I have restructured the blog to make it easier for me to reflect on the different areas of teaching, making and learning I am involved with as well as making it easier for viewers to navigate. My (sometimes) weekly summaries of the (nearly completed) module ‘Technology Enhanced Practices and Debates – H800’, a module on the Open University MA in Online &  Distance Education, have now been condensed as a post to make way for new and more frequent postings for my current module ‘The E-Learning Professional – H808’.

MA ODE – H800 ‘Technology Enhanced Practices and Debates’ February – September 2012

It has been an interesting week partly because of the content of this weeks activities but also my own personal experience of deeper learning. I have been working on a joint presentation for a JISC conference in a couple of week –  ‘Using Social Networking: more than engagement, a valuable research tool that fosters enquiry, collaboration and analytical thinking’. The content of this is also being developed for a conference later in the year Technology and community enhanced practice: Tweet, Pin and Scoop – Creative approaches to engaging in and sharing research. In developing the content for these shared events and also working on aspects of it collaboratively I was able to make sense of a lot of ideas and concepts that had been floating around in a slightly unconnected way. Part of this week was about looking back at previous weeks with a different slant, suddenly things have started to make more sense and in turn have fed directly into my presentations. The big concepts make sense I just need to be able to recite all my sources…

This week I wanted to include excerpts from an activity where we were examining John T.E Richardson’s paper ‘ Students’ approaches to Learning and Teachers’ Approaches to Teaching Higher Education’

  • Do you think the innovations described in Weeks 8/9 as ‘learning design’ would induce more desirable approaches to studying on the part of the students?

The ‘learning design’ study we did made me reassess whether the design process is student centred or not. I would agree with the other views here that considered this to make a significant difference. I do think that learning design should allow for a blend of activities as it is a varied ‘diet’ that allows for maximum accessibility and opportunities for different types of learning experience.

  • Compare Marton’s idea that some students regard learning as something that just happens to them with Sfard’s account that you read in Week 3.

In simple terms Marton describes Deep learning as Active and Surface learning as Passive. These terms can be transferred easily to Sfard’s summary ‘The Metaphorical Mappings’. A student will become more aware with deep learning/Active/Participation Metaphor of other students’ learning and how they exist in relation to that. I would consider this self awareness as a reflection process not facilitated by surface learning. In contrast Surface learning/passive/Acquisition metaphor is a consumption of knowledge and does not prompt change in how that knowledge is used or shared.

  • Do the concepts, theories and evidence described in my paper fit your own experience as a learner?

I remember finding Physics particularly difficult because we were told that ‘X happened because of Y’ and that by accepting this we could answer the question and pass. My problem was that I needed to understand why this happened rather than accept it and made things more complex than they needed to be. With reflection I wonder if this was an attempt at deeper learning that for the level we were being taught was not appropriate.

What I have noticed with my children being at school is that they have much more awareness of what is happening to them – learning objectives are made clear as well as the strategies for learning. This empowers them I think but I hesitate to say if it means they are experiencing deeper learning – is deeper learning necessarily a higher level skill?I find surface learning difficult because I know I have a bad memory for things and have to internalise experiences/facts for them to have any use (See above note about recalling sources).

  • If you have (or have had) a role in teaching or training, do the concepts, theories and evidence described in my paper fit your own experience as a teacher or trainer?

I think it makes the role of teaching/facilitator interesting – with deeper learning students sometimes don’t know what they are learning (because the learning is beyond reciting facts) and it is only at the end of the process (academic year sometimes) that they might realise what they have been taught. With surface learning it is easier for them to measure themselves – they have learnt some facts from an expert, recited them and have a numerical score that tells them how well they have learnt (or been taught!) something.

  • Do you find my argument convincing?

Yes  – I also thought about what the teacher understands of the learner as an important element and also that it can be a problem when the student decides what is important to learn and what is not needed based on the pre-conceived ideas which can be the biggest hurdle to deeper learning.

The title of the H800 Module ‘Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates’ was at the heart of this week’s activities and we examined discussion and debating techniques particularly structure and effectiveness for change. I found the week a challenge mainly due to the amount of forums that we were expected to engage with as well as amount of content to sift through. It became necessary to use the forums to find out what others thought of the material rather than rigorously go through all of it independently, however It can feel like I have not properly absorbed the information and threads often get steered in a particular direction and can feel unresolved. This is mainly to do with time constraints which forces compromise.

I was particularly interested with the discussion around OERs and found myself being much more critical of them than before, mainly because we were considering there use globally. After some reflection I felt that OERs could make a digital divide wider because it was those that are better equipped to access them that benefit most from them. The role of facilitator/educator is still a vital part to contextualise or make appropriate resources for the learner. The key to successful OERs could be that they are used, adapted and re-purposed and remain open in their newly adapted form and that they are purposeful, useful and viable.

This week introduced me to some online resources and social bookmarking tools and I have not used before Citizendium, Delicious, Diigo and Wikipedia. The emphasis this week was on sharing and re-purposing information but I could also see the huge benefits of the ‘private’ research and archiving aspects of Diigo. I can see myself using Diigo a lot, particularly for researching essays and even partly constructing essays using the sticky notes and highlighting functions. Interesting to think about re-purposing as adding value or context and as an evolutionary process.

The main focus of the week for me was resurecting this blog – thinking about it’s identity and comiting to one place where I can explore, record and share all elements of my ‘practice’. By taking the decision that the focus for the blog is for sharing Teaching, Making and Learning has made that easier and more likely that I will keep it going and build on it. So I am not concerned that I may be posting Textile research, student, work, academic conferences, MA research/reflection, may own art practice together…

I enjoyed having two weeks together as this gave a bit more breathing space and time for more reflection. For me thinking about Learning Design and the Creative Design Process was interesting as there are many parallels to both processes. Both require research, collaboration and evaluation techniques. I thought the London Pedagogy Planner had potential to help with the planning of schemes and activities for modules but on the whole the tools were most successful if used in conjunction with other tools/methods.
The tools also helped me to consider the emphasis that might me made on the learner, teaching method or technology in Learning Design. Setting up a Flash debate on Cloudworks was fun and despite a few glitches got going and enabled me to examine the sometimes subtle differences in communicating via closed and open forum spaces. Our debate can be viewed and contributed to here – Changing to a new technology is hard?

This week was partly a recovery from the first assignment but also an opportunity to reflect on what we had been asked to do and the first block we had completed. I was interested to see Gilly Salmon’s 5 stage model as part of our discussions for this week as I had stumbled across this in some additional reading I had done and used it in my assignment. Although it was optional I really enjoyed watching on YouTube the TV series ‘Triumph of the Nerds’ based on  Robert X. Cringely’s, Accidental Empires (1996). The three part series gave me a real insight into the evolution of technologies and vision behind Apple and Microsoft.

The week made me think about how I participate in forums after we examined the ‘interpersonal action-learning cycle’ and I posted the following:

I discuss the H800 content with colleagues at work because I know they will find it interesting and it also helps me to form my own understanding of the content – the learning or understanding is not immediate and it is through extended discussion and others views you eventually define your own position perhaps?

With forums this is sometimes a more drawn out process and I am generally finding that It is easier to put a formed response to the task first and then respond to others. when I was researching how students use forums I found an article by Roger Mason who notes that ‘students engage with the problem content, rather than with the tutor or other students’ (Mason 2011 p. 258 ). When threads have been woven together I find it easier to see the discussion more clearly – I need to develop my summarising skills and be more aware of the ‘cycle’.

Mason, R.B. (2011) ‘Student engagement with, and participation in, an e-forum’, Educational technology and society, vol.14, no.2, pp.258-268

This was quite an intense week and my reflection for this is based on me looking back through forum posts made some weeks ago now. With the benefit of what I know now (I am now in week 11) I can see that we are revisiting and reinforcing themes from this week throughout the course. At the time we focused on levels of participation a particular delivery methods might encourage and the (type of) learning that occurs. The Citizen approach with the Evolution MegaLab project was not something that I had examined before and is a good example of how technology enables wider participation in this type of research. Our examination this week of the Lecture as a method of delivery also prompted lots of discussion about when the learning takes place and the quality of that learning takes place. Perhaps the learning is in the actions that follow the delivery of information.

The week looked at many other sources and I particularly enjoyed examining the use of Audio in education with interesting case studies that both saw shifts in how audio was introduced and how it was eventually developed into educational resources. I was interested in the relationship between the technology, facilitator and learner and how this was critical to confident practice.

Deciding to move house the same day you start an OU course demonstrates some poor planning… I was playing catch up a lot this week and although I had familiarised myself with the site and forums it took a while to get the feel of forums and how the information was set out. I had some issues with connectivity but looked on this positively as an additional learning experience (curve). Reading posts on the forum and not being able to easily contribute was frustrating as I wanted to get involved, but because I was coming in later than everyone else (or so it seemed), there is a feeling that all the main points are made and you have a slightly harder job making sense of all the threads.

The rest of the week comprises of me finding the odd spots in the new house that will allow me to read and post on my i-phone, an hour here and there at work, printing out for reading later and downloading content to read later were all strategies I employed. It wasn’t an easy week but it got me thinking about accessibility, usability, the benefits and constraints of using mobile devices and it has really made me appreciate the laptop and broadband (even if it is a low bandwidth) I am now using.


Author: feltlikeit

Artist & Lecturer

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