Monday, September 29, 2014

Entry 2 IDT1415 Learner-Device Relationship

I would join Barbara (Moodle Forum) and add that I believe the factors related to their relationship with devices determine the different levels of attainment in the learning process. Along the lines of Barbara's post, the following questions seem appropriate:
- Are the learners digital natives or immigrants? (deliberately placed first with learners always as the starting point!) Their level of comfort, training, attitude, etc. as this would have a direct effect on their motivation and whether the sense of agency, affiliation and autonomy (McLean, 2003) is then fostered or hindered by the device.

- What does the context in which technology is intended to be implemented offer/lack?

- Is is a face to face, fully online or blended learning environment? A landmark report by the US Department in 2009 states that the greater improvements were found in blended learning iterations (Dudeney, Hockly and Pegrum 2012).

- The curriculum and whether there is indeed a need for technology to be implemented and to what extent.

- How would 'device' be defined (depending on the context) and what would the implications be? For instance, what if you have students who do not have smart phones/tablets/ipads, if they have different ones, or not all of them do, etc?

These questions in turn can be said to be in line with Dudeney, Hockly and Pegrum's (2012) allusion to Russell's No Significant Difference Phenomenon and how research points to how what counts is what is being measured (p.42). Consequently, in order to measure the effect on learning the relationship between the learner and their device may have, a definition of said relationship is required.
From a very personal point of view and experience, mobile devices have made me a very happy learner as I feel I can take my learning everywhere - space and time barriers cannot stop me any longer and this liberating sense has both been exhilarating and overwhelming. The former as I am able to efficiently use the time otherwise wasted for instance while waiting for the bus, and the latter because of the sheer amount of new information and tech tools available every day and in constant change. 

In an attempt to define this learner-device relationship it may be considered in the same way one relates to an intimate relation and its deriving implications: love, hate, need, desire, interest, support, honesty, and awareness amongst others. In order to provide a more concrete description I will refer to my own devices and how I relate to them as a learner. For instance, I love the freedom my iPad and smart phone give me which initially my iPod provided. I hate the fact that different providers use different systems and thus different system literacy proficiency is required e.g. iOS, android, linux, etc. At the same time, I am more and more aware of the need to stay focused, filter carefully and select wisely those tools and the devices which allow for their effective use while maintaining the desire to use the device high. This desire should clearly, in my humble opinion, be correctly understood as contributing to one's own learning, that is, the learning objective(s) must be clear to the user. Related to desire is also interest as it is often triggered by the unknown and again a desire to know something better so along these lines the process of becoming proficient in using the device should foster such interest. Now, the level of support provided by the device or device provider will also have a big impact on this relationship as the more accessible it is e.g. video, written, tutorials, etc. the faster and stronger the relationship will grow. The last two, honesty and awareness, I believe to be fundamental in this relationship as they will have a long lasting impact which will determine the longevity of this interaction between learner and device. Knowing one's own and the device's limitations will translate into heightened awareness of what can or not be done with it and an honest approach to its implementation.

McLean, A. (2003) The Motivated School. London, Sage Publications.
Dudeney, G., Hockly, N., and Pegrum, M. (2013) Digital Literacies. Research and Resources in Language Teaching. Harlow, Pearson Education.

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