Tech Trends

Asynchronous Session

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Patricia Nicholl, Student, Doctorate in Childhood Studies, Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom
Pedro Branco, Lecturer in Film Production , Arts and Humanities, Brunel University London, Hillingdon, United Kingdom

A Phenomenological Study of First Time Online Learners at the Master’s Level at a Private University in Minnesota View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Charles Eltonga  

This phenomenological study examines the real-life experience of first-time online learners enrolled in a fully online master’s program, at a private, nonprofit University in Minnesota. Each of the participants had taken at least two complete courses online, with some nearing the end of their program, and were recruited from various online programs. They encompassed different age groups and levels of experience with distance education. A phenomenological examination of the interviews and focus group transcripts yielded comprehensive results in coding the prevalent category themes. The findings helped identify approaches to online education and the opportunities and challenges these participants faced in their online courses. These aspects were divided into themes that further illuminate the participants' real-life experiences. As a result of the analysis, the research revealed the learners' appreciation for the flexibility that online learning brings into their lives. Furthermore, the researcher discovered that the participants were driven to improve their skills through the online learning environment by employing various resources.

Surging Waves of Generative AI and ChatGPT in Academic Learning Environment View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
LiLi Li  

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now changing various sectors and industries rapidly, including higher education. Generative AI, which is capable of creating new content and ideas, has the potential to revolutionize how we teach, learn, and conduct research. Chatbots powered by Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, are becoming increasingly popular in academic settings, providing instant support and feedback to faculty and students. This paper explores the impacts of Generative AI and ChatGPT on academic learning and the opportunities and challenges they present. Specifically, the paper examines the potential benefits of ChatGPT for enhancing the learning experience, including its ability to provide personalized support and feedback, increase engagement, and facilitate self-directed learning. The paper also discusses the limitations and challenges of ChatGPT, including its lack of emotional intelligence and limited contextual understanding. Overall, this paper argues that Generative AI and ChatGPT have the potential to transform the academic learning environment, but careful consideration must be given to their limitations and ethical implications. By exploring the current state of AI in academic learning and providing insights into its potential future, this paper aims to contribute to the ongoing discussion around the role of technology in higher education.

Playing the Game - Literacy, Learning, and Marvelous Minecraft: Transitioning to the Use of Minecraft in a Higher Education Teamwork and Leadership Course View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Sakinah A. Ismael  

Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, a medical university located in the Kingdom of Bahrain had its English foundation program teamwork and leadership course transition from face-to-face learning to an online environment. Although the interest in Minecraft was well in place before the COVID-19 pandemic, the educational disruption pushed it to replace the use of the physical MTa kits. MTa kits use experiential team development activities that require cooperation and creative strategies designed to develop interpersonal competencies such as teamwork, communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills. Minecraft was chosen as a solution to replace the MTa kits because both the MTa kits and Minecraft use components that require building strategies and can achieve nearly the same learning outcomes. The use of Minecraft required new literacies, including an array of multimodalities comprising of words, representation, visual symbols, diagrams, etc., that communicate particular specific meanings within Minecraft to allow the learner to develop into a productive member of the game culture and learn. The process of designing and implementing the course into the virtual world of Minecraft was both exciting and challenging. Learners needed to morph into the world of online game multimodal literacy while transitioning from face-to-face education to an online learning gaming environment. A discussion of how Minecraft was not only a solution to keep the teamwork and leadership course intact during the pandemic, but how Minecraft now became a permanent component in the course.

Technologies in Learning and Learning about Technologies: The Role of English in Post-pandemic Times View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Laudo Natel Nascimento  

The digital divide is a reality and it became more apparent during the pandemic times, especially in public education here in Brazil. Understanding this reality connects to larger issues related to neoliberal policies, the aim of this paper is to share the results of a Ph.D. study conducted in a public university in the northeast of Brazil, involving the teaching of English in a technology course. It was a qualitative and interpretive research through which the teaching and learning of English in ubiquitous post-pandemic times were the focus. After much reading, curriculum, and book analysis, I advocate for the importance of the development of critical literacies through the teaching of English as a way for learning through and about technology, as well as for overcoming colonial barriers which are also present when we deal with technology. By doing so, I conclude that crossing the digital divide should become a wider goal.

Considering Artificial Intelligence “Literacy”: Conversation Design and Prompt Engineering in the Humanities View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Mark Mabrito  

Artificial intelligence (AI) in general and specifically large language models (LLMs), especially ChatGPT, have generated great interest in education. Faculty now need to consider how we can better teach students to use these tools, both ethically and functionally. While educational institutions in the last 20 years or so have made strides in improving students’ digital literacy skills, educators now are on a precipice of change that requires us to teach students a fundamentally different kind of skillset, one grounded in AI-enhanced literacy. We need to teach students how to interact with these tools effectively and efficiently. LLMs in particular require a skillset known as “prompt engineering,” the ability to interact with these models through written questions and commands. The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” applies here because without understanding how to interact effectively with LLMs, students will generate less-useful output. My paper focuses on a class I developed in conversation design for primarily undergraduate English and Communications majors. The purpose of this class is to present a scaffolded approach to prompt engineering by first teaching students conversation design skills in the context of creating their own rule-based chatbot to designing skills for an AI-enhanced voice assistant such as Alexa and Google Assistant. Finally, with these skills in hand, students are introduced to prompt engineering with ChatGPT. The purpose of this approach is to provide students, most of whom had no technical background, with an understanding of how to communicate with AI and develop skills for the new workplace.

Digital Media

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