Archive for the ‘Learner experience’ Category
I have already mentioned that I went to the launch of a new special interest group for those researching learners’ experience of using technologies. My role during the day was to try and capture some the discussions in Compendium and then, along with Derek Morrison and Carol Higgison, summarising some of the key points - not easy given the diversity of the discussions! You can see Rhona Sharpe and Malcolm Ryan are deep in thought here!! The full Compendium may is available via the OU’s OpenLearn labspace area.
Click on any of the icons in the map will either take you to another map or will open a document, image etc. As you can see it was a pretty packed day and it would be impossible to recapture here the depth of the discussion and the breadth of topics covered. I particularly liked the ‘Gallery of influences’ activity. Each person thought about what had triggered their interest in looking at the learner experience and were asked to bring along an ‘artefact’ that represented this. It was so interesting to see the diversity of factors. If you are interested in finding out more or joining in, go to the ELESIG ning site!
The JISC online conferences are always excellent and very lively! Two books associated with last year’s conference are now available - on institutional change and supporting lifelong learning. I was involved in the second one, talking about some of the findings from our JISC LXP project. The e-books are a nice output from the conferences, I’d certainly recommended signing up for this year’s conferences as the events are very well organised and run and provide an excellent means of getting a summary of a range of current e-learning research and development activities. But be warned if you do sign up be prepared to set aside some dedicated time to participate - the pace in the forums is fast and furious!!! At last year’s conference Helen Beetham and I were at an event on a day we were supposed to be involved in the conference and so kept running next door to use the one networked PC to contribute to the forums! All good fun though!
The ELESIG Ning site
Just come back from an excellent day in Birmingham - I get to such exotic locations! in my job as you can see - for the launch of a new special interest group for those interested in researching the leaner voice. There are moments in our area when things capture the imagination - the Internet was a major watershed, but (dare I say it) so were VLEs - they generated a lot of interest and excitement about their potential use within education. Focusing on the learner voice, the learner experience is I would argue another example, its definitely a topic which is generate huge interest. Both JISC and the HE Academy have supported work in this area. This new special interest group was launched today. The day was packed with really interesting discussions - will blog properly about it later but here’s a plug if you want to come ‘play’ join the ning site and watch out for future face to face meetings. Thanks to folk at Bradford, Greenwich and Oxford Brookes for setting this up - looks like being a really useful and valuable discussion space and cross sector resource.
Following on from my last couple of blogs, summarising some of the discussions at the JISC learner experience meeting I’ve just been at, Derek’s post has prompted me to also promote the fact that there is a special interest group building on both the JISC learner experience stuff and the HE Academy projects with an interest in this area. The meeting is next Thursday and registration is still open. It should be a really interesting meeting and the setting up of a special interest group on this area is very timely because there is such alot of interest in the findings from these projects at the moment and the implications for institutions.
Today’s meeting of the Learner Experience project consisted of a “Panel discussion”. We had one half of each team on a panel – in classic Question Time mode – and half of us planted in the audience – with very tricky questions from different stakeholder perspectives. A really interesting approach which generated some great discussion and provided useful practice for all of us involved in the projects for addressing these types of questions in our own context. So my question was as a practitioner – ‘I’ve heard a lot of stuff about what learners do with technology, ask but what do the learners say works? But I never got to ask it!! Other questions include a Pro VC thinking about the relevance of the outcomes of the projects for their learning and teaching strategy. Another question was on work-based learning – how will the findings from the projects support distributed learning? An institutional IT manager wanted clarity about the balance of institutionally supported technologies vs. freely available or loosely committed systems?!! How are the findings of the projects going to be integrated into other institutions and via national bodies such as BECTA, the HE Academy, JISC, etc?Discussion included debates on the link to institutional policy, samples of the findings from across the projects and what that meant for the particular question being posed, student retention, effective e-learners and their strategies for engaging with technologies, information literacies and key skills agenda, integration of best practice, mismatch between the change in use of technologies and institutional decision making process and projection, relationship to the design and use of institutional spaces, attitudes of staff to the shifts in technologies and their implications for practice. A particularly nice touch is that the exercise included some students as well and their feedback and insights were particularly useful.
Just got notification that the Computers and Education paper we produced on some of our learner experience work on the LXP project is now available online. Always satisfying to finally see these things published - but the length of time from submission to publication seems very very long in comparison with being able to blog at will!!!
Of course the debate about VLEs/LMS vs. PLEs and beyond has been raging for years, malady but with the increasing impact of Web 2.0 technologies and the shift towards more open philosophies (Open Source, buy Open Content, mind etc.) and associated high impact applications of these (facebook apps, now OpenSocial) it seems to have gained momentum as is evident by a spike in the discussion I noticed this week. Now we all now this isn’t a simple question of right or wrong – the arguments are complicated. But to pick up the gist of some of the recent arguments for and against (or perhaps it might be more appropriate to say round and about!!) have a look at a couple of the postings yesterday - Martin Weller’s ‘The VLE/LMS is dead’ referring to Scott Leslies ‘Loosely couple teaching’ “versus” Niall Sclater’s ‘The VLE is dead, long live the VLE’.
I don’t want to repeat the arguments they make, but want instead to take a student perspective on all this, namely my own. As I posted recently here and here I have started an OU Spanish course. The quality of the materials are excellent and it’s great to have both books and pdfs and I have downloaded the audio files to my iPOD and listen to it in the car (still in the keen stage as you can see ;-)). But the social dimensions of the course are important to me as well. I had my first audio conference this week via Lyceum. It was great to connect with others on the course, the tutor gave clear objectives for the session and steered us well. My version of the system kept falling over which was irritating but that’s technology for you. My main point is this. In the course web site (which is generally very good) there is a discussion area using FirstClass – ‘great I thought, a chance to make connections with others on the course’. A dip into it and I saw hundreds of messages across disparate courses and so gave up. In contrast, during the audio conference, a couple of us side chatted, mentioned we were on facebook, five minute after the tutorial finished I got an email from one of the other students pointing me to a group set up in facebook for our cohort, I joined and was soon adding to the discussion area and exchanging initial thoughts on the course. Somehow I can’t see me using the firstclass area much…
This post by Alan Cann really resonated with some of my own thoughts about current trends of use and uptake of technologies. I think the general consensus is that most people have moved beyond the simple notion of ‘the younger they are the more technology literate they are’ to an understanding that use and uptake depends on a range of complex and inter-connected factors. BUT unpacking and understanding them is the challenge!!