Monday, September 16, 2013

Teaching as design science by Diana Laurillard - book summary

New book (google books has preview)by Professor Diana Laurillard, recommended by Mark Nichols in his keynote at the CPIT Technology enhanced learning strategy launch, just arrived. I purchased via Book Despository who provide free postage to NZ. Books usually take 7 – 10 working days to arrive. My preferred choice now for new books but Amazon still has better range of pre-used books. There is a summary on this site of the software supporting the concept.

I have a good read over the weekend through the book and here are brief summaries of each of the 12 chapters:
1)      This chapter argues for the approach that frames the book – of teaching as a design science. Teaching is an art, demanding teachers’ creativity and imagination. Teaching has been treated as a science, yet, it is not a pure, theoretical science due to the ramifications of ‘human emotion’. Teaching is therefore, more like engineering, computer science or architecture, as teaching contributes to making the world a better place. Therefore, teaching is more of a ‘design science’.  As such, research in teaching contributes to theory but tends to contribute more to ‘design principles’ as teaching is based in context specific practice. Knowledge technologies shape what is learned because the introduction of technology changes how learning takes place.

2)      ‘what is formal learning’ summarises perspective on ‘what is learning’ through several perspectives. The various understandings of ‘what is learning’ are from the educational establishment(i.e. government aspirations); the workplace (i.e occupational focuses); educational theorists (tensions between government – legislation and quality bench marking and work – occupational currency); and teachers (moving towards student and learner centeredness instead of content focus).

3)      ‘what students bring to learning’ presents various studies on the student contribution to learning. In particular, student engagement (self-efficacy, motivation, emotional connection, relationships between teachers and students). The ‘intellectual characteristics’ of learning are also discussed briefly, touching on conceptions of knowledge, approaches to learning, the role of the teaching environment. Also contrasts the formal / informal context of learning and discusses why students find formal learning difficult (inauthentic, difficulties in transfer etc.)
4)      ‘what it takes to learn’ provides short summaries of learning theories (behaviourist, associative, cognitive, experiential, social constructivism) with emphasis on learning concepts, constructivism (feedback counts) and collaborative learning. The first explanation of a part of Laurillard’s ‘conversational framework begins in this chapter.

5)      ‘what it takes to teach’ then takes us through the important factors that influence the design of teaching. The principal factors influencing students (as per chapter 3 – motivation, knowledge and skills, personal goals and needs; teachers (in chapters 2 and 4 – credits / qualifications, course aims, intended learning outcomes, topics) and the teaching / learning activities that bring students and teachers together to contribute to ‘actual’ learning outcomes. A table (5.1) summarises principles and strategies to guide teachers actions that will align goals, activities and assessments; monitor alternative conceptions; scaffold theory based practice; foster conceptual knowledge development; and encourage metacognition.
6)      ‘motivating and enabling the learning cycle’ details the ‘conversational framework’ and sets out the way in which the framework may be used to analyse formal learning to assist learning. The ways teachers, peers and learners communicate through the use of technology described with guidelines on how to enhance the ‘conversational’ collaborative process. Also introduces the five approaches to learning – acquisition, inquiry, discussion, practice and collaboration – further extended in the next 5 chapters.

7)      ‘learning through acquisition’ concentrates on the concept that teaching  through ‘narrative representation’ using appropriate digital technology. The content becomes a ‘story’ that students have to become familiar with. The chapter also introduces the concept and process for capturing pedagogical patterns - which are like an ‘enhanced’ lesson plan, mapping activities to the ‘conversational framework’.

8)      ‘learning through inquiry’ is seen to be a more active form of learning than ‘learning by acquisition. Students can be more directed to ‘follow their own story line’. Technology provides a wide range of resources for students to search through and access. The chapter provides a good overview and guidelines for putting ‘inquiry-based’ learning into practice.

9)      ‘learning through discussion’ follows on from chapter 8. Students ‘story line’ is extended by the opportunity to have discussions with teachers, other students, experts in the field etc. This is the area in which technology contributes the most affordances. The pedagogy of discussion is summarised with the need to scaffold all form of discussion (peer, synchronous, asynchronous).

10)   ‘learning through practice’ is where the learner applies learning through acquisition, inquiry and discussion, to ‘doing’ or ‘experience’. Situated and authentic learning using goal orientated activity supported by meaningful feedback is recommended. The challenges of practice-based learning within formal education contexts are discussed. Technology use includes simulation, virtual worlds, adaptive tutoring, role plays and games and immersive environments.

11)   ‘learning through collaboration’ is differentiated from learning through acquisition, inquiry and discussion by the point that in learning through collaboration, the learner contributes to the process of creating knowledge (content).  Learning activities include ‘peer modelling’, ‘cognitive elaboration’ and ‘practice with one another’. Teachers’ roles are detailed. Digital technologies of use for collaborative learning include wikis, collaborative discussion, collaborative ‘construction environments’ (f2f or virtual).

12)   The last chapter ‘ teaching as developing pedagogical patterns’ brings the various ideas that have been discussed through the book. Teaching as a design science requires: teachers to continually work at improving practice; use learning design based on designing and testing improvements in teaching practice; build on the work of others; and share their practices, outcomes achieved and how these related to design. Examples of how to construct and adapt ‘pedagogical patterns’ are provided.

Overall, the book is a very good overview of the current higher education sector thinking on teaching and learning.  The need to adopt a design approach to teaching practices argued through the book, with each chapter flowing well into the next. It is very much a ‘how to’ manual on applying design science principles to teaching practice. The how and why of ‘pedagogical’ patterns is introduced and explained.

The book is by no means an ‘easy’ read. Carefully working through the book’s entirely will yield many concepts for reflection.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Spotlight on Tertiary teaching and learning from 14th June - videos now available

Videos of most of the presentations from the June 14th event  are now avaiable on the Ako Aotearoa website via the event page.

Good opportunity for me to catch up on the presentations made in the 'learning centred teaching' stream which I missed out on as I was chairing and presenting in the other parallel stream on ' technology enhanced learning'. A good resource as each video encapsulates the on-going work made by educators to improve learning for students.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Keynote on 'learning through practice' - Professor Stephen Billett

Came across this presentation on youtube, uploaded October 2012. Professor Stephen Billett's keynote at a seminar at the University of Paderborn in Germany for their Department of Wirtschaftspädagogik (Centre for Vocational Education and Training).

The presentation is titled 'Towards an account of learning through practice: Traditions, practices and potentials' with some overlap with keynote at AVETRA this year. However, a few important and relevant points to note.

The presentation begins with brief overview of the historical record on learning at work and through practice.

Billett argues for the need to identify opportunities for learning to take place – the pedagogically rich experiences – eg. nurses’ ‘hand-over’. If we study the principles of what makes this activity high learning and  how it is afforded, then there may be some transfer of these principles to other activities.

A note that personal epistemologies also important -  learners' agency, based on their knowing, beliefs and acts they use (listen, engage, deliberate practice)

Practical learning takes place through imitation (mimesis), observations, ontogenetic ritualization, active engagement and construction (‘stealing’ apprehending knowledge). Again learner needs to assent to wanting to become and be ready to capitalise on learning opportunities.

 Recommends – need for science of practice that  goes beyond educational science. Learning through practice premises made accessible by drawing on a range of explanations, dimensions of curriculum, pedagogy and personal epistemology. Includes need to also recognise particular cultural, societal and situational factors. 

Therefore the dimensions of personal and social interact and cannot be easily separated. Practice-based learning, especially when it takes place in the workplace, will always be complex. Individual workplace contexts add to the difficulty with imposing a 'one size fits all' curriculum. Individuals and importantly the workplace need to structure opportunities for learning that fits into the training needs of the organisation while still ensuring individuals affordances are availed.