Monday, June 27, 2016

The Dunedin Study - Why am I?

Wettish weekend provided the opportunity to watch the last two episodes of a four part TV1 NZdocumentary on ‘The Dunedin Study’, a longitudinal multi-disciplinary study of 1000 people, born in Dunedin 40 years ago.

Summaries / reviews on stuff.

Essentially the study has provided the opportunity to collect and collate data to inform the 'nature' vs 'nurture' debate. With the recent advances in genetic technology, the study takes on even greater relevance. The study providing a source of data of the rich tapestry making up people's lives as they develop through the various socio-political-cultural changes.

The study is wide ranging, providing data to social and physical scientists in a range of discipline areas, with several of the study's findings now replicated in other Western countries. There is a need to keep in mind that the study is founded in a particular country with a particular say to seeing the world.

The documentary focuses on one aspect of the study, how certain gene markers (e.g. for a tendency for violent reaction in males) manifest or are recessive, depending on a person's childhood experiences. This example is reported over all episodes and a focus of two episodes. The genetic research shows about 1/3 of males have the gene marker but a childhood of neglect and abuse triggers anti-social behaviours, whereas a settled, nurturing childhood, dampens the emergence of the trait. Five types of personalities are also identified, with the implications of these personalities' development over the human lifespan.

Early childhood intervention is therefore important to stem the activation of the trait. How this can be done, through least consequence to the child and most importantly, who judges when intervention is required, is not discussed. Hence, the study may provide some steer as to possible causes, it will be social agencies within governments who have to make sense of the findings and come up with workable solutions.

All in, a worthwhile watch, to provide background on where findings from a longitudinal study may become useful to inform social policy.
As the study enters in the participants' middle age, there will be even more data to be collated of how people develop into their more settled years. Will need to keep an eye on the range of findings as the study proceeds.

Monday, June 20, 2016

New World without Strangers - ChannelNews Asia TV series

Further from post summarising the first few episodes of the series  - New World without Strangers - a ChannelNews Asia TV series, episodes 8 and 9 are of interest and briefly overviewed / extended here. The series has shifted from highlighting the sharing physical resources – homes, meals, cars / rides and stuff – to sharing knowledge and ideas.

Episode 8 - sharing of ideas part one is of interest to educators. Examples of apps / sharing networks include:

Queri – help with homework – but also contribute to questions from others to earn tokens, which you can spend on getting others to solve your problems. See StraitsTimes article for more examples.

MOOCs in China with guoker and Coursera and rise of access to higher ed. covers Mooc production in China – QingZhou Education for teachers.

Pinyeke – lessons on mobile phone
Korea – Wisdom – courses taught by an expert in the topic.

Repair Kopi tiam – DIY ‘repair club’

The episode stressed the socio-cultural dimension of learning – internet and books can only go so far, meeting with people also needed to maintain motivation and trigger serenpidicious learning moments.

Also, Future Friday – Singapore – sustainable learning lab,
National design centre – one maker group, example of maker (Gabrielle Koh) a lifetime maker continuing work started as child with his father and uncle. Importance of working with your hands, got an idea – try to do it and learn by doing. In the process, you may find a better way of doing something.

China – had a history of innovation. However, presently thought of as ‘imitators’ and manufacturing cheap products. Need to change image to again invent – xinchejian (new garage)– maker space. No tech knowledge needed but collaboration across skills encouraged. China has a culture of valuing knowledge and innovation, so need to find what has always been there. Example of Argentinian entrepreneur with electronics knowledge leveraging off robotic / software expertise at xinchejian to produce prototype of a coding / robotic learning toy. Hackers in Singapore –National University of Singapore hack n roll – a 25 hour hackathon – brainstorming and making session to solve problems.

Episode 9 - This episode explores collaboration where by individuals work with governments to improve livability in cities.

How we make money, how we interact, how we live.
Korea – Kpop phenomenon – busking play – integrating busking into economy of a city. Promoting busking to Koreans, who did not understand the concept. From an audition video, aspiring buskers are screened and selected to be promoted – leading to more support from city government to provide ‘facilities’ and legislation for conducting busking – breathing new life into cities.
Code for Seoul – hackers who pick up public available data to improve civic goals. Dependent on governments releasing data into the public domain. Open data allows for more participative democracy to work.

Singapore – Social innovation hackertons. Geohackertons – assist non-profit organisations to produce apps / software to support their work. Example used on government opening geo-spatial information to allow for more efficient logistical type apps to be developed or for people with similar or complementary needs to meet / network / support each other (e.g. cancer patients and their supporters).

Episode 10 - last episode focuses on start-ups, how they acquire capital - social, physical. Allows entrepreneurs to get up and going.
Beyond buying and sharing to share money through ‘crowdfunding’ – an electronic version of depending on family and friends for seed funding. E.g. Kickstarter probably most common in Western economies. In Korea, 7 million (NZ8500) won can be raised by startups each year through crowdfunding. Pros and cons of crowdfunding are discussed.

Overall, the series provides a good (albeit quite long) introduction to how networking has changed the way in which we can now do things. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Spotlight on teaching and learning - 10th June

Summary of some of the presentations at the 'Spotlight on Teaching and Learning' event, held last Friday at the University of Canterbury. The event was organised by Ako Aotearoa Academy (Rua Murray and Eric Pawson from UC, myself and Suzanne Pitama from UO) and Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub. A good turnout with about 70-ish participants and 15 fifteen minute long presentations.

Mihi and opening with Associate Professor . Suzanne Pitama from University of Otago who is winner of the supreme award for sustained excellence in tertiary teaching for 2015. she then provides the opening keynote on "using peer review as a learning tool - peer assessment to coach transformative behaviours". Rationale was cause of death through medical errors still too high. Often caused by poor communication and difficulty in peers providing feedback as required. So important for medical students learn how to provide appropriate feedback to peers as and when required. Described process to assist students learning. 

Professor Eric Pawson chairs the following presentations before afternoon tea. First up, Sam Utai from Ara and Elena from UC present on an AKO funded project - change strategies to enhance Pasifika student learning. Focused on Elena's more quantitative analysis of the data. Need for all institutions to include / integrate Pasifika approaches in programmes, support approaches and pedagogy / curriculum. Participation at Support  programme tended to benefit. 

Dr. Timothy Curran from Lincoln presents next keynote using experiential learning to maximise success in undergraduate students, with context of field ecology. Introduced principles from the school of field studies - an immersive experience for students and staff. Shared experiences of how experiential contributes. Learning by doing, learn from mistakes, hones problem solving, fun, real world application, shared experiences between staff and students builds relations and job ready graduates. Challenge of bringing field experience back into classroom. Connect with data analysis and communication segments / learning outcomes of other courses. Showed link between field work, experiential learning and research - to publish papers or present posters (recommends use of padlet to comment and critique posters to learn how to produce good posters). 

Sascha Mueller from UC presents using real world context to improve student success. Bringing real world examples into the classroom to learn law. Need to shift from didactic and rote learning. Large picture type topics tend to be more open to experiential learning. However, black letter law courses still required to become solicitors. Tends to be descriptive with little moral or ethical discussion. Presented on one of the outcomes of an Ako Aoteoroa project, assessment. Instead of using set problem question, they are provided with a case file. File contents contracts, email trail, newspaper clippings etc. students have to work through. 

Kirsten Bracey from Otago Polytechnic presents via video link on supporting student learning from a learner advisor's perspective. As with Ara learning advisors from OP one on one with students to assist development of academic skills. Students are f2f or distance and across all levels, certificate to post grad. Learning advisors see a wide range of resources assessments across the institute. Some pointers on how to make learning better for students. Show students several times of where to find resources, e.g. How to navigate through Moodle and learning support websites. Share models of what needs to be produced. Talk through models, instructions and marking schedules. Approximate word limit for each section often useful. Give right amount of feedback, sometimes none, too little or too much and overwhelming. Look out for students at risk and make contact with them early. 

Afternoon tea is followed by two concurrent streams. Dr. Rua Murray chairs one stream and I chair the stream on active learning. 

First up, Adrian Woodhouse details the change in curriculum approaches for the Bachelor in Culinary Arts at Otago Poly. He provided the rationale for abandoning the curriculum silo and the programme's collaborative / co constructive approach. Instead of following a traditional trek through the cookie repertoire, there was a concentration on research informed design projects. Integration of research and management aspects into projects and assessments. Timetabling shifted to allow for several courses to run together allowing for blocks of learning to take place. 

Second, Bernadette Muir from Ara presents on project based learning in architecture. Covered active and authentic learning through projects which bring students from all 3 years together. Vertical integration of students across all years of a programme through a design jam. Detailed the living building principals students applied to their project as it brings about integrative concepts of architecture. Third year student led a project assisted by year 1 n 2 students. Year 1 n 2 then had a preview of their future learning expectations. Learning involved learning much about collaborative learning. 

Then Caro Macaw from Otago Polytechnic follows with project based learning for design teaching. Small student teams supported by staff to complete projects. Teacher becomes an executive producer! Described a project bringing together an author's work to life by to producing work and curating an exhibition at the museum. Museum invested $$ in the exhibition, held for 4 months and well supported by visitors. Summarised learning of the students from doing the project. Integrated theory learning in graphic design, film video audio production, communications etc. 

Raewyn Tudor from Ara presents on developing critical thinking, critical reflection competencies with social work students. Prepares student for role of social workers to challenge assumptions and social structures that discriminate and oppress and bring around meaningful personal and social change. Offered definition of critical reflection as a purposeful activity for considering and making changes, improvements to practice, knowledge and meanings. Introduced Stephen Brookfield's critical reflection model. Described how this is achieved through group projects and how assessed. Collaborative teaching requires high capability so PD essential. Shared learning of tutors from the process. 

Last up, Steve Tomsett from Ara on flipped classrooms as deployed helping engineering students learning concepts which are maths based. Provided background on the evolution of his current practice. Explained how flip learning should work and shared what worked and what did not work. Summarised the reflective process of Lines and dots. Line was the wider context and dots are the essential mechanics required to be learnt to progress in class. Dots are provided before class. Lines then take place to apply the dots into the context. Not just the maths but adding the why into the how. Able to use extra time to carry out authentic data collection and analysis to apply the concepts learnt. teL only useful to add value and enrich. 

In the other stream on school to tertiary transition. We have Katrina Fisher and Silvia Santos from Ara presenting as well. Katrina on 'learning barista skills through on-line learning' and Silvia with 'using tablets to assist with maths skills'. 

Dr. Peter Coolbear, Ako Aotearoa Director, closes a busy but well attended event. Peter reminded us internationally tertiary education is in flux. Changes in technology mean learning no longer has to be anchored in institutions. Cost wall being hit with regards to massification of education. Cost constrains now need to be rethought. Diversity of learners increased. Social expectations and returns on tertiary education also shifting. Tertiary education still needs to meet the needs of the future with uncertain parameters. Provided background on rationale for return on investment on tertiary education. D

Lots of variety in the presentation this afternoon but also commonalities between what constitutes good teaching to encourage learning. Active, authentic, constructive, collaborative. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A practical guide to craftsmanship

Disclaimer, I am cited in this report.

From the prolific pens of Professor Bill Lucas and Dr. Ellen Spenser comes another piece of work commissioned by City and Guilds. This piece of work, focuses on craftsmanship. The website provides a link to the short (33 pages) final report. This report follows on from previous work on how to teach vocational education  which I summarised on this blog a couple of years ago and a more recent report on 'remaking apprenticeship' also commissioned by City and Guilds.

The report begins with an overview of the historical connotations of 'craftsmanship', arguing for whether it is appropriate in contemporary times and whether aspects of being a craftsman springs from expertise or attitude. In short, craftsmanship need not be limited to trade or manual occupations. As per Sennett, (see this blog for summary of the book 'the craftsman'), craftsmanship is an innate human desire to 'do things well'. So craftmanship aspects are desirable in the creative arts, computer programming (notice how many books there are out there on the craft of coding), teaching, health care etc. (see my article on how workplace culture impinges on how apprentices attain craftsmanship traits for discussion on craftsmanship and another on the learning of judgment)

The report is written chiefly for a UK audience - as per the sub-title - creating the craftsmen and women that Britain needs - so the two case studies used may resonate more with an anglo audiences.

The real gem within the report is the section on the pedagogy of craftsmanship - starting on page 11. Here the philosophies (signature dispositions, visible learning), the 3 strands of craftsmanship (learnability, becoming and culture) and challenges and presented and discussed.

Signature dispositions are a slant on signature disciplines - something perhaps still difficult to quantify due to the diversity of contexts in which craftsmanship traits are valued and promoted. An example I often use is from 2011 my study with apprentices in NZ. Glazing apprentices complete their apprenticeship in three distinct work organisations. Domestic glaziers install and fix windows in small buildings, commercial glaziers work with construction companies to install large windows in large buildings often using cranes and abseiling skills, and auto glaziers install vehicle windows. Each is a glazier but with a diverse range of skills pertinent to their work. 

Visible learning is based on the work of Hattie (see this blog for summaries on visible learning for teachers and visible learning and the science of how we learn) - for me, an extension of some of the precepts of cognitive apprenticeship.(see post applying to mobile learning) and aspects of deliberate practice (see summaries from this blog of books 2006, 2009 and critiques).

The table on page 15 provides a good overview of the report's direction, linking the desirable outcome of craftsmanship with the two philosophies of teaching (signature dispositions and visible learning) to dispositions (developing the techniques of persisting, envisioning, expressing, observing, reflecting, risk-taking, and understanding the domain). In turn, connected to the three strands (learnable, becoming and culture) to techniques for teachers. Each of the items in the three strands then discussed with examples and some guidelines.

Page 28 provides recommendations to vocational education teachers on how to go about 'changing your own approach'.

The report than concludes by returning to the discussion on the term 'craftsman' - should it be retained or an alternative sought?

Two pages of pertinent references provide a source for further exploration,

In all, a readable report pitched at practitioners that does not shy away from providing citations to support the concept. The synergy of approaches shown to work in the compulsory school sector and the requirements of industry is one of the strengths of the report.