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Anderson on meeting student needs

5 Aug 2011

Getting the Mix Right Again: An updated and theoretical rationale for Interaction. How to be effective and efficient in meeting diverse student needs. Terry Anderson (2003)

Wagner’s (1994) “reciprocal events that require at least two objects and two actions. Interactions occur when these objects and events mutually influence one another” (p. 8).

A comment left on a blog is therefore a reciprocal interaction, like an asynchronous discussion in a forum, as there are two people (subjects) with in respective cases two objects (the blog and the comment) and two actions (the writing of the blog, the composition of a response in the form of a comment).

This does not, as Anderson suggests, negate Daniel and Marquis’s (1998) definition of interaction needing to refer “in a restrictive manner to cover only those activities where the student is in two-way contact with another person (or persons)” (Daniel and Marquis, 1988, p. 339). In 1989 they could not have known how texting would develop into meaningful interaction between two or more people, or the way in which asynchronous discussion could occur online.

  • Sims (1999) argues that interactivity allows for learner control, adaptation of the learner program, various forms of participation and communication, and as aiding the development of meaningful learning.
  • Lipman (1991) and Wenger (2001) say that interactivity is fundamental to the creation of the learning communities.
  • Jonassen (1991) says that another person’s perspective is a key learning component in constructivist learning theories.
  • Langer (1989) says that interaction develops mindfulness in learners.

There is a history of interaction as a theory in education

  • Dewey (1916) from inert information from another to your own understanding and interpretation in your head.
  • Holmberg (1989) between tutor and student, whether postal or on the phone.
  • Laurilard (1997) interaction between tutor, content and students.

The difference between formal and informal learning.

One, Anderson argues, is purposively designed to have a learning outcome. Though I do wonder, based on a recent Elluminate session in which we considered a formal and informal learning design for teaching The Green Cross Code if the informal miss has greater impact, the shock of the unexpected when you are nearly hit … Or as a driver or passenger you nearly hit (or even do hit) another?

Since both formal and informal learning can result from interaction between and amongst students alone, or as result of interaction between student and content, the participation of a teacher cannot be a defining feature of an educational interaction. (Anderson, 2003)

Anderson, 2003 suggested that due to the increasing computational power and storage capacity of computers (Moore’s Law), their increase in functionality when networked (Metcalfe’s Law), and related geometric increases in a host of technical developments (Kurzweil, 1999) created opportunity to transform student-teacher and student-student interaction into enhanced forms of student-content interaction.

In a way the interaction with the content of various kinds in mixed ways that goes on in the head Dewey (1916) has been the goal of the developers of interactive learning all along, in the training context this has occurred as facilitator-led learning was gradually transcended by workbooks in the 1980s, video-led and interactive (on laser-disc then Interactive DVD before) in the 1990s before efforts occurred to migrate content and interactivity to the web from the 1990s.

The multiple interplay of Anderson and Garrison’s (1998) Fig. 1 rings true, though how content without a student or teacher interloper baffles me and in 2011 teacher in the broadest sense should take in all educators and ancillary stakeholders.

There is no single medium that supports the educational experience in a manner that is superior in all ways to that supported via other media.

Clark’s (1994), Kozma’s (1994) Russell (2000) and many others show that there is ’a complicated interaction between content, student preference and need, institutional capacity and preference, and teaching and learning approaches to learning’.

There is also evidence that many students deliberately choose learning programs that allow them to minimize the amount of student-teacher and student-student interaction required (May, 2003; Kramarae, 2003).

While Anderson (2003) concludes that there is ’a wide range of need and preference for different combinations of paced and un-paced, synchronous and asynchronous activity, and also a strong desire for variety and exposure to different modes and modularities of educational provision and activity.’

From these observations and from the literature debate, Anderson developed an equivalency theorem as follows:

Deep and meaningful formal learning is supported as long as one of the three forms of interaction is at a high level:

• Student–teacher

• Student-student

• Student-content

The other two may be offered at minimal levels, or even eliminated, without degrading the educational experience.

High levels of more than one of these three modes will likely provide a more satisfying educational experience.

This theorem implies that an instructional designer can substitute one type of interaction for one of the others (at the same level) with little loss in educational effectiveness – thus the label of an equivalency theory.

Student-teacher interaction currently has the highest perceived value amongst students, and thus commands highest scores.

There is some evidence to suggest value in “vicarious interaction,” in which non-active participants gain from observing and empathizing with active participants (Sutton, 2001; Fulford and Zhang, 1993).

Also Cox (2006) with a nod to John Seely- (2007) (both from week 2)

For planning or development purposes, designers are encouraged to build into their programs strategic amounts of each type of interaction, and to develop activities that will encourage this amount of interaction.

This interests me because I wonder if we could take the call-centre principal and apply it to social media, a collective engagement of substance.

At Athabasca University, Anderson writes, students had access (7 days a week, 12 hours a day) to call centre staff. They were equipped with FAQ databases, course syllabi, and a limited amount of content knowledge to answer a wide variety of student inquiries.

Would this help with retention?

It would contribute to engagement. It did contribute to deeper learning. Are we now saying that this interaction must come from fellow students? Or alumni groups in social networks?

I know that in the corporate sector Epic offer clients a ‘call-centre’ like service as they have realised that online interactive learning naturally throws up situations where students want to talk to an informed and sympathetic person. No one wants to be passed from pillow to post. I say this as an informed online learner who has not just had to sleep on a problem, but the nature of responses either send you to sleep or leave you wanting to bang your head against a post.

I loathe this kind of academic language.

This is where academics address each other, a PhD student to their sponsor perhaps. It puts students and the inquisitive mind at arm’s length.

This will change in the Web 2.0 world as this content gets an airing well-beyond its original place in a printed journal and with a few tags and comments gets spread rapidly across thousands rather than a handful of readers.

‘The equivalency theorem proposed in this paper is not as complicated nor as technically detailed as other theories relevant to distance education (e.g., Jaspers, 1991; Saba and Shearer, 1994). However, its simplicity allows it to function as an accessible heuristic for distance education delivery design’. Anderson (2003)

My highlights.

The choice of words then this massive compound-noun says to me this person is trying to sound clever, elitist and worthy of the academic status they aspire to. It is poor communication. Even the chunk of referencing sticks in the gullet. We should in theory reference every word we utter, as none are our own, all could be tagged back to someone, somewhere.

Clarity counts.

By quoting Wilson here Anderson reveals his motives. Sometimes academics what to coin a phrase or word: e-tivity (Salmon, 2002), sometimes a phrase: digital natives (Prensky, 2001, 2003, but read Jones to put this terms where they belong), sometimes a theorem, this one being ‘The Equivalency Theorem’.

Wilson (1997), Anderson tells us, described three functions that a good educational theory performs.

I’ll let you read the conclusion in the paper for these.

My interest is not in developing a theorem, my quest is for understanding that I may then apply.

An important paper, dense, chronological, logical, a great intellect chew.

Anderson (2003) ends with this:

‘I am convinced that many of these alternatives should be focused on creating the most cost effective and accessible alternatives that can scale to meet the burgeoning global demand for effective and affordable life-long learning opportunities. In most cases, these models will drastically reduce the amount of teacher-student interaction, and substitute it with increased student-student and student-content interaction. For many, this scenario is a frightening one, but one that is in keeping with our tradition of expanding educational access and opportunity, and thus not one we should abhor’.

Eight years on I feel like sounding him out.

Was he prescient? Where is he now?

The fact Anderson has missed is the greater desire for increased personalisation, learning tailor to the individual and increased interaction through social networks, with the knowledgeable as well as the ignorant (whether or not they are the person’s tutor or faculty academics).

Actually, the group I find silent are the tutors and academics.

They are too busy with their heads in their professional thoughts unable to offer up a piece of their minds without attaching a price or allocated time to it. Is this the difference between a professional musician and a busker?


Anderson, T., and Garrison, D.R. (1998). Learning in a networked world: New roles and responsibilities. In C. Gibson (Ed.), Distance Learners in Higher Education. (p. 97-112). Madison, WI.: Atwood Publishing.

Anderson, T. (2003). Modes of interaction in distance education: Recent developments and research questions. In M. Moore (Ed.) Handbook of Distance Education. (p. 129-144). Mahwah, NJ.: Erlbaum.

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Fulford, C. P., and Zhang, S. (1993). Perceptions of Interaction: The critical predictor in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 7(3), 8– 21.

John Seely-Brown October 2007 webcast: http://stadium.open.ac.uk/stadia/preview.php?whichevent=1063&s=31 +My notes on this: http://learn.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=60469+The transcript of that session: http://learn.open.ac.uk/file.php/7325/block1/H800_B1_Week2a_JSBrown_Transcript.rtf

Jaspers, F. (1991). Interactivity or Instruction? A reaction to Merrill. Educational Technology, 31(3), 21 – 24.

Jonassen, D. (1991). Evaluating constructivistic learning. Educational Technology, 31(10), 28 – 33.

Jones, C (2010) A new generation of learners? The Net Generation and Digital Natives

Kurzweil, R. (1999). The age of spiritual machines. New York: Penguin Group.

Langer, E. (1989). Mindfulness. Reading, MA.: Addison-Wesley.

Lipman, M. (1991). Thinking in Education. Cambridge, UK.: Cambridge University Press.

Saba, F., and Shearer, R. (1994). Verifying key theoretical concepts in a dynamic model of distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 8(1), 36 – 59.

Salmon, G. (2002) E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning, London, RoutledgeFalmer.

Sims, R. (1999). Interactivity on stage: Strategies for learner-designer communication. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 15(3), 257 – 272. Retrieved May 25, 2002 from: http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/ajet/ajet15/sims.html

Sutton, L. (2001). The principles of vicarious interaction in computer-mediated communications. Journal of Interactive Educational Communications, 7(3), 223 –242. Retrieved July 15, 2003 from: http://www.eas.asu.edu/elearn/research/suttonnew.pdf

Wagner, E.D. (1994). In support of a functional definition of interaction. American Journal of Distance Education, 8(2), 6 – 26.

Wenger, E. (2001). Supporting communities of practice: A survey of community-orientated technologies. (1.3 Ed.) Shareware. Retrieved Mar 12, 2003 from: http://www.ewenger.com/tech/

Wilson, B. (1997). Thoughts on theory in educational technology. Educational Technology, 37(1), 22 – 26.

MAODE H800 A moment of enlightenment

28 July 2011

I would like to be studying an applied MAODE.

This should be a joint collaboration between the Institute of Educational Technology and the Open University Business and Law School.

applied is the operative word.

Not a Masters in Open and Distance Education, but an aMAODE.

18 months ago I signed up to the MAODE (I might have done an MA in Fine Art … for which I was qualified. Where would I be now?)

Never mind

My mother, tutored by Quentin Bell at Durham University in the 1950s, had me teaching fine art somewhere. (Our family for the last four generations seem not to generate progeny until they are at least in their third decade)

Maybe, e-Art?

I may pick this up next and become a e-learning verions of David McAndless.

Information is beautiful

Go Google.

24 months ago several friends signed up to an e-learning course with Sussex University. They are now constructing e-learning, I am not.


The difference, dare I suggest, is did I want to be a mechanic, or the engineer?

  • Can The OU be less precious and offer more of both?
  • My first ECA was an entirely practicle, commercial piece of e-learning that was shot down …
  • for being blended
  • and ‘of this world.’
  • It is all ‘of this world’.

It is only learning, not e-learning, but o-learning.

Only Learning.

P.S. It ain’t rocket science. As Martin Weller shows in his VLE book.

What we as potential practioners of online learnning is a dip in the training pool. As a Swimming Coach, and former competitive swimmer, what strikes me is that I am yet to stick my toes in the water.

Frankly, my concern, is that if I come up with another commercial e-learning project for an ECA it will like the other one be rubbished because the markers are looking for an academic paper, not a viable e-learning project.

This is where the tectonic plates of theory and practice meet. Is anyone on the MAODE doing it to become an academic?

From Drop Box

(Note to self a month later … it is applied. In every module, particularly H807 ‘Innovations in E-Learning’ we are constantly pressed to put e-learning in an applied context with which we are familiar)

The Digital Scholar : Martin Weller (Notes)

11 Sep 11


I developed a craving a year ago to read a book from cover to cover, rather than reading papers or bits of papers. Initially I got the book in the post, then to a Kindle. And now on an iPad and iPhone too. So the last three days I’ve read Martin Weller’s new book ‘The Digital Scholar.’ Read on, or read to me on the Kindle while I took notes on the iPad.

Notes run to several pages, all rather cryptic at the moment.

If you’e doing the MAODE the other books I would recommend are:

  • Diffusion of Innovations. (5th Ed 2005) Rogers.
  • Educationl Psychology. (1926) Vygotsky
  • Rethinking Pedagogy in a Digital Age. (2007) Beetham & Sharpe (eds)

This is one of fifty+ points I’ve noted from the book

‘This is a period of transition for scholarship, as significant as any other in its history, from the founding of universities to the establishment of peer review and the scientific method. It is also a period that holds tension and even some paradoxes: it is both business as usual and yet a time for considerable change; individual scholars are being highly innovative and yet the overall picture is one of reluctance; technology is creating new opportunities while simultaneously generating new concerns and problems’.

Weller (2011)

Use of mobile devices in e-learning

There must be industry reports that can give a more current ‘state of play’ for use of mobile devices (smart phones and tablets in particular) … though not necessarily confined to use in education.

The Kukulska-Hulme et al 2011 report ‘Mature Students using mobile devices in life and learning’ may be a recent publication (International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning Jan-march 2001) but draws its conclusions on research undertaken in between May 2008 and April 2009.

Technologically and in relation to the potential for e-learning a great deal has happened since then.

In industry would we not expert a report, say from Nielsen or Monitor, to have been done in the last six months?

In the technology sector old news is redundant.

By 2009 PDAs were virtually extinct and we were about to experience the launch of the iPad. Since 2009 smart phones have graduated – they’re bright in many ways.

Like their users?

Bright people with the means quickly find ways to put these tools to work, extending their reach to their online course, for materials, forums and assessment alerts, to organise their study time around their diary.


‘In today;s global marketplace, educators must know the technology habits and expectations of their students, including those from other countries.’ (Kukulska-Hulme et al, 2001:18)
“Learners can be active makers and shapers of their own learning. They should be supported in using technologies of their own choice where appropriate”. (JISC, 2009, p.51)
Mobile (as they were) will not necessarily be readily adapted for learning.
Ergonomic, pedagogical, psychological and environmental facts and the issue of cost (Stockwell, 2008)
More widespread adoption by students and teachers is likely to follow. (ibid 2011:19)
A convenient and powerful tool for learning.
In an age when “communities are jumping across technologies” as needs and trends evolve (Wenger, 2010), educators and researchers also have to stay informed about how learners use personal technologies as members of communities that may be social, work-related or educational’.
Decreasing institutional control
Jones, Ramanau, Cross and Healing (2010) have critiqued the ‘new generation’ arguments, concluding that “overall there is growing theoretical and empirical evidence that casts doubt on the idea that there is a defined new generation of young people with common characteristics related to their exposure to digital technologies through-out their life (p.6)
Notable minorities
  • Internet to download or upload materials
  • Contribute to blogs and wiki and engage with virtual worlds (ibid p.21)
‘We consider that learners who use handheld mobile devices (e.g., their phones and mp3-players) to support their learning constitute a minority at the present time. We agree that their age seems less important than their position as early adopters and instigators of change through their influence among their peers and through their networks’. (2011:19)
Students registered on such programmes would be particularly strong. (distance learning).
The sample was purposive.
For key areas:
  • Learning
  • Social Interaction
  • Entertainment
  • Work
Interplay between them (Kukulska-Hulme & Pettit, 2009)
‘Learning’ is not an unambiguous term … instead of the double negative why not ‘learning is an ambiguous term’.
Does the rhetorical device of the double negative make the statement less assailable?
‘We were interested in gathering data that might challenge the still widespread opinion amongst educators that mobile devices are of little use for academic study. Activities such as web browsing, reading e-news, article reading, book reading, and note taking are valued in the academic world but often considered implausible on handheld devices.’ (2011:20)
Until more recently that his study which was carried it 2009.
Since the survey was developed, other devices including notebook computers and ebook readers have become popular, making it even more difficult to draw boundaries between ‘handheld learning’, laptop learning’ and ‘desktop learning’. (2011:21)
As if such a distinction was ever necessary? They are all computers, just different sizes, affordances and capabilities.
I liken this loss of boundaries, or the blurring, to drops of ink in a tank of water that gradually swirl about each other and merge.
We are able to highlight some differences that became apparent
Conversations with their students
Students do not always realise the potential of new tools and this is an aspect where educators can help (Trinder, Guiller, Margaryan, Littlejohn & Nicol, 2008)
Questions covered:
  • About yourself
  • use of mobile devices
  • Being part of groups and communities
  • Specific uses for mobile devices
  • Mobile devices for learning
Open questions enabled participants to write a response in their own terms.
A total of 270 students complete the questionnaire.
Over all the report notes that:
  • There are receptive, productive and communicative uses
  • Respondents are using mobile devices to capture ideas and experiences
  • Mobile devices have a useful function as tools that remind he user about what she/he has to do.
  • Respondents make use of a range of applications for informal learning.
  • One function of games is to fill gaps ion the day.
  • Some respondents appear to be drawing boundaries around disparate uses
  • The mobile phone features as an alternative means of communications and to support physical mobility, e.g. as an alternative to having a land line or when work involves travelling.


  • Contact with others
  • Access to information and answers
  • Reading e-Books
  • Listening to Podcasts
  • Scheduling


  • Recording one’s voice
  • Replay on iPod
  • Taking photos
  • Contacting experts in other fields
  • Uploading notes to blog
  • Facebook
  • Windows Live Messenger
  • MSN
  • Sky[e
  • Language learning
  • Finding information
  • Headphones to shut out distractions
  • Productive activities
‘Reported benefits of using mobile devices to be part of groups or communities include spontaneous communications, flexibility, speed, stimulation and use of technology to cope with changing arrangement’. (2011:27)
27 Distinct used of mobile devices (ibid, 2011:28)
The three most intensive uses are very clearly sending text messages, browsing websites and listening to music … and reading e-news. (2011:28)
Responses included well established advantages such as convenient access to information or to the Internet and the ability to contact people whenever needed. Specific new/innovative aspects notes by respondents included (2011:29):
  • Permanency of taking notes: paper is easily lost
  • Multipurpose; yo can take your work/entertainment with you
  • Can combine work with a run with listening to a podcast
  • Podcasts give access to unique historical/scientific content
  • Suits auditory learners
  • Closer relationship between students and teacher
  • Multimedia in one small device is a timesaver for teachers
  • Instant documentation of whiteboard notes
  • Taking photos of overhead slides
  • Help with learning disabilities
  • Alternative news source/breaking news/immediate first hand reports
  • Helps maintain a public diary with a community dimension
  • Quick way to learn
  • Gets you outdoors
  • Field trips become more fruitful and challenging
Mobile devices are shown to support informal; and community learning
While the predominant use for mobile devices is communication, it seems that other aspects of social interaction can benefit, such as the ability to share media between mobile devices directly or blended across other social networking technologies like Facebook.
The research confirms the global popularity of SMS, browsing websites, listening to music, taking photographs and making notes. It also highlights that reading e-news and listening to podcasts are relatively frequent activities among some students, and that article- and book-reading, once considered implausible on handheld devices, are popular among a minority. (2011:30)
What is interesting is that there appear to be many ways in which users are employing technologies to generate products. Bruns (2005) coined the term ‘produsers’ to denote both of these approaches. One survey shows that mobile devices are enabling users to create resources for teaching purposes, write blogs to keep their friends up to dave with events, take and distribute photos and videos, and make and take notes and recordings’. (2011.31)
 New practices compared to old studies (2007/2009) include:
  • Using apps on the phone including Facebook and MSN
  • Using GPS to find places
  • Watching movies, TV, shows, vodcasts
  • Listening to audio book,s podcasts
  • Being part of micro-blogging communities e.g. Twitter
  • Browsing websites
  • Using location-based services, e.g. to find nearby taxis, banks, restaurants, etc.
  • No longer having a land line.

Mobile device use is a fast-changing field that reflects rapid social changes as well as the increasing availability and smarter marketing of new devices. (ibid, 2011:32)

Micro-blog – are becoming more widespread, and we wold expect these uses to figure more prominently in the future. (2011:32)

Slate devices Apple iPad.

Several universities now offer ‘apps’ for smartphones using platforms such as Campus M.

Our findings indicate that institutions planning to offer mobile apps should build on the existing preferences of students for social communication. listening to audio, watching video and reading short texts if the apps are successfully to enhance the learning experience. (2011:32)

When students are offered  appropriate mobile resources then they will use them. (2011:32)

We agree with Kennedy et al (2008) that ‘an evidence-based understanding of students’ technological experiences is vital in informing higher education policy and practice.’ (p. 109)

Pressures of study and assignment deadlines lead them to seek effective solutions to immediate needs on the go. (2011:33)

Avoid a ‘proadoption bias’

Futhermore, since the use of a mobile device represents a new technological means of reading books, articles and news, this might have an impact on how, and how much, students read, however further research would be needed. (2011:33)

The landscape of mobile devices has changed since our survey with some devices (standalone PDAs) becoming almost extinct and others (handheld GPS) endangered. (2011:33)

In favour of smart mobile phones and tablet devices.


Bruns, A. (2005) ‘Anyone can edit’: understanding the produser. Retrieved from http;//snurb.info/index. php?q=node/s86
Conole, G (2007) Describing learning activities: Tools and resources to guide practice. In Beetham, H, & Sharpe, R (eds.), Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and delivering e-learning (pp.81-91) London, UK: Routledge

Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes, John Pettit, Linda Bradley, Ana A. Carvalho, Anthony Herrington, David M. Kennedy, and Aisha Walker. “Mature Students Using Mobile Devices in Life and Learning.” IJMBL 3.1 (2011): 18-52. accessed (May 22, 2011)

JISC. (2009). Effetive Pratice in a Digital Age: A guide to technology-enhanced learning and teaching. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2009/effectivedigital-age.aspx

Rogers, E.M. (2005) Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.) New York, NY: Free Press

Jones, C.R., Ramanau,R., Cross, S., & Healing, G. (2010) Net generation or Digital Natives: Is there a distinct new generation entering university? Computers & Education, 54(3), 722-732. doi. 10.1016/j.compendu.2009.09.022

Stockwell, g (2008) Investigation learner preparedness for and usage patterns of mobile learning. ReCALL, 20(3), 253-270. doi.10.1017/S058344008000232.

Trinder,k., Guiller,j., Margaryan,A., Littlejohn,A., & Nicol,D. (2008). Learning from digital natives: bridging formal and informal learning. Retrieved from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents?LDN%20FINAL%eport.pdf

Wenger, E (2010). SIKM community presentation online. Theme: REthinking Ourselves (KM People) as Technology Stewards. Retrieved from http://technologyforcommunities.com


Making sense of the complexities of e-learning


And is visualised in many ways, Engestrom (2007) <img src=" mce_href=" mce_src="http://learn.open.ac.uk/ mce_href="Mycorrhizae thinks in term of fungi.

My own take is a lichen:

The language you use carries with it connotations and hidden assumptions. You need to make things as clear and as explicit as possible to develop shared meaning and understanding to avoid confusion. Conole (2011:404) Indeed. Conole in one sentence manages several metaphors:

· Different lenses

· Digital landscape

· Navigate through this space

So we’ve go camera lenses/how the eye sees, we have a landscape that has a physical presence, where a digital one does not and then we have an image of a Tall Ship on an ocean passing through this landscape (or at least I do). You might see a GPS device, a map and compass on a the Yorkshire Fells. Language creates images in our minds eye. The danger of a metaphor is when it creates parameters or absolutes.

I find it problematic that descpite the tools around us we are obliged to communicate with words. We could use images, we can use live audio, but we are yet to construct and respond to these activites with a piece to webcam.

Conole and Oliver mention four levels of description:

1. Flat vocabulary

2. More complex vocabulary

3. Classification schemas or models

4. Metaphors

Which is the most persuasive? The most effective and memorable?

This set of words is used to describe cloudworks. Only the last stands out as pertinent to Web 2.0 and the kinds of apt terms for e-learning 2011.

  • Practice
  • Design
  • Case study
  • Resource
  • Design template
  • Link to site
  • Request for advice
  • Evolving dialogue

Metaphors are indeed ‘powerful ways of meaning making’. (Conole. 2011.406)

Ref: Metaphors we live by. Lakoff and Johnson (1980)

Over the last 18 months I have returned repeatedly to the importance and value of metaphors, drawing on neuroscience and literature. There are 28 entries in which metaphor is discussed. This is perhaps the most insightful as it draws on an article in the New Scientist.

Morgan’s Metaphors discussed by Conole, White and Oliver (2007)

1. Machines

2. Brains

3. Organisms

4. Cultures

5. Political systems

Whatever works for you, but importantly, what you can use that is comprehended by others.

Presenting on Social Media over the last few weeks I have repeatedly used images of the Solar System to develop ideas of gravity and magnitude, spheres of influence and impacts. It is one way to try and make sense of it. The other one I use is the water-cycle, but as that can turn into an A’ Level geography class.

Some futher thoughts from Conole

‘These and other tools are beginning to enable us to embed more meaning in the objects and connections within the digital space. The tools can also be used to navigate through the digital space, providing particular narrative paths of meaning to address different goals or interests.’ (Conole, 2011:409)

‘The approach needs to shift to harnessing the networked aspects of new technologies, so that individuals foster their own set of meaningful connections to support their practice, whether this be teachers and seeking connections to support them in developing and delivering their teaching, or learners in search of connections to support and evidence of their learning. (Conole. 2011:410)

‘Those not engaging with technologies or without access are getting left further and further behind. We need to be mindful that the egalitarian, liberal view of new technologies is a myth; power and dynamics remain, niches develop and evolve. Applications of metaphorical notions of ecology, culture and politics can help us better understand and deal with these complexities. (Conole. 2011:410)

How do we describe and make sense of digital environments?

It is complex and multifaceted

Does mobile learning change everything?

Mobile Learning

Discussing this with Ian Singleton of icanplayit.com two weeks ago, I was Linked In to the author from JISC Doug Belshaw a few days later.

This conversation could soon link to a myriad of people cited and listed in the JISC report on Mobile and Wireless Technologies. This smorgasbord of a review will take a few weeks to consume; I’ll want the recipe and I’ll be back for more, repeatedly. It is a module in its own right.

It requires the early morning to take a three hour stab at this. Kukulska-Hulme (2010) says “Mobile learning is here to stay, even if in a few years’ time it may no longer be distinguishable from ‘just learning’.”

As a student of e-learning the value of Doug Belshaw’s JISC review is broad. Whilst mobile learning is the main theme, there is a suitable warming up to the topic via the development of e-learning and a broad acknowledgement of the key thinkers of pedagogy which touches on innovations in learning and the debunking of Prensky and his idea of digital natives.

It makes a good read for anyone studying Open and Distance Education with the Open University.

The theme that the author may not have seen that is pervasive throughout, is the idea of the e-learning entrepreneur; this seems inevitable with a device and technology that puts learning into the pocket of the learner.

Laptops and smartphones become a learn as I please, when and where I want, device. I wonder too, when cameras will become phones?

Reflecting on the devices that got unwrapped this Christmas some of us might prefer the Canon or Sony camera that uploads directly to Facebook, Kodak or Picasa without the interface of phone and laptop, or even a memory card.

If ou can think of it, it has been done.

This is one of those documents that will takes weeks of consideration as I wish to read all the references too, not that I doubt the author, but because often I find thinking such as this is like a digital conversation caught in the wind and there are a dozen other voices speaking at the same time. I’ve not come across Traxler before, for example. He’s cited 12 times in this review.

Though, just because someone else has already done it, does not mean that I might not do it better?

JISC Spotlight The presentation. “Students no longer need to engage with information and discussion at the expense of real life but can do so as part of real life as they move about the world, using their own devices to connect them to people and ideas, ideas and information of their own choosing, perhaps using their own devices to generate and produce content and conversation as well as store and consume them.” (Traxler, 2009, p.70)

Why therefore bother with a traditional university education at all?

Better to go straight to work and learn on the job, not simply as a trainee or apprentice, but by tapping into institutional and corporate learning. This is important The wider mobility of society has led to ‘approx-meetings’ and ‘socially negotiated time’ (2009:73) which, although mobile devices have not been designed specifically for educational purposes, has a knock-on effect upon formal education.

This disruptive effect has both a strong and a weak element, argues Traxler.

The ‘weak’ element of the disruption due to mobile devices in formal education is at the level of nuisance – such as ‘cheating’ during examinations, inappropriate photographs, devices beeping during class time. The ‘strong’ element of disruption, on the other hand, “challenge[s] the authority of the curriculum and the institutions of formal learning” (2009, p.77); students can effectively become gatekeepers and organisers of learning for other students in a way institutions have only been able to do previously.

Given the fragmented nature of the current mobile learning environment, there are multiple definitions of mobile learning; however, most of these definitions recognise the importance of

• context,

• access

• and conversation.

“[Mobile learning involves the] exploitation of ubiquitous handheld hardware, wireless networking and mobile telephony to facilitate, support enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning”


Due to funding arrangements, which sector is involved, and country-specific contexts, mobile learning means different things to different communities.

• On the go

• Every day

• Between classes and home (and work)

• Conflicts of complements formal learning

• More interactive

Woodill (2010:53) identifies seven main affordances of mobile learning:

1. Mobility

2. Ubiquity

3. Accessibility

4. Connectivity

5. Context sensitivity

6. Individuality

7. Creativity


Belshaw (201) Mobile and Wireless Technologies Review 2010 Doug Belshaw, JISC infoNet

Traxler, J. (2009) ‘Learning in a Mobile Age’ (International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1(1), 1-12, January-March 2009)

Traxler, J. (2009) ‘Students and mobile devices: choosing which dream’ (in ALT-C 2009 “In dreams begins responsibility” – choice, evidence and change, Traxler, John (Professor of Mobile Learning, University of Wolverhampton)

Technology Enhanced as taught by the Open University Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE)

End-of-module assessment question (EMA)

Length: 6,000 words. Cut-off date 26 September 2011

  • consolidate and reflect on your experience this year
  • pursue your interests within a specified framework.

EMA, Part A. Digital technologies: experience and evidence (about 2,500 words)

Choose two digital technologies that you have used this year as a learner.

If you have doubts about whether your choice of technologies is appropriate, please consult your tutor.


For each technology that you choose, explain how it has been used for teaching and learning, and what you judge to be the strengths and weaknesses of such use(s) in one or more contexts that you specify.


Support your arguments by providing evidence from all of the following four sources:

  1. Your own experience of the technology within and/or outside H800 and, if possible, the personal experience of other learners – for example, H800 students, or others outside H800. Include examples and, where appropriate, brief quotations to illustrate your own and others’ experiences.
  2. Relevant ideas, arguments and research findings in the H800 materials – the web pages on the website and/or materials (readings, blogs, YouTube, webcasts and so on) linked from the site.
  3. Relevant ideas, arguments and research that you find outside the H800 website – through your own searching and/or through sharing with other learners inside and/or outside H800.
  4. Brief numerical evidence – for example, of the kind that is explored in the first paper in TMA04 – from within or from outside H800. Use it to back up your arguments about one or both of your technologies.


‘The first decade of the 21st century is already on the wane and we stand at an interesting point as regards the use of technology to support and enhance learning and teaching. The fact that we still refer to much of this enhancement as e.learning (and still disagree about what the term actually means) signals that the relationship between technology and learning is not as yet an entirely comfortable one.’ (REFERENCE JISC 2007 (Introduction)

  • High-performance computing and advanced networking are ubiquitous
  • Internet has matured
  • Becoming a viable educational platform
  • Have cell phones

Report of the NSF Task Force on Cyberlearning June 24, 2008

FORUMS online may be synchronous or asynchronous, that is experienced in real time or not. They may, particularly when synchronous, be voice-led whilst asynchronicity lends itself to text. Increased speeds, experience, improving, competing and complementary technologies has produced and is producing a plethora of choices regarding the affordances and popularity of particular forums and even puts into question the way a virtual learning environment competes and complements a personal learning environment.

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

MOBILE online learning differentiates between static systems such as a desktop computers, whether at home, the workplace or educational institution, and devices, through increasing miniturisation have become more and more portable, from laptops, to increasingly ‘smart’ mobile phones and most recently tablets, touchscreen computers of A5 size or less. To be mobile implies away from a desk, unhindered by cables, with a device that is portable, even pocket portable rather than in a brief-case or shoulder carrier.

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses


FORUMS online became possible as the technology, connections and broadening availability and use of computers allowed institutions to attempt to recreate what would occur face-to-face in terms of formal tutorials or peer-group gatherings. There has always been a dichotomy between institutional offerings and what students did themselves, on the one hand building on old practices in the new world of what was still called ‘new media’ a decade ago whilst developing innovative and new ways of doing things. At the forefront of developing computer-based learning the OU through the Institute of Educational Technology and Knowledge Media Institute began to offer ways for students and educators to meet and share online in the late 1990s, signed up for H801, the original Masters in Open and Distance Learning, I have first hand experience of the ListServe forum that in essence aggregated short messages in a feed that was ostensibly asynchronous unless people happened to be online at the same time (in which case we’d debunk to Microsoft messaging). A decade later the advance of computing, the increasingly seamless interaction online, the development of intuitive, playful, reliable tools with broadband speeds and robust devices has seen increasing successful recreation of the affordances of live, face-to-face tutorials, seminars, lectures and conferences from the intimate to the arena in scale, while also new ways of doing things are constantly being developed, trialed, used, improved, drop in or out of favour and funding. Crucially, longitutdinal research has been vital to understand and track the trends, but also we have moved from a decade in the 1990s where ‘change’ was becoming a corporate way of life, to an online experience today that is fluid and not just invasive but part of many people’s everyday lives – all day, wherever they maybe.

  • Personal experiences of others in H800

Week 12 Activity 1. Interpretting John Naughton. In which Joanne Pratt tries again after reading Amanda’s blog, then offers examples of a lexigraphic explanation of the minutiea of John Naughton’s persuasive writing style. (2 May, 21:12 (accessed 7 May 2011) Identified, shared with further notes in my blog (Ecphonesis! Lots of work to do here – fun times ahead. 7 May, 06:45  In response to a fellow students H800 Week 12 blog entry)

I comment ‘This is why these conversations are so vital; it brings the exercise alive and takes you in directions the learning designers could never have imagined. My head hurts, yet there is no less a desire to understand the terms used to describe rhetoric as there is a desire to revisit quantitative and qualitative analysis, the various correlation techniques and interpretations used, in order to be able, eventually, to draw my own conclusions from Richardson’s research’. Having had


<<For me, this is a key point relating to learner choices, ownership and boundaries. Should a learner be required to ‘open up’ their personal networks to include tutors/education institutions?>>

The idea of and value of ‘exposure’ has been debated since the early days of blogging. I could call up entries from 2001/2002. The feeling, amongst those of us who felt like blogging pioneers, was that by opening up we shared our common humanity and in many respects become less lonely souls as a result (not that I didn’t need additional companionship being happily married to my soul mate with two small children at the time!). This kind of blog is a genre in its own right amongst the thousands of genres on 120 million + blogs.

A formal forum discussion that engaged, running from the 8th to the 20th May, 67 entries, student initiate, 9 participants, over 12,000 words.  (Wk 13: Activity 1c: The Learner Experience 9 May 2011, 17:48 Janet Gray Post 14 in reply to 8 ) http://learn.open.ac.uk/mod/forumng/discuss.php?d=470597

<< When the students in the study say they use social network sites though do not include tutors as friends/contacts or use it for college work this could be construed in a number of ways, one is they don’t wish education to over spill into their social lives.  Although they are confident in the use of the software they wish to differentiate between the two. >>

Hi Joanne

For me, this is a key point relating to learner choices, ownership and boundaries. Should a learner be required to ‘open up’ their personal networks to include tutors/education institutions?

  • Relevant ideas, arguments and research findings in the H800 materials

The world of work is increasingly collaborate driven by increasingly the global and cooperative nature of business. Horizon 2011

‘Consider this medium as like talking with your fingers – half-way between spoken conversation and written discourse.’ (Hawkridge, Morgan and Jeffs, 1997, quotes in Salmon 2005) REFERENCE Salmon, G (2005) E-moderating. The Key to teaching and learning online.

What matters is engagement.

Someone may need to act as the ‘eyes & ears’ for the group until it is established. Introductions have to be made, conversations started and moved along … if anyone is rude, they should be quietly put in their place; if anyone is being like a door-mouse, they need support.

‘The essential role of the e-moderator is promoting human interaction and communication through the modelling, conveying and building of knowledge and skills’. (Salmon, 2005:4)

  • Relevant ideas, arguments and research findings outside the H800 materials

Discussion is the key. The tutor DOES NOT need to be a subject matter expert. See my interview with Oxford Senior Lecturer Dr Zbigniew

Pelczynski.H800 51 Wk11 Why this is like talking with your fingers

FROM MY BLOG (25 April 2011)

Why I participate in some forums and not others.

  • Start the ball rolling
  • to get through the week’s work
  • no one else has made a start.
  • I may fret about covering all bases

It can be like chosing a restaurant

  • You want to go where there’s some buzz already, though not so much that you feel you will never be able to join in the conversation.
  • This is an asynchronous beast. If I come in late I may read every post with care before I respond, which can result in a long response.
  • People should feel just as comfortable simply answering the question, ignoring others at first .. or just reading the last couple of posts and responding to them.
  • I might quote them in my own group. There have been times when lifting the thread of catalyst that got them going in another group will do the same in your own.
  • It is tempting to respond to someone in a DIFFERENT tutor group
  • At Harvard they use as system called ‘Rotisserie’ in some asynchronous threads/forums which, like playing pass the parcel (or pass the microphone) require people to take it in turns to say something.
  • It matters that activities have been designed that get people engaged without the need for a tutor all the time.

‘Structured, paced and carefully constructed e-tivities reduce the amount of e-moderator time, and impact directly on satisfactory learning outcomes, adding value to the investment in learning technologies’.(Salmon, 2002a)

(Blog 19 January 2011) My interpreation, visualised, of what life-long means from H807.

‘Patterns of usage differ widely, and the fit between people’s lives and the devices they use can be very close.’ (Pettit and Kukulska-Hulme, 2007, p.28)

(Blog 25 September 2010) Why do the Plenck 2010 forums work?

Many themes. It is your choice to join. Updates are sent to your email. You read and add, return to the parent, and comment.

They are seasoned e-educators and lucid. It is more jamming around a piano.

You have three hours in which to return to your post and edit, add or delete.

People don’t question the set up, they just get on with it. Do we write about what it is to put words onto a sheet of paper with a pen? Or do we say something?

(Blog 9 September 2010) A tutorial works best one-to-one (like therapy), face-to-face, or in a small group, say six at most, discussing in an synchronous environment.

(James Turner, Policy Director at the Sutton Trust suggested supplementary tutoring of school students one-to-one was most common, two-to-one worked even better because of the collaboratory experience. BBC Radio 4 10.00 Tuesday 7th September 2010, Accessed again 16.00 Saturday 12th September 2010)

  • Numerical evidence


“[Mobile learning involves the] exploitation of ubiquitous handheld hardware, wireless networking and mobile telephony to facilitate, support enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning”


The increasingly portable nature of computing hardware and technologies has progressed for three decades or more as the earliest efforts of mobile wordprocessing – the Microwriter, the popularisation of computing with the BBC micro-computer, then on to laptops that become ligher, smaller, faster and more robust, to palm devices such as the Psion and hand-sized PDAs, and the gradual merging of all manner of peronsonal, portable devices that carried music, organisers, phone technology and more, with MP3 players popularised by ipods, then the spread of mobile phones, in particular inexpensive communicating through text that brings us to 2011 and light, very powerful two-part keyboard and screen laptops, single part touch-screen tablets of various sizes that are becoming indistinguisable from smartphones. Uptake and support for various devices has been made possible as networks spread, the technology became faster, less expensive and widespread, and importantly a combination of content and communication made the devices increasingy appealing, powerful and personal.

  • Personal experiences of others in H800:

Fig 2.1. Types and functionality of mobile devices. Kukulska-Hulme & Traxler (2005:07)

REF: Kukulska-Hulme, A. and Traxler, J (2005) Mobile Learning. A handbook for educators and trainers.

The mobile promise – “that individuals will engage in learning at times when formerly they would have been doing something else; that they will be motivated to learn partly because the devices are attractive; that the devices enable communication from places where formerly it wasn’t possible; that formal learning can mesh with existing patterns of self publishing and online participation; and that mobile devices are particularly suited to multitasking, said to be one of the strengths of the ‘millennial generation’ (McMahon & Pospisil, 2005).”

REF: MacMahon, M., Pospisil, R. (2005 pp421-431) Laptops for digital lifestyle: Millenial students and wireless mobile technologies.


Attendance at Learning Technologies 2011 and subsequent use of a Sony Flip for itnerviews and surverys.

‘Our findings indicate that institutions planning to offer mobile apps should build on the existing preferences of students for social communication. Listening to audio, watching video and reading short texts if the apps are successfully to enhance the learning experience’. (Kukulska-HUlme 2011:32


“Learners can be active makers and shapers of their own learning. They should be supported in using technologies of their own choice where appropriate”. (JISC, 2009, p.51)

  • Relevant ideas, arguments and research findings in the H800 materials

Mobile computing not just with laptop computers but also with cellular phones, internet-telephony, videoconferencing, screen sharing, remote collaboration technologies, and immersive graphical environments make distributed collaboration and interaction much richer and more realistic. Report of the NSF Task Force on Cyberlearning June 24, 2008 (REFERENCE wk21-22)

‘Patterns of usage differ widely, and the fit between people’s lives and the devices they use can be very close.’ (Pettit and Kukulska-Hulme, 2007, p.28) REFERENCE Pettit, John and Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes (2007). Going with the grain: mobile devices in practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 23(1), pp. 17–33.

  • Relevant ideas, arguments and research findings outside the H800 materials

Many Open University students combine work and study; consequently learning in a number of places, or on the move, becomes a habit.

Informal learning and social interactions are also increasingly recognised as important components of a person’s ‘learning life’.  Academic and support staff are part of this revolution.

Mobile learning is very flexible: it can be the sole mode of delivery, a significant learning activity, or just a small part of a print-based or online course.

The key points (largely from an IET Agnes Kukulska-Hulme Report Kukulska-Hulme, 2010:10)

Mobile learning is:

  • Very flexible
  • Appropriate/supportive
  • New
  • Convenient
  • Contemporary
  • Practical
  • Beneficial
  • Has its own unique affordances/advantages
  • Personal/personalised
  • Spontaneous
  • Immediate
  • Extends access to materials not replacement technology)
  • Locational
  • Universal (ish)
  • Leap-frog technology in Africa
  • Engaging
  • Expected


Kukulska-Hulme (2010) says “Mobile learning is here to stay, even if in a few years’ time it may no longer be distinguishable from ‘just learning’.”

‘E’ is a fact of learning life, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme (2010) is quoted thus in the JISC Mobile and Wireless Technologies Review, “Mobile learning is here to stay, even if in a few years’ time it may no longer be distinguishable from ‘just learning’.”

A distance learner’s mobile device (at the Open University) can be used as a way to:

  • carry around study materials
  • aces new or additional content
  • build up a series of personal notes
  • help make or maintain communications between different contexts

Supported by VLE 2.0 and Moodle 2.0

  • organised personal learning schedules
  • give feedback, opinions or answers
  • get quick information or support
  • communicate with other learners or tutors

The initial aim of the group is to develop applications around four key areas:

  • Enhancing Open University brand and awareness
  • Attracting students to new courses
  • Making existing course material accessible for mobile study
  • Prototyping innovative learning concepts

Woodill (2010:53) identifies seven main affordances of mobile learning:

1. Mobility

2. Ubiquity

3. Accessibility

4. Connectivity

5. Context sensitivity

6. Individuality

7. Creativity

Personalisation. user generated content. Bruns (2005) Produsers

  • Numerical evidence

We agree with Kennedy et al (2008) that ‘an evidence-based understanding of students’ technological experiences is vital in informing higher education policy and practice.’ (p. 109)

(93% UK penetration by 2008, presumably more in 2011). More from Mobisite

More in Cloudworks

2% of OU students (4,000 or so) use tablets (not just iPads). 11% use SmartPhones (not just iPhones).

Smartphone Survey (http://testkitchen.colorado.edu/projects/reports/smartphone/smartphone-survey/)

Smartphone Stats, The Digital News Test Kitchen, August 2011


Martin Weller implies that a VLE constrains because ‘There are so many fantastic tools out there that are free and robust and easy to use.’ (WK21-22 Activity 2d VLE vs. PLE who wins? REFERENCE)

It is the combination of physically being ‘free’ to roam with a robust mobile device, as OU MBA students Lt. Col. Sean Brady put it, a ‘university in your pocket’ (REFERENCE) and a playful, personalisation and desired ‘freedom’ to do things your way at a time and place that suits you, that enables learning to take place away from the learning institution, library or desk, unfettered by a bag of books and files. Mobility and immediacy, exposure to new, or similar products and tools, fashion, peer group, nature of the subject they are studying, their ambitions, who they are, how much time they have, their kit, connection and inclinations, let alone the context of where they are going online and most importantly the means to communicate this instantly through microblogging, blogging, social networks, email and text facilitates and fuels further development, the millions of people online making development commercially viable.

Taking advantage of participation (Seely-Brown), learning on the periphery (Seely-Brown), vicarious learning (Cox) and if you can get your tongue around it ‘serendipitous learning.’ (me I think). (WK21 Activity 1c Web 2.0 Tools for learning REFERENCE) Conole (2011) invites us to use ‘metaphors for meaning making’.

  • traffic light
  • nurture
  • swimming
  • hub
  • serendipity
  • water-cycle

Expressed in various forms in charts from Dion Hinchcliffe.

Accessibility: Regarding the failure to turn a 4 day face-to-face course into a blended course of one day face-to-face, then online with four additional option. ‘Most of these problems seem to be rooted in bad connectivity which made communication difficult and audio discussions impossible’.

University of Derby, Online delivery of MSc Strategic management in Africa (Rachel Stern’s blog 5 March 2010)


One in three of com 2011

10 % of all UK web traffic

100,000 in Indonesia learning English through SMS messages.


300 million fewer than male worldwide (women and mobile: a global opportunity

See issues of accessibility from H807 and H810.

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Inaugural Lecture, August 2011

‘Furthermore, since the use of a mobile device represents a new technological means of reading books, articles and news, this might have an impact on how, and how much, students read, however further research would be needed’. (2011:33)

This cover 20 benefits of mobile learning though.

‘We consider that learners who use handheld mobile devices (e.g., their phones and mp3-players) to support their learning constitute a minority at the present time. We agree that their age seems less important than their position as early adopters and instigators of change through their influence among their peers and through their networks’. (2011:19)


Both Forums and Mobile

In an age when “communities are jumping across technologies” as needs and trends evolve (Wenger, 2010), educators and researchers also have to stay informed about how learners use personal technologies as members of communities that may be social, work-related or educational’.


Belshaw (201) Mobile and Wireless Technologies Review 2010 Doug Belshaw, JISC infoNet

Brady, S. http://blogs.ft.com/mba-blog/2011/06/22/distance-learning-or-nearness-learning/#axzz1WbbnlExG

Bruns, A. (2005) ‘Anyone can edit’: understanding the produser. Retrieved from http;//snurb.info/index. php?q=node/s86

Guzman, R (2007) The Swim Drills Book

JISC. (2009). Effective Practice in a Digital Age: A guide to technology-enhanced learning and teaching. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2009/effectivedigital-age.aspx

Pettit, John and Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes (2007). Going with the grain: mobile devices in practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 23(1), pp. 17–33.

Kerfoot, B.P., Armstrong,E.G., O’Sullivan,P.N., (XXXXX)   Interactive Spaced-Education to Teach the Physical Examination:A Randomized Controlled Trial

Rogers, E.M. (2005) Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.) New York, NY: Free Press

Traxler, J. (2009) ‘Learning in a Mobile Age’ (International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1(1), 1-12, January-March 2009)

Traxler, J. (2009) ‘Students and mobile devices: choosing which dream’ (in ALT-C 2009 “In dreams begins responsibility” – choice, evidence and change, Traxler, John (Professor of Mobile Learning, University of Wolverhampton)


EMA, Part B. Digital technologies: your recommendations (about 1,250 words)

For each of the two technologies you have chosen, set out your key recommendations for other practitioners in terms of how they might use each one, making sure that you specify the context(s) you are referring to. Include some brief numerical evidence (as with Part A) to support one or more of your recommendations in Part B.

For each recommendation, indicate how confident you can be (‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’) in the light of the evidence you have used in Part A, explaining your reasons. Conflicting evidence, for example, is likely to lead to a ‘low’ or ‘medium’ rating.

For each technology, state the areas where you consider additional research is needed into the ways in which that technology can be used.

EMA, Part C. Digital technologies: your design or specification (about 1,250 words)

For one of the technologies that you wrote about in Parts A and B:

  • Design a learning activity, or create a specification for a module or training package, that uses this technology.
  • Explain: the characteristics of the learners; their previous knowledge (as far as you can tell) both of the technology and of any subject matter; the context(s) in which they will be learning; and how (if at all) others will support these learners. The context does not have to be the one(s) you wrote about in Parts A or B.
  • Explain any potential barriers your learners may face – including cost, accessibility for students with disabilities, issues of cultural diversity and convenience. Explain how your design or specification takes these into account.
  • Set out the learning outcomes that you expect the learners to have achieved by the end of the module/package. (If you’d like guidance on what constitutes a learning outcome, please see H800’s outcomes and/or search the web.)
  • Explain your reasons for your design or specification, drawing on the bullet points above and on your thinking in Parts A and B.
  • Do not submit the learning material itself; instead, tell your reader what the activity consists of: you may provide a written description, sample text, screenshots, etc. You may use one of the tools introduced in Weeks 8 and 9, or another tool of your choice, to clarify your design. (If you take this route, you may insert the diagram in your main text or – cross-referenced – in the Appendix.) But you can also use text, provided that this will enable the markers to understand what you intend.


‘The psychological conclusion demands a distribution of repetitions such that some of them should be produced at a later time, separated from the first repetition by a pause’. (Vygotsky, 1926:Location 2686)


The objective of the study is to investigate the efficacy and acceptability of a novel online educational methodology termed ‘interactive spaced education’ (ISE) as a method to teach the physical examination.


Randomized control trial.


170 second year medical students.


  • Spaced-education items (questions and explanations)
  • Validated by two experts
  • Piloted and 36 items selected for inclusion
  • 6 spaced-education e-mails each week for a 6 week cycle.
  • Students submitted answers to the questions online and received immediate feedback
  • An online end-of program survey was administered.

Students do the training, but may still have poor recall a year later. Spacing works.

The spacing effect is the psychological finding that educational encounters that are spaced and repeated over time (spaced distribution) result in more efficient learning and improved learning retention, compared to massed distribution of the educational encounters (bolus education). (P973)

As Vygotsky expressed it 80 years previously:

‘It should also be emphasized that every person has his own customary rate of response, and that any change in this rate, either speeding it up or slowing it down, weakens the force of recall’. (Vygotsky, 1926:Location 2686)

Micro-learning is favoured over more substantial time being given to this. I can imagine many applications.

Mobile over web.

This finding is in stark contrast to the strong resistance we encountered when conducting a recent trial of web-based teaching modules among 693 medical residents and students. In this trial focusing on systems based practice competency education, trainees were expected to spend 20 minutes per week over 9 weeks completing web-based teaching modules (interactive web-pages and online narrated slide presentations). (p977)

And a finaly word from Lev Vygotsky.

‘Rhythm plays a decisive role in the learning process, unifying some of the material, conferring on it a sequential symmetry, and, finally, organizing the various elements into a unified whole’. (Vygotsky, 1926)


Kerfoot, B, P (2006) SPACED EDUCATION. Interactive Spaced-Education to Teach the Physical Examination: A randomized Controlled Trial.

Vygotsky, L (1926) Educational Psychology


EMA, Part D. Digital technologies: individual and collaborative learning (about 1,000 words)

As your conclusion to your EMA and to your work on H800, think back across your experience of H800 and give your answer to the following:

  • To what extent do you find the concepts of ‘individual’ and ‘collaborative’ learning useful in understanding your experience of learning this year – whether on H800 or elsewhere?

Give brief examples to illustrate your experience, and draw on some of the debates and theories in H800 to explain your position (for example, the work of Sfard, Brown, Engeström, Wenger, Säljö). If possible, indicate how your ideas have changed since you wrote TMA01.


Week 20: TMA03 (1000 words) Jonathan Vernon (T7400886)

Part A. Digital technologies: experience and evidence

Which two technologies do you currently expect to choose, and why?

1. Forums

2. Tablets

Forums as asynchronous and near-synchronous places to listen, comment and contribute have become the online equivalent of the one-to-one, face-to-face tutorial, the face-to-face tutor group, small class, even those moments of serendipity when you meet someone in a corridor, Junior Common Room or by the water-cooler.

Mobility is just one facet of the affordances a tablet offers to the learner; the fascination is to understand how the devices are used, rather than what they were designed to do. From research, blogs and forums the experience of the ‘tablet enabled’ learner suggests that unlike almost defunct hand and palm-held devices, this format will endure.

2. Which of the two technologies (if any) have you used on H800, and which (if any) have you used outside H800?


Since their development and my being active online since 1999 and starting the MAODL in 2001.


Through their proposed exploitation with the new OU MBA and so having a tablet for the last month to explores its educational and other values to learners and the Faculty.

3. Briefly: how has each of these two technologies been used for teaching and learning?

My experience is both as an OU student, primarily for the last 18 months, but including a valuable dip into this environment for seven months in 2001 and now as a member of staff with the OU Faculty of Business and Law.

Regarding the use of tablets for learning, not only using one to do the MAODE it also holds OU MBA course content and incidentally it greatly facilitates the engagement in forums through RSS feeds, email alerts, near instant uploading to forums and the qualities of the tablets themselves in relation to screen size, speed reading, ease of response and so on.

4. For which context(s) will you be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each technology?

The value to postgraduates working in international organisations on the OU Business School part-time MBA.

5. Briefly: what material will you provide in relation to your own experience of each technology?

Regarding Forums I have both the written record (research, papers, blog entries from 2001) to compare to 2011, as well as the experience of working in both the formal institutional setting, and as a student, embracing and engaging in external forums – all for teaching and learning purposes and blogging about this throughout.

Regarding tablets I have one device and can speak to others using different devices about their experiences with them. Some of this qualified by my blog and forum entries of others regarding their learning experiences with them.

6. Briefly: what material, if any, can you draw from the experience of other learners?

There are fellow students on the MAODE whose permission can be requested regarding their blogging on the use of tablets, indeed these postings informed my request to have such a device. There is research published in 2011 that provides a sound basis for discussion, though the rapidity of change requires something current this can in part be informed, with permissions, by asking specialists in the field of versioning content for Tablets for e-learning in Higher Education.

Where permissions are possible and confidentially isn’t compromised questions can be put to Faculty members regarding the way in which the use of forums for learning online has been conceived.

7. Which H800 materials do you expect to draw on? And which numerical evidence will you draw on, either from within or from outside H800?

Reports can be referred to as they are published. The desire is to draw upon evidential research, both qualitative and quantitative reports, particularly those from the OU Institute of Technology. Resources offered in H800 will be reviewed and the most recent publications identified.

8. If you have already found materials from four sources outside H800: which materials do you expect to draw on, and – in a sentence or two – what is their significance to your EMA? If you have not yet found (all of) them yet, where do you expect to look for them?


Linkedin Forums on e-learning and social media. Various publications on use of Forums in education including reports from JISC. Research of OU Library current papers.


Reports and discussions in various forums, such as NMK (Westminster Metropolitan University) and eLP (Linkedin, moderated by Epic), as well as new publications.

Part B. Digital technologies: your recommendations

9. Briefly: which area(s) of additional research do you think are needed?

The interplay between the Tablet (part Smartphone, part Laptop) and therefore the ease with which it can be used as a communications device enabling live and as-live (synchronous and asynchronous) participation in Forum discussions.

Longitudinal studies of a cohort with these devices coming from undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Niche research on the use of forums and devices in business, particularly collaboration in multi-nationals.

Part C. Digital technologies: your design or specification

10. What type of learning activity or specification do you currently envisage, for which learners and in which context? What do you intend the learners to have learned when they have carried out the activity?

A useful resource would be a specific learning activity related to the management of projects carried out across different cultures with differing management systems.

11. How, in outline, will your design or specification deal with any potential barriers that your learners might face (including cost, accessibility for people with disabilities, cultural diversity and convenience)?

‘Device Agnosticism’ as The OU puts it is as important as other issues regarding access; neither affordability nor disability should be insurmountable barriers.

Part D. Digital technologies: individual and collaborative learning

12. What is your current response (possibly very tentative at this stage) to the question: ‘To what extent do you find the concepts of “individual” and “collaborative” learning useful in understanding your experience of learning this year – whether on H800 or elsewhere?’

Engestrom via Vygotsky.

E-learning is just like a chicken Tika Masala

The idea of thinking of e-learning as a chicken tikka is sound, though I’d perhaps prefer pizza or a Chinese takeaway.

Whether it’s e – learning or m- learning, it must be ME learning.

Chapter 12

Rosemary Luckin, Diane Brewster, Pearce, du Boulay, Siddons – Corbay.

From Mobile Learning:a hand book for educators and trainers. John  Traxler and Agnes Kukulksha-Hulme (2005)

I read this on vacation in a couple of days in between learning to surf on the north Cornwall beach of Mawgan Porth. I have barely managed a day without dwelling on either e-learning or social media, dreaming of them even when a signal is difficult to come by (on the knoll above the farmhouse where we are staying).

Written in 2005 and so based on research of the previous five years I have to wonder at my haste to download it (e-book). It takes me back to my own first forays into online learning in 2001 when amongst others FT Knowledge was my account.

The problem with the content is that is is woefully out of date. All the research being done at the time was on the useless PDAs of the time; I stuck with a PSION that served me well as  a pocket word-processor.

‘Whichever mode of delivery I choose, the meal I eat will still be Chicken Tikka’. Luckin et al (2005:122)

The only idea of lasting significance that I have taken from the entire book is this one, that and fig.1 which I’m a mind map indicates the many devices that provide mobility, ALL of which now reside in an iPad or iPhone with all problems long ago resolved by commercial organisations rather than any institution who without fail take far too long to commit to anything and invariably design by committee trying to please everyone so put everything in, and rarely consider the commercial feasibility of their actions.

On reflection, ‘take-away’ says it all for e-learning as convenience is everything.


Luckin,R., Brewster,D., du Boulay, P., Corbay, S.  (2005) in Mobile Learning. A handbook for educators and trainers. Edited by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and John Traxler.

What’s the Web 2.0 role of the educator ?

Read Haythornthwaite (2008), ‘Ubiquitous Transformations’: Proceedings of the Networked Learning Conference, Halkidiki, 2008.

QQ1 What evidence is there of this shift towards taking responsibility for learning by the learners themselves?

There will be those who come to learning online who are used to being in control online, so they won’t feel like a pupil entering a classroom, a student in a lecture hall or tutorial, a stranger in a strange land. Rather they will feel it is their domain, at best a shared domain, more like a visit to the leisure centre than to an elitist institution where those in it have progressed as a result of proving their elite status.

‘Internet-based trends that emphasize contribution, conversation, participation, and community exercise a significant impact on learning.’ Haythornthwaite 2008:598

‘Participatory action has now spread to many aspects of daily life, often brought together under the label Web 2.0’. (O’Reilly, 2005). In (Haythornthwaite 2008:598)

It still matters for credibility of the qualification, evidence that you’ve done the work, evidence that you’ve picked the brains of and had your brain picked over by subject matter experts of a reputable established. It matters for the sake of guidance, perhaps the metaphor of railway tracks less appropriate given the freedoms afforded by the mobile internet, but even a kite-surfer has had to take instruction, purchase the right kit, maintain it, then seek and take advice from those wiser and more experienced.

I like the idea of the Learner Leader and picking up on the thinking of Cox on ‘participator learning’ and from John Seely-Brown learning ‘learning from the periphery’.

Where appropriate, participants come to shared definition of meanings through collaborative, conversational interaction.

Such emergent learning practices reinforce ideas from:

·collaborative learning theories (Bruffee, 1993; Koschmann, 1996; Miyake, 2007; Haythornthwaite, Bruce, Andrews, Kazmer, Montague, Preston, 2007),

·model what others have described as the learning behaviour of experts (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 1999; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1996).

In (Haythornthwaite 2008:601)

QQ2 Is Haythornthwaite’s account an idealised version of learner behaviour in your view?

‘These new media lay the foundation for radical transformations in who learns from whom, where, under what circumstances, and for what and whose purpose. In short, they indicate a transformation to ubiquitous learning – a continuous anytime, anywhere, anyone contribution and retrieval of learning materials on and through the Internet and its technologies, communities, niches and social spaces’. (Haythornthwaite 2008:598)

The reality is that we human beings have far more important, pressing and natural urges and desires that incline us towards those around us, and from communities with whom we find we have the greatest affinities. As young adults our intentions and outlooks may shift, but this would occur anyway, the internet offering, to use as 60s view of television, a ‘window on the world’.

This statement denies that learning takes place outside the classroom or away from formal texts. It has always been the case that substantially more learning goes on in the home, at play, from family and friends. All we’ve discovered, like the devices that many of us now carry around, is that we are always turned on.

‘E-learning’ signifies a transformation in learning rather than a transition from off- to on-line (Andrews & Haythornthwaite, 2007).

As Haythornthwaite indicates here, the technologies are not exclusive.

And as Wellman (2002) suggests the contexts in which transformation occurs are diverse, with each one having a different stance. Transformations that do not fit easily with utopian visions accompany distributed practices, including outsourcing, offshoring, disintermediation, and networked individualism (Wellman, 2001), each of which entails a general redistribution of processes and responsibilities to individuals.

The Pew Internet project (Horrigan, 2006) reports that 71% of the adult population surveyed turn to the Internet for science information because of its convenience, and only 13% because they feel it is more accurate.

Where’re not talking about the adult population, we’re talking about specific cohorts of students who could just as well be in primary, secondary, tertiary or postgraduate education. Whilst in the adult population who go online 1% actively blog, in the undergraduate student population this rises to 34%.

The dominance of Google is waning; increasingly people using mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) use Apps to aggregate content. The choices are becoming more personalised and informed.

But as with many other utopian predictions about how the open nature of the Net will create arenas that transcend foibles of the physical world; our faults have followed us to cyberspace. (Levy, 2004, np). In (Haythornthwaite 2008:601)

QQ3 In the light of your own responses and experience, does this ‘new paradigm’ indicate the redundancy of the practitioner?

Or, on the contrary, does it indicate the need for a practitioner with in-depth knowledge of how new technologies can be harnessed and with the time to provide facilitation and support to students as they take on these new responsibilities?

Making the time to interact with students online (and off) and having this planned into the curriculum is important. More tutors are needed, not fewer as expectations rise about the degree of engagement with others. Tutors or teaching assistant, event students (not just PhD), ought to be paid to be online as a hollow forum, or tutor group that isn’t active delivers the poorer experience. My analogy is to think of it as opening a chain or restaurants; why do some work and other’s fail? The ingredients and the menu is the same, but the context (location and personalities) differ. Getting the mix right and having the flexibility and fluidity and will to alter things as it evolves is vital, but often lacking. Certainly the idea that students would pay a handsome fee and then self-educate has largely been dispelled. The shift is livelier and less formal, more akin to a summer school, or camp, with everyone potentially present. There are academics, particularly in higher education, who seem to lack any desire to teach, preferring to inform at arm’s length from the product of their research. Perhaps it is more than this, it is like meeting in Liverpool Street Station amidst the cacophony of everyone else’s online lives, then taking a group to a museum then a show while the individuals in the group try to work, try to enjoy a holiday, have their kids, dog and mother along for the trip, and are engrossed in a novel, game or TV show. The potential is to be distracted, or engaged, or to juggle between the two.

The answer is in the hubbub of the tutorial, or seminar, the forced taking of sides in a debate, or informed discussions in a forum. The arguments and scholarship is still there, it is simply lose of the shackles of print and that technologies 500 year dominance of education, which is fast ending. Haythornthwaite suggests something has changed; it has, we’re returning to a model that is pre-print, vibrant, engaged, and live and that plays to broader human attributes and skills.

As Haythornthwaite (2008:599) goes on to say, ‘New social skills, or perhaps older ones now transformed online, become essential for a workable online future’.

Such knowledge bases resemble more the already familiar communities of practice (Wenger, 1988) and educational disciplines that an open encyclopaedia.


Brown, J.S. (2002) The Social Life of Information

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Haythornthwaite, C., Bruce, B. C., Andrews, R., Kazmer, M. M., Montague, R. & Preston, C. (2007). New theories and models of and for online learning. First Monday, 12(8). http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue12_8/haythorn/index.html

Horrigan, J. B. (2006). The Internet as a resource for news and information about science. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved July 5, 2007 from: http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Exploratorium_Science.pdf.

Levy, S. (Oct. 4, 2004). Memo to bloggers: Heal thyselves. Newsweek. Retrieved May 17, 2007 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6098633/site/newsweek.

Wellman, B. (2001). The rise of networked individualism, In. L. Keeble (Ed.), Community Networks Online (pp. 17-42). London: Taylor & Francis.

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