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conference research

Innovative practices in education (colloquium)

Last week I attended a teaching and learning colloquium at Granger Bay, near the Waterfront. It was organised to showcase some of the teaching practices being used at the 4 teaching institutions in the Western Cape. I was fortunate to be invited to present one of the keynotes on Friday morning and since I’ve been thinking about PLE’s lately, that was the focus of my talk. Below you can see the graphical notes taken by Ian Barbour of the 2 keynotes of the conference.

[nggallery id=25]

Here are my notes from the 2 days.

Innovation through foundational provision and extended programmes: future trends, threats and opportunities (Professor Ian Scott)

It can’t go on with us doing “more of the same”.

Higher education is elitist, with a tiny proportion of the population being recycled through the system.

We are moving towards mass participation, with all the associated problems that this brings

Innovation = taking new approaches, doing things differently from the mainstream (creative solutions to problems)

The main difference between HEI that do well and those that don’t, is the attention of the institution (Carey, 2008). There is effort and professional accountability, systemic enquiry and research

Success = developing strong foundations and completing the qualification well. Not just about access. It’s dependant on complex issues e.g. teaching and learning approach, affective support, material resources

Future challenges in academic development:

  • Meeting the needs of the majority
  • Low participation and racially skewed
  • Poor and skewed graduation rate after 5 years = 30%
  • Under 5% of black youth succeeding in HE (unsustainable)
  • Makes little sense to continue on our current path, given the above stats

Who should extended programmes serve:

  • Mainstream students who are now failing or are dropping out for learning-related reasons
  • The majority of students who are not graduating in regulation time
  • But EP’s are reaching less than 15% of the intake, even though it’s a majority need (how can we justify the status quo?)

What can be done?

  • Extend the reach of EP’s in their present form, with a focus on improvement?
  • Move to a flexible curriculum framework with a 4 year degree as the core?
  • Can foundational provision be successful with limited student number, and if so, what are the limits?
  • How does this sit with the need for expanding the programmes?

If success is dependent on small numbers, we have a big problem

Institutional differentiation: Looked at stratifying HEI’s, but who would end up in the “bottom” levels. Moved towards “reconfiguring the institutional landscape” through mergers. But there is a danger of institutions losing their way, and not sticking to their mission. Is this a distraction from the central goal of producing more, good graduates?

Implications

Will differentiation lead to further polarisation of the student intake in terms of educational achievement? Because educational achievement is not potential, and is still polarised along racial, socio-economic lines.

Will there be pressure to remove EP’s from “research” universities? → which will result in less funding and educationally disadvantaged institutions becoming the “new mainstream”

Are these bad things?

To what extent can structural change, in itself, make a difference? Are there any alternatives?

Building student confidence through a class conference in an extended curriculum programme (Maryke Meerkotter)

Some students are resistant to the concept of evolution (in biology)!

Initially, 45 students split into groups and given topics for poster presentation. But it was too open.

Next year had more specific guidelines, with more focused topic (53 students), and individual talks about their own poster

This year, conference was very specific. 87 students, so much more structure was needed i.e. specific mammals were assigned to individual students. Questions had to be answered to prevent cut and paste.

Initial intent:

  • Relieve lecture stress
  • Students to engage with “irrelevant” content
  • Raise awareness of importance of course content
  • Allowed students to take ownership of the content, especially when assigned individual animals
  • Practice oral presentation
  • Exposed to poster making skills
  • To have fun trying something new

Initial scepticism and advice:

  • Doubt that it would succeed
  • Too much unnecessary work
  • Needs a good relationship with class, as lecturer should be confident that students can perform
  • Some envisioned chaos, so needed clear guidelines
  • Some advised no rewards, but students appreciated being acknowledged

Setting guidelines:

  • Holiday assignment
  • Written and verbal communication of assignment tasks
  • Guidelines about poster and oral presentations
  • “Computer literacy” = Powerpoint
  • Specific questions needed to answer in poster and presentation
  • Lecturer created a poster as an example, in subsequent years take the best examples of previous years
  • Provided rubrics for evaluation
  • Minimum requirements for posters, and not part of evaluation, so students who could afford more weren’t advantaged

Evaluation:

  • Oral presentations marked by lecturer and teaching assistant (reliability)
  • Audience tested at the end of each session (to ensure attendance of non-presenting students)
  • Posters were peer marked, using similar content as the marking group (each student marked 3 other posters anonymously)

Administration:

  • Assignment of topics
  • Find space for posters to be displayed
  • Due dates for posters to be mounted
  • Loading of oral presentations prior to talks (use email, caution with flash drives, time constraints)
  • Lecturer needs to listen and mark at the same time
  • Students were assigned posters to mark to avoid students marking their friends work

Empowers students to take ownership of course content, especially the “boring” courses. Recommended for small classes

Introducing concept mapping as a learning tool in Life Sciences (Suzanne Short and Judith Jurgens)

A lot of diversity in the course, in terms of student population

Some of the problems:

  • The gap between school and university
  • Testing of concepts reveals confusion
  • Basic concept knowledge is inadequate, lecturers want to make assumptions about what students come into the course with
  • Poor literacy levels for required university levels
  • Low levels of student success
  • Low pass rates
  • Unable to manage the large volume of content
  • Textbook content is “unfriendly”, not contextually relevant, language is inaccessible
  • Poor integration of knowledge
  • Don’t see how biology fits into scientific study
  • Don’t apply knowledge and strategies from other subjects, concepts are compartmentalised

Hay, Kinchin and Lygo-Baker (2008). Making learning happen: the role of concept mapping in higher education.

Concept map: an organising tool using labels to explain the relationship between concepts, the links making propositional statements of understanding. Can be interesting to see how different “experts” in the course see it differently. We need to first negotiate our shared understanding of the course before we can expect students to understand it.

Rationale:

  • To “deconstruct” faulty knowledge acquired at school and reconfigure it
  • Better grasp the relationship between all areas of study
  • Empower students with a learning and knowledge construction tool
  • Facilitate better use of the textbook

Don’t rely on one source

Facilitates textbook use:

  • overview of concepts and relationships
  • awareness of learning strategies
  • active use of resources
  • Assists with knowledge construction:
  • identified major concepts and links
  • identified gaps in school learning
  • useful as studying tool
  • knowledge construction can be individualised
  • Enables evaluation of student learning:
  • view of student understanding “at a glance”
  • encourage discussion of concepts and categorisation

Difficulties:

  • time consuming
  • high levels of collaboration between staff
  • not all student work visually / spatially
  • takes practice to do well

A genre based approach to teaching literacy in a university bridging course (Taryn Bernard)

How do structure a writing course to develop academic literacy, including other cognitive skills in the first year, among diverse student groups?

Students compartmentalise knowledge and find it hard to integrate into other courses. How can this be addressed?

Students want to feel as if they’re dealing with university-level content, and not high school content

Genre:

  • Text-type e.g. journal articles, books, essays
  • Abstract, goal orientated and socially recognised way of using language, limited by communicative purpose and formal properties
  • Social code of behaviour established between author and reader
  • “A term used for grouping texts together and representing how writers typically use language to respond to and construct texts for recurring situations”

Students need to be introduced to the “culture” of academic discourse

Genre-based pedagogy:

Student learning is affected not only by prior subject knowledge and by approaches to learning but also by the ability to deal with text genre (Francis & Hallam, 2000). An understanding of generic conventions increases success at university (Hewings & Hewings, 2001).

It’s important to validate prior knowledge, and many don’t see the purpose in academic discourse. Students sometimes feel it’s “too complex”

Quantitative literacy courses for humanities and law (Vera Frith)

UCT recognise information literacy as being an important graduate attribute

Quantitative information must be addressed in the disciplinary context

The more that content is embedded within a real-world context, the better

Students can be confused between focusing on the context, as opposed to the content e.g. placing emphasis on what they should be learning, with the contextual framework being used

The impact of horizontal integration of 2 foundation modules on first years knowledge, attitudes and skills (Martjie van Heusden and Dr. Alwyn Louw)

Earlier introduction to clinical placements have a significant influence on students professional development, especially in communication

Research assignments for first year med. students at SU:

  • Identify conditions
  • describe disorder
  • use correct referencing
  • submit to Turnitin with only 10% similarity allowed

Did knowledge improve? What about attitudes and motivation? Did it transfer to the 2nd year?

Research assignments contributed to improved student attitudes

Saw an improvement in writing and research skills

Assignments promoted self-esteem, increased background knowledge and allowed students to ask informed questions

Foundation matters: issues in a mathematics extended course

Important to be aware that students come into the course with mixed abilities, which affects how they perceive the course

Language support for communication skills of foundation Engineering students at CPUT (Marie-Anne Ogle)

Students ability to study is crippled by their lack of confidence in their ability to speak well

Problems:

  • Students don’t speak or hear English often
  • School teachers don’t give presentation training
  • Student lack self-esteem / confidence
  • Students don’t have an understanding of their own problems
  • Only 1 language lesson/week in a very crowded timetable

Rules:

  • Transparent goals
  • Everybody must talk
  • Students choose the subjects they want
  • Intensive reading programmes to support this
  • Students manage their own library
  • Students take over the class towards the end
  • Fun for self-motivation

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Use of clickers in Engineering teaching (Daniela Gachago and Dr. Mbiya Baudouin)

Useful because:

  • Results are anonymous, instant, recorded for later
  • helps to increase attention span, keeps students focused
  • Every opinion counts, not just the correct one
  • Works well with interactive learning and teaching style
  • Direct feedback about students conceptual understanding

Good feedback tool for students, identifies misconceptions instantly that can be addressed immediately, students also become aware that others have similar problems i.e. they’re not alone

Important to use equipment to stimulate discussion

Mazur sequence (see also this transcript of Mazur presenting on using technology to engage students, as well as this video presentation).

You can forget facts but you cannot forget understanding

Use of clickers must be must be accompanied by discussion

“The more a lecturer talks, the less a student understands”

Students enjoy the experience of using new tools in class, very positive response, but they do need a short introduction

Challenges:

  • System takes time to set up, and technical troubleshooting not always easy
  • Can waste time
  • Questions need to be changed often
  • Type of question asked needs to change
  • Can have “clicker fatigue”

Using clickers as a tool in classroom instruction to facilitate student learning (Mark Herbert)

Focus not on what student don’t know, but what they require to develop into successful practitioners of the discourse

Students exposed to how knowledge is constructed, structured and communicated

Lecturers facilitate student learning

Students must prepare for lectures (but do they?)

Constructive feedback given regularly and as soon as possible

Class attendance improved

Student interaction can stimulate learning. Students will often find the correct answer when discussing among themselves, without lecturer involvement

Student confidence increased as a result of using clickers

Innovative pedagogical practices using technology: my personal journey (Ingrid Mostert)

Blended learning model for ACE in mathematics

Bulk SMS (e.g. Frontline)

Off-campus access can be hampered with slow loading times, different to intranet

Someone else has already solved the problems that I have. The more people who know about my problem, the quicker it’ll get solved.

Moodle has a module for mobile access, which allows students to participate in forum discussions through a mobile interface

Can use mobile tech to conduct surveys. Is there a cost for students? Yes, but it’s minimal relative to SMS

Sharing experiences make the load lighter

Exploring the extent to which clickers enable effective student engagement (Somikazi Deyi, Edwine Simon and Amanda Morris)

Use real world events / contexts to make coursework relevant. What is important to students? Use that as a scaffolding for the course content

Planning is important

Students engage more deeply with complex questions. We should challenge them and raise our expectations of what they’re capable of

Difficult to draw conclusions after one session. Need to follow trends over time

Realise that other people have different perspectives and world views

Try group voting as opposed to individual voting

Categories
diigo

Posted to Diigo 08/01/2010

xWeb « Connectivism Annotated

  • Naming things is important. It’s easier to say “web 2.0″ than “participative, fragmented content, conversation-driven web”. Unfortunately, names give shape to concepts that are often imprecise. Sometimes words hurt more than they help.
  • xWeb is the utilization of smart, structured data drawn from our physical and virtual interactions and identities to extend our capacity to be known by others and by systems. This is an imprecise definition, but it’s a start
  • It involves a negotiation of two key questions that I continue to grapple with:

    1. What does technology do better than people?

    2. What do people do better than technology?

With xWeb, we are rethinking what we have to do as people and starting to rely on what technology does better than we possibly could. Over the last few years, I’ve been trying to capture the nature of the change around technology. Some of the recurring themes:

  • augmentation
  • aggregation
  • semantic web
  • location-based services (geoweb)
  • data overlaya
  • smart information
  • visualization
  • social media
  • open data and data in general
  • Internet of things
  • cloud computing
  • mobile technologies
  • analytics and monitoring
  • And, to that list, we could add filtering, recommender systems, distributed “like this” tools, annotation tools (diigo), wearable computing, and so on
      • Web 1.0 mainly seemed to consist of semantics, Web 2.0 of connections, communications, multi-media, virtual worlds and the introduction of mobile devices through the emergence of wireless and higher Internet connection speeds; while Web 3.0 connects data streams in a supposedly intelligent way. The combination of all four would lead to Web X.0 (Steve) or Web X (Stephen)
      • Why would anybody need some researchers and developers to work on a PLE for them?
      • 1. Intelligent data connections are one exciting option for PLE development and networked learning. Recommender systems of information, resources, critical friends and experts could form part of the access options for learners in a PLE that they would not likely be finding in a self-directed fashion
      • 2. That brings me to the challenges of an open online networked environment for learning. Not all adult learners are able to critically assess what they find online and might prefer to receive guidance from knowledgeable others
      • educators have highlighted that there is a real need for critical literacies while learning informally on networks
      • people might not necessarily have the critical literacies required to learn and search independently
      • Learning in my view is not synonymous with accessing information, and requires a level of reflection, analysis, perhaps also of problem solving, creativity and interaction with people to be able to get the best out of the structures and sub-structures of the Internet
      • the majority of people in the northern hemisphere should now have access to technology (so happy to see Rita qualify the statement with “…in the northern hemisphere…”)

      • The people least likely to use the Internet are also the least likely to participate in adult education
      • And I haven’t even spoken about the people on the southern half of the globe, where the access and participation rate to technology and learning is even lower and the group of vulnerable people greater. Should we just leave these people behind?
      • The components that were formulated in Stephen Downes’ vision for a PLE at the start of the PLE project of the National Research Council of Canada are the following: 1. A personal profiler that would collect and store personal information. 2. An information and resource aggregator to collect information and resources. 3. Editors and publishers enabling people to produce and publish artifacts to aid the learning and interest of others. 4. Helper applications that would provide the pedagogical backbone of the PLE and make connections with other internet services to help the learner make sense of information, applications and resources. 5. Services of the learners choice. 6. Recommenders of information and resources.
      • Having been born into a world where personal computers were not a revolution, but merely existed alongside air conditioning, microwaves and other appliances, there has been (a perhaps misguided) perception that the young are more digitally in-tune with the ways of the Web than others
      • Apparently, the students favor search engine rankings above all other factors. The only thing that matters is that something is the top search result, not that it’s legit.
      • many students trusted in rankings above all else
      • researchers found that even in this supposedly savvy minority, none actually followed through to verify the identification or qualifications of the site’s authors
      • students are not always turning to the most relevant clues to determine the credibility of online content
      • Several strands of research demonstrate that displaying a personal interest in students is not only effective as a way to encourage participation and engagement, but necessary for real learning negative emotions such as fear and shame, all too common in the college classroom, retard learning, due to “choking,” the shutting down of higher-order thinking, and the activation of more primitive areas of the brain associated with the fight-or-flight syndrome

        undergraduate students repeatedly mention the importance of one-to-one interaction with instructors. Displaying a personal interest in students is the first step toward demonstrating that community exists within the classroom and across the campus

      • Be available to students in ways that you judge are not too invasive of your personal boundaries

        Encourage and respond to email

        Solicit and respond to student feedback

      • Mid-semester evaluations that you create and use to fine-tune instruction midstream also convey to students that you care what they think and about their learning

        During discussions and other interactions with students, really listen to them, striving to hear what students are really saying; not what we want to hear and/or assume students are saying

      • making connections between academic material and students’ personal experience also conveys an interest in students and their learning.

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    twitter feed

    Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-26

    Categories
    conference PhD research social media

    Summary of PhD progress

    I’m writing this after having read Christina’s post on her thoughts on the PhD process, and following a few of her links to other PhD students who are blogging their own progress. As I’m going through a little slump at the moment, I thought it might be useful to write a short post on where I’m at right now, to review what I’ve done so far.

    A few weeks ago I spent 3 days on a writing workshop with colleagues in my department who are also registered for their PhD’s (there are 4 of us), where I worked on my systematic review (see the proposal). I managed to trim the original 103 articles that I gathered during my first, second and third search rounds, to about 60. Then I went through those 60 with a more critical eye, removing what wasn’t appropriate. Finally I narrowed the list down to 20 articles that we eventually conducted independent critical reviews on, and came to consensus with my supervisor, where we finally agreed on 7 articles that matched my inclusion criteria. The article is now ready to be written up, although I’m uncertain of the format. The outcome of the systematic review will be a peer-reviewed publication that identifies some of the ways in which blended learning has been applied in clinical education, and which will inform the development of my own module (one of the later objectives).

    My fourth year research group has just finished capturing the data they gathered from a survey we drew up together, where they looked at the role of social networks to facilitate reflective learning. This survey forms part of my first objective, as well as the first component of my SAFRI project (which will later include focus group interviews with staff members, and an additional survey of the students). Immediately after conducting the survey, I have also held workshops with 2 classes so far, to facilitate the process of working within the network, and will be completing workshops with the last 2 classes in the next few weeks. Tomorrow the group will submit an outline of the first few sections of a draft article, and I’ll be presenting some tentative results at the SAAHE conference next week (see the abstract).

    I’ve also recently finished a first draft of an article based on a small, wiki-based project I ran in our department last year (you can still comment on it). Strictly speaking it’s unrelated to my PhD as it doesn’t fit into the proposal, but is still work in a related field. Finally, I gave a presentation on PLE’s to the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University. Again, PLE’s are not explicitly addressed in my PhD proposal, but as I’m leaning more and more towards that concept as having great potential in reflective learning, I think it might ultimately end up playing an important part in the project.

    Now that I look back at my progress over the past 6 months, maybe a short break is in order…?

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    twitter feed

    Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-21

    Categories
    diigo learning research teaching

    Posted to Diigo 06/18/2010

      • Salmon’s model moves away from the increasingly dated notion that the effective eLearning can be achieved through static learning objects (Downes 2005), and takes a social learning perspective with particular emphasis on communities of practice, providing a framework to support Wenger’s assertion that “learning cannot be designed: it can only be designed for – that is, facilitated or frustrated” (1998, p. 228).
      • Salmon’s model is also reliant upon scaffolding, extending Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (in Attwell 2006) proposition with the model’s structure implying that the moderator acts as an initial scaffold who gradually shifts responsibility for development to the learning community under their guidance, with learners developing their own scaffolding based on relationships with many within the community, and eventually, beyond the community.
      • Lead by Example
      • It is an essential part of our jobs to model what we would like to see
      • Get Personal
      • Be willing to share of yourself. Share your stories and your life
      • be willing to be open
      • Be Honest
      • you need to be willing to share your thoughts and opinions about things
      • Accept that You’re Human
      • Learn for mistakes and move on
      • Be Knowledgeable and Share
      • Share of yourself and of your passions. Make your presence in a space one that has personality and share what you have
      • Share the things you find online
      • Maintain Consistency
      • Maintaining consistency will allow your students to be comfortable in your space, understanding what happens there and able to concentrate on what they are being asked to do
      • Let it Go
      • Be prepared to see cycles between students and even within the contributions of single students
      • Don’t Give Up
      • How can we change what we are asking them to do in order for them to grow into their roles
      • “My job is to present the material in an interesting and meaningful way,” he would say. “It is the student’s job to learn that material.”

        Implicit in his statement was the idea that it was the student’s role to adjust to the various styles employed by different teachers. Whether the teacher featured a lecture format or a hands-on approach was immaterial – the assumption was that students were the ones who needed to be flexible

      • any failure on the student’s part to master the material was not the responsibility of the teacher
      • students moved along as a group, each doing the same set of assignments, each expected to master the exact same set of learning objectives by a date set forth in the syllabus
      • differentiating for a specific learner was perceived as showing favoritism
      • today’s teacher is expected to adjust to the varied preferences of students so as to maximize the learning potential of each individual in the classroom
      • Personalizing learning involves differentiating the curricula, including expectations and timelines, and utilizing various instructional approaches so as to best meet the needs of each individual
      • The challenge is not so much what those elements consist of but how to piece the elements together to form a cohesive strategy
      • But technology also plays a more important role in the personalization process. Ultimately it is the conduit for teachers to move to a learning approach that features materials developed for each individual student
      • One of the critical elements to a cohesive strategy involves the concept of a learning platform
      • First teachers must have a clear understanding of the learning needs of each student
      • teachers must monitor and assess student progress intently
      • Learning paths must then be created that match the aptitude and learning styles of every individual
      • One of the first elements is increased communication among educators themselves as well as with their individual students
      • That means increased use of email
      • Better yet, it means posting that assignment online for students and parents to access directly
      • No one educator could possibly create unique learning materials for every single student
      • An expectation that all teachers are ready for such steps is destined for failure
      • Whereas in Africa limited infrastructure is producing an information bottleneck, access in the UK is restricted by ‘denial of service’ restrictions placed upon a competent and fast modern system
      • how do we go about managing the risks more effectively to allow NHS staff to access online learning resources and tools which many of us take for granted
      • what processes people perceived as important for knowledge maturing within their organisation and how ell they though these processes were important. The two processes perceived as most important were ‘reflection’ and ‘building relationships’ between people. These were also the two processes seen as amongst the least supported
      • The issue of ‘reflection’ is more complex. e-Portfolio researchers have always emphasised the centrality of reflection to learning, yet it is hard to see concrete examples of how this can be supported
      • the amount of redundant, inconsequential, and outright poor research has swelled in recent decades
      • 40.6 percent of the articles published in the top science and social-science journals (the figures do not include the humanities) were cited in the period 2002 to 2006
      • As a result, instead of contributing to knowledge in various disciplines, the increasing number of low-cited publications only adds to the bulk of words and numbers to be reviewed
      • The avalanche of ignored research has a profoundly damaging effect on the enterprise as a whole. Not only does the uncited work itself require years of field and library or laboratory research. It also requires colleagues to read it and provide feedback, as well as reviewers to evaluate it formally for publication. Then, once it is published, it joins the multitudes of other, related publications that researchers must read and evaluate for relevance to their own work. Reviewer time and energy requirements multiply by the year
      • The pace of publication accelerates, encouraging projects that don’t require extensive, time-consuming inquiry and evidence gathering
      • Questionable work finds its way more easily through the review process and enters into the domain of knowledge
      • Aspiring researchers are turned into publish-or-perish entrepreneurs, often becoming more or less cynical about the higher ideals of the pursuit of knowledge
      • The surest guarantee of integrity, peer review, falls under a debilitating crush of findings, for peer review can handle only so much material without breaking down. More isn’t better. At some point, quality gives way to quantity
      • Several fixes come to mind:
      • First, limit the number of papers to the best three, four, or five that a job or promotion candidate can submit. That would encourage more comprehensive and focused publishing
      • Second, make more use of citation and journal “impact factors
      • Third, change the length of papers published in print: Limit manuscripts to five to six journal-length pages
      • and put a longer version up on a journal’s Web site
      • what we surely need is a change in the academic culture that has given rise to the oversupply of journals
      • Finally, researchers themselves would devote more attention to fewer and better papers actually published, and more journals might be more discriminating
      • the present ‘industrial’ schooling system is fast becoming dysfunctional, neither providing the skills and competences required in our economies nor corresponding to the ways in which we are using the procedural and social aspects of technology for learning and developing and sharing knowledge
      • Personal Learning Environments can support and mediate individual and group based learning in multiple contexts and promote learner autonomy and control
      • The role of teachers in such an environment would be to support, model and scaffold learning
      • Such approaches to learning recognise the role of informal learning and the role of context
      • Schools can only form one part of such collaborative and networked knowledge constellation
      • institutions must rethink and recast their role as part of community and distributed networks supporting learning and collaborative knowledge development
      • the major impact of the uses of new technologies and social networking for learning is to move learning out of the institutions and into wider society
      • This is a two way process, not only schools reaching outwards, but also opening up to the community, distributed or otherwise, to join in collaborative learning processes
      • At the same time new interfaces to computers and networks are likely to render the keyboard obsolescent, allowing the integration of computers and learning in everyday life and activity
    Categories
    education learning teaching

    Notes on podcast from Stephen Downes

    I thought I’d make some notes while listening to this podcast interview from Stephen Downes., where he talks about personal learning environments, problems with e-learning and open vs. closed educational content.

    ————————————

    Mentions Plearn as part of the opening discussion and bio.

    What is a PLE? Compares LMS to PLE. LMS is based around the institution, and when the student leaves the system, they lose access to that learning. Same applies when changing institutions, or learning in different environments. PLE provides access to services and educational services from a personal space, rather than an institutional one.

    Very new category of “learning system” right now, so there are no applications that exist that define a PLE. Rather, it’s a generic collection of tools and concepts.

    Most resources are accessed on the fly, through the browser. Some people have small libraries that they keep locally, but only for backup purposes or content they need to access offline. Students will access lectures as audio and video streams if available. I disagree with the assumption that we’re all connected all the time and that there is no longer a need to download content to be kept locally.

    There’s always going to be a mix of local and remote content that’s relevant for learning. A PLE should support whatever works best / whatever the learner needs in whatever context.

    Discussed the Khan academy and the role of online video (YouTube) as an educational resource. Quality of the video production isn’t as important as the quality of the video content. The problem is that the video format is linear, which means that it consumes time, it isn’t searchable (it’s not random access). You can’t find the specific piece of information you’re looking for. Content can be more efficiently acquired through text and images.

    Videos are also not social or interactive (although video conferences are). Skype conferencing mentioned. Contextual, flexible teaching and learning isn’t really possible when watching video.

    Classrooms are not especially well designed for personal learning “1 size fits 30+”.

    Is artificial intelligence a viable approach to education? “Going to be tricky”. Some components of the concept available in primitive recommender algorithms currently present in Amazon, iTunes, etc. But going to be a long time before true AI is going to be able to truly personalise the learning experience.

    Software will continue to get smarter and understand more and more about what we want to do. It will be able to aggregate, filter, categorise content dynamically.

    Discussion on online identity as a tangent to the above point i.e. that your point of entry into the network (i.e. the browser) would be the software that would aggregate, etc. the content you’re interested in. Downes created a tool that did something like this, but which was subsequently superseded by OpenID. Also a brief mention of OAuth.

    Briefly talked about SCORM / IMS and the Common Cartridge format (i.e. learning objects). Useful for closed organisations’ learning requirements e.g. the military. Not useful for learning content that needs to be interactive and to engage with other environments / scenarios. Doesn’t do much for the social component and is unnecessarily complex in trying to create “units of knowledge”. The best model is the open web. Many companies trying to create common formats, but also lock consumers in.

    Not an easy, decentralised way to create a “learning” management system. But the context there is in managing students or content, not learning. Nothing wrong with the LMS to manage students, but it’s not about learning. How do you give people the freedom to learn in a personal way?

    Ends with some discussion on revenue, profit and commercial aspects of education.

    Categories
    education learning social media teaching technology

    PLE: experiences in personal learning

    Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be invited to present at the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University. I chose Personal Learning Environment’s (PLE’s) as the topic, not because I knew very much about them, but precisely the opposite. Considering that my PhD research is inevitably going to make some use of this idea in some detail at some point, I used the presentation to explore the concept and to deepen my understanding of PLE’s.

    Thank you to Francois and everyone else on the team for the warm welcome yesterday and for the opportunity to share my own experiences in this space, however limited they may be.

    Here’s the abstract and presentation:

    Note: The first part of the presentation tries to contextualise the conversation within the scope of current ideas around the changing nature of education and information technology. The second part of the presentation provides some insight into how I use certain services, devices and concepts within my own PLE. The final part briefly explores challenges within this approach and provides basic guidelines that may facilitate the implementation of a PLE nonetheless.

    Categories
    diigo education learning teaching

    Posted to Diigo 06/08/2010

      • Do not feel free to delete the work done by someone else. If you think something is out of place, or should be deleted, leave a note explaining your reasons
      • “contribute what isn’t there” One of the great things about working with other people who care about the same things as you do is that you get things that aren’t expected. Surprise is a very important part of learning. It is a great testimony to people’s work that their contribution made you think of something else and caused you to go off in another direction
      • “Do the grunt work” Any piece of work is going to be well served by cleaner sentences, more organized bullets, good spacing… that kind of thing
      • “Leave feedback” Create a new section, call it ‘feedback’ or something and just write out what it made you think
      • “wear the skin of the idea” try to follow it’s thinking before criticising it
      • “cheer” Just say “you know, i really enjoyed reading that”
      • What used to be the side show activity of only a few edubloggers now has the attention of researchers, academics, and conferences worldwide. Networked learning is popping up in all sorts of conference and book chapter requests – it’s largely the heart of what’s currently called web 2.0, and I fully expect it [networked learning] will outlive the temporary buzz and hype of all thing 2.0
      • numerous factors are at play here:
      • the tools we use to connect (blogs, wikis, podcast, Facebook, Twitter, Ning)
      • the theories of learning we adopt (connectivism, situated cognition, social constructivism, activity theory)
      • affordances of tools and theories
      • finally the systemic or structural changes required as a result of tools, theories, and affordances
      • We are well on our way in all areas, though systemic change is lagging. But I expect this is a temporary resistance as anomalies build under the existing system and weaknesses become increasingly apparent
      • All in all, it’s a rather delightful time to be in the knowledge, learning, education, technology field
      • Here is our current state:
      • We are actively networking
      • connection forming is natural. It doesn’t need coercion. We do it with language, images, video. We create, express, connect.
      • We are discussing the spaces of learning
      • an ecology, habitat, or studio is simply the space for fostering connections
      • Networks occur within something. They are influenced by the environment and context of an organization, school, or classroom
      • I’ve paid much attention to our role as teachers and instructors, but I’m not satisfied with how the conversation has progressed. I’m rather sick of “sage on stage” and “guide on the side” comparisons. The clear dichotomy chafes
      • the term “network administrator” to describe the role of teachers
      • learners get into trouble. They sometimes walk unproductive paths (though any path leads to at least some learning) that someone with experience can readily direct them around
      • A curator is an expert learner
      • Schooling is a highly perpetuated industry, making it exceedingly difficult to chang
      • The methods I used and the pedagogies I learned in university were based on information scarcity
      • One of the most interesting questions facing educators today is, “What are the pedagogies of information abundant learning environments?
      • many educators are shaping their information environment into a learning landscape, cultivating Personal Learning Networks