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Challenging myths

April 18th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

I read an interesting paper at the weekend that Sebastion Fiedler will be presenting at the  Open and Social Technologies for Networked Learning 2012 conference (OST’12) in Tallinn, Estonia. The paper,  “Challenging learning myths through intervention studies in formal higher education”, is co-authored with Terje from the Centre for Educational Technology at Tallinn University. The paper is based on research at Tallin University on Personal Learning Contracts for modeling Personal Learning Environments.

Essentially the researchers have been trying different pedagogical approaches to attempt to get students to take more responsibility for their learning. And quite often the students didn’t like it. Nothing new there. At least in the UK, lecturers frequently moan that students expect to be spoon fed and are not prepared to make the extra effort needed for deeper learning. And similarly students have often been seen to be skeptical about adopting social software for learning.

This has often been attributed to the impact of fee based, mass higher education with students concerned to ‘get the facts’ they need to get their grades and the increasingly overloaded curriculum. Indeed continuous assessment may have reulated more pressure to work to the tests.

However, Sebastionm considers the problem to be more deep rooted, talking about students ‘false myths’ about their own learning abilities. I am not sure that myth is quite the right word but can see that the culture of learning in schools and the ever more heavy assessment processes may mean students have little idea of how to manage their own learning, on an individual level and in collaboration with others. Sebastion suggests that when students are able to overcome these ‘myths’ they have about their own learning abilities, they are able to develop sophisticated Personal Learning Environments and cultivate Personal Learning Networks.

Interesting stuff and I look forward to the publication of the paper.

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