Archive for the ‘educators’ Category

Pedagogic Approaches to using Technology for Learning – Literature Review

May 31st, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The proliferation of new technologies and internet tools is fundamentally changing the way we live and work. The lifelong learning sector is no exception with technology having a major impact on teaching and learning. This in turn is affecting the skills needs of the learning delivery workforce.

Last September, together with Jenny Hughes I undertook a literature review on new pedagogical approaches to the use of technologies for teaching and learning. You can access the full (86 pages) document below.

The research was commissioned by LLUK to feed into the review then being undertaken of teaching qualifications in the Lifelong Learning sector in the UK. The review was designed to ensure the qualifications are up to date and will support the development of the skills needed by the modern teacher, tutor or trainer.

However, we recognised that the gap in technology related skills required by teaching and learning professionals cannot be bridged by qualifications alone or by initial training and a programme of opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) is also needed to enable people to remain up to date.

The literature review is intended to

  • identify new and emerging pedagogies;
  • determine what constitutes effective use of technology in teaching and learning
  • look at new developments in teacher training qualifications to ensure that they are at the cutting edge of learning theory and classroom practice
  • make suggestions as to how teachers can continually update their skills.

Pedagogical Appraches for Using Technology Literature Review January 11 FINAL 1

Opportunities and challenges presented by the fast-changing pace of technology

May 8th, 2011 by Cristina Costa
Last week I took part in a JISC event where participants were asked to have an active role and share their thoughts about “how institutions can and should respond to the opportunities and challenges presented by the fast-changing pace of … Continue reading

Myles Horton and the Highlander Folk School

May 2nd, 2011 by Graham Attwell


I was talking with Cristina Costa this morning about some of our ideas for the Radioactive project (more to come on this soon) and she asked me if I have read anything by Myles Horton. To my regret I have not and intend to remedy that later this week. In the meantime here is a short video about Myles Horton and his work and an excerpt from Wikipedia:

“A poor white man from Savannah in West Tennessee, Horton’s social and political views were strongly influenced by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, under whom he studied at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Along with educator Don West and Methodist minister James A. Dombrowski of New Orleans, Horton founded the Highlander Folk School (now Highlander Research and Education Center) in his native Tennessee in 1932. He remained its director until 1973, traveling with it to reorganize in Knoxville after the state shut it down in 1961.

Horton and West had both traveled to Denmark to study its folk schools, centers for adult education and community empowerment. The resulting school in Monteagle, Tennessee was based on a concept originating in Denmark: “that an oppressed people collectively hold strategies for liberation that are lost to its individuals . . . The Highlander School had been a haven for the South’s handful of functional radicals during the thirties and the essential alma mater for the leaders of the CIO‘s fledgling southern organizing drives.” (McWhorter) The school was created to educate and empower adults for social change.

In their 1985 documentary You Got to Move, Lucy Massie Phenix and Veronica Selver prominently featured Horton and the Highlander School. Horton also inspired the founding of the Myles Horton Organization at the University of Tennessee in 1986. The group organized numerous protests and events in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, including demonstrations to counter the Ku Klux Klan, and the construction of a shantytown on campus to encourage the university to divest from South Africa.”

From Current to Emerging Technologies for Learning – issues for the training of teachers

October 31st, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Here is the second part as promised of my post “From Current to Emerging Technologies for Learning”. In this part I raise the issues for the training of teachers.

Moving from a technical to a socio-technical approach

Although research has often focused on the impact of new technologies per se on teaching and learning it may be that it is the socio technical developments that will have more impact on education in the longer term. In a more diverse landscape of learning opportunities, there are different options for how to develop curricula and institutional arrangements. However, this implies a need for all members of the education community to develop understandings of the potential of such socio technical change and increased creativity to explore such potential. How should initial teacher training and Continuing Professional Development be designed to develop such understandings and practice? How can we design programmes that allow a focus on innovation in process, rather than a reliance of prescribed outcomes?

Overcoming the initiative fatigue

Education has been subject to a long series of reforms over the past ten years, with new initiatives and targets being released on a regular basis. Teacher complain of ‘initiative fatigue’.How can we respond creatively to socio-technical change and promote novel approaches to curriculum, to assessment, to the workforce and governance, as well as to pedagogy whilst promoting confidence and security in the LLL workforce? What does this imply for institutional management? Is it possible to we bring together Continuing Professional Development with continuing development of curricula and pedagogic processes?

Valuing and promoting creativity

Creativity and and the willingness to explore, model and experiment with new pedagogic approaches may be seen as critical to developing the effective use of technologies for teaching  and learning. How can we foster such competences within ITT and CPD? Do we need more flexible Initial teacher training programmes to allow the development of such creativity? How can we measure, value and recognise creativity? Do present teacher training programmes allow sufficient spaces for exploring new pedagogic approaches and if not how could these be developed?

Promoting an informed debate about educational futures and involving trainee teachers in that debate

The development of new pedagogic approaches and more creativity is predicated on an informed debate of educational futures and educational values. Do present teacher training programmes support such an informed debate? What should the contribution of teacher trainers and student teachers be to such a debate? How can we ensure their voices are heard?

Critical Success Factors for Continuing Professional Development

October 27th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Together with Jenny Hughes, I have been looking at models and practices in Continuing Professional Development for Teachers in using technologies for teaching and learning. Although our work was mainly focused on the UK, we also examined practices in other countries including Germany and Canada, We were also looking mainly at vocational and adult education, rather than general schools or universities, although I suspect most of the findings would also apply in these contexts. This is our summary of the key factors critical to effective Continuing Professional Development in this area

Peer learning / skill sharing

Teachers who have more experience are given structured opportunities to share with those who have less and there are no hierarchical divisions between ‘experts’ and ‘non-experts’. Most importantly, this sharing process is valued and legitimated. This depends on the institution having a strong sense of community and a shared ethos of peer learning. This has to be built rather than imposed.

Small group learning

As noted above, there has been a trend away from mass ‘Inset’ sessions towards group work as a valid form of CPD activity. Groups may be based around skill levels, different software interests, subject specialities or different target groups (e.g Women returners, Special Educational Needs etc).  There were many positive reports on the effectiveness of this approach as a vehicle for discussing practice and planning new approaches.

Informal learning

Informal leaning may be more important than formal courses.

“Informal conversations are vital, as is dedicated time to allow teachers to talk together and plan for new approaches in terms of their use of ICT in learning and teaching.” (Daly, Pachler and Pelletier, 2009)

Informal learning, by definition, cannot be planned but can be facilitated by creating time and space for networking, inclusive leadership styles, democratic staff relationships and the development of staff as a learning community.

Clear links between CPD and practice

The additional benefits of using ICT must be very clear. CPD activities have to be immediately relevant to the individual teacher and applicable in the classroom.

As teachers become more familiar with the technology, there is an increasing demand for subject specialist CPD, an area which is not well developed and frequently not a priority. It is also likely to be one in which there is least in-house expertise available.

A sound pedagogic base and reflexivity

There should be a shared of understanding of how learning occurs, how it can be planned and facilitated and what constitutes effective teaching and learning.  This may be stating the obvious but there criticisms of some commercial providers who were perceived as having a different baseline.

The design of the ICT CPD should incorporate effective use of ICT for learning. That is, it should practice what it preaches. Teachers need to experience and participate in e-learning activities as part of their professional development.

“The incorporation of group work, collaborative problem-solving, independent thinking, articulation of thought and creative presentation of ideas are examples of the ways in which teachers’ CPD might focus on pedagogy, with a view to how technologies can support these processes.”  (Daly, Pachler and Pelletier, 2009).

Leadership

A clear vision for ICT CPD focused on pedagogy and teacher development was seen as a prime factor by staff and providers.

If the overall objectives and a coherent strategy are in place this can help avoid or overcome operational problems of time and funding.  Effective leaders can build capacity by maximising the range of expertise that staff already have and drawing them together as part of a co-ordinated approach to CPD. This could include, for example,  identifying excellent practitioners who use creative approaches in the classroom (using traditional pedagogies), staff with ICT skills, staff with experience of facilitating peer learning groups, staff with staff training and communication skills.

Working with newly qualified and trainee teachers

New teachers, particularly younger ones, may be able to make a valuable contribution to the ICT CPD of established staff and this should not be over-looked.

Ownership of equipment

Teachers and lecturers need to feel that they can ‘play’ with their own kit in order to develop familiarity and confidence , that they can use it for learning outside working hours and that they can customise it in a way which reflects their particular needs. This was a big issue for teachers but often at odds with institutional policy despite the fact that the preparedness of teachers to use their own time for learning actually saves money!

Time useage

Teachers resented time wasted on a lot of formal CPD, especially if it was not directly related to classroom practice, but valued time they could spend with colleagues to generate ideas and plan activities that could be implemented in the classroom.

“It has been shown that teachers need regular time during the standard working week in order to discuss Teaching and Learning. They need both knowledge of the research base and continuing ‘structured opportunities for new learning, practice, reflection and adjustment’  (Coffield, 2008)

Involvement of non-teaching staff

Senior management felt that this was important but perceived as less so by teachers.

Use of mentors or learning coaches

Apprenticeship and support are very important for in-service teachers in acquiring knowledge and adopting innovatory approaches in their classrooms.

Observation of practice

According to Daly, Pachler and Pelletier (2009), watching colleagues use ICT in the classroom was seen by the majority of teachers as one of the most valuable forms of CPD. However, very few had had the opportunity to do so.  Another strategy which was popular was chance to observe and work with external experts who visit classrooms to teach CPD by working with students.

Networks and communities of practice

Kirsti Ala-Mutka et al (2008) recognise the usefulness of social software in ICT CPD. They argue that establishing and participating in teacher networks and following innovative practice development in the field is a crucial part of effective CPD

“Initial and in-service teacher training should disseminate insights and best practices with new innovative approaches, encouraging teachers to experiment with digital and media technologies and to reflect on the learning impacts of their own teaching practices.”

The use of E-portfolios as a tool in ICT CPD

Enochsson, and Rizza (2009) recommend that all teachers develop an e-portfolio to support, record and reflect  their CPD. This serves three purposes. Firstly, it encourages teachers to use ICT regularly and systematically to support learning. Secondly, they will understand the potential of using e-portfolios with their students and will have first hand experiences of the issues, problems and benefits they offer. Thirdly, it will serve as a model to encourage student teachers to use ICT during their ITT.

References

Ala-Mutka, K., Punie, Y., & Redecker, C. (2008). ICT for Learning, Innovation and Creativity. Seville: IPTS.

Coffield, F. (2008). Just suppose teaching and learning became the first priority.London: Learning and Skills Network.

Daly, C., Pachler, N., & Pelletier, C. (2009). Continuing Professional Development in ICT for teachers. London: WLE Centre, Institute of Education, University of London.

Enochsson, A., & Rizza, C. (2009). ICT in Initial Teacher Training: Research Review (38). OECD Publishing.

Teachers Dispositions

August 20th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

One of the most cited reasons for the limited success in introducing new pedagogies for the use of technology for teaching and learning – and indeed for the lack of technology use on education – is resistance by teachers. Various reasons are cited for this – most often it is their own lack of ability and confidence is using technology. however, much of the evidence for this appears to be anecdotal In the last few years there has been more systematic research under the banner of ‘teacher dispositions’.
In her study, In-service Initial Teacher Education in the Learning and Skills Sector in England: Integrating Course and Workplace Learning (2010) Bronwen Maxwell says “dispositions, which ‘develop and evolve through the experiences and interactions within the learner’s life course’ (Hodkinson and Hodkinson 2003), are influential in teacher learning (Hodkinson and Hodkinson 2005). They are largely held unconsciously and ‘are embodied, involving emotions and practice, as well as thoughts’. : She points out that teachers in the sector have different “prior experiences of education, life and work, begin teaching at different ages and stages in their careers, and hold differing beliefs about education and training, so bring differing dispositions to participation in their course and workplace.”
Maxwell (ibid) point to a well established research base evidencing the significance of prior knowledge, skills and dispositions towards work and career on engagement in workplace learning including for example Eraut (2007) and Hodkinson (2004) and a strong evidence base that “attests to the strength and resilience of school trainees’ beliefs, which together with prior experiences strongly influences their approaches to practice and their ITE course (Wideen et al. 1998).”
Haydon, (2008) why with the same ‘input’ in Initial Teacher Education courses, do some students make much more progress than others in their use of ICT? “Is it about teacher dispositions towards technology or learning styles and approaches?”
Haydyn suggests there is evidence of changing attitudes by teachers to the use of ICT in the UK Citing surveys that several years ago suggested negative attitudes and teacher resistance to ICT he says “more recently, research has suggested that the majority of teachers have positive views about the potential of ICT to improve teaching and learning outcomes; one of their main concerns was finding time to fully explore this potential (See, for instance, Haydn and Barton, 2006). (Haydon, 2008).”
One of the issues is why teachers appear to use for their personal use but less so for teaching and learning (OECD, 2009). This is born out by UK reports that teacher use ICT widely for lesson planning but far less so for teaching and learning (Twidle, Sorensen, Childs, Godwin, & Dussart, 2006).
The OECD (2009) report similar findings with new teachers in America, confident with the technology and using it for lesson preparation but less for teaching and learning than more experienced colleagues.
Twidle, Sorensen, Childs, Godwin, and Dussart (2008) found that student teachers in the UK feel relatively unprepared to use ICT for pedagogical practices and ascribe this to their lack of operational skills with computers.  One of the reasons for this was the students‘ lack of
But this is contradicted by Bétrancourt (2007) who claims that there is no correlation between student teachers‘ technological competencies and their pedagogical use of ICT. (OECD, 2010)
Vogel (2010) talks about the need for :engagement “conceived as motivation – enthusiasm, interest and ongoing commitment – on the part of an academic teacher to explore the potential of technologies in their practice.”
Vogel quotes Land (2001) who summarised these kinds of person-oriented approach as:

  • romantic (ecological humanist): concerned with personal development, growth and well-being of individual academics within the organisation
  • interpretive-hermeneutic: working towards new shared insights and practice through a dialectic approach of intelligent conversation
  • reflective practitioner: fostering a culture of self- or mutually critical reflection on the part of colleagues in order to achieve continuous improvement

Vogel says “good practice in e-learning is context-specific and impossible to define.” She is concerned that professional development practices have been driven by institutional and technological concerns. Instead she would prefer Argyis and Schon’s (1974) approach to overcoming the divide between espoused theories or beliefs and theories in use or practice:
“Educating students under the conditions that we are suggesting requires competent teachers at the forefront of their field – teachers who are secure enough to recognize and not be threatened by the lack of consensus about competent practice.”
Vogel refers to Browne (2008) who undertook a survey of technology enhanced elearning in Higher Education in the UK. They found that where there was “less extensive use of technology-enhanced learning tools than [the] institutional norm”, this was often because of the perceived irrelevance of TEL to the learning and teaching approach.
Interestingly, where there was more extensive use than the norm, this was primarily attributed to the presence of a champion, who could represent the value of TEL to colleagues..
One of the issues related to teachers disposition appears to be that of time. As long ago as 1998,  Conole and Oliver (1998) said that the demands of technology enhanced learning on time had already been recognised for many years.
Another issue may be the way in which technology is introduced into schools and colleges. Often this is through projects. However the Jisc funded Flourish project suggested that a ‘project’ is not necessarily the best method for introducing a change on this scale. “Staff perceptions of a project mean that they are cautious and unwilling to be the test case, especially when they are taking time to document their own development. There have to be tangible and immediate benefits to engaging in this new way of working.”

References to Follow

Extraordinary Educators

November 29th, 2009 by Cristina Costa
Today a really good friend of mine emailed to tell me about her impressions on a conference she has recently been to about innovation and creativity. Her thoughts and feelings about it are interesting…what (I think) she let us read in between the lines of her reflection is even richer. For those who can’t read Portuguese, Teresa [...]
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    Consultation

    Diana Laurillard, Chair of ALT, has invited contributions to a consultation on education technology to provide input to ETAG, the Education Technology Action Group, which was set up in England in February 2014 by three ministers: Michael Gove, Matthew Hancock and David Willetts.

    The deadline for contributions is 23 June at http://goo.gl/LwR65t.


    Social Tech Guide

    The Nominet Trust have announced their new look Social Tech Guide.

    The Social Tech Guide first launched last year, initially as a home to the 2013 Nominet Trust 100 – which they describe as a list of 100 inspiring digital projects tackling the world’s most pressing social issues.

    In  a press relase they say: “With so many social tech ventures out there supporting people and enforcing positive change on a daily basis, we wanted to create a comprehensive resource that allows us to celebrate and learn from the pioneers using digital technology to make a real difference to millions of lives.

    The Social Tech Guide now hosts a collection of 100′s of social tech projects from around the world tackling everything from health issues in Africa to corruption in Asia. You can find out about projects that have emerged out of disaster to ones that use data to build active and cohesive communities. In fact, through the new search and filter functionality on the site, you should find it quick and easy to immerse yourself in an inspiring array of social tech innovations.”


    Code Academy expands

    The New York-based Codecademy has translated its  learn-to-code platform into three new languages today and formalized partnerships in five countries.

    So if you speak French, Spanish or Portuguese, you can now access the Codecademy site and study all of its resources in your native language.

    Codecademy teamed up with Libraries Without Borders (Bibliotheques sans Frontieres) to tackle the French translation and is now working on pilot programs that should reduce unemployment and bring programming into schools. In addition, Codecademy will be weaving its platform into Ideas Box, a humanitarian project that helps people in refugee camps and disaster zones to learn new skills. Zach Sims, CEO of Codecademy, says grants from the public and private sector in France made this collaboration possible.

    The Portuguese translation was handled in partnership with The Lemann Foundation, one of the largest education foundations in Brazil. As with France, Codecademy is planning several pilots to help Brazilian speakers learn new skills. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the company has been working closely with the local government on a Spanish version of its popular site.

    Codecademy is also linking up up with the Tiger Leap program in Estonia, with the aim of teaching every school student how to program.


    Open online STEM conference

    The Global 2013 STEMx Education Conference claims to be the world’s first massively open online conference for educators focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and more. The conference is being held over the course of three days, September 19-21, 2013, and is free to attend!
    STEMxCon is a highly inclusive event designed to engage students and educators around the globe and we encourage primary, secondary, and tertiary (K-16) educators around the world to share and learn about innovative approaches to STEMx learning and teaching.

    To find out about different sessions and to login to events go to http://bit.ly/1enFDFB


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