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]

tagul

By robynjay On January 19th, 2010

I like visualisation tools and Wordle has proved a nice graphical way to capture the essence of a piece of writing or site.
Tagul (currently free in beta) it claims is more than ‘just a toy’ (referring to Wordle) and is ‘designed to be used on blogs, web pages or any kind of sites as a replacement of ordinary tag clouds’. ‘Each tag in Tagul cloud is linked with an URL and is “clickable” that enables visitors to use it for navigation. Also Tagul utilizes widely used flash platform (instead of less common java platform in Wordle) that is light weight and stores the clouds on a CDN to deliver clouds to wide audience instantly. Tagul has some features that Wordle doesn’t, like custom shapes selection and multiply fonts usage in one cloud.’

So with a bit of fiddling and the install of a Flash plugin I got it working here. I deleted a number of irrelevant tags (verbs etc) and have set it to update each day. Links from the tags go to a Google search so there’s some interesting potential for education. I’m expecting a number of strange tags to creep their way in as a result but we’ll see what happens.