The Practice of Learning

“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water.” -Loris Malaguzzi

Tag: Assignment 2

Climate Action in An Artificial Age

Another Black Friday comes and goes and with it more rallies against climate change (Nov 29th Climate Rally Vancouver). Before embarking on my final reflections for EDCI: Interactive and MultImedia Learning, I couldn’t help but take a moment to ponder over the correlation between digital technology and the environment …

Over the last several decades, life has become more and more entangled with digital technology: mobile “smart” technologies have become essential appendages for work, learning, and leisure (European Commission, 2013), while the production of such technology and the data linked to it, which is often perceived as floating in cyber space, impart serious consequences to the environment. All of which causes me to question: Should/can/will technology be essential for life in the future?

It seems to me that there are two conflicting movements happening simultaneously: (1) a call for action against industry giants from all sectors and a movement to create more sustainable locally focused communities, and (2) a motion for the development of new learning practices and environments that will prepare learners for life in a global, digitized world.

Image by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels

From the articles and research I encountered throughout Interactive and Multimedia Learning, it is clear many authors agree that  “there is an urgent need for populations to develop the skills and knowledge required to navigate a complex technological world.” (Marsh et al., 2017) I do not disagree with those who advocate for more and better quality digital literacy education. I do wonder, however, how continuing to incorporate technology into education, especially when it is simply substituted in for another material, will increase our reliance on it and the rate at which it is being manufactured.

The below TedTalk with Leyla Acaroglu presents a refreshing perspective on sustainability. Her thoughts on how to determine the environmental impact of the materials we use and what we choose to consume are especially eye-opening. Take a look:

If digital technology cannot be left out of education then how can educators present it in a way that ignites critical thinking, creativity, and sustainability?

That’s all for now.

Thank you for reading and happy pondering,

EJ

Up next… Final reflective post for EDCI: Interactive and Multimedia Learning

 

References

Acaroglu, L. (2013)  Paper beats plastic? How to rethink environmental folklore [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks

European Commission (2013). DigComp: The digital competence framework for citizens. The Conceptual Reference Model. Luxembourg: European Commission.

European Commission. (2013). Survey of schools: ICT in education. Benchmarking Access, Use and Attitudes to Technology in Europe’s Schools. Luxembourg: European Commission.

Marsh, J., Kumpulainen, K., Nisha, B., Velicu, A., Blum-Ross, A., Hyatt, D., Jónsdóttir, S.R., Levy, R., Little, S., Marusteru, G., Ólafsdóttir, M.E., Sandvik, K., Scott, F., Thestrup, K.,Arnseth, H.C., Dýrfjörð, K., Jornet, A., Kjartansdóttir, S.H., Pahl, K., Pétursdóttir, S. and Thorsteinsson, G. (2017) Makerspaces in the Early Years: A Literature Review. University of Sheffield: MakEY Project.

Protected: Looking Past Complications and Concerns: Pedagogical Practice Related to Digital Literacy for the Early Years

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Reframing My Thoughts: Are Frameworks and Philosophies Merely “Slow to React”?

Before I venture further into my inquiry, specifically the “maker movement” and the MakEY Project, I would like to take a moment to reframe and reconsider my thinking thus far.  I took a moment to step back, read, and leave room for learning. I discovered that perhaps I needed to look at why, rather than how, digital technology is being addressed by both the BC Early Learning Frameworks and the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Learning.

The first article that altered my focus came in the form of an occasional paper on digital media and learning by Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, and Robison (2006), entitled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. I drew an immediate connection from the following excerpt to the frameworks and philosophy I had examined prior:

“Schools as institutions have been slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture […] programs must devote more attention to fostering what we call the new media literacies:” -Jenkins et al., 2009

Jenkins et al. (2006) presented two new terms in their report: Participatory Culture and New Media Literacies. Jenkins explains participatory culture and his concerns about education in the following video:

Jenkins et al. (2006) pointed to a growing body of research that suggested that the various forms of participatory culture undertaken by young people outside of school have the potential to generate: “opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a[n…] empowered conception of citizenship” (Jenkins et al., 2006). They also highlighted the fact that many scholars believed that children and youth developed such skills regardless of pedagogical interventions. However, Jenkins et al. believed that three concerns denoted the nescesity for curriculums focused on helping students develop the skills needed to fully participate in, and contribute to, online communities. The three concerns were:

  • The Participation Gap — the unequal access to the opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge that will prepare youth for full participation in the world of tomorrow.
  • The Transparency Problem — The challenges young people face in learning to see clearly the ways that media shape perceptions of the world.
  • The Ethics Challenge — The breakdown of traditional forms of professional training and socialization that might prepare young people for their increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants.

Consequently, a central focus of their work aimed to draw attention away from considerations regarding technological access towards opportunities in teaching and learning associated with participating in a digital realm (Jenkins et al, 2006). Unlike the BC Early Learning Curriculums, the primary recommendation by Jenkins et al. (2006) was that an effective pedagogical strategy be developed specifically for media education. However, while reading the report presented by Jenkins et al. (2006), I couldn’t help but notice how many of the New Media Literacies naturally flow into the expectations for deep learning explicated in BC’s New Curriculum (2019) and are instinctively touched on in an approach such as Reggio Emilia.

The three Core Competencies of BC’s New Curriclum are “Thinking (creative,critical), Communication, and Personal and Social”. According the Curriculum Orientation Guide, the Core Competencies are groupings of abilities that learners should develop in order to take part in deep learning. The Competencies should be evident and used when learners are engrossed in “doing” in any area of learning (BC’s New Curriculum, 2019). Consequently, if digital technology is considered an area of learning then learners should be interacting with it in accordance with the Core Competencies and engaging in deep learning.

Similarly, the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Learning aims to engage children in rich learning experiences. Reggio invites children to engage in an area of learning holistically: by offering many different modes, presenting an assortment of tools and mediums, incorporating various locations and perspectives, by avoiding timelines, and by actively listening. However, unlike BC’s New Curriculum, Reggio Emilia centres follow an emergent curriculum. Though there may be a shared “intent” amongst several centres, “hypotheses” (focus of learning) are generally constructed by a community of learners based on observations of the needs, skills, values, interests, and challenges of a specific group of children. Below is the Reggio inspired curriculum pathway we follow at our centres:

In my previous post, I voiced the opinion that digital technology often rests on the periphery of the deep learning that takes place within the Reggio Emilia approach. However, as Apler (2011) suggests in her work, Developmentally appropriate New Media Literacies: Supporting cultural competencies and social skills in early childhood education, several of the New Media Literacies described by Jenkins et al. are already “reflected in the interplay between digital and non-digital media within Reggio Emilia-inspired teaching and learning” (Alper, 2011). In addition, if digital literacy happened to be a core component of an “intent” or “hypothesis” within a Reggio program, it would be approached with an aim to generate digital fluency.

Again, similarly, if BC educators regard digital literacy as pivotal knowledge for their learners than their learners should be thinking creatively and critically with and about it, they should be connecting, engaging, and collaborating with their peers through and with it, and they should be considering their personal well-being and the well beings of others with and in connection with it. However, as I highlighted in my post BC’s Stance on Digital Technology in Early Years Education digital technology is not explicitly outlined as an area of learning in either BC’s Early Learning Framework or in BC’s New Curriculum (K-5).

Therefore, perhaps BC’s Curricula and the Reggio Emilia approach are not so dissimilar with regard to their position on digital technology. Possibly, institutions within both locations are simply “slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture” (Jenkins et al., 2006). It seems clear that neither BC, nor Reggio Emilia, Italy consider digital literacy imperative for their young learners.

However, BC educator, Alison Galloway, also recognized the similarities between BC and Reggio Emilia, Italy, specifically with regard to BC’s movement towards a more child-centred approach to learning (Galloway, 2015). Drawing inspiration from the Reggio Emilia approach, BC’s education plan, and the “maker movement”, Galloway (2015) created a learning environment capable of generating rich teaching and learning experiences connected to digital technology.

In addition, in her MEd Project entitled Bringing a Reggio Emilia inspired approach up the grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement, Galloway (2015) critically examined many of the same aspects of education as Jenkins et al. (2006). Galloway advocated for education that focuses on competency and values students’ voice and choice (Galloway, 2015), while Jenkins et al. promoted education that treats young people as citizens deserving of the skills necessary to become valued as such (Jenkins et al., 2006). Galloway wrote:

“If, as educators, we want children to be inventive and resourceful, we need to provide opportunities for open-ended learning that challenges students to come up with their own questions and solutions.” – Galloway, 2015

Still, Galloway’s (2015) research did not specifically focus on digital literacy, rather it outlined the potential value for teaching and learning generated within a Reggio Emilia inspired “Makerspace”.

It is my intent, however, to highlight the fact that the literature I have encountered with regard to the “maker movement” explicitly highlights the value of the approach in contributing to digital fluency or “critical literacy”.

Until next time,

EJ

References

Alper, M. (2013). Developmentally appropriate new media literacies: Supporting cultural competencies and social skills in early childhood education. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13(2), 175-196. doi:10.1177/1468798411430101

Jenkins, H (2006). Confronting the challenges of Participatory Culture: Media education for the 21st century. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Chicago, IL. Retrieved from  http://www.oapen.org/download/?type=document&docid=1004003

Galloway, A. (2015). A reggio emilia inspired maker space. Retrieved from http://reggioinspiredmakerspace.weebly.com/reggio-emilia-background.html

Galloway, A. (2015). Bringing a reggio emilia inspired approach into higher grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement. MEd Projects (Curriculum and Instruction): University of Victoria, BC.

Ministry of Education (2015). BC’s new curriculum. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca

Ministry of Education (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Victoria, B.C. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

Digital vs. Analog. In Person vs. Online. Inconceivable in Application or in Education?

My first encounter with Dr. Puentedura’s (SAMR) model came from the YouTube video posted below. Initially, Puentedura’s model led to personal feelings of insecurity with regard to the type of digital technology used in my practice. Rarely, if ever, have I attempted to use digital technology beyond its most basic application.

Pondering over ideas presented in the video, I couldn’t help but draw a connection between my initial feelings of cluelessness in EDCI: Multimedia Learning and Technology and the basic, outdated, and often limiting version of digital technology present in my Early Learning environments. I started to wonder: Perhaps I am not well versed enough in the capabilities of modern digital technology to be including it in my pedagogy? However, after more carefully considering some of the statements made in the video and reading a critical review of the (SAMR) model by Hamilton, Rosenberg, and Akcaoglu (2016), my feelings about my personal practice tranformed into critical notions regarding Puentedura’s model.

The critical review  presented by Hamilton et al. (2016) broke down Puentedura’s (SAMR) model into what they considered to be three challenges: (1) Absence of Context, (2) Rigid Structure, and (3) Product Over Process. However, the common criticism presented throughout their review suggested that the (SAMR) model undercuts the complexity in teaching and learning (Hamiliton et al., 2016). According to Hamilton et al., (SAMR) disregarded the complexity present in the learning settings within which technology is introduced, overlooked the variance in pedagogies by confining technology integration to four specific categories, and excluded the intricacies connected to the process of learning about technology by placing significant importance on the type of technology that is used (Hamilton et al., 2016).

While I agree that the (SAMR) model, in general, oversimplifies the process of technology integration in education, I found the steps of the (SAMR) ladder [model below] especially misleading.

In their critical review, Hamiliton et al. (2016) highlighted the fact that the (SAMR) steps oppose research that suggested that enhanced learning outcomes were more dependent on teacher and student interaction rather than the type of technology used.  The (SAMR) model assumes that using technology in “redefined” or “modified” ways will generated improved learning outcomes. However, research suggests that classroom practices and teacher pedagogy play a more significant role in the level of learning comprehension (Hamiliton et al., 2016).

I also find the language used in the description of the (SAMR) steps misleading. The notion that specific digital technology can allow for “significant task redesign” or the “creation of a new, previously inconceivable task” is entirely subjective. The following examples can all be understood as subsitutions with “no functional change”: an in-class drama exchanged for a digital video recording, in-class discussions and peer editing switched out for a Google Doc, or small writing groups replaced by individual Blogs. Instead, one might consider an interactive, 3D computer simulation substituted in for a 2D diagram as redesigning educators roles in teaching rather than transforming student tasks.

Like much of what I have read about digital technology in Early Years education so far, the (SAMR) model focuses on how to best incorporate digital technology in one’s current educational practice or how to best use it in said practice, rather than ‘why’ use it at all. There appears to be an absence of literature, and examples from pedagogy (including my own), that explores teaching and learning technology holistically.

In my next few posts I will examine technology in my own classroom, the Maker Movement, more European pedogogies, and Henry Jenkins’ approach to “New Media Education”, in the hopes of better understanding how to educate on, rather than incorporate in, digital technology.

Until Next Time,

EJ

 

References

Hamilton, E. R., Rosenberg, J. M., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model: A critical review and suggestions for its use. Techtrends, 60(5), 433-441. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0091-y

Spencer, J. (2015, Nov 3). What is the SAMR model and what does it look like in schools? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtube/SC5ARwUkVQg

 

 

Transformative in Teaching and Learning: An Introduction to Technology in the Reggio Emilia Approach

Though British Columbia has not developed a unified perspective on digital technology within early childhood education, the Early Learning educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy have long since agreed that technology can be transformative in their teaching-learning environments.

If you are not familiar with the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood Education it refers to a philosophy of education that epitomizes the pedagogical practices exhibited in the Early Learning centres of the town of Reggio Emilia, in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. The single philosophy of education that exists in Reggio Emilia today stems from years of collaborative effort, community involvement, and protests for political change (Edwards et al, 2011).

After first school in Reggio Emilia opened its doors in 1946, parents and educators, including Emilia Romagna native Loris Malaguzzi, spent the next twenty years fighting for greater, more abundant early childhood education (Edwards et al, 2011). In the midst of completing his educational degree, Malaguzzi offered his services to the women involved in the construction of the first Reggio school (Edwards et al, 2011) and went on to play a significant role in the evolution of the schools. He drew inspiration from thinkers such as Lev Vygotsky, John Dewey, David Hawkins, and Erik Erikson, and provided insight and leadership as the new schools developed their own philosophies (Fraser, 2012, p. 5; Gandini, 2008). By 1971 there were government-sponsored preschools and infant-toddler centres throughout Reggio Emilia (Edwards et al, 2011).

Malaguzzi, parents, and educators collaborated to develop a common image of the child that recognized children as producers rather than consumers of resources,  as well as creative, engaged citizens capable of critical thoughts and actions (Pelo, 2008). Reggio Emilia’s view of the child resulted in a multifaceted, malleable, and collaborative method of teaching.  Observation and documentation become essential in the Reggio approach as they facilitate its core components: emergent curriculum, a high-level of collaboration, and unique, intentional environments.

In Reggio, teachers follow the lead of children, and their families, in order to develop emergent, project-based teaching and learning.  Within the emergent curriculums of the Reggio approach, the outside interests of children and the emergence of new technologies are incorporated rather than looked past or avoided.  As Malaguzzi suggested:

“schools should be continually seeking more and better materials, wider spaces, and suitable structures so as to never fall behind” – Malaguzzi, Spirit of Studio 19

In addition to the above elements, Reggio Emilia educators believe that children have the right to express themselves through whatever modes they choose. In Reggio, multimodality is referred to as children’s 100 languages. Therefore, digital technology is viewed as another medium with which children can express themselves (both literally and figuratively).

A recent post on the Italian website, “Reggio Children” sums up the Reggio Emilia perspective on technology in relation to children’s 100 languages . Scheda atelier writes:

The digital has the potential to transform teaching-learning contexts, offering children’s thoughts and theories new modes of representation, proposing a dimension of culture capable of merging the abstract with the artisanal. Children simultaneously act on plural levels of representation in these digital contexts, exercising for a form of hybrid, integrated, flexible thinking. What we aspire to is a connected and synthetic [from synthesis] form of intelligence, not narrowly discipline-based, but capable of being constructed in the research into meanings, on the borderlines between different languages.

That being said, it is clear that the Reggio Emilia approach does not debate over the potential value or harm of digital technology on young children but rather embraces it as a valuable material for learning. Unlike the Early Years curriculums of British Columbia, the early learning centres of Reggio Emilia have included digital technology in publications for decades.

Thank you for reading. More thoughts, information, and learning to come.

Happy Sunday,

EJ

References

Atelier, S. Reggio children atelier. Retrieved from www.reggiochildren.it

Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (2011). Introduction: Background and starting points. In Langara College (Ed.), Historical, philosophical and cultural influences on early childhood education. (113-134). Vancouver, BC: Langara College

Fraser, S. (2012). Authentic childhood: Experiencing reggio emilia in the classroom. (3rd Ed.) Toronto, ON: Nelson Education Ltd.

Gandini, L., Hill, L. & Schwall, C. (Eds.), In the spirit of the studio. (47-57) New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Pelo, A. (2008) Rethinking early childhood education. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Rethinking Schools Ltd.

Vecchi, V. (2010). Art and creativity in reggio emilia: Exploring the role and potential of ateliers in early childhood education. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.