Category Archives: Mobile and Emerging Technologies

A Teacher for Every Student

My virtual 3-Minute Thesis presentation, re-recorded after the competition. Sorry for the poor audio, I do not have my yeti mic or Adobe CS at the moment!

A Different Significance: Actualizing Pedagogical Potential through Technology and New Media


Since our Australopithecine ancestors learned to shape stones into tools ~3.3 million years ago, hominid relationships and knowledge creation have been mediated by, negotiated through, and expressed in technological innovations, a meandering but cumulative line — from rock to rocket, from Lucy to Musk — that may help us create a new Levant in the orange dust of Mars, in an evolutionary leap that takes us away from home, to where our reliance on technology will be absolute. “Without technology, we are not human” (McGreal, 2017). Without humans, and our imperative for social interaction, technology would not exist.

While Russell’s (1999) meta-analysis revealed “no significant difference” in learning outcomes when comparing face-to-face and distance education (DE) contexts (absent pedagogical change), critical differences emerge when technology-enabled pedagogical changes are considered. Interactive online technologies afford pedagogical potential that correlates to improved learning outcomes in DE and blended learning contexts.

In this paper, I explore the pedagogical potential afforded by one interactive technology tool – online discussion forums – for enhanced social presence and learner-centredness, towards improved learning outcomes. Two pedagogical strategies – scaffolding, and forum management – are considered within DE and blended learning. Scope is limited to higher education and professional training contexts.

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Boldly Go: An Essay on Technology and Reflection

When I close my eyes, and picture what reflection looks like, I imagine time and quiet solitude, much as Ellen Rose (2013) describes in her book on reflection. I picture myself sitting by a window on a summer afternoon, gazing outside.

I would not last long beside my window. I would move into my garden, to listen to the wind and birds, smell the lavender, feel the cool grass, and the warmth of my cat against my shin. Under the shade of the ‘Hobbiton’ tree in our backyard – like the tree under which Bilbo Baggins’ long-expected party takes place[1] – I might recall how it was this tree that sold us on this house seven years ago, after seeing the bald lots of so many new-build homes. Listening to the nearby seed-cleaning mill, I might think about how much farmland surrounding my town has been lost to residential development, whether the seed-cleaning mill will soon be displaced, and what all of this means for food production and timber consumption. I might recall the clear-cutting I’ve observed driving through Swan Hills, Alberta. Is that timber used in Canada, or is it exported? Is it the same in New Zealand, where the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movies were filmed? In these adaptations of Tolkien’s work, director Peter Jackson infused a critique of New Zealand’s deforestation (Jackson, Osborne, & Walsh, 2003). What do we lose in exchange for (perceived) progress? I might wonder if the Hobbiton tree had to be CGI’d[2] into the LOTR movies. I have my tree, in my backyard, and it’s the real thing. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of photos preserve my tree, along with the context of each moment. Would a virtual reality (VR) rendering better preserve, or change, these for me? What if I created/programmed the VR myself?

In contrast to Rose’s (2013) description of sight separating observer from what’s observed and thereby creating a space wherein reflection may occur, my reflective experiences are typically immersive. All four of my senses are catalysts for reflection, opening pathways to meander and explore. For me, reflection would be diminished without the sense of hearing, in particular, complementing the sense of sight.

In an EDDE 801 forum post, I shared my idea of “hyper-symbolism”, imagining how 3D/4D[3] VR could change the role of symbols in human-object-knowledge relationships. Rose (2013) describes how advances in spoken and written language translated knowledge into abstract symbols, enabling people to imagine, reflect and communicate, disconnected from concrete experience (p. 47). With advances in VR technology, I speculate knowledge is being repositioned to reside within high-fidelity proxies of objects, still abstracted, but providing richer data to inform experience and reflection. Would a VR garden provide more paths for me to explore, versus the garden imagined in my mind? Would the enriched data experienced in a VR garden foster an extended and semantically deeper reflection?

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Social Media Use in Higher Education (Outline)

Here is an updated outline of my Master’s final project reviewing research on social media use in higher education (click to enlarge):


I’ve also been working on a cognitive map:

Week 12 – Mobile and Emerging Technologies

Part A – mLearning for the K-12 Classroom

Here is my Tackk poster.

In case my Tackk account expires and my poster can no longer be viewed, here is a PDF version of my poster, and here is my poster in JPEG format:



Part B – Reflection (re: Sample Lesson Plan)

Mobile devices could be utilized for the activities for Step 1 of the lesson plan to poll the class to share ideas about what they already know about Greek mythology, and what they would like to find out. At the end of each unit, to facilitate sharing of the group lists of what has been learned, a content delivery app such as mobl21 could be utilized to provide a space for each group to post their list; the teacher could then deliver a compilation of all group lists to each student directly via their mobile device. This is a way of engaging students, incorporating collective knowledge, and empowering students by letting them decide what they would like to include in their learning. As well, the end of class poll would serve as a study review for the entire class.

To expand on the objectives of Step 5, an augmented reality program, such as the Star Walk iOS app, could be utilized to have students view the night sky and observe digital layers that show the figure outlines for the constellations depicting icons from Greek mythology. This would help demonstrate the connection been ancient Greek society and present day “Western” society. This may help demonstrate the relevance of Greek mythology to the students’ own lives, and help them to grasp concepts from Greek mythology that they can identify in the world around them today.

For Step 12, the teacher could use the Study Stack web site to create flashcards, incorporating all the questions and answers provided by the students. The link to the flashcard deck could then be sent directly to each student’s mobile device, and they could access the flashcards on their mobile devices at school or elsewhere (as long as there is an Internet connection).

Considerations I would make before incorporating this mLearning strategy would include:

  1. Whether the mLearning strategy makes appropriate use of technology as a support. For instance, am I using technology just for the sake of using technology? Will the use of technology truly transform the students’ learning.
  1. Whether the applications/apps I choose to use are compatible with all the types of mobile devices my students have access to (or, whether my all the students in my classroom have access to a mobile device with which the applications/apps I choose to use are compatible). For instance, Star Walk is exclusively for Apple devices, and costs $2.99 USD. I would want to choose free applications/apps, so that cost would not impede accessibility.
  1. Whether the technology is appropriate to the age / grade level of my students. If the applications/apps are too difficult for my students to use, they will lose interest in the activities.