Sunday, 24 January 2016

Reading Networked Learning as Experiential Learning

The last few days have been busy with trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up with general work, meet my plans for reading for the unit assignment, and planning a training day for a school in Hull around coding in the national curriculum.

In particular, in planning how to break the computing requirements and teaching ideas into small units that can then be built up for the training day has been tricky as I find it difficult to simplify something so inter-related into a simple ladder of progression. Still, at least at this stage of the course I can muse that I'm trying to use an Associative model and that is probably the problem...

This blog post from Educause Review is one I enjoyed and I think picked up ideas from.

The author, Gardner Campbell discusses a monograph by Kuh published in 2008 that describes high impact educational practices. Campbell argues that there should be an eleventh such practice - online networked learning (I suppose a situative approach). The discussion is really interesting and one I'd commend to anyone else on the Technology Enhanced Learning course, but for me the key quotation is:
"With networks replacing ladders and trees as a primary metaphor to describe the structures of knowledge, digitally networked learning becomes marvelously recursive as a site of integration: the very experience deepens learners' understanding of the condition of learning itself within a strongly social context that can mobilize communities of practice quickly and effectively."
Three things ring true for me in that segment:

  • The idea that learning can be (for me this is true) a process by which you work from a global understanding that recursively gets deeper and richer as you work through it, and possibly the reason why I'm struggling so much with my training day plan. I have never enjoyed learning as a sequence of discrete blocks that build up - I like to race ahead, see the big picture and then fill in the gaps according to need, interest or opportunity.
  • The notion that the interaction and discussion of the content and the way we're interacting with it is essential to getting a real understanding is one I'm trying to express in my current assignment about e-Pedagogy and staff development. I think the lack of that within my current course is one reason I'm now at a point where I'm finding it heavy going.
  • Mobilising a community of practice is an area I've been thinking about a lot on the context of teacher professional development. With almost every experience of online courses or communities I've had, a good platform and good resources does not lead to a thriving community interacting with it, indeed making the resources and the platform to deliver it is the easy part. I think in the reading I have planned there isn't enough around that question - we can all agree that communities of practice are "a good thing," but how to develop them?

Kuh's paper is "High-Impact Educational Practices: What They Are, Who Has Access to Them, and Why They Matter (Kuh): Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2008"

Kuh identified ten high impact practices from Higher Education, a useful summary is here:

  1. First-Year Seminars and Experiences - rich small group seminars that engage new members of the course community with leading practitioners.
  2. Common Intellectual Experiences - a strong core of broad themes shared by all learners.
  3. Learning Communities 
  4. Writing-Intensive Courses 
  5. Collaborative Assignments and Projects 
  6. Undergraduate Research
  7. Diversity/Global Learning
  8. Service Learning, Community-Based Learning 
  9. Internships
  10. Capstone Courses and Projects
For my current writing assignment for the Technology Enhanced Learning, I'm looking to see what research tells us to be the most effective practice when organising e-Learning for professional development of staff (teachers and support staff). Much of what I've been reading is around e-Pedagogy, MOOCs and mobile learning, but I think the opportunity to draw parallels between Kuh's work on what makes for the greatest impact in undergraduate study and ongoing professional development will be an interesting one.... if only I wasn't limited to 4500 words.

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