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Jones, O'Shea, Conole and Littleton

Summary of Jones, O'Shea, Conole and Littleton at CALRG 09 conference

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Doug Clow
18 May 2009

[Crossposted to Doug Clow's blog.]

Ann Jones

Firstproject, late 80s - tutorial CAL evaluation - a project called Cicero. Students accessed it by study centres or by post.  Findings: studentsfound it useful (17%!), but used it less over time. They talked aboutit being useful, but had a cost/benefit analysis in their mind ofpotential benefits versus percieved hassle of using it - in particularBad Computer Experiences, whether first-hand or indirect.  Things likebeing locked out of the terminal room, anxiety - fear of secretly beingassessed.

More recent approaches include Future TechnologyWorkshops - Mike Sharples and Giasemi Vavoula. Small teams createpossible future scenarios of technology that might support pedagogy. One idea - a little demon on your shoulder telling you informationabout things and people in your environment, and warning you.

ThenBubble Dialogue - to try to help children with social, emotional orbehavioural problems to communivate and express themselves. Speechbubbles shown above cartoony characters - intermediation, roleplay, toenable expression that'd otherwise be tricky. Quite strongemotive/aggressive stuff coming out.

Affect very important, and still is.

Tim O'Shea

Doesn't think the CAL group has missed much in the last 30 years. 

Sadto be an orphan - Leeds CBL unit, Xerox PARC - gone.  Tim and MarcEisenstadt saw those as the parents. MIT LOGO Lab - also gone.Edinburgh evolves, Stanford and Sussex survive, and child - LondonKnowledge Lab - looking lively.

CALRG did not look right - very junior staff, very democratic (anarchic), across faculties and a support unit. "Then you should have the whole university!" "Yes, but we can't persuade the Arts Faculty to join." IETuneasy about technology (David Hawkridge asked Tim at interview "Whenyou come here you're not going to do any of that computer stuff areyou?", and he fibbed and said no).  No big grants and no seniormanagement champion.

Had PhD students right from the start.Personal dynamic media, AI/symbolic computation, language &interface design, dev testing, student modelling, simulations, modelsand visualisation.  And applied the stuff to courses, rather under theradar.

Key projects early - Cyclops (Paul), CSCL (Robin & Tony),Special needs (Tom & Alistair), Theory (Pask 2 - Diana), HomeComputing (Norman), DESMOND (John), Shared-ARK (Randall).

Thefuture - Extreme Computing (HeCTOR & specks); Sensible Computing(quite smart via ML); Democratic Computing (wikis, eJournals); Hybridsystems (all modalities); learner/researcher continuum; big issue (foruniversities) - electronic assessment; non-issue - access or 'divide'.Technology has not plateaued - there will be bigger, faster computersthat can do more.

Heartbreaking thing about AI - when iteventually gets done, people don't notice it.  Starts with 'that can'tpossibly work', then taken for granted that system can learn stuff.Long-term dream: smellivision. Haptics and 3D and sounds and colour areall very well but we need smells.

Assessment is the keydistinguishing point of universities, and hence eAssessment is the keychallenge for the future. But the way we examine is not fit forpurpose. Using group work, net resources and so on ... then areassessed on high-level skills by sitting at a blank piece of paper witha biro. Need new ways to assess to capture the things they do.

Whyare we still here? Kept OU SMT happy 5%, CALRG clearly successful 8%,served university courses 10%, key to OU RAE 12%, recruited brightnewcomers 15%, knew the future 20%, happy & jolly community 30%.

Gráinne Conole

Wastold couldn't be professor of Educational Technology, chose Professorof e-Learning ... would now want to be Professor of Technology-EnhancedLearning.

There is an array of technologies ... not fullyexploited. Saw with the multimedia stuff in the late 80s and theemergence of the web, and still going on.

Potential for resuse with Open Educational Resources ... little evidence of reuse.

New pedgagogies and new learning models.

Learningdesign - to bridge the gap between the affordances of new technologies,characteristics of good pedagogy, and "Open Design" - making the designprocess more explicit and shareable.

Left university withchemistry degree and got a job. Graduate training programme with AlliedBakeries, became area retail manager for 150 staff in 10 outfits acrossLondon. Lasted a year, was absolutely hopeless at it, just wanted tohelp the staff learn, no interest in business models.  Then PhD inX-ray crystallography, then lecturer posts.  Broke from chemistry atUNL (now London Met), directed Learning and Teaching Innovation,Director of T&L Centre, head of Technology-based learning.  ThenDirector of ILRT in Bristol from 1999, then to Southampton in 2002.

Karen Littleton

Leverhulmeproject looking at children's computer-based problem solving. Computerswere very new in the classroom.  Questions: Are two heads better thanone? (Quasi-experimental design looking at outcomes versus pair workingor independent.)  Impact of gender and ability pairings? Features ofdialogue associated with learning outcomes and task performance. Indicators that joint planning positively affects them.

Manyother OU colleagues (CALRG) interested in that as a theme - Eileen, Kimon collaborative learning in primary science.   The quality of the talkand dialogue was not ideal - conflictual dynamics, simple turn-taking,withdrawal.  Much evidence that grouping at computers was common as astrategy, the quality of the joint activity was quite worrying. Working in groups but rarely as groups.

Distinctive kind ofinteraction, though: exploratory talk (Douglas Barnes). Tentativeexpression and evaluation of ideas as collective enterprise. Criticalbut constructive engagement, reasoned challenges.

So trying toencourage this - developed a teaching programme designed to try toensure children can add these ways of talking to their repertoires. Early work was looking at how children collaborate to learn; also abouthow to support children to collaborate and reason together.

'ThinkingTogether' is an example - 12 lessons, talk-based - to develop apositive culture of working and talking together. Ground rulesestablished then appplication to curriculum area.

Talk in face toface sessions happens in the moment; but computer-supported interactionoffer a half-way stage between that ephemerality and paper-basedpermanence.  They're captured, but still malleable.  Technologies forwriting and drawing can - sensitively deployed - strengthen dialogue.  They're an 'improvable object'. Teacher is central.

Robin Alexander - 'if classroom talk is to make a meaningful contribution to children's learning and understanding it must move beyond the acting out of [such] cognitively restricting rituals.'

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Patrick McAndrew
1:01pm 18 May 2009

Other notes from this session:

Ann talked about past projects linked by the theme of "Affect". The past project (from the 80's) looked at a computer system (Cicero) that had to be accessed via post! This was a time when using computers could be stressful because of uncertainty over whether doors would be unlocked. Ann then touched on the FTW work when we invented the whisperer. If it been developed for real  then I might have understood the bit in Welsh.

The early example was bubble dialogue - a simple program for giving dialogue to cartoons. The work clearly was quite powerful and Ann ended by asking for modern equivalent. I do wonder if Xtranormal or Comic Life could be used in this way - maybe the key is models of use rather than technology!

Tim O'Shea. Looked at the history and survival of CALRG over Leeds CBL, Xerox Parc, MIT LOGO - all now gone. The basis for CALRG was very democratic but soundly linked to ideas and skills that fitted to the OUs needs. His look to the future bringing out: Extreme (speckle computing), sensible (applied AI that works) and democratic computing (wikis and eJournals). And hbrid systems. Softer areas are learner/researcher merging together. His big issues was electronic assessment - but flagging up the supposed digital divide as a "non issue". CALRG itself was described as having several reasons to exist - but leading with knowing the future and especially being a "Happy and Jolly Community".

Grainne has come up with the label of Open Design for her work linking learning design and OERs. She then followed with a personal perspective on how she had come from Chemistry across to Learning Technology.

Karen looking at work with children and collaboration that could be supported with computers in the days when they were rare. This work came up with ideas of Exploratory Talk - which identified how computers in particular could help children think things through. Further  work led to designing a way to help children gain the right skills to discuss and work together. This work does sound like it could really help the teaching process but may face some barriers in being rolled out. The switch from teachers doing most of the talking to one where learners do.

Julie Carle
5:26am 13 August 2010 (Edited 5:27am 13 August 2010)

Patrick, I agree with your comment that Xtranormal could be used as bubble dialogue was. I have found it a powerful tool for dialogue as well as introducing strong emotive body language and enables expression. A useful role play tool. With its numerous templates, accents and easy text to movie technology it makes learning fun and creative for all. And if you don't digress from the default characters, it's free. I have been playing with different features to create movies in the Bob and Sue series in Cloudworks.

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