Thesis Defence. Xavier Mas: the integration of the uses of digital technology in adult learning

Thesis defence by Xavier Mas entitled The integration of the uses of digital technology in adult persons in their training activities at the university, in Barcelona at the Universitat de Barcelona. November 24, 2014.

Xavier Mas: The integration of the uses of digital technology in adult persons in their training activities at the university

Having the word, in the digital age is having the technology. Technology is part of literacy.

Goals:

  • Improve the knowledge on the relationship between the use of technology and everyday life, especially learning.
  • Patterns in the use of digital technologies for learning.
  • New questions in the field.

The theoretical framework comes both from the “pre-Net” learning theories to renew education (Freire, Freinet, Vygotsky, Illich) and “Net-aware” theories based on constructivism and connectivism, the flipped classroom, augmented learning, the PLE, etc.

Digital competence goes way beyond a simple matter of literacy, but it does embed other skills that belong to superior stages.

Methodology: two independent research paths, qualitative and quantitative. Guided open interviews with experts + survey to students (2010).

Results

Experts from the interview:

  • Preponderance of the professional sphere in their digital universe.
  • Relevance of the social dimension in managing knowledge (connectivism)
  • Strong relationship between digital universe and digital competence.
  • Awareness of being building a PLE.
  • Awareness of a sense of being on a PLN.
  • Quest for ubiquity.

Results from survey

  • Two different clusters among the respondants.
  • Universal: basic uses such as search for information, accessing digital content, use of social networking sites, etc.
  • Minority use: complex uses such as publish on a blog, online gaming, mobile devices, etc.

Complex uses are normally accompanied with more participation online and a more creative participation.

Utility of uses of digital technology for learning:

  • Access to information: browsable, multimedia and shareable.
  • Social and collaborative component: communication, sharing, collaboration.
  • Ubiquity: mobility, in the cloud. And not ubiquity as being connected anywhere, but a transformation of the dimensions of time and space.

Socio-demografic factors are not determinants on the differences found in the surveys. I.e. just some slight biases related to age, but very very small. The only slightly more relevant difference is when students come from IT engineering.

Conclusions

  • What defienes advanced digital competence and the main learning metatrends are present in the personal behaviour of the participants, but not in a generalized way and, especially, not guaranteed.
  • The perception of the value of technology for learning is acknowledged, especially in the spheres of the social component and ubiquity.
  • Need to identify the profiles in the use of technology and the factors that determine it.
  • Need to deepen the penetration of the learning metatrends of informalization that empower the student, and of dis-location in the situations and contexts of informal learning.

Discussion

There are many contributions made by some pre-Net authors (Freinet, Freire, Illich) that resonate a lot with what is happening today with education and ICTs, especially social networking sites. Some theoretical proposals by these authors can today be put into practice thanks to ICTs in education.

It is interesting to stress the fact that many practices that happen inside traditional online LMS are not exactly the same practices that students will perform outside of the LMS, in their daily lives. Thus, we have to be cautious in saying that practices happening within the LMS can be compared with what happens outside. Most likely, they will not be comparable. Most LMS digital practices are so much driven, happen so much inside a walled garden that they are all but “natural”, not spontaneous at all.

The concept of life-width learning — in addition to life-long learning — was introduced to stress the notion that what happens in the Net, all the digital practices affect not only a specific activity — i.e. learning — but the whole of one’s life. And this is a crucial statement, especially when we consider the increasing shift from formal education to informal learning.

We are witnessing an epistemological change where knowledge will never more be a static thing, but a dynamic one. Thus why connectivism — with its critiques — is a most valuable metaphor and/or theory. The pattern of lineal learning applies no more: now knowledge and learning is not linear, but liquid.

Many of the approaches based on “generations” (generation X, Y or whatever) may not be really accurate. Maybe it is not a matter of being a generation or another one, but being on a given stage of the life-cycle, which pushes people to certain users depending on their needs — and not as much as depending on their birth date.

PS: congratulations, doctor Mas!

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2014) “Thesis Defence. Xavier Mas: the integration of the uses of digital technology in adult learning” In ICTlogy, #134, November 2014. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4274

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