Discussions in FE about Flipped learning and Directed Study have abounded and the desirability of doing it. However, the discussion is driven by an assumption that the Cognitive domain will be slept off and tackled on-line, reducing the whole thing to an ‘efficiency’ argument, (which has value but is not the whole story at all and not what is central to the quality of teaching). What teachers need to think about is what pedagogical advantage is there in doing this and rather than describe what student will do, get into the far more important discussion about how they will do it an why init will improve the learner and learning experience.
In my view, the great value of learning outside the classroom away from the teacher is having students learn collaboratively; the process of asking all to contribute to a central understanding that is available for review, consideration, and reaction, that in the process enriches what is learnt.
Crowdsourcing is a gathering of people made possible on a massive scale, where distance and place is no object where there is Web connection, where the value of what is achieved is greatly enhanced by the number of people (the crowd) who choose to participate. The greater the crowd size, the greater the chances of interesting. profound, unexpected yet positive things happening.
Collaborative learning is a description of the movement of learning away from a class based, teacher-led approach to learning. It is replaced by learning where students are more dependent on each other for their learning. It is part of a blended approach that combines with teacher-led learning but is not Distance learning. One of the great things of crowdsourcing is that someone, somewhere will have expert knowledge from first-hand experience and, as a rule, that information would not normally be available. We have historically relied on formal routes to knowledge, through books and lectures from recognised experts but hearing or seeing from someone ‘who is there’. or ‘took part in it’ or has ‘current knowledge’ deepens the quality of learning. Better still to hear from two or more independent sources to provide a range of views or opinions or ideas…….
The value of crowdsourcing is to end up with great ideas being shared based on, rather than only abstracting facts or knowledge.
We need to encourage student to work this way for three reasons:
Wikipedia is an example of the value of sharing what we know, as well as reminding us of the need to test all that we receive (see Doubted Learning below)
There are five ways to contribute to the ideas of others:
Collaboration asks students to react and respond to what others share with them. There are five ways we should encourage students to respond, that improves the quality of what is shared for the good of all in the class.
Student should never respond with a personal attack on the Author and attempt to simply discredit an argument or attempt it through discrediting the author. Anyone who does this has lost a friend and de facto lost the argument. Collaborative is not an easy skill. It requires a group to build trust that takes time and goodwill.
Collaboration outside of education
In Europe the Eurovision Song Contest is followed around the world by 200 million people this last May. It has an application for interaction, twitter feeds, and a FaceBook page. These interactions turn the whole event into a giant crowdsourcing activity around a choice of preferred music but is as much about different cultural, ethnic and National identities that are shared through comments and observations. Good crowdsourcing can lead those that take part in them to see more of what the crowd has in common rather than what separates as well as giving new insight and contexts on what is encountered and we might be learning to celebrate the differences more as we increase our exposure to new ideas as we see ourselves more in a global perspective rather than a country or two or village one. This may be the real value of interacting on-line.
How crowdsourcing is developing
Interestingly, companies are finding ways to make the ideas an energies of people meeting together on-line for mutual benefit. Rather than have crowdsourcing around an idea or interest, the 'crowd' is fragmenting into groups that want a particular thing from the crowd.
Buying and selling is an obvious example (look at www.etsy.com for example). House sharing or holiday swaps is another. Booking at taxi can move from a local town transaction to a global booking facility (see http://www.infotaxi.org/taxi_service_c.php )
Trip Adviser ( http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk and other Review sites http://www.restaurant.com for example have huge influence because we place value in others who have tried out the exact experience we are after. Notice here how important it is to apply the 'validity' rules here and we will be visiting this idea later. We don't know if an employee might be inflating the service or a disgruntled customer unfairly criticising the place.
One of the best crowdsourcing sites is Twitter ( www.twitter.com ) in terms of the sheer opens and organs nature of it. We will be using Twitter in the background to this MOOC, as much to explore its value as to use it as a commentary on what we are doing.
If you want to get an idea of the reach and consider the power of Twitter for crowd sourcing conversations go to http://twittercounter.com/pages/100 to explore who are the most followed Twitter users on the Planet.
The collaborative student will need to:
Flipped learning is well understood as a process but not much discussed as a matter of god pedagogy. If we know what Flipping is the next question is what should be flipped, closely followed by how what is flipped is to influence what is then done.
In a nutshell, what works well on-line is cognitive domain learning so it is a matter of fleshing that out from a course design perspective.
The more advanced the level of study, the greater the expectation of students to learn with the help of learning technologies, ie. to self-manage aspects of their learning so the greater the expectation of students to be able to learn this way.
So pedagogically speaking, and in terms of design, cognitive elements tackled on-line should be built around collaborative learning activity between students. Students work towards finding things out, singularly and together, testing knowledge and their sources through applying the tests of validity and reliability, ready to bring it to class for affective domain and psychomotor domain learning (i.e. the application of knowledge, turned into personal understanding and application with the help of a teacher). Learning on-line is the process but e-learning here is the craft of collaborative activity designed and overseen by the teacher.
Students have the added value in learning collaboratively in developing a ‘work-ready skill because this is what we all do every day in the world of work. (what we are doing here is in effect collaborative learning on-line). What I am arguing for here is that the nature of learning can be improved through craft and we aren’t simply taking a chunk of classroom learning and putting it on-line in some clumsy process-driven way.
Flipped learning is how we do this singularly (homework preparation for classes) and Directed Study is how this is scaled up over a longer time period of studying and learning (periods longer than a week of redesign).
I think the pedagogy behind Flipped Learning is so important. What I would argue is that the targets achieved through course re-design should be better learner and learning experiences, greater preparation achieved for economic independence and active citizenship, all of which come from student feedback to targeted questions on the grounds that we are deliberately trying to enrich education and make it more relevant and fun through technology. This is what crafted e-learning can achieve…...
Here is a way we can better engage with local employers through taking the best of what e-learning can do with the best of free, yet targeted Mini MOOCs.
A Mini MOOC is of course an oxymoron. These aren’t massive (necessarily) and they aren’t public (necessarily) but they are the same kind of new approach to having learners engage with what college a collectively knows and the expertise that sits in the content section of the courses teachers run for the benefit of the learner initially but in the hope of developing a relationship with learners who then enrol as a result and then developing a reputation with employers and others for the quality of it’s expertise.
FELTAG looks to colleges to become the training departments of local employers. This could include have them rent space on college VLEs and ILPs and e-portfolios and join social learning groups. Apart from ‘hosting’ training, teachers can provide the curriculum design expertise and offer assessment services as well as general tutoring and access to college libraries etc. for local employees.
But colleges, like universities are sitting on the accumulated knowledge of its teaching staff and e-learning is particularly good at supporting cognitive domain learning, so the time is right for colleges and other providers to start moving a great local asset (what they collectively know) on-line in order to support training around, and engage with the world of work.
Another way to describe this as seeing colleges and others delivering learning that is taught, caught and acquired. With a miniMOOC, what is taught is put on-line, encouraging learners to come to college to work with others on what is caught and acquired in preparing for the world of work. This is an extension of flipped learning of course. MiniMOOCs sit between Distance Learning and Blended Learning with elements of both yet very different.
But rather than open up all we know to the world, miniMOOCs allow the harnessing of knowledge in support of learning and development and act as a huge advertisement of what and who colleges are. In short, mini MOOCs offer what we know but in a structured form to allow learners to explore it in a non-chaotic way.
So MiniMOOCS are taylor-made learning episodes consisting of cognitive learning objects, that can be singular or strung together (perhaps like beads on a string of learning activity) in short course format that provides basic skill knowledge or basic practice or contain something a college is very good at.
This is such an important development that every course leader should be looking at putting ‘knowledge’ on-line to advertise their course, target it to local employers and beyond to showcase the college and develop a reputation with employers.
The great contribution of using technology in its broadest sense to learning is that it has passed the management of it to the person who wants to learn. In the world of work, the internet is the place of crowdsourcing knowledge and ideas, and we all ‘learn’, all of us, every day. The reason people engage with educators to learn is they are happy (or someone else wants them) to trade off some of that independence for authoritative guidance and structure and to join a group of like-minded people for company on the learning journey.
Blended learning is then the balance found between these two great centres of learning that takes the best of formalising learning with the best of collaborative learning with the best of managing it all. Getting it right is a craft for teachers and a joy for learners.
We really do now lead with e-learning in this blend because education has to match the way the world of work learns and develops and blended learning means we can no longer teach and learn in closed communities as if education is somehow different from the real world and it is a professional skill of teachers to craft it well. Such is the profundity of the effect of ubiquitous technology , we are teaching students how to work and not just what they need to know to fulfil tasks.
Perhaps our next big change in education then is to change the way we expect students to behave in these episodes of learning who often come to formal learning, thinking of education as a passive process, that is ‘provided’ rather than ‘acquired’; as if it is all understanding is taught, rather than caught and acquired. Learning in college should not differ from the methods and tools used when students work in a team or for an employer or simply for pleasure.
Students will work collaboratively on project based and enquiry-based learning, learning the finer arts of filtering information rather than waiting to be fed it. These learning objects will be threaded on a string by a teacher who will provide the connections between them.
The other huge change is what we want formal education to produce in those who go through it. We know that employers are as equally interested in attributes and aptitudes achieved as they are in the mastering of skills.
It is hardly surprising as we move from a manufacturing to more service-based economy where customers have closer links to employees.
In fact hard skills are seen as a measure of working to a standard of competence. Aptitudes relates to ‘potential’ in its broadest sense (i.e. agility, imagination, personal ability, warmth of character, reliability etc.) and, in an employment and self-employment world that is increasing service based, these are important skills.
So then, in our new Blended learning world….
Collaborative learning is a description of the movement of learning away from a class based, teacher led approach to learning. Students are more dependent on each other for their learning. It is part of a blended approach that combines with teacher led learning but is not Distance learning. It is how we behave together at work.
Students share and trust each other in contributing ideas. They work together asynchronously, and not necessarily with a tutor present and develop critical thinking skills as they share ‘doubted learning’
Learning is based on filtering content repurposing and synthesising it rather than creating it in a continuous process of varying intensity, not confined to critical time periods in class
The Tutor is the Guide on the side who makes makes pedagogical purposeful interventions often from beyond the classroom
It encourages students to manage their own learning journey through thinking differently through the filters of their own experiences and contests, drawing on enquiry based and project based learning.
So what does this mean for educators in the FE sector?
Geoff Rebbeck - October 2015
Two huge benefits in using e-learning is the ability for learners to collaborate and be able to accommodate the collection of their own unique learning journey. Finding a design that brings to tether the best of orthodox teaching and learning with the e-learning is described as Blended Learning. It describes the design of a curriculum that combines both formal teaching with a teacher and learners; learning with others, where the teacher is not physically present. Historically the funding arrangements only followed the presence of a teacher, leaving on-line activity as a supplemental activity. Using the teacher presence is a clear an auditable method of measuring the value of effort put into supporting learning. Using GLH meant that blended learning was relegated to being an important but supplemental component to formal teaching, that did not ‘count’.
One new and very important development is redefining Guided Learning Hours (GLH) as including evidence of Learning Presence. It means that e-learning can now be an integral part of course delivery rather than an addition or supplementary on top of GLH.
The challenges of Blended Learning
But Blended learning can be difficult to measure as it occurs in places and spaces invisible to the provider.
This new approach to the role of e-learning requires a conscious uncoupling of the teacher from what counts as formal learning. Consequently redesigning course curricula will need very careful consideration to make sure no harm is done to learning yet using e-learning in a manner that promotes purposeful pedagogy. It places much greater emphasis on the value of the learner commitment and activity rather than measure what effort is being expended in teaching. It still needs to show that funding for learning is used well and efficiently, requiring purposeful pedagogical activity to be evidently apparent, which would not have occurred without funding and that value for money is demonstrable.
Blended Learning is not Distance nor Open Learning, although it can form a component part of it. Distance or Open Learning is characterised by significant parts of a course being delivered away from other classmates and much of the drive for learning being implicit in learning materials made available to learners with little or limited support from classmates or tutors. Blended learning incorporates a mutual dependence on each to produce a rounded and coherent package of teaching and learning.
The benefits of Blended Learning
For the learner, working collaboratively with other learners without the immediate intervention of a teacher develops the skill of self-directed study and web-based enquiry. It encourages social learning with class mates, supported, but not directed in detail by tutors.
The characteristics of Blended Learning
When designing Blended learning the following should characterise it use, so as to maintain a formal bound between teachers and learners.
There will be evidence in the form of an electronic footprint which will satisfy the following:
Flipped learning describes a particular curriculum design, that draws on the strengths of e-learning that supports the idea of learner presence learning.
To understand Flipped Learning, one starts from a traditional view of teaching didactically in class, where the teacher directs and lays out what is to be learned. The instruction is often based on factual information and procedures that learned must master in order to master them, prior to practising or replicating them in real or thought experiments.
In this scenario, cognitive is captured first on which practice and skill then then be developed. A class is used by the teacher for this purpose.
Flipping learning removes this initial fact-building class. The teacher set the cognitive domain learning into the cloud and sets tasks, normally for collaborative learning to master facts and details and processes necessary to manipulate them to a level of sophistication in the class. it means that by the time learners come to class, they have mastered facts although may not know why to do with them. The class time is then spent on affective and psychomotor skills. and subsequent activity after the class is spent on-line collaboratively, using the skills developed from the class activity. The first flip here to to move the beginning of the learning period from a first class to pre-class activity on-line.
The second flip is to swap cognitive learning out of the class and put affective and skill learning into the class.
The reasons for doing this is e-learning is particularly strong in supporting collaborative learning outside of the classroom. It is also easy to provide cognitive learning tasks rather than affective open ones on-line. In short, Flipped Learning plays to the strengths of on-line collaborative learning.
One other advantage of Flipped learning is that the class time is spent drawing on the skill and experience of the teacher in forging skills, rather than have them act as a cypher of information gathering that is easily acquired in more efficient ways.
Geoff Rebbeck Cert Ed. BSc. FIfL FRSA QTLS | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.geoffrebbeck.com|
Higher education has really got to grips with the idea of every student acquiring a set of demonstrable personal attributes during their course of study. It goes to the idea of education developing and presenting the person and not just the skills. Greenwich University is a case in point who have 13 of them, split into three groups, Scholarship and Autonomy, Creativity and Enterprise and Cross-cultural and International Awareness.
It is evident that FE is behind the curve on this one and the Sector has only a few examples of creating attributes of any kind. South Devon College is an example of attempting this with students, using Moodle communities that student are enrolled on, but in FE it appears as a ‘taught’ process rather than an ‘acquisition’ process.
Having a set of attributes every student can demonstrate is made possible with the advent of personal technologies and personal learning space in particular. FE has not been slow in providing personal space, but the portfolio model that we found so well developed in FE is a mapping one, where 200 plus competencies are linked to evidence, marshalled and stored, drawing on the efficiencies of a database approach to learning and it is no surprise that these mapping portfolios are seen as examples of the efficiencies (saving of time, cost, effort, weight of folders etc.) of using technology rather than helping develop the student ‘in the round’.
By this mechanism every student can discern their own unique learning journey from their classmates but it is only currently by categorising and evidencing the ‘hard’ competencies, so it is the learning journey and not the personal journey that is captured. There are a few exceptions to this such as in the health and social care qualifications that contains values based Units that goes some way to addressing this based on the nature of professionalism in this sector.
One more promising area of development in FE employability practice is the development of an ‘audience’ of prospective employers courted through a Twitter following and connections made through LinkedIn. These technologies do encourage ‘work readiness’ attitudes as illustrated at St. Helens College on Merseyside. In FE, this ability to demonstrate a more rounded, accomplished student is very appealing to employers who tell us they are looking not just for skills, but for the ‘right’ person; someone able to represent the employer with polish to their customers. One category of attributes for example could be around the notion of ‘work readiness’, a factor FE is often criticised by employers for not achieving.
Very noticeable how e-learning is now splitting into two distinct areas.
The first relates to what OfSTED call Pace and Progression and deals with the administration of learning.
The second relates to the enterprise of teaching and learning and sees teachers and learners shoot off into the cloud to store, record, create and share learning.
The table below sums up the behavioural differences of the two. A good thing says I.
“We compete, not so much against an opponent, but against ourselves. The real test is this: Did I make my best effort on every play?
I am taking a contemporary look at e-learning or, more properly modern learning. How can it help those who work in the Learning and Skills Sector (LSS) deal with it’s properties, opportunities, contribution and the challenges associated with its subsumation into effective teaching and learning? We have used these ideas to inform our enquiry into current tools for assessing e-learning development in modern learning.
This ‘Thought Paper’ looks again at what makes a successful college and how we might know what e-learning does as a component part of it.
Successful colleges are those that are able to recruit a full complement of students, based on competition for places on courses each year. Students seek to enrol in high numbers.
They achieve this through a combination of successful academic achievement and (of equal or greater importance), providing a learning and learner experience such that its reputation is strong enough to bring others to the college. Rather than ‘teach to the outcome’, successful colleges provide a learning and learner experience of such quality that academic success follows naturally.
Assessments of this are made through the Learner Voice activities, success rates, commentaries in Social Media sites, formal surveys and demand for places on courses. This is Reputation and successful colleges take care to foster their good reputation.
Satisfactory colleges will attempt to manage their Reputation directly. Good and Outstanding colleges allow their reputation to develop obliquely, as a natural consequence or outcome. Reputation is characterised as a settled view by everyone else but the object. A college can destroy or reinforce a reputation but cannot create it or own it.
Satisfactory colleges lack ‘a unique Reputation’. They provide a basic facility for obtaining qualifications without a high reputation.They will work very hard to attract students and have average success rates. Students will not talk about their exciting student experience.
Outstanding colleges are able to provide employers and employees with what they want relating to their business rather than a choice from a set of provisions. They give students and employers and employees what they want. Good colleges only give them a choice. They are seen as part of the training department of each employer they work with, providing a service drawing on training, or education, and pedagogical expertise and software hosting.
Satisfactory colleges provide what they have. In every case, the outstanding feature is provided as a judgement on the reputation of the college as evidenced by the demand of others to be associated with it. In these situations reputation is not owned by the college.
Technology has a huge role to play in this process. It defines the learning experience and behaviours. It can widen participation and deepen learning not least through the increased self-management of lifelong learning. It provides a lifestyle approach to being a student, valued by most young people, particularly where it helps make learning more accessible, more fun and more personal or contextualised and it strengthens on-line reputation. Technologies in college is far more than simply supporting learning. Good colleges work in a digitally literate culture. Digital Literacy is defined by JISC (2012) as:
‘those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society’
Good college’s relationship with technology is as a design science and there is value in sharing and learning from research on ‘what works’. Improving colleges will innovative use as a contribution to that design.
The impact of technology is not measured easily. This is particularly so for outstanding colleges who do not treat technology as a discrete service nor see it related only to teaching and learning. Ultimately the success of any implementation of technology is seen by inverse degree the turbulence caused by its introduction, where this is less than the perceived benefits. This is because the aim of e-learning is to introduce the new possibilities of technology to effective teaching and learning and the wider student and teacher experience, subsuming what works into general teaching and learning practice and ejecting the new that causes too much turbulence relative to the benefits.
The standing and effectiveness of any college is never greater than the quality of its teaching. Outstanding colleges have moved much of the effort for success from teachers teaching to students sharing the management of their own learning and successes.
Teachers who use technology well have the confidence to work with it imaginatively, requiring a set of mindsets over having a wide knowledge of software processes. Teachers won’t be replaced by technology but teachers that use technology will replace those that don’t in all colleges.
Confidence is the pivotal aspect that determines the ability to be agile in adapting to new technologies. Confidence of the individual when aggregated describes the e-maturity of the provider and the pace of the journey towards maturity is an interaction between staff confidence and organisational barriers.
Teachers in outstanding colleges are able to explore the craft of teaching autonomously with what is known of the design science of teaching and make adaptive changes with the support of colleagues. Poorly supported teachers will make reactive change in course teams. Unsupported teachers will look to college compliance.
Outstanding colleges are able to encourage divergent thinking by staff and students through the affordances of latest personal technologies. Satisfactory colleges don’t see beyond convergent learning. Compliant teachers won’t be seen as needing support.
Good colleges use technology to make learning more enjoyable and accessible. Poorer colleges see technology as providing evidence of college effort and improving administrative efficiency primarily. None of this need be affected by old buildings, the classroom being seen as a meeting place for learners, mostly with a teacher, but held together with an enthusiasm for the learning in hand. In good colleges, technology will not be seen as a substitute for a strong student/tutor relationship.
Over ‘compliance and control mechanisms,’ enforced by management structures slows progression generally and affects the desire to explore effective use of technology. In improving colleges, those that teach feel a sense of trust to explore effective pedagogy that includes the use of technology. In good colleges, technology supports good teaching and learning where it falls rather than teaching and learning occurring inside what is offered by college technologies. This leads to fragmentation of technologies in use. In improving colleges this is not seen as a problem as all use is judged by the unchanging values of good teaching. It follows that whilst good teaching and learning should be common to all colleges, technological profiles can be as unique as the provider itself.
The fear of fragmenting technologies and the risk of maintaining safety leads to withholding uses rather than teaching mature use.
This argument of holding back of teachers is reinforced in a Paper by the 157 group and the IfL, quoting a study at Birmingham Metropolitan College. They advocate the professionalisation of the teaching includes ‘letting go to get more’.
“in such organisations, perceptions of professional development being something that is done to employees, usually as a punishment or a reward, are being eroded. They are being replaced by more inclusive approaches that allow staff to play a far greater role in shaping and delivering their own professional learning and development.”
It follows that any estimation of the rate of progress could include a consideration of the degree to which any of these characteristics exist in a college.
Perhaps this problem can be summarised as a lack of trust in the capability of technologies to be both radical and safe?
A measurement of ‘where we are’ is of less importance and relevance than having a sense of direction and an understanding of progress in that direction and knowing where to find the tell tale signs. To inform a strong sense of a provider’s vector. Measurements tend to be constructed to ‘inform up’. Direction and progress tends to be felt within.
A mechanism then needs to be found to support a narrative approach to direction and progress, based on good teaching and learning as it is supported by technology, concentrating on the new and its turbulence, relative to benefit. The Common Inspection Framework (CIF) seeks this too.
Improving colleges provide evidence of their journey, from the perspective of students, teachers, and employers. It will attune with the Vision and be reflected in the college culture, which allows summary and positional statements supported by summary and positional evidence.
Technology can provide better and more agreeable ways of working. It must not add work, but release obligations for work elsewhere so roles are seen to evolve qualitatively and not grow quantitatively.
Experienced e-learning practitioners can summarise college journeys with technology, less experienced voices will need a mentor to support understanding, some will need a critical friend and some co-mentorships.
There has been a lot of discussion about the value of MOOCs in education. Much of this has focussed at HE level because it is thought students working at this level of educational maturity would have a better handle of self-managed learning and the discipline required to complete. There has been less discussion of MOOCs in FE because learners are less likely to complete a MOOC and it is therefore more difficult to manage
One way too use MOOCs in FE is as a taster to a course, offered over the Summer, between the moment a student is accepted onto a course and the day they attend class.
It might be a good design choice of the following reasons:
What is Digital Simulation:
Digital Simulation has been defined by Professor Diana Laurillard as 'goal-oriented manipulations of a simulated world with meaningful feedback, which enables the learner to work independently of the teacher, individually or in a group'.
Digital Simulation in FE has not flourished because the authentic learning experience is always better, based in competency and skills. Consequently simulated learning has always been seen as second best, where authentic learning isn’t available. However, there are circumstances and situations where authentic learning isn’t available.
The value of digital simulation is used where authentic learning isn’t available.
The characteristics of Digital Simulation
What discourages the use of Digital Simulation