Tuesday, 6 July 2010

H800: Weeks 21 & 22: A1 a & b: Reading Conole (2009)

Read the first half of the chapter by Conole, 'Stepping over the edge: the implications of new technologies for education'; just up to the section entitled 'Making sense of the complexity'.

I found the first part of the paper a little tedious, since it essentially presented points which have been made adequately elsewhere, though I accept that this was necessary to 'set the scene'. The examples of the use of Web 2.0 in Table 2 were rather irritating as some of the web addresses were either wrong or the material no longer existed. Furthermore, those links which did work were basically not very interesting.

I thought Table 3 (characteristics of new technologies) provided quite a good summary of the positive and negative impacts of various aspects of Web 2.0.

From around Page 9 onwards, the paper presents some very interesting points, and I felt that the issues raised were very relevant to my own experience in a University department where the 'take-up' of new technologies varies considerably between different members of staff. In particular, I found the following points significant:

  • (p9) The suggestion that students have become used to "small, bite-size chunks of information" and that they learn through "experiential interaction rather than through guided, step-by-step instruction".
  • (p10) Teachers have little incentive to explore new technologies because of other demands on their time, particularly the expectation to conduct research. Research is privileged over teaching, so applying new technologies is low priority.
  • (p10) There is a "disjuncture between student use of technologies and academic use".
  • (p10) Some academics feel intimidated by the possibility that new technologies will "require a fundamental change in their role as teacher and associated loss of authority"
  • (p10) Those academics who are enthusiastic about new technologies struggle to convince colleagues and find themselves up against "outdated arguments" which relate to the way things used to be.

I can relate strongly to all of those points, and I was looking forward to reading the rest of the paper to discover suggestions as to how they might be addressed. Unfortunately, having just had a quick glance at the second half of the paper, I have realised that the paper proposes Cloudworks and Compendium as ways of 'making sense' of the complexity. Sadly, neither of these tools really 'do it' for me, so I'm a little disappointed.

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