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Talking about practice

January 2nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

The first post of the year. And practice seems as good as any a subject for short entry. For the last couple of hours I have been searching the internet for examples of appropriate and effective (or good, but I never liked that term) practice in blended learning. It is for a European funded project producing a guide for teachers on blended learning. And although the subject may seem a little old fashioned for UK based e-learning researchers, in many European countries this is a new concept. I also like the project because of its focus on pedagogy and pedagogic practice rather than on technology and platforms as is all too common.

It should be easy, I thought. Most e-learning in the UK is, in reality, a mix of different modes and forms of learning. But it was to prove not so – or perhaps my search strategies were uninspired. Whilst it is relatively easy to find research articles about blended learning – and tehir are a number of handbooks etc. these tend to focus on rubriucs of curriculum and technology design. It is much haredr to find anything which really dives into the practice of deisgn and delivery of blended learning.

I started wondering why. Perhaps it is because we still seem to have problems in evaluating effective and approariate learning using technologies. Is it because we do not know what we are really looking for? Is it because we have inadequate understanding of what makes for effective learning? Or is it because we do not understand the processes of inetraction in teaching and learning.

I was talking about this with my friend and colleague Jenny Hughes. Jenny has worked for many years in training teachers and trainers. We were discussing the difficulty in recognising and researching effective teaching practices. In truth we know little about what actually happens behind the closed classroom door. Of course teachers and trainers exchange experiences – mostly, I suspect, through telling stories. Some teachers and trainers exchange materaisl they have found to be useful. We have some pretty good programmes for school managers. Yet we still have great difficulty in explaining what makes for effective teaching – even more so in passing that on to others. Indeed it sometimes seems that teacher training colleges teach everything else except how to teach. Jen and I went on to talk about how we might design a research project to identify effective teaching practice based on observation and developing shared metadata for describing practice.

More on this next week. And I will give you my list of examples of effective and appropriate practice when I finish it. In the meantime, if you have any examples, I would be very happy to hear from you.

Happy new year.

3 Responses to “Talking about practice”

  1. Graham, I have also been doing as lot of searching for examples of effective teaching practices, and, as an educational technologist, don’t have eyes in the classroom. However, as we implement various social technologies we will be conducting research and hope to have positive results to follow. What I have found of interest is that the K-12 arena seems to have more direct front line information on the use of constructivism, blended learning and the use of technology in the classroom. See the blog of this educator from Tasmania as an example – http://hent.blogspot.com/2008/01/doing-it-differently-c-social-learning.html.

  2. Graham Attwell says:

    Yes – tend to agree with you re K12 Michael.

    I also think that the vocational education and training area in Europe offers much more interesting potential for pedagogic innovation using web 2.0 technologies than does traditional academic education. the focus practice of much VET can – at least in theory – be mixed with web 2.0 ways of making and doing things. Hoping to get a new project this year working on e-Portfolios with apprentices in a major steelworks.

  3. mike.e says:

    Very fascinating.I find this through a youtube video.

    However,supporting business through education through sole use of youtube is questionable-open source software should be used.
    It is noted that the kids didnt know much about copyright -Remember that youtube OWNS the video you upload.

    Regards from NZ
    Mike.E