Tag Archives: pedagogy

It’s not what you say you do, it’s the way that you do it!

language

I was thinking the other day that I don’t have enough readers of the blog and insufficient engagement.

So the solution has to be that the name of the blog isn’t right. First idea would be change the name from “elearning stuff” to “blended learning stuff”.

Then again maybe I could choose “e-pedagogy stuff” or what a about “threaded learning stuff”. How about “hybrid pedagogy stuff”?

Do you think that changing the name will significantly increase readership and engagement on the blog?

No.

If I want more readers and more engagement, then maybe, just maybe I should think more about the content I write, the style, the questions I ask, the quality of the writing, the frequency of posting and so on…

So when we start thinking that the problem with the embedding of digital and learning technologies, is the name that we use, such as blended learning or e-learning the problem, then we probably have a bigger issue.

If staff aren’t engaging with digital and learning technologies as part of their continuing professional development, then changing the term we use will have some impact, but not significant. It may encourage some to participate, but it may confuse others. However the language we use, though can be powerful in some contexts, is not the reason why people decide not to engage with digital.

It’s like the reason that people often say about lack of time, when the solution is not about providing more time, but is about setting and managing priorities. It really comes back to the reasons why people choose to engage or not and the reasons they give.

If you are having challenges in engaging staff in the use of digital and learning technologies and thinking that changing the “name” we use is the solution, i would suggest you may actually want to spend the time and effort thinking about your approaches and the methodology you are using.

Of course the real reason people choose to change the language, is that it is much easier to do that, then actually deal with people!

What do you think, we now language is important, but is the problem the terms we use or is it something else?

It’s an extra, but does it need to be?

keyboardbw

Over the years I have spent a lot of time working with teachers helping them to embed digital technologies into their practice. I have also collaborated with colleges and universities and seen the strategies they use to embed digital. In an earlier post I described my journey and the approaches I have used for support and strategy. In this series of articles I am going to look at the process that many teachers use for teaching and learning and describe tools, services, but also importantly the organisational approach that can be used to embed the use of those tools into practice.

One challenge that is often faced when embedding learning technologies is that a lot of teaching staff see digital technology as something extra to do in their teaching. It’s a bolt-on, something extra to be done on top of the teaching and assessment workload.

Part of this has to be down to the way in which staff are introduced to or trained in the use of learning technologies. Staff attend a training session, or read an e-mail about some kind of new service or tool, or a new functionality and then are asked (usually politely and nicely) to start using as part of their work. The obvious reaction is that staff will see this as an extra.

Another part is down to the technocentric approach that is often used when talking about learning technologies, the training is focused on the technical approach to tools and services, this is how you use it and this is how it works.

At a simple level, even just uploading presentations to the VLE is an extra piece of work. Using a lecture capture system requires more effort than just the lecture. Using padlet to capture feedback requires more time than not capturing feedback.

This negative reaction to learning technologies, then extends to the use of other kinds of technolog, that can even save time, or isn’t recognised when the potential benefits are longer term.

So what can be done?

I don’t think there is an extra with the “this is an extra” model of staff development, it will certainly inspire and help those who want to engage with technology and those who can see the potential long term benefits. However in order to engage those staff for whom it is an “extra” this different approaches need to be considered and used.

There isn’t anything wrong about the technocentric approach, despite what the “pedagogy first” brigade may tell you, however the focus needs to be on the potential of the technology, what it can do, what is can provide and what the benefits are. The technical processes can be covered as well, but put the focus on what the benefits are for the member if the staff and importantly the learners.

Another method is to focus on the processes and workflows that staff have and see how technology can improve, enhance and smooth out those processes.

Finally what about the affordances that new technologies can bring, the potential not to just change what we do, but allow us to do things we had never considered.

So what strategies do you use to engage staff who see embedding technology as an extra?

Top Ten Blog Posts 2015

Sand Bay

Over the last 12 months I have written 24 blog posts which is two a month. In 2014 I wrote 11 and in 2013 I wrote 64 blog posts and over a hundred in 2012. In 2011 I thought 150 was a quiet year!

The tenth most popular post on the blog in 2015, dropping one place from 2014, was written back in 2009 when Twitter was (at the time) looked like the height of the Twitter’s popularity. In the post Ten reasons why Twitter will eventually wither and die… I talked about how Twitter would, like so many other earlier social networks such as Friendster, Bebo, MySpace, would eventually wither and die… well I got that one right didn’t I? Still there are aspects in the post that may, at some point in the future ring true!

My opinion piece on Area Based Reviews for FE was a new entry and the ninth most popular post, I can do that… What does “embrace technology” mean? This was written in 2015 and looked at what we mean when we ask FE Colleges to “embrace technology” and how they could in fact do that. Embracing technology is easy to say, easy to write down. Ensuring that you actually holistically embrace technology across the whole organisation, as part of a wider review is challenging and difficult. We haven’t really done this before, so I don’t think we can assume it will just happen now.

Area Based Review

One of my many posts on Moodle was a re-entry at number eight Is the Scroll of Death Inevitable? This post was the ninth most popular post in 2013. One of the common themes that comes out when people discuss how to use Moodle, is the inevitable scroll of death. My response was that due to a lack of planning (even forward planning) that the end result more often than not would be a long scroll of death in a Moodle course.

Another new entry at number seven in 2015 was written and posted in December 2015 and was about time and why I don’t have a dog. I don’t have a dog #altc was a discussion piece was written for the ALT Winter Conference and looks at the over used excuse for not doing something, which is not having the time to do it. The real reason though, more often then not, is that the person concerned does not see it as a priority.

On The Streets of Vilnius
CC BY 2.0 FaceMePLS https://flic.kr/p/a7RLz7
The sixth post was from the App of the Week series and was called VideoScribe HD – iPad App of the Week I talked about this app in July 2013 and was impressed with the power and versatility of the app for creating animated presentations. This has dropped four places, but one problem, is that the app isn’t available any more for the iPad.

The fifth post, dropping two places, of 2015 was another one from that series. Comic Life – iPad App of the Week. Though I have been using Comic Life on the Mac for a few years now I realised I hadn’t written much about the iPad app that I had bought back when the iPad was released. It’s a great app for creating comics and works really well with the touch interface and iPad camera.

Climbing one place, the fourth most popular post was from my other series on 100 ways to use a VLE. This one was #89 Embedding a Comic Strip. This was a post from July 2011, that looked at the different comic tools out there on the web, which can be used to create comic strips that can then be embedded into the VLE. It included information on the many free online services such as Strip Creator and Toonlet out there. It is quite a long post and goes into some detail about the tools you can use and how comics can be used within the VLE.

Climbing four places, at number three was a copyright post entitled, Can I legally download a movie trailer? One of the many copyright articles that I posted some years back, this one was in 2008, I am a little behind in much of what is happening within copyright and education, one of things I do need to update myself on, as things have changed.

The second most popular post in 2015 was Frame Magic – iPhone App of the Week. This has risen two places and even I am not sure why this one is so popular!

Once again, for the third year running, the number one post for 2015 was the The iPad Pedagogy Wheel. I re-posted the iPad Pedagogy Wheel as I was getting asked a fair bit, “how can I use this nice shiny iPad that you have given me to support teaching and learning?”.

It’s a really simple nice graphic that explores the different apps available and where they fit within Bloom’s Taxonomy. What I like about it is that you can start where you like, if you have an iPad app you like you can see how it fits into the pedagogy. Or you can work out which iPads apps fit into a pedagogical problem.

So there we have it, the top ten posts of 2015, of which two were from 2015!

Here’s to 2016.

Learning from massive open social learning




Learning from massive open social learning

There has been lots of chatter and talk over the last two years on MOOCs.  One of the challenges of MOOCs is that they lack the social interaction that traditional small campus based courses offer.

MOOC providers such as Coursera and Futurelab are recognising this and starting to build in social networking to their massive online courses.

The recent OU publication on innovating pedagogy talks about massive open social learning.

Massive open social learning brings the benefits of social networks to the people taking massive open online courses (MOOCs). It aims to exploit the ‘network effect’, which means the value of a networked experience increases as more people make use of it. The aim is to engage thousands of people in productive discussions and the creation of shared projects, so together they share experience and build on their previous knowledge. A challenge to this approach is that these learners typically only meet online and for short periods of time. Possible solutions include linking conversations with learning content, creating short-duration discussion groups made up of learners who are currently online, and enabling learners to review each other’s assignments. Other techniques, drawn from social media and gaming, include building links by following other learners, rating discussion comments, and competing with others to answer quizzes and take on learning challenges.

When developing online learning, the lesson we can take from MOOCs and as outlined in the OU report is the importance of adding online social elements to courses. We need to ensure that these social aspects are as much a part of the learning journey as the content and the activities.

An expectation that these social elements will “just happen” is a flawed approach, and as with other aspects of the learning design, the social components of an online course must be thought about, designed and delivered in a similar way to the learning and assessment components.

Activities can be designed to motivate participants to engage with each other and create social networks within those taking part. Obviously with a large number of learners (such as you find in MOOCs) you will probably find this easier. With smaller cohorts it will be significantly more difficult.

It can also help embedding aspects of the course into existing social networking services and tools, but it is useful to audit which of these tools, if any, the participants actually use external networks.

Social aspects of learning are important to many learners and that is one of many reasons why learners choose to attend a programme of study at a physical location such as a college. The social aspects of an online course are not a replacement for face to face social interaction, but are for many learners an important aspect of an online course and will help support and motivate them as they go through the online course.

Image Credit: Empty by Shaylor

e-Learning Stuff – Top Ten Blog Posts of 2013

Oxford

A little later than planned. Well 2013 was an eventful year for me, moving jobs after seven years at Gloucestershire College. I have continued with writing blog posts. There was a lot less writing on the blog this year with just 64 posts, which averages about one a week. Here are the top ten blog posts of 2013. Interestingly this year eight of the posts are from 2013. Half of the posts are app reviews from my series “App of the Week”.

10. Frame Magic – iPhone App of the Week

I wrote about Frame Magic in June and it is one of the many photographic and image apps I have used and reviewed.

9. Is the Scroll of Death Inevitable?

This article from May looked at how the default setup of a Moodle installation, the way in which we do training will inevitably result in the Moodle “scroll of death”.

8. Comic Life – iPad App of the Week

Though I have been using Comic Life on the Mac for a few years now I realised I hadn’t written much about the iPad app that I had bought back when the iPad was released. It’s a great app for creating comics and works really well with the touch interface and iPad camera.

7. 100 ways to use a VLE – #89 Embedding a Comic Strip

This is an older post from July 2011, that looked at the different comic tools out there on the web, which can be used to create comic strips that can then be embedded into the VLE.

It is from my ongoing series of ways in which to use a VLE. This particular posting was about embedding a comic strip into the VLE using free online services such as Strip Creator and Toonlet.

It is quite a lengthy post and goes into some detail about the tools you can use and how comics can be used within the VLE.

The series itself is quite popular and I am glad to see one of my favourite in the series and one of the more in-depth pieces has maintained itself in the top ten, dropping two places from last year.

6. Show what you know [Infographic] – Updated

I liked Tony Vincent’s excellent Infographic on apps that can be used for different activities. This post was showing off his updated version.

5. Keynote – iPad App of the Week

Probably one of my longest blog posts that explores the iPad presentation app from Apple. I used the post to help me to understand the app better and what it is capable of.

4. VideoScribe HD – iPad App of the Week

I talked about VideoScribe HD in July and was impressed with the power and versatility of the app for creating animated presentations.

3. Educreations – iPad App of the Week

I was introduced to this app by a colleague at Gloucestershire College in 2012 and used it and demonstrated it a lot to staff. It was great to see how they and their students used it to support their learning over the year. 2

2. Thinking about iTunes U

Maintaing its position at number two, is this blog post on iTunes U, which followed posts on iBooks 2 and iBooks Author. I discussed the merits and challenges that using iTunes U would bring to an institution. Back then I wrote, if every learner in your institution has an iPad, then iTunes U is a great way of delivering content to your learners, if every learner doesn’t… well I wouldn’t bother with iTunes U. I still stand by that, I like the concept and execution of iTunes U, but in the diverse device ecosystem most colleges and universities find themselves in, iTunes U wouldn’t be a solution, it would create more challenges than problems it would solve.

1. The iPad Pedagogy Wheel

This was my most popular blog post of the year (and if the stats are to be believed of all time on my blog). I re-posted the iPad Pedagogy Wheel as I was getting asked a fair bit, “how can I use this nice shiny iPad that you have given me to support teaching and learning?”.

It’s a really simple nice graphic that explores the different apps available and where they fit within Bloom’s Taxonomy. What I like about it is that you can start where you like, if you have an iPad app you like you can see how it fits into the pedagogy. Or you can work out which iPads apps fit into a pedagogical problem.

Allan Carrington who drew up the diagram has published a revised version, what I like about the original is the simplicity. The revised version is more complex, but as an introduction to what the iPad can do, I much prefer the simpler diagram.

Understanding the Potential

Boxes

So what comes first, technology or pedagogy?

For me one of the messages that comes out of the videos I was watching last week and resonates with me, is how the most effective way of using technology is where it is used to solve a problem.

The problem could be pedagogical, as with the teaching machine, that allows independent self-directed learning, or it could be social, as with Sugata Mitra’s hole in the wall experiment.

What I have noticed at conferences and online in social media is that this often results in the conclusion that we should put pedagogy first and before technology.

I do agree with that sentiment that we should start with the problem we are trying to solve and if it is a pedagogical problem then we should start with the pedagogy. We should the consider a range of technologies that could be used to solve that problem.

There is an assumption there that a practitioner is fully conversant in the ranges of technologies available and understands their potential for solving issues.

From working with practitioners is that they are not always aware of the different types of technology available and what their functionality and capabilities are. Without knowing what things can do and how they enhance and enrich learning, how can you make an educated choice about which is the right technology to use in which context? This is why I do think that sometimes we do need to talk about technology and how it can transform learning. This is not about solving problems with TEL, but providing TEL as a box of potential solutions to solve future problems.

Of course you are not going to be able to know everything, or understand how everything works to make use of it, but understanding the potential means that if you encounter a problem in the future then you will have a potential solution that can be worked on.

A secondary aspect that also needs to be considered is the transformative nature of technology. If we start talking about technology we might find there are new ways of learning, new pedagogies that could be exploited to solve problems. If we didn’t think about the potential of different technologies.

Technology can offer new ways of learning, that if we started from a learning perspective may be missed.

One example that comes to mind is GPS, location based learning can be transformative as it allows learning to happen in places that otherwise might be missed. If you think of those services on phones that remind you to buy something when you pass a particular shop, then put this into a learning context; imagine your phone alerting you to a building or location you are passing and how it relates to the current topic you are studying. You may not even realise that the location is connected, but GPS and location aware learning objects will help you to do just that. The problem here is about context-sensitive learning, but this just couldn’t happen in a classroom or lecture based scenario. Technology allows us to transform the potential for learning and create new ways for learners to access learning.

I do think we need to stop thinking about what we should focus on “first”, pedagogy or technology, but actually consider the context and audience we are working with.

If we are a teacher then more likely when working with learners, the TEL will be there to support the solving of a learning problem. The learning will come first in this instance, and the TEL will be supportive. However what if the teacher wants the learners to consider a range of technologies to support an assessment objective, in this instance then it makes much more sense to talk about the technology.

At a conference, training session or on social media, it can make sense that we start talking about technology and what it can do, rather than start talking about problems and pedagogy,

So what comes first, technology or pedagogy? Well both do, it depends on the context.

Image source.

Focus on the technology or not?

So what comes first, technology or pedagogy?

You will often hear people, especially at learning technology conferences talk about how we focus too much on the technology and we should be putting learning first, focus on the pedagogy. Put pedagogy first and then apply appropriate use of technology to solve that pedagogical problem. It’s as though there is a problem about talking about technology and the use of technology without putting the pedagogical problem at the forefront.

Of course if we put technology first, then we could be seen to be shoehorning technology into the learning, a bolt-on perhaps…

Or not!

I do wonder about the point of a learning technology conference that doesn’t give weight to the very technologies that we are discussing and presenting about in these events and conferences.

It’s not always about the technology, however in order to utilise technology effectively and efficiently, it is vital that practitioners are aware of the potential and availability of technology.

How else are they going to apply the use of technological solutions to learning problems?

Most practitioners are more than aware of the learning problems they and their learners face, what they need are solutions to those problems.

The issue I have with putting the learning problem first at conferences and events is that implies that everyone has that specific learning problem and that one solution fits.

Really?

Yes there are generic learning problems that we face, but most learning problems will be subject to who is leading that learning and who the learners are.

In the end what happens is that learning problems become adapted to fit other learning problems and it’s not always a good fit, so the technological solution becomes less of a solution and becomes more of a problem.

The issue is much more about context.

In the context of the classroom or lecture theatre, a practitioner is facing a series of learning problems that need solving. Some of these if not all of them can be solved using traditional learning methods and processes. However some of them can be solved smarter, more efficiently (ie cheaper) or solved faster using learning technologies.

This comes back to the earlier point that, it is vital that practitioners are aware of the potential and availability of technology. When they know what is available and importantly what it is capable of then they can apply technological solutions to their learning problems.

Likewise in the context of an event or a conference session, the focus can be on the technology, as we don’t know what the learning problems are, and to be honest there are too many variables in play that would allow us to effectively start with the learning. By moving the focus onto the technology, we can start to improve the knowledge and skills of practitioners to ensure that they are aware of the potential of different technologies in order to support them solving problems and meeting challenges they face with their teaching and with their learners.

So when I have led sessions on mobile learning, I have often put the focus on the mobile technologies even though I know that mobile learning is not about mobile devices, but about learning. However by explaining to practitioners what can be done with the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and what it is capable of (especially with the GO! Camera attached), the practitioners in that session will be aware of the potential of the PSP and when they next face a pedagogical problem they will know then if the PSP is a solution for the learning and their learners. I know a Sports Lecturer for example who did just this. His learners needed to study body movement analysis, in the past they used pencils and paper out on the sports field, it worked, but wasn’t entirely practical. By changing to using the PSP and camera they were able to not only video and photograph sports movements, they could review them in the field (on the PSP’s large screen) and also refer back to them once back in college. When I led that session on PSPs, there was no way that I could have known about the curriculum, learners of everyone in that room, any learning problems I started with, wouldn’t be relevant to many people in the room and I could have lost them before we even started. When talking about the PSP as a solution, I know from experience that practitioners would have said, “well that wouldn’t work with my subject” or “well my learners are different, so that wouldn’t work”.

Part of the issue is that I find many practitioners can’t visualise outside their subject and context, so find it difficult to adapt solutions for different problems, to problems of their own. However given a more open view on the subject, if they are aware of the potential then they can often apply the use of technology to their solution and solve their problems. In other words it’s an ownership issue.

The real challenge is that new technologies (and I am thinking mobile here) offer radically different solutions to learning problems and practitioners though can apply the technology to their own problems, don’t always see the potential to do more and to do it better, as the solution is out of a traditional learning context.

So yes by putting technology first at events and conferences we can solve pedagogical and learning problems. However there is a bigger issue in how we fundamentally change what we do, because in the main we have always done it that way and practitioners and learners have expectations that it will be done that way. When you remove them from this comfort zone then you have a bigger challenge than just thinking what should we focus on, technology or pedagogy.

However you have to start from somewhere and by explaining the potential that learning technologies offer, you are starting from a good place that will open minds to future potential and possibilities.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #017: Pedagogically Sound

James and David Sugden talk about pedagogy, e-learning, learning technologies and stuff.

This is the seventeenth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Pedagogically Sound.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Pedagogically Sound

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

James is joined by David Sugden.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #017: Pedagogically Sound

Shownotes

  • James’ blog post on the Nintendo DS.
  • Research from the University of Rennes has concluded that using the Nintendo DS Brain Training game “does no such thing” as reported in The Telegraph. The BBC reports on the Which article about Brain Training.
  • The use of Brain Training on the Nintendo DS in Scotland had better results.
  • Charles Dickens’ literary style.
  • The telephone.

Photo source.

JISC Pedagogy Experts Meeting

I am in Bristol for the JISC Pedagogy Experts Meeting.

The aim of the meeting is to inform the group of the current issues and investigations into many of the JISC e-learning Learners’ Experience projects, also to consult the experts own expertise in relation to learners’ experiences.

The meeting will also explore implications of these issues for teaching practice, organisational strategies and for technical development.

The group will also be consulted on the direction and priorities for learner centered development in the future.

This is very much a meeting and a discussion and not a series of presentations with a few questions.

Personally I will be on a panel this afternoon looking at how can we help to meet learners’ changing needs and expectations?

I will be adding more stuff over the day (fingers crossed).