Social media use and disturbed sleep

Are you spending more and more time consuming social media through your computer, mobile phone, video games, and social media apps? If so, you’re not alone. Data from Pew Research Center has shown that use of social media among adults has grown from 5% in 2005 to 69% in 2018, with almost 90% of 18–29-years-olds indicating use. Using social media of various forms may have some benefits; in addition to entertainment value, social media can also expose us to new ideas and current events, promote community participation, facilitate connection with long-distance friends and family, and enhance access to social networks.

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The “online brain”: how the Internet may be changing our cognition

The impact of the Internet across multiple aspects of modern society is clear. However, the influence that it may have on our brain structure and functioning remains a central topic of investigation. Here we draw on recent psychological, psychiatric and neuroimaging findings to examine several key hypotheses on how the Internet may be changing our cognition. Specifically, we explore how unique features of the online world may be influencing: a) attentional capacities, as the constantly evolving stream of online information encourages our divided attention across multiple media sources, at the expense of sustained concentration; b) memory processes, as this vast and ubiquitous source of online information begins to shift the way we retrieve, store, and even value knowledge; and c) social cognition, as the ability for online social settings to resemble and evoke real‐world social processes creates a new interplay between the Internet and our social lives, including our self‐concepts and self‐esteem. Overall, the available evidence indicates that the Internet can produce both acute and sustained alterations in each of these areas of cognition, which may be reflected in changes in the brain. However, an emerging priority for future research is to determine the effects of extensive online media usage on cognitive development in youth, and examine how this may differ from cognitive outcomes and brain impact of uses of Internet in the elderly. We conclude by proposing how Internet research could be integrated into broader research settings to study how this unprecedented new facet of society can affect our cognition and the brain across the life course.

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Posted in Brain, Internet | Tagged ,

Face-to-face or face-to-screen? Undergraduates’ opinions and test performance in classroom vs. online learning

As electronic communication becomes increasingly common, and as students juggle study, work, and family life, many universities are offering their students more flexible learning opportunities. Classes once delivered face-to-face are often replaced by online activities and discussions. However, there is little research comparing students’ experience and learning in these two modalities. The aim of this study was to compare undergraduates’ preference for, and academic performance on, class material and assessment presented online vs. in traditional classrooms. Psychology students (N = 67) at an Australian university completed written exercises, a class discussion, and a written test on two academic topics. The activities for one topic were conducted face-to-face, and the other online, with topics counterbalanced across two groups. The results showed that students preferred to complete activities face-to-face rather than online, but there was no significant difference in their test performance in the two modalities. In their written responses, students expressed a strong preference for class discussions to be conducted face-to-face, reporting that they felt more engaged, and received more immediate feedback, than in online discussion. A follow-up study with a separate group (N = 37) confirmed that although students appreciated the convenience of completing written activities online in their own time, they also strongly preferred to discuss course content with peers in the classroom rather than online. It is concluded that online and face-to-face activities can lead to similar levels of academic performance, but that students would rather do written activities online but engage in discussion in person. Course developers could aim to structure classes so that students can benefit from both the flexibility of online learning, and the greater engagement experienced in face-to-face discussion.

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Posted in eLearning, Face-to-face learning, Online learning | Tagged , ,

What would learning in an open world look like? A vision for the future

The pace of current technological advancement is phenomenal. In the last few years we have seen the emergence of ever more sophisticated gaming technologies, rich, immersive virtual worlds and new social networking services that enable learners and teachers to connect and communicate in new ways. The pace of change looks set to continue as annual Horizon reports testify and as encapsulated in the following quote from the NSF-report on cyberlearning:

Imagine a high school student in the year 2015. She has grown up in a world where learning is as accessible through technologies at home as it is in the classroom, and digital content is as real to her as paper, lab equipment, or textbooks. At school, she and her classmates engage in creative problem-solving activities by manipulating simulations in a virtual laboratory or by downloading and analyzing visualizations of real- time data from remote sensors. Away from the classroom, she has seamless access to school materials and homework assignments using inexpensive mobile technologies. She continues to collaborate with her classmates in virtual environments that allow not only social interaction with each other but also rich connections with a wealth of supplementary content.

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Open, Social and Participatory Media

The emergence of open, social and participatory media in recent years is changing the
landscape of technology practices. They are changing the ways in which users interact,
communicate and participate with technologies. These technologies include
social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Myspace, blogs and wikis
and microblogging sites such as Twitter. They are being used for a mixture of social
and professional activities. This chapter considers the impact of such Web 2.0 technologies on education and in particular how these new technologies are changing
learning and teaching practices. It will consider their fundamental characteristics and
look at the implications for learners, teachers and institutions. It argues that the impact
on practice can be both positive and negative and that as a consequence educational
institutions need to develop new policies and strategies to take account of these.

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Posted in Participation, Social media | Tagged ,

Personal inquiry: innovations in participatory design and models for inquiry learning

This paper describes a participatory design approach to the development of
inquiry-based learning supported through a technology toolkit. The work is part of
an interdisciplinary project – Personal Inquiry (PI). The paper focuses on the
approach we adopted, concentrating in particular on the two mediating artefacts
we used to guide and frame the design process during two design workshops. The
first mediating artefact used was an inquiry framework developed as part of the
wider PI project and the second was Kellett’s enquiry research bubbles, which is
a framework to guide enquiry-based thinking processes. The paper reports on data
collected during the workshops and reflects on the value of the approach adopted.
The paper also explores the PI-team’s own reflections on the design process and
its role in the overall project.

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Posted in inquiry learning, participatory design | Tagged ,

E-Learning for Geographers: Online Materials, Resources, and Repositories

Electronic learning (e-learning), which occurs when a computer is used as the means of accessing learning resources and activities, provides today’s university student with an unprecedented array of learning materials. Most universities in the developed world now provide their students with a wealth of electronic information via libraries, administrative Web sites, and virtual learning environments. Students expect course syllabi, reading lists, exercises, data, old exam papers, and timetables to be online.
A logical next step in this learning evolution is to put the lectures, tutorials, and student activities online. As working online can be viewed as a new context for learning and not just a learning tool, for most geography teachers, especially those accustomed to traditional delivery methods, this is a daunting challenge involving radical re-skilling and much effort. What are the best ways to do this? What is the best mix of online and face-to-face learning? What tools are available to help in the process? Through the experiences of an international team of geographers, educationalists, and computer scientists we aim to answer these questions.

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Posted in eLearning, Geography | Tagged ,

Revie­w of pedagogical models and their use in e-learning

This paper provides a review of pedagogical models and frameworks, focusing on those that are being used most extensively in an e-learning context. The introductory section outlines the purpose of the report, the main sources of data and the key definitions used in the report. An overview is also provided of learning theories and the range of ‘Mediating Artefacts’ that are used in learning and teaching, of which pedagogical models and frameworks form a sub-category.

Learning theories are grouped into three categories:
Associative (learning as activity through structured tasks),
Cognitive (learning through understanding)
Situative (learning as social practice).

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The Online Classroom: A Thorough Depiction of Distance Learning

This study investigated the online higher education learning space of a doctoral program offered at a distance. It explored the learning space, the stakeholders, utilization, and creators of the space. Developing a successful online classroom experience that incorporates an engaging environment and dynamic community setting conducive to learning is essential in maintaining distance-student enrollment and expanding online education. Students and faculty were surveyed and responses were coded for the emergence of themes. The expanse of distance education and progression of technology has supported instructors in developing classrooms that emphasize students and incorporate both online interactive spaces and the physical space learners inhabit. Both faculty and students contribute to this classroom, and it is utilized primarily as a space where learners engage.

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Examining motivation in online distance learning environments

Posted in Distance learning, Online distance learning | Tagged ,

Strategies for Building Community among Learners in Online Courses

Building relationships and community in online courses can be challenging, particularly if those courses are also limited by tight time constraints. In this brief commentary, I share some of the strategies that helped me to build relationships with students over distance and within a limited timeframe, including organization, communication, and use of social media. I provide examples from my teaching to illuminate the specifics and effectiveness of each strategy

Community, while inherent in assumptions about online education, rarely materializes as an integral component of the experience. Misconceptions and misguided motivations can derail participation and engagement in the online setting. Creating a successful online community is dependent on knowing what works in the face-to-face environment and implementing effective parallels online. We will discuss best practices for building community in online information literacy courses and leveraging motivators to keep students and instructors engaged. While this paper focuses on online information literacy courses, many of these strategies can be applied to online workshops, embedded librarianship, and other instructional initiatives.

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Elevating Engagement and Community in Online Courses

Posted in Online courses | Tagged