Friday, December 6, 2019

Learning in the Age of Digital Culture in Singapore

Dr Josephine Fleming
Dr Josephine Fleming,
University of Sydney
Greetings from the Lifelong Learning Conference 2019, at the Singapore University of Social Sciences. The first keynote is Dr Josephine Fleming, University of Sydney, on "Learning in the Age of Digital Culture: Challenges and Opportunities". Dr Fleming started with an anecdote about how as she went to use software in front of a room full of students it did not work, and the IT support staff said breezily "it is updating". The point of the story is that the tech is central to learning now, but can leave end users powerless. She distinguished between technologies for learning and those for learners. The former are for formal educational environments, and the latter driven by the learners. Some of the problems of educators trying to incorporate social media were then given (such as trying to grade Twitter posts).

Dr Fleming argues that technology should be for learners. But I don't agree. Technologies, from the human voice, through handwriting, the printing press, and the computer, started as novel, but then were incorporated into formal education. Digital technology offers opportunities for students to learn on their own, and in groups. However, if the community wants social and economic outcomes from education, at some point the tech will have to be tied to formal education systems. The approach I suggest, and have used at ANU, is to use the instution's edtech, which can be relatively inflexible and dull (such as Moodle), to set out what the student needs to do, then send them off into the digital (and real) world to do it, before they return to demonstrate they have gain the required skills and knowledge.

ps: I am on my way to TALE 2019, in Yogyakarta, to talk about how created a learning module for teaching students to write a job application.

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