scaffolding learning design

By robynjay On March 3rd, 2011

In my last post from the DEHub summit I’ll cover what was a very interesting keynote by Diana Laurillard from the London Knowledge Lab on ‘The critical role of teachers in optimising technologies for open learning’. Lots to cover in this one…

Diana introduced work on a new tool (starter kit) to support collaborative learning design. Strangely enough I had been describing something similar only weeks before but was totally at a loss how the technology would work, so I’m excited to see how the tool might be adapted for our work in VET.

Diana began by presenting some major challenges:

  • the best people to take forward thinking in L&T are the practitioners themselves however time and funding are lacking and we are NOT going to get this from Governments
  • lack of teacher training and confidence
  • lack of senior staff involvement
  • lack of reward
  • need for documented case studies of good practice
  • dislocation between research and practice
  • top down strategies and policies are not followed through
  • bottom up activity is plentiful but not improving – market driven by software companies and localised

So what to do about it?

  • trust the professionals if we give them the right tools
  • a middle out approach where we focus on supporting teachers as collaborating innovators
  • a learning design support environment providing tools for design, development and sharing
  • focus on an iterative loop to support innovation – sharing learning designs → innovating pedagogic patterns → evaluating learning designs → implementing courses → expanding knowledge of teaching and learning

The aim of the design tool was to:

  • expand knowledge and encourage progression to new methods,
  • encourage thinking outside the box,
  • encourage reflection and sharing,
  • enable teachers to build on the work of peers
  • import existing ‘pedagogical patterns’ of good teaching – patterns of digital versions of what teachers do now
  • model pedagogical and logistical benefits and disadvantages
  • allow play and experimentation, testing in practice
  • allow redesign and adaptation

To do this the form and content are separated; content is stripped out and the pedagogy/design/form is left – fill in the gaps style. Each teacher, regardless of field of study, takes, adapts, improves and gives back. teachers are able to create a new design or import one. A range of outcome categories are presented and a choice of L&T activities (simulations, discussions etc). All properties are editable and can be dragged/dropped onto a timeline and then resized by emphasis/ % of time. The design data is presented via pie charts on the types of learning (practice,inquiry,production,acquisition,discussion) and the implications on cost (staffing etc).

You can try out the draft tool here!

[CC FlickR image shared by Giant Ginkgo]

conflict of interest

By robynjay On March 3rd, 2011

In her DEHub summit presentation Gilly Salmon spoke on continuity and change, and the critical challenges facing us to address both what Governments want vs what learners want, and referred to the work around a new definition of quality and CALF.

Governments are calling for:

  • competition
  • face to face learning contact
  • the pursuit of excellence
  • tight budgets and constrained funding
  • research

What learners really want is:

  • visibility/connectivity – for peers and employers and to make lecturers more visible
  • openness – personalisation, customisation, their own learning pathways, to ask more and prepare better
  • virtualisation – using many media
  • purposefulness – tell me what I’ve learned and what I can do with it
  • expression – search, research, express

[cc FlickR image shared by mikebaird]

on openness

By robynjay On March 3rd, 2011

‘If you don’t like change you are going to like irrelevance even less’

Notes and reflections on the Openness panel @ the DEHub Summit.

There was quite a lot of talk around Open Education REsources (OER) at the event so it was good to see this panel focusing more broadly on openness in general.

Terry Anderson began by speaking on ‘open scholars’ who he said:

  • are transparent with a key critique element
  • self archive
  • do open research and openly apply research exposing the learning that happened
  • filter and share with others
  • support emerging open learning alternatives
  • publish in open journals
  • assign open textbooks
  • induce open students
  • teach open courses
  • build networks
  • are change agents

Rory McGreal reminded that one third of internet connectivity in the world is ONLY via mobile devices and that our current model of elite education is simply not sustainable:

  • a balancing act is needed between bandwidth and performance etc
  • fluid design is needed to enable displays for different screens etc
  • OERs include games – titanic, mudball wall..

He asked how do we recognise what people learn on their own?

Don Alcott reminded that nothing is ‘free’ – so who does the work? who funds OER? – and stressed difficulties in a climate of competition and closed learning organisations.

Grainne Conole stressed the need to move from a focus on content and resources to practices, activity and use in open education (hear, hear!). Shae introduced her projects based in cloudworks and asked:

  • If learners and their context have changed, we need new approaches to L&T. How can we harness sophisticated tools and OERs
  • What are the quality implications?
  • Will a focus on OER practices lead to improvements in quality and innovation?
  • Will openness enable or restrict social inclusion?

I’ve pondered the last point myself for years.

Are we producing an elite group of learners?

The assumption that any potential learner is capable of finding, filtering, engaging with OERs and establishing connections is unfortunately absurd. So what is needed to support this – community OER mentors and Govt funding/resourcing?

[CC FlickR image shared by Paul Downey]

down to earth portfolios

By robynjay On February 27th, 2011

On day 2 of DEHub I enjoyed a workshop by Debra Hoven (now at Athabasca) on e-portfolios. Although plagued by internet problems (will conference venues EVER get it right!) that meant we were unable to build ideas in Debra’s wikispace (some great resources here) it was an engaging conversation across a very diverse group. Debra’s approach was very much one of student choice/ownership and a focus on narrative/ digital storytelling.

Here’s a few notes I took during the session:

  • E-portfolios are about the development of personal ‘brand’ not about proving something
  • A purposeful and cumulative aggregation of digital items/ artefacts – ideas, reflections, evidence, feedback
  • How to select? – choose 5 artefacts and justify selection
  • The repurposing of content has implications for use in recognition/RPL
  • We must be careful of validity – what is actually being assessed? the ability to reflect? technical skills?
  • Attempts to implement an e-portfolio system that is scalable and manageable assume something being DONE TO students
  • The benefits of being electronic (discussion) – portability, varied voice, connections, multimodality, updating anywhere/anytime, easier, variable access, sorting/categorisation potential
  • Avoid showcasing (as opposed to assessment) which tends to only highlight the best aspects – encourage discussion of things that didn’t work
  • How can we scaffold reflection? – this is particularly of interest to me as I continue to experience teachers, let alone students, who lack the ability to engage in critical reflection around their practice

Debra’s students shared the following pointers for supporting the use of e-portfolios:

  • Provide top 10 tips and best practices
  • Give examples of model e-portfolios
  • provide examples of artefacts
  • develop tutorials
  • provide access to one person who has completed a portfolio
  • offer videos of past students discussing how they used their portfolio to gain employment
  • set up facilitator/student discussion forums
  • record podcasts from staff explaining uses and how assignments are relevant to the portfolio

[CC FlickR image shared by nickrate]

3G pedagogy

By robynjay On February 27th, 2011

In his DEHub summit keynote Terry Anderson spoke on the technical challenges and opportunities of 3 generations of distance (in its loosest sense) education pedagogies. It was a balanced, eclectic approach that aligned to our approach in designing the PiE course at SWSI (moodle based).

He began by explicitly stating his values:

  • student control and freedom
  • continued educational opportunities as a human right, and that
  • we can continuously improve the quality effectiveness, appeal, cost and time efficiency of the learning experience

and his belief that ‘technology sets the beat and timing, and pedagogy defines what you do with it’.

The 3 generations – behaviourist, constructivist and connectivist – in themselves and their definitions were nothing new but he did a good job at positioning them as an integrated approach to meet the needs of life long learners in complex contexts.

A behavourist approach was presented as useful for

  • logically coherent self-paced study
  • context free skills and concepts
  • transmissable knowledge
  • presenting multiple representations
  • a support for student modelling and adaptation
  • reflection amplifiers
  • highly scalable teaching
  • reducing insecurity

Interestingly he placed most OER content in this bucket.

A constructivist approach is useful for:

  • presenting multiple perspectives
  • a focus on negotiation
  • metacognition
  • small group learning
  • dialogue
  • less structure
  • google docs, locked down spaces, discussion forums, voicethread

and a connectivist approach for:

  • learner control
  • highly scalable
  • emergent, soft skills related to real world engagement
  • connection forming
  • unpredictability
  • non-sequential

Terry encouraged a focus on NETWORKS of practice (as opposed to CoPs) and asked the audience ‘what is YOUR footprint online for others to connect with?’ and stressed the need to:

  • challenge our assessment models
  • use the network to filter/manage connections
  • rethink learning as a process of filtering and pruning
  • stop trying to MANAGE learning in a connectivist model but trust self-based accountability

My question is how do students learn the underpinnings of a connectivist approach to learning – the ability to filter, prune, connect?

Are some individuals destined to be excluded from the benefits this approach offers? What are the implications of this?

Terry’s slides:

what game are you in?

By robynjay On February 21st, 2011

Most of last week was spent at the DEHub/ODLAA Education 2011-2021 Summit: Global challenges and perspectives of blended and distance learning here in Sydney. I’ll try to share some of the highlights here followed by a couple of session specific posts.

To begin I was intrigued by the choice of terminology in the title and the purposeful exclusion of ‘e-learning’ and while we did on the whole get it over and done with on day 1, there WAS a lot of wasting of time and posturing around definitions. We should be flexibly meeting the needs and interests of ALL learners via a blend of methodologies and strategies whether they be distanced from the actual physical institution (physically, socially etc) OR within its walls. It is absurd to think that models of ‘distance education’ that abounded in the 1980s when I first studied independently, and which I was horrified to hear described as “the glory days of distance education”, which comprised solely of large bundles of text based readings and study guides, are indeed models that should be still in place today. (At the time of was finishing my education degree while teaching casually on Melville IslandI had no contact with my peers or lecturer apart from comments on returned assignments). Efforts to maintain a viable position for outdated models of provision came across as little more than geriatric academics attempting to remain relevant. Of course we have taken from those old models what worked; of course they were better than nothing in their day.

During the Day 1 morning panel it was revealed that some employers and in fact some countries are refusing to recognise qualifications completed via virtual labs and online study. Some are calling for the modality of courses to be listed in the academic transcript. Interesting given the apparent growth in Open Universities including the OU of Nepal discussed by Mohamed Ally on Day 3. Mark Brown from Massey Uni raised the current NZ policy stance that ‘real education happens on campus’ and the implications of this for a country where 80% of DE learners are over 25, two thirds are women and it is the preferred mode for 35% of Maori learners. Unfortunately he says ‘Government is not interested in personal narrative’ when it comes to policy decision making. Mark also discussed trends in the US for corporate ownership of universities (Kaplan owned by the Washington Post and the Walmart/Uni partnership as egs) as the commoditisaton of education.

Yoni Ryan raised issues around the reactive (as opposed to interactive) nature of current online design, comparing the common current model of making a few minor LMS content tweaks and a few comments in discussion boards, to both private US institutions like the Uni of Phoenix where new online course development is supported with 10-20 hrs/week over 5 months and also to previous DE team development models.

Throughout the conference there was a call to separate research intensive and teaching intensive roles in Higher Ed.

Terry Anderson prefaced his Day 1 keynote with the values of:

  • student control and freedom
  • continued education opportunities as a basic human right, and that
  • we can continually improve the quality, effectiveness, appeal, cost and time efficiency of the learning experience

He spoke of 3 generations of distance education pedagogies – I’ll return to this in a later post.

On Day 2 I enjoyed a workshop by Debra Hoven from Athabasca on e-portfolios, a panel on ‘Openness’, and a presentation by Gilly Salmon on ‘Creating viable futures for learning’ which I’ll return to in separate posts. Social inclusion finally raised its head!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how teachers can be supported, what scaffolds can be created, to engage in quality learning design so I found Diana Laurillard’s keynote – ‘The critical role of teachers in optimising technologies for open learning’ – very interesting. Diana spoke about a (quite sophisticated) starter kit to allow teachers to share learning designs adaptable across different content areas – a creative design starter kit.

In Day 3s afternoon keynote Mohamed Ally spoke on Mobile Learning and asked are we ready for ‘education in the pocket’?. He related the story of a very rudimentary Sth African school lacking in physical learning materials but where the teacher said “we have cell phones”. He reported research indicating that while (in 2007) 94% of students were  ready for mobile learning only 60% of staff were, and last weeks Australian newspaper research outcomes indicating that Uni dropout in Australia was largely due to poor teaching, course content, life issues and paid work commitments. He is working to support the development of the Open University of Nepal where students will be given mobile devices if required. Mohamed introduced a new digital divide definition: where learners have the technology but not the learning materials and opportunities.

I have to say the panel session ‘Anticipating the future’ following was characterised with a large degree of doom and gloom:

  • lean and mean policy
  • funding games and manipulation
  • innovation ONLY if it fits within Government directions
  • staffing issues
  • a continuing emphasis on research at the detriment of teaching
  • increased casualisation of teaching staff to fill research buy out gaps
  • private provider competition (focusing on teaching not research)

Phil Ice provided the Day 4 morning keynote and spoke initially on two technologies that should change our practice: Android 2.2 allowing us to work within different form factors, and Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) that will allow interactive experiences and engagement with limited/ variable connectivity. He also spoke of the role of analytics and a tool developed to track student engagement and risk.

And finally Grainne Conole spoke on ‘Social exclusion or inclusion in a WEb2 world’: digital literacy, community, sociality, digital signatures. See also and Cloudworks

[CC FlickR image shared by robynejay]