Archive for March, 2009

X-Delia kick off meeting

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I’m currently at the kick off meeting in Barcelona for a new EU Framework 7 project we are involved with called X-Delia (Boosting Deliberate Practice and Handling Biases through Immersive Cognitive and Emotional Reinforcement Strategies & Tools). It’s a fascinating project with a truly interdisciplinary team. Our role is leading the design and evaluation framework for the project, affectionately known as work Packaged 6. Now don’t laugh but the focus of the project is essentially:

To exploit new and emergent technologies to explore financial decision-making processes including role of emotion, using gaming and sensor technologies

The project is led by an organisation based in Barcelona, CIMNE; Gilbert Peffer is the principle investigator. There isn’t a public project website yet but more information on the project is available here. A prototype site is in production and we have already being using google docs and mailing lists to share documents and communication. Despite the fact that the project only started on the 1st March there has been a lot of activity already.From the OU Mark Fenton O’Creevy is the main subject expert ; Eileen Scanlon and I are involved in the design and evaluation aspects of the project. Mark has a long standing research interest in decision-making processes of traders that draws on sociology of markets, psychology and economics of marketing. He is also one of the co-directors of the Practice-based Professional Learning CETL. Here is a brief run down of some of the other partners who were at the meeting:

  • Craig Lindley and Charlotte Sennersten from Blekinge institute of technology with an interest in a range of research associating with gaming technologies. They use a range of techniques including eye tracking and psychophysiology.
  • Ale Smidts and Roel van den Berg from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, with a research focus on neuroscience and how people make decisions. They use a range of techniques including EEG, MEG and fMRI to develop a rich understanding of the when, where and how of information processing in the brain.
  • Clemens van Dinther from FZI Forschungszentrum informatik  which is a research centre which has a remit to focus on technology transfer from the university into the region.  Clemens is part of the IPE Information and process engineering (semantic technologies, e-learning, knowledge management) research group.
  • Adele Atkinson from Bristol University who will be leading on the financial capability work.
  • Also involved in the project, but not at the meeting at SAXO bank in Denmark

The project is focusing on two main areas:

  1. Financial trading and investments (Work package 2). To produce empirical knowledge on decision making in trading and investment practice and, using this knowledge, to design and pilot learning support in the form of intervention packages that embody a practice-based learning approach. To make use of sensor and game technology for these purposes, that is, as research tools and as artefacts in the learning support intervention.
  2. Financial Capability & Personal Finance  (Workpackage 3). To produce – similarly to WP2 – empirical knowledge on behaviour, attitudes, and motivations in the context of personal finance and, using this knowledge, to design and pilot learning support in the form of an intervention package that embodies a practice-based learning approach. To make use of sensor and game technology for these purposes, that is, as research tools and as artefacts in the learning support intervention.

One of the crucial factors for the success in the project is going to be ensuring that we harness the potential of being interdisciplinary and genuinely capitalise on the different approaches and methods we bring from our different discipline perspectives. Workpackage 6 is going to have an important role to play in terms of helping to facilitate the group in terms of developing a shared and evolving understanding. At yesterdays meeting we summarised our backgrounds and interest in the project, brainstormed what we wanted to achieve by the end of the first meeting and began to scope out research questions, stakeholders and research methods we might use.  Eileen Scanlon and I outlined our vision for the design and evaluation framework. It is based on an approach that is intended to be participatory, iterative and useful – i.e. an ongoing formative evaluation that feeds into and informs the substantive project activities which will be taking place in work packages 2 – 5.frameworkOur approach draws on three bodies of work – utlization-focused evaluation, participatory design and learning design.We talked about some of the approaches we have used in other projects to help facilitate this kind of approach including:

  1. Stakeholder design workshops. A structure set of activities to enable stakeholders to develop a collective design outline
  2. Representing pedagogy - Use of the CompendiumLD tool to articulate a design
  3. Brainstorming and refining research questions - Use of mind mapping to develop a shared, collective set of research questions
  4. Design interviews. To elicit stakeholders design perceptions or  to better understand teachers’ design processes (how do they design, where do they get ideas, how do they represent/share designs, how do they evaluate effectiveness?)
  5. ‘Cloudfests’. As a means of gathering rapid feeding on agile tool development, through iterative presentation and feedback
  6. Design challenge workshop. Design a short course in a day, participants work in teams supported by resource stalls
  7. Evolving understanding. Working papers, and a project definition wiki

We discussed how we might re-appropriate some of these approaches in the XDelia project. Certainly the idea of having an evolving wiki of definitions and terms for the project was thought to be valuable. One of the first tasks across the work packages will be to do a state of the art review of our different research fields and what they might contribute to the project. This will provide a valuable ontology as a basis for shared understanding. So I am really looking forward to working with this amazing group of people and will blog more as things develop!

Clustering research questions

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Research clusters
A really nice idea for clustering research questions as a basis for a workshop activity in a session at the OER meeting at Monterey facilitated by Lisa Petrides and Amee Godwin. See this cloud for a summary. Worked really well, has any one else done similar things? I can see how this could be adapted in a range of ways to brainstorm, cluster and refine ideas.

OER meeting Monterey

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

I’m at the OER meeting in Monterey. The conference line up looks really interesting. My colleagues Patrick McAndrew, Andreia De Santos and I are here because of our involvement in OLnet.  Started in early 2009 The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is supporting The Open University to work with Carnegie Mellon University to develop OLnet.

The aim of OLnet is to tackle gathering evidence and methods about how we can research and understand ways to learn in a more open world, particularly linked to Open Educational Resources (OER) but also looking at other influences. We want to gather evidence together but also spot the ideas that people see emerging from the opportunities.

One of the  tools we are using as part of the technical support structure for OLnet is cloudworks. A paper describing the background to the setting up of OLnet and in particular the OER and Learning Design research that the initiative builds on is available on the OLnet site. Cloudworks is being used to support the OER meeting here in Monterey. A presentation with audio introducing cloudworks and how it can be used in available from the cloudworks home page. A cloudscape has been set up for the meeting which includes clouds related to the conference - general administration details (agenda, participants, etc.), as well as clouds for each of the sessions.Twitter cloud

A set of conference reporters will be scribing the event and entering summarises for each of the clouds. In addition we have set up a twitter cloud and a conference aggregator blog cloud. Adreia and I are planning to use the Compendium tool to capture visually different conceptualisations and discussions associated with the conference.

An initiative visualisation cloud mapping the different clouds associated with the conference has been produced.  It will be really interesting to see how cloudworks is used during the conference and how that can inform and take forward thinking and developments as part of OLnet’s programme of activities.