Monday, March 20, 2023

Flipped learning - does it work?

 Edsurge summarises and comments on a meta-analysis of how well flipped learning works. 

The study discovered that there were many versions of 'flipped learning' and in the main, there was little shift in pedagogy. Instead, especially in higher education, students watched a videoed lecture and when in-class sessions occurred, were subjected to another lecture!! Even when 'active learning' was undertaken, the learning outcomes did not eventuate, mainly due lecturers not 'closing the loop' to ensure learners had engaged with and learnt the material.

The article's title, summarises recommendations "Fail, flip, fix and feed' that is, there is a need for 'flipped learning' to allow students to 'test their learning, obtain feedback and learn, before moving on to the next concept.

An important article to read, digest, understand and apply to learning design. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Ai and what it does to our critical thinking

 A cartoon on Planet Warriors sparked this blog post. The cartoon shows pedestrains, all concentrating on their phones whilst on the side, two robots read and learn. The cartoon reinforces contemporary life (see 2017 article by NY Times 'Hooked on our Smartphones) whereby people check their phones over 100 times a day and live a life which revolves interacting with the various messages and items delivered to their phones.

With the ascendency of AI and the present hype around platforms exampled by ChatGPT, it is important to understand the many challenges still faced by AI to 'replace' the essence of humanness. In particular, the ways individuals, with their knowledge-bases collated through life experience and how they comprehend and apply 'research' off the internet to their daily lives (see this techradar commentary for one example). Almost a decade ago, I read Matthew Crawford's book - The world beyond your head - (see here for overview) warning about how the distractions available and bombarding us through various media, creates a barrier for us to have time to reflect, ruminate, and think. The concepts in the book are even more relevant now, as we need to be even more cognisant of what we read, hear and see.

Critical thinking is now, more important than ever. Leveraging off AI is one way to draw on the advantages presented, but with the caveat of always carefully evaluating information presented to us through contemporary media. Cult of Pedagogy  recommends the use of ChatGPT as an 'example machine' to help students learn how to critique information gleaned off the internet. Instead of relying on AI to generate content for completing assignments etc. teachers should use AI to generate various versions of content, and use this to help students learn how to evaluate/judge what is valid and the quality of writing. This approach helps learners to contrast and compare 'good' and 'poor' writing helping them discern 'truth', accuracy of information, track back on assertions to locate collaborating references, learn how to write within disciplinary genres, and attain critical thinking skills which can be generalised to other aspects of their learning.

As usual, it is not the tool to be blamed but how we use the tool which is the important aspect to follow through. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Professor Laura Czerniewicz on digital equity and education for the greater good

 Today, two presentations by Professor Laura Czerniewicz from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT), University of Cape Town, South Africa at the University of Canterbury's Digital Education Futures Lab.

The first is on the topic of Digital inequality in Higher Education -"Problemising digital inequality"

Worked on the topic for many years but the challenge still remains.

Began by asking  ‘what does the digital divide make you think of?

Saw the book - Inequality – A NZ crisis and wondered why, compared to South Africa the issue of inequality is challenging many countries including ones perceived to be egalitarian.

Digital equality is not simple. Access to electricity is not availed to all the world’s people. Connectivity is ubiquitous in urban areas but not so in rural areas. There is a 30,000% difference between the cheapest data and the most expensive. The affordability gap and value-for-money gap is large.

Therefore, digital inequalities are inseparable from social inequalities, technology and inequality are multifaceted, intersects with postdigital datified society and is fluid and emergent.

Summarised the shift from analogue to digital, networked digital and SMART (self-monitoring, analysis and reporting technology).

In general level one digital divide is access to digital devices, then to digital skills and then level 3 whereby the ways lack of access accentuates when 1 and 2 are unavailable.

There are always aspects and challenges of use, participation, benefit, sovereignty, agency and transparency. For many, there is no choice and poor access to information on what platforms / tools they are required to engage with. The pandemic exposed many social inequalities in education and the digital divide. The risks are playing out unevenly and deepen the divides.

Summarised what can educators do to address digital inequalities, through formal/informal and/or individual/group activities. Research is one way to find out what can be done.

Introduced a toolkit to help study digital inequality.

-          For access – Resource Appropriation Theory

-          Theory of practice – Bourdieu – forms of capital

-          Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT)

        Critical pedagogy and digital liberation

2) Her second presentation in the evening was more academic covering the genesis, direction, and overview of a book she is currently working on titled ' Higher Education for Good'.

Set the scene with a check in on how people have experienced the last few years. A variety of responses reinforced her view of the pandemic as ‘the same storm’ but with countries and individuals being on ‘different boats’.

Overall, many in the world have the perspective of a world being in crisis and these are leading to austerity, deepening inequalities, surveillance capitalism, rising authorianism, war, ongoing stability, and multiple challenges and uncertainty within HE.

Shared the need to be more optimistic and to use the opportunities presented. Worked through and wrote the book edited by Catherine Cronin and herself.

Five sections in the book – finding fortitude and hope; making sense of the unknown and emergent; considering alternatives; making change through teaching, assessments and learning design; and remaking HE. Chapters across various genres with critical reflections, poems, conceptual essays, visual/audio dialogue, graphics and artwork. 

While working on the book, also discussed ‘a manifesto for HE for good’ consisting of the following principles:

-          Name and analyse the troubles – need to understand the negatives so as to work toward solutions. Naming and understanding provides power and agency to address them. Check work of Achille Mbembe. Discussed how datafication and surveillance capitalism in HE is often invisible from users. Leading to datafication as a form of coloniality, whereby profit is made, natural resources are exploited, all made on a promise of progress and improvement. 

-          Challenge assumptions and resist hegemonies – reiterated the need to recentre by bringing voices and views from the margins; crossing the borders (geographical, disciplinary, status, genre)[; and challenge the dominant perspectives and views. Encouraged puriversal knowledge in practice by ensuring citations which are diverse and inclusive, otherwise we miss valuable perspectives.

-          Make claims for just, humane, and globally sustainable HE – need to claim and grow theory for good. What is public, social, common good? We need to make claims for regulatory frameworks which support for the good of all. Where does the data collected, for example by various learning platforms going? Who is gleaning the data and what is it being used for!!

-          Courage to imagine and sharing – “Imagination is about remaining human” – Ursula le Guin. We need to imagine a more egalitarian, less extractive world which is supportive of all. Recommended reading some speculative fiction – Ursula le Guin’s the left had of darkness; Tade Thompson’s Rosewater and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The ministry for the future. Also to explore the work on socio-techno-eco futures.

-     - Imagine alternative HE futures – Used Keri Facer’s black elephant (what is being ignored?); the pink swan (outlandish and invisible); and the rainbow jellyfish (everyday and potentially transformative) as a way to envisage and make positive changes here and now. Changes can occur as a ‘shock’ or in small steps leading to a ’slide’. Encouraged us to be ‘streams that become rivers’ 😊

Referenced ‘Utopia for Realists’ by Rutger Bregman on – ‘how we can build the ideal world’ and the need to be ready for change. Stressed the need for communality and coalitions as a way forward.

 A thought provoking presentation followed by interesting Q & A.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Professor Thomas Deissinger - University of Konstanz on

 Professor Thomas Deissinger from University of Konstanz in Germany, is in Aotearoa NZ to look into the NZ VET system, especially post- RoVE. Today, he visited Ara and provided Te Pūkenga kaimahi (people) with an overview of the German VET system. 

Professor Deissinger's visit comes near the end of his travels to Australia (Brisbane, Adelaide) and Aotearoa (Wellington and Christchurch). His research includes study of anglophone VET systems in the UK, Canada and Australia and Aotearoa is now being added to his sphere of research.

I met Professor Deissinger at several of the INAP (Innovative Apprenticeship) conferences and it always good to be able to touch base f2f with someone who is researching in a similar area. 

Notes taken at the presentation this afternoon:

Covered the German VET context; Teacher Education in VET and the University of Konstanz context.

Summarised the German Education and how VET fits into the overall scheme of things. Highlighted different pathways learners may progress through. There are 1.26 million young people in 2021 who undertook apprenticeship through the dual system.

There has been a decline of demand for apprenticeships from school-leavers. Companies and vocational part-time schools train young people in 324 different occupations. Summarised characteristics of the dual system. 'Chambers' of industry bodies are supervising bodies for in-company training. There is no direct progression to HE. Teachers and trainers have formal qualifications. Trainers qualifications are supervised by the chambers.

Described the 5 'sub-systems' of school-based VET and then detailed the various types of vocational teachers - Master / degree in teaching and discipline, other disciplines degree, technical teachers, side entry from employment with degree in discipline. 

For 'scientific teachers' (the ideal) 5 years to complete Master degree, proof of practical work experience (as apprenticeship) and passing a state exam after 18 months of initial teaching. 

In general, students have one major or two in their discipline degree, take on 'seminars' for training and further education (pedagogical knowledge), then 2nd phase of 18 months of internship (teaching 11 lessons instead of 25 a week) before taking the state exams.

Monday, February 27, 2023

ChatGPT and assessments

 One of the main challenges facing educators when digital tools can be used for a host of writing tasks, is that of assessments. How can the integrity of assessments be safeguarded when students are able to use nefarious means to complete their assessments.

Over the last two months, there have been a large number of articles discussing the issue. 

- FENews proposes the use of a variety of question types, effective proctoring systems and different testing types e.g. using oral presentations or practice-based assessments instead of written exams.

- The conversation advices the need to rethink assessments. In particular, to ensure they are authentic i.e. connected to personal context or the course specific material. Project-based, group and inquiry/problem based learning are recommended.

- recommends that educators trust their students and to take on the possibility of discussing with students, the pros and cons of using AI to augment, or scaffold their work.

- Pulse in the context of teacher education reminds us that learning is a process, not a product or artefact. Hence authentic assessments are the way to go.

- uts provides good ideas on how students and teachers can draw on AI to support their work. Good ideas include asking students to use ChatGPT to generate a response to the assessment and then set up the criteria to critique the response and provide feedback to improve on it. 

In all, it is important to include context into assignments and to ensure students take ownership and responsibility for their learning. AI in the form of Chatbots able to provide responses which mimic those of humans, are here to stay. They will also improve rapidly as they learn from the feedback to responses provide by users. Therefore, it is important to ensure educators understand the implications and work through the consequences. The opportunity is now provisioned to improve learning and assessment processes, so that assessments are for learning and not of learning. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Awkward intelligence - where AI goes wrong, why it matters and what can we do about it

 This book by Professor Katherina A. Zweig provides an overview of AI, especially on the caveats of depending on its outputs and the need for ethics when drawing on AI as a collated / sifter / decision maker.

Of note is an explanation of the computer science behind the algorithms which underlie AI. This is of especial importance as new generations of AI, exampled by ChatGPT and the incorporation of this technology into search engines - see the article by the Guardian on Google and Microsoft's swift moves into integrating AI. The main caution is that the algorithms governing how AI generates it's outputs, are far from perfect. Decisions made on outputs from prompts entered into the system contain bias, as the outputs are only as good as the data from which the outputs generated are made.

The argument in the book is that AI may be best for situations where things are 'black and white' eg. as in playing chess or go. Given the inherent fuzziness of the human condition and the greyness / continuums of things for may situations, AI may not be able to respond authentically, ethically or creatively to challenges which do not have clear cut answers. 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Innovative approaches to Technology-enhanced learning for workplace and higher education

 This is a compilation of papers from the 'Learning ideass' conference held in 2022. The proceedings are edited by D, Guralnick, M. A. Auer, and A. Poce ad published as a book by Springer. 

There are 56 papers. The bulk of the papers come from the conference's main stream with 4 - 5 papers in two special tracks - emotional approaches and inclusive learning. 

Abstracts and references are available for all the papers. Several papers of interest to dip in and out of.