AAP Discussion on Digital Learning in California

Bijan Izadi, Photo Editor

Technical troubles. That is what one half of this discussion was basically about. Specifically the trouble comes from transition. That is what we face in the current paradigm of society. For so long, people have gotten comfortable with paper filing, and now everything is changing, becoming digital and utilizing computers for everything that previously used paper and analog filing for.

This discussion brought together four professors at different California universities to weigh in on how they are dealing with this new way of teaching. These professors were Lynda Haas, who is a professor of Rhetoric and Composition at University of California Irvine, Dr. Philip Janowicz, Assistant Professor of Chemical Education at California State University, Fullerton, Solina Lindahal, an Economics Lecturer at California Polytechnic State University, and Professor of Accounting, Patty Worsham.

Dr. Lynda Haas researches digital rhetoric and literacies, and is working on research that studies students’ perceptions of their communication skills compared to their professors’ perceptions. She uses technology to advance the digital literacy of her students and to reach pedagogical goals and objectives. And she advocates that professors need to help their colleagues adapt. As she puts it, “Many people are recalcitrant. [What I’ve done to help] is put a lot of useful material, stuff that has worked in the past, in a [digital] file and send it to my colleagues.”

Someone from the audience of online participants tweeted a question, the mediator asked it to the panel. “How will you make this technology more ubiquitous?” Solina Lindahl advises that “we need to standardize a specific learning platform.” And by “making the learning platform be completely device agnostic so it looks the same [on all devices].” Lindahl says that it would make the whole experience a much more effective environment for learning if she could go from her laptop to her tablet and then to her phone, on a diverse group of devices, and have it look the same on all of them. There is also “a risk in adopting technology that no one else is using, that wont be around next year” says Lindahl, and it is difficult to find the technology that isn’t expensive, will stay around, and that works well for all students.

Dr. Phil Janowicz also agrees, he say that “In the sciences the faculty love the old ways” and says that this is a problem with creating more widespread use, he thinks that “more adoption” of technology will make it become better. He is a proponent of data, and the learning process using technology creates a lot of that. Every part of the learning process can create data measuring time, accuracy, speed, and even things we don’t even know we need to measure yet. All of this data can be, and is, analyzed.

“I thought I would put up the class lectures online and that would be it, I didn’t do that!” Says Dr. Janowicz, instead he uses the technology to further learning and discovery of the information. “I can set the deadline for [an online test] at 2 am…and I review them at 6 am and find the most missed learning objectives” reviewing every data variable that was created by the students test taking, time, accuracy, etc. are all things that can be reviewed, “then when they come to class at 8am…we can go over the learning material and help the students where they need it.”

Digital learning is becoming more widely used throughout the school system, some people fear that it is making people less smart, but digital tools might just help us get smarter. “Knowledge is the organization of information” which comes from experience through different ways of learning, “Knowledge is not found online, on your phone.” They (students) will not rely on the phone for knowledge but for information” says Dr. Janowicz. Those people who would rather file papers the old way, and get knowledge the old way, are only holding back the inevitable widespread use of digital learning.

More information on the future of (digital) learning can be found at http://www.aapbacktocampus.org/