Shifting an unfair equilibrium

Throughout the Digital Colloquium it has been evident that educational technologies are increasingly utilising the affordances of well designed multidisciplinary content to offer innovative learning experiences where lifelong learning and curious dispositions can be nurtured. Innovative expert designers are publishing engaging curriculum resources for learners of all ages and backgrounds on the Internet. The ABC (2015) Splash website is an example of such an organisation making agile changes and innovations to their products and services to cater for audiences that are increasingly digitally literate (Hocknull, 2015_a). Education institutions need to embrace the shift that is occurring in technology so that fair and equal opportunities are provided to all 21st C learners by providing well designed learning experiences that bridge the gap between teaching and learning.



ABC Splash

Devices that are used to access the Internet are becoming increasingly smaller and more affordable. Increased accessibility to Internet capable devices is producing more demand and in turn, larger numbers of people with high levels of digital literacy. Public expectations about the use of technology in education have shifted toward the needs of future generations where online social activities are becoming ubiquitous (Carroll et. al., 2015). From ordering take away, getting hints about how to fix broken things and personal finance to social movements, politics and Presidential campaigns, the influence of the Internet is embedded in our futures.


Educators need to have highly developed levels of critical awareness about these shifts in technology. Along with the shift from consumers to creators, there needs to be a maintenance of responsible social values that recognise the needs of both individuals and groups. K-12 schools are arguably the most important location for the socialisation of our future digital citizens and as such must have the ability to develop responsible sets of social and cultural values (Bennett, 2008). Educators need utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 to adopt and exemplify tolerant approaches to the use of digital technologies within the complex framework of each individual’s background and their future. These responsibilities need to seek and use fair means of authority to nurture a democratic praxis toward the development and creation of our digital future (Winn, 2015).


Fair approaches to the creation of digital cultures and communities should recognise the value that collectives have in bringing equitable change to an arguably unfair world. The co- creation of knowledge on the Internet is evident in social media websites where connected communities of practice collaborate on projects that are solving social problems through collective action. Collective participation in scientific endeavours such as foldit (foldit, 2015) have achieved profound discoveries of new knowledge by decoding the structure of an AIDS protein in three weeks; a mystery that scientists had been working on for 15 years (Moore, 2014; Khatib, et. al., 2011). The foldit community represent what Gee (2015) describes as the game/ affinity paradigm (GAP) in educational popular culture that is causing conflict with conservative formal educational institutions.


The GAP paradigm is leading to a more democratic praxis in education values where collective intelligence is more highly valued than traditional individualist methods of learning (Gee, 2015). The collective participation of gamers who contribute new code (‘hack’ and ‘mod’) to the platforms is similar to the shifts in the co-creation of knowledge resources such as Wikipedia. The collective co-create of knowledge in Open ways demonstrated by Wiki contributors and arguably foldit players is a significant characteristic of Veletsianos & Kimmons’ (2012) Networked Participatory Scholarship (NPS).


Collective Intelligence Visualisation by Fernanda Viégas

Gee (2015) argues that GAP is the paradigm shift that educational institutions must embrace if their learners are to develop the skills needed in the 21st C. The significance of such Open approaches toward digital education resources is a focus of the Open Worlds Project (Hocknull, 2015_b). The Open Worlds Project began as a critical participatory action research case study (Kemmis, McTaggart & Nixon, 2014) that sought to leverage the affordances of OpenSim to provide an innovative resource for multidisciplinary approaches to digital education. Immersive virtual environments provide affordances that facilitate social- constructivist pedagogies and more meaningful learning experiences (Hocknull, 2015_c).


A democratic praxis toward knowledge creation and sharing is shifting the focus of educational equilibrium away from formal institutions toward the collective intelligence of connectivist, many to many networks (McCallie et. al., 2009). The digital future is an exciting focus area of scholarship and provides a range of opportunities for Open collectives to engage with communities that value technology as an organic symbol of human intelligence. A fairer equilibrium is a healthier direction for our society (Scanlon, 2014; Wilkinson, 2011).




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Khatib, F., DiMaio, F., Cooper, S., Kazmierczyk, M., Gilski, M., Krzywda, S., … & Foldit Void Crushers Group. (2011). Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players. Nature structural & molecular biology, 18(10), 1175-1177. Retrieved from


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Virtual Worlds in Education – Designing Innovative and Meaningful Learning Experiences

Persepolis Floor Plan

Virtual world (VW) educators highlight the unique affordance of immersion that VWs have over other innovative Web 2.0 technologies as a significant factor in their decisions to develop learning experiences in VW environments (Lee, 2009; Jacka, 2015). The immersive experience of a three dimensional environment is more meaningful because participants can interact with other people and objects in the VW in real time (synchronously). Growing commercial interest in VW technologies has focussed on virtual reality (VR) and haptic sensors that create an enhanced feeling of immersion that is defined as presence. Participants wearing headsets (3D goggles/ masks) experience presence because the 3D graphics interact with a gyroscope that creates visual illusions according to movement thereby tricking the brain into anticipating certain sensations such as anti- gravity. Miriam Reiner has concluded from scientific research with haptics that the sensation of touch can be created with gloves that can feel like water, rock or metal (Mind CET, 2015 – Click here to view the video).


Educators are utilising the unique affordances of VWs to create activities toward ‘innovative and meaningful learning experiences’ because they utilise Web 2.0 technologies to connect people from global locations (Hasler, 2011). Using these connectivist approaches to learning is not a unique affordance of virtual worlds, however, co – creating a culturally meaningful space is (Paiva, 2015). Immersion in VWs can facilitate social- constructivist learning experiences because participants who interact through an avatar have the ability to connect with and co-construct knowledge (Lee, 2009; Seimens, 2005). The co- construction of culturally meaningful virtual spaces is an innovative approach to learning experiences that addresses Lee’s (2009) criteria for successful VW education environments.


OpenSim educators realise the potential opportunities that virtual worlds provide to create social and cultural capital (Joksimović, 2015). The Open Worlds Project has sought to develop social- constructivist based activities in virtual world environments using the ancient capital of Persepolis as a focus of cross- cultural understanding. The Persepolis region of the Open worlds Project provides all of the affordances of virtual world technology for learning experiences. Teachers and students can learn together about the culture of ancient Persia. The architecture, social order, treasury and economic characteristics of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes’ empires can be investigated in open ended collaborative ways with other teachers and students across the globe.


Lee (2009) highlights the need for a structured facilitation of open ended virtual world activities and projects. The Persepolis Project addresses this by creating a networked scaffold of activities that students can work on in any order. To be successful in the tasks, requirements stipulate that students must demonstrate individual achievements, as well as having acknowledged the degree of collaborative contributions from other members of their task. Difficult tasks such as treasure hunts that focus on an application and evaluation of terms such as ‘glocalisation’ require certain knowledge and skills to achieve success (Yetis-Larsson, et. al., 2015). Failure in these tasks is rewarded through a self reflective process and simpler activities are recommended for students to build the knowledge and skills to progress.


OpenSim provides educators with the ability to save and alter their virtual world regions (as an oar file) and this data can be shared using Open publication methods to facilitate the creation of networked social capital (Lin,1999). The sharing of these virtual spaces as an artefact that was built from global co- creation in a connectivist environment is a unique and exciting affordance of virtual worlds. OpenSim educators can utilise these technologies to participate in a shift that education is taking from analogue to digital just like photography did over a decade ago. Who still uses film? While some enthusiasts still use film and vinyl, and there will always be a place for this in popular culture and art, it is an arguably unsustainable way to continue with the production of education artefacts.




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Virtual Interviews as a Glocalisation of Qualitative Methodology

A critical analysis and reflection on case study research methods should consider the social context of the issue in question because this can have a significant effect on determining the appropriateness of quantitative and qualitative tools used (Fielding, 2014, p. 1065; Gobo, 2011). Gobo (2006, 2011a, 2011b) highlights the declining value of Westernised survey methods on developing/ed multicultural societies because their design is often contradictory to modern Network Theory paradigms and constructivist theories about teaching, learning and research. Mixed methods approaches have been favoured by researchers who are seeking to avoid the well documented biases of traditional surveys (Gobo, 2006, p 7-8.). Developments in qualitative techniques such as Participatory Action Research (Santos, 2012) and innovations in case study research methods have focused on an interdisciplinary use of technology to develop traditional theories in new ways (Xanitoudou and Gilbert, 2010, p. 5).


Gobo (2011a, p. 11-12) argues that for surveys to maintain a relevant place in the research methods toolkit they need to follow a more flexible ‘glocalised’ approach where the surveyor can interpret and further interrogate survey responses to in turn categorise the data in meaningful ways. This more constructivist approach to knowledge creation was initially developed by Galtung (1967) and has an added currency in Network Theory paradigm where connectivist communities communicate across social strata (Fielding, 2014, p. 1065). Gobo (2011a, p. 18) argues that such conversational surveys facilitate a more accurate and standardised data set for scholars to interpret and present meaningful critical analyses of the phenomena being studied.

Virtual meeting for teachers

Critically analysing survey interview methods highlights their affordances in virtual world environments where technological affordances bring together a wide range of people with social, cultural, gender and other physical differences (Schober and Conrad, 2008, p. 19; Couper, 2008, p. 7-8). While traditional survey forms may be distributed to members of virtual communities via their social networking channels such as Google+ communities, a survey interview method may be more practical in developing theories and furthering an understanding of how participants utilise such technologies in education.


Innovative approaches to the gathering of information from virtual education knowledge networks and communities needs to consider the potential varieties of traditional social and cultural contexts of the participants. Survey interviews should also be mindful of any virtually constructed social, cultural, gender or communal context that resides within the participant’s Network. The ‘Open’ nature of virtual education communities such as Virtual Pedagogy (2015), Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education (2015) and Virtual Worlds Teacher Network (2015) facilitate the survey interview process because meetings are often held ‘in world’ where participants can chat via backchannels and organise further discussions afterward.




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Digital Scholarship

Digital technologies have redefined traditional approaches to scholarship and Weller (2014) argues that the most significant aspect of these changes is a move toward Openness (p. 51). The impacts of Openness on Boyer’s (1990) four main characteristics of traditional scholarship include the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) for discovery, integration, application and teaching. Academic publications from organisations such as the MacArthur Foundation such as Participatory Learning (Ray, Jackson and Cupaiuolo, 2014) and Civics participating in a Digital World (Ray, Jackson and Cupaiuolo, 2014_b) (available for free from Google Play Books) demonstrate the application of innovative, multimodal and Open digital scholarship.


It is in the area of education that digital scholarship is experiencing measureable changes (Weller, 2014, p. 51). Academic research, collaboration and publication can utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies to investigate and develop theories with practical applications for constructivist pedagogies (Rheingold, 2015) that are based on the analysis of specific data (Siemens and Long, 2011). Further to this, scholars are now able to publish and share content that is peer reviewed through Open and trusted networks without the lengthy delays of traditional peer reviewed journals (Scanlon, 2014, p. 18; Seeley- Brown and Adler, 2008; Wenger, 2011, p.5).


The facilitation of information and knowledge creation by digital technologies has also resulted in a restructuring toward a democratic praxis of Openness (Winn, 2015, p. 2-3). Open scholarship has also been encouraged toward a more critical investigation of digital technologies using the large amounts of data generated to inform and guide information behaviours at all levels. Early adopters of the use of data to present information about our societies such as Gapminder’s Hans Rosling (2009), have demonstrated effective ways to enact digital scholarship.


Critical analyses of educational technology can now benefit from Open scholarship and frame pedagogical theories in globalised contexts (Selwyn, 2010). Agile approaches toward digital scholarship that employ Openness can look beyond outdated outcome based formative assessments toward a development of sustainable values and ideas (Scanlon, 2014, p. 14). In this way a shift from education practices based on industrial political economies toward more Open, collaborative and participatory global communities can also focus on the needs and wellbeing of all life- long learners (UNESCO, n.d._a; UNESCO, n.d._b.; Varghese, 2014).


The United Nations’ [UN] (2015) policy of Open access to their Human Development Reports databases provides valuable information for digital scholars to discover, integrate, apply and teach. Digital scholars can, in this way, utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies to communicate their knowledge and skills across disciplines (Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009_a, p. 252) by framing their publications in cross- disciplinary contexts with a detailed critical analysis of global data. The Open nature of UN data reports is an exciting development for digital scholars seeking to investigate and agitate for change toward educational equity in our ‘flattened’ global environment (Friedman, 2006).


Agile responses to technological change by digital scholars need to include a strategic focus on nurturing dispositions of curiosity and Openness among learners (Seely Brown, cited in: genconnectofficial, 2014; Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009_a, p. 249 & 252). Corneli et. al., (n.d.) and Rheingold (2015) demonstrate the application of curious and Open dispositions in their Peeragogy trans- media project called 5PH1NX (See Image 1). An evaluation of such Peeragogical approaches toward scholarship need to consider the heuristic measurements of well-being in learners to maintain sustainable approaches toward their happiness (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade, 2005; Mendelsohn, 2008).


Image 1: Peeragogy Mindmap. (Corneli, 2015)


Structured approaches to the identification and measurement of the heuristic development of cognitive skills (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade, 2005) is a critical aspect of educational leadership that seeks to utilise the affordances of Open scholarship resources (Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes, 2009_a, p. 248). Digital scholarship can provide detailed information to guide educational policy leadership in these areas by using Open source technologies and education informatics (Garg and Shukla, 2015). Ethical approaches to the use of Open resources and data may provide the information needed to overcome the stereotypical preconceptions that lead to cognitive bias (Davidson and Goldberg, 2009, p. 24).


Hans Rosling’s TED Talk The best stats you’ve ever seen (TED2006, 2006) demonstrates the power of Open data to provide clarity that is urgently needed in the field of educational informatics. A combination of such detailed data with reflective practices used in Positive Psychology (Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade, 2005) about the use of educational technologies (Scanlon, 2014, p. 20) may provide further opportunities to explore the future consciousness of excitement, adventure and change in digital scholarship (Tynan and Lee, 2009). Teaching and learning in digital environments can utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 to move beyond industrial, capitalist, political paradigms and their arguably outdated learning outcomes to connect with agile and vibrant learning communities that are in the early process of creating positive change (Rosling and Rosling, 2014).




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INF537 Blog Post #5 Digital Futures

There is a growing focus on Open Educational Resources (OER) such as Wikipedia, that facilitate the collaborative and participatory learning environments of our digital future. Davidson and Goldberg (2009, p. 24) argue that participatory learning is foundational for future learning environments where traditional institutional hierarchies will be challenged because of the ‘flattening’ (Friedman, 2006) that is occurring in relation to knowledge access and creation. A critical analysis of our digital future should investigate the proposed structures of digital scholars such as Redecker et al. (See Figure 21: 2012, p. 43).

Screenshot from 2015-07-30 13:53:06

The Future of Learning (Redecker et al., 2014)


Winn (2015, p. 2-3) further argues that OER will prevail over unsustainable capitalist approaches to global political economies because their legal structures provide not only a praxis of openness between educators, but anyone with competent levels of digital literacies. In this way, Davidson and Goldberg (2009, p. 24) further argue that any critical analyses of our digital future must consider the important effect of cognitive bias (Kahneman, 2014) so as to reverse the resilient aversion toward OERs. Critical social analysis of educational technologies in relation to political, economic and legal barriers is also advocated by Selwyn (2010, 2014; Openmind, 2014_a; Openmind, 2014_b) who argues that digital scholarship must accept these challenges if equitable access to innovative OER is to be achieved.


OER are redefining approaches to pedagogy and scholarship because they create an environment where attitudes to lifelong learning are exciting and adventurous (Seely Brown, 2014). These shifts in learning paradigms are in contrast to the high levels of disengagement found in many formal educational environments (Redecker et. al., 2012, p. 18; Davidson and Goldberg, 2009, p. 21). Digital scholarship advocates such as Pentland (Wired, 2014), Seely Brown (2014) and Selwyn (Openmind, 2014_a,  _b) argue that properly curated OERs can cater for a range of learners who now have access to the Internet.


Winn (2015, p. 24) argues that a complete move toward OER may need to travel through a transitionary framework such as that advocated by Bauwens and Kostakis (2014) whereby the means of production and capital value of our economies (as defined by Marx) undergo intrinsic changes toward post- capitalist Open Co-operativism. It is in these environments that Seely Brown’s (2014) calls for the nurturing of ‘disposition’ toward collaborative curiosity may be able to grow, free of conflict over finite values and ideas.



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