Week 3: ICTs for Learning Design

Looks like I’m going to be away in coming weeks and the first assignment is due soon, so time to get a little ahead. So the following documents/reflects week 3 of work for the ICTs for Learning Design course.

Overview

Looks like we begin examining some technologies. For the purposes of the course their titled “Group 1 tools”. Essentially content dissemination sites with a particular focus on blogs, wikis and static websites. One of which we have to nominate as most use in a teaching context, I’m guessing it will almost certainly be blogs for me.

An aspect of this is how to integrate the tools into learning design. There’s a claim if ICTs are integrated well, students will be more engage, less disruptive and achieve superior results. Well, sorry, I think that just applies for all good learning design, with ICTs or not.

Suggests there are two main categories of ICT use a teacher must be proficient in

  1. Using ICTs to teach, and
  2. Providing opportunities for student use of ICTs.

Actually, I’d add “Using ICTs to learn” as perhaps more important and perhaps preceding the other two.

Vignettes

A couple of vignettes are used to illustrate good usages of ICTs in two separate school settings. They are good examples. However, they do remain somewhat silent on the question of ability with the technologies. There’s a little bit there, but the experience in the course so far is that a few students (future teachers) are having some significant troubles with their Blogger blogs. It would be interesting to hear the reactions of those students to these vignettes.

Another response I had was, “Ohh I wouldn’t do that”, in reaction to how they used technology. There are much better ways of doing some of what was talked about, ways that use the technology to really scaffold the learning.

Read write web

We’re onto blogs and wikis. There is a distinction made between blogs/wikis and a website. Which is, strictly speaking, utterly false. As blogs and wikis are generally implemented as websites.

It’s also claimed that blogs and wikis are owned by students. Well, so far in this course we’ve been using a Moodle based wiki. We don’t own that wiki. The institution does. The institution can shut that down/restrict our access whenever they want, and they probably will do at the end of term. And further down we find that Education Queensland have blocked the use of blogs in schools, but they do provide the equivalent on the Learning Place, not a great solution.

Rather than the paragraph of text describing blogs and wikis, I wonder if pointing to the “In plain English” videos would be a better introduction.

Blogs for learning

Interesting that we’ve been using blogs in the course for 2 weeks and now the material is giving a basic introduction to blogs.

Pointers to resources about using blogs in education: PDF flier about “Blogger in the classroom”, a EDUCAUSE Review article (2004) by Stephen Downes, A list of strategies for blogs, some basics of blogs.

An activity is to have a look at the Beyond School website and look at the interesting ideas for using blogs. This post was interesting in terms of modelling the idea of using/knowing the technology before getting students to use it and the subsequent plus of becoming a daily writer. The Teaching Gallery is full of good ideas.

Looking at this site did make me wonder how many of my fellow students might use pointers to folk like this as an excuse to grow their PLN. I’ve chosen to follow Clay on Twitter. Seems like and interesting and useful way to find out more. Interestingly, now that I am following him, I discover that many of the folk in my Twitter network already follow/are followed by him.

Wikis for collaborative learning

Don’t think I agree with the distinction between wikis (collaborative) and blogs (not). Especially given the last paragraph in the blogs section mentioned group blogs. Nice list of Wiki principles. Pretty light on with resources, not many activities.

That seems to be it for the week.

Activities

Ahh, separate set of activities. Essentially, create a blog, a wiki and a website (using Weebly). Not sure I’d call Weebly a website, looks more like a nice content management system, perhaps crossed with a web editor (on steroids).

I’m not going to implement these activities given my background, but will do the reflections, which might involve a little more work.

Week 2: Literacy and Numeracy

And lucky last. This is the course I haven’t gotten into as much yet, hopefully that can start to change. And today’s topic is “A Workplace Focus”.

Overview

Not off to a good start, am finding the duplication of having both a “Tutorial sheet” and a eStudyGuide apparently providing a learning sequence and the existence of differences between these sequences not helping the learner develop positive attitudes about the classroom environment and its tasks. Not to mention the fact that Topic 2 is apparently using the same Module in the study guide from last week, but I’m unsure where to start. If this is combined with some of the apparent fear and loathing surrounding the first assignment…..I’m also wondering whether the slight greater emphasis on vocational education that I pick up from some of the readings/comments is clashing with my traditional academic focus?

But then, given I’ve just read about the first Dimension of Learning I know that “attitudes and perceptions influence learning” and that there exist strategies to address this, first by “monitoring and attending to my own attitudes”. Though those are meant for the teacher, not the student. In terms of understanding that “attitudes and perceptions towards classroom tasks also influence learning” then I can use “positive talk” (I love this course, really, I do) and “believing that I can get help and resources needed”. But I am currently wondering how well this course would pass an evaluation based on the remaining strategies under DoL #1.

Okay, it seems we should start on page 19 of the study guide.

How adult literacy became a public issue in Australia

So, we start with this reading

Hodgens, J. (1994). How adult literacy became a public issue in Australia. Open Letter, 4(2), 13-24.

11 pages of reading. Looks like at least another 23 pages in another article plus other excerpts, who said education courses were easy?

From the mid-1970s the was an increase in concern about literacy in Australia. e.g. 10% of adults are functionally illiterate. COuld it be because a hidden social phenomenon was identified? Suggestion is that explanation ignores that increase in student numbers in education, especially secondary and tertiary. A trend that started in the 1950s and which lead to a doubling of post-compulsory secondary enrolments from 1976-1994.

The suggestion is that attending education did not meant that this huge and newly diverse population of students were successful. The article is a historical review and attempts to show how this diversity was seen in terms of deficit and deficiency and subsequently shaped literacy discussions.

The 70s and the context

1970s key period in construction of a literacy crisis in Oz. Both adult and school literacy mentioned in media. The late 1960s importation of ideas such as remedial education contributed. Whitlam from 72 places emphasis on equality and rectifying disadvantage. i.e. through unequal allocation of funds. HIghlighting a difference between conservative views of quality learning being sacrificed to achieve equality. Literacy argued as being related to shifts in the social order (by this author).

Literacy or morality

Illiteracy seen as an afflication, disease shame and leading to prison. Goes hand in hand with an increase in surveys and statistics to show scope of problem, but wild differences in results lead to a move to discussion of trends, rather than numbers.

The cause of illiteracy?

Multiple. There’s the biological/pyschological reason. A focus on lack.

Problems in the home. Over-watching of TV in the home etc.

“Most significant claim” is poor teaching in schools. A range of reasons, including adoption of “progressive” ideas.

Then there is teacher education institutions. i.e. trendy courses, that don’t focus on the basics.

The government.

Conclusions

The problem in all of the above is deficiency, in all of the above. The response being to focus on competence.

Mmm, but doesn’t go onto say much about what is wrong with this perspective. NOt a strong finish.

From training reform to training packages

And now this reading

Smith, E. & Keating, J. (2003). From training reform to training packages. Tuggerah, NSW: Social Science Press. pp. 16-39.

Okay, this is looking at the VET system, not sure how it connects with what we’re doing. Nothing in the tute/guide to tell me either. As it turns out, I’m not reading this, just noting the section headings.

Changes in the Australian economy

  • End of the post war boom
  • Changes in the structure of the economy
  • Changes in technology
  • Changes in the way work is organised
  • Changes in participation in the labour market in Oz
  • Change in jobs for the future

The response to these changes

  • Industry restructuring
  • Industrial relations response: Award restructuring
  • Implications of award restructuring for training

And corporatism and federalism as factors that shaped the form of training reform.

Changes from the late 1980s

  • Enterprise bargaining and Australian workplace agreements
  • The quality movement
  • Working nation: implementation and demise
  • The Karpin report
  • Turn of the century developments – i.e. globalisation etc.

Again a “so what” problem. Yes, all very interesting, but how does this connect with my study to be a high school teacher?

Making the connection

A pointer to an Oz government resource on Workplace literacy. It doesn’t seem that there is much here? No, it’s just the rather confusing user interface used by the government department.

Now a statement of what we will be expected to do (at a minimum)

  • Read competency standards and identify the specific communication skills embedded throughout
  • Relate those communications skills to specific tasks in the workplace (and/or its simulation)
  • Identify learners who may have difficulties with the demands of these tasks
  • Know when a specialist LLN teacher is required and be willing to work with that person
  • Check learning resources for their appropriateness to the abilities of your learners and the Performance Criteria of the Elements of competency (with due regard to the recommended Key Competency level/s, Evidence Guide and Register of Variables also)
  • Design assessment tasks that are also appropriate as above.

But little to no description of what any of this means. What is a LLN teacher? Learning, Literacy and numeracy? What competency standards? Couldn’t see them on the WELL site. Ahh the next section explains, LLN = Language Literacy and numeracy.

Occupational literacy audit

We’re meant to complete a occupational literacy audit for an occupation. It appears this will be related to the first assignment. In fact, it is exactly one of the tasks. Mmm, I can see some intelligent reuse happening here, it’s probably even intended in the course design.

That’s done. 1 of 5 elements for that assignment. I will need to revisit the rubric for the assignment to see how that early work went.

Capturing Key Elements in Multiliteracies Projects

The next bit quotes from key elements in multilteracies from the book “Multiliteracies and Diversity in Education” (Healy, 2008). We are meant to “consider them”. I’m going to interpret that as an excuse to riff, somewhat ill-informed, about them in the following.

They are

  • New learning pedagogy promotes student agency: a say in and control over learning.
    The multiliteracies stuff did talk about “agency” being a key part of its make up. But this seems to suggest something different? Either way, it seems to be sticking with the constructivist orthodoxy that now exists within schools, or at least universities teaching trainee teachers.
  • Learning by Design (Kalantzis & Cope 2005) enables productive text engagement for real purposes and audiences.
    My problem here is I wonder what they mean by “Learning by Design”. Okay, this book excerpt (Kalantzis & Cope 2005) offers this definition

    The Learning by Design approach is also an attempt to imagine and test innovative tools and learning environments in which the blackboard, textbook, exercise book and test are augmented and at times replaced by digital technologies. In the case of Learning by Design, this is not simply a case of ‘digital makeover’ of legacy teaching practices; it is a process of imagining how learning may be different and more effective

    That turns out to be the last of four components. It essentially appears to be a focus on designing learning experiences in which students participate (in a constructivist sense) and a significant consideration of the multiliteracies stuff and the role of technology as stated above. Hence the “real purposes and audiences”. To some extent, Learning Engagement theory might be slight connected as an example.

  • Texts, and the technologies through which they communicate, determine how we interact with phenomenon, idea, message and object – we learn from and contribute to the text environment according to our social and cultural orientations.
    I can agree with that.
  • Texts that exhibit multimodality are designed using collaborations between any of the visual, spatial, linguistic, audio, and gestural information (Kalantzis & Cope 2004b).
    i.e. multimodal media require multiple skills/literacies?
  • Multiliteracies projects provide the scope to bring community practices with text into the classroom.
    I can make some assumptions, but without knowing what is truly meant by “multiliteracies projects” I find it hard to consider this one.
  • Learning by Design has its agendas bound to processes of civic and private activity.
    Again, I need more of an idea of Learning by Design before I can consider that.
  • Student diversity is recognised and celebrated in a learning community ethos.
    yes, that’s good. But again context is missing.
  • Learners have capacities for engaging four knowledge processes: experiencing the known and the new; conceptualising by naming and theorising; analysing functionally and critically; and applying appropriately and creatively (Kalantzis and Cope 2004b). The degree to which these processes are utilised is highly dependent on the learning contexts that teachers design with and for students.
    Okay, that seems a reasonable framework of knowledge processes in terms of literacy, but how does it/is it meant to fit with the rest of the stuff we’re being introduced to?

I have the feeling that I could have done without 20/30 pages of reading about the historical changes that have contributed to literacies, multiliteracies and much more reading about these considerations.

Discussion

We’re now meant to

Consider the skills you listed in your Occupational Literacy Audit. Now think about students in a secondary school. From your practicum experience, what does secondary school have in place to prepare students for the workplace? How many students have part-time jobs? How many have traineeships? Does your school have Work Education courses? VET courses?

The topic for this week’s Discussion Forum is “What’s the gap between what students know, and what they need to know, to be competent in the workplace?”

Actually, I’m not going to engage. I haven’t been on practicum yet and any knowledge I have of school students and schools is based on very limited knowledge. I don’t think that’s an effective foundation on which to base this activity.

Week 2: Supportive Learning Environments

Two courses down, two to go. The following summarises study and thoughts for week 2 of the Supportive Learning Environments course.

Attitudes and perceptions

Unliked the PCK course, it doesn’t appear that this course offers an overview of what we’ll be covering, at least not beyond the title “Attitudes and perceptions”.

It does appear will be spending more time on the Dimensions of Learning. And if I knew DoL better I would probably have recognised the topics title as being Dimension 1 of DoL. It appears I have more to internalise. We do get some focus questions

  • How can the teacher create a positive classroom climate?
  • How can the teacher encourage positive attitudes towards classroom tasks?
  • What significance do the emotional/social aspects of school life have on learning?

In terms of reading 29 pages of DoL.

DoL – Dimension 1 – Attitudes and perceptions

Not all that surprisingly, the chapter on DoL#1 has two main sections

  1. Help students develop positive attitudes and perceptions (PA&P) about classroom climate.
  2. Help students develop PA&P about classroom tasks.

Funnily enough matching the first two focus questions. Each of these major sections get divided further into sections and then strategies.

PA&P and classroom climate

  1. Help students understand that A&T about classroom climate influence learning.
    Including that it is a shared responsibility (teacher and student) to keep attitudes positive. Given that I have a questioning nature I often come across as cynical of negative, hell when folk get really silly I will be cynical and negative. Shall be interesting to see how I go with encouraging and maintaining positive attitudes. I especially dislike the “example” in the margin of a primary school principal resorting to motivational posters.

    So strategies include giving examples either based on my experience, hypothetical or of famous people using positive attitudes to improve learning and get them talking and thinking abou it.

    Feel accepted by teachers and peers – the next grouping of strategies

  2. Establish a relationship with each student in the class
    i.e. show that you know them and their interests.
  3. Monitor and attend to your own attitudes.
    Avoid bias either way toward students. Oh dear, practicing a form of positive visualisation (Matty Hayden eat your heart out).
  4. Engage in equitable and positive classroom behaviour.
    This one seems to be the practical implementation of the previous one. Various tactics to include all students. e.g. meet the eyes of all, move around the room, give enough wait time…
  5. Recognise and provide for students’ individual differences.
    A no brainer.
  6. Respond positively to students’ incorrect responses or lack of response.
    i.e. if they feel you think they are stupid for being wrong this builds fear of failure into them. Helping my 6yo son with his homework the last couple of days has highlight the importance of this to me.
  7. Vary the positive reinforcement offered when students give the correct response.
    Too much praise can be a problem, some students don’t like it. Various alternatives given.
  8. Structure opportunities for students to work with peers.
    i.e. good group work and encourage feelings of acceptance. Emphasis on the good.
  9. Provide opportunities for students to get to know and accept each other.
    i.e help them break out of the existing social networks and establish new ones, offer opportunities throughout the year. I can see how many of the suggested strategies could be problematic in some contexts.
  10. Help students develop their ability to use their own strategies for gaining acceptance from their teachers and peers.
    Separate strategies, though a lot in common, for teachers and students. Get students talking about strategies and approaches.

    Experience a sense of comfort and order

  11. Frequently and systematically use activities that involve physical movement.
    Keep ’em moving.
  12. Introduce the concept of “bracketing”.
    Essentially the conscious process of putting aside distracting thoughts to focus on something specific. e.g. after lunch, putting thought about the fight that happened until after class. Various strategies to get the students to engage in this practice.
  13. Establish and communicate classroom rules and procedures.
    Factory/assembly line setting much? The idea is that regularity/order help learning. The students knowing what to expect. Get them involved in setting etc.
  14. Be aware of malicious teasing or threats insight or outside of the classroom and take steps to stop such behaviour.
  15. Have students identify their own standards for comfort and order.

I have to admit to some reservations about the focus on acceptance. I can see how being an outcast is likely to be detrimental to learning, but this push for acceptance might have its own problems.

PA&P about classroom tasks

Learners must

  1. Perceive tasks as valuable or interesting.
  2. Believe they have the ability and resources to complete tasks.
  3. Clearly understand what they are being asked to do.

Strategies include

  1. Help students understand that learning is influenced by A&T related to classroom tasks.
    Slight modification of 1st strategy above. In fact, almost a direct copy.

    Perceive tasks as valuable and interesting

  2. Establish a sense of academic trust.
    i.e. students have consistent experience with you the teacher as someone who always sets tasks that a valuable or interesting.
  3. Help students understand how specific knowledge is valuable.
    So, again some commonality. Get the students to identify the connection. Relate it to real life. Preview latter tasks where “all is revealed”.
  4. Use a variety of ways to engage students in classroom tasks.
    Show interest as the teacher, anecdotes, student choice, authentic tasks…
  5. Create classroom tasks that relate to students’ interests and goals.
    Gives an example of a student inventory which asks questions like, if it were possible: what would you like to do? Where would you like to go? What period of history would you live in? What projects are you working on? What would you like to work on?

    Believe they have the ability and resources to complete tasks

  6. Provide appropriate feedback.
  7. Teacher students to use positive self-talk.
    Mmmm, get students to turn ‘I hate this class’ into “I love this class”, even if they don’t believe it.
  8. Help students recognise that they have the abilities to complete a particular task.
    Essentially strategies to show them they have done the preparation, got the knowledge.
  9. Help students understand that believing in their ability to complete a task includes believing that they have the ability to get the help and resources needed.
    i.e. make it okay to ask questions or for help.

    Understand and be clear about tasks

  10. Help students be clear about the directions and demands of the task.
  11. Provide students with clarity about the knowledge that the task addresses.
  12. Provide students with clear expectations of performance levels for tasks.

So, my first experience with DoL. I can see the value, there is nothing new here, but it is structured in a way to help, especially if used consistently across an organisation. I can, however, see how it could become another straight jacket and another set of expectations to be gamed.

What next

Mmm, seems the guide might be missing something. It’s referring to something from the text, but doesn’t say what.

Oh well, question asked on forum, moving on.

The key to classroom management

Now onto this article by Marzano and Marzano – “The key to classroom management”.

Some focus questions

  • According to this article, what is the keystone for all other aspects of behaviour management?
    A Marzano (2003) study found the quality of student-teacher relationships to be the keystone. Teachers with high-quality relationships ahd 31% fewer discipline problems etc.
  • List the characteristics of effective teacher-student relationships.
    Not teacher’s personality, or that the student sees the teacher as a friend. Instead characterised by specific teaching behaviours: show appropriate levels of dominance; exhibit appropriate levels of co-operation; and, are aware of high-needs students.
  • What is meant by “appropriate levels of dominance”? Can you link this approach to other teaching styles described in earlier models that we have studied?
    Where dominance means the ability for the teacher to provide clear purpose and strong guidance regarding bother learning and student behaviour.

    There are connections with some of the strategies in DoL#1, but also elsewhere (e.g. “Time on task” and “High expectations” etc. in the C&G 7 Principles)

  • What are some of the key strategies teachers can use to maintain this “appropriate level of dominance”?
    Establishing clear behaviours expectations and learning goals, and exhibiting assertive behaviour. With various strategies listed under each of those.

On the importance of what teachers do

Research has shown us that teachers’ actions in their classrooms have twice the impact on student achievement as do school policies regarding curriculum, assessment, staff collegiality, and community involvement

And classroom management is one of the most important jobs. With one meta-analysis found it had the largest effect on student achievement.

Does bring up the notion of flexible goals in “appropriate levels of cooperation”.

Awareness of high needs students

Defines 5 categories and some sub-categories of types of high needs students

  1. Passive students – refrain from criticism, reward small successes, safe classroom climate
    • Fear of failure
    • Fear of relations
  2. Agressive students – behaviour contracts, immediate rewards/punishment, …surely more than that?
    • Hostile
    • Oppositional
    • Covert
  3. Attention problems – teaching skills and basic concentration, help with task decomposition, reward, peer tutor
    • Hyperactive
    • Inattentive
  4. Perfectionists – encourage more realistic standards, help accept mistakes, opportunities to tutor others.
  5. Socially inept – counsel about behaviours.

Social and Emotional learning

And now a Powerpoint set from CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning).

Some focus questions

  • How similar or different do you believe this to be from the Australian context?
    In terms of how well the statistics match the Australian context I really couldn’t say. Anecdotally (i.e. solely on my limited experience) I would not be surprised. Given the apparent prevalence of SEL programs in Australian schools (e.g. Queensland it would appear likely.
  • What are some of the practical ideas for how to solve problems with students in a collaborative way?
    There doesn’t seem to be a direct response to this question in the powerpoint. There are a range of ideas mentioned in the DoL literature.

One of the core beliefs of CASEL is the “create a responsible society member” purpose of schools.

15-20% of US students experience social, emotional and mental health problems. 25-30% have school adjustment problems. Rising to 60% in low SOE districts. Link between this maladjustment and later serious problem behaviours. 70-80% of students not getting right mental health services. More stats on risk behaviours (28.3% had 5 or more alcoholic drinks in a couple of hours) and development assets (e.g. 24% think teachers care about me)

Some additional questions arise from the CASEL claims about the ability to “to recognize and manage emotions, develop caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations effectively” as skills that can be taught.

  • How do you respond to such claims?
    To some extent I see these skills as similar to other skills. i.e. it can be learnt and taught. However, they are not the types of skills traditional thought of in a school setting, a setting that tends to place emphasis on the academic or cognitive skills. Given the existence of programs like this it would appear obvious that many people think it can be taught and CASEL’s basis on scientific research gives that assumption some rigour. I think one reason such skills are likely to be more difficult to teach is that not as many folk have set down to analyse these skills and develop insights that can be understood and taught. I imagine this is the purpose of organisations like CASEL.
  • Do you think it is the responsibility of teachers to try to foster these skills in the students they teach?
    Yes, if only because students with those skills will be able to learn much more effectively and be “easier” to teach. If you accept the “prepare good citizens” purpose for school then that provides additional support for the idea that it is the responsibility of teachers to foster these skills.
  • What have your own attitudes and perceptions been towards formal education?
    I have generally succeeded at formal education, played the game. Though my initial forays into undergraduate education suffered due to some poor attitudes and perceptions. 20+ years on, I am wondering how the difference in attitude and perceptions will play out in this program. Being somewhat older and somewhat more opinionated, I have had to (at times) make an effort to be a little more open and reflective on issues that I would generally have ruled out.
  • Can you recall particular teachers who helped you develop positive attitudes? If so, how did they achieve this?
    No, but I think that says more about the length of time since I completed formal education and my memory. Rickie’s slightly repeated use of the “resist impulsivity” DoL mantra during the residential school did cause me to reflect a bit on my behaviour.
  • To what extent is the teacher responsible for the establishment of a positive classroom environment?
    Fairly significant, given the hoped for greater level of knowledge and the responsibility for creating the learning environment I would see the teacher as being largely responsible. That said there remains some responsibility for the student, the parents and especially the school administration (and possibly others) in contributing to both the class environment and the broader environment in which it operates. No classroom environment is an island.
  • What is your reaction to the strategies suggested in Dimensions of Learning?
    There is nothing new there. I was aware of much of it. A small number of the strategies I find a little questionable, but hold my final conclusions in abeyance. Simply getting students to say positive things is not, to me, sufficient. Another reaction is that much of the research evidence supporting these strategies is getting quite old. It makes me wonder if there is more recent research that changes or expands the nature of these strategies.

Schemata and the source of dissonance?

The following is intended to be an illustration of one of the potential origins of the gap between learning technologists and educators. It picks up on the idea of schemata from this week’s study in one course and connects to my point about the dissonance between how educational technology is implemented in universities and what we know about how people learn.

I’m sure folk who have been around the education discipline longer than I will have seen this already. But it is a nice little activity and not one that I’d seen previously.

An experiment

Read the following paragraph and fill in the blanks. If you’re really keen add a comment below with what you got. Actually, gathering a collection of responses from a range of people would be really interesting.

The questions that p________ face as they raise ch________ from in_________ to adult are not easy to an _________. Both f______ and m________ can become concerned when health problems such as co_________ arise anytime after the e____ stage to later life. Experts recommend that young ch____ should have plenty of s________ and nutritious food for healthy growth. B___ and g____ should not share the same b______ or even be in the same r______. They may be afraid of the d_____.

Now, take a look at the original version of this paragraph.

Is there any difference between it and what you got? Certainly was for me.

Schemata

This problem was introduced in a week that was looking at Piaget and other theories about how folk learn. In particular, this example was used as an example of the role schemata play in how people perceive and process the world and what is happening within it.

I am a father of three wonderful kids. So, over the last 10+ years I’ve developed some significant schemata around raising kids. When I read the above paragraph, the words that filled the blanks for me were: parents, children, infant, answer, fathers, mothers,….and it was hear that I first paused. None of my children really suffered from colic, so that didn’t spring to mind, but I started actively searching for ways I could make this paragraph fit the schemata that I had activated. i.e. I was thinking “parent”, so I was trying to make these things fit.

Schemata are mental representations of an associated set of perceptions etc. The influence how you see what is going on.

I’m somewhat interested in seeing what words others have gotten from the above exercise, especially those without (recent) experience of parental responsibilities.

A difference of schemata

Learning technologists (or just plain innovative teachers) have significantly different schemata than your plain, everyday academic. Especially those that haven’t had much experience of online learning, constructivist learning, *insert “good” teaching practice of your choice*. Even within the population of learning technologists there is a vast difference in schemata.

Different schemata means that these folk see the world in very different ways.

A triumph of assimilation of accommodation

The on-going tendency of folk to say things like (as in an article from the Australian newspaper’s higher education section) Online no substitute for face to face teaching says something about their schemata and (to extend the (naive/simplistic) application of Piaget) the triumph of assimilation over accommodation.

For Piaget people are driven to maintain an equilibrium between what the know and what they observe in the outside world. When they perceive something new in the world they enter a state of disequilibrium and are driven to return to balance. For Piaget, there are two ways this is done.

  1. Assimilation – where the new insight is fitted into existing schemata.
  2. Accommodation – where schemata are changed (either old are modified or new are created) to account for the new insights.

I’d suggest that for a majority of academic staff (and senior management) when it comes to new approaches to learning and teaching their primary coping mechanism has been assimilation. Forcing those new approaches into the schemata they already have. i.e. the Moodle course site is a great place to upload all my handouts and have online lectures.

As I’ve argued before I believe this is because the approaches used to introduce new learning approaches in universities have had more in common with behaviourism than constructivism. Consequently the approaches have not been all that successful in changing schemata.

Week 2: Pedagogical Content Knowledge

Okay, so now it’s onto the second course for the week. The topic for this week is “Learners and Learning”. Looks like we’re learning about the brain, how it works and the Dimensions of Learning (That this link for DoL is on the institution’s website, but with a strange title is interesting. Sure there are some stories behind it).

What to do?

I am wondering exactly what I should do, there is an eStudyGuide which is meant to be used by distance education students, which is essentially what I am. But then there is also a range of resources and activities within the topic on the Moodle site. The apparent duplication is somewhat annoying, especially when there is little consistency. It appears that the study guide is the way to go.

Biological basis for learning

There is acknowledgement of this

e. In a biological sense, learning occurs through the growth of new synapses in one’s brain which becomes part of the complex series of networks / connections that make up ‘the mind’ and through which we are able to ‘do things’ or learn to do new things.

Interestingly, the definition of schema

A theoretical concept describing the current state of one’s mind and the process
that inform it. One’s schema is what is used to process information; to think, to do. One’s schema can be changed or modified and this process of change or modification can be referred to as learning

Seems to suggests a single schema. I would have thought there were possibly multiple, depending on the identity at the fore….more reading to do, this is just the intro.

The task list

  • Reading 2-1. A report from Demos titled “About learning”.
  • Reading 2-2 (which is not a direct link, but some silly use of Moodle resources that doesn’t quite work).
  • Reading 2-3. Learning to go with the grain of the brain
  • Read “The learning program”
  • Reading 2-4.
  • Activity 2-1.
  • Activity 2-2.
  • Activity 2-3.

As mentioned previously, there have been complaints that education courses don’t require enough reading, so how much reading is there for this week: Readings 2-1 (28 pages), 2-2 (3 pages), 2-3 (5 pages), 2-4 ()

About learning

This is a report commissioned by the UK government to (essentially) develop definitions about the concepts of learning in terms of schools. The working group had 7 members including: 3 head teachers, 3 cognitive scientists and a chairman (with a couple of researchers).

One of the points made is that our understanding is evolving rapidly and while questions about this are answerable, it is only partially so. There is a need for cognitive scientists and teachers to work more together. Suggestion that training for teachers emphasises even less of what is known about learning.

Teachers having an explicit, elaborate and expert view of learning depends more on chance than on a planned sequence of initial training and continuing professional development

Bemoans that many teachers aren’t aware of latest research and an absence of common vocabulary.

Is it possible learn how to learn?

We share the approach of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme’s Learning How to Learn Project which treats learning to learn not as a single entity or skill, but as a family of learning practices that enhance one’s capacity to learn. There is no consensus about the membership or genealogy of this family, or even how distinctive it is. Indeed, it is difficult to disentangle learning to learn from just learning,

meta-cognition is seen as “a very important or senior member of the family” of views around learning to learn. It is defined as

the capacity to monitor, evaluate, control and change how one thinks and learns.

Evidence for recent developments

This quote matches my feeling about the importance of reflection to teachers

The best teachers constantly monitor what is happening to students as they set about learning and investigate when things do not proceed as planned or expected.

And also makes me wonder why senior university management just don’t get the need to do this as well.

There’s a bit of talk here about the different approaches between teachers and cognitive scientists about gathering evidence for how people learn. There is a lot made of how the CS folk “test(ed) empirically through methods that are accepted within the scientific community” and then the distinction is made between “scientific evidence” and “practice evidence”. However, do argue that it is best to have both and mention two schemes that have this

A summary of what they say about learning styles, which is interesting in light of their use in this program. There are three problems

  1. Research evidence is highly variable, for many the scientific evidence base is very slender because the reliability and validity of the measures are doutbful.
  2. There is even less evidence of improved learning when applied to classroom situations.
  3. Some use of learning styles is really bad, e.g. belief that styles are fixed and innate. Students are labeled and they internalise this label.

There is the suggestion that learning styles can be used successfully to get students to reflect deeply on their learning and develop meta-cognitive capacities.

What we know: from science

Refer to the book, How people learn: brain, mind, experience and school” which groups implications into the following

  • Learner-centered;
    i.e. starts with the learners’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs.
  • Knowledge-centered;
    Environments that aim to provide for learners’ understanding, rather than mere performance. Learners know their way around a disciplinary environment.
  • Assessment-centered;
    Strong on formative feedback.
  • Community-centered.
    Recognise that classrooms are placed within broader communities. i.e. important to have home/family support; enable students to use what they learn in school outside.

Some myths busted

  • There is no right/left brain. Both hemispheres are used in every cogntive task.
  • “critical periods” for learning are over applied in education.
  • There is no support that one type of learning is more natural.
  • Brain plasticity means that learning at any age grows neurons
  • Brain gym has not evidence base in cognitive neuroscience.
    But there maybe educational value.

Some calls for research that gets the scientists hands dirty by working with practitioners.

Reading 2-2: Piaget’s constructivism

Based on this review which focuses on four key concepts: assimilation, accommodation, equilibration, and schemas. I need to look at a few other resources to feel I got this.

Learning or cognitive development is a complex process affected by three ideas:

  • Schema – mental representations of an associated set of perceptions, ideas..the basic building blocks of thinking. Cognitive development arises from the development of new schemata and better organisation of existing schemata.
    These are theoretical constructs though brain research reached similar conclusions. They never stop changing.
  • Assimilation – where new information/ideas from the real world are placed into existing mental/cognitive structures.
  • Adaptation – changing existing schemata to fit new information. Also includes creation of new schemata.
  • Equilibration – the biological drive to maintain a balance between the environment and a person’s cognitive structures.

Reading 2-3: Learning to go with the grain of the brain

Apparently the article appeared in a 1999 issue of “Education Canada”. Starts with another exhortation that 21st century learners needing something. Looks like being a summary of more of what we know about the “bain’s adaptive functions” – learning. Of course, the date means that this article is 10 years out of date.

Reports on (without citing) long term studies that show the greatest predictors of success at university level are

  1. The quantity and quality of discussion in the home before entering school.
  2. Amount of independent reading by the child.
  3. Clarity of value systems as understood and practiced.
  4. Strong positive peer group pressure.
  5. The primary school.

Quotes the Santa Fe institute

The method people naturally employ to acquire knowledge is largely unsupported by traditional classroom practice. The human mind is better equipped to gather information about the world by operating within it than by reading about it, hearing lectures on it, or studying abstract models of it.

There is a bit of support here for the influence of evolutionary development, a quote from HBR

you can take man out of the Stone Age, but you can’t take the Stone Age out of man.

Cites the industrial revolution as going against this influence in creating work that only used a small portion of the brain and requiring other strategies. I assume this has parallels with the factory orientation of schools and they suggest this as a partial explanation for the “crisis in schools”.

Gets stronger. We’ve turned childhood into a virtual holiday. Trivialised adolescence by denying them the opportunity to learn from their experiences. Now making the point about school being based on a factory model and a notion of curriculum from universities that focuses on academic learning. And subsequently many students are not being challenged by school.

And now it gets onto the solution. i.e. schooling based on what evolution prepared us for before this blip of industrialisation.

  • Start with emphasis on young kids growing a range of skills and their growing responsibility for directing their own work.
  • Make them a worker as early as possible, not just a recipient
  • As they get older, intergrate learning in real situations.
  • Classes for 5yo, no more than 10 or 12 students.
  • And harnessing older, retired professional folk to fill the resource gap.

Reading 2-4: Powerpoints on Learning

Starts with the jumbled letter meme.

Ahh, also solves “Activity 2-1” for us. Which is fill in the blanks of the following

The questions that p________ face as they raise ch________ from in_________ to adult are not easy to an _________. Both f______ and m________ can become concerned when health problems such as co_________ arise anytime after the e____ stage to later life. Experts recommend that young ch____ should have plenty of s________ and nutritious food for healthy growth. B___ and g____ should not share the same b______ or even be in the same r______. They may be afraid of the d_____.

What do you get?

Give you a tip, it’s nothing about children or parents, which is what I got.

Reinforcing the message, we can learn both procedural and declarative knowledge.

This program arises from work done on a Bachelor of Learning Management, where management is defined as “design with intended outcomes”, which means Learning Management is “designing learning programs that ensure learning outcomes in all students”

And here come the Dimensions of Learning, 5 of them, where you should start with the first and the fifth when designing.

  1. Attitudes and perceptions
  2. Acquire and integrate
  3. Extend and refine
  4. Use meaningfully
  5. Habits of mind

Mostly applies these to how we should be learning, sure to be expanded later on.

Critical reflection – process of thinking using established research and a series of evaluations in order to learn about something new…and much more

Activity 2-2

Another one to surface scheme, a series of questions about current affairs (from a few years ago) e.g. “The war in Iraq is justified”. We’re meant to compare with someone else and reflect on why there might be differences. In short because we have different schemata, different perspectives, formed by different backgrounds.

Activity 2-3

Using the readings and a Internet search, provide definitions for (wikipedia?)

  • Learning
    The acquisition of new or modification of existing knowledge, skills, behaviours etc implemented biologically as the creation of neurons.
  • Memory
    The ability to store, retain and recall information and experiences
  • Emotions
    “the complex psychophysiological experience of an individual’s state of mind as interacting with biochemical (internal) and environmental (external) influences”
  • Thinking
    ” any mental or intellectual activity involving an individual’s subjective consciousness”
  • The senses
    “the physiological capacities within organisms that provide inputs for perception”

Summarise how this knowledge will inform you work as a teacher…..I don’t really know and at the end of a long afternoon, don’t really care just at the moment. Time to cut and run.

Creating a framework for eLearning design

Another task for the ICTs for Learning Design course. This one is described as

Create a framework using both in combination that you believe will support excellent eLearning design. It is useful to consider Learning Engagement Theory as setting the valued learning context for your learners. And to consider Bloom’s Taxonomy as ensuring that you move your students though a learning design that will support every phase, from knowledge and comprehension to evaluation and synthesis.

Concerns

Being the type of person I am (generally described as “pain in the arse”), I have some concerns or questions about this task, they include

  • Design is hard and we’re starting with it.
    For me design involves a combination of the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy (it’s a framework we’re using here, I’ll use the revised version) analysing, evaluating and creating. Arguably it’s a combination of all, but in this case we’re thinking about a design framework to support eLearning design which means no real application. Which makes it even more difficult, we’re up a meta level. We’re not talking about design, we’re talking about thinking about how we will design. This is higher level thinking, I’m not sure we’re all that prepared for this.

    I would have thought being shown a few more examples of completed learning designs in combination with their espoused design frameworks and being asked to understand and reflect upon those would be a useful first step. There’s been a little of this, but we haven’t yet really seen learning designs and their espoused design frameworks. Some of the questions being asked by other students in the forums seem to be evidence of this.

  • TPACK – limited T, limited P and a bit more C, and little PC, TC or TP.
    TPACK is another framework we’re introduced to this week and it offers another interesting perspective on asking us to perform this higher level task. The TPACK authors suggest that good learning design arises from the interplay of really good knowledge about technology, pedagogy and content. As student teachers in the first 2 weeks of study, most of us have fairly limited knowledge in most of these areas. It would appear not to be a great foundation on which to build thinking about eLearning design. Learning by doing?
  • The missing instructional design theory/framework.
    We’re being asked to work with only two frameworks, which don’t necessarily appear to provide complete coverage for all sets of learning design. Learning engagement theory describes a particular model for a learning process/design: Relate, Create, Donate. Bloom’s taxonomy defines a set of cognitive levels we might want students to achieve while going through the learning process. But neither offer any guidance about how to design learning, i.e. it’s missing an instructional design theory/framework.
  • What are we designing?
    Are we designing an activity like the Mobile phone wiki, a complete lesson, a complete course/unit? It’s possible that these frameworks could be applied at each of these levels, however, if I were working a complete course level, I’d probably be looking for some diversity, some additional frameworks/approaches.

In the end the assessment is set. We have to do it. So, it’s time to work around those concerns and or get answers.

The Framework

The framework I’ll suggest using combines constructive alignment (how to design), Bloom’s taxonomy (learning outcomes) and Learning engagement theory (a conceptual framework for technology-based learning and teaching). After reflection, I would further add the connectivist paradigm and Chickering and Gamson’s 7 principles as frameworks/theories that are likely to influence my design.

The process goes something like this, influenced by a simplistic flavour of constructive alignment

  1. Identify the learning outcomes.
    The assumption is that there are a priori goals or outcomes that this learning design is meant to achieve. Make these explicit. Use Bloom’s taxonomy to state them, the RadioJames Objectives Builder might help here.
  2. Identify how students are going to demonstrate they have achieved these outcomes and how they will be measured..
    A reliance on both learning engagement theory and Bloom’s helps there.
  3. Arrange activities that require students to develop and practice the outcomes.
    Largely learning engagement theory as the basis for the overall learning process, but then using the learning outcomes as a guide to implement specific experiences along the way (e.g. the mobile phone wiki). Additional insights needed in addressing some of the difficulties known about learning engagement theory. e.g. encouraging effective student collaboration and definition of project.

At least for me, underpinning all of this is a connectivist perspective to how I will operate. The ideas that I see or have archived from my PLN will influence some of the ideas about particular activities and technologies. i.e. there will be a tendency to borrow and adapt ideas I see modelled by others. It is also likely that my design of activities in the above would be influenced by that perspective.

Reflection on the mobile phones wiki

During week two for the ICTs for Learning Design course we are required to post a reflective blog post on the “Mobile phones wiki” exercise. This is mine.

About the task

In order to reflect upon the role of mobile phones in education we’re required to read some resources and contribute to a wiki. The contributions to the wiki are organised using de Bono’s six thinking hats.

Reflection on my learning

Mm, not so good. When I first visited the Wiki there was no information, so I contributed drawing on some resources I found and left it at that. I’ve just gone back to the wiki to see what has evolved and there is a lot more information on it from a range of folk. The problem is, however, that my contributions are no longer showing up and are apparently not evident in the “history” of the Wiki.

This experience has limited my learning, at least in terms of what was possibly expected. Not in some small part because I am now feeling somewhat frustrated by the whole experience. Both because of the apparent technical problems robbing me of a learning experience but also because I have a general belief that Wikis restricted to members of a class are not really wikis. Though my current frustration may be creating an overly negative reflection.

One thing I have learned is that Wikis are not necessarily effective if there is no on-going use of the information. For example, if I had completed this reflection yesterday after initially contributing to it, I would not have benefited from seeing insights from others. The exercise would have been little different from creating a blog post. Even now, with contributions from others, I wonder how much the use of the Wiki has contributed to merging and improving of ideas. Or have students simply looked for bits that aren’t there and added that as their contribution. The students seem to have add their initials (e.g. (DJ)) to their contributions.

Perhaps what the experience has reinforced is that “the characteristics of the wiki design” encompass a number of different dimensions, including

  • The nature of the technology.
    The Moodle wiki is pretty bad from a couple of perspectives, especially because it is shut off within the course site. But also includes how it is implemented within a particular context, and it appears there may have been problems with this particular course wiki.
  • The connection with the sequence of learning, or how it is introduced/connected.
    In this case, the sequence of learning was talking about “learning design frameworks” such as engagement theory etc and how we might use those to design lessons with ICTs. Then, all of a sudden we’ve jumped over to mobile phones, 6 thinking hats and a wiki. There was no immediate connection in my mind, it seemed somewhat arbitrary and wasn’t explained. Arguably it was also in direct contravention to engagement theory, something we’d just read about. This wiki was not open to other folk, it was not something we were producing for other people. A better approach might have been for us to create this wiki page on Wikieducator.
  • What students understand.
    The mindset and purpose of students will influence how an activity is seen. I don’t think many of the students appreciate that one of the features of a Wiki is the ability to edit other people’s work. It appears most students have added their bit separately, rather than merging and modifying something someone has already written (need to look further to prove this). There’s the pragmatic need to be seen to be fulfilling the task, contributing their bit by putting their initials next to their contribution. In part, this comes back to how this activity was introduced. I don’t think Wikis have been explained well, especially this point about collaborative authoring.

Reflection on potential for my learners

I doubt that I would use this sort of activity (closed wiki, disconnected activity, limited introduction of wikis, not for an external audience) with my learners. The basic idea, however, of using scaffolded, collaborative authoring on a Wiki does have some significant potential.

Perhaps a better example of the type of activity that I see as having significant potential would be to replace this activity with the task of creating a Wikipedia page for learning engagement theory. Or the task suggested above, create a mobile phones in education page on the Wikieducator site. Of course, these types of ideas require some significant extra work and time. The scaffolding for a Wikipedia page would take some significant work, but we would not be the first so hopefully there would be resources out there to use.

Thinking specifically of my likely teaching in secondary mathematics and information technology. I can see both these types of activities (Wikipedia or Wikieducator) as having potential. Especially with my idea/dream for a senior IT course that would engage the students with the task of making a significant contribution to an open source product. One approach would be for the entire cohort to work on the same open source product, but possibly work on different plugins. So, separate work but still a common collection of knowledge. Most open source projects (I’m thinking Moodle here) don’t have real great resources for beginning developers. One of the sub-projects the students could have would be to create these resources, or at least start contributing some. A wiki would be an obvious place to start.

Constructivism, Connectivism, Behaviourism, Cognitivism

Again, I think there can be the distinction drawn between the learning theory that was intended in the design and the “theory” that drove how students implemented the task. As intended I’m guessing that there is a heavy constructivist flavour in terms of getting folk to construct their own meaning, contributed that to the wiki and the gain value from seeing (and maybe modifying) the contributions of others. However, as discussed above, I’m unsure just how much collaboration went on. The 6 thinking hats provided some scaffolding and this reflection activity has engaged a bit of meta-cognition.

Arguably there are some glimmers of connectivism, but very faint and I assume, unintentional.

ICTs for Learning Design: Week 2

Work for week 2. The following is a diary come min-reflection for the work I’m doing for the 2nd week of the ICTs for Learning Design course.

A bug

Oh dear, have just noticed that the banner image on the Moodle course site says “ITCs for Learning Design”

Banners and QA

Double check Week 1

The coordinator for this course has adopted the “weekly update” pattern for this course. Each week an “email” is sent out describing the aims and intent of the week. It’s a practice that is useful to keep a track of what should be done. Time to double check what I’ve missed from week 1.

Ahh, there are two more blog reflections I have to engage in. Better get to them, especially since the feed into the assessment.
So, after completing the week 1 tasks, it’s time to be doing what I should have been focused on.

The overview of week 2

Apparently looking more at “digital pedagogy”. My immediate response is “What, as distinct from blackboard pedagogy and paper pedagogy?”. i.e. somewhat sceptical. It’s just another technology. It appears that TPACK will be one of the things we’re looking at (which links to @sthcrft’s thoughts on educational frameworks). Oh, and we’re also looking at Kerisley and SChneiderman’s Learning Engagement theory framework (a “theory framework”, very meta?) and Bloom’s taxonomy.

The intent is that we’ll be combining these learning design frameworks into a scaffold/framework for our own learning design.

This overview was given in a separate resource page on the Moodle site. I’m glad it’s there, I’ve found it useful.

Teaching in online environments

Introduces a range of questions a teacher might want to consider about why you have an online presence and the implications that arise. I’m not sure many of these reasons differ from those you would consider about anything you would do.

Some more definitions – what is ICT (any digital device). What is pedagogy (art of teaching). What is productive pedagogy (art of teaching that is productive in terms of student learning outcomes). And some more from which it concludes

Learning should be authentic, it should be embedded in a real context. It should be connected to the world beyond the boundaries of the learning context. Learning should be problematic, in real life, learning is always messy and ill-defined.

Learning should be collaborative and support substantive conversation amongst learners, and it should value difference and group identity. Finally, learning should support deep knowledge, higher order thinking.

I really am not a fan of generalisations. My immediate thought is of situations where this may be somewhat inappropriate.

And Education Queensland on Digital Pedagogy

identifies digital pedagogy as being “a new way of working and learning with ICT to facilitate quality learning experiences for 21st Century learners. Digital Pedagogy moves the focus from ICT tools and skills, to a way of working in the digital world”.

I find it interesting that nothing has really been said about why you would use frameworks and the disadvantages.

TPACK

TPACKis introduced through a Prezi presentation (is “presentation” not needed? is “a prezi” enough). Having looked through it, I’m not sure what value TPACK provides in terms of structuring and making accessible the lower levels used in the presentation. Most of these looked like a grab-bag of different taxonomies/fameworks of software, content, applications etc. I wonder if the TPACK site has any better introductions?

One of the difficulties I guess I had with the presentation is that I was wondering exactly what it is about TPACK that I should remember from this presentation. What should I have been looking for? As it happens, I already have a copy of this article on TPACK

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing Technological Pedagogical Knowledge. In AACTE (Eds.). The Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Educators. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group for the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.

Having read that, the contribution TPACK appears to make is the recognition that really outstanding use of ICTs for Learning Design emerges from the interplay of expert knowledge of each of the components: Technology, Pedagogy and Content. It is the interplay that is important. Beyond that, I’m unsure exactly what TPACK can contribute to help us as student teachers in learning design. In fact, given that many of the student teachers are going to be limited in terms of experience with technology, new to the practices of pedagogy, and for some a bit rough on content (e.g. my mathematics knowledge) TPACK suggests that they will struggle to produce really outstanding use of ICTs for learning design.

That said, I think it is important that more people understand the idea that

“We view technology as a knowledge system that comes with its own biases, and affordances that make some technologies more applicable in some situations than others

Which is not to mention that there is more to TPACK and T, P and C knowledge. There’s also PC, TP, TC and TPC knowledge.

Then there is Archambault et al (2010) which critically examine TPACK and reference work that is critical of PCK on which TPACK is based.

At this stage, I am wondering just exactly what purpose TPACK fulfills. It is a description of the types of knowledge required to design ICT-based learning design or is it a framework that guides the design. It is increasingly sounding like the former and hence not all that useful as a framework to actively support learning design. Archambault et al (2010)

There is confusion among the field of educational technology, not only concerning the definitions, but also the specific activities and methods to develop TPACK. This makes it difficult to implement knowledge from a framework that is yet to be fully defined, which limits its practical application.

Engagement Theory

And now onto Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. I hadn’t heard of this particular theory. Wondering about its acceptance a quick Google Scholar reveals that its been cited 263 times, so it’s reasonably important. Now, following the advice given early on that in education you want references that a within 5 years, I went looking for something a bit more recent than 1998. Most of the references since 2005 appear to be reports of particular innovations which are likely to have briefly referenced engagement theory. Have to admit that in current times with the focus on engagement, a theory of engagement for ICTs might go a long way. So what do they have to say.

The fundamental idea

underlying engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks.

The place of technology is that while not necessarily required, it facilitates engagement in ways that are otherwise difficult to achieve. While not based on existing learning theories, aspects of it connect with ideas from constructivist, situated and adult learning theories.

It is based on the idea of “creating successful collaborative teams that work on ambitious projects that are meaningful to someone outside the classroom”. Can be summarised by 3 components

  1. Relate;
    Focus on group/team: communication, planning, management, social skills. Collaboration increases learning (through explaining ideas), motivation, diversity etc.

    Collaboration can be difficult and unusual. Teacher requires practice and skills.

  2. Create;
    Make learning creative and purposeful through real projects defined by students.

    Project work can be hard, especially project definition and team formation.

  3. Donate.
    Make a useful contribution while learning through an outside customer. Increasing motivation and satisfaction.

Ahh, interesting that it includes a disclaimer that theory has not be subjected to empirical test.

But still, I can see this being a much more useful framework for guiding the design of e-learning.

Bloom’s taxonomy

Ahh, the old friend. Can learning objectives not be too far away? Using this resource on Blooms. Interesting that it is not using the revised version, especially since the revised version places synthesis at a higher level than evaluation. And there is also the focus on the cognitive domain and no apparent mention of the affective and pyschomotor.

I again have this problem with what sort of framework. Bloom’s is not a framework for designing e-learning. It’s a taxonomy useful for describing learning objectives. i.e. of describing the goals for learning, not the actual learning. You might be able to use Biggs’ idea of constructive alignment in conjunction with Bloom’s taxonomy as a design framework, but not Bloom’s by itself.

Design our framework?

Oh dear, we’re now meant to combine these two into a framework that we believe will support excellent e-learning design. The idea being that Learning Engagement Theory provides the “valued learning context” and Bloom’s is used to ensure that students are covering the bases from knowledge through to synthesis. We’re supposed to blog about this.

Mmm, arguably the project-based nature of Learning Engagement theory would work somewhat against using Bloom’s in this way. You could specify Bloom’s hoops, but perhaps at the cost of students being able to follow their passion. Perhaps balancing these two is the nature of the “wicked problem” that is teaching? I can see constructive alignment appearing.

The other problem I have with this is one I’ve had for a while. That is the emphasis on design from scratch. i.e. that learning design involves a blank slate rather than tweaking what is already there. In a school setting, where there is less inertia this might work. It might also work with an expert teacher. But in the case of student teachers, I’m wondering whether an assumption of design from scratch is the reality. I have the same concerns about teaching programming.

Will leave this for another post.

Other activities

This is part of what confuses me. These other activities are on another resource page in the Moodle course. Not part of the other material I worked through.

Wiki, De Bono’s hats and mobile phones

Use a Wiki to contribute some arguments/perspectives about mobile phones in schools. Again, showing off a design model and the use of a Wiki. Okay, but I feel it is somewhat a bolt-on to the content of the week. It doesn’t feel authentic. Not to mention, going by Engagement theory, the Wiki is not for someone else, further reducing its relevance.

Mmm, have to post a reflective blog on that. Will post this first and get to that.

References

Archambault, Leanna M., and Joshua H. Barnett. 2010. Revisiting technological pedagogical content knowledge: Exploring the TPACK framework. Computers & Education 55, no. 4 (December): 1656-1662. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.07.009. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0360131510002010.

Reflection on the learning theories wiki

This is the second of two reflective blog posts associated with the ICTs for Learning Design course for week 1. Each of these will follow much the same format as the first.

This particular task went something like this

  • Team up with a partner.
    This was intended to be done via the profile wiki, but I must admit I ended up working with the person who was sitting closest to me in a f-t-f class. In part, this was due to implementation issues with the wiki and groups.
  • Select one of many readings on learning theories (we chose constructivism).
  • Specify your selection by placing your names on a Wiki.
  • Perform a PMI analysis of the learning theory examined in the reading.
  • Collaboratively with your partner fill out the PMI on a Wiki.

There was also an unspoken assumption that we might read some of the PMIs produced by other pairs (which I have not yet done).

Reflection on my learning

i.e. “what was it’s value to me as a learner?”

Yes. Two main reasons. First, it provided an opportunity to read and reflect a bit more about constructivism than I have previously. Second, it provided an opportunity for me to see the interpretations and ideas of others.

The second point was particularly evident in the differences between the PMIs of my partner and I. Our process was that we did our PMIs separately and then used the Wiki to merge them. My partner had completed first and it was obvious that his approach engaged more with the details of constructivism, whereas my approach was a little more abstract. I hadn’t really directly engaged with the specifics, showing a limitation of my thinking about this.

I had the opportunity to see the ideas of others because I formulated and posted my PMI initially on my blog. And for some reason it has been picked up a bit of a readership. It’s been viewed 198 times in four days and has had comments from a couple of people. Both comments have included different and interesting perspectives. One commenter has obviously read and thought a lot more about constructivism and its connections with connectivism than I.

It is through this and some other experiences that I’ve formed the opinion that I haven’t really internalised constructivism, not in any deep sense.

At the same time, I haven’t read any of the other PMIs produced by other students. Let’s do that now.

Oh, that is interesting. The PMI on behaviourism suggests that it is heavily used in the gaming industry. Especially in terms of the use of levels in games and its addictive nature. My initial response to that idea is to disagree, at least to some extent. This raises a question I have about this activity, to what level are people getting feedback or discussing with others (outside of their group) about what is written. I could have listed something completely wrong in my PMI that is now being read by others and helping them form incorrect conceptions.

As it happens, there are two PMIs on the wiki. A third has a start, but no content. Mm, that raises questions about the effectiveness of the Jigsaw approach being used for these readings. To some extent the intent is that my learning about the other learning theories/issues/paradigms relies on the work of the other pairs. Most of whom haven’t completed (at least based on the view I have).

Reflection on potential for my learners

There are perhaps three aspects to this activity, each with its own potential for my learners.

  1. The use of the Moodle or a wiki.
    As with the previous post, the use of a particular technology is going to be dependent on the teaching context. It would not surprise me to be in a context where a wiki, especially a Moodle wiki would be inappropriate. It would be inappropriate for two main reasons: (1) it’s a fairly poor wiki, and (2) it is a closed wiki accessible only by people in the class/course. A closed wiki prevents limits the benefits that can arise from other people looking at the work.
  2. The use of the PMI tactic.
    Significant potential. It is a useful way of giving students some scaffolding around analysing an idea.
  3. The use of the expert jigsaw.
    Good potential. The more complete description of the Jigsaw approach offers some potential, though not without its problems.

Constructivism

Are there any visible elements of constructivism?

Yes, in both the use of a wiki and the expert jigsaw, especially in a more complete form. The collaboration, the shared construction within the pair and then the reliance on other groups for other insights. The use of PMI as a scaffold may be an indicator. As would the fact that we had earlier read briefly about these theories. i.e. there’s a link with that earlier knowledge and what we’re doing next.

Cognitivism

I would somewhat tentatively suggest that PMI has elements of cognitivism, at least based on some perspectives. It’s an approach that helps guide learner cognition. I’m thinking this may be a long (even incorrect) bow to draw. Finding it difficult to make this connection based on the limited understanding of cognitivism that I have.

Behaviourism

No.

Connectivism

Potentially yes. The pairing and the use of expert jigsaw could be said to be intended to encourage the formation of networks. The exercise is both recognising and encouraging the diversity of opinions. But frankly, my interpretation is that this activity was designed from a constructivist perspective (this is the paradigm being emphasised) and that I may perhaps be over-reading some connections/similarities.

A more connectivist approach to this might focus more on students blogging their PMIs on their own blogs, on having set up an environment whereby students doing the same reading could see and discuss their different perspectives and then produce a wiki synthesis from there. Or even have them produce a second round of individual posts on their own blogs.

Diversity

The jigsaw tactic is dividing the students into smaller groups and allowing them to figure out how best to work for their needs and situations. There’s still enough scaffolding to bring that all back together at certain stages. However, the activity is still based on a fair bit of reading and writing, which theoretically doesn’t always enable diversity. Allowing the option of folk watching animations, lectures etc on some readings might provide more diversity. Similarly, the requirement to use the Moodle wiki, reduces diversity. The PMI approach provides some scaffolding but is still fairly open in terms of interpretation/diversity.

eLearning and digital pedagogy

I can certainly see applications for PMI, the expert jigsaw, and wikis. Perhaps not exactly the same as the structure used in this activity.

I can see how something along these lines might be a useful way for an exercise where IT students have to read and critique some code and/or learn about some new techniques.

Reflection on the profile Wiki: ICTs for Learning Design

The following is a reflection on one activity required during the first week of the ICTs for Learning Design course I’m taking. Over the next few weeks there will be a number of these reflective posts and then, eventually, a post that synthesises these posts into one reflection.

The intent behind this design is, I believe, to link our uses of various technologies back to what we’re meant to be learning about different learning paradigms/theories with the design of some learning activities. i.e. this is a form of reflection on what we’ve done that should encourage a bit of meta-cognition about how it all fits together.

This task required has to add some personal details to a Wiki within the Moodle course site. We were provided with a template for the personal details and the Wiki was specific to a group. I could be wrong, the current incarnation of the wiki appears to be for the whole course. Unsure if this was the original intent or a result of some problems with Moodle groups and wikis.

Reflection on my learning

i.e. “what was it’s value to me as a learner?”

To date, I have to say not a great deal. Factors behind that include

  • This type of activity is not new to me.
    In terms of sharing information about myself, I’ve had a website since 1994 and this blog for at least 3 years or so. In terms of using a wiki, I was responsible for the decision that led to an organisational unit using a wiki as the unit’s website. And lastly, I’ve developed blocks and activity modules (i.e. software) inside Moodle and Moodle courses.

    That said, I still found using the Moodle wiki to achieve the stated aim somewhat clunky and unclear. Not sure exactly how much of this was down to the directions, the requirements or the idiosyncrasies of the Moodle wiki.

  • My early completion of the task.
    I complete the task on the first night of the residential school and was the first person to add my name. The second person started work on adding his within minutes of me and had similar problems so didn’t have anything posted.
  • My lack of looking at the profile’s of other students.
    Today is the first day (almost two weeks later) that I’ve been back to the page and I note that there are a lot more profiles there. But I haven’t looked at them, mostly due to the previous point. In addition, I’m somewhat reluctant to trawl through a lot of profiles now since
    • I have a slow network connection and the Moodle instance has a history of being slow.
    • I’m unlikely to remember a lot of the details of individuals as I read a long list of profiles.
    • And now as I’m looking through some profiles, I find the design of the wiki/profile combination somewhat lacking. e.g. it would be really useful when looking at a profile to have a previous/next interface element that would allow me to go to the next profile without having to go back to the parent wiki page and then back down again. An example of the drawbacks of a general tool.
    • So far, there hasn’t been an activity that has required me to read through the profiles, until I started here. I did briefly check out the details of my partner in another task, but that was one profile.

Reflection on potential for my learners

i.e. how could I use this with my learners. I’ll start by assuming that my learners would have reasonable access to such a tool. Which would not always be a given.

First implication is that it probably wouldn’t be all that useful. A typical school situation is going to somewhat different to a university course, especially one where the students are distributed very broadly in geographical terms and are mostly not going to be regularly meeting face-to-face. i.e. there are probably strategies that don’t involve technologies that might achieve the stated goal here more easily than a wiki.

In addition, as currently designed this activity doesn’t integrate the use of the information in the disparate profiles into the everyday practice of the students and/or another assessment task (beyond my partner). Given that in Moodle each user has an associated profile, it might have been more appropriate to put the profile there, rather than a stand alone wiki. That way if I see someone make an interesting comment in a discussion profile I can click on their profile and learn a bit more about their background and how that fits with their comment.

The application of technology to encourage my learners to know each other (and I and them me) is beneficial. But I think there are probably better ways of doing it.

Constructivism

Are there any visible elements of constructivism?

Well, rather than simply read about how to use the Wiki, the students are actively constructing their knowledge about how to use a Wiki by doing a task. Though I’m not sure how authentic the task is. There is perhaps a flavour of social constructivism in getting people to know more about each other, but that wasn’t strictly part of the task.

Cognitivism

I don’t think there’s any strong evidence of this. No great discussion or engagement with the internal functioning of the brain.

Behaviourism

You could probably argue that the task itself is potentially behavourist. There wasn’t a lot of discussion of internal workings of the brain, instead you were told to do a task and success is measured on the outcome, not any internal changes. Of course, when you add in this bit of reflection, the game is changed. However, there wasn’t a lot of explicit direction or on-going practice around how to perform the task.

Connectivism

No real evidence of this, beyond the capability of students forming connections with other students through information gleaned from the profiles. Though I don’t think the actual task of creating your profile encouraged or required this. The absence of embedding the need/ability to use this information as part of everyday practice limits this somewhat.

Diversity

Does it support a wide range of students? How?

I’d have to suggest that it doesn’t. There was one tool, one task and limited instructions in how to do it. I doubt that the Moodle wiki plays nicely with such assistive technologies as might be used by someone who is blind and the requirement to use ICTs – understandable given the course – limits diversity. The requirement to put the profile in the Moodle wiki using the provided template also reduces support for diversity.

That said, there was some support through the suggestion that students didn’t have to provide all of the information specified in the template if any of it made them feel uncomfortable.

eLearning and digital pedagogy

How could the design of this activity, as an e-learning strategy, support learning?

As stated above, the purpose behind this activity seem two-fold. First, start students using a wiki for a potentially authentic task. Second, encourage students to learn about each other. If you use the Chickering and Gamson’s 7 Principles then this activity potentially connects with three of the principles

  1. Encourage active learning.
  2. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students.
  3. Encourages contact between students and faculty.

As said above, however, I think the activity needs some re-design to fully support these principles.