Workshop C - The Actors (Synopsis & Presentations)

Social media, blogging, streaming, twittering etc. have been discussed as inevitable innovative elements in science awareness programms, outreach and widening participation for quite a while now. The intention is that they would bring science closer to everyday life of children and young people, make science communication more attractive and better matched with the self-evident media culture of present-day adolescents. But how is the role of educators and lecturers being affected? What skills do they need and how can they be supported by their institutions to cope with the pace of change?

This subject-matters of the workshop were dealt with on two half days, of which the first was dedicated to a “looking outwards” - which included input from experts and their research, analysis and reflections on the subject – to mark the corner points of the landscape of social media, generally and in technology enhanced learning: Video lectures of Jane McGonigal (about serous gaming to solve real world problems), Eli Pariser (about the selectivity of information supply and partial knowledge because of increasingly personalized search engine algorithms) or Sherry Turkle (about the alienating element of social networking) opened up the floor - in a somewhat controversial manner - for broad ranging discussion.

The 2nd day of the workshop was “looking inwards” and examining the central questions about educators in technology enhanced learning environments. How is their role being affected?
A many-faceted discussion developed - with various insights in the particular professional expertise of participants. However, there was wide consensus that the overlapping of private and professional life may be challenging – also because of permanent online access to bits of education, independent of time and location. Aspects of socialization were being discussed and the importance of physically meeting of people – so school and universities will still exist as buildings, but with flipped classrooms and shared activities. There is still the issue of democratization vs. actual access, which means that there is the tendency towards equitable access to online resources and equipment – but still limits of inclusion remain! Another issue re. roles of educators was discussed passionately: How they can they (still?) be reliable, authentic role models in a dynamic digital age? This goes far beyond being an ideal user in face of aspects of intellectual property and plagiarism, the ability of critical thinking and filtering or the fact that content creation becomes even more important than mere consumption! The point is: Teachers could model their own behavior as learners, as increasingly everybody in the internet space is a learner! In fact there is an impact on the relationship between teacher and student, which may be of tremendous relevance – a paradigm shift – if considered earnestly, and this also affects the required skills of educators: Besides technical skills (which are relative to teachers needs) and analytical skills they more and more need the political (and democratic) skills to move of power away from centralized view of knowledge to more democratic way of educating. Based on this was the debate on democratisation and autonomy vs. authority – and what it means to take the position of authority out of the learning, rather than to develop confidence in children and to make them belief in their own abilities. This is even more important in technology enhanced learning, as children can tell educators a lot about technology – so technology makes us fundamentally challenged what the “traditional” rules in educational settings are! Consequently, all four pillars of education are affected by issues of technology enhanced education and must be re-interpreted for this particular demand: In many cases, aspects of the “Learning to know” (or “learning to learn” as the metacognitive focus) are the starting point of the ICT debate in education as the 1st pillar. However, aspects of socialization (of how we interact and live together), of constructivism and the ontological aspects of how children construct their identities online, are even more relevant – and this must be considered in teacher training programs for technology driven spheres of education.

As a basic conclusion of the workshop, wide consensus was achieved that – and all the discussion in the workshop was a prove by practice – that the discourse has returned to an educational focus rather than a technological one, which is different than some years ago. So even when talking about “Technucation”, the focus remains on human relationships.

Workshop A - Presentation Wallace

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world (TED Talks)

Eli Pariser Beware online "filter bubbles" (TED Talks)

Sherry Turkle Alone Together (TED Talks)

Mike Matas A next-generation digital book (TED Talks)

What Albin Wallace said after the conference:
(source:Coherent of the Inchoate)

Technucation (Joint SiS Catalyst/EUCU conference in Porto, Portugal)

Posted on December 3, 2012

Last week I attended the joint Science in Society Catalyst/ European Union Children’s Universities conference in Porto, Portugal. The SiS Catalyst Declaration reflects the societal relevance of theapproach: changes in external demands,  conditions, policies etc. were taken into consideration within refined versions of the declaration during four conferences between 2011-2014. As a project vision this shall trigger external change in society. I was therefore pleased to play an active part in the development of the “New Technologies – Opportunities and Challenges for Science in Society Activities” Declaration of Porto. The workshop I conducted was on ‘The Actors’; children educators and policy makers.

Social media, interactive online content, blogging, streaming, twittering etc.  have been discussed as inevitable innovative elements in science awareness  programms, outreach and widening participation initiatives – Science in Society  activities in the widest sense – for quite a while now. The intention is that  they would bring science closer to everyday life of children and young people,  make science communication more attractive and better matched with the  self-evident and “natural” media culture of present-day adolescents. Despite the pros and cons and the (assumed or real) added value of social networks and  interactive media – how is the role of educators and lecturers being affected,  and of those organising such programs? The use of technology is already changing  the paradigms of learning and teaching – so how can educators and explainers  still be reliable, authentic role models for those how are “digital natives” ( a phrase I loathe)  already? What skills do they need and how can they be supported by their  institutions to cope with the pace of change? Or is this all individual  commitment? And in the longer run, what will be the impact on teaching at higher  education institutions in anticipation of new generations of students? Or will  technology just revamp old learning schemes? My workshop addressed education and outreach program mangers as well as educators and explainers in  science communication and train-the-trainer” practitioners. It will included some  examples from practice, as well as strategies and techniques to enhance teaching  and communicating science. Eventually, a requirement profile for educators and explainers was drafted, to enable institutions and individuals to estimate  the demand for training development. “What we do need is someone to persuade us  that we want to learn those things, and someone to push us or encourage us or  create a space where we want to learn to do them better.” (Seth Godin, “Stop  stealing Dreams Manifesto”)

List of useful links of related resources:

  1. Handbook of social media for researchers and supervisors (Shailey Minocha & Marian Petre)
  2. Science@Microsoft - The Fourth Paradigm in Practice Book (ed. Tony Hey, David Heckerman, Stephen Emmott)
  3. The Use of Social Networking in Education: Challenges and Opportunities (by Ashraf Jalal Yousef Zaidieh; ICT, collage of information and communication technology, IIUM
    KL, Malaysia)
  4. Using the technology of today, in the classroom today (Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, Jennifer Groff, Jason Haas)
  5. USGS Education Resources for Teachers

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