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 StaffEmpowering Studentsfor Virtual Learning EnvironmentsHelen BeethamResearch Fellow, SoURCEPaul BaileyProject Manager, EFFECTS

  • Transformation at three levelsStudent learningProfessional development transformation of individual learning and teaching practiceOrganistional developmenttransformation of collective learning and teaching practice

  • Student learning subject-specific content

    subject-specific skills learning skills metacognition

  • Professional developmentresourcestoolspedagogy

  • Organisational learningexpertiseinfrastructureculture

  • Empowering students subject-specific content

    subject-specific skills learning skills metacognition

  • Features of the virtualDistributed Time- and place-independentInformation saturatedInteroperableContinuous 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 Scene 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 itll be direct one day. Mind to mind. There wont be any technology then. Well, therell 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?Its just mad now! Its changing all the time. But it can only go so far, cant it?What will stop it going any further?People, I guess. But... for every one like me theres one like him! [Student S]Student A, July 2000

  • Virtually empowered learners?Sometimes I cant really find the things that I want [on the web] because... its all words so I have to click, click, click and its so... frustrating sometimes. I cant find the right one.Student R, March 2000

  • What would it mean to be empowered as a learner? in a virtual environmentDistributed Time- and place-independentInformation saturatedInteroperableContinuous and discontinuous change

  • New learning outcomesoutcomeslearner

  • New learning activitiesDiscoveryDiscussionAnalysis and problem solvingSynthesis and designReflection, giving and receiving feedback

  • New learning issuesFunctional accessInformation literacyMotivationFlexibility versus collaborationLearning styles

  • Case study: computing scienceLarge final year module (160 students)Students did not see relevance of the issuesPoor integration of lecture topics with tutorial discussionsStudents had few opportunities to develop critical and social skills

  • ApproachSeminars splits into sub-groups of 4-5 studentsAssessment: 50% group assignment, 50% examLectures introduce theoretical issuesStudent groups undertake research into impact areasWeb-based notes provide starting points for researchStudents lead seminar discussionStudent groups publish hypertext reportsAll students use hypertext archive for revision

  • Case study: art & architectureTwo student cohorts on different campuses with potential to learn from one anotherComplementary practices and critical skillsDifferent cultures of study and collaborationDifferent learning outcomes and assessment criteriaBoth cohorts needed authentic, client-based project work with input from professional experts

  • ApproachCollaboration promoted through joint projects, with outcomes separately assessedSmall number of project briefingsOngoing asynchronous collaboration through bulletin board and data sharingStudents have write access in project groups, read-only access in all groups Invited professionals contribute to discussion from their desks

  • Case study: healthcareSecond year nursing students did not find research methods interesting or relevantBut needed preparation for clinical research in following yearOriented on a pragmatic, problem-solving approach to learningStudents needed good ICT skills to satisfy professional body

  • ApproachProblem based learning approach Research task is broken down into manageable stepsStudents required to decide on a course of action each weekStudents have access to online resources to support their decision-making processDecisions are submitted and discussed online, with feedback from tutor and peersConsensus is reached before moving on

  • Case study: maths and statsCompulsory module for a wide range of programmes: large and varied cohort (ca 600)Current assessment strategy allowed students to avoid stats questions until final examStudents had poor sense of their own progress(Hidden issue at least 10% of students assessed as having some level of dyslexia)

  • ApproachComputer assisted assessment introducedLarge existing question bank translatedSame question bank used to provide formative assessment and feedback throughout courseExisting inequalities exposed during evaluationStudents can now have time on assessment tasks adjusted to suit individual learning needs

  • Empowering staffresourcestoolspedagogy

  • National audit: staff using learning technologies in UK HE25% of all HEIs auditedRole analysis of staffIn depth interviews with representative staffInterviews with senior managers and policy makersJanuary 2001: final report to JCALT http://sh.plym.ac.uk/eds/effects/jcalt-project/Briefing papers and recommendations to institutions

  • Key findings: staff skillsWide range of competences required (40/58)Generic technical competencepractical application, reflection, critical evaluationpeer-supported experimentationInterpersonal, pedagogic, strategic skillsmentoring, team working, strategic participationcommunities, networks, frameworks for practicearchetypal knowledge workersmultiple roles and cultureschange agency and staff development

  • Key findings: staff skillsAcademic staff skillsEmbed, adapt, translate, reviewCurriculum development processNew roles, new collaborationsScholarship of teachingOpportunities to innovate, create, move forward institutional practice (as well as meet standards)

  • Key issues: staff skillsHow to promote peer-supported experimentation and critical reflectionHow to develop collaborative learning within and across institutionsHow to develop skills in authentic professional contextsShort shelf-life of technology-related skills (continuous revolution = lifelong learning)Accrediting and acknowledging expertise

  • Professional developmentL&T process rather than C&IT skillsUnderpinning values & philosophyAction researchAction learninga 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. Beaty & McGill (1995)

  • Generic learning outcomesindividual learning cyclecollective knowledge and practice

  • Empowering staffNew skills and competencesProfessional/career developmentResearch/publication opportunities Finding solutionsNew collaborations with support staffNew learning and teaching dialoguesNew peer networksControl over process of innovation and change

  • New dialogues in teams when new ideas are being implemented and non-teachers 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 ..

  • New dialogues in teamsPractitioner 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 numbersChanges 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 practiceSometimes it requires confidence and support to change practice in the face of existing cultures including the expectations of students:

    Student: You mean the lecture is cancelled next week?Lecturer: No, it isnt cancelled. I never planned to have one

  • 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 processFrom EFFECTS external evaluation report: in response to the question what were the main benefits of undertaking an EFFECTS programme?:

    the opportunity to develop my ideas about this areathe freedom to develop a whole course

  • New practitioner networksworking with othersmeeting like-minded peoplecollaborative activitiesthe enrichment of working with (other) lecturersloads of contacts

  • Change of roleIve become increasingly involved with colleagues regarding the development of online materialsIve became a member of university PCLI steering group, have now been able to raise funding for a new projectIm now considered the dept expert in LT

  • Empowering institutionsexpertiseinfrastructureculture

  • Organisational Learningorganisational learning cyclecollective knowledge and practice

  • Key findings: institutionsInterdependence of factors No magic formulaSeven institutional strategiesAll require expert staff working in a range of roles and institutional cultures/locationsAll depend on empowered change agents, networkers, intra- and entre-preneurs

  • Conclusions

  • Empowered students meansStudent learning and ICT skills addressed at every levelVLE integrated into induction processStarting from learning activities not learning contentStudents as creators and designers as well as users of virtual environmentsDialogues with peers, tutors, other experts

  • Empowered staff meansShared dialogue about practice Culture of evaluation and critical reflectionAuthentic development projects, owned by staffCollaborative development breaking down barriersLocal drivers and barriers identified with strategic lessons learnedLearning teams and networks (discussion groups, learning sets, mentoring...)Cohort of innovators and change agents

  • Empowering institution meansCentral vision; local planning and processCoordination without territorialityRecruiting, developing and rewarding expertiseStatus, credibility and recognition for all staff involved in learning and teaching developmentIntegrated support for student skills, staff skills, learning resources and infrastructureTying innovations funding into professional developmentLocal lessons, strategic learningBuilding internal and external networks

    EFFECTS 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 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 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 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 LEARNINGEach supports the otherStudent learning depends on access to knowledge. But focus on access and content alone is not enough danger that a university place equate to a very expensive library ticket. Active learning means constructing ones own understanding through opportunities to practiceIncreasing focus on the third aspect, the learning to learn aspect, sometimes described in terms of key skills (new university) or critical awareness (old university). No stable body of knowledge; few traditional tools; therefore new forms of information literacy, learning style and habits of mind are needed to cope.

    Convenient to separate student learning into different aspects, but it must all be orchestrated 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 practiceThere 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 these are notes which are actually meant to accompany lectures. Nothing wrong with this but not the most effective use of a multiple medium. Again, changing ones whole mode of practice if you like ones professional identity 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 blurringFactors 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 cognitionTime- and place-independentglobalisation, 24/7Information saturatedinformation society, knowledge economy, digital consumerism, cybercitizenshipInteroperabledata is kingformal knowledge versus tacit knowledgeStandards (VLEs)Continuous and discontinuous changelifelong 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 new content, skills and learning styles.Current understanding that learning takes place only through interaction which Chris discussed in her presentation this morning and through concrete learning activities, through which learners deploy content, skills and learning approaches in practice.

    Not so new but the environment is new, the specific affordances are new:Discoveryonline research, virtual experimentation, exploring models and simulationsDiscussionAimed at seeking consensus, shared interpretations, finding criteria for judgement, or clarifying differences, drawing out debateAnalysis and problem solvingcomputer based analytical tools e.g. mathematical, statistical, textual analysisSynthesis, production, designWeb page authoring, hypertext, online presentations, multimedia artefacts, graphic design, CAD, CAMReflection, giving and receiving feedbackCAA, also peer review of online materials, annotation and comment computerisation makes knowledge and work in progress explicit, available for comment at many stages of the learning cycle.Open or distance learningEnhanced classroom experienceHybrid approachIf last slide showed ways in which learners can be given the power to act, lets think about some ways in which they might be denied power.Functional accessTechnical access, skills, costs dont introduce new inequalitiesInformation literacyPlagiarism, cut&paste, critical skills, evaluationMotivationLoss of immediacy, phatic communication, need for shared goals (assessment strategic)Flexibility versus collaboration there is a pay offLearning stylesReflective vs pro-active, visual vs verbal vs kinaesthetic/ making explicit:Positive = available for comment and reflectionNegative = loss of the tacit, improvisatory, etc

    Collaboration promoted through joint projectsSmall number of project briefings: ongoing collaboration through bulletin board and data sharingStudents have write access in project groups, read-only access in all groups Invited professionals contribute to discussion from their desksLegitimate peripheral participation

    Not a business process model but starting from students learning with technologies. Pauls 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 mindAt 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 specific curricular and strategic initiativesSeven institutional strategiesAll require expert staff working in a range of roles and institutional cultures/locationsAll 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 steps to successThe factors which go to make up the three aspects were developed in consultation with the institutional auditors who carried out the national audit.