Posts Tagged ‘learning’

what is learning anyway? – there are/have been, some theories.

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

I’ve been following Donald Clark’s blog series on learning theorists and found it enlightening and useful. On March 17th he began a blog marathon of 50 blogs on learning theorists over 50 days. He ‘presents fifty major shapers and movers in learning, theorists, practitioners and those directly relevant to e-learning.’ He started with the Greeks and is just over halfway through his list and about to begin discussing major influencers in the field of e-learning before finishing with some posts on the area of training. 

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Photo by Jan Tik

What I’ve particularly liked is the outline that has been used for each learning theorist.  They include an:

  • Overview of the individual
  • Specific theory and ideas on learning
  • Relevance to learning
  • Implications for E-learning
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Where appropriate the author has also provided evidence that highlights the flaws in a particular theory and how it has been proved incorrect.

Any pre-service teacher or learning professional involved at any level, would do well to spend some time absorbing these overviews to help provide a context to what we understand what good teaching and learning might be. Thanks Donald…

a month is a long time between posts

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

I’ve convinced myself that I need to write a blog post today, or I’ll feel bad for the rest of the year. My last post was a month ago, which to me seems far too long! I’ve jotted down a few ideas for posts over that time and I’ll get to them soon – but for now it’s just a matter of getting some words and thoughts down so I can sleep tonight. In between weekend chores, watching the Olympics, and catching up with what’s happening to my friends via Twitter, I haven’t spent any time preparing or thinking about this post so, here we go (might have to rely of some ‘stream of consciousness’?, or how’s this for an idea? As this blog is about my observations and reflections, I think I might write about some of the more significant aspects of my work that I’ve experienced over the last month. Hope you find it interesting and maybe even useful…

I attended a workshop on e-Assessment by Geoffrey Crisp who presented as a part of his ALTC fellowship project. We were given a good overview of assessment and how you might create new possibilities for immersion and activity using e-assessment as well as enhancing social interaction (through using a wiki) and even adding value to learning by doing something other assessment can’t do. You can visit his website, register as a user, and check out the resources available.

The university where I work has three campuses and I regularly travel between the one I’m based on (Geelong @ Waurn Ponds) to our main campus in Melbourne. This is usually a 75 to 90 minute commute and I try to hitch a ride with someone who’s driving a university vehicle (to keep one extra car off the road and for the opportunity to talk on the way). Because there’s quite a few people traveling on a daily basis, the university has undertaken a trial for three months of running a bus (12 seater) between the two campuses. I’ve used it a couple of times since inception, and I think that it might catch on. There’s always the opportunity to meet and chat with people from other areas of the university, but the IT people have installed a mobile wireless internet connection on board (this is the cool part). There’s a wireless router (connected to 7.2 NextG card) so everyone with a wireless laptop connection can connect into the uni network while zipping up the highway. There were four of us checking email (me also keeping an eye on my Twitter friends) earlier this week, and after a day of meetings it’s nice to get some of that correspondence out of the way before getting home. There are plans to also provide a couple of laptops on the bus for those who don’t have them, and they are also going to provide a couple of IP telephone handsets so we can call the office over the network instead of using mobile phones. Apparently the cost of maintaining this mobile wireless connection annually (excluding the card and router) would only be around $600 as part of our telco contract. Cheap! All we need now is an AC power supply to plug in the laptops in case batteries run out – and maybe even an espresso machine. 😉

I also managed (with a couple of colleagues) to get a paper written and submitted (by the end of July) for peer review for the ASCILITE Conference at the end of the year. Don’t understand why there’s such a long lead time but I understand that there will probably be well over 200 papers submitted.

I partcipated in the The Knowledge Bank online conference 2008 which was focused on Web 2.0 in education: what it is, how it’s being used today and its potential to radically change education. The event was facilitated through Elluminate (sessions were recorded and available from the website), featured live blogging and is supported by a wiki. It was a great (learning) experience to be part of a group of nearly 200 people from all over the world listening to a range of speakers/presenters. The event was well managed and with a few moderators and presenters (with their slides) went more smoothly than I thought it might. It was fun to hear school bells ringing in the background as teachers participated live (and included their students!). Nice to experience what’s possible.

I’m also on a group providing feedback and support to the implementation project for a learning repository for the university. We’ve been discussing project scope and milestones, metadata, workflow, digital objects, permissions, and training etc. Will be nice to have this available by the end of the year.

I also attended a training session/workshop on using our new powerlink for Blackboard/Vista that enables us to create a Drupal/SMF and/or a Mediawiki installation in our units/courses that integrates within the system. This will be a good enhancement to the LMS ad provide opportunities for some authentic collaboration between students, particularly those studying off-campus/remotely.

I also attended a couple (brown bag) lunch time seminars; ‘multiple choice questions – cultural, linguistic and item writing factors’, and ‘designing, facilitating and assessing group assignments’.

Well, that’s most of the exciting stuff (I’ve probably missed a few things) and looking back reasonably interesting. As second semester settles down I’ll be writing more reflectively on these experiences.

what we need is a system bypass

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Events have recently had me thinking about the LMS and CMS and what they can do for us with regard to student learning, and teachers being able to facilitate this. I’ve realised that we need to recognise these tools as systems and that while they can manage people and content, they need a fair bit of thinking about to be used effectively for learning.

At the university where I work we have an institution-wide implementation of Blackboard (Vista 4) which works quite well (supplemented by Elluminate and Lectopia to provide extra functionality and access to resources), and helps us manage our units/courses and student/staff enrollment etc. Often a template is applied, the class ‘delivered’ via that structure because of the convenience, and the model keeps getting replicated.

My thinking has been encouraged by a recent article by Lisa Lane (in EDUCAUSE Quarterly) called Toolbox or Trap? Course Management Systems and Pedagogy and Britt Watwood’s blog post, Moving Beyond Access and Convenience to Learning. In these two pieces the questions are raised about the potential problems/issues/constraints raised by the use of the ‘management system’ and how they can stifle creativity and learning. Both suggest that many web 2.0 and/or social networking applications are better suited to providing more meaningful learning experiences and allowing students more opportunities for collaboration and inquiry learning.

What is exciting me, is that we’ve recently implemented a project (supported by a Blackboard Greenhouse grant) that has enabled us to make a couple of powerlinks available so that teachers can create drupal/SMF and mediawiki installations within their learning context.

So, I’m looking forward to working on the rollout of this, and hoping that we might get past the tools and functions to some good learning. Being able to go beyond the management system to places where we can encourage conversation, collaboration and community. Where students are able to make sense and meaning through working together…

I’m now looking for good ideas, strategies, and examples to help teachers come to see the possibilities of the social (networking/collabotaive) software they have at their disposal. Anyone able to point me in the right direction?

that was the comment challenge

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

It’s now June 1, and that means the 31 day Comment Challenge (for May 08) is over. :-(

Michele has set the final task as one of reflecting on the top 5 lessons those participating have learnt. While I wasn’t able to complete all tasks for the ‘challenge’ (there’s something to be said for the discipline of making some priority to do the tasks), I’ve been able to see the value of having a structured task/activity to encourage people to step out of their comfort zones and into their learning zones. It reminds me of the Learning 2.0 program (that originated at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County) and the ‘23 things’ activity as another great example of a learning initiative to get people actively engaged in experiencing a range of Internet and Web 2.0 applications. I’d definitely participate in something like this again. :-)

What I’ve learnt (amongst other things) is that:

#1. There are a lot of great people blogging out there. Through the activities I’ve come across many new bloggers and I’ve subscribed to a number of new blog feeds that I hope will add value to my learning and help me in my role in supporting the use of technologies in higher education.

#2. I’ve got something to contribute through my blogging. I realise that have my own experience and perspectives to bring to the educational blogging community and that others may find these useful. So, through the last month I now feel confirmed, particularly that I’ve only been writing my ‘professional’ blog for two months!

#3. I can comment on what other people are writing. I’ve enjoyed being able to confirm ideas, suggest/provide other perspectives and help develop ideas and stories on other people‘s blogs. It’s still early days for me (as a blogger/commenter) but I’m now thinking more about what I might be able to share with others that could add value to what they do.

#4. Commenting can help build relationships and make stronger, deeper, authentic and lasting connections. The network building through this activity has been very valuable I look forward to it continuing as I meet more people online. I am looking to meeting some of these people face to face and will look for opportunities to do this.

#5. I’m very happy to have people comment on my blog. There’s a sense of engagement, support and validation when someone makes the effort to leave a comment. It’s even been fun to comment/reply back to the comments left on my blog – I’ve come to see this as an important aspect of being part of the blogosophere as it maintains and enhances the interactions.

…and just because I can – I think I’d like to add a sixth…

#6. That being involved in this activity has helped strengthen me as a blogger and developed my understanding of the possibilities of ‘the blog’ in education. I’m now much better situated to provide informed advice and recommendations on social media in my work context and elsewhere.

Finally, a huge personal thanks to those people who managed to make this happen; Sue Waters, Silvia Tolisano, Michele Martin and Kim Cofino (with sponsorship by coComment and Edublogs). I’ve really appreciated the time they’ve invested to guide us through this month of learning – they can be assured the investment has paid off!

Now I need to pay it forward – will you?

a strategy for commenting?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Sneaking back into the Comment Challenge today, I was forced to think about my blog commenting strategy by Michele’s task for Day 28. Well, I didn’t have one did I! Not anything that I was aware of anyway. I suppose my strategy was to say something when I thought I could make a contribution and to pass on by, if not.

We were encouraged to read a post by Caroline Middlebrook (who is what I’d call a professional blogger), and in doing so I had to wrestle with what I wanted out of being a participant in the blogosphere.

This took me back to why I started my blog and what I hoped to get out of it. I’m definitely not in it for the money (at this point in time), but I realise I might need to think about what return I get for my efforts. This means that I’ll need to make an effort to get a return – very rarely will you make a profit if you don’t make the initial investment. But whatever you’re blogging (or commenting) for, be it fame, fortune or fellowship, the principles of/for making connections must be the same.

My motives are more about having/using my blog as a place where I can develop my portfolio (as process) and put some of my ideas, experiences, reflections and work, ‘out there’. I know I’ll learn a lot more if people ‘talk back’ and leave comments in response to what I write. If this is to occur, I’ll need to be somewhat strategic about what I write about and make the connections between that and what I read on other blogs. I have been challenged to think about how to gain some momentum in all this, and if I want to be able to add value to what I do (and gain some sort of confirmation that I’m traveling down the right path) I’ll need to get people to have a reason to visit me. I can see that it is probably up to me to do this – be proactive about it. Maybe I have to stop thinking about how many dots I’ve got on my clustrmap or how many subscribe to my rss feed and think more about my participation in my learning community and those I come across. I’m in this to learn as well as to share.

So, I think my strategy will develop and evolve over time and hopefully support my needs and aspirations. Being authentic, discerning, generous, provocative & critical (if necessary) would be some of the types of responses I’d provide when commenting and this would (I hope) encourage others to visit me to what I’ve got to say. Over time I’ll also probably tend to refine my list of favourite blogs but realise that this network will be fluid as I come across new ones and maybe stop visiting those I don’t get any value from. I hope that through my commenting I might also challenge and encourage others on their learning journeys.

Hmmm, I’ve been surprised how well the ‘commercial’ metaphor has applied to my thoughts on educational blogging. Thanks to Michele for another thought provoking activity…

a learning curve

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

As I continue with the comment challenge, I’m not just learning about other’s people ideas, I’m learning a fair bit about some of the collaborative software that’s available… I’ve been comfortable with my RSS feeds and not really been strategic in getting the word out about my blog, so this whole exercise has been a learning one that has at times made me uncomfortable. I’ve heard it said that if you move out of your ‘comfort zone’, you move into a ‘learning zone’.

What I’ve found interesting is that it’s been more difficult configuring, accessing, and connecting into some of it than I thought it might be. A new account with Technorati was fairly straight forward but as I haven’t used it before (and haven’t made space for ‘how it might work for me’) I’m not sure what to expect, but we’ll see how it goes. Joining the coComment community was a bit trickier (and the irritating flash ads don’t endear me) and then having to work out how to get the ‘tags’ working in my blog so that they can be found by the ‘system’, and then ‘claiming blogs‘ so they are recognised. Maybe be on a different platform (Mac) and using a different browser (Safari) complicated things a little.

I must confess that I’ve only skimmed the advice on the Comment Challenge wiki that explains how to make do all the things to activate full participation in the challenge. So, maybe I should read a little more closely on how these bits connect to each other. I’m thinking there may be a parallel here with my aging brain and the fixed pathways and configurations of it’s neural networks. It’s getting harder to change/renovate them and rebuild them incorporating the new models/technologies of interaction and collaboration into what I know.

It’s still all about learning, and it won’t happen unless I have the desire to make the investment… What’s nice is seeing that others are along for the ride and we struggle together – supported all the while by passionate people willing to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm.