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7 approaches to educational technology integration

I’m working with Victoria College, a school in Jersey, at the moment. They’re new to digital strategy, so I’ve been sharing some models that can be useful when thinking in this regard.

1. The OODA loop

OODA loop (CC BY Patrick Edwin Moran)

Much more generally applicable than just to educational technology integration, and pioneered in the military, the OODA loop is useful when thinking about where to get started.

What I particularly like is that it starts with observation, and places great emphasis on context and feedback.

2. The SOLO taxonomy

SOLO taxonomy

SOLO stands for Structure of Observed Learning Outcome and focuses on five levels of understanding, from ‘pre-structural’ through to ‘extended abstract’. I reference this model in my book, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, which is where the above diagram comes from.

The idea is that competence is scaffolded and goes from understanding some aspects, through to the relation between them, and finally, applying that knowledge to a new domain.

3. The SAMR model

SAMR model

Although I’ve seen some recent pushback, I still think that the SAMR model is a useful frame to use for educational technology integration. The idea is that we move beyond technology that merely substitutes for previous analogue examples.

What I like about this model is that it takes minimal explanation, and can serve as an aspirational goal for both individual educators, and whole establishments. This is another diagram from my book.

4. The TPACK framework

TPACK framework

TPACK stands for Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. At its heart, it’s a Venn diagram, showing the overlap between technology, pedagogy, and content, but, again, I like the use of ‘context’ wrapping around the whole thing.

This framework is useful when explaining the importance of technology as an integrated part of a wider institutional/organisational strategy. The overlaps between each circle are also handy for identifying different streams of work.

5. Kolb’s experiential learning cycle

Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle

While I think we can agree that Kolb’s ‘learning styles’ theory was off-the-mark, his experiential learning cycle is definitely worth exploring further in terms of educational technology integration.

As with other models, there’s a balance between doing and reflection, but — and this is where there’s a clear link to the SOLO taxonomy — Kolb’s emphasises the importance of ‘abstract conceptualisation’.

6. Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development

ZPD

The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is a very simple approach to scaffolding learning. It sits between what the learner current cannot do and what they can do unaided. In other words, the ZPD is where maximal learning is happening.

Again, this is a simple approach which most educators should already know about. My father used to talk about it all the time when I was younger and he was doing his postgraduate studies! It’s useful for thinking about scaffolding staff/student digital skills.

7. The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own work, the product of the years of work that went into my doctoral thesis. It’s a synthesis of what came out of a meta-analysis of digital literacy approaches and frameworks.

There’s eight skillsets (the top row) and eight mindsets (bottom row). In my book and TEDx talk, I explain the importance of co-creating definitions of digital literacies, and placing emphasis on context. In terms of educational technology integration, I think the ‘mindsets’ are often skipped over.


I’m well aware that there are other approaches out there, and no doubt some I’ve never heard of. That being said, these are the models I currently find most helpful when working with clients. What have I missed?

Image by Paolo Carrolo

Open Badges, BlockCerts, and high-stakes credentialing

I was in a conversation this morning with some people seemingly from the four corners of the earth, who were exploring Open Badges, blockchain technologies, and other developments with a view to building a new platform. My introduction to the group came through Vinay Gupta, who’s not only a extremely clear thinker, but a great connector, too.

Now that badges are what Clay Shirky would call technologically “boring enough to be socially interesting”, people naturally want to think about them in relation to the next big thing. For many people, that ‘next big thing’ is blockchain.

There’s a whole series of rabbitholes to go down if you interested in blockchain-related technologies. In fact, doing so is as fascinating from a learning-about-neolibertarianism angle as it is about new technologies. However, for the purposes of this (education-related) post, it’s enough to say that blockchain is a ‘supply-side’ technology, that allows vendors, platforms, and intermediaries a way of verifying ownership or that ‘something’ happened at a particular time. You should, of course, read the outcome of Audrey Watters’ research project.

MIT have recently launched BlockCerts, which I discussed on this blog recently as being friends of Open Badges. That’s the great thing about open specifications: they play nicely with one another. However, just to clarify my position on this (and it is just an opinion), the thing that blockchain-based credentials are good for is in high stakes situations. I’d be happy for my doctoral certificate, for example, to be on the blockchain. That seems like a good use case.

Where I don’t think that blockchain-based credentials are a good idea are for the more holistic (‘weird and wonderful’) credentials that I might want to earn. These show different facets of who I am, rather than putting everything in the academic, high-stakes bucket. In fact, this is the reason I became interested in badges in the first place.

At a time when major employers are saying that they’re more interested in what people can do rather than their high-stakes credentials, it seems strange that we’re doubling down on the digital equivalent of degree certificates.

Would I use and recommend BlockCerts in my work with clients? Absolutely! But only if what was required involved either zero trust between the parties involved in the ecosystem, or high-stakes credentials. For everything else, the verifiable, evidence-based claims of the Open Badges metadata standard work just fine.

Weeknote 44/2016

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #235 of Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel, my weekly newsletter loosely focused on education, technology, and productivity. It featured, among other things, monsters of edtech, legacy ports, and daybook journaling. Many thanks to Makers Academy for sponsorship!
  • Recording and releasing Episode 67 (‘Working open’) of Today In Digital Education, my weekly podcast with co-host Dai Barnes.  This week we discussed working ‘open’ (main topic) as well as our experiences of the 2016 Mozilla Festival, my new writing, the new MacBook Pro, the inevitability of being hacked, hypernormalisation, and working remotely. You can join the community to discuss this episode of TIDE in our Slack channel!
  • Recovering from a combination of MozFest and the clocks going back to GMT. I have to say that the period between now and Christmas is my least favourite of the year. This year it’s worse because we haven’t taken our usual holiday in Malta/Gozo to get some sunshine.
  • Cancelling my gym membership after they hiked the price up 50%. It’s not so much that the actual price is so high in comparison with other gyms, it’s just the lack of investment means I don’t think it’s necessarily good value. I guess it’s a protest. My wife has joined a different gym, I’m just going to do weights at home and run more (as I found the problem was actually around raising my heart rate too high, not running per se)
  •  Composing a batch of NewCo Shift GSD posts which will be published over the next week or so.
  • Researching, recording, editing, and releasing Chapter 2 of #uppingyourgame: a practical guide to personal productivity. This update was all about nutrition which I’ve mostly got nailed, although the day before recording I actually managed to eat three egg custards in a row…
  • Debriefing MozFest with my We Are Open co-operators, Bryan Mathers and John Bevan.
  • Running (with Bryan) a Thinkathon for Sunderland City Council around some plans they’ve got to build a consortium to design and deliver a badge-based skills passport.
  • Writing:

Next week I’m working from home on Monday, attending VentureFest on Tuesday, travelling on Wednesday, and then working with Victoria College in Jersey on Thursday/Friday.

Image CC BY-NC Jeff Wallace

Chapter 2 of my new audiobook on productivity is now available!

I’m in the midst of creating an audiobook entitled #uppingyourgame: a practical guide to personal productivity (v2). Many thanks to those who have already bought the book as soon as it was released. I’m pleased to announce another chapter is now available.

Chapter 2 is concerned with one of the three ‘pillars’ of productivity: Nutrition. This chapter is full of actionable insights and you should be able to stop listening and start implementing straight away!

As usual, I’m using my OpenBeta publishing model, meaning that this product will get more expensive as I add more content. The earlier you buy into the process, the cheaper it is! If you buy Chapter 1 now, I’ll send you every iteration until it’s finished.



Buy now for £2

(click the button to see the proposed chapter listing)


Need a sample? Here’s a two-minute intro:

Note: I’ll email existing backers and keep posting here when each new chapter is available. The ‘canonical’ page for this audiobook, however, is here. That will always be up-to-date!

How I’m Getting Shift Done

NewCo Shift is a publication on Medium’s platform. It launched in April 2016 and covers “the biggest shift in business and society since the industrial revolution”.

This week, they launched a new part of the publication with the title ‘Getting Shift Done’ [GSD], divided into a Management section and a Tips and Tricks section. It’s an experiment, made possible with the help of sponsors Xero (which I use for Dynamic Skillset) and Work Market (which they’re using to manage freelancers for GSD).

I’m pleased to say that I’ll be contributing around five articles a week to NewCo Shift GSD. My first, How to Productively Stalk your Co-Workers using Dropbox Paper is now live (with a creepy, if germane, accompanying image). My focus will be sharing very straightforward ‘howto’-style posts, mostly for tools that I use and recommend.

If you appreciate my work, I could use your support in favouriting, commenting, bookmarking, and otherwise sharing my work on this new platform. Thanks in advance!

Note: I’ll include these posts in my weeknotes and Thought Shrapnel newsletter, rather than cross-post every single one here!

The importance of working ‘open’ in education and business

I’m pleased to say that two closely-related articles I’ve written about working ‘open’ have been published over the last few days.

As of this month, I’ve started writing for The Nasstarian, a new blog from Nasstar, one of the UK’s largest managed IT service provders. They’ve given me free license to write about things of interest to their readers. The first one I’ve written for them is about the ‘unexpected benefits’ of working open for businesses.

My latest DML Central article takes this approach and focuses in on what this means for education. I’m indebted to Bryan Mathers for the wonderful ‘elevator’ image, and to Matt Thompson and Laura Hilliger for comments on an earlier draft.

Comments are closed here to encourage you to add your thoughts to the original articles! Thanks for supporting my work!

Weeknote 43/2016

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’ll be recovering from MozFest on Monday and then working out of Campus North in Newcastle on Tuesday, catching up with things. On Wednesday and Thursday I’ll be finishing off Chapter 2 of #uppingyourgame: a practical guide to personal productivity and writing for a publication which I should then be able to tell you about. On Friday, I’m leading a We Are Open thinkathon for Sunderland City Council.


I’ve got some spare capacity up to Christmas. My consultancy, Dynamic Skillset focuses on edtech strategy as well as digital skills and credential. It’s part of We Are Open co-op. If you think I or we can help you, please do get in touch!

Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com / doug@nullweareopen.coop

 

A new dawn for Open Badges

Today it’s been announced that Mozilla will transition development of Open Badges to the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a non-profit that maintains and develops technology standards in education.  Alongside this announcement comes the long-awaited refresh of openbadges.org, the dissolution of the Badge Alliance, and the continued harmonisation with the work of the W3C Open Credentials work.

Having had this news previewed to me a couple of weeks ago, I can’t say it’s a huge surprise. Mozilla, with financial backing from the MacArthur Foundation incubated Open Badges and ensured that it was kept going. However, it’s been the enthusiasm and dedication of the community that has ensured its success.

Although I couldn’t make it to Bologna for the ePIC conference this week, I am at the Mozilla Festival this weekend. Both there, and over the next few months, I’m looking forward to working with the community to ensure that there’s a ‘human’ side to badges, to complement Open Badges as a technological  standard.

This is a new dawn for Open Badges, a new chapter in its successful, history. There’s so many people who have been, and continue to be, part of the story — certainly far too many to list here. But you know who you are, and today, as we celebrate the continued viability of a movement built upon a technical standard, I’m raising a glass to you all.

Image via Sweet Ice Cream Photography

Where I’ll be at MozFest 2016

This weekend it’s the Mozilla Festival, an event that brings together everyone interested in the open web. It’s an event I attended as a volunteer before I joined Mozilla, something I was involved with during my time as a paid contributor, and now I’m back as a community member.

My We Are Open co-op comrades and I are running three sessions over the weekend. Unfortunately, Laura can’t make it, but either Bryan, John, and I will be taking the lead on the following. The idea is that they work in their own right, but we’ve also worked with the organisers to ensure they form a kind of ‘arc’ for those who want to attend all three sessions!


The Thinkasprint: the art of thinking sideways

Saturday, 11:15am-12:45pm
Open Badges, Floor 8 – 801

In this session participants will be taken through a modified version of We Are Open Co-op’s ‘thinkathon’ approach, to help people think about knotty problems in an open, inclusive, and participatory way. The process involves as much drawing as it does thinking and writing, and is solution-oriented.

We use the wealth of experience that participants and facilitators have to take apart a problem and look at it from a different angle. We will go off at tangents and down rabbit holes, but that’s all part of the process!

Our starting point will be whatever issues participants bring to the table after our icebreaker activity, but we have a few ideas up our sleeves, such as Open Badges for employability, digital skills, and ‘passion projects’.


Digital Champions: scaffolding adult digital and web literacies with badges

Saturday, 3:15pm-4:00pm
Open Badges, Floor 1 – 101

This session will help attendees understand the concept of ‘flexible frameworks’, using examples from London Connected Learning Centre and Sussex Downs College. This draws on doteveryone’s Basic Digital Skills Framework and Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map. It will be a conversation-led session with visual thoughts captured by Bryan Mathers.


THE BIG BADGE THROW-DOWN

Sunday, 11:00am-11:45am
Open Badges, Floor 8 – 801

Using the starting points of doteveryone’s Basic Digital Skills, Workplace Skills, and Digital Leadership Skills programmes, NCVO’s Skills Lab work, and London CLC’s Digital Champions Curriculum, this workshop will find commonalities, overlaps, and ways forward for badges-based flexible frameworks.

We’ll provide examples of existing programmes, badges and pathways and then work to flesh out, fill gaps and imagine new links and partnerships between established players as well as welcoming new entrants to the digital skills space. This will be a hands-on, practical session.


If you’re coming to MozFest, I hope you’ll join us for at least one session. If not (there’s so much going on!) then please do find us and say hello — I’m @dajbelshaw on Twitter and will also keep an eye out on the @WeAreOpenCoop account.

Photo by Mozilla in Europe

Blockcerts are friends of Open Badges

This morning I read the latest news from MIT about their blockchain and badges project. It’s exciting news for those interested in high-stakes credentials such as university degrees. They’ve given this new standard a name: Blockcerts.

Many will think that this puts Blockcerts in competition with Open Badges, but, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Philipp Schmidt, Director of Learning Innovation at the MIT Media Lab — and author of the post announcing Blockcerts — was one of the originators of Open Badges when he was at P2PU.

Schmidt writes:

Blockcerts provides a decentralized credentialing system. The Bitcoin blockchain acts as the provider of trust, and credentials are tamper-resistant and verifiable. Blockcerts can be used in the context of academic, professional, and workforce credentialing.

[…]

Certificates are open badges compliant, which is important, because there is an entire community of open badges issuers that we want to support, and because open badges is becoming an IMS standard.

He’s perhaps let the cat out of the bag with the last sentence. I’ve had conversations over the last few weeks which point to an upcoming Mozilla announcement in this regard.

Any way you look at it, this is a great move for those in the ecosystem. Blockcerts is Open Badges-compliant, and provides a solution for organisations dealing in high-stakes credentialing. I know the BadgeChain group will be pleased!

The thing that attracted me to Open Badges, and which remains my goal, is to explore alternative credentialing. While there’s definitely a need to move high-stakes credentialing into the digital realm, I’m interested in ways in which we can provide a much more holistic view of the learner.


Want to find out more about Open Badges? Check out the OB101 course that Bryan Mathers and I put together!

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