Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Learning 1.0 and Learning 2.0

I started writing this item last December, but saved it as a draft and forgot about it. It is still relevant so here it is six months later.

I've been waiting for ages to hear Ewan's talk at the OU in Cardiff, both Catherine and Rob had mentioned on the Learning Zone how useful it was, so I managed to find 40 minutes today to listen to him.

Ewan draws together some of the Web 2.0 ideas with great clarity. He makes clear that Learning, teaching and thinking are distinct in the existing environment and not necessarily well enabled with our existing style of delivery.

The lecture is often one way and if interactive, normally only with a small number of students. Small groups become friendly with the tutor, they ask for help and tutors have special groups - but these groups are cliques, not maximisation of learning. This is mirrored in FirstClass, Blackboard etc, with small numbers being part of any discussion.

Even in seminar sessions this can happen. There is no thinking time, cliche tutor groups have individual leaders who can dominate the learning focus. Otherwise students just rely on the library.

Learning 2.0 is based on the concepts of Web 2.0 - learning by conversation, not by direction. Conversation is perceived as a normal form of learning.

The tools include blogs, podcasts, Wikis etc, but the tools are less important than what they do for the learner, and for those who are supporting the learning..

There are significant barriers to us as teachers and designers being involved in this. We have to do what we do at present well, do we have time to innovate? I certainly hope so.

However with a new generation, students will do this themselves, so we need to facilitate that learning. This movement is about conversation - young people pick up their mobile and text (should I say txt) friends

We know students lose stuff in courses stored on paper or in the VLE. But in they are visible and can be used again - safe in cyberspace.

A student can compare views with everyone in the world - evaluate other users both by who they are and by what they say.

These students now have a wide source of knowledge and we academics need to provide the skills to construct knowledge. This knowledge is open flow - not controlled by gatekeepers. So our role changes from one of gatekeepers (which I hope it never was) to one of knowledge brokers. People who are researchable.

This is a challenging vision, but one which we need to get academics to engage with. This links to the wider debate which the HEA is having about linking research and teaching, not in some false way but by helping our students become researchers in the way that Mick Healey and Alan Jenkins argue in their recent HEA Report

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Connectivism and Learning

Having identified the useful work of George Siemens from a couple of talks at Educa I decided to discover more about his work.

The links between it and the material found within the KM literature by people like Dave Snowdon is really useful. It seems that my own interest in KM has a direct link to the way the learning literature is developing - really useful in my new job.

Siemans' work on Connectivity and Web 2.0 challenges some of the preconceptions about the way people learn and a call to develop an end user designer of learning and other processes online. This is well outlined in his Articulate presentation.

A key point he makes is that these tools are already there - Blogs, wikis, aggregators etc. The barrier is our ability to conceptualise approaches which allow these to be forms of learning. This needs a complete refocusing from learning as managed by teachers, to learning as managed by learners. As someone involved in adult education this is appealing but very challenging. It is a new view of Personal Knowledge Management.

Thus we need to move from Content Management Systems approaches to delivering content to learners, to opening up the range of sources to the learners so the have connections to constantly update their knowledge not merely wait until they come to their next course.

This is at the heart of lifelong learning, because this becomes a way of being not just a way of learning.

I need to think much more about this, but welcome anyone who is also thinking in this area to share their ideas.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Well here I am in Berlin. Listening to a talk about why National E-Learning unadvised.

An example of failure in the UKeU was given by Paul Bacsish then examples were given from Switzerland, Estonia and Sweden in each case the model developed is quite different. Some strongly working in collaborations between HEIs (Estonia), others focusing on being portals for content from a variety of institutions (Switzerland).

My big question is the one of sustainable - what happens after the project funding runs out?

It seems that the models like UKeU which focused on marketing other peoples course work less well than those models focusing on being a portal with a clear national agenda of providing more accessible learning what ever the source.

An interesting thought, the issues post ECW are reflected again in these contexts.

This needs more thought before we have effective models of learning which allow for the best of collaboration without the fear of traditionally shaped organisations??