Archive for March, 2019

Classifying different approaches to learning

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019


I can across an interesting article via fb (via Ebba Ossiannilsson) on ‘Modern trends in education: 50 different approaches to learning‘. Deborah Arnold wrote:


Interesting! Though they would probably benefit from some kind of classification as they’re not all at the same level. Looking forward to seeing your slide that does just that, Gráinne!


So… this post is my attempt to take on the challenge and group the approaches. It seems to me there are three types: those based on the format of the session, those based on pedagogical approaches and those based on niche or specialized approaches to learning, foregrounding a particular principle or vision. Using these categories, the approaches can be grouped as follows.



Social networking

Schools in the Clouds

Learning with technologies

MOOCs and e-learning

Mobile education


Blended learning

Flexible learning

Flipped learning

Classic education

Sharing voices

Talking education

Lesson study

Invisible structures


Pedagogical approach

Problem-based learning

Constructivist learning

Self-directed learning

Constructive struggling

Competency-based education

Expeditionary learning

Personalized education





  • Finnish education
  • International objectives 
  • The Bologna Process
  • Smart capital
  • Free post-secondary education
  • Global view



  • Ground up diversity
  • Navdanya
  • High quality teachers
  • Change agents
  • Common core change
  • Economic empowerment
  • Catalytic role



  • Underground education
  • Social status
  • Start-up education

Work focused


  • Degree qualification
  • Vocational training
  • Readiness testing



  • Herbert Stein’s law
  • Disruptive innovation
  • Open innovation



  • Social support strategy



  • Religious education
  • Moral education
  • Character education

Of course these are not necessarily mutually exclusive for example ‘Religious Education’ could be enacted through a ‘Flipped Classroom’ approach using a ‘Self-Regulated Learning’ pedagogical approach. Would welcome thoughts on this.

Documenting Erasmus Student Experiences Through e-Portfolios

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019



Today I attended an e-portfolio event funded by the National Forum which was organized by Orna Farrell. Orna shared her slides and encouraged us to be interactive during the session. The session had four main parts: an overview by Orna, two case studies of using e-portfolios to support Erasmus students (Naoimh O’Reilly, from the Business School and Julie Ui Choistealbha, from MARINO), and an interactive session to create an assessment outline for an e-portfolio. The session was funded by the National Forum and more on the outline of the session can be found on the National Forum’s blog


Orna provided a definition of e-portfolios:


Corley & Zubizarreta (2012) defines a learning portfolio as: “a vehicle for bringing together judiciously selected samples of students’ work and achievements inside and outside the classroom for authentic assessment over time. A typical learning portfolio may include both academic materials and personal profiles and may designate some of its contents as public or private.The learning portfolio, then, becomes more than a product, a simple repository of artefacts; it becomes a process of reflection, of organizing, prioritizing, analysing, and communicating one’s work and its value, which may prompt insights and goals” (p.65)


She suggested the following as some of the advantages of e-portfolios: focuses on the process of learning and encourages reflection, integrates learning and makes connections between modules, provides the student with a sense of belonging, facilitates authentic learning, enables self-regulated learning and critical thinking.


Julie gave the following useful list of ways of evidencing learning and providing content for a portfolio:

  • Padlet: Photo a day
  • MindMup: Review of meetings, goal setting, skill development
  • Storyjumper:   Personal journey
  • Voki: Avatar creation instead of written reflections
  • Checkli: ‘To do’ list tracking.
  • Pixabay: High quality images to represent personal learning
  • SurveyMonkey: Feedback from placement provider

To foreground the session on designing an e-portfolio assessment, Orna listed the following assessment best practices:

  1. Identify the clear purpose of the eportfolio task
  2. Clearly articulate the purpose to the students
  3. Integrate into the assessment plan for the module
  4. Provide front loaded tech support to students and staff
  5. Scaffold student reflection through the use of prompts
  6. Give students support with reflective writing
  7. Give example eportfolio
  8. Design a specific rubric for the assessment

A picture of our final product for this activity is below. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable and informative day.






UCD EdTECx conference

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019


Yesterday I attended the UCD EdTECx conference at University College Dublin. UCD has recently moved to the BrightSpace Virtual Learning Environment and the day provided the opportunity for people to share their experience of using it so far. There were a range of interesting talks and discussions, and good attendance with about 130 registered. This blog posts summarises some of the key messages.


Shane Foley described his experience of creating an online module and in particular compared his experience of using BrightSpace with Blackboard. Of particular note were the student monitoring function and the intelligent agent feature.


Joe Twist described his experience of using module builder. He suggested a number of ways of making modules look more friendly, such as including a picture, a welcome message (possible audio or video based). He also had some useful tips, such as: ensuring content is organised logically, being consistent with file names, ensuring materials are accessible, providing text alternatives to images.


Suzanne Guerin focussed on strategies for maximising the use of technologies in classrooms. She believes in the importance of creating practical tasks to reinforce skills and the value of providing feedback in different ways. She described the Mentimeter tool which can be used to get classroom engagement and enable students to ask questions and rate their confidence.


A particularly interesting session was given by Sharleen O’Reilly who described her work on the development of rubrics. She also argued that peer- and self-feedback were valuable and should be encouraged.  


David Jennings talked about e-portfolios and argued that they are student centred and give student autonomy. He referenced Cooper and Love’s (2017) definition of e-portfolios.


The afternoon began with a series of practical ‘how to’ sessions on: module design, feedback and annotation of assignments, feedback and grading in quizzes and rubrics for letter grading.


I finished the day with a keynote on ‘A vision for the future of Technology Enhanced Learning: key trends and implications. The slides are available on slideshare.



Cooper, T. and Love, T. (2007), Electronic portfolios in e-learning, in N. Buzzette-More (Ed.), Advanced principle of effective e-learning, Santa Rose: CS, Informing Science Press.


Open Education Week Webinar

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019


Today I participated in a Webinar for the EDEN Open Education Week. The session was chaired by Lisa Marie Blaschke, EDEN Senior Fellow, Chair of EDEN Council of Fellows, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany. The focus of the session was on the following:

A number of innovative and unique initiatives around the topic of open education have been emerging throughout Europe, specifically in the areas of micro-credentialing and prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR). Three EU initiatives in open education will be presented in this webinar: OEPassMicroHE, and ReOPEN. In addition, the session will include retrospectives on the challenges and opportunities of open education, as well as on the open education movement’s impact upon higher education over the past decade.

Speakers included:

  • Jochen Ehrenreich, Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Heilbronn – OEPass project
  • Raimund Hudak, Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Heilbronn, Germany – MicroHE
  • Airina Volungevi?ien?, EDEN President, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania – Validating Open and Online Learning for Recognition, ReOPEN solutions
  • Elena Caldirola, University of Pavia, Italy – Open Education in Italy: Challenges, Opportunities and Perspectives
  • Andreia Inamorato, European Commission, Joint Research Centre – Practical Guidelines on Open Education for Academics: Modernising Higher Education via Open Educational Practices
  • Gráinne Conole, Dublin City University, Ireland – Reflecting on the Impact of the Open Education Movement

The talks included reports on the OEPass project, the MicroHe project and the ReOpen Solutions project. Elena gave an overview of the open education movement in Italy. Andreia talked about the EU Opening up Education initiative and associated reports. I talked about the future of the Open Education movement focusing on the impact on learners, teachers and researchers. My slides are available online. At one point there were 50 participants and there was an excellent backchannel with some challenging questions and good discussion. The session has been recorded


The story of the Open University

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019