My recent learning challenges for LiDA101 have involved research and evaluation of online sources, academic writing including APA referencing and learning about and using citation management tools. I have been using Zotero, which is handy because it’s free, it has a Google Chrome browser extension that makes it easy to save online sources, it integrates with MS Word, which I use for word processing, and there is even a WordPress plugin—but I haven’t tried because it costs extra money. Getting set up with Zotero was pretty easy, but I did have to read the instructions as my download didn’t automatically integrate with MS Word.
To test my skills using Zotero, I have been asked to write a paragraph relating to my research question, which includes a verbatim quotation extract from one source, and a paraphrased fact from one source, and an automatically generated reference list. Lastly, I need to add it to this short blog about my experience using Zotero as a PDF. So far so good, here it is.
I have reached a new learning challenge and blog task for LiDA 101. I am planning a critical essay on the research question: Can online open education resources reduce educational inequalities? In the lead-in to writing the essay, I am reviewing approaches to evaluating online sources of information.
My task today is to write a blog post evaluating an open-access source of information relating to my research question, ideally, a peer-reviewed article. I have selected a research article authored by Croteau (2017) “Measures of student success with textbook transformations: the Affordable Learning Georgia Initiative”. I found the article by searching the Database of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). The article was published in the Open Praxis Journal, a peer-reviewed scholarly open access journal, owned by the International Council For Distance and Open Education.
To evaluate the above article, I will be applying the “CARS Checklist for Online Source Evaluation” (Harris, 2016), which I will apply as a broad guide to evaluate the credibility, accuracy, reasonableness, and support for claims made in the article that link to my research question. I have presented the checklist below as an infographic.
I found the article by searching the Database of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). It was published in Open Praxis, a peer-reviewed scholarly open access journal owned by the International Council For Distance and Open Education (ICDE). The Open Praxis website states “Research articles and innovative practice articles are subject to double-blind peer review by a minimum of two Reviewers and ICDE will ensure global representation in the choice of Reviewers.” The article’s author Dr Emily Croteau is a Senior Academic Coordinator at the University of Kentucky. The author’s professional email address is stated on the front page of the published article; she features on the University of Kentucky’s website in the staff section.
Harris 2016, states “The goal of the accuracy test is to assure that the information is actually correct: up to date, factual, detailed, exact, and comprehensive”. Croteau’s article is recent, published in 2017, and uses data collected in 2015. The purpose of the article is to answer the research question “is using OER associated with a change in student learning outcomes?” (Croteau, 2017, p.96). findings from a range of recent studies that are negative, neutral, and positive about the impact of OER on students’ learning outcomes are cited, providing the study’s context and where it sits within the current body of related research literature. Research methods, data analysis, results, and conclusions are explained in detail, including critical discussion of findings and potential confounding variables.
The claims made in the article are reasonable, supported by data, and very believable. As mentioned above, differing research findings are presented and analysed. This is done in a clear, calm and objective manner without any obvious bias.
As previously mentioned the article was published in the Open Praxis Journal. Additionally, the study can be found via DOAJ and ERIC, two quality controlled academic databases of peer-reviewed scholarly research articles. Further, Croteau’s article is also cited on the Affordable Learning Georgia website. Croteau also cites a number of peer-reviewed studies that found using ORE had no effect on students’ learning outcomes, thus corroborating her research results.
The article fares well across credibility, accuracy, reasonableness, and supports criteria of the CARS checklist. I will use it as a source, with many others, in my pending critical essay assignment.
At the start of any course, I feel excited and empowered but then assignments are issued and I begin to feel afraid and wonder if I can do them. LiDA101 adds a new horror to this feeling because I am publicly publishing my assignment on the web! This blog post is my second learning challenge for LiDA101. I have three tasks, read on to see my answers and approach to completing them.
1. Publish a personal definition of digital literacies and what they mean to you
The term “digital literacies” requires a broad definition because technology is used by people with diverse motivations of all ages, cultures, backgrounds and across all social contexts. In contrast to “digital skills” like coding that focus on what and how, digital literacies require a socially negotiated and context-dependent awareness of why, when, who, and for whom, when making decisions about digital behaviours, practices, or identities (Bali, 2016; Blewshaw, 2012). An individual’s success in digital society (modern society) depends on their non-digital skills of adaptability, self/cultural/political awareness when using digital tools to participate in digital society. When a person has strong digital literacies, they are able to participate purposefully and safely in digital society through critical consumption, remix, and creation of digital content while helping build and shape digital society. (Bali, 2016; BCS, ND; Blewshaw; Heitin, 2016, Jisc, 2014 ). To conclude this section below is my personaldefinition of the term digital literacies.
Digital Literacies:A fluid and evolving set of capabilities of mind, supported by changing digital tools, facilitating safe participation and achievement in digital society.
2. Reflect on the range of digital tools and how you use them in personal and institutional contexts.
Below is a map of how I use digital tools in my life (personal and professional) and whether I use the tool as a “visitor” or “resident”. The key difference between “visitor” and “resident” user is that as a “resident user” I leave a digital footprint, which is publicly visible and tells a story about me. To be honest, I could add more to the map so I guess I am a fairly keen user of digital tools.
3. Prepare an action plan for improving your digital literacies for online learning.
Critically review my digital behaviours, practices, and identities and create a living set of learning and development goals to support the growth and maintenance of my own digital literacies.
Become confident with remixing materials I find on the web and understanding relevant copyright laws and accessibility standards.
Help build a better digital society—woah that’s a big one!
I am feeling excited, inspired, and frustrated. Excited by my involvement with the OERu open education movement, inspired by the people who are on this journey with me, and frustrated when I can’t get my blog to do what I want—but I am figuring it out through effort, attention, and patience with myself. At this point, I am building up the digital skill of using the WordPress content management system to create a personal learning environment that I can be proud to say is mine.
My growing personal learning network is already a source of inspiration. After checking out Megingle’s blog I will be adding two new sections to my blog/personal learning environment: “Resources” and “Personal Learning Goals”. I am happy that I have a librarian/information management professional as part of my new learning network!
Come learn with me online. I am participating in open education courses through OERu on learning in a digital age starting with LiDA101. This blog is my personal learning environment (PLE) where I will document my learning journey. If you’ve never heard of a PLE, here is a short video about PLEs versus traditional online learning environments. PLEs are a core part of OERu courses and the open education structure. Read on for some background information about me and why I am interested in these courses on learning in a digital age—and why I think the content should be added to educational curriculums at all levels.
My name is Justine. I’m a person with a lot of questions. They usually start with what, why, who, how, when, making me a constant journalist and collector of information who can be found talking with all kinds of people wherever I am. My desire to learn, understand, and help has taken me to some interesting places: Spending a year teaching English in Cuenca, Ecuador; and working with teenagers with disabilities and their families. I’ve also been employed as a government analyst, a professional development and careers advisor, and more recently, have become involved with civic technology events like GovHack, both as a participant and a co-organiser.
Access to the internet and technology has been a powerful tool for self-actualisation in my life. When I was 14 years old, I wanted to learn to surf (waves not the internet) and nobody wanted to teach me. After managing to get my hands on a surfboard and taking a few poundings in the water due to lack of skill and knowledge of surfing techniques, I took to google. And what did I find? I found free resources (diagrams, articles, videos) about reading weather maps and wave faces and surfing techniques that were created by professional surfing instructors in California, USA. And so I would study online and then practise and practise until one day someone said, “hey, you’re a good surfer!”.
In the early 2000s, I saw the internet as a positive place where I could find information from overseas experts for free and talk to like-minded people from all over the world. This was before social media. Before all the noise and prolific creation of harmful digital communications that came with marketing, socialising, and dating moving online. Yes, there have always been people who have used internet-technologies to do harm to others—but less of us were online in the past, and we didn’t need to do things online to the extent we do now.
It’s 2018, and I have a lot of questions about life online, which now crosses the borders of countries, and the professional and personal sections of our lives. I would like to think of myself as a good citizen of New Zealand. I vote in elections, I obey the law, and I try to take care of the environment and support the betterment of the country. But am I a good digital citizen?
What are my rights in my online life? What are the habits of a good citizen in a global and digital age? Yes, I know there technically isn’t such a thing as digital citizenship, but what say there was? I’m intrigued by the idea. I think it could improve the quality of our online lives. In an academic sense, I am referring to a liberal construct of citizenship. An idea that citizens should have rights to human dignity and that all citizens should act in an enlightened way that protects their basic rights and those of others (Ronald, 1995). It’s aspirational blue sky thinking at a time when the world-wide-web often seems like the Wild West: a place where people do, say and take whatever they want; and revenge is widely and maliciously sort. I think we can all live a better online life. I am ready to reflect on, change, and improve my online behaviours — join me on this journey!
My first learning task for Lida101 is starting this blog. Why? I’m starting it because my learning journey will be owned by me and centred around my interests, and I want to make it available for you all to see, unlike the gated online forums of traditional university-level courses.
Share your experience making this blog (task one)
I have created and maintained a blog on WordPress before so it hasn’t been too hard.
Share a photo of yourself working on this course
The photo below shows me using my laptop while completing this task from my home. I have applied a vintage filter because I didn’t like the photo.
Share a tip(s) for people getting started on lida101
You don’t need to pay for a domain when you start your blog. On WordPress, you can get a free domain that ends in .wordpress.com instead of paying for the .com version.
Add one widget to your blog
I chose to add the spam blocker counter widget because I am interested to know how many people are trying to spam me.