Category Archives: Digital literacies

Integrated resources


Purdue University have an impressive teaching and learning resources page which has resources about using technology tools through to a course review and design process.

What I particularly like is that each of the sections – particularly in the technology tools sections – includes an analysis of how the tool might relate to principles of sound pedagogy. They use a simple set of seven principles that has been widely popularised and they use it in a consistent cyclical way.

For example the page on Presenting with Digital Tools gives examples of good tools and examples of their use. It then links to Principle 3 – Encourages Active Learning, this page in turn links to a set of strategies for encouraging active learning. For example the first strategy is  I ask students to present their work to the class this page has a brief pedagogical rational, examples, references and tool suggestions.

Using this sound research based framework adds a simplicity to the presentation and a depth to the content.

Embedding multimedia into disciplinary based courses

This is an old article (2011) but it gives a number of good examples about the ways that US colleges and Universities are integrating multimedia literacies into a range of other disciplines. At Purdue for example one lecturer integrates both policy writing and multimedia campaign promotion into  a core science course on issues in science and society:

The 80 students in the class divide up in groups of four to write a white paper proposing policy on a scientific issue, such as supporting wind energy. Then they must produce a “persuasive yet accurate” short video to build momentum for their policy, says Mr. Fosmire. The professor says he has been surprised by how much time and energy the students invest in the videos, which have included mock newscasts and send-ups of popular sitcoms.

This is a great approach because it embeds a set of professional skills cohesively into a disciplinary context. It is not just about science nor is it just about multimedia. It teaches a complex set of digital literacies that combines production skills with an understanding of how they might be used in a marketing/ campaign context. It matches this with group work and policy skills development. So it is a perfect complex authentic task

Fosmire’s comments about the focus and energy that this type of task produces in students is very familiar to me and I have written about this in the context of student blogging projects. As Seymour Papert has argued, when we ask students to “construct” something, they often really engage with the artefact in a deep way and this results in a deeper learning experience.

Blended learning design and digital literacies

I am currently doing one of’s MOOCs: Blendkit2014, a course on blended learning. I have looked at MOOCs before and dipped my digital toes in the learning stream but this time I want to engage with as much as possible to see what the MOOC experience is like from the inside.

It will also give me an opportunity to think more about Blended Learning which links well with a number of my current curriculum projects – my redesign of first year journalism courses at UOW and our wider curriculum renewal project.

This is my first blog post for the course and responds to the first reading about definitions and design principles in blended learning.

One of the key points is that good blended learning design, makes the best use of face to face interaction and online modalities and that decision making must be driven by pedagogical needs and analysis, not by the convenience of or drive to use new technologies. The reading states:

Blended learning is not simply adding an online component to a face-to-face course. Technology in a course should be used wisely – to facilitate student learning. Technology should not be used just to show off technology. Excellent opportunities exist for teachers to make learning interactive, dynamic, and fun when used properly. The technology aspect of a lesson should be like a good baseball umpire – it (like the umpire) is good if it (he) goes unnoticed.

I agree that learning design is learning design and needs to be focused on learning not on methods or modes of delivery, however I don’t think this means making the technology or modes of delivery invisible.

I think one of the reasons that we engage with blended learning is precisely to engage with technologies, and part of the educational design is to enhance digital literacies in the same way that, for example, oral literacies are developed in classroom presentations.

I understand the underlying cautions in the blended learning literature which wants to focus on learning outcomes not technological delivery but I think that this runs the risk of underestimating the importance of thinking very cogently about the technological delivery aspects.

There are several reasons why the technology should not remain invisible in either our design thinning or in our student delivery.

  • Firstly engagement through digitally mediated forms often requires explicit scaffolding, so it is necessary to get students to think about technological processes in order to get them to effectively use these modes to facilitate higher order outcomes.
  • Secondly digital literacy needs to be embedded across the curriculum as a key learning outcome and not expected to occur either by osmosis or through specific subjects about technology.
  • Thirdly making learning processes and modes explicit – whether this means talking explicitly about collaboration and team work in face to face classes or talking explicitly about technological and digital skills in online classes – is an important element of reflective practice which is essential to deep learning and the development of adaptable skills.