How do we live responsibly, ethically and critically with technology?

As I said yesterday, stopping blogging was not a good idea.

I mentioned the fact to a few people today and the consensus was if you don’t keep a blog up to date, delete it – it does you no favours.

As it happened I was at the EUFOLIO, International ePortfolio Conference today in Dublin Castle .

There is a lot I could say, but in the spirit of getting the blog on track again, I want to mention the Keynote by Val Klenowski, Professor of Education at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia (click on link here to watch her full presentation, scroll to the 27 minute mark).

Klenowski drew on key people in her learning journey, particularly someone whose work I hold in high regard, Keri Facer.

I want to leave you with one point to think about.

Klenowski is particularly concerned with equity and ethics and using ePortfolios to pose critical questions in order to prompt student reflexive action – metacognition and an ability to take action as a basis of feedback.

She takes a question that Facer cites as central – How do we live responsibly, ethically and critically with technology?

I will leave the answer for you to ponder!

eLearning Island

Stopping blogging is really not a good idea.

I stopped blogging while I settle into a new role with Junior Cycle for Teachers here in Ireland. Yes, I checked in on the blog to see it was still there, but noticed recently that it began to fall off the the blogosphere – limited results in searches – poorly rendering across browsers and a missed payment to Edublogs!

OK, it is time to start again – this time without fanfare and start building up a following – and more importantly reflecting on my thoughts – concerning things digital and education.

First small step back. And yes, it will be small steps fro a while.

Image: Science Blogs (here).

Inspired by Universal Usability…

One of the first books I read when doing postgraduate studies at Dublin City University (2005 – 2007) was Leonardo’s Laptop, Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies, written by Ben Shneiderman (2003). It was in those pages, after over two decades of teaching, that I was first introduced to the principles of universal usability.

Shneiderman wrote (now twelve years ago), Universal usability is sometimes tied to meeting the needs of users who are disabled or work in disabling conditions. This important direction is likely to benefit all users. The adaptability needed for users with diverse physical, visual, auditory or cognitive disabilities is likely to benefit users with differing preferences, tasks, skills, hardware, and so on (Shneiderman 2003 p. 41 my emphases).

Shneiderman hit the nail on the head, and with the advent of the iPad in 2007, and its many incarnations and variants since then, the benefits of universal usability in the digital space are clear for all to experience.

I remembered Shneiderman recently when I was  reminded of the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) when planning curriculum developments.  There appear to be two main organisations promoting UDL (I stand to be corrected here!)

  1. The National Centre on Universal Design for Learning Center
  2. CAST, the Center for Applied Special Technology

They have similar ideas about the advantages of universal design for learning

  • UDL provides multiple means of representation
  • UDL provides multiple means of action and expression
  • UDL provides multiple means of engagement

UDL and the whole concept of universal usability appeal to me because they allow multiple means of expression. This has been an interest of mine over the past decade in allowing students to find many and differing ways of representing knowledge.

Multiple means of expression are necessary in education systems, to leverage the capabilities in most students pockets, to (re) present information and knowledge and to allow students of all abilities to articulate those means in educational settings.

The image below captures many aspects of universal design for learning (Credit Giulia Fotsythe via Flickr)

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