Reasons to be cheerful

I am starting to experiment with Ben Werdmuller’s new creation, Known. Ben is well known around UK higher education as the co-author of Elgg.

I use several platforms: 2 WordPress sites, Twitter, Facebook and very occasionally Google+. In the old days – oh, about 2 or 3 years ago I used Posterous and Tweetdeck to manage my random collection of thoughts across several platforms  But Twitter killed both these lovely applications. I also use Oxford Brookes University’s learning environment: Moodle and another Moodle running on OpenBrookes.net. I am wondering if Known and Known for Education might help pull all this together. I buy what Ben says about multiple audiences and the blurring of boundaries between social media platforms. Some people are on Twitter only. Many more on Facebook only. But some people are in several places at once. And these people may be different audiences: work colleagues, friend friends, political activists, poets, family. If I only post to Facebook, I get some of these. G+ tried to make this work through “circles” but the asymmetry was too much for my poor brain. So let’s see what I can make happen, here, with Known.

Reposted from Reasons to be cheerful, posted in Known

Lasting change?

I have been at the SEDA conference and will be contributing to Helen Beetham’s “flipped keynote” today.

Helen has asked me to consider what lasting changes technology enhanced learning have left on me. Helen has suggested that the digital in education (and culturally, more widely) can be characterised by porosity and a persistent simultaneity. That is, once an utterance goes digital we are no longer completely in control of where it is used, who might see it and so on: our digital utterances and digital “spaces” are “leaky” or porous. And, as well as leaking beyond their original or intended audiences our utterances leave traces that persist and which might be recalled at any moment.

Now, I am not sure if these are unique to the digital. Certainly more people leave more traces that are persistently visible to more people than they have been. Is this merely quantitative or has the volume produced a shift in quality too? My suspicion is that it has, and this suspicion that there has been a qualitative change is how I read Helen’s illumination of the “post digital”.

So, for me, I will mention two lasting changes: one has to do with identity and the other has to do with language.

One lasting change for me is that traces of my life are leaky and persistent. This goes beyond the sphere of formal learning and reaches into my domestic and social spheres.

Was I a “late early adopters” or “e-pioneer” or “early majority” user of the internet? I had a Compuserve account in about ’94 or ’95 and remember my first dial-up modem and the exciting US Robotics Sportster “smart modem” that ran at a blinding 14.4 kbps. I ran IRC chatrooms for professional education in the energy industry in 1998 or thereabouts. Stuff like that. But what was significant was that I and many others thought that BBS and IRC and email would usher in an era of identity play and available anonymity. On the Internet no one knew you were a dog. A child could pretend to be an adult and an adult a child with all (apparent) innocence. I thought my life could be compartmentalised. If I embarrassed myself in one sphere the others could remain unaffected. There was the professional me, the political me, the poetical me and the domestic me and these four spheres of identity, I believed, were separate and the Internet facilitated this separation.

Clearly I no longer believe this. While there are other factors in play beyond the Internet, the development of the internet as we know it now has facilitated (or forced) the collapse of boundaries between parts of my identity. Nothing is private online. Deal with it. But let’s not underestimate the scale. This has become a huge power issue with Facebook, Google, GCHQ, NSA, Wikileaks and the subsequent projects to TIA. Cyber-security and Cyber-war and Cyber-colonialism and imperialism are very real phenomena and we do not need to wear tin-foil hats to appreciate this. (Ref Code Red and the Software sorted society links to come).

The other lasting change for me has been a widening of my understanding of modes of communication. I did my MA in Education at the Open University between 1997 and 2001. As a part of the degree I took “H802″ Which had a title like “Application of the Internet to Open and Distance Learning”. While I had used Compuserve BBS and IRC I had never been invited to consider these as being genres of language. Through H802 I came to understand that digital literacy had many forms and some of these were new. There was moral outrage abroad at txt speak. H802 valorised this as just one new mode. I learned that forums were not chat, were not essays, and no more or less than any of these things, just different. And these genres and registers of communication refracted power and identity differently than letters, journalism or academic essays.

So for me the porosity and simultaneity do not have to do with my daily digital practices or the tools I use at any moment. They are deeper and broader than Diigo or Posterous. They embrace a domain of one’s own and BYOD.

 

The Values Argument for Educational Development in Higher Education

This summarises a paper I will be giving for the Oxford Brookes University, School of Education Research series this semester.

As well as providing locations of learning and teaching, higher education is an important focus of much political debate. Aldridge has set out the terms of the debate here (Aldridge 2014).

The pressing educational debates of the moment tend not, in fact, to be debates about the most effective way to achieve a particular outcome (although they are often portrayed that way), so much as debates between competing understandings of what we are trying to achieve through the educational endeavour.

In educational improvement initiatives in higher education, as an educational developer, I find myself facing a conundrum. Why, when I believe I know what good learning is and, arguably, how to create curricula, courses and events which are designed for good learning, do I continue to experience ambiguity and anxiety in myself, colleagues and society about not only individual roles, institutions and curricula but the purpose of higher education?

The paper sets out to problematise an underpinning framework for good educational development practice and offers places where the evidence might test (prove?) these underpinnings.

I suggest it may be a human universal that we come with ‘frameworks’ (Popper 1996): call them contexts or identities and communities as you will; we come with a need to be useful, even if only to ourselves. And, we co-construct our frameworks, our contexts, our ‘learning environments’: in both physical and abstract spaces with other people.

The conclusions I reach are that means and ends cannot be uncoupled; that the coupling of means and ends must be through the question of purpose; and that purpose is value laden. Therefore the values argument must remain in the light and proxy arguments, illuminated.

References

The full paper cites and is synthesised from the following

Aldridge, David. 2014. “What Is Education For?” Zu Den Sachen. http://davealdridge.brookesblogs.net/2014/09/18/what-is-education-for/.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. 1981. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Translated by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 2002. Society under Siege. Cambridge: Polity.

Bhabha, Homi. 2004. The Location of Culture. Routledge Classics. Abingdon: Routledge.

Chickering, A., and Zelda Gamson. 1987. “The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” American Association for HE Bulletin, no. March 1987 (and frequently reprinted): 3–7.

Dewey. 1916. Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: Macmillan.

Draper, S. W. (2011, January 25). Peer Assisted Learning. Retrieved May 9, 2012, from http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/localed/pal.html

Engeström, Yrjö. 2001. “Expansive Learning at Work: Toward an Activity Theoretical Reconceptualization.” Journal of Education and Work 14 (1): 133–56.

Fairclough, Norman. 2001. Language and Power, Second Edition. Vol. 2. Harlow: Pearson.

Foucault, Michel. 1984. “Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias.” foucault.info. http://foucault.info/documents/heterotopia/foucault.heterotopia.en.html accessed 13/04/2014

Francis, Richard, and John Raftery. 2005. “Blended Learning Landscapes.”Brookes Electronic Journal of Learning and Teaching (BeJLT) 1 (3).http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/articles/blended-learning-landscapes/ accessed 13/04/2014

Francis, Richard, and George Roberts. 2014. “Where Is the New Blended Learning? Whispering Corners of the Forum.” Brookes Electronic Journal of Learning and Teaching (BeJLT) 6 (1). http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/paper/where-is-the-new-blended-learning-whispering-corners-of-the-forum/

Guasch, Tresa. 2014. “Unravelling the Feedback Process on Collaborative Writing in Online Learning Environments.” In Giving Feedback to Writers Online. International and Virtual Conference. Oxford: Oxford Brookes University. http://openbrookes.net/writing/giving-feedback-to-writers-online-international-and-virtual-conference-26th-june-2014/

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking University Teaching, 2nd edition. London: Routledge Falmer.

Levitas, Ruth. 1999. “Defining and Measuring Social Exclusion: A Critical Overview of Current Proposals.” Radical Statistics 71. http://www.radstats.org.uk/no071/article2.htm.

Marshall, George. 2014. “Breaking News: North Korea Poisoning Atmosphere to Destroy American Weather.” Climate Change Denial. http://climatedenial.org/2014/09/28/breaking-news-north-korea-poisoning-atmosphere-to-destroy-american-weather/ accessed 06/10/2014

Messy Reality. 2014. “I Represent a Dangerous Element That’s Growing in Society: Glasgow Emcee Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey Talks about the Referendum, Recovery and the Making of a Soon-to-Be Era Defining Album.” Messy Reality. Accessed October 6. http://messyreality.net/2014/10/05/i-represent-a-dangerous-element/

Meyer, Jan, and Ray Land. 2003. “Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the Disciplines”. Edinburgh: Universities of Edinburgh, Coventry and Durham. ETLreport4.pdf accessed from http://bit.ly/Q3JI8L accessed 13/04/2014

Mezirow, Jack, 1997. “Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice.” New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, no. 74: 5.

Morrison, Marlene. 2014. “Educational Administration, Ethnography and Education Research: Countering Methodological Stagnation. Provocative Tales from an Ethnographer.” In EdD Colloquium, 28 June. Oxford: Oxford Brookes University.

Popper, Karl. 1996. The Myth of the Framework: In Defence of Science and Rationality. London: Routledge.

Roberts, George. 2014. “Something of a Synthesis.” rWorld2. Accessed October 6. http://rworld2.brookesblogs.net/2014/06/28/something-of-a-synthesis/ .

Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith.

Sharpe, Rhona, Greg Benfield, George Roberts, and Richard Francis. 2006. “The Undergraduate Experience of Blended E-Learning: A Review of    UK Literature and Practice”. Higher Education Academy. http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/projects/detail/litreview/lr_2006_sharpe accessed 13/04/2014

Stuart-Buttle, Ros. 2014. “Online Journal Writing , Reflective Dialogue & Professional Learning.” In Giving Feedback to Writers Online. International and Virtual Conference. Oxford: Oxford Brookes University. http://openbrookes.net/writing/giving-feedback-to-writers-online-international-and-virtual-conference-26th-june-2014/

Wenger, Etienne. 1998. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vygotsky, Lev. 1962. Thinking and Speaking (first Published as Thought and Language). Edited by Eugenia Hanfmann and Gertrude Vakar. Lev Vygotsky Archive transcribed by Andy Blunden. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/words/index.htm

 

 

 

 

Something of a synthesis

I attended and wrote about four professional development events this week.

And I gave a keynote at the Solstice Conference at Edge Hill University on 5 June 2014. Slides are here.

In this post I begin to instrumentalise my synthesis of critical educational development points, which I suggest are underpinned by and support the themes (possibly threshold concepts)  that emerged from the events above. There is strong empirical evidence for the benefits of dialogic: epistemic and suggestive feedback. Deliberative reflection arises from and is a skill for distributed collaboration. Peer writing, co-authoring towards shared understanding, is participatory, dialogic, epistemic and may be suggestive. Through interior dialogue and the essentially dialogic nature of literacies  we have dialogue with the past: teachers, writers, memories, culture. Curricula, too, are participatory, evaluative, dialogic, social and self-determined. The convener, participants and curriculum are in tension in an environment of ambiguity, concern, community, power and politics. Methodologically, critical ethnographies provide the essential richer picture and learning needs stewardship (“teachers”).

I use a problem-posing, critical-interpretive framework: asking questions that arise. This could be a semi-structured interview guide, an evaluation checklist or a design tool. I am making a card-sort and conversation menu learning activity from this. Such an activity can be used to group people semi randomly and initiate discussion leading to shared, authentic, practice-based examples that can be creatively appropriated into other contexts.

In each section that follows, I state the principle and then pose the questions, mostly in a “How do you …” style; “Have you considered …?”

Learning is active

Learning is active, an aggregation of multiple individual and unique actions and interactions of people with knowledge, tools and contexts. How do you:

  • incorporate activity into any learning design?
  • decide what activity is useful?
  • engage “micro” activity patterns (e.g. 20 minute cycles) with wider (session, course, life-course) activity patterns?
  • select appropriate tools?
  • use frameworks (approaches, templates, learning plans, etc.) to support activity design and implementation?

Learning is dialogic

Learning is dialogic: individuals share, negotiate, discuss and contend with texts (multimedia), self and others (peers, hierarchies). How do you:

  • facilitate conversation and collaboration with and between students (student-tutor and student-student contact) face-to-face or at distance; one-to-one and in groups?
  • develop academic discourse (multimedia/multimodal, writing/producing) and give feedback for learning in all modes?
  • encourage interior dialogue?

People are different

People are different (diverse identities) in many ways: demographically (age, sex, national origin, etc), as well as culturally and epistemologically (education tradition, world view, doer/reflector, multiple intelligence, multiliteracy, learning preferences, etc). How do you accommodate learner and learning diversity?

  • Demographic (legal, language, social, accessible)?
  • Epistemological (orientation to knowledge and learning)?
  • Identity and community?
  • Goal orientation?

Learning is experiential

Learning is experiential, it draws on everyone’s experience. How do you incorporate:

  • Work-based learning?
  • Life-wide learning?
  • Transitions?

Learning is reflective

Learning is reflective. Reflection happens in cycles (dialogue with self and others): student life-cycles, action learning cycles, assessment and feedback cycles. How do you:

  • Incorporate reflection, individually and in groups (professional, academic, ad hoc)?
  • Help students have a voice for their experience and outcomes?
  • Acquire peer and colleague contribution and feedback?
  • Include practice and theory?

Learning takes place in communities

Learning takes place in communities or groups of people (institutions, disciplines), settings (classrooms, work-places, online, etc) have community development aspects where there are roles (teacher, student, admin), and rules (tacit and explicit). How do you:

  • involve prior learners, disciplinary colleagues and trans-disciplinarity in programmes of study?
  • Incorporate wider notions of identity and citizenship, and shared (or examined) values?
  • Include core texts and narratives of the community of inquiry?
  • Develop role-based competencies?

Learning is participatory

Learning is participatory: Everyone is learning. How do you:

  • Encourage differential participation: peripheral, core, guest, “lurker”?
  • Acknowledge your own and your students’ memory, feelings and opinions?
  • Ensure authenticity to learners points of origin, disciplinary knowledge base, and practice as it is in the field?

Learning is outcomes-led

Learning is outcomes-led. There are curricula (No curriculum is a curriculum.) Many curricula are underpinned by wider professional and regulatory frameworks codified in law and customary practice. Outcomes are assessed and evaluated, often by other agencies. There may, of course be many “unintended outcomes”, many of which may well be beneficial, though not necessarily expressed in the curriculum. How do you:

  • Refer to benchmarks and standards; codes of practice?
  • Assess your learners?
  • Engage learners with criteria?
  • Develop communities of assessment practice?

 

EdD Colloquium: National and International Perspectives on Education

More semi live blogging

Oxford Brookes University EdD colloquium. Saturday 28 June 2014. Mary Wild welcomes us and we introduce ourselves to people we do not know well. I met three first year EdD students and one third year, from Hawaii

Mary praises research colleagues who foster learning based on peer support, inquiry, learning from looking, explaining, leadership.

Linet introduces Prof Emeritus Marlene Morrison (Oxford Brookes), who gives a radical barnstorming keynote challenge: “Educational administration, ethnography and education research: countering methodological stagnation. Provocative tales from an ethnographer.”

Big title. I am reminded of Richard Francis’ observation that ethnography might be an antidote to “big data.” Morrison believes that research has become banal, constrained by orthodoxies based in power. Neglecting power impoverishes and emaciates research and leadership itself. Much research but much of it is emaciated. She is challenging to the students who are engaged in methodologically reductionist studies of leadership, neglecting power and context. These have a cumulative approach to evidence: 20 small-scale studies does not necessarily equal large-scale research). The main tool of this research is interview. In such studies, often discourse is homogenised. The dark side of leadership is avoided. Critical policy analysis sits alongside and is not embedded in the studies. This can be illustrated through the discourse of “internationalisation”. She suggests that an ethnographic approach might provide some triangulation, which could meliorate the proliferation of short-run small-scale research. Can ethnography be compressed? Maybe it always has been. Ethnography allows you to get to parts of the reality that interviewing alone will not reach. Negotiation is part of the process, because often leadership research is aimed at subtle, politicised and power-based aspects of contexts. Outputs are based in continuous change and hence may threaten or problematise status quo. Exemplifies this with a case of widespread homophobic prejudice in Ireland. Ethnographic research offers resistance to the view that there is “no problem” here: epistemological and methodological challenges. We need a new “wicked” research agenda against pressure upon leaders and those whose needs are supposed to be met (but often are not) by that leadership.

Juliet Bostwick (MSC, BSC, RGN, 2nd year EdD, Oxford Brookes University) “Graduateness”.

Graduate entry to nursing is still quite new. Sharing findings from lit review. HEC (1992) defines graduateness. Barrie (2006) and Bowden (2000): Skills, attributes and values. Jones (2009) insists on retaining disciplinary context linked to critical thinking and meta epistemologies. Juliet seeks the view of the room on: “what it means to be a graduate”; and gets: Critical, changing, independent, qualified, knowledgeable, reflective, acknowledged. Literature emphasises Employability. Holmes (2013) takes a realist approach. Challenges reductionist taxonomies. Advocates for a relational approach to graduate “identity”. Uses four-quadrant, two axis (Boston consulting) matrix. Very much like Neimeyer and Rareshide (1991). Steur et al (2012) have a model placing reflective thinking above scholarship, moral citizenship, and lifelong learning. Suggests transformation as a graduate attribute. Kreber (2014) Barnett and Rosen, too: Authenticity set within existential (strangeness) , critical (emancipatory) and communitarian (purposeful action) perspectives. The conversation focuses on vocational (calling) aspects of a career.

Spoke to Juliet and Marlene at the break. It struck me that you could take the term “graduateness” and slot it into Marlene’s talk, in place of “Leadership” and run the same argument to the same end. We need ethnographies of graduateness.

Maxine introduces Alyson Kaneshiro (SEN teacher; University of Hawaii): “A developmental evaluation of response to intervention implementation.”

Cites Stephen Covey, “Involve people to solve problems together.” Michael Quinpatten coined “developmental evaluation”. Summative or formative: are you a restaurant critic or a mentor chef? Developmental approach asks “should we make something new? Challenges the “Wait to fail” model of intervention into SEN. Uses universal screening assessments and provides continuous progress monitoring empowering educators to make timely decisions based on high quality data. Effective intervention must respond promptly when students do not learn. Takes on the role of a developmental evaluator, gathering data in real time in the context of ongoing development. She notes a fear of “data icky data”. But, is this just a narrow view of what data is (or what counts as data)? Questions get to this issue.

Vanessa Cottle (University of Derby): “An exploration into the influence an MA in Education has on identity” . Personal and professional interests (identity: third space).

She recounts her vocational background as a short-hand typist who went to work teaching typing at an FE college and found herself surrounded by people with degrees. Eventually became responsible for teacher education in FE and then university lecturer. Nonetheless, a sense of Impostorship  remains. Became interested in self esteem and what it means to develop an academic identity. Students are diverse in MA in Education programmes. Typically they are teachers but not exclusively. Even in the category “teacher” there is a lot of diversity: FE, HE, School, NHS, University, Police, Local Government, etc. There are also dimensions such as time in practice; status in practice; undergraduate education; or “equivalent” (direct entry to MA without level 6 qual);  full time/part time, flexible study. Starts by defining MA level from QAA documentation: academic and professional characteristics and expands: dynamic, caring, evidence informed; knowledge, communication, ethics, behaviour management, adherence to British values; focus on learners’ achievements and own behaviours. There is transferability between professional and academic identity. Uses Illeris (2003) model of identity (see also Newell Jones 2006).  And used Jones (?) self-esteem inventory

Adrian Twissell, Ross Thompson (Oxford Brookes University), “Exploring goal orientation and philosophical identity: two doctoral students reflect upon their learning journeys and emerging research intentions.”

How has goal orientation changed as identities changed? Traveled from a positivist perspective at the start of the journey. Later, engaged in the social nature of teaching an interpretive perspective emerged. (See Scott and Morrisson and Wisker). Professional doctorates are different from conventional PhDs, and therefore the nature of knowledge discovered/created through the EdD is different. School inculcated a positivist (fixed reality) perspective. MA study started to challenge this. Post modernism emerged in doctoral study. Draw on Schön and Flannigan and Bruner. Moved from positivism to a more interpretivist/pragmatic perspective involving social mediation and negotiation leading to goal modification. (See Berger and Luckmann, 1984). Tangible evidence will manifest in final interpretive inquiry.

 

Reference

Illeris, K. (2003), The Three Dimensions of Learning. Fredericksberg, DK: Roskilde University Press

Neimeyer, Greg J., and Margaret B. Rareshide. 1991. “Personal Memories and Personal Identity: The Impact of Ego Identity Development on Autobiographical Memory Recall.” Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 60 (4): p562–569.

Newell Jones, Katy. 2006. “Small Beginnings of a Community of Practice with a Global Focus.” The Brookes eJournal of Learning and Teaching 1 (4). http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/paper/small-beginnings-of-a-community-of-practice-with-a-global-focus/.

 

Open online courses: ALT MOOC SIG

Semi-live blog

I am attending the ALT MOOC SIG.

There is a question to be answered by everyone, who receives an income from an institution, and who asks that institution to do something for no remuneration. Why should that activity be subsidised? Who should subsidise it?

In the past it has largely been the state through government and taxation, and third sector (charities, friendly societies) NGOs, who have subsidised activity for the general good.

This concept of the general good is vexingly problematic. We still cling to the National Health Service and K-12 education as prima facie examples of activity, which should be provided by all for all. Museums still largely enjoy this indulgence in the UK. Universities did for the past maybe 50-100 years; longer if charity, church and guild-funding can be counted among the general good.

Between the gipsy scholar and the institutional baron there is a wide swathe of “me”: people who believe in the general good of what they do, nervously charitable and accepting of many others of similar disposition. Yet, nonetheless admitting uncertainty of the general good of all the nuances exposed by such a liberal consensus: of course my activity should be supported; but, that person’s field is of very questionable worth.

Are MOOCs for marketing asks Diana Laurillard. Cites a MOOC: ICT in Primary Education (using Coursera and social citation software outside Coursera: Padlet, Diigo) run jointly with UNESCO. Has “wider good” aspiration values. Data is equated with more: “I have become a total data junkie. I wake up every morning [shaking], how many more? How many more?” So a problem is not providing free education to highly qualified professionals; or is it? Not retaining undergraduates. Is achieving reach into emerging markets the same as achieving educational goals? Diana asserts her skepticism about MOOCs. Says we have to be critical, well, “because we have to.” And to be critical you have to be on the inside. Reminded of many years ago at the Cabinet Office, when she firmly said that, “It is better to be inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in”. Is having an 8,000 to one student to staff ratio a good thing? Leveraging community support but what about the living wage? Can MOOC money be better deployed in professionalising 1.6 million new teachers?

Fred Garnett starts his talk in government, asserting that the present government is not at all interested in social inclusion. He asks about criteria for evaluating education because “learning doesn’t scale.” His criteria are: Is education (which may scale) enabling or transforming? Is TEL a subset of learning, a superset of learning or something else? I suggest it is a limen to, from, between and contexts and is a context itself. As “content is [said to be] king”, Fred says, “Context is Queen.” No content can solve the digital divide. Interest drives learning. Authentic learning has community based/responsive curricula. Such curricula are participatory, evaluative, dialogic, social and self-determined. He suggests some approaches (CGFL, NGFL, Ambient Learning City, Fred levels a charge at the big xMOOCs. Are they attracting and appropriating the intellectual wealth of emerging nations and using this to maintain current power structures. He leaves the question open as to solutions, but on invitation, he suggests that a Freirian, problem-posing pedagogy is part of the “solution”. Learning spaces are also part of the solution. Botanical gardens are valuable learning spaces. So, too, national trust properties, woodlands (see Pagell, Mark, Wired for Culture).

… and Geocaching?

Alexander Griffiths (Huddersfield) talks about geocaching as a “mooc”, Or is it a platform? Does it matter. You can learn through  trails literally and metaphorically. I am reminded of Fathom, which used “trails” to link up pieces of learning.

Patrick Haughton (QUB) goes beyond the selfie. Future Learn. Has a nice visual representation of the course created in in Prezi. Layered formality and informality. Learner centred, inclusive, facilitative, accessible (on a phone) and open (international). “What is identity” addressed through self-reflective learning tasks: learners create digital artefact of their choice. engaged with recommended tools. Peer review and self-assessment tests. Very nice use of Padlet and internet repositories, Flickr, YouTube. Padlet, Storify. Questions float around the assessment of and through academic multimedia.

Now, MOOCs need stewardship (Shirley Williams, University of Reading). Built open courses on Future Learn. Is stewardship a need? Technology stewards are part of it. MOOC stewarding is facilitatingh a supportive environment while a course is running: weaving the community, recognising problems. May include technology stewardship, or not (but someone has to do it). Using three levels: the educator team, student mentors and participants. But participation by the educators is essential. How do you get Professor Big Star to be there? They are busy, travel a lot, have limited availability. Solutions: weekly summary video (possibly ghost written), tweet stream, “captain’s log”. Uses student mentors. They pay them. Train them. They can count this towards the RED (employability skills development) award. Pay UG and PG “demonstrating rates” £9.xx/hour up to something more for the PGs for 5-7 student helpers for 10 hours a week. Seed people from previous runs?

Now Aidan Johnson (Strathclyde) Storytelling through a MOOC. “There has been a murder.” Investigation, evidence, mystery. Entirely un-influenced (not!) by forensic science television dramas. But large potential audience. If a murder mystery is “fun” can it be authentic? Another Future Learn Course. Biggest ever on the platform (26,000+ participants). Again used social media, Twitter, Facebook (x2). Nice map of the activity. Discussions were not moderated. Used Google Hangouts for tutorial sessions. Ran as accredited internal 10 credit course.

Jenny Mackness and Frances Bell. Rhizome as a metaphor for different kinds of learning. Six weeks seems to be becoming paradigmatic for a MOOC.  The metaphor of the rhizome has good and bad aspects (mint and ground elder); subversive or pernicious? Non-heirarchical or army of clones?

Characteristics of rhizomatic learning include: connection, heterogeneity, multiplicity, (doesn’t recognise a prior unity), contextualised, the map not the territory, a-signifying rupture (resisting definition; deterritorialising and reterritorialising). The convener and the curriculum are in some tension in an environment of ambiguity, concern, community, power and politics. Communitarian emergence may be problematic. And, of course, human networks are discontinuous because we walk, asserts Fred Garnett.

Over lunch spoke more to Aidan about MOOCs for credit at Strathclyde.

Pat Lockley plays bingo with us. He starts massive and stays massive. Seriously large numbers at U of London International MOOC on English Common Law. Everything is open. 5,000 have visited the post MOOC open MOOC. Used 8 platforms 4x WordPress, YouTube, SoundCloud, SlideShare, Amazon S3 cloud server. Use Livestream not YouTube? Use of the ask the professor feature was larger in the MOOC, though the numbers on the MOOC and the UoL courses are similar. MOOC learners are more active.

Helena Gillespie (UEA) MOOCs and Metrics: success and evaluation data. How is it going? What is the most successful MOOC? most people? Best demographic? Most completion? Most countries? Love for STEM subjects? Best corporate employer collaboration? How many did you get is not the right question.

So what are the right ones?

  • Extend reach and access
  • Build brand
  • Improve revenue
  • Improve outcomes
  • Innovation
  • Research-led teaching

Bye from a great day…!

 

Feedback online

There is an active conversation about teaching online, teaching teachers online and teaching about giving feedback online to people who teach online and face to face.

I am attending an online conference: Giving Feedback to Writers Online. International and Virtual Conference 26th June 2014- 9.30am-2pm BST (now!). Content now available here.

Teresa Guache of the Open University of Catalunya is giving the keynote on giving feedback on academic writing online. “Loads of things for thought,” says Marion Waite. Teresa suggests a multi-modal approach using synchronous and asynchronous academic multimedia. Teresa provides excellent empirical evidence for the benefits of dialogic: epistemic and suggestive feedback.

I also attended the Solstice conference, where there was a session on online feedback in all dimensions. They had an excellent feedback instrument (discourse instrument: form) to collect pre-feedback, framing information, in session discourse analysis, and post-session semi-structured discussion. (this is in paper only on ALG02 table).

Clara O’Shea and Tim Fawns from Edinburgh wants us to experience what their students do. Move is into writing guidance we might give one another. Living the experience. Part time students who are doing a programme over 2 to 5 years. Online assessment module: classwide PBworks wiki-based assessment. Self selected groups of five. Group has to produce 5,000 word multi-modal ; co-authoring and critical friending other groups produces a class-wide grade. Is any of this peer marked? Peer writing: co-authoring towards shared understanding is participatory, dialogic, epistemic and may be suggestive. The polls are interesting, but the mode of the instrument is being pushed to its limit.

Ros Stuart-Buttle speaks about church-school leaders online course (3,000 people over ten yeard!). Encourages online collaboration as well as interior dialogue. This is an important dialogue to emphasise in professional reflection. Ros distinguishes between individual private writing (journal shared only with the teacher) and public (blogging) to promote interior dialogue. “The students need to be advised to have a private and a public reflective space…” summarises sue schutz in the chat. It is through the interior dialogue that we have dialogue with the past: writers, memories, culture. Through interior dialogue the essentially dialogic nature of Language can be subject of understanding (Bakhtin, Bhabha). Deliberative reflection must be a part of distributed collaboration. Ros takes a critical ethnographic approach. Has analysed over 500 documents. The prompts she gave at the start of the project were closed and directive. Soon realised that this made for a good forum discussion but not what she wanted from a reflective journal. Moved away from explicit and concrete task to throw the topic back on the learner to interrogate in their own context, with reference to the study materials, wider reading (the literature), peers (colleagues and students), as well as own experience (Brookfield’s lenses again).

John Hillsdon explores more philosophical and existential aspects of writing. Acknowledges his own impostership. Mixes synchronous and asynchronous discussion in online writing retreat. “On the crest of a wave… a threshold moment.” Existence and presence are linked. Brings in Habermas. Ideally humans can achieve communication and this is emancipatory (improvement). Uses Activity Theory as instrumentalisation of social constructivism as a means of developing emancipatory learning. Are emancipation and improvement equivalent? For distributed cognition see Gavriel Salomon.

Salomon, Gavriel, ed. 1993. Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Had to return to my own online feedback task!

Great conference.

Creating active open online courses (OOCs)

My second stab at disseminating our thoughts about open online courses and the pedagogical implications of open courses is in this abstract submitted to the ALT-MOOC-SIG.

The workshop addresses SIG themes:

  • Growing your own Mooc
  • Designing & planning for ‘massive’

In the workshops participants will

  • Identify & share examples from experience of new learning designs & spaces
  • Synthesise or adopt an explanatory framework (model) for dialogic (M)OOCs
  • Apply their framework to designing, delivering and supporting open online courses.

The wider aim of the workshop is to promote open academic practice through OOCs.

Oxford Brookes University is developing and offering open online courses in a range of subjects. These short courses of four to six weeks duration are founded on group & individual activity. Participants engage in sustained discussion with ideas & people for about 2 to 3 hours a day, for 2 or 3 days a week (about 10 hours a week). Like all our courses, our OOCs are:

  • Activity-based: we do & make things in groups, using online tools
  • Experiential: tutors & participants draw on their experience
  • Dialogic: we talk together both synchronously (real time, e,g, in webinars) & asynchronously (e.g. discussion boards & social networks)
  • Participatory: tutors are present & engaged as participants
  • Community-based: linked to disciplines & relevant communities in work & society.
  • Peer evaluated
  • Outcomes-led: structured around curricula & aims, mapped, & in some cases accredited, to UK Higher Education frameworks.

Activities & Timings

  1. A troublesome threshold between the utopian & the real: open OOCs as heterotopia
  2. Examples of heterotopia in your teaching & your institution (Small group, facilitated discussion & feedback from 4 or 5 perspectives)
  3. Creative appropriation: blended learning as third space. Learners create their own learning environments outside, inside & in-despite of institutional intentions.
  4. What works: tools, roles, norms & community: applying discipline to creativity, responsibly, in OOCs
  5. Synthesis & final questions.

Implementing the new blended learning

Having written, “Where is the new blended learning? Whispering corners of the forum” with Richard Francis (Francis & Roberts 2014), I and colleagues are starting to develop underpinning frameworks for communication and dissemination and to suggest programme developments and tools for teaching. The following abstract for a 45 minute workshop session, submitted to a conference but not yet accepted, is my first stab at moving from underpinnings to action. Re-reading it now, I think Good Luck! It made sense at the time.

By the end of this session, delegates will be able to:

  • identify and explain the underpinnings of the new blended learning through metaphors of space
  • apply frameworks for explaining, communicating, disseminating and implementing the new blended learning
  • imagine, together learning designs that are responsible and authentic to learners points of origin, disciplinary epistemologies, and practice as it is.

Physical and virtual spaces of learning appear ever more fluid and polyvalent for all participants, who are co-constructors of the space itself and of the learning that occurs within it: heterotopias (Foucault 1984) of institution, teacher and student. Such blended space of both community and identity is where activity occurs, and reflection on – and dialogue about – authentic experience happens.

Through this fluid polyvalence, all spaces are revealed as spaces between (Meyer and Land 2003, Bhabha 2004): between the ideal and the real, between now and then in both directions; between the physical and the digital, paper and the screen. New teaching spaces, learning environments, apps and the cloud can be seen as bridges between an older the vision of blended learning (Raftery and Francis 2005, Sharpe et al 2006) and a future that is continuously emergent. They mark the end of one era and the beginning of another.

The key issues to be addressed arise from applying models of good practice derived from older face-to-face AND online distance learning to the new blended learning. Participants will explore the implications of distributed collaboration for learning that is:

  • Activity-based
  • Experiential
  • Dialogic
  • Participatory
  • Community-supported, and
  • Outcomes-led. (Vygotsky 1934, 1962, Mezirow 1990, 1997, Engeström 2001)

Session Activities

  • Between the utopian and the real, the troublesome threshold: blended learning as heterotopia (framing the discussion)
  • Examples of heterotopia in your teaching and your institution (Small group, cabaret tables, facilitated discussion and feedback from four or five perspectives)
  • Blended learning as third space: Learners create their own learning environment outside, inside and in-despite of the intentions of the institution or its architects.
  • What works? Responsible application of discipline to creativity in the newf blended learning space (Small group, cabaret tables, facilitated discussion from four or five perspectives)
  • Synthesis and final questions

References

Bhabha, Homi. 2004. The Location of Culture. Routledge Classics. Abingdon: Routledge.
Engeström, Yrjö. 2001. “Expansive Learning at Work: Toward an Activity Theoretical Reconceptualization.” Journal of Education and Work 14 (1): 133 –156
Foucault, Michel. 1984. “Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias.” foucault.info. http://foucault.info/documents/heterotopia/foucault.heterotopia.en.html accessed 13/04/2014
Francis, Richard, and John Raftery. 2005. “Blended Learning Landscapes.”Brookes Electronic Journal of Learning and Teaching (BeJLT) 1 (3).http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/articles/blended-learning-landscapes/ accessed 13/04/2014
Francis, Richard, and George Roberts. 2014. “Where Is the New Blended Learning? Whispering Corners of the Forum.” Brookes Electronic Journal of Learning and Teaching (BeJLT) 6 (1). http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/paper/where-is-the-new-blended-learning-whispering-corners-of-the-forum/.
Meyer, Jan, and Ray Land. 2003. “Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising within the Disciplines”. Edinburgh: Universities of Edinburgh, Coventry and Durham. ETLreport4.pdf accessed from http://bit.ly/Q3JI8L accessed 13/04/2014
Mezirow, Jack, ed. 1990. Fostering Critical Reflection in Adulthood: A Guide to Transformative and Emancipatory Learning. Jossey-Bass Higher Education Series. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
———. 1997. “Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice.” New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, no. 74: 5. a9h
Sharpe, Rhona, Greg Benfield, George Roberts, and Richard Francis. 2006. “The Undergraduate Experience of Blended E-Learning: A Review of UK Literature and Practice”. Higher Education Academy. http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/projects/detail/litreview/lr_2006_sharpe accessed 13/04/2014
Vygotsky, Lev. 1962. Thinking and Speaking (first Published as Thought and Language). Edited by Eugenia Hanfmann and Gertrude Vakar. Lev Vygotsky Archive transcribed by Andy Blunden. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/words/index.htm accessed 13/04/2014

Open Learning Designs

I came late to the Teaching online open course #TOOC14 discussion on learning designs. But wanted to think about this both for tooc as well as courses I currently have a hand in designing.

There were frameworks presented. Personally I take a checklist approach evolved from a number of frameworks:

  • Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) Principles
  • Kolb’s (1984) cycle
  • Brookfield’s (1995) lenses
  • Activity theory (Engeström 2001, Vygotsky 1962)

Over the years I have distilled a set of terms from these and others, which work for me to capture something of good teaching practice. I presented these terms in #FSLT14: outcomes-led, experiential, activity-based, dialogic, participatory, community learning. I ask myself how what I am doing allows at least some outcomes to be intended in advance. Is it linked to any external benchmark reference? How does it draw on or explicitly use activity to create an experience for the participant? How is conversation enabled with co-participants or collaborators? Where do the tutors stand on the participant-observer axis? I would have them stand toward the participant side. For learning to be authentic and to engage learners, tutor engagement works. And, so does group-work. We may not build persistent communities around any one course but we will use support techniques that are based in community-building practices. Some of this will involve peer evaluation. Previous students are invited back as teaching assistants.

Now I am working on a book idea in a similar vein. The organising principles are emerging from a series of conversations with David Jaques.

  • Learning in groups, which picks up on themes of activity, community, identity, discipline, teamwork
  • Authentic learning, which picks up on learning from experience, professional work-based learning, problem-based learning, simulation
  • Technology and learning, which expands on spaces and places for learning, physical and digital
  • Criticality and reflection, which picks up on group and public evaluation, incident analysis, direct and indirect objects of learning, diversity, inclusivity, perspectives, models and theories that might explain or predict learning

References

  • Brookfield, Stephen D. 1995. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publlishers
  • Chickering, A., and Zelda Gamson. 1987. “The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” American Association for HE Bulletin, no. March 1987 (and frequently reprinted): 3–7.
  • Engeström, Yrjö. 2001. “Expansive Learning at Work: Toward an Activity Theoretical Reconceptualization.” Journal of Education and Work 14 (1): 133 –156.
  • Kolb, David. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
  • Vygotsky, Lev. 1962. Thinking and Speaking (first Published as Thought and Language). Edited by Eugenia Hanfmann and Gertrude Vakar. Lev Vygotsky Archive transcribed by Andy Blunden. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/words/index.htm