Learners now have ownership of technology-enhanced learning

This post is an excerpt from a submitted essay for MA Online and Distance Education H808. The excerpt states my position in relation to learners’ ownership of technology-enhanced learning and uses my experiences of being a student on H808 as a context for this.

Learners now have ownership of technology-enhanced learning

Learners’ relationships with learning as well as technology will vary greatly and are dependent on social, economic, geographic factors as well as age, experience, level of course if applicable and what the expected outcomes of learning are. I consider ownership to go beyond the physical owning of technology tools and mean autonomy, control, confidence and sense of personal direction, arguably for any learning as well as technology-enhanced learning. I have interpreted technology-enhanced to mean the use of devices, tools and web that learners may use to research, communicate, store, retrieve, construct, share, develop, and reflect, information, ideas and resources.

A sense of autonomy or ownership the learner has, needs to operate within some given parameters. I would suggest that the more flexible or community based the parameters are, the more ownership the learners operating within that community will have. Because web 2.0 technologies often align so well with good pedagogy and increased participation it could be argued that there is an increased sense of ownership with technology-enhanced learning (Conole, 2008). Technology-enhanced learning environments perhaps allow students to have more ownership over their learning because of the variance and freedoms not afforded by purely face-to-face contact. It is the blend of learning, diversity and richness of environments that allow for choice and ownership and therefore has implications for practitioners in how they design and construct environments that allow this.

Although using personalised tools does not guarantee integration and full ownership within institutions, which Conole (ibid) describes as a ‘mismatch’ between what the institution may offer and what students use, learners are able to blur the social function of devices and tools with formal learning. In the context of using discussion forums, Conole states that this suggests that social networks are being created to support learning ‘tailored to their particular needs and using the technologies which suit them rather than being constrained’ (Ibid). Within the tutor group on H800 we produced a wiki page on tools and technologies, identifying whether we used them socially and/or formally.

Ownership image

Fig 1 snapshot from H800 group wiki ‘uses of mobile devices’

The section of the wiki (figure 1) shows formal and informal ways the Ipad/tablet has been used and how it crosses professional and social uses.

With many of the activities I have completed on H800 like constructing wikis, contributing to forums and blogging I would agree that collectively as a group we had more ownership over what and how we were learning together. In this sense we are learners and we have ownership over our learning so collectively as learners we have ownership but do not own it. If we consider a learners’ use and ownership of technology within the wider context of the course content, teacher and other students, which influence outcomes, the strength of ownership emerges from the strength of the content, other students and/or the teacher, ‘fundamental to Web 2.0 practice is that no one individual is expert, rather they are part of a social network’ (ibid).

I find Etienne Wenger’s (1998) ideas on communities of practice engaging and convincing, particularly that ‘communities of practice are already involved in the design of their own learning because ultimately they will decide what they need to learn’, his relationship between the local and global: ‘no community can fully design the learning of another. And at the same time: No community can fully design its own learning’ demonstrates the complex nature of relationships within the community (ibid). Applied to students’ ownership of technology-enhanced learning, students have ownership over their learning and technology-enhanced learning within the context and emerging contexts of the community of practice they belong. But the issues with this are ones ownership of learning is dependent, to a certain extent, on others in the community. When others have choices and ownership of their learning they may not be compatible. It appears that there is a tension that exists within communities that is managed outside of student choices and preferences, ultimately the role of the teacher and the assessment criteria own the process as well.

There needs to be a balance between learners having choice and freedom to construct their Personalised Learning Environments and what will work in the context of the activity, course or institution. H800 has introduced many different tools and technologies both in the context of how others learn and teach as well as how I can enhance my own learning. The ownership I have over my own technology-enhanced learning has come from the choices I have made, what I use and what I have rejected. What I choose is based on what I find appropriate at the time as well as what suits my own style of learning. However it is the guidance and structure of the course that has introduced me to most of these and it is the action of making selective choices that gives me a sense of ownership. My reasons for taking to some applications rather than others is similar to Martin Weller ‘it is a complex mix of personality, emotional response to interface, perceived need, timing, motivation’ (Weller, 2007)

With vast choices made by learners, David Hopkins (2009) blog has a collection of peoples PLEs demonstrating the diversity of PLE profiles, one of the key issues is how to integrate students constructed PLEs into institutional VLEs/LMSs to enable continued ownership over tools, resources and processes in the learning experience. The difficulty is whether this is possible, and if not, considering ways in which to make different systems work to benefit the learner. Niall Sclater describes the interoperability of PLEs into Managed Learning Systems as a ‘utopian vision’ however it is in the strategy at policy level that institutions should be prioritizing ‘enhancing flexibility and choice for learners’, (Sclater, 2008), which would suggest a shift in how students take further ownership over their own learning environments. Even if full integration is a way off, it should not be an all or nothing approach but there are implications for how the integration is designed for in activity design and assessment. One of the key issues is the loss of ownership that can occur in the transition between informal and formal learning and that it is important to examine how learners’ PLEs and learning preferences can be accommodated in the context of institutions VLEs/LMSs. This might be regarding the compatibility of tools, decisions about which tools to use or whether to minimise the functionality of a tool.

Mobile technologies and web 2.0, as previously discussed can blur the boundaries between formal and informal learning, John Pettit and Kulkuska-Hulme uses the metaphor of territories but questions whether the two can be bridged because of issues such as ownership. He makes the point that ‘being driven by users’ is one of the more distinctive and interesting aspects of web/mobile 2.0 and asks us if students are able to bridge the territories ‘will they sill enjoy- and still own – what they find on the other side? ‘(Pettit and Kulkuska-Hulme 2011 p.205) I think it could be the overlap, blurring, dovetailing or invisibility of the difference between the professional and personal that shows ownership of the learning process because it indicates the distinctions and choices that learners are making about what works best for them, what tools they use, what they use them for and with which devices and methods they access them.

The idea that ‘the curriculum becomes whatever you are interested in’ (Weller 2009), is interesting and outside of the context of an educational institution I would agree with this, web 2.0 and mobile learning have enabled learners to construct their own learning and be part of communities much more easily. However, the issues arise when you are trying to manage a group of students and/or make sure that assessment objectives are met through the learning outcomes. Students may have more ownership of the technology that enhances their learning because the methods and experiences align well with good practice, but unless this can be recognised in more formal ways to meet assessment and learning outcomes it becomes problematic. (Conole 2008). In a recent white paper it was stated that ‘the challenge of education is no longer about delivery of knowledge: it is about designing environments, tools and activities for learners to construct knowledge’ (Mwanza-Simwami et al, 2011 p.5) the key issue is how to design for students so they can construct their learning.

Therefore, ownership of technology needs to be guided and facilitated ‘Learners can, of course, interact directly with content that they find in multiple formats, and especially on the web, however many choose to have their learning sequenced, directed, and credentialed through the assistance of a teacher’ (Anderson 2003 p.9). The teacher through quality control, support, assessment, guidance, structure, motivation, organisation, navigation and signposting help the learner to take ownership over their technology-enhanced learning. It is teachers who design or provide the initial context for learning to happen; ‘a context has to be reconstructed and participation invited through the use of activities, structured formats (…) these opportunities for new modes of learning and engagement require a conceptualisation of technology as embedded in practices through which contexts for learning are constructed’ (Thorpe, 2009 p. 130).

The implications are that levels of support need to be robust but sensitive enough to cater for the differing needs of learners and give students confidence so that increased autonomy and ownership can be developed. There are an overwhelming amount of technology tools on the web and learners need to be introduced to them in order for them to make their choices, this in a sense is helping learners to construct their own PLEs – ‘The process and tools are overwhelming to students if presented all at once. As with any instructional design, the teacher determines the pace at which the students best assimilate each new learning tool.’(Drexler, 2010). Students need to be introduced to different tools and methods and encouraged to take ownership outside of their usual choices, skills for improved ownership;

  • Networking presence
  • Collaborating
  • Triangulating evidence
  • Contributing to forums/online discussion
  • Drilling down into sources
  • Using digital libraries
  • Using social media for research

In the context of learning that will be assessed within an institution, ownership is something that needs to be permitted, supported and perhaps negotiated to some extent. John Pettit describes this as ‘complexities of power and ownership that practitioners need to negotiate if they are to create institutional spaces where learners can find their own voice.’ (Pettit, 2009).

References

A2d: Sclater/Weller podcast (2009), ‘Speakers: John Pettit, Martin Weller and Niall Sclater’, podcast The Open University. Available from http://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=13610&section=4.5 (accessed 8 August 2012)

Albion, P.R., Loch, B., Mula, J.M. and Maroulis, J. (2010) ‘Preparedness for flexible access to learning materials: how ready are university students and staff?’ in Steel, C.H., Keppell, M.J., Gerbic, P. and Housego, S. (eds) Curriculum, Technology and Transformation for an Unknown Future, Proceedings ascilite Sydney 2010 (pp.25–35). Available from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ conferences/ sydney10/ Ascilite%20conference%20proceedings%202010/ Albion-full.pdf

Anderson, T. (2003) ‘Getting the mix right again: an updated and theoretical rationale for interaction’, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol.4, no.2; also available online at http://www.irrodl.org/ index.php/ irrodl/ article/ view/ 149

Beetham, H. (2005) ‘Personalization in the curriculum: a view from learning theory’, in C. Yapp and S. de Freitas (eds) Personalizing Learning in the 21st Century, London: Network Education Press, pp. 17–24.

Beetham, H. (2007) ‘An approach to learning activity design’ in Beetham, H. and Sharpe, R. (eds) Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age, pp.26–40, Oxford, RoutledgeFalmer.

Beetham, H. and Sharpe, R. (2007) ‘An introduction to rethinking pedagogy for a digital age’ in Beetham, H. and Sharpe, R. (eds) Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering E-learning, Abingdon, Routledge.

Conole, G. (2011) ‘Stepping over the edge: the implications of new technologies for education’ in Lee, M.J.W. and McLoughlin, C. (eds) Web 2.0-based E-learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching, Hershey, PA, IGI Global; also available online at http://www.igi-global.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ gateway/ contentowned/ chapter.aspx?titleid=45034&accesstype=infosci

Conole, G. (2008) ‘New schemas for mapping pedagogies and technologies’, Ariadne, Issue 56, July 2008, http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res20020

Conole, G., Laat, Maarten de, Dillon, T. and Darby, J. (2008) ‘“Disruptive technolgies”, “pedagogical innovation”: What’s new? Findings from an in-depth study of students’ use and perception of technology’ Computers and Education, vol. 50, pp. 511-524

Drexler, W. (2010)The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy’. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 369-385. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet26/drexler.html

Economic and Social Research Council (2008) ‘Education 2.0? Designing the Web for Teaching and Learning, a Commentary by the Technology Enhanced Learning phase of the Teaching and Learning Research programme’, Economic and Social Research Council; also available online at http://www.tlrp.org/ pub/ documents/ TELcomm.pdf

Haythornthwaite, C. (2008) ‘Ubiquitous Transformations’. Paper presented at the ‘Making the Transition to Ubiquitous Learning’ symposium for the Networked Learning Conference, Halkidiki, Greece, May 5–6, 2008.

HEFCE (2009) ‘Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology.  A revised approach to HEFCE’s strategy for e-learning’  Accessed from www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2009/09_12/

Hopkins, D.  2009 ‘PLE / Personal Learning Environment: What’s yours like?’ blog entry posted 10 December 2009. Available from http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/web-2-0/ple-personal-learning-environment-whats-yours-like/ (accessed 4 August 2012)

Kukulska-Hulme, A., Pettit, J., Bradley, L., Carvalho, A.A., Herrington, A., Kennedy, D. and Walker, A. (2011) ‘Mature students using mobile devices in life and learning’, International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, vol.3, no.1, pp.18–52; also available online at http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ login?url=http://dx.doi.org/ 10.4018/ jmbl.2011010102

Laing, C., Robinson, A., Johnson, V. (2005). ‘Managing the Transition into Higher Education: An on-line Spiral Induction’ Active Learning in Higher Education. 6 (3), 243-255.

Luckin, R., du Boulay, B., Smith, H., Underwood, J., Fitzpatrick, G., Holmberg, J., Kerawalla, L., Tunley, H., Brewster, D. & Pearce, D. (2005). ‘Using Mobile Technology to Create Flexible Learning Contexts’ Journal of Interactive Media in Education  2005(22).

Minocha, S. and Thomas, P.S. (2007) ‘Collaborative learning in a wiki environment: experiences from a software engineering course’, New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, vol.13, no.2, pp.187–209; also available online at http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ login?url=http://www.tandfonline.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ doi/ abs/ 10.1080/ 13614560701712667

Mwanza-Simwami , Daisy; Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes; Clough, Gill; Whitelock, Denise; Ferguson, Rebecca and Sharples, Mike (2011). ‘Methods and models of next generation technology enhanced learning – White Paper’. In: Alpine Rendezvous 2011, 28-29 March 2011, La Clusaz, France. Accessed online http://oro.open.ac.uk.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/29056/1/Methods_and_models_of_next_generation_TEL.pdf

Pettit, J. and Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2011) ‘Mobile 2.0: crossing the border into formal learning?’ in Lee, M.J.W. and McLoughlin, C. (eds) Web 2.0-based E-learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching, Hershey, PA, IGI Global.

Pettit, J. (2009). ‘The cachet of constraint: learners, ownership and power’. In Same places, different spaces. Proceedings ascilite Auckland 2009.

http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/pettit.pdf

Revere, L, Kovach. J V. (2011) ‘ Online Technologies for Engaged Learning A Meaningful Synthesis for Educators Online’ Technologies for Engaged Learning The Quarterly Review of Distance Education Vol. 12, No. 2, 2011

Sclater, N. (2008) ‘Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments, and the Future of Learning Management Systems’, Educause Center for Applied Research, Research Bulletin, vol. 2008, no.13.

Selwyn, N. (2008) ‘An investigation of differences in undergraduates’ academic use of the internet’, Active Learning in Higher Education, vol.9, no.11, pp.11–22; also available online at http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ login?url=http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1177/ 1469787407086744

Thorpe, M. (2009) ‘Technology-mediated learning contexts’ in Edwards, R., Biesta G. and Thorpe, M. (eds) Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching, London, Routledge, pp.119–32.

Thorpe, M. (2008). ‘Effective online interaction: Mapping course design to bridge from research to practice’. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(1), 57-72. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet24/thorpe.html

Vernon, J. 2012 ‘What’s your ‘personal learning environment’ or PLE? Is it like Facebook? Will it change with fashion?’ blog entry posted 18 June 2012. Available from http://mymindbursts.com/2012/06/18/whats-your-personal-learning-environment-or-ple-is-it-like-facebook-will-it-change-with-fashion/ (accessed 4 August 2012)

Weller, M. (2009) ‘Using learning environments as a metaphor for educational change’, On the Horizon.

Weller, M. (2007) ‘My personal work/leisure/learning environment’, blog entry posted 6 December 2007. Available from http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2007/12/my-personal-wor.html (Accessed 12 August 2012)

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

 

Podcasting part 2: Making a Podcast

I eventually decided to use Garageband software to record my podcast(s) because this was software I already had on the computer and I was having some technical difficulties with Audacity. This was a much simpler process as I was able to export the audio as Mp3 files without having to use Lame in addition to Audacity. The first podcast was scripted because I wanted to say something specific and was not confident I would be able to get everything across that I had wanted to, I was also referring to a specific quotation. I reflected in my podcast that more experience, analysis and experimentation would be needed to help me to gain confidence in making one without a script. Even scripted, it was difficult, probably more difficult in some ways than just talking. I became aware of the voice patterns I was making, the wrong emphasis being made at times as well as the awkward and stilted moments.

I discussed the ‘explaining voice’ in my podcast which was fun to be talking about, especially when I was probably demonstrating it so badly! This in itself has enabled me to consider what the ‘explaining voice’ might mean in more depth as well as give me an insight into the nuances of recording audio. I made some notes straight after the final version was recorded, I think there must have been about ten attempts before I settled with the final one and straight after this I made an unscripted podcast which analysed my experience. I found the analysis recording really useful to do because I was able to examine the ‘explaining voice’ ideas further through demonstration as well as being able to reflect upon my experience.

Out of both experiences I preferred the second, unscripted recording, but would have struggled to do this with the initial content I was communicating. Perhaps this emphasises the importance of selecting content to podcast that you have a complete sense of ownership over or are able to talk to your audience rather than from a sheet of paper. I felt that reading the script was a passive experience for me and this came across and made this a less engaging podcast. In order to develop the sense of learning emerging and being constructed together, between learner and speaker, the words need to happen spontaneously rather than be rehearsed.

The podcasts can be listened to here:

Podcasts link

References:

O’Connor, M. (2010) ‘The learning and teaching partnership of the community radio and tertiary education sectors at radio Adelaide, 2SER and 2MCE’, Electronic Journal of Learning and Teaching (E-JoLT) Issue 6, August. 

Podcasting part 1.

I have experimented with recording my voice over the course of H800 and H808 mainly to record thoughts and content for essays or to stop moments of clarity disappearing. It has also been a convenient way whilst driving to ramble on to myself in a fairly unselfconscious way with the intended audience just being me. using my i-Phone and recording straight into Evernote or using the ‘voice memos’ function on the phone I have recorded a couple of minutes at a time and used them for my own record rather than public. From doing this I have experimented with recording introductions to course modules I teach, in a similar way but had them converted into MP3’s and put on the VLE Moodle. These were very much experiments and the technical support by a colleague, a specialist in music/sound recording removed the technical part of the process for me – partly for efficiency and also with the intention to learn how to do it myself. The introductions were a way of giving a brief explanation of the content as a friendly positive start to the module as well as something students could refer back to at different points. I would like to develop how these could be used at different points throughout a module and research into optimum time length as well as how students engage with them.
Now on H808 I need to create a Podcast and really get to grips with the whole process myself as well as discuss an area that interests me. I feel slightly apprehensive but also relived that I now have a specific reason to get to grips with something I have been meaning to for some time. I am really interested in the use of audio in terms of how it can be used in teaching, learning and assessment, in particular that the use of the voice can actually help to explain and for the learner to understand. The explaining voice is something I explored a little on H800 in my first TMA I used a quote by Michelle O’Connor ‘the voice that performs understanding. The explaining voice doesn’t just convey information; it shapes, out of a shared atmosphere, an intimate drama of cognitive action in time’ (Campbell 2005 quoted in O’Connor 2010 p.30). I went on to say that I found the notion of the ‘explaining voice’ really interesting in terms of confidence that the learner has in the teacher, partly because of the authority with which the information is being delivered but also because of the emphasis that is placed as well as the enthusiasm for the content, elements that can be missed when reading to oneself. My next few posts will be a documentation of the process of recording, processing and publicising the podcast as well as the podcast itself.
O’Connor, M. (2010) ‘The learning and teaching partnership of the community radio and tertiary education sectors at radio Adelaide, 2SER and 2MCE’, Electronic Journal of Learning and Teaching (E-JoLT) Issue 6, August.

Mind Maps of what it means to be an e-learning professional

Above is a great example of another students mind map of what it means to be an E-Learning Professional. I have also included an image of my own;

 

Pollytravels

image

My mind map is the beginning of what to me would constitute an eLearning professional. It also represents an effort by me to recall and synthesize what we have learnt on the course so far. Interestingly “commitment to process” was a surprise addition which came out of the mind map process. I found the process itself was a fantastic way of evolving ideas.

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Reflecting on Reflection

This post includes a resource I put together for a teaching session with my Year 2 BA and FdA students this week. For their research projects they are using blogs rather than paper based files to document their research. There are two main purposes of the module, firstly they are researching so that they can put together a proposal and design their own brief for their next project, secondly, they need to show evidence and analyse the research methods they have used.

Last week we focused on the mechanics of setting up a blog, the different research methods they might use and using a template to analyse them. Last week I encouraged them to reflect on this session as a first post on their blogs and found myself explaining their posts as falling into two main categories. Their posts might ‘propel’ forward and evidence what they have found or done and/or they might be reflective posts that consider and ‘discuss’ where they are at.

I could tell that the students were comfortable with seeking and acquiring information (and we revisited Harvard referencing so they could credit and reference their findings correctly) but less comfortable with the idea of reflective. pause for thought posts. This week I addressed this by looking at the affordances of blogging, with them, as well as some practical help on reflection and writing reflective posts. This was followed by a ‘Skills Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats’ activity which got them to consider reflection in more depth. The resource I put together was developed form notes I had taken from Jenny Moon’s (2005) paper as well as an article/podcast by Jill Walker Rettberg (2009);

Blogging as a Tool for Reflection and Learning

*      Frequent writing can help you become more confident about your research

*      I can give you more documented formative feedback

*      It is more obvious when you are on the right or wrong track

*      Others in your ‘network’ can contribute to your research and forming of ideas

*      You can research as part of a much larger community

*      You will develop a clearer ‘voice’ of your own, which will give you confidence that can be carried through into dissertation writing.

*      Feedback is fast

*      Blogging combines aspects of ‘thinking-writing’ with aspects of ‘presentation-writing’

What is reflection?

We reflect on the things that we have no immediate answer to.

We construct knowledge through making connections and relating things we know to the new things we encounter.

Rethinking what we know – thinking about what we know in a new or revisited context enables deeper learning to take place which is not the same as taking on new information without forming links.

Reflection can demonstrate learning.

Embed reflection in assessed tasks leads to better reflection and deeper learning.

Reflection gives the right conditions for learning

  • Slows down the activity
  • Ownership and ‘student voice’ in learning process
  • Metacognition – an awareness of ones own learning
  • Reflect on challenging material

Notes from Jenny moon (2005)

‘“thinking-writing” and “presentation writing”

Thinking writing is the kind of writing we do when we’re thinking through problems or topics, when we’re writing for ourselves and not for an audience…writing can actually help us think. Presentation writing is the kind of writing you do in order to communicate a message. When you use presentation writing you always have a reader in mind.

In a personal blog, each post is usually written quite quickly, and you publish each post immediately. Rather than drafting and revising until each piece of writing is perfect, bloggers tend to publish more frequently and with less perfectionism. You blog your immediate impressions and your first responses to ideas you have read about, or you blog about your experiences or about discussions that are going on in other blogs.’ (Walker Rettberg 2009)

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There was more to the resource in terms of pointers for the tone and style of writing but I think the explanation of what they were being asked to do and why was helpful. I have been able to examine my own learning through teaching and the learning of others, the different context or perspective shift has given me a more refined idea of what reflection is and hopefully my students.

References

Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4.doc

Walker Rettberg, J. 2009, Virtual book e-pedagogy for teachers in higher education, weblog, accessed 05 October 2012, <http://www.virclass.net/eped/index.php?action=static&id=29&gt;

Review of collaboration

The design of the activity ‘key drivers in Personal development planning‘ gave a clear framework for us to work within in terms of a template, time scale, group and selected readings but with the flexibility for us to approach it in our own way. This is something I have been giving a lot of thought to with my own students; providing a sturdy structure for them to use, a scaffolding  in the form of templates, template guides and organising blogs for their research but also giving them choice over the methods they use. Part of their learning and my teaching will involve introducing them to the choices available – their toolbox of research methods.

We had a choice over how we would communicate and organise a strategy for collecting and sharing the information. For various reasons our group was a little quiet initially but responses to the readings appeared on the forum as reactions to the readings. One student suggested a Wiki as a structure for us to build on which although there was not an immediate agreement on this I thought there was not any disagreement so added a page on the group wiki for our template. This is not something I have done before so followed the breadcrumb trail the other group had left and put the template on the wiki. At that point I had looked at a couple of sources so added the key points to the template.

This gave our group a focus in terms of where we would co-construct our resource. It was after this that some questioning of what we were actually doing started – How were we defining our terms? Rather than becoming an obstacle it enabled us to reflect on the readings in more depth by considering overarching themes that were emerging. This happened in the structure of the forum posts and so took on a more conversational means compared to the ‘directory’ like wiki. On reflection perhaps this emerged as our preferred way to construct information and as was suggested by others, a synchronous online conferencing session may have been a more efficient method. Having said that the wiki does exist as a constructed document that we can continue to review and construct.

The H808 framework gives us an additional scaffolding for our learning and helps to give ‘value’ to all aspects of our experience. I have been  thinking  about my own blogging as well as the ‘push’ , ‘pull’ and ‘pause’ of the research process and the role reflection has in that process. The blog entries give us the opportunity to consider, take stock, realign and define what needs to improve and where to go next…

Introducing research methods

Today I introduced students to different research methodologies for their creative research project module on their BA (hons) Design course.  We did this using templates I had constructed for them, templates that will enable them to select and use appropriate methodologies for their research as well as analyse the methods themselves. The templates will hopefully give them the structure they need to gain confidence in exploring new territories.

The students have been asked to set up a specific blog for their Research project and the blog will be their evidence for the research journey they go on. They added their blog addresses to a group Wiki on the course VLE Moodle while I was talking about the benefits of co-constructing information. This particular wiki became a convenient link directory but hopefully planted a seed in terms of how they might use this as a method to collaboratively research. The next task – their answers to ‘Why research?’ on post-it notes that they stuck on the whiteboard became an interesting visualisation of a real life wiki. Pointing this out to them hopefully reinforced what a wiki could be.

We discussed how the blog would have posts that showed evidence of the research process  propelling them forward (and in other directions too) as well as having posts that were reflective, pauses, taking stock. This made some uneasy; that the documentation might pull in different directions, so to speak, but I reassured them that this was all part of the research process. Their blogs will be repositories for their research, evidence that they have experienced a process, one that I can give formative feedback on through re-blogging, adding comments and ‘hearting’. My blog for this project is here- http://feltlikeit2.tumblr.com/

My description of today is here because my experiences made me think about my own blogging as well as the ‘push’ , ‘pull’ and ‘pause’ of the research process and the role reflection has in that process.

H808 – First Impressions

My first impressions of H808 are in the context of having just completed (nearly H800) and it feels like I am being able to put into practice theory we covered in H800. How we work in our tutor group community and collaborate in the forums is exciting and although these were important elements for H800 I feel a more heightened expectation of how we will work together and reflect on our own professional practices over the next few months. I have spent the last six months dabbling with technology tools and theories, I feel with H808 I will be able to explore further, consider, reflect, share, and refine how I use these tools.

Blogging

This blog was originally set up to ‘publicise’ research into textiles, my own art practice as well as using it as a way to promote the courses I run. The posts were more explanatory and descriptive rather than reflective on the whole, allowing me to document snippets of my creative practice and teaching. When asked to try blogging for the MA module ‘H800’ I began by using the Open University closed blog and chose to make some posts public and some private. This is interesting in itself, demonstrating the different ways a blog can be used for study and communication. These posts were much more reflective and task led and often fed directly into activities on the course forums.

However, H800 resurrected my interest in blogging in general and I started to post much more frequently on my feltlikeit.wordpress.com blog. This blog became more more diary like, with a section for week-by-week reflection of H800 as well as updates on conferences my own and students work, only separated by the tags I gave them. I was keen for the blog to have all facets of my interests on it to help me post regularly rather than have several blogs on the go. It was at this point that it became the blog for making, teaching and learning.

There are issues with this and I was concerned over who my audience(s) were and whether those interested in the textiles would be put off by the education/technology and vice versa. However through restructuring the blog and how the posts can be navigated, I hope I have created something that allows me to keep everything together as well as give the content a coherent structure. Finding the right ‘voice’ and conversational reflective style that I feel comfortable with for the blog has been an experimental process. The module ‘The E-Learning Professional’, my penultimate module for my MA has already got me re-evaluating my blog, how I am using it and what it is for. Watch this e-space!

Restructure

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 – http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/6208 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 http://www.evolutionmegalab.org/ 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.