Home » Posts tagged 'Methods and Theories'

Tag Archives: Methods and Theories

13 E-learning theories

E-learning theories are not new theories, but rather e-enhancements of existing learning theories (Mayes and de Freitas, 2004).
They form “sets of beliefs: about the nature of knowledge and competence, about the purposes of learning, about how learning occurs, about how people should and should not be treated, etc” (Goodyear, 2001, p.51)
Consecutive learning theories don’t replace each other, but complement each other, each contributing its legacy to learning.  Theories can be considered as various levels of aggregation, with associative/behaviourist approaches addressing observable factors, cognitive approaches focusing on the ‘detailed structures and processes that underlie individual performance’ and situative approaches taking into account the social and cultural aspects of learning (Mayes and de Freitas, 2004).
Activity designs are usually a blend of different learning theories.  Being aware of the main learning theories helps building a consistent design and clarifying what type of learning and interaction is intended.
An example provided by Goodyear (2001): It is not uncommon to find some members of a team believing that learners are poor at  organizing themselves and learn best by being fed information in small amounts, while other members of the team want to promote active, student-managed learning.
 
The table below summarizes key concepts of different learning theories and their implications for online learning, taken from the publications from Anderson, Mayes and de Freitas and Goodyear.
Associative/ Behaviourist approaches
Design principles
Looking for observable behaviour
Explicitly mentioning course outcomes
Behavioural objectives
Ability to test achievement of learning outcomes
Instructional Systems Design (ISD)
Decomposing learning into small chunks
Routines of organised activity
Learning hierarchies (controversial!)
Sequencing learning materials with increasing complexity
Giving direct feedback on learning
Individualized learning trajectories
Cognitive psychology (constructivism)
Types of memory (sensory – short term – long term)
Maximize sensations: strategic screen layout
Research on memory, perception, reasoning, concept formation.
Maximize sensations: well-paced information
Learning is active
Maximize sensations: highlighting main elements
Learning is individual (knowledge construction)
Relate difficulty level to cognitive level of learner: providing links to easier and more advanced resources
Use of comparative advance organizers
Use of conceptual models
Importance of prior knowledge structures
Pre-instructional & prerequisite questions
Experimentation toward discovery of broad principles
Promote deep processing
Use of information maps zooming in/ out
Cognitive Apprenticeship (Brown et al, 1989)
Interactive environments for construction of understanding
Metacognition (reflection, self-regulation)
Relate to real-life (apply, analyse, synthesize)
Learning styles (controversial!)
Address various learning styles
Cognitive styles
Let students prepare a journal
Dual coding theory
Use both visual information and text
Motivate learners (ARCS model)
Use techniques to catch attention, explain relevance,  build confidence and increase satisfaction
Situated learning (constructivism)
Personal knowledge construction
Personal meaning to learning
Situated learning: motivation
Relate to real life (relevance)
Holistic/ Systemic approaches
Conduct research on internet
Build confidence with learners
Identity development
Use of first-hand information (not filtered by instructor)
Communities of Practice (Lave & Wenger)
Collaborative activities
Fostering the growth of learning communities
Learning as act of participation
Legitimate (peripheral) practice, apprenticeships
Lifelong learning
Authentic learning and assessment tasks
Connectivism
Information explosion
Digital literacies
Learning in network environment
Keep up-to-date in field
Knowledge base
Multi-channel learning
Distributed learning
Build diversity, openness in learning (different opinions), autonomy
Personal Learning Environment
self-directed learning, just-in-time
Some comments on the table:
1. It’s difficult to draw sharp lines between these theories.  Some authors distinguish between cognitive constructivism (based on the work from Piaget) and social-cultural constructivism (based on the work from Vygotsky).  The work of Vygotsky formed the basis for the anthropological work from Jean Lave and the concept of ‘communities of practice’. The work of Engeström on activity theory forms a bridge between situative learning (with the activity system, it takes a more social unit of analysis than the individual) and constructivist approaches.
2 .Constructivism doesn’t really fit into the overview.  Goodyear (2001, p.75) mentions the following description of constructivism:
“…learning is a constructive process in which the learner is building an internal representation of knowledge, a personal interpretation of experience. This representation is constantly open to change, its structure and linkages forming the foundation to which other knowledge structures are appended….this view of knowledge does not necessarily deny the existence of the real world..but contends that all we know of the world are human interpretations of our experience of the world….learning must be situated in a rich context, reflective of real world contexts…” In other words, constructivism states that knowledge is relative and is different for every user.  Learning, in this position, means actively building a personal and contextualised interpretation of experience.

Constructivism – Jonassen et al 1999

Social Constructions – Vygotsky 1986

Activity Theory – Engeström et al 1999

Experiational Learning – Kolb 1984

Instructional Design – Gagné et al 2004

Networked and collaborative work – McConnell 2000

Learning Design Jochems et al 2004

 

Primary: presenting information

Secondary: active learning and feedback

Tertiary: dialogue and new learning.

References
Goodyear, P. (2001) Effective networked learning in higher education: notes and guidelines, Networked Learning in Higher Education Project (JCALT), Lancaster, CSALT, Lancaster University, [online] Available from:http://www.csalt.lancs.ac.uk/jisc/guidelines_final.doc(Accessed 28 May 2012)
Anderson, T. (ed.) (2008) The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, 2nd ed. Athabasca University Press.
Mayes, T. and de Freitas, S. (2004) Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models, Bristol, The Joint Information Systems Committee, [online] Available from:http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/Stage%202%20Learning%20Models%20%28Version%201%29.pdf(Accessed 28 May 2012).

When I think if learning, I think of the minuscule intricacies of the component parts of the brain and at the same time the immense vastness of the known universe.

As humans we are eager to understand everything.

It seems appropriate to marry neuroscience with astrophysics, like brackets that enclose everything. From a learning point of view then ask as you look at a person or group of people, ‘what is going on?’ specifically, ‘what is going on in there? (the brains) and between them to foster insight, understanding, innovation and advancement.

The best interface for this, a confluence for it all, is the Internet and the connectedness of it all.

What has the impact of the Internet been and based on everything we currently know, where do we presume it is going?

What will the impact be of the Web on education? How is knowledge sharing and learning changing?

Fig. 1. Father and daughter

From four or five months after conception with the formation of the brain, to the moment of brain death we have the capacity to learn, subconsciously as well as consciously.

Whether through interlopers before birth, in infancy and early childhood, or through family and carers in our last moment, days, weeks, months or years. At both ends of life the Web through a myriad of ways can advise, suggest and inform, and so educate, like never before. While for all the time in between as sponges, participants and students we can access, interact, interpose and interject in an environment where everything that is known and has been understood is presented to us. The interface between person and this Web of knowledge is a fascinating one that deserves close study for its potentially profound impact on what we as humans can do as people and collectively:  Individually through, by, with and surfing the established and privileged formal and formal conveyor belt of education through nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary centres of learning. Individually, also through expanding opportunities globally to learn unfettered by such formal education where such established opportunities don’t exist unless hindered through poverty and politics or a lack of communications infrastructure (a robust broadband connection to the Web). And individually and collectively alongside or beyond whatever formal education is provided or exploited by finger tapping into close and expanded networks of people, materials, ideas and activities

Open learning comes of age.

By seeking to peg answers to the role the Web is starting to play, at one end to the very first opportunity, at the micro-biological level to form a thought and at the other end to those micro-seconds at the end of life once the brain ceases to function – and everything else in between, requires an understandings neuroscience and an answer to the question ‘what is going on in there?’ How do we learn?

From an anthropological perspective why and how do we learn?

Where can we identify the origins of knowledge sharing and its role in the survival and domination of homo sapiens? And from our migration from the savannas of Eastern Africa to every nook and cranny of Earth, on land and sea, what recognised societal behaviours are playing out online? And are these behaviours mimicked or to a lesser extent transmogrified, warped or elevated by the scope, scale and speed of being connected to so much in such variety?

A history of learning is required.

From our innate conscious and subconscious capacity to learn from our immediate family and community how has formal education formed right the way through adding reading, writing and numeracy as a foundation to subject choices and specialisms, so momentarily expanded in secondary education into the single subjects studied at undergraduate level and the niche within a niche at Masters and doctoral levels. And what role has and will formal and informal learning continue to have, at work and play if increasing numbers of people globally have a school or university in their pockets, courtesy of a smartphone or tablet and a connection to the Web?

The global village Marshall McLuhan described is now, for the person connected to the Web, the global digital fireplace.

It has that ability to gather people around. Where though are its limits? With how many people can we develop and maintain a relationship? Once again, how can an understanding of social networks on the ground inform us about those that form on the Web? Multiplicity reins for some, flitting between a variety of groups while others have their niche interests indulged, celebrated and reinforced. Is there an identifiable geography of such hubs small and large and if visualised what does this tell us? Are the ways we can now learn new or old?

In relation to one aspect of education – medicine – how are we informed and how do we respond as patients and clinicians?

The journey starts at conception with the mixing of DNA and ends once the last electrochemical spark has fired. How, in relation to medicine does the quality (or lack of), scale and variety of information available on the Web inform and impact upon our ideas and actions the length of this lifetime’s journey At one end, parents making decisions regarding having children, then knowledge of pregnancy and foetal development. While at the other end, a child takes part in the decision-making process with clinicians and potentially the patient – to ‘call it a day’. Both the patient or person, as participant and the clinicians as interlocutors have, potentially, the same level of information at their fingertips courtesy of the Web.

How is this relationship and the outcomes altered where the patient will know more about their own health and a good deal about a clinician’s specialism?

The relationship between the doctor and patient, like others, courtesy of the connectivity and capacity of the Web, has changed – transmogrified, melted and flipped all at the same time. It is no longer them and us, though it can be – rather, as in education and other fields, it can be highly personalized and close.

Can clinicians be many things to many people?

Can any or only some of us cope with such multiplicity? A psychologist may say some will and some won’t, some have the nature for it, others not. Ditto in education. Trained to lead a classroom in a domain of their own, can a teacher take on multiple roles aimed at responding to the unique as well as the common traits of each of their students? While in tertiary education should and can academics continue to be, or expected to be undertake research as well as teach? Where teaching might be more akin to broadcasting, and the classroom or tutorial takes place asynchronously and online as well as live and face-to-face.

Disaggregation equals change.

In relation to one aspect of education in medicine and one kind of problem, what role might the Web play to support patients so that they can make an informed decision regarding the taking of potentially life saving, if not simply life improving, medications? Having understood the complexity of reasons why having been prescribed a preventer medication, for example, to reduce or even eliminate the risk of a serious asthma attack, what is going on where a patient elects, sometimes belligerently, not to take the medication. Others are forgetful, some misinformed, for others it is the cost, or the palaver of ordering, collecting and paying for repeat prescriptions. Information alone isn’t enough, but given the capacity of the web to brief a person on an individual basis, where they are online, what can be done to improve adherence, save lives and enhance the quality of life?

My hypothesis is that a patient can be assisted by an artificial companion of some kind, that is responsive to the person’s vicissitudes while metaphorically sitting on that person’s shoulder i.e. in the ‘Cloud’ and on their smartphone, tablet, headset, laptop or whatever other assistive interface will exist between us and the Web.

 

Fig. 2. Where it ends … more or less

At a parent’s side when they die is a profound experience. The breathing stopped and a trillion memories drained away. To what degree will this no longer be the case when a life logged digitally becomes a life in part preserved?

 

70,000 years ago we were getting something right in relation to learning and responding to circumstances and left Africa.

We have been learning in communities ever since.

Perhaps population pressures or stability permitted reading and our inexorable desire to innovate led to the printing press and more since besides. Meanwhile populations and civilizations grew and society required or permitted the development of formal learning.

For me all the learning theories are observations of human behaviour as individuals or in groups.

Open learning is if anything taking us back to learning on the fly, in more vibrant less formal communities online. A response to the necessity of educating 7 billion and solving many of the human created problems on this dot in space called Earth.

I rather think the theories come AFTER the event to philosophise over what is taking place – in a commercial and entrepreneurial world you get on with it.

Take virtual worlds – they are commercial gaming and entertainment environments which educators would like to use and as they use them explain, position and justify.

  • All I want to know is, does it work?
  • Is it affordable?
  • Is it scaleable?
  • Is it going anywhere?
  • If not ditch it snd try something else.

 

A ‘conversational approach’ to learning

Conversational Approach (Laurillard, 2002) This looks at the on-going learner-teacher interaction, and at the process of negotiation of views of the subject-matter which takes place between them in such a way as to modify the learner’s perceptions. From this she develops a set of criteria for the judgement of teaching/learning systems, particularly those based on educational technology.

http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html

http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/pask.html

http://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

 

Timelines, theories and technologies

This is a learning dilemma that will become increasingly prevalent. You have a stinker of a complex mass of resources and cobbled together ideas to compile into some kind of order only to find that it has been done for you. This is an activity of how understandings of the process of learning has changed over time.

On of our tutors offers a helping hand:

 

Take your time reading this through and then consider how these historical changes might affect

  • the development of educational technologies
  • ethical considerations in e-learning research
  • research in your own discipline.

There’s quite a lot in there. If you want to start just responding to one of the bullet points above, that’s fine.

When these modules are designed is proper consideration really given to the students? Who they are? There levels of commitment and understanding? For all the personas I’m familiar with I do wonder.

And that’s not even the start of it. We are then asked to look back at week 3 (a month ago), and look for relationships and connections between the narrative we create (above). Then, as if this isn’t enough we need to rope in last weeks ethical considerations, and while we’re at at put in the ‘wider political and social changes’.

Already we have, in my estimation (and this is my sixth postgraduate module and the fifth in the MAODE series) a good 16 hours work to do.

But there’s more:

‘Consider how the subject you studied for your undergraduate degree has changed over time’.

Post your answers in your tutor group forum and compare them with others.

Across the five groups I think, so far two, sometimes three people, have given this a go. Each could write a chapter in a book (one nearly has)

2 Hours have been allocated to the task.

I repeatedly find that whatever time is given as a suggested requirement for a week’s activities that you need to add 50%. So 14 hours becomes 21.

Like a junior solicitor I’ve been keeping tabs on how long everything takes – and this is someone who is by now, evidentially, digitally literate and familiar with the OU VLE. If you can find 21 hours great. If not then what? If you can handle getting behind or strategically leaving gaps that’s fine, but if you feel obliged to get you money’s worth and want to do it all then what? And of course life goes on around you: kids off school, elderly relations fall ill, the workload ebbs and flows, the car breaks down … your Internet connection becomes about as vibrant as a mangle and it snows a bit.

A simple guide to four complex learning theories

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

I came across this from edudemic and can’t think of anything clearer.

The discussion offers some further thoughts, deleting the word ‘traditional’ and replacing with classical.

The ifs and buts of the people associated with each of these and how absolute any of them can be, especially connectivism. However, I see connectivism not as the end of a chronological chain, but rather a loop that has people connected and learning in their family, extended family and community. And the one component that has not changed a jot? The way the human brain is constructed during foetal development and the unique person who then emerges into any of some hundreds of thousands of different circumstances and from way they may or may not develop ‘their full potential’. Though I hazard a guess that this will always remain impossible to achieve. 98 billion neurons take a lot of connecting. It starts at around 4 months after conception and only ends with death – death being after the vital physiological supports have collapsed and like the self-destructing tape in Mission Impossible ‘all is lost’.


The infographic runs to and 12 rows. This is the last row. The rest you ought to see for yourselves.

Copyright 2013 © Edudemic 

Powered by coffee, and a love all things education technology.

Simplistically the technologies I can add across this chronology are:

Books – Learning by rote > Literacy (writing, paper) – but then the Oxbridge Tutorial goes back over 750 years and that was and still is ‘Constructivism’ before someone came along 700 years later and gave it a name.

I’m reminded of the aphorism from Philip Larkin, ‘Sex started in the Sixities’ – about the same time as constructive learning. As for ‘connectivism’ what happens in a market, what has happened at religious gathering for millennia? Why do clever people have to come along and say these things have never happened before? Connectivism = discussions. Perhaps we’d be better off NOT writing it down, by going and finding people. I spoke to a Consultant the other week who for all the technology and e-learning swears by the conference. And for how many millennia have ‘experts’ like-minds and the interested (and powerful/influential) had such opportunities to gather.

In 1999 my very first blog post was titled ‘what’s new about new media, not much’.

Whenever I read it I feel the sentiment is the same – as people we have not changed one jot. Just because everyone has a ‘university in their pocket’ – if they are some of the few hundred million out of the 7 billion on the planet who have a Smart Phone or iPad does not change the fundamentals of what we are and the connectedness of our brains.

 

Thoughts on ethical issues surrounding studying younger students in virtual worlds and online

 

Who?

Young people

Why?

Their use of mobile phones and networked devices

What?

Immersive Virtual Worlds and virtual inhabitants (not everyone’s cup of tea)

  • Informal learning settings

  • Ethical challenges across the full range of contexts

Suggestion

  • Keep ethical questions open given the changing environment.
  • A participatory and iterative approach (Lally et al. 2012 : 02 )
  • Assumption that ‘developments in mobile and networked technologies change young people’s culture landscape, allowing them to communicate, socialise and collaborate on their personal projects in new ways’. (Lally et al. 2012 : 02 )
  • Indeed, outside the formal education system (Sharples, Graber, Harrison, & Logan, 2009)

Context

  • Outside the classroom
  • How to research
  • New ‘ecologies’ of learning (Looi, 2001)
  • Hanging around the changing rooms after a swimming session – banter that leaks out into the general public.

PROBLEM

  • Integration of these platforms/worlds into learning design.
  • Merging formal and informal.
  • Bridging formal and nonformal/informal contexts (TEL-TLRP) projects – ‘Inter-Life’ and ‘Personal Inquiry’  (Lally et al. 2012 : 04)

‘The projects have to negotiate territory that by its very informal and collaborative nature requires ethical and educational processes to be negotiated and distributed amongst participants, rather than pre-determined by their institutional context’. (Lally et al. 2012 : 04)

Like bringing a game of British Bulldogs or ‘Kick the can’ into a teaching setting, like boy scouts … and killing it off in the process. Kids would run a mile if they spotted a teacher. Even at university, extracurricular that had nothing to do with the course … and faculty associations which did.

Ethics – and Aristotle and ‘phronesis’. (Unnecessarily pretentious or a valid grounding in ethics.

If we go back to Aristotle then why miss out all the philosophical thinking and development since, at least via humanists such as Hegel)

  • Quest for external and universal truths
  • Skills required to pursue a particular end

Elliot, (2006) ‘disciplined conversation in which reasons for action are scrutinised, critiqued and modified’.

Phronesis – underpins the argument for iterative and participatory research.  (Lally et al. 2012 : 02 ) = practical wisdom (wikipedia).

Learning in informal and non-formal settings already constitutes the majority of educational interactions during a person’s lifetime (Livingstone, 1999)

Actually it starts in the womb as the brain forms in the foetus from around five months and never ends … a person continues to learn to the moment they die … possibly even moments after the heart has stopped and the brain finally shuts down and everything is lost.

I wouldn’t count on anything that is said by Marc Prensky (2005)

A more reliable source might be the OII Annual Survey for GB usage, Rebecca Eynon.

Emergent social network technologies (Selwyn, 2008)

Prohibition at school.

Skills learnt: online collaborative learning, development of skills in web-based social networking, occur almost entirely outside the formal education system. (Lally et al. 2012 : 04 )

  • The perpetual consumer (Lawson, 2004) and the net savvy adolescent.
  • Direct link between economic activities and consumption.  (Lally et al. 2012 : 04 )

AdBlocker, scrambling facebook, if you get ads in blogs pay to exclude, tape over screen, block pop-ups, move platform (e.g . AOL).

Edutainment rarely competes with the games that have 100m invested.

Novel ethical issues  (Lally et al. 2012 : 04)

The study of people’s personal use of digital technology for learning (Buckingham &Willett, 2009; Crook & Harrison, 2008; Sharples et al., 2009), and their engagement with digital technologies across formal and non-formal/informal settings for education (Vavoula, Sharples, Rudman, Lonsdale, & Meek, 2007), presents novel ethical issues.

REFERENCE

Davies, C., & Eynon, R (2013) Teenagers and Technology (Adolescence and Society)

Eynon, R (2009) Mapping the digital divide in Britain: implications for learning and education.

Kelly, D (Forthcoming 2011) ‘Karaoke’s Coming Home:  Japan’s Empty Orchestras in the United Kingdom’, Leisure Studies 30.

Lally, V; Sharples, M; Tracey, F; Bertram, N and Masters, S. (2012). Researching the ethical dimensions of mobile, ubiquitous,and immersive technology enhanced learning (MUITEL) in informal settings: a thematic review and dialogue. Interactive Learning Environments, 20(3), pp. 217–238.

Livingstone, D.W. (1999). Exploring the icebergs of adult learning: Findings of the first Canadian survey of informal learning practices. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 13(2), 49–72.

Looi, C.K. (2001). Enhancing learning ecology on the internet. Journal of Computer Assisted

Learning, 17(1), 13–20.

Prensky, M. (2005). Don’t bother me mum – I’m learning. St Paul, MN: Paragon House.

Selwyn, N. (Ed.). (2008). Education 2.0?: Designing the web for teaching and learning. London: Institute of Education, University of London, TLRP-TEL.

Sharples, M., Graber, R., Harrison, C., & Logan, K. (2009). E-Safety and Web2.0 for children aged 11–16. Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning, 25, 70–84.

 

Visual expressions of Open Learning

PART ONE

 Sequence showing my conceptions of the shift in learning.

From traditional top down, to horizontal and collaborative and what’s goes in in the human brain – the interaction between different parts of the brain.

However, whilst this might be an expression of traditional classroom based teaching, through to collaborative Web 1.0 and the semantic Web 2.o as I have illustrated before, the reality is that all of these approaches are going on simultaneously: we still have, and benefit from top down learning – being told or shown stuff, there is collaborative learning, more so in certain subjects.

The second line suggests how things are changing: traditional learning being tipped on its head and on its side or at various angles as an institution, or policy changes, due to the influence of the teacher or because of the subject.

Horizontal learning from siblings, friends, family and extended family – always there in the past goes into hyper-mode as we can connect with ease with many of these people making every day like a family event if you so choose, following and joining in with the antics of others or sharing thoughts on school and life. I should add unconscious learning too – asleep, that sorting process we go through when we dream.

I doubt, from what I am coming to understand about neuroscience, that activity in the brains is greatly different or increased courtesy of the Internet or that stimulation has increased – this is for various reasons: our brain gets bored with the familiar, we turn off, we filter, we select. There is a limit to how much can be process. We give up other things to engage online – though I wouldn’t think giving up ogling at the TV all evening is any loss – the average viewing in the UK is 4 hours a day? Really!!

Open Learning is the last image in the bottom right hand corner – a lot going on, a good deal of connectivity.

But not less perhaps than living in a close, frenetic, village community – more akin to how we lived thousands of years ago with the world at our doorstep rather than our being squirreled away as we now are.

Traditional learning

Informal learning (circles look good, or a hub)

Neuroscience for Dummies (a great intro to the subject, I recommend it!)

Put it all together – as your brain does in sleep, and as occurs anyway as you daydream in class or have a parent help you with homework … 

Open Learn is kindle in the fire … it stokes it up, motivating, demotivating and distracting. Key is the continued connectivity to friends and family wherever they may be. That ‘hub’ of activity you may get after a family holiday or gathering can be with you in your pocket to support and advise. 

Is this what Open Learning looking like? More of what we’ve always had, but now, if you want him, your grandfather can sit on your shoulder all day – in our family my brother would have been asking advice on car maintenance, I would have been quizzing him on first hand detail of the war.  Cousins often get briefings from my father-in-law a retired Oxford Philosophy Tutor.

And now, courtesy of all learning online, open and formal, the action really gets going. Or does it? Is it not simply replacing something else? The very active person in clubs, societies, in a large extended family and so on would be getting this anyway?

PART TWO

This second A2 sheet works with Vygotsky and Engestrom and the idea of how we construct knowledge in a context.

The second image shows the familiar Activity System, an expanded version of how Vygotsy expressed how we learn. The activity system has six interacting components: subject and object, mediated by tools or artefacts, rules, community and division of labour. Enegstrom’s next generation expression of the Activity System is to show two systems interacting, the key here being the interaction of two objects or outcomes to produce a third.

This model is manageable, with set links between the components.

‘In the field’ it is possible to allocate roles to people or departments, to kits and guidelines but then on the second line you start to consider how many activity systems are connected. However, it is no longer simply the case that there is one point of contact – this drive to an outcome or objective.

Already authors wonder if Activity Theory (I have the reference I’ll dig it out for you) can no longer apply, that it has melted.

The middle image in the middle of the bottom row circumvents the set connections to indicated that everything can interact with everything else. Feed this into a multitude of Activity Systems (the final diagram in the bottom right) and you see what complexity is created – the suggestion being that the there is more direct connecting between people with no mediation factors or systems. This assumes that there are no gatekeepers or other barriers, but increasingly, in tertiary education you may find yourself in a discussion alongside the biggest names in your field, whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral student, no matter what institution you are signed up to.

In fact, it is far more open than that of course – by chance or because of an enthusiasm or wish to connect anyone in theory can connect with anyone else – or at least with those who are taking part.

Some 4% of the population in Great Britain who by all accounts should be digital residents don’t event visit – there lifestyle choice is not to use the Internet, just as in the past people may have chosen not to have a TV. Another13% don’t have access at all – no connection, no kit, no space or place to use kit that is shared. And this is the UK. So Open Learning, though not exclusive, cannot be called universal.

Of course, being a purist, if you’re interested in Vygotsky you need to study him in Russian. Now where is there an Open Learn course on Russian?

Models work, as do metaphors, but with the digital world are all such models melting like sheet ice in a warming climate? Merged and blurred like so much ink dripped into a digital ocean?

Though Engestrom sees this as things and institutions, I like to see two people here, say an Art Director and Copywriter working together to solve problems. Two heads better than one and all of that. Any psychologists out there might offer me person to person models as alternatives. 

And how many institutions can and do interact? Think of a $100m movie. Think of planning the Olympics. Think of six people with different skills and experiences working together. 

Is this what Open Learning looking like?

At what point does the model break down?

Become redundant? Even ideas of ‘learning from the periphery’ (JS Brown and Duguid) falls apart if there is no centre, and no periphery, if everyone is equally ‘linked in’ with no degrees of separation at all, where you are anyone else’s father, brother or son. (mother, sister or daughter).

Engestrom ends up using the metaphor of a Mycorrhizae fungi growth such as this.  I also found this rather beautiful image. But can art therefore fool? Something beautiful that is attractive and persuasive may not acutally be representative of the ‘truth of the matter’ – but what is?

Mycorrhizae = the real thing (apologies to the originator, when I can find the reference I will add it)

Which has me thinking of something more fluid, like the water cycle (think digital ocean into the could, then back again)

And in a system, as something more dynamic, with patterns behind the chaos.

In which case, to my mind, Open Learn and e-learning is like global warming to the climate – it is simply putting more energy into the system. Just re-annotate the above (which I will eventually get round to doing).

And if this doesn’t make your brain hurt or your jaw drop take a look at this:

Scale of the Universe

and click on ‘Powers of Ten’ which is, I feel, evocative of Open Learning too – scalable from the micro to the infinite.

REFERENCE

Engestrom, Y Various. I recommend ‘From Teams to Knots’

Vygotsky, L (1926 if you want it in Russia, 1974 for the first translations into English)

Rebecca Eynon from the OII  for ‘Mapping the Internet’ stats on GB Internet use.

(I’ll flesh this out in due course. There are a dozen references related to the above. But this is Open Learning. You get my thoughts on this in all its various drafts).

How to design learning using activity cards

Fig. 1. Activity Cards for curriculum planning downloaded from JISC

I’m very glad to be doing this OU hosted Massive Open Online Course on Learning Design

I have a couple of weeks in hand and desperately wanted to make and do stuff. I’ve joined one Cloudscape where the aim is to design learning on DIY Multimedia. I have three projects of my own too – not takers from others as they’re rather ‘out of the box’ – ideas around lifelogging, augmented learning and virtual companions.

This exercise I recommend. Indeed, I think getting away from the screen and using bits of paper, getting on the phone, not relying on webinars … and meeting face-to-face all makes sense.

OLD MOOC WK 3 Activity 2 Course Cards

Getting off the computer and into an activity, ideally a collaborative one, is always productive. A carefully moderated workshop can reveal the unexpected, more importantly it is an informed way to prioritize issues and to use a the combined expertise of a variety of people. From the OU Course B822 Creative Innovation and Change I learnt the value of constructing a team of people to address a problem – from different backgrounds, with different responsibilities and outlooks, even someone to rock the boat. No one person’s voice is allowed to override the views of others. Such a group would achieve a lot with this OULDI pack. Though game-like it is a valid and valuable tool.

Working alone there were a number of hurdles to overcome:

A black and white printer.
The sheets were printed off then painted. Not liking the look of the purple these cards all become yellow.
Ideally they would all be spray-glued to backing card to make them more robust – at least so that they don’t curl up at the edges.
On the first sweep I got the 38 number of cards down to 26. This was gradually reduced in 2s and 3s until there were the requisite 16.



Fig.2. Used a pairs table the 16 cards were ranked

Using a paired-sets in a table I was able to rank these 16 – clearly the exercise of discussing these with colleagues would have been extremely useful and the process of deliberation brought up issues of budget, resources and time-scale, and even refined the project as it is conceived and visualised as a certain number of activities.

Fig. 3. In rank order a diamond was created with the chosen cards.

  1. Problem Based
  2. Applied Concepts
  3. Mentoring in work-place
  4. Collaborative
  5. Scaffolded learning
  6. Practice based
  7. Student generated content
  8. Day Schools
  9. Blended approach
  10. Authentic resources
  11. Practice placement
  12. Professional community
  13. Portfolio or e-portfolio
  14. Peer-support
  15. Active discovery
  16. Step by step instruction

Choose a maximum of 12 cards from the pack which define the key features of your course or module.

Step by step instructions Guidance and Support
Scaffolded learning
Mentoring in the workplace
Applied concepts Content and Experience
Authentic resources
Problem-based
Practice-based
Collaborative Communication and Collaboration
Practice placement
Day schools
Student generated content Reflection and Demonstration
Portfolio or e-portfolio

In terms of the module DIY Mutlimedia I become very aware of the value of learning alongside an expert, of being with skilled practitioners even – and very much the need to have a project brief to work to. So very much a hands on learning experience with authentic tools to create a real object or digital asset, or activity. This would also take the learners away from the computer screen, even out of the classroom into a design studio or agency. In fact the ‘Online’ card didn’t make it into the 16. Even though this is to develop skills in use of digital multimedia tools I felt I was organising a workshop for potters, painters and tapestry weavers i.e. there is a highly practical element to it and there’s nothing better than having a live guide at your shoulder … and if there has to be a compromise then it would be live or ‘as live’ instruction over the Internet.

My first career was in television – I got out of a graduate position in an advertising agency and became the ‘runner’ and ‘production assistant’ in a micro-production company. We were six and were down to three for most of the time. I learnt by latching onto an experience BBC Producer – so directing, producing and writing. Then on the job. In time I supplemented this with trade association workshops and some formal day or afternoon workshops. After four years I took a fulltime course. This exercise has made me see how much multi-media production is a craft skill – we may use keyboard and computer screens, but so do TV editors these days too. I’ve even used a broadcast video camera with iPad touchscreen like controls on the viewing monitor (nightmare!) … for someone used to buttons and knobs.

I have been hugely encouraged to get away from screens and be with people face to face despite believing in all things e-learning. Even major practitioners will talk about activities away from the screen, or phoning a friend or colleague … even expecting a phone call or a debriefing workshop. This is because those commissioning learning want results and will break away from the shoehorn of e-learning to do so … great for scale, great for compliance, but hardly ‘human’.

Perhaps the ‘e-‘ is coming detached from ‘learning’.

Learning is the thing, whether it is online, face to face, mobile or augmented. The ‘e’ has to stand for ‘effective’ – did it work! And student analytics and feedback will quickly tell you if you are getting it right or wrong.

VIDEO: How to design learning using activity cards

What is learning design?

Learning design, indeed any design, is about problem solving. If there isn’t a problem there is nothing to do.

No need to create learning, to advertise, to change, to brainstorm … recognise the problem then resolve to fix it. If this requires problem solving techniques just to get the scope of the problem, or objective set down, so be it. Then set about solving the problem, not shoehorning a response whether it is e-learning, video, a job description … but looking for the best, most appropriate or right way forward.

E-learning is no panacea.

There are still leaflets, workshops, conferences … Then research, write and agree a creative brief.

Then cost, schedule and build your team.

Then get on with it.

You might end up with the equivalent of a chair, a house or a small town … but it is fundamentally problem solving.

%d bloggers like this: