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Steve Wheeler

Steve Wheeler has spent his entire career working in educational technology. He is currently Associate Professor of Learning Technology at Plymouth University, where his research interests include social media and mobile technologies in education. He has conducted research into learning technology in all sectors of education and training and, having been invited to present his findings at conferences in more than 30 countries, he is truly a global educator.

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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

Maslow, technology and learning

January 16 2017

I love a good mash-up. It's a digital age version of synthesis.

Actually, that's a little misleading - synthesis is a skill required by academics and scholars, whether technology is present or not. But a mash-up takes several ideas, formats or sources and places them together in a new form, to say something new. That's why I like it. It's creative and it's often thought provoking.

Amy Burvall and I did this a while back, when we invited people to write some thoughts on learning around an image. #Blimage caught on, encouraging hundreds of educators to write blogs, and spawned several other mash-up ideas related to blogging, including #TwistedPair (where two seemingly unconnected people were brought together to create a metaphor about learning - what about Donald Trump and Mickey Mouse?).

I saw the above image on Twitter today, courtesy of Mark Barnes (originally from this post by Jackie Gerstein) and it got me thinking. How much more could we say about the uses of technology when we place them up against a pre-digital age theory such as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs model? I did something similar when I speculated on how Paulo Friere might view blogging. I followed this up with Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget and how learning from YouTube draws on constructivist theories, and then Wikipedia - a Marxist perspective. You can have a lot of fun with this approach to personalised learning.

Maslow's Hierarchy is a very well know theory, and has featured in numerous slides, journals, books and blogs in the past. It's a simple model and requires little effort to see how it could be applied to explain motivation. Yes, it has problems, conceptually, structurally and academically. Carl Rogers for example, disputed its relevance as a hierarchical progression of activities, when he claimed that he had observed people self actualising instantly. The concept of self-actualisation is in itself problematic, and the means through which Maslow obtained his data have also been cast into doubt.

But putting these objections aside, there is a lot that could be done with this model and its application to an explanation of how we use technology. Does technology offer no support whatsoever for physiological needs? What about Fitbits and other health related wearable technologies? The model in the graphic also misses out on some important higher level connections - what about digital music making in the aesthetic area? (In fairness, Jackie mentions this in the original post) In the orginal Maslow model, a higher level - transcendence - is included which is almost always missing from published versions - usually because it is poorly understood. What technologies might apply to this level of human experience?

Image courtesy of Jackie Gerstein

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Maslow, technology and learning 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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Binge learning

January 13 2017

I have a confession to make. Over the festive period I binge-watched a number of DVD boxed sets. I watched multiple episodes of the Walking Dead, Scandal and Game of Thrones. It hasn't got any better. Now work has started again, I've been spending time each evening watching The West Wing.

I'm not going to lie. Watching DVD boxed sets is really addictive. These writers know what they are doing. No sooner has one plot been resolved, than another cliffhanger is presented. They keep you coming back for more. 'I'll just watch one more episode,' I promise myself. Three hours later, I'm still there, rooted to the spot, my imagination running wild. Maybe I'll grow out of this one day soon.

This got me thinking. During my undergraduate days, while studying psychology, I did a very similar thing. But back then I binge studied. As I was studying part time, while holding down a full time job, I had to develop some special strategies not just to avoid falling behind. I wanted to stay ahead of the curve.

I managed to get hold of every text book on the reading list, and devour them before each new academic year started. It was absolutely compelling. I was totally in the grip of psychology and couldn't get enough. I recall spending hours in the evenings and at weekends with my head buried in one text book after another, making notes, colour coding pages, highlighting text, and writing assignments. Several times I swear, I studied right around the clock, went into work the next day and then crashed out that evening.

I wouldn't recommend this form of study to just anyone. But if you are obsessed with something, you are likely to find as many ways you can to make it happen. I was like that with my academic studies. It was the compelling nature of the content I was learning that kept me engaged with such intensity.

The question for all teachers is - how do we achieve high levels of sustained engagement with our students? What do we need to do, or produce, or develop that will compel students to learn and learn and learn? For each of us, a different answer will occur. Feel free to share your ideas below in the comments box. I will get round to reading them, but.... first I'm off to watch another episode or three of The West Wing.

Photo from Max Pixel

Creative Commons License
Binge learning 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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