Category Archives: Educational Development

Brookes Learning & Teaching Conference (#bltc15)

Before the conference Richard Francis, David Aldridge and I led two “Walk and Talk” sessions on “a framework for inclusive learning?” (pdf). I have been exercising this framework in several contexts, most fully, perhaps, at the SEDA conference (Roberts & Francis 2014). However, I have to say that although the discussions were superb, the framework was not really tried. My aim was to critique and problematise “inclusivity”. Both sessions had a linguistic focus (unintended but perhaps unsurprising given Richard and I were shaping the conversations), asking, implicitly whether the language of inclusivity in higher education masks a deeper exclusivity, inherited from both ancient traditions of higher education and the current dominant late corporate capitalist, neoliberal, workforce attachment (higher skills and employment) paradigm.

The walk and talks more generally aim to break out of the architecturally and technologically mediated spaces of education and quite simply walk and talk, with a thematic “map” but no notes or slides.

Isis Brooks gave the conference Keynote based on her autobiography: a life in education. Isis spoke without notes or slides and incorporated many discussions into her “talk”, in a way also a perambulation, although confined in a lecture theatre.

She started with developing an academic identity as a mature learner: from school dropout to an access course at the Open University. She spoke about learning to calibrate one’s self against peers and introduced the small group discussion by asking us to reflect on our school experience.

From the OU, Isis went to Lancaster University. There were year 1 distribution requirements. She did her degree in independent studies (IS) in Religion and Philosophy. Most students in IS were mature students. If you were interested, she said, you would go to extreme lengths: stay up all night. Eventually she did her PhD in IS. Excellent for critical thinking. Her PhD started off looking at Science Teaching in Islamic schools, but transmuted into Goetheian Observation of Nature.

Her supervisor, Prof John Wakefield, gave people “more responsibility than they would have thought possible”. Again she asked us to reflect on what experience we might have had  like this.

The perambulation continued across a career in educational development and educational philosophy applied in land-based colleges, concluding with a vision of “purposeful freedom” as the lractice of lifelong learning.

I asked how we might discover that purposeful freedom within performative restraints?

For the remainder of the conference I practiced that freedom.

References

Roberts, G., & Francis, R. (2014). Transformational Learning Design for Open and Blended Learning. In Opportunities and challenges for academic development in a post-digital age. NCTL Learning and Conference Centre, Nottingham: Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA). Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/georgeroberts/transformational-learning-design-for-open-and-blended-learning

Richard Waller: Cultural Capital – getting in, getting on, getting out

Academic Enhancement and Standards Committee (AESC) – Away Day, Oxford Brookes University, Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 1400 – 1500. Views and interpretations are my own. Post updated through the day.

Richard Waller Associate Professor of the Sociology of Education, University of the West of England (UWE). draws on research from the Paired Peers project. Mobilising capitals through internships.

  • Bathmaker, A.-M., Ingram, N., & Waller, R. (2013). Higher education, social class and the mobilisation of capitals: recognising and playing the game. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34(5/6), 723–743.

Seeks to know:

  • What factors determine the type of career our graduates enter?
  • What they can do?
  • What we can do?

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Gwen van der Velden: Student Engagement in Learning and Teaching Quality Management

Academic Enhancement and Standards Committee (AESC) – Away Day, Oxford Brookes University, Tuesday, 17 March 2015, 1130 – 1300. Views and interpretations are my own. Post updated through the day.

Gwen van der Velden is Director of Learning and Teaching at Bath University. Heads, QA/QE, eLearning, Educational Development and English Language Teaching.

Gwen and her team conducted research on how embedded “Student Engagement” is in UK Higher Education. Method: desk research, survey, interviews on what is embedded and what isn’t. 75 of 220 institutions responded (including 28 Students Unions).

Issues highlighted:

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Resilience: a theme for learning in higher education?

Preamble: Reading “Resilience”

This post is written for the Principal Lecturers Thematic Event at Oxford Brookes University on Thursday 12 March. The post will be updated through the day [semi-live blogging]. I should say that this piece is my perspective and does not necessarily represent the views of others or the institution.

I did a quick literature search before the event on Academic Search Complete for: Resilience, Learning, Higher, Education. I read two that seemed most immediately relevant. References Below.

It appears that resilience is often conceived as a capacity of individuals, individually, to respond “positively” to challenges by deploying their individual amalgam of identity factors and “transforming” or “rising above” them. However, resilience also appears to be culturally nuanced. “Western” resilience is caught up in “western” narratives of continual change. Resilience may be exhibited differently in different spheres. Many people appear to be resilient in one domain, and not others. Social resilience, for example, may not be correlated with academic resilience (Walker et al 2006, 254). Western notions of resilience:

[transfer] any potential academic or pastoral difficultly directly to the student
since, within this model, being at risk can be defined by the extent to which the
academic and affective qualities of a learner fit with prescribed learning styles and
experiences. Any maladaptive behaviour can then be attributed directly to individual
learners on the basis of their pathology being problematic.

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Widening Participation Working Group Away Day (Oxford Brookes University)

Semi-live notes from very interesting and data filled Oxford Brookes University Widening Participation Working Group Away Day at Marston Road. (Of 30 people in the room only one obviously black man and two Asian women. Matches our BME student profile? c. 10%)

The day was framed by demographics about where Brookes sits, and politics in light of the forthcoming election, which enabled a critical frame for the day: whose WP are we talking about? Is the “lifecourse” educational – or institutional – for everyone?

Should OCSLD have had a pitch here? Because support for staff development IS support for WP. Though we are not seen as a service for students, institutionally, the significant change that has to be made is “Academic”: academic literacy, academic content, academic writing, academic culture.  Critical analysis is HUGE. Planning and structuring assignments is HUGE. When you have many inquiries from the same course at the same time, you ask: Can we move up the river and see “who is ‘pushing the bodies into the stream'”? Is this is where OCSLD has a role working with course teams?

This post will be updated through the day (Tuesday 10 March 0930-1430)

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First Steps Again

FSLT15 is off to an easy start so far. It will be interesting to see how many attend the webinar on Monday. There are about 60 participants signed up and about 26 are taking the course for University Credit (10 credits CATS level 7, M-level). The course is validated and acceptable on 3 programmes: The OCSLD Associates Programme leading to Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy; The Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (PCTHE) and the MA Education: Higher Education.

Participants are mostly from the UK, with people from South Africa, Spain, Ecuador, Portugal, Zambia, St Vincent, Ireland also joining. And there are a number who have not yet indicated, suggesting about 20% may be from outside the UK.

The course is feeling like a “traditional” part of what we do, now that it is in its fourth year. It is easy to forget what a step it has been to develop this programme. The big thing is that many of the people taking the course for credit are Brookes Staff who feel that the online option may be more effective for them, even though they are based in Oxford.

So as we work through the Week 0 oddities I trust we will be fully engaged by Monday

 

University learning? A thousand-mile question (for discussion Tuesday, 09/12/2014, 1700)

Here is an advanced draft of the paper I was to have been giving today (9 December 2014) at Oxford Brookes University School of Education.

Abstract

As well as providing locations of learning and teaching, higher education is an important focus of much political debate. This paper sets out through an open epistemological narrative inquiry to problematise an underpinning framework for good educational development practice and offers places where evidence might challenge 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. To be useful requires having some power as a builder: physical, virtual or social. We co-construct our frameworks, our contexts, our “learning environments” in both physical and abstract spaces with other people. These constructions are acts of enclosure. And all acts of enclosure require force, power or violence. The conclusions I reach are that means and ends cannot be uncoupled; that the coupling of means and ends must be in part through narratives that reveal the question of purpose; and that purpose is value laden. Therefore the values argument must remain in the light and proxy arguments, illuminated. Narrative epistemology is an epistemology of openness, and is an epistemology of self-respect.

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#Design 4 Learning 2014

Semi live , late blogging from the Design for Learning Conference, 27 November 2014, The Open University, Milton Keynes.

Dr Tessa Eysink, University of Twente, Keynote “Learner performance in inquiry learning environments”

Work in progress comparing Inquiry learning with expository instruction. The research was focused on the design and use of small Learning Objects in Psychology: 60 of them. The topic “Classical conditioning”, “used world-wide” was chosen for the trial. The underlying issue to be addressed was that learners find it hard to generate hypotheses interpret data, collect data, and so on. Therefore, learning must be supported.

What other processes are there? Tessa outlined four approaches all of which were purported to improve learning. (Some do. Some don’t.) All appeared very cognitivist in their underlying epistemology.

  • Inquiry Learning
  • Hypermedia Learning
  • Observational Learning
  • Exploratory Learning

The trial models were all implemented in the same VLE and “Only the instructional method differed.” This, to me is questionable. The implementations all looked the same at arm’s length, though each was described as a separate environment. Learners were described as of high, middle and low ability. This categorisation was presented as unproblematic. The “High ability” learner was the norm. The other two differed in degree to which they resiled from the norm.

“Inquiry Learning” was “Problem-based Learning” “Hypermedia Learning” was expository or didactic, content-led learning: read all about it, where “reading” may be replaced by consume hypermedia. “Observational learning” was, in essence, apprenticeship or knowledge engineering. Learning comes from observing (or watching a video of…) an expert and emulating or decoding the practice. “Exploratory learning” appeared little different from Inquiry learning. PBL without the problem; self-directed hypermedia learning (?).

A few lessons were presented.

  • In the trials Inquiry learning was the most effective and efficient. No surprises, there. While I agree with the lesson, nevertheless it was annoying to see the exposition of a foregone conclusion.
  • Generating the subject matter by the students (Learner-led curriculum) leads to learning gain. This was interesting, but if supported by evidence, I did not notice it.
  • It appeared that the trials were focussed on providing tailored instruction for high ability learners: opens the way to complex, abstract assignments. But questions inclusivity?
  • Modelling practice is a helpful adjunct to PBL. But this session modelled expository practice, not inquiry learning.

At the end of the conference, key contributors were asked for three things: a hunch, a wish, and a prediction. My hunch, wish and prediction:

  • Hunch: what is needed to design instruction is not so much research (leading to the formulation of a grand narrative)  but sensitive observation in the the learning context (petits receipts): in the classroom, action learning, etc
  • Wish: educators would learn that everyone is equally remarkable, wonderful and wise to the ways  of their world.
  • Prediction: Performance monitoring dashboards will not improve learning.

Reading Emma Mulqueeny: epistemology narrative and truth

I have been reading Emma Mulqueeny, known to me through Twitter as @hubmum, who does fabulous things with young people and computers and politics. I have not always felt I agreed with Hubmum’s politics, but heck, the state is her big client so you probably wouldn’t bite down on the feeding hand and what do I care, if kids are doing something cool and clever? Besides we all know that one is not entirely safe from anonymity on this here interweb.

So it has been a delight to stumble on a series of posts about the demographic Emma calls the 97ers, and which she has helpfully pulled together here. And before I go off on my usual paroxysms of spluttering that there is no such thing as a digital native I should say that the  quality of the writing had me suspending disbelief and quickly eating out of her hand. That, and the fact that she exposed her underpinnings. People who read me know that I am into frameworks for interpretation and understanding. People who know me better, know me better. I like to assert that each and every element of my framework is derived from solid research. But sometimes it might be possible that the elements of the framework are really only validated through frequent repetition. Chickering and Gamson? Oh I have HEARD that was based on a whole LOAD of actual RESEARCH  once upon a time. And, Vygotsky. All you have to do is mention the name. Everyone is anxious about running into someone who might actually have read something he wrote that we nod sagely and pass over the citable fact that whatever we might attribute to Vygotsky actually comes from Engestrom and we trust he might actually have read Vygotsky and Vygotsky might have kept a lab notebook somewhere, who the hell knows?

My point is that it does not appear to matter. Or does it? You can adopt a framework and apply it without knowing exactly why it makes sense to use it. Activity theory is very useful to a consultant in this regard. Very quickly you can talk about individuals acting in communities in accordance with explicit and implicit rules and norms to achieve socially and politically and economically sanctioned ends. Activity theory supplies a number (about seven) of headings that might as well be the headings of the next report you have to write. Bring in Giddins, mention structure and that demands post structuralism and any framework will do. If you want to spin off from that, each of the headings has its own activity network (Engeström 2001) behind it: Community (Lave & Wenger 1990 and Wenger 1998), Roles, Rules (Foucault 1977), Tools. You can elaborate Activity Theory into an epistemology (Salomon 1993). I like Activity Theory. I found it useful. But, calling myself to account, how is this in any way different from Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) or Landmark Seminars or Learning Styles Theory or Digital Natives? Things that bring me out in splutterings again. Ultimately it is an act of faith. I put faith in Activity Theory and from that in Frameworks themselves. Even this one that I am yet again building, here. So I forgive the use of frameworks.

So what’s that got to do with Emma, then? Her framework is built on the writings of Ivan Illich and echoes strongly the writings of two other seminal female thinkers about the Internet: dana boyd and Josie Fraser. I could list others maybe back to Haraway (1991) or even Ada Lovelace. I feel this growing into an Ada’s Day post, though that was not my intention.

Learners are connected and the knowledge is largely in the connections. Peer learning: dialogic, authentic participatory learning informed by a complex understanding of literacy, community and identity is effective (and may be all there really is, anyway). Emma’s framework is woven against a background of biographical narrative, of storytelling, of her story, where storytelling quality is an important part of any truth test. Storytelling is both epistmological (having to do with the nature of how we know stuff) and ontological (having to do with the existence and qualities of stuff itself). Storytelling describes stuff, teaches others about stuff, and even brings stuff into existence. Storytelling is a big part of any measure of the elusive authenticity. And, Emma has data to back up her assertions. Yes, that data is in narrative form, but it is no less empirical for that. I like a writer who walks her own talk. She concludes with the important question: “Can you verify your story”. Or at least can one verify as much as they have told, and can I/we sort out the parts we have filled in?

I should admit at this point that my children were born in 2007 and 2010. So my “digital natives” are 10 years younger than her digital natives. At the moment the seven year old is hugely into books (boastful parent alert!) and likes his bicycle, scooter and walking off piste in wild areas. Mummy and Daddy set bad examples with their laptops, phones and tablets when we are hanging in family time before bed. But I am beginning to wonder if all that digital stuff is just boring grown-up stuff to my kids and real life in their eyes is for proper, f&*k-the-parents, I am going to climb a dangerous tree over a fence and into no-man’s-land kind of kids? My goodness all this reverse psychology that parenting gets you into. But never doubt for an instant that they, the children, the next generation, are not hip to the game even when as 2 year olds they are complying – or not. They know the “real story” from a very early age. Narrative epistemology is an epistemology of openness, and is an epistemology of self-respect. This hit me last week and I tweeted it here. We must trust ourselves to like ourselves and like ourselves to trust ourselves.

Does it go wrong? Yes, of course. The undercover policing story or Pleb-gate is all the far you have to know to know that not every credible story is true and not every incredible one is false.

Emma gets you thinking like that.

 

 

 

References

Engeström, Y. (2001). Expansive Learning at Work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. Journal of Education and Work, 14(1), 133 –156.

Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish: the birth of the prison. (A. Sheridan, Trans.). London: Allen Lane, Penguin.

Haraway, D. (1991). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (pp. 149–181). New York: Routledge. Retrieved from http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Haraway/CyborgManifesto.html

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1990). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Salomon, G. (Ed.). (1993). Distributed cognitions: psychological and educational considerations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

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/.