Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ascilite day 3


Third day of the conference dawns fine and sunny. After the best poster, paper awards, we are on to the keynote of the day with Professor Carmel McNaught from Chinese University of Hong Kong on technology supported innovation. Do we have adequate evidence for claims of success. Are core principle from one's own ontology transferable? Why, when we have so many tested tools and strategies, is the uptake of educationally sound learning designs limited? Presented on changing contexts, evaluation research and evaluation research, paradigms and mixed methods, LEPO framework and innovation life cycle, project examples, implications for institutional policy and processes and summary of principles. Recommended new media consortium annual horizon report for 2014. Need for continual evaluation and research to cope with fast pace of technological change. 
See McNaught(2011) on evaluation as part of blended designs. Philips, McNaught and Kennedy (2011) types of evaluating research (book-2012), the LEPO framework.McNaught, Cheng and Lam (2006) on good evaluation research. Reeves (2006) on design based research instead of predictive research. 
LEPO framework is on learning environment, processes and outcomes within an educational context. LE facilitate LP lead to LO which determine LE. Consider also the innovation life cycle, project management evaluation for baseline,messing, formative and effectiveness. 
Provided 5 examples. As overview see Lam, Lee and McNaught (2010;2011) found positive experiences for elearning if used to meet student learning needs. Examples from eportfolios with students learning English - needed buy in from teachers.
Use of forums across 13 courses - use SOLO to analyse quality of postings, forums worked if structured but student centred.
Mohan and Lam (2005) investment banking working on peer learning evaluation and assessments. 
Teachers using social media 
Implementing collaborative interdisciplinary scenario inquiry tasks in large science classes. University of Queensland and Australian learning and teaching council project. 
Interactive collaborative assessment system called IS-IT to allow group tasks and peer assessments to take place.
Implications - encourage students to do the work; reward through policies and processes. 

After morning tea, I pick up the learning analytics theme its associate professor Cathy Gunn's from University of Auckland paper on defining the agenda for learning analytics. Broad context of educational data mining, web analytics,ml earning analytics, recommender systems and business intelligence. Connect educational design research to learning analytics contribute to evidence based educational practice. McKenney and Reeves (2012) on educational design research. Potential of LA to add to data and achieve linking of assumptions about learning and learning design intent to the learner behaviour , learning processes and outcomes it produces in meaningful and reliable ways. Not just asking students but using LA in non invasive ways to find out similar things. Thing through what can really achieve with LA and we must do to exploit potential. How can we translate data to be meaningful to teachers? Can we convince our institutions we have a duty of care to use LA? 

Next presentation is on exploring students' interpretation of feedback delivered through learning analytics dashboards with Dr. Linda Corrin and Paula de Barba from the University of Melbourne. Current focus seems to focus on retention and providing data to academics. Need to provide data to students and support them with how to interpret and progress from data. 2000 plus students across 2 first year and 1 second year courses. LA needs to consider differences in learning design of courses. Pilot consisted of survey to capture demographics, think aloud interview in week 3, week 11 and final survey on motivation to study. Dashboard provided for access, learning activities, quizzes etc. themes were reflection, study strategies, motivation, class average, consolidated view and interpretation. Students could work out strategies but could not explain why. Motivation improved for most students. Consolidated view appreciated. Interpretation weak. Positive outcomes mostly. 

Last paper on the development of an application with process feedback to enhance student centred learning with Sudhakaran Edathil, Christopher Chin, Stephanie Zank, Dev Ranmuthugala and Susan Salter from University of Tasmania. Presented by Christopher Chin. Reinforced efficacy of timely feedback and examples of assessment and feedback tools available. Desire2learn but can be shifted across to other LmS. Learning mode is fully guided, assessment modems partially guided and assessments itself is not guided. The guided path scaffolds students with revealing each step in the algorithm and each step also has a hint to assist self learning. Student feedback positive on the process feedback tool. 

After lunch, comes the drive back home to Christchurch.

Next years Ascilite is in Perth hosted by Curtin University. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ascilite day 2 afternoon


After lunch Wayne McIntosh updates on OER university The OER foundation is a non profit organisation providing support for OER. oERu made up of an international collection of educational institutes. At the moment, NZ has 6 plus 2 none teaching organisations and Australia has 6. Made links between OER and sustainable business models. So how does OER contribute to the sustainability of your institute? Discussed copyright and absurdity in present world. Updated on Creative Commons licensing. BIG vision for institutions not provide only 2 courses to OERu and provide free learning opportunities to any learner. Assessments could be offered on fees for service model. OER provides support and technology services, content provided by institution and assessment and accreditation through fee for service. OER based on personalised learning environment with content on wiki educator and an aggregator to link other cloud based tools. Provided example presented by Niki Davis this morning on a course also linked to Moodle. So where do MOOCs stand? The university of Canterbury post grad course with 121 participants from 14 countries. Retention rate was good and integration of quality. Parallel modes of delivery with full fee paying students and open also to OERu courses raising international awareness of home institute and providing cross cultural experiences for students. OER is low cost and high impact. 

After the keynote, I attend the learning analytic SIG. Carolyn Steel provides parameters for SIGs. Shane Dawson is the leader but unable to be here, so Leah MacFadyn assist to gather objectives of the group. Ethics of data and data governance comes up as something everyone is interested in progressing. Need to share practice and use SIG site to collate resources. Collate various research projects completed and in progress. Group prioritised 4 activities to work towards. 

After afternoon tea, I catch up with Stephen Marshall and Jonathan Flutey's (from Victoria University) work on turning a digital vision to reality. Shared process of building support for technology and learning. Challenges identified in 2010 with a reactive unstructured adoption of technology, misuse of LMS as DMS, technology as admin rather than pedagogy etc. vision and strategy for 2012 to 2018 on university website. Focus on learning design and provision of a seamless service across all support and teaching learning. Technology facilitated student experience in terms of physical and digital facilities for formally scheduled learning, informal learning invited by student, individual learning supported by campus facilities and social community scholarly activities which are campus and public. Jonny provided example of introducing technology in specialised teaching areas and need to set up experimental rooms. Virtual innovation incubator to allow academics to play. Building capability is organisational with a start by stocktake of digital skills required. Goal orientated capability building eg. Flip classroom defined for process, pedagogy and technology with badges attached to each goal. Mentors identified to form distributed learning network.

Then a concise paper with John Clayton and Sarah-Jane Saravani on creating digital self reflective frameworks to encourage learner autonomy in post graduate courses. Shift from knowledge acquisition to how students learning. Move from knowledge management to portfolio focus. Critical skill for learner is reflection. Students provided framework to develops critical reflective skills. Tool build to provide students with needs analysis to self identify in 4 domains. Traffic light indicators provide information for student and tutors and assist start of conversation on student responsibility and support. The learner knows and needs scaffolding to work towards own learning goals through learning project. 

Attend SIG on  innovations in tertiary education delivery summit led by Peter Guerin from the NZ Ministry of Education. Peter provided background. Last year MOE provided a paper on MOOCs which led to conference on the broader range of innovative tertiary education. Out os the conference came issues like accreditation plus current system as not supporting students to move seamlessly through. Group discussed questions. How can providers design delivery to achieve consistent results and best support learners? What sorts of issues could arise from new models? What will happen for teaching and learning? Output and outcomes?
How will new technologies cater for different kinds of learners? What are differences as learners between young people? Older students? Those with high learning needs? Those in employment or with other commitments? 

Conference dinner in the evening rounds off another busy day. 



Ascilite day 2 morning


Day 2 begins with a keynote from Professor of elearning Niki Davis from the University of Canterbury. Niki presents on 'prizing' open eduction as in getting to grips with and with treasuring. We are good at doing new things and seeking new ways but we are not so good at finding out whether what we do is any good. Call to revisit the trends scenarios set up after the DEANZ conference in 2009. Shared notes are on Google doc http/tinyurl.com/ascilite2014
Four scenarios are articulation, supermarket, self determination and quality brand consortia. 
Provided example of development of a MOOC on technology diffusion and models of change in education. In conjunction with Wayne McKintosh as MOOC deployed OER. Course in 2013 as a micro MOOC alongside a normal course with OERu.
Challenge of open journals as resource for the MOOC and ease of access to journals by DEANZ and ASCILITE.

Has technology improved education for all? Digital equity gap not diminishing. New project elearning for adults with literacy and numeracy needs. Need to ensure elearning is relevant to and useful for adults with literacy needs. Re engage and motivate students in a variety of ways to suit individual needs - truck drivers with low literacy and mobile work, use mobile computing as focus. More communication and tutors feedback suited to device ownership and work context. Family communication, grand parents digital literacy. Culturally appropriate with informal and familiar environment. Numeracy in authentic situated learning. Application of games where relevant. 
Elearning needs to think about global and equity aspects. 

Ascilite awards made for innovation and excellence to University of Queensland flip classroom, Macquarie University and Auckland university for work in portfolios in health science.
Life membership to Gregor Kennedy. 

After morning tea, concurrent session begin and I chair 3 papers. First up, Jo Lander from the University of Sydney on the role of the interpersonal in online knowledge construction. Reports on investigation on asynchronous discussions potentials and challenges. Importance of building an online discussion community but student tend to not be able to reach higher level of critical thinking through learning based on asynchronous discussions. In 3 context on communicable disease, obesity and tobacco control. Used linguistic discourse (systemic function) to analyse discussions to establish interpersonal, ideation/ knowledge building and textural / mode/genre. Provided examples from the data to study how community building proceeds, instruction giving. Expectations for knowledge construction include bring in prior knowing, a synthesis  or transformation, opinion or argument etc. need for moderators to open space for other voices. Interactions between moderator and students and between students were rarely challenging, negative and / or critical. Online discussions become blends of conversation and academic, fragmented, incomplete and jointly constructed. So, academic writing not practiced and discussions do not use language of academia. Implications on social media Type relationships and disconnect to academic discourse. 

Second session with Salome Meyer from EIT with blended learning: student experiences. Blended learning of 5 Batchelor degrees through merger of 2 institutes in 2011. Evaluated student experience with BL with focus on development and delivery across skills. Study in 2012. Prior to start of BL most students who completed the survey had not experienced online learning. When BL started, majority of students expressed positive engagement with online learning. Students felt support for shift to online learning was insufficient but most other including taking responsibility for learning and flexibility. Staff capability was an issue which students picked up. Recommendation to develop comprehensive plan to support BL initiatives. 

The third session is with Penelope Rush from the University of Tasmania wide open listening: what is it really like to be a distance student? Survey undertaken to improve support services to students and raise awareness of support. Survey of 1000 plus students a 17% response rate. Themes through grounded theory included enables self determinism, flexibility, necessity, location and positive. Highest responses in flexibility with the second in necessity. Worse aspects included isolation, resources responsibility, unconsidered balance/ travel. Distance learning improvements included improvement of resources, contact, consideration, communications. Flexibility needs have to be balanced with synchronised sessions by webinars or similar. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ascilite day 1 afternoon


The keynote after lunch is with Associate Professor Shane Dawson from university of South  Australia on what are we learning from learning analytics? Student data can be used to track academic, social and personal. LA actually around for many years but called different things like intelligent tutoring etc. but now ease of data mining creates too much information. lA still focused on what rather than why. Personalisation of learning possible but mainly concentrated in key skills and foundational content with drill and revise approaches. Examples of cognitive tutor include knewton and knowillage. Education management like analytics assisting with retention and identification of at risk students e.g. Course signals feedback (Tannes, 2011). Focus on learning process is still missing. Most projects still based on small scale and tends to be very context specific with guidance lacking to help further adoption.

National project now in progress to benchmark LA across 39 Australian universities and with 30 experts. Find out how to focus on learning process, broad range of data and recommend how to implement LA. Gap between how education administrators and researchers understand purpose of LA. plus most institutions still stuck at level 1 (Goldstein and Katz) of LA implementation. Two models, solutions focused or process focused. Solutions focus are it or industry or learning and teaching. Process on individual faculty or networked/ integrated. Discussed pluses and minuses of each and how moving solutions or process towards higher relevance. Currently a solutions model is usually it driven presenting data in dashboards etc with success being whether staff access the data. 
Cross organisational groups need to be used to develop LA. Needs to be problem focused. For LA to work staff capacity a key along with organisational buy in and support. Remember education, learning and organisation are complex. Complex leadership theory (Ulh-bein et al.) recommended as a method to manage complex tasks with complex teams. lA is not a technology, dashboard or one individual. @LA is team based and dynamic and requires planning and thought. 

 In the after lunch sessions, I chair 2 sharing practice sessions. The first one is with Stanley Frielick, reporting on progress on the Ako Aotearoa national project on mobile learning. The project involves 6 institutions with a diverse range of discipline areas. Each team presented briefly on their work to date.  Twitter #np14lmd. Stanley introduced the overall project objectives and encouraged catch up at poster session as each team has a poster on their project. Kathryn from EIT presented members of their communities of practice and approaches exampled by student ebook creation. Objective to build skills outwards from original team to increase institutional capability. Vickel from AUT presented examples of what has been worked with audio of tutor reflections and how student learning was changing to become more reflective and meta cognitive. Sam from Otago Polytechnic presented on designing for student success institutional project with example of carpentry collecting evidence of house build and use of Squawk which is LMS with ability to capture informal learning and offers feedback. Adrienne presented Auckland University use of Google + community to record thinking and learning while teacher trainees were out on school experience. rena presented on use of Pinterest to form eportfolios. James from Unitec showed examples of early childhood students and augmented reality with students embedded augmented reality content to digital resources. 

Then Michael Sankey and Helen Carter from USq report in 'benchmarking your capacity for technology enhanced learning. Presented on the ACODE initiative involving Australian and Nz universities and polytechnics. Formalised benchmaking provides opportunities for institutions to share practice. Overviews the revamped technology enhanced learning ACODE. Places institutions within broader sector wide context. ACODE meets 3 times a year. ACODE investigates, developing and evaluating new initiatives and developments to assist best practice. First developed 2004, revised 2007 and reviewed latest version 2014. 8 benchmarks. Latest revision better aligned with learning and teaching, planning around innovation and emergent technologies, sustainability and quality fro externally sourced systems. In June, 24 institutions from 5 countries participated in latest benchmarking exercise. Overview of process, self assessment within each institution involving internal stakeholders to decide on where institution stands with each indicators and collection of evidence and writing rationale; then all indicators compared to find if self assessment accurate; providing sharing of practice. 

After afternoon tea, attend 2 sharing practice session. First one on 'bringing digital literacies to students without Internet access' with Helen Farley from the Australian Digital Futures Institute at USQ. 61% of worlds population do not have access to the internet! Check http://bit.ly/without Internet to share experiences of teaching without the internet. 44% of students on foundation students in 2012 did not have Internet access but USQ moving towards all resources being digital and accessible online. Some students do not have access to electricity. Presented learnings from projects set up in correctional centres to think through how to better cater for learners without access to Internet. Still important plan. Determine context of your learner. If there is some Internet identify core resources so students download when they are able to and get resources up early. Investigate mobile interconnectivity and keep things simple. Use ePub, self marking quizzes and keep download files which are small. Recognise that collaboration is difficult, have alternatives to digital assessments. Sometimes not able to offer in offline environment. 

Second session on digital learning thresholds for whole institution with Romy Lawson fro University of Woollongong. Shared experience of move from blackboard to Moodle with tools like mahara, echo360, Equella, edublogs, turnitin, parature and other tools. Task and finish groups were formed to complete projects, consultations with stake holders and endorsements by relevant committees. Started from work of others to inform project and match to local context. Discussion and and sharing of what others have done. 

Then poster sessions where I present poster on CPIT project surface tablet, work to date and in progress.

A visit to the settlers museum and dinner out with CPIT staff closes a longish day.


Ascilite day 1 morning sessions

Ascilite day 1 morning

After yesterday's workshop on learning analytics, decided to attend the learning analytics stream through the conference. So apart from chairing one session of 2 or 3 paper presentations, I will try to get to various learning analytics papers.

The conference was opened by the vice chancellor of University of Otago, professor Harlene Hayne and the CE of Otago polytechnic, Phil Ker. Official welcomes from Ascilite president Dr. Caroline Steel and conference organisers, Drs. Bronwyn Hergarty and Jenny McDonald.

The conference keynote is with Professor Sara de Freitas from Murdoch University on educational games: negative rhetoric and the future reality? Some research showing effectiveness of games in helping the learning process but still negative perceptions from media. Need for defining difference between entertainment games and learning games. Covered trends in learning, play and games with generation z coming in, growth in mobile and social interaction. pervasiveness of gaming especially across tablets and mobiles and growth of serious game play including simulations, online learners now in mid 30s, open data, metadata contributions to learning analytics.

Negative perceptions of Gaming despite the research findings on efficacy of game based learning. Presented on importance of social interactive,play and role of learning analytics. Used Triage Trainer' simulation as an example of game set up to test critical skills to prepare doctors, nurses and paramedics for emergency medicine. Comparative evaluations reveal simulation enhanced learning through opportunity to practice skills and apply knowledge and personalised feedback. Neuropsychology approaches possibility for studying why games are engaging. Posit thinking as based on physiological and cognitive functions requiring sensory memory, attention selection cognitive short term and long term memories. Discussed importance of play in brain development. For instance all mammalian infants have a sensitive period where intensity if learning takes place. Play taps in to this sensitive learning period and games may be effective later on through connections to original patterns setup to learn from play. Detailed study In 2011 dunwell, de Freitas Jarvis on four dimensional consideration of feedback in serious gamers, modelling feedback through learning analytics. 

Provided examples of gamification and linking to exploratory learning models, challenge based pedagogy, using games for retention and engagement and using Khan academy as a case study. 5 common mechanics of games are points, badging, levels, leader boards, challenges and main ways to drive engagement as accelerated feedback cycles, clear goals rules, compelling narrative and challenging but not impossible and attainable with effort. 

Example used of mobile game to learn cross cultural dispositions called Maseltov funded by the EU. Then case study of Khan Academy which now as millions of views with 4.4 million visitors a day and uses challenge badges as a core gamification approach. To design content to promote engagement with example of Uniplay. Studying syndicated game content in mine craft, eco challenge, mobile apps, pervasive games and engaging challenges games. Need to map systems more closely against human behaviour. Map learning, theory,interactivity, feedback and adaptivity to learning design and pedagogical modelling, multimodal and experiential learning, adaptive used modelling and educational systems and platforms. Unpacking what is play and what is learning, where are the overlaps, commonalities or differences. 

Shared vision of how new learning is about social interactivity which is immersive, engaging and personalised. New pedagogy socially focused and active. Need to catch up on the concepts presented as there are commonalities with my learning a trade project.

After morning tea, I attend the session with Colin Beer, David Jones and Rolley Tickner from central Queensland university CQU and university of southern Queensland on 'three paths for learning analytics and beyond: moving from rhetoric to theory'. Increase in interest of LA. Again reports on much interest but no many actual implementation. lA has affinity with business intelligence so attractive to educational management. 3 paths do it to, do it for or do it with. Used LA developed system early alert student indicators. Brings information from sms and lms. Creates traffic light based indicator to provide information on students who may require a nudge. Nudges can be created using mail merge, f2f meeting, shared notes etc. signals for nudge can be customised by lecturers. Launched 2012 and evaluations indicate acceptance. Project began 2008 with learning to avoid the do it to or do it for approaches. Adopted the do it with approach by working with teaching staff. Need to drop the language of planning and management but acknowledge  complexity of system.

Then paper from Shane Wohler from eastern Institute of technology and John Jamieson on 'what in me is dark, illumine' developing a semantic URL learning analytics solution for Moodle. Presents on big data and learning analytics, experience with an analytics solution with Moodle and how it is being used and what worked and what did not. Pragmatic solution to setup by leveraging free tools like google analytics, do a macro level trends and behaviours, minimise ethical and security issues, keeping it simple and developed to be shared for benchmarking. So installed Google plugin for Moodle 2.0 and above with ability to manage role specific data. Translate Moodle url to meaningful URLs with moodlesite, school, course, activity etc. linked to google analytics to find out time accessed, where and what accessed with etc. able to map use of tools like turnitin. Due to macro level data, data used to inform strategic governance it strategy and direction, resource allocation. Next steps to work on data governance, policy and procedures, empowering staff to use data to make decisions, focus on actionable intelligence. 

No learning analytics paper in this slot, so stay in the same room and attend the session by dr. Julia Thornton from RMIT on 'deficit theories in the educational technology adoption literature'. Presented on how discourses impact on perceptions through the literature review section of her phD thesis. Approaches to digital literacy include the cookbook/ recipe book approach with deficit as a technical skill, technique or information; information literacy approach with emphasis on competencies and learning to plug a gap; novice expert developmental approach; Digital natives/immigrants approach and diffusion theory approaches.

Lunch follows with opportunity to talk o various people about my poster on the Cpit project surface tablet deployment with findings from the first semester evaluations.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ascilite 2014 workshop on learning analytics

Learning analytics workshop with Dr. Leah Macfadyen and Dr. Shane Dawson at Ascilite 2014 held at Otago Polytechnic.

An introductory session. Leah is from university of British Columbia and Shane is from university of South Australia. Handouts from http://bit.ly/11HnjmH
Overall a good overview acknowledging challenges and potentials.

Unedited notes which I will augment when I return to office.

Current LA implementation 
1 extraction and reporting of transactions level data
2 analysis and monitoring of operational performance 
3 what if decision support - such as scenario building
4 predictive modelling and simulation 
5 automatic triggers and alerts - interventions (Goldstein and Katz, 2005)

Most institutions have not progressed beyond stage 1.

Introduce and review field
Cooper 2012 " the process of developing actionable insights through problem definition and the application of statistical analysis.
Solar - measurement collection analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which learning occurs. 

La draws from business intelligence, web analytics, academic analytics fro 2005, educational data mining 2000 , action analytics 2008 onwards.

Academic analytics on recruitment, retention etc. learning analytics focused more on teaching and learning. 

Drivers of la include socio political, educational and technological. 

Need to move beyond number crunching. EDM laid groundwork for computation and modelling. Interdisciplinary collaboration required technical analytic on statistics, data visualisation and visual analytics, educational data mining, computer science, machine learning, natural language processing, human computer design, etc. 

Systems thinking may be one way to look at la. A system is perceived as elements which are inter connected and inter dependent ISON in Ray and bradbuRy, 2008. 

LA investigates information of educational system information flows and feedbacks in an education system.

Offered examples.
What kind of information? Where students come from, achievement of students, information from student engagement through LMS or similar MOOCs, student monitoring and success tracked by learners, student satisfaction from course evaluations etc., 

Student led system to feedback to students progress through courses. Gathers student demographics. 

University of Maryland Baltimore 'check my activity' tool

Austin Peay university's degree compass tool. More of an academic analytic looking at students pass achievements and recommends future courses. 

University of South australia - analytics dashboard. Student learn online engagement ratio. Mainly frequency of access to various Moodle resources and activities. Then calculate at risk on quadrant student current engagement vs student current grade. Low engagement often related to low grades. Link to predicting performance and retention through identifying no risk, low, medium and high. Found intervention with high risk students too late, so shifted intervention to earlier in course, just post orientation. Risks identified as low social economic status, low entry qual. And distance to travel to uni. Students contacted via crm which is used by student services to support students. 

Shane also shared uniSA work on video analytics and annotations. Collaborative lecture annotation system, allows YouTube video to be annotated with student notes. 

Other enterprise level la tools include cavitas, design 2 learn insight, knewton adaptive learning system, blackboard analytics

Barriers to adoption  (ferguson et al., 2004)

Review key steps in implementation
Rapid outcomes model approach 
Define and redefines your policy objectives
Map political framework (young and mandizabal, 2009)
Identify key stakeholders 
Identify desired behavioural changes
Develop engagement strategy
Analyse internal capacity to effect change
Establish monitoring and learning frameworks 

Stages include
Define a clear set of overarching policy objectives
Map the policy context 
Identify key stakeholders 
Identify desired changes outcomes
Develop a plan
Ensure engagement team has competencies required to operationise
Establish monitoring or evaluation

What does your institution would like to achieve through implementing LA?
Clarify and prioritise purpose
Plus identify range of skills systems and processes to assist implementation. 

Issues with ethics - purpose, ownership, informed consent, privacy, de-identification, how data handled, who has access, ethics of surveillance, but in parallel with changing attitudes to privacy and self disclosure. Need policies on data governance. 
Workshop closed with session on ethics.
Issues with ethics - purpose, ownership, informed consent, privacy, de-identification, how data handled, who has access, ethics of surveillance, but in parallel with changing attitudes to privacy and self disclosure. Need policies on data governance. Recommended to check slade and prinsloo 2013 for principles of learning analytics and ethical use of student data for la policy (2014) by uk open university. 





Monday, November 17, 2014

Ways of knowing: Anthropological Approaches to crafting experience and knowledge – book overview

Ways of knowing: Anthropological Approaches to crafting experience and knowledge - Edited by Mark Harris (2007) published by Berghahn Books.

Brief summary in previous blog but now undertaking a deeper read into pertinent chapters for several articles I am working on.

The book has 14 chapter. The 3 chapter summarized in greater detail here are all from Part 3 – the rethinking embodiment section.

Chapter 8 by Professor T.Marchand ‘crafting knowledge: the role of ‘parsing and production’ in the communication of skilled-based knowledge among masons. The proposal in this chapter is the concept of embodied practice and manual movement as a form of communication. Hence, to study how trades people work, there is a need to understand how they go about doing work, often with very little verbal interaction. Yet, a multitude of nuanced activity is ‘parsed’ between workers. Activity includes how ‘assistants’ anticipate the needs of masons as they go about building structures and how groups of masons, working on one section of a building, coordinate activity to contribute to the final objective. Each goes about their activity individually but each is also cognizant to what other workers are up to. Therefore, the activity is choreographed without verbal interaction but communication through body language, task completion and shared understandings of the quality and functional objectives.

Chapter 9 with Dr. C.Grasseni on ‘communities of practice (CoP) and forms of life: towards the rehabilitation of vision? Grasseni uses ethnographical studies with farmers to understand the importance of vision in judging the characteristics of beef cattle and dairy cows. Grasseni’s thesis is how vision of quality indicators in animals, is learnt mainly, through long engagement with farming practice. The children of farmers are theorized as being submerged into farming CoPs from a young age and are able to recognize the physical characteristics of the animals under their care. The term ‘skilled vision’ is used to encompass the range of farming visual skills. These skills are used not only with animal husbandry but across the various farming work tasks. Many tasks include sociomaterial interactions, for instance with the landscape, weather and tools / machinery of farming. 

Chapter 10 by Associate Professor G.Downey presents ‘seeing with a ‘sideways glance’: visuomotor ‘knowing’ and the plasticity of perception. This interesting chapter, uses the ethnography of the Brazilian martial art, capoeira, to argue the thesis that expertise in martial arts, goes beyond the physical actions when ‘fighting’ occurs. There are other physical skills (gaze, walk, balance) and dispositions (tenacity, resilience, patience) learnt as practitioners hone their fighting skills.

These 3 chapters contribute to understanding the aspects of learning which have been difficult to pin down and describe. In particular, the role of observation in learning physical skills and judgement related to specialised activities. Also, the unspoken communications of skilled practice and how learners have to learn the 'language' if they hope to make progress. 


Monday, November 03, 2014

NZ vet research forum - presentations now online

The presentations from the recent NZ Vocational Education and Training (VET) research forum are now available online from Ako Aotearoa and the ITF websites.

I have updated the summaries from day 1 and day 2  blogs incorporating links to the presentations. Here are links to presentations I was not able to attend but are of interest to my projects.

- 'use of explanations and analogies in teaching physics concepts relevant to the trades' with Dr. James MacKay from Weltec.

- 'enabling self-regulated learning environments in a Masters programme: the development of an online training needs analysis tool' by Dr. John Clayton from Wintec.

- 'Many roads lead to Rome: trends in methodology and method in research into cooperative work-integrated education' with Katharine Hoskyn from AUT.

Also, a compilation of various Ako Aotearoa national and hub funded projects was launched at the networking event on day 1 of the forum. The publication ' learning in and for work' presents summaries through thematic collation around key findings (learning about the workplace, learning what to do and how to do it and learning to identify 'as') and the highlights from on-job learning, placements , practicums and work-integrated learning, assessments, mentoring and peer support and tables correlating the various features supporting workplace learning with each of the selected projects. The publication forms a corpus of work funded by Ako Aotearoa, now regularly cited amongst NZ researchers and contributing to better support for workplace based learners via ITO and government policy developments.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Discourses on Professional Learning: On the boundary of learning and work - chapter summaries

Discourses on Professional Learning: On the boundary between learning and working.
Edited by C. Harteis, A. Rausch and J. Seifried (2014) and published by Springer. Hardcopy in CPIT library.

The book has introductory and concluding chapters, 15 chapters collected into 3 parts. Below, summaries of chapters relevant to my current work and research.

Introduction by the editors
Part 1 – Analytical perspectives – learning in work context - has 6 chapters.

Chapter 2 – Agentic behaviour at work: crafting learning experiences by M. Goller and S. Billett. This chapter provides a rare critique to the ‘deliberate practice’ concept. Work is held to be complex, contextualised to individual workplaces, open to distinct socio-cultural and socio-material challenges and reliant on individual’s intrinsic motivation. Precepts of deliberate practice have been derived from studies of expertise founded in narrowly prescribed fields (i.e playing chess, sports, music) comprising small number of well-defined activities. Whereas all work is undertaken in difficult to define environments, structured to allow for organisational objectives (i.e. same occupation but different focuses – e.g. chef in hospital, cafĂ©, fine-dining restaurant, fast foot etc.). Individual’s agency is held to be significant in how workplace learning progresses.

Chapter 5 with S. Billett on the topic ‘mediating learning at work: personal mediations of social and brute factors. As with chapter 2, the emphasis is on individuals being agentic in their approaches to workplace learning. Important to focus on socio-cultural and socio-material (the inter-psychological processes) but and how individuals learning (the intra-psychological processes). However, it is the ways in which inter and intra psychological processes inter-relate that are important. In particular, how individuals deploy intra-psychological processes to deal with the world around them.

Chapter 6 on ‘error climate and how individuals deal with errors in the workplace’ by A. Baumgartner and J. Seifried. An interesting study with apprentices in the hotel and restaurant industry. The importance of ‘error climate’ is introduced to explain how in some circumstances, learning through making mistakes can be useful contributors to workplace learning, and how in other workplaces, making mistakes is unsupported and thus seen to be impediments to progress. So, the workplace and worker attitudes to error are contributing factors.

Chapter 7 by T. Schley and M van Woerkom on ‘reflection and reflective behaviour in work teams’. Extends on understandings about the role of reflection in learning. Much based on intra-psychological / individual as reflector model. However, just as important to view reflection and reflective approaches in team-based work teams. Little research on how teams contribute to organisational improvement through work team reflection so proposes need to carry out more detailed studies.

Part 2 covers – analytical perspectives – work as learning environment – has 6 chapters

Chapter 9 contributed by M. Tyler, S. Choy, R. Smith and D. Dymock discusses ‘learning in response to workplace change’. Based on large study based in 4 occupations. Found workers tended to concentrate on work tasks changes rather than on organisational strategic directions. Workers tended to concentrate on maintaining their immediate employability skills. Therefore, workplace change needs to be focused on helping workers gain skills they perceive as contributing to their professional development to complete their current jobs well.

Chapter 12 – ‘developing medical capacities and dispositions through practice-based experiences’ with J. Cleland, J. Leaman and S. Billett. Goals and objectives of workplace learning for new medical staff identified as – identification / confirmation of individual’s fit within the medical specialities; learning skills to perform as medical staff; and continue to develop as medical staff through their occupational lives.

Chapter 13 – ‘ ePortfolio: A practical tool for self-directed, reflective and collaborative professional learning’  by A. L. Daunert & L. Price provides a guide to the different ways eportfolios may be used in professional learning and development contexts. Introduces the concept of eportfolio and undertakes a review of reported advantages /positive impacts  and the reverse on challenges of eportfolios. Also provides guidelines on linking eportfolios to professional development plans based on adapted ADDIE (analyse, design, develop, implement, evaluate).

Part 3 covers methodological issues

Chapter 15 on ‘social network analyses (SNA) of learning at workplaces’ by T. Palonen and K. Hakkarainen. Provides rationale for and introduces the precepts of social network analysis as a way to study ‘socially distributed expertise’. SNA is used to find out how individuals, their groups / sub-groups relate to each other. How people interrelate to each other is a focus in organisational management studies using SNA. SNA also useful in other fields for studying spread of disease, diffusion of information, animal social organisations etc. Future potentials and limitations of SNA are discussed.

Chapter 16 with L. Filliettaz on ‘learning through interactional participatory configuration: contributions from video analysis'. Introduces the frameworks and rationale for using video analysis of workplace practice. Two items discussed in the article – video useful in exploring and making sense of interpersonal relationships in learning / workplace situations; and promoting video as a viable method for research studies into professional practice.

Chapter 17 by A. Rausch on ‘using diaries in research on work and learning’. Rationale for using diaries to record workplace learning presented and discussed. The various ways to deploy diary-based studies (diaries as research instruments) can be deployed are also presented – work task diaries, social interaction diaries, problem diaries, and interruption diaries. A comprehensive chapter on with how to, why, when etc. for the use of diarie.


Conclusion drawn by S. Billett with discussion on ‘interdependence on the boundaries between working and learning’.