Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Learning in a Digital World

For me personally, technology has affected my learning -- and for the better -- in so many ways that it is difficult to single out any one factor as the most transformative or important in 21st century education. For, I remain a constructivist and, by extension, I try to make the most of a learning environment based on life experiences, be they in the use of technology or some other instructional tool. However, for the purpose of this blog assignment and the impact of technology on the manner in which I learn in a highly informational and digital world, I credit the learning theories of Piaget (Driscoll, 2005), Vygotsky (Driscoll, 2005), and Gardner (2003) as significant in my ability to understand knowledge derived through cognitive development and multiple intelligences. Saettler (2004) described the 30-year period from the 1950s to the 1980s as pivotal for cognitive science and educational technology because of the focus on “knowledge and constructions” (Saettler, 2004, p.319) for enhanced understanding of what was being taught. While Gardner did not begin shedding light until later in the 20th century on the skills and/or intelligences that I am convinced benefit both a face-to-face learning environment and an online environment, I have no doubt the use of technology has helped to kick my learning and that of my students up a notch – thanks to graphic organizers, conceptualization, connectivisim, and other forms of critical-thinking software in the vast arena of multimedia and digital technology.
Thus, as a constructivist in the realm of learner and educator, who constantly but relentlessly pursues experiential ways of optimal points of learning, a tip of the hat certainly goes to Piaget, Vygotsky, and Gardner, among other constructivists, who have figured prominently in my theoretical learning approach. I also a owe great deal to the pragmatism of Dewey (1938; 1997), whose experiential approach to reform and societal change is often a cornerstone for the kind of solid philosophical and pedagogical foundation I need as an educator to keep my students ahead of the learning curve in a burgeoning digital age. As an educator, Dewey’s theoretical approach to learning, coupled with a firm constructivist philosophy, no doubt have aided greatly in the kind of engagement my students so desperately need to yield desired learning outcomes. It is this learning approach I view as critical and non-negotiable in my pedagogical missions.
Dewey, J. (1938; 1997). Experience and education. New York, NY:  Touchstone.
Driscoll, P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). New York, NY:  Pearson.
Gardner, H. (2003, April). Multiple intelligences after twenty years. Paper presented to the   
           American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from
Saettler, P. (2004). The evolution of American educational technology. Greenwich, CT: 
           Information Age Publishing.
The two following blogs regarding "Learning in a Digital World" are blogs on which I comment for Module 6:

Debbie Morris

Martha Bless


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Technologies

When I worked with a group of gifted and academically talented middle school students several years ago in a journalism and video production class I was teaching, the last thing I expected was to have to worry about motivation. After all, the widely recognized Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (Silverman, 2012) of a minimum 130 IQ score connotes the brightest among the brightest, and from my vantage point as a teacher of the gifted, working with a group of self-starters was tantamount to an educational godsend. Or, so I thought.

Fact is, motivation for these bright overachievers, who were delving into multimedia and digital applications, became front and center for the new technologies that ensued. Certainly, my pedagogical technology mission was in no way a given. Initially, the students seemed a bit hesitant, if not apprehensive, about their journalism and video production semester-long mission, until I OK’d the use of personal iPods and MP3s as part of Apple’s iMovie and iDVD software to assemble and complete their class projects. At the time, their high-profile college preparatory magnet middle school had enacted a ban on the use of personal electronics during the school day, and it was only after a request from me for a special exemption to work on their semester-long video projects that there seemed to be a rebirth of interest – and energy.

While the Keller ARCS Model ( Driscoll, 2005) was not a paradigm for my class video production project, it easily could have been based on my motivational techniques that screamed for a quick strategy to expose a group of high-performing learners to new and emerging technologies while making above-average videos and having fun in the process. But even after fully laying out the objectives and the time table for the mission, the thing that really got the ball rolling – and their attention – was the accepted use of personal electronics to complement Macromedia and Apple’s much-ballyhooed multimedia and digital software, including iTunes and GarageBand, with which the video production class had become so enamored, they literally begged to forego adjacent classes to spend more time in the computer lab to work on various projects.

No question, their personal iPods, MP3s, and in some cases their own digital video cameras, were the prime driver or motivation for the video projects, which went on to receive regional and national distinction. The conditions were certainly right for a class that was encouraged to have limitless creativity through words and pictures. But their videos allowed them to tweak, revise, and collaborate as a unit. I wasn’t wrong about the caliber of student I had in these individual units. They were unquestionably smart and determined self-starters, but they liked the motivation and confidence early-on for challenging video project. Once their hesitancy and apprehensions were jettisoned, their behavior was modified and transformed into a conducive learning environment. Motivation and self-regulation in learning (Driscoll, 2005), in reflecting on this memorable but productive experience, is a fitting model for this kind of pedagogical success.


Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction. (3rd ed.). New York, NY:  Pearson.

Silverman, L. (2012). How to use the new IQ tests in selecting gifted students. Gifted

           Development Center. Retrieved from


URLs for comments on other classmates' "New Technologies" blogs:

Debbie Morris 

Martha Bless

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Please access Connectivism mindmap and reiterative blog through the following link:


As I reflect on connectivism and learning, and the importance of both in a highly technological information age, it seems almost an obligatory tip of the hat to the media and technology pioneers who transformed our lives into a communications-oriented society. For, I no longer have to rely on such static forms of communication such as newspapers, radio, and television to get my news and information. Instead, dynamic forms of communication such as iPads and iPods are literally available at my fingertips, all to help guide my thinking and decision-making in a technology-savvy 21st century for important personal, educational, or business decisions that might call for teleconferencing or satellite communications.

Siemens (Laureate, 2010) couldn’t have been more right in his Connectivism Learning Theory video when he described our world as becoming “increasingly complex” in a highly fragmented information society. I’m a journalist, and as a disseminator of news and information that spans several decades, there are times even when I have to shake my head over today’s access to information and the mind-blowing number of ways there are to get it. Briggle (2009) aptly described our contemporary information society as a metamorphosis from “philosophy of information to the philosophy of information culture.” Boy, wasn’t he on the mark?

Given the number of information outlets today that didn’t exist even a few years ago, it’s not difficult to grasp the enormity of this philosophical transformation. No longer do we have to wait until the next news cycle to determine if our world is safe. Just break out the iPad, smart phone, Blackberry, or satellite radio, and all the news and information that’s consumable is there for the asking. What works best for me, especially in a learning environment, are blogs, wikis, and discussion boards – all important tools for collaboration in a distance education environment. Because students learn from each other, as I have found out as learner and educator, it is instructive to pick up on new knowledge when there is collaborative exchange, knowing others often pose the same questions as I for increased understanding.

But as important as these communication tools are, educationally and otherwise, a connected learning community is still a formidable labyrinth for reform and societal change. It’s the kind of reform Dewey (1938; 1997) advocated nearly a century ago, when education was on the precipice of reform and connectivism was nowhere near the level where it is today. Thanks to technology, mainly computers and portable digital devices, learning communities are assuming a more active role through all the electronic gizmos, which are all aimed to keep a community knowledgeable, connected – and in touch.


Briggle, A. (2009). From the philosophy of information to the philosophy of information culture.
           The Information Society, 25:  169-174. doi:10.1080/01972240902848765
Dewey J. (1938; 1997). Experience and education. New York, NY:  Touchstone.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Connectivism Learning Theory [Program

           Video]. Retrieved from


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Collaboration as a Precipice for Success (Module 3)

As I auditioned the Rheingold (2008) video, a number of things quickly crossed my mind. I thought about Middle-East politics and the volatile but perpetually explosive dilemma facing Israel and the kind of peaceful coexistence it no doubt will eventually take for lasting peace involving its combative geopolitical neighbors. I thought about the Kruger National Wildlife Preserve in South Africa and the challenges hunters face there each day in trying to bring down the Big 5 involving the elephant, lion, leopard, white rhino, and buffalo as part of the country’s most elusive but challenging wildlife game. And I thought about the late Steve Jobs of Apple and the incredible collaboration it must have taken to position the company as one of the leading technology firms on Planet Earth. In all of these instances, I thought about the insightful examples posited by Rheingold (2008) and the underlying video message of collaboration as a powerful component of advancement and success.

I don’t think there’s much question that collaboration is likely to play a major role in getting more computers into the home. As a communication instructor, I know that television remains the most powerful medium in modern society, but all of that will probably change during the next decade as more computers make their way into homes. Kuriyan and Ray (2008) found in a UC-Berkeley study on information and communication technologies that the power of expansion involving these technologies lies with poor and economically impoverished families. I couldn’t agree more. Like television – and before TV when there was just radio – the more sets that came into homes in the 1940s, the more powerful TV became and the greater its medium reach. It took the collaboration of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in 1948 to form a national television network system, which continues to thrive today, thanks to the subsequent addition of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 1953, the Fox Television Network and cable proliferation in 1980s, which has given information and entertainment a major communication transformation.

But the credit must go to collaboration, as Rheingold (2008) pointed out in his praiseworthy collaboration video. Taking the experiences, knowledge, and constructive behavior of people who put this knowledge to effective use is understandably the right way to go about getting something done. While it’s all couched in constructivism and meaningful behavior, it does epitomize not only what works, but what works best.


Kuriyan, R., & Ray, I. (2008). Information and communication technologies for development:

           The bottom of the pyramid model in practice. The Information Society, 24:  93-104.

           Retrieved from


doi:  10.1080/01972240701883948.

Rheingold, H. (2008, February). Howard Rheingold on collaboration [Video file]. Retrieved