This Week in ODL: Nov 27-Dec 1, 2017

Attending to the Information Environment of the Web: Blog Post by Amy Collier

Amy begins her blog post with a vivid image of the beloved Otter Creek but a creek polluted with toxic sludge – a sludge that makes the river gray and “dotted with old tires, trash, and debris sucked into toxic threads in the river and along its banks.” The question is posed of what we would do to remedy the situation in the same way that we need to take action to remedy the polluted web.

Amy goes on to describe the importance of the web to higher education and the dangers of misinformation to our country – “Misinformation on the web is polarizing us, it’s radicalizing us and we should be paying attention”. She ties this with Mike Caufield concept of information environmentalism and invites us to make improving our online information environment a personal project but more importantly an educational project. “Curricular and co-curricular activities can start to clean up the misinformation on the web, and help us combat a sense of helplessness and cynicism through real, consequential, actions.”

The blog post ends with some examples of work done by students at the Washington State University and some upcoming work at Middlebury. Amy will be coteaching a class in the Spring on information environmentalism.

We invite you to read Amy’s blog post in full, here.


Critical Thinking in Langauge Teaching: Blog Post by Sonja Burrows

Having attended the annual convention of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), Sonja considers her time at the conference, placing much thought into her encounters with Critical Thinking.

Sonja begins the blog post by sharing with us her affinity for the sessions that had social justice and critical thinking in their titles. This was apparent because of the myriad of sessions offered, these were the ones she attended. She describes that

“These concepts have gone beyond mere ideals and become what I consider to be a matter of survival”.

The post compares different definitions of critical thinking and their implications. Sonja reflects on how we, at the Office of Digital Learning understand the term as “intentionally designing spaces and opportunities for learning that take into account who our students are and who they want to become.” and contrasts that with those encountered at the convention, much of which seemed inadequate. For example, one didn’t take into consideration “the sort of judgment informed by evidence and created through the process of carefully questioning what is in front of us and all around us.”

Sonja closes by making a call to language pedagogues “to reconsider the neutrality with which we tend to talk about and teach critical thinking as foreign language teachers, and in so doing to foster in students a much-needed new criticality within their use of this 21st century skill.”

Read more here.

Featured image by Donna on Unsplash

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