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Steve Wheeler

Steve Wheeler is a Learning Innovations Consultant and former Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at the Plymouth Institute of Education where he chaired the Learning Futures group and led the Computing and science education teams. He continues to research into technology supported learning and distance education, with particular emphasis on the pedagogy underlying the use of social media and Web 2.0 technologies, and also has research interests in mobile learning and cybercultures. He has given keynotes to audiences in more than 35 countries and is author of more than 150 scholarly articles, with over 6000 academic citations. An active and prolific edublogger, his blog Learning with ‘e’s is a regular online commentary on the social and cultural impact of disruptive technologies, and the application of digital media in education, learning and development. In the last few years it has attracted in excess of seven million unique visitors.

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Publications by Steve Wheeler

Learning with ‘e’s

In an age where young people seem to have a…

Don’t Change the Light Bulbs

Curated by Rachel Jones, Don’t Change the Light Bulbs offers…

Author Blog

Digitally agile research

December 08 2017

When my old friend and former colleague Oliver Quinlan invited me to write a chapter for his new book, I didn't need to take long to decide. The title of the book itself was enough to convince me to participate in the project. The book finally arrived through my letter box yesterday, and I'm glad I did take part.

The slim volume (140 pp), edited by Oliver and Natalia Kucirkova (Senior Research Fellow at University College London), is published by McGraw Hill and draws on the experience and knowledge of a raft of digitally agile researchers, scholars and journalists, including Christian Payne (you will know him on Twitter as @documentally), Victoria Pearson, Carl Gombrich, Ian O'Byrne, Gemma Ware and Mark Russell. 

There are chapters on open scholarship, academic blogging, the use of smartphone and tablets, crowdsourcing data, developing a digital profile, getting started with Twitter, personal learning networks, and leveraging the power of social media, as well as my own chapter on 'Using social media for action research: the benefits and limitations'. 

It's a book that provides essential reading for all academics in a time where digital, mobile and social media technologies are an increasingly important part of the research equation.  Each chapter also presents Common Pitfalls and Best Practice panes to support the texts. To quote the sleeve of the book: "With a range of helpful strategies, The Digitally Agile Researcher is a credible and practical guide for academics at all stages of their career, doctoral students, early careers researchers or experienced academics." 
Creative Commons License
Digitally agile research by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

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UnGoogleable questions

November 30 2017

Image by Jim Groom on Flickr
A perennial challenge for teachers everywhere is how to engage students and keep them engaged. Wherever I travel, I hear the same stories about how students are not engaged, and how they can be so easily distracted. Recently, technology (the handheld, personal variety) has come under fire from those who claim that it is a distraction in the classroom and lecture hall. Others have retorted that if teaching was engaging there would be no distractions - students would be completely focused and intent on their learning.

One of the remedies for lack of engagement is to present students with wicked problem to solve, or a irresistible question to answer. Some teachers have said to me that everything is searchable on Google, and that it doesn't take students long to crack such challenges or questions. My response is - oh really? You're probably asking the wrong questions then! I'm going to argue here that there are many questions that are unGoogleable.  I wrote about this idea 5 years ago, when I discussed some of the issues around the nature of knowledge and knowing. There were several responses, many of which were searching and considered about the role of teachers, the process by which we come to know and the function of technology in education.

Let's start with the simple ones. I'm sure you can come up with some simple, unGoogleable questions for your students. Anyone can, if they spend a little time thinking about what they want students to learn in any given knowledge domain. One of my favourite unGoogleable questions has been posed to audiences across the globe, and specifically to medical colleagues. No-one has arrived at the answer without a great deal of thinking, searching and analysis. It is this: In the normal human body, what do each of us have exactly five of?

Common responses are digits on the hand, which is not strictly the answer, because most people have ten. Some might respond with senses in the body, to which my answer is no - there are at least seven, and some claim there are more than twenty senses in the human body. Another response is systems of the body, but again this is incorrect, because there are eleven systems. Some try for lumbar vertebrae - but strictly, this is also incorrect, because there are more than 5 vertebrae, and 'lumbar' is a medical categorisation. Most people are stumped at this point.

Once you know the answer, you will then see that it is a gateway into deeper questions around anatomy and physiology - how the human body is constructed and functions. As with all unGoogleable questions, the challenge is to provide students with a significant challenge, after which the process of learning will escalate to a point where students are critically questioning and analysing their knowledge. Teachers who wish to engage their students, should ask unGoogleable questions. The learning is in the struggle, and students will not find it easy. How will they meet the challenge when they can't simply search for it online? What will they do next? And what other learning will it lead to when they discover an answer?

Creative Commons License
UnGoogleable questions by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

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