The following are barriers, challenges and limitations that must be considered when attempting this type of learning project and how to overcome them.
There is only so much time in a school year and spending a week or more getting learners up to speed on the different software / applications available and learning their use may not be feasible or take away from the core content of the course.
Stress and frustration can be caused by an unfamiliar online learning environment. This in turn can slow down the learning process. This means learners need to be given the tools and scaffolding to become comfortable with the new approach to learning (Couros and Hildebrandt, 2016). Having clear instructions, carefully scaffolded steps, and well-organized materials prepared beforehand will help learners keep their focus and learn more efficiently. Limiting the various apps, programs, and software to be used will also lead to less troubleshooting, downtime, and frustration. With learners in groups, they can split up the work and give learners who may have more experience with the apps/software/programs a chance to share their knowledge with others in their group.
Student Digital Literacy Levels and Access:
Not all learners are on the same digital knowledge playing field. Some learners may have good foundational experience in digital literacy while others may have very little experience at all. Others may have different digital tools at home than those used at school. Guðmundsdóttir & Hardersen (2012) found large differences in the access to information and communications technology (ICT), in the types of media experiences, and in the digital competence that children acquire at home. This could create a problem for those who are behind in their online and digital knowledge. Furthermore, it could also create an added difficulty for the teacher who will have to help learners “catch up” with their peers. Anderson and Simpson (2007) suggest that online learning continues to struggle to be fully accepted due to cultural and physical resource limitations that act as barriers in some communities. A study by Crump and McIlroy (2003) which offered free easy access to online learning technologies to a New Zealand community demonstrated that non-users did not see the supplied technology resources as a priority in their lives, suggesting a cultural barrier.
One way to encourage technological adoption is to provide open technological access to individuals strictly for the sole purpose of, as Kral and Schwab (2012) call it, “Mucking around.” This means that individuals can play on computers and explore online, either alone or with friends, at their own pace, focusing on their interests to engage, develop skills, and create without others acting as gatekeepers. This, in turn, could open the doors to learners being more ready and able to take on digital learning in the future.
Supplying learners with learning technologies will unfortunately not solve the problem in the moment. A possible remedy would be to have the knowledge-holding learners share their experience with other learners. This can make for a lighter teaching load and solidify the knowledge of the teaching student (Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik, 1982). There may be some learners that are extremely far behind in technological literacy and will require direct teacher help. This may require that they practice at home, if possible, or after school.
Respecting learners’ privacy and considering the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) can sometimes put a wrench into online based learning. Some parents may not want their child participating in any online sharing which would eliminate the online sharing aspect of this project and could limit the use of various apps that store their information out of the country. Saving video clips to Google classroom may have privacy issues as data is stored outside Canada (FOIPPA, 1996). Some districts permit the use of Google Classroom and others don’t. It is up to you to find out where your responsibilities lie. It may be necessary to store video clips on a local drive.
If a parent or student does not want their information online or even the learners’ image to be taken, workarounds will need to be found. This may mean that learners who do not want to take part in the online aspects of the project will need to be grouped together so that their project remains offline. Further, if a student does not want to be recorded it may require a slight change in how the project is approached. The student may choose to be filmed from behind or to take on roles behind the scenes, such as editor or camera operator.
Projects can be shared in class, instead of online, in order to allow all learners to participate with the community of the project, giving feedback and receiving critiques. Also, a teacher could provide learners with options for both public online interactions such as Twitter or more secure interactions such as email, a closed Facebook group, or a password protected e-portfolio such as FreshGrade. These options could provide learners with opportunities to become more comfortable with online interactions and allow them to practice online networking before sharing with a wider open audience (Couros and Hildebrandt, 2016).
Alternately, the teacher could create a place to access videos such as a private YouTube Channel where the student’s information is not used in creating the account. “ A private YouTube video can only be shared with the specific people you invite to view the video. Even if someone has the link, you must give the person access to the video” (McCabe, 2018). In addition, students could be restricted to using first names only or avoid using their own faces in the video.
Some schools have sets of devices that are accessed by learners in multiple classes. If learners are recording multiple clips for their reflection, it would be wise to assign numbered devices so they have access to their video clips in one place over the course of the project. Because there is a danger that content left on the device can be seen, edited, or deleted by others, it may be wise to share clips to the teacher’s device or a local drive at the end of each recording session.
Copyright & Creative Commons:
It can be tempting to take something from the internet and put it into our own work but it is important that we cite our sources properly and give credit where it is due. People’s work, whether it is pictures, art, documents, music, or other media, is protected from being stolen by others or plagiarized. Creative Commons has been created specifically to address this issue. Creative Commons media is a standardized copyright which gives permission to others to use said work. This work can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon by others as long as the work is given proper credit (Creative Commons, 2019).
For the Rube Goldberg Machine project, it will be important for learners to cite any music, video, or images they use that they did not create entirely themselves to properly meet Copyright and Creative Commons guidelines.