Friday, 9 May 2014

#OCTEL - WEEK 1 – Concepts and strategies for Learning Technology

Hmm. I thought I might actually join in live for the ocTEL week 1 webinar, however... I mixed up my international time zones and tried to login in leading up to 9:30pm Thursday evening only to find the session was long over. I believe I was 24 hours too late... This is the second webinar on offer in this ocTEL course, available as a Blackboard Collaborate recording or via YouTube. I have watched both webinars so far via BB Collaborate, but am wondering if YouTube might be the better option, particularly if you want to 'rewind' a little without having to have all messages re-loading, and if you don't care too much about what's happening in the chat field.

     Strategies for Learning Technology - ocTEL 2014 Week 1 Webinar

The two key presenters this week (about 25 minutes each)were:
  • Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou - University of Bath
  • James Little - University of Leeds
Anagnostopoulou talked first, on technology decisions from learning framework and learning design perspectives. Little talked on a wider context of learning technology (and threw in a picture of Sydney Harbour Bridge for us Aussies - well, to illustrate a point...)

     Starting with closing

I am starting with the speakers respective closing remarks (paraphrased to be best of my memory):

Anagnostopoulou closing summary:
When choosing learning technology, it really needs to add to the learning experience; it really needs to enhance it; it needs to be unique and not bolted-on or a nice-to-have.

Little closing summary:
Pedagogy over technology; focus on purpose of education rather than the tool (consider it right at the beginning of any ed tech decision making process); apply theories to aid in selection of ed tech; share and gain ideas through multiple perspectives (therefore, don't be insular).

     Learning framework  and learning design perspectives

Anagnostopoulou, after a quick straw poll of audience job roles (and participants a little confused on whether to put indicators in chat field, poll field, or direct on slide), spoke on the straddling domains of academic, administration, and technical roles. Presented in a venn diagram, she noted that the ed tech implementors end up in the middle, having to deal with all three of these domains.

'Embeddedness' was given some importance as a measure of success, due to the need to embed technology into the curriculum, student support, existing practices, assessment, learning experiences, and more.

Learning design was given welcome attention. Promoted by reminders such as:
  • ultimately it is about the learning
  • constructive alignment, supported by the familiar diagram of a triangle with 'learning design' in the middle and in synch at each apex 'learning outcomes', 'teaching methods', 'assessment'.
Discussion then moved onto a couple of models for learning design, such as Ron Oliver's model with learning tasks, learning resources and learning supports,  recommended as it conceptualises the requirements well. Anagnostopoulou gave two example to highlight the use of this model, both involving Wikipedia as the resource. One a textual subject where students were required to create a Wikipedia resource based on an American studies topic of their choice, and another a visual subject, where students were asked to create landscape architecture images to edit into Wikipedia pages to support them visually. The overview of these two examples was rather inspiring. These students ended up creating better quality work, probably because of the intrinsic motivation of having good work 'out there' publicly and for an authentic purpose. 

See; we can love Wikipedia in academia rather than just pooh-pooh it. It is easily accessible, collaborative, open to peer review... Like any technology, it can purposeful when matched appropriately with well-designed learning.

Dominique Verpoorten et al's 8 Learning Events Model was discussed briefly, in that students only ever do eight things (or derivatives of)., which can help structure designs of intended learning.

Anagnostopoulou talked on the course she co-teaches. It attracts a large volume of students from across 44 countries, but still it allows flexibility, such as students setting their own course objectives (albeit, they must set them in line with the broader objectives of the course). Within the course design, technology is only a small part, while the big decisions are based pedagogical issues. 

     Wider context of learning technology

Little discussed a UCISA report, the 2012 Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning for Higher Education in the UK, and it's 22 specific drivers for ed tech in the UK. Heavily summarised, Little noted these drivers, such as increased quality in L&T, wider participation/inclusiveness, attracting/impressing students, competitive advantage, cost efficiencies, and more.

Little also noted staff and student perspectives, such as a noted skill gap for staff in ed technology, and for students:
  • technology ubiquitous so expect it in education
  • not all students have same relationship with technology
  • expect technology to just work (therefore, not get in the way).
Current students experience expectations of use but not sure how to ACTUALLY use technology for learning. Little thankfully didn't extol the widely disputed Prensky digital native after a certain date theory, but instead he used the JICS differentiation of:
  • digital resident: lives a percentage of their life online
  • digital visitor: uses web as a tool in organised manner whenever the need arises
Little also referred to:

Critical voices were referred to, including:
  • Njenga and Fourie (2010) on rhetoric as there is still a gap between what the literature says and how ed tech is implemented
  • Guri-Rosenblit (2005) on paradoxes in implementation of tech, such as the preparation and readiness for higher education to realise the potential of ed tech.

Little spends time noting the importance of Communities of Practice (CoP), but a range to get multiple perspectives, for example
  • tool related
  • approach, such as blended learning 
  • across regions (notes existing groups M25 and MELSIG)
  • sharing approaches (notes ALT, JISC, onTEL).

And finally we get to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Using an image of this famous Australian bridge, Little discusses the bridge in the journey of development, and the bridge of skills and roles required; from the familiar to the unfamiliar; the need for increased staff confidence so we can increase student confidence with ed tech; evaluate and interpret solutions backed up by pedagogical theory and frameworks; provide staff development on specific tools; enable students and staff to be creative, critical and inquisitive!


  1. Hi Meg..
    Nice to see you here. ("Remember the pact!")
    I was just thinking I might have to go back to listen to Week 1 when I ran across your blog and this helpful summary.
    Of course I should form my own opinions.. but this was so much more time efficient. And that suits for immediate purposes of getting me back in the swing. Plus there's the collateral of way more detail in the notes than I'd ever actually record myself.
    Now I just need to work out how worried I am about NOT getting the relevant badge!
    (Interesting how the good person completer - the kindergarten star-charter - quietly lurks, huh? How also that sense of filling out the territory in a more concrete way reassures...)

    1. Hi James!
      Here I was thinking that my only audience of my #ocTEL posts was myself, to find I have 3 comments from May - how exciting! Two early ones from the good people organising ocTEL, and this one from my fellow TEL-type conference buddy :-)
      I hope you are getting lots out of ocTEL. I am; I wish I had more time to spend on the activities and resources, as they are good value so far. This might be the first MOOC I actually complete...
      I'll look out for you in the ocTEL pages!
      With respect for the pact (LOL),