AT2: A 4000 word assignment on the following question: 'Digital technology has transformed education'. Discuss.
Assignments may choose to focus on one particular area of education (e.g. primary, secondary, TAFE, higher education, workplace training or adult education), and/or one particular aspect of educational technology (e.g. specific social media applications such as Facebook or Twitter, LMS technology, simulations, games).
Assignments might choose to focus on 'education' in a broad sense, or specific issues relating to teaching or learning.
Learning outcomes (same as AT1)
1. Recognise the current and emerging trends in digital technologies being used in education, and the social, political, economic, cultural and historical issues surrounding their adoption.
2. Know some of the theories, models and frameworks for understanding digital technology in education and society
3. Develop evaluation skills to critically assess the value of technology use in educational settings
4. Synthesise theory and practice in order to improve understanding of the roles digital technologies play in educational settings
Criteria for marking
1. Each piece of writing identifies and discusses key issues and debates surrounding the use of digital technology in teaching and learning, making explicit personal views and beliefs.
2. Each piece of writing makes wider comparisons to current and emerging trends in digital technologies being used in education.The personal views and beliefs must be connected to broader debates, problems, tensions and unresolved issues in education.
3. Each piece of writing moves beyond personal experience and makes links evidence and research – evidence is understood broadly and involves traditional research studies (e.g. experiments and surveys) but also theories, models and frameworks for understanding digital technology and education.
General tips & tricks
• Use headings and subheadings effectively – include a table of contents and a title page (not included in the word count)
• You can still use chapters from the unit but please also show evidence of wider reading
• One thing to remember for AT2 is that, in essence, this unit tries to apply a critical sociological angle to the topic of educational technology. This perspective needs to be acknowledged in the assignment. One way to do this is by having two separate sections in the essay, one focused on “your picture” of transformation –i.e. from your specific professional angle - and one focused on the “big picture”. In the conclusion, you could try to make some connections between the two.
• There is no set number of sources to consider, but it goes without saying that the essay will need to draw on a more substantial evidence base than AT1. At least, 8-10 sources should be discussed to a reasonable level of detail.
Key elements of a critical essay
Compared to AT1, AT2 asks you to integrate evidence and theory seamlessly throughout the essay (i.e. there is no separation between narrative and evidence base). In order to do this, you will need to develop a traditional argument based on the following broad structure (specific sections/subheadings should be added)
• identify and state your topic/issue/question
• Provide some background and your motive for this argument/topic –convincing your reader/audience that this is a worthwhile issue/argument
• Define the key terms, concepts
• Provide an overview of your essay - tell the reader what is going to happen and how the essay is structured (this can be at the beginning of the intro, or at the end of it!)
• construct your argument –construct a series of small arguments –and link these together through a coherent and logical sequence
• Support your arguments through evidence –evidence can take the forms of academic references, data, statistics, etc
• Deal with counter-arguments –what are the different arguments around your topic/issue
• Restate your main point/idea in relation to your argument
• recap your main points
• highlight the significance of your argument/issue in relation to the broader context of your issue
• Articulate the implications: what does this mean for policy/practice/research?
The main challenge with an open critical essay is to avoid being too descriptive. An effective way to do this is by using critical topic sentences that, gradually, allow you to build a personal critical voice. A typical approach that can be repeated throughout an essay might be as follows:
1. topic sentence in which you provide a reflective and critical introduction to a particular strand of research which is relevant to your area of interest. e.g.
Research on the use of video games in education highlights the issue of context in interesting and thought-provoking ways. The nature of video games as simulated environments and areas of intense interest among many young people challenges established notions of what a -context for learning- is.
2. Synthesis of evidence from various sources, e.g.
According to some authors, game-based learning encompasses technological developments that are blurring the lines between formats, spaces, languages and practices associated with video games, leading to ‘blended’ experiences, which are not just confined to the video game itself (De Freitas and Griffiths, 2008).
Video games provide virtual worlds which are effective contexts for learning, because acting in such worlds allows learners to develop social practices and take on the identities of actual professional communities. These soft learning outcomes are seen by many commentators as more useful and worthy than the ‘outdated’ forms of knowledge acquired through traditional schooling (Shaffer, 2008).
Through video games young people cultivate interests and join ‘affinity groups’ that operate across contexts, as part of their projects of personal development. In these groups, players engage in sophisticated forms of learning fuelled by the shared passion for gaming. They include forums where players share ‘cheats’; wikis that clarify elements of the game universe; and ’modding’ groups who use game development skills to modify how games are played and experienced (Gee, 2008).
More helpful advice on the use of topic sentences can be found here: https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/topic-sentences-and-signposting
Finally, bear in mind the quality of research
A broad categorisation is as follows:
1. High: Large scale quantitative or qualitative study or in-depth case studies covering a range of settings and stakeholders where views are triangulated.
2. Medium: Quantitative or qualitative with smaller samples, qualitative studies not covering a broad range of settings or stakeholders, non-systematic reviews - speculative but based on sound theory.
3. Low : based on observation or opinion, or on one small-scale case-study, or the views of one person.