Self Efficacy and Education: Technology Explored

Collective Blog By: Rosmari Graham, Bradley Hill, Ashley Spencer, Abigail Franc, Joshua Kaufer,  Amy Lamenzo, Jaclyn Seymour, and Dennie Williams

Abstract

In this collection of essays, students of Edinboro University’s Technology of Communication course explore components of their readings of Albert Bandura, focusing on the topic of self-efficacy. This topic is discussed with a focus on how self-efficacy relates to education and technology, especially on its effect on students. Each section of this essay approaches these topics with slight variation, applying various other relative facets that apply to self-efficacy.

 

Technology and Education

Technology has always been foreign territory for those who were not raised around it. Jobs were just hands-on activities with minimal technological efforts, communication was mainly done face to face while the internet was still blooming, and yes, there was no app for that. Most 18-25 year-olds could probably recall a multitude of instances where members of older generations cast technology away as complex, confusing, and even demonic. The point being made is that in today’s society, the tides are turning. Adults are increasing their self-efficacy in technology and it’s starting with the classroom.

Educational Technology is the term used to describe the new traditional classroom. Teachers who are used to transparent projector paper and dry erase markers are being given high tech smart-boards and Elmo projectors that hook up directly to a monitor and are touch screen. Teachers who are classic notebook and pencil people have mobile computer lab’s in the form of tablets stationed in their classrooms while their kids are answering their questions on word documents and google is the go to research tool before a book. Every subject is being translated to a digital platform and it’s requiring our teachers to go through trainings and professional developments, forcing teachers (especially those more towards the older generation) to become comfortable with technology they’d never own in their own personal lives. This method of technological integration into traditional teacher pedagogy is improving self-efficacy in technology for teachers across the country and evolving the classroom environment. In addition, a teacher that is confident in their ability to use technology will find themselves able to relate to student’s better, and also encourage students in their ability to utilize the technology in an educational sense, thus increase student self-efficacy in educational technology.

Educational Technology is a concept still being unwrapped out of it’s packaging here in America, but across the globe, Educational Technology has made it’s footprint on society. A group of researchers out of the University of Bingol, in Turkey, studied 158 teachers in the Turkey Area in 2012. In 2012, educational technology was becoming relevant and meaningful to society. The study was given to elementary, middle, and high school teachers. The study was titled “Teachers’ Computer Self-Efficacy and Their Use of Educational Technology” and it focused on “their computer self-efficacy perceptions,  frequency of computer use for certain purposes, and  computer level in certain programs in terms of different independent variables.” When the teacher’s self-efficacy was evaluated. It was identified that the majority of teachers have universal positive feelings towards utilizing technology in their everyday classroom and are extremely confident in their ability to do so. The information also communicates an increased understanding in basic computer apps (i.e. microsoft office.) The data also tells us that the only other source rivaling the Internet for teacher prep are “conventional books” which tells us that the Internet is now as common, traditional, and easy to use for our teachers as books are.

Where are we today with Educational Technology? Teachercertification.org which is run by QuinStreet, Inc., a popular marketing company, wrote an article about the effectiveness of technology in the classroom. The article divulges that the concerns of technology harming a student’s ability to interact face to face and inhibiting their learning capabilities in the classroom by making technology a crutch, are a thing of the past. We have moved on from technology being a distraction and technology has now become a tool/an asset in the classroom for engaging, student friendly work. “Technology in the classroom can help in many ways – it can make a lesson more fun and interactive, and it can prove to students that what they are learning is applicable in the real world.” the article states.

Being able to use your technological experience from class in the evolving tech savvy real world is an important component to educational technology. If we are to prep our students for the new job market that doesn’t look at hard-labor as a factory job anymore but has taken difficult high paying jobs to a screen and a keyboard, we must prepare them starting in their primary education days. This also requires us to support and train our teachers. Increased self-efficacy in educational technology amongst teachers will reflect in self-efficacy of our students with their respective subjects.

With this being said, It’s important to look at the work of teachers, especially teacher’s who still take old-school traditional approaches to education. Some practices are becoming obsolete while other, time-effective, technologically apt techniques are being applied. This can even be applied to the collegiate level. Do we continue to look at technology as a shortcut, or do we empower our students with technological tools to help them in today’s society? Education is evolving, and educators need to be confident in their technology use in order to prepare our students for this change.

 

Teachers and New Technology

Technology is a great tool to use in the classroom, but what good is technology if teachers are incompetent in using it themselves?  Without the application of a tech savvy educator mediums such as ipads, laptops, and computer labs go unused and vacant.  Tools such as these are only as useful as the teacher who is utilizing them in her classroom.  

Research shows that much of the lack of incorporating technology into lessons goes back to the teachers’ self-efficacy in technology.  Teachers who do not have the confidence in using technology often times will not use it in their classrooms.  This could result in students not being exposed to technology regularly therefore having a lower self-efficacy themselves.

Amy Farah wrote Factors Influencing Teachers‘ Technology Self-Efficacy: A Case Study (2011),  focus groups and personal interviews were conducted that resulted in several factors that influence technology self-efficacy levels in the classroom.  Focusing on teachers’ self-efficacy in regards to technology can be beneficial. If teachers are adequately taught how to use technology and see the value in it then their self-efficacy will increase leading to a greater amount of technology used.  “If specific factors affecting teachers‘ levels of technology self-efficacy can be identified, then that information can inform educational stakeholders of aspects that have the ability to move teachers further along the technology integration continuum” (Farah, 2011, p 4-5).  

The first factor is the teacher’s perception of the support between co-workers, technology specialists, and administration for instructional technology and making it a school initiative.  A second factor is simply knowing what technology tools are available.  If educators are not aware of the various mediums of technology then they are not able to utilize the various methods.  Another factor relates to the content area being taught by teachers and their ability to see how technology can reach students in their specific subject areas.  The amount of time spent using technology in the classroom goes hand in hand as another factor that helps determine the self-efficacy level of teachers.  Lastly, is the opportunity to learn about the instructional technology, or at least the perceived availability of trainings.  Lack of time in the school day and insufficient professional development training can deter teachers from learning how to use and manage technology in their classrooms ( Farah, 2011).

In addition to the work related factors Farah (2011) discovered four personal factors that were found to play a part in the level of self-efficacy that teachers have when working with technology.  Personality traits of educators influence the way they deal with technology.  Traits such as persistence, risk- taking, and inventiveness allows teachers to be creative and problem solve when something goes wrong.  Access to various means of technology at home along with the time to learn about them can help determine self-efficacy levels.  The value that teachers place on the importance of technology as an instructional tool for learning also influences the level of self-efficacy they have.  If technology is not seen as important in the development of life-long learners than a great deal of emphasis will not be placed on using it in the classroom.  Fear can also lead to low self-efficacy and the refusal to use technology in lessons.  Some teachers fear that technology may not work properly and they are unsure of how to fix it. Another fear is that students will misuse technology and not use it in the way that it is intended (Farah, 2011).

Developing self-efficacy in teachers’ ability to utilize technology is important because when people have high self-efficacy in something they are more likely to embrace it.  The case study done by Farah (2011) identified several implications that can be done to help raise teacher’s self-efficacy in technology.  The first finding was that males tend to have a higher self-efficacy in technology than women do.  Knowing this females should be focused on to help raise their self-efficacy and the perceptions that they have of themselves.  Second is that professional development on the topic of educating teachers on technology needs to be utilized by the school district.  Third is based on the lack of time that teachers have.  Planned time should be scheduled for teachers to learn about technology that can be employed in their classrooms.  Fourth is to alleviate hurdles in the way of teachers’ ability to use technology such as blocks or restrictions on the computers and to possibly involve teachers on how some of the budget could be spent in the technology department (Farah, 2011).  

We live in a world where technology is the future.  Teaching students with the aid of technology is imperative.  In order to reach the students this way teachers must have a high technology self-efficacy level.  If they do not then minimum, if any, technology with be utilized in the classroom.  Teachers need to be focused on in order to raise their self-efficacy that will result in students self-efficacy in technology also increasing.

 

Technology in the Classroom: Performance and Attitude

The use of technology in a classroom is now inevitable. However, it’s still a controversial topic on just how effective learning through a screen can be.

There’s been research conducted on both the positives and negatives of using technology in an educational setting. Technology in the classroom is not a new concept. However, it is growing everyday and is now making textbooks, papers and pencils obsolete. Research has also been done on the effects of the attitude of the teachers toward technology and how that affects student’s performance.

Kumar Sumita and Rani Mamata, both professors in the department of Business Studies at Mount Carmel College, published “Attitude of Teachers towards the Use of Technology and Innovation in the Classroom.” We know attitude affects self-efficacy. Self-efficacy also affects performance, all adding to the never-ending circle.

“For better or worse, your attitude affects your performance. Your attitude has a profound impact on the way you lead people… the person with the best attitude will win,” (Sumita and Mamata, 2016). The journal article evaluated how technology can be utilized to ensure the effectiveness teaching methods by surveying more than 200 respondents from 10 colleges across Bengaluru.

The survey first evaluated the respondents attitude directly by using a Likert Scale.

Majority of the teachers responded by saying attitude is a way of behavior – 34 percent. Some said attitude is complete mental state of belief and feelings – 26 percent. Twenty-four percent said it’s a neutral state of readiness, while the remaining 17 percent said it’s designed class stimuli (Sumita and Mamata, 2016).

Out of the 200 respondents, 79 said they use technology in the classroom, 34 said no. However, 46 teachers say they sometimes use technology, while 41 said they never use technology in the classroom (Sumita and Mamata, 2016). The teachers were also asked about the future of classroom teaching. Forty percent of respondents said technology enriched classrooms are the future, 38 percent said online learning is what is ahead, and 22 percent said real time interaction while stay aface (Sumita and Mamata, 2016).

Interestingly enough, majority of the teachers surveyed said the age of the facilitator does not play an important role in the use of technology in the classroom (Sumita and Mamata, 2016), which seems to contradict the way the younger generation seems to adapt technology easier and more quickly.

The study found that, although technology is important to make teaching effective and is the future of learning, those surveyed said technology will not serve as a substitute for teaching (Sumita and Mamata, 2016). Those who embrace the technology will likely be more efficient in teaching students. This study closely correlates to what is discussed in “Self-Efficacy,” by Albert Bandura.

“People’s beliefs in their coping capabilities affect how much stress and depression they experience in threatening or difficult situations, as well as their level of motivation (Bandura, 1994). The teachers who embrace technology in the classroom will increase their self-efficacy, increasing their motivation to learn the mediums and therefore increase their overall ability to educate young minds. “There is a growing body of evidence that human accomplishments and positive well-being require an optimistic sense of personal efficacy,” (Bandura, 1994).

“The quality of learning is derived by the quality of teachers and by the way teachers engage the learners in their classroom. So class room teaching demands more innovation and improvisation in the new millennium,” (Sumita and Mamata, 2016).

However, the never-ending cycle continues. As Bandura explained, school is a place where children develop self-efficacy and competencies to acquire knowledge and problem-solving skills to effectively participate in society (Bandura, 1994).

The more self-efficacy and embracing teachers are, the more self-efficacy they can instill on their students.

 

Art, Education, and Self-Efficacy

We human beings are born with senses that help us navigate this World and find our place via connections and extensions from the self, we educate ourselves through modeling. This field of awareness/consciousness allows us to find patterns and connections using our senses, by seeing and engaging with others through our use of language be it verbal, visual or modeled. As we gain more input we develop a series of patterns that in turn build up and make up the knowledge we utilize to navigate ourselves within the World. From the series of patterns we acquire, we then obtain a perceived self efficacy, how we believe we perform, how we feel, how we are motivated and how we think about ourselves determine how we behave cognitively, affectively and motivationally which are all dependent on our pattern of experiences and those modeled. As McLuhan stated, “technology is an extension of us (McLuhan,1964),” we find connections and patterns to those similar to our own via the internet, technology has just sped up the process, distance and extended our potential power to developing those connections/extensions.

The pattern of life is a growth process. Technology has only induced more area that an individual can be exposed to and navigate. So we must use technology wisely, as with driving a car super fast we must use extra caution maneuvering our vehicle, we in turn must use self regulation when using technology, as it allows us to expand our knowledge base at incredible distances and speeds. “ Most images of reality on which we base our actions are really based on vicarious experience (Bandura,1995).” For the most part knowledge is gained through vicarious experience and that is where and when we develop self-efficacy through imagery, seeing the model.

Art is a language. Art is quality. Art defines as a quality of communication. Art is subjective. Art is created with intention. Since Art is subjective many times the intention is unknown to the viewer. How is it an artwork still speaks to a viewer after centuries? Art has been in existence since the beginning of Human Life and visually dialogues with the viewer even over generations and always communicates to that individual/viewer subjectively information that connects to an individual’s’ or a society’s’ life patterns. Panofsky has stated, “We actually read what we see according to the manner in which objects and events were expressed by forms under varying historical conditions.”

The relationship? McLuhan defines ‘art’ as both a ‘storehouse of achieved values’ and the ‘antennae of new awareness and discovery’ enabling ‘a unified and an inclusive consciousness in which there is an easy commerce between old and new’(MB 87). So is it that Seeing the Pattern 4 Art has become Technology evolved is my question I leave for you to ponder? Has the internet become the patron for the Arts? Would you agree? Results Art in the environment is a means of Universal communication as is Technology. This communication that takes place between the viewer, the art form, and the technological extension is of a transcendental sort, it is as if the creator of the art form/technological extension is able to communicate a need which is then received by the viewer. This need is many times unconscious but understood, this is language. Incorporating art forms, technological extensions into our public spaces (reality and virtual) is an important interactive means of maintaining our Art Culture {as McLuhan(CIOB) said, “feedforward”} which maintains an interaction where human beings thrive. As Art stems from interactions and exchange as does technology (science of craft​ from Greek -techne​, art, skill, -logia ​cunning of hand).

 

Blended Education Models:  Positive Impact on Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is vital to an individual’s success in education, their career, and life-long learning.  As stated by Bandura (1986), “persons who feel confident and competent attribute more value to their learning process than those who have more negative self-efficacy beliefs about their learning.”  In this research essay, I will discuss how educators and students are utilizing technology and media to increase the opportunity to develop self-efficacy.

Discussions often focus on on-line learning versus traditional face to face teaching methods.  However, more recently, educators have placed an emphasis on developing blended learning methods.  As explained by Motteram (2006), blended learning models consist of a mix of the traditional physical classroom with elements of virtual online learning.  Research is indicating that these methods are producing positive results that lead to self-efficacy for teachers and students.  According to a study conducted by Abdelraheem, (2014),Abdelraheem, (2014), students who were exposed to a blended strategy and enrichment program performed better academically than students who were not.    

  According to Baker (Huffington Post; 3/28/13) and top educators around the U.S., “the traditional educational model born in the industrial age with a one-size-fits-all approach, was not meeting the needs of our knowledge economy.”  He believed that the teaching of reading, writing, and basic math were not meeting the needs of individuals preparing to enter the global workforce.  Memorization and recall continue to be measures of a student’s ability, and tests consist of multiple-choice and true and false questions.  Standardized testing continues to be a major form of assessment that is considered outdated.

  As stated by Baker (2013), educators shifted focus to developing human talent and improving how to use it to meet the growing needs of organizations/employers and global workforce.  Therefore, the focus of educational institutions places more emphasis on developing individuals who are versatile life-long learners.  Problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, collaborative skills, and creativity are necessary for individuals to function effectively in today’s workforce and to remain employable.  Blending educational methods enhances opportunities to experience interactions that enable individuals to develop these skills.  Individuals must be able to meet organizational needs and reinvent themselves for the ever-changing global workforce.  

   As stated by Tassaneenart, Kanthawongs, Kanthawongs, and Suwandee (2016), “social and human interactions are vital to teaching and learning.”  The internet and technology have evolved into tools that enable these interactions between individuals across the entire globe.  Educational institutions have integrated these various technologies into their learning models.  Students are capable of interacting with classmates, instructors, and/or other individuals to engage in the learning process.  The internet, computers and tablets, and mobile devices have enabled the classroom to expand so that learning takes place both inside and outside of the classroom.  

Educational institutions that traditionally utilized and preferred formalized technologies have followed the lead of students to repurpose informal technologies and networks.  Students world-wide have recognized the value of social networking regarding connectivity, instant responses, and efficiency in organizing and facilitating collaborations.  Most educators and students have access to mobile devices and are competent in using them, so educators often utilize social media to supplement face to face courses.  They are free, they create a sense of academic community, and most students are familiar and comfortable with using them.

In a study conducted in South Africa by Peeters (2016), first year students participated

in a peer collaborative project in which a closed Facebook group was created for support and development of self-efficacy beliefs regarding academic writing skills.  The results indicated that the students in the Facebook group considered themselves significantly better prepared to complete their task in comparison to members of the control group.

        In Thailand, Tassaneenart, et. al (2016), conducted a study to explore the impact of motivational goals for using social networking sites and computer self-efficacy towards e-learning effectiveness.  And like Facebook, instructors used LINE, because it was free.        Although Facebook was the most popular network for social use, Thai instructors and students utilized the LINE chat app more frequently, because of its social and academic capabilities.  Students and teachers shared and discussed ideas with each other more efficiently and at any time.  The result was better grade point averages and faster prompt responses from instructors.

        The results of the study indicated that “LINE chat can motivate students and improve self-efficacy through increasing critical thinking by building knowledge through ‘social constructivism’ by giving students prompt responses from instructors and other students” (Van de Bogart and Wichadee, 2015).  Also, researchers reported that LINE chat provided a psychological component that enabled students to communicate their feelings through various modes such as emoticons, picture, or video without feeling threatened as they might in a face to face situation.  Furthermore, the research indicates that LINE chat enables Thai students, who often preferred to only listen to their instructors rather than speak to them, now communicate with them in virtual worlds instead of face to face (Tassaneenart, et.al, 2016).

        Overall, the majority of research indicates that the use of blended educational models entailing social media networks and technology promotes self-efficacy by enabling students to have an accessible platform to engage and learn at their own pace, through peer review and feedback, collaboration, increased access to instructors, and opportunities for academic acculturation.

 

Social Media, School Districts, and Self-Efficacy

While we have confirmed that the use of social media in the classroom can benefit both students and teachers alike globally, what about right here in the United States?  The power of social media communication has lead to online bullying, harassment, and crime.  However, this source has also brought freedom and comfortability amongst peers and educators, opening a more accessible door for secured online communication.  It seems that as our world becomes more and more engrossed in the world of social media, more guidelines are starting to be formed in terms of the education.  We’ve all experienced that instant sensation of being liked and noticed simply by receiving a friend request or a like on our photo from a peer or ‘higher up’ (teacher, public figure, or celebrity perhaps) on Facebook. While some can simply take this as a moment of confidence, others can take it to the next level.  In a teacher-student situation, an educator could become ‘overly involved’ with a student, or a student could borderline stock a teacher that they have friended on Facebook.  This brings me to the main discussion of this section: Is it appropriate for students and educators to have a relationship on Facebook? Furthermore, do these relationships (or lack thereof) positively or negatively affect a person’s sense of self-efficacy?

In a recent survey, two different parents of teenagers involved in the public school system were asked if it was appropriate for students and teachers to have the freedom to connect and chat on social media. Alexandra Fleming asked parents: “Should teachers and students be friends of the Facebook variety? Should they text, tweet, snap or ‘gram each other?” (Today, 2014). One parent sided with the idea that is it most certainly appropriate for students to have a texting relationship with students if it is strictly about school work or extracurricular meeting times. “I’m OK with texting one-on-one,” she says. “I believe in writing because it serves as documentation. And social media is a way for teachers to be leaders and role models with their students. It takes a village.” (Today, 2014).  However, the other parent believed that their could never be a valid enough reason for a teacher to text a student when there are many other ways of communicating necessary information to them.  The study went on to state that while social media is the communication of choice when it comes to teenagers, it is best that every school have a strict policy that students and educators must adhere to in regards to social media. Hans Mundahl, a former school administrator, called social media communication amongst teachers and students a “gray area.” He provided his top four recommendations to educators and school districts to keep things under control. Number one being that every school should have a strict policy in terms of social media. Faculty should not friend, follow, or engage with students directly through social media. Texting with students is OK if it’s within school specified boundaries and has some sort of ‘office hours’ policy. Lastly, every school should have a policy about being photographed without permission (Today, 2014).  The study was based on the idea that the younger generation does not understand the boundaries that can be broken with social media and the dangers that they could potentially face if interacting inappropriately with the wrong person.

This information is most certainly still valid in the classroom today and can be related to many school districts and after-school programs.  Without the proper policies set in place, a business or school district can go under quite quickly.  It is important to recognize ‘shifts’ in today’s society in terms of education and communication. Without this recognition, more problems can arise in the future.  In terms of self-efficacy and students, it is understandable that some students may feel hurt by not being able to ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ a specific teacher they admire on social media.  However, this is part of the lesson they must begin to learn, according to Mundahl. Students now have to be aware of the dangers that social media can bring about when dealt with inappropriately.  Like anything in life, it is best to have some sort of boundaries.

 

Self-Efficacy: Advertising and Media Messaging

“There was an enormous body of masculine opinion to the effect that nothing could be expected of women intellectually.  Even if her father did not read out loud these opinions, any girl could read them for herself, and the reading, even in the nineteenth century, must have lowered her vitality, and told profoundly upon her work.  There would always have been that assertion – you cannot do this, you are incapable of doing that – to protest against, to overcome.”  Virginia Woolfe,  A room of one’s own

Before children even get to school, implicit bias appears in their world both in their environments and through media messaging.  Although teachers play a large role in the ability of forming young minds,  the ability of children to create self-efficacy in a classroom setting is not just related to the variables within the classroom, but also numerous external factors including parental attitudes, physical environment, religion and the exposure to information through mass media.  

Mass messaging from advertising to television programming have played a part in creating ideals behind gender roles which ultimately can cause an effect on self-efficacy from pre-school through career choices.   Creating interest in a product is the primary role of advertising, however, advertising, has also played a role in creating implicit gender bias throughout the years.  Looking back through the past 50 years, the hypothesis of this preview of a much larger project, one can see a correlation between the implicit bias in advertising and the self-efficacy of school-aged children related to their role identification.  Walking back through the advertising looking glass of the early 1960’s one can see the stereotypical roles being displayed in both print advertising and television programming and commercials.  The general theme of advertising and programming in the 1960’s includes the stereotypical view of the female being the “stay at home mom” and the man of the household going to work and being the “breadwinner.”  This advertising also mirrors the statistics of educational attainment, low numbers of women working, and the earning differences of those women who were working compared to their male counterparts.  

In recent years, research has concentrated on identifying the reasons for the lack of women in STEM fields as a result of gender bias related to these fields.  Social psychology has surveyed the content of stereotypes and their effect on social perception, behavior and the motivational biases of prejudice (Katz & Braly, 1933; Brewer, 1979; Rokeach & Mezei, 1966).  Research indicates that one faces judgments based on stereotypes about one’s group which carriers over on the ability of someone to gain self-efficacy related to that stereotype, particularly in an education setting.  Looking at the stereotype related to girls and poor achievement in math demonstrates that performance is linked to gender stereotyped roles that suggests gender-based inability (Spencer, et. al., 1999) .  

Although there is a plethora of literature related to implicit bias and educational self-efficacy related to females and race, there is little evidence that this same research has been carried over to boys.  This may be based on data that suggests that males students show an equal efficacy for traditional male dominated fields as well as female dominated fields when comparing factors in a college setting.  There is much research on role of occupational efficacy in career choice and development in young adults but little literature on how children develop their sense of occupational efficacy related to career paths (Bandura, 2001).   

Here you will find two sets of information on occupations. The first part presents data for traditional (female-dominated) occupations, which were selected based on women as a percent of total employed (includes full-time, part-time and self-employed). Traditional or female-dominated occupations are those in which women represent 75 percent or more of total employed. The second part presents data for nontraditional (male-dominated) occupations, which were selected based on women as a percent of total employed (includes full-time, part-time and self-employed). Women represent 25 percent or less of nontraditional occupations. Occupations where base was less than 50,000 employees don’t meet publication standards and are not included. Additional notes found at the end of each table. This page is updated annually; sign up to receive e-mail alerts when new or updated content is available.

Traditional (female-dominated) occupations, 2014 annual averages (PDF)

Nontraditional (male-dominated) occupations, 2014 annual averages (PDF)

You can see when reviewing the female dominated occupations referenced to above that both men and women are influenced by gender role identification and feelings of self-efficacy towards career choices based on gender role stereotypes.  How early does this begin to happen?  Has it changed for both women and men over time?  Studies indicate that children begin to establish stereotyping by the age of 4 and that children “categorize stimuli as they attempt to structure knowledge and reduce cognitive complexity” (Mervis & Rosch, 1981).  If children begin the process of interpreting information at this young age, it is possible that advertising and programming they are exposed to permeate their subconscious very early and begin to form gender roles based on content in a similar fashion to the experiences of other environmental factors such as parental views and opinions. Over time, advertising and programming has evolved and barriers of role stereotypes and subsequent educational self-efficacy have decreased.  

Educators do play a role in self-efficacy and potentially have the power to change the dynamics embedded into the subconscious minds of children.   One way to help accomplish this is by introducing technology into the classroom.  By creating environments that are rich in activities, children are motivated to work on activities that produce new skills (Meece, 1997).  Children are intimately tied to their technology for social gratification.  Rather than looking forward to recess, they look forward to sending a text message, checking out facebook and interacting with other students through twitter.  Although technology has advanced, education has essentially stayed the same or lagged behind the technological era particularly in elementary education.  Teachers are often times reluctant to adopt technology innovation in the classroom due to the constantly changing knowledge needed to maintain relevance, lack of self-efficacy and existing beliefs (Straub, 2009; Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007).    Again, teachers are faced with the same implicit bias that children are.   In order to prepare teachers to incorporate innovative technologies in the classroom to change the dynamics of self-efficacy related to gender bias and other factors, we must first help them to expand and elaborate their own knowledge systems (Borko & Putnam, 1995).

One of the most effective ways to break down the barriers to effective use of technology is to address these self-efficacy issues at a college level to produce the next generation of teachers that will gladly incorporate technology into their classrooms.  A theoretical framework to address knowledge integration in technology instruction is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK).  Developers of TPACK ascertain that in addition to the content specific knowledge teachers need to gain knowledge of how to integrate technology into their overall instruction through learning experiences that support and intersect technological pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge and technological knowledge (Thompson & Mishra, 2007).  

In order for universities to support teacher candidates to integrate technology use with their students, teacher candidates should progress through education programs that are strategic and have ongoing exposure to technology-rich activities just like their students. They need exposure to high level technology practices to increase their self efficacy and be required to consider both the benefits and constraints of the technology, how the technology use can impact their learning and how they would use the technology in their own classroom (Rock, 2016).   Continue reading “Self Efficacy and Education: Technology Explored”

Twittersphere: The NEW News

No one understands how hesitant I was to title this post what it is. You have to understand, we, as a generation have been conditioned to believe that twitter is for fun, casual, and NEVER reputable. Imagine the world’s disbelief when the greatest political debate platform wasn’t a town hall in a city ripe for tourism and money making, but it was actually none other than twitter. I know what you’re thinking. Are we really in a place in society where our political leaders are engaging in similar social media feuds that our celebrities made famous? Are our political leaders and celebrities becoming the same people? (Of course they are. Ask Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

A 2011 Clay Shirky foresaw social media influence in current events. “The idea that media, from the Voice of America to samizdat, play a supporting role in social change by strengthening the public sphere echoes the historical role of the printing press.” (Shirky, The Political Power of Social Media, 6) So if  we as a society have not completely disregarded the legitimacy of our politicians who engage in twitter debates [and instead, we elect them] then why have we not regarded twitter as a reputable research platform where literal history is being made every day?

It’s also Clay Shirky who recognizes, however, that our progression as a society to be more apt towards twitter and other social media platforms as reputable sources is limited by our ability to communicate cross-cultural ideals and have a “single community” social media presence. In his 2002 “Communities, Audiences, and Scales“ “With such software,the obvious question is “Can we get the best of both worlds? Can we have a medium that spreads messages to a large audience, but also allows all the members of that audience to engage with one another like a single community?”(Shirky, Communities, Audiences, and Scales) The answer seems to be”No.”” Shirky talks about the difference between an audience and a community and how we struggle with connections online because we can’t truly connect with each other in the way a community needs to, therefore our messages don’t reach people in an effective way. Since we cannot reach each other in a community aspect, we cannot connect. This limits the depth of social media connectivity and therefore we cannot explore the full potential of social media transforming them from shallow communication portals, to reputable in depth communication channels.

In efforts to take twitter beyond the threshold of just another social media platform, we have to acknowledge its limited audience. Because twitter is a free speech medium of sorts, it’s banned in many countries which allows mainstream news outlets to take the lead in coverage and access. “Overall, mainstream media appears to have more even coverage, with less clustering around major cities” (Mapping the Global Twitter Heartbeat, Twitter versus mainstream news media.) With Twitter really coming into it’s prime as a social media platform, we have to recognize it’s not prominent on accessibility the way traditional news coverage is which goes back to our inability to reach each other to make twitter more effective.

So what will it take to verify twitter? We have to acknowledge the evolution of news media. If our politicians can utilize the platform to discuss matters of the country, we should be able to take our news from the site. Information falls directly from the mouths, or the hands, of the people we are reporting on. Next we address the communication gap and accessibility for all people across the globe in efforts to take the Twittersphere from an audience, to a community. If we make these changes, we can evolve how twitter is viewed and maybe, how social media is used in future elections. (Social media was a mess due to the this being the first election social media was utilized in this way. Traditions have to start somewhere!)Twitter-South-Africa-Social-Network-Social-Channel-Social-Media

Did Trump Have the Upper Hand?

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In general, the internet has allowed our world to grow in terms of global communication tremendously.  Of all the social media platforms available today, Twitter is one of the most popular, especially amongst political candidates.  “In 2016, 44% of U.S. adults reported having learned about the 2016 presidential election in the past week from social media, outpacing both local and national print newspapers” (Pew Research Center, 2016).  In comparison to previous election years, this is a pretty significant change in the way our world is choosing to receive its information. For most “people, especially in the United States, social media is the easiest and most convenient way to receive news.  Social media seems to be a means of connecting in the hopes of receiving real information.  While this is not to indicate that all tweets and posts are inaccurate, the growth of social media is beginning to treat users more like an ‘audience’ instead of an inclusive group with opinions that are being addressed appropriately.  According to Shirky,  “growth in group size alone is enough to turn a community into an audience, social software, no matter what its design, will never be able to create a group that is both large and densely interconnected” (Shirky, 2002, p. 1).  We see this playing out in the world of Twitter.  So many people turn to this particular platform to receive any and all information, making it a very powerful source to users. Unfortunately, the more popular these types of social media sites become, the less personal they will feel to its users.  

Hamby addresses the issue of the lack of experience that political reporters now possess. It seems that more and more political candidates are turning to social media to make their mark on the public.  “More and more, the mainstream political press is being cut out of the election process, raising questions about the value of being a reporter” (Hamby, 2013, p. 5).  Interestingly enough, we saw this to be true in the most recent election.  While Clinton, Sanders, and Trump all had active social media accounts, Trumps were the most successful with the public.  While both Clinton and Sanders focused more on linking their followers back to their campaign pages, Trump focused moreso on connecting his followers to the news media online.  Essentially, he relied less on reporters and his campaign team and strived to direct his followers to material that was already floating around in the media that was available to him.  In the end, this gave Trump the upper hand in terms of retweets, comments, follows, and Facebook reactions. Could it be that the way Trump utilized social media was one of the main reasons he won the election?

Lastly, I want to address the way Trump handled the public in terms of social media. McGonigal states that “The economy of engagement is also an economy of feelings, in which positive emotions—pride, curiosity, love, and feeling smart—are the ultimate reward for participation” (2008, p. 16).  Trump played on these “feelings” as McGonigal states.  Over time, our world has been brainwashed to believe that money is the root of all motivation.  Of all people for this statement to fall on, it would be Donald Trump.  However, he proved us wrong in terms of the election. Of all the candidates, he was the one to engage with the public most.  He took the time (or maybe people he hired took the time, which would be ironic) to answer the public and post what they were saying.  He cared more about the people following him than his campaign.  Do you feel like his engagement with the public was sincere?  Did you notice that Trump seemed to be the most prominent presidential candidate on Twitter during election season?  

 

Candidates differ in their use of social media to connect with the public. (2016, July 18th). Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/18/candidates-differ-in-their-use-of-social-media-to-connect-with-the-public/

The Modern Cyborg: McLuhan Today

Cyborg is derived from the 2 English words cyber and organism. Google describes a cyborg as “a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body.” When I was growing up, Cyborg was my favorite team member of the Teen Titans, and I always wondered how long would it take for society to be able to make me a cyborg so I could be just like him. According to McLuhan, we’re already there and we’ve been there for a while now. I don’t mean that in medieval Europe, people were running around with half their bodies made out of technology. However, since then, and maybe even before that, technology has been evolving human ability from the way we talk, to the way we work, cook, sleep, and everything in between.

Bandura taught us that our aptitude for technology, like most things, is created through social cognitive theory. We learn through observation and we  improve self-efficacy by doing over and over again. McLuhan looks at media/technology as the main component of our evolving society. McLuhan shows us that technology has been the driving factor in the development of human ability and interaction. Technology isn’t just a machine we use, it becomes a part of us, and extension of ourselves, integrating itself into every aspect of our life and changing what traditional looks at. For proof of this, you can look at things like radio and tv which are late 19th century/early 20th century inventions that completely revolutionized how we see and hear the world. However, those born and raised in the late 20th century/early 21st century will be raised in a world where radio and tv are relatively prehistoric and the seeing and hearing experience has been propelled into high definition music and video streaming applications that fit cozily on a mobile phone.

Yes, in Today’s society, we have redefined the harmony between technology and human beings. What was once a fantismal concept of a majority robot and part human being, is now a normal human being with the ability to enhance their sensory input/output through technology in their lives that have become second nature. In today’s society, it’s important to note that technology has become the buffer for traditional communication, and according to McLuhan, this is the new traditional. Having a cellphone was just the start, and for the fact, so was texting. Now popular social media platforms have become the primary means of communication between multitudes of individuals. Your profile is no longer a hobby, but has evolved into your social media presence. Instagram and Twitter accounts are being asked for during job interviews. You don’t have to talk on the phone to order food anymore, instead technology has evolved so much that you can have door to door grocery and meal delivery with just the push of a couple buttons.

The ability to live and survive is being compacted into these tiny  devices that we grab off of our side tables and dressers without even thinking of. When my generation were hitting their early teens, we were heckled for being so attached to our mobile devices, but now, members of society who don’t own one are closer to off the grid than on.  Continuing to hound “millennials” about excessive technology use is futile because the next generation is inherently plugged into the world with the amount of technology in society now. What’s normal and traditional will continue to be revolutionized by new technological advances and we, as a society, will continue to be the new Cyborgs.

Twitter Is Bigger Than 140 Characters

The United States 2016 Presidential election was a mess. No matter what side of the isle voters were on, there were more reasons to not vote for that party’s candidate than ones that reassured the best outcome. Obviously in hindsight, the outcome was one that has yielded very little universal success or minimal praise. It (in my opinion) will go down in history as a defining election that will frame all campaigns in the future, especially the implementation of online tools and their abilities to reach the American public.

In the article Audience, Scale, and the Political Power of Social Media, there are many references to the influences of shared information through online mediums. One particular point that fit very well within our recent election was the distinction between activists (activism) and social media activists (“slacktivists.”) This point is made to first show a negative of social media as it relates to activism, and then proves that it is also a positive when used correctly. The negative is pretty obvious, those who are looking for causes and support social change, but don’t want to give much effort, can just “support” all they want through pages and posts (and feel some satisfaction from it.) This “slacktivism” is what much of the left participated in leading up to the election, gaining satisfaction and attributing effort to only being active online. This was a major fault, and one that was learned quickly. The positive of using social media for activism is the efficient and easy-to-use features of these sites that allow for the organization of events and meetings. Now that much of the adult population is connected online (especially by smartphones), it is now much easier to carry out demonstrations or other activist events with little planning or resources. After the election, the same left, that had been most active online, began to assemble and demonstrate in huge numbers. I think that if these people had been able to see the difference between the two types of activism, this election may have turned out much differently.

In the article Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus? Searching for a better way to cover a campaign, there is a unique quote about the shift in Twitter’s role in political campaigns. “Twitter is where that central conversation is taking place. It’s not that Twitter is where you’re discussing the news. So much of it is actually happening on Twitter. It was just the central stream of the conversation for everyone.” This quote by Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith really demonstrates the power of Twitter for news outlets. The article discusses how major networks will now browse Twitter before going on air, simply to find more for a story, or to find a new one. This is a scary new reality for journalists who are not comfortable with this shift, but after this election, looks to be the future of how we get information. Trump fits this idea especially well because of his constant involvement on Twitter, creating stories from each thread or tweet. This can eliminate the need for journalists who would have broken whatever information Trump is now sharing, but it does allow journalists to quote him in a way that was never before possible. Twitter has become the news, no longer just a news sourse.

The importance of focusing on social media and traditional news media as separate focuses is supported by findings from the article Mapping the Global Twitter Heartbeat. In their conclusion on the mapping of news media and Twitter, they found that even in overlap, both entities do cover areas that are virtually untouched by the other. When keeping this in mind, it is important to remember that both are important mediums to focus on when reaching consumers, and should be still equally used. This dynamic may change in the future, as it is clear that there continues to be a shift in how United States residents receive their news.

Now that social media (especially Twitter) has been established as a major factor into how information is shared and how people communicate online, what are its limits? Will election campaigns just be focused online and will those in opposition continue to organize through social media? What does the future of journalism look like when those who were once being written about are now the ones writing themselves?

Media Technology: Better, Stronger, Faster…and Beyond

“In the words of Wyndham Lewis, “The artist is always engaged in writing a detailed history of the future, because he is the only person aware of the nature of the present” (McLuhan, p. 77).  McLuhan was ‘the artist’, because of his ability to “pick up the message of technological and cultural progress” ahead of its time and before it’s transformational impact occurs in society.   Continue reading “Media Technology: Better, Stronger, Faster…and Beyond”

Extensions, Perceptions & McLuhan

Extensions,Perceptions and McLuhan

Perceptions and Extensions are fundamental to what the Visionary, Marshall McLuhan refers to when speaking about “the new electronic interdependence that recreates the World in the image of the global village” and “The medium is the message (McLuhan,1964).” What is Art then? McLuhan views, “Art is anything you can get away with (McLuhan, 1964).” So, in creating Art you need to see, discover and explore.  Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak. Human beings are visual receptors with a set for sensory communication. Seeing establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, our language of communication, verbal, visual as we are sensory beings. We can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by an ever-pulsating HeArt, the World, since the time of McLuhan that HeArt has begun to pulsate even faster as technology advances and we as a Global Cultural Evolution(GCE) within this paradigm. The relationship between what we see and what we know is never settled. The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe/perceive. I would say we are always looking at the relationship between things and ourselves. The reciprocal nature of vision is more fundamental than that of spoken dialogue.

“Media as extensions of ourselves, Understanding Media the Extensions of Man, “It is the persistent theme of this book that all technologies are extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed” and “Any extension, whether of skin, hand, or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex. Some of the principal extensions, together with some of their psychic and social consequences, are studied in this book(McLuhan,1964).” These statements made me ponder how our World functions and my part within it. We as human beings are always moving forward as time never stands still but pushes us forward onto the new day. How we move through space and time and how every human being plays a role in this vast Universe, on planet Earth. The visual image that sparks an image in my mind are those images of time lapsed photography where you can view the movement of our world day in and day out the lines of energy traced and viewed from the satellites above are all proof of our interconnectedness. A key concern for McLuhan and one of mine too, what will the implications of this evolution towards the extension of the collective human consciousness be that is facilitated by electronic media? Will we remain humanly interested in others or do we just speed on through this technological fury? Do we need to slow down or push faster? Exploration and discovery are two components that we as human beings have utilized throughout history it is the lymph of humanity, the key is how to keep that ball rolling in a world of instant gratification and speed and stay focused?

Works Cited

Gordon, W. Terrance. ” Critical Reception to Understanding Media.” Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, Critical Edition. Ed. W. Terrance Gordon. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press, 2003. 545-558.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994.