Archive for the ‘Wales Wide Web’ Category

Learning in practice – a social perspective

April 3rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

I attended a workshop on ‘Pedagogical innovations in new ICT-facilitated learning communities’ organised by the IPTS in Seville earlier this week. And very interesting it was too.

Sadly, though, the IPTS had nots et up a dynamic site for the workshop. No problem. We qyuickly agreed on #ipts as the hash tag for the five or six of us addicted to Twitter.

And Grainne Conole hacked together a site on the UK Open University’s alpha Cloudworks software in about ten minutes (I am very impressed with Cloudworks – if you haven’t already, give it a look).

There were extremely interesting presentations by Kirsti Ala-Mutka and Etienne Wenger. I am not great at taking notes at meetings (and was busy twittering anyway). But Grainne put together this excellent summary of Etienne’s presnetation, taken from the Cloudworks site.

Learning in practice – a social perspective, Wenger’s Community of Practice (CoP) theory. Four aspects

  1. Community – Where do we belong?
  2. Identity – Who are we becoming?
  3. Meaning – What is our experience?
  4. Practice – What are we doing?

Who are our students and how do they know who they are and how they are placed in society?

Original communities of practice theory was developed before the emergence of the web

Meaning and meanfulness are a key component of the theory BUT its about developing meaning making in the real world, situated nature of learning is crucial

There is a real issue in terms of educational systems validating informal learning – there is a real tension between vertical vs. horizontal learning. This tension is not resolvable – we need to live with it and understand the paradoxes and contradictions.

Complex inter-relationship between: space, time, locality, practice, boundary crossings between different practices. For example trainee doctor in the hospital in one practice, translation of this experience into ‘evidence for assessment purposes’ needs to then be ‘validated’ by auditors in another community of practice.

One of the trends in the perfect storm of web 2.0, communities in the 21st century which emerged around the time that CoP was developed was that organisations in the nineties were struggling with what it means to be a knowledge organisation? Some looked to CoP theory as a means of trying to address this.

At this time knowledge management was 10% technology 90% people, but much of the discourse was on the technologies but it was harder to understand the human dimensions and what this meant in terms of connections, collective understanding, etc.

Core and boundary learning
What are the implications of a theory like this for professional educational?

Think of a body of knowledge as a curriculum whereas in reality it is a system of inter-connected practices, have a set of different practices which are producing the body of knowledge which define what ‘teaching’, ‘nursing’, ‘mathematics’ is.

Therefore ideally the education for a nurse or teacher would be to find your place in that landscape of practices, to find your identity. If we think along these lines we will need to rethink our educational practice – we put too much emphasis on the mechanics of learning rather than on the development of meaning making.

A complex landscape – modes of identification
Process of identity formation

  1. Imagination – how do we imagine ourselves? Imagination as an image of the world such as it makes sense of who I am
  2. Engagement –
  3. Alignment – way you express your belonging to the community, what you do and don’t do as part of belonging to a community
  4. How does learning exist as an experience of being in the world?

First storm was organisations (both businesses and governments) trying to create horizontal communities so that they can learn from each other etc

Second storm – emergence of the web and its potential impact, but this was very much aligned with the CoP practices – a Perfect storm – peer to peer interactions, development of practices etc. The web has changed the landscape for understanding community and identity

Trends shaping technology and community – a learning agenda

  • Fabric of connectivity – always on, virtual presence
  • Modes of engagement – generalised self-expression, mass collaboration, creative re-appropriation
  • Active medium – social computing, semantic web,, digital footprint
  • Reconfigured geographies – homesteading of the web, individualisation of orientation
  • Modulating polarities – togetherness and separation, interacting and publishing, individual and group
  • Dealing with multiplicity – competing services, multi-membership, thin connections
  • New communities – multi-space, multi-scale, dynamic boundaries, social learning spaces

Emerge – the video

April 3rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

In this video Jisc Emerge Project co-ordinator, George Roberts, explains the ideas behind the Emerge project and discusses how to facilitate online communities of practice.

As a member of the project team I have greatly enjoyed being involved with Emerge. However,there is an English language saying: “All good things come to an end.” And sadly the JISC Emerge project has come to the end of its funding period.

In the abstract of a forthcoming publication we explain “The Emerge project aimed to support the development of a sustainable community of practice (CoP) in the area of emerging technologies for education. This comprised individuals, groups and funded projects whose focus was around the use of social tools and services for enhancing learning and teaching. The Emerge project team developed a range of existing social software tools and practices to facilitate the needs of the emerging CoP. Seven critical phases of activity were identified during the life-cycle of the Emerge project and the CoP that grew around the JISC Users and Innovation programme. Each of these phases, from initial engagement to building for sustainability, required different support mechanisms and approaches. In response, the Emerge team adopted an agile approach to community support – adapting the tools, services and activities that were offered over time to meet emerging community needs. Our conclusions suggest that it is possible to identify a range of benefits and likely outcomes to deploying social networking and social media tools to scaffold community emergence. However, the form and patterns of interaction that develop across a community over time cannot be approached prescriptively. There is a need to be sensitive to the dynamic and changing needs of the community and its’ processes and meet the changing demands for meaningful social and collaborative spaces. This impacts on the type and form of the tools and services that need to be made available to the community. Deploying an iterative and agile model to scaffold the community is a key factor to active participation by its membership and the successful development of community identities. In this way it is possible to define and support a community centre which anchors distributed practice in a manageable and accessible way.”

For now, the Emerge project web site has been suspended, although public posts may still be searched and accessed. A new Emerge Reports site also provides access to the products of the project. As George Roberts says in an email to Emerge site members “One key message from our analysis is that a community has many modes of participation. It would be a mistake to assume that the presence of a website indicates either the presence or absence of a community. There is a network of people who have been very active in creating the Users and Innovation Programme and the Emerge community. This network of people persists. Discussions are ongoing concerning how this network might make its presence visible on the Internet or if a site similar to this one might be required.”

My personal view is that there is a space for such a network or community presence, based on the exchange of practice in Technology Enhanced Learning. How such a presence can be facilitated, governed and resourced is another issue.

In the meantime, my thanks to George and all the other members of the team what have made working on the Emerge project so interesting and enjoyable.

Also many thanks to Dirk for a magic editing job on this video.

Help – in Europeanese

April 2nd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

It has been a hectic two weeks. I have lots of updates for this site in progress. One thing I have been working on is bids for the EU Lifelong Learning programme. And for this round of funding calls they issued an electronic form programmed for the Adobe 9 reader. Full marks for trying. But of course there were bugs. Quite a few. A friend of mine contacted the help line over one of the bugs he was encountering. And this in the wonderful reply he received.

“Where there is only 1 partner recorded for the affected workpackage (Part F.3) you will need to add a second partner row, enter the desired lead partner number in that second row and then delete the first row (the original lead partner). You should then save the form, close and re-open it. This will reinstate the Lead partner header that was lost when you deleted the original lead partner.

If you already have more than 1 partner recorded in the affected workpackage (part F.3), then add the partner you want to be the lead partner as a new row (if they’ve not already been added * ).
Then delete the partners above the new row STARTING WITH the original lead partner.
Once you have deleted these partners you will be left with your new lead partner at the top of the list.
Save, close and re-open the form to reinstate the header.
Re-enter the deleted partners as required.

(* If the new lead partner is already in the list then you just need to delete the partners above it, but still starting with the original lead partner. And you will still need to save, close and re-open the form to re-instate the header.)”

Got it now!

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    News Bites

    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.

    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time

    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”

    Teenagers online in the USA

    According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

    Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

    The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.

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