Explorer activity 1.4. What’s the theory?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  jojacob_uk 6 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #13145

    guy saward

    Rather than repost the briefing in this topic (which doesn’t work well anyway) you can find it in week 1 activities, explorer activity 1.4.

    My thoughts on two examples of the impact of tech on enhancing learning should appear shortly.  For the record, I am looking at Eric Mazur’s flipped classroom with clickers vs Moocs.

    • This topic was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by  guy saward.
  • #13403

    guy saward

    I would agree that in theory people can learn just as much without attending a classroom session – depending on the learning design, curricula, and as you say the right support structure.  On the other hand, there are certain features of the face to face environment that are hard to replicate – starting with body language, and moving on to the potential intensity of the interaction.

  • #13713

    Gary Vear
  • #26092


    I really enjoyed Sugata Mitra’s presentation, and his experiments in non-directive learning were fascinating. I experienced a similar non-directive approach in an Open University module (H818) where each participant had to come up with a project and an ‘artefact’ to present at an online conference at the end of the module. We were supported in our choices, and in how to prepare for the conference, but what we learned about, how we did it and what we made were entirely our choices. It made for a fascinating conference – check out the #h818 Twitter feed if you are curious. The conference was not our final assessment though.

    The thing that struck me about Mitra’s experiments was finding the time to incorporate this kind of approach into a tightly packed curriculum. The experiments Mitra presented were a bit out of time, or out of timetable, and there was no high stakes assessment at the end as there is in many of our programmes. I love the idea of just letting people loose, but don’t feel I have the luxury of time.

    Mitra’s approach is really learner-centred and for many learners highly motivating to have the freedom to learn in this way. In a work situation, this is often what we do when we need to solve a problem – we google, we ask people, we experiment… There is no set answer and we work it out – ‘wicked problems’ if you like. So the approach has real world application beyond education. I’m just not sure it fits with the kind of assessment criteria our high stakes education assessments use. This is not an argument for not taking Mitra’s approach, but perhaps an argument for changing how we assess learners.

  • #13216

    guy saward

    For reference, SAMR = substitute, augment, modify, redefine

    So, here’s my take on Mazur’s approach to the flipped classroom using “lecture” time to help the assimilation of information transferred outside of the classroom.  Using the SAMR model it is possible to see the technology of clickers or EVS as a substitution for getting students to put their hands up. The technology could even be used as an augmentation, if you use the EVS data to send out personalised recommendations of alternative transmission to selected students.  Its one up on the “If you didn’t get more than 5 of these problems right you need to reread chapter 7”.

    However, the key modification/redefinition that occurs in the flipped classroom is not technology driven, it is based on pedagogy – changing the order (if not the responsibility) for the transmission and assimilation.  The technology might help the practicalities (for assimilation in class, or access to resources for outside info transmission) or selling the change but is not required.

    This contrasts dramatically with Moocs as presented by Siemens, in which he advocates institutions giving up providing physical spaces for learning interactions.  The technology enhancement is letting students bring their own online learning spaces*, whether its SecondLife (so noughties?) or blogs.

    As with the flipped classroom, the technology is only an enabler to the modification or redefinition of the pedagogy.  Its is obviously possible to take a social constructivist view of education in a “bricks and mortar” learning space.  So while according to Siemens an institution might typically wrap social interactions around basic content (e.g. read this book, lets have a seminar/tutorial to discuss), the idea of the Mooc is to use open tools to generate extensions to the basic content (like this post).  If we had the time and space we could get these kinds of discussions going, if not at the same scale.

    The more important change where a Mooc is a better** example of TEL, is Siemens’ view that the (Mooc) content is catalyst for learning and developing a network of connections to people (though it could be other resources).  The legacy of learning in this way is not just assimilation of the transmitted content (to use Mazur’s terminology) but is the network of connections. And that this network is supported and only made possible by the open learning spaces that participants bring and maintain and have access to after a course officially closes.

    Another interesting point raised by Siements is that the concept of a Mooc raises idea about “what is possible”, i.e. the higher levels of SAMR. Interestingly, he paints a picture of the Internet giving lots of new things to do, which challenges existing notion of the classroom, based on the principles of way finding, and social sense making.

    However, I think it is possible that Moocs can be in danger of falling into the flipped classroom style of innovation, whereby the technology is introduced but the pedagogy remains the same.  This can be seen in the split between (constructivist?) cMoocs and (extended?) xMoocs, with the latter seeming more like Skinner’s learning machines (as shown or discussed in this weeks activities).

    As a final remark, I would point out that in the way of all things the split between xMooc and cMooc, or technology vs pedagogy is not black and white.  Siemens himself, talks about the internet/moocs as providing an easy way of amplifying the effect of learning based on existing educational experiences.  Maybe not so much a revolution after all.

    As ever, comments are appreciated!


    * It is possible to propose a new acronym – BYOLS – although this might confuse learning spaces with light sabres or lamp shade.  Also looks/sounds too close to boils for me.

    ** i.e. at a higher level in the SAMR model


    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by  guy saward.
  • #13585

    ed3d (Peter)

    Second Life still exists, of course, although the number of educators there is diminished somewhat, in part due to the removal of the education discount in 2010-ish. Of course, its potential as a 3D space for creativity was appropriated to a large degree by Minecraft. There is an open source variant of SL called OpenSim that has numerous advantages, e.g. you can run both client and server from a 2GB USB stick as well as behind a firewall. There is a barrier in terms of requiring a decent graphics card although there is a viewer that will run on low-end PCs and, indeed, support a screen reader. There is also a nascent 3D internet based on a technology known as the hypergrid that allows an avatar to traverse different grids (servers). Computer Science at St Andrews have been notably active in using OpenSim for historical reconstructions (St Andrews Cathedral, Linlithgow Palace, etc) and these are accessible on the hypergrid.

    I’d very much like to see students actively engaged in developing learning spaces and where appropriate using technology such as OpenSim to do this. On the other hand pre-built simulations are often migrated to Unity3D which supports a wider range of platforms and is generally more stable. The two technologies are to a degree complementary.

  • #13231


    Hi Guy

    If I understand you correctly you are pointing out that flipping a classroom needs to also deliver better results which comes back to setting “higher” pedagogy objectives?

    I agree that using technology to allow learners to assimilate the content, whilst creating PLN’s is a big advantage of a TEL. I think an important thing to also consider are those people that are the digital residents, and for that, the under weighing advantage of TEL, in my opinion, is that you are being inclusive both in terms of people who want to learn in that way and also to those people who want the information now.

    Expanding on your point regarding Pedagogy – I am trying to get my team to think about the business impact of what they do in the classroom. Who knows but I would go as far as saying that in our current setup I could learn just as much information (with the right support structure) from not even attending a classroom session.

    How about those programs that are 4 week residential’s away from the family – This is a perfect opportunity to remove some of those sections where you are, as a trainer, you talk they listen and assimilate what you telling them.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by  stuartryan9.
  • #13887

    guy saward

    Thanks Peter for heads up on latest dev in 3d online learning spaces. V useful

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