Create a Google Docs survey that you will submit to your cohort. The survey should cover some aspect of open resources, portals, or participatory technologies as covered in The World is Open–e.g., experiences with various portals or services, awareness of various tools, level of comfort in specific areas, etc. You may do a broad survey of technologies (e.g., open source software) or you may concentrate on a specific topic (e.g., Second Life). Your survey should be comprised of at least 12 related questions and should include examples of text, multiple choice, checkbox, choose from a list, and scaled response questions. Your survey should include branching logic (e.g., moving to a specified page based on a user’s response) when necessary.
Choosing a Topic for my Survey
Unlike some of my classmates, right now, I don’t have any particular real world need to gather data. I still wanted the topic of my survey to be useful to me, though, so I wanted to create a topic related to our assigned reading. As described by our assignment description (above), Chapters 6-8 of The World Is Open discusses “open resources, portals, and participatory technologies.” These chapters in The World Is Open emphasizes the vast potential of Web 2.0 to create participatory learning spaces, giving examples like:
- The Museum of Online Museums, where you can virtually “visit” exhibits from museums around the world (Bonk, 2010)
- Global Nomads Group, where students use videoconferences with students in other countries to learn about world cultures (Bonk, 2010, p. 232)
- ePals, which helps connect students and teachers from one country to another for communication and learning (Bonk, 2010, p. 261)
- Ice Stories, in which students could read and respond to stories from scientists working in Antarctica (Bonk, 2010, p. 262)
Just to name a few. Bonk (2010) makes a strong case for the new potential of online learning to help their students connect with outside resources and other people from all around the world. Bonk also spends part of Chapter 8 connecting the participatory potential of web technologies to Friedman’s ideas of globalization. Bonk (2010) says:
Thomas Friedman argued that the world has become flatter, deeper, richer, and more personally empowering for those who want to compete and collaborate economically across countries and continents… Concurrent with this flattening process, the world is making available a huge percentage of its educational treasures. It is unlocking windows and doors to educational opportunities for the entire world that were previously sealed shut (p. 388).
According to ideas of globalization, the world is “shrinking;” the connections between cultures, peoples, and economies are faster, tighter, and more dense than they were in previous generations. Bonk, as the quote above describes, says this same process is happening to education. And to an extent, this is certainly true. We have the potential to learn from anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. We also have an abundance of resources (like the list of examples I provided above) in order to do that. But– here’s the question I thought about as I read Chapters 6 to 8– do we do so on a regular basis?
Ghemawat (2009) provides a contrast to Friedman’s expansive view of the potential of globalization. According to Ghemawat, the data suggests that, while we have the potential to act “global,” most of the time, we still act “local.” He points out:
Web traffic within countries and regions has increased far faster than traffic between them. Just as in the real world, Internet links decay with distance. People across the world may be getting more connected, but they aren’t connecting with each other. The average South Korean Web user may be spending several hours a day online — connected to the rest of the world in theory — but he is probably chatting with friends across town and e-mailing family across the country rather than meeting a fellow surfer in Los Angeles. We’re more wired, but no more “global” (Ghemawat, 2009).
Bonk successfully argues that Web 2.0 has a strong potential to help students access open resources from all over the world, and to learn and collaborate with peers they have never met. However, I think it is also important- rather than talk just about potential– to think about what instructors are actually doing in terms of participatory learning, and consider how we might improve those processes.
I believe, then, that even though we have the vast potential of web technologies to connect us with people and resources around the world, “local” is still one of the primary ways in which we learn and teach. We learn often from the other students at our school, in our class, who are sharing the same educational space and experience that we are.
So where did this take my survey? While tools like the Museum of Online Museums, Global Nomads Group, ePals and Ice Stories are fantastic resources for the motivated teacher, I wanted to use my survey to think about what participatory learning tools are used on a day-to-day basis by instructors; to think about tools that have the potential to encourage “local” collaboration.
Many university instructors use a learning management system, like Blackboard, Canvas, or Desire2Learn. We can debate the merits of these tools, but the fact is, they are being used regularly. Consequently, I think it is useful to consider how to make these tools more participatory, more collaborative, and more in line with today’s student’s needs. Purposeful education, I believe, should start with fostering connections between an instructor and a student; between students in the same class. Education can be global, thanks to Web 2.0, as Bonk describes. But, education is still intensely local. How then, can an LMS contribute to or detract from this process of creating local participatory learning spaces?
Consequently, the survey I created for this assignment gave me the opportunity to think about some of these questions and consider the relationship of a learning management system to the creation of local participatory educational spaces.
You can access my survey at this link.
Reflecting on the Use of Google Forms
I had used Google Forms in one class previously (ED 601), so I was somewhat familiar with the use of the tool. However, this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to test out the “branching” feature, and I was pleased with how simple it was to use. I also liked that I was able to create “sections,” so as to visually guide survey participants through the organization of the survey. Since our class was so small, I wasn’t able to necessarily see how the data comes in to and is analyzed/organized by Google Forms, but I felt that the process of choosing a topic and working within Google Forms to create a survey was still a meaningful exercise.
Bonk, C. (2010). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Ghemawat, P. (Oct. 14 2009). Why the world isn’t flat. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from http://foreignpolicy.com/2009/10/14/why-the-world-isnt-flat/