American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado - May 2010
I was very privileged to attend the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference in Denver, Colorado from April 29th to May 4, 2010. I had an opportunity to present a paper on Exploring the Connection Between Student Engagement and Technology-Enhanced Assessment Practices that Jim Zimmer and I have been working on for the past couple of years as well as a paper on Revisiting the Graduate Seminar Through Blended Online Learning with Mike Power from Laval University and his graduate student Annie from Dalhousie University. I also chaired a few roundtable sessions that were definitely a time-keeping challenge :)
A few themes that I took away from the conference included the need to:
- Re-frame my EDUC2325 course to focus on digital literacies (e.g. reading, writing, and calcuting) rather than just on the technology of the "day"
- Learn more about a participatory approach to assessment
- Start reading and investigating how social networking systems (SNS) impact students' "identity formation" (in and out of cyberspace)
In his keynote presentation for the Technology as an Agent of Change for Teaching and Learning (TACTL) Allan indicated that there have been three eras of education in the United States1) Apprenticeship – personal, resource intensive, and engaging
2) Schooling – mass oriented, efficient, and bureaucratic
3) Life-long learning – customized, highly interactive, and learner-controlled
He indicated that each era had the following characteristics:
- Responsibility:1) parents – 2) state – 3) individuals
- Content: 1) practical skills/literacy – 2) basic skills/disciplines – 3) learning to learn/generic skills
- Pedagogy: 1) apprenticeship – 2) didacticism – 3) interaction
- Assessment: 1) observation – 2) testing – 3) embedded (assessment for learning)
- Location: 1) home – 2) school – 3) wherever you are
And, Allan suggests that we need to rethink learning in schools
- Not just: How can we improve schools? but to also include new questions:
- How can we develop games to teach mathematical reasoning?
- How can we make learning technology resources available to more people?
- What kind of tools can support people to learn on their own?
The other highlight of the conference for me was a panel presentation on Web 2.0: Research Issues, Results and Future Directions. This panel was composed of Chris Dede, Harvard, Daniel Hickey, Indiana, Diane Jass Ketelhut, Temple, Donald Leu, University of Connecticut.
Chris discussed how technologies can be used to generate knowledge and possibly wisdom. He describes five dimensions of wisdom:1) cognitive (type of knowledge)
2) practical-experiential (type of knowledge)
3) inter-personal (beyond knowledge)
4) ethical (beyond knowledge)
5) meta-cognition (type of knowledge)
Dan presented the concept of participatory assessment by design – a process of alignment with intended learning outcomes and increasingly formal representations of knowledge. He has developed five stages of participatory assessment:1) Informal – artifact – reflection
2) Information – activity – reflection
3) Semi-formal – artifact – reflection
4) Formal assessment guidelines
5) Very formal testing guidelines
Diane spoke about how immersive virtual environments can be an agent of change by facilitating the development of identity. Other have suggested that we can possess different “virtual” and “physical” identities and online there is exists the potential for us to have multiple identities.
Finally, Don wrapped up the session with a very provocative presentation that suggested the Internet is a reading comprehension issue, not a technology issue. His New Literacies Research Team have developed a series of Online Reading Comprehension Assessments (ORCA) to help students develop online reading comprehension that is very different than “offline” reading. He is concerned that the “literacy divide” is growing and that it’s important to “re-frame” the Internet as an issue that teachers feel passionate and responsible for (e.g., literacy).
I'm already looking forward to the AERA 2011 conference in New Orleans!!