Jon and Wendy are both presenting papers at the CAL 2009 conference in Brighton this week.
Jon’s paper is:
Equitability and Dominance in Online Forums: An Ecological Approach
Wendy’s paper (co-authored with Hilary Cunningham-Atkins) is:
Using tablet technologies in marking paperless assessment
H.A Cunningham-Atkins, W.A Fisher
Feedack from Wendy Fisher on CAL ’09 ‘Learning in Digital Worlds’ March 23-25th 2009
Brighton, UKThis conference covers the crucial debates on relevant issues being reflected on by researchers and practitioners in all areas and levels of: Educational Research, Evaluation, Learning Technologies, Teaching, Technology Enhanced Learning, Social Networking, Education Policy, examples of Practitioner work in Technology in Education and Learning. The main characteristic of this three day conference is its sheer breadth. From educational theorists through to practitioners in education there was incredible inventiveness and innovation in the use/application of technologies in educational contexts.
Dave Cliff, Bristol University was the first speaker, with his fast moving keynote entitled ‘Beyond current horizons: Eight socio-technical trends for the future’ – I went away with some understanding of the sheer magnitude of information storage in data sheds, blade servers, that will occur over the next ten year accompanied with angst as the ICT Systems of Systems (SoS) systems reach a complexity that will not be matched with current management capability. Dave stated that we will need ‘systems thinkers’ an area of management, that is crucial for future handling of ICT SoS systems. He gave the following example of sharing of blade servers. It was impressive to hear of the three day growth of a company called Animoto. With just five employees, they developed software to allow, up-load of music to photos. At its peak the numbers of posts were 3750, at the end of the three day period. For Animoto to handle that number of posts, in that time frame and not go under only happened as a result of, Amazon allowing them access to their data sheds and blade servers. Josie Taylor, Open University gave the second presentation keynote Tuesday morning. Technology challenges us still, Technology is always changing, and Technology is not being used to its full capability. Presentation, ended with how there is room for cross-over between the ‘Computing Scientist Community’ and the ‘Educationalist Community’ and synergies. Josie gave us the following reference from (Dewey, 1916 p88). It is incredible to believe that this was written just under 100 years ago and still resonates today. ‘A society which is mobile, which is full of channels of the distribution of a change occurring anywhere, must see to it that its members are educated to personal initiative and adaptability. Otherwise they will be overwhelmed by the changes in which they are caught and whose significance or connections they do not perceive.’
Conference Presentations: I am always interested in reusable learning objects and I got a lot out of the Symposium: Design of learning objects for wider adoption: A combined CETL symposium.Chaired by Steve Swithenby, Open University, UK. Useful future events 6-7th July 2009 there is a WRP program RLO workshop available, contact firstname.lastname@example.org There was significant use of what I call ‘rich pictures’ used in generation of RLO’s in D.Leeder’s presentation although terminology may differ, between me and this presenter..Also an RLO/GLO –Generative Leaning Object, authoring tool available free at the end of July, this new version available at http://wwwglomaker.org I liked the intuitive feel of this authoring tool and the pedagogy behind it. After flitting between presentations after Josie’s keynote and not finding some presentations terribly relevant to HE, I finally settled on the second day to a presentation on Pedagogic theory and pedagogic planning in digital worlds. L. Masterman, M.Manton,University of Oxford, UK. As this presentation was part of a strand of three other related presentations, these are my brief notes of the concluding discussion. There are theories and frameworks, frameworks better to relate to practice, help make decisions but are underpinned by theory. Frameworks can be deeply embedded in theory but they are a way of articulating the practice and talking to practitioners and helping them take control and able to apply in their own learning. The work of Gibbs and Simpson mentioned as example of framework well grounded in theory but with applicability. See the FAST project just Google - Gibbs and Simpson for further reference. Not sure, what made me write the following but this is my last note ‘What a theory is, what is a framework, education is about how we frame formal learning experiences….educational theory’. Tuesday afternoon I caught up with Jon Rosewell (Open University, UK) and listened avidly to his presentation entitled ‘ Equitability and Dominance in Online Forums: An Ecological Approach’. Taking indices of ecological diversity was a useful characterisation of an online community that gave unique indices. The analysis of the forums that Jon used in the study made me reflect, what are the characteristics of the most active participants in a forum? There may be links to work done by Hilary Cunningham-Atkins into participation in T171 forums. Further presentations in the themed strand that Jon’s presentation was in, dealt with themes around student participation and ended with a presentation from T.Savage, B. Tangney, Trinity College, Dublin University, Ireland, entitled ‘The formation and nature of voluntary blended community in post graduate education- a grounded theory study’ Whole strand of on-line activity had contributions from researchers working in University of St Thomas, USA, National University Tainan, Taiwan, Kent State University, USA, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan and National Research Council, Italy.Last presentation for me on the
Tuesday was a talk by M.Jara, H.Mellar. Institute of Education, and University of London, UK entitled ‘Quality Enhancement for e-learning courses: The role of student feedback’. Her final conclusions in her abstract ‘e-learning courses require stronger definition of co-ordination, communication, and planning strategies, as well as more clearly defined leadership roles than face-to-face course in order to enable student feedback and representation procedures to be effective for the quality enhancement for e-learning courses’Main issue appeared to be that e-learning needs to have the same level of quality assurance as face to face, as clearly this may have gone adrift in HE.
Final day started with a keynote delivered by Roger Saljo, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. I always love such presentations; my main note is ‘Artefacts are important for retaining social memory’ and that ‘humans used their hands before language’. This was a nice affirmation for me, as my work centres on hand-writing and I suppose the artefact I work with is a tablet PC. One of his examples was a ruler, – ‘this is how we do measurement’. His talk started with the start of humans recording their activity and went onto describe cave paintings as iconic and stone tablets with marks as symbolic. He ended with ‘interpretations of learning in the digital age’ — Meta-communicative and meta-cognitive skills modelling, Learning becomes increasingly conceptual and procedural but in co-ordination with material cultural tools and Learning is the ability to transform and recontextulaise in ???…. but are relevant to local needs ‘i.e, learning is in the performance. I had a lot of time for this keynote, he talked of transformations of learning, giving the use of a GPS system as an example of not needing to know or understand the sequential steps, i.e, we do not need to know what is inside the ‘black box’ to become a skilled user of the technology, but we have to trust the ‘black box’.We understand as part of practices that we do. We do not necessarily understand as part of a hierarchy of knowledge, such as in the disciplines.
Staying to end of the final keynote led to my flight up six floors to give my own presentation, which thankfully I had up-loaded to the laptop provided by CAL’09, at 8.00 am that morning, along with making sure that the microphone worked.Just before my presentation, was the first presentation on the theme I was included in, which was about embedment of virtual communication, text, voice, etc. First presentation called, Getting our heads out of the clouds: Using tag clouds to reflect on the emphasis of materials presented in power-point slides. Presenter, Damian Gordon at email@example.comDublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. Great presentation on use of tag clouds throughout a course. Fifteen people attended my presentation, quite respectable and very engaged with my twenty minute presentation and ensuing hot debate has left me with further ideas about how this research does interest other HEI’s, not just those institutions involved in distance learning. I think this is because the traditional HEI’s do have a serious interest in the delivery of distance learning and this includes international communities as well.
Wendy Fisher – 29 March 2009