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
A new e-learning Strategy, starts with a Learner Entitlement
Over the last year I have been looking at e-learning from a behaviourist poitn of view and, on that basis have taken this list to be an interesting stab at a new e-learning strategy. It would need more to it but it seems a really interesting place to start from:
Geoff Rebbeck - January 2013
18 January 2012
The Impact conundrum concerns how it might be measured. How does one quantify impact?
Impact can have two distinct effects; one concerning input impact and the other output impact.
The first relates to how the ‘shock of the new affects’ the changes of behaviour and the speed at which change occurs in behaviour.
The second is the improvement in outcomes set against the degree of turbulence caused in both breadth and length as a result. A positive response on either is all that is required for an overall positive impact.
Graphically it would appear as shown above in a formula
Impact assesses the striking force between physical objects which should cause an equal and opposite reaction, yet in e-learning terms, ‘technology in action’ in this sense is metaphysical and therefore beyond a physical laws and measurement. Capturing a sense of how a teacher feels (excited, challenged, enthralled, bored, disappointed) becomes the language of impact. Impact is measured by the emotive responses recorded by those affected. That language is based on the experience summed up in the rate and profundity of change against the benefits felt and the degree of turbulence caused in getting through the change. Attitude itself is a critical factor in the degree of take up and success engendered.
It is possible that we have been deceived, in the past, in our search for the impact of technology, expecting it to be physically manifested and overt in everything teachers do. It could be that successful impact is evidenced by the opposite; technology use being one element in many artfully constructed student-centred learning experiences that are part of everyday practice such that the technology is not really seen nor acknowledged, simply being used when deemed appropriate for learning as planned. This appears to be the case with the use of Moodle VLEs to pick one example.
Perhaps only new or troublesome or unsatisfactory technologies with little immediate application to practice remain on the surface and open to view, and thus to questioning through the turbulence they cause to the smooth running of the curriculum? The greatest impact of technology actually occurs where its use is not seen, nor recognised and only emerges through prompts that promote reflection on practice. The value of technology is not in the way it alters the nature of education but alters its delivery and the structure of our working day.
Perhaps a better test to frame impact is to consider how teachers and support staff might work without the support of technology assess how long the College would remain open if technology were removed.
Social technologies in education and a new Velvet Revolution
It used to be that for the numbers of students to teach and the time and resources available, learning was done on a group basis, characterised by all starting and finishing in the same place and time and following roughly the same journey. This method encouraged the development of convergent thinking as a mental discipline and a tool for further learning. The application of learning technology affords personalised learning behaviour and a unique learning experience for each student, based on the context of their situation and preferences. It also supports and encourages Divergent thinking as an equal partner, where imagination and the personal perspective can be captured and acknowledged.
This has led over the last few years to a ‘velvet revolution’ in education, where the changes are so smooth they are hardly felt. The introduction of Social Media into mainstream life and its possible impact on education is a case in point and is one of a long line of examples of education picking up on lifestyle changes and adapting them to learning rather than seeing them created within the education world.
It has led many to question what the changes are because it is difficult to disentangle personal behaviour choices from the orthodox approaches to the application of education as a work process. There are persistent voices clamouring for a method to measure Impact. But it is possible that we have been deceived in our search for the impact of technology, expecting it to be physically manifested and overt in everything teachers do. Nice neat clear edges, such that the application of technology can be seen as an overlay. But it seems that what we might call successful impact is evidenced by the opposite; technology use being one element in many artfully constructed student-centred learning experiences that are part of everyday practice, bleeding across all aspects of life, such that the technology is not really seen nor acknowledged, simply being used when deemed appropriate for learning as planned.
Now, with the Web 2.0 generation we see this going even further. We are facing the next major shift in the pedagogical application of technology. It is based on the realisation that when personalised learning is combined with the new social media, and the experiences are shared in common, it creates a collective consciousness that can, when directed by a teacher, be described as learning. It isn’t that people haven’t formed informal networks before; it happens in every group and project. The difference is the speed, immediacy and granularity of thoughts and ideas gives a new degree of frequency, leading to greater intimacy and nuance to that understanding. An illustration of this would be a book club who meet each week to discuss a book. And the same group tweeting each other as they read and react to each chapter or twist in the plot. There is less summary and more formative opinion that may need correcting with each turn of the page.
Social media can be capture nothing more than the daily banalities, but when focussed or given a deeper purpose and guided, it can stimulate thinking that converts to constant modified understanding which settles (until the next message) into learning. In part this has happened with other technologies in the administration of the learning but now we see this activity moving into the core of the learning itself.
This is the new frontier for learning technologies; learning being seen as a the development of a collective consciousness of a group of like minded students on a given subject based on their shared and on-going personal experience. We will need to develop personal learning space for students, which will include the redesign of curriculum delivery to allow all the confederation of learning experiences, but formally recognised as learning rather than social and guided by the teacher.
It is the opposite to traditional teaching which is the delivery of a collective truth, learnt as individuals, by cohort (class).
Facebook for example is a social tool in action but a collective conscience by experience. But it lacks a direction of summary points that a teacher might provide which is why it is more social than learning but it has both elements. Without a teacher, the learning could be described as ‘accidental’ and is no less valid for this. The teacher is like the conductor of an orchestra; it suggests a much subtler arrangement in leadership of the route, and the nuances of insight picked up on the way. This does not change factual learning but the understanding and application of facts. It supports both convergent thinking and divergent thinking.
So what might be the immediate ramifications for e-learning?
1. What is intriguing is how successful this approach is to learning as students become more adept at manipulating the technology on the one hand, and the degree of intellectual maturity they bring to a process that implies an ever increasing degree of independence and self management in all technological interactions of which education is but one.
2. Courses will develop a degree of organic life that will move from the peripheral to the mainstream, ebb and flow for the duration of the course., in part grown and given direction by the group.
3. Learning becomes more democratised but by consensual movement rather than by voting.
Students are gently but inevitably coerced into considerations of learning in the context of their life and circumstances. What is learnt is fined tuned to each individual in the group.
4. A new accommodation of curriculum design is required to accommodate these changes.
5. The changes will be sufficiently disruptive to alter the curriculum design.
6. The new understanding will include confrontations by the student of their approaches and attitudes to their learning. Social media often contains emotive communications because how one feels about learning is the operant motivation to communicate to others.
7. Issues concerning the responsibility for learning to the outcomes agreed for the course might be compromised id teachers aren’t able to keep control of both pace and direction of learning that concludes at an agreed point, time and cost. These remain core teacher tasks.
What teachers now need to do
1. Don’t give up on the core values of what is good teaching and learning. These technologies do not replace any of them, they simply offer new ways to express them that can be more engaging, exciting, interest and personal to the student.
2. Social media will not replace VLEs but will add another layer on top of what is already available. All formal learning requires a degree of home hosting so the teacher can control pace and direction (see above), but the ubiquitous nature of social media will allow student new ways and methods to express their learning.
This isn't e-learning as such. I would rather call it simply 'modern learning'.
08 December 2011
How we manipulate ideas is a critical part of mastering and learning from them. Ideas can be tested and considered an through a process of revision, discounting and revising come to a considered conclusion that has a sense of being an absolute position. This type of thinking works not the basis of rational thought leads to inescapable conclusions that cant be improved until the component parts that led to the conclusion are themselves revised. This is the process of convergent thinking.; all paths lead to one conclusion. It is often described as the domain of the scientists because of the the link to rational deduction and the formulation of laws.
If convergent thinking is the basis of rational thought, would its opposite be a definition of chaotic thinking? What is Divergent thought and is it of value?
In short, it is the opposite of convergence. Divergent thinkers tend to see things differently.
Divergent thinkers rethinking the problem to find novel ways to define the problem or novel ways to solve it.
The conclusion to this is that the best thinkers are those capable of doing both and being able to bring both thinking methods into play as required dependent upon the situation confronted. In the past it seems convergent thinking was valued and seen as the arbiter of intelligence. So it seems that each is equally valuable in personal development and they are the ying and yang of learning. Another approach to divergent thought is the use of the imagination to ‘see’ problems in different ways. An example would be to think of how many uses one can find for a paperclip. Divergent thinking relates to imagination, inspiration, and bringing subjective experience to a problem. Is Divergent thinking the home of the artist and the dreamer?
A review of the literature has identified 5 thinking skills that are used to gauge the ability to think divergently. They are:
Fluency: The ability to generate ideas & meaningful responses
Flexibility: The ability to repurpose ideas
Originality: The capacity to produce rare and novel ideas
Elaboration: The capacity to embellish and develop ideas
It is possible that group learning tends to favour convergent thinking learning because the group will tend to look for and draw towards common ideas.
The ability to personal learning space to support individual and highly contextualised learning encourages divergent thinking. It allows the student to identify accidental or informal learning, to contextualise this into their unique social and work based circumstances, to see for themselves what interests them to enquire further and where deficiencies in learning are holding back professional effectiveness. In short, personal learning space encourages and accommodates divergent thinkers.
Divergent thinkers traditionally scored less in intelligence testing but now, the imaginative side of intelligence is finding in a renascence. With personal learning space, technology has become sufficiently refined and flexible to accommodate more easily the divergent aspects of thinking, capturing, marshalling and presenting the results.
Caroli M. & Sagone E. (2011) Creative thinking & big five factors of personality measured in Italian schoolchildren: Faculty of Educational Science - University of Catania. Italy