Archive for September, 2007

Two sides of a coin: mark two…

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

I recently gave a talk at the ‘Education in a changing environment conference’ which expands a little more on my earlier post about my interest in the learner voice and learning design and how in my view these are very much two sides of the same coin, i.e. that we need to understand and take account of how students are using technologies in the way in which we design courses. A copy is available on SlideShare and is below (note there aren’t 140 slides - its just animations in the slides!!!)

The problem with learning design…

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Learning ActivityMy colleague Stewart Nixon who works as part of the VLE programme is currently collating a review of developments in Learning Design. This includes the obvious links to things like IMS LD, LAMS and projects that are creating online ‘toolkits’ or planners. This made me think that it was also important to try and articulate some of the fundemental issues/key challenges in research into learning design. It’s something that I am constantly worried about in the context of our OU Learning Design project. In a nutshell I think the problem stems from the fact that Learning Design seems deceptively and beguilingly simple. Say to anyone ‘would you like an online toolkit that can provide links to resources, tips and hints, and case studies of exemplar learning activiites and that can also guide teachers through the process of creating their own learning activities that makes effective use of technologies’ …. of course they will say ‘yes please’ and ‘can we have it tomorrow?’ Learning ActivityBUT Doing this is very difficult, for a number of reasons. 1. Case studies are great - but will people read through them, how do you provide a consistent interface? 2. How can we provide tailored and adaptive help and guidance about evolving tools and technologies and how they can be used? 3. What kinds of guidance and support is most useful as a teacher works through the design process? 4. What kind of dynamic and creative interface is needed which lets the user switch between working at a micro-level on a particular learning activity to a macro-level to consider the course context? I could go on, there are lots and lots of other questons around this - something we have been struggling with as a group. Below is a link to a draft of a chapter which provides a bit more background to some of the issues and an outline of the approach we are adopting. I would love to hear from others who are interested in this area, becauses it would be great to share war stories!!! ;-)
Using Compendium as a tool for creating learning activities

E-learning pathfinder projects

Friday, September 28th, 2007

The HEA have established an e-learning pathfinder programme as a follow on to the e-learning benchmarking exercise and I am acting as a so called ‘critical friend’ (please don’t make me have to explain what the heck that is!!! I’m still trying to work it out myself!!!) to four of the projects - Brunel, Cambridge, Reading and South Bank. I have to admit I approached the role with some trepidation but actually its proving to be really interesting. Each of the projects are trying to bring about strategic change in e-learning within their institutions (my short hand - the main website ’says it proper’) very much linked into their local context. Not surprisingly the approaches are very different but also there are interesting cross themes emerging, such as: mechanisms for ensuring cross-institutional buy in - and the role of embedding and communication strategies, what kinds of development are needed for staff and students, how can we ensure the student voice is taken account of, etc. One of the things the four projects have recently being looking at is how an evidence based approach to gathering and representing e-learning might be used in this context. We have a workshop planned later in the year to look at this in more detail.

Two sides of a coin

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Two of the things i am interested in at the moment are a) evaluation of the learner voice and in particular the ways in which students are using technologies to support their learning and b) learning design - how can we represent good practice and scaffold the design process so that course designers can create more effective learning activities? I have done a number of talks recently exploring this - for example at the EUROCALL 2007 conference

Taking the plunge

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

So far i have hovered at the edges of the blogosphere world; lurking around various sites, watching and reflecting on the ways in which blogs are increasingly entering into academic discourse as a means of communication, a mechanism for sharing and in some cases a form of expert filter. I have had mixed views about the value of blogs; ‘who are they actually written for?’, ‘isn’t it an extreme form of arrogance to keep a blog and expect people to be interested in what you write’, ‘who the heck has the time to read, let along write blogs anyway!!?’ However recently I have begun to see some ways in which keeping a blog might be useful. So… here goes. I start this blog with some trepidation and have no idea at the moment how it will shape up or what its purpose will be. Finally i have severe doubts as to whether or not I will have the tenacity to keep it going. But heck its worth a try isn’t it?