about but also how he or she thinks; that is, strategies for processing information may differ according to the culture in which a person matures (Peng and Nisbett 1999). Additionally, recent studies in brain research seem to indicate that the brain may actually be changed by repeated and prolonged exposure to the same stimuli (Nandini 2005), a phenomenon referred to by Trojan et al. (2004) as "adaptational neuroplasticity" (104). This research points to the possibility that N-Gen students are literally wired differently from previous generations, their brains shaped by a lifelong immersion in virtual spaces. Repeated and prolonged exposure to the digital world may mean that N-Gen students process and interact with information in a fundamentally different way from those who did not grow up in this environment.
Not having been raised in the world of the N-Gen student, then, presents some significant challenges for faculty members who must attempt to address the needs of a learning style they have never experienced, may know little about, and may be unable to comprehend fully because of their different skills in processing information.

The Net Generation and Their Texts

One way of better understanding how the N-Gen student processes and interacts with information is to study the online texts through which they do so. These texts often serve to present the author to the digital world and may be collaboratively composed and edited; they are frequently multimodal, integrating words, graphics, sound, and video. Digital texts are the media by which these learners develop social identity (Exhibit 2) as well as interact and engage in collaborative knowledge building (Exhibit 3). Consider, for example, the popularity of online sites such as MySpace, Xanga, and LiveJournal, all of which started out essentially as online diaries but that have now spawned vast social networks that afford opportunities for the N-Gen student to publish everything from words to multimedia while interacting with a community of like-minded learners. Sometimes N-Gen texts more closely resemble traditional text, such as in blogs (Blogger, WordPress), but even blogging is rich with opportunities for collaboration and interaction not available within the confines of traditional text (Exhibit 4). N-Gen texts may also be visual, presented via photo- and video-sharing sites like Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube. Finally, the texts of this generation may take the form of virtual worlds, such as Second Life, where the text is virtual reality, a graphical representation of a space that a reader may navigate in the form of an avatar (Exhibit 5). The content of these texts is not linear but dynamic, requiring N-Gens to develop ways of thinking that differ altogether from those of their professors (Nandini 2005).
The end result is something remarkably different from the texts of previous generations. Many faculty members developed their writing skills in a print world where text took the conventional form of paragraphs on a page or was packaged as a book or an article, a story or a novel; its production was typically conceived of as a solitary act. Consequently, their previous experiences with and understanding of text are quite different from that of the N-Gen student, which may lead to profound misunderstandings. When instructors perceive linear, print-based texts as a benchmark, the N-Gen’s texts may, at first glance, fall quite short. However, these digital texts do not necessarily lack style, coherence, or organization; they simply present meaning in ways unfamiliar to the instructor. For example, a collection of images on Flickr with authorial comments and tags certainly does not resemble the traditional essay, but the time spent on such a project, the motivation for undertaking it, and its ability to communicate meaning can certainly be equal to the investment and motivation required by the traditional essay—and the photos may actually provide more meaningful communication for their intended audience.
It follows then that instructors could begin to understand N-Gen learning processes by studying these texts. The spaces where N-Gen students construct a social identity, communicate with their peers, and interact with other media should not be dismissed as venues for mere entertainment or social acceptance. Indeed, they are much more than that. The cyberculture and its texts have allowed N-Gen students to cultivate their inherent ability to adapt to new tools, language, and artifacts as they are developed within digital spaces (Steinkuehler, Black, and Clinton 2005; Clark 2002). These spaces are highly active learning communities, producing the virtual textbooks of this generation's life--constantly changing artifacts that may provide a glimpse into how these learners have evolved as readers and writers of virtual texts.

Implications for the Classroom

How does what we learn by studying the N-Gen's texts compare with what happens in the classroom? Gee (2007) points out a key distinction:

Classrooms tend to encourage and reward individual knowledge stored in the head, not distributed knowledge. They don't often allow students to network with each other and with various tools and technologies and be rewarded for doing so . . . . classrooms tend to narrowly constrain where students can gain knowledge, rather than utilize widely dispersed knowledge. (103)

While interaction certainly exists in a traditional classroom, much of the pedagogy is built on models that require solitary, independent learning. A glimpse into the world of the N-Gen's texts seems to indicate that these learners have grown up doing the very things that traditional pedagogy discourages. When viewed in this context, the N-Gen student may appear deficient, lacking the skills necessary to succeed in the academic world. Texts that do not look like books or essays and that are structured in unfamiliar ways may leave educators with the perception that the authors of these texts lack necessary literacy skills. Are these students missing something, or are they coming to us with skills as researchers, readers, writers, and critical thinkers that have been developed in a context that faculty members may not understand and appreciate? The striking differences between the linear, print-based texts of instructors and the interactive, fluctuating, hyperlinked texts of the N-Gen student may keep instructors from fully appreciating the thought processes behind these texts. Learning how to teach the wired student requires a two-pronged effort: to understand how N-Gen student understand and process texts and to create a pedagogy that leverages the learning skills of this type of learner.

Learning Spaces and Alternate Classrooms

One way to build a stronger understanding of the N-Gen student is by participating in the same learning spaces where this generation spends so much time. For some, this requires a shift in pedagogical thinking. We must think of places where N-Gens create, consume, and reshape text not as strictly entertainment or social gathering places but as alternate classrooms (Exhibit 6). Many of the skills that N-Gens develop while participating in these spaces are skills that could serve them well in certain learning environments, particularly those framed by the principles of social constructivism (Exhibit 7). Faculty members can capitalize on N-Gen students' facility with cooperative and collaborative virtual environments to make Web-based social media spaces, such as MySpace, into alternate classrooms (Exhibit 8). By moving learning out of the physical classroom or even out of the more recent online classroom into these other worlds, we can create more effective pedagogies that situate learning in a familiar context, thereby increasing N-Gen students' motivation for learning.
Current curricula in most colleges and universities are constructed within a linear, sequential model, providing distinct courses and programs of study. Faculty members need to consider that such models may not necessarily facilitate the building of alternate classrooms. These classrooms most likely will feature less well-defined boundaries, multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches to learning, and an emphasis on experiential learning.

Pedagogy for the N-Gen Student

Attempting to capitalize on the skills N-Gens already possess will be one effective approach to formulating pedagogy for these virtual learners. The processes we see at work in N-Gen texts are similar to those that social constructivists suggest should structure classroom instruction. Current approaches to integrating social constructivism in the classroom recognize a practice that privileges dialogue among student writers as a means of discovering ideas and developing thinking, assumes that meaning is discovered through shared social experiences (Vygotsky 1978; Bruffe 1984), and recognizes that computer-networked collaboration and communication can help facilitate this experience (Bump 1990; Duin and Hanson 1994). Similarly, Wenger (1998) posits the concept of the community of practice, a group of individuals participating in communal activity and creating a shared identity by contributing to the practices of their communities. Some contemporary pedagogical research has already suggested such approaches, including privileging group work and using technology to meet N-Gen students' particular learning needs and strengths (Exhibit 9).
However, this shift in pedagogy cannot happen rapidly. Even as we are learning more about the N-Gen learner, our pedagogy for addressing the needs of this type of learner has not kept pace. Two factors will drive the adoption of a pedagogy that accesses the strengths of N-Gen learning styles for education. First, faculty members must spend time in the learning spaces of N-Gen students in order to develop an understanding of how N-Gen literacies and learning styles develop. We need to experience these learning spaces as learners before we can understand how to use them as teachers.
Secondly, and equally important, faculty members cannot be expected to construct such classrooms without a tremendous amount of institutional support. Some institutions have already acknowledged the need for support. For example, Ohio University and Harvard Law have established campuses in Second Life. However, a recent Pew Internet research report found that middle and high school students report a substantial disconnect between how they use the Internet for school at home and how they use the Internet at home for personal use (Levin et al. 2002). So while innovation is happening on some fronts, more institutional support as well as a rethinking of educational models needs to happen.

Conclusion

We must continue to find ways to give N-Gen students more control over their learning environments by allowing them to build social networks within and across learning experiences, helping them to cultivate the research and writing skills that they have developed online, and packaging course content in ways that match their learning styles and optimize their strengths. Such change must be built upon a solid understanding and acceptance of the students we are attempting to teach. One of the stumbling blocks to developing a pedagogy for the Net Generation is that not all faculty members are connected to this group of learners in significant ways. What we see here is not a generation gap but an information processing gap. It is not merely a question of learning facts about the Net-Generation culture or how to operate the latest technology; faculty members need to focus more on attempting to experience the digital world in the same way that their students do. It is not enough for instructors to accept that learning may occur in these places; they must go there as well as scholars with information to share, as researchers attempting to gain insight, and, more importantly, as learners acquiring a new kind of understanding.

References

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Copyright and Citation Information for this ArticleThis article may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes if the following attribution is included in the document:
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Mabrito, M., and R. Medley. 2008. Why Professor Johnny can't read: Understanding the Net Generation's texts. Innovate 4 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=510 (accessed August 15, 2008). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

5/2

Informal Style of Electronic Messages Is Showing Up in Schoolwork, Study Finds

By TAMAR LEWINPublished: April 25, 2008
As e-mail messages, text messages and social network postings become nearly ubiquitous in the lives of teenagers, the informality of electronic communications is seeping into their schoolwork, a new study says.
Nearly two-thirds of 700 students surveyed said their e-communication style sometimes bled into school assignments, according to the study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, in partnership with the College Board’s National Commission on Writing. About half said they sometimes omitted proper punctuation and capitalization in schoolwork. A quarter said they had used emoticons like smiley faces. About a third said they had used text shortcuts like “LOL” for “laugh out loud.”
“I think this is not a worrying issue at all,” said Richard Sterling, emeritus executive director of the National Writing Project, which aims to improve the teaching of writing.
When e-mail shorthand — or for that matter, slang — appears in academic assignments, Professor Sterling said, it is an opportunity for teachers to explain that while such usages are acceptable in some contexts, they do not belong in schoolwork. And as the English language evolves, he said, some e-mail conventions, like starting sentences without a capital letter, may well become accepted practice.
“I think in the future, capitalization will disappear,” said Professor Sterling, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. In fact, he said, when his teenage son asked what the presence of the capital letter added to what the period at the end of the sentence signified, he had no answer.
The study is based on eight focus groups and the survey of 700 nationally representative children, ages 12 to 17, and their parents, conducted in 2007. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points.
Schools are grappling with the language of electronic communication. At the Bank Street School for Children in Manhattan, Stanlee Brimberg has set up an electronic message board for his class. On it he posts nightly questions, assigning students to respond to one of the questions and then to respond to another student’s response.
“After the first night, we had to talk about whether they had to write the way they do in class, or whether it could be the way they do online,” said Mr. Brimberg, who is Bank Street’s upper school coordinator. “We decided that their response to the question should be in standard English, proofread, with capital letters, but their response to the other kid could be informal. And that worked.”
Most teenagers do not think of their e-mail messages, text messages and social network postings as “real writing,” the study found.
More than half of the teenagers surveyed had a profile on a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace, 27 percent had an online journal or blog and 11 percent had a personal Web site. Generally, girls dominated the teenage blogosphere and social networks.
Most teenagers write for school nearly every day, the study found, but most assignments are short. And many write outside school, on their own, although that varies significantly by race and sex. Almost half of black teenagers said they wrote a personal journal, compared with 3 in 10 whites. And nearly half of the girls keep a journal, compared with only 3 in 10 boys.


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First year students' experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives?
Gregor E. Kennedy, Terry S. Judd, Anna Churchward, Kathleen Gray
The University of Melbourne
Kerri-Lee Krause
Griffith University

This paper reports on a study conducted in 2006 with more than 2,000 incoming first-year Australian university students. Students were asked about their access to, use of and preferences for an array of established and emerging technologies and technology based tools. The results show that many first year students are highly tech-savvy. However, when one moves beyond entrenched technologies and tools (e.g. computers, mobile phones, email), the patterns of access and use of a range of other technologies show considerable variation. The findings are discussed in light of Prensky's (2001a) notions of the 'Digital Natives' and the implications for using technology to support teaching and learning in higher education.


Introduction

In 2001 Marc Prensky published companion papers on a new generation of students: the 'Digital Natives'. The basic thrust of Prensky's argument was that this new group of students coming into universities was fundamentally different from any that educators had seen before. Digital Natives had "spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age" (Prensky, 2001a, p. 1). Prensky maintained that the digital culture and environment in which the Natives had grown up had changed the way they think: "It is now clear that as a result of this ubiquitous environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, today's students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors." (p. 1). Furthermore, in what can only be regarded as a bold claim, Prensky suggested that "It is very likely that our students' brains have physically changed - and are different from ours - as a result of how they grew up." (p. 1). This paper takes the first of these claims as its starting point. While it does not address claims about fundamental differences in information processing or neuroplasticity, it does question the cultural and environmental assumptions underpinning the construct of the Digital Natives.
Since Prensky (2001a, 2001b) coined the term, a considerable amount of discussion in education circles has centred on the Digital Natives (also referred to as the 'Net Generation', the 'Y Generation' and 'Millennials'). The argument has changed little from that originally posed by Prensky: the digital culture in which the Digital Natives have grown up has influenced their preferences and skills in a number of key areas related to education (see Oblinger, 2003, 2006; Gros, 2003; Gibbons, 2007). Prensky's stance has also remained unaltered over this period; he states in a recent article "... our students are clamouring for these [new] technologies to be used as part of their education, in part because they are things that the students have already mastered and use in their daily lives, and in part because they realise just how useful they can be." (Prensky, 2007; p. 41). Digital Natives are said to prefer receiving information quickly; be adept at processing information rapidly; prefer multi-tasking and non-linear access to information; have a low tolerance for lectures; prefer active rather than passive learning, and rely heavily on communications technologies to access information and to carry out social and professional interactions (Prensky 2001a, 2001b; Oblinger, 2003; Gros, 2003; Frand, 2000).
Prensky (2001a) not only pointed to the supposed natural technological affinity and literacy of the Digital Natives, he also expressed concern at an apparent lack of technological literacy among educators. He labelled lecturers in higher education 'Digital Immigrants'; foreigners in the digital lands of the Net Generation, and regarded the disparity between the Natives and the Immigrants as the "the biggest single problem facing education today" (p. 2). The preferences and skills that characterise the Digital Natives were said to be incompatible with the current teaching practices of the Immigrants. Prensky and other commentators (Oblinger, 2003; Frand, 2000) suggest that because of this disparity educators need to adjust their pedagogical models to suit the new kind of learner they are encountering in this new generation of students. Not surprisingly, this argument has gained widespread attention in higher education circles (e.g. Doherty, 2005; Rodley, 2005).
However, the premises underpinning these arguments warrant closer examination before university educators set about overhauling established curricula and teaching and learning practices. These arguments are predicated on a general assumption that students coming into universities have had a comparatively universal and uniform digital upbringing. It is assumed that the technological experiences of students are more or less homogeneous and that most, if not all, incoming university students are Digital Natives. Not only is it assumed that these students will have had broadly universal experiences, but that they will also have a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Such generalisations risk overlooking a more complex mix of technology based skills, knowledge and preferences among the student population.
An evidence-based understanding of students' technological experiences is vital in informing higher education policy and practice. A thorough understanding of students' technological experiences will have clear implications for areas such as student access, equity, and transition. Institutional decision making associated with the management and administration of information and communications technologies - technological infrastructure support, resource investment, student and staff support - would also benefit from evidence about students' existing experiences with technology. Finally, an investigation of students' current technological experiences will have implications for ways in which technology could potentially be harnessed in pedagogically sound ways to improve teaching and learning.

Background to this study

Perhaps surprisingly, little empirical research has been published on students' general use of technology in the context of Australian higher education. We do know that teenagers and young adults in Australia are high owners and users of technology including computers, the Internet and mobile phones (NetRatings, 2005; Australian Psychological Society, 2004). For example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2003, 99% of 12-14 year olds used a computer at home or at school and 88% accessed the Internet. In the context of higher education, Krause, Hartley, James and McInnes (2005) reported that first year students were spending 4.2 hours per week on the web for study and research and only 3% said they never used the web for study purposes. In a more recent survey of first-year engineering and business students, Oliver and Goerke (2007) found that high proportions of students (over 90%) used online resources for study purposes. They also noted a growth in students' general use of instant messaging, blogs and podcasting between 2005 and 2007. However, they also found that the majority of students rarely or never used these technologies for study.
More comprehensive research has been carried out in the American higher education context. In 2002 the Pew Internet and American Life Project documented the high proportion of U.S. students who were using the Internet for their studies (Jones & Madden, 2002). This study was one of the first to document how high numbers of college students used the internet to access information and used web-based email and instant messaging to communicate both with staff and fellow students. More recently, Kvavik (2005) surveyed 4,374 freshman and senior college students and found they were frequent users of email, instant messaging, word processing and Internet browsing and this use varied by students' majors. High levels of use and skill did not necessarily translate into preferences for increased use of technology in the classroom. While 31% of students indicated that they would like 'extensive' use of technology in the classroom, 26% of students said they would prefer classes with 'limited' or 'no' technology. Two factors that impacted on students' preferences were previous positive experiences with technology in the classroom and previous use and skill with technology generally.
In a follow up to this study, Caruso and Kvavik (2005) present a broad and comprehensive report of the technological experiences of over 18,000 university students. It is difficult to do justice to the detailed findings of such a large study in a paper such as this, but it is clear from their research that ICT permeates all aspects of students' lives. However, they also found that students are comfortable with a core set of technologies but are less comfortable with specialised technologies. Replicating Kvavik's earlier findings (Kvavik, 2005), they again found that high levels of use and skill did not necessarily translate into preferences for increased use of technology in the classroom and that students prefer technology to a moderate degree and as a supplement in courses.
Within this context, the aims of our study were straightforward. The first was to empirically document the degree to which incoming first year students at a large Australian metropolitan university access and use an array of technologies and technology based tools. In addition to the more entrenched technologies that have typically been the focus of this type of investigation (e.g. basic computer skills, email), this study also focussed on how students use a range of more recent or emerging, technology based tools (including social networking, blogs, wikis, RSS, VoIP, and podcasting).
The second aim was to determine the degree to which students themselves report wanting to use particular technologies to support their studies at university. Finally, given an implicit assumption, often made in commentaries on the Digital Natives, that because students are using particular technologies in their everyday lives they want to use them in their studies, we sought to investigate this empirically with a small group of emerging technologies. The final aim, therefore, was to determine whether the extent to which students use technology in their everyday lives is related to their preferences for their use at university.

Method

Sample

Data were collected from first year students who were commencing their studies at The University of Melbourne in 2006. In total, 2120 students completed the questionnaire used in this study which represented 27.2% of first year students at the University. As we were interested in students who ascribe to the category of 'Digital Native' based on age, analyses for this study were restricted to students born after 1980 (n = 1973; 25.3% of first year students).
Most of the students who participated in the study were born between 1985 and 1988 (accounting for 94.4% of the sample), meaning that they were aged between 17 and 21 when they completed the survey. Many more females than males responded to the survey (62.4% females; 37.5% males), approximately a third of the sample were from a non-English speaking background (34.9% NESB; 64.8% ESB) and about a quarter of the sample were International students (23.4% international; 75.2% local students). Data were collected from students in nine of the ten University faculties offering first year courses. The only Faculty not independently represented - the Faculty of Music - was nevertheless represented through a number of students undertaking combined degrees.

Measure - questionnaire

A four page questionnaire, developed specifically for this study, asked students about their access to, use of, skills with, and preferences for an array of established and emerging technologies and technology based tools. The questionnaire comprised four main sections: demographic information (11 items), access to hardware and the Internet (16 items), use of and skills with technology based tools (Computer: 10 items; Web: 22 items; Mobile phones: 7 items) and preferences for the use of technology based tools in University studies (34 items). Only a subset of items are reported in this paper due to space limitations.

Procedure

Data was collected during orientation week and the first week of Semester 1, 2006. Key staff from faculties across the University (e.g. Assistant Deans, Information Technology; Assistant Deans, Teaching and Learning; Faculty Managers) were invited to participate in the study. Once in principle agreement had been established, contact was made with staff who had responsibilities for teaching or administration in specific disciplines (e.g. dentistry, chemistry, education, psychology, economics, law, etc). Appropriate times to carry out data collection in student orientation or introductory sessions were negotiated with each discipline contact. A member of the research team and one or two research assistants attended a session and would firstly brief students about the project and inform them that participation was voluntary and confidential. Students who participated then completed the survey before returning it. Twenty such survey sessions were conducted across the University.

Results

Students' access to technology

Students were asked about their access to a range of technology hardware (computers, mobile phones, memory sticks, digital cameras, etc) and their access to the Internet. Students who indicated that they had access "exclusively for my own use" or "any time I need it, though shared with other people" were combined into a single category ("unrestricted"). Similarly, students who indicated they were "Not Sure" and "Missing" data were combined into a single category. The results are presented in Table 1.
Table 1: The percentage of students who have 'unrestricted', 'limited' or 'no' access to hardware and the Internet.
Hardware
Unrestricted
access
Limited
access
No
access
Not sure
missing
Mobile phone
96.4
0.9
1.5
1.3
Desktop computer
89.5
4.9
3.7
1.9
Digital camera
76.0
8.9
13.7
1.4
Memory stick
72.5
7.1
17.3
3.1
MP3 player (iPod)
68.9
5.7
23.3
2.2
'Laptop' computer
63.2
10.0
24.0
2.8
Games console
47.4
13.2
36.6
2.8
Electronic organiser (PDA)
10.8
7.8
77.3
4.1
Internet
Broadband
72.9
5.7
18.1
3.3
Dialup
44.1
6.1
44.0
5.7
Wireless
37.0
8.6
48.3
6.1
Table 1 shows that most commonly a moderate to high proportion of students have unrestricted access to the hardware we asked about. As would be expected, a very high proportion of students have unrestricted access to a desktop computer (89.5%). Additional analyses showed that 70.5% of students have access to both a desktop and a laptop computer while only 0.6 % of students (n=11) have access to neither. While unrestricted access to mobile phones is almost universal (96.4%), the vast majority of students indicated they do not have access to PDAs (77.3%). A relatively high proportion of students have unrestricted access to portable memory sticks (72.5%) and MP3 players (68.9%); however, these technologies are nowhere near ubiquitous with around one-fifth of the student body having no access to them. Finally, while almost half the sample had unrestricted access to a games console, over one third of respondents (36.6%) had no access. With respect to Internet access, 72.9% of students reported having unrestricted access to a broadband connection (Table 1). Fewer than 14% of students still relied on dialup Internet access and only 1.4% of students reported having no Internet access at all.
Not surprisingly, Table 2 shows that most students are relying on computers for creating digital documents and for general study purposes. Many students are familiar with creating or editing digital images (only 16.0% have not done this in the last year) and while students do not create multimedia presentations very frequently, they are clearly familiar with this activity (only 11.1% have not done this in the last year). Half the students in the sample had used a computer to create a web page, but perhaps surprisingly, half had never done this. A large proportion of students are using their computer to listen to music daily or weekly (84.0%) and while there are clearly student 'gamers', 38.5% of students have not used a games console in the last year.

Table 2: Percentages showing how often students use computer based technologies
Computer
Percentage used
daily
weekly
monthly
over
monthly
not
used
Use a computer for writing documents (e.g. using Word)
31.4
56.6
7.9
3.6
0.5
Use a computer to create graphics or manipulate digital images (e.g. using Photoshop, Flash)
6.7
22.5
24.4
30.4
16.0
Use a computer for creating web pages (e.g. using Dreamweaver, Frontpage)
3.1
4.5
5.3
36.8
50.3
Use a computer for creating multimedia presentations (e.g. PowerPoint, Director)
3.4
13.4
23.4
48.6
11.1
Use a computer for creating editing audio and video (e.g. iMovie)
3.7
6.8
7.8
29.0
52.7
Use a computer for general study, without accessing the web
24.5
37.0
12.8
15.1
10.6
Use a computer to play digital music files (e.g. iTunes) without accessing the Internet
57.7
26.3
3.7
4.4
7.9
Use a computer to play games, without accessing the Internet / web
19.9
26.5
14.1
20.1
19.5
Use a games console to play games
9.4
16.2
11.9
23.9
38.5
Use a handheld computer (e.g. a PDA) as a personal organiser (e.g. diary, address book)
6.2
6.3
2.7
14.4
70.4
Table 3 shows that the majority of students are relying heavily on their mobile phones to call and text people, with 80% of students texting daily. The newer features of mobile phones - their organising features and taking and sending pictures - are clearly used frequently by a substantial subset of the sample, and are not used at all by a similar but smaller subset. For example, 57.2% of students are using their mobile phone to take pictures daily or weekly while 30.1% of students have not used their phone for this activity. Some functions and features of mobile phones are yet to enjoy a wide user base. For example, the vast majority of students have not used their mobile to access web based information and services (67.8%) or to send and receive email (75.8%).

Table 3: Percentages showing how often students use mobile phone based technologies
Mobile
Percentage used
daily
weekly
monthly
over
monthly
not
used
Use a mobile phone to call people
76.2
16.1
2.7
1.6
3.4
Use a mobile phone to text/ SMS people
79.5
13.2
1.8
1.3
4.1
Use a mobile phone to take digital photos or movies
32.2
25.0
7.7
4.9
30.1
Use a mobile phone to send pictures or movies to other people
18.0
14.9
11.2
8.7
47.2
Use a mobile phone as a personal organiser (e.g. diary, address book)
29.8
21.6
6.1
6.1
36.5
Use a mobile phone to access information/ services on the web
8.1
9.5
4.9
9.6
67.8
Use a mobile phone to send or receive email
7.4
5.9
2.8
8.1
75.8

Table 4: Percentages showing how often students use web based technologies
Web
Percentage used
daily
weekly
monthly
over
monthly
not
used
Use the web to access a school portal, 'Course or Learning Management System'
26.9
36.7
7.2
7.3
21.8
Use the web to look up reference information for study purposes (e.g. online dictionaries)
29.7
45.9
11.2
6.9
6.3
Use the web to browse for general information (e.g. news, holidaying, event timetables)
42.0
41.2
8.2
4.8
3.7
Use the Internet/web or a LAN to play networked games
11.9
12.1
8.0
17.9
50.2
Use the web to listen to sound recordings (e.g. via streaming audio or iTunes)
21.5
26.6
12.0
10.8
29.1
Use the web for other pastimes (i.e. for leisure activities)
37.1
35.3
7.6
5.9
14.1
Use the web to buy or sell things (e.g. eBay, Amazon, air tickets.)
5.5
9.2
12.5
24.3
48.5
Use the web for other services (e.g. banking, paying bills)
8.0
20.8
14.2
16.6
40.4
Use the web to send or receive email (e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook)
66.4
27.2
2.5
1.3
2.7
Use the web for instant messaging/ chat (e.g. MSN, Yahoo, ICQ)
54.7
25.1
4.5
5.3
10.4
Use the web to build and maintain a website
5.3
7.5
3.8
13.6
69.7
Use social networking software on the web (e.g. MySpace, Trendster)
11.1
12.7
5.0
8.2
62.9
Use the web to download MP3 files (e.g. music, videos, podcasts)
26.7
31.7
11.7
6.9
23.0
Use the web to upload and share MP3 files (e.g. music, videos, podcasts)
18.3
19.8
9.1
8.0
44.8
Use the web to share photographs or other digital material (e.g. using Blinklist, Flickr)
11.9
18.8
9.6
10.1
49.5
Use the web to make phone calls (e.g. VoIP using Skype)
8.7
10.5
4.9
9.7
66.3
Use the web for web conferencing (e.g. using a webcam)
8.1
10.4
6.0
9.3
66.2
Use the web to read RSS feeds (e.g. news feeds)
6.5
7.4
3.6
7.3
75.1
Use the web to read other people's blogs or vlogs
15.6
22.1
10.5
10.5
41.4
Use the web to comment on other people's blogs or vlogs
11.1
15.8
7.5
9.5
56.1
Use the web to keep your own blog or vlog
10.2
11.0
5.5
8.2
65.1
Use the web to contribute to the development of a wiki
3.3
5.2
2.3
7.6
81.6
A number of instructive results can be seen with regards to incoming first year students' use of web based technologies and tools (see Table 4):
  • Many students (63.6%) indicated that they had accessed a learning management system on a daily or weekly basis, but a considerable proportion (21.8%) had not used a learning management system in the last year.
  • The majority of students (over 85%) have used the web for study purposes, to gather general information, as a pastime, to send and receive email, and for instant messaging. While there is some variation in the frequency with which students engage in these activities, the vast majority are using the web for these purposes regularly (i.e. daily or weekly). Instant messaging is clearly a popular alternative to email as a web based communication tool.
  • While social networking software such as MySpace has recently grabbed headlines in the media, only 23.8% of incoming students are engaging in social networking daily or weekly; while 62.9% of students have never logged on.
  • A total of 69.7% of students have not built and maintained a website in the last year.
  • Downloading MP3 music files and podcasts, and sharing these files is clearly an activity enjoyed regularly by a large proportion of students (58.4% downloading MP3s daily or weekly). Sharing is less common than downloading MP3s and there is a significant proportion of students not engaging in this activity.
  • With regards to the more novel communications technologies such as Voice Over IP and web conferencing, a third of students have used them to some extent and two-thirds have never used them.
  • RSS feeds seem to be in the startup phase with three quarters of students having not used them.
  • A significant blog culture is evident among incoming first year students, given 34.9% indicated they have kept their own blog in the last year and more are reading (58.6%) and commenting on (43.9%) other people's blogs. A substantial proportion of students (21.2%) indicated that they were contributing to their own blog on a weekly basis.
  • Wikis on the other hand, are less frequently used by students with 81.6% indicating they had not contributed to this type of web publishing tool before.
The results presented in Tables 2, 3 and 4 show that many of the incoming first year university students surveyed in this study are 'tech-savvy' and are incorporating a range of traditional and emerging technologies in their daily lives. However, there are clearly areas where the use of and familiarity with technology based tools is far from universal or uniform among first year students. Many technology based tools (27 of the 39) were not used by a substantial proportion of students (over 20%). Moreover, for a number of activities, the proportion of students who have never used a particular technology based tool outstripped those who had (e.g. create a website, keep a blog, web conference, use social networking software, use RSS feeds, use a mobile phone to access the web).

Using technology to assist with university studies

The final question in the survey presented students with a list of technology based tools that might be used in their university studies. Students were asked to use a rating scale (from 'Strongly Agree' to 'Strongly Disagree') to indicate the extent to which they wanted to use these tools to assist with their university studies. Table 5 presents data for a restricted set of items and the rating scales have been collapsed for ease of interpretation.
Three general categories of responses can be seen for this question. The first includes technologies and tools for which there is very strong support. That is, the vast majority of students (over 75%) want to use them and very few students (under 5%) don't want to use them to assist with their university studies. The technologies and tools in this category include using a computer to create digital documents and multimedia presentations, accessing a learning portal, using the web to search for information, using instant messaging and chat, using the web to access university based services, and using SMS. The second category includes tools and technologies for which there is strong but not overwhelming support (45-60% agree, 11-17% disagree) and includes being able to download MP3s to assist with their studies (60.6%), use a mobile phone as a personal organiser (59.8%), use a mobile phone to access web based information or services (45.5%) and use a mobile phone to send or receive email (45.5%). The final category of responses reflects technologies and tools for which there is no clear preference either for or against their use (although they always follow a pattern where 'neutral' is greater than 'agree' which is greater than 'disagree'). Technologies and tools that fall into this category include creating a web page or web site, using a PDA, social networking software, web conferencing, RSS feeds and blogs.

Table 5: Percentages of students who do or do not want to use technology based tools to assist with their studies
To assist me with my University studies
I want to be able to use...
Percent
Agree
Neutral
Disagree
A computer for general study
93.8
5.2
1.0
A computer to create documents (e.g. using Word, Excel, PDFs)
94.6
4.4
1.0
A computer to create web pages (e.g. using Dreamweaver, Frontpage)
37.8
43.0
19.1
A computer to create multimedia presentations (e.g. PowerPoint, Director)
75.4
19.9
4.7
A handheld computer (e.g. a PDA) as a personal organiser (e.g. diary, address book)
37.1
39.9
23.0
The web to access a learning portal (e.g. a 'Course' or 'Learning Management System')
80.9
14.9
4.1
The web to look up or search for information (e.g. online dictionaries, Google)
93.4
5.2
1.4
The web for other services (e.g. enrolment, sign up for tutes, paying fees)
83.9
12.0
4.0
The web for instant messaging/ chat (e.g. MSN, Yahoo, ICQ)
74.6
18.7
6.7
The web to build and maintain a website
33.0
43.5
23.5
Social networking software on the web (e.g. MySpace, Trendster)
31.8
44.5
23.7
The web to download MP3 files (e.g. podcasts, iTunes)
60.6
28.0
11.4
The web for web conferencing (e.g. using a webcam)
38.5
40.8
20.7
The web to read RSS feeds (e.g. news feeds)
32.6
47.4
20.0
The web to keep my own blog or vlog
32.2
42.4
25.4
A mobile phone to send or receive text messages/ SMSs
84.2
11.6
4.3
A mobile phone as a personal organiser (e.g. diary, address book)
59.8
30.1
10.1
A mobile phone to access web based information or services
45.5
39.0
15.5
A mobile phone to send or receive email
45.5
38.0
16.5
The final set of analyses considered the degree to which students' attitudes towards the use of emerging technology based tools in their studies was related to the frequency with which they currently used these tools. Seven emerging technologies based tools or activities were included in this analysis: keeping a blog, downloading MP3s, texting on mobile phones, using instant messaging, using RSS feeds, contributing to a wiki, and using social networking software on the web. A series of chi-square analyses were used to determine the association between the degree to which students used a technology based tool and the degree to which they endorsed its use in their studies at University. Six of the seven chi-square tests showed a significant pattern of association that is exemplified by the item Keeping a blog (chi-square (6) = 78.01; p<.001) (see Table 6). This table shows a strong relationship between the frequency with which blogs are used and the desire for their use at university. This is reflected in the over-representation of respondents in the 'daily' use by 'agree' category, and the 'over monthly' use and 'disagree' category (and conversely, an under-representation in the 'daily'/'disagree' and 'over monthly'/'agree' categories). This general pattern of results was also seen for instant messaging, social networking, texting, RSS feeds and downloading MP3s.

Table 6: Observed counts and standardised residuals for a chi-square test of
association between Current use and Desire for use for the item Keeping a blog
Keeping a blog
Desire for use
Yes
Obs (Std Res)
Neutral
Obs (Std Res)
No
Obs (Std Res)
Current
use
Daily
145 (3.9*)
28 (-4.0*)
7 (-2.4*)
Weekly
114 (.0)
65 (.1)
17 (-.3)
Monthly
50 (-.7)
36 (.9)
9 (.1)
Over monthly
42 (-4.0*)
68 (3.7*)
23 (3.0*)
  • p < .05

Discussion

This study of first year university students' access to, and uses and perceptions of a range of technologies has significant implications for the Australian higher education sector. At a time of growing interest in the attributes of the so-called Digital Natives, it is important for Australian universities to ensure that decision making about how to enhance the learning experiences of incoming university students through the use of technology is both evidence based and empirically informed.
The results of this study highlight the lack of homogeneity in the incoming first year student population with regards to technology and a potential 'digital divide' between students within a cohort of a single year level. While some students have embraced the technologies and tools of the 'Net Generation', this is by no means the universal student experience. When one moves beyond entrenched technologies and tools (e.g. computers, mobile phones, email), the patterns of access to, use of and preference for a range of other technologies show considerable variation. These findings run counter to key assumptions underpinning Prensky's (2001a) construct of the Digital Natives. Given this, the widespread revision of curricula to accommodate the so-called Digital Natives does not seem warranted and, moreover, it would be difficult to start "Adapting materials to the language of Digital Natives" (Prensky, 2001a; p. 4) when they so obviously speak with a variety of tongues.
As suggested in the introduction to this paper, the level of technological diversity revealed in this paper is starting to be acknowledged by educational technology researchers. It is increasingly recognised that while the majority of incoming university students possess a core set of technology based skills, beyond those a diverse range of skills exist across the student population (see Caruso & Kvavik, 2005). Moreover, it is recognised that core technology based skills do not necessarily translate into sophisticated skills with other technologies or general information literacy. Kirkwood and Price (2005) argue that "few students have high levels of competence across a wide range of applications" and that "familiarity with the use of email does not imply expertise in rigorous online debate and discussion" (p. 271). Similarly Lorenzo, Oblinger and Dziubam (2006) state: "Today's students are not just the traditional-age Net Generation, nor have they all had the benefit of state-of-the-art, ubiquitous technology. Higher education comprises a highly diverse and growing student body with a wide variety of information literacy capabilities." (p. 4). Clearly we cannot assume that being a member of the 'Net Generation' is synonymous with knowing how to employ technology based tools strategically to optimise learning experiences in university settings.
Given this diversity within a single cohort of first year students, the challenge for educators and university administrators is how to cater for the broad range in students' levels of access to, familiarity with, and preference for different technologies and technology based tools. This study clearly provides sufficient evidence to negate the 'one size fits all' approach to the integration of ICTs into university curricula. While there are few easy answers in this area, the rather tired but true mantra that any technological integration should be pedagogically driven still holds. Educators and educational developers with expertise in both existing and emerging technologies need to be proactive in this respect. Against the backdrop of this principle, educators and administrators should look to the evidence about what technologies students have access to and what their preferences are. Rather than making assumptions about what students like - and are like - universities and their staff must look to the evidence to inform both policy and practice.
An important consideration in this discussion is student equity. Take, for example, the area of podcasting. The use of podcasts in education settings is rapidly gaining acceptance (e.g. Lee, Chan & McLoughlin, 2006; Maag, 2006; McLoughlin, Lee & Chan, 2006) and while data from this study revealed a majority of students want to be able to download MP3s to assist with their studies, almost 40% of students are uncertain about or do not wish to use this form of technology in their learning. Moreover, 23% of students have never used the web to download MP3 files and, at the time of the study, 14% relied on dialup Internet access which would have rendered large MP3 files prohibitively slow to download. While a recent study by Lee, Chan and McLoughlin (2006) suggested that many students preferred to listen to podcast learning material at their computers, the often cited advantage of MP3s is that learners can access them anytime, anywhere via portable MP3 players. However, one in five students in this study reported no access to dedicated MP3 players (although many mobile phones now have this capability). While these figures in no way suggest a moratorium on the use of podcasting, they do indicate the need to provide appropriate support for students.
Notwithstanding the overall message of diversity among students, there are a selection of tools and technologies for which use and access border on being both universal and uniform. Students are relying heavily on computers for study and for listening to music; almost all have mobile phones for calling and texting others; they regularly use the Internet for information gathering, email and instant messaging. In addition, the vast majority want to use the web to search for information for their university studies, to access university services and to use a portal as a gateway to learning material. These results are supported by previous research (Caruso & Kvavik, 2005; Jones, 2002) and when combined these findings show that today's students are relying on mainstream technologies (computers, mobile phones, and the Internet) for fast communication, and convenient access to information and services. While we cannot expect that all students will be adept with an array of new and emerging technologies, they may increasingly bring to university general expectations about access, convenience and connectedness (see Caruso and Kvavik's (2005) ECAR framework). This may have particular implications for the administrative services provided by universities (both general student services and teaching and learning services).
Moreover, despite the diversity of technological experience in this sample of first year students, the degree to which they are using of some emerging technologies and tools does point to a number of promising opportunities for integrating innovative technologies into university curricula. It cannot be ignored that substantial proportions of incoming university students are using and reading blogs, are taking photos with their mobile phones, are regularly using social networking software such as MySpace, are communicating via web conferencing, and are sharing all sorts of digital files using both their mobile phones and the web. The potential for harnessing these technologies and activities for educational purposes is being actively discussed and effectively realised (e.g. Downes, 2004; New Media Consortium, 2006, Instone, 2005; West, Wright, Gabbitas & Graham, 2006; Williams & Jacobs, 2004; Bryant, 2006).
The final set of analyses in this study assessed the question of whether students who use a particular technology in their everyday lives also want to use it in their studies. The data reported in this paper indicate that for a range of emerging technologies (blogs, instant messaging, texting, social networking, RSS feeds and downloading MP3s) the answer seems to be 'Yes'. However, limitations in the design of this component of the investigation leave the observed association open to a variety of explanations. For example, it may be that 'early adopters' who have keenly embraced technologies for non-educational purposes may also be likely to perceive these same technologies as having wider education value. Conversely, some students may not have had enough experience with a technology to envisage how it could be usefully applied. Also it is difficult to expect students to have the expertise to judge how to best use emerging technologies for educational purposes.
An obvious difficulty associated with interpreting this finding is that we did not ask students about how they thought technologies could be used in educational settings. For example, the technology most widely accessed by this cohort is the mobile phone (96% have one) and more than 90 percent use it to 'text' on a weekly basis. Perhaps not surprisingly then, when asked to nominate technologies that might assist with their studies, the majority of students (84%) agreed that they would like to send or receive text messages via their mobile phone. While there was strong endorsement for using text messaging as part of university studies, we did not canvass ways in which SMS might be used in an educational setting, either by suggesting uses to students or asking them to suggest uses. Students may have particular ideas about how their mobile phones could be used to support their learning (e.g. texting marks or cancelled classes), and these may well be different from University staff (e.g. texting pre-tutorial questions).
More research is needed to determine the specific circumstances under which students would like their 'living technologies' to be adapted as 'learning technologies'. The positive association between students' use of technology and their preference for its use at University leaves unanswered the question as to whether students' everyday skills with emerging technologies will correspond to skills associated with beneficial, technology based learning. As noted by a number of authors (Kirkwood & Price, 2005; Katz, 2005) the transfer from a social or entertainment technology (a living technology) to a learning technology is neither automatic nor guaranteed. These issues point to many unresolved issues that warrant further investigation.

Conclusions and future directions

For this ongoing research project the underlying issue - and the challenge - remains a familiar one. As university educators we must be attuned to the ever changing and often diverse characteristics of our student cohorts. Evidence of who our students are must remain an important factor in informing how we use the array of technological tools at our disposal to design rich and engaging learning experiences for all students. There are numerous examples of how educators and educational developers have done this well, with many different types of technology, over very many years.
The investigation reported in this paper would have benefited from more in depth, qualitative investigation of both students' and teachers' perspectives on technology from a broader range of universities which reflect the diversity of Australian higher education. A larger investigation that has recently been supported by the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (see Kennedy, Krause, Gray, Judd, Bennett, Maton, Dalgarno & Bishop, 2006; Kennedy, Dalgarno, Gray, Judd, Waycott, Bennett, Maton, Krause, Bishop, Chang, & Churchward, 2007) will continue this program of research and will consider staff and student perspectives across a diverse range of Australian universities.

Acknowledgements

This research would not have been possible without the cooperation of staff and students from The University of Melbourne. The research reported in this paper was sponsored by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and Equity) at The University of Melbourne, Associate Professor Susan Elliott. We would particularly like to acknowledge our discussions with Dr Barney Dalgarno and Dr Sue Bennett, which usefully informed the preparation of this paper.

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4/18moz-screenshot-12.jpgThis is an article with real transfer possibilities to the K-12 classroom. It's worth the read if you're interested in iPods in the classroom. It's 10 pages long, maybe a 20 minute read if you're thinking about the data.
http://isedj.org/isecon/2006/3354/ISECON.2006.Frydenberg.pdf



Game-Based Learning: A Different PerspectiveKarl Royle








Video game use in education has focused on the application of games within the existing education system and on their inherent potential for producing learning (Gee 2003). However, research has revealed a fundamental mismatch between the goals of games and the object of school-based learning (Sandford et al. 2006; Squire 2005; Becta 2002). As a result, efforts to integrate games into the curriculum have frequently fallen flat despite the best intentions of teachers and the gaming industry. Such efforts have failed either because games designed to educate do not engage their intended audience, or because truly engaging games do not provide enough educational value.
In part, this failure has been because games are fundamentally incompatible with the school environment (Exhibit 1). From the student's point of view, integrating games into the school culture dilutes the experience of game playing. From the teacher's point of view, games are too long, too immersive, and focused on the wrong outcomes, motivating students to achieve defined win states rather than to seek knowledge. The problem is that educational game designers have approached the problem backward: Rather than striving to get games into education, educators should be investigating ways to get education into games.
This article suggests ways to accomplish this via a new genre of video game that engages gamers outside of formal schooling. This approach is contextualized by a brief outline of the shortcomings of video game usage within education. The article then illustrates how curriculum-related learning material can be integrated into commercial-quality video games.

Video Games in the Classroom

Video games used in learning fall into four categories, ranging from purpose-built edutainment to commercial games integrated as-is into the curriculum (Exhibit 2). Each of these has potential for learning, but as Papert (1998) notes in reference to educational games, "Shavian reversals—offspring that keep the bad features of each parent and lose the good ones—are visible in most software products that claim to come from a mating of education and entertainment” (88). Games that come into contact with the educational establishment often become "teacherized" by the need to embed, add, or refer to educational content linked to performance-related outcomes within the curriculum. Each of the four main categories has this element of teacherization within them, although the reversioned commercial game has the greatest possibility for producing a truly gamelike learning experience. One example of this is the DoomEd research and development project, which attempted to create such a game by integrating learning content into a modded video game (Exhibit 3). A new genre might emerge from this combination of commercial entertainment values and curriculum standards, but it is the location of games within the curricular system, as much as the design of the games themselves, that creates the teacherization phenomenon and produces gamelike learning rather than truly entertaining learning games. Any new genre of learning game will need to some extent to sit outside of the curriculum if gaming values are to be preserved.

The Killer Application

The development of a new genre of learning game that avoids the pitfalls of teacherization by incorporating learning seamlessly into an engaging, challenging game is problematic because it will require a change of both approach and mindset to accommodate the sometimes conflicting values of educators and gamers. As a recent British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) research report notes:

Gamers claim that playing is educational; it familiarizes you with ways of being and doing that you would otherwise not know about. It is sometimes laughingly conceded (by gamers) that much of this learning has little relevance to ordinary life. (Cragg, Taylor, and Toombs 2006, “What's to like? The appeal of video games,” ¶10)

At the same time, educators insist that video games must be embedded in an educational structure to ensure that effective learning does happen:

But this does not mean that anything goes, or that educators should simply turn learners loose in interactive environments and wait for the results. And it certainly does not mean that there is no need for teachers. These, too, are bad theories of learning. They are the progressive, though equally limited, counterpoints to the traditionalists' skill-and-drill approach to learning. (Gee 2005, 5)

The question arises, then: What if a game could have relevance to ordinary life? How can one build a game that both engages students in relevant learning and entertains enough that gamers want to play outside of school? Such a game would combine sound pedagogy with superior entertainment value, seamlessly integrating learning into the world of the game.
Real learning does happen in games, and the learning engaged by gamers shares many attributes with the pedagogy of problem-based learning. Players must solve problems to progress through the game; they can only solve a given problem by accumulating the necessary tools and experience in lower levels of the game. As Warren Spector has said, “Give players tools and information enough to make and execute a plan in response to problems you set up. In the end, that's what gaming is all about“ (Saltzman 2000, 64). That is also, to some extent, what problem-based learning is about: giving students the tools and information to solve a given problem.
Successful learning games, then, will invoke a purposeful pedagogy akin to problem-based learning; the structure and narrative of the game provide the purpose for learning, meaningful problems to solve, and an immediate motivation for pursuing the knowledge required. The problem may be embedded in a game, but the education is no less real.

Constituent Elements of the Killer Application

Games engage players on three main fronts:
  • The structure of the game provides motivation and the urge to solve problems for the problem's sake alone.
  • The backstory or narrative provides the believability or authenticity of engagement.
  • Characterization makes the player's role in the narrative believable so that the player can engage fully in the game.
Not surprisingly, these are also the elements around which learning situations can be constructed. The learning game that works both as a game and as education will use these elements to encourage engagement and support pedagogical objectives. In particular, the design of such an application would translate these elements into the following key features.

The Game Should Use Authentic Content in a Believable Setting

Gee's (2005) discussion of authentic professionalism asserts that a good video game inducts the player into a professional domain made up of "facts, skills, and values in the service of performing a specific identity" ("Conclusion," ¶5). Likewise Owen, Daimant, and Joiner (2007) note:

The original conception of Racing Academy was that through the game play and collaboration with other game players there would be an opportunity to act as a community of scientists and engineers, and use the language and practices of scientists and engineers. It was as much about developing identity as scientist or engineer as learning science or engineering. (9)

Taking this point to its conclusion would mean real-time simulations that place players in identities and social situations as practice for a real-world professional domain, a sort of virtual apprenticeship that supplies the skills and knowledge required for a particular vocation.
For a game, however, believability is more important than authenticity: “The purpose of a video game is not to simulate real life, but to offer the gift of playing a game” (Poole 2000, 214). Building verisimilitude is key. While real content is a good thing, it should not disrupt gameplay; the content presentation must be believable within the context of the game. If a believable backstory and mission have been established, real content can be inserted seamlessly into the environment. It's the crucial balance between real content and narrative that works, and the gameplay should drive this. The DoomEd half-life mod, for example, integrates real science problems that explore electricity, radiation, acids, and the composition of air into a first-person shooter game (Figure 1). Verisimilitude is only a problem if players don't believe that the character whose role they play is a hybrid of a 007-trained killer and a pretty smart scientist. The combination is not likely, but in the context of the game, it is believable.
external image howeducationisund-figure4%282078%29.jpg
Figure 1. Science problems in DoomEd

Puzzles or Obstacles and their Cheats Should Be Linked to Authentic Content




The puzzle is both the challenge that engages players and the hook upon which various kinds of learning can be integrated. Conversation puzzles can require translations, use other languages, present syntax tasks or grammatical queries, or teach standard as opposed to slang forms. Combination inventory puzzles can introduce chemical compounds or genetic fingerprinting and DNA functions. Environment puzzles can offer tasks regarding neutralizing acids, restoring electrical circuits, or maintaining breathable atmospheres. Puzzles and problems need to emerge logically from the narrative structure of the game, and they must be challenging enough to lead users to seek out new knowledge and assimilate it into their existing schema through discovery, trial and error strategies, and seeking knowledge from others.
This last strategy may invoke Vygotskyan social constructivist pedagogy, as well as problem-based learning. Gamers access user communities, cheat sites, and walkthroughs to find the knowledge they need to solve problems that they cannot solve by themselves. In online gaming, the support can be in real time, while play is in progress, and expertise can reside with any player regardless of experience, knowledge, or status outside of the game; a computer science professor may seek the advice of a teenager. Players who are stumped can appeal to the wider playing community, as this DoomEd player did:

First puzzle is pretty rough. Can't figure how to turn on the power to open the rear bay door. Can get it to flash on, but not stay on . . . . (Senator33, Post to mod site, November 12, 2006)

This is where learning occurs beyond an individual’s own problem-solving capability, through dialogue with peers, teachers, or experts. This is Vygotsky's (1978) zone of proximal development, "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers” (86).

Different Ways of Presenting Information Should Be Used to Maximize Literacy

Gaming offers a terrific opportunity to develop literacy skills. Because establishing links between the spoken and written word develops literacy, game mechanics should offer both audio and text options. This may be legitimized in the context of the narrative by speech within the game or by artifacts that offer text-based solutions or needed information. In DoomEd, for example, solutions are stuck to walls as part of the backdrop, as old posters or scientist's scribblings on chalkboards (Figure 2); Need for Speed: Most Wanted uses a text and mobile phone metaphor.
external image howeducationisund-figure16%281522%29.jpg
Figure 2. Use of text in DoomEd

"Cheating" Should Be Both Intrinsic and Extrinsic to the Game






"Cheats," extra information embedded in the game or available from Web sites, books, and other players, are an established part of the gaming community. They can also be a useful part of a learning game. Within the game, cheats may take the form of clues embedded in artifacts, spoken or written texts, or other characters who give extra information or mediate progress through the game. External cheats require users to read complex instructional text in order to solve a problem, promoting literacy. The search for cheats is itself pedagogically important; the moment a player searches for extra knowledge, an independent learning strategy is invoked.
Each problem or decision point should come with further knowledge offered within a just-in-time framework, thus mirroring the world of project-based work. Game designers should also build a cheat site that augments both gameplay and learning.

Opportunities to Promote Storytelling Should Be Maximized in the Game Design

Storytelling is a potent learning tool:

Stories are a powerful communication tool because they enable listeners to make connections between what is said and their own experience—this helps create meaning and can trigger people into action. (Bonner, Chartier, and Lapointe 2006, 4)





Storytelling is also a key part of gaming, both in the games themselves, which rely on narrative for their power and in which player decisions shape the story, and in the user communities, chatrooms, and face-to-face gatherings where gamers share their playing experiences and offer advice to each other. These peripheral social activities are as important as the game itself because such performance stories, ideas about strategy, and exchanged knowledge constitute forms of learning in their own right. These experiences therefore should be integrated into gameplay wherever possible. //Halo 3//, for example, allows users to share practice and strategy with others through screenshots and video. This can develop reflective practice, analysis, and evaluation, all essential high-level skills in today's information-based society.


Players Should Be Allowed to Customize their Characters



Guiding players through the principles of character development can be a great learning tool that also adds to gameplay. A design brief for different characters specifying personality traits and attributes such as voice, accent, catchphrase, appearance, motivation habits, and other elements will help build believability, bringing the game to life. Customization features that let players create their own content and even their own characters can be leveraged for educational purposes. This strategy has clear links to literacy development in terms of written description; it is also firmly embedded within the concept of personalization as it is described in Leadbetter (2004), where the users of an educational system are not just the receivers of learning, but active participants and coproducers in the educational system. Structured content creation, in the form of character customization or other kinds of customization, can satisfy both sides of the games-education equation, as it both mirrors the functionality of games and the way players engage with them and supports overarching pedagogical objectives.


Conclusion



A commercial learning game should have both gaming and learning outcomes embedded in the game. Gamers will know they are learning, but the main purpose will be game completion. Such games cannot be shortened or sanitized for educational purposes; they must be challenging, fully engaging, commercial games with real entertainment value. Users, immersed in the process of learning and creating within a believable experience supported by real and user-generated content, will develop skills and knowledge for use in other arenas. The outcomes of playing the game will be achievement and peer kudos, but the process of playing will have done much more.
Learning experiences provided by games will need to rely on collaboration between educators and game designers and should become more commonplace both within commercial spaces and in education as digital technologies reshape established approaches to curriculum delivery. For this to occur, educators and policy makers need to understand more fully the habits and affordances created for learners by informal uses of technology—and engage with learners' digital contexts in a transformational sense of forging "next practice"—rather than adapting these tools to existing educational systems and practices.


References

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Sandford, R., M. Ulicsak, K. Facer, and T. Rudd. 2006. Teaching with games: Using commercial off-the-shelf games in formal education. Bristol, U.K.: Futurelabs. www.futurelab.org.uk/research/teachingwithgames/findings.htm (accessed December 6, 2007).
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Copyright and Citation Information for this ArticleThis article may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes if the following attribution is included in the document:
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Royle, K.. 2008. Game-Based Learning: A different perspective. Innovate 4 (4). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=433 (accessed April 7, 2008). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

4/4 ASCD report: Focus on children, not testing
This is a 36 page article and sometimes a little dry but the information is solid.

Academic achievement requires student engagement, personalized learning and skilled and caring teachers, not just testing gains, said a recent report from ASCD's Commission on the Whole Child. "We need to rethink what education of the whole child means and make sure every student has access to a rich and challenging curriculum that pays attention to other aspects," ASCD deputy executive director Judy Seltz says. Education Week (premium article access compliments of Edweek.org) (03/26

3/28
MAKING LEARNING MEANINGFUL: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF USING
MULTI-USER ENVIRONMENTS (MUVEs) IN MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE

Jody Clarke and Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Presented at AERA, Montreal, April, 2005
Contact: Jody_Clarke@gse.harvard.edu
Abstract: Many researchers are exploring the types of learning that occur in informal out-of school technology use (such as videogame play), yet the content of these environments tends not to align to national standards for academic content. This paper presents research on how a multiuser virtual environment centered on content related to national standards and assessments in biology and ecology offers new types of immersive learning for engaging grades 7 and 8 students in learning science.
BACKGROUND/CONTEXT
I’m not really into science that much. …Cause I don’t really…I just don’t like science. I do it, mostly cause we have to take the science class. Cause, it’s not really fun…like, it’s not going to help me when I get older. Cause I’m not going to be a scientist or anything, so I don’t think I have to learn about science... (excerpted from our Profile of Marie, 8th grade student). Marie’s words speak to a challenge that is perpetually troublesome in education: How do we, as educators, make learning meaningful for students? The thesis that students are not making connections between what they learn in school and their lives outside school is not new. Lauren Resnick addressed this issue in her 1987 AERA presidential address and made a call for redirecting the focus of schooling to encompass functions of successful out-of-school learning (socially distributed, situated, contextualized, aided by tool use, and domain-specific). Now, the world outside of school Resnick referred to in her 1987 address has evolved into settings pervaded by digital technologies (Howe & Strauss, 2000). Growing up around these technologies fosters different attitudes and aptitudes for the youth of today, sometimes referred to as ‘millennials,’ (Oblinger, 2003), as well as new possibilities for learning. If we look at the out-of-school activities of adolescents, we find that they are engaging in informal learning and virtual communities of practice around such topics as videogames, movies, music, and fanfiction (Steinkuhler, 2004). Adolescents’ daily use of new devices and technology is shifting their lifestyles toward frequent mediated immersion, which is in turn shaping their learning styles towards “neomillennial” characteristics (Dede, 2005). These emerging devices, media, and virtual environments offer opportunities for creating new types of “learning communities” for students and teachers, based on mediated immersion, This paper presents research on how one such multi-user virtual environment, River City, offers new types of immersive learning for engaging middle school (grades 7 and 8) students in learning science.
2
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
According to Dede (2005), over the next decade, three complementary interfaces will influence
people’s learning styles and how people learn:
• The familiar “world- to- the- desktop” interface, providing access to distant experts and
archives, enabling collaborations, mentoring relationships, and virtual communities-of
practice.
• “Alice-in-Wonderland” multi-user virtual environments (MUVE) interfaces, in which
participants’ avatars interact with computer-based agents and digital artifacts in virtual
contexts. The initial stages of studies on shared virtual environments are characterized by
advances in Internet games and work in virtual reality.
• Interfaces for “ubiquitous computing,” in which mobile wireless devices infuse virtual
resources throughout the real world. “Augmented reality” interfaces involve research on
“smart objects and contexts” in learning and doing (Klopfer & Squire, 2004).
Learning styles are defined as “cognitive, affective, and physiological behaviors that serve as
relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning
environment” (Keefe, 1979). “Millennial” learning styles are media-based shifts in learning
process that evolve from extensive use of the world-to-the-desktop interface (Tapscott, 1998;
Howe & Strauss, 2000; Oblinger, 2003). For example, consider the World Wide Web (WWW).
Its intricate web of hyperlinks and abundance of information induces learning based on seeking,
sieving, and synthesizing, rather than on assimilating a single “validated” source of knowledge
as from books, television, or a professor lecturing (Dede, 2005). However, the world-to-thedesktop
interface is not psychologically immersive whereas MUVE interfaces and augmented
reality are.
MUVE interfaces and augmented realities induce a strong sense of presence. The increased use
of these technologies is causing a shift from millennial learning styles to “neomillennial”
learning styles (Dede, 2005), learning styles that are influenced by mediated immersion.
Immersion in virtual environments and augmented realities shapes participants’ learning styles
beyond what using sophisticated computers and telecommunications have generated thus far,
with multiple implications for K-12 education (Dede, 2005). This paper will focus on immersion
in virtual environments and their implications for middle school science.
The River City MUVE
Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) enable multiple simultaneous participants to access
virtual contexts, to interact with digital artifacts, to represent themselves through “avatars,” to
communicate with other participants and with computer-based agents, and to enact collaborative
learning activities of various types. The River City MUVE is centered on skills of hypothesis
formation and experimental design, as well as on content related to national standards and
assessments in biology and ecology (http://muve.gse.harvard.edu/muvees2003/). Students gain
knowledge through immersive simulations, interactive virtual museum exhibits, and
3
"participatory" historical situations. Students learn to behave as scientists while they
collaboratively identify problems through observation and inference, form and test hypotheses,
and deduce evidence-based conclusions about underlying causes.
The River City virtual “world” consists of a city with a river running through it; different forms
of terrain that influence water runoff; and various neighborhoods, industries, and institutions,
such as a hospital and a university. The students themselves populate the city, along with
computer-based agents, digital objects that can include audio or video clips, and the avatars of
instructors (Figure 1). Content in the right-hand interface-window shifts based on what the
participant encounters or activates in the virtual environment (Figure 2).
Figure 1 Figure 2
In River City, students work in teams to develop hypotheses regarding one of three strands of
illness in the town (water-borne, air-borne, and insect-borne). These three disease strands are
integrated with historical, social and geographical content, allowing students to experience the
inquiry skills involved in disentangling multi-causal problems embedded within a complex
environment. At the end of the project, students compare their research with other teams of
students in their class to delineate the many potential hypotheses and causal relationships
embedded in the virtual environment.
The principal questions guiding the study framework were:
1) How, if at all, does using a multi-user immersive medium in their science class shape
students' ideas about learning and engagement in science?
2) What types of neomillennial learning styles emerge from students’ experience using a multiuser
immersive technology in science class?
METHODOLOGY, PARTICIPANTS AND DATA SOURCES
This exploratory study took place in an urban K-8 school in the Northeast with high proportions
of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) and free-and-reduced-lunch students. This research is
part of a larger research project, Studying Situated Learning and Transfer in a Multi-User Virtual
Environment (http://muve.gse.harvard.edu/muvees2003/). Twelve students in the seventh and
4
eighth grade were identified for this study by their science teacher as representing a range of high
and low engagement in their science class. This same teacher taught the curriculum.
Data was collected through participant interviews, transcripts of students’ logs in the curriculum,
and student drawings of their perceptions of “doing science” before participating in the
curriculum. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted four times: two before participating
in the MUVE curriculum, one during the curriculum, and one after the curriculum ended. The
interviews averaged 20 minutes and were tape-recorded and conducted at the participants’ school
during their free period. These interviews focused on exploring students’ understanding and
feelings about digital technologies, science, and using the MUVE. Interviews were transcribed
verbatim. Data analysis happened in two stages. First, open coding techniques (Strauss and
Corbin, 1998) were used to code the transcripts of individual students. Then a second round of
coding was done to look specifically for neomillenial learning characteristics and motivation.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
In this section we highlight three cases that exemplify neomillenial learning styles that emerge
from the data and enhance student learning and motivation.
How Immersive Presence Enhances Learning
“Immersion” is the subjective impression that one is participating in a comprehensive, realistic
experience (Witmer & Singer, 1994). Immersion in a mediated, simulated experience (such as a
virtual environment) involves the willing suspension of disbelief. This is best illustrated through
the experience of “Marie,” a female student in the 8th grade. Marie, when interviewed prior to
using the MUVE claimed she did not enjoy science class and found it “boring.” Yet, when
describing her experience in the MUVE, she talks as if she is part of the world:
We get to move and go places … traveling through the city… I am trying to figure out what
is causing this sickness and we are using like we are talking to different people and we’re
like going places and we also had to test, yesterday, we had microscopes and had to test the
water for bacteria and stuff. And we usually don’t get to do that in regular science class.
Like in class we are usually taking notes and doing work from the book.
For Marie, River City becomes a physical place that she has visited. This example indicates how
immersion in a MUVE enables learning that is situated in an authentic context and activity
(Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Greeno 1997) where students are able
to move from passive observers of scientific content to shapers of a scientific experience.
Immersion is also important in the process of identity exploration. The evolution of an
individual’s or group’s identity is an important type of learning for which simulated experiences
situated in virtual environments are well suited because virtual identity is unfettered by physical
attributes such as gender or race or labels such as “smart” or “behavior problem.” Virtual
environments based on popular games or simulations for adolescents illustrate how participants
experiment with the identities they present (Turkle, 1995; Steinkuehler, 2004; Black, 2004).
Simulations in virtual environments increase the value of these explorations by providing
realistic feedback on how the real world responds to various patterns of individual and group
behavior.
5
Immersion and Identity
The case of “Larruge” illustrates how virtual environments allow students to shed their identity
as “student failing science” and take on the identity of a scientist. Larruge is a 12-year-old male
in the 7th grade who has a history of failure in school (he is repeating seventh grade this
academic year), has given up on himself as a learner, poses classroom behavior problems, and
has low feelings of self-efficacy. However, the very first day his team entered the MUVE,
Larruge started organizing his teammates:
hey philip since were team mates we need too decide where to meet so we can work together
okay w/b
This is atypical, advanced behavior, since students usually spend the first day in River City
becoming acclimated to the world and learning to how to talk to the residents of River City. His
second day in River City, Larruge organized his team again:
Yo where are you guyz im at the hospital come ok so we can work to gether
He then shared information that he found, well before many classmates were doing so, even
those with much higher academic performance:
hwy I think that poeople get better in the winter
In his pre-interview, Larruge said he was often “bored” in science class. In the post-interview,
for Larruge, River City was so “fun” that he did not feel like he was “in class.”
Like, we were learning stuff without trying a lot. So, I learned what a thing was, what’s it
called, not an observation but..[an inference]. Yeah. It’s um the what you think is happening
when you make an observation.
Although he said he was "learning stuff without trying a lot," later in the post-interview, Larruge
said he was "trying so hard to figure out why they were getting sick.” He further elaborated that
he felt like a "scientist":
Oh, I don’t know, I guess that um the reason I liked it I guess cause you know I got to be a
scientist in it. (Laughs). So, I ain’t really that smart either so it was kind interesting.
While Larruge still does not think he is “smart,” he did say he felt “a little more” different about
his ability to do science. Not only did he want to go to science class, but it "got students
thinking" and "interested in science." "Thinking more" provided a challenge--it was not too
easy—and also gave a sense of ownership for what his team "thought" about the problem.
Larruge liked working in groups because usually in science they do "independent work":
…we worked better in groups because you know some of us got information here and some
of us got information there and it was easier to find out like our hypothesis.
Larruge, who is typically bored by science class, was actually annoyed when one of his
teammates, Tk2, was distracted. He later said that technology in school "could be" important,
but in a way it wouldn’t because some students got really distracted during the game. Like
Tk2 did. It depends what kind of student it is too. If they get distracted easily.
In his first interview, Larruge said, “once in a while you are going to get confused in science.”
However, when talking about his experience in River City, he said, “I didn’t not understand
anything. I don’t think so. I didn’t have a hard time with it.” Larruge “felt like a leader...It was a
miracle (laughs). Yeah [I think I did a good job].” This is the same student who, when asked to
draw a picture of science class in the pre-interview, drew himself sleeping in class and stated,
"I'm slow at this stuff."
6
From Follower to Critical Thinker
Another illustrative case of how immersive presence enhances learning can be seen in the
movement of “Shorty” from follower to critical thinker. Shorty is a 12-year-old female in the 7th
grade. She does not think she is good at science and finds it boring. She also tends to be a
follower rather than a leader. However, logfile analysis shows that Shorty moved from the
periphery to a central role in her team’s experiment. She felt like a scientist “because we had to
figure out things and ask questions and use our brains and really think hard.” Actively solving
the problem made it easier to “understand” and helped her comprehend concepts such as
“hypothesis” and “procedure”:
...it helped me understand hypothesis and procedure better ... I knew what they were but then
this project it was easy to write a hypothesis and procedure for. Ummm because there was
more data than sometimes you don’t have a lot data and there was a lot because you could
ask a lot of people and talk to a lot of people.
Shorty had learned about these concepts before, but having to solve a problem by visually seeing
tacit information helped make abstract concepts like hypothesis and procedure more concrete:
We actually got to see where everything is, where the dump is and the tenements and the
scenic lookout where the pipe, the sewage pipe was going to the water. Yeah, because you
got to do more and get more information and actually see the thing instead of just imagining
it. You get to actually see it. It helps because we can ask people questions and they can tell
us. Like they can talk to us and we got to walk around and see what the city looks like if it is
dirty in some spots and really clean in other spots.
Shorty learned immersively by walking around, talking to residents, and noting tacit visual and
auditory clues.
CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS
Finding ways to engage middle school students in learning science is a national priority. These
cases of students’ learning demonstrate how immersive, situated learning can effectively engage
middle school students in critical thinking about authentic scenarios in their science class. It is
our goal to continue exploring how emerging interactive media enable for new, effective ways of
teaching/learning in middle school classrooms.
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Changing the Game: What Happens When Video Games Enter the Classroom?Kurt SquireOver the past few years, games have gone from social pariahs to the darlings of the media, technology, and now educational industries. E-learning educators in particular stand to learn a lot about building next-generation learning environments from games (Dalesio 2004). While online courses are usually little more than "online course notes," games offer entire worlds to explore. While educators wonder if it is possible to create good online learning communities, game designers create virtual societies with their own cultures, languages, political systems, and economies (Kolbert 2001; Steinkuehler, forthcoming). While completion rates for online courses barely reach 50%, gamers spend hundreds of hours mastering games, writing lengthy texts, and even setting up their own virtual "universities" to teach others to play games (Squire, forthcoming). In short, while e-learning has a reputation for being dull and ineffective, games have developed a reputation for being fun, engaging, and immersive, requiring deep thinking and complex problem solving (Gee 2003).
Given emerging research on how video games and associated pedagogies work in designed settings (Shaffer 2005), it seems the important question is not whether educators can use games to support learning, but how we can use games most effectively as educational tools. The explosion of research initiatives, conferences, books, and software focused on educational games suggests that computer and video games will have some part in education, just as all media before them have been used for learning. However, the history of educational technology also suggests that educators will abandon media that do not fit the social organization of schooling (Cuban 1986).
Over the past two years, I have studied educational uses of Civilization III, a historical simulation game that has sold many millions of copies, depicted in Figure 1 (Squire 2004). This initiative highlighted a number of important considerations for educators interested in introducing games into the classroom—with respect to selecting appropriate game experiences as well as to evaluating the context in which games might contribute to learning. If, as this study suggests, games do indeed embody significant learning principles, our challenge as educators is to build better game-based pedagogical theories while reciprocally investigating our assumptions about the social organization of schooling.
Background
This paper is a mini-comparative case study (see Stake 1995), drawing on two separate cases where the computer game Civilization III was used as the basis for units and activities exploring world history (see Table 1). Each site was chosen in part for convenience as partnering institutions and organizations expressed an interest in using games as to support learning. In both sites, educators' primary concern was finding experiences to engage kids who felt alienated from school. In the urban high school case, educators were looking for an alternative for students who had little interest in studying history and who did not necessarily believe the mandated, state-sanctioned history presented to them (cf. Wertsch 1998). In the after-school context, educators similarly sought to engage students to develop historical understandings as well as to become more affiliated with school-based learning in general. I was a co-teacher in both environments, partnering with the established teachers and paid researchers.
Replaying Motivation
What happens when we bring games into the classroom? As Exhibit 1 explains, this question still requires investigation. The first thing we might expect to see is increased motivation; common wisdom suggests that games are at least motivating, if not educational. In fact, early research on arcade-style games demonstrates that games create intrinsic motivation through fantasy, control, challenge, curiosity, and competition (Malone 1981; Cordova and Lepper 1996). We might also hypothesize that games in the classroom would leverage players' desires to develop new skills, participate in new roles, or better understand the world from a new or "professional" perspective (Gee 2005; Shaffer 2004; Shaffer 2005; Shaffer forthcoming). Play is undeniably a powerful, pervasive method of learning outside of schools; indeed, most psychologists would agree that play is a crucial method through which we test ideas, develop new skills, and participate in new social roles (Piaget 1962; Vygotsky 1978).
However, bringing a commercial-quality educational game into the classroom may create as many motivational problems as it solves. When I introduced Civilization III into curricula, I found that students were anything but immediately motivated. They frequently asked, "What's the purpose of this?" and "Why are we doing this?" Even middle school students were not entirely sure how a computer game could teach them about history or geography. In part, this lack of motivation resulted from the fact that most students needed six to seven hours of gameplay to understand even the most basic game concepts. Although after-school students were less resistant and more motivated to learn the game (Exhibit 2), roughly 25% of students in school situations complained that the game was too hard, complicated, and uninteresting, and they elected to withdraw from the gaming unit and participate in reading groups instead.
About another 25% of the students (particularly academic underachievers) loved playing the game, thought it was a "perfect" way to learn history, and considered the experience a highlight of their school year. For these students, many of whom actively resisted school-mandated history curricula that they regarded as "propaganda," the game-based curriculum provided opportunities for replaying history and for considering hypothetical historical scenarios, such as the conditions under which a Native American tribe might have successfully resisted European settlement or even colonized Europe. In post-interviews conducted after the completion of the study, these students developed new vocabularies, better understandings of geography, and more robust concepts of world history (Squire 2004).
Students played the game in very different ways, leading to highly differentiated understandings (Exhibit 3). This excerpt is from an interview with Marvin, a student who enjoyed the game as a simulation of history; reading the Civilopedia and learning about cultural discoveries was part of the fun. Marvin recalled what he learned through playing the game by drawing on information in the Civilopedia.

Marvin: [The game] shows you the date or year where the wheel was made or the alphabet was discovered. I didn’t know that the alphabet was discovered around BC. I forgot what year, but I remember it’s like 2000 BC. I thought it was like the 1500 or around the [the age of] knights and kings.
Interviewer: Who do you think invented the alphabet before you played this game?
Marvin: The English, because back then they were the classiest and smartest.
Interviewer: Now who do you think invented the alphabet?
Marvin: Probably the Egyptians with the hieroglyphics. It was the first writing to be done.

These different student reactions demonstrate the divergent responses educators can anticipate in bringing games into the classroom. Games are very particular kinds of experiences. Playing games does not appeal to everyone (even among those under 30), and certainly no one game (or more appropriately game experience) appeals to everyone. The experience of playing Civilization III is a cerebral blend of planning, building, managing, and competing with other civilizations; in this study, that experience appealed to students who were interested in geography or enjoyed building and managing virtual societies and using mathematics in gameplay. Fast-paced action games or massively multiplayer games that require rhythm and timing or encourage participation in complex virtual societies present significantly different pleasures (Bartle 1997; Steinkuehler 2004a). Motivation for the gamers in my study was thus not simply a "property" or variable that they either had or did not have; motivation emerged through the intersection of students' goals and life histories, the game's affordances, and the institutional context. As this example indicates, future studies on the educational uses of games must explore how different players experience different games of different genres and what these experiences might mean for learning.
Difficulty and Complexity
Those unfamiliar with contemporary video games are shocked by their complexity and difficulty, and these terms, as Exhibit 4 explains, signify different aspects of a game's design. Different games offer unique challenges, but part of what makes any game engaging is its difficulty. Besides its difficulty, Civilization III is particularly interesting because of its complexity, flexibility, and replayability. Civilization III takes hundreds of hours to master and can be played dozens of ways; players can win through military, scientific, economic, political, or cultural superiority (and most likely a combination of each).
For many students in my study, however, the complexity of Civilization III was overwhelming, and the game just too difficult. Many said that the game was more difficult than anything they encountered in school. Packing 6000 years of history into one game, Civilization III includes hundreds of game concepts, ranging from its six government types (anarchy, despotism, monarchy, communism, republic, and democracy) to 13 terrain types (grassland, mountains, and so on). To play Civilization III successfully, players must not only understand these terms, but also understand the strategic significance of each variable (e.g., the comparative advantage of cities in river valleys versus woodlands). Indeed, in any given gaming period, students would ask literally dozens of questions, ranging from simple queries about geographical facts (e.g., "Is there oil in Greenland?") to functional questions (e.g., "What are the effects of democracy?") to questions about the game as a simulation (e.g., "Does the game include World War I?"). Considering the difficulty and complexity of Civilization III, it is not surprising that students should have found the game challenging; what is noteworthy, however, is that students found this off-the-shelf computer game, which has been marketed toward a broad audience and which has sold millions of copies, more challenging than their traditional learning experiences in school. Even though the high school students described here all played games outside of school, they found Civilization III's difficulty and complexity problematic within a school setting. If part of what makes games so interesting is their ability to present access to complex professional practices, then managing this complexity (and particularly students' reactions to it in school settings) will continue to be a challenge (Exhibit 5).
Failure and Choice
These students' experiences remind us of something that constructivist educators have already learned: contemporary pedagogical practice, which breaks problems down into bite-sized, easy-to-learn pieces, often creates a sense of "learned helplessness" in students (particularly high achieving students) who only encounter short, solvable problems with all necessary information laid out in front of them (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1990; Loewen 1995; Schoenfeld 1987). Games, on the other hand, present players with complex holistic problems (Gee 2005). Furthermore, failure—a time-honored notion in educational technology (Schank, Fano, Bell, and Jona 1993)—functions somewhat uniquely in game-based learning environments. Unlike traditional school settings where learners build representations of systems and examine how they succeed or fail in explaining observations, game-based learning environments start with failure. As learners play games, they build a model of the game world based on experiences both within the game and outside of it (e.g., expectations of how galleys will behave in the game). Through bumping up against the rules of a game system like Civilization III, which include tens of thousands of interacting variables and are thus incredibly complex and challenging to master, players begin to learn concepts important to subjects like geography and history. This learning cycle is critical to both intellectually engaging gameplay and academic learning, which illustrates the potential of educational games. However, the unique operation of failure in game-based learning environments further suggests that games may be a poor fit for learners who come to school with "damaged" beliefs about learning—and particularly for those students who interpret failure as a value judgment on them as students rather than the beginning of a valuable learning experience.
In my study, failure was not only a "problem" but also a critical precondition for learning. Failure forced students to confront gaps or flaws in their current understandings through cycles of recursive play. As one student explained, "Playing the game forces you to learn about the material. It actually forces you to learn about other civilizations in order to survive." For this student, failure necessitated learning the identities, origins, and resources of various civilizations through cycles of identifying problems, developing causal interpretations of events, brainstorming possible solutions, implementing solutions, and examining results. After going through these cycles of recursive play, students' thinking became more complex. Success and even survival in the game required deep thinking across diverse problem spaces. Students learned to see game challenges, such as building a happy civilization, as the result of more factors, such as available luxuries, entertainment, religion, and economics. As one student summarized, "You can't separate geography from economics from politics."
For other students, failure caused frustration. Whereas the stronger, more confident students saw failure as a learning opportunity, other students did not. These students lacked either sufficient interest in the game or the requisite self-efficacy with games, or perhaps they just had bad days during which playing such a difficult game was unattractive. As anyone who plays Civilization III would attest, defeat after a good 25-hour game can be maddening, and on some days, even the most avid gamers are just not up for that kind of humiliation. Interestingly, failure affronted those students who self-identified as gamers, suggesting that educational games may not be such an easy win for this population of students—who may be inclined to reject educational games out of hand if such games challenge or compromise their identities as gamers.
Another probable reason some students (including gamers) rejected the game experience in school was because playing Civilization III in a school context was compulsory. Advocates of game-based learning must consider if requiring games eliminates some of the choices that make them engaging (Malone 1981). Even if students have the choice to play games, there are potential contradictions in situations with heavily mandated curricula. If part of what makes games so appealing and educative is that they give us meaningful choices (Zimmerman and Salen 2003), how will they fare in situations where there are very prescribed learning outcomes? Further, for many, gameplay involves social transgression. Games allow us to bend or temporarily dismiss social rules in order to try new ideas and identities. Most often, these transgressive themes reach the radar of popular culture when they involve violence, but games such as Deus Ex, //Hidden Agenda//, or Freedom Fighters have politically subversive messages as well; indeed, Steinkuehler (2004b) argues that massively multiplayer games are so compelling precisely because they critique contemporary culture. How games may be adapted to schools, institutions designed to reproduce existing power relations, is questionable; however, at the minimum, educators need to be careful that bringing games into schools does not rob them of precisely those qualities that make them so engaging.
What Game Are We Playing?
Indeed, just as no one game appeals to all students, neither does any one curriculum, and games challenge us to ask to whom traditional curricula appeals and whom it leaves behind. Our traditional secondary curriculum is largely an experience of mastering a pre-defined set of objectives, mostly through listening or participating in structured activities with well-defined, pre-determined outcomes. In post-secondary schools, the activities are more open-ended, but mostly mediated through secondary accounts of phenomena through the use of textbooks and lectures. College students mostly listen to lectures, read texts, and if they are lucky, discuss them with peers or an instructor. Those who prefer to develop understandings through building, tinkering, or more direct experience are left behind.
Looking at who wins and loses through a game-based curriculum reminds us that curricular issues are also about power and control. A curriculum based on Civilization III overturns traditional hierarchies, supplanting those adept in traditional schooling with those failing school. The successful students were concerned that their more traditional school-based expertise was not honored in this classroom, and they were not convinced that success in a game-based unit would help them on college entrance exams or in college classrooms, both of which rely on more traditional literacies. They believed that Civilization III was insufficient preparation for the "game" of higher education, and perhaps they were correct. Yet, students who were failing in school (or whom school was failing) developed and demonstrated complex understandings within a game-based curriculum that go undeveloped or unrecognized in other school experiences.
Not surprisingly, many of the students who performed well in the game-based unit were just those who felt disaffected from school because they preferred "hands-on" activities in which they could learn through doing and "figure things out for themselves." Oddly, this is how learning occurs everywhere but school and, again, is precisely how workers are asked to learn in the new economy. Ironically, the skills required by the game curriculum—problem identification, hypothesis testing, interpretative analysis, and strategic thinking—more closely align with the new economy than does the "factory" model of curriculum that privileges following directions, mastering pre-defined objectives, performance on highly structured tasks, and intellectual obedience (Gee, Hull, and Lankshear 1996). In short, schools are designed around factory models of education where the goal is to efficiently produce standardized learners and, most importantly, sort students into those groups; games, however, are products of the new economy where the goal is to think creatively with digital tools (Bowles and Gintis 1976; Lagemann 1989).
Conclusion
Educators hoping that digital games will be a "silver bullet" because they are exciting and motivating will be disappointed. The real challenge is not so much in bringing games—or any technology—into our schools but rather changing the cultures of our schools to be organized around learning instead of the current form of social control. This change would include:
  1. Organizing curricula around driving questions of personal relevance to students and open-ended, genuine intellectual merit, such as "what causes contribute to the long and short term fates of civilizations?"
  2. Opportunities for different students with different interests, abilities, and capacities to learn different topics, at different rates, and through different media, such as books, games, and film.
  3. School days and curricula not organized by the Carnegie unit but by rather students', parents', and teachers' goals for the student so that a student interested in history could study a topic at intervals different than "45 minutes per day, every day, every alternating semester" (which was my experience in high school).
  4. Not limiting the learning experiences in the classroom to the media that administrators or teachers find useful (i.e., books and film). In short, a teenage student who plays Civilization outside of school ought to be able to integrate this into his or her formal learning of social studies through building simulations or some similar activity.
  5. Treating assessments primarily as opportunities to support learning as opposed to evaluative structures that function largely to support social reproduction (cf. Mabry 1999).
Of course, we already have some schools designed to give students skills they need for the new economy, but unfortunately they are in our private or highly performing suburban schools. As a former Montessori teacher, I can easily imagine students using Civilization III to investigate historical questions within that system, a system which is organized around students pursuing questions of intellectual interest. The system also affords considerable freedom, so those students less interested in this particular game could pursue other activities. Indeed, games such as SimCity (which was designed by Will Wright, a former Montessori student himself) are already in suburban schools; witness schools like Erving Elementary in Erving, Massachusetts that has built a city planning curriculum around SimCity. Creative teachers in communities with ample resources and supportive parents are beginning to explore such pedagogies; it is only too bad that they are reserved for students of privilege.
As schools go online, we have tremendous opportunities for rethinking the culture of our classrooms. E-learning educators are wise to look toward games as models of next-generation learning environments. They long have been best models of engaging activity and, more recently, excellent examples of learning environments. Yet, as challenging as it is to design a good educational game, it may be more challenging to design a good educational system for an educational games to flourish in. Right now, even if you had the ideal game—a more polished Civilization III or perhaps a Full Spectrum Scientist—it is not certain that such a game could even survive in today's educational environment as our contemporary educational systems do not know how to sustain a curricular innovation built on the properties that make games compelling. In order to realize the potential of such gaming technologies in education, it will indeed be necessary for us to "change the game" in more fundamental ways with regard to our current institutions of learning.
References
Bartle, R. 1997. Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: Players who suit MUDs. Journal of Virtual Environments. 1 (1). http://www.brandeis.edu/pubs/jove/HTML/v1/bartle.html (accessed April 8, 2005).
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Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. 1990. Anchored instruction and its relationship to situated cognition. Educational Researcher 19 (6): 2-10.
Cordova, D. I., and M. R. Lepper. 1996. Intrinsic motivation and the process of learning: Beneficial effects of contextualization, personalization, and choice. Journal of Educational Psychology 88:715-730.
Cuban, L. 1986. Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technology since 1920. NY: Teacher's College Press.
Dalesio, E. P. 2004. Video gaming technology branching out, getting serious. USA Today, August 11.
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2004-08-11-playing-for-real_x.htm (accessed April 8, 2005).
Gee, J. P. 2003. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Gee, J. P. 2005. What would a state of the art instructional video game look like? Innovate 1 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=80 (accessed April 8, 2005).
Gee, J., G. Hull, and C. Lankshear. 1996. The new work order: Behind the language of the new capitalism. Australia: Allen and Unwin.
Kolbert, E. 2001. Pimps and dragons. The New Yorker, May 28.
Lagemann, E. C. 1989. The plural worlds of educational research. History of Education Quarterly 29:185–214.
Loewen, J. W. 1995. Lies my teacher told me: Everything your American history textbook got wrong. New York: New Press.
Malone, T. W. 1981. Toward a theory of intrinsically motivating instruction. Cognitive Science 4:333-369.
Piaget, J. 1962. Play, dreams and imitation in childhood. New York: Norton.
Reich, R. 1991. The work of nations. New York: Knopf.
Schank, R., A. Fano, B. Bell, and M. Jona. 1993. The design of goal-based scenarios. Journal of the Learning Sciences 3 (4): 305-345.
Schoenfeld, A. H. 1987. What's all the fuss about metacognition? In Cognitive science and mathematics education, ed. A. H. Schoenfeld, 189-215. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Shaffer, D. W. 2004. Pedagogical practice: The professions as models for post-industrial education. Teachers' College Record 106 (7): 1401-1421. http://www.soemadison.wisc.edu/edpsych/facstaff/dws/papers/PedagogicalPraxisTCR.pdf (accessed April 8, 2005).
Shaffer, D. W. 2005. Epistemic games. Innovate 1 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=79 (accessed April 8, 2005).
Squire, K. D. 2004. Replaying history. PhD dissertation, Indiana University.
Squire, K. D. Forthcoming. The higher education of gaming. E-learning.
Stake, R. 1995. The art of case research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Steinkuehler, C. A. 2004a. Learning in massively multiplayer online games. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Los Angeles, CA, June.
Steinkuehler, C.A. 2004b. Online videogames: Psychopathological or psychotherapeutic? Workshop presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, New York, NY, May.
Steinkuehler, C. A. Forthcoming. Massively multiplayer online gaming as participation in a discourse. Mind, Culture, & Activity.
Vygotsky, L. 1978. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wertsch, J. 1998. Mind as action. New York: Oxford University Press.
Zimmerman E., and K. Salen. 2003. Rules of play: Game design fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Squire, K.. 2005. Changing the game: What happens when video games enter the classroom?. Innovate 1 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=82 (accessed February 19, 2008). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

2/15 This is just a link to a 21 page article. It focuses on rural schools but I still think some of the lessons would transfer well. Good read. http://www.acclaim-math.org/docs/WP30.pdf

2/8
Interactive student podcasting: the emerging technology of choice
By Colleen Murrell
Abstract
Podcasting represents the future for interactive journalism training. It can deliver teaching resources to on and off campus students who can listen in their own time and at their own convenience. It also presents students with an opportunity to broadcast their assignments and therefore reach a wider audience for their work. In the USA universities are embracing podcasting as an exciting new weapon in the teaching arsenal. The Horizon Report publishes annual research which identifies and describes “emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative expression within higher education.” The 2006 report identifies “personal broadcasting” as one of two emerging technologies that “have exploded over the last year” and are likely to “assume broad adoption” in American universities over the coming year. In Australia universities have been slower to take up the opportunities presented by podcasting. However, in Victoria a journalism department is experimenting with podcasting as a way to bring the world of newsrooms and working journalists directly into the homes of regional students. This paper discusses this experiment, looks at similar experiments around the world, and describes how students are encountering a new world of niche broadcasting on the web.
Introduction
Podcasting is still in its infancy, having been around for only a few years. According to one of Apple’s Australian training demonstrators Marcus Annett, somebody in his office “googled” the word “podcast” in September 2004 and came away with 28 hits. When you google the word in August 2006, you get 543 billion hits. Yet for all this incredible growth in podcasting, there has still been very little serious research into its uses – both in industry and in academia.
Who is out there?
More than half of American teenagers (55%) own iPods or other MP3 players, according to research undertaken by American firm Bridge Ratings in January 2006. This research is borne out by global market research firm Ipsos, which reported in June 2006 that 54 percent of Americans aged between 12 and 17 years owned an MP3 player. Therefore it is surely a “no-brainer” to propose that media academics should engage with the technology if they are to make the classroom a relevant and happening place.
Despite evidence concerning the growing numbers of listeners, the jury is still out about whether or not the importance of the whole podcasting phenomenon has been exaggerated. Barb Palser writing in the February/March 2006 edition of the American Journalism Review asked: “Is podcasting rocking the nation? Or have we been sucked into a media-manufactured bubble?” She wondered if all these people who own iPods are actually using them to sample podcasts. She cited data from Bridge Ratings which said that at the end of 2005 only five million Americans had ever listened to a podcast (1.6% of the population). This means that although there are potential listeners for podcasts, few people would appear to be using their players for this purpose at the moment. These findings are in line with Nielsen/NetRatings who released a report in July 2006 which found that “6.6 percent of the US adult online population, or 9.2 million web users, have recently downloaded an audio podcast”.
But while the number of downloaders is relatively small, compared to the number of people listening to MP3 players to access music, the numbers listening to podcasts does continue to grow steadily, as evidenced in these surveys. In terms of the future, further data recorded by Bridge Ratings in November 2005 projected that “by 2010 podcast audience growth is expected to reach a conservative 45 million users who will have ever listened to a podcast”. “Aggressive estimates place this number closer to 75 million by this date” (Bridge Ratings Survey 2, 2006).

American universities
With future prospects looking so rosy, American universities have been quick to capitalise on the phenomenon. Today’s teenagers are tomorrow’s students. Some institutions have invested heavily in experimentation to test drive the possibilities of incorporating iPods and MP3 players into teaching. Universities like Stanford, Duke and Brown went further and struck deals in 2005 with Apple to distribute course material via the iTunes platform. According to the journal Inside Higher Ed, the project Stanford on iTunes has two different areas of collaboration. Doug Lederman, a reporter for Inside Higher Ed, wrote in October 2005:
Through the Stanford on iTunes website, the university will make lectures, music, sports and other content available not only to its alumni but to the public, free of charge […] The other part of the Stanford-Apple collaboration – and the one with perhaps greater implications for others in higher education – is a controlled-access web site through which students will be able to download course materials. The restricted-access iTunes site will enable Stanford students to load course lectures and other audio content (and, eventually, video content, now that Apple is introducing a new version of iTunes that includes movies and other images) onto their iPods and listen to them whenever they wish.

The Stanford University project is the one talked about most often in the American and International media. Stanford has reaped enormous publicity by seizing the zeitgeist as academia’s technology innovator. However the iPod projects at the other institutions mentioned above are also worth investigating. In June 2005 a report called the Duke University iPod first year experience final evaluation report was published. It said: “Duke distributed 20gb Apple iPod devices, each equipped with Belkin voice recorders to over 1600 entering first-year students in August 2004” (Duke iPod first year final evaluation report, 2005, p.1).
The experiment involved 15 courses in one semester, and 33 courses in a second semester with a total enrolment of 1,228 students. The students came from a range of Science and Arts subjects (including Writing). According to the report, lecturers incorporated iPod use in their units in five different categories, as a: course content dissemination tool, classroom recording tool, field recording tool, study support tool and file storage and transfer. The report identified the following benefits of podcasting:
- Convenience for both faculty and students of portable digital course content, and reduced dependence on physical materials.
- Flexible location-independent access to digital multimedia course materials, including reduced dependence on lab or library locations and hours.
- Effective and easy-to-use tool for digital recording of interviews, field notes, small group discussions, and self-recording of oral assignments.
- Greater student engagement and interest in class discussions, labs, field research, and independent projects.
- Enhanced support for individual learning preferences and needs (p.2).
The Duke experiment (2004-5) took place at an early stage of iPod use in universities. In providing students with iPods for listening, and by also giving them an add-on recording facility, the university set the frame for interactive use. If the iPods had been distributed without microphones, it is possible that the results would have been very different, with students probably using them to listen to academic resources or music only. In the wider society iPods are still seen as being largely an instrument for listening to music, rather than a means of interactive production of material.

According to the Duke report: “Initial planning for academic iPod use focused on audio playback; however, digital recording capabilities ultimately generated the highest level of student and faculty interest. Recording was the most widely used feature for academic purposes, with 60 percent of first-year students reporting using the iPod’s recording ability for academic purposes” (Duke iPod first year final evaluation report, 2005, p.1). This demonstrates that use of this technology changes rapidly and cannot always be foreseen by people who plan the roll-out of technologies into course production.
Prediction of widespread adoption
Evidence of positive student outcomes such as the ones listed above has led to a buzz about podcasting and its video equivalent, vodcasting (also known as vidcasting, vlogging or video podcasting) in the academic world. The Horizon Report links a group called the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative. The latter is a non-profit association “whose mission is to advance higher education
by promoting the intelligent use of information technology” (The Horizon Report, 2006, p.6). According to the 2006 report, the project conducts extensive qualitative research in order to “generate a list of technologies, trends, challenges, and issues that knowledgeable people in technology industries, higher education and museums are thinking about” (Ibid, p.6). These technologies are ranked in order in terms of how close they are to “widespread adoption” on university campuses. Podcasting was put in the top category and the report had this to say: “The two technologies that appear on this year’s nearest adoption horizon, social computing and personal broadcasting, have exploded over the last year, and solid educational uses and examples can easily be found on many campuses” (Ibid, p.6).
The report claims the time to widespread adoption on American campuses is one year or less and says we should not be surprised by the explosion of interest,
… in retrospect, it seems obvious why it has become so widespread. Young people were the target of very sophisticated marketing campaigns that assured the popularity of the iPod; almost overnight, it seemed that nearly everyone had one. The appeal of the device itself was increased by its size (tiny) and weight (light). Utterly portable, popular, and cute, the iPod is also incredibly easy to use: adding content is a snap. Podcasting provides an easy means for educators to take advantage of this ready-made, widely available tool and deliver educational content of it as well (Ibid, p.11).
The report goes on to suggest that the potential for student interaction is enormous. It proposes the following: “Imagine students recording interviews with classmates, faculty, or domain experts, or capturing video footage during fieldwork, and then using the raw recordings to create a multimedia presentation. A collection of clips captured over time and presented in blog format could document the development of a project” (Ibid, p.12).
Some other e-learning organisations and educational institutions are also looking at the benefits podcasting can provide not just to students but also to academics and teachers. In the article Trend: Podcasting in academic and corporate learning a technology group called Learning Circuits lists a number of areas where podcasting can help the educational experience. Among them is the ability to “enable instructors to review training or lectures”. Obviously this would be greatly increased with vodcasting, which the article predicts will have huge potential in education in the near future.
The University of Missouri and iPods

The University of Missouri is a large institution with 28,000 students. Missouri (or Mizzou as it is known) has also begun experimenting with podcasting, in particular through its prestigious Missouri School of Journalism. In 2005 a technical and business analyst for the university, Peter Meng, examined the implications of introducing the technology across the campus in his report called Podcasting and vodcasting: A white paper. In his conclusion he notes: “Podcasting and vodcasting, and their pending derivatives, are not fads. They are very real and very practical distribution technologies. The ability to time-shift content versus traditional broadcast distribution models expands student teaching and learning opportunities significantly” (Meng, 2005, p.10). However in looking at the way ahead he realised the technology had huge organisational implications for the university.

The rapid evolution of audio-photo-video recording capabilities through phones and inexpensive hand-held devices will create a flood of multimedia content. They will be immediately adopted by the current class of students and will be looked at with disinterest or uncertainty by many of the current faculty. Both distribution technologies will quickly create demand for more bandwidth and storage for that content, both for academic purposes and student-social activities. They will intensify the need for a centralized content management and monetization infrastructure, as well as an education support architecture to assist faculty in the integration of these technologies that will be demanded by the incoming class of students (Ibid, p.10).

This would suggest that the introduction of these technologies needs to be looked at by each university as a whole so that they can be rolled out in a systematic way, perhaps using the iTunes software or a similar platform. But while this is being done at some institutions, at others podcasting is being driven from below by particular disciplines whose students are more likely to be already using related technology. This is where disciplines like Journalism should be leading the way in engaging with the possibilities of technology within the classroom.
Journalism students and technology
Journalism students who study at universities that provide practical skills training as well as theory units, need to learn how to record, film and edit. Now they need to be digitally conversant and able to master the very latest in technology terms. Some journalism educators (Nankervis, 2005) decry the importance currently accorded the teaching and learning of digital editing skills by students to the detriment of “old-fashioned skills in news gathering” (Nankervis, 2005, p.12). However while journalists can still get by in present newsrooms without these skills, I believe students in convergent newsrooms of the near future will not.

The Missouri School of Journalism is running after the technology prize. In 2007 it opens a new institute with a
Futures Laboratory and a Technology Demonstration and Research Center at its heart. Its students will acquire state of the art digital skills which they will use immediately in a practical sense. As Peter Meng notes in his report (Meng, 2005):

Higher quality audio or video generally require a higher level of technical expertise. Currently many podcasts are known for their “scratchy” or homemade personalities. As the popularity of podcasting grows we will see ever more sophisticated broadcasts with increasing production values and higher level of required technical skills. The School of Journalism at The University of Missouri has already committed to producing all future podcast and vodcasts using “best practices” – a professional quality level for their podcasts and vodcasts which they are currently defining (Ibid, p.4).

The Missouri School of Journalism currently employs more than 80 academic staff. The school’s student output is impressive. They can choose to play roles in any of the following: an NBC affiliate station KOMU-TV, an NPR affiliate radio station KBIA 91.3, a community paper The Columbia Missourian, an Art magazine called Vox, Adelante a magazine in English and Spanish, an electronic newspaper called emPRINT, a newspaper called MyMissourian, an international magazine called IPI Global Journalist and the Missouri Digital News service which reports the state parliament.
Universities and the temptation of the Apple
The students are incorporating podcasting across the range of these outlets and MP3 downloads or podcasts are now available on these sites. The journalism students were able to play pioneers in the field when in April 2005 the University of Missouri hosted the Apple Digital Campus Leadership Insititute Conference. The video clips were shot and produced by the Journalism students. Later Apple hosted these clips on their Education webpages. One of the eight video clips, called IPods in Education contained interviews with various academics and students attending the conference. Here are some of the points raised in vox populi format (without names) on vodcasts:
- It turns a pull technology into a push technology. What I mean by that is students don’t have to go up and get something, it’s pushed down when they need it and where they need it.
- Students are doing homework using the devices and submitting their homework to the same content server.
- The old school way was where students had to be in the classroom for forty-five hours or whatever. They needed to be in the classroom in order to learn. I think right now the paradigm is going to change. Because now we have all these technologies and the net generation learns differently.
- The future is video. Everything that goes in technology from now on is simple delivery of video in any way possible (ADCE, 2005,1).
The University of Missouri is but one of many institutions to link their digital futures closely with Apple. The school’s website advises students to purchase Apple wireless laptops: “Students are encouraged to acquire wireless laptop technology from Apple, which the School has designated as its preferred provider, but students also will have a choice of a Windows-based alternative. Last year, 99.5 percent of incoming students chose the Apple option.”

The university is also keen on the iPod. In July 2006 Brian S. Brooks, the Associate Dean and Professor of the Missouri School of Journalism, could be found in a chat room hosted by the “Apple Digital Campus Exchange” celebrating the video iPod. He said: “Well, I’ve now had my video iPod for three weeks, and I see all sorts of applications for journalism. I am starting to float the idea that we should require students to have them” (ADCE, 2005, 2).
Linking your programme with Apple “iTunes U” is an attractive possibility (and one being explored by many universities in Australia at the present time). The sheer ubiquity of the iPod makes it appear perverse to consider other options in the MP3 marketplace. Although Australia trails a few years behind America in MP3 use, its academics are being rigorously pursued as well.
In August 2006 I was sent an email by “The Apple Education Team” to take part in an “AUC Interactive Podcasting Presentation.” The topics covered by the Apple team included students’ changing attitudes to technology, how to incorporate podcasting into your curriculum and demonstrations of the new version of “GarageBand” multimedia podcasting technology. The audience, an impressive turnout of academics from a range of disciplines in Victoria was told about podcasting experiments at several universities in Australia. At Charles Sturt University students can listen to five minute catch up lectures called “stolen moments.” At The University of Sydney students can listen to well known figures give speeches in its Key Thinkers Lecture Series. The audience questions showed that at departmental level, podcasting and vodcasting seem to be breaking out in small experiments all over the place.
Experiments in academic radio podcasting
This has certainly been the case at Deakin University in Victoria, where law lecturer John Carmichael can claim to be an early innovator in audio technology. In 1994 he began his “fireside chats” in the manner of US President Roosevelt’s weekly radio despatches. According to Deakin Magazine (January 2006, p9) in 1994 “he discovered that a voice messaging system on the phone at his then university could contain up to 15 minutes of messages, and that students could then access this ‘mini lecture’ by dialling his office number”. As technology moved on, Carmichael moved on to audio streaming and then to podcasting. He is very enthusiastic with the possibilities of the new software. He told the magazine: “Podcasts can help to lift the meaning off the page, convey my enthusiasm for the subject and try to give a sense of context, logic and meaning to the major concepts and issues in the unit.”
Deakin University has a large cohort of off-campus students in regional Victoria, around Australia and overseas. In 2006 14,500 students out of a total of 34,000 students were enrolled off campus. The staff at Deakin are always trying to improve the look and content of unit offerings on the online platform Deakin Studies Online (a localised version of WebCT). The staff have been audio streaming lectures for several years now, and these are currently being made available in podcast form. In 2006 the university gave only two Strategic Teaching and Learning Grants to projects in the Arts Faculty, and both were concerned with podcasting. One of these went to the School of International Relations and the second went to staff in the School of Communication and Creative Arts (Journalism and Public Relations).
My colleague from Public Relations (lecturer Ross Monaghan) and I decided to run a joint website on the internet, rather than through the platform WebCT. We chose this option because it would allow ourselves and our students to reach beyond the Deakin population. The website www.themediapod.net is a joint project, with each of us and our students supplying our own areas of the site. Ross Monaghan will write of his research elsewhere, and so I shall concentrate here on the Journalism side of the operation.
This modest experiment in podcasting was begun in Semester 1, 2006 and is still ongoing. The students involved from the Journalism Department in Semester 1 were third years, studying a unit in radio journalism. It was a mixed cohort with students studying for a general Arts degree, a combined degree or an Arts degree with a major in Journalism. Over the course of a 12-week semester, these students learn to record, write, report and edit for radio. They work on a current affairs assignment and do an exam at the end of the term.
After receiving confirmation of the grant, we were able to get the website up and running by week four of classes. This left only eight weeks of teaching for the radio podcasting experiment. I then started to upload some podcasts, making them relevant to the teaching undertaken during the term. I decided against the lecture format, which was available elsewhere across many different units. I conducted a short survey of the student cohort (40 On Campus students and 25 Off Campus students) to gauge their knowledge about the world of podcasting. Out of the 47 returned questionnaires, 39 had never listened to a podcast, six had listened to a podcast, and two said they weren’t sure. Of the 47 students who replied, 20 owned an iPod (or other MP3 player) and 27 did not. These students were therefore not as tech-savvy as the American teenagers mentioned above. Then again, they were probably not as wealthy as their American counterparts either.
In choosing material for podcasting, I tried to bring radio newsrooms and programmes to life in a way that could be appreciated by students downloading material from their bases in Geelong or in country Victoria. I chose to visit and paint audio pictures of a variety of radio stations and programming. I used the same recording devices as were available to students (Maycom MP2 recorders) and Audacity, the free editing software from the Internet. I put together podcasts for them on the current affairs programmes “AM,” “Hack” and on the “News Radio” station. Sometimes I used the format of radio packages and at other times I used the interview format. These items were related to topics that would help them with their assignments. For example I included audio grabs from the presenter of “AM” Tony Eastley, explaining what makes a cracking current affairs story. Other items were related to topics which would come up in the exam paper about current affairs and listening trends.
The project was also interactive because the best of the student assignments were uploaded onto the website as podcasts. The Deakin Journalism Department did not have any output for students, other than the university magazine and so this gave a new opportunity for student work to be displayed to a wider audience. The topics covered show the variety of interests of our students: country youth football, bird flu, animal experiments and the introduction of a Pseudoephedrine database.
My colleague and I did debate whether or not to allow open access to the site for students to post their work themselves, but decided to use only material that showed best practice, as our website is an educational site. I feel sure that we will move towards a more open type approach in the future after we have more data to use for reflection.
In an emailed questionnaire to discover students’ listening habits eight weeks later at the end of semester (and during exam week), I received only 21 replies. This represented one third of the students who had completed the unit. Out of these replies 10 of the students owned iPods or MP3 players and 11 did not. Of the 11 who did not currently own an MP3 player, six said they would buy one within the year. Therefore this cohort of students represents trends which show that MP3 sales will continue to increase.
Disappointingly, at the moment students appear to be still using their computers to access podcasts rather than their MP3 players, even if they own them. Of the 18 students who said they had listened to a variety of podcasts over the semester, all but one said they had used the computer to listen to them rather than an MP3 player. There could be a number of reasons for this, for example there is easy availability of computer labs on campus. Therefore it would make sense that students in a study environment would choose what is readily available. And for off-campus students the computer remains the main link with the university. As ownership of MP3 players grows, perhaps students will move towards other means of information dissemination.
The last piece of data of interest was from the question about whether or not the students had found the podcasts useful to their exam study. Of the 18 who replied that they had listened to podcasts on our website or other websites during the semester, twelve said they had found them useful, four were unsure and two said they had experienced technical difficulties in listening to them. The more positive students included comments saying how much they had enjoyed the podcasts and asking the department to maintain the project into the next year. The students whose work was published on the website were particularly pleased and hoped to use the site to showcase their work to future employers.
Conclusions
There is a growing excitement in academia about podcasting. However it is still an emerging technology and it is therefore hard to draw firm conclusions about its future usefulness until MP3 ownership grows, especially among Australian university students. Academic research worldwide is currently very slim but it is very likely that this too will grow significantly over the next few years. Some of the current research which shows incredibly positive results (such as that mentioned at Duke University above) may have been skewed by an institution’s decision to give out free iPods to students, before conducting the experiment.
At Deakin we will continue with podcasting and vodcasting, and we will expand our experiment in line with an expected growth of MP3 owners. In Australia we are not in the same position as Keith Politte, Development Officer at the Missouri School of Journalism. He was quoted in the Columbia Missourian in January 2006 as saying, “Students are digital natives. We seek to innovate to meet our students where they already are.” The information above from Deakin Journalism students concerning current MP3 player ownership suggests they are not already there.
Academics may also baulk at the technological demands on their time. Preparing interesting and relevant podcasts does eat up the hours and so may not appeal to all lecturers as they juggle heavy workloads and the competing demands of teaching, research and administration. However media lecturers may see the equation differently as they tend to be more interested than most in keeping up with technological change. It also helps broadcast academics to keep their newsgathering skills up-to-date.
Around the university I see new examples every day of people in different areas using podcasting or audio-streaming to create audio files that give students particular information. In Deakin’s film and video area technical staff are using audio-streaming to explain the use of the equipment that students can borrow. And finally we should appreciate the financial sense of moving journalism output online. As money grows tighter across Australian universities with the loss of revenue from “Voluntary Student Unionism”, then podcasting and interactive websites will increasingly take the place of university newspapers and radio stations.
References
ADCE (1) Apple Digital Campus Exchange. In their words. Video clips from the Apple Digital Campus Leadership Institute held April 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2006 from http://www.apple.com/education/advinstiture/videos.html
ADCE (2) Apple Digital Campus Exchange Conversations Area. Brian S. Brooks, Associate Dean and Professor Missouri School of Journalism. Retrieved 30 July 2006 from http://edcommunity.apple.com/adc/forums_index.php?
Apple University Consortium: Interactive Podcasting Presentation, Federation Hall, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. August 16, 2006. http://www.auc.edu.au/index2.html?whatsnew.html~mainFrame
Bridge Ratings Survey (1). American MP3 Player/iPod Use, Bridge Ratings Quick Study. Published in January 9, 2006. Retrieved July 16, 2006 at http://www.bridgeratings.com/
Bridge Ratings Survey (2). Bridge Ratings Industry Update – The Podcasting Outlook. Published November 12, 2005. Retrieved July 16, 2006 from http://www.bridgeratings.com/
Kingston, S. (January, 2006). Deakin podfather. Deakin Magazine.
Duke iPod first year final evaluation report. (June, 2005). Retrieved July 12, 2006 from cit.duke.edu/pdf/ipod_initiative_04_05.pdf.
Educause is a non-profit organisation that promotes useful technology for higher education. Information retrieved July 30, 2006, from website www.**educause**.edu
The Horizon Report. (2006). The 2006 Horizon Report is a collaboration between The New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved July 12, 2006 from cit.duke.edu/pdf/ipod_initiative_04_05.pdf
In their words. Video clips from the Apple Digital Campus Leadership Institute held April 2005. Retrieved July 30, 2006 from http://www.apple.com/education/advinstiture/videos.html
Kaufman, R. (2006). MU joins other colleges to test ITunes U service. Columbia Missourian. Retrieved from httpe:columbiamissourian.com August 31, 2006.
Lederman, D. (October 21, 2005). The sounds of Stanford, via the iPod. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved August 12, 2006 from http://www.insidehighered.com
Meng, P. (2006).
Podcasting gains an important foothold among US adult online population, according to NielsenNetratings. Retrieved August 12, 2006, from http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/news.jsp
Nankervis, K. (2005). Skill needs for today’s television journalists: What Australia’s TV news chiefs want most from the new generation. Refereed paper presented to the Journalism Education Conference, Griffith University, November, 2005.
Palser, B. (2006). Hype or the real deal? American Journalism Review, Feb/March, 28, 1, p.65.
Podcasting and vodcasting: a white paper. (2005). Published by the University of Missouri March and retrieved July 9, 2006 http://edmarketing.apple.com
Portable MP3 player ownership reaches new high. Published June 29, 2006. Retrieved August 12, 2006 from http://www.ipsos-na.com
The media Pod. Website belonging to Colleen Murrell and Ross Monaghan from Deakin University. Address: www.themediapod.net
Trend: Podcasting in academic and corporate learning. Published by a technology group called Learning Circuits in June 2005. Retrieved July 9, 2006 from http://www.learningcircuits.org/
University of Missouri School of Journalism, computer requirements. Retrieved August 14, 2006.
http://journalism.missouri.edu/undergraduate/computer-requirements.html
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Colleen Murrell is a lecturer in journalism at Deakin University in Australia. During her previous career she worked as a news editor for a range of broadcast organisations including the BBC, ITN and APTN. In 2007 she will travel to the UK as an Erasmus Mundus Fellow in Journalism. She will be based at City University where she will
undertake fieldwork for her PhD on the role of the fixer in international newsgathering © Colleen Murrell


2/1 This is NOT a research article but this guy is the preeminent researcher on the subject and it's worth the read.

Programming: The New Literacy

Power will soon belong to those who can master a variety of powerful and expressive human-machine interactions.

by Marc Prensky
Programming: The New Literacy
Programming: The New Literacy

Credit: Laura Morris Designs
Already, various thinkers about the future have proposed a number of candidates for the designation "twenty-first-century literacy." That is, what are the key skills humans must possess in order to be considered literate? Some writers assume that the definition of literacy will continue to be what it always has been: "The ability to carefully read and write a contemporary spoken language." Others specify that the term will apply only to fluency in one or more of the languages spoken by the largest numbers of people, those certain to be important over the next nine decades of the century; candidates include Spanish, English, or Mandarin Chinese.
Still others expand the notion of twenty-first-century literacy beyond spoken and written language to include the panoply of skills often collected under the umbrella term multimedia (being able to both understand and create messages, communications, and works that include, or are constructed with, visual, aural, and haptic -- that is, physical -- elements as well as words). Some go on to find important emerging literacy in interactivity and games. And there are those who say it includes all of the above, and might include other factors as well.
I am one of these last, in that I believe fluency with multiple spoken languages will continue to be important, and that multimedia, interactivity, and other game-derived devices will be increasingly significant tools for communicating twenty-first-century thought. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that the true key literacy of the new century lies outside all these domains.
I believe the single skill that will, above all others, distinguish a literate person is programming literacy, the ability to make digital technology do whatever, within the possible one wants it to do -- to bend digital technology to one's needs, purposes, and will, just as in the present we bend words and images. Some call this skill human-machine interaction; some call it procedural literacy. Others just call it programming.
Seem strange? I'm sure it does. Today, people with highly developed skills in this area are seen as nerds. But consider that as machines become even more important components of our communication, our work, our education, our travel, our homes, and our leisure, the ability to make them do what we want will become increasingly valuable. Already, today, a former programmer in Seattle, one of these very nerds, is one of the richest people in the world.
So, in a sense, we are going to see as we progress through the twenty-first century a real revenge of the nerds, except that the new nerds will be our programmatically literate children. As programming becomes more important, it will leave the back room and become a key skill and attribute of our top intellectual and social classes, just as reading and writing did in the past. Remember, only a few centuries ago, reading and writing were confined to a small specialist class whose members we called scribes.

Do You HTML?

One might ask, "Will every educated person really have to program? Can't the people who need programming just buy it?" Possibly. Of course, with that model, we have in a sense returned to the Middle Ages or ancient Egypt, or even before. Then, if you needed to communicate your thoughts on paper, you couldn't do it yourself. You had to hire a better-educated person -- a scribe -- who knew the writing code. Then, at the other end, you needed someone to read or decode it -- unless, of course, you were "well educated," that is, you had been taught to read and write and thus had become literate.
Programming: The New Literacy
Programming: The New Literacy

Classified Ad:

Electronic Arts, the world’s biggest video game company, recently created this billboard advertisement written in a programming language. Can you read it? (It says, "Now Hiring.")
Credit: Marc Prensky
Here's a key question: Will the need for a separate scribe tribe of programmers continue through the twenty-first century, or will the skill set of an educated person soon include programming fluency? I think that as programming becomes increasingly easy (which it will) and as the need to show rather than explain becomes important (which it will) and as people working together want to combine the results of their efforts and ideas instantaneously (which they will), educated people will, out of necessity, become programmers. Think of it: Your phone and car already require programming skills; many houses and jobs do, too. Programming will soon be how we interact with all our objects, and I believe it will be an important component of how we interact with one another as well.
Of course, there are already Luddites who think a digital machine is most elegant if it has only one button (like the Roomba robot floor cleaner) and people who keep searching for a cell phone that only makes phone calls. (Good luck.) There is a hierarchy of levels of making machines do what you want (that is, programming them) that runs from manipulating a single on-off switch to managing menus, options, and customization to coding higher-level programming languages (Flash, HTML, scripting) and lower-level languages (C++, Java) to creating assembler or machine language.
Few people, however, remain satisfied for long with the first level -- as soon as we master that, most of us seek refinements and customization to our own needs and tastes. (The company that makes the Roomba offers a kit to turn its parts into whatever type of robot you want.)
Just about every young person programs (controls his or her own digital technology) to some extent. Many actions considered merely tasks -- setting up a universal television remote, downloading a ringtone, customizing your mobile phone or desktop -- are really programming. Doing a Web search is programming, as is using peer-to-peer or social-networking technologies, or eBay, or creating a document in Word, Excel, MySpace, or Facebook -- and toss in building your avatar in Second Life. Today's kids are such good programmers that parents who buy expensive high tech gadgets, such as camcorders or home theaters, often hand them to their children to set up (program) for them.
Today, most of this programming takes place in what I refer to as higher-level programming languages, consisting of menus and choices rather than the more flexible computer code. Of course, many people will be content with this level of programming (which still manages to baffle many "literate" adults).
But as today's kids grow up and become tomorrow's educated adults, most will go much further. At an early age, many young people learn the HTML language of Web pages and often branch out into its more powerful sister languages, such as XML and PHP. Other kids are learning programming languages like Game Maker, Flash, and Scratch, plus scripting language, graphics tools, and even C++, in order to build games. They learn them occasionally in school, but mostly on their own, after school, or in specialized summer camps. Why? First, because they realize it gives them the power to express themselves in the language of their own times, and second -- and perhaps even more importantly -- because they find it fun.

Want a Program? Hire a Kid

Suppose you have a need for a computer program. "Me?" you say. "Why would I have such a need?" But this possibility is not far-fetched at all. For instance, when Howard Dean ran for U.S. president a few years ago, he (or someone on his staff) had this idea: "What if we could collect contributions over the Internet?" Nobody had ever done this before, because the structure wasn't there -- the program had never been written. So he went out and found a young programmer -- an eighteen-year-old -- to write the necessary code, and within only a matter of weeks the contributions started pouring in.
Most of us have problems a computer or another digital machine could easily solve for us, if only we conceived them as programming problems: "What is my best commuting route under different weather or other conditions?" "What are my statistics in my sports (or hobbies or work), and how do they compare with those of others?" "What is the optimal configuration of my [you name it]?" "How close am I to retirement, and will I have enough money?"
We all have ideas and needs amenable to programming solutions. My guess is that the more educated and literate we are (in the tired twentieth-century sense), the more of these we have. Yet most of us "digital immigrants" -- those who came to computers and digital technology later in our lives -- never even know it. We never realize that our desire to contact certain groups of people at certain times, or to lighten the load of repetitive work (say, grading papers), or to solve certain types of puzzles (like Sudoku), are really programming problems, and quite solvable ones at that.
But some among us do realize this, and we hire young people -- often our kids, students, or employees but equally often consultants selling solutions -- to do the necessary programming for us. One result is that we nonprogrammers often get ripped off (charged a lot for something quite simple), say, by financial planners offering seemingly sophisticated tools that, were we the slightest bit "literate," we could not only write ourselves but also customize specifically to our needs.
That's not how it will be in the future. As we move further into the twenty-first century, well educated people who have needs and ideas addressable via programming will increasingly be able to recognize this fact and take matters into their own hands.

The Digital "Scribe Tribe"

Recently, programming languages "ordinary" people use have begun to emerge. Of these, one in particular -- Flash, from Adobe -- appears to be becoming a de facto standard. A great many kids in elementary school and the middle grades around the world are learning to program in Flash and are continually improving their skills as they advance through the grades. They use this tool and others like it (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Scratch, for example) to communicate a wide range of information and emotion -- from stories to logic to games to ideas to persuasive arguments to works of art -- all through programming. And it seems to them not nerdy but, rather, sophisticated and advanced.
The young people who do this vary greatly, of course, in the sophistication of what they can do. But sophisticated programming is becoming easier by the day. More and more premade programming objects -- code written by others that can simply be plugged in to perform certain tasks -- are available on the Internet, and are mostly free.
These databases of premade parts greatly enhance students' abilities, extend their programming and problem-solving capabilities, and shorten the time to get things done. In a sense, these bits of code are like an alphabet of programming. Recently, a friend was asked to program a "Wheel of Fortune" in Flash. Rather than taking a week to program it from scratch, he did a Web search, found something like what he wanted available free, and finished the project in an hour.
With these increasingly available and findable pieces of code, the range of what one can do and communicate with programming can expand indefinitely. And though simpler programs such as Flash already allow a pretty good degree of sophistication, many young people, through game creation, Internet-tool creation, or other means, get into the more sophisticated programming languages of three-dimensional world building, scripting, and entirely abstract, logical programming languages such as Java and C++.
And so emerges the new scribe tribe of programmers, reaching into (and eventually becoming) the intellectual elite of the twenty-first century. Programming has already become a tool today's young people use to communicate with one another via such components as machinima (see the definition below), ringtones, emoticons, searches, photo manipulation, and games. Young people email or IM their creations to one another as we do our Word and Excel attachments, often posting them on the Internet for all to see. I bet few among us have not been the recent recipient of an emailed URL pointing us to an interesting program, a greeting card, a YouTube video, a machinima, or a game. (And, of course, Word and Excel are programming languages in themselves, with enormously sophisticated programming capabilities built in via macros and scripting.)
  • Flash: A program that lets users create vector-based animation
  • Machinima: "Machine cinema," in which simple tools found in video games are put to unexpected ends
  • Scratch: An easy-to-use programming language developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As the century goes on, those who don't program -- who can't bend their increasingly sophisticated computers, machines, cars, and homes to their wills and needs -- will, I predict, be increasingly left behind. Parents and teachers often disrespect today's young people for being less than literate in the old reading-and-writing sense. But in turn, these young citizens of the future have no respect for adults who can't program a DVD player, a mobile phone, a computer, or anything else. Today's kids already see their parents and teachers as the illiterate ones. No wonder some teachers are scared to bring new technologies into the classroom -- the kids just laugh at their illiteracy.
So, as the highly literate person of 2008 might start off the day reading the New York Times and firing off a cleverly worded letter to the editor in response to a column, the highly literate person of 2028 may start the day ingesting the news in multiple ways with various types of stories they have programmed to be delivered in a preferred order, each at a preferred speed. And if that person feels a need to express an opinion, a simple bit of programming will allow him or her to determine all the people in the world to whom a response should go, and have it customized for each of them. Or one might program and fire off a video, an animation, or a simulation.
As the highly literate adult of today might pen a witty birthday card note for a young niece or nephew, the highly literate adult of tomorrow might program the child a game. And though today's highly literate person may enjoy a sophisticated novel or nonfiction book on a plane or train ride, tomorrow's highly literate person may prefer to change, by programming, whatever story or other media he or she is interacting with to suit individual preferences, and might then, with a little more programming, distribute those changes to the world.
And, of course, all this extends into the physical world as well thorough robotics and machine programming.

Tool Time

Tools have always been important to humans; now, intellectual tools are becoming increasingly significant. Until recently, getting an education and becoming a literate person meant learning to use the set of tools considered essential for each field or discipline. The tools in any endeavor change and improve over time, but they generally do so quite slowly, and new tools are often invented not by ordinary people but by "geniuses." Getting an education in a field has long meant gaining mastery of its existing tools.
In this century, we will see, I think, something quite different. Using their ever more sophisticated programming skills, ordinary well-educated people will be constantly inventing new tools to solve whatever problems they have. In fact, this will be the expectation of what a literate person does. Already, in many circles (and not only scientific ones, although most are still rather geeky), one often hears someone say, "I wrote a little program to do that." And whether it's to find Manhattan addresses or to keep track of how many seconds remain until your next paycheck, a typical reaction is, "Can I get that?" to which the answer is as simple as a URL or a USB key.
It takes neither geeks nor armies of people to create useful tools via programming. A woman recently created an extremely useful program to compile and redeem her supermarket coupons. Google was created by two graduate students (Sergey Brin and Larry Page). Just one guy (Pierre Omidyar) developed the original program for eBay. Often, from these initial programming ideas come very big companies and profits. (Brin, Page, and Omidyar are all billionaires.)
But even if they don't yield huge profits, thousands -- and soon millions -- of people are beginning to create and share good programs we can all use free. Successful companies train new programmers, who then generate their own ideas and tools, in addition to the tools their companies build. Smart businesses are already searching for young people who can create these new tools -- employees who are twenty-first-century literate.
All of which brings us to an important question: If programming (the ability to control machines) is indeed the key literacy of this century, how do we, as educators, make our students literate? This problem is a particularly thorny one, because most teachers, even many of our best math and science instructors, do not possess the necessary skills, even rudimentary ones. Most of the tools (and even the concept of programming) were developed long after these teachers were born or schooled.
Can we do it by bringing working programmers into the schools? Not likely. Most of the good ones are busy programming and have no desire to teach.
The answer is not yet clear, but we can either come up with creative solutions to this real problem, or, in their absence, the kids will, as they are doing with so many things, figure out ways to teach themselves. Imagine: Literacy without (official) teachers.
Our machines are expected, thirty years from now, to be a billion times more powerful than they are today. Literacy will belong to those who can master not words, or even multimedia, but a variety of powerful, expressive human-machine interactions. If you are from the old school, you may not enjoy hearing this, but I doubt there is anything anyone can do to stop it.
Thirty years from now, will the United States be more competitive with a population that can read English at a tenth-grade level or with a population excellent at making the complex machines of that era do their bidding? The two options may be mutually exclusive, and the right choice may determine our children's place in the world's intellectual hierarchy.
Marc Prensky is the author of Digital Game-Based Learning and Don't Bother Me, Mom, I'm Learning. He is also founder and CEO of Games2train, a game-based learning company.

This article was also published in Edutopia Magazine, February 2008

1/18
Volume 40 Number 2 Winter 2007-2008

Accommodating Individual Differences in the Design of Online Learning Environments: A Comparative Study

Mahnaz Moallem
University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to report the results of a comparative and descriptive study that examined the relationship and effects of incorporating students’ learning styles in the design of instruction and the outcome of students’ learning, including their attitude and satisfaction. The paper will first explain how the literature on learning styles was used to develop a list of assumptions about learning styles, and further how these assumptions were used to identify a learning style model. It will also provide a detailed description of the process of using the learning style model to design and develop multiple instructional materials for two units of instruction for an online course. Finally, the paper will report the effects of this approach on students’ learning and their perception, attitude and satisfaction in comparison with instructional materials that are designed and developed on the basis of the content and objectives, without incorporating students’ different learning styles.
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Download the full article (PDF, 216 KB)

Contributors

Susan L. Groenke is an assistant professor in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee where she advises the English Education program. Her research areas include adolescent reading patterns and processes, the role of dialogue in literary learning, and computer-supported collaborative learning. (sgroenke@utk.edu.)
Trena M. Paulus is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at the University of Tennessee where she works with the Collaborative Learning program. Her research areas include computer supported collaborative learning, computer-mediated communication, and discourse analysis methodology. ( tpaulus@utk.edu.)
Copyright 2007-2008, (International Society for Technology in Education). All rights reserved.
12/21
Students and Laptops: To Use or Not to Use? A Review of the Literature
“I do not fear computers. I fear lack of them.” -Isaac Asimov
Introduction:
As a teacher in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District, I have been inundated with persuasive research towards the inclusion of laptop computers as an instructional strategy, and over the last two years, I have participated in two different versions of Microsoft’s Anytime, Anywhere Learning (AAL) program: one-to-one laptop ownership and computers on wheels. Clearly, all educators would agree that proficient use of computer technology is a necessary component to the development of literate students in the twenty-first century, but what are the academic effects (particularly in the area of writing) of students owning or leasing their own laptop technology compared to the academic effects of students using district-owned laptop technology during the normal school day? Although that question is the primary focus of this review of the literature, there are many other benefits and concerns that imbed themselves as technology is infused into the school curriculum: Do laptop students exhibit better behavior? Does gender equality in education increase, decrease, or remain the same? How important is staff development? Are there health and/or social concerns precipitated by laptop usage? And of course, there is the necessary examination of cost versus benefit. So although laptops are the medium of the time, what are the best practices as it pertains to their use in the classroom?
Historical Context:
Although the infusion of laptops into the educational arena was inevitable, an independent girls’ school in Melbourne, Australia (Methodist Ladies’ College) gets the credit for being the world’s first laptop school (Johnstone back cover). “Their first laptop classes commenced ‘in a blaze of glory’ on Monday 12 February 1990” (Johnstone 208). Although not the earliest attempt in America, the state of Maine deserves credit for their large-scale, bold initiative titled “From Lunchboxes to Laptops” which was introduced on March 2, 2000 by the Governor during his State of the State speech. This proposal promised, beginning in 2002, to provide every seventh grader in Maine with an Internet-ready portable computer (312). Although it was on a much smaller scale, the laptop revolution made its way to the Walled Lake Consolidated School District in Michigan just prior to Maine’s big announcement during the school year 1999-2000 (Ross, Year 1 2), almost ten years after the implementation in Australia. Walled Lake’s initiative was based on Microsoft’s Anytime, Anywhere Learning (AAL) program which has been in schools since 1996 and it introduced fifth and sixth grade students to the world of laptop technology (2).
The Educational Merits of the Laptop Computer:
Above all else, giving a student the ability to use a laptop grants them empowerment. No longer do students need to wait for teachers to be the purveyors of information because they can have the world at their fingertips (Owen et. al. 12). Empowerment can come via numerous avenues, although the most important are in the areas of communication, organization, information, and production.
Nearly all research studies regarding laptops identify soaring levels of communication as one of the most obvious changes. Howard Levin reports that student-to-student, student-to-teacher, and teacher-to-student communication by e-mail as well as Internet-based learning environments are no longer considered bonuses, they are expected (17). In his survey he asked students how often they communicate with other students about schoolwork online outside of class and the results follow: 71% reported “daily,” and 24% said “1 to 2 times per week” (18). The more astonishing figures come from the instances of online communication that occur between students and teachers, as 56% replied that they communicate with teachers “one or more times per week.” Perhaps even more important than that is the notion that communication can easily move beyond the confines of the traditional classroom community. By using electronic bulletin boards, students have the ability to acquire information that supersedes the age group and locale confines of the classroom, allowing students to seek connections and express themselves in a safe way across all ages and regions (Levin 18). And the possibilities are limitless as technology advances. Joanne Barrett, a middle school laptop teacher, shares what she considers to be the nicest unexpected surprise of laptop inclusion: “I was teaching a class and heard a student announce, ‘Sophie is now connected via a chat session.’ Nice, because Sophie was home sick with an infection” (49). Laptops are slowly replacing the outdated “homework buddy” system where a student collected books, papers, and assignments to be picked up for the absent student.
Students across all levels and backgrounds struggle with the notion of organization because one uniform method does not work for all. And although this is not completely resolved through the implementation of laptops, laptops can help. One teacher in Levin’s study reported, “The laptop program has helped to uncover the organizational strengths and weaknesses of both students and teachers” (18). More than half our students report that their organization for school has improved since receiving their laptop (3% report a decline) (Levin 18). Increases in student organization can be attributed to many commonly used tools including Apple’s Stickies, calendar programs, Microsoft Word’s “note book”, desktop folders, concept mapping software, and self-sent e-mail reminders (Levin 18-19). Teachers can aide their students’ endeavor to be organized by posting their handouts, assignments, and other class information online within their course website because students can now have one place to access nearly all information that in the past was lost or simply not recorded in their notes (Levin 19). In Levin’s article, English teacher Tilda Kapuya is quoted as saying, “Students’ comprehension is enhanced by having more continuity between what happens in the classroom and what happens at home. Homework now serves to build upon class work more than ever because the laptop holds all the information in one place” (19).
Anytime access to a plethora of Internet resources and the “Google factor” in the hands of every student has changed the type of information used to support learning as teachers often take advantage of current and immediate access to information on the Internet and add meaning and relevancy to assignments (Levin 19). This is particularly evident with social studies, science, or literature assignments that exhibit some connection to a current event or scholarly project. Along that avenue, “the use of computers and the Internet can provide support for extensive and independent reading and writing, assist with language scaffolding, and provide opportunities for authentic and publication” (Warschauer et. al.).
Although changes and progress in communication, organization, and access to information are all important byproducts of laptop use by students, the more powerful change is evident in the end products of student work. And although laptop use isn’t always evident on the surface, further inquiry will almost always find that students used the technology as some part of the process. According to Levin’s work at Urban High School, among the most obvious areas supported by laptops is student writing. In fact, more than 67% of Urban students report that word processing represents “the best use” of their laptop. Coinciding with that is history teacher LeRoy Votto’s statement, “I definitely see more output – that is more words and ideas per writing assignment with the computer” (19). However, this should not be misconstrued as a situation of quantity over quality as he goes on to say, “Essays are more tightly written than ever” (19). Moving beyond the use of word processing programs is the inclusion of online discussions in English classrooms. Levin writes,
Two years ago I reported the use of online discussions in English, a technique that periodically moves oral discussions into written dialogues about literature. This practice helps empower the less orally confident student to air ideas and thus receive feedback. Says English teacher Cathleen Sheehan, “Unlike an oral discussion, in-conference postings give me greater insight into how students are processing the reading and responding to it. I can ask them to look back at a given passage and guide them as well as give them feedback on spelling and punctuation as needed.” Likewise, English chair Jonathan Howland reports, “My students are more alert members of a discussion as well as better writers on account of their ongoing involvement with online conferences” (20).
Advancements in student production occur outside of the English classroom as well. In mathematics and science classrooms students gain the ability to transport active data into Excel or directly into Word (Levin 19). But perhaps the most astonishing examples come from the powerful effect of laptops that lie hidden behind student work that, on the surface, shows no sign of computer technology. Levin became intrigued by this during the school’s annual year-end senior art show:
The campus was filled with beautiful paintings, drawings, sculptures, and installation projects, none of which, expect the photography, evidenced any use of computer technology. I interviewed several students, simply asking if they used any technology to generate the ideas for their art. I was pleasantly shocked by the results. They all mentioned some intriguing use of their laptop, whether it was to search for images, process digital photography for modeling, or simply brainstorm journal-style to develop their ideas (20).
Other students talked about video-taping and importing the digital movies and editing an iMovie, while others used iPhoto or Photoshop to digitally enhance their own photographs (Levin 20). Needless to say, when students have access to a laptop, the products they produce will more often than not, utilize technology.
Social Merits of Laptop Initiatives: Behavior
The available literature relating to laptop initiatives classifies behavior implications in two sub-categories: positive influences and negative possibilities. The classroom observations in the Walled Lake study found classrooms to be “more active, autonomous, and collaborative” (58). Additional descriptive phrases found throughout the reports include that “overall, the laptop classes were ‘busier’ and more active learning environments” (58). Keeping in mind that the Walled Lake study focused on laptop implementation among fifth and sixth graders, it is interesting that the researchers pointed out one particular example while observing students who were engaged in science class assignment to test and analyze various types of facial tissue and then advertise the one that was most effective. The researchers duly noted that “they were comfortable and skilled in these activities (using spreadsheet, data base, word-processing and graphics software) and not a single student was frustrated on unoccupied for the 30 minutes that we were there” (60). Lastly, the reports share, “while the difference was not significant, it is noteworthy that laptop classes also placed greater emphasis than did control classes on providing opportunities for sustained activities, particularly in the area of writing.” This data seems to contribute to laptop students’ superiority over non-laptop students in regards to an analysis of a writing measure which will be discussed later in this report.
As ubiquitous computing becomes more and more commonplace in the educational arena, so do behavioral distractions, and these seem to run the gamut of age groups. In his article “Student Resistance to All Laptops All of the Time: How it Can Change Your Teaching”, William Archibald relays his findings after he observed and then debriefed with the students in his friend’s college-level Comp I class. Archibald found that students did e-mail, ICQ (an on-line synchronous chat protocol), surf the web, and play games during class. He also found that some students e-mailed other students in the class during class. He wrote, “This practice seemed like the junior high diversion of ‘passing notes’ in class” (31). Archibald found that the older than average college students complained that other (younger) students were a nuisance when they played games or e-mailed in class instead of paying attention to the teacher because they were distracted by the flickering of the screen and the constant typing (32).
A separate set of behavior concerns relates to copyright issues. “Cyber plagiarism (both intentional and unintentional) is a growing and important issues,” writes Joanne Barrett in her article titled, “Four Years of Portability: Perspective on a Laptop Program”. She goes to explain how and why unintentional plagiarism is the more thorny type of plagiarism in laptop classrooms when she writes, “It is so simple to do – right-click to copy and then paste into the text” (42). And although one could argue that plagiarism issues have existed for a long time before the introduction of laptops into the classroom, it is the discrepancy between the older “more intentional” occurrences and the newer “unintentional” occurrences that are daunting for laptop teachers.

Social Merits of Laptop Initiatives: Gender
It is no secret, that over the course of history, there has been a connection between technology and the male culture. As matter of fact, in a 2001 report, L. Stepulevage noticed that “ICT (information and computer technology) competence was linked with the formation of gender identity, and that for a boy, it functioned as a construction of male-identity” (Ilomäki). It is, however, remarkable that the gender differences in technology can be dependent, at least to some extent, on access and training. One study reports, “School can diminish the gender inequality by giving girls a possibility to use technology in combination with learning. When girls have similar access to computers and they receive training at school as boys do, the gender differences in computer use and in computer-related control beliefs disappear” (Ilomäki). Another report conducted by Marc D. Miller is contradictory in that it reports, “Even though there was no difference in actual computer skills among the students, the female students rated themselves lower than the male students rated themselves” (Civello 93). Miller goes on to conclude, “These lower scores of women could lead to a lack of job opportunities in an increasingly computerized world” (Civello 93).
Changes in Instructional Practices:
Across the globe, one-to-one laptop initiatives have clearly caused changes in instructional practices with the teacher becoming somewhat decentralized in the computer-based classroom. Catherine Civello, and English teacher at Ursuline Academy in Dallas, Texas argues that the decentralization happens in more than just the physical sense that her story relates:
That’s exactly what she said to me: “Move over, please.” Having connected a projection device to the PC on my desk, I logged on to the Women in Colonial America website, introducing this site to my eleventh grade American literature class. The links would offer useful information as students prepared to write their paper on American women’s poetry. But something went wrong; I couldn’t connect with one of the addresses. A student who started her research the night before came up to my desk to help. “Move over, please,” she said. “I know another place to look.”
As this instant, Catherine Civello knew that something had changed forever and it was much more than just the physical displacement that she described. The previously dominate role of whole-class instruction is being replaced by guided/facilitated learning, which is now becoming the most common of the nine strategies used on a daily basis, according to Alice Owen et. al. in their article “Teaching in the One-to-One Classroom” (13). The article goes on to say that 38% of the laptop teachers in their study reported using guiding/facilitating every day, compared to 28% of the teachers who reported using whole-class instruction every day. The evaluation reports composed throughout the three-year study in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District concur with these reports. “According to both teacher reports and classroom observations, laptop classes are being taught differently that regular (control) classes” (Ross Year 1 10). The report to goes on to list the many ways in which the laptop classrooms differed from regular and more traditional classrooms, in that laptop classrooms:
· incorporated technology to a much greater degree,
· tended to employ more student-centered strategies such as project-based learning,
· utilized independent inquiry/research,
· utilized teacher as coach/facilitator,
· exhibited more examples of cooperative learning (11).
The teacher surveys from the Walled Lake study clearly revealed that teachers believed they were teaching differently than before by integrating technology into both newly developed lessons and existing lessons that had previously been taught without computers (11). The implication of these multiple data sources is that teaching and learning were being impacted, in ways that promoted active learning and technology applications, as a consequence of all students having continual access to individual computers.
Writing Achievement:
The first two years of research tabulated jointly by The University of Memphis and Wayne State University of Walled Lake Consolidated Schools’ Anytime, Anywhere Learning (AAL) program shows significant difference in writing achievement between laptop and non-laptop students. For this measure, sixth and seventh grade students were asked to complete a prompted writing sample at the end of the school year which was assessed using the district’s Writing Scoring Guide which evaluates four components of writing: Ideas and Content, Organization and Form, Style and Voice, and Conventions. Each component was scored on a four-point scale: Mature (4), Capable (3), Developing (2), and Emerging (1). For this study, 59 laptop student essays and 59 non-laptop student essays were randomly selected for comparison:

Laptop Students:
Non-Laptop Students:

Ideas & Content
3.08
2.08

Organization & Form
3.07
2.10

Style & Voice
2.92
2.12

Conventions
3.47
3.17
(Ross Year 2 22)
This data shows that the effects of all four components of The Writing Scoring Guide favored the laptop students, and effect sizes were high in magnitude with close to a one-point discrepancy in a couple of the areas of assessment. An interesting notation to this research is that through student surveys, only about one-third of the students indicated that they believed their writing skills had increased as a result of having a laptop (Ross Year 1 61). “Observational data, however, suggested that laptop students were receiving more opportunity to practice writing than were control students. For example, sustained writing was extensively observed in 25% of the laptop classes compared to 17% of the control classes” (61-62).
One-on-One Laptop Programs versus Computers of Wheels (COWs):
During the third year of the research study, because the district recognized that “the feasibility of providing every student with a laptop is financially unrealistic (Ross Year 3 14), and in an effort to expose more students to the educational benefits of laptop technology, the Walled Lake Consolidated School District added an additional component: computers on wheels (COWs). The purpose of the Year 3 study was to determine the effectiveness of providing 5th grade students with access to laptop computers and if differences occur based on the amount of time (24 hours per day vs. class-time only) and/or type of access (personal laptop vs. laptop on school mobile cart) to the computers. The data acquired from the year-long study revealed moderate advantages for the laptop students over the cart students, even thought the collection of data “revealed relatively few differences in teaching methods between laptop and cart class” (Ross Year 3 4). Analysis of the data includes the following findings:
· The majority of the laptop students were considered to have very good computer literacy and keyboarding skills as compared to only one third or less of the cart students.
· Laptop students more frequently used the Internet than the cart students.
· The laptop student more frequently engaged in more meaningful activities than the cart students.
· Laptop students were significantly more positive that using the laptop had increased their computer skills, made learning more fun and interesting, and provided incentives to get better grades.
(Ross Year 3 5 & 11)
The subject areas of computer activities were also significantly different in laptop vs. cart classes in that “The laptop students responded that they used laptops for language arts almost every day (48% for laptop students vs. 2% for cart students) and were more likely to use them for mathematics and social studies, however to a lesser degree than for language arts” (Ross Year 3 12). The difference in usage in the language arts curriculum once again led to a discrepancy in the data collected for the district’s annual end of the year writing assessment. This year’s data collection utilized the results of 272 fifth graders: 132 laptop students and 140 cart students (Ross Year 3 19). Once again, the students were asked to write a prompted essay and the essays were then scored in the blind on a rubric encompassing four dimensions of writing: Ideas and Content, Organization and Form, Style and Voice, and Conventions. For each dimension, the essay was scored using a 4-point scale ranging from “emerging” (1) to “mature (4):

Laptop Students:
Cart Students:

Ideas & Content
2.75
2.11

Organization & Form
2.54
2.17

Style & Voice
2.28
1.96

Conventions
3.03
2.75
(Ross Year 3 41)
And again the results from the Year 3 study followed the same trend as the Year 2 study, with laptop students showing significant advantages over the cart students on the four dimensions of Ideas and Content, Organization and Form, Style and Voice, and Conventions. And although the Year 3 results reveal educationally important impacts, the effect sizes were directionally lower than those from Year 2. Thus suggesting that students with continuous access to laptops have advantages over those who only use individual laptops during class, and even a greater advantage over students in classrooms limited to five or more computers shared by all students. Differences in outcomes were witnessed across almost all areas of the curriculum, and
although both laptop and cart teachers implemented non-traditional methodologies, such as acting as coach facilitators, engaging students in sustained writing and the use of computers as a learning tool, there was infrequent use of other student-centered strategies such as cooperative learning, higher-level feedback and questioning, project-based learning, or integration of subject areas. (Ross Year 3 13).
At the conclusion of the three year study conducted jointly by researchers from The University of Memphis and Wayne State University, the Walled Lake Consolidated School District was left with the monumental task of targeting professional development toward strategies to better ensure student engagement in meaningful activities that result in increased student achievement for both laptop and cart students.
Professional Development:
The available research on recent laptop initiatives indicates that professional development needs to be a three-pronged approach, providing support for teachers, parents, and students. In several district across the country this begins with the placement of technology specialists right into schools that are incorporating laptop programs into their curriculum. According to Alice Owen et. al. in the article “Teaching in the One-to-One Classroom”, “This additional staffing to provide school-embedded support is essential to the success of any technology program”. In the Walled Lake Consolidated School District, these technology specialists are called CRTs, Computer Resource Teachers, and they provide support to teachers, students, and parents with numerous aspects of the laptop curriculum, including: helps with content-specific lesson plans, ensuring that all laptops are loaded with the necessary software, help with software and hardware technical support, maintenance of wireless network connections, and acting a liaison between the consumers and providers of the laptops and the service contracts that go along with laptop ownership or leasing.
The professional development for the teachers needs to begin long before the laptops arrive at the start of the school year. When laptops were introduced to Community School District (CSD) 10 in New York City, the following strategies were implemented to ensure that all necessary staff members had adequate training:
· Teachers, school librarians, and other classroom support staff received 30 hours of in-class and at home training in the use of technology tools, including how to incorporate tools such as the Internet, learning word processing, database and spreadsheet tools, and developing multimedia design projects.
· Each teacher received a laptop and an Internet account for home use.
· Teachers were asked to maintain a portfolio of students’ work created using technology at home and school based project work completed over a three-year period.
(Zardoya 264-5)
The Irving Independent District in north Texas found that access to the Internet at home is an important factor in the success of a one-to-one program. Their report states, “The better access teachers had to the Internet at home, the higher they ranked themselves on Stages of Adoption” (Owen 15). The Irving District also stresses the importance of training teachers in classroom management issues before laptops are handed to students because of the different kind of teaching and change in classroom practice that is inherent in a laptop initiative, including giving up some control and letting students have some choice in how they learn (Owen 15). The district has developed and maintains a website of classroom management resources for teachers at: (http://www.irvingisd.net/one2one). In an effort to ensure that the Irving teachers did not feel alone in the process, the district hosted a national symposium for two years in a row to invite other districts with similar projects to discuss challenges and successes in the programs (Owen 15). The Walled Lake Consolidated School District took a different approach by providing professional development through the iNtegrating Technology for inQuiry (NteQ) model developed by Morrison and Lowther in 2002, which provides teachers a framework to develop problem-based lessons that utilize real-world resources, student collaboration, and the use of computer tools to reach solutions (Ross Year 3 16). Regardless of the plan that is selected, it is clear from reading the research that this one component, more than any other, holds the key to overall program success.
Parents and students are also key members of the training process that must occur early in the process. During the implementation at CSD 10 in New York City, parents were offered a 12-hour training program over the course of the first year of the project. A bilingual staff developer conducted all of the training which included:
· A 2-hour orientation outlining the parent’s responsibilities.
· Technical support for set-up and troubleshooting equipment problems.
· An introduction to the Internet, research, and e-mail uses.
· Word processing, database and spreadsheet development for upgrading skills in the workplace.
(Zardoya 265).

Students also require professional development with regards to the new technology. Most of this training comes at the building level via teachers and technology specialists, and includes clear expectations concerning the use of the laptops and associated technology. Once again, the Irving District provides a website at (http://www/irvingisd.net/technology/publications.htm) which provides example of laptop rules and procedures (Owen 15).
Other Miscellaneous Concerns:
Any program of the scope and magnitude of a laptop initiative will come under the scrutiny of many, and the development a strong program will need to address issues as they present themselves. Although many of the issues raised may seem small and insignificant, it is important that are addressed and resolved in a timely manner to ensure that they do not sabotage the overall success of the program. The common concern that appears in nearly every laptop study deals with the health concerns of backpack burdens. The three year study conducted in Walled Lake highlighted this as “the most significant negative aspect of the program” (Ross Year 2 97). Other studies addressed this issue by assuring students and parents that texts on C-ROM were in the near future. Joanne Barrett has backed away from using that argument, stating instead, “Now I no longer believe that. The production of textbooks is far more profitable than the production of CDs. While the demand remains lower for CDs, publishers will continue to push textbooks (49). A potential solution to this dilemma has been to provide classroom sets of textbooks and encouraging the students to leave their textbooks at home. And in all honesty, a laptop is significantly lighter than most high school textbooks. Depending on the design of the laptop program, isolation of laptop students can also be an issue. The Year 2 report from Walled Lake cites the exclusionary nature of the program as the second most common concern from parents and students and this is one of many dilemmas that guided the district towards the implementation of Computers on Wheels (COWs) for the third year of the study. To this date, depending on the grade level, there are students engaged in one-on-one computing and students who have consistent access to COWs; many of these students are scheduled into the same classes, eliminating the exclusion of one-to-one laptop students from the mainstream. My two-year experience with Walled Lake’s laptop excursion has been a part of this reorientation of the laptop concept to make classroom computer use available to all students in an effort to yield the highest overall satisfaction and results.
Conclusion:
The benefits of giving students access to laptops clearly outweigh the negatives, all of which can be eased through “teachable moments”, increased training, and effective policies and procedures. And although one-to-one laptop initiatives provide the greatest academic and social results, it isn’t financially feasible for every student to have a laptop of their own; however, if schools can garner the necessary resources to provide COWs, all students in all district across America can enter the workforce with the digital literacy that is necessary to survive in the information age.
Works Cited
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12/14 The Loophole GenerationJennifer Summerville and John Fischetti
When we speak to colleagues across campus and across the country, almost everyone who teaches online tells the same stories. An increasing number of students spend considerable energy seeking, finding, and negotiating loopholes in online course assignments. While this behavior is not new or shocking, the anonymous, self-driven nature of online classes may exacerbate the tendency (Kennedy et al. 2000). Rather than the exception, this behavior is becoming the rule.
Social trends and changes in national education policy have combined with technology to influence today's students in ways that educators often do not understand. Some observers have called millennials (those born since 1980) the "helicopter generation," referring to the way many parents hover above even their adult children, involving themselves in the day-to-day business of learning and even intervening on their behalf. Where past students were largely on their own when handling academic issues, today it is common for a parent to e-mail administrators and professors for explanations about a child's poor performance in class (White 2005). This sort of intervention often moves the focus away from the student's performance to a negotiation among multiple parties about grades.
National education policy contributes to these trends with the recent emphasis on high-stakes testing in the K-12 public school environment (Goldberg 2005). High school teachers, in particular, complain about feeling pressured to teach to state-mandated tests. Enlarging the role of tests has had a chilling effect on the curriculum, as it has compelled educators to spend more time on test preparation and memorization at the expense of project-based learning, open-ended assignments, and inquiry-based instructional approaches. Most of our current college undergraduates were the best students in their high school classes, doing well at listening, taking notes, and passing multiple choice tests that primarily measure low-level knowledge. Trained to be good test takers, they frequently arrive in the college classroom unprepared to take charge of their own learning and to pursue knowledge as independent thinkers.
In what follows, we address some of the further factors—particularly related to information technology—that pose special challenges to online instructors as they face a new generation of students, and we outline some of the more typical behavior patterns that such instructors are likely to encounter in their work. We then provide some recommendations for how instructors can disrupt these behavior patterns while stressing the vital link between ethically responsible practice in the university and the similar expectations students will encounter in their professional careers.

The Loophole Generation

We coined the phrase Loophole Generation to describe a group of students whose approach to coursework is influenced by the ease of online communication, hovering parents, a limited sense of intellectual curiosity, and a lack of experience in solving problems imaginatively. These students spend their time (and their instructors' time) exploiting gaps in class policies or assignments—sometimes spending more time than would be necessary to complete a particular project in the first place. This behavior emerges from the conditions prevalent in K-12 education and is likely to manifest itself in the post-academic careers of loophole-seeking students as well (Lanier 2006).
While loophole seeking (or loopholing) is not a new phenomenon, the convergence of online technologies, the opportunities to “borrow” another’s work, and the 24/7 reality of Web-based learning create additional breeding ground for this behavior. Many students work on online course assignments very late in the night or very early in the morning, including when they are very tired or subject to various influences or distractions. The online medium also creates a sense of empowerment to demand certain privileges that a student would not ask for (or would ask for in a more professional manner) in face-to-face situations (Zimmerman and Milligan 2007). Because most online assignments can be completed from anywhere there is Internet access, the level of excuses has risen to include almost any reason why a student is unable to complete assignments as designed or in the required timeframe.
The research on online plagiarism and cyberbullying shows an increase in both behaviors. The increase in plagiarism is primarily due to the ease of access to online resources and casualness about cutting and pasting. As the plagiarism education Web site Plagiarism.org points out, “The Internet now makes it easy to find thousands of relevant sources in seconds, and in the space of a few minutes plagiarists can find, copy, and paste together an entire term paper or essay” (2007, ¶2). Gardiner (2001) writes, “I understand that the temptation of exchanging hours of research and writing for a few minutes of searching seems like a good deal as a deadline looms” (174). McCabe and Trevino (1996) reported that 15% of all students they studied had submitted a paper obtained in large part from a term paper mill or Web site, and 52% had copied a few sentences from a Web site without citing the source. Instant messaging, blogs, and online chats often appear to be anonymous, and a participant's sense of what is appropriate in those cyberspace interactions may differ from his or her view of suitable face-to-face encounters (Summerville & Fischetti 2005). As Patchin and Hinduja (2006) observe, "Although 'power' in traditional bullying might be physical (stature) or social (competency or popularity), online power may simply stem from proficiency" (152).
The Personalities
Four types of loophole-seeking strategies seem to be the most common.
The Excuse Maker is a classic type now enhanced by technology. Old howlers typified by "my dog ate my homework" have evolved into more plausible stories in an online environment without face-to-face encounters. Online teachers constantly hear pleas such as "the system was down," "I have a virus on my computer," or "I sent you the wrong attachment." Appeals to a family or personal crisis remain the most popular source of excuses for not completing assignments, and the technology that makes online education possible makes an ironic contribution to this class of loophole-seeking behavior. Students in online classes enjoy a flexible environment with nontraditional schedules, which should allow them to use time efficiently on assignments. This key advantage of online learning also creates greater possibilities for students to become distracted or preoccupied by the troubles of family, friends, or roommates, or by other factors in their lives.
The Bully is particulary problematic because of his or her potential to disrupt the work of other students. The bully can cast a pall over an entire class, often by combining negative comments with personal insults, threats, and harassment. Some bullies use derogatory or flippant language in discussions and postings that they would not use in live settings. Communications technology can enable this behavior, making students feel less pressure to moderate their self-presentation. Hostile interactions could derive in part from students who have anger management or substance abuse problems that are more freely expressed in the unstructured environment of the online class. After all, students can be online at any hour, in any mood, and under the influence of any drug or alcohol product (Summerville and Fischetti 2005).
The Cheater may use a wide variety of techniques used to avoid work. He or she may copy entire assignments from another classmate, submit work posted as examples by the professor as his or her own, contribute little to no work to group projects, have someone else help with an online test, or purchase an entire paper from an online retailer. These students are fully aware of what they are doing. Even with university honor codes and instructor-developed online codes of ethics, this behavior persists.
The Plagiarizer specializes in creating a mosaic of several sources and presenting the results as his or her own. Many such students have plagiarized their way through high school and basic studies courses in college, often without completing any project that consists of something other than borrowed information (Stengold 2004). The ease of access to an abundance of materials on the Web makes this easy to accomplish, and the emphasis on test-taking in K-12 education has influenced many students to seek answers rather than to explore questions. To the amazement of teachers, many of today's college students are not even aware of what constitutes an academic crime or what consequences can result from it. Plagiarism is so common that almost every class in our own department includes at least one persistent plagiarizer, in spite of online postings, class announcements, Web page reference support, and tales we share with students about the most recent person to receive an F and be removed from the program.

Suggestions for Eliminating Loopholing

What can educators do to minimize loopholing in online coursework? One immediate goal should be to make it more difficult to find and exploit loopholes in classes than it is to actually complete coursework. Crafting policies and designing assignments that thwart these strategies will help preserve the academic integrity of online courses and reacquaint students with the virtues of imaginative problem solving. Educators need to design coursework that rewards independent thought and squashes the idea that loopholing is a productive use of time.
First, instructors must outline clear expectations and governing policies in the course syllabus. One effective method for ensuring that students know the rules is to have them sign and return a course agreement at the very beginning of class (Exhibit 1). Such an agreement might include everything from the importance of having a reliable computer system at home or at school (though not at work) to an online code of conduct governing proper online behavior to create a safe online learning environment (Exhibit 2) (Summerville 2005). Functioning like an employee handbook, the agreement governs how the class operates and keeps everyone on the same page, thwarting the behavior of bullies, cheaters, and plagiarizers.
Instructors must also foreground the goal of closing loopholes when designing assignments and crafting assessments. The language used in a syllabus designed for an online class must be unambiguous. Excuse makers, for example, will find vague terms or point system glitches and create openings for appeals, demands, and grievances. Creating varied, novel, and authentic forms of assessment will help motivate students to see assignments differently (Christe 2003). Tying assessments to the career goals of students is one effective strategy. If students must create products that may be useful in a future workplace, they will have more of a stake in the outcome of their studies. Assigning projects that require individual interpretation of content unique to the course will make cheating more difficult. Acquiring answers to a multiple-choice exam or copying an entire essay to satisfy a general question can be easy to do, depending on how the exam is designed. It is inherently more difficult for students to complete a project with real applicability, such as an individual lesson plan or marketing strategy that uses details unique to the course.
Creating assignments that combine independent and group work is another effective way to manage student behavior in an online class. This approach provides opportunities to assess students in two different working situations and lets them practice both self-direction and collaboration. Assessment of group work should include peer-and-self reporting, which prompts students to reflect on the project and gives group members incentive to do their fair share (Exhibit 3). Students will encounter this style of collaboration when they enter the workforce. Connecting academic projects to their career expectations can effectively impress students with the concept of consequences for unacceptable behavior and, in particular, minimize or expose the bully.
This type of assessment is not always feasible, of course. Exams using multiple-choice, matching, or short-answer formats can be appropriate tools of assessment. Using exams in an online class, however, confronts teachers with the difficult challenge of thwarting cheaters. It is often not possible to expect students enrolled in an online class to travel to a proctored site for a test. Teachers must use other methods to secure the integrity of an online exam. A test bank with randomized answers that change each semester can eliminate opportunities for outright cheating. Timing the exam while allowing an open-note environment is another good option. Students feel less pressure to cheat when they are allowed to use notes and are better able to analyze and synthesize information. This approach requires well-constructed, high-order questions so that content is assessed through interpreting, synthesizing, and analyzing rather than through recalling basic facts. It is also crucial to make sure that students understand the difference betwen open note, which may be allowed, and "open neighbor," which is not.
In addition, today's course management systems include a variety of tools that allow instructors to monitor the progress of students. If these tools are to be used, students should be informed that their interactions are recorded (Christe 2003).

Making Connections Between Schoolwork and the Workplace

Teachers can educate students about the connections between ethical behavior in class and in the workplace, and they can strengthen these ties by adopting some common workplace rules in the classroom. A three strikes policy, for example, governs many workplaces. The first offense typically gets an oral warning. A written warning meets a second offense. On a third strike, the employee is generally dismissed. Many workplace offenses are identical to Loophole Generation course behaviors, such as tardiness, sending bullying e-mail, copying the work of others, and not contributing in a group effort. Instructors can emphasize that both ethical practices and negative habits can easily carry over to the workplace.
Teachers should use a similar procedural awareness and acceptance policy in their course delivery. The first acknowledgement is the student's signed agreement of the university's acceptable use policy, published as part of all official catalogues and signed off on by each student at the time an e-mail account is created. The second acknowledgement is student acceptance of the specific course rules or code of conduct. This formal act at the beginning of a class, which could be included in the course agreement, indicates that a student is aware of the university policies and specific course interpretations of those policies. The third acknowledgement specifies the actual violation and the teacher's response.
Teachers should converse with all colleagues about student ethics, since these issues are not unique to online learning. A faculty member who teaches traditional courses may have successful techniques for reducing plagiarism or responding to excuses. Departmental colleagues working in concert on these issues can create a culture that mentors students toward appropriate and informed attitudes about academic honesty.
There is push-back currently underway for policing all interactions and projects and in protecting students' privacy and freedom of speech rights. Web sources such as Turnitin.com are facing legal challenges that will likely lead to further clarification in the courts regarding how online tools can be used to safeguard academic integrity (Foster 2002). This reality increases the need for teachers to develop assignments and assessments that are more cheat proof and to have a clear procedural awareness and acceptance policy.

Conclusion

Students who are apt to exploit loopholes are not generally successful in many of the careers for which they are going to school. We can teach students that doing their own work is rewarding and lead them by example, but students of the Loophole Generation who are so inclined will continue to find our unintended course and program loopholes. Through continued refinement of syllabi and stronger rubrics for assignments, we can better anticipate how the habits and personal motivations that guide the lives of our students might clash with deadlines for quality work. We can close many of the loopholes and help convince students who are tempted to exploit them that maybe, just maybe, finding loopholes in lieu of doing the work simply is not worth the effort.

References

Christe, B. 2003. Designing online courses to discourage dishonesty. Educause Quarterly 26 (4): 54-58. http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0348.pdf (accessed November 27, 2007).
Foster, A. 2002. Plagiarism-detection tool creates legal quandary. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 48 (36): A37. http://chronicle.com/free/v48/i36/36a03701.htm (accessed November 27, 2007).
Gardiner, S. 2001. Cybercheating: A new twist on an old problem. Phi Delta Kappan 83 (2): 172-174.
Goldberg, M. 2005. Losing students to high-stakes testing. Education Digest 70 (7): 10-19.
Kennedy, K., S. Nowak, R. Raghuraman, J. Thomas, and S. E. Davis. 2000. Academic dishonesty and distance learning: Student and faculty views. College Student Journal 34 (2): 309-314.
Lanier, M. 2006. Academic integrity and distance learning. Journal of Criminal Justice Education 17 (2): 244-261.
McCabe, D. L., and L. K. Trevino. 1996. What we know about cheating in college: Longitudinal trends and recent developments. Change 28 (1): 28-33.
Patchin, J. W., and S. Hinduja. 2006. Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 4 (2): 148-169.

Plagiarism.org. 2007. Plagiarism and the Internet. http://www.plagiarism.org/learning_center/plagiarism_the_internet.html (accessed November 27, 2007).
Stengold, A. 2004. Confronting plagiarism: How conventional teaching invites cyber-cheating. Change 36 (3): 16-22.
Summerville, J. 2005. Developing an online code of conduct. AACE Journal 13 (2): 127-136.
Summerville, J., and J. Fischetti. 2005. How to foil cyberbullies. The Chronicle of Higher Education 51 (42): B36.
White, W. S. 2005. Students, parents, colleges: Drawing the lines. The Chronicle of Higher Education 52 (17): B16.
Zimmerman, L., and A. Trekles Milligan. Perspectives on communicating with the Net generation. Innovate 4 (2). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=338&action=article (accessed November 27, 2006).
Copyright and Citation Information for this ArticleThis article may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes if the following attribution is included in the document:
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Summerville, J., and J. Fischetti. 2007. The loophole generation. Innovate 4 (2). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=343 (accessed December 11, 2007). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.
12/7
Changing the Game: What Happens When Video Games Enter the Classroom?Kurt Squire
Over the past few years, games have gone from social pariahs to the darlings of the media, technology, and now educational industries. E-learning educators in particular stand to learn a lot about building next-generation learning environments from games (Dalesio 2004). While online courses are usually little more than "online course notes," games offer entire worlds to explore. While educators wonder if it is possible to create good online learning communities, game designers create virtual societies with their own cultures, languages, political systems, and economies (Kolbert 2001; Steinkuehler, forthcoming). While completion rates for online courses barely reach 50%, gamers spend hundreds of hours mastering games, writing lengthy texts, and even setting up their own virtual "universities" to teach others to play games (Squire, forthcoming). In short, while e-learning has a reputation for being dull and ineffective, games have developed a reputation for being fun, engaging, and immersive, requiring deep thinking and complex problem solving (Gee 2003).
Given emerging research on how video games and associated pedagogies work in designed settings (Shaffer 2005), it seems the important question is not whether educators can use games to support learning, but how we can use games most effectively as educational tools. The explosion of research initiatives, conferences, books, and software focused on educational games suggests that computer and video games will have some part in education, just as all media before them have been used for learning. However, the history of educational technology also suggests that educators will abandon media that do not fit the social organization of schooling (Cuban 1986).
Over the past two years, I have studied educational uses of Civilization III, a historical simulation game that has sold many millions of copies, depicted in Figure 1 (Squire 2004). This initiative highlighted a number of important considerations for educators interested in introducing games into the classroom—with respect to selecting appropriate game experiences as well as to evaluating the context in which games might contribute to learning. If, as this study suggests, games do indeed embody significant learning principles, our challenge as educators is to build better game-based pedagogical theories while reciprocally investigating our assumptions about the social organization of schooling.
Background
This paper is a mini-comparative case study (see Stake 1995), drawing on two separate cases where the computer game Civilization III was used as the basis for units and activities exploring world history (see Table 1). Each site was chosen in part for convenience as partnering institutions and organizations expressed an interest in using games as to support learning. In both sites, educators' primary concern was finding experiences to engage kids who felt alienated from school. In the urban high school case, educators were looking for an alternative for students who had little interest in studying history and who did not necessarily believe the mandated, state-sanctioned history presented to them (cf. Wertsch 1998). In the after-school context, educators similarly sought to engage students to develop historical understandings as well as to become more affiliated with school-based learning in general. I was a co-teacher in both environments, partnering with the established teachers and paid researchers.
Replaying Motivation
What happens when we bring games into the classroom? As Exhibit 1 explains, this question still requires investigation. The first thing we might expect to see is increased motivation; common wisdom suggests that games are at least motivating, if not educational. In fact, early research on arcade-style games demonstrates that games create intrinsic motivation through fantasy, control, challenge, curiosity, and competition (Malone 1981; Cordova and Lepper 1996). We might also hypothesize that games in the classroom would leverage players' desires to develop new skills, participate in new roles, or better understand the world from a new or "professional" perspective (Gee 2005; Shaffer 2004; Shaffer 2005; Shaffer forthcoming). Play is undeniably a powerful, pervasive method of learning outside of schools; indeed, most psychologists would agree that play is a crucial method through which we test ideas, develop new skills, and participate in new social roles (Piaget 1962; Vygotsky 1978).
However, bringing a commercial-quality educational game into the classroom may create as many motivational problems as it solves. When I introduced Civilization III into curricula, I found that students were anything but immediately motivated. They frequently asked, "What's the purpose of this?" and "Why are we doing this?" Even middle school students were not entirely sure how a computer game could teach them about history or geography. In part, this lack of motivation resulted from the fact that most students needed six to seven hours of gameplay to understand even the most basic game concepts. Although after-school students were less resistant and more motivated to learn the game (Exhibit 2), roughly 25% of students in school situations complained that the game was too hard, complicated, and uninteresting, and they elected to withdraw from the gaming unit and participate in reading groups instead.
About another 25% of the students (particularly academic underachievers) loved playing the game, thought it was a "perfect" way to learn history, and considered the experience a highlight of their school year. For these students, many of whom actively resisted school-mandated history curricula that they regarded as "propaganda," the game-based curriculum provided opportunities for replaying history and for considering hypothetical historical scenarios, such as the conditions under which a Native American tribe might have successfully resisted European settlement or even colonized Europe. In post-interviews conducted after the completion of the study, these students developed new vocabularies, better understandings of geography, and more robust concepts of world history (Squire 2004).
Students played the game in very different ways, leading to highly differentiated understandings (Exhibit 3). This excerpt is from an interview with Marvin, a student who enjoyed the game as a simulation of history; reading the Civilopedia and learning about cultural discoveries was part of the fun. Marvin recalled what he learned through playing the game by drawing on information in the Civilopedia.

Marvin: [The game] shows you the date or year where the wheel was made or the alphabet was discovered. I didn’t know that the alphabet was discovered around BC. I forgot what year, but I remember it’s like 2000 BC. I thought it was like the 1500 or around the [the age of] knights and kings.
Interviewer: Who do you think invented the alphabet before you played this game?
Marvin: The English, because back then they were the classiest and smartest.
Interviewer: Now who do you think invented the alphabet?
Marvin: Probably the Egyptians with the hieroglyphics. It was the first writing to be done.

These different student reactions demonstrate the divergent responses educators can anticipate in bringing games into the classroom. Games are very particular kinds of experiences. Playing games does not appeal to everyone (even among those under 30), and certainly no one game (or more appropriately game experience) appeals to everyone. The experience of playing Civilization III is a cerebral blend of planning, building, managing, and competing with other civilizations; in this study, that experience appealed to students who were interested in geography or enjoyed building and managing virtual societies and using mathematics in gameplay. Fast-paced action games or massively multiplayer games that require rhythm and timing or encourage participation in complex virtual societies present significantly different pleasures (Bartle 1997; Steinkuehler 2004a). Motivation for the gamers in my study was thus not simply a "property" or variable that they either had or did not have; motivation emerged through the intersection of students' goals and life histories, the game's affordances, and the institutional context. As this example indicates, future studies on the educational uses of games must explore how different players experience different games of different genres and what these experiences might mean for learning.
Difficulty and Complexity
Those unfamiliar with contemporary video games are shocked by their complexity and difficulty, and these terms, as Exhibit 4 explains, signify different aspects of a game's design. Different games offer unique challenges, but part of what makes any game engaging is its difficulty. Besides its difficulty, Civilization III is particularly interesting because of its complexity, flexibility, and replayability. Civilization III takes hundreds of hours to master and can be played dozens of ways; players can win through military, scientific, economic, political, or cultural superiority (and most likely a combination of each).
For many students in my study, however, the complexity of Civilization III was overwhelming, and the game just too difficult. Many said that the game was more difficult than anything they encountered in school. Packing 6000 years of history into one game, Civilization III includes hundreds of game concepts, ranging from its six government types (anarchy, despotism, monarchy, communism, republic, and democracy) to 13 terrain types (grassland, mountains, and so on). To play Civilization III successfully, players must not only understand these terms, but also understand the strategic significance of each variable (e.g., the comparative advantage of cities in river valleys versus woodlands). Indeed, in any given gaming period, students would ask literally dozens of questions, ranging from simple queries about geographical facts (e.g., "Is there oil in Greenland?") to functional questions (e.g., "What are the effects of democracy?") to questions about the game as a simulation (e.g., "Does the game include World War I?"). Considering the difficulty and complexity of Civilization III, it is not surprising that students should have found the game challenging; what is noteworthy, however, is that students found this off-the-shelf computer game, which has been marketed toward a broad audience and which has sold millions of copies, more challenging than their traditional learning experiences in school. Even though the high school students described here all played games outside of school, they found Civilization III's difficulty and complexity problematic within a school setting. If part of what makes games so interesting is their ability to present access to complex professional practices, then managing this complexity (and particularly students' reactions to it in school settings) will continue to be a challenge (Exhibit 5).
Failure and Choice
These students' experiences remind us of something that constructivist educators have already learned: contemporary pedagogical practice, which breaks problems down into bite-sized, easy-to-learn pieces, often creates a sense of "learned helplessness" in students (particularly high achieving students) who only encounter short, solvable problems with all necessary information laid out in front of them (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1990; Loewen 1995; Schoenfeld 1987). Games, on the other hand, present players with complex holistic problems (Gee 2005). Furthermore, failure—a time-honored notion in educational technology (Schank, Fano, Bell, and Jona 1993)—functions somewhat uniquely in game-based learning environments. Unlike traditional school settings where learners build representations of systems and examine how they succeed or fail in explaining observations, game-based learning environments start with failure. As learners play games, they build a model of the game world based on experiences both within the game and outside of it (e.g., expectations of how galleys will behave in the game). Through bumping up against the rules of a game system like Civilization III, which include tens of thousands of interacting variables and are thus incredibly complex and challenging to master, players begin to learn concepts important to subjects like geography and history. This learning cycle is critical to both intellectually engaging gameplay and academic learning, which illustrates the potential of educational games. However, the unique operation of failure in game-based learning environments further suggests that games may be a poor fit for learners who come to school with "damaged" beliefs about learning—and particularly for those students who interpret failure as a value judgment on them as students rather than the beginning of a valuable learning experience.
In my study, failure was not only a "problem" but also a critical precondition for learning. Failure forced students to confront gaps or flaws in their current understandings through cycles of recursive play. As one student explained, "Playing the game forces you to learn about the material. It actually forces you to learn about other civilizations in order to survive." For this student, failure necessitated learning the identities, origins, and resources of various civilizations through cycles of identifying problems, developing causal interpretations of events, brainstorming possible solutions, implementing solutions, and examining results. After going through these cycles of recursive play, students' thinking became more complex. Success and even survival in the game required deep thinking across diverse problem spaces. Students learned to see game challenges, such as building a happy civilization, as the result of more factors, such as available luxuries, entertainment, religion, and economics. As one student summarized, "You can't separate geography from economics from politics."
For other students, failure caused frustration. Whereas the stronger, more confident students saw failure as a learning opportunity, other students did not. These students lacked either sufficient interest in the game or the requisite self-efficacy with games, or perhaps they just had bad days during which playing such a difficult game was unattractive. As anyone who plays Civilization III would attest, defeat after a good 25-hour game can be maddening, and on some days, even the most avid gamers are just not up for that kind of humiliation. Interestingly, failure affronted those students who self-identified as gamers, suggesting that educational games may not be such an easy win for this population of students—who may be inclined to reject educational games out of hand if such games challenge or compromise their identities as gamers.
Another probable reason some students (including gamers) rejected the game experience in school was because playing Civilization III in a school context was compulsory. Advocates of game-based learning must consider if requiring games eliminates some of the choices that make them engaging (Malone 1981). Even if students have the choice to play games, there are potential contradictions in situations with heavily mandated curricula. If part of what makes games so appealing and educative is that they give us meaningful choices (Zimmerman and Salen 2003), how will they fare in situations where there are very prescribed learning outcomes? Further, for many, gameplay involves social transgression. Games allow us to bend or temporarily dismiss social rules in order to try new ideas and identities. Most often, these transgressive themes reach the radar of popular culture when they involve violence, but games such as Deus Ex, //Hidden Agenda//, or Freedom Fighters have politically subversive messages as well; indeed, Steinkuehler (2004b) argues that massively multiplayer games are so compelling precisely because they critique contemporary culture. How games may be adapted to schools, institutions designed to reproduce existing power relations, is questionable; however, at the minimum, educators need to be careful that bringing games into schools does not rob them of precisely those qualities that make them so engaging.
What Game Are We Playing?
Indeed, just as no one game appeals to all students, neither does any one curriculum, and games challenge us to ask to whom traditional curricula appeals and whom it leaves behind. Our traditional secondary curriculum is largely an experience of mastering a pre-defined set of objectives, mostly through listening or participating in structured activities with well-defined, pre-determined outcomes. In post-secondary schools, the activities are more open-ended, but mostly mediated through secondary accounts of phenomena through the use of textbooks and lectures. College students mostly listen to lectures, read texts, and if they are lucky, discuss them with peers or an instructor. Those who prefer to develop understandings through building, tinkering, or more direct experience are left behind.
Looking at who wins and loses through a game-based curriculum reminds us that curricular issues are also about power and control. A curriculum based on Civilization III overturns traditional hierarchies, supplanting those adept in traditional schooling with those failing school. The successful students were concerned that their more traditional school-based expertise was not honored in this classroom, and they were not convinced that success in a game-based unit would help them on college entrance exams or in college classrooms, both of which rely on more traditional literacies. They believed that Civilization III was insufficient preparation for the "game" of higher education, and perhaps they were correct. Yet, students who were failing in school (or whom school was failing) developed and demonstrated complex understandings within a game-based curriculum that go undeveloped or unrecognized in other school experiences.
Not surprisingly, many of the students who performed well in the game-based unit were just those who felt disaffected from school because they preferred "hands-on" activities in which they could learn through doing and "figure things out for themselves." Oddly, this is how learning occurs everywhere but school and, again, is precisely how workers are asked to learn in the new economy. Ironically, the skills required by the game curriculum—problem identification, hypothesis testing, interpretative analysis, and strategic thinking—more closely align with the new economy than does the "factory" model of curriculum that privileges following directions, mastering pre-defined objectives, performance on highly structured tasks, and intellectual obedience (Gee, Hull, and Lankshear 1996). In short, schools are designed around factory models of education where the goal is to efficiently produce standardized learners and, most importantly, sort students into those groups; games, however, are products of the new economy where the goal is to think creatively with digital tools (Bowles and Gintis 1976; Lagemann 1989).
Conclusion
Educators hoping that digital games will be a "silver bullet" because they are exciting and motivating will be disappointed. The real challenge is not so much in bringing games—or any technology—into our schools but rather changing the cultures of our schools to be organized around learning instead of the current form of social control. This change would include:
  1. Organizing curricula around driving questions of personal relevance to students and open-ended, genuine intellectual merit, such as "what causes contribute to the long and short term fates of civilizations?"
  2. Opportunities for different students with different interests, abilities, and capacities to learn different topics, at different rates, and through different media, such as books, games, and film.
  3. School days and curricula not organized by the Carnegie unit but by rather students', parents', and teachers' goals for the student so that a student interested in history could study a topic at intervals different than "45 minutes per day, every day, every alternating semester" (which was my experience in high school).
  4. Not limiting the learning experiences in the classroom to the media that administrators or teachers find useful (i.e., books and film). In short, a teenage student who plays Civilization outside of school ought to be able to integrate this into his or her formal learning of social studies through building simulations or some similar activity.
  5. Treating assessments primarily as opportunities to support learning as opposed to evaluative structures that function largely to support social reproduction (cf. Mabry 1999).
Of course, we already have some schools designed to give students skills they need for the new economy, but unfortunately they are in our private or highly performing suburban schools. As a former Montessori teacher, I can easily imagine students using Civilization III to investigate historical questions within that system, a system which is organized around students pursuing questions of intellectual interest. The system also affords considerable freedom, so those students less interested in this particular game could pursue other activities. Indeed, games such as SimCity (which was designed by Will Wright, a former Montessori student himself) are already in suburban schools; witness schools like Erving Elementary in Erving, Massachusetts that has built a city planning curriculum around SimCity. Creative teachers in communities with ample resources and supportive parents are beginning to explore such pedagogies; it is only too bad that they are reserved for students of privilege.
As schools go online, we have tremendous opportunities for rethinking the culture of our classrooms. E-learning educators are wise to look toward games as models of next-generation learning environments. They long have been best models of engaging activity and, more recently, excellent examples of learning environments. Yet, as challenging as it is to design a good educational game, it may be more challenging to design a good educational system for an educational games to flourish in. Right now, even if you had the ideal game—a more polished Civilization III or perhaps a Full Spectrum Scientist—it is not certain that such a game could even survive in today's educational environment as our contemporary educational systems do not know how to sustain a curricular innovation built on the properties that make games compelling. In order to realize the potential of such gaming technologies in education, it will indeed be necessary for us to "change the game" in more fundamental ways with regard to our current institutions of learning.
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Copyright and Citation Information for this ArticleThis article may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes if the following attribution is included in the document:
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Squire, K.. 2005. Changing the game: What happens when video games enter the classroom?. Innovate 1 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=82 (accessed December 4, 2007). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

11/30
**Language Learning & Technology**
Vol. 10, No. 1, January 2006, pp. 9-16
External links valid at
time of publication


EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
Going to the MALL: Mobile Assisted Language Learning

Paginated PDF Version
**George M. Chinnery**
University of Maryland Baltimore County

Introduction
In August 2004, Duke University provided free iPods to its entire freshman class (Belanger, 2005). The next month, a Korean education firm offered free downloadable college entrance exam lectures to students who purchased an iRiver personal multimedia player (Kim, 2004). That October, a financial trading firm in Chicago was reportedly assessing the hand-eye coordination of traders’ using GameBoys (Logan, 2004). Yet while such innovative applications abound, the use of technology in education and training is far from new, a fact as true in language classrooms as it is in medical schools.
Practically since their availability, a succession of audiovisual recording devices (e.g., reel-to-reel, VCRs, PCs) has been used to capture language samples, and myriad playback and broadcast devices (e.g., phonographs, radios, televisions) have provided access to authentic speech samples. The espousal of audiolingual theory in the 1950s brought the widespread use of the language laboratory in educational settings (Salaberry, 2001). Influenced by behaviorism, the lab was progressively replaced in the 1960s by drill-based computer-assisted instruction, which decades later was itself surpassed by a more intelligent, interactive and multimedia computer-assisted language learning. The popular acceptance of the Internet in the 1990s advanced the development of computer-mediated communications.

As technologies continue to evolve, so does their propensity to shrink in size. "Other technologies that hold the capacity for language learning include PDAs, multimedia cellular phones, MP3 players, DVD players, and digital dictionaries" (Zhao, 2005, p. 447). Such portable media—referred to in popular and scholarly literature as mobile, wireless, handheld or nomadic—are now social staples. Mobile learning, or m-learning, is a burgeoning subdivision of the e-learning movement, further evidenced by European initiatives such as m-learning and Mobilearn. In this paper, applied fusions of m-learning and language learning follow, after which their benefits and challenges are reviewed.
MALL Applications
As in other technology-enhanced language learning milieu, mobile learning environments might be face-to-face, distance, or online; further, they may be self-paced or calendar-based. Copaert (2004) emphasizes the importance of developing the language learning environment before deciding on the role of mobile technologies and further emphasizes focusing on the learner ahead of the technology. Salaberry (2001) also argues against "technology-driven pedagogy," suggesting that despite their revolutionary status, it is not clear that any modern technology (e.g., television, radio, the PC) has offered the same pedagogical benefits as traditional second language instruction. Beatty (2003) offers a further caveat that "teachers need to be concerned about investing time and money in unproven technology" (p. 72).
Stipulations aside, technologies, mobile or otherwise, can be instrumental in language instruction. Ultimately, though, they are not in and of themselves instructors; rather, they are instructional tools. And the effective use of any tool in language learning requires the thoughtful application of second language pedagogy. Imaginative examples of such applications—using cell phones, personal digital assistants, and portable digital audio players—are illustrated next.
Cell Phones
Since their inception, the dimensions of cell phones have waned as much as their abilities have waxed. Common features of these devices now include Internet access, voice-messaging, SMS text-messaging, cameras, and even video-recording. In language learning, all of these features enable communicative language practice, access to authentic content, and task completion. Though research of such uses is scarce, it is not non-existent.
The use of telephones in distance language learning is not unique to m-learning. Twarog and Pereszlenyi-Pinter (1988) used telephones to provide distant language learners with feedback and assistance. In 1996, instructors at Brigham Young University-Hawaii taught a distance-learning English course from Hawaii to Tonga via telephone and computer (Green, Collier, & Evans, 2001). And Dickey (2001) utilized teleconferencing to teach an English conversation course in South Korea.
One of the first projects using mobile phones in language learning was developed by the Stanford Learning Lab. (Brown, 2001). Specifically, they developed Spanish study programs utilizing both voice and email with mobile phones. These programs included vocabulary practice, quizzes, word and phrase translations, and access to live talking tutors. Their results indicated that mobile phones were effective for quiz delivery if delivered in small chunks; they also indicated that automated voice vocabulary lessons and quizzes had great potential. Their tiny screen sizes were deemed "unsuitable for learning new content but effective for review and practice" (Thornton & Houser, 2002, p. 236). Live tutoring was also effective, but poor audio quality was judged to potentially affect comprehension adversely
Thornton and Houser (2002; 2003; 2005) also developed several innovative projects using mobile phones to teach English at a Japanese university. One focused on providing vocabulary instruction by SMS. Three times a day, they emailed short mini-lessons to students, sent in discrete chunks so as to be easily readable on the tiny screens. Lessons defined five words per week, recycled previous vocabulary, and used the words in various contexts, including episodic stories. Students were tested biweekly and compared to groups that received identical lessons via the Web and on paper. The authors then explored usability and learning issues. The results indicated that the SMS students learned over twice the number of vocabulary words as the Web students, and that SMS students improved their scores by nearly twice as much as students who had received their lessons on paper. Students’ attitudes were also measured. The vast majority preferred the SMS instruction, wished to continue such lessons, and believed it to be a valuable teaching method. The authors theorized that their lessons had been effective due to their having been delivered as push media, which promote frequent rehearsal and spaced study, and utilized recycled vocabulary.
Levy and Kennedy (2005) created a similar program for Italian learners in Australia, sending vocabulary words and idioms, definitions, and example sentences via SMS in a spaced and scheduled pattern of delivery, and requesting feedback in the form of quizzes and follow up questions.
Another program by Thornton and Houser (2003) utilized a classroom polling system, EduCALL (inspired by EduClick), to survey students during class in order to determine vocabulary retention. Poll questions were projected, students used their cell phones to surf to the polling software and make their selections, and the tabulations were projected as bar graphs. In this way, students and teachers alike received immediate feedback.

Kiernan and Aizawa (2004) set out to study whether or not mobile phones were useful language learning tools and to explore their use in task-based learning. They argued that second language acquisition is best promoted through the utilization of tasks, which require learners to close some sort of gap, thereby focusing the learner on meaning. In the traditional classroom, however, such activities are easily defeated by the close proximity of students. The use of mobile technologies would be one way to separate learners. In their study, upper and lower level Japanese university students were placed into three groups: PC email users, mobile phone email users, and mobile phone speaking users (due to cost, this latter group became face-to-face speaking users). Then they were given a pre-test, three narrative tasks, three invitation tasks, and a repeated post-test. While all the face-to-face speaking users completed these tasks in the time provided, only two pairs of PC email users and one pair of mobile phone email users completed the tasks. The face-to-face speaking users had significantly faster performances, and the mobile phone email users had the slowest; however, the latter were not significantly slower than the PC email users. These differences were attributed to relative speed of typing versus speaking, and the relative speed of typing on mobile thumb pads versus keyboards. An interesting side-note was that the fastest mobile phone email user had told the entire story in only a single text-message. In general, fewer words were used by mobile phone email users, yet they were able to communicate effectively. While the upper-level students' performance improved significantly on the post-test, this was likely due to a change in the post-test format for this group (since the pre-test required written translations, but the post–test consisted of multiple choice questions).
Several other free and commercial mobile language learning programs have recently become available: the BBC World Service’s Learning English section offers English lessons via SMS in Francophone West Africa and China (Godwin-Jones, 2005); BBC Wales has similarly offered Welsh lessons since 2003 (Andrews, 2003); and an EU-funded initiative known simply as 'm-learning' provides English lessons directed towards non-English speaking young adults. The goal of such programs is to engage new kinds of learners (e.g., young, disabled) in a time and place of their preference (Godwin-Jones, 2005; Kadyte, 2004; Kukulska-Hulme, 2005). Norbrook and Scott (2003) suggest that portability and immediacy, rather than localization, are the essential motivating factors in mobile language learning. Further, lessons are provided in bite-sized format, a fact appealing to busy students (McNicol, 2004). Lessons are typically delivered several times a week or even daily, include translations, and provide options for further context-based applications.
One of the newest technologies with potential application in language learning is moblogging, an amalgam of mobile and weblogging. Mielo (2005) further defines moblogging as using a cell phone or PDA "in the field" to post words and/or pictures to a web site (p. 29). Blogs themselves are a recent trend in language teaching. They provide opportunities for language creation (i.e., journaling) and collaborative activities. Moblogs offer the potential to expound these benefits by removing time and place boundaries and adding authentic and personal visual content.
While the applications of cell phones have typically been pedagogic in nature, they have also been used for practical or administrative matters, such as simplified and flexible student-teacher communications (e.g., course updates and reminders) and referrals to related web sites and other up-to-date instructional resources (Dias, 2002, Summer/Fall; Levy & Kennedy, 2005).
PDAs
Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are more often associated with m-learning than cell phones. Their use has been integrated into various disciplines within high schools, universities, and medical schools (Carlson, 2002). In language learning, one of its primary functions has been as translator. Software programs such as MobiLearn allege to turn PDAs into 'talking phrase books.'
In evaluating the gains of Chinese learners of English using handheld translators, Myers (2000) made numerous observations: the learners repeatedly practiced saying unfamiliar words typed into the machine; they took written notes about new words and phrases learned from the machine; they typed full words into the machine and quickly learned to recognize word stems; they were shown words in context according to the lexical approach; they soon preferred to look up words and phrases from the English side of the translator rather than the Chinese side, indicating an attempt to function in the foreign language; and they quickly improved their spelling. Despite these benefits, the author promotes the use of a contextual translator only in cases where the target language is similar to the native language.
More elaborate language learning software programs have also been developed for PDAs and the like. Garcia Cabrere (2002) evaluated a business Spanish course developed for smart-phones, encompassing video clips, exercises, and a glossary. Students were reported to be highly motivated and impressed—particularly by the video and multimedia functions—but expressed difficulty in using pointers and virtual keyboards for data entry.
Thornton and Houser (2003) developed an English idiom web site, including definitions, illustrative videos and animations, and multiple-choice quizzes, specifically for mobile technologies. In their study, students accessed these web pages using either PDAs or mobile web and video phones, and then evaluated their usability. Scores were generally positive—and similar—for both media, but PDA users rated their video quality higher than the mobile phone users, likely due to larger screen size and higher resolution. All students expressed difficulty with the listening tasks, though the authors note that neither headphones nor earphones were used in the study, and that none of the actors or writers were native English speakers.
Several foreign language courses at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have also used wireless handheld computers for various classroom activities (Samuels, 2003). An instructor of Norwegian developed web-based grammar and vocabulary exercises to be accessed with the handhelds, allowing her to integrate technology activities into the class without having to move to the program’s language lab. Minor problems were reported, including trouble resizing pictures to fit in the small screen and sporadic difficulties with network connections. A French class used the handheld devices for various small group and whole class online chatting. A Latin class used them to access ancient poems, both in text and audio. Difficulties included slow processing time and font limitations.
PDAs offer numerous other uses, including Internet and wireless access, and therefore file-sharing between teachers and students and amongst students themselves. Data is also easily backed up on personal computers. Further, at present, a standard feature of these devices is handwriting recognition. Despite such functionality, Beatty (2003) believes that the future success of PDAs depends in part on their ability to accommodate voice recognition.
iPods
Digital audio files (e.g., MP3s) provide high-quality sound in a compressed format. The portable media players developed to listen to them are also rather compact. Most renowned amongst them is Apple’s iPod, the latest version of which not only provides audio functionality but also video. Arguably as popular as the iPod itself are its add-ons (e.g., microphones, speakers) and downloadable software, including language learning programs. iLingo, for example, is a downloadable language translation software, or an electronic phrase book.
Several other applications of the iPod in language learning have been explored. In the fall of 2004, Duke University provided all incoming freshmen with free 20 gigabyte iPods equipped with voice recorders. Amongst the pilot courses utilizing the players were several language courses, which utilized both their listening and recording capabilities. Students in a Spanish class used iPods to respond to verbal quizzes, submit audio assignments, record audio journals, and receive oral feedback from their instructor. A Turkish class used them to listen to authentic materials such as news, songs, and poems, and to the instructor’s vocabulary and translations (Belanger, 2005).
Apple Computer itself has taken to promoting the iPod’s educational uses. Available on iPod in the Classroom are lesson plans for the language classroom, as well as success stories. A middle school in Nebraska, for example, is reported to have been using iPods to record speech samples for self and teacher assessment of English language learners.
Students taking distance-learning German and Spanish courses through the United Kingdom’s Open University are similarly using digital voice recorders and mini-camcorders to record interviews with other students and locals and to create audiovisual tours (Kukulska-Hulme, 2005). While the goal has been to ultimately upload their works to web sites for sharing with other students, web space limitations have made this difficult. An additional problem has been that students were provided with these devices at the start of the course, leaving inadequate time to learn to properly use them.
The iPod has also spawned a new form of media known as podcasting, a portmanteau which combines iPod and broadcasting. While the aforementioned blogs are traditionally text-based, audio blogs or podcasts, are essentially downloadable broadcasts with RSS (really simple syndication) feeds which allow listeners to subscribe. Subscribers to such podcasts automatically receive updates. Once downloaded, audio content can be transferred to a media player. Still in its nascency, podcasting is already widely utilized in language learning, both to access authentic content and to record it. Myriad subscriptions are available to English and other language learners. Lessons in Shona—Zimbabwe’s main language—for example, are available for download (Winter, 2005). Englishcaster provides a list of podcasts specifically created for English language learners. Voice of America’ Special English programs have also been made available via podcast. And EFL instructor Graham Stanley (2005) has created a podcast itself on the use of podcasts for EFL teachers.

Benefits and Challenges
Mobile technologies clearly offer numerous practical uses in language learning. In many cases, they are readily available. In Japan, for instance, cell phone ownership has been reported to be nearly universal amongst college-aged individuals (Dias, 2002, Spring; Thornton and Houser, 2005). In a recent study of students in higher education in the United States (Kvavik, 2005), 82% owned cell phones. In the same study, however, less than 12% owned PDAs. Even in cases where they must be acquired, mobile technologies are typically less expensive than standard equipment, such as PCs. The portability of mobile media is another benefit. They can be just as easily utilized outside of the classroom as they can in it; learners can study or practice manageable chunks of information in any place on their own time, thereby taking advantage of their convenience. Ultimately, what these benefits indicate is the potential MALL has in expanding social inclusion in language learning.
Notwithstanding its benefits, MALL also poses related challenges. For instance, inherent in the portability of mobile media are reduced screen sizes, limited audiovisual quality, virtual keyboarding and one-finger data entry, and limited power. Further, their availability can be limited. While cell phone ownership may be almost universal for college-aged individuals, this is not true for other populations or media. The costs to educational institutions of purchasing them en masse could be staggering. Nevertheless, Gilgen (2004) has demonstrated the possibilities of developing mobile labs for schools with limited funding. Other potential drawbacks include limited nonverbal communications, limited message lengths, a lack of cultural context, and potentially limited social interaction. While mobile technologies are advancing, their output is quickly moving from verbal to visual, a clear disadvantage for language learning (Colpaert, 2004). Connection problems are also a concern: web-based language learners might choose to limit their online connection times, or they may not have access at all. Still, as a result of this issue, Trifanova, Knapp, Ronchetti, and Gamper (2004) are developing a program which allows learners of web-based German and Italian courses to hoard online content—a process similar to planned caching—so that it can be used during periods of disconnection.
Conclusion
Yamaguchi (2005) recapitulates: "A computer is better than a mobile phone for handling various types of information such as visual, sound, and textual information, but mobile phone is superior to a computer in portability. And some students don’t have their own computer" (p. 57). So, while m-learning in general and MALL in particular have clear challenges and limitations, the paucity of applications and formal research will indubitably proliferate. Colpaert (2004) observes that in the history of CALL, periods of professional development have been followed by periods of amateur development—coincident with periods of hype—by teachers and researchers, and further portends that "if this prevails, the mobile hype will burst out as soon as tools become available allowing teachers and researchers to develop their own mobile applications and tools" (p. 262). Still, humankind is not likely in the immediate future to reach the state of Salmon’s (2003) Planet Nomadic, where "terrestrial universities and corporate training facilities have disappeared" (p. 141) and wearable devices "help to pace the learners…through their courses" (p. 142). But it does seem quickly headed for a world where m-learning is a fashionable channel for language study.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George M. Chinnery is an English instructor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the Carlos Rosario International School in Washington, DC. He has been teaching since 1998, when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania. He possesses an MA in TESOL and is currently pursuing a PhD in Language, Literacy and Culture at UMBC.
Email: [[maito:george@chinnery.us|george@chinnery.us]]

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11/2 Web 2.0 T
By Bryan Alexander
Bryan Alexander is Director for Research at the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education
(NITLE).
© 2 0 0 6 B r y a n A l e x a n d e r


10/19

Myths and Realities about Technology in K-12 Schools

Only a clear-eyed commitment to central educational goals will get us a substantial return on our investment.
by Glenn M. Kleiman
We are in the midst of an explosion of multimedia digital technology—computers and all that goes with them—in K-12 schools throughout the country. Propelled by federal, state, and local initiatives, schools spent an estimated $6.9 billion in 1999 on desktop computers, servers, routers, wiring, Internet access, software, and everything else involved in making modern technology available. Education funds are enhancing the bottom lines of Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, IBM, and other high-tech companies.
But will we receive an adequate return on investment to the educational bottom line? That is, will all this technology improve education for large numbers of students? Will it make our educational systems more effective and efficient? Will it help schools better prepare students for their lives in the 21st century?
As we begin this new century, the investment in technology for schools resembles the investments being made in many “dot-com” Internet companies. In both cases, the investments are based on the potential of new technologies, in the hope that this potential will be fulfilled in the coming years. And in both cases the investments involve significant risks and may be a long way from yielding adequate returns.
Maximizing our investment in technology requires a clear vision of our goals and well-developed plans for achieving them. Unfortunately, the rapid influx of technology into schools is, in many cases, running ahead of the educational vision and careful planning necessary to put technology to good use. In fact, what is being done is often based on misconceptions or myths about what is required to gain substantial educational returns.

Myth #1: Putting computers into schools will directly improve learning; more computers will result in greater improvements.
Computers are powerful and flexible tools that can enhance teaching and learning in innumerable ways. However, the value of a computer, like that of any tool, depends upon what purposes it serves and how well it is used. Computers can be used in positive ways—such as to help make learning more engaging, to better address the needs of individual students, to provide access to a wealth of information, and to encourage students to explore and create; or in negative ways—such as to play mindless games, access inappropriate materials, or isolate students.
Many computers in schools, even up-to-date multimedia computers with high-speed Internet access, are not being used in ways that significantly enhance teaching and learning. There are many reasons for this, including the following:

• Teachers have not received adequate training and support for integrating technology into the core of day-to-day classroom instruction, so computers are used around the edges of the class’s main work—for example, to reward students who complete their work quickly, to provide drills for students who are struggling with specific skills, or for occasional special activities. While these uses are beneficial, they don’t justify the size of the investment.
• Teachers often don’t have software that supports major curriculum goals, is consistent with their approaches to teaching, and is well designed for classroom use. While much good educational software has been developed, finding and obtaining what you need to run on the computers you have that also fits into your curriculum often remains difficult.
• Technical support is often insufficient, so that if a computer problem occurs that the teacher and students cannot solve, there may be long delays before a technician is available to address it. Thus teachers feel they cannot depend upon the technology, so they do not plan to use it for important purposes in the classroom.
• The ways computers are made available are often inconsistent with teachers’ approaches to curriculum planning and classroom management. Many schools have been placing computers in every classroom, aiming for a ratio of one computer for every six students. This requires teachers to organize daily activities so that some students can be working on the computers while others are engaged in other tasks—a style of classroom management that may be new to many teachers, especially above the elementary level. In schools without computers in the classrooms, teachers have to move the class to a computer lab, which must be scheduled well in advance. Since this situation makes it difficult to integrate computers into the flow of lessons, it often encourages teachers to treat computer activities as special events, rather than as central to the curriculum.
• In developing curriculum materials, publishers have not been able to assume that schools have sufficient computers or teacher expertise to make use of technology central to the curriculum. Therefore, they have typically included computer activities only as optional supplements to other class work.
The reality corresponding to Myth #1 is that all this expensive technology will yield little educational return until schools and districts address the need for professional development, technical support, the availability of appropriate software, classroom management, and curriculum integration.
Myth #2: There are agreed-upon goals and “best practices” that define how computers should be used in K-12 classrooms.
What educational purposes should computers serve in the classroom? When we explore this key question, we often find many different implicit views within a school or district. Unless these views are articulated and clarified and a consensus is reached, the diverging views can lead to conflicting expectations, approaches to implementing technology, and criteria for evaluating its impact, all of which can create barriers to moving forward effectively. The most common goals for using technology in schools include the following:
• Improve students’ acquisition of basic math, reading, and writing skills, and their content knowledge in specific subject areas, which will lead to higher scores on standardized tests. This goal often leads to the use of drill-and-practice programs, integrated-learning systems (which provide online lessons and quizzes, adjusting the pace of lessons for each student), and software adjuncts to textbooks.
• Motivate students. This goal is often based on the view that schools need to use multimedia, visually rich materials that capture the interest of students. In addition, technology can help teachers provide multiple paths to learning to fit individual students’ learning styles and strengths. It can enable students to work with greater autonomy, collaborate with peers and mentors, and gain access to more information related to their own interests, all of which can help engage their interest.
• Broaden curriculum objectives, adding more problem-solving, inquiry, project-based learning, and collaborative work. This goal often leads to students’ using simulations, searching for information on the Web, and preparing reports and presentations using word processors, databases, computer graphic tools, and multimedia presentation software.
• Enable teachers to strengthen their own preferred approaches. For example, a science teacher who primarily lectures may use a computer and a large display to provide visual support for the lectures, while another teacher who favors a more inquiry-based approach may add simulations and experiments with computer-based measuring devices and analysis software.
• Better prepare students for the workplace. This goal often leads schools to add a technology strand to the curriculum, so that students learn keyboarding, basic computer operations, and standard applications such as word processors and databases. However, this does not address the major needs articulated by business leaders, who are concerned that their job applicants have strong skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving; know how to gather, organize, and analyze information; communicate well; work successfully in collaborative teams; and be able to learn effectively.
• Update education for the 21st century. Many believe that our changing world requires that we reconsider the very structure and culture of our schools and our classrooms, along with what we teach and how we teach it. Visions of the future vary widely, but most feature increased student autonomy, more collaborative work both face to face and online, more global connections, richer learning resources than traditional textbooks, and more inquiry, interdisciplinary, and project-based learning.

Of course, a school district may strive to meet more than one of these goals at the same time. But each goal selected will make demands upon resources—human as well as technological—and will lead to certain strategies for implementing and supporting the uses of technology. And, most important, different goals will lead to different criteria for evaluating whether the technology is used successfully.
So the reality corresponding to Myth #2 is that educational goals must be clarified and that plans for purchasing, using, and evaluating the impact of technology must be developed to fit those goals. We don’t want the cart filled with computer hardware to be leading the educational horse.
Myth #3: Once teachers learn the basics of using a computer, they are ready to put the technology to effective use.
Technology can affect what needs to be taught, how it can be taught, how classrooms are organized and managed, and the roles and expectations of both teachers and students. That is, a technology-enhanced classroom may have both different goals and a somewhat different culture from a traditional classroom.
A long-term study of the Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) project followed teachers over several years as they learned to use technology in their classrooms (with lots of computers, software, professional development, and support available). The researchers identified five stages of “instructional evolution” for using technology:

1. At the entry stage, teachers experience both trepidation and excitement as they learn to master the new tools themselves and begin to plan how to use them in their classrooms. They are often concerned about the time and effort required and wonder whether computers will ever be effective learning tools in their classrooms.
2. At the adoption stage, teachers begin to blend technology into their classroom practices, without making any significant changes to those practices. They may, for example, have students use drill-and-practice programs or word processors—tools that may fit easily into the current curriculum.
3. At the adaptation stage, the new technology becomes thoroughly integrated into traditional classroom practices. Word processors, databases, graphic programs, presentation tools, and content-specific software are used frequently. At this stage, teachers typically begin to see some real benefits, finding that students learn more, produce better work, and are more engaged in learning.
4. At the appropriation stage, the teachers understand technology and use it effortlessly in their own work and in the classroom. By now the teachers have difficulty imagining how they would function without computers.
5. At the invention stage, teachers are ready to experiment with new instructional patterns and ways of relating to students and to other teachers. Interdisciplinary project-based instruction, team teaching, and individually paced instruction become common. In the ACOT study, students of teachers at this stage began to show high levels of skill with technology, an ability to learn on their own, problem-solving skills, and more collaborative work patterns.

The ACOT study also documents the types of training and support that teachers need as they advance through these levels. Clearly, a basic introduction to computers supports only the first stage of this multi-year evolution.
The reality corresponding to Myth #3 is that for technology to be used fully in K-12 schools, significant changes are required in teaching practices, curriculum, and classroom organization; that these changes take place over years, not weeks or months, and require significant professional development and support for teachers; and that the needed levels of training and support change as teachers progress through these stages.
Myth #4: The typical district technology plan is sufficient for putting technology to effective use.
Almost every school district has a technology plan in place, often developed as a requirement to be eligible for federal or state funding. Typically, these plans specify a three- to five-year vision of what hardware, software, and networking capability will be purchased, along with some planning about teacher training, technical support and maintenance, acceptable use policies, and budgeting. Some plans also address integrating technology into the curriculum, evaluating the impact of technology on teaching and learning, and reviewing and updating the plan, but, unfortunately, these critical elements often receive only cursory attention.
Technology plans tend to turn technology into a goal in and of itself, and to separate it from other educational goals and plans. But technology is a tool, and technology planning is like planning for the purchase and use of construction tools—the first step is to design the structure to be built.
The reality corresponding to Myth #4 is that to use technology effectively we must fully integrate it into school improvement plans, special education plans, curriculum plans, professional development plans, and all the other plans formulated by schools and districts. Significant educational returns require that technology be viewed as providing tools to meet central educational goals, not as defining a new, separate set of goals.

Myth #5: Equity can be achieved by ensuring that schools in poor communities have the same student-to-computer ratios as schools in wealthier communities.
The federal E-rate program and many others have helped schools in inner-city and poor rural communities purchase computers and Internet access, with the goal of reducing what is often called the “digital divide”—the gap between “information haves and have-nots.” Making the technology available is only a first step. Recent studies have documented that teachers in poor inner-city and rural schools have significantly less training to use technology than teachers in wealthier schools, that technical support systems are not as well funded, and that the uses of computers in the classroom tend to be very different. Students in underserved communities are more likely to use computers for drill-and-practice and integrated-learning system lessons, while students in other communities are more likely to use computers to support inquiry-based, project-based, and collaborative learning. The difference is very significant: for the first group, the computer is in control and leads the students through the lessons, while in the second group the students are controlling computers for their own purposes.
The reality corresponding to Myth #5 is that when considering issues of equity we need to examine all the essential conditions for making computers into effective teaching and learning tools, not just the number of computers purchased.
The central theme underlying all these myths is that while modern technology has great potential to enhance teaching and learning, turning that potential into reality on a large scale is a complex, multifaceted task. The key determinant of our success will not be the number of computers purchased or cables installed, but rather how we define educational visions, prepare and support teachers, design curriculum, address issues of equity, and respond to the rapidly changing world. As is always the case in efforts to improve K-12 education, simple, short-term solutions turn out to be illusions; long-term, carefully planned commitments are required.


Resources and Further Information:
Taking TCO to the Classroom: A School Administrator’s Guide to Planning for the Total Cost of New Technology. The Consortium for School Networking, 1555 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036; tel: 202-466-6296; fax: 202-462-9043. www.cosn.org/tco
"High-Tech Pathways to Better Schools." In Education Week’s special report, "Technology Counts ’98," October 1, 1998. www.edweek.org/sreports/tc98/cs/cs-n.htm
D. Harrington-Lueker. "Technology Works Best When It Serves Clear Educational Goals." Harvard Education Letter 13, no. 6 (November/December 1997): 1—5. www.edletter.org/past/issues/1997-nd/technology.shtml
J. Hawkins, R. Spielvogel, and E. Marks Panush. National Study Tour of District Technology Integration: Summary Report. New York: EDC/Center for Children and Technology Report No. 14, 1996. www.edc.org/LNT/news/Issue4/cct14pdf.htm
M. Honey, K. McMillan Culp, and F. Carrigg. Perspectives on Technology and Education Research: Lessons from the Past and Present. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Secretary’s Conference on Educational Technology, June 1999. www.ed.gov/Technology/TechConf/1999/whitepapers/paper1.html
G. Kleiman and K. Johnson. "Professional Development: From Reports to Reality." Leadership and the New Technologies Perspectives (online journal). Part 1, September 1998: www.edc.org/LNT/news/Issue5/feature.htmPart 2, November 1998: www.edc.org/LNT/news/Issue6/feature.htm
Technology in American Schools: Seven Dimensions for Gauging Progress–A Policymaker’s Guide. Santa Monica, CA: Milken Exchange on Education Technology, 1998. www.milkenexchange.org/policy/sevendimensions.pdf
R.J. Murnane and F. Levy. Teaching the New Basic Skills: Principles for Educating Children to Thrive in a Changing Economy. New York: Free Press, 1996.
S. Rockman. Leader’s Guide to Education Technology. Available online via the National School Board Foundation’s EDvancenet web site. To order a printed copy, call 800-706-6722 and request item #03-144-W. www.edvancenet.org/res_guide_pdf.shtml
J.H. Sandholtz, C. Rignstaff, and D.C. Dwyer. Teaching with Technology: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press, 1997.
SouthEast and Islands Regional Technology in Education Consortium. Factors That Affect the Effective Use of Technology for Teaching and Learning: Lessons Learned from the SEIR-TEC Intensive Site Schools. Greensboro, NC: SEIR-TEC, 1998. www.seirtec.org/publications/lessons.html
P. Starr. "Computing Our Way to Educational Reform." American Prospect 27 (July-August 1996): 50—60. http://prospect.org/archives/27/27star.html

10/5

Places to Go: Facebook

by Stephen Downes
Facebook was launched as "thefacebook" in September 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Yadav 2006). It followed a by then well-established model for social networking Web sites, following a trail blazed by Friendster and Tribe, among others. What distinguished Facebook was its focus on education and its requirement that members must be affiliated with a recognized English-speaking university as signified by the having of an e-mail address from that institution.
Despite criticism and lawsuits, the site has grown from a way to connect people at elite universities to a massive billion-dollar business with an audience of more than 34 million active users (Maestri 2007; LaMonica 2007). It is one of the busiest Web sites on the Internet, drawing more than 5.5 billion page views in February 2007 (Rosenbush 2007). It began adding universities from India in May, 2006 and from Germany and Israel in August. And in September 2006, it opened its doors to the entire Internet (Abram 2006).
It should not go unremarked that Facebook is an education site, built in the first instance by and for university students. It is a strange fulfillment of Cisco CEO John Chambers's prediction at Comdex 1999 that "Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make e-mail look like a rounding error" (cited in Wall, Ahmed, and Smit 2006, 7). Certainly educators, who subsequently went on to develop online courses and learning management systems, had something very different in mind. Yet just as early defenders of the traditional university over online instruction pointed to the institutions' essential role in promoting social interaction, perhaps Facebook has captured the essence of the university system more accurately than the learning management system.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury has commented, "there is a profoundly political element in the university. It is taken for granted that those who exercise power in a society need to be formed in a particular culture. They need to learn how to reflect on the social interactions around them; they need to learn how to evaluate the reasons that people give for actions and policies. . . . The university, then, sustains a culture of its own, a culture of conversation and mutual criticism and appreciation, in the context of which people may grow into a deeper understanding of what characterises human beings as such in their social interaction" (Williams 2006, ¶8, ¶20).
Social interactions form the core of Facebook's design and are arguably the reason for its success. Members are invited to join Facebook and, once members, to connect with other members of Facebook by means of an e-mail invitation. The recipient clicks on a URL that (after login) leads to a decision page that asks whether the person in question is really a friend. If the recipient accepts the invitation (the other option is "ignore"), then he or she is given the opportunity to describe the relationship in more detail.
The design of this interaction is important and defines the nature of the community. Relations in Facebook are defined not only as "friends" but also as members of social networks. These, in the first instance, constituted university classes (and many of Facebook's displays still categorize members by their affiliation) but have subsequently come to include groups, causes, and cities and towns. Contrast this with a business-oriented Web site such as LinkedIn, where contact, rather than friendship, is important. The choice offered by LinkedIn, between "knowing" and "not knowing," arguably pushes people to make connections rather than build relationships (Balfour 2007). Or contrast this with Web sites such as Flickr, Slideshare, or Twitter where confirmation is not required at all; one user merely declares that he or she is "following" another, and the other may or may not reciprocate.
As the structure of the social network defines the community, the definition of the social network also creates the privacy that users value so greatly. Facebook grants members numerous privacy options, allowing them to control whether friends, other members, or nonmembers can view their profile; to control whether friends or members can send them notifications; and to control what information about themselves they send to the outside world. On Facebook, privacy is not only about control but also about trust and understanding. You can share your secrets—or your party plans—while keeping these secrets within a trusted circle of friends.
And there are many ways to share content on Facebook. In addition to a member's profile, which is completed by filling out an online form, users may submit content in the form of "notes." Notes are nothing more complicated than blog posts that may be in plain text or formatted with basic HTML. Notes may also be imported from an external blog, such as one created on Blogger, via the blog's RSS feed, or imported as a text message from a member's mobile phone.
Members may also create more specialized content. Facebook calendar submissions are popular because after filling out the event name and information, members can send calendar entries to an exclusive guest list and allow invitees to add additional content. Members may also allow each other to post public notices in an area of their profiles called "the wall." They may upload photographs and attach them to profiles, groups, networks, or events. And they can update a small single-sentence input area known as the "status."
What makes Facebook work so well as a communications tool is that the sum total of these contributions is displayed in a member's "minifeed." When a member logs on to the Facebook main page, recent entries from all his or her friends' minifeeds are displayed in the large center column. Thus, a member can catch up with an entire network immediately from a single page. Only the most recent entries are displayed, and there's no way to view more, so there's no sense of falling behind. And members can adjust their preferences to determine what sort of entries should be displayed—showing only events, for example, or more notes posts and fewer group memberships.
In May 2007, Facebook opened its platform, providing an application program interface (API) to allow external applications to upload content. (An API is a set of specifications defining how input to Facebook should be addressed, how authentication is managed, and how data should be structured.) The plan, according to Zuckerberg, was to make Facebook a "platform"—that is, "a software environment where others can create their own services, much the way anyone can write programs for Microsoft's Windows operating system on PCs" (Kirkpatrick 2007, ¶4). As a result, Facebook members are now able to select from dozens of applications to input and display novel types of content.
The most popular applications give readers an idea of the types of content being created (Hendrickson 2007). iLike allows members to share iTunes playlists. Where I've Been allows members to display a zoomable interactive map (specifically, a Google Map customized by TripAdvisor). Flickr Photos allows members to import thumbnails of photos recently uploaded to Flickr. The Honesty Box allows members to send each other anonymous messages.
The introduction of third-party applications has not been without its challenges. Users complained that the new applications were abusing the notifications system by sending unauthorized requests to members' friends. The applications were also cluttering users' profiles and sometimes hiding things (like advertising) from profile owners (Williams 2007). The managers at Facebook are now struggling to find the balance between tools that spread in a viral manner and tools that allow people to maintain their security and privacy (Morin 2007).
However, while Facebook lets data in, there have been criticisms that it is a "walled garden," a trait it shares with learning management systems. Scoble (2007) provides an example: ". . . you can't get to data stored on Facebook unless you're a Facebook member. Two days ago I did a video for Chris Pirillo on Facebook. Chris instantly got excited and wanted to share that with his blog's readers. But he couldn't. That video is locked inside Facebook's walled garden. If you don't have a key (a Facebook account), you can't see it" (¶8).
This is not completely true, however. Facebook does export some RSS feeds—for example, status updates (which can then be imported and rebroadcast using Twitter) and notifications. But still, the criticisms are mostly well founded. As Gilbertson (2007) writes, "When entering data into Facebook, you're sending it on a one-way trip" (¶3). There's no way to export photos from Facebook, to export notes, and most crucially, to export your list of friends, the set of data known in social networking circles as the "social graph."
This has led Brad Fitzpatrick, the architect behind another of Facebook's predecessors, LiveJournal, to argue that the social graph should be shared from one social network site to the next (Fitzpatrick and Recordon 2007). This means members could move their profiles and lists of friends from place to place (Downes 2007). It also means that they would have a single login name that stays consistent from site to site—an OpenID, for example. Fitzpatrick writes, "People are getting sick of registering and re-declaring their friends on every site. . . . Developing 'Social Applications' is too much work" (Fitzpatrick and Recordon 2007, "Problem Statement" ¶2).
By contrast, and at the same time, writers have been warning about the danger of too much openness. According to many, Facebook is ideal for phishing attacks and identity theft. Profiles feel private, but they are more open than people realize. The Sophos Facebook ID Probe, for example, showed that Facebook members willingly revealed personal data to a small green plastic frog: "He now has enough information to create phishing emails or malware specifically targeted at individual users or businesses, to guess users' passwords, impersonate them or even stalk them" (Huffman 2007, ¶10). Numerous people have been fired from their jobs or even suspended from university for "private" comments or photos posted in Facebook.
Facebook is at once too closed and too open because the functions it serves require both openness and privacy. It is, like other social networks, trying to connect people, trying to let them introduce each other, communicate, share their thoughts and memories, and create a community. It needs to encourage openness to do this; it needs to provide members with a space where they can write and create and send messages to each other. At the same time, it seeks to protect the integrity of the groups and the communities that are formed within its boundaries. And to do this, it needs to keep the group's transactions behind closed doors to provide, not so much secrecy, but privacy.
This is a dilemma that faces not only Facebook but educational applications in general. The closed nature of the learning management system is frequently defended on the ground that students need a safe environment where they can experiment without consequences. But at the same time, students may be more motivated to do well when they are required to present their work in public or to participate in the wider professional community. Students need groups, but they also need networks.
At the same time, the nature and popularity of Facebook itself challenges the idea of what an educational application should look like. Facebook puts the social community first, with content—including, but not limited to, educational content—being the medium of exchange between them. Though the traditional learning management system will contain community features, such as a chat room or discussion area, it contrasts sharply with Facebook because it puts content first and structures interactions around the course, the textbook, or the professor.
And if the social function is indeed the primary function of our educational institutions, then we need to ask how that function is being performed, both by Facebook and by our colleges and universities. For there is not only a design difference between sites such as Facebook and, say, MySpace; there is also a demographic difference. As researcher Danah Boyd has argued, typical Facebook users "tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are primarily white, but not exclusively," while MySpace "is still home for Latino and Hispanic teens, immigrant teens" as well as "other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm" (Boyd 2007, "Socioeconomic divisions" ¶3-4). And perhaps that's not so far from the original purpose of Facebook. Maybe it was intended to be an online Gramercy Park. As Jay Rosen writes, "Gramercy Park is a beautiful, soft, manicured park in the city. It is the best park, luxurious and green. Gramercy Park is gated. Only the wealthy people who own property around the park are allowed to access it. What would happen if NYC raised the capital to buy the park and take the gate down? It would get dirtier. There would be more people. It would be harder to police. There would be graffiti. There would be more crime. Gramercy Park would no longer be Gramercy Park" (cited in Rubel 2007, ¶2).
References
Abram, C. 2006. Welcome to Facebook, everyone. [Weblog entry, September 26.] The Facebook Blog. http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=2210227130 (accessed September 30, 2007).
Balfour, B. The importance of social interaction design in a community. [Weblog entry, June 25.] Social Degree. http://www.socialdegree.com/2007/06/25/the-importance-of-social-interaction-design-in-a-community/the-importance-of-social-interaction-design-in-a-community/ (accessed September 30, 2007).
Boyd, D. 2007. Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace. http://www.danah.org/papers/essays/ClassDivisions.htmlClassDivisions.html (accessed September 30, 2007).
Downes, S. 2007. Social network portability. [Weblog entry, August 21.] Half an Hour. http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2007/08/social-network-portability.html (accessed September 30, 2007).
Fitzpatrick, B., and D. Recordon. 2007. Thoughts on the social graph. http://bradfitz.com/social-graph-problem/ (accessed September 30, 2007).
Gilbertson, S. 2007. Slap in the Facebook: It's time for social networks to open up. Wired, August 6. http://www.wired.com/software/webservices/news/2007/08/open_social_netwebservices/news/2007/08/open_social_net (accessed September 30, 2007).
Hendrickson, M. 2007. TC interns' 10 favorite Facebook applications. [Weblog entry, August 1.] TechCrunch. http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/01/tc-interns-10-favorite-facebook-applications/interns-10-favorite-facebook-applications/ (accessed September 30, 2007).
Huffman, M. 2007. Many Facebook users compromise own identities. Consumer Affairs, August 20. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/08/facebook_security.htmlfacebook_security.html (accessed September 30, 2007).
Kirkpatrick, D. 2007. Facebook's plan to hook up the world. Fortune, June 11. http://money.cnn.com/2007/05/24/technology/facebook.fortune/ (accessed September 30, 2007).
LaMonica, P. R. 2007. $10 billion for Facebook? CNNMoney, July 12. http://mediabiz.blogs.cnnmoney.com/2007/07/12/10-billion-for-facebook/ (accessed September 30, 2007).
Maestri, N. 2007. Wal-Mart using Facebook to win back-to-school sales. Reuters, August 8. http://www.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUSN0843464220070809idUSN0843464220070809 (accessed September 30, 2007).
Morin, D. 2007. Change is coming. [Weblog entry, August 27.] Facebook Developers News. http://developers.facebook.com/news.php?blog=1&story=29 (accessed September 30, 2007).
Rosenbush, S. 2007. Facebook's on the block. Business Week, March 28. http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2006/tc20060327_215976.htmtc20060327_215976.htm (accessed September 30, 2007).
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Scoble, R. 2007. The latest "shiny social object": An open/controllable social network? [Weblog entry, August 2.] Scobleizer. http://scobleizer.com/2007/08/02/the-latest-shiny-social-object-an-opencontrollable-social-network/2007/08/02/the-latest-shiny-social-object-an-opencontrollable-social-network/ (accessed September 30, 2007).
Wall, J., V. Ahmed, and D. Smit. 2006. Issues in addressing the lifelong learning needs of construction professionals using technology facilitated learning: Experiences from an Irish blended learning initiative. Proceedings CIBW89: International Conference on Building Education and Research 1 (2): 57-69. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/archive/00003873/01/3873.pdf00003873/01/3873.pdf (accessed September 30, 2007).
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Copyright and Citation Information for this Article This article may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes if the following attribution is included in the document:
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Downes, S. 2007. Places to Go: Facebook. Innovate 4 (1). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=517 (accessed October 4, 2007). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

9/21

Grouping Kids By Ability Harms Education, Two Studies Show

Science Daily Education researchers at the University of Sussex have found major flaws in the Prime Minister's education policy, which aims to have ability groupings as the norm in key subjects.

Two new separate studies show that sorting school children into sets is neither an accurate way of assessing ability, nor is it beneficial to their learning.
Research by Jo Boaler, Marie Curie Professor of Education at Sussex, revealed that children in mixed ability mathematics classes outperformed those grouped by ability. She reviewed a new way of grouping children that also resulted in unusually good behaviour and high levels of respect and responsibility among the young people .
Another new study by Sussex researchers shows that children are being placed in ability groups according to social class, with pupils from middle-class backgrounds more likely to be assigned to higher sets, irrespective of their prior attainment.
The results of Professor Boaler's study, which followed 700 teenagers in the US over four years, were all the more remarkable because the mixed ability group came from disadvantaged backgrounds and were initially less able at maths.
Professor Boaler, who has been invited to present her findings to Gordon Brown's advisors, said: "In England we use more ability grouping than possibly any other country in the world, and children are put into groups at a very young age. It is no coincidence that our society also has high levels of anti-social behaviour and indiscipline. Children who are put into low sets in school quickly learn to view themselves as unsuccessful and develop anti-school values that lead into general anti-social behaviour."
The study, which analysed the results of different methods of teaching maths in three American high schools, found that an approach that involved students not being divided into ability groups, but being given a shared responsibility for each other's learning, led to a significant improvement in the achievements of high and low achieving students. The approach had further benefits in that it taught students to take responsibility for each other and to regard that responsibility as an important part of life.
"Many parents support ability grouping because they think it is advantageous for high attaining children," points out Professor Boaler. "But my recent study of a new system of grouping in the US showed that the system benefited students at high and low levels and the high attaining students were the most advantaged by the mixed ability grouping, because they had opportunities to learn work in greater depth. If our government is concerned about the behaviour of young people then it is time to explore systems of student grouping that teach students respect and responsibility, rather than disillusionment and anti-school values."
Professor Boaler was also the author of an earlier study in England that found that mixed ability classes achieved at higher levels than those put into sets. Her earlier research is reported in her book, Experiencing School Mathematics. Her recent study, 'Promoting "relational equity" and high mathematics achievement through an innovative mixed ability approach', was presented at the British Educational Research Association's annual conference earlier this month and is to be published in the British Educational Research Journal in the coming months.
In a separate study Dr Mairead Dunne, lecturer in education at Sussex, led a project that analysed grouping practices in 168 primary and secondary schools and found that working-class pupils are more likely to be placed in lower sets than middle-class pupils who have the same test results, and that pupils from middle-class backgrounds more likely to be assigned to higher sets, irrespective of their prior attainment.
"Schools said that prior attainment and perceived ability were the main criteria on which setting decisions were based," said Dr Dunne. "However, over half the pupils with low prior attainment in English ended up in middle or high sets. Setting decisions were therefore clearly not made on this basis alone. Teacher judgments and pupil behaviour influenced setting decisions but social class was more important."
Dr Dunne and her colleagues, who presented their findings to the British Educational Research Association's annual conference, examined pupil-placement decisions in English and Maths in 44 secondary schools and 124 primaries. Their analysis included information on pupils' prior attainment, gender, ethnicity and home neighbourhood.
The researchers, including Sara Humphreys and Judy Sebba at the University of Sussex and Alan Dyson, Frances Gallannaugh and Daniel Muijs of the University of Manchester, also checked to see whether individual pupils were entitled to free school meals. Boys and girls were equally likely to be placed in low sets. However, some ethnic groups, such as Bangladeshis, were slightly less likely to be put in higher sets. 'Effective teaching and learning for pupils in low attaining groups', which was commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, will be published on 27 September, 2007.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Sussex.

9/14 OK Calling this research is a stetch but there is some really good stuff on these blogs. It's seems everybody has a blog these days, including teachers and other people who are passionate about education. Here are some of the most popular sources of big and deep thoughts:
David Warlick's 2¢ Worth
What makes Warlick's 2¢ priceless is a mix of intense curiosity, refreshing enthusiasm, and photos that speak of a wry and observant personality.
Around the Corner v2
Miguel Guhlin's blog features the quote "Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway." Look past its uninspiring interface, and you'll find just this kind of pithy talk.
Dangerously Irrelevant
In ongoing debates about education, the borderline-irrelevant topics often prove enlightening. The only danger is in not paying attention to them.
Joanne Jacobs
Jacobs practices a kind of free linking and free thinking that takes you from country to country and from religion to technology to health, all in the orbit of education.
Kathy Schrock's Kaffeeklatsch
The keyword in the name of this blog refers to an informal gathering to drink coffee and chat. As a Web barista, Schrock serves a compelling educational brew.
Leader Talk
Written by school leaders for school leaders, proof that those at the top are fighting for change, too.
Moving at the Speed of Creativity
Uses plain language to highlight exciting technology and innovation in education.
NYC Educator
It may be the Daily Show of education blogs, combining parody, retro images, and a skeptical sensibility in service of a true concern for our educational future.
PBS Teachers: Learning.Now
Checking out the well-crafted entries on this site is like a one-on-one with a patient mentor: lots of wisdom, few wasted words.
Weblogg-ed
As its snowy mountain logo implies, Will Richardson's weblogg-ed is a breath of fresh air. Without clutter, his entries can be meditated on in singular simplicity. (Full disclosure: He's on our advisory board. This blog reminds us why.)
This article was also published in Edutopia Magazine, September 2007

8/3
The Web version of this article differs somewhat from the print edition, reflecting recent and fast developments in the Web 2.0 world. Nothing has been cut from the earlier, print version; instead, some content has been added as new projects emerged.
© 2006 Bryan Alexander
EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 41, no. 2 (March/April 2006): 32–44.

Web 2.0: A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning?

Bryan AlexanderBryan Alexander is Director for Research at the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE). Comments on this article can be sent to the author at <bryan.alexander@nitle.org>.
The term is audacious: Web 2.0. It assumes a certain interpretation of Web history, including enough progress in certain directions to trigger a succession. The label casts the reader back to Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s unleashing of the World Wide Web concept a little more than a decade ago, then asks: What forms of the Web have developed and become accepted enough that we can conceive of a transition to new ones?
Many people—including, or perhaps especially, supporters—critique the “Web 2.0” moniker for definitional reasons. Few can agree on even the general outlines of Web 2.0. It is about no single new development. Moreover, the term is often applied to a heterogeneous mix of relatively familiar and also very emergent technologies. The former may appear as very much “Web 1.0,” and the latter may be seen as too evanescent to be relied on for serious informatics work. Indeed, one leading exponent of this movement deems continuous improvement to be a hallmark of such projects, which makes pinning down their identities even more difficult.1 Yet we can survey the ground traversed by Web 2.0 projects and discussions in order to reveal a diverse set of digital strategies with powerful implications for higher education.2 Ultimately, the label “Web 2.0” is far less important than the concepts, projects, and practices included in its scope.

Concepts

Social software has emerged as a major component of the Web 2.0 movement. The idea dates as far back as the 1960s and JCR Licklider’s thoughts on using networked computing to connect people in order to boost their knowledge and their ability to learn. The Internet technologies of the subsequent generation have been profoundly social, as listservs, Usenet groups, discussion software, groupware, and Web-based communities have linked people around the world. During the past few years, a group of Web projects and services became perceived as especially connective, receiving the rubric of “social software”: blogs, wikis, trackback, podcasting, videoblogs, and enough social networking tools like MySpace and Facebook to give rise to an abbreviation mocking their very prevalence: YASN (Yet Another Social Network). Consider the differences between these and static or database-driven Web pages. Wikis are all about user modification; CNN’s front page is decisively not. It is true that blogs are Web pages, but their reverse-chronological structure implies a different rhetorical purpose than a Web page, which has no inherent timeliness. That altered rhetoric helped shape a different audience, the blogging public, with its emergent social practices of blogrolling, extensive hyperlinking, and discussion threads attached not to pages but to content chunks within them. Reading and searching this world is significantly different from searching the entire Web world. Still, social software does not indicate a sharp break with the old but, rather, the gradual emergence of a new type of practice.
These sections of the Web break away from the page metaphor. Rather than following the notion of the Web as book, they are predicated on microcontent. Blogs are about posts, not pages. Wikis are streams of conversation, revision, amendment, and truncation. Podcasts are shuttled between Web sites, RSS feeds, and diverse players. These content blocks can be saved, summarized, addressed, copied, quoted, and built into new projects. Browsers respond to this boom in microcontent with bookmarklets in toolbars, letting users fling something from one page into a Web service that yields up another page. AJAX-style pages feed content bits into pages without reloading them, like the frames of old but without such blatant seams. They combine the widely used, open XML standard with Java functions.3 Google Maps is a popular example of this, smoothly drawing directional information and satellite imagery down into a browser.
Like social software, microcontent has been around for a while. Banner ads, for example, are often imported by one site from another directory. Collaboratively designed Web pages sometimes aggregate content created by different teams over a staggered timeline. And if we consider e-mail messages, discussion-board posts, Usenet-hosted images, and text messages to be microcontent, then users have generated this material for decades. But Web 2.0 builds on this original microcontent drive, with users developing Web content, often collaboratively and often open to the world. Moreover, technical innovations suggest still further refinements in microcontent. Arnaud Leene outlines a series of characteristics, including variable licenses, feeds, Web APIs, and single identity.4
This openness is crucial to current Web 2.0 discussions. The flow of microcontent between domains, servers, and machines depends on two-way access. Web 2.0 can break on silos but thrive in shared services. Still, silos and shared services are not mutually exclusive. Amazon.com, for instance, lets users harvest ISBN numbers from its listings but does not allow access to a customer’s shopping cart. Some wiki platforms allow users to lock down pages from editing or restrict access to authorized users, as does the popular blog service LiveJournal. Yet openness remains a hallmark of this emergent movement, both ideologically and technologically.
Openness and microcontent combine into a larger conceptual strand of Web 2.0, one that sees users as playing more of a foundational role in information architecture. Drawing on the “wisdom of crowds” argument, Web 2.0 services respond more deeply to users than Web 1.0 services. A leading form of this is a controversial new form of metadata, the folksonomy. Whereas traditional metadata is usually hierarchical (topics nested within topics), structured (e.g., the fields within Dublin Core), and predetermined by content authorities, folksonomic metadata consists of words that users generate and attach to content. A historian photographs the Waterloo battlefield, uploads the result to Flickr or 23, and adds keywords meaningful to her: Napoleon, Wellington, Blucher, 1815. A literature scholar creates similar images but tags them according to his interests: Thackeray, Hugo, Clarke.
Why does this matter, and why do such projects not degenerate into multisubjective chaos? First, users actually use tags. Folksonomic services fill up with tags rapidly enough to make information professionals take notice. Second, Web 2.0 services tend to provide tools for helping users with their folksonomies. Tags can be arranged into concept maps called “tag clouds,” which allow revisualization of the way one considers one’s work.5 The social bookmarking innovator del.icio.us automatically reminds users of previously deployed tags, suggests some tags, and notes tags used by others. Third, people tend to tag socially. That is, they learn from other taggers and respond to other, published groups of tags, or “tagsets.”6 There are of course limitations to folksonomies, including the difficulty in scaling up tags from several to many users and the problem of quickly grasping contextual shifts between tagsets. But the rapid adoption and growth of folksonomies is noteworthy. Popularly created metadata is a rarity. Yet as of February 2006, tag-centric Flickr hosts 100 million images.7
external image erm0621_tagcloud.gif
Tag Cloud of a NITLE Blog Generated by http://tagcloud.com/,
October 2005

Taken together, this set of concepts informs a way of making, sharing, and consuming digital documents—a way that differs from what we have grown accustomed to. Implementations of these concepts are not uniform. Not all projects deemed “Web 2.0-ish” share all of these underpinnings. There are many different ways to understand microcontent, for example. Yet an awareness of the aggregate approaches of such projects can shed some light on emergent practices and lead us to generate rough categories for them.

Projects and Practices

Social bookmarking is one of the signature Web 2.0 categories, one that did not exist a few years ago and that is now represented by dozens of projects. The very strangeness of the term (what’s social about bookmarks?) summons up much of the Web 2.0 ethos. It was launched by the advent of Joshua Schacter’s del.icio.us (a cleverly spelled URL, using the rarely seen U.S. suffix)—an elegant, focused, and unassuming service for storing, describing, and sharing bookmarks. Users register and then personalize their bit of del.icio.us (http://del.icio.us/) with a minimally designed page, including nothing beyond annotated URLs to Web pages. Each URL is accompanied by a line of text describing it, followed by one or more words for tags. A user does not have to be a single person: groups can create del.icio.us accounts. In addition to a person’s or group’s own bookmarks, any user can create an in-box for what someone else is bookmarking, by subscribing to the other person’s del.icio.us pages. Users can also subscribe to tags and receive a list of URLs tagged with a certain word on their del.icio.us page. Each annotated tag is dated, editable, and organized in reverse chronological order, blog-style. For example, a splendid Web site on French cooking appears thusly:
French cuisine resource
to food ... and 123 other people ... on 2005-11-27 ... edit / delete
Del.icio.us was one of the first popular folksonomic sites, based on the proliferation of these tags. Users were apparently delighted to tag the sites they found interesting, as a casual browse through the site reveals. Schacter’s site became influential in a short period of time. There is something immediately gratifying about adding a description to a site one is interested in, being able to do so beyond prose sentences, and not having to look to an authority for ontological assistance. Visitors to the del.icio.us site can examine which tags are the most prominent at a given time throughout the entire set of all del.icio.us pages, can search for sites by tags (what is tagged “Napoleon”?), or can look to see what tags users have attached to the same site. Having found another del.icio.us user, one can check what else the other user has chosen to bookmark and share, thereby learning from a potentially kindred spirit.8 This is classic social software—and a rare case of people connecting through shared metadata.
Following the success of del.icio.us, similar social bookmarking projects have appeared. By October 2005, the Wikipedia entry listed nearly forty. These are now too many to enumerate here, and it is likely that some will disappear in the common fate of competitive software.9 But we can note several for their innovative features. Shadows (http://www.shadows.com/) supports “Shadow pages” for bookmarked pages. There users can discuss, rather than simply tag, a site. RawSugar (http://www.rawsugar.com/) and several others expand user personalization. They can present a user’s picture, some background about the person, a feed of their interests, and so on, creating a broader base for bookmark publishing and sharing. This may extend the appeal of the practice to those who find the focus of del.icio.us too narrow. In this way too, a Web 2.0 project learns from others—here, blogs and social networking tools.
How can social bookmarking play a role in higher education? Pedagogical applications stem from their affordance of collaborative information discovery. For instance, researchers at all levels (students, faculty, staff) can quickly set up a social bookmarking page for their personal and/or professional inquiries. The Penntags project at the University of Pennsylvania (http://tags.library.upenn.edu/) and Harvard’s H2O (http://h2obeta.law.harvard.edu/home.do) are examples. First, they act as an “outboard memory,” a location to store links that might be lost to time, scattered across different browser bookmark settings, or distributed in e-mails, printouts, and Web links. Second, finding people with related interests can magnify one’s work by learning from others or by leading to new collaborations. Third, the practice of user-created tagging can offer new perspectives on one’s research, as clusters of tags reveal patterns (or absences) not immediately visible by examining one of several URLs. Fourth, the ability to create multi-authored bookmark pages can be useful for team projects, as each member can upload resources discovered, no matter their location or timing. Tagging can then surface individual perspectives within the collective. Fifth, following a bookmark site gives insights into the owner’s (or owners’) research, which could play well in a classroom setting as an instructor tracks students’ progress. Students, in turn, can learn from their professor’s discoveries.
This desire to discover, publish, and share appears far back in Internet history. The first e-mail listservs (SF-LOVERS, from Rutgers) and the discussion forum of Usenet (started in 1979 and now partially archived by Google10) served such a function, but in prose. Similarly, as Web services have evolved, projects have emerged that act as social writing platforms. After e-mail lists, discussion forums, groupware, documents edited and exchanged between individuals, and blogs, perhaps the writing application most thoroughly grounded in social interaction is the wiki. Wiki pages allow users to quickly edit their content from within the browser window.11 They originally hit the Web in the late 1990s (another sign that Web 2.0 is emergent and historical, not a brand-new thing). Wikis have recently become popular in many venues, including business. The most visible wiki project is Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page), which allows users to edit each encyclopedia entry, thereby creating an open editing and review structure. There are many wiki applications that users can install and run from their own machines. Hosting services have recently grown: Socialtext (http://www.socialtext.com/) is one of the standouts. Users can set up accounts, then write and revise their collaborative work. Socialtext, along with some earlier wiki implementations, like TWiki (http://www.twiki.org/), supports blocking access to selected pages except by passwords, narrowing the pool of potential collaborators.
At a smaller level, other Web 2.0 services are aimed at somewhat more constrained yet still easily collaborative writing. They are very wiki-like but do not use that name. Writeboard, Writely, and JotSpotLive each let users rapidly create a Web page focused on an item of writing content, prominently visible in the browser. Writeboard (http://writeboard.com/) restricts editors to those invited, via e-mail, by the creator of a page. Writely (http://www.writely.com/) also closes access to those not allowed by the creator of a page but lets the creator export the resulting content in several formats, including HTML for a Web page and Word.12 JotSpot Live (http://www.jotlive.com/) differs in aiming at groups that are editing multiple documents. It can display what documents other users within a team are working on and are responsible for, hearkening back to the earlier days of groupware. Taken together, these services are similar to wikis but offer several differences. Their appearance is very slick and professional. Their editing interfaces are smooth WYSIWYGs, cleaner and more recognizable than many wiki implementations. Furthermore, these services usually identify individual contributors, a feature that is generally not available in wikis (as recently seen in the Wikipedia Siegenthaler debacle). Some of the newer features—team displays, easy exporting—are valuable for various social requirements.
How do social writing platforms intersect with the world of higher education? They appear to be logistically useful tools for a variety of campus needs, from student group learning to faculty department work to staff collaborations. Pedagogically, one can imagine writing exercises based on these tools, building on the established body of collaborative composition practice. These services offer an alternative platform for peer editing, supporting the now-traditional elements of computer-mediated writing—asynchronous writing, groupwork for distributed members, and so on—but with a different, wiki-like spin.
If social writing platforms support people creating and editing each other’s content, a different group of Web 2.0 services explores that content from the outside, as it were. Blogging has become, in many ways, the signature item of social software, being a form of digital writing that has grown rapidly into an influential force in many venues, both on- and off-line. One reason for the popularity of blogs is the way they embody the read/write Web notion. Readers can push back on a blog post by commenting on it. These comments are then addressable, forming new microcontent. Web services have grown up around blog comments, most recently in the form of aggregation tools, such as coComment (http://www.cocomment.com/). CoComment lets users keep track of their comments across myriad sites, via a tiny bookmarklet and a single Web page. A second explanation for the popularity of blogs is the rise in Google searches of blog posts, based in part on the tendency of bloggers to link extensively and Google's use of links to rank results. But how does one search within the blogosphere? How can one query that slice of the Web in order to draw on its features—timeliness, microcontent, interactivity, personal commentary?
To answer this qustion, an array of blog and RSS search services have appeared, with individual tweaks and spins aimed at differentiating the experience based on user needs and information architecture. Feedster (http://feedster.com/) and Daypop (http://www.daypop.com/) let users search for content within blogs alone. They also let a query lump blogs together with selected news services. This enables a search for timely commentary, rather than popularly linked content, à la Google. Daypop offers a tag-like feature by identifying and ranking the most commonly used words in the blog or RSS world, generating an almost impressionistic keyword survey of blogospheric interest. Waypath (http://www.waypath.com/) searches blogs but returns fewer results, with those results more likely to be relevant. Waypath also generates “topic streams”—categories of posts, based on analysis of blog posts within a given time period. PubSub (http://www.pubsub.com/) searches blogs, but not immediately. Instead, PubSub saves a query, then applies it to posts as they occur after the query is created, reporting the results to the user by Web, RSS feed, or e-mail. BlogPulse (http://blogpulse.com/) adds still another twist, creating graphic visualizations of results in order to help users identify trends within blogospheric results. Recently, Google and Yahoo have thrown their much larger resources into this field. Yahoo! integrated blogs within its news search (http://news.search.yahoo.com/), and Google launched a standalone blog search (http://blogsearch.google.com/). Yahoo has also included a tagging aspect, called My Web, and has purchased several Web 2.0 projects, most notably Flickr and del.icio.us.
Technorati (http://technorati.com/) and IceRocket (http://icerocket.com/) head in the opposite direction of these sites, searching for who (usually a blogger) has recently linked to a specific item or site. Technorati is perhaps the most famous blog-search tool. Among other functions, it has emphasized tagging as part of search and discovery, recommending (and rewarding) users who add tags to their blog posts. Bloggers can register their site for free with Technorati; their posts will then be searchable by content and supplemental tags.
Many of these services allow users to save their searches as RSS feeds to be returned to and examined in an RSS reader, such as Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com/) or NetNewsWire (http://ranchero.com/netnewswire/). This subtle ability is neatly recursive in Web 2.0 terms, since it lets users create microcontent (RSS search terms) about microcontent (blog posts). Being merely text strings, such search feeds are shareable in all sorts of ways, so one can imagine collaborative research projects based on growing swarms of these feeds—social bookmarking plus social search.
However, when one speaks of each of these services searching blogs, the reality is somewhat more complex. Some, like Technorati, have created large databases of blogs, partly by spidering the Web, partly by relying on user submissions and for-pay subscriptions. Some, like Google’s blog search, query RSS feeds, which are produced by many blogs (but not all) and other sites that aren’t blogs. In other words, the boundaries around what is being searched are somewhat fuzzier than those in the already fuzzy world of Web search.13 One Web service is in fact based on tackling this problem from a different direction. Rollyo (http://rollyo.com/) lets a searcher choose up to ten Web sites to be searched, much like a whitelist restricts connections to a selected few. (A whitelist blocks all sites or users not on a list.) Users can publish and share their “searchrolls.”
Amid this flurry of Web services, what are the pedagogical possibilities? Like many computer-mediated techniques for teaching and learning, some of these possibilities start from pre-Web practices. For example, we have long taught and learned from news articles. Indeed, a popular metaphor for describing RSS reading is the clipping service of old. Since blogs, most social bookmarking tools, and other services are organized in reverse chronological order, their very architecture orients them, or at least their front pages, toward the present moment. Web 2.0 therefore supports queries for information and reflections on current events of all sorts. Given bloggers’ propensity for linking, not to mention some services’ ability to search links, blogs and other platforms readily lead the searcher to further sources. Students can search the blogosphere for political commentary, current cultural items, public developments in science, business news, and so on.
The ability to save and share a search, and in the case of PubSub, to literally search the future, lets students and faculty follow a search over time, perhaps across a span of weeks in a semester. As the live content changes, tools like Waypath’s topic stream, BlogPulse’s trend visualizations, or DayPop’s word generator let a student analyze how a story, topic, idea, or discussion changes over time. Furthermore, the social nature of these tools means that collaboration between classes, departments, campuses, or regions is easily supported. One could imagine faculty and students across the United States following, for example, the career of an Islamic feminist or the outcome of a genomic patent and discussing the issue through these and other Web 2.0 tools. Such a collaboration could, in turn, be discovered, followed, and perhaps joined by students and faculty around the world. Extending the image, one can imagine such a social research object becoming a learning object or an alternative to courseware.
Given the Web 2.0 ethos of sharing content across services, and the importance of social software, it is only logical that crossbreeds of news and social software have emerged. Blogdex (http://blogdex.net/), for example, charts the most popular Web pages as linked by a group of bloggers. These pages can be blogs, of course, as well as news stories, Web sites, images, PDF files, or different URLs for the same item. A glance at Blogdex offers a rough snapshot of what the blogosphere is tending to pay attention to. In that feature, it resembles Google’s Zeitgeist (http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html), an annual compendium of leading searches, broken down into various topics (technology, news, sports). A closer look at an individual Blogdex result reveals the blogs that link to a story. As we saw with del.icio.us, this publication of interest allows the user to follow up on commentary, to see why those links are there, and to learn about those doing the linking. Once again, this is a service that connects people through shared interest in information. A related Web service is Memeorandum (http://www.memeorandum.com/), the punningly named project that integrates news stories and blog responses. Memeorandum displays a series of topics and adds to each one both journalistic accounts and blogospheric opinion. It resembles the classic newspaper style of including news and op-ed pages within the same section, but it draws on thousands of sources, rather than a handful, and from far more diverse stances. Like Blogdex and Zeitgeist, Memeorandum—through the topics presented—offers a glimpse into the collective mind of many, many people at a given moment.
Whereas Memeorandum, Google News (http://news.google.com), and Blogdex automate their ranking of topics and stories, Digg (http://www.digg.com) opens the process to more active human intervention. Digg, devoted primarily to technology topics, accepts submissions of stories that users consider worthy of public attention. Users can then vote for, or “digg,” stories they like, and the site promotes the results accordingly. Digg draws on the recent experience of Wikinews (http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page), which also lets users drive topical choice. Unlike Digg, Wikinews and its great forebear, the South Korean OhmyNews (http://english.ohmynews.com/), consist largely of user-created news content.14 Such projects, taken together with Wikipedia, represent the acme of social software as information production and aggregation. Remember that these are exercises in microcontent: the bar to entry is lower for the average user. A user doesn’t have to author an entire site—just proffer a chunk of content.
The rich search possibilities opened up by these tools can further enhance the pedagogy of current events. A political science class could explore different views of a news story through traditional media using Google News, then from the world of blogs via Memeorandum. A history class could use Blogdex in an exercise in thinking about worldviews. There are also possibilities for a campus information environment. What would a student newspaper look like, for example, with a section based on the Digg approach or the OhmyNews structure? Thematizing these tools as objects for academic scrutiny, the operation and success of such projects is worthy of study in numerous disciplines, from communication to media studies, sociology to computer science.
The extensive growth of Web 2.0 projects has even more recently given rise to tools that make use of multiple services simultaneously. These meta-services and meta-projects are perhaps too nascent to describe in any narrower way and bear watching for emergent trends. SuprGlu (http://www.suprglu.com/) builds Web pages in which users’ RSS feeds from multiple services are aggregated. For example, a professor might include the del.icio.us feeds from a research group and senior seminar alongside a series of blogs from colleagues around the world. At a meta-meta level, SuprGlu plans on letting users form RSS feeds from their many incoming streams. Gnosh (http://webtools.allegheny.edu/gnosh/), a related project, was created within higher education by tech leads at Allegheny and Vassar Colleges, stemming from a NITLE social software users group meeting. Gnosh searches multiple Web 2.0 and similar services while letting users store and share their queries. As with Rollyo, a student could build a group-of-search area. Unlike Rollyo, Gnosh queries a much broader content field. Users can visualize their results or the searches of others by tags or keywords.
Meta-services also exist on the non-search level. Plum (http://www.plum.com/), for instance, resembles a content management system. The Web 2.0 aspects include the types of content it supports (bookmarks, Flickr-style images, and so on) and the social emphasis on sharing content, then building networks around it. In contrast, Ning (http://www.ning.com/) offers tools for easier construction of Web 2.0 projects of all sorts. Finally, another meta-Web 2.0 project breaks the Web browser mold by redesigning the browser itself. Flock (http://flock.com) is still in early developmental stages (pre-beta as of this writing), but it offers a Web 2.0 way of browsing. Users can import their Flickr content into the browser frame as a sort of image-based toolbar, then post to del.icio.us or their blog from within the browser window.
Web 2.0 meta-services, like social software before them, are heading for the mobile, wireless world. For example, mobileGlu supports microcontent feeds for cell phones: “The service currently offers access to flickr, del.icio.us, RSS feeds and a handful of other content sources.”15

Rising Services or Churning Wave?

Clearly, such projects are in their early days, suggesting a certain amount of risk. The concepts, projects, and practices of Web 2.0 as a whole, insofar as we have surveyed them, are fluid and emergent. They are also so accessible as to be launched and interconnected at a pace rapid even by Web standards. At the same time, many services are hosted externally to academia. They are the creations of enthusiasts or business enterprises and do not necessarily embrace the culture of higher education. Local, campus hosting is attractive for many Web 2.0 projects, raising the classic problem of IT support. A related support issue involves microcontent. When will enough readers peruse Web sites through RSS and other microcontent readers to warrant resigning campus public electronic presentations? How will colleges and universities consider preserving such small pieces of intellectual work, especially as the works migrate across multiple, shifting, changing platforms?
A separate threat to this movement is the familiar one of copyright. Since these new Web services allow users to own, modify, and exchange data, it is probably inevitable that intellectual property holders will initiate lawsuits investigating perceived misappropriations.16 The amount of content in the Web 2.0 matrix is relatively small, so far, and largely user-generated. But in a time when headlines are being contested in some courts,17 microcontent may not be immune.18 Lawrence Lessig, J. D. Lasica, and others remind us that as tools get easier to use and practices become more widespread, it also becomes easier for average citizens to commit copyright violations.19
And these practices will continue to evolve. As we have seen through the rapid rise of podcasting, new forms of communication surface as technologies change. As with the growth of other electronic technologies (radio, television), new forms of storytelling through these new Web practices are likely to emerge. Storytelling by blog, for example, has already appeared, as has publishing novels through podcast. A subgenre of computer gaming, alternate reality games (ARGs), certainly contains much that we think of as Web 2.0: microcontent, social collaboration, sharing content across domains. What other narrative shapes will appear in the near future, for both fiction and nonfiction?
Web 2.0’s lowered barrier to entry may influence a variety of cultural forms with powerful implications for education, from storytelling to classroom teaching to individual learning. It is much simpler to set up a del.icio.us tag for a topic one wants to pursue or to spin off a blog or blog departmental topic than it is to physically meet co-learners and experts in a classroom or even to track down a professor. Starting a wiki-level text entry is far easier than beginning an article or book. What new, natively digital textual forms are impending as small-scale production scales up? “Web 1.0” has already demonstrated immense powers for connecting learners, teachers, and materials. How much more broadly will this connective matrix grow under the impact of the openness, ease of entry, and social nature of Web 2.0?20 How can higher education respond, when it offers a complex, contradictory mix of openness and restriction, public engagement and cloistering? How do we respond to the possibilities of what some call “E-learning 2.0,” based on environments, microcontent, and networking?21
The story of this wave of innovation, whether we call it Web 2.0 or something else, is itself emergent and uncertain. While business models appear around it and venture capital swarms in, the second annual Web 2.0 conference was held in October 2005 (http://www.web2con.com/). Most of these projects are bottom-up entities. A quick check of Emily Chang’s eHub list (http://www.emilychang.com/go/eHub/) shows an explosion of hundreds of Web 2.0 projects. Yet far larger players have entered the field, most notably Yahoo, which has been buying up many projects, including Flickr and del.icio.us. Microsoft is considering a massive extension of RSS. And Google has been producing its own projects, such as the Lens RSS reader and Google Maps. Meanwhile, academic implementations are bubbling up, like the social bookmarking and search projects noted earlier. This Web 2.0 movement (or movements) may not supplant “Web 1.0,” but it has clearly transformed a significant swath of our networked information ecology.
Notes
1. Tim O’Reilly, “What Is Web 2.0,” September 30, 2005, tim.oreilly.com, <http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html>.
2. Stephen O’Hear, “Seconds Out, Round Two,” The Guardian, November 15, 2005, <http://education.guardian.co.uk/elearning/story/0,10577,1642281,00.html>.
3. See <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AJAX>. See also Janice Fraser, “It’s a Whole New Internet,” Adaptive Path, April 21, 2005, <http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000430.php>.
4. Arnaud Leene, “Web 2.0 Checklist 2.0,” MicroContent Musings, July 21, 2005, <http://www.sivas.com/microcontent/musings/blog/web_20_checklist_20/>.
5. For examples, see the following: the BBC “What People Are Saying in England” display, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/england/TSP>; Casey Bisson’s library experiment, <http://www.plymouth.edu/library/prototype/clusteredopac.php?srchtype=X&k=sociology+of+education>; a Washington Post headline cloud, <http://www.revsys.com/newscloud/>; or TagCloud.com’s samples, <http://www.tagcloud.com/index.php>.
6. Clay Shirky, “Ontology Is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags,” Clay Shirky’s Writings about the Internet, <http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html>.
7. Noted first by Hans Kullin in his Media Culpa blog, <http://www.kullin.net/arkiv/2006_02_01_mc.html#113999533755894760>.
8. See also EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, “Seven Things You Should Know about Social Bookmarking,” May 2005, <http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7001.pdf>.
9. A good survey from early 2005 is Tony Hammond, Timo Hannay, Ben Lund, and Joanna Scott, “Social Bookmarking Tools: A General Review,” D-Lib Magazine, vol. 11, no. 4 (April 2005), <http://www.dlib.org/dlib/april05/hammond/04hammond.html>.
10. Usenet discussions from 1981 on are archived at <http://groups.google.com/>.
11. Brian Lamb, “Wide Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not,” EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 39, no. 5 (September/October 2004): 36–48, <http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/erm04/erm0452.asp>.
12. Laura Blankenship, at Bryn Mawr College, discovered and tested this out:
<http://www.brynmawr.edu/etc/etcblog/2005/09/word-processing-on-web.html>.
13. One of the best surveys to date is “For the Vox Populi: A Comparison of How Some Blog Aggregation and RSS Search Tools Work,” post by Mary Hodder on Napsterization.org, July 24, 2005, <http://napsterization.org/stories/archives/000500.html>.
14. See Dan Gillmor’s excellent We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People (Sebastopol, Calif.: O’Reilly Media, 2004) for background: <http://wethemedia.oreilly.com/>.
15. “MobileGlu Brings Web Content to Cell Phones,” Engadget Mobile, February 20, 2006, <http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2006/02/20/mobileglu-brings-web-content-to-cellphones/>.
16. Cory Doctorow, “Does Web 2.0=AOL 1.0?,” presentation at the Web 2.0 Conference, October 7, 2004, San Francisco, California, <http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail321.html>.
17. “Japan Newspaper Wins Damages for Online Use of Headlines,” October 6, 2005, TODAYonline.com, <http://www.todayonline.com/articles/76678.asp>.
18. See Top Ten Sources, <http://www.toptensources.com/toptensources/home.aspx>, and discussion at MetaFilter, January 2006, <http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/48389>.
19. Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World (New York: Random House, 2001); J. D. Lasica, Darknet: Hollywood’s War against the Digital Generation (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2005).
20. Barbara Ganley, “More Thoughts on Teaching and Learning: Lessons Learned,” bgblogging, Middlebury College, December 14, 2005, <http://mt.middlebury.edu/middblogs/ganley/bgblogging/010545.html>.
21. Stephen Downes, “E-learning 2.0,” eLearnMagazine, October 17, 2005,