Monday, November 10, 2008

Teaching by Design

Video and PPT by Peter Goodyear at a seminar in September:
Some scrabbled notes of the points that leapt out at me...
'the challenge is all about integration not replacement' i.e. meshing [thinks - as opposed to mashing(!?)] 'teaching as design' - the linear relation between time/place of a lecture and the potential for a learning task which may take a while to develop but is not so constrained.
@ 26 mins enriching, 'not content, not syllabus coverage, activity... what the learner does... technology should fit around that', 'learning how to think for a living', engage students in activities which lead to meeting desired outcomes - that may work (via ISD) for certain training situations (e.g. armed forces and industry) but not in HE, we want creativity as they work they develop competence in becoming autonomous, we dont know what students do with the tasks we set! Design is 'indirect' as we cant control everything
@ 38 need to pay attention to tasks, environment, tools, community - but in the end, the activity takes place in a space that is 'co-configured',
@ 46 TasD pedagogically neutral, interpretation of task is deeply influential and emergent activity shows that not everyone benefits from our TasD, Ron Barnett - students need space to get it wrong, but, their choices about technology, community, etc. have a huge impact on the effectiveness of the task. We should scaffold to guide, but the institution's culture also works against effectiveness so you get overworked students
sustainable innovation - has to be continuous and central to the university - a shared sense of how it fits in to this broad learning ecology - what information does the library need. Every business unit needs to see itself as a learning unit within a learning organisation - should be able to describe what good learning looks like and how they contribute to which part of that... but time to engage in these discussions...?
There was also some talk of research they had done which shed light on the 'digital native' concept. Students who were technology-savvy would still expect the university to know best regarding use for learning at university.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Promoting engagement = removing barriers to engagement

As a frequent if not prolific user of IT, I can fail to appreciate the barriers that others who use IT less than I do face when challenged to do so. One of these is IT skills, another is inclination, another may be 'professional identity'. A friend told me how Microsoft managed to swing their market share from IBM lotus spreadsheets to Excel through identifying and eradicating every last thing about their software which prevented users migrating. This can only happen by talking to the users. The other method of requiring people to use IT to accomplish tasks and activities, but it's hard to really win people like that.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

wired or re-wired?

Reading Thomas's blog again. 'digital natives' is wide open for critiquing but here are some of my thoughts about the implications:
1. We falsely assume that all kids are 'digital natives', disenfranchising those who are 'not fussed on computers' or socio-economically disadvantaged.
2. We, echoing Biggs concerns about 'surfing' and the unfortunate connotations with a 'surface approach' to learning, encourage the thought that being a 'digital native' is somehow in advance of/better than being erudite.

But what I need to know more about is whether the net is promoting evolutionary change to the way that learners' brains are wired and whether these changes are beneficial or cast too much embrained knowledge aside such that 'healthy' living in the non-virtual world is undermined. An example, related to Perkins' 'person plus/person solo' stuff, would be our recently purchasing a satnav. Does the de-skilling around mapreading matter? Do we gain more (in time saved, serenity, not having to get embarrased by stopping and asking, not crashing while trying to perch map on steering wheel, not driving into the congestion zone by mistake, etc.) than we lose from our brains through not having that mental exertion. Does this mean I will become so mentally flabby that I will have to choose to take up mental jogging? Will it free up my mind to become very focussed on my work or interests such that my focus actually narrows too much?

Biggs, J.B. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university. Open University Press/Society for Research into Higher Education. (Second edition), Buckingham

Perkins, D. (1993) "Person-plus: a distributed view of thinking and learning," in Distributed
Cognitions, G. Salomon ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Friday, May 30, 2008


There is a lot of milage in thinking about how networks and networked learning involving them are emergent. I was just reflecting on the fact that I have just started to follow Glyn on twitter. Bearing in mind the high degree of textual aptitude journalists have, has following/being followed by Glyn added something to my awareness of audience...? I may be more cautious about just posting the fact that it is 'well past time for a shave' in favour of something less visceral, more salubrious to my imagined projection of self.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Just wanted to flag up this service which I wrote about in my main blog here:
This is an example of how technology can promote connections within a lecture and perhaps enduringly so outwith the event itself...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

is networked learning any different to e-learning?

many would say no. Is that it? Does it matter?
Are these pages
different in any meaningful way?

Just for HE?

The roots of the definition of Networked Learning are based in Higher Education use of technology for learning. Does this implicitly limit the usefulness of the definition for other contexts?

who/what 'promotes connections'?

The next question that occurred to me as I try to operationalise the definition is, exactly who or what does the 'promoting connections'? I think Chris Jones paper on a 'social practice perspective of Networked Learning' is saying that a book or a comment in a lecture or an email could 'promote connections' which makes networked learning a very broad term 'excluding nothing'. This makes networked learning almost just a frame of reference or a lens with which to see the world rather than a verb or a set of skills as per connectivism or as I have been considering in another post.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What is it to 'promote connections'? and is that 'enough' anyway?

Chris Jones has examined the kinds of connections or links that facilitate networked learning, Thomas Ryberg is saying that we should also pay attention to the 'flow' along those links. My comment is that those links need managing (Nardi et al) and that this is a real overhead that we need to learn to manage. Furthermore, if this is a kind of meta skill, should we be encouraging it in our students? And if we can demonstrate that an educational intervention did or did not 'promote connections' between students and their peers/learning resources/knowledge, does that sound like a quality measure...?

Friday, May 2, 2008

What does it mean to be networked learned?

In June 2007 I posted the following message to the networked learning jiscmail list :

I have been thinking about the definition of networked learning and what it means for assessment - especially the central notion of 'promoting connections'. I've come to a question I think might be worth pursuing - what does it mean to be 'network learned'? That is, if one had gone through a degree programme that was designed to 'promote connections', what would characterise the students who graduated from it? Perhaps they would just be the 'embodiment of critical thinking', or some other commonly held aspiration for a modern graduate...
Unfortunately, the 2 responses were about the means of conducting assessment via networks rather than the learning outcomes that any assessment might measure. I tried to re-word the question and eventually sent the following:

I mean, what would a person look like, what would make them different (better even?) from someone who had learned via Communities of Practice or lectures/tutorials? My colleague Joe's off-the-bat response to that was 'appropriateness'. Having the 'right' clutch of the 'right' kind of connections that can be 'activated' (all inverted comma concepts in need of unpacking!) in a timely way - not just to people but to resources (of course). Is that a good measure of networked learningness? (am I a good example of having been 'networked learned' since I'm foisting this on your inbox via this jiscmail list?!) Assuming it should, can that be bottled and taught? Can it then be factored in to assessment leading to accreditation? As I said before, all of this might 'just' mean the kinds of things we already hope to see in 'good' students...
Thoughts anyone?