Category Archives: 1000 mile questions

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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FutureLearn Pedagogy Platform: does big matter

Went to a webinar yesterday: OWLET – Open Webinars for Learning and Enhancing Teaching from University Campus Ipswitch. First time using Hangouts. (does not afford “proper” chat).

There were according to the G+ post 9 people who “watched” Mike Sharples, Professor of Education Technology speak on “Innovating Pedagogy”.

Very much a “presentation” with some interaction at the end. Mike spoke much about the big numbers on FutureLearn courses and MOOCs generally. The focus shifted. Was that Future Learn, the Open University, or everyone studying everywhere on things called MOOCs (or similar) or even just DL? There were, or I took, implications that big really was better.

There was much mention of social constructivist pedagogy framed in a wide millennial disruptive discourse of “drivers” for change. The avalanche rumbles on. A long list of literature-was reviewed on change and innovation. Woah! They spotted MOOCS. In twenty twelve! They are now noticing badges and analytics.

The talk was quite focussed on the massive (OpenU DL is massive) and analytics. Badges will be next year’s big boom? You read it here first 😉

The Future Learn platform attempts to facilitate relationship between people. Peer evaluation and feedback is not anonymous. Real names used throughout. But, tutors did not appear to be engaged in a participatory way. I asked about the role of the Associate Lecturer in Future Learn. FutureLearn is relying on the “power of the crowd.” Junior academics and PhD students are “monitoring” discussion. If you want added tutorial support you can get it but you have to pay for it.

Much Britishness is promoted and is distinguished by an underlying pedagogy. (Is it?)  Connectivist and instructivist approaches were contrasted. Individualised teaching was also put aside. Could not compete on technology.  So they took a deliberate approach to design based on social constructivist and experiential learning: (see John Hattie). Design principles are or aspire to be realised through:

  • visible learning pathway
  • goal directed
  • social
  • conversational
  • rewarded
  • reputation management
  • contribution to social capital (following, liking)
  • review and feedback including automated acquisition of “sentiment” content
  • peer review
  • MCQs
  • Branching pathways and breadcrumbs.

And to do all the above in internet clock (tight time) cycles.

Interesting in all the talk of massiveness there were only 9 people in the hangout. Take out the presenter and facilitator is 7 and 3 of those were from Oxford Brookes. A tight circle of people thinking about Open Online Learning practice. I briefly feared it might be me one-on-one with Mike Sharples. Thankfully Richard Francis joined the room. We got a lot out of it. Thank you. But, the conversational tools in the webinar/Hangout were difficult. Maybe I just didn’t find the chat interface. Richard and I used the “Question” facility to chat. But that confused us and the presenters. Another viewer suggested using the G+ stream of posts. But, both interfaces loaded each post with so much relational context, that ironically the conversation decohered.  There did not appear to be a possibility for the audience to take the audio mic and actually ask a question.

[Makes me feel the Adobe connect decision we have taken is the right one at the moment.]

 

 

Teaching into the third space

I had a penny-dropped moment observing a series of tutorials in Oxford Brookes University’s Interior Architecture group. The language being used by the tutors echoed, for me, the language of activity theory, actor network theory and – most importantly – third space theory. I am probably over-interpreting but until this moment I hadn’t realised quite how radical the Interior Architecture group’s outlook is. This post may get me into hot water with other people working in the built environment, and I do not mean to privilege any one approach or team. However, I was hearing the language of liberation pedagogies, hybrid identities, neo/post/anti-colonial experiences: an architecture of community, identity and emotion; an architecture of relationships that were not commercial and which spoke against the colonisation of space by the powerful.

DesignPlanningRittel

 

An-an-an-archic questions and another 1000 mile journey

I have been having an ongoing conversation with Jock Coats (@jockox3 on Twitter) that veers from face-to-face to Twitter to the blogs. For me it has been an education in the literature of anarchism, particularly that of the libertarian, individualist, mutualist, market sort, to which Jock adheres.in a recent post (http://jockcoats.me/mutualist_monopolies_introduction) jock concludes, “…how difficult it is for monopoly to form without the state’s intervention.” And in a comment on my [late lamented] Posterous blog, reposted here), we got into a couple of chicken/egg circles: which came first, the state or government? And, could there be monopolies without the collusion and facilitation of states and/or governments? These are themselves sustained by – and sustain – monopolies of the power of violence (police/army), money and property.

But, my problem with this is that we start from where we are.

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A journey of a thousand miles problem @jockox3 the limits of my anarchism #ukuncut

I accept a loose notion of the social contract and accept that there are limits on my behaviour imposed on me for the benefits of all – including the payment of levies (taxes) for the provision of services to us all, even if I might prefer those services to be delivered in a different way. I further accept a loose notion of representative democracy as a means of determining and regulating (i.e. governing) those services and levies.However, the notion or idea of the “state” is a problem.

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Sustaining support

Further to the last post, Sustaining Communities, the tension in higher education is between: open educational dialogue and institutional pragmatics (a 1000 mile question?).

Open educational dialogue is concerned with networks or communities for information sharing, which take a user-centred approach to learning and design for learning on all scales. These networks make use of user-generated content for learning resources, including novel audio & video resources. Assessment, feedback and feed forward is conceived dialogically for learning. Among the benefits of open educational dialogue should be improved student induction and retention in situated learning communities. Among the technical enabling practices by which open educational dialogue might be supported, projects are working on systems mapping, business analysis (BA) and work flows. Information aggregation practice and content syndication (RSS) are being implemented using increasingly open web services and service oriented architectures (SOA). While institutions are traditionally seen as being located in physical space, mobility and location-based services are increasingly re-articulating the relationships between people, space and institutions: domestic, commercial, cultural, civic, language, faith, education, state and their various concrete reflections in houses, offices, systems, stores, transport ways, networks, authorities, maps, corridors and campuses.

Innovation themes supporting open education dialogue appear to be:

  • Portals and personal portals (programmes, eportfolios and PLEs) to CPD aligned with
  • Flexible frameworks for accreditation, underpinned by
  • Multimedia epistemologies, the semantic web and a peer-to-peer participatory culture in disciplines

Sustaining participation as principal, agent, volunteer, affiliate, staff for:

  • natural and built environments
  • food, water, energy
  • economies
  • polities and communities

Managing participatory identity

  • learning (peripheral participation)
  • authentication
  • trust (accreditation)
  • access (privileges)
  • openness

The innovative potential of these themes depends on and is set against an enabling apparatus of social institutions – institutional pragmatics. These are the means by which order is brought to, or structures educational practice along rational lines. Institutional pragmatics may be resolved to nine categories:

  1. Learning teaching and assessment
  2. Research and development
  3. Business and community engagement
  4. Learning resources
  5. eAdmin
  6. Institutional ICT services
  7. Physical estates and learning spaces
  8. Mobile, location aware and pervasive computing
  9. Green ICT