Keynote: Conole - Innovation through design: new approaches to learning and teaching

Keynote by Grainne Conole, Cambridge International Conference of Open & Distance Learning, 24/09/09

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Gráinne Conole
13 September 2009

This cloud has been set up for my keynote at the Cambridge International Conference of Open and Distance Learning 2009 on 24th September 2009.This cloud can also be used as a discussion space around the themes and issues raised in the keynote.

The talk focuses on work we are undertaking as part of the OU Learning Design Initiative and the Hewlett-funded Olnet initiative. A key focus of our work is the development of tools, methods and approached to support the desing of innovative learning activities and Open Educational Resources (OER). The website provide further details on both initiatives and links to assocaited tools, resources and publications. For this keynote I want to focus in on one strand of our work; namely how to leverage technologies to promote bettter sharing and discussing of learning and teaching ideas and designs.

When asked what they would find most helpful to enable them to use technologies more in their teaching, most teachers say "give me examples, in my subject area" and "point me to relevant people I can discuss these issues with". Web 2.0 technologies - with their emphasis on sharing, networking, user production, seem to offer the solution. However uptake and use of web 2.0 sites such as Facebook, Ning, Flckr, and Twitter for educational purposes has to date being marginal.

Some of the key questions in relation to this work are:

  • Why have web 2.0 technologies not been taken up more extensively in learning and teaching?
  • What are the barriers to teachers sharing and discussing their learning and teaching ideas and designs?
  • How can social networking practices be harness and used in an educational context?

Also see related clouds and ongoing discussions on these issues:

The talk will then outline the development of a social networking site for learning and teaching, cloudworks; which is attempting to apply web 2.0 practices to support dialogue and sharing around learning and teaching ideas and designs.



Contact details: Grainne Conole,

Extra content

The two cloudworks paper provide an outline of the development of cloudworks todate. The Ascilite one provides details of the theoretical basis for the concept and in particular the notions of "social objects' and designing for sociality. The Computers and Education paper provides details of the design decisions and associated evaluation of use of the site. The chapter in the book by Tait et al. provides an historical reflection on the origins of the OU Learning Design Initiative work. Finally, the Ariadne article outlines some of the pedagogical schema/design methods we have been developing.

Gráinne Conole
06:25 on 24 September 2009

Summary of the discussion so far:

  • Academics allegiance to their disciplines
  • Sharing as a cultural practice
  • What are the different motivations and reasons for individuals to particiate – to share and discuss?
  • Institutional VLEs as a barrier to Web 2.0, but also the VLE as a “safe harbour”
  • Time is the main barrier, but also speed of change
  • Lack of involvement because “that’s what learning technologists do”
  • Web 2.0 practices need to become part of normal practices
  • Issues in terms of staff illiteracies with new technologies

Gráinne Conole
06:31 on 24 September 2009

This work is part of the OU Learning Design Initiative and Olnet. People involved include:

  • Giota Aleveizou, Andrew Brasher, Paul Clark, Simon Cross, Juliette Culver, Andrea De Santos, Rebecca Gallley, Patrick McAndrew, Elpida Makriyannis, Paul Mundin, Martin Weller, Tina Wilson.
  • Juliette Culver is the site developer and Rebecca Galley is helping in terms of site use and moderator

We would like to thank the OU for strategic funding to support this work, also the JISC as part of their Curriculum Design Programme and the Willaim and Flora Hewlett Foundation for funding Olnet.

Gráinne Conole
07:38 on 24 September 2009

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