Technology and Trends Assignment

Article # 1:

Adult Education and the Social Media Revolution
M. LeNoue, T. Hall, A. Eighmy, March 1, 2011

This dense, in depth and well written article, examines the growth, impact and implications of digital technology and social media in education. The goal of summarizing this article seemed best achieved by capturing a few of the numerous highlights and quotes that support the author’s perspectives.
Instructors and learners can now engage in “collaborative learning despite being separated by time and space” and engage “in more ways than preceding technologies” allowed.
The article offers perspective on “new possibilities…of digitally mediated education (DML) and an overview of the compatibilities between the capabilities of social software and the principles of adult education”.
Self directed and distant learning are recognized as a new educational focus driven by globalization and an increasing need for, and commitment to lifelong learning. The use of mobile phones, personal digital assistants and digital tablets has reshaped what was once referred to as e-learning (primarily through computers) to what is now referred to as digitally mediated learning implying that, “a medium for learning is provided by digital technology of some sort, and that interaction between participants….is carried out through that technology”. There is also a trend towards the increasing use of “blended learning…that combines online and face to face learning”.
Social software (often referred to as Web 2.0 tools) such as internet forums, wikis, podcasts, e-mail and weblogs “support fluid interaction among people…that may lead to the creation of user generated online content” Social network sites (SNS) are described as “particularly useful… and offering course participants…multiple style learning opportunities”. Of particular note is the statement that “technology enhanced learning environments and technological media do not replace good teaching”.
Learners who have come of age in the presence of the Internet are referred to as the “net generation” and are forcing a change in the model of pedagogy to student based models based on collaboration challenging instructors to take on the role of guides and context providers helping student make their own contributions.
boyd (2008) comments that social media “has affected how people interact with one another and thus has the potential to alter how society is organized”. ” Teaching in a digital world calls for an expansion of the vision of andragogy” wherein the learner moves from being a passive consumer of content towards creating their own learning process and becoming creators and contributors of content. Additionally, social software fosters interaction, a sense of community and group motivation.
In conclusion, I found this to be a compelling and informative article on the development, impact of digital technology and social media networks and it’s critical importance to todays learning facilitator.


Article # 2:

The Wired Generation: Academic and Social Outcomes of Electronic Media Use Among University Students.
W. Jacobsen, Renata Forste, May, 2011

This article examines the impact of electronic media on two spheres of college life: academics and social interaction. The authors use time diaries and survey data obtained from first year university students to test two hypotheses. The first is that the use of electronic media is negatively associated with grades (and academic achievement) due to it’s distractive function. Second, that the relationship between electronic media use and face to face interaction is negative, providing support for a displacement effect between electronic media use and off line interaction. Electronic media activities included social network sites (SNS), e-mail, chat/instant messaging (IM), cell phone communication or texting, video and online games and on or offline TV and movies.
The article goes on to describe in significant detail the survey methodology and results including online survey software, the construction of time diaries, participant selection criteria and incentivised invitation to students resulting in a representative sample base of 1,026 survey participants. Estimation procedures included consideration of OLS regression techniques, slope coefficients, OLS assumptions, robust regression techniques and biases towards outliers and non normality of residuals with survey results represented in four detailed data tables.
The authors conclude that the survey supports the first hypothesis with findings indicating electronic media is negatively associated with grades. Two thirds of students reported using electronic media while in class, studying or doing homework with such multitasking increasing distraction detrimental to student performance.
Contrary to the second hypothesis, findings indicate that SNS use and cell phone communication facilitate offline social interaction rather than replace it. Access to social media gives students greater access to social situations in general providing students additional mechanisms for meeting new people and keeping in touch with friends.
This article suggests findings support the statement that, electronic media “can distract from academic success and at the same time facilitate social interaction and the development of social networks.


Web 2.0 Tools:

I chose this Web 2.0 tool as it’s used by my SAR organization for sharing files that can be revised, updated and simultaneously synchronized by any of the organization’s users. This is of significant benefit for developing training documents or accessing larger files on devices with limited storage capacity. Dropbox is a widely recognized and subscribed digital media convention for networked file sharing and a logical choice for sharing lesson plans and varied digital media including photos and pdfs specific to learning goals.
Dropbox is described on Wikipedia as “a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file storage and client software. Dropbox allows users to create a designated folder on each of their computers or digital devices which is then synchronized so that it appears as the same folder regardless of the device it’s viewed on”.
The Dropbox online tutorial describes this tool as: “Your life’s work wherever you are”.
Dropbox is a free online service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. This means that any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox website. Dropbox also makes it super easy to share with others, whether you’re a student or professional, parent or grandparent….People around the world rely on Dropbox to help them design buildings, compose music, run businesses, write books and even coordinate disaster relief. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a teacher, a photographer or an astronomer, an artist or an activist, Dropbox simplifies your life”.
Online access to this cross platform tool is simple and the installation process is easy to follow. The Dropbox site provides a video describing the use and benefits of this tool and the base free offering provides 2GB of storage space. If you refer others to subscribe to Dropbox you earn additional 250MB free space every time.
Prior to choosing this Web 2.0 tool for this assignment I hadn’t tried Dropbox. In the process of learning enough about it to describe it, I’ve successfully set it up on both my lap top and smartphone and have instant access to our SAR organizations files. I plan to become more facile with Dropbox and make it my default file sharing tool.

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