This Week in ODL: Sept 4-8, 2017

Amy Collier publishes on Digital Sanctuary in Educause Review

The ODL is pleased to announce that Educause Review recently published Digital Sanctuary: Protection and Refuge on the Web? by Amy Collier. In this article, Amy asks the important question “What responsibilities do universities and colleges have in providing sanctuary for student data and for students’ digital footprints?” In looking at how digital specialists and administrators might reflect the “caring, protective, and empathetic mindset of sanctuary movements,” Amy makes a call for those in higher education to consider how student data is handled, and in so doing to respectfully and empathetically acknowledge where data usage practices may cause harm. Amy goes on to outline strategies and best practices in terms of how institutions could handle student data in a secure and respectful way.

As Amy notes, “Let us, please, gather student data with more care. Let’s use it with more care. Let’s share it, save it, obfuscate it, or even delete it permanently with more care. And let’s take on a leadership role in conversations about data.”

We invite you to read Amy’s article in its entirety here.

Pedagogical Implications of Modeling for Beginners: Blog Post by Sonja Burrows

Sonja Burrows last week published a piece on the ODL blog entitled Pedagogical Implications of Modeling for Beginners in which she elaborates upon the merits of allowing learners at the novice level to learn by observing so as to lower the affective filter issues which can often prevent meaningful learning from flourishing. In this piece, Sonja discusses the pedagogical benefits of modeling not only for language learners and newcomers to the digital, but also for learners of many content areas and skills.

Sonja writes, “Learning is optimal for most human beings when they are given just enough structure to feel safe and just enough freedom to feel challenged. This, in my opinion, is the special sauce of meaningful learning design.”

You can read Sonja’s complete post on the ODL blog here.

Reading the LMS Against the Backdrop of Critical Pedagogy, Part One: Blog Post by Sean Michael Morris

Sean Michael Morris published a post on the ODL blog this week entitled Reading the LMS Against the Backdrop of Critical Pedagogy, Part One in which he asks critical pedagogical questions of the Learning Management System and the impetus behind its creation: “What if we were to theorize that the learning management system (LMS) is designed, not for learning or teaching, but for the gathering of data? And what if we were to further theorize that the gathering of data, as messaged and marketed through the LMS, has become conflated with teaching and learning?”

Sean goes on to suggest that those who wish to trouble the LMS’s politics and pedagogy can do so by stepping back and analyzing the tool from a critical pedagogical perspective. By asking important questions about digital tools, we can become aware of the intent behind the tools and can evaluate how and whether we will use them.

Sean writes, “The LMS threatens the same reduction of human complexity to simple data. I say ‘simple’ because even when data is nuanced and complex, it fails to be an accurate representation of a human being. This is not to say data cannot indicate certain behaviors, nor that it is useless, only that it has limitations. But it is not those limitations that are advertised, not those limitations that we’re trained to observe; instead, we are encouraged to see data as descriptive, not just indicative. And when that happens, a surfeit of data erects a barrier between students, teachers, and administrators. But most importantly, and least spoken about, data as a determinant erects a barrier between a student and themselves.”

We encourage you to read Sean’s post in its entirety here.


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