Ann's oldsmooc week 2

Cloud created by:

Ann Pegg
17 January 2013

Design outcomes Explore and represent context in relation to your design challenge. Well, could be a challenge as not clear on design intention. Perhaps personalised learning, or institutional interdisciplinary curriculum? Communicate and receive feedback on your analysis of context for your design challenge. Could Bronwyn, Huugues and terry help here? Does it need a team? Gain insights into your design challenge by applying one or more contextual learning design approaches. Happy to try this. Learning outcomes Review & revise your understanding of learner context and it's relevance to learning design. Increase your awareness of approaches to context for learning design. Evaluate the relevance of contextual approaches to your own learning design practice. Plan further learning about contextual approaches. Most interested in ecology, but need to look at other options/strategies.

Extra content

Snowy Sunday 20th Jan  (also adding this comment here as learning blog getting a little long)

Catch up Sunday again,  but that's OK. 

During the week I did browse the (somewhat fewer) senarios and team issues appearing.  It seems as though discussions are largely happening elsewhere - did catch up with some on twitter, and nice to invited to the 'lost' cloud.  Thought today that I would have a look at the issue of context and the different types suggested for this week, personas, force flow and ecologies of learning. 

First, on context. 

The issue of context is always problematic, and I revisited Richard Edwards  (2005,2006 and see below)  work from the TLRP (Teaching and Learning Research Project) for some of the debates that he looked at there - considering Wenger and situated learning, Actor Network Theory, Engestrom's ryzhomatic learning (not sure of spelling !) and the issue of techologies and learning where complexity and network theories abound.   I tend to agree that perhaps it is not really useful to separate out the 'person' from the context - the person probably is the context - a social practices type of approach - as the person only makes relevant to their context what they want to - even if it is provided to support their learning they may ignore it -  (as certainly I have here in not signing up to a facebook account to join a group!) .

Overall the most useful ideas seem to be to consider different 'strata' to prevent an attempt at mapping the whole world, which the ecologies network approach seem to move to in some places.  So strata can be workplace, home, study interest area (domain), university, school, social club, informal network of friends, etc   and this then focusses our attention on how permeable these strata may be and if, whether, there are links across these strata ( across boundaries) and how these are working.

So if a context is the person in a strata of operation then the context for learning is a 'frame' for learning about something within the strata,  the resources that might be drawn on to support or scaffold that learning then, I think, could be 'mapped', or at least in thinking about researching how learning is scaffolded, we could usefully map the way interactions with people and things take place.  Of course what is always missing in a 'map' is the issue of time and agency, people are always disruptive!  Another good reason for allowing the learner to co-contribute to the shape of any learning design as it takes place.

Ecologies of learning:   

The main issue for me here, apart from trying to 'map the world' is that Lucking says (p117)  'by definition a Learner -centric Ecology of Resources can have only one learner at its centre'   so how can learning design as an activity achieve its aims to be a broad enough activity to cater for the groups, university level curriculum design claimed for it at the start of this course as a new 'design' science?  I am struggling with this issue of 'teacher led design' yet putting students at the heart of learning, particularly when we have issues of mass education to consider. 

Personas though are even less satisfactory for me - they seem to be reducing the amount of recognition of the learner as an active participant and in some cases becoming close to stereotyping!  How would one deal with the many varied 'personas' within one group of learners in learning design?  with an institutional curriculum does this reduce to 'who are are customers?' and assumptions about their learning agendas and needs?    

None of these are easy questions to resolve  - and certainly the ecologies approach comes closest for me to what might be useful for a 'teacher' designing for another - scaffolding is good, and looking at resources seems valuable.  

I continue in my quest to see if a learning design approach can fit a 'larger' curriculum than one leaner, one learning activity........

On power

Hugues made an interesting point on teams -  and learning design being always centred on the knowledge and course initially designed by the professor.  If that is the case can we say that Learning Design is student centred?  it seems in the explanations I have read that the move from 'instructor' to learner centred is far enough for some -  student centred seems to imply losing control over the 'knowledge' to be imparted. And I think imparted is the key issue here -  because does LD always direct the learner to the 'right' answer - in some cases it seems so.   The more interesting examples of LD that avoid this are concered with empowering learning - say digital literacy, or design for a learner to design their own learning.......   so,  Does scaffolding learning always imply power -  Friere didn't think so, but that was learning from the heart - to support others,  not to support the financial and knowledge interests of the large institutions designing learning for others.... a problem Yishay wants to change from within.  

  •  R. Edwards, G. Biesta and M. Thorpe (2009) (eds) Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching, London: Routledge.
  • T. Fenwick, R. Edwards and P. Sawchuk (2011) Emerging Approaches to Educational Research: Tracing the Sociomaterial, London: Routledge.

Ann Pegg
12:21 on 20 January 2013

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Hugues Chicoine
4:10am 18 January 2013 (Edited 4:22am 18 January 2013)

Ann Pegg wrote : "Could Bronwyn, Hugues and Terry help here? Does it need a team?"

Hugues replies: No team absolutely required, providing that (i) professor is the sole author of the course using tools he/she masters, or (ii) course is designed and produced around a textbook. In many cases, learner context is not raised because the professor decides to tutor as well (not a trivial decision) in order to avoid making them insecure (although minimim specifications need to be met sometimes--prerequisites, technical hardware or software, writing style, ...).

 (i) I have encountered and analysed one case where the professor designed and wrote his program (eleven courses) using word processing only. The university's editing department (technical team) was required to mediatise this material in HTML and downloadable documents. This approach is very effective and not to be discounted (MIT online courses often of this nature and self-contained).

This other professor wrote a book and now uses it as a textbook in an online course that he himself prepared in the institutional authoring software (the professor had basic HTML experience) ; the course was processed and dressed by technicians and programmers. This other professor integrally prepared a course in a wiki environment; the university's editing department (technical team) was required to mediatise this material in HTML. This other professor designs and produces all his courses in whatever environment he sees fit and technicians need only provide services to set the course to go enline. In this case the professor retained the possibility to edit the course when updates are required, and he tutors the course.    

 (ii) Other courses --and they are many-- are produced by quite a number of professors using textbooks in a variety of academic disciplines; the work is often accomplished by (education) research assistants able to manage IT and learning environments (team if you will). 

In these cases, all the significant decisions are taken by the professors with respect to relevant academic particulaties regardless of institutional (technical, i.e., moodle) yet within current policy context. Professors thus exercise the rights and privileges inherent to their employment (teaching) status.

 ... but most are entirely dependent on specialists individually or in teams, hence my attempt at outlining a learning design approach formulated as 'terms of reference'. 


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