Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Community-based participatory research

Friday, May 28th, 2021




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The EnRRICH study has developed a community-based participatory research module (CBPR). The aim is to support academics with embedded CBPR in the curriculum. The modules include:  an introduction, research with community groups, exercises and scenarios, resources, and a reading list. The module aims to facilitate engagement between students and staff and focus on topics and research of interest to the community. This article defines community-based participatory research as:


a collaborative research approach that is designed to ensure and establish structures for participation by communities affected by the issue being studied, representatives of organizations, and researchers in all aspects of the research process to improve health and well?being through taking action, including social change


This article argues that better use of research evidence (one form of “knowledge”) in health systems requires partnerships between researchers and those who contend with the real-world needs and constraints of health systems. This study identified four themes in relation to CBPR: principles, structure, process and relationships, and three stakeholders: community stakeholder groups, researchers and decision makers. This article identifies the following principles of community-based research:


·      Recognises community as a unit of identity. Community is characterized by a sense of identification and emotional connection to other members, common symbol systems, shared values and norms, mutual—although not necessarily equal—influence, common interests, and commitment to meeting shared needs 

·       Builds on strengths and resources within the community 

·       Facilitates collaborative partnerships in all phases of the research Community-based research involves a collaborative partnership in which all parties participate as equal members and share control over all phases of the research process, e.g. problem definition, data collection, interpretation of results, and application of the results to address community concerns

·       Integrates knowledge and action for mutual benefit of all partners

·       Promotes a co-learning and empowering process that attends to social inequalities 

·       Involves a cyclical and iterative process Community-based research involves a cyclical, iterative process that includes partnership development and maintenance, community assessment, problem definition, development of research methodology, data collection and analysis, interpretation of data, determination of action and policy implications, dissemination of results, action taking (as appropriate), specification of learnings, and establishment of mechanisms for sustainability

·       Addresses health from both positive and ecological perspectives 

·       Disseminates findings and knowledge gained to all partner

Some of the benefits of CBPR are:


·       Enhances the relevance, usefulness, and use of the research data for all partners involved

·       Joins together partners with diverse skills, knowledge, expertise and sensitivities to address complex problems

·       Improves the quality and validity of research by engaging local knowledge and local theory based on the lived experience of the people involved 

·       Recognizes the limitations of the concept of a “value-free” science and encourages a self-reflexive, engaged and self-critical role of the researcher(s) 

·       Acknowledges that “knowledge is power”

·       Strengthens the research and program development capacity of the partners 

·       Creates theory that is grounded in social experience

·       Increases the possibility of overcoming the distrust of research on the part of communities

·       Has the potential to “bridge the cultural gaps that may exist” 

·       Overcomes the fragmentation and separation of the individual from his/her culture







Dialogic learning

Friday, May 28th, 2021



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One of the key ways in which people learn is through dialogue with others. The faculty of education at Cambridge University states that dialogic teaching means using talk for carrying out teaching and learning. Through dialogue teachers can elicit students’ common sense perspectives, engage with their developing ideas and help them overcome misunderstandings. By engaging students in dialogue teachers can: explain ideas, clarify the point and purpose of activities, model scientific ways of using language and help students grasp new scientific ways of describing phenomena. This article suggests that perspectives include the theory of dialogic action (Friere), the dialogic inquiry approach (Wells), the theory of communicative action (Habermas), the notion of dialogic imagination (Bahktin) and the dialogic self (Soler). Vygotsky’s concept of learning communities focuses on multiplying learning contexts and interactions to enable students to reach higher levels of development. Wells defined inquiry as a predisposition for questioning. Freire argues that human nature is dialogic. Educators should create opportunities to encourage student curiosity. Habermas distinguishes between arguments and argumentations. Arguments are conclusions that consist of validity claims as well as the reasons by which they can be questioned, whereas argumentation is the kind of speech where participants give arguments to develop or negate validity claims. He argues that strategic rationality that seeks to solve problems and wins arguments is secondary to a more fundamental communicative rationality, which seeks to understand others. Bakhtin argues that there is a relationship between language, interaction and social transformation. Also that meaning is created in processes of reflection between people. In dialogic teaching:


·      Questions are carefully framed to encourage reflection and good answers

·      Answers are not end points but a stimulus for further questions and dialogue

·      The teacher’s role is to weave contributions into a coherent whole


Alexander lists five criteria for dialogic teaching:


Wegerif: Dialogic Education

participants. Through interactive groups and the presence of parents within the classrooms,

conflicts between groups tend to disappear from the classroom.

The learning communities approach is particularly interesting in its explicit concern with

social transformation as well as with educational attainment. Evaluations using mixed

methods found that the support from families in the programme claim that the approach has

had a very positive impact on children’s achievement and engagement in education (Flecha

and Soler, 2014: Flecha, 2014)

Dialogic teaching

Robin Alexander developed dialogic teaching after a comparative education study looking at

talk in classrooms in a number of countries (Alexander, 2001). In some of the schools he

observed in Russia, Alexander found that dialogue was a common feature of the way that the

teacher spoke with members of the class, engaging individual students in thinking through

issues in public and supporting them in long sequences of authentic questions and answers.

These schools had been influenced by the theories of Bakhtin. Alexander then used Bakhtin’s

claim that in dialogue answers give rise to further questions as an inspiration for his

development of a UK talk-based dialogic education programme.

In Dialogic Teaching:

1 Questions are carefully framed to encourage reflection and good answers.

2 Answers are not end points but a stimulus for further questions in a long chain of dialogue.

3 The teacher’s role is to weave contributions into a coherent whole, leading children to find

meaning and helping them think of further questions.

Alexander (2017) gives five core criteria for dialogic teaching,  it is:

collective: teachers and children address learning tasks together, whether as a group or as a


• reciprocal: teachers and children listen to each other, share ideas and consider alternative

·      Collective: teachers and students address learning tasks together

·      Reciprocal: teachers and students listen to each other, share ideas and consider alternative viewpoints

·      Supportive: students articulate their ideas freely

·      Cumulative: teachers and students build on their own and each other’s ideas

·      Purposeful: teachers plan and steer classroom talk with specific educational goals in view


This site suggests that dialogic teaching harnesses the power of talk to stimulate and extend students’ thinking and advance their learning and understanding. It states that dialogic teaching and learning stem from the following principles:


·      Knowledge isn’t fixed

·      The dialogue between different perspective leads to new understandings and new knowledge

·      Teachers and students can become more fully engaged in learning in an environment where these differences are respected and rigorously explored

·      Meanings constructed by learners in dialogue leads to powerful learning

·      Learning through dialogue leads not only to content knowledge but improved thinking skills


Wegerif refers to the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition as anything relating to or in the form of dialogue. Dialogic teaching draws students into the process of a shared construction of knowledge. Freire contrasts conventional education with dialogic education. In conventional education knowledge is treated as something that is deposited into the heads of students, whereas dialogic education is about empowering the oppressed to speak their own words. He suggests there are three elements: starting with the lived experience of the students, that dialogic education is about making a real difference by giving voice to those initially without a voice and respect and collaboration between educators and students so that meaning can be co-constructed rather than imposed. Habermas argues that

strategic rationality that seeks to solve problems and win arguments is secondary to a more

fundamental communicative rationality which seeks to understand the other


Exploring learning

Friday, May 28th, 2021


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Considering that my posts are about learning and technology I thought it would be useful to reflect on the concept of learning. Learning can be defined as the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught. Gross defines it has also been defined as the process of acquiring new understandingknowledgebehavioursskillsvalues, attitudes, and preferences. This article lists the following types of learning:


·      Non-associative learning which is a relatively permanent change in the strength of response to a single stimulus due to repeated exposure to that stimulus

·      Active learning where a person takes control of their learning experience

·      Associative learning where someone learns an association between two stimuli or events

·      Operant conditioning where a reward or punishment is given after a particular behaviour

·      Classical conditioning which involves repeatedly paring an unconditional stimulus with another stimulus

·      Observational learning is learning that occurs through observing the behaviour of others

·      Imprinting is rapid and apparently independent of the consequences of behaviour

·      Play for example a cat will play with a ball to give them experience with catching prey

·      Enculturation where people learn values and behaviours that are appropriate or necessary in their surrounding culture

·      Episodic learning which is a change in behaviour that occurs as a result of an event

·      Multimedia learning where audio and visual stimuli are used to learn information

·      E-learning and augmented learning such as use of mobile devices or the Internet

·      Role learning is memorising information so that it can be recalled by the learner exactly the way it was read or heard

·      Meaningful learning is the idea that learned knowledge is understood to the extent that it relates to other knowledge

·      Evidence-based learning is the use of evidence to accelerate learning

·      Formal learning which takes place in schools or colleges

·      Non-formal learning is learning outside the formal learning system

·      Informal learning which may occur through the experience of day to day situations

·      Tangential learning is where people self-educate

·      Dialogic learning which is based on dialogue

·      Incidental learning where teaching is not planned by the teacher or student but occurs as a by-product of another activity



Richard Gross, Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour 6E, Hachette UK, ISBN 978-1-4441-6436-7.




Critical thinking and the art of asking good questions

Thursday, May 27th, 2021


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The site defines critical thinking as “thinking abut thinking” and deciding if a claim is true or not. Glaser (2017) states that it is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. This article stated that Socrates argued that people need to be critical questioners and possess an interrogative soul. He also stated the importance of seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and assumptions, analysing basic concepts, and tracing out implications not only of what is said but of what is done as well. This site lists the following elements of critical thinking:


·      Identification of a situation or problem and the factors that may influence it

·      Research in terms of independent verification and finding and evaluating relevant information

·      Identification of biases

·      Infer and draw conclusions based on the information

·      Determine relevance

·      Curiosity


This site references Einstein as follows:


It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks


It also states that critical thinkers are:


  • inquisitive and curious, always seeking the truth
  • fair in their evaluation of evidence and others’ views
  • sceptical of information
  • perceptive and able to make connections between ideas
  • reflective and aware of their own thought processes
  • open minded and willing to have their beliefs challenged
  • using evidence and reason to formulate decisions
  • able to formulate judgements with evidence and reason


Mihai states that as we navigate through a huge amount of information we need to apply a critical thinking filter in order to find and process data and make decisions. She suggests the following 5 elements, which can be used as guidance in designing activities and evaluating assignments, get students to:


·      Identify/define the problem or issue

·      Propose their own hypothesis/perspective

·      Find and analyse data/resources

·      Integrate other perspectives

·      Formulate conclusions and reflect on the implications


Although students have grown up in a technological era they are not necessarily proficient at evaluating and managing online information. Therefore it is important to include online media literacy and knowledge management skills in the learning process. The site provides a useful set of resources and relevant MOOCs.  Critical thinking skills are more important than ever given the vast amount of information we have to navigate and the increase in fake news, being able to evaluate the provenance of a source and its relevance is important.



Edward M. Glaser. “Defining Critical Thinking”. The International Center for the Assessment of Higher Order Thinking (ICAT, US)/Critical Thinking Community. Retrieved 22 March 2017.


Exploring Open Educational Resources

Thursday, May 27th, 2021



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This site argues that the cost of textbooks and other resources can be an obstacle for students, and Open Educational Resources (OER) provide a means of addressing this. It refers to the Open Educational Resources LibGuide. This includes suggestions on where to look for resources, the difference between adopting and adapting OER, and information on copyright and licensing. Downes describes models for sustainable OER, in terms of: funding, technical and content. It references the Open Courseware concept which argues that knowledge is a collective social product and so it is also desirable to make it a social property. Terry Foote from Wikipedia says imagine a world in which every single person is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing. Only a small percentage of published research papers are read. The Open Citation Project reports that articles from open publications are cited more frequently. OER initiatives include: open courseware and content, open software tools, open materials for e-learning capacity building of academics, repositories of learning objects and free educational courses. Funding models include the following: endowment model, membership model, donations model, conversion model, contributor-pay model, sponsorship model, institutional model, governmental model, and partnerships and exchanges. As cited in a JISC report OER developers have concentrated on reusability.  Hylén argues that the two most important aspects of openness are that they are freely available over the Internet and have few restrictions for reuse. Some of the barriers to creating and using OER are lack of time and lack or reward. Caswell et al. (2008) suggest that technologies have made universal education more possible. It provides a useful overview of the OpenCourseWare movement. Many institutions now have staff dedicated to helping with converting course content into OCW content. The article references Wiley who states that free and open acess to educational opportunity is a basic human right. Many students are aware of an institution’s OER prior to enrolling suggesting that it is a factor in them choosing that institution. Students are using OER in the studies, complementing teacher directed resources and many state that OER have had a positive impact on their student experience. For academics OER enable them to share and discuss their work with their peers. JISC states that open education enables free and open access to learning and teaching resources licensed in ways that permit reuse and repurposing. It has developed a guide on OER. OER (and now MOOCs) are now an established part of the educational system, offer students access to rich, open access resources and courses.



Caswell, T., Henson, S., Jensen, M. and Wiley, D. (2008), Open Educational Resources: enabling universal education, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Volume 9, Number 1.

Open Citation Project (2005). The effect of open access and downloads (’hits’) on citation impact: A bibliography of studies.



Immersive technologies

Thursday, May 27th, 2021



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I was interested in a post by Christos Carras on an event by the Global Cultural District Networks on immersive technologies.  This article defines Immersive technologies as cutting-edge technologies that make use of digital or simulated worlds to emulate the physical world and create a sense of immersion. This article argues that immersive technologies can save time, help do work more efficiently and enable new forms of collaboration and VR/AR/XR headsets are enabling this. Virtual Reality (VR) replaces what you see with computer-generated 3D-content. Augmented Reality (AR) means a user is experiencing the real reality while some virtual elements are projected onto it. Mixed reality mixes virtual content with the real world in an interactive, immersive way. Extended Reality (XR) refers to experiences that combine reality and augmented or virtual content. Some of the benefits of immersive technology are: reduces the cost of training, increases the speed of training, enables user engagement, reduces travel time and can be used to train dangerous scenarios. Studies have suggested that an immersive environment may improve memory recall. This article argues that immersive technologies will fundamentally alter how we interact with content.  Increasingly industries are using immersive technologies for both training purposes and data visualisation. This article suggests the following ways in which immersive technologies can have an impact on e-learning:


·      More engaging gamification

·      Providing an immersive learning experience

·      Data visualization

·      Group collaboration

·      Qualitative online training assessments


Immersive technologies clearly have potential for learning and teaching but only time will tell if they have a significant impact.

Hybrid Learning

Thursday, May 27th, 2021


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An insight report discusses technology foundations for hybrid learning. The COVID pandemic has driven more and more institutions online, and it is likely that hybrid learning will continue post the pandemic. The article cites the use of Microsoft Teams and argues that it contains a variety of features to foster engagement and participation. This site defines hybrid learning as an educational model where some students attend class in-person, while others join the class virtually from home. Educators teach remote and in-person students at the same time using tools like video conferencing hardware and software. Hybrude classes might include asynchronous elements such as online exercises and pre-recorded videos. The benefits of hybrid learning include:


·      A flexible learning experience – which might include a flexible learning schedule, flexibility in teaching methods, flexibility in how students engage with learning materials, and flexibility in collaboration and communication

·      Synchronous communication opportunities

·      The freedom of independent academic exploration

·      More efficient use of resources


It offers the following teaching tips:


·      Opportunities to redesign

·      Use online work to offer targeted learning plans, extensions, or one-on-one teaching for individual students

·      Provide mobile learning options

·      Be open to feedback

·      Don’t overload online assignments

·      Integrate the online and in-person

·      Explain the purpose and expectations of your course

·      Provide students with self and time management skills

·      Provide an IT hotline to deal with any technical issues


It also provides the following link on hybrid learning. Academics can harness technologies to customise content and create more engaging experiences for their students. Learning Management Systems can provide the following benefits:


  • Individualized analytics and insights help reinforce positive behaviours like daily course interactions
  • Assessment analytics that shape the content and objectives are presented next as students complete lessons and modules
  • Assessment tools can gather information about retention and mastery of offline lessons, whether in seminar or experiential form







Authentic student engagement

Thursday, May 27th, 2021


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The Irish National Student Engagement Programme has produced a for authentic student engagement in decision-making. It lists the following drivers of student engagement:


  • ·      A culture of students as partners
  • ·      The institution as a site of democratic citizenship
  • ·      The institution as an inclusive learning community
  • ·      A culture of institutional reflection and enhancement

There are five principles associated with student engagement: dialogue, building trust, equity and inclusivity, empowerment and students as co-creators. Five enablers of student engagement are: capacity building, institutional approaches, supportive policies and practices, communities of practice and sustainability.

A tool for teaching critical thinking

Thursday, May 27th, 2021



Kialo Edu is a tool for teaching critical thinking. It is an argument mapping and debate site. It aims to help students to:


·      Put their knowledge into action

·      Sharpen their critical reasoning skills

·      Demonstrate their understanding

·      Engage constructively with each other


It can be used to host classroom debates and enable students to develop their own views on classroom content. It can also be used to assess learning. It has an argument-tree structure, which enables students to consider counter-arguments, develop a logical structure of their argument and visualize how their ideas fit together.  It also allows students to share knowledge, by participating in a discussion along with links to resources and readings. Discussions and debates are visualized as an interactive tree of pros and cons. Teachers can provide feedback and suggest improvements.

Top Edtech startups 2021

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021


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This article lists the following edtech startups for 2021.


·      Tech-enabled immersive learning

·      K-12 homeschooling startups

·      E-learning

·      Accessible education

·      AI-enabled adaptive learning

·      Gamification

·      Google everything

·      Accelerating investments in edtech


This article argues that edtech startups have the potential to reinvent the online classroom. The pandemic has led to more educators using conferencing tools such as Zoom and Google Meet. These tools can help address the following issues:


·      Large class sizes where students don’t feel comfortable or capable of asking questions or interacting with others

·      Students can become bored, distracted or frustrated

·      Teaching mainly done through virtual presentation with little class participation or group work

·      Teachers feel overwhelmed trying to connect with students through technology that isn’t built for teaching and learning