Write a blog post on the way in which technologies have affected you or your organisation. Try and incorporate your thoughts on the Conole article and also the examples you found of learning activities that use Web 2.0 technologies.
First of all, I can speak from my own experience and how technologies have affected me and my personal studies as I am not yet an active teacher in order to be able to evaluate the technologies in my teaching experience or any organisation. As a learner then, according to Conole (2008) when a new technology was found I had to experiment with it and check it and see whether it fits my needs in order to successfully use it to support my learning. I agree with Conole (2008) that best results are seen through time because I have heard about blogging and I said to myself what this kind of stuff is now? After that, I said to myself to try it and I did. However, as I was young and still going in lyceum I did not see any benefits or something when I was using it. After 3 years when I went to the University I started using it occasionally and I liked it. Many features that blogging has helped me with my studies and for my own personal life. But only through time I saw the benefits and I realised what is blogging exactly. Another thing is that it is surely difficult to evaluate the right information needed for an assignment or project. In the beginning at least I was finding myself worrying about this matter because I lack the skills needed as suggested by Conole (2008) in order to be able to assess the material found in the web and see whether it is relevant to my studies or not and whether I could use it. After a long time and through many years of experience with the web etc and too much reading from books and from the web I started having a critical eye on the materials I am reading but again I am not 100% sure on my choices.
As far as my teaching experience is concerned and from the investigation I made through the web for the various learning websites and activities that use web 2.0 technologies I believe that there is a vast amount of these available and the teacher has to be able to distinguish among them and choose the best learning activity or the best learning tool that will help not only the teacher but also the students in order to improve their learning experience. There are many choices online and the teacher has to take a difficult decision on which is the best one.
Generally speaking, technologies affected me positively in my life and my learning. Some technologies I consider them to be invaluable as they are not so widely used by me as they do not express me as a person, thus I do not take them into consideration for my work or personal use.
- Read ‘What are web 2.0 technologies and why do they matter?’ by Charles Crook.
- See if you can answer the question in the title for yourself. Make notes in your blog.
As suggested by Crook (2008), 2.0 implies that there is a step forward, an advance of the web, meaning that now we can do more with the web than what we could do before.
(a) What does Crook mean by the ‘virtualisation of exchange practices’? (p.6)
Virtualisation of exchange practices is the example given by Crook very succesfully, that the bricks and mortar contexts of real world trade to the electronic trafiic of virtual world trade. Thus, virtualisation reduces overheads and commodity prices are driven down as it is mentioned again in Crook's report.
(b) Would you agree that the learning dimensions that Crook sets out as characteristic of Web 2.0 can be grouped as either more social or more cognitive? (p.9)
Yes, I agree with the way that Crook presents them.
Read ‘Educational hopes and fears for Web 2.0’ by Neil Selwyn. Selwyn raises a number of fears on page 11, including disengagement and impact on ‘traditional’ literacies. Weller takes a different view.
(c) Which side of the argument do you favour at this stage?
I agree with Selwyn because all the drawbacks mentioned in the article, actually fears, do exist and there is a clear need to take them into consideration if we want to establish education 2.0.
Read ‘Learning and virtual worlds’ by Diane Carr.
(d) How is Second Life being used in ways that might counter the fears around Web 2.0? (Note that you will read more about Second Life in Week 25.)
First of all, students who are already experienced 3D animators or modellers find the modelling tools of Second Life bizarre and awkward and they often struggle more than other inexperienced users. Also, technically minded students may not see the point of Second Life and they want to make some real programming rather than play around in a fake world. Second Life as an educational setting, faces problems, like hardware problems, time lags due to varying internet connectivity and difficulties relating to class control and the formalising of lessons. Additionally, a motionless avatar could mean that a student is confused or alienated or simply the student went to make a coffee. Second Life sessions could be intense and potentially confusing for inexperienced users and there might be also struggle with the interface or with the communications either text or voice. Gamers might get disappointed with the graphics and the relative emptiness of Second Life.
Read ‘Learning and social networking’ by Neil Selwyn.
(e) Would you agree with Selwyn’s tentative conclusion that ‘the primary educational significance of social networking would appear to be its informal use’? (You may wish to revise your view later, when you have had more experience using social networking tools.)
I do not believe that the primary educational significance of social networking would be its informal use. There are also other uses too that are equally important.
1) I believe that technology itself could cause a reform but it is better to be used as an instrument to encourage reform. In this way technology becomes more powerful and more evident due to the benefits that technology carries with it. Technology can cause a reform if it is used in combination with other aspects, like pedagogical aspects, policies etc.
2) Producers and developers of technologies impose pressures on universities decisions because universities do not want to be left behind and with implementing new poducts and new technological advances, the producers look for profitable universities able to implement this kind of new technologies and services. The same occurs with universities. Universities look for the marketing and profit that they can gain but not in favour of the students most of the times.
Looking back in weeks 13&14 studies shown that mobile computing is on the rise and cloud-based applications and resources are catching on among undergraduates. Many student technology adoption patterns are surprisingly stable even when technologies themselves change dramatically, students continue to want a moderate level of technology in their courses. There is no stereotypical student when it comes to technology. The same occurs with Cuban from what I have seen, as there were computers in their classrooms but neither student nor teachers used them actually as they should.
Why students were using technologies and their perceptions of technologies:
a) Information seeking and handling: several reported that searching with Google was their first action when trying to get information for an assignment. Difficulty in evaluating creditability of sources found on the web.
b) Communication: Students use mobile devices to phone and text to each other; discuss issues related to their learning and assignment questions. They use MSN Messenger for instant messaging and other software in order to communicate internationally.
c) Assignment preparation: Write assignments; take notes in Word, essay and reports.
d) Integrated learning: Students are able to download lecture notes or view course timetables was a plus for them as travelling expenses are reduced. Time also is saved, thus giving more flexibility and freedom to arrange their learning and lifestyle, working situation on their own.
- Students are learning in a complex and changing environment using a variety of technological tools to support their learning.
- Students are adept at finding and manipulating information and synthesize across different information sources and use a plethora of communication tools to support their learning.
- More interactive interactions across all aspects of their learning.
- Technology is at the heart of all aspects of their lives.
- Technology-mediated learning environment can be distracting as some students need peace and quiet in order to learn.
- Ownership, personalisation and appropriation of technology are overarching themes which emerge from the data.
- Students are comfortable with technology and see it as integral; they are using different tools for different purposes knowing the pros and cons of the various tools. Additionally, they have specific expectations, i.e. they consider the internet as a valuable source of information and they expect up to date information and communication on demand.
I would like to concentrate on Elluminate.
1.What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the students’ perceptions of the quality of their modules, their approaches to studying and their academic performance?
Students perceptions on the quality of their modules I believe would be high because having such a technology supporting your education and module is a great advantage. At the same time, their approaches to studying are enormous because when elluminate sessions are being held then the students tend to study before the session so that they will be prepared to answer questions or discuss with their colleagues and if there is something that they do not understand then it is easy for them to find the correct path in order to solve their questions. Through the elluminate sessions their academic performance might also increase and reach to high levels of understanding and achieving good knowledge for a specific subject.
2. What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the teachers’ perceptions of their teaching context and their approaches to teaching?
Teachers need extra effort and time in order to be able to participate in such elluminate sessions and in particular to organise such a session and be ready for any bad problems that might occur, i.e. bad internet connection, technical problems (microphone etc). I do not think that they will develop a negative perception because elluminate helps the teachers to come closer to their students at least by hearing what they have to say and also by participating in a dialogue with them. Their approaches to teaching vary but they should also depend on elluminate as a technology that might alter the student's ego and at the same time, teacher's too.
3. Do you think this technology embodies particular assumptions about the nature of teaching and learning in higher education?
It depends in which context learning/teaching is taking place. According to the context, then the right technology should be used.
4. Are these assumptions likely to promote more positive perceptions, more desirable approaches to studying and better performance on the part of the students?
Definitely when you improve something that it is not reliable and easy to use before and now it is out there with instructions with how to use it etc then of course it promotes positive perceptions, more desirable studying approaces and better student's performance.
Do you think the innovations described in Weeks 8 and 9 as ‘learning design’ would induce more desirable approaches to studying on the part of the students?
Not so sure about that but I think that yes.
Compare Marton’s idea that some students regard learning as something that just happens to them with Sfard’s account from Week 3.
The acquisition metaphor descirbed by Sfard might be as well described by Marton's idea that some students regard learning as something that just happens to them and they acquire it. Whereas, participation metaphor could be explained with the deeper approached that students undertake to learning. Thus they are participating in their own learning process.
Do the concepts, theories and evidence described in the paper fit your own experience as a learner?
Which of Säljö’s five conceptions of learning best fits your own definition?
Learning as the increase of knowledge
Some theories and concepts described in the paper might fit my own teaching but not completely. The argument is not fully described and justified. There should have been more in depth information and explanations.
Ø Viewpoint of educational networks and institutions OER can:
· Provide a long term conceptual framework in the creation, sharing and provision of educational resources based on a strong emphasis of reusability.
· Allow for a higher return on investment of taxpayers’ money through better cost-effectiveness when reusing resources.
· Promote digital competence through making available tools and content that allow learners to develop their critical thinking and creativity.
· Enrich the pool of resources for innovating curricula and teaching and learning practices
· Lead to a leverage in the educational quality of content through quality control, feedback and improvements within content alliances, communities and networks who share content.
· Foster lifelong learning and social inclusion through easy access to resources that may otherwise not be accessible by potential user groups.
Ø Viewpoint of teachers and students
- Broader range of subjects and topics to choose from, flexibility in choosing material
- Save time and effort
- Provision of teachers own personal assessments, lessons learned and suggestions for improvements.
- Provide learning communities and set up collaborative learning environments.
- Promote user-centred approaches in education and lifelong learning.
Beetham's article and notes on the key concept
v Development of design principles from theories of how people learn and how can be applied to learning with digital technologies.
v It is the activity that the learner engages in and the outcomes of that activity that are significant for learning.
v Design for learning should therefore focus primarily on the activities undertaken by learners and only secondarily on the tools or materials that support them.
v Learners need opportunities to make a newly acquired concept or skill their own: to draw on their own strengths and preferences and to extend their repertoire of approaches to task requirements.
v There is a need for integration across activities, whether:
o Associatively: building component skills into extended performance
o Constructively: integrating skills and knowledge, planning and reflecting
o Situatively: developing identities and roles
v A learning activity is an entity that is meaningful to the learner, given his or her current level of expertise.
v Different issues in activity design:
o Authenticity of the activity
o Formality and structure
o Retention/reproduction Vs reflection/internalization
o The role and importance of other people
o Locus of control
v Defining a learning activity: it can be defined as a specific interaction of learner (s) with other (s) using specific tools and resources, orientated towards specific outcomes.
v Examples of learning activities might include solving problems, comparing and evaluating arguments, presenting facts or negotiating goals.
v Jonassen classification of activities:
o Rule based-associative learning
o Strategy based-constructive learning
o Role based-situative learning
v Designing for learning outcomes: learning outcomes are typically expressed in the form learners will be able to (verb) (qualification) where the verb describes the kind of activity that learners will undertake (e.g. solve, describe) and the qualification describes the context, scope or method to be used (e.g. solve equations of the type X).
v It has been argued that the current generation of digital technologies is better situated to open-ended outcomes that the technologies of the Instructional Design era. Simulations and virtual environments are used to foster exploration rather than a linear progression through materials.
v Individual learning logs and e-portfolios allow learners to collate evidence towards broadly defined learning loads and to reflect on their progress.
v Collaborative technologies and VLEs can be used to capture dialogue, bringing to light the processes as well as the outcomes of learning.
o A more broadly defined outcome leads to wider range of activities that need to receive support and feedback.
v The resulting designs may be highly learner-centred, but only if there are sufficient teaching resources to support them effectively.
v Designing for learners:
o The aim is to make all learning facilities adaptive to individual needs (Dagger et al. 2005).
o Depending on the task and context, it may be necessary to consider learners':
§ Subject-specific experience, knowledge and competence
§ Access needs, including any physical and sensory disabilities
§ Motives for learning and expectations of the learning situation
§ Prior experience of learning, including the specific model (I.e. online)
§ Preferred approaches to learning
§ Social and interpersonal skills
§ Confidence and competence in the use of information and communication technology (ICT)
v Learners cannot be treated as a bundle of disparate needs: they are actors, not factors, in the learning situation. They make sense of the tasks they are set in terms of their own goals and perspectives, and they may experience tasks quite differently if digital technologies-with all the social and cultural meanings that they carry-are involved.
v Another challenge is that is not clear that learners should be accommodated in their preferences rather than challenged to try alternatives.
v An alternative approach is the provision of flexible learning in which learners make their own choices over issues such as the tasks they undertake, the meditational means they use and the evidence they provide for assessment.
v Despite the capacity of technology to present a wider range of options, the limiting factor remains the availability of skilled practitioners to provide relevant feedback and support.
v Designing with digital resources and technologies
v The technologies available in the learning environment and how learners are encouraged to use them for specific activities are therefore essential aspects of design.
v Design objects (artefacts):
o Digital cameras and microscopes
o Electronic whiteboards
o Mobile devices
o Laptop computers and web pages
v The layout of a seminar room affects how learners interact, while different kinds of learning are possible in a fieldwork situation, laboratory or workplace. Digital environments similarly help to structure learners' time and space and they support or constrain learners' interactions.
v Properties of designed artefacts are often referred to as their "affordances" for a particular use: in this case their affordance for learning is to talk about tools and resources in terms of how they mediate learning. As a result, the artefacts can have different meanings in different activity contexts.
v Resources are content-based artefacts that use various representational media such as text, images, moving images and sound. The medium used can have a profound effect on how content is assimilated and remembered and that different learners have different capacities with different media. A choice of medium or the opportunity to experience two media in parallel-for example a spoken text and a visual diagram-have been shown to be particularly effective for learning.
v For today's digital natives online research and the capacity to manage multiple forms of information are essential life skills and this alone, makes their use in education desirable.
v The main intrinsic benefits of digital resources are their greater flexibility of access, reproduction and manipulation. Simply being able to study at a time, place and pace to suit them can profoundly change learners' relations.
v "Tool" here is used to designate an artefact designed to support a specific task function rather than to represent content, though as we will see this distinction is becoming blurred.
v Tools for creating representations in different media e.g. Powerpoint, web editors, video and animation software, digital cameras-are all too often regarded as the prerogative of the learning designer, but there is no reason why they should not be used by learners to create their own representations of subject matter. Applications can even be shared to enable collaborative representations to be built, as happens face to face with electronic whiteboards and with wikis online.
v The portability of digital representations is particularly valuable in this respect.
v Tasks of analysis are likely to be very subject-specific and there is a wide range of digital tools-diagnostics, informatics, design and manufacturing systems, specific analytical software-with which learners may need to become familiar.
v Computing power is the potential of artefacts based on information (software) to be used as tools. With these tools as mediators, learning activities can take place in an entirely represented space: for example, using models, simulations and complex digital environments.
v Laurillard distinguishes five different media "types"-narrative, communicative, interactive, productive, and adaptive - with different capacities to mediate learning.
v With the rise of networked computing, consideration of digital services must stand alongside consideration of digital artefacts when designing for learning.
v Having learners explore different functions, make choices about use of a tool, and integrate it with other tools in the environment. Designers should also take account of learners' own technologies, including mobile phones, email, instant messaging, and personal assistants, digital TV and radio and social software. The use of such "private" technologies is an essential aspect of the construction of the personal identity and there are preliminary findings that it can help learners bridge the gap between their existing skills and the kinds of ICT literacy required in formal education.
v Situative learners need a sympathetic mentor with insight into their context and the ability to support their developing role. Teachers committed to a constructive approach require a wide range of facilitative skills-negotiating outcomes, supporting learner discussion, giving relevant feedback -and the ability to respond to learners' different needs. Vygotsky argued that learning is a socially mediated activity in the first instance, with concepts and skills being internalized only after they have been mastered in a collaborative context.
v Piaget and Papert give dialogue a secondary role but agree that it can support the individual processes of reflection and abstraction. Opportunities for dialogue are considered crucial in most approaches to learning. Some or all of these interactions can now take place through computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems.
v Text-based media are by far the most widespread. Expertise need no longer be "handed out" by the teacher from the front of the class, but can be contributed more equitably. Turn-taking becomes less significant (everyone can "talk" at once) and many face-to-face markers of difference are removed. Participation also becomes more explicit and the content of discussion becomes available for reflection and review-many online courses routinely assess participation. The explicit nature of online dialogue makes it particularly good for negotiating and building shared understanding in collaborative tasks. Perhaps, the main advantage of these new media, however, is the ability to participate with a much wider range of other people (e.g. remote experts, learners in other institutions and countries) and at a time and place to suite the learner.
v Text-based CMC also requires new skills from learners. The explicit nature of communication favours a more reflective approach than face-to-face dialogue; demands keyboard skills and good standards of written language, and also require the motivation to participate without the support of a live social context. There are studies that report students being uncomfortable with these demands, for example, struggling with the learner locus of control or with the use of peer review and feedback.
v CMC offers opportunities both to break with established modes of discourse, and to make explicit the ground rules and structures of power that exist.
Yiannis Dimitriades transcript
ü He puts particular interest in supporting practitioners in real contexts, not in exploring theoretical processes and he's interested as he tells me in things that work.
ü Instructional design is processes and steps and methods that guided, that were used in order to structure the process in order to be able to have high chances of success => not to guarantee the success [but] to increase the chances of success in the teaching-learning process.
ü The difference with respect to the instructional design would be that not only there is content, there are also activities. There is not only a teacher and an absent learner who simply practices. But also there are learners, an individual, in a collaborative way. So in this case, we do have content plus teachers plus learners plus activities.
ü The current educational situation is that the situation is really complex. In such a complex process, somebody needs a methodology at least in order to create new materials or new courses or new stuff. And when you do have a complex situation, you need support.
ü "What's the role for creativity for the teacher?"
ü Learning design can support and make more explicit the process elements and the structural elements.
ü Creativity is a huge word that can be understood in terms of how somebody designs something, how somebody enacts something-that is, makes it effective.
ð How you can include all these formal elements of learning design together with the creativity, improvisation, quality elements that normally are hidden.
ü Scripting is one word that has been used extensively in educational psychology, mainly associated to the idea of guiding, of how you can provide scaffolding, in constructivist terms, on the processes. One extreme of scripting could be the classical one, two, three, four, five steps that we have to follow in order to do something.
ü They want to include models of students, models of teachers, models of contents, all elements of the environment, finally the process is so heavy-weight that [it] cannot be applied.
ü Something that's not too heavy-weighted, that's practical, that's do-able, that's enjoyable and that can bring in individual creativity or whatever we prefer to call it, can be realised.
From what I have read from the above articles and my notes in Activity 1, I can see that there are some similarities. For example, there is focus on learning design in the way that we organise the activities that need to be submitted and used while teaching. We take into consideration the technologies that we will use and the students themselves as to what aims they are expected to respond. The creativity of the teacher is strongly affected as to what the Principle of the school is thinking about the teaching ways that a teacher uses. Most of the times the creativity of the teacher is in danger. At the time, the most important sentence is that the design should not be heavy weighted but it should be practical, do-able, enjoyable and that it can also bring individual creativity.
1. What makes an activity ‘authentic’?
Authentic activities are the ordinary practices of the culture. Their meaning and purpose are socially constructed through negotiations among present and past members. They have to be held in a “real” environment with real needs so that the students will be able to transfer their learning in their own context and adopt it or use it accordingly.
2. What is the problem with making everything explicit in learning?
By making everything explicit in learning there is the fear that the students will be stay passive and then the knowledge will not be acquired in a collaborative way. Students should actively work in their own learning processes according to their own needs and learning styles. They have to be able to collaborate and work together in their groups in order to exert their best to acquire the new knowledge or skills.
3. Do you think the divide between school and authentic activity can be bridged?
Some solution that could be done in order to bridge the division between school and authentic activity are the following:
- More realistic activities could be held in the classroom in order for the students to actively participate in their own learning
- The paradigm of situated modeling, coaching and fading, whereby teachers or coaches promote learning, first by making explicit their knowledge or by modeling their strategies for students in authentic activity. Then teachers and colleagues support students’ attempts at doing the task and finally they empower the students to continue independently.
- As this paper was written more than 20 years ago, how has its central message held up? What lasting value does this paper have today?
I believe that this paper should be used for today’s teaching practices as the messages conceived are important and up to date. Authentic learning experiences are the key to successful acquisition of knowledge and skills, rather than teaching from the desk, offering implicit problems to students that might represent the “reality” but not an authentic situation.
- If you had to summarise the authors’ arguments in a short paragraph what would you write?
Knowledge is situated, being in part a product of the activity, context and culture in which it is developed and used. Cognitive apprenticeship honors the situated nature of knowledge. People generally learn words in the context of ordinary communication. All knowledge is like language. Its parts are inextricably a product of the activity and situations in which they are produced. Conceptual knowledge is like a set of tools. The understanding, of both the world and the tools, continually changes as a result of their interaction. Learning and acting are interestingly indistinct, learning being a continuous lifelong process resulting from acting in situations. It is not possible to use a tool appropriately without understanding the community or culture in which it is used. Activity, concept and culture are interdependent. Learning must involve all three. The culture and the use of a tool act together to determine the way practitioners see the world; and the way the world appears to them determines the culture’s understanding of the world and of the tools. To learning to use tools as practitioners use them, a student, like an apprentice, must enter the community and its culture. Thus in a significant way, learning is a process of enculturation. In this process the activities involved should be coherent, meaningful and purposeful resulting in authentic activities, defined as the ordinary practices of the culture.
Cognitive apprenticeship (intuitive reasoning, resolving issues, negotiating) methods try to enculturated students into authentic practices through activity and social interaction. Cognitive apprenticeship supports learning in a domain by ending students to acquire, develop and use cognitive tools in authentic domain activity. Apprenticeship helps to emphasize the centrality of activity in learning and knowledge and highlights the inherently context-dependent, situated, and enculturating nature of learning. It also suggests the paradigm of situated modeling, coaching and fading, whereby teachers or coaches promote learning, first by making explicit their tacit knowledge or by modeling their strategies for students in authentic activity. Then teachers and colleagues support students’ attempts at doing the task and finally they empower the students to continue independently.
- In the late capitalism of the twenty-first century, is apprenticeship still a relevant model for learning? Try and think in terms of the kinds of knowledge required for the work that is common in a modern economy.
Of course it is still relevant for today. But not like before. In a modern economy of today there should be teaching in an apprenticeship model but not in the strict way. I believe that it has to be followed and valued in the context of today in order to achieve best learning results. JPFs should be incorporated in learning and not to be left aside. Just like authentic situations would help students realize what, why and how they learn a specific aspect in their own authentic context.
- Learning is acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals and some machines. Progress over time tends to follow learning curves.
This section explores different orientations to learning. Exploring these diverse perspectives should help you think differently and more broadly about what learning means and how it happens. Teaching is not just telling, and learning is not just listening. The chart below provides a good overview of some of the main ideas related to learning theory. Many other theories are based on combinations of these basic theories. For example, the constructivist theory which is very popular now, draws heavily on the cognitive approach, but also combines elements of the theories below. Constructivism looks at learning as an active process in which the learner builds on prior knowledge to select and transform information based on their own cognitive structure (patterns of mental action that form intellectual activity).
3. Learning is the lifelong process of transforming information and experience into knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes.
- Webster’s Dictionary defines learning as “the act or experience of one that learns; knowledge of skill acquired by instruction or study; modification of a behavioral tendency by experience." Learning is often defined as a change in behavior (Birkenholz, 1999), which is demonstrated by people implementing knowledge, skills, or practices derived from education. Basically, from an educator’s perspective, learning involves helping people along the learning process, and learning includes all of the things that we do to make it happen. As an end result, we know that learning occurs when people take newfound information and incorporate it into their life. For example, if we are working with an audience that lacks basic financial management skills for budgeting, one of our objectives is to see people gain knowledge in this area and to actually implement the new skills – hopefully, over a long period of time.
- Measurable and relatively permanent change in behavior through experience, instruction, or study. Whereas individual learning is selective, group learning is essentially political its outcomes depend largely on power playing in the group. Learning itself cannot be measured, but its results can be. In the words of Harvard Business School psychologist Chris Argyris, learning is "detection and correction of error" where an error means "any mismatch between our intentions and what actually happens."
1. Are the definitions similar to your own?
They are not exactly similar as my own but they have some common characteristics, i.e. words like “acquiring”, “instruction”, “experience” and “intellectual activity”.
2. Do they carry any particular implications for what is thought of as learning?
I suppose that they are carrying implications for what is thought to be as learning.
3. Are the references you find on the Web skewed to any particular kind of definition? If so, how would you describe this bias?
I do not think that there is any kind of bias.
My definition of learning: Learning is consisting of various procedures in acquiring knowledge. It consists of various components that could be used in order to serve the variety of learning styles that co-exist in a learning environment. A teacher has to provide learning in a variety of methods. Theories of learning suggest such ways of delivering learning. Learning is like a relationship of exchanging opinions, thoughts and views with each other. Like participation learning where you give, you offer and you receive back, you accept feedback and then you will have the option to reconsider your views and develop them accordingly.
Here are some comments on the following questions:
Please read the Sfard extract.
The extract amounts to approximately 2,500 words and should take around one and a half hours to read. As you read, you may find it useful to keep notes in your blog or in a personal file about:
1. How Sfard defines the acquisition and participation metaphors
AM (acquisition metaphor) according to Sfard is learning envisioned as a never-ending self-regulating process of emergence in a continuing interaction with peers, teachers and texts. PM (participation metaphor) according to Sfard is learning a subject as a process of becoming a member of a certain community.
2. How she distinguishes between them
In AM the human mind is considered to be as a container to be filled wioth certain materials and the learner as becoming an owner of these materials. Once the knowledge is acquired, like any other commodity, it can now be applied, transfered to a different context and shared with others. By investigating learning on focusing on the development of concepts and on acquisition of knowledge then the learning process can be conceptualised in terms of AC.
In PM learning is seen as a legitimate peripheral participation or as an apprenticeship in thinking. The noun "practice", prominently features the terms "discourse" and "communication" suggests that the learner should be viewed as a person interested in particiaption in certain kinds of activities rather than in accummulating private possessions. The learner should have the ability to communicate in the language of this community and act according to its particular norms.
3. The significance of Table 1 and the difference between questions of what learning is versus how learning happens.
Table 1 is a schematic comparison between the two metaphors that distinguishes between AM and PM according to their goals of learning, the learning itself, the student perspective and the teacher's on the knowledge/concept of each metaphor and finally what does knowing means in each metaphor.
- Learning is acquisition of something (AM) whereas learning in PM is becoming a participant in a community.
- How learning is happening?
In AM is through individual enrichment in order to have or possess a certain experience/learning.
In PM learning is happening through a community building and the learner is taking part in various activites as to share the feeling of belonging, participating and communicating with each other.
When you’ve read through the extract, use the AM and PM metaphors to reflect on the way you use (or have used in the past) technologies for learning in a formal context in comparison with an informal one. Select two contrasting examples from these learning experiences and simply note down what you learned and how you learned it.
- Informal Context
One technology that I have used to learn at home is my own laptop. Before buying a laptop I had some computer lessons for ECDL that is the European Computer Driving Licence with which we were practicing at school in secondary education. We were having an instructor and we had our own pc and we had to follow his instructions. After that, the instructor was giving us past paper exams in order to make practice and conquer knowledge more in a way of keep practicing and then gaining something more than the lecture provided to us (AM). At home, when I bought the new laptop, I knew almost all the basics and I could work on my own to experiment and acquire new learning. You can say that I belonged in a community with group work while I was at school, but after that I am on my own.
- Formal Context
While studying at the University I had an awkward experience of learning. I was studying Physics and their learning goal was not teaching in the traditional way, but teaching like in the participation metaphor. We were sitting in groups of 5-6 people and we had our own exercise books and we had to carry out our own experiments and come to a conclusion. When we reached to a conclusion we had to call for the instructor to check the way we have come to that specific results and through a dialogue process we would then come to a result if we were right or wrong on our experiments. It was a very difficult process for me and I was really sad that in the end I realised that from the 100 things I knew only the 50 of them. We were splitting the works and experiments, the writing, the discussion with the instructor and finally, what was the purpose of this kind of learning? I have acquired only the half percentage from the whole learning that I had to get on with. I was achieving lower marks on this course in comparison with other that I was making the work alone or at least with another person.
Now look at the words you used in your responses. Notice whether you’ve talked about:
- knowing more
- gaining something
- being able to do something
- participating in new activities or a new group
- having new ideas or new possibilities for yourself – feeling differently about something.
Doubtless you used several of these phrasings, so your learning might have been quite varied or rich in significance.
1. Do all these instances refer to learning in terms of either acquisition or participation or a combination of both?
A combination of both.
2. Did you find instances that do not seem to fit exactly with either acquisition or participation?
No I did not find such instances.
3. Is your learning process more oriented to you as an individual or to you within a social context?
I would rather see myself in an individualistic process of learning but this is not always the case. I can learn in a social context too but it depends on the course, on the discussion, the people taking part in the discussion and whether I am a passive ear or an active participant in the discussion.
- What were your experiences and feelings during the session? If you have impaired vision or hearing, how did this affect your participation?
While in the session I was feeling a little bit of stress because I was worried whether the sound would have been fine due to a lack of the sound during the previous session and at the same time I was feeling happy that I have heard other colleagues too and that we had a fruitful discussion all of us. We were actually 4 persons in the session and instead of break up in groups of 2, after a trial, the tutor decided to put us again all together so that we could discuss all of us in one. No problem with that at all. What is something that I am not so fond of is that when we are over 3 people then when there is a discussion it is logical that I need time to think in order to reply and when the people are quiet I feel that I have to say something without having to do so actually.
- What did you learn about the Sfard paper itself? Were some parts of the session more useful than others in this respect?
I have learnt about the two metaphors and my colleagues experiences with these metaphors and also tutor's thoughts on the two metaphors. I believe that the most important part of the session was the one that we were discussing on the 3 questions raised.
- Can you come to any (perhaps tentative) views about the pros and cons of Elluminate for the task you were set, in the context of a Masters module of this kind? Do you feel, for example, that this synchronous event carries more status when compared with online forums? (You'll remember from Week 3a that Goodyear (2006) argues that this is the case.)
The pros of using Eluminate is that you can discuss and meet online using audio conferencing with your colleagues and at least hear their voices instead of writing only in the discussion forums with a photo or even without a photo at all. Another advantage is that the use of a whiteboard is very helpful when you carry a group activity as everyone can see the notes on the board and even write on it, change something, draw another thing and participate in an activity placed on the whiteboard. It is good that it is a synchronous event and there is the feeling of a classroom, i.e. raising hands, ticks, crosses, clap hands, disagreement icon etc. There can be group activities too when you break up a larger group of students. The cons of this event is that someone might not feel confident to talk synchronously and prefer texting in order to participate and that will take more time to answer a question and maybe the group will move further till the answer will arrive in the chat box. Another drawback is the sound quality and some time lags that the sound goes away and comes back.
- How far, if at all, would Elluminate or a similar tool be useful in your own context?
In my own context Elluminate will not be used or any other similar program as what is now happening in primary schools is not happening with technology of such strength. The only technology that is happening is computer lessons for the basic skills and these are held face to face.
- How would you design the activities?
I think that I could make my activities targeting to a group of students and most probably in a way that I could break them up in smaller groups and put something on the whiteboard, various activities for them and most probably I would end up the session with a general whiteboard activity on the matter that I will be examining and share different opinions all together as one group.
- If you are already using a tool of this kind, how do the activities you run compare with the session you have just completed?
I have used before this tool for another activity in another course but it was not like this one. We were more members in the group and we were all talking and it was more difficult for more people to communicate effectively in one hour and come to a final result, whereas now, we were more close to each other and to our conversation although there were times that the sound was poor and I had some difficulties but after the first 5 to 10 minutes it was perfect!
Well, here we are again...
In the same neighbourhood as before and head on to H800...as usual the first part of the course and in this particular activity 1, it is time to meet fellow students and tutor! Already done this!
Here I guess I will place my own thoughts about the tasks, positive or negative aspects, and why...I am finding it very interesting to get to know each other while working on the same module for a long period of time. It is good to know with what kind of people you will get on with while on this module..! The journey is already a good one and I guess that we are targeting to great results of knowledge...
When you are asked to introduce yourself is critical...I have written 500 words to introduce myself in just a few words...But they were not at all few words!!! At first, it might be a little bit difficult to get your head down and decide what you will write about you, but when you start you obviously find your way and get through it...! I enjoy it as I learn about different people, different cultures and characters!!!
I think that just like in other OU courses, it would have been a good idea to upload a photo that describes us in order for our group members to get another idea for our interests and ourselves too.
Another module in the OU is over...This is the third module with OU that has reached to the end...and is leaving me with wonderful thoughts and experiences...!!! And a little hesitation regarding my final EMA...! We will see about the results soon...
Now I have to get ready and open my wings for H800 which is a compulsory module...I hope that it will be just like the rest of the OU modules so interesting and challenging...knowing that I will have a hard year again ...I will have to make the most of it too just like the previous modules!!!
It is finally time to sit back in our couch and enjoy ...the sound of music...
Best Wishes to Everyone...
Read Seale Chapter 13 Community responses to accessibility: enterprises, boundary practices and brokers. Make notes in response to the following questions:
- What artefacts inside and outside your organisation have created (or could create) points of focus for you and your colleagues when it comes to developing accessible learning resources?
Two examples of an internal artifact that captured our attention as a school were policy and in the past, a student that had a difficulty in accessing a learning resource as the student had a concentration disability that did not at all help the student to focus on that particular activity.
Examples of an external artifact are websites that I have just met in this course concerning accessibility guidelines. These have helped me understand how difficult is to maintain accessibility in an online course etc. At the same time, it influenced me and colleagues at school to think about the matter. But most of them seem not to be interested saying that this is far from them.
Are there any artefacts that you think you and your colleagues have over-relied on or misused to the point that they are now negatively influencing your practice? If so, why do you think this is?
They are not interested in these aspects yet as they consider that policy is policy and is not yet applied in our context as it should have been. The law is not so strict at this point that is one reason that teachers are so indifferent and those who are not indifferent do not have too much to say to support their ideas and arguments thus they quit trying.
- Is there any evidence for mutual engagement, joint enterprise or shared repertoire in the community (or communities) you belong to?
There is no evidence for mutual engagement, joint enterprise or shared repertoire towards accessibility. First of all, due to the lack of dynamic law of accessibility implementation in the school area and secondly, due to the fact that each and every teacher has a different opinion on the matter and this leads to conflicts. There are teachers who do not pay attention to such accessibility matters, just to do their job and that's it. There are also teachers who are just not interested as they will get more jobs and they will need training, seminars etc in order to get into the matter and this is extra time and extra effort. The other category is the one who are interested but they do not find the right door to knock in order to get the proper attention!
- Seale discusses the development of accessibility within an organisation as the creation of a constellation of practice rather than a community of practice. How helpful do you think this approach is?
A constellation of practice is more preferable than a community of practice because there are some communities of practice that may form constellations. According to Wenger, these include related enterprises, facing similar conditions, having members in common and sharing artefacts. Thus, it can be formed a coherent community and connections might be forged and strengthened between constellations of practices.
Do you think that the model shown in Figure 13.1 on page 182 would be useful as a trigger for discussion within your organisation?
If a constellation of practices is evident in the school I am working then the model shown in Figure 13.1 on page 182 is useful and definitely a model that is tempting for discussion among the members of the constellation.
Would it enable you and your colleagues to identify what changes or developments are needed and why they are needed?
The only thing that it enables us to do the model is to identify the certain communities that exist in the specified context and then to change the necessary communities in order to fit to the existing context so that the result of the accessible learning environment would be the one that is required.
Would the labels on the figure be different for your organisation? If so, how and why?
The labels on the figure would be exactly the same for the school I am working in.
Read Seale Chapter 12 Individual responses to accessibility: tools, activities and contradictions. Make notes in response to the following questions:
- Seale identifies six potential areas for conflict or contradiction within an organisation or activity system. What potential contradictions exist in your organisation and why?
In my own organization there are the subject, object, community and tools. There are the teachers who are responsible in delivering knowledge to the students and they are also responsible to help disabled students too and make their learning resources as accessible as possible. Without the teachers then it will not be possible to deliver knowledge using another role, i.e. learning technologist. As all the roles have to work together in order to successfully deliver the knowledge and make their resources available to their students. There are the tools; however, the legislation is not so strict from what I am experiencing. Maybe this is due to the fact that in my school there are no disabled students in that extent as to need assistive technology to help teachers to make their resources accessible. There is only one kid that just cannot concentrate in the classroom properly but they take it away in a separate classroom when needed. Not the best way though of treating such a kind of situation. The community exists but in a very small part that includes the students themselves, support services and Principal of the school. This is due to the fact that by employing learning technologists, staff developers etc will cost more money to the government. Thus, they might have very few specialists who have to control each and every school in Cyprus. I am not sure about this point, but I am talking from my own experience.
- How helpful is it to conceptualise the development of accessibility within your organisation as an activity system?
From the one hand, it would definitely be helpful, but on the other hand it will not be as there are areas that my own school does not actually fulfill, i.e. rules and division of labour.
Do you think that Figure 12.1 on page 165 would be useful as a trigger for discussion within your organisation?
Having examined the figure I can say that it would have been useful but not many things could be made in order to apply something in the school I am working. However, it would give an idea to the Principal of the school about this accessibility matter that will one day become more formal in the evaluation of this system. I think that if this was presented to the Minister of Education in Cyprus it would have been better to see other views of this matter but still it would be very difficult to do something.
Would it enable you and your colleagues to identify what changes or developments are needed and why they are needed?
It is a very helpful figure in helping us identifying these changes or developments and the reasons why these changes should be applied in the school in order to achieve our objectives regarding accessibility issues.
Read Seale Chapter 11 Institutional responses to accessibility: rules, games and politics. Make notes in response to the following questions:
1. Do you think that there are any incentives for your organisation to develop or improve the accessibility of its online resources? If so, what are they?
First of all, in my school as there are no disabled students and nobody ever has spoken to us about accessibility it is up to us to introduce accessibility in our own classroom. However, there is a law about accessibility that promotes it but I do not think that it is something that everybody and everyone follow it.
2. Think back to before you started this course. Are there any assumptions you had then about whether and how to make online resources accessible? (For example, ideas about what 'rules' you should follow.)
Going back to the course I have to admit that I did not even know about accessibility and I did not take it into consideration during the course as the creation of learning resources was all up to me but still I did not have an idea about these matters.
3. Thinking about your organisation - can you identify people who make, enforce, advocate or implement 'rules' that apply to accessibility? (You may prefer to refer to roles rather than individuals.)
There are no such roles in the school that I am working but only the Principal is responsible to implement accessibility and us-teachers- to enforce it if I can share my thoughts with you.
4. In your context, are there any internal politics regarding accessibility? If so, what feeds the political debates:
There are political debates about the principles according to which government party is on the decision making.
The government is responsible as it provided a limited amount of money that can be spend on accessibility matters and each school can go a little bit above of this certain amount.
o Attitudes/beliefs? Culture/tradition?
The Principal is responsible and the teachers themselves.
5. Do you agree with Seale that 'there is a limit ... to the extent to which the institutional change framework can help us to understand the goals and motivations of institutions and teams'? (Conclusions, p.157)
I agree with Seale as it is true that even if there is a law attained from the government the organization or institution might not be able to put it into practice thus there is a limit to the extent to which the institutional change framework can give us an icon or clue about the goals and motivations of instructions and teams according to the specific institution.
Positive and negative features of mobile learning for disabled students
- Access content, information and assistive software with a personalised interface wherever and whenever they choose
- Using a device that they are familiar with
- It adds value to the learning experience
- It allows users to exploit more learning opportunities in broader contexts
- Learning is taking place in ways more suited to the learner's needs
- Substantial support mechanism by providing an any time, any place assistive technology
- Difficulty in transferring onto and off the devices the learning materials or data.
- Extra cost if users to input information might need a separate portable keyboard.
- Students might need extra time in order to get the proper training to use these devices.
- Not all devices have sufficient memory for the size and number of files that might be required from a learning material that might be in a media format.
- Additional cost if the user is paying the bill where sms and mms are to be used.
JISC TechDis (undated) m-Learning and Accessibility [online], http://www.techdis.ac.uk/ index.php?p=9_5 (accessed 16 December 2010).
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