How do you view education, and what is at stake for manifesting that view in the “Three”? For students, if their view is not clouded by negative experiences or environmental influences, they generally view education as means to an end, or a way to improve their level of knowledge and abilities. In this case, students accept the personal investment of time and money to help them achieve their goal. Teachers, who truly desire to teach, view education as a way of making information and learning experiences relevant to their students. Their manifestation is in the time spent to organize content for their students, and in many places if the institutional goals are not met in the performance of the students, they risk their livelihood. Administrators tend to view education as a system for transferring or building knowledge in a mass collection of students. They manifest this by building curriculum around learning theories and they risk public scrutiny or job loss if their direction does not produce desired results. Even in traditional educational environments, these three have struggled to maintain a harmony among their views and manifestations because of the many variables. Now, considering the impact of how technology is changing the playing field, these three have even a greater struggle to find harmony.
As a result of advances in technology, many emerging educational theories are attempting to point out the effects of shifts in sociological and psychological factors in the process of education. These shifts are especially present in online or virtual environments. The Transactional Distance Theory attempts to account for the gap in clarity or understanding that can exists between students and teachers in a virtual environment, especially referring to learner independence and teacher engagement as key factors for narrowing or bridging that gap (Gokool-Ramdoo, 2008). Another theory, Connectivism, portrays the vast amounts of interconnected knowledge as a sort of chaos that can be accessed and harnessed by individual learners in real time to not only achieve a task, but also analyze information for current relevance, because knowledge and information are constantly changing (Siemens, 2005). The changing medium for delivering and interacting in educational environments has also brought considerable attention to the epistemological and methodological understandings. To further explore this, the terminology, technological pedagogy of content knowledge (TPCK), was developed to account for effective and non-effective ways for implementing a systematic online approach to education. TPCK has identified several flaws simply due to environmental shifts, and the protocols that exists in the old environment, do not necessarily work effectively in the new one (Angeli and Valanides, 2009).
So as I consider the Three along with all this information for learning theory, I must reflect on what this means to education. First, I will start with my current primary role, teacher, which definitely has a changed from a deliverer of content to more of a facilitator of activities designed to produce challenges for the students, which produce understanding and skills, which can be applied to lifelong learning. I have a secondary role, student, in the Master’s of Educational Technology program, which from the beginning has been adapting my understanding of how I can problem solve with technology tools in order to achieve my learning tasks. Though my students are not as far along in the education continuum, and therefore need certain content delivered to them, I still have a need and desire to introduce them to challenges where they engage with technology tools, for I understand this will mark so much of their future education. Finally, administrator is a role I have not had, and based on experience is one that I desire very little. However, I have come away with a greater appreciation for the decision making process that they undertake, because the decisions are tied into big budgets that they have to give an account for not only in purchases, but also in results of students’ performances in system wide implementations.
Gokool-Ramdoo, S. (2008). Beyond the theoretical impasse: Extending the applications of transactional distance education theory. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/541
Siemens, G. (2005, April 5). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Elearnspace. Retrieved October 25, 2012, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Angeli, C., & Valanides, N. (2009). Epistemological and methodological issues for the conceptualization, development, and assessment of ICT–TPCK: Advances in technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK). Computers & Education, 52(1), 154–168. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.07.006