Empowering Staff Empowering Students for Virtual Learning Environments

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Empowering Staff Empowering Students for Virtual Learning Environments. Helen Beetham Research Fellow, SoURCE Paul Bailey Project Manager, EFFECTS. Transformation at three levels. Student learning Professional development transformation of individual learning and teaching practice - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Empowering Staff Empowering Students for Virtual Learning Environments Helen Beetham Research Fellow, SoURCE Paul Bailey Project Manager, EFFECTS
  • Transformation at three levels Student learning Professional development transformation of individual learning and teaching practice Organistional development transformation of collective learning and teaching practice
  • Student learning subject-specific content subject-specific skills learning skills metacognition
  • Professional development resources tools pedagogy
  • Organisational learning expertise infrastructure culture
  • Empowering students subject-specific content subject-specific skills learning skills metacognition
  • Features of the âvirtualâ Distributed Time- and place-independent Information saturated Interoperable Continuous and discontinuous change
  • Virtually empowered learners? The proliferation of transactive learning spaces in the age of computer-mediated education signifies that control of the content of curriculum must give place to an explosion of self-crafted, ad hoc, and customized learning modules, where the great historical divide between instructor and student can be found in a state of meltdown... Carl Raschke (1999) Beyond Education: The Age of Transaction and the âSceneâ of Digital Learning, Syllabus, Nov-Dec
  • Virtually empowered learners? [With well designed learning environments] there will be no need for teachers as they are today...instead the focus will be on the employment of the best teachers to assist in the development of computer-based learning using the best curriculum and instructional strategies. Contributor to IFETS discussion list, July 1999
  • Virtually empowered learners? I reckon itâll be direct one day. Mind to mind. There wonât be any technology then. Well, thereâll just be that one, the mental one. Student S, March 2000
  • Virtually empowered learners? While we have undeniably more choice as to what to do in the digital world, it is still not clear that we will be able to filter content in an easy manner, let alone move information back to the sender... The virtual class will be made up of those individuals who have the power, the access, and the best technology Nicholas Negroponte (1992) Being Digital
  • Virtually empowered learners? Itâs just mad now! Itâs changing all the time. But it can only go so far, canât it? What will stop it going any further? People, I guess. But... for every one like me thereâs one like him! [Student S] Student A, July 2000
  • Virtually empowered learners? Sometimes I canât really find the things that I want [on the web] because... itâs all words so I have to click, click, click and itâs so... frustrating sometimes. I canât find the right one. Student R, March 2000
  • What would it mean to be empowered as a learnerâ¦? ⦠in a virtual environment Distributed Time- and place-independent Information saturated Interoperable Continuous and discontinuous change
  • New learning outcomes outcomes learner
  • âNewâ learning activities Discovery Discussion Analysis and problem solving Synthesis and design Reflection, giving and receiving feedback
  • New learning issues Functional access Information literacy Motivation Flexibility versus collaboration Learning styles
  • Case study: computing science Large final year module (160 students) Students did not see relevance of the issues Poor integration of lecture topics with tutorial discussions Students had few opportunities to develop critical and social skills
  • Approach Seminars splits into sub-groups of 4-5 students Assessment: 50% group assignment, 50% exam Lectures introduce theoretical issues Student groups undertake research into impact areas Web-based notes provide starting points for research Students lead seminar discussion Student groups publish hypertext reports All students use hypertext archive for revision
  • Case study: art & architecture Two student cohorts on different campuses with potential to learn from one another Complementary practices and critical skills Different cultures of study and collaboration Different learning outcomes and assessment criteria Both cohorts needed authentic, client-based project work with input from professional experts
  • Approach Collaboration promoted through joint projects, with outcomes separately assessed Small number of project briefings Ongoing asynchronous collaboration through bulletin board and data sharing Students have write access in project groups, read-only access in all groups Invited professionals contribute to discussion from their desks
  • Case study: healthcare Second year nursing students did not find research methods interesting or relevant But needed preparation for clinical research in following year Oriented on a pragmatic, problem-solving approach to learning Students needed good ICT skills to satisfy professional body
  • Approach Problem based learning approach Research task is broken down into manageable steps Students required to decide on a course of action each week Students have access to online resources to support their decision-making process Decisions are submitted and discussed online, with feedback from tutor and peers Consensus is reached before moving on
  • Case study: maths and stats Compulsory module for a wide range of programmes: large and varied cohort (ca 600) Current assessment strategy allowed students to avoid stats questions until final exam Students had poor sense of their own progress (Hidden issue â at least 10% of students assessed as having some level of dyslexia)
  • Approach Computer assisted assessment introduced Large existing question bank translated Same question bank used to provide formative assessment and feedback throughout course Existing inequalities exposed during evaluation Students can now have time on assessment tasks adjusted to suit individual learning needs
  • Empowering staff resources tools pedagogy
  • National audit: staff using learning technologies in UK HE 25% of all HEIs audited Role analysis of staff In depth interviews with representative staff Interviews with senior managers and policy makers January 2001: final report to JCALT http://sh.plym.ac.uk/eds/effects/jcalt-project/ Briefing papers and recommendations to institutions
  • Key findings: staff skills Wide range of competences required (40/58) Generic technical competence practical application, reflection, critical evaluation⦠âpeer-supported experimentationâ Interpersonal, pedagogic, strategic skills mentoring, team working, strategic participation communities, networks, âframeworks for practiceâ archetypal âknowledge workersâ multiple roles and cultures change agency and staff development
  • Key findings: staff skills Academic staff skills Embed, adapt, translate, review Curriculum development process New roles, new collaborations Scholarship of teaching Opportunities to innovate, create, move forward institutional practice (as well as meet standards)
  • Key issues: staff skills How to promote âpeer-supported experimentationâ and critical reflection How to develop collaborative learning within and across institutions How to develop skills in authentic professional contexts Short shelf-life of technology-related skills (continuous revolution = lifelong learning) Accrediting and acknowledging expertise
  • Professional development L&T process rather than C&IT skills Underpinning values & philosophy Action research Action learning âa continuous process of learning and reflection, supported by colleagues, with an intention of getting things done. Through action learning individuals learn with and from each other by working on real problems and reflecting on their experiences.â Beaty & McGill (1995)
  • Generic learning outcomes individual learning cycle collective knowledge and practice
  • Empowering staff New skills and competences Professional/career development Research/publication opportunities Finding solutions New collaborations with support staff New learning and teaching dialogues New peer networks Control over process of innovation and change
  • New dialogues in teams ⦠when new ideas are being implemented and ânon-teachersâ are making the technology work, it is sometimes difficult for me to explain the problems that technology creates within the teaching environment. I have considered learning how to create and use the technologies myself, but I think this would be time unwisely spent â¦..
  • New dialogues in teams Practitioner skills required for teaching are different to those required for the development of innovative C&IT. The ability to be able to recognise this difference and employ the skills of people to build programs efficiently and effectively is very important
  • Coping with student numbers Changes in local practices have also been apparent. There are now dedicated staff to help with the module who deal with the technology and for marking the in-class tests ⦠[This] is also a long term benefit because large student numbers are being managed effectively and expediently. Stress levels of teaching staff have also been reduced!
  • Transforming practice Sometimes it requires confidence and support to change practice in the face of existing cultures â including the expectations of students: Student: âYou mean the lecture is cancelled next week?â Lecturer: âNo, it isnât cancelled. I never planned to have oneâ
  • New professional skills [I realised that I needed] to do more work on the evaluation of the learning experience and how the use of new methods of delivery changes this. However, singling out the use of technology for evaluation is, I believe, not appropriate⦠I am investigating the possibility of more personal development in this area.
  • Ownership of the process From EFFECTS external evaluation report: in response to the question âwhat were the main benefits of undertaking an EFFECTS programme?â: ââthe opportunity to develop my ideas about this areaâ âthe freedom to develop a whole courseâ
  • New practitioner networks âworking with othersâ âmeeting like-minded peopleâ âcollaborative activitiesâ âthe enrichment of working with (other) lecturersâ âloads of contactsâ
  • Change of role âIâve become increasingly involved with colleagues regarding the development of online materialsâ âIâve became a member of university PCLI steering group, have now been able to raise funding for a new projectâ âIâm now considered the dept expert in LTâ
  • Empowering institutions expertise infrastructure culture
  • Organisational Learning organisational learning cycle collective knowledge and practice
  • Key findings: institutions Interdependence of factors No magic formula Seven institutional strategies All require expert staff working in a range of roles and institutional cultures/locations All depend on empowered change agents, networkers, intra- and entre-preneurs
  • Conclusions
  • Empowered students means⦠Student learning and ICT skills addressed at every level VLE integrated into induction process Starting from learning activities not learning content Students as creators and designers as well as users of virtual environments Dialogues with peers, tutors, other expertsâ¦
  • Empowered staff means⦠Shared dialogue about practice Culture of evaluation and critical reflection Authentic development projects, owned by staff Collaborative development breaking down barriers Local drivers and barriers identified with strategic lessons learned Learning teams and networks (discussion groups, learning sets, mentoring...) Cohort of innovators and change agents
  • Empowering institution means Central vision; local planning and process Coordination without territoriality Recruiting, developing and rewarding expertise Status, credibility and recognition for all staff involved in learning and teaching development Integrated support for student skills, staff skills, learning resources and infrastructure Tying innovations funding into professional development Local lessons, strategic learning Building internal and external networks EFFECTS â national project to create programmes of professional development which support and empower staff in using new technologies. Focus is on enhancing student learning outcomes. National scoping study to audit staff working with learning technologies â Herts a participant. What we want to share today comes mainly from those R&D projects. However. We have both been involved in the early stages of implementing VLEs in Plymouth and Bristol â for techies using bespoke system built on Microsoft Outlook and COTS solution Blackboard. Open University has been using FirstClass for many years. If you have any technical questions about the implementation of any of those systems â Paul and I will be leaving immediately after the presentation. Technology is interesting insofar as it enables change and transformation. Once the technology is everywhere, it becomes intrinsically uninteresting and eventually invisible. Three levels OF LEARNING Each supports the other Student learning depends on access to knowledge. But focus on access and content alone is not enough â danger that a university place equate to a very expensive library ticket. Active learning means constructing oneâs own understanding through opportunities to practice⦠Increasing focus on the third aspect, the learning to learn aspect, sometimes described in terms of key skills (new university) or âcritical awarenessâ (old university). No stable body of knowledge; few traditional tools; therefore new forms of information literacy, learning style and âhabits of mindâ are needed to cope. Convenient to separate student learning into different aspects, but it must all be orchestrated â this is the task of the teacher, to use an old-fashioned phrase. Transformation of student learning depends on transformation of individual learning and teaching practice There are new resources⦠and new tools⦠but sometimes the actual learning and teaching practice can be out of synch. To give an example have any of you ever access the world lecture hall? One of the most ubiquitous genres of learning resource on the world wide web is the online lecture notes. Think about it a minute. This is not just a metaphor â these are notes which are actually meant to accompany lectures. Nothing wrong with this â but not the most effective use of a multiple medium. Again, changing oneâs whole mode of practice â if you like oneâs professional identity â is not as easy as learning to use powerpoint. Professional development required orchestration of all these aspects, just as teaching involves orchestrating or scaffolding the different aspects of learning. One of the great things about VLEs is, while there *are* academics who have developed their own personal virtual learning environments, they are pretty few and far between. VLEs *demand* attention to whole-institution factors, the collective practices of learning and teaching and the organisational environment which supports them. Image of the lone rangers, mavericks and anoraks giving way to a collective enterprise involving: students, teachers, resource managers, librarians, learning skills advisers, network developers, ICT trainers, educational developers, administrators, people who manage and maintain the learning spaces⦠and the boundaries are blurring Factors which go to make up the three aspects were developed in consultation with the institutional auditors who carried out the national audit. Talking about the first of those levels: empowering students in a virtual learning environment. Said I wanted to start from the learning but just for a minute I want to start from the notion of the virtual and see if we can get back to the learning. Distributed networked society, distributed cognition Time- and place-independent globalisation, 24/7 Information saturated information society, knowledge economy, digital consumerism, cybercitizenship Interoperable data is king formal knowledge versus tacit knowledge Standards (VLEs) Continuous and discontinuous change lifelong learning Talk for two minutes: Starting from the notion of what it would be like for our real, actual students to be empowered in a virtual society, economy, or learning environment, leads us to imagine new kinds of learning outcomes â new content, skills and learning styles. Current understanding that learning takes place only through interaction â which Chris discussed in her presentation this morning â and through concrete learning activities, through which learners deploy content, skills and learning approaches in practice. Not so new â but the environment is new, the specific affordances are new: Discovery online research, virtual experimentation, exploring models and simulations⦠Discussion Aimed at seeking consensus, shared interpretations, finding criteria for judgement, or clarifying differences, drawing out debate Analysis and problem solving computer based analytical tools e.g. mathematical, statistical, textual analysis Synthesis, production, design Web page authoring, hypertext, online presentations, multimedia artefacts, graphic design, CAD, CAM Reflection, giving and receiving feedback CAA, also peer review of online materials, annotation and comment â computerisation makes knowledge and work in progress explicit, available for comment at many stages of the learning cycle. Open or distance learning Enhanced classroom experience Hybrid approach If last slide showed ways in which learners can be given the power to act, letâs think about some ways in which they might be denied power. Functional access Technical access, skills, costs â donât introduce new inequalities Information literacy Plagiarism, cut&paste, critical skills, evaluation Motivation Loss of immediacy, phatic communication, need for shared goals (assessment â strategic) Flexibility versus collaboration â there is a pay off Learning styles Reflective vs pro-active, visual vs verbal vs kinaesthetic/ making explicit: Positive = available for comment and reflection Negative = loss of the tacit, improvisatory, etc Collaboration promoted through joint projects Small number of project briefings: ongoing collaboration through bulletin board and data sharing Students have write access in project groups, read-only access in all groups Invited professionals contribute to discussion from their desks Legitimate peripheral participation Not a business process model but starting from students learning with technologies. Paulâs later slide. Therefore in analysing what staff do and the institutions they do it in we started with the context of activity. Three overlapping aspects: pedagogy or practice, that is the actual interactions which take place among the teacher and learners in the learning situation. These interactions can be facilitated by a range of different tools - for example an overhead projector for sharing representations on acetate slides, or a thermometer for carrying out a measurement. Some of these tools are now computer based. Finally, learning often involves content-based resources such as text books, diagrams and so on, which traditionally augment the explanations of the teacher and the activities carried out with the tools. Again these are increasingly likely to be accessed using a networked computer. Indeed the convergences alluded to on the previous slide make it difficult sometimes to distinguish between tools and resources in the computer-based classroom. Hold these in mind⦠At the level of professional development, EFFECTS is based on a concern for the learning and teaching development process rather than any specific technical skills. The underpinning philosophy is one of action learning, as defined by Beaty and McGill. EFFECTS programmes are based around personal development projects, which may also be described as action research projects because the outcomes are fully evaluated and disseminated to other members of the learning and teaching community. The EFFECTS generic learning outcomes follow an action learning cycle, with the added requirements of dissemination (hence the claim that action research is taking place) and a responsibility on the part of the individual for his or her own continuing professional development. This ensures that individuals identify the learning opportunities which are relevant to their current professional needs, rather than being required to fulfil a portfolio of technical skills - many of which will not be useful, and all of which will quickly become out of date. The full EFFECTS learning outcomes are available on the handouts. The factors which go to make up the three aspects were developed in consultation with the institutional auditors who carried out the national audit. One key success of EFFECTS has been the link between the individual learning cycle through the EFFECTS progarmmes to organistational learning cycle. Inidvidual Projects have shown evidence of how the process of embedding learning technologies has fed back in to the organisational, informing the institution of the Interdependence of factors (culture, infrastructure, expertise) No magic formula â specific curricular and strategic initiatives Seven institutional strategies All require expert staff working in a range of roles and institutional cultures/locations All depend on empowered change agents, networkers, intra- and entre-preneurs e.g. most universities working towards integrated MLEs. But huge differences in how they have involved staff, especially innovators. Refer to âsteps to successâ The factors which go to make up the three aspects were developed in consultation with the institutional auditors who carried out the national audit.