Thursday, April 30, 2015

Networked Learning Seminar 6th May 2015 1-4pm 2.21 Tŷ Dewi Sant, Heath Park

The Networked Learning Conference runs biennially, and next year is the 10th at Lancaster University. So this year is 'fallow', interregnum, 'writing up' space in time for the 5th October deadline... I thought it might be nice to organise a 'fireside chat' among friends who happened to be doing advanced degrees in learning technology. I wanted us to share some of the good stuff we've learned on our studies that otherwise might never see the light of day. Probably we'd ask if anyone was around and wanted to listen in, probe a bit, etc.
I'm delighted to say that it has turned into a College-sponsored seminar, bringing the networked learning marque and experts Dr Sue Timmis and Dr Jane Williams to Cardiff next Wednesday afternoon (here's a link to their paper from the last conference).

We're dividing the three hours up as follows:

13:00-14:00 Welcome and introductions, followed by:
  • Dr Sue Timmis - Senior Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning at University of Bristol Graduate School of Education
    “Mind the gap! The power and the challenges of connecting theory AND practice in University learning and teaching”
  • Dr Jane Williams – Director of Technology Enhanced Learning Team at University of Bristol Medical School
    "Handing over the keys: unlocking the potential of students as developers and researchers of elearning"
14:00-14:30 Refreshments/networking

14:30-15:30 Three short papers from:
15:30-16:00 Panel summary and Q&A to close.

If you're free, do please feel free to come along too!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Human conversations in education

Last night a friend prompted me to watch a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson (youtube link). I have been quite suspicious about Sir Ken since I heard him claim that teenagers do not wear wrist-watches any more, they have mobiles to tell the time with instead. This statement seemed insightful at the time but ignores the wider cultural significance of a watch. I know one teenager who sports an enormous watch. If anyone in his class wants to know the time they just have to look in his direction. If the infamous wearer can summon the strength to raise his watch arm, the sight of the watch alone is enough to disrupt a lesson.
But I digress... Last night, for me, Sir Ken was on form. It was an American agenda and audience but the points about education being a human activity were spot on. This is what we are in danger of losing and why I like the Networked Learning 'tradition' where we hold that 'promoting connections' with ICT's between learners and 'content'/resources is not a sufficient condition to meet the definition.
An example... When did 'e-learning' ever pay much attention to the spoken language of learners? Indeed, how could it? Why should it?
I've been trying to get a handle on Basil Bernstein - got an old copy of Class, Codes and Control. There is much that defeats me in its pages, however, here is a chunk from p72
There is, it is thought, a dynamic interaction between the speech form learned, the experiences organized by it and subsequent behaviour. The experience of a speaker is conditioned and differentiated by and through his language. Spoken language is a process and processing phenomenon and is the major means by which an individual becomes self-regulating. An analysis of the typical dominant speech mode learned should give important insights into the psychological effects of linguistic processing and the inter-relationships with the social structure which condition and limit the form of the usage.

The point I was struck by here is the 'Spoken language is a process and processing phenomenon and is the major means by which an individual becomes self-regulating'.
If this is true, then as those responsible for other people's learning, we neglect requiring oral presentations of ideas at our peril... well, in as much as learning matters. CampusPack has a 'podcasting tool' (like a blog with audio) and I encouraged students to record to it once; we saw mixed levels of engagement from the single online-only cohort that ran with it. Granted it is a different activity, and was used for different purposes (i.e. learning about voice and subjectivity), but this seemed nowhere near as good as a humble human conversation. Probably you know of better examples than that. Please share :o)