Thursday, 5 June 2008

Institutional maturity and exit strategies

So I really enjoyed the SOLSTICE conference today and my preso on institutional collaboration went really well. I really liked thinking about institutional spaces and whether we are trying to force new, web-based tools into old spaces and pedagogic approaches, without changing our curriculum design and delivery. e.g. Wondering why a blog or social network does not work when it is disconnected from the learning and assessment processes, so that we maintain a traditional studio or lecture plus essay/project approach, rather than a social networking/problem-based and patchwork assessment approach.

We are moving towards a position where e-learning professionals are confident enough to push progressive pedagogies - we need to accept that students are learning and developing literacies and self-efficacy and agency in new environments and networks. Moreover, there is a risk that the spaces and tasks that we use to develop academic literacies are disconnected from our students social spaces and networks and literacies. In delivering these types of connections we need to rethink pedagogic paradigms to focus meaningfully upon participation and user-centred pedagogies, in order to connect problems to actions and tools, and to connect networks or collaborative efficacies and concepts to individual outcomes and attainment.

The other points that struck me were the role of structured play in learning and teaching - how to make the use of technologies and the interactions they promote as "fun" [as noted in our e-learning strategy]. There is something to be said here for the themes and principles promoted by the EYFS and how they impact on our understanding of technology-enhanced learning. More will follow on that.

Finally, my good friend LP argued that my preso, which argued for the spreading of a social networking approach and culture across an HEI involving broad academic and academic-related teams working, sharing and collaborating through Web 2.0 tools, demonstrated that we were preparing an exit strategy from the institutional VLE. I argued that we were working on upskilling staff and especially programme teams to collaborate to make better decisions about the tools that they use in the curriculum. These may be Blackboard-based or Web 2.0 tools. This means that we have an institutional maturity, based upon acceptance, experience of and engagement with e-learning tools, that allows us to migrate technologies if we have to. Moreover, those staff are better able to make informed, devolved, empowered decisions now because of the spread of tools and people to advise on their use.

A move towards participation and local engagement means that I might become redundant!!


Mohamed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mohamed said...


I don't think that mass adoption of learning technologies will put anyone out of a job, but may change the way we do a job. Afterall, Who will do the seeking of new technologies? Who will train and support? Who will be developing new technologies?

I don't think we have to worry yet about robots taking over the world in our life times at least. :-)

Steve Mackenzie said...

Time for a sharp exit - Harp Style (can you arrange it for Monday morning, Richard)- Seriously it is now time to leave behind the debilitating hindering VLE where it belongs and currently is firmly rooted in the past.

many cohorts of students need and would benefit from a social networking/learning network/communities of practice approach.

teachers on the ground are starting to realize that something can be done, but don't know how to go about devising a teaching and learning approach or if the do they are hindered by technological constraints of current VLE's or administrative or policy edicts that have have not attempted to reflect the new era of learning.

It is a timely post as i have just attended a workshop in Bath yesterday titled sustaining communities of practice - where it was confirmed to me how the whole process of online learning in the majority of academic institutions is akin to bashing great big squares into tiny round holes. Incidentally we had four people including myself from my faculty (HLS) attending the event and we all signed up independently without knowing the others were going. Which goes to show the awareness and interest that is now being generated here at DMU of new approaches to learning.

If we can't have a Harp sharp exit, maybe we'll just have to settle for the pint instead :-)