Course Introduction

Overview

What are your perceptions of the use of technology in your educational practice? Does technology add new dimensions, or make learning easier or more engaging? Does it extend access to learners who otherwise could not participate? Does it bring education into the modern area, as compared with a picture of ancient universities extending back to the medieval ages?

Alternatively, does it raise alarms about such issues as online safety and abuse, or about who has or doesn’t have access to technology? Are you concerned that expensive technology is being funded, seemingly in preference to more teachers, or that teachers and administrators struggle to manage and maintain equipment and software?

Seldom do we hear among educators any one particular viewpoint on technology-enhanced learning; rather, there is an ongoing discussion as well as experimentation among educators individually as well as educational institutions regarding their interests in and concerns about technology in education.

In contrast to other courses in the Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning, this course will focus not specifically on the theories or practice of technology-enhanced learning, or implementation and use of digital teaching and learning technologies in various settings. Rather, your attention will be focused on the broader society-level technological and ethical questions that arise in technology-enhanced learning. You will explore contemporary issues and see how they may impact teaching and learning practice, as well as society, more widely. As part of this process you will identify a relevant issue of interest and conduct an in-depth study. A key part of this work is to apply your inquiry, as much as possible, toward your own professional setting or other area of importance and relevance to your practice.

Using approaches linked to critical inquiry, you will explore technology issues with insights from scholarly literature, as well as investigate important discourses in scholarly blogs and the educational press. Critical inquiry implies not just collecting ideas developed by others, but also evaluating them against other ideas to find where they fit within a bigger picture such as social justice and equity.

Course Structure

The design of this course has several dimensions related to graded assignments:

  • Use of blogging to expose your work and the development of your thinking to peers in the class, as well as providing opportunities for both giving and providing peer feedback. In addition, you have the option of sharing your blogs or other assignment work with people outside of the course; for example, you might share with co-workers who can provide feedback on how your writing relates to your and their professional work setting. Your blog work will also help in building a body of work that may provide a foundation for your final assignment.
  • Authentic assignments, in which you have the opportunity to develop issues relevant to not only the literature and theory, but also to your own professional needs and concerns.
  • A team project, designed as an online presentation to the rest of the class, is intended to enable discussion and sharing of multiple perspectives on selected issues with others in class.
  • Regular discussions within the class on specified theme clusters.

As noted above, there are multiple assignments in the course involving both individual and team work. All the assignments are interconnected and build upon one another.

Individual Assignments

The individual assignments comprise a series of five blog posts, discussions, and a final project submitted in two stages.

Assignment 1: ePortfolio and Blog Posts

Assignment 1: ePortfolio and Blog Posts contributes 20% of your final course grade. The blog posts follow a sequence that progress toward the completion of your final project, which is a paper on a selected issue in technology-enhanced learning. In each blog post you will be asked to reference several pieces of academic literature or other relevant resources, such as external blogs or journalism. You will provide feedback on two other students’ blog posts as well, offering comments that will be constructive and helpful to the authors. Blog posts are created within your ePortfolio space in the course site.

  • Blog post 1 is the first in a five-part blogging assignment. It starts building a foundation for a large part of your work in this course. In it you are asked to describe your own personal and professional context and your interest in any one of the themes from the list provided. (You may also choose your own, but this will first require discussion with your Open Learning Faculty Member to ensure your topic meets course requirements.) The purpose of this post is to start your thinking early about your theme selection for the Final Project, as well as about your own interest and application to your professional setting or area of interest. As part of this assignment, write the first draft of your research question(s) which will be further developed for use in your final project.
  • Blog post 2 will build on the previous week to start firming up your Final Project topic. If you want to change topics, now is the time as it will be more difficult to do later on. Use this blog post as a sketch pad for your paper, i.e. a rough introduction and outline.
  • Blog post 3 will require you to complete an annotated bibliography related to your theme developed in your first two posts. The annotated bibliography will become part of your paper as you continue to research and write.
  • Blog post 4 asks you to record and publish a 4–5 minute reflection using video, audio, or other media tools to describe key elements of what you have gained from the readings in Unit 4.
  • Blog post 5 will occur at the end of the course, where you will provide a summary of some key points learned throughout the course and how they may have changed or strengthened your perspectives.

Assignment 3: Discussion Posts and Participation

Assignment 3: Discussion Posts and Participation is worth 10% of your course grade. Separate from blog feedback, forum discussions will be conducted periodically based on general assumptions about technology in education, as well as on the four main areas by which the themes are organized: learning and media; social/ethical issues; open educational practices; and learning design and delivery. Apart from the first discussion, these will be led by teams who will introduce, facilitate, and summarize the discussions for their topic.

Final Project

The Final Project: Major Project Paper is worth 50% of your course mark. It is a mandatory course assessment and has two submissions:

  • A draft (worth 15%) is due in week 6. You will submit an outline with all the basic elements of the final paper in brief point form. The outline should include the main headings and sub headings, with early draft content perhaps in bullet points and brief descriptions of each section where there are still gaps, along with your annotated bibliography. You will receive feedback as well as a partial grade assignment for this part of the final project.
  • The final paper (worth 35%) should be of publishable quality. The second stage is your completed research paper, which is submitted at the end of the course.

Team Assignment

Assignment 2: Team Assignment

The Team Presentation is worth 20% of your course grade. The class will be divided into teams, each of which will lead one online discussion for a week. Later in the course, each team will plan and deliver an online presentation on the topic including points made during the team led discussion.

For those who are unable to participate synchronously in the presentation and subsequent discussion due to time differences or other barriers, the presentation and ensuing discussion must be recorded for later viewing.

The presentation must include the relationship between the topic and teaching and learning as well as summary and recommendations based on the discussion led by the team. The team presentations will take place in the later part of the course, but are scheduled early on using an online shared document.

For more details please reference Assignment 2 on the Assignments Overview page.

Assessments

Non-completion of an assignment will result in a mark of zero for that assignment. The following table provides an overview of assessments in the course.

Assessments

Description

Learning Outcomes

Assignment 1: ePortfolio and Blog Posts (20%) You will write five blog posts worth 4% each relating to assigned topics that build towards the Final Project. Critically examine implications of contemporary issues in relation to specific aspects of technology-enhanced learning and digital learning environments.

Analyze a selection of issues in technology-enhanced and digital learning environments in relation to a specific selected problem setting.

Assignment 2: Team Presentation (20%) Each team leads an online forum discussion. Explore relationships between contemporary issues and pedagogical approaches.
Assignment 3: Discussion Posts and Participation (10%) Each week you will participate in a graded class discussion. Your first post should be approximately 300-500 words in length, and it is due by noon of Monday. Responses to others should end by noon Friday. Participate actively and in a timely manner in responding to individual blog posts, as well as in discussions and team presentations (live or recordings).
Final Project: Major Project Paper (mandatory) (50%) The Final Project has two parts: a first draft (15%, due in Unit 3) and the final submission of publishable quality (35%, due at the end of the course). Critically examine implications of contemporary issues in relation to specific aspects of technology-enhanced learning and digital learning environments.

Interpret research literature to situate issues in the context of current and historical discourses.

Analyze a selection of issues in technology-enhanced and digital learning environments in relation to a specific selected problem setting.

Course Resources and Themes

A variety of resources have been provided in this course, and you are also expected to find your own resources. The course resources are provided not necessarily as representing research that is consistent or in agreement with any one particular approach, but rather that raise issues for discussion and critical analysis. You are asked to read all articles from a critical perspective, as well as with a view to compare and contrast them with other literature. This process is foundational to your academic growth. TRU Library has a good section on Evaluating and Citing Sources for your own research; you’re advised to review the guidelines they provide on this topic and others related to incorporating resources into your research. You are also required to include a certain number of open access resources in your research; the details will be explained where relevant.

Following is a list of resources and themes for the course. All resources are available either on the open web or through TRU Library. There are no required book purchases. Resources listed in this course include journal or open web peer-reviewed research articles, reports, blogs, podcasts, videos, and other media.

The course is structured into the following themes:

  1. Learning technologies and media
  2. Social/ethical issues
  3. Open educational practices
  4. Learning design and delivery

There are many other possible themes or ways to differentiate aspects of educational technology and learning environments, and these should not be seen as definitive. However, in current academic discourses these themes are highly present and debated.

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