An introduction to digital environments for learning

Course Details

Course code: EDUA11222

Course leader: Autumn: Dr Rory Ewins – Spring: Dr Christine Sinclair

Course delivery: Sep 2016, Jan 2017, Sep 2017, Jan 2018

Summary

This course is the foundation element of the MSc, giving you the opportunity to explore a range of key themes in digital education, and to become familiar with studying online. You will take part in stimulating, confidence-building collaborative activities, which will be backed up with a high level of one-to-one tutor support. The course will give you the chance to engage hands-on with digital learning environments, offer practical guidance on the effective use of new technologies for learning, and also cover many of the theoretical, political and pedagogical issues which define digital education as a vibrant field of study.

You will experiment with a range of technologies for communication and for learning, including various social media, virtual worlds, videoconferencing and text chat. You will use a blog to record and reflect on your studies, and will be able to choose your final assignment topic to ensure it becomes a way of exploring an issue of direct relevance and interest to you. We also encourage assigments in experimental forms, including web essays, videos and others.

This is a double credit course, successful completion of which will gain you 40 credits toward your MSc.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course you will be able to:

  • describe the key theoretical and pedagogical issues currently impacting on digital education
  • demonstrate advanced knowledge of a range of digital environments for learning
  • contextualise your own practice in terms of the key issues emerging from current research in digital education.

Structure

The course is structured according in weekly or 2-weekly blocks, each of which covers a theme of current importance to the field, and is led by a different member of the programme team. In this way you will get a good sense of the key issues to be developed over the rest of the programme, and you will also meet most of the teaching team.

Week 0: Introductions and induction

Week 1: Constructing community

Week 2: What does it mean to teach?

Weeks 3 and 4: Critical perspectives on digital education

Week 5: Reading and reflection

Weeks 6 and 7: Open everything

Weeks 8 and 9: Data and analytics

Weeks 10 and 11: Spaces

Week 12: Assignment preparation

Assessment

The course is assessed in two ways.

(Private) blog (60% of your final mark)
The idea of the blog is to use it as an online reflective diary across the period of the course – a place where you bring together your various threads of investigation and thought. The blog is intended to be a record of your thinking and development, not a neatly-finished ‘place of arrival’. There are a few structured blog tasks you will need to complete, but the main requirement is that you use the blog space in an open and reflective way. There is more in the course handbook on the criteria we use to assess blogs. Blogs are generally private between students and their personal blog tutor, though are free to make them open if you choose. The blog tutor provides one-to-one feedback on your blog over the course of the semester.

Assignment (40% of your final mark)
The assignment topic will relate in some way to one of the issues you are introduced to during the course, and there is plenty of scope for crafting topics in an area that fits your personal interests. The form of the written assignment may be experimental or conventional, as you choose. For example, you might choose to present it as a video, or an illustrated web essay (you can find examples of these in the student showcase on this site [link]). You are encouraged to use writing forms that are specific to the internet in order to give you space to experiment with alternative ways of presenting scholarly writing in a digital environment, if you wish to do so. If you prefer simply to write a conventional essay, however, this too is perfectly acceptable.

Teaching Methods

Online methods will include moderated small and whole group discussion in synchronous and asynchronous modes, guided reading, reflection, self-directed exploration and hands-on creation. Individual support will be available to students through email, student blogs, and discussion forums. The core platform for delivery will be Moodle but this is supplemented by various other social and collaborative media.

Reading

Indicative readings are:

Bayne, S. (2015) Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching, Teaching in Higher Education. 20(4) p. 455-467.

Haythornthwaite, C., Andrewys, R., Fransman, J. and Meyers, E. (2016) (2nd ed.) The SAGE Handbook of E-learning Research. London: Sage.

Knox, J. (2016). Posthumanism and the MOOC: Contaminating the Subject of Global Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Selwyn, N. (2016) Is Technology Good for Education? Cambridge: Polity.

Requirements

As with all courses, you will be required to have regular access to a computer with a good broadband connection, and will be responsible for providing your own computing equipment and consumables. All core and some additional readings will be provided online.

You will need a Minecraft PE licence to take part in certain activities, and a mobile device to run it on. For video chats you will need a headphones, microphone and camera.