Personalized Learning Instructions Models: Do They Work for Higher Education?

Disruptive technology and the Covid-19 pandemic have shifted the education paradigm around the world. Many educators have evolved their teaching paradigm into more technology-mediated since the traditional classroom suddenly shifted into an online classroom. The demand for online education, such as e-learning platforms, has developed as the urge for remote collaboration rises during the pandemic. Therefore, embracing technology in the classroom is required to engage students in online classroom interaction. This way, a pivotal permissive factor of technology drives a new pedagogy to retain students deeper and personalize learning. Remarkably, the upcoming Industrial Revolution 5.0 is personalization. This way, teachers and educators must implement a personalized approach to teaching and training based on each individual’s unique competencies and learning preferences. This fact aligns with the ISTE Standards for Educators, particularly an educator as a designer (ISTE, 2022), point 2.5.a, 2.5.b, and 2.5.c:

2.5.a Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

2.5.b Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.

2.5.c Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.

What is Personalized Learning?

In the 21st century, personalization in instruction is defined as an instruction that tailors learners’ learning styles, intelligence, and interest preferences (Gilbert and Han, 2002, cited in Samah et al., 2011). This way, all learners will be provided with the critical challenges and opportunities for self-development and learning if these differences are taken into account (Aviram et al., 2008; Jung and Graf, 2008, cited in Samah et al., 2011). Moreover, Bray and McClaskey (2015, cited in Netcoh, 2017) define a “personalized learning environment” as one in which students “have a voice in what they are learning based on how they learn best” and “have a choice in how they demonstrate what they know and provide evidence of their learning. In a learner-centered environment, learners own and co-design their learning” (p. 14).

At the classroom level, PL teachers leverage technology (e.g., online curricula, learning management systems, videos) to deliver a more student-centered experience (Bingham, 2017, cited in Bingham, 2019). Bingham (2019) further elaborates that PL uses technology to tailor instruction to students’ needs and interests (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014; Miller, Gross, & Lake, 2014). These technologies can house all information about students, such as current progress, past achievement, social-emotional comments, and behavioral information. All these are to free up better teachers’ time to address individual student needs (Bingham, 2017). Technology can be used as a classroom management tool. Classroom management may be an issue when classrooms rely on technology, particularly new teachers (Bingham, 2016).

Regarding the role of the teacher in personalized learning environments, Bishop et al. (2020) discuss the following main points. Whereas in traditional classroom settings, the teacher primarily determines learning objectives, teachers in PLEs base the learning objectives on individual students’ questions, interests, and aspirations. Therefore, teachers in PLEs are expected to serve as facilitators of “inquiry, problem-solving, and creative expression” by transferring “control over learning toward the students themselves” (DiMartino & Clarke, 2008, p. 74, cited in Bishop et al., 2020). Similarly, rather than preparing resources based on teacher-identified learning goals, teachers may become curators in PLEs, helping students access appropriate resources suited to their unique projects (Keefe & Jenkins, 2005, cited in Bishop et al., 2020). Finally, because personalized learning focuses on tailoring instruction to individual students rather than an entire class, teachers in PLEs may find themselves acting as coaches to an individual or small groups on project tasks, goals, and standards, as they forgo whole group instruction (Bray & McClaskey, 2015; Clarke, 2013; DiMartino & Clarke, 2008, cited in Bishop et al., 2020).

Personalized Learning in Higher Education

The use of technology has provided new opportunities to make higher education more flexible and student-centered (Palmer & Devitt, 2008, 2014, cited in Wanner & Palmer, 2015). Also, many university leaders see that technology provides new ways to meet the challenges of the higher education sector in the context of economic constraints, increasing globalization of education, and changing pedagogical approaches (OECD, 2005; Allen & Seaman, 2013; OECD, 2005, cited in Wanner & Palmer, 2015). In other words, technology is not the primary determinant of flexibility, but a crucial enabling factor as technology and new pedagogies need to be harnessed to engage students on a deeper level and personalize students’ learning. Importantly, Bingham, Pane, Steiner, and Hamilton (2018, in Lokey-Vega & Stephens, 2019) consider technology the critical differentiator. This significant point is in line with Alhawiti and Abdelhamid (2017), claiming that current technology has the potential to construct an e-learning environment capable of acquiring learners’ preferences, building and managing sharable and reusable semantically modeled learning entities, and providing customized e-learning services for each learner according to his/her preferences and personal characteristics.

A previous study conducted by Sáiz-Manzanares et al. (2019) reveals that a personalized Moodle-based e-learning system has improved student learning outcomes. In this study, hypermedia resources and active methodologies such as PBL and process-oriented feedback appeared to facilitate learning outcomes. Student satisfaction with teaching practice appears to be related to the LMS’s design, level of personalization, and the use of process-oriented feedback (Zacharis, 2015; Hattie and Timperley, 2007, cited in Sáiz-Manzanares et al., 2019). In summary, this study concludes that best practice in implementing Blended Learning is related to a careful pedagogical design of the LMS. The effectiveness of e-personalization designs has been demonstrated in this study, consisting of hypermedia resources and active methodologies such as PBL process-oriented feedback and self-assessment quizzes that facilitate learning outcomes and the acquisition of deep learning.

Personalized Learning Instruction Model

1. Genius Hour

Genius Hour is a project during school that allows students to explore their passions or wonders and make a product based on that within a set amount of time, usually 1 hour a week. It is an idea coined by Google, where their employees are given 20% of their time at work to work on their projects (Daim, 2021). Daim further elaborates on the six steps for Genius Hour, as shown in my Presentation 1 (Please click the number icon to see the detailed information).

Presentation 1. 6 Steps of Genius Hour

(Yuyun, 2022)

Simos (2015) discusses that Genius Hour’s curricular concept embodies an optimal learning relationship: students embracing their power and responsibility in the learning process work with educators who can facilitate and guide that learning to ever-greater heights. In the Genius Hour model, instructors allocate a portion of class time—often the 20 percent that gives the approach an alternate name (20% Time)—for student exploration of a self-selected and given topic. Students turn to various sources in their explorations and consider the topic from various angles before synthesizing all of their research into a central understanding. This process culminates in a final product, project, or artifact shared with the class and potentially the larger school community (Kirr, 2014, cited in Simos, 2015).

A significant body of research supports the need for the increased focus on differentiation that the Genius Hour model fosters. Student interests, both existing and burgeoning, are brought to the forefront of the classroom when a differentiated model is implemented, allowing teachers to “use time flexibly, call upon a range of instructional strategies, and become partners with their students to see that both what is learned and the learning environment are shaped to the learner” (Tomlinson, 1999, cited in Simos, 2015).

Carter (2017) elaborates on six basic tenets of personalized instruction employed in the Genius Hour model, covering:

  1. Dual Teacher Role
  2. Learn About Your Students
  3. Create a Culture of Collaboration
  4. Create an Interactive Learning Environment
  5. Build Flexible Pacing, But With Structure
  6. Create Authentic Assessments

2. The QUEST Inquiry-Based Learning

The QUEST model for inquiry-based learning (Wicks, 2017) uses language better aligned with assignment expectations, eliminates confusing terminology, e.g., triggering events, and introduces a separate fifth step to help educators and students practice connected learning, as illustrated in my Presentation 2. Please click the arrow icon to see the before and after steps.

  1. Ask a Question about the standard being studied related to a topic of interest. (Personalize the question for your discipline or field.)
  2. Understand the standard and topic better by conducting research and sharing a resource. (Practice and improve information literacy skills.)
  3. Educate and learn from others about the standard and your topics. (Collaborate with your peers to resolve problems.)
  4. Find a Solution or resolution for your question, even if the solution is to ask more questions. (Reflect on what you have learned during your inquiry.)
  5. Teach others about what you have learned by blogging about it and sharing it on social media. (Practice connected learning by engaging an authentic audience with your solution and seeking their feedback.)

Presentation 2. 5 Steps of QUEST Inquiry-Based Learning

Based on my experience as an online learner, I found that QUEST Inquiry-Based Learning employs personalized learning by leveraging digital tools. Throughout the whole steps of online learning, the learner can ask questions, investigate a topic, and share their findings. This model allows students to explore a topic in-depth and share their discoveries with others to maximize active and deep learning. This way, leveraging technology to create, adapt, and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

On the other hand, the Genius Hour model implemented in online learning is an innovative learning environment that engages and supports learning. Throughout the whole steps of Genius Hour, the learner explores a self-selected and given topic. This way, learners turn to various sources in their explorations and consider the topic from various angles before synthesizing all of their research into a central understanding. Again, similar to the QUEST model, the Genius Hour model leverages technology to create, adapt, and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.

Practical Strategies for Successful Personalized Learning

A successful personalized learning initiative has the following characteristics (Grant & Basye, 2014):

• Students’ interests and abilities are engaged in authentic, real-world activities to promote the learning of content area standards.

• Teachers take on the roles of facilitators and coaches in the classroom rather than the dispensers of knowledge.

• Students control the learning paths to achieve established goals, building self-efficacy, critical thinking, and creativity skills.

• Technology enables students to choose what they learn, how they learn, and how they demonstrate their learning.

• Formative assessment throughout the learning cycle, supported by digital tools, helps teachers and students address weaknesses and build on strengths.

• Progress through subject area content is measured by demonstrating proficiency in identified skills and understanding.

• Technology is integrated throughout teachers’ and students’ experiences to support learning.

To sum up, technology, teacher, and learner play a pivotal role in implementing personalized learning in online classrooms. Some previous studies have revealed that technology has the potential to construct an e-learning environment capable of acquiring learners’ preferences. Also, particular learning models, such as the Genius Hour and the QUEST Model, are excellent examples of employing personalized learning in higher education since the current technology is a crucial enabling factor as technology and new pedagogies need to be harnessed to engage students on a deeper level and personalize students’ learning. Some practical strategies should be implemented to create successful personalized learning in higher education.

References:

Alhawiti, M. M., & Abdelhamid, Y. (2017). A Personalized e-Learning Framework. Journal of Education and E-Learning Research, 4(1), 15–21. https://doi.org/10.20448/journal.509.2017.41.15.21

Bingham, A. J. (2016). Drowning digitally? How disequilibrium shapes practice in a blended learning charter school. Teachers College Record, 118(1), 1–30.

Bingham, A. J. (2017). Personalized learning in high technology charter schools. Journal of Educational Change, 18(4), 521–549.

Bingham, A. J. (2019). A Look at Personalized Learning: Lessons Learned. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 55(3), 124–129. https://doi.org/10.1080/00228958.2019.1622383

Bishop, P. A., Downes, J. M., Netcoh, S., Farber, K., Demink-Carthew, J., Brown, T., & Mark, R. (2020). Teacher roles in personalized learning environments. Elementary School Journal, 121(2). https://doi.org/10.1086/711079

Carter, N. (2017). Genius Hour and the 6 Essentials of Personalized Education | Edutopia. http://www.edutopia.org/blog/genius-hour-essentials-personalized-education-nichole-carter?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=blog-genius-hour-essentials-personaized-education-link

Daim, L. A. M. (2021). Genius Hour Online Edition Step By Step Guide. https://techfulofprimary.com/2021/08/genius-hour-online-edition-step-by-step-guide/

Grant, P., & Basye, D. (2014). Personalized learning: A Guide for Engaging Students with Technology (First). International Society for Technology in Education.

ISTE. (2022). ISTE Standards: Educatorshttps://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-teachers

Keefe, J. W., & Jenkins, J. M. (2005). Personalized instruction. Phi Delta Kappa. KnowledgeWorks.

Lokey-Vega, A., & Stephens, S. (2019). A Batch of One: A Conceptual Framework for the Personalized Learning Movement. Journal of Online Learning Research, 5(3), 311–330.

Netcoh, S. (2017). Balancing freedom and limitations: A case study of the choice provision in a personalized learning class. Teaching and Teacher Education, 66, 383–392. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2017.05.010

Sáiz-Manzanares, M. C., García Osorio, C. I., Díez-Pastor, J. F., & Martín Antón, L. J. (2019). Will personalized e-Learning increase deep learning in higher education? Information Discovery and Delivery, 47(1), 53–63. https://doi.org/10.1108/IDD-08-2018-0039

Samah, N. A., Yahaya, N., & Ali, M. B. (2011). Individual differences in online personalized learning environment. Educational Research and Reviews, 6(7), 516–521.

Simos, E. (2015, August). Genius Hour: Critical Inquiry and Differentiation. English Leadership Quarterly, 1–3. https://library.ncte.org/journals/elq/issues/v38-1/27416

Wanner, T., & Palmer, E. (2015). Personalizing learning: Exploring student and teacher perceptions about flexible learning and assessment in a flipped university course. Computers and Education, 88, 354–369. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2015.07.008

Wicks, D. (2017). The QUEST model for inquiry-based learning. https://davidwicks.org/iste-2-design-and-develop-digital-age-learning-experiences-and-assessments/quest-model-for-inquiry-based-learning/

Being A Lifelong Learner through Professional Learning Network

As a lifelong learner, an educator is expected to keep learning about cutting-edge issues and trends. A lifelong learner plays a vital role in the educational process as it helps educators incorporate new tools and strategies into the learning process to boost their students’ learning development. This expectation is to comply with the evolvement of curriculum, advancement of technology, and market demands. Educators learn from and with others through professional development and explore various promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning. Educators can do their professional development in this digital era through Professional Learning Networks (PLN). This fact aligns with the ISTE Standards for Educators, particularly an educator as a learner (ISTE, 2022). Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to enhance student learning. Thus, this article addresses how educators set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness (Point 2.1.a). Besides, this article points out other points of ISTE Standards for Educators, that is to pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks (Point 2.1.b) and stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences (Point 2.1.c.).

Educators as a Lifelong Learner

Technology and education have been evolving rapidly in the past few decades. Thus, being a lifelong learner plays a vital role in the educational process. It helps educators incorporate new tools and strategies into the learning process to boost their students’ learning development. Educators who are lifelong learners are more successful than those who are not. The traditional learning model differs from Lifelong Learning methods in important ways, as illustrated in Figure 1 (World Bank, 2002, cited in  Divjak et al., 2004).

Figure 1. Traditional versus Lifelong learning

(World Bank, 2002, cited in  Divjak et al., 2004)

As lifelong learners, educators have the following characteristics as suggested by Started et al. (2018).

1. Conquer Challenges

People with a lifelong learning mindset treat mistakes and challenges as part of learning, not as failures. They learn from mistakes to continue and solve a problem or challenge. As long-life learners, educators make learning their daily basis to hone their current skills and develop new ones while enriching their minds.

2. Innovate to Improve Learning Outcomes

When educators take courses outside of professional development and collaborate, they discover creative teaching methods. Teachers who put their heads together to develop innovative ideas to use in teaching achieve better student outcomes than outdated teaching methods.

3. Act as a Role Model for Students

Educators who engage in lifelong learning set an example for their students because they practice what they teach. This way, in turn, encourages their students to develop into lifelong learners. Effective educators accomplish this by sharing experiences of working through the learning process.

Thus, to illustrate clearly, here is the word cloud of educators as lifelong learners.

Figure 2. Lifelong Learning Word Cloud

(Yuyun, 2022)

What is a Professional Learning Network (PLN)?

Tobin (1998, cited in Trust et al., 2016) coined the term “Personal Learning Network” to describe a network of people and resources that support ongoing learning. While the terms Professional Learning Network and Personal Learning Network are often used interchangeably, I use “Professional Learning Network,” or PLN, because this article focuses on teachers’ learning related to their professional work. PLNs are related to but can be differentiated from two other concepts pertaining to educator learning, the professional learning community (PLC) and the personal learning environment (PLE), as elaborated briefly in Professional Learning Community Using Social Media: Yea or Nay? – Ignasia Yuyun. Following Krutka et al. (2016), PLCs are collaborative teams, typically based in a single school or district, which yielded positive results (Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008). Then, in contrast to the collaboration emphasized in PLCs, PLEs tend to emphasize using technologies to help individual learners direct their learning (Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012). Lastly, PLNs integrate both the collaboration central to PLCs and the emphasis on learner autonomy and technologies from PLEs.

Moreover, Trust et al. (2016) explored that PLNs can also be differentiated from online communities, practice networks, and social media sites. According to them, online communities are groups of people who connect for a shared purpose, while a network refers to a “set of nodes and links with affordances for learning” (Wenger, Trayner, & de Laat, 2011, p. 9). Social media sites are digital tools that people can connect and communicate with others. Each of these terms refers to a single medium for connecting with others. PLNs are broader, multifaceted systems that often incorporate multiple communities, networks of practice, and sites that support both on- and offline learning.

Previous studies have revealed some advantages of PLNs. Through PLNs, teachers participate in these online spaces to find, share, and create professional knowledge (Carpenter & Krutka, 2015; Trust, 2015; Duncan-Howell, 2010; Forte, Humphreys, & Park, 2012). Besides, teachers can collaborate with and feel supported by a community of education professionals (Carpenter & Krutka, 2014, 2015; Hur & Brush, 2009; Visser et al., 2014). Interestingly, some researchers have also explored how participation in online spaces shapes teachers’ identities (Barab, Kling, & Gray, 2004; Luehmann & Tinelli, 2008) and support diverse affective, social, cognitive, and identity aspects of growth for whole teachers (Trust et al., 2016). Importantly, in line with the advancement of technology, PLNs are uniquely personalized, complex systems of interactions consisting of people, resources, and digital tools that support ongoing learning and professional growth.  PLNs can provide myriad ways (e.g., online, blended, local, global) for teachers to grow based on individual and group needs (Trust et al., 2016; Tour, 2017).

Krutka et al. (2016) identified five critical elements as standard to PLN experiences: engaging, discovering, experimenting, reflecting, and sharing. Figure 3 explains and highlights the interactions among these elements. These fluid and interconnected elements characterize teachers’ experiences at different times and in diverse ways.

Figure 3. Elements of teachers’ professional learning network activities

(Krutka et al., 2016)

A variety of personal, interpersonal, and conditional factors must be considered before successfully implementing professional development activities, including PLNs. Therefore, Prenger et al. (2021) identified the following characteristics from the literature:

  1. Structured and guided activities that are related to the practice
  2. A shared goal and focus on a concrete outcome
  3. Collective focus on student learning
  4. Individual prior knowledge and motivation
  5. Trust
  6. Collaboration and active participation
  7. Reflective dialogue
  8. Leadership
  9. Stakeholder support: school (principal) and colleagues
  10. Facilitation

Classroom 2.0, Edmodo, and The Educator’s PLN are three popular PLNs for teachers containing information aggregation and social media tools (Trust, 2012). These Web sites make it easy for individual members to shape their learning. These Websites allow individual members to create a profile page, join interest groups, participate in discussions, share resources, and build relationships with other members. However, each Web site is unique and adapted to the community members. The Educator’s PLN and Classroom 2.0 share many similar features. However, The Educator’s PLN Web site is more member-focused because its main page features uploads and posts from members. Classroom 2.0’s main page features Classroom 2.0 LIVE and other administrator-driven content. In comparison, Edmodo has one of the unique and beneficial features in allowing teachers to create groups for their classes. After teachers create a group page, they receive a unique code that they share with their students. The students use this code to join the group. Teachers can post notes, alerts, assignments, quizzes, polls, and grades on the group page.

Practical Strategies to Increase the Longevity of PLN

As lifelong learners, educators are expected to consider strategies to increase longevity when participating and establishing PLN. Clifford (2013) provides some practical strategies for developing a productive PLN.  

When using the PLN, educators must:

  1. Keep the spirit of collaboration as your driving force, as PLNs are all about working together.  Be reciprocal and resourceful.
  2. Join an online community to share ideas and contact people for direct feedback.
  3. Join a Meetup group.  Meetups are common thread interest groups that meet in the real world and can also extend to social networks.
  4. Become a beacon of light as PLNs rely on the open sharing of information. It is best to start with a specific interest and then grow into other topics as time goes on. Become an expert in a particular niche by researching current trends and then draw an enormous following on the network via blog.
  5. Initiate to ask questions, as PLNs are all about learning. Try simple searches on TED talks, Wikis, blogs, or news articles before posting a question.
  6. Be an active participant since brainpower is the main asset of a PLN. Keeping up to date through regular posts will grow the PLN.
  7. Remember to be polite and acknowledge contributions to the rightful owner by showing common respect for the people in your network. 
  8. Designate a professional and personal account to keep social life on Facebook and professional life on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. 
  9. Create a landing page to consolidate all of the accounts on a landing page.  A webpage or personal blog will make it easier for people to find the PLN and showcase the different projects.
  10. Engage newbies by including a mix of newbies, peers, and experts to keep with the essence of collaboration.

Furthermore, Clifford (2013) provides some strategies for establishing a productive PLN:

  1. Use Diigo, Evernote, or Pocket to bookmark links.  You can access them anywhere and on any device.  For example, Diigo is like creating your library.  Diigo is the preferred tool for educators. It allows you to highlight paragraphs, clip pictures while reading, bookmark a page in a “virtual” library or online archive, add tags to search for information later, and share resources in a group. 
  2. Use a reader to subscribe to blogs.  Google reader allows you to manage multiple subscriptions to blogs and easier access to new research.  You can also use Scribd or Yahoo News Social to share what you read with others publicly.
  3. Establish a platform by establishing a blog site on WordPress or blogger.com.  A blog provides a worldwide stage to share your views on education, spread your passion, and find kindred spirits.  The consistent posts can develop lasting connections and plan new projects.  Fellow bloggers will appreciate the time you put into creating meaningful materials. Your ideas can then be re-shared as a link.
  4. Share on Twitter first. Twitter reigns king, for now.  Anything can change with technology, but Twitter is the most commonly used tool among academics for expanding PLNs.  LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ also provide access to different networks. Later, you can use other means to develop further and manage your networks, such as Skype and Google tools. Many new platforms are emerging, so stay current by reading tech or social media news on a site such as Mashable.
  5. Consider your role as a searcher, assembler, designer of data, innovator of subject matter, and researcher. Consider your learning style when designing a specific approach to your PLN:
  6. Activist-Learning by doing, such as writing a blog.
  7. Reflector-Learn by reviewing situations, such as posting opinions to articles.
  8. Theorist-Prefer to learn by researching information and data, such as creating a model.
  9. Pragmatist-Apply is learning to real problems by creating a project that uses PLNs in the classroom.
  10. Aggregate resources together. There is an excellent chart of resources for mapping out your PLN plan on this blog.
  11. Take a free course to learn about PLNs. MOOCs are Massive Online Open Courses that are free to the public.  For instance, this course, complete with handouts, shows you how to establish a PLN.  You learn actively by taking small steps to create your PLN, such as creating a blog, Twitter account, and content. 
  12. Stay current with new tools. Many specific tools on different applications allow you to customize and organize your PLN to fit your needs.  Chrome and Windows 8 have several free applications that are worth trying.
  13. Simplify logins. You can speed up the login process by installing a Password management application.
  14. Establish a classroom learning network. Share your expertise with other educators on a website or blog.  Create a class website or teach students how to create their PLN. For instance, they might use Google scholar to research a paper or share ideas on Google Hangouts.

In conclusion, as lifelong learners, educators must never stop learning to adjust students’ needs and characteristics influenced by the disruptive era. Notably, in digital spaces, all users in education (teachers and learners) contribute to knowledge as seamless learning is inevitable. However, it is imperative to take into account some factors and strategies when educators initiate, participate, and organize the PLNs to improve their longevity.

References:

Clifford, M. (2013). 10 Tips for Using PLN. https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/

Divjak, S., Dowling, C., Fisser, P., Grabowska, A., Hezemans, M., Kendall, M., Mihnev, P., Ritzen, M., Syslo, M. M., Vicari, R., & van Weert, T. (2004). Lifelong Learning in the Digital Age: Sustainable for all in a changing world (T. J. van Weert & M. Kendal (eds.); Lifelong L). Kluwer Academic Publishers.

ISTE. (2022). ISTE Standards: Educators. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-teachers

Krutka, D. G., Carpenter, J. P., & Trust, T. (2016). Elements of Engagement: A Model of Teacher Interactions via Professional Learning Networks. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 32(4), 150–158. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2016.1206492

Prenger, R., Poortman, C. L., & Handelzalts, A. (2021). Professional learning networks: From teacher learning to school improvement? Journal of Educational Change, 22(1), 13–52. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-020-09383-2

Started, G., Now, A., & Fischer, G. (2018). Why Good Educators Are Lifelong Learners. EWU Online. https://online.ewu.edu/articles/education/good-educators-lifelong-learners.aspx

Tour, E. (2017). Teachers’ personal learning networks (PLNs): exploring the nature of self-initiated professional learning online. Literacy, 51(1), 11–18. https://doi.org/10.1111/lit.12101

Trust, T. (2012). Professional Learning Networks Designed for Teacher Learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(4), 133–138. https://doi.org/10.1080/21532974.2012.10784693

Trust, T., Krutka, D. G., & Carpenter, J. P. (2016). “Together we are better”: Professional learning networks for teachers. Computers and Education, 102, 15–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2016.06.007

Professional Learning Community Using Social Media: Yea or Nay?

Collaboration is compulsory in this digital era to learn and grow together. Notably, educators are expected to be long-life learners to comply with cutting-edge issues and trends.

Through collaboration, educators can improve their knowledge, skills, and experience to solve problems. Collaboration allows teachers to work together and learn from others (Englert & Tarrant, 1995, cited in Scott, 2015). Proper practices then increase student achievement scores and school culture resulting in data-driven improvement. I believe that collaboration among educators, colleagues, and students is getting more accessible by leveraging digital technologies through an Online or Virtual Professional Learning Community. This fact aligns with the ISTE Standards for Educators, particularly an educator as a collaborator (ISTE, 2022). Educators dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems. Therefore this article addresses how educators dedicate planning time to collaborating with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology (Point 2.4.a.) and use collaborative tools to expand students’ authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams, and students, locally and globally (Point 2.4.c.).

What is a Professional Learning Community (PLC)?

For over a decade, practitioners have promoted professional learning communities (PLCs) as an effective structure for providing teachers with professional development (Chappuis, Chappuis, & Stiggins, 2009; DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, cited in Blitz, 2013). PLC is sometimes used interchangeably with Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). Let us see what makes them different from each other. As seen in Scott (2015), PLCs are a group of teachers with a shared focus on student learning that consistently collaborates for continued school improvement (Dexter, Seashore, & Anderson, 2002; Jackl, 2009; Reichstetter, 2006). Whereas PLNs are networked individuals with shared interests that interact virtually for collaboration, creation, contribution, and information consumption for personal learning and development (Bauer, 2010; Warlick, 2010).

Three main factors that distinguish a PLC from team meetings are (a) commitment, (b) conditions, and (c) collaboration. As cited in Scott (2015), teacher commitment to student learning and school improvement is supported by a shared vision, purpose, and goals (Hord & Sommers, 2008; Jackl, 2009; Strahan, 2003). Human and structural conditions set the foundation for successful meetings and a positive learning environment (Kruse, Louis, & Bryk, 1994; Reichstetter, 2006). Collaboration occurs through shared personal practice, reflective dialogue, and pedagogical content and knowledge (Andrews & Lewis, 2002; Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2006). On the other side, through PLN, educators can share and interact anytime, anywhere, and active learning (Bauer, 2010; Warlick, 2009; Way, 2012, cited in Scott, 2015).

Moreover, the State Government of Victoria (2021) found ten principles that bring together the best available research on school improvement to create effective PLCs are:

  1. Student learning focus: School improvement starts with an unwavering focus on student learning.
  2. Collective responsibility: For every child to achieve, every adult must take responsibility for their learning.
  3. Instructional leadership: Effective school leaders focus on teaching and learning.
  4. Collective efficacy: Teachers make better instructional decisions together.
  5. Adult learning: Teachers learn best with others on the job.
  6. Privileged time: Effective schools provide time and forums for teacher conversations about student learning.
  7. Continuous improvement: Effective teams improve through recurring cycles of diagnosing student learning needs, and planning, implementing, and evaluating teaching responses to them.
  8. Evidence is driven: Effective professional learning and practice are evidence-based and data-driven.
  9. System focus: The most effective school leaders contribute to the success of other schools.
  10. Integrated regional support: Schools in improving systems are supported by teams of experts who know the communities they work in.

Online or Virtual Professional Learning Community

Combining PLC and PLN will allow the design of an Online Professional Learning Community (OPLC) to enable teachers in small schools to build social capital and professional development opportunities to impact student learning and overall school improvement positively (Scott, 2015). Notably, the rise in technological advancement has shifted the PLC into online or virtual PLC.

Ford, Branch, and Moore’s (2008) description of the VPLC, cited in Bedford (2019), further clarifies this definition by stating that it uses Internet technology to facilitate engagement and interaction among faculty for relationship building and learning. As the knowledge is experienced digitally, the VPLC has the potential to mitigate biases and limitations that may exist in face-to-face or synchronous settings (Trust, Carpenter, & Krutka, 2017, cited in Bedford, 2019).

Some advantages commonly asserted for online PLCs over traditional PLCs, Blitz (2013) summarized that online PLCs:

  1. Provide more time and space for teachers to learn and collaborate (Reading, 2010; Tsai, Laffey, & Hanuscin, 2010).
  2. Lower the cost and time demand that traditional professional development activities place on busy teachers (Beach, 2012; Cirillo & Shay, 2007; Duncan-Howell, 2010; Hodes, Foster, Pritz, & Kelley, 2011).
  3. Create opportunities to satisfy personal learning interests and goals better because participants have more freedom than in a face-to-face group meeting to connect closely with members who share the same goods without disturbing the group dynamics (Chalmers & Keown, 2006; Curwood, 2011; Fasso, 2010; Forsyth & Schaverien, 2005).
  4. It can serve a broad range of education improvement goals (content-, skill-, or student-focused), pursued individually or together (Lieberman & Mace, 2010).
  5. Provide opportunities to scale educators’ interactions broadly and efficiently because online PLCs do not limit group size and allow busy educators to participate and contribute meaningfully to the group (Lieberman & Mace, 2010; Sorensen, Takle, & Moser, 2006).
  6. Enable complete and timely access to valuable internal resources, such as archival data, and resources not available locally, such as expert knowledge (Nistor, Baltes, & Schustek, 2012; Pijanowski, 2010).
  7. Can provide daily guidance for teachers in applying novel curricula or pedagogies (Vavasseur & MacGregor, 2008).
  8. Can provide professional mentoring for entry-level teachers (Dorner & Karpati, 2010).
  9. Enable PLC designers to collect rich, real-time assessment data on participants’ engagement and learning, including longitudinal data (Schlager, Farooq, Fusco, Schank, & Dwyer, 2009).

Fostering Online or Virtual Professional Learning Community Using Social Media

VPLCs draw on various technology tools to provide social and dispersed learning opportunities, as described by Atkins, Koroluk, and Stranach (2017, cited in Bedford, 2019). Some empirical studies reveal that many VPLC delivery models use online blogs or discussion board features supported by email and document sharing to facilitate conversation among colleagues using an asynchronous design (Bedford & Rossow, 2017). Also, synchronous VPLCs can be designed using videoconferencing software, such as Skype or Google Hangouts. In addition, these platforms can be combined for a blended format, offering flexible delivery of content and conversation (Hodes & Cady, 2013; Matzat, 2013).

Turning to some advantages of social media as a platform for professional learning, Bedford (2019) explore some critical points. Social media supports learners in being producers of information rather than passive consumers, promotes learning through understanding others’ experiences, and embraces a desire to continue learning with a social community of peers (Sullivan, Neu, & Yang, 2018). Next, building features into the social media environment that capitalizes on the diverse engagement preferences and communication styles is one example of how the individual can be nurtured within the social media learning environment (Constantinides, 2012). Recent contributions to the literature offer other suggestions to address situational and design features that may inhibit participation. Kind and Evans (2015) recommend embedding features into the social media site that include opportunities for participants to respond, question, and contribute and be easily updated to provide interactive, time-sensitive information. Participants in social media for learning report enhanced self-improvement through purposeful design, such as building a platform embedded into the user’s regular work routine (Donelan, 2016). Participants also appreciate being able to draw on shared beliefs and find this can create a sense of community. According to Belange, Bluvshtein, and Haugen (2015), these shared beliefs can include understanding the importance of connectedness in all aspects of life, including learning that cannot easily be supported in other modes.

On the other hand, the social media drawbacks for PLC are still rare as researchers still focus on the disadvantages of social media in teaching-learning. For instance, Greenhow and Robelia (2009, cited in Rios et al., 2010) offer a long list of potential risks when using social software in adult education. These include workload concerns for educators and students, lack of trust in peer feedback, ownership issues regarding public and collaborative spaces, difficulty adapting publicly available tools, and difficulty in protecting anonymity. Furthermore, practitioners adult educators (Zascerinska, 2010) indicate the crucial actions that a trainer must undertake in applying social media as a learning environment to achieve educational success. The most frequent methods mentioned are staying in touch with the participants, discussing moderation, including group tasks, creating an active learning environment, providing constant and accurate feedback, and respecting the diversity of participants’ work styles. These drawbacks might occur in different contexts, particularly in online or virtual PLC.

To sum up, it is inevitable to find benefits and drawbacks from leveraging technologies in PLC, including using social media. Knowing digital technologies is highly recommended to promote teacher-teacher collaboration and teacher-student collaboration. Exploring various platforms will be beneficial for educators to comply with the rapid advancement of technology and upgrade their digital competencies. So, keep learning and exploring!

References:

Bedford, L. (2019). Using social media as a platform for a virtual professional learning community. Online Learning Journal, 23(3), 120–136. https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v23i3.1538

Bedford, L., & Rossow, K. (2017). Facilitating professional learning communities among higher education faculty: The Walden Junto model. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 20(2). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer202/bedford_rossow202.html

Blitz, C. . (2013). Can online learning communities achieve the goals of traditional professional learning communities ? What the literature says. In Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic (Issue September). https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/rel/regions/midatlantic/pdf/REL_2013013.pdf

Hodes, T., & Cady, J. (2013). Blended-format professional development and the emergence of communities of practice. Math Education Research, 25, 299–316. doi:10.1007/s13394-012- 0065-0

ISTE. (2022). ISTE Standards: Students. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students

Matzat, U. (2013). Do blended virtual learning communities enhance teachers’ professional development more than purely virtual ones? A large-scale empirical comparison. Computers and Education, 60, 40–51. Retrieved from http://www.elsevier.com/locate/compedu

Rios, E. D. S., Donato, A. M., & Sprott, D. (2010). Advantages and disadvantages of social media as a learning environment in adult education. Interagir: Pensando a Extensão, 0(15), 1–9. https://epale.ec.europa.eu/sites/default/files/epale_social_media.pdf

Scott, K. (2015). Identifying the Perceptions and Preferences of Teachers in Small Schools toward Online Professional Learning Communities. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Issue May 2015) [Texas Tech University]. https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/bitstream/handle/2346/62339/SCOTT-DISSERTATION-2015.pdf?sequence=1

State Government of Victoria. (2021). Professional Learning Communities. Education and Training. https://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/management/improvement/plc/Pages/default.aspx?Redirect=1

Zaščerinska, J. (2012). A Methodology of Evaluation of Efficiency of Engineering Curriculum in the Context of Sustainable Development. Management of Sustainable Development (MSD) Journal, 4(2), 21-28.

Enhancing Student Engagement in Online Learning through Fishbowl Discussion: A Reflection

Creating a classroom environment conducive to discussions is the key to successful discussions, regardless of whether the discussions are face-to-face or online, whether synchronous or asynchronous. Many practices for creating an inclusive learning environment also create a learning environment conducive to discussions. Instructors can improve the likelihood that their class environment will be conducive to student discussions by establishing trust and community with and among their students (UW KnowledgeBase, 2020). This point aligns with the ISTE Standards for Students, particularly as a digital citizen (point 2) (ISTE, 2022). This point highlights that students recognize the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living, learning, and working in an interconnected digital world. They act and model in safe, legal, and ethical ways. As digital citizens, students are expected to:

a. Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.

b. Students engage in positive, safe, legal, and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or networked devices.

c.  Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for using and sharing intellectual property rights and obligations.

d. Students manage their data to maintain digital privacy and security and know data-collection technology to navigate online.

Ensuring that students also have access to their discussions is a crucial element to the overall success of the discussion. Before a course start date, careful thought around technology, tools, bandwidth, and accommodations for discussion tools can help to ensure that all students will be able to participate in discussions throughout the course. Once an accessible discussion tool has been selected, how-to guides and technical support can help to remove barriers to engaging with the device that students who do not have prior experience with the device may face.

What is active learning?

University students are expected to do Higher Order Thinking (HOT) (See  Boosting Students’ Innovative Design and Computational Thinking Through Project-Based Learning in Higher Education). Wiggins and McTighe (2005) have developed a multifaceted view of what makes up a mature understanding, a six-sided view of the concept. When students truly understand, students can explain, interpret, effectively apply and adapt, have perspective, emphasize, and have self-knowledge. This mature understanding aligns with the active learning approaches that promote skill development and higher-order thinking through activities that might include reading, writing, and discussion. Metacognition — thinking about one’s thinking — can also be an essential element, helping students connect course activities to their learning (Brame, 2016).

Cited from Ghilay and Ghilay (2015), active learning involves providing opportunities for students to meaningfully talk and listen, write, read, and reflect on the content, ideas, issues, and concerns of an academic subject (Meyers & Jones, 1993). Bonwell and Eison (1991) similarly define active learning as any strategy involving students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing. To actively study, learning should include any technique involving students in the learning process and holding them responsible for their learning (Bonwell & Eison, 1991; Yoder & Hochevar, 2005).

McKeachie and Svinicki (2014, cited in Ghilay & Ghilay, 2015) claim that active learning has many benefits:

  • Students are more likely to access their prior knowledge, which is a key to learning.
  • Students are more likely to find personally meaningful problem solutions or interpretations.
  • Students receive more frequent and immediate feedback.
  • The need to produce forces learners to retrieve information from memory rather than simply recognizing a correct statement.
  • Students increase their self-confidence and self-reliance.
  • For most learners, it is more motivating to be active than passive.
  • A task that one has done themselves or as part of a group is more highly valued.
  • Student conceptions of knowledge change, which has implications for cognitive development.
  • Students who work together on active learning tasks learn to work with people of different backgrounds and attitudes.
  • Students learn strategies for learning themselves by observing others.

What is a fishbowl discussion?

The Fishbowl Discussion is an example of active learning; this teaching strategy encourages full student participation, reflection, and depth of knowledge. A small group of students is selected to be the fish (in the Fishbowl), the Inner Group. Meanwhile, the rest of the class will be observers (out of the Fishbowl), hereafter called the Outer Group. The Inner Group participates in a discussion responding to an instructor prompt. The Outer Group outside of the bowl listens and reflects on the alternative viewpoints. In online learning, this fishbowl discussion is done synchronously (2 hours via Zoom) and asynchronously (1 week via LMS forum discussion).

Students will read the shared eBook and resources related to the topic assigned by the lecturer in my Curriculum and Technology Design course. After reading the references, they worked in a group (inner or outer groups) to discuss critical points in the given topic. The Inner Group starts the online discussion, and the Outer Group observes and responds to the discussion. The audience is also involved in responding to the discussion. This way, students will actively and ethically engage in online forum discussions and share online sources through online discussion. Throughout this unit, students will: 1) read book chapters, 2) discuss the book chapters in both inner group and outer group, and 3) engage in online forum discussion. The unit addresses Learning and Communication in Technology Enhanced Language Learning (which covers reading, criticizing, discussing, and engaging) taken from Technology Enhanced Language Learning: Connective Theory and Practice by Walker and White (2013). Besides, this activity addressed the ISTE Student Standard point 2 b (engaging in positive, safe, legal, and ethical behavior in social interactions online) and 2c (respecting intellectual property online). The unit is appropriate for senior undergraduate students.

Lesson Plan for Synchronous and Asynchronous Fishbowl Discussion

This lesson plan is intended for undergraduate students using a virtual teleconference platform like Zoom, Teams, Google Meet (synchronous), and Learning Management Systems such as Moodle, Canvas, Google Classroom (asynchronous).

Synchronous Fishbowl Discussion (2 hours)


Introduction 5 mins

  1. Teacher talk: inform the purpose of the Fishbowl Discussion activity regarding the topic and explain the mechanism of Fishbowl Discussion activity.

Inner Group 30 minutes

  1. Introduce the topic to the audience.
  2. Each member delivers critical points on the topic.
  3. Each member responds to critical points and exchanges opinions one to another.
  4. This discussion is being monitored and observed by Outer Group. In this time, the Outer Group complete the Self-Monitor Sheet.

Outer Group 15 minutes

  1. Each member asks questions to clarify or argue the Inner Group discussion.
  2. The Inner Group responds to the questions from the Outer Group.

Audience Participation 15 minutes

  1. Other students ask questions to clarify or argue the Inner Group discussion.
  2. The Inner Group responds to the questions from the audience.

Self-Assessment and Self-Reflection (1  day)

  1. After the session, the Inner Group members complete the Individual Self-Assessment and Group Self-Assessment.

Participation Assessment (during the class session)

  1. The lecturer and teaching assistant monitor and observe the student’s participation during the discussion.

Asynchronous Fishbowl Discussion (1 Week)


Introduction (Day 1)

  1. Teacher announcement: inform the purpose of the Fishbowl Discussion activity regarding the topic and explain the mechanism of Fishbowl Discussion activity.

Inner Group (Day 1 and 2)

  1. Introduce the topic to the audience.
  2. Each member delivers critical points on the topic.
  3. Each member responds to critical points and exchanges opinions one to another.
  4. This discussion is being monitored and observed by Outer Group. In this time, the Outer Group complete the Self-Monitor Sheet.

Outer Group (Day 2 and 3)

  1. Each member asks questions to clarify or argue the Inner Group discussion.
  2. The Inner Group responds to the questions from the Outer Group.

Audience Participation (Day 4, 5, 6)

  1. Other students ask questions to clarify or argue the Inner Group discussion.
  2. The Inner Group responds to the questions from the audience.

Self-Assessment and Self-Reflection (Day 7)

  1. After the session, the Inner Group members complete the Individual Self-Assessment and Group Self-Assessment.

Participation Assessment (during the whole week)

  1. The lecturer and teaching assistant monitor and observe the student’s participation during the discussion.

Throughout this session, students had the opportunity to engage in online forum discussion using the fishbowl technique, use online tools to collect and annotate online sources, use the rubric of self-assessment individually and in the group, and effectively summarize the chapter. The learning analytics in LMS can be seen here

Reflection

I learned a lot from analyzing this lesson plan by implementing the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework. I have taught this lesson five times previously through offline learning, but I did not have a chance to apply this framework in this lesson planning. Notably, using the UbD framework in my first online learning lesson was interesting as this was my first experience. Shifting the offline to online learning is another challenge to experience. This way, I was forced to modify the Fishbowl discussion in an online context, including asynchronous and synchronous ones. A well-planned and carried-out discussion offers students the opportunity to engage actively in their learning. The format of discussions itself is best suited to higher-level Learning Outcomes, such as applying, analyzing, and evaluating. When panels are designed to be low-stakes opportunities to construct knowledge in learning teams or the broader learning community, students can actively demonstrate their understanding of the targeted learning outcome for the discussion activity.

Moreover, I found some potential tools to integrate online synchronous and asynchronous Fishbowl discussions, such as Learning Management System (LMS) and videoconferencing. These two tools support me in engaging students in online discussion. Again, a well-planned discussion format should be prepared to engage students.

In summary, this particular project was excellent practice in designing active learning and instruction in online learning. Teachers can incorporate asynchronous and synchronous activities to engage students. Leveraging digital tools assists us in creating more interactive activities and fosters us to be more creative in designing various online activities, mainly to engage students actively. Hopefully, I can explore more exciting and engaging activities to promote student engagement in online learning as a digital citizen in this interconnected digital world. Fighting!

References:

Bonwell, C., & Eison, J. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1, Washington, D.C.: The George Washington University, School of Education and Human Development. 

Brame, C. (2016). Active learning. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/active-learning/

Ghilay, Y., & Ghilay, R. (2015). TBAL: Technology-Based Active Learning in Higher Education. Journal of Education and Learning, 4(4), 10–18. https://doi.org/10.5539/jel.v4n4p10

ISTE. (2022). ISTE Standards: Students. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students

Meyers, C., & Jones, T. B. (1993). Promoting active learning: Strategies for the college classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

UW KnowledgeBase. (2020, July 15). Using Online Asynchronous Discussions to Increase Student Engagement & Active Learning. Retrieved on 2021, March 20 from https://kb.wisc.edu/instructional-resources/104034

UW KnowledgeBase. (2020, December 18). Fishbowl Discussion (classroom). [online]. Retrieved on 2021, March 20 from  https://kb.wisc.edu/instructional-resources/107982

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). The Six Facets of Understanding. In Understanding by Design (Issue November, pp. 82–104). Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. http://pdonline.ascd.org/pd_online/ubd_intro/wiggins98chapter4.htm

Yoder, J. D., & Hochevar, C. M. (2005). Encouraging active learning can improve students’ performance on examinations. Teaching of Psychology, 32(2), 91-95. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15328023top3202_2

Promoting the 6C’s of Education through Digital Technologies in Higher Education

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

-Alvin Toffler –

Communicating creatively and collaborating globally play an essential role in 21st-century education. University graduates must be equipped with these 21st-century skills to compete globally and comply with the competitive markets. Therefore, teachers need to foster new skills in the classroom—mastery of the 6 Cs of education, including critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, citizenship/culture, and character education/connectivity. It is clear that the 6Cs” need to be fully integrated into classrooms, schools, and districts around the country to produce citizens and employees adequately prepared for the 21st century. Notably, technology proliferation leverages these six skills employed in teaching and learning. These 6 Cs of education are in line with the ISTE Standards for Students, particularly as a creative communicator (point 6) and global collaborators (point 7) (ISTE, 2022). As a creative communicators, students are expected to:

  1. Choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
  2. Create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  3. Communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models, or simulations.
  4. Publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

As a global collaborator, students are expected to:

  1. Use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning
  2. Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts, or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints
  3. Contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal
  4. Explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions

What are the 6C’s of education?

To be successful, students need more than just the basic 21st Century Skills associated with the 6Cs. They also need emotional intelligence, grit, perseverance, an intrinsic desire to learn, and the capacity to empathize with others. Therefore, embracing the 6Cs is critically essential to prepare students for their future.

Figure 1. 6C of Education for the Future

1. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the process of filtering, analyzing, and questioning information/content found in various media and then synthesizing it in a form that offers value to an individual. It allows students to make sense of the presented content and apply it to their daily lives (Miro Inc., 2021). This skill covers problem-solving, higher-order thinking (HOT) skills, real-world problems, project-based learning, and interdisciplinary approach.

Chiruguru (2020) further elaborates four (4) definitions of critical thinking and problem solving:

1. Reason effectively a. Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation.

2. Use systems thinking

a. Analyze how parts interact to produce overall outcomes in complex systems.

3. Make judgments and decisions.

a. Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims, and beliefs.

b. Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view.

c. Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments.

d. Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis.

e. Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes.

4. Solve problems

a. Solve unfamiliar problems in conventional and innovative ways.

b. Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions.

2. Communication

Communication provides how the individual can present information. Information is presented in a multitude of means through a variety of media. Communication must be clear and concise, compelling and engaging, and eventually be presented in a meaningful way to the individual and the audience. This skill covers effective communication, self and peer review, information fluency, media fluency, and digital fluency.

Chiruguru (2020) defines communication as sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions. It is much easier and more challenging to communicate simultaneously in the technological age. Technology has provided more convenient ways to communicate, but sometimes the various ways can become overwhelming. Without effective communication, there is no way to get anything done inside the classroom or anywhere, which is why this is an essential 21st Century skill. Therefore, he further proposes some strategies how to communicate clearly:

  1. Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills in various forms and contexts.
  2. Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes, and intentions.
  3. Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g., to inform, instruct, motivate, and persuade)
  4. Use multiple media, technologies, and know-how to prioritize the impact and effectiveness.
  5. Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multilingual and multicultural)

3. Collaboration

Collaboration is the skill of utilizing various personalities, talents, and knowledge to create a maximum outcome. The outcome must provide a benefit to a group or the entire community. Due to synergy, the typical result has a more excellent value than the sum of values of each outcome (Miro Inc., 2021). Collaboration skill includes team building, effective communication, self, and peer assessment, collaborative mediums, and suitable technologies.

Further, Chiruguru (2020) defines collaboration as follows:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams.
  2. Exercise flexibility and willingness to help make necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal.
  3. Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member.

4. Creativity

In the 21st century, an individual must create something new or create something in a new way, utilizing the knowledge they have already acquired. It signifies art and various solutions to a problem in real-life situations (Miro Inc., 2021). Howard Gardner cites “the creative mind” as one of the five minds we will need in the future. To cultivate such a mind, he says, we need an education that features “exploration, challenging problems, and the tolerance, if not active encouragement, of productive mistakes.”

Creativity can be closely intertwined with other critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Innovation today has a social component and requires adaptability, leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. Increasingly, the capacity to innovate is linked to connecting with others and communication and collaboration facilities.

Besides, the following are some characteristics of creativity proposed by Chiruguru (2020):

  1. Think Creatively
    • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (brainstorming)
    • Create new and worthwhile ideas (incremental and radical concepts)
  2. Elaborate, refine, analyze, and evaluate original ideas to improve and maximize creative efforts.
  3. Work creatively with others
    • Develop, implement, and communicate new ideas to others effectively.
    • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work.
    • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real-world limits to adopting new ideas.
  4. View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation are part of a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes.
  5. Implement innovation
    • Act on creative ideas to make a tangible and valuable contribution to innovation.

5. Citizenship/Culture

Miller states the culture as one of the critical pieces of the 6 C’s, while Michael Fullan features citizenship. They are not so different when we look closer and go hand in hand. Individuals need to be in touch with everything surrounding them—both culture and community (Miro Inc., 2021). The culture encourages the individual to appreciate where we have come from, who we are now and how we can move into the future. Besides, it associates the individual with all surrounding them: art, drama, dance, poetry, history, science, religion, written and verbal language, technology, and the individual. Embracing culture covers the context of information, exchange respect, collaboration, building community, and real-world problems.

6. Character Education/Connectivity

According to Miller (cited in Miro Inc., 2021), understanding the importance of human connectivity in a world filled with technology is necessary to teach children. Fullan (2018) highlights character education as the last C. It includes a school’s commitment to helping young people become responsible, caring, and contributing citizens. Connectivity places the individual in touch with their world. In today’s existence, that is increasingly through the technology rapidly changing the way they view their world, understanding that connections are personal no matter the means of contact and that humanity must remain in light of how the technology may change for each individual. This skill includes an interdisciplinary approach, encouraging collaboration, enabling technology, information fluency, and encouraging reflection.

How to foster the 6C in the Higher Education classroom?

Leveraging digital technologies to foster the 6C in the classroom, particularly in Higher Education, is an excellent strategy in teaching-learning activities. Teachers can embrace these 6C skills through online collaborative learning. Online learning is best accomplished through interactions and collaboration (Bonk, 2009; Palloff & Pratt, 2007, cited in Altowairiki, 2021). Online collaborative learning is more than an activity; instead, it needs to be conceived as an overarching way of learning that fosters continued knowledge building (Lock & Johnson, 2017, cited in Altowairiki, 2021). Through collaborative learning, students must communicate in a digital learning community. This way, they can develop and support self-regulation skills, digital literacies, and the perceived learning of students (Blau et al., 2020). In Higher Education, some tools can encourage students to collaborate or work on projects, such as Padlet, Jamboard, Miro, Google docs, Google slides, Google sheets, and many other tools.

Here are some examples of online collaborative learning promoting the 6C skills of education:

1. Project-Based Learning (PBL)

Project-based learning is a teaching method that students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. Shin et al. (2021) propose some PBL design features (Please see Project-Based Learning in Higher Education). PBL has some steps, as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Project-Based Learning Cycle

Furthermore, as seen in Figure 3, teachers also can incorporate digital technologies in Project-Based Learning. Successful project-based learning (PBL) seeks to develop models for deeper understanding in school and college by engaging students in projects. This method blends classroom teaching, technology use, and problem-solving through projects and real-world challenges (Jain, 2017).

Figure 3. Using Technology in Project-Based Learning

2. Genius Hour

A Genius hour is another teaching method in the classrooms of the 21st century. The movement refers to a certain amount of time during class that teachers give students to explore their passions (Miro Inc., 2021). The crucial part of genius hour is defining a fine line between helping students focus on the problem and researching the topic independently. At the same time, it is acceptable to guide them initially, at some point, to let them work at their own pace and in their style.

According to Heick (2014), in Teachthought, there are six genius hour principles, as seen in Figure 4. A sense of purpose refers to the purpose students find in the topic they choose to explore. Students design their learning methodology, and through inquiry and navigation, students make sense of ideas vital to them.

Figure 4. Genius Hour

These two online collaborative learning activities inevitably foster the mastery of the 6 Cs of education (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, citizenship/culture, and character education/connectivity). Besides, the 6Cs highly support the ISTE Standards for Students. Remarkably, these skills play an essential role to equip university students in global competition.

References:

Altowairiki, N. (2021). Online Collaborative Learning: Analyzing the Process through Living the Experience. International Journal of Technology in Education, 413–427. https://doi.org/10.46328/ijte.95

Blau, I., Shamir-Inbal, T., & Avdiel, O. (2020). How does the pedagogical design of a technology-enhanced collaborative academic course promote digital literacies, self-regulation, and perceived learning of students? Internet and Higher Education, 45, 100722. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2019.100722

Chiruguru, S. (2020). The Essential Skills of 21 st Century Classroom. March, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.36190.59201

Diaz, P. (2020, January 28). A way to promote student voice—literally. https://www.edutopia.org/article/way-promote-student-voice-literally

Fullan, M. (2018). Global Competencies: The 6 C’s FINAL. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnSFWzor6Yo

Heick, T. (2014, September 28). 6 Principles of Genius Hour in The Classroom. https://www.teachthought.com/learning/genius-hour-in-the-classroom/

ISTE. (2022). ISTE Standards: Students. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students

Jain, S. (2017, February 5). 7 Ways to Integrate Technology For Successful Project-Based Learning. https://elearningindustry.com/7-ways-integrate-technology-successful-project-based-learning

Miro Inc. (2021, February 9). The 6 C’s of education. https://miro.com/blog/6-cs-of-education-classroom/

Perkins, D. (2019, December 12). 8 Steps for Teaching Through Project-Based Learning. https://www.teachthought.com/education/steps-project-based-learning/

Shin, N., Bowers, J., Krajcik, J., & Damelin, D. (2021). Promoting computational thinking through project-based learning. Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s43031-021-00033-y

Boosting Students’ Innovative Design and Computational Thinking Through Project-Based Learning in Higher Education

Higher Education emphasizes higher-order thinking (HOT) activities to equip students with 21st-century skills. Remarkably, incorporating technologies in various classroom activities is highly suggested in this disruptive era to enhance 21st-century skills. Notably, thinking skills and creativity in 21st-century education are essential in creating global competitive graduates (Yuyun, 2020). One of the learning activities in higher education applying HOT is project-based learning (PBL). I will share a PBL activity implemented in my classroom, designing an e-module for teaching English for specific purposes. Students must identify and solve problems in this project-based learning by conducting a course design sequence.

Figure 1. 21st Century Skills

Figure 2. The Revised Framework of Bloom’s Taxonomy

What are Innovative Design and Computational Thinking?

Leveraging technologies in the classroom will indeed support students to be innovative designers and computational thinkers. In higher education, students can use various technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, practical, or imaginative solutions. Besides, students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems to leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions (ISTE, 2022). These points are stated in ISTE Standards for Students, particularly as an innovative designer (point 4) and computational thinker. As an innovative designer, students are expected to:

a. Know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts, or solving authentic problems

b. Select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks

c. Develop, test, and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process

d. Exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance, and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

As a computational thinkers, students are expected to:

a. Formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models, and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.

b. Collect data to identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

c. Break problems into parts, extract critical information and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.

d. Understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.

As cited in Shin et al. (2021), computational thinking (CT) is not only beneficial for computer scientists and software engineers but is beneficial for everyone trying to understand phenomena, solve complex problems, or analyze multiple possible outcomes to make an informed decision (Grover & Pea, 2017; Wing, 2006). CT based on the simulation modeling perspective centers on five aspects: (CT1) decomposing a problem such that it is computationally solvable, (CT2) creating computational artifacts through algorithmic thinking, (CT3) generating, organizing, and interpreting data, (CT4) testing and debugging, and (CT5) making iterative refinements.

Project-Based Learning in Higher Education

Project-based learning involves students experiencing and making sense of phenomena as they participate in various science practices with big science ideas through constructing tangible products in collaborative activities (Krajcik & Shin, in Shin et al., 2021). Fundamental learning principles of PBL include 1) active construction of tangible products, 2) using meaningful questions to engage with various practices and big ideas in compelling real-world contexts, 3) active collaboration, and 4) use of cognitive tools.

Therefore, Shin et al. (2021) propose PBL design features for computational thinking through modeling, as seen in the following parts:

  1. Focusing on learning goals to demonstrate mastery of science ideas and CT practice.
  2. Starting with a driving question grounded in CT that students find meaningful to sustain engagement and drive learning through CT.
  3. Exploring the driving question by participating in science practices that intersect with CT (e.g., asking questions, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigation, analyzing and interpreting data, constructing an explanation, and designing a solution) so that students see the value of and transfer their learning to everyday situations.
  4. Creating a set of tangible CT products in collaborative sensemaking activities to address the driving question so that students construct their knowledge as active learners.
  5. Scaffolding with learning technologies (e.g., computational modeling tools, discourse tools) to help students participate in activities and engage in CT beyond their normal abilities.

Implementing PBL through Designing E-Module for English for Specific Purposes

Designing E-Module for English for Specific Purposes is an output product from the Curriculum and Technology Design (CTD) course, which is given to the 7th-semester students of the English Department. CTD is designed to develop students’ ability to understand how technology can be integrated into EFL innovative curriculum designs and design a technology-enabled instructional strategy to promote EFL teaching and learning. Exceptionally, students are equipped to develop the EFL curriculum using technology-based applications (Yuyun, 2017).

This E-Module Project is given in the second half of the semester after the students are equipped with some theoretical concepts of technology-enhanced language learning. The students work in pairs for seven weeks to do the project. To create this E-Module, the students must carry out some steps of the curriculum design project. The steps include environment analysis, needs analysis, principle consideration, goals, content and sequencing, format and presentation, monitoring and assessment, evaluation in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) (Nation & Macalister, 2010). These sequences are done collaboratively in groups.

Figure 3. A Model of the Parts of the Curriculum Design Process

(Nation & Macalister, 2010)

1. Environment Analysis

Environment analysis involves looking at the factors that will have a substantial effect on decisions about the goals of the course, what to include in the course, and how to teach and assess it. These factors can arise from the learners, the teachers, and the teaching and learning situation. This step gathers sufficient information from the learners, teachers, and the teaching and learning situation. Importantly, this step applies the CT3 covering generating, organizing, and interpreting data with lower-order thinking skills (remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing). These activities align with the ISTE Standards for Students, points 5a and 5b.

2. Needs Analysis

This part of the curriculum design process aims to discover what needs to be learned and what the learners want. This analysis covers necessities, lacks, and wants (Hutchinson & Waters,1987; Nation & Macalister, 2010). Necessities refer to what the learners have to know from the function effectively. Lacks refers to what the learner knows and does not know already. Wants refer to what the learners think they need. To gather information regarding the environment analysis and needs analysis, some surveys or questionnaires are made and distributed using survey applications such as  SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com), Google Forms (www.googleforms.com), Typeform (www.typeform.com), Zoho Survey (www.zoho.com), SurveyGizmo (www.surveygizmo.com), and SurveyPlanet (https://surveyplanet.com/). In this step, students still apply the CT3 covering generating, organizing, and interpreting data with lower-order and higher-order thinking skills (remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating).

3. Principle Consideration

Curriculum design must connect the research and the theory of language learning and the practice of designing lessons and courses. This step provides a reasonable basis to guide teaching and help design. These principles must be based on research and theory and must be general enough to allow variety and flexibility in their application to suit the wide range of conditions in which language is taught (Nation & Macalister, 2010). Some applications can summarize and synthesize the related theories and principles from Canva (https://www.canva.com/), Mendeley (https://www.mendeley.com/), Endnote, and Nvivo. In this stage, thinking skill is sharpened as teachers are expected to summarize, integrate, and synthesize the related references. These activities are in line with the creative problem-solving strategy proposed by Kuo et al. (2014), which provides step-by-step guidance or scaffolding to help students identify the core of the target problem via knowledge sharing, peer interactions, conflict resolution, and information summarization.

4. Goals, Content, and Sequencing

This part of the curriculum design process aims to list the items to teach in the order they will be taught. The content and sequencing must take account of the environment, the learner’s needs, and the principles of teaching and learning. The curriculum design model in Figure 3 shows goals as the center (Nation & Macalister, 2010) since it is essential to decide why a course is being taught and what the learners need to get from it. Moreover, the content of language courses consists of the language items, ideas, skills, and strategies that meet the goals of the course. One way to provide a systematic and well-researched basis for a course is to use frequency lists and other language items or skills lists. Students apply higher-order thinking (analyzing, evaluating, and creating) in these steps. Also, students practice being innovative designers since they know and use a deliberate design process to generate ideas, test theories, creating innovative artifacts, or solve authentic problems (ISTE Standards for Students, point 4a).

5. Format and Presentation

This part of the curriculum design process aims to choose the teaching and learning techniques and design the lesson plans. The presentation of material in a course involves using suitable teaching techniques and procedures. There are three (3) advantages of having a set format for the lesson: the lessons are easier to make, the course is easier to monitor, and the lessons are easier to learn. To prepare a lesson plan, the teacher can explore the following applications www.lessonwriter.com, https://www.planbook.com/, https://www.chalk.com/planboard/, and https://www.planbookedu.com/. The plan book is also available on mobile in the android store.

Moreover, to select various activities types and learn the material used in the teaching and learning process, the following applications can explore http://edu.glogster.com/, https://learningapps.org/, https://popplet.com/, http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/, https://lyricstraining.com/, http://www.movieclips.com/, and http://www.tagxedo.com/. The teachers can create an interactive book or module using the following applications such as https://pressbooks.com/, www.pubhtml5.com, www.fliphtml5.com, www.anyflip.com, www.flipsnack.com. Again, in these steps, students apply more higher-order thinking (analyzing, evaluating, and creating) and the ISTE Standards for Students, points 5b, 5c and 5d.

6. Monitoring and Assessment

This part of the curriculum design process aims to decide what to test and how to test it. The outer circles of the curriculum design model (environment, needs, and principles) provide data to guide the planning of the processes in the inner circle. Thus, monitoring and assessment must consider the environment, the learner’s needs, and the principles of teaching and learning. The significant types of monitoring and assessment are proficiency test, achievement test, placement test, diagnostic test, observation of learning, and short-term achievement assessment (Nation & Macalister, 2010). Some applications such as https://www.quibblo.com/, http://quizstar.4teachers.org/, https://kahoot.it/, https://quizlet.com/, and https://www.classmarker.com/ can be good resources to deal with any assessment tasks such as quizzes and scoring.

In these steps, students apply the CT4 covering testing and debugging as well as higher-order thinking skills (evaluating and creating).

7. Evaluation

This part of the curriculum design process aims to determine whether the course is thriving and needs improvement. The evaluation requires looking both at the course results, the planning, and the running of the course. It involves the amount of learning, quality of learning, quality of teaching, quality of curriculum design, quality of course administration, quality of support services (library, language lab, etc.), teacher satisfaction, learner satisfaction, sponsor satisfaction, later success of graduates of the course, and financial profitability of the course (Nation & Macalister, 2010). Again, in these steps, students apply the CT4 covering testing and debugging as well as higher-order thinking skills (evaluating and creating).

This E-Module Project can develop both thinking skills and creativity to create global competitive graduates. Ultimately, various activities in technology-enhanced language learning should be developed to sharpen other global skills in 21st-century education.

(Yuyun, 2020)

References:

ISTE. (2022). ISTE Standards: Students. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students

Kuo, F. R., Chen, N. S., & Hwang, G. J. (2014). A creative thinking approach to enhancing university students’ web-based problem-solving performance. Computers and Education, 72, 220–230. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2013.11.005

Nation, I. S. P., & Macalister, J. (2010). Language Curriculum Design. New York:

Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/titiksastrosoewarjo/languagecurriculumdesign?from_action=sav

Shin, N., Bowers, J., Krajcik, J., & Damelin, D. (2021). Promoting computational thinking through project-based learning. Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s43031-021-00033-y

Yuyun, I. (2017). Curriculum and Technology Design: A Course to Explore Technology Applications in EFL Curriculum Design. Journal of ELT Research, 2(1), 78–86. https://doi.org/10.22236/JER

Yuyun, I. (2020). Developing Undergraduate Students’ Higher Thinking Skills and Creativity through E-Module Project. ITELL (Indonesia Technology Enhanced Language Learning), 105–111.

Technology in Higher Education: How does the technology support students’ academic writing?

Learning in higher education involves adapting to new ways of knowing related to understanding, interpreting, and organizing knowledge. Academic literacy practices reading and writing within disciplines. In other words, students constitute central processes through which they learn new subjects and develop their understanding of new areas of study (Lea & Street, 1998).

In this industrial revolution 4.0. in which everything is going to be digital, students in higher education are expected to critically curate various resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others (ISTE, 2022). This point is stated in ISTE Standards for Students, particularly as a knowledge constructor (point 3). As a knowledge constructor, students are expected to:

a. plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.

b. evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility, and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.

c. curate information from digital resources using various tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

d. build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories, and pursuing answers and solutions.

Academic Writing in Higher Education Context

Generally, the writing process has four stages, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Writing Process

Student academic writing is at the heart of teaching and learning in higher education. Students are primarily assessed by what they write and need to learn general literary conventions and disciplinary writing requirements to succeed in higher education (Coffin et al., 2003).

Cited from the University of Sydney (2022), academic writing has four main types (Types of academic writing): descriptive, analytical, persuasive, and critical. Each of these types of writing has specific language features and purposes. You will need to use more than one type in many academic texts. For example, in an empirical thesis:

  • you will use critical writing in the literature review to show where there is a gap or opportunity in the existing research
  • the methods section will be primarily descriptive to summarise the methods used to collect and analyze information
  • the results section will be primarily descriptive and analytical as you report on the data you collected
  • The discussion section is more analytical, as you relate your findings to your research questions, and also persuasive, as you propose your interpretations of the findings.

Moreover, another online reference can be seen in Common Writing Assignments on Purdue Online Writing Lab. Common writing assignments include argumentative, research, exploratory, annotated bibliographies, book reports, definitions, essays, and book reviews.

Role of Technology in Academic Writing

Inevitably, we get many benefits from technological advancement. In higher education, both lecturers and students find it easier to find various online resources for their academic purposes, particularly academic writing. To students, technology may not radically alter what they do when engaged in writing, but it does have a facilitating effect. It permits the rapid transfer of information, resources, and ideas among students and exchanges between students on different campuses or in other countries and cultures (Coffin et al., 2003). This benefit complies with ISTE Standards for Students, Point 3c.

Moreover, students can use technology to facilitate students’ control of academic writing. Applications can be primary (word-processing) or complex (such as running an entire course online using conferencing software). As shown diagrammatically in Figure 2, students can use some of the most relevant applications of the technology to develop student writing (Coffin et al., 2003).

Figure 2. Student writing and technology: a map of resources

Referring to the writing process stages in Figure 1, the followings are some applications used to support the writing academic writing process:

1. Prewriting

During the prewriting stage, writers explore a topic and plan the structure and content of the eventual piece of writing. Prewriting includes concept making, researching, and outlining. Some applications include MindMeister, MindMup, Mindmapping, Canva, https://bubbl.us/, Lucidchart, padlet, http://watchdocumentary.org/, popplet, coggle.

2. Drafting

The PEEL strategy structures effective paragraphs by using the information from an outline. The acronym PEEL stands for Point, Evidence, Explanation, Link. 

A PEEL paragraph structure begins by establishing the point of your paragraph, citing evidence to support or illustrate the issue, then explaining the evidence and links between the topic and thesis. Some applications include https://www.essaybot.com, https://articlegenerator.org/, http://stripgenerator.com/, and https://www.pixton.com/

3. Editing

Students proofread the draft by checking language mechanics, citation, and format in this stage. Check the originality of your piece using http://www.hemingwayapp.com/, Grammarly, https://www.polishmywriting.com/, https://languagetool.org, Reverso, Turnitin, Plagscan.

4. Publishing

In this stage, the students can publish their piece online through e-publishing, e-book maker, anyflip, flipsnack, Canva, https://designrr.io/ebook-creator/, http://lulu.com/, http://issuu.com/.

Technology can be a boon to the writing classroom when handled with care. This way, students must remember to use wisdom in integrating technologies in the learning process. Generally, the benefits of technology in gaining new literacies, learning independent problem-solving skills, and showing students the wide range of composition applications in their lives outweigh the risks.

Practical Tips and Strategies

Kingsley and Tancock (2014) have revealed four fundamental competencies students must possess and attain to complete Internet-based tasks:

  1. generate high-quality inquiry topics
  2. effectively and efficiently search for information
  3. critically evaluate Internet resources
  4. connect ideas across Internet texts

These competencies align with the ISTE Standards for Students, Point 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d.

Furthermore, students are suggested to have multiple dimensions of critical evaluation (Coiro, 2017). Students learn to make reasoned judgments about the overall quality of information on a website benefit from clear definitions and discussion of these dimensions.

  1. Relevance: the information’s level of importance to a particular reading purpose or explicitly stated the need for that information
  2. Accuracy: the extent to which information contains factual and updated details that can be verified by consulting alternative and/or primary sources
  3. Bias/Perspective: the position or slant toward which an author shapes information
  4. Reliability: the information’s level of trustworthiness based on information about the author and the publishing body

These multiple dimensions support the ISTE Standards for Students, Point 3b, evaluating the accuracy, perspective, credibility, and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.

References:

Coiro, J. (2017, August 29). Teaching adolescents how to evaluate the quality of online information. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/evaluating-quality-of-online-info-julie-coiro

Coffin, C., Curry, M. J., Goodman, S., Hewings, A., Lillis, T., & Swann, J. (2003). Teaching Academic Writing: A toolkit for higher education. Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

ISTE. (2022). ISTE Standards: Students. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students

Kingsley, T., & Tancock, S. (2014). Internet inquiry: Fundamental competencies for online comprehension. Reading Teacher, 67(5), 389–399. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1223

Lea, M. R., & Street, B. V. (1998). Student Writing in Higher Education: An academic literacies approach. Studies in Higher Education, 23(2), 157–172. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079812331380364

The Purdue University. (2022). Technology in the Writing Classroom. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/teacher_and_tutor_resources/teaching_resources/remote_teaching_resources/technology_in_the_writing_classroom.html

The University of Sydney. (2022). Types of academic writing. https://www.sydney.edu.au/students/writing/types-of-academic-writing.html

Technology in Higher Education: Leveraging Technology to Maximize Student Success in the Digital Era

Inevitably, the rapid advancement of technology has affected education in many ways. Notably, schools and universities worldwide have shifted their paradigm due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Incorporating technology into the classroom must shift face-to-face (F2F) to online classrooms. This way, faculty, and school members are required to comply with this sudden shift. In higher education, stakeholders keep exploring technology to enhance student center learning. Of course, engaging students in online learning is a key to successful learning in higher education.

Higher education plays an essential role in society. Every nation must continue to focus on approaches that make higher education more accessible and affordable for all. It also means that all students who come to college must leave with meaningful, high-quality degrees and credentials to contribute to the workforce and provide for themselves and their families. In other words, colleges and universities must provide high-quality education through quality courses and support student success (Lumina Foundation for Education, 2009).

What is student success?

Schroeder (2011) elaborates on some elements of student success in higher education, including (1) exposure to knowledge in a variety of areas, (2) the development of intellectual abilities necessary for gathering information and processing it, and (3) applied professional and technical skills.

Figure 1. Elements of Student Success (Schroeder, 2011)

As seen in Figure 1, these elements emphasize the importance of connecting theoretical and practical learning. The balance of academic material and the learning context obviously will differ substantially in different education settings, particularly between strictly academic and career-oriented programs. For example, a student studying computer-assisted design at a community college to attain a one-year certificate will experience a different mix and depth of the elements than a student studying anthropology at a research university to attain a master’s degree. Even in the most training-oriented coursework, however, good programs will incorporate broad perspectives into the curriculum because understanding them will enhance students’ professional and personal success in any walk of life.

Furthermore, Schroeder’s elements of student success are in line with Kivunja (2014), who proposed some career and life skills (CLS) domains of the new learning paradigm. The CLS domains involve flexibility and adaptability skills, initiative and self-direction skills, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility skills.

Role of Technology in Higher Education

The role of ICTs in education is becoming more and more critical. The higher education sector has advanced with the help of various ICT tools such as smart devices, smart boards, online classrooms, digital cameras, projectors, video conferencing tools, audio recording tools, and many more (Prasad & Gupta, 2020).

With technology, we have an opportunity to make learning more directly relevant by aligning both contents and learning approaches with the immediate and long-term needs and interests of learners and the situations in which they will need to use what they have learned. For example, technology allows learners and instructors to tap resources and expertise anywhere globally, starting with their communities. This ability can be beneficial in expanding opportunities for historically disadvantaged students by providing equity of access to high-quality learning materials, expertise, personalized learning experiences, and tools for planning future education or career pathways.

Some examples of how technology can improve and enhance learning in formal and informal learning settings are reported as follows (U.S. Department of Education & Office of Educational Technology, 2017):

  1. Technology enables students to access learning opportunities apart from the traditional barriers of time and place.
  2. Technology lets students access learning opportunities outside formal higher education institutions, such as at their workplace or in community settings.
  3. Technology allows students to access high-quality learning resources, regardless of their institution’s geographical location or funding.
  4. Technology enables enhanced learning experiences through blended learning models.
  5. Technology supports students based on individual academic and non-academic needs through personalization.
  6. Technology can ensure that students with disabilities participate in and benefit from educational programs and activities.

Leveraging Technology to Maximize Student Success

Technology in education and the proper devices in students’ hands help prepare them with the career and technical skills they need to succeed today and in tomorrow’s workforce. Therefore, higher education institutions are encouraged to support students to attain their learning goals.

Higher education will consist of many diverse learning experiences for most students, including institution-based learning, online coursework, continuing education, workforce training, and personal pursuits. Learners will be most successful as they progress through these experiences if they are supported by a robust educational infrastructure that connects these experiences and translates these experiences into verified competencies, skills, and expertise that they own, and that can help them along future academic or career pathways (U.S. Department of Education & Office of Educational Technology, 2017).

U.S. Department of Education & Office of Educational Technology (2017) further suggests some recommendations to integrate infrastructure that supports information-driven student success.

  1. Institutions can ensure that their digital infrastructure provides students with a mechanism for mapping learning and skills mastery to stackable and portable credentials.
  2. Institutions should ensure controlled access and protection when using student data.
  3. Learning experiences enabled by technology should be accessible for all learners, including those with special needs.
  4. Institutions can ensure ubiquitous access to connectivity and devices.
  5. Institutions can have clear Responsible Use Policies (RUP) to promote responsible use and protect student privacy.

On the other hand, since technology promotes personalized learning, students can be empowered to take ownership of their learning. This point aligns with the ISTE student standards (ISTE, 2021). This way, they grow in multiple ways and discover things about themselves they would never discover in a lecture-only classroom. Importantly, technology enables students to access learning opportunities apart from the traditional barriers of time and place. These are the intangibles they will use in life long after the content you taught has faded away.

Moreover, through personalized learning, students involve self-reflection and self-regulation. Panadero (2017) claimed that self-regulated learning (SRL) is one of the most critical research areas in education over the last two decades, including the cognitive, metacognitive, behavioral, motivational, and emotional/affective aspects of learning the data available to researchers. Following the lead, a unified evolving personalized learning model can be generated to provide learners with a more satisfied and engaging learning experience that considers diverse needs and goals.

To conclude, leveraging technology to maximize student success in higher education can be successfully attained with the support of some stakeholders, such as the institutions, teachers, and students. All parties should collaborate hand in hand to achieve learning goals.

References:

ISTE. (2021). ISTE Standards: Students. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students

Kivunja, C. (2014). Teaching Students to Learn and to Work Well with 21st Century Skills: Unpacking the Career and Life Skills Domain of the New Learning Paradigm. International Journal of Higher Education, 4(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v4n1p1

Lumina Foundation for Education. (2009). A stronger nation through higher education. Education, February.

Panadero, E. (2017). A review of self-regulated learning: Six models and four directions for research. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 422. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00422

Prasad, C., & Gupta, P. (2020). Use of ICT to Enhance the Learning Process in Higher Education. International Journal of Education (IJE), 8(4), 97–102. https://doi.org/10.5121/ije.2020.8409

Schroeder, S. (2011). Student success in higher education. AFT Higher Education, 1–24. http://www.aft.org/pdfs/highered/studentsuccess0311.pdf

U.S. Department of Education, & Office of Educational Technology. (2017). Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education. U.S. Dept. of Education – Office of Educational Technology, January, 107. https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/01/Higher-Ed-NETP.pdf

Digital Ethics Audit

To translate the digital learning mission statement, which has three (3) guiding principles (empowering, holistic transformation, and wisdom in using technology), I conducted a Digital Ethics Audit to the Head of the English Department in a private university in Jakarta through interview. There are seventeen (17) questions in the discussion addressing the Digital Citizen Advocate standard (ISTE Standard 7 for Coaches) and course objectives of four modules in Values, Ethics, and Foundations in Digital Education (EDTC6101). The standards and objectives can be seen clearly in the following parts.

ISTE Standard for Coaches

ISTE Standard 7: Digital Citizen Advocate

Coaches model digital citizenship and support educators and students in recognizing the responsibilities and opportunities inherent in living in a digital world. Coaches:

  1. Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and address challenges to improve their communities.
  2. Partner with educators, leaders, students, and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.
  3. Support educators and students to critically examine the sources of online media and identify underlying assumptions.
  4. Empower educators, leaders, and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect.

Course Objectives:

  1. Identify, articulate, and respond to major ethical issues related to the digital realm, including fair use, plagiarism, piracy, security, and citizenship.   
  2. Articulate, model, and facilitate safe, healthy, and legal uses of digital information and technologies, including developing and curating a digital identity.         
  3. From a theological perspective, articulate, model, and promote strategies for addressing moral issues and character formation in digital information and technology.  
  4. Model and promote diversity, cultural understanding, and global awareness by using digital-age communication and collaboration tools to interact locally and globally with students, peers, parents, and the larger community.  
  5. Model and promote strategies of social justice in order to help students and teachers achieve equitable access to digital tools, resources, and technology-related promising practices.

Digital Ethics Audit Results and Findings

The results and findings cover four aspects, including Philosophical and Theological Foundations, Digital Wisdom, Digital Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Digital Wellbeing.

Philosophical and Theological Foundations

In this module, the audit addresses point 7b of ISTE standard and course objective 3. There are four (4) questions regarding:

1. What strategies does the department have to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in using technology among faculty members and students?

2. What moral issues and character formation does the department promote among faculty members and students using digital information and technology?

3. How does the department promote those moral issues and characters?

4. What challenges does the department have?

Regarding the Philosophical and Theological Foundations, the audit results reveal that the department made netiquette guidelines for students to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in using technology among faculty members and students. The department also agreed that it was also essential to make one for the faculty members.  So, both students and faculty collaborate to create a conducive atmosphere in the classroom. A classroom wherein the teacher encourages positive student behavior provides beneficial learning inside and outside the classroom (Denti, 2012). Explicitly, this practice is an example of empowering students through implementing good values.

The department considered academic honesty a crucial moral value promoted among faculty members and students when using digital information and technology.  Notably, most assignments required students to collect information from the web, including or citing references. In the digital era, faculty members and students partner to use technology, find information, and create products that demonstrate their understanding. To this extent, faculty members guide students by asking the right questions, putting things into the proper context, and ensuring quality and rigor. This way, the new teaching roles that the 21st-century offers are so much better, more powerful, and so much more interesting than what came before that most teachers will, once they get their heads around those roles, rush to embrace them (Prensky, 2012).

However, it was challenging as some students are just ignorant; they say they forgot. To this extent, both department and faculty must keep reminding students in each classroom contract and explicitly stated in each assignment. As we know, the increase in online-based learning facilitates educational advances and poses challenges to academic integrity. Academic Integrity is essential to develop long-term and meaningful relationships with a professional group or community, such as school or university. The integrity of online teaching and learning would be enhanced by articulating and enforcing codes of ethical conduct. However, all stakeholders, students, faculty, and administrators should be active participants in writing and implementing these codes (Coleman, 2011). Therefore, this value is constantly introduced in the department codes and conducts at the beginning of the semester. Moreover, a penalty is applied if academic dishonesty occurs. Further elaboration has been discussed in Promoting Academic Integrity in Online Learning.

Digital Wisdom

In this module, the audit addresses point 7c and 7d of ISTE standard and course objectives 1 and 2. There are four (4) questions regarding:

1. What major ethical issues related to the digital realm, including fair use, plagiarism, piracy, security, and citizenship identified among faculty members and students?

2. What would the department do to articulate, model, and facilitate safe, healthy, and legal uses of digital information and technologies, including developing and curating digital identity?

3. What strategies do the department have to support educators and students to examine online media sources and identify underlying assumptions critically?

4. What strategies do the department have to empower educators, leaders, and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect?

Regarding digital wisdom practice, the audit results reveal that the most common ethical issue is plagiarism. Remarkably, this ethical issue was found in the writing assignment. The department made an academic writing guide to avoid plagiarism in students’ writing to address this issue. The guide provides examples of how to cite appropriately, subscribing to Turnitin so the lecturers can help check the similarities found in students’ work (essay). McGee (2013) proposed strategies to prevent academic dishonesty related to the offense (plagiarism, false identity, cheating), institutional policies, and technology configurations. They are:

  • Make Academic Integrity Expectations Clear
  • Construct Valid Assessments and Delivery with Foresight
  • Make the Most of the Technology
  • Utilize Pedagogical Strategies

The department has to support educators and students in examining online media sources and critically identifying by providing a “Creative and Critical Inquiry” class. Some faculties provided dummies questions to help students be critical to online sources or pointers to help them.

So far, through the faculty members, the department encourages the students to be careful in curating their digital profile (esp in social media), in posting the pictures they intend to share with others (especially for the public). Mainly, during a time of tremendous and rapid change in the information landscape, a critical consideration will be how best to integrate and inculcate digital literacies in the curriculum so that learners can develop a deep and well-informed understanding of what it means to be a consumer, creator, and sharer of digital content (Jacobson et al., 2019).

Digital Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In this module, the audit addresses point 7a of ISTE standard and course objectives 4 and 5. There are four (4) questions regarding:

1. How would using digital-age communication and collaboration tools interact locally and globally with students, peers, parents, and the larger community?

2. How would the department promote strategies of social justice in order to help students and teachers achieve equitable access to digital tools, resources, and technology-related promising practices?

3. What strategies do the department have to inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and address challenges to improve their communities?

4. What are some of the challenges you have encountered in promoting equitable access to digital tools? 

Regarding the practice of digital diversity, equity, and inclusion,  the audit finding shows that the department has promoted diversity, cultural understanding, and global awareness by using digital-age communication and collaboration tools to interact locally and globally with students, peers, parents, and the larger community. For example, specifically for students, the lecturers were trained to use several digital platforms for teaching. Some students were also invited (teaching assistants) to participate. Another activity was conducted in a classroom by reading novels from different countries that promote empathy expression. In this activity, the department is collaborating with an American university. Besides, the department encourages students to participate in student exchange programs to experience the cultural and global environment.

To help students and teachers achieve equitable access to digital tools, resources, and technology-related promising practices, the department uses the digital platform that requires minimum specifications so that all students in the class can experience and practice pretty.

Moreover, the department encouraged faculty members to share their teaching expertise and use technology for educators in Indonesia during the pandemic. To this extent, the department was collaborating with the university, organizing a webinar called  Power Up Program. In this program, the faculty members and students were moderating their session, which allows them to be more accessible in using technology for community use. The sessions also allow the teachers from the outer community, learn and feel encouraged and implement the technology used in their classroom.

The department found challenges in promoting equitable access to digital tools due to the different internet access quality, device specifications, cultures, and values. Mainly, the teaching and learning activities were conducted online during the pandemic. Some students found internet connection during the online learning as they had limited quota or internet data. Fortunately, the Indonesian government provided data subsidies for all students, teachers, and lecturers around Indonesia to minimize the internet-connected problem. This program is included in the social protection program targeted at assisting economically vulnerable communities in Indonesia. The Central Government cooperates with the Regional Government to provide this assistance as a strategy for economic recovery and improving people’s welfare during the pandemic (The Business Time, 2021).

Digital Wellbeing

In this module, the audit addresses point 7b of ISTE standard and course objective 3. There are five (5) questions regarding:

1. What ways is the department educating and advocating respect online and responsible technology usage among students? 

2. How successful have these efforts been so far, and what do you feel has contributed to this success?

3. How is the department enforcing these strategies and dealing with the consequences of non-compliance?

4. How can the department involve families in fostering a culture of respectful online interaction?

5. What are some of the challenges you have encountered in trying to partner with educators, leaders, students, and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology?

The audit reveals that the department keeps educating and advocating respect for online and responsible technology usage among students regarding digital well-being practice.  For example, the department provides a netiquette guide for students, especially for classroom participation.

So far, the effort it is successful. Students can respect the lecturers and classmates. However, due to the exceptionally long time for the students to learn from home, it might be challenging to stay proper.

The department has enforced various strategies to educate and advocate respect online and responsible technology usage among students by providing socialization prior to/during the pandemic, reminding them once it is too much to handle. However, so far, there are no directive consequences yet for non-compliance.

However, the department has not yet involved families in fostering a culture of respectful online interaction. This way, the department finds some possibilities to organize a parent’s meeting to provide online interaction literacy in the future. It is believed that some challenges appear due to different values, refusal due to different perspectives – although this rarely happens.

References

Coleman, Phillip D. (2012). Ethics, Online Learning and Stakeholder Responsibility for a Code of Conduct in Higher Education, Kentucky Journal of Excellence in College Teaching and Learning, 9(3). Available at: https://encompass.eku.edu/kjectl/vol9/iss1/3

Denti, L. G. (2012). Empowering Students Through Proactive Teaching. In Proactive Classroom Management, K–8. A Practical Guide to Empower Students and Teachers. Monterey Bay, CA: California State University. https://uk.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/46479_denti_ch_1.pdf

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE; 2021). Standards for Coaches.

Jacobson, T.,  Gilchrist, D.,  Head, A., & Lippincott, J. (July 29, 2019). 7 Things You Should Know About Digital Literacies, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. https://library.educause.edu/resources/2019/7/7-things-you-should-know-about-digital-literacies

McGee, P. (2013). Supporting Academic Honesty in Online Courses, Journal of Educators Online 10(1). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277197722_Supporting_Academic_Honesty_in_Online_Courses

Prensky, M. (2012). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. In From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful essays for 21st Century learning (pp. 201–215). essay, Corwin. https://marcprensky.com/writing/PrenskyIntro_to_From_DN_to_DW.pdf

The Business Time. (August 17, 2021).  Indonesian government’s strategies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/hub/indonesia-76th-independence-day/indonesian-governments-strategies-in-response-to-covid-19

How can digital technologies impact teachers’ wellbeing?

A coin has two sides. This idiom is perfectly matched with the emergence of digital technologies in this disruptive era. The advancement of digital technologies does not only provide benefits but also harms toward the human. Therefore, we can balance them to minimize the harms by developing, using, and encouraging alternative spaces for expression and continue exploring ways to build a more equitable and critical ecology for our digital lives (Ticona & Wellmon, 2015).

In the education context, embracing digital technologies in the classroom is more challenging as classrooms have become emotionally, psychologically, and behaviourally more complex places for teachers to teach and students to learn. The optimists believe that we can build better worlds conducive to human flourishing and a plurality of values through digital technologies (Frischmann & Selinger, 2020).

Therefore, my reflection on digital wellbeing is to address the ISTE standard for Digital Citizen Advocates. This standard coaches model digital citizenship and support educators and students in recognizing the responsibilities and opportunities inherent in living in a digital world. Particularly, point 7b points out that coaches partner with educators, leaders, students, and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Technologies

It is inevitably debated on the emergence of digital technologies worldwide. We agree that we get some benefits from digital technologies. On the other hand, we also realize the disadvantages of digital technologies towards the human. Being wiser to the advancement of digital technologies is a must to minimize the opposing sides.

Let us review some perspectives on this debate. Anderson and Rainie (2018) revealed some concerns over harms regarding digital deficits, digital addiction; digital distrust/divisiveness; digital duress; and digital dangers (see Themes about the future of wellbeing and digital life). Teachers may certainly identify these issues, but they might also be fundamentally associated with particular approaches to and management of teaching. Besides, cited in Passey (2021), Mackin (2018), looking at the effects from an adolescent perspective, highlights other potentially harmful effects on learning that have been raised in a range of previous studies: mental health problems, shallower engagement with written material, shortening of attention spans, reducing reliance on memory, and sleep disruption. Indeed, Harding et al. (2019) pointed that teacher wellbeing affected by student wellbeing and distress could be partially explained by teacher presenteeism and quality of teacher-student relationships.

In contrast, the effects of digital technologies on learning can be positive. Anderson and Rainie (2018) revealed some benefits of digital life regarding connection; commerce, government, and society; crucial intelligence; contentment; and continuation toward quality (see Themes about the future of wellbeing and digital life). Also, as cited in Passey (2021), Mackin (2018) states there is insufficient evidence about impacts on mental processes. However, ways that digital technologies are used can affect mental processes; as Howard-Jones (2011) says in his report on the impact of digital technologies on human wellbeing, “it is how specific applications are created and used (by who, when and what for) that determine their impact” (p. 7).

What is Wellbeing and Digital Wellbeing?

Ryan and Deci in Passey (2021) provide a conceptual basis for considering wellbeing in a broad sense. They identified three essential needs—competence, relatedness, and autonomy. These aspects are essential for facilitating optimal functioning of the natural propensities for growth, integration, constructive social development, and personal wellbeing. In the context of digital technologies, particularly in a teacher practice context, the reviewed literature areas that follow relate to these needs and describe teacher wellbeing, digital wellbeing, practical uses of digital technologies for teaching and learning, digital literacy, and digital agency, all areas that offer varied perspectives.

Exploring the concept of wellbeing through another lens, Dodge et al. (2012, cited in Passey, 2021) propose that wellbeing is “the balance point between an individual’s resource pool and the challenges faced” (p. 230). These authors consider the resource pool and challenges faced to arise from psychological, social, and physical sources. Furthermore, in terms of measuring wellbeing, Longo, Coyne, and Joseph (2017) identified fourteen constructs from previous wellbeing models that they used within their measurement instrument. The instruments included happiness, vitality, calmness, optimism, involvement, self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-worth, competence, development, purpose, significance, congruence, and connection (Passey, 2021).

Meanwhile, JISC (2015, cited in Themelis and Sime, 2019) defines digital wellbeing as the capacity:

  • to look after personal health, safety, relationships, and work-life balance in digital settings,
  • to use digital tools in pursuit of personal goals (e.g., health and fitness),
  • to participate in social and community activities,
  • to act safely and responsibly in digital environments,
  • to negotiate and resolve conflict,
  • to manage digital workload, overload and distraction;
  • to act with concern for the human and natural environment when using digital tools.

In other words, digital wellbeing refers to an understanding of the benefits and risks of digital participation concerning health and wellbeing outcomes. It is a complex concept that can be viewed from a variety of perspectives and across different contexts and situations, as seen in Figure 1:

  • Individual perspective: personal, learning, and work contexts: this involves identifying and understanding the positive benefits and potentially harmful aspects of engaging with digital activities and being aware of ways to manage and control these to improve wellbeing.
  • Societal or organizational perspective: providers of digital systems, services, and content are responsible for ensuring that these are well managed, supported, accessible and equitable. In this regard, the providers need to empower, build capability, engage users to support and improve their wellbeing.

Figure 1: Model showing four aspects of digital wellbeing for individuals (Jisc, 2019)

Teacher Wellbeing

Teacher wellbeing is related to all three needs of competence, relatedness, and autonomy; digital wellbeing is related more to competence and autonomy, and practical uses of digital technologies for teaching and learning are related similarly; digital literacy is related to all three needs, while the digital agency is similarly related (Passey, 2021). The relationship between teacher wellbeing and innovative uses of digital technologies can be seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Model relating teacher wellbeing with innovative uses of digital technologies

(Source: De Pablos et al., 2013)

Factors Influencing Teacher Wellbeing

Passie (2021) proposes a conceptual framework detailing factors influencing positive teacher wellbeing when using digital technologies. There are five key factors influencing teacher wellbeing: digital literacy, digital agency, digital wellbeing, activities and outcomes, and effects on physical, social, and psychological wellbeing.

Digital literacy

  • Having a choice of digital technologies
  • Having skills to deploy and use the digital technologies
  • Supporting information and data literacy
  • Supporting communication and collaborations
  • Supporting digital content creation
  • Supporting safety
  • Supporting problem-solving

Digital agency

  • Supporting interactions with parents and guardians
  • Feeling more responsible for one’s actions
  • Feeling security and privacy are ensured
  • Feeling that there has been a positive impact on learning

Digital wellbeing

  • Feeling motivated from digital technology use
  • Feeling the use has value for learning
  • Feeling the school culture and climate is favorable to the use
  • Feeling personal satisfaction
  • Feeling professional satisfaction
  • Feeling positive emotionally
  • Supporting collaboration
  • Supporting recording of evidence

Activities and outcomes

  • Support for planning
  • Support for professional learning
  • Feeling safe and responsible
  • Feeling access is easily feasible
  • Having access to digital technologies to support interactions in class or beyond
  • Having ideas of how positive impact will arise
  • Supporting explanations and modeling
  • Supporting pupil practice
  • Improving assessment and feedback

Effects on physical, social, and psychological wellbeing

  • Feeling more able to switch off and relax
  • Reducing long weekday hours
  • Finding more time to be with family and friends
  • Reducing weekend working
  • Reducing holiday working
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Reducing depression
  • Reducing exhaustion
  • Reducing stress
  • Reducing workload
  • Offering a better work/life balance
  • Improving pupil/student behavior
  • Reducing unreasonable manager demands
  • More positively handling rapid change
  • Reducing problems with parents or guardians
  • Reducing colleague bullying
  • Offering more opportunities to work independently
  • Gaining more trust from managers
  • Reducing discrimination
  • Enabling more physical exercise
  • Reducing reliance on ways to alleviate stress

Taking into account some factors influencing the teachers’ wellbeing, I would say being wiser in incorporating digital technologies in the classroom is compulsory. The wisdom in using technology can balance the impact of digital technologies to increase teachers’ wellbeing. In line with Curts (2019), the first step toward digital wellbeing is understanding the potential adverse effects of technology in our lives and healthily managing our usage. Passey (2021) highlights that four alternatives should cover contexts where teacher wellbeing arises from digital technologies. Firstly, in a purely face-to-face classroom environment, secondly in a purely online environment, thirdly through a blended model where face-to-face and online happen at different scheduled times, and fourthly through a hybrid model where face-to-face and online are happening concurrently. A deeper understanding of how teacher wellbeing in each context can be supported is likely to match the needs for our future in education.

“The wisdom in using technology can balance the impact of digital technologies to increase teachers’ wellbeing”.

References:

Anderson, J., and Rainie, L. (April 17, 2018). The Future of Well-Being in a Tech-Saturated World. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/04/17/the-future-of-well-being-in-a-tech-saturated-world/

Curts, E. (July 12, 2019). Digital Wellbeing – Tools to Balance Tech and Life. https://www.techlearning.com/news/digital-wellbeing-tools-to-balance-tech-and-life

De Pablos-Pons, J., Colás-Bravo, P., González-Ramírez, T., Martínez-Vara del Rey, C.C. (2013). Teacher well-being and innovation with information and communication technologies; proposal for a structural model. Quality & Quantity, 47, pp. 2755–2767. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-012-9686-3

Earp, J. (April 22, 2020). The impact of digital technology on student learning and wellbeing. https://www.teachermagazine.com/au_en/articles/the-impact-of-digital-technology-on-student-learning-and-wellbeing

Frischmann, B., and Selinger, E. (2020). Why a Commitment to Pluralism Should Limit How Humanity Is Re-Engineered. In K. Werbach (ed.), After the Digital Tornado: Networks, Algorithms, Humanity (pp. 155-173). Cambridge University Press. https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/AE64941488BD4012B4461FDACB7FB6AF/9781108426633c7_155-173.pdf/why-a-commitment-to-pluralism-should-limit-how-humanity-is-re-engineered.pdf

JISC. (2019). Digital wellbeing. https://digitalcapability.jisc.ac.uk/what-is-digital-capability/digital-wellbeing/

Mackin, S. (2018). Searching for digital technology’s effects on wellbeing. Nature, 563 (7733), pp. 138–140. DOI: 10.1038/d41586-018-07503-w

Passey, D. (2021). Digital Technologies—And Teacher Wellbeing?. Education Sciences, 11 (3), 117. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11030117

Themelis, C., and Sime, J. A. (2019). Mapping the Field of Digital Wellbeing Education: A Compendium of Innovative Practices and Open Educational Resources. Lancaster University. https://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/141210/

Ticona, J., and Wellmon, C. (2015). Uneasy in Digital Zion. The Hedgehog Review, 17(1), pp. 58-71.

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