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Pedagogy.... what is it again?

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There have been a number of activities I have got stuck on this week. The material is interesting and accessible but the questions we are supposed to consider as we reflect on it are not!

The activity about the paper by Dyckhoff et al. was really interesting and especially got me ruminating on how learning analytics makes use of data which is incidentally collected - the key word being incidental. The data sets created in learning (and everywhere) are huge and contain a lot of detail about various aspects of life but the data is not collected to be analysed. The analysis happens due to the availability of data, the data is not collected for the purposes of analysis. The prospect is that 'easy' research is done using available data to drive pedagogical change rather than pedagogically useful data being collected in order to drive pedagogy.

This is not to say that learning analytics based on big data are not useful. They might not answer the exact questions which learners, educators and institutions would choose to ask, but they do answer questions. As with any big data set - extracting the useful data from the background noise requires finesse and insight.

This blog about library usage is rich with data driven analysis. Libraries generate data by monitoring access (typically by swipe card, PIN code, login), engagement and activity. Modern libraries - often buildings which could house nothing but internet access to digital books and journals - generate even more specific data. Libraries do still have collections of physical books and journals but as archives are digitalised and new material exclusively published digitally - these will eventually start to shrink. People seem to have an emotional attachment to 'books' (try any conversation comparing a Kindle e-reader to a 'real book' to see!) but researchers are hopefully more pragmatic and appreciate the convenience of not only being able to search for literally millions of publications in seconds but also to search within them for particular chapters, references and sentences.  This access to more and more information must impact on the pedagogy of those who teach learners who use libraries. The blog makes the point that data can show correlations but not necessary causation. However - correlation may be enough to provide interventions when a student may be struggling, or redesign when a learning activity fails to inspire engagement.

The final article by Lockyer et al. describes the difference between checkpoint and process analytics. I like these distinctions. There are echoes of summative and formative assessments within it and I feel confident I can grasp their meaning! Within my OU journey the institution can easily assess me using checkpoint analytics - they can see details of my socio-demographic status, they know when, where and for how long I log into the VLE, they know how often I post in the forums (and in my blog), they know what I search for in the library and they know my assignment scores. What they don't know (because the data cannot be automatically mined) is the quality of my forum and blog posts, the level at which I engage with activities and assignments, how many of the library resources which I click on are actually read in any meaningful sense. My tutor may be able to make a valid guess at these factors. The area in which process activities could generate data would be in evidence of inter-student collaboration and communication but as our group work (and study-buddy friendships) operate outside of the VLE, there is not way for the OU to be able to monitor them. (If they did there could be privacy concerns as well).


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Learning theory and innovative pedagogy

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Thursday, 7 Mar 2019, 22:22

A few reflections about the 2019 Innovating Pedagogy Report. 

Playful learning - I think there may be some behaviourism underpinning this pedagogy. Play is, by definition fun, and behaviouism rewards the learner with something they enjoy or desire. I can imagine the gamification which playful learning seems closely linked to could easily be analysed as conditioning. 

Action learning - this seems very closely linked to connectivism and the idea that collectively we can be and know more than an arithmetic sum of our parts. 

Place based learning - I would put this idea mostly under the umbrella of constructivism. If I were to study the Roman Empire at length I would know quite a lot and a visit to Rome to see to Colosseum would be meaningful to me in a way in would not be to someone with no knowledge of the Roman Empire. Both of us would learn from our trip to Rome but we would be constructing a little more knowledge on to our existing knowledge. 

Some of the innovative pedagogies in the 2019 paper seem, to me, to be technologies rather than pedagogies. Drone based learning isn't a new way to learn - it's a new technology which will enable better, easier, more rounded or more engaging versions of existing lessons to be taught. 

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School yard gamifications

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I've been pretty occupied with the TMA in the last few days but I made time for my weekly coffee break with a group of friends this morning. One friend, Viv, is an early years teacher with oodles of experience. She asked what I was doing and I gave some vague response (if I get too specific I get too excitable and then talk about it for too long) and she immediately began to muse of the usefulness of gamification (she didn't use that exact word) for repetitive practice tasks with young children.

Learning times tables, or spelling, or basic maths and science can be boring. A child may have some basic tools but the current pedagogy (as has ever been so it seems!) is to require a lot of repetition and testing to drill down these skills. She cited the times table competition web sites which can turn an hour of times table homework into a class competition complete with certificates!

I began to muse that with touch screen tablets children could actually write our spellings and software could actually interpret and mark their efforts. Viv then suggested that the software could also record the type of words a child was struggling with (a specific phoneme, words with non phonetic letters) and assign more of these words to help them crack it; personalized and responsive lessons and learning. 

She has a rather negative view of technology enhanced learning overall - it seems because it has become 'required' of her (despite the fact she teaches 4 year olds) to create and teach from PowerPoint presentations. Despite the fact that she immediately could see potential in a technological approach and was mentally devising algorithms to utilize screens in the classroom, she has already been turned off the idea of a new pedagogy by the blanket and inappropriate imposition of an existing one.

Most of our studies in H800 have been about adult learners but technology can, does and must also enhance the learning environments of children.   

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Changing pedagogy in education around the world

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Edited by Anna Greathead, Wednesday, 14 Feb 2018, 23:29

Look on the Web for up-to-date information about another country with low resource and infrastructure that has adopted a different pedagogy and consider an explanation of the differences.

This was the instruction for this part of this week. 

Where to begin? Well - I've learned something and I headed into the OU library instead of to Google! Initially I searched for changes to educational pedagogy in Botswana - it's not quite a country I plucked out of the air as I had a glorious day there in 2016 and fell in love with the atmosphere of the country as well as the amazing scenery in the very small corner I saw. 

I found this article: Problem-Based Learning Pedagogies in Teacher Education: The Case of Botswana

I was very interested in the article but it became clear that this was not exactly what was being asked for. Botswana certainly qualifies as low resource and low infrastructure but the article was about a small scale experiment rather than a national effort to change their educational pedagogy. 

I then went less specific. I selected 'education', 'foreign countries' and 'pedagogy' and then limited the results to anything from 2014 onwards. 

The next article I found was this one: Using Technology and Mentorship  to Improve Teacher Pedagogy and Educational Opportunities  in Rural Nicaragua

This article seemed very relevant. There was a lot of material about why the current system was unsuccessful by many measures and some of the things which have been, or could be, done to tackle those issues. However - again it seemed like a small scale experiment rather than a national policy. 

Finally I found this: Bringing a student-centered participatory pedagogy to scale in Colombia

I think I have it! Whilst there isn't a lot about technology in here there is a lot about the value of student centred learning, the teacher as facilitator rather than fact regurgitator, learners working in peer groups and so on. 

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