E-learning Ecologies for ELT Teachers, a keynote presentation for Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Winter University.
Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Winter University 2018
University of Tomorrow: Innovative Pedagogy and Methodology
by Jasmin B. Cowin, Ed.D., Associate Professor of TESOL and Bilingual Studies
Graduate School of Education, Touro College, NY
It was a distinct honor to be the keynote speaker and workshop facilitator for the XIX Winter School, Plekhanov Russian University of Economics in Moscow. Thematically, Plekhanov’s Winter University focused on “Current Global Trends in Teaching English.” The Head of the Foreign Languages Department, Irina Ekareva, Ph.D., Associate Professor, a highly regarded scholar of historical sciences, founded the yearly conference in the spirit of the importance of lifelong learning. Collectively, the department instructors passed international professional exams and participate on a regular basis in international conferences and grants. The Foreign Languages Department is actively introducing and using the latest interactive technologies in teaching foreign languages through meetings and hiring international specialists for workshops and conference presentations.
Prof. Ekareva’s overarching conference theme was on the urgency to adapt to a rapidly changing world while creating agile mindsets in students and facilitators. She opened the conference with her observations on the acceleration of change domestically and globally. Her remarks crystallize a common global theme on the far-reaching disruptors within the education landscape and the dynamic developments in regards to career pathways for the iGen and Gen Alpha generations. Both Generation Alpha and iGen are the first smartphone generations in our history to be immersed from birth in the super-connected social networking and gaming landscape.
The daily workshops designed and facilitated by Prof. Dr. Cowin were: Current Global Trends in Teaching English; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English – Methodology; E-learning & Micro-Methodology in Teaching English; and E-Resources Discovery and Analysis. As a final project, participants submitted online learning modules for their EFL courses focused on content-based instruction while incorporating the flipped classroom model.
While designing the workshops, it became clear that many of the communicative activities and teaching approaches would require participants to step outside their comfort zone. Over the course of five days, the workshop attendees were challenged to incorporate new teaching approaches based on communicative, student-centered components and activities. Through using Harkness method strategies which encourage open classroom dialogue, the workshops were transformed into “Think Tanks” emphasizing a nurturing environment. This anxiety-free, collaborative approach supported risk-taking, opening up within the group, and personal initiation of hands-on activities and projects.
Upon reflection, the four C’s: communication, cooperation, creativity and critical thinking are culturally transferable and as relevant as ever in engaging teachers and students to become agile thinkers, leveraging learning for continuous improvement.
All of us who seek a full-time college teaching position sooner or later face the “demo” lesson. Here is mine!
What does the future of public, private and corporate education hold for us? I believe Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, natural language processing, neural nets and deep learning will be the catalysts for world-changing disruptions in fields such as medicine, education, and job creation. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Baidu, Ford, Tesla to name but a few are positioned to be leaders in this transformation. Questions on institutional pathways to success and viability need to be framed against the background of AI, super intelligent machines and the broader questions of humanity and human consciousness.
In The Gears of my Childhood, Seymour Papert states “What an individual can learn, and how he learns it, depends on what models he has available. These questions raise, recursively, the question of how he learned these models. Thus the “laws of learning” must be about how intellectual structures grow out of one another and about how, in the process, they acquire both logical and emotional form.” Papart sees the computer as the “proteus of machines,” the universal enabler, an instrument flexible enough so that “many children can create something” which assimilates new models of knowledge into their individual styles of learning. However, kindling the spark of “love” for learning and inquiry as the driving force in creating a “genesis of knowledge” is the dominant message of Papert’s essay and the universal message to and for educators.
For Ray Kurzweil “Technology goes beyond mere tool making; it is a process of creating ever more powerful technology using the tools from the previous round of innovation.” As a generation of students prepares for their future, they must be prepared for a fluid and lifetime assimilation of new technology and models of national and international coexistence. However, Luke Rhinehart aka George Cockcroft, a psychiatrist, university professor, and writer of the cult novel The Dice Man wrote: “Man must become comfortable in flowing from one role to another, one set of values to another, one life to another. Men must be free from boundaries, patterns, and consistencies in order to be free to think, feel and create in new ways. Men have admired Prometheus and Mars too long; our God must become Proteus.”
Thinking about the future of education and humanity brought forth the questions: Is the quest for AI a quest to create God? If yes, in whose image? Alternatively, is this quest for the ultimate AI the ultimate archetypical story on the search for immortality? After all, humans have fantasized about the possibility of bringing a loved one back from the dead ever since that fateful, everlasting separation of Eurydice and her husband Orpheus on their wedding day through the venom of a viper. In this light, Rhinehart’s words that “men must be free from boundaries” seem prophetic.
Virtual Worlds (VW’s) are bringing new challenges and a possible disruption of campus life as we know it to the forefront of higher education institutions via virtual campus creation. The quest for exceptional immersive learning spaces requires leaders in higher education and institutions to reflect on processes and practices into VW and 3D environments.
In their book E-Learning Ecologies: Principles for New Learning and Assessment, Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis explore the role of new technologies in communication with learners, changing knowledge representation and the role of new technologies in transforming educational institutions. E-learning has created robust learning societies outside academia. I predict that in the near future, educators, students, and VW participants will spend considerable time in VW’s interacting with each other.
Exploring new technological resources such as VW’s and their unique environments opens new dimensions of the formative teaching and learning process. The landscape of these”multimodal” workspaces has a global reach. Pierre Baldi and Crista Lopez discuss in their article The Universal Campus: An open virtual 3-D world infrastructure for research and education the “Universal Campus”, providing a campus 3-D virtual world with multiple buildings featuring fully furnished laboratories, classrooms, meeting rooms, auditoriums, concert spaces, libraries ,and lecture halls enabling virtual meetings and interactions for faculty, students, visitors, and administration. In my opinion, VW together with 3 D technology such as the Oculus will create innovative, global, transformative knowledge spaces.
Open Access, Author Rights, and SPARC publication model exploration.
Open access allows researchers to access books and other items for free. These resources are openly available to users with no requirements for authentication or payment:www.cs.cornell.edu/wya/DigLib/MS1999/Glossary.html.
In this publication model neither readers nor a reader’s institution are charged for access to articles or other resources. Users are free to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles. The free availability of scholarly research literature, without restrictions of price or permissions on the Internet, is an important research tool in the age of IoT. Open Access journals allow researchers self-archiving in a digital repository or publication.
Using Open Access does not mean giving up all copyrights of ones scholarly work since it is anchored in the U.S. copyright system. When publishing with traditional scholarly journals, authors typically sign an agreement that transfers all their copyrights to the publisher, retaining no rights for themselves to re-use or distribute their own work. However, with open access journals, authors retain their rights to re-use their work in teaching and further scholarship. (Information consolidated from Lloyd Sealy Library)
One of the best ways keeping scholarly work within one’s personal control is the SPARC Author Addendum. SPARCis a legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows authors to keep key rights to their articles. The Author Addendum is a free resource developed by SPARC in partnership with Creative Commons and Science Commons, established non-profit organizations that offer a range of copyright options for many different creative endeavors. (quoted from SPARC BROCHURE)