Archive for May, 2008

Modeling education 2.0

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Did a talk at the Eduserv Foundation Symposium yesterday - there were a great line up of talks with a range of speakers both from education and outside (including the BBC and the Guardian) so was good to get a wider perspective of the impact of technologies on changing work and business practices. My talk attempted to put forward some new pedagogical models for utilizing and understanding the use of technology in education. Would welcome thoughts! 

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Megatrends - NMC’s view

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

At the eduserv foundation sympossium today - doing a talk later on new pedagogical models for web 2.0 and beyond. Was going to blog about first presentation but don’t need to as Matt beat me to it! Larry Johnson from NMC (hasn’t come across them before - looks like an interesting organisation) did his presentation in second life which was an interesting approach but I am not sure it added much for me - lots of bullet points as usual!! Line up for the conference looks good with a range of speakers external to HE talking about the impact of new technologies in their sector so should be a good opportunity to get a comparison across the sectors.

An agenda for ubiquitous learning

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

I’ll try and summarise in the next few posts what for me are the highlights of the networked learning conference. Caroline Haythornthwaite opened an interesting symposium of four papers around ‘Making the Transition to Ubiquitous Learning’. Bill Cole’s paper ‘Ubiquitous Learning: An Agenda for Educational Transformation’ argued that: ‘Ubiquitous learning is a new educational paradigm made possible in part by the affordances of digital media. This paper sets out to explore the dimensions of this proposition.’ He argued that technologies are now everywhere (which was sort of at odds and ironic in relation to the first keynote speaker’s talk on social justice education) but that on the whole old pedagogies are being mapped onto these new technologies, whereas we need to move beyond this and capitalise on the affordances of new technologies. He then put forward seven ‘moves’, which he argued are characteristic of ubiquitous learning. The abstract to the paper concludes:

Each explores and exploits the potentials of ubiquitous computing. None, however, is a pedagogical thought or social agenda that is new to the era of ubiquitous computing. The only difference today is that there is now no practical reason not to make each of these moves. The affordances are there, and if we can, perhaps we should. And when we do, we may discover that a new educational paradigm begins to emerge. And as new paradigms emerge, we might find they take a leading role on technological innovation.

Here’s a summary of the seven moves:

1.   Blurring of spatial and temporal boundaries of education – we don’t need the same spatial relationships as before, need to move out of these ingrained habit.

2.   Shift in the balance of agency. Have shifted to a  more participatory world, which is challenging existing power structures and dynamics and in particular the distinction between learner and teacher breaking down.

3.   Allowing agency – leading to increased diversity, the potential for new channels for the voice of learners.

4.   Broader range of representational modes – shift from alphabetical literacy to more multimodal approach to literacy; text, image, and sound in different combinations.

5.   Complex technical and social architecture – need to develop new conceptual representations to navigate around this. Need new patterns and schemas.

6.   Distributed cognition and collective intelligence. We are beginning to more and more rely on other peoples’ knowledge rather than being individual experts: open world, social networks, OERs, etc.

7.   Need to build collaborative knowledge structures.



Social Justice Education 2.0

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008


The first day of the Networked Learning conference got off to an excellent start with a thought provoking keynote by Charalambos Vrasidas from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus. His talk was entitled ‘social networking for Social Justice: Challenges and Possibilities’. I can’t really do justice (bad pun there) to his talk but will have a go at summarising it. He began by arguing against Friedman’s notion of a flat world, cure suggesting instead that the world is ‘spiky’ (Florida, 2005) with huge discrepancies – particularly between the developed and developing countries and quoted Fraser ‘Economic disadvantage impedes equal participation in the making of culture – in public spheres and everyday life’ (Fraser, 1997). He argued that inequality and injustice are evident in all spheres of life to both the developing and developed world and posed the question of how technologies might provide some means of addressing these problems in ‘Social Justice eEducation’, i.e. pedagogies and policies to improve the learning and life opportunities of underserved students (Cochran-Smith 2004). He went on to present some sobering statistics around social injustice and poverty – such as the fact that in 2004 1 billion lived below international poverty line, quoting Kharnarov and Mandela:  ‘Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit’ (Eli Khamarov) and ‘Eliminating poverty is not a kindness, its an act of justice’ (Nelson Mandela). He contested the notion of ‘Education for a better quality of life’ raising the question is education for all? And in particular whether UNESCO target of education for all by 2015 was feasible given that 72 Million kids don’t have access to education and there are 774 million adult illiterates.

He then went on to look at social networking, listing their key characteristics (the ability to connect with friends, find new friends, share information, get updates on topics of interest, etc.). He was particularly interested in how social networking might be applied in the context of social justice education and showed a very powerful short video produced by amnesty international entitled ‘your signature counts’, in terms of how individuals can make a different.





The video was an excellent example of online activism with strong use of visual narrative and music as a means of getting the message across. He then gave a number of examples of how technologies are being used to solve real problems – here’s a summary of some of the examples – many of these are available as case studies online.  
  • Checking crop prices in India at internet café
  • Women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh
  • ‘Enveli’ – which is a project based in Cyprus about ICT for peace, reconciliation and social justice
  • The potential of Open Educational resources (, however he argued again ‘open for whom?’ – what languages are these resources available in? what kinds of infrastructure are provided? Where are the teachers to support the use of these – quoting Warschauser (2003) ‘physical access to technology is not the only thing that matters’.
  • Virtual University Small States Commonwealth – VUSSC consortium of institutions that aims to address education needs in small states of the commonwealth (John Daniels). Aim is to share educational resources and tools. Participating countries (22) with very diverse needs across the different countries. Example activities include the Mauritius bootcamp in August 2006, the Online masters degree in ITT (Pacific) Western Illinois University, the LUDA Virtual High School ( Consumer education online, focusing on at risk students.
  • Second life and the use of games as tools for education and also for social justice. Maximising the attributes of games (interesting and exciting, multi-sensory, active engagements, interaction, feedback, fantasy, competition, cooperation, levels of difficulty, adaptive, performance evaluation) and aligning with the younger generations interests and skills in gaming environments. He gave an example of a game with a social dimension (Quest Atlantic) which is a very immersive context with over 20000 registered members worldwide. the game focuses around the idea of peace and addressing environmental issues – users work with others to solve problems
  • World food programme - food force what can we do to alleviate hunger in the world? There is an online community for this game and associated lesson plans. It has a very engaging introduction to the game, which sets up a real and very authentic, problem and then the user is on a mission to solve this.


He then showed two images of a classroom, 100 years apart but essentially the same -  – not changed in 100 years, and ask the question - where is the technology?   He used this as a introduction to a Technology Integration Framework that he has developed which attempts to address this lack on impact of technology on education and is designed to adopt a systemic, holistic approach looking at various factors which need to be considered to bring about change such as: policy (sustainability, a systemic approach, involvement of stakeholders), curriculum (pedagogy and assessment0, teacher practice, technology and infrastructure, ongoing support, research, evaluation and reflection. 


This systemic approach is needed because the school culture is deeply embedded and complex depending on a range of inter-connected factors. He then gave some more examples. He concluded by promoting this systematic view and argued that teachers and learners need time to engage with these new possibilities, time to UNLEARN, time to become part of new communities and time to reflect. A very inspiring and thought provoking keynote. 

Embedding e-learning

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

I’m at the Networked Learning conference at the Sani Resort in Helkidi, troche Greece. Stunning location for a conference as you can see, malady this is the view from my room! ;-)   sani resortBUT the papers and presentations are also excellent - honest! There are a lot of symposia – consisting of four connected papers – which makes for a really good format, enabling good discussion around the themes of each symposia. There is a book of abstracts but all the full papers are provided on a USB stick, which seems to be a common format at conferences now. Yesterday Maria Papaefthimiou presented a poster that was a summary of the approaches each of the cluster c HE Academy pathfinder projects took in terms of embedding e-learning. Here’s the abstract:

This poster argues that an evidence-informed approach can be appropriate for ensuring accountability and validity of change initiatives in Higher Education (HE) in general and e-learning specifically, if recognition is made of the local context and the evidence-base gathered and used in situ. We describe how this model of evidence-informed practice is applied in relation to the HE Academy Pathfinder programme, a national “transformation initiative” in the UK. The goals of the programme are focused on exploiting and developing synergies to enhance and change practice where necessary. Four institutions (Cambridge, Reading, Brunel and London South Bank) are implementing an evidence-informed approach in different ways depending on their institutional context and culture. This poster draws upon collaborative activities of these institutions, focusing on the way in which they adapt common approaches to support their respective institutional change processes. It outlines the approaches adopted by each project and highlights the role of evidence in informing engagement with stakeholders and participants, and the development of practice in HE; ways of sharing models of evidence-informed practice in HE; and research approaches that can improve engagement with stakeholders and participants - while still generating high-quality research outcomes.


The poster generated a lot of interest - in particular about how to embed e-learning in different cultural settings. The picture is of Maria, Demosthenes Stamatis,  (one of the local organisers of the confrence) and today’s keynote Yannis Dimitriadis. I am really looking forward to Yannis’ talk – they are doing some really interesting work at the University of Valladolid. 

“Enticing’ booklet

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

The Brunel pathfinder project’s booklet on educational considerations that I blogged about before is now available online - well worth a look!