Thursday, February 12, 2015

Design for learning

People talk about 'blended learning' as if it is something worth making a distinct point about. The only thing it is distinct from is 'undesigned' learning... where the 'instructor' (in cases where there is one) has, for whatever reason, not designed it (enough). The T P sea K framework of M ! s h r a & K o e h l € r is, in my view, a typology that introduces unhelpful distinctions (feel free to google it, I'm not linking to it from here ;). The T(=tech) needs to become part of what we do as instructors in the way that it is when we learn to drive or act generally in the world. For me, T  P sea K is basically P - pedagogy.
pensive moi - because every post needs a picture and I was feeling low on creativity
I tweeted a link the other day, the heavily critical one by New Media in Monash. Within the hour, Dr K o e h l € r had favourited it and followed me, little me. That was simply too keen for my liking. I tried to rationalise this as I checked him out... As I viewed his 'trap' from the inside, it occurred to me that I still had a chance to get out. Happy to say, clearly I did escape. What I saw in there disturbed me though. K o e h l € r's actions on Twitter and the decor of his web presence meant just one thing: money. Someone is making money out of these acronyms. It doesn't matter if the theory is shaky, just like the learning styles stuff, there is good money to be made and people will buy it, walking away satisfied customers, thanking you very much. We might take a generous view of all this and say, well, they have to make a living somehow. But the thing that worries me the most is the effect on education research and theory in general. T P sea K is just P. That's the beating heart of it. It's not a new insight and provides us with another niche theory that does not hold much promise for building meaningfully upon. What it has is the potential for meme-like caché amongst those interested enough to care about teaching but in too much of a hurry to really care about building theory with greater explanatory power (e.g. Policy makers with the power to dictate various curricula). So, with more than a glance towards LCT, we get yet another confusing segment along the horizontal plane of the theory landscape (which now resembles a massive sprawling shanty town - sorry this simile is not quite as PC as I would normally align with) instead of something which genuinely has potential to build and be built upon, advancing theory AND practice in education. 
Here is a design principle I think has some reflective power to positively influence practice:
"design for learning networks will normally be improved if attention is paid to the little things that allow participants' activity to shift smoothly between the digital and the material." p270
If you cant do pedagogy then get some help or give up now.

Goodyear, Peter, and Lucila Carvalho. “Synthesis.” In The Architecture of Productive Learning Networks, 259–76. New York ; Abingdon: Routledge, 2014.

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