Why Technology and the Curriculum?
Despite rapid advances in the technologies that we have at our disposal as educators and learners, the debate continues on many fronts as to the rightful place of technology in teaching and learning practice. Many educators feel overwhelmed by the range of technology options – not to mention their sense of comfort and confidence with how to leverage those resources effectively. Many educators, administrators, parents, and other community groups fear the potential distractions that may accompany technology integration.
There exists a multitude of resources to demonstrate the potential benefits of different technologies in a variety of subject areas. There also exists a wealth of resources that can help educators and students master specific technologies themselves. However, alongside these exists a more fundamental – and often overlooked – question. That is, what is meaningful technology integration? Not how can we achieve specific learning goals more efficiently but, rather, how do we meaningful account for technology when making decisions about what we teach? This question of how technology interacts with curriculum itself is the focus of EDUC 5303G: Technology and the Curriculum – a course in the Masters of Education program at Ontario Tech University. The mandate of EDUC 5303G is to:
[examine] the theoretical foundations and practical questions concerning the educational use of technology. The main areas of focus… include learning theory and the use of technology, analysis of the learner, curriculum, and technology tools, leading-edge technology programs/initiatives, implementation, assessment, and barriers toward using technology. The overall focus of the course is on developing a critical, evidence-based, theoretically grounded perspective regarding the use of technology in the curriculum (EDUC 5303G Course Syllabus, Spring/Summer 2022).
All of the chapters in this eBook were written by a course participant and focus on a topic chosen by them that stems from the issues explored throughout the Spring/Summer 2022 term. The authors first submitted their chapter drafts for feedback from the instructor. Chapters also underwent a double-blind peer-review process, before the final versions were added to the actual eBook here in Pressbooks.
The Writing Process
Throughout the Spring/Summer 2022 term, faculty and students in the Faculty of Education at Ontario Tech University participated in a study of the effectiveness of the Kritik platform for facilitating peer-to-peer collaboration in higher education courses. Kritik (2022) describes itself as “a peer-grading platform that distributes fair and accurate assessments by harnessing collective intelligence to simplify workflows and reduce turnaround time on feedback.” In this case, EDUC5303G participants each used a standardized template to prepare their draft chapters. Much like the process of submitting journal articles or draft chapters for peer review with a major publisher, students’ draft chapters were anonymized. They used Kritik to upload copies of the chapter drafts by a set deadline. The Kritik system then assigned each participant two chapter drafts to review. A scoring rubric was created in Kritik, mimicking most publishers’ standard peer feedback forms. Students were also given a long-form feedback template, which they completed while reviewing the chapters, and uploaded as attachments when completing the scoring rubric in Kritik. Again, participants were given a set deadline to return the peer reviews, so that their classmates would have sufficient time to address the critiques and polish off their chapter drafts. Following this, each participant was granted editing rights to their chapter space in Pressbooks, where they uploaded and formatted their final chapters for publication.
Why an Open Access eBook?
This is the third volume of the Technology and the Curriculum eBook. When the first volume (Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018) was conceived, the aim was for EDUC 5303G to live up to its mandate of meaningfully integrating technology into the course curriculum and the overall learning experience. Digital communications tools, such as the Pressbooks platform, allow for a transformation of the traditional academic paper writing experience. Rather than writing a paper to demonstrate topic understanding, and competence with writing mechanics, for just an instructor’s review, technology enables course participants to write with purpose.
This eBook chapter writing endeavor allows participants in a course like EDUC 5303G to more fully engage with their peers in the writing process, reflecting the realities of academic writing beyond the classroom. The project also allows them to share their work with a global audience. This integration of technology forces students to take deeper ownership of their work but also allows them to share the fruits of their labors with others who could benefit from their explorations of topics related to the meaningful use of technology in education.
Admittedly, when I first conceived of the idea of drafting, peer-reviewing, editing, compiling, and publishing a professional-quality eBook in just ten weeks – with a group of students who had likely never engaged in such an exercise before – I was not sure what results to expect. But, the Spring/Summer 2018 EDUC 5303G participants embraced the challenge. The final product was one that everyone was excited about. We launched the publication on schedule at the end of the term. The eBook met not only with pride from the course participants, but with accolades from the Faculty of Education, and a multitude of inquiries about how to undertake similar activities from many different institutions.
There was never any question as to whether I would undertake this endeavor again with the next cohort of EDUC 5303G participants, which we did for a second edition (Power, 2019) in the Spring/Summer 2019 term.
It gives me great pleasure to facilitate access to the tools and processes used by the EDUC 5303G Spring/Summer 2022 participants to produce this eBook and to share the resources they have created.
Kritik Education (2022). Kritik: Authentic peer-to-peer interaction for a new era of education. [Web page]. https://www.kritik.io/
Power, R. (Ed.) (2018). Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2018. [eBook]. Power Learning Solutions. ISBN 978-1-9993825-0-6. https://techandcurriculum.pressbooks.com/
Power, R. (Ed.) (2019). Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2019. [eBook}. Power Learning Solutions. ISBN 978-1-9993825-1-3. https://techandcurr2019.pressbooks.com/