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What is the potential of leveraging current digital technology, such as e-text, to assist junior high students with reading difficulty in aquiring more equitable access to the curriculum by supporting comprehension and extending meaningful learning through embedded supports?

“Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.” Januszewski & Molenda, 2008, p. 1.

When begining to consider this newly revised definition of educational technology and how it connects to my research interest, my first reaction was my research is about facilitating learning.  As indicated in the text, the new definition and the placement of facilitating learning near its beginning clearly indicates “that helping people learn is the primary and essential purpose of educational technology” (p. 1)  The reality in many classrooms today, is that much of the ‘content’ of the curriculum is presented to them in a text format (novel, textbook, notes etc.).  However, in today’s diverse classrooms across Alberta many students have difficulties with reading.  Therefore, one way technology can help people learn is to provide this text-based content in a digital format (such as e-text) that students’ can access in a different way (text-to-speech with embedded supports such as hyperlinks to a visual dictionary for key words).  As I delved deeper into this chapter, things became problematic for me as the authors’ discussed constuctivism in educational technology with regards to facilitating learning.   I began to question whether e-text supports actually fits with this.  The author’s clarification that facilitating learning is “learning that is controlled and owned by learners” (p. 41), helped reaffirm for me how supported e-text does connect with facilitating learning.

The next logical connection for me was improving performance.  It is my hope that supported e-text will remove or reduce some of the barriers to learning a student with reading difficulties has in today’s classrooms and in turn lead to more student success.  A potential benefit of supported e-text would be because students’ energies are not monoploized by decoding the text their interaction with the e-text “can lead to deeper levels of understanding” (p. 50) of the content.  A comparison mentioned in the text was Weigel’s ‘surface learning’ and ‘deep learning’.  Once again, I began to question my research interests’ connection to this component of the definition.  Does supported e-text really “promote deep learning, learning that is based on rich experience and that can be applied in real world contexts” (p. 76)?  I’m still pondering this one.

My research would also touch on the resources aspect of the new definition because supported e-text would be the digital tool / material students “interact with to facilitate learning and improved performance” (p. 213).  It would be a resource by design; specifically designed for learning purposes.  I am curious if any of the possible embedded supports are better than others.

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I’m starting to feel a little wonky after an intense few days of collaborating with 4 other classmates to create a wiki on grassroots video.  It’s been a huge learning curve of how to effectively use the wiki medium to consolidate our learning with regards to grassroots videos while ensuring the wiki format honours a couple of the keys aspects of grassroots video- it incorporates a balance of multimedia content and it demonstrates our co-construction of knowledge rather than the mere reproduction of information.  Needless to say, it has been a challenging project under such a time constraints which has contributed to my lack of sleep, but such a rewarding one too.  While I’m feeling a little ‘wiki wonka’ right now, I have found it has been an assignment that has caused me to really grow.  I’m looking forward to our presentation tomorrow where we will share the wiki with the rest of our class.  Hopefully that will mean more sleep for me these last few days of summer session. 

Fellow ed techies, once you have finished your group presentation I’d appreciate it if you took a moment to reflect on the process of using a wiki as part of that project and post a reply to this post.

Wow!  I was so engaged in and inspired by Dr. Crichton’s presentation on the use of digital data such as audio and video recordings.  I was amazed at how her system for organizing the clips with the frames and codes seemed faster and easier to manage as well as the data ended up being more rich than the more traditional approach to have the recordings first transcribed then worked with.

‘hurry slowly’ is a phrase I have heard before but never described so well.  As we just went over all of the requirements of the doctoral program in the morning class, I reframed becoming a U of C student in the EdD program as hurrying slowly while Dr. Crichton spoke.  I’ve hurried and made the decision to apply and jump in to doctoral studies but will be moving ahead in the program slowly as I take the time to reflect on those moments of dissonance caused by our coursework to truly learn and grow.

One important thing I went away with was a new questioning with regards to my potential research- What will I be giving, getting, sharing and leaving behind?

This audio recording of a debriefing of Friday’s research presentation by Dr. Lock on her authentic online learning research was recorded on an iMac.  (Thanks Stephen)  I still haven’t figured out how to embed the audio file so click here to listen to my discussion with Stephen, Greg, Peter, Evelyn, Lisa & Jean.

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Setting the scene- Basin Head Beach August 2nd, 2009: I bump into an old childhood friend I haven’t seen since last summer.

Hey Belina, great to see you.  It must feel good to be back on the island for a holiday.

It sure does Alana, especially since I just finished a couple of intense weeks at the U of C.

Another degree?!?   So what are you studying now?

Well, you know my passion has always been reaching and teaching those students on the margins who struggle in school.  With all the recent advancements in technology I decided it was important for me to learn more about it and research how to best use current technology to support junior high students with reading difficulties.

Sounds interesting.

Yeah, I think so.  What’s been keeping you busy lately?

This paper will summarize my inquiry into literature on the potential of leveraging current digital technology, such as e-text, to assist students with reading difficulty in aquiring more meaningful access to the curriculum by supporting comprehension and extending meaningful learning through embedded supports.

Thank you Jean and Lisa for discussing with me ‘live’ what resonated with us about today’s presentation. It was great to debrief and begin to process that thought-provoking presentation together. A special thanks to Lisa for recording the discussion and uploading it for us to share.

I’m having difficulty embedding the audio file into my blog so, for now, please pop by Lisa’s blog , listen to our ponderings, and post a response.


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