liminal space, research blog, digital technology, tpack, threshold concept, inquiry framework.
Increasing student numbers in higher education over the last decade has challenged educational environments. The challenge for educators is to re-think learning environments and delivery methods such that a student-educator partnership approach is adopted, resulting in deep-learning and debate rather than the delivery of a service, thereby invalidating the viewpoint that a degree is a commodity rather than a skills-set. The Community of Inquiry framework draws upon ideas that computer-mediated teaching and learning require the existence of three interdependent presences (social, cognitive and teaching). The inclusion of technology in pedagogy can further complicate teaching and learning. The fact that digital technologies are ever-changing, not always predictable, and can take on many forms supports Koehler & Mishra assertion that both developers and end-users of digital technologies do not always know nor can they always predict trends and applications of such technologies. “Efforts to guide educators and researchers in their technology integration has resulted in developed standards, frameworks, models, and theories that may be used to inform research and practice”. Hamilton points to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) (2015) who developed standards “to support students/educators/leaders with guidelines for the skills, knowledge and approaches they need to succeed in the digital age” raising the question of how learners can benefit from the effective use of technology. The structured use of frameworks (such as technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge (TPACK)) facilitates the integration and effectiveness of technology in teaching.The authors assert that appropriate technology and engagement in teaching can act as a scaffold for deeper research activity, weaving through paradigms such as active learning, constructivism etc to encourage students to spend quality time in what is known as the liminal space (identified as the process of mastering a threshold concept). Proposed approaches will be used to encourage and foster engagement in both formal and informal settings to allow more opportunities for dialog, which can result in greater learner engagement. Notwithstanding, it is easy for students to fall into a passive role, leaving the educator bearing this responsibility. Embedded technology teaching has many challenges but these challenges can be overcome with educators and students working in partnership with a common focus.
The authors present their use of a technological framework of engagement to provide a scaffold for research activity embedded in teaching and learning. In order to assess the effectiveness of this informal technological space (in this example a blog), 93 Masters and Undergraduate students are surveyed.
The aims of this survey were to:
(1) determine the impact this technological space has on their research activity and
(2) elicit whether or not classroom based learning through discussion was supported by the online blog or vice versa and an overall assessment of whether or not the blog met their expectations and facilitated them in easing their transition through liminal spaces in the mastery of related threshold concepts.
The authors will also outline the effectiveness of blog technology as a portals or learning thresholds. Anecdotal comments from the students will also be used to relate aspects of their journey through the liminal space.