Saturday, December 6, 2014

Digital reflections

My last post was about integrating technologies into education. This post examines some of the categories of technology and the places they might occupy when they are integrated into the learning process. It's important for teachers to consider that integrated technology can provide a doorway to deeper learning, characterised for example in critical analysis and personal reflection. A journal article by Kirk and Pitches (2013) is a useful starting point, because they identify three specific categories of technology that have a place in contemporary learning.
The first category, capture technologies, can be useful when students need to record things or events that they will later be able to reflect upon. This could be a conversation, an image or video, or some other digital artefact. Capture technologies include cameras, recording devices, and other simple to use tools that can record and store content. Most students carry capture technologies around with them in their pockets and bags, embedded in their mobile phones. What's more, they generally know how to use them to complete the task.

At a little higher up in the manipulation spectrum are archive technologies, which can be used to store, organise and document the digital artefacts that have been previously captured. This can be hosted photo and video sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube, or social networking sites such as Facebook, but are equally likely to be curation and aggregation tools such as Scoop.it and Pinterest. The act of making and archiving such artefacts supports learning through doing, encourages students to develop skills such as problem solving, and enables the presentation of this content to peers and experts to elicit constructive feedback.

At the highest level of manipulation are reflection technologies - or digital reflection mechanisms, to use Kirk and Pitches' terminology. These are technologies that enable students to 'look and listen again' to their digital artefacts, a process that encourages them to reflect not only on the learning itself, but also on the process by which they came to that learning. In a cognitive sense, this is 'making sense of learning', affording students with deeper insight or explanation of what they have already learnt. The ultimate reflective tool in this context is blogging, because it performs all of the above and supports reflective forms of learning within its affordances. Blogging can take many forms from purely textual to multi-media, incorporating images, hyperlinks, audio and video. In Kirk and Pitches' terms the reflection mechanism can 'prompt the use of explanation, so that the selection of visual material, the ordering and presentation of it, and any verbal/textual commentary all prompt the process of making sense of what is being looked at.'

So much of education could be enriched and extended when technology is embedded in these ways into the process of learning.

Reference
Kirk, C. and Pitches, J. (2013) Digital reflection: Using digital technologies to enhance and embed creative processes. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 22 (2), 213-230.

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