Reading the following article on Second Life, I am reminded of a few discussions I have had in previous years on the catalysts for change.
When looking at new technologies that have the potential to impact on learning, it needs to be recognised that though research and understanding is important, we also need to be realistic that this on its own does not necessarily change things.
Research allows us to understand the implications and the affordances of a new technology. What we need to be aware of when introducing a new technology of the main issues and barriers that could be faced.
What we must take note of is that research on its own does not necessarily cause change.
Most researchers I have met appear to prefer to build on existing research rather than embed practice based on research. That of course is fine, as they are researchers. It takes a different kind of approach to embed the results of research into mainstream practice.
Another aspect of research based practice is that due to the way it is funded, it often only looks at a small section of an institution, usually a single group from a single curriculum area. I don’t then blame people who look at this research and decide that the best way to move forward is to repeat the research with a different group. The end result is lots of small research project outcomes that are very similar. That is certainly the case with research into Second Life.
Wholesale, holistic mainstream change doesn’t happen because of research, that change comes about because of people.
Good people base decisions on good research, they will recognise the implications of that research and think about how they can use that research to influence and inform strategy to change practices and processes.
Last week I delivered a keynote at the JISC Innovating e-Learning Online Conference.
James Clay will be asking delegates to consider some of the conversations we have had over the last ten years and challenging us to consider why we keep asking the same questions, why we are sometimes slow to take action and to really look hard at our responses to change. James will offer some of his own observations around why we seem reluctant to learn from the past and argues that this is as important as looking to the future.
What I wanted to achieve with this keynote was to explore the reasons behind what we decide to research and to investigate what does change in organisations.
The slides I used were as follows and I think I broke the record with 143 slides.
The presentation was delivered online using Blackboard Collaborate and over a hundred people “watched”.
I made use of the environment to engage the audience and to get them to interact with me and each other.
Overall I was pleased with the presentation and the outcomes. I also got some really nice feedback too.
The University of Bristol is conducting research into the impact of 1:1 access to mobile learning devices at KS2 and KS4. Five schools, which are part of the Learning2Go or Hand-e-Learning projects, are being investigated.
This Development and Research project is using mixed methods to evaluate impact in terms of learners’ learning skills, attendance, behaviour and attainment. It will also review the success of the implementation and sustainability of the schools’ PDA initiatives and provide examples of emerging good pedagogic practice.
The final reports from the project will be available in Winter 2008.
The Summer 2007 Interim Report is available here.
Emerging recommendations include:
Implementation – policy
- The initial implementation of mobile projects is logistically challenging.
- The open negotiation of contracts of acceptable and responsible use with learners and parents can be very useful in clarifying issues and building mutual trust.
- When learners expect devices to be used, they are more likely to bring them to school every day and keep them charged. When all pupils in a class have their devices with them, the learning benefits are optimised.
- Teachers need to play an integral role in choosing software and content to ensure that it is relevant to learners’ needs. They are then more likely use the devices.
- Where possible, all relevant staff – especially teaching assistants, ICT co-ordinators and teachers – should be provided with mobile devices.
Implementation – technical
- It is beneficial to ensure reliable wireless connectivity.
- It is useful to consider systems for dealing with breakages and temporary loss of use of devices. This may involve planning for temporary loan stock.
- Systems for storage of and access to work need to be developed. Teachers and learners need to access digital work to provide and receive feedback.
- Consideration can usefully be given to possible software solutions to teachers’ issues around observing process, tracking progress and formative assessment.
Professional development of teachers
- Teachers benefit from having time to explore what the devices can do before integrating their use into planned learning.
- Using mobile devices is likely to increase learner autonomy. Teachers need to ensure that learners are able to evaluate resources, think critically and reflect.
- It is important to consider the ways in which mobile devices are integrated with other (ICT and traditional) tools in learning at home and at school.