Sep 15 2014

E-assessment Scotland 2014

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On 5 September I attended this one-day event at the University of Dundee, billed as the UK’s “largest conference dedicated to exploring the best examples of e-assessment in the world today”. LSE has an growing interest in e-assessment (which we might define as the use of IT to facilitate assessment processes), with various pilot projects on the go this year.

Total e-assessment

With that in mind, one presentation in Dundee proved a real eye-opener for me. Linda Morris, an academic in University of Dundee’s College of Life Sciences, told us that by 2015 the College will have moved to the point where all assessment, across all 4 years and including final exams, will be done online. Furthermore, this marks the end point of a journey which started a long time ago – in fact they already were using e-assessment for all 1st-year courses by 2003! I felt more than a little embarrassed, to be honest.

The drivers for this change were simple: More students, asking for more feedback, and fewer staff. The paper-based assessment regime was becoming completely unmanageable. A fully-online system means no paper, remote access for markers, progress tracking, and easy distribution of feedback. It is also popular with students, many of whom have fallen out of the habit of writing at length by hand (and whose writing may be barely legible as a result).

Dundee’s system uses a combination of Exam Online for essay questions and QuestionMark Perception for other question types. This system supports all the forms of submission they need, as well as all their marking requirements: blind marking, multiple markers, inline comments, and marking workflow.

Do people like it? Yes. Linda says “once you start down the road of e-assessment, you won’t get anyone to go back”.

Software

Various vendors were on hand to promote their wares: Surpass, Cirrus, QuestionMark and MyProgress, amongst others. However, I found it hard to see what, if anything, these tools would offer us that Moodle does not already provide. In fact, in some cases the feature set seemed much thinner than that of the Moodle quiz tool.

Keynotes

Peter Reed of the University of Liverpool started the day by identifying institutional problems with the introduction of e-assessment. Such a move is often done in a piecemeal manner, perhaps in response to NSS scores, and as a result fails to be transformational. He also pointed to a lack of flexibility in submission practices, which may assume that all submissions are documents, and prevent students from submitting other digital artefacts.

In thinking about e-assessment at the institutional level, he encouraged us to apply Brookfield’s “4 Lenses”. This theory proposes that any teaching and learning activity should be evaluated from four different perspectives: self-reflection, students, literature (i.e. theory and evidence) and peers (i.e. staff).

For example, through the student lens, we should think about the week-on-week burden of assessment. An assessment won’t be an effective measure of student achievement if that student has 3 other, more pressing assessments, in that same week. This can be countered by spreading out the assessment load: instead of a single high-stakes assessments at the end of module, spread out lower-stakes assessments through the term. Similarly, through the peer lens, we need to think about assessment load across different programmes and different years. Where there are multiple assessments from different sources in the same week, administrative staff or markers may be unable to cope.

In the other keynote, Mark Glynn of Dublin City University spoke about “assessment analytics”, proposing that the “click data” that VLEs typically provide are of limited value, and that assessment data is what will provide really the useful analytics. Such analytics may be Descriptive (what happened), Diagnostic (why it happened), Predictive (what’s gonna happen) or Prescriptive (what should happen).

I had a problem with one of his ideas for such analytics: to show students how they had performed in relation to their peers. This would be beneficial to the student, he claimed, because they could tell whether 75% was “good” in the context of the overall marking on their assessment. I found this rather depressing; 75% should mean “good”, regardless of how the other students performed. If it does not, then it means we do not know how to mark properly: the percentage grades we assign have no inherent meaning, and assessment becomes simply a process of sorting students into order of achievement, rather than determining how well they have achieved the objectives of the course. The use of technology to patch up these failures of assessment is not exactly inspiring.

Conclusion

This was a worthwhile conference, with some valuable insights into what other institutions are doing in this area. The day conference was followed by a longer online programme, which is ongoing at the time of writing.

Steve

Posted by: Posted on by Steve Bond Tagged with: , ,

Sep 8 2014

Open educational practices benefit us all

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On Thursday, I attended the FOSTER Discovering Open Practices event jointly organised by the libraries at LSE, King’s College London (KCL) and Queen Mary’s College, London (QMUL). The event aimed at promoting open access and open academic practices to early career researchers. It was an eye-opening experience, which showed me how current publication practices affect early career researchers desperate to make their mark in academia.

I was particularly struck by Joe McArthur’s (@mcarthur_joe) presentation. Joe is the Assistant Director for from the Right to Research Coalition, and having recently graduated from UCL, had the frustration of not having access to research fresh in his mind. He  talked about how publishing firms behind prestigious journals often force researchers to hand over the copyright for years of hard work, (80% of which is publicly funded), only to restrict access through paywalls leading to profit margins for Springer and Elsevier which even the likes of Microsoft and Google would be envious of. And the costs seem to keep going up. Joe mentioned that costs have gone up 400% in the last 20 to 30 years, and the average subscription for a health science journal is now $1482 a year. Researchers are not only restricted from accessing vital research but sometimes also forced to turn to illegal file sharing to be able to complete their own research, with possible legal consequences for the researcher.

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Posted by: Posted on by Arun Karnad

Sep 1 2014

Students and smartphones: it’s too late to lead the horse to water, but you can certainly make it learn

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Recently, an article by Tosell et al (2014) titled You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them learn: Smartphone use in higher education has stirred some debate on the topic in email lists and forums in the learning technology world. After giving 24 students iPhones and monitoring their activities using an in-built app and two surveys taken a year apart. The authors found that students felt their iPhones were an unwelcome distraction, contrary to students’ initial belief that smartphones would help in their learning a year later.

The knee-jerk reaction to this finding would be to ban smartphones and devices from the lecture hall and classroom. But with 92% of students reporting to own such a device in our 2013 student survey, that may not be feasible. It’s too late to stop the horse from bolting, and smart devices in lecture theatres and classrooms are here to stay.

Student using her Blackberry mobile phone

92% of students in our 2013 student survey reported owning a smartphone in 2013. Smart devices in the classroom are here to stay. Image copyright: ©2011 LSE/Nigel Stead, all rights reserved.

Banning smart devices from the lecture hall is also not the conclusion Tosell et al come to. The paper itself is a nuanced, well written article, with interesting methods of measurement (albeit with quite a small sample of students without a control group, which the authors do caveat).

What the authors have highlighted, is that providing smart devices to students in an unstructured way and simply expecting students to use these devices for their learning won’t lead to better learning outcomes, and could even be detrimental to learning. This doesn’t seem too surprising, considering Margaryan et al (2011) suggested that even “digital natives” (a contentious term in it’s own right), “…have a limited understanding of how technology may support their learning”. Indeed, White et al (2012) point out that many students gain digital literacy skills, which include using smart devices for learning, through trial and error, without the support of the institution.

Of course, students may not even want to use smartphones for their university work. The authors found that 90% of the apps installed on the iPhones given to students had nothing to do with their courses, and 65% of apps launched were communications or social media apps. Smart devices, smartphones in particular, occupy several important roles in the lives of students, the primary one being the ability to communicate with peers, friends and family. Indeed, a third of students in our own student survey claimed they were uncomfortable with the idea of using their device for university work, highlighting student concerns about managing personal and academic lives in an increasingly connected setting.

Therefore both students and teachers need to evaluate what these devices could bring to them in the classroom. Lecturers could encourage students to use their devices in more positive ways in the classroom, by encouraging the use of smartphones for in-class activities such as voting, fact-checking using the internet, collaboration through social and digital note-taking. Students also need better support and advice from universities on how they could use smartphones and devices for their learning and manage their personal activities.

What’s disputable is that smartphones are simply a distraction, and that students are unable to have a smartphone in class and be able to learn in class. Smartphones and devices are just the latest in a long line of distractions which have diverted students’ attention from the lecture. Ultimately, engaging and accessible teaching and content is what is most likely to stop students from getting distracted in class. What’s more important here is how smartphones and devices could be used in lectures and seminars to engage students better. Tools for engaging students using smart devices already exist, and if harnessed appropriately, smartphones and devices could transform the teaching and learning experience for both lecturers and students, rather than simply be the latest distraction.

References:

Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A. & Vojt, G. (2011). Are digital natives a myth or reality? University students’ use of digital technologies. Computers and Education, 56, 2, 429–440.

Tossell, A., Kortum, P., Shepard, C., Rahmati, A., Zhong, L. (2014). You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him learn: Smartphone use in higher education. British Journal of Educational Technologydoi: 10.1111/bjet.12176

White, D., Connaway, L. S., Le Cornu, A., & Hood, E. (2012). Digital Visitors and Residents Progress Report (pp. 0–40). Oxford, Charlotte. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/projects/visitorsandresidentsinterim report.pdf

Posted by: Posted on by Arun Karnad

Aug 28 2014

Good news: Learning technology not rocket science!

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I’ve been a learning technologist since 2002, at the LSE since 2009. Ten years ago I presented a short paper at a conference about the purpose of the learning technologist, because even we as a group didn’t really know. It’s only short and it ends with a suggestion that what we learning technologists should be doing is stamp on people’s toes, and so it is, if not agreeable, still interesting, and still relevant. If you’re in the mood for speculative musings on what learning technology is about, give it a read: ‘What are we for?.

Fast forward ten years and puzzlement as to what we do or what we are for remains. That’s fair enough, after all, if you’re an engineer and you meet someone who tells you they are a dentist, you would also ask “oh, dentist, I see, but what does that mean, I mean what do you actually do?” And so with Learning Technologists. We’re a bit like dentists. Unfathomable. Mysterious.

I’ll try once more to lift the lid on that mystery.

Here’s the good news: what we do is really easy to understand, you just have to be prepared to listen. To prove this, and to allow for different tastes and learning styles, I offer you three different explanations, with the keywords highlighted, so you can skim through.

1. Generic: in short

Here’s a generic overview of what LTI (found on our LTI page):
“Learning Technology and Innovation (LTI) supports staff in the use of technologies to enhance teaching and learning at the London School of Economics. We […] promote the integration and use of technology in teaching and learning by supporting key technologies, through staff development, advice and guidance, research, collaboration and networking.”

Put differently: we provide pedagogical support and guidance to academic teaching staff with a focus on technology.

Or as a question: How can technology help improve your teaching and your students’ learning? We’re here to find out for and with you.

2. Concrete: drilling down

Academic staff (incl GTAs) are our core focus, but in many cases we deal with administrative staff too, especially in dealing with routine queries about setting things up in Moodle, or using TurnItIn and so on. We write materials too, from basic training materials, to guides on how to use educational technologies, to policy and guidance documents on copyright for example. A large part of our work is staff development. We develop and run workshops on the use of educational technologies – each of which will always incorporate theoretical discussions on how these might impact on student learning. We work closely with TLC, and teach about learning theories on the PG Certificate in Higher Education. We do research – you can’t really expect to persuade academics at a research intensive university about the benefits of changing practices, adopting different pedagogical approaches, trying out technologies etc if we didn’t. We read up on what’s new, engage with our colleagues across the UK and further afield. We make connections with interested teachers and persuade them to try new things – that is, we track them down and buy them coffee and have exciting chats and then we hit them over the head with a mallet and force them to do a pilot with us. Maybe with clickers, or iPads, or flipping lectures or eAssessment.

3. Contradictory: we are not

We are not a lending service. So you want to borrow an iPad from us to see what it can do? Of course you can. First of all, we are super approachable and we all tend to say yes rather than no. Nevertheless, there should always be a “using it for teaching” aspect.
We’re not IT training.  While our workshops have elements of ‘hands on how to use technology x’, the main emphasis is on how it impacts on teaching and learning, how best to use the technology in a teaching and learning context. Most of our workshops are discursive.
We are not technical support. Most of us are pretty tech savvy, but all of us focus on impact that technology (as concept) and educational technologies.

See, that wasn’t so hard. And one of these days dentists will be equally well understood.

Posted by: Posted on by Sonja Grussendorf Tagged with: , , ,

Aug 22 2014

Learning to be a learning technologist

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I wouldn’t describe myself as a techy person in fact I’m not techy at all so I did wonder what I had let myself in for when I started my new role as an assistant learning technologist here at LSE.

GF

Although I am new to the LTI department I had already dipped my toe into the world of learning technology in my previous job on LSE100 (the large compulsory interdisciplinary undergraduate course).While working as a course administrator and then course manager for LSE100 I enjoyed working with lecturers and GTA’s to create interactive resources and I discovered that I was interested in using technology to enhance teaching and learning and to explore different approaches to lectures and classes.

So what are my initial impressions after the first few weeks?

  • Obviously I am pleased that I will be working with a group of highly intelligent, funny, and wonderful colleagues : )
  • I like the way my colleagues encourage people (including myself) to move out of their comfort zones and try out new things.
  • I’ve realised that it’s about showing not doing, LTI try to give people the skills to use the technology and solve the problem themselves.
  • I appreciate the fact that the team don’t always agree on what technology works best as different people work in different ways but they all use technology themselves to communicate and work collaboratively.

As I nervously publish my first ever blog post I am starting to realise that I shouldn’t fear technology, you have to engage and experiment to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. It will be a learning process but working with people to find out their needs and requirements is the most crucial step.

 

Posted by: Posted on by Geraldine Foley

Aug 18 2014

The North American perspective: the same, but different

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Portlandia

Photo from Flickr taken by astrangelyisolatedplace

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend a conference in Portland, Oregon, held at Portland State UniversityLibrary Instruction West is an information literacy conference and I was representing a national committee called Co-PILOT that I helped to set up, and LSE. Co-PILOT is a community of practice which encourages those teaching information and digital literacy to share their teaching materials as open educational resources (OERs). This helps to share resources, saving us all reinventing the wheel across higher education and hopefully encourages good practice. I was speaking at the conference about work this group have been doing in the UK, educating others about how to find good quality open resources you can re-use and how to use Creative Commons Licences to licence your own work, so others can use it. I got involved in OERs about four years ago when LSE led the DELILA project, which led to us sharing a number of teaching materials owned by LTI and LSE Library in the national repository of OERs, Jorum.

Working in Learning Technology and Innovation, I was on the look out for new ideas for teaching and innovations. We often think that exciting things are happening in North American universities that we need to be aware of in the UK. I certainly came back with a sense that things are different, I’m just still trying to pin down exactly how. There were over 250 delegates at the conference from a wide range of US and Canadian universities, community colleges and schools. In my first blog post written during the conference I was struck by the differences in terminology we use in UK higher education compared to across the Atlantic. People had quite different job titles so the majority were instruction and outreach or information literacy librarians (not subject librarians or academic support staff) I also met instructional designers (what LSE would call educational developers) and educational technologists.  Those differences suggested to me that academic support services are set up slightly differently in US and Canadian universities. However, people did talk about the same issues we deal with in LTI, such as how to engage academic staff, how to embed digital and information literacy effectively into the curriculum, how to be innovative in teaching and use technology appropriately.

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Posted by: Posted on by Jane Secker

Aug 13 2014

Moodle upgrade to version 2.6

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On 3rd September 2014 we are upgrading Moodle from 2.4 to 2.6 – it’ll include improvements and new features, and the theme will differ too. moreinfo

Here’s a quick summary:

  • default theme no longer mimics the LFY look, but uses LSE black red and white and we’ve gone back to three columns (main middle section, blocks on either side). Note: you can set a different theme for yourself if you prefer.
  • more responsive design, which means Moodle will work better across different screen sizes and devices (smartphones, tablets etc)
  • Collapsible navigation: you can dock blocks to the side, to keep the work area cleaner
  • Editing tools have been grouped together to in a simple dropdown menu for easy accessibility across desktop and mobile devices and editing forms are now shorter as sections have been made collapsible.
  • Uploaded PDFs (in assignments by students) can be annotated in a browser

summaryWe’ve also produced a  screen-cast showcasing improvements and highlights, a webpage with a fuller summary (and even more screen-casts) and a preview copy of moodle (called muddle), which you can log into and have a look at to get an idea what it will be like as of September.

Enjoy!

Sonja

 

Posted by: Posted on by Sonja Grussendorf

Aug 12 2014

Open Practices for Early Career Researchers

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LSE Library is co-hosting a one-day conference on Thursday 4th September on open access, research data sharing and enhancing impact via openness for early stage researchers. There are great speakers and practical sessions lined up and bookings are now open. If you would like to attend or find out more, please register online: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/discovering-open-practices-tickets-12123386375.

The event will be hosted jointly with Kings College, London and Queen Mary, University of London and there are 35 tickets for LSE PhD students and early career researchers. It is funded by the EU FOSTER project. More details available on the website: http://www.fosteropenscience.eu/

Posted by: Posted on by Jane Secker

Jul 28 2014

Thoughts on innovation in higher education – Sorting the revolutionary change from the merely cosmetic

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*apologies to Alvin Toffler for the appropriation of his quote for the title*

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“Once I began thinking in terms of waves of change, colliding and overlapping, causing conflict and tension around us, it changed my perception of change itself. In every field, from education and health to technology, from personal life to politics, it became possible to distinguish those innovations that are merely cosmetic, or just extensions of the industrial past, from those that are truly revolutionary.”
Toffler Alvin. The Third Wave. 1980.

I have spent the last few months presenting findings from the first year of a project (from my previous institution) that was designed to transform learning and teaching with technology. Most of the papers have centred on the notions of institutional resistance to technology and how through a process of encouraging play and experimentation with technology, we believed that the vision could overcome this resistance to change and open up the debates around the changing nature of pedagogy. We kept coming back to the same conclusion, shoulder shrugged. Resistance seemed to be an inevitable outcome of even the smallest and least controversial of innovations. This resistance came in many and varied forms, from the outright to the passive. It permeated all aspects of the implementation. Everything from the hearts and minds exercises to the practical expressions of benefit to the students was seen through the lens of resistance. Both inside and outside the institution there were colleagues who were interested and engaged participators in the debate, whilst there were others who questioned the practicality or even the point of such philosophical musings, preferring a more practical take on technological innovation (DIY or not do it all seemed to the polarised positions).

The more I presented these findings, the more I found myself almost apologising for my views. I became critical of the project and our apparent failings in achieving the aspirational intentions we set out to achieve. I started second guessing many of the insights or broader ideas that emerged from this intense period of research and reflection. I was using phrases like ‘I don’t I want to throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and ‘I am not advocating a revolution’. When in many ways I actually wanted to advocate that so we could have a real, engaged and impactful debate, rather than a question or two at conference, usually prefaced with the words ‘This is not so much a question, more a statement…’. I wanted to be the radical voice, challenging orthodoxy and unsettling the status quo. Not because it felt good to be a rebel but because I honestly believe that innovation comes from challenging your ideas with others and collaborating to do something better. But instead I retreated into saying what I believed and putting my hands up and almost saying ‘sorry’ after I had said it.

Recently I read a book chapter by James G. March from Stanford (published in 1976) called ‘The Technology of Foolishness’ where he argues that organisations and the decisions they make can become wrapped up in a web of ‘received doctrine’ of intelligence and choice. He aligns this doctrine with three assumptions of rational decision making (the pre-existence of purpose, the necessity of consistency and the primacy of rationality). Any e-Learning approach is judged by the objectives and purposes it sets (and not always achieves), the importance of ensuring that consistency is achieved across disciplines and through qualifications usually resulting in the provision of a lowest common denominator service (where the least controversial aspects become the organisational norm) and that the rational expectations of faculty and student experience are indeed more primary to the aspirational expectations of people choosing to innovate, experiment and push boundaries.

March argues that we as adults have constructed a world in which we know what is good for ourselves. We ‘know’ the consequences of any decision we or others make, whilst children are freed from this rationality and predictive intelligence. The result in the case of institutional resistance to technology is a series of common mantras….

#‘It’s a nice idea, but it won’t work’,
#‘It would be good to do if we had more time’
#’I am sure it’s a great thing with the kind of students YOU teach, but with my kind of students…’
#’The lecture has worked for 125 years, why do we need to change it?’
#’Students don’t know what they want, but our employer’s sure do’

So, why do we find it hard to even have these debates without resorting to a series of well-worn defences based on our understandings of what are the almost guaranteed consequences of what is being proposed? March argues that for effective decision making we need to ‘suspend (our) rational imperatives towards consistency’. What does this mean in terms of e-Learning? For me, this is about introducing conceptual and attitudinal behaviours into higher education design, pedagogy and management that will not always embraced, either by staff overworked at the coalface or by management beset by constraints and objectives too often in conflict or contrary to the philosophical intent of the academy.

March describes these behaviours in the context of what he calls the ‘technology of foolishness’. Linked closely to the notions of play, where the usual rules are suspended allowing us to seek out new rules through experimentation and reject the usual objections to rational behaviours or accepted intelligence. Resistance to technology in higher education occurs despite the overwhelming evidence of societal change arising from the internet and social media (technology-change sceptics? Technology change is not man-made perhaps?). People who play with technology in higher education are often seen as zealots, tinkerers, or techies or at best, early adopters. Their work is often marginalised to their own context, shared with the converted and siloed within e-Learning-centric activity and practice. Many institutions still actively separate learning and e-Learning as if the ‘e’ part of this cutting edge experimental state is not really the same as teaching. Comparing online learning and face to face teaching is seen as not comparing apples with apples. The debates around using technology and changing pedagogy are positioned as dichotomous, mutually exclusive and competing paradigms, ignoring the decades of successful and innovative blended learning.

Take the dreaded MOOC debate. This has become rent with almost an ideological extremism bordering on George W Bush’s euphemistic ‘you are with us or against us’ argument. I recently presented at a MOOC conference where I took what I thought was a fairly critical approach to the debates around the impacts of MOOCs on HE. Granted it was to a room of MOOC advocates and providers, so ‘fox in a henhouse’ was probably an appropriate metaphor. But I felt, not through any comments or questions or responses, that I needed to temper my opinions a little, ensure it was clear that I was not a MOOC sceptic or technology neophyte making uninformed observations around a well understood field. What became clear to me after presenting these opinions in a number of places is that there is an accepted and arguably melodramatic narrative that MOOCs will change the world, the education has already passed a tipping point, weak brands will die and strong brands will survive, just like the music industry. Anyone who argues against this is misinformed, ignorant or an idealist pining for the days gone by. And it is easy to portray those who disagree with you as naysayers, luddites or people who just don’t get it. Now, this is not a universal set of behaviours. I have had some engaging and pragmatic debates with MOOC players, and both our understandings are better for it.

As a sector it is critical that we apply the same rigour and criticality to our own behaviours as we do to our students and our research. We need to be able to engage in debates, discussions and experiments at an institutional level. It is equally important that these debates are not just navel gazing or pointless circles of rhetoric and opinion. They need to be centred on questioning the key assumptions made in our delivery of learning and teaching.

Graeme Gibbs wrote his seminal piece ‘Twenty terrible reasons for lecturing’ in 1981, yet 34 years on we are still arguing about it and every word he said is prescient today as it was then.  Now, we can assume that, for example, the debate around the lecture has been won and the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the sage (by sheer evidence of activity). We can equally assume that it is harder to change the status quo than it is to accept it. But for me the debate that occurs around the lecture is not interesting. It is like a football game, where one team keeps back passing and plodding around until the other guys get a chance to do the same. March equally agrees that a dichotomous ‘one or the other’ approach will get us nowhere in enhancing and promoting innovative decision making. He argues for a combination of foolishness and rationality that will allow for the development of ‘unusual combinations of attitudes and behaviours supported by an embracing of playfulness and inconsistency. The ability of an institution to embrace and celebrate real innovation is crucial. The ability to reconsider what we consider success and failure and how we let these expectations shape the way we implement and evaluate new ideas and strategies.

“…an education that is understood in complexity terms cannot be conceived in terms of preparation for the future. Rather, it must be construed in terms of participation in the creation of possible futures” Davis and Sumara (2009)

What does this mean for those of us who are arguing for new approaches for teaching and learning? Are we ground down by these resistances, the side-tracking and the endless debates about the same thing? We need to re-examine the way we approach the debates around the efficacy or importance of making change. These are three fairly general observations I would make, that might represent a starting point to the debate. I will note that these could be seen as entirely aspirational or perhaps idealistic. In the light of my previous reflections, I just say, SO WHAT! Debate me!!

1. We must create and nurture an organisational culture that supports innovation. People who experiment and challenge rules and recognised ways of doing things are not rebels, or radicals or crazies. Innovation comes from places that can’t be actively pigeonholed or defined. An organisational imperative to support innovative practice is crucial. The ability to fail in those innovations equally critical. What does it look like? No idea! It will be different from one place to the next. Not everyone can do the 3M model. But what is important is that innovation is not a buzzword, or a work package. Innovation is a culture; it is an attitude to challenging the status quo and actually having the will and support to change if it proves necessary. People doing innovative stuff need to get rewarded and celebrated.

2. We must accept that there is a role of ambiguity, chaos and uncertainty in an organisation. Now, any one of us who has been in HE for any length of time is pretty well screaming at the top of their lungs – WELCOME TO MY LIFE! And yes, that much is true. These factors have often been linked with fear and paralysis to provide a gorgeous and lush motivational cocktail for faculty and staff in HE. But, the ability of staff to dive in without knowing the answer, develop counter-intuitive approaches to learning design, use technology in a way that seems to be against the institutional systems put in place to govern it and share those experiences in an environment of support not defence, will at least encourage them to try again. At best it will be the game changing, epoch making thing that MOOCs will never be. How did we come up with the model of teaching and learning we use now…someone tried something different and it worked. Wonder if they were regarded as pariahs?

3. We must understand how learning has already changed and in what ways do we need to respond to the change. The learners arriving at university are already e-learners, with lives lived in a post-digital world, where there is no real and online world, there is just the world. They have developed skills for living in a 21st century world which are different or at least adapted from those required to live in a pre-digital world. Technology is not class or category of learning. It is a means, a society changing and generation shaping means. It is transformative, emancipatory, democratic (for now), challenging and contrary. Institutions have to develop the skills of adaptation, agility, flexibility and criticality around technology and its impact on learning. The line between learning and eLearning is already well and truly blurred. Perhaps it needs to vanish altogether.

My final quote from March goes a little like this, ‘There is little magic in the world, and foolishness in people and organisations is one of the many things that fail to produce miracles’. I don’t have a magic bullet, or equally bulletproof case studies that prove beyond this will work. This is however, the debate we have to have. The debate that we need to start in order to challenge, reinforce or change the way we do higher education. Do I have solutions, answers, suggestions or models that might help? Yes, of course! You can dig through the archives of this blog for the views of a range of eminent scholars, practitioners and rock and roll victims (I will leave it to you to decide which I am!). But perhaps in a small way, each of us engaging in this debate will go some of the way to ignoring the hyperbole and get to the heart of what learning and teaching will look like in the post-digital age. And yes, it will more than likely have to be revolutionary or at least different from what went before.

 

Follow me and more of these debates on twitter @peterbryantHE

ReferencesDavis, B., & Sumara, D. (2009). Complexity as a theory of education. TCI (Transnational Curriculum Inquiry), 5(2), 33-44.
March, J. G. (1976). The technology of foolishness. Ambiguity and choice in organizations, 69, 81.

Posted by: Posted on by Peter Bryant

Jul 21 2014

The Centre for Learning Technology are now Learning Technology and Innovation

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Learning_Technology_and_Innovation-RED

The Centre for Learning Technology (CLT), the hub for technology-focused innovation in teaching and learning at LSE, are now Learning Technology and Innovation (LTI). The new name better reflects our aim to bring new and innovative ideas to LSE and the wider academic community.

As always, the team will continue to work with staff on digital literacy, flipping lectures, Moodle and other technologies supporting teaching and learning at LSE.

Along with a new name, we also have new office in the lower ground floor of Aldwych House. Contact details, email addresses and the website will gradually changing over the next few months with no interruption of service. You can email us via lti.support@lse.ac.uk, as well as by calling us on 020 7849 4697.

Posted by: Posted on by Arun Karnad Tagged with: , ,