Quick summary of interesting eLearning Research

Search is the new interface of commerce (see what effect Google has had].

Surely ICT is the new interface of learning. Not just ICT skills, but deeper ICT understanding which can be applied in the future as new technologies change. This is created by students [and teachers] using ICT, understanding how digital applications and the internet work to enable learning and practising in different contexts.

ICT can offer new ways of working, for example, ponder the interactions between:

Teachers <-> Teachers. Students <-> Students. Teachers <-> Students.

How can these be adapted with the new tools… what will change? Stay the same? Be better… be worse… these are what we need to explore as professionals.

In other words, it’s about teaching and learning, still…


ICT’s about Learning

“Effective integration can be tested in a given lesson if at least one of two things are taking place: a) by the end of the lesson students have further developed ICT capabilities; b) ICT makes something happen in learning about the subject that couldn’t have happened, or couldn’t have happened so effectively, otherwise.” (Neil Calvert, George Spencer School)


“True investment in people is what is needed. We also need to get out of the one application fits all mentality and encourage experimentation with a range of technologies at all levels. Understanding technology is just as worthy an educational goal as understanding history, geography or music. Not only is it important in contemporary culture, the country’s economic well-being depends on it”.

Ian Lynch 26-01-09

What if…? Re-imagining learning spaces – Futurelab (October 2006)

We need to start, then, by asking not ‘what buildings do we want?’ [Building Schools of the Future] but instead ‘what sort of education do we want to see in future?’ We need to ask not ‘how many classrooms do we need?’ but ‘what sorts of learning relationships do we want to foster? What competencies do we want learners to develop? What tools and resources are available to us to support learning?’


Naace – Roger Broadie opinion

I am working close to a number of (secondary) schools that have implemented full digital environments AND have managed to generate full ‘ownership’ by all the teachers and admin staff – even if only for admin, resources access and communications. The net result is that all the teachers are going into the digital environment at least every day, maybe every lesson and for lesson prep. And noticing what is beginning to be created in the digital environment, by both teachers and pupils.

What is impressing me, making me feel we are turning a corner, is something the schools did not predict would happen and which is surprising them – a sudden flowering of creativity in using the ICT to support teaching and learning, even from computer-phobic teachers.

Which means that in these schools the whole staff are starting to work on the big questions to do with teaching and learning you list. And interestingly, though all the Frog schools are taking a very similar approach for the first term or so (to generate ownership), as soon as they have generated this whole-school ownership, they are taking very divergent routes in developing transformative approaches. So it really is exemplifying what Margaret says, ‘the only people who never really get consulted about any introduction (of ICT) are the teaching practitioners” – but in these schools the practitioners are absolutely central in creating the new approaches which are being adopted. And are stimulating and supporting each other in doing this, within and between schools.

So what I am arguing for is pragmatics in forcing the issue to push whole schools into use of digital environments, in order that the whole community of teachers and schools start to grapple with the ‘what is education?, what is learning?’ questions. Which is the only way we are going to create an education system fit for the 21st century.

I think there are some critical ‘people issues’ that matter in this process, particularly the ease with which the teachers (and pupils) can create and control the look/feel, structure and interaction of areas in the digital environment.

[CJS – this is what Fronter offers…]


Naace Learning Platforms Think Tank, April 07

What should be the main improvements schools should be tasked with gaining through use of learning platforms, the top four are (in no particular priority order):

· Better engagement of learners and particularly parents.

· Better addressing of learning styles and personalised curricula, and reaching the hard to reach.

· Better sharing, in schools and across communities of schools, with much improved communication and collaboration (some of the schools presenting already have teachers appreciating the pay-back from doing this).

· Reduced teacher workload through sharing and re-purposing, elimination of paper and improved work processes.

Secondary schools need to take a strongly led whole-school approach to implementation from the start, as many of the benefits arise when the learning platform catalyses change in how the school organises itself and its processes, and how pupils organise their more structured work processes following courses towards qualifications, and pupils’ independent learning grows.


Current ICT from the student’s point of view – Digital Planet pod-cast

Well, in day-to-day life, I mean, I don’t really notice a lot of the technology I use. It tends to be mobile phones, i-pods, I’m on the Internet quite a lot, computers, you know, doing bits and bobs, games, you know, the stuff you don’t really notice.

We don’t really get taught a lot about technology at school. There aren’t really classes on how to use it, I mean, we do key skills ICT as part of some kind of government regulation thing, but that’s more kind of like filenames, this is a keyboard, this is a mouse. It’s kind of touch and go, you mess around with things you try not to break them. You just try to hope for the best really.

But most things are quite simple these days and a lot of things that teenagers use have a simple interface which is why I think the more complex type of mobile phones, the ones that have access to the Internet, aren’t particularly popular and haven’t tapped into the growing teenage market because we just want it to do one thing that we can do very well with it. i-Pods are a particularly easy interface. The Internet is just very simple to use. We have kind of a shared database of knowledge into which we can tap whenever we want to. Normally people who you are friends with are about the same level as you in terms of their competence with technology.


Their Space (The future from the student’s point of view)

Start with people not PCs In order to see change across the system, there needs to be a shift in thinking about investment from hardware towards relationships and networks. In the last ten years we have seen a staggering change in the amount of hardware in schools, but it has not had a significant impact on teaching and learning styles.

So what does this mean for schools? It means that they need to really listen and respond to their users. Schools often fail to start in the right place – with the interests and enthusiasms of their students. They also need to recognise the new digital divide – one of access to knowledge rather than hardware – and start to redress some of the existing imbalances. Finally they need to develop strategies to bridge formal and informal learning, home and school. They should find ways that go with the grain of what young people are doing, in order to foster new skills and build on what we know works. The world has changed so why haven’t we? The current generation of young people will reinvent the workplace, and the society they live in. They will do it along the progressive lines that are built into the technology they use everyday – of networks, collaboration, co-production and participation. The change in behaviour has already happened. We have to get used to it, accept that the flow of knowledge moves both ways and do our best to make sure that no one is left behind. Chapter 4 talks about a necessary shift in values to make this happen. Chapter 5 goes on to outline the practical changes that need to happen at every level in the system from policymakers to practitioners in order to see real transformation.

(p.26) A great deal of research has been done around defining learning experiences.

While there are many specific definitions, most include four key components: finding information and knowledge, doing something with it, sharing it with an audience and reflecting on it. Value young peoples’ skills, provide a space to reflect and build on them.(p.53)

1/3 young people have a personal blog or website. There is a fundamental difference between the passive knowledge that is developed through critical analysis and the active knowledge that derives from production. (p.40)

Student Characteristics – self motivation, ownership, creativity with a purpose, peer to peer learning

The digital divide is not about access to hardware, but access to knowledge networks, to know the right people, and to find out how to do things so that students can become confident users

In an economy driven by knowledge rather than manufacturing, employers are already valuing very different skills, such as creativity, communication, presentation skills and team-building [problem solving]

p.11 All these young people have something in common – they all use technology in a way that in the past would have labelled them ‘geeks’. But they are not all using it in the same way. Our research has pointed to a number of different user ‘types’, which we use throughout the report:

Digital pioneers were blogging before the phrase had been coined

Creative producers are building websites, posting movies, photos and music to share with friends, family and beyond

Everyday communicators are making their lives easier through texting and MSN

Information gatherers are Google and Wikipedia addicts, ‘cutting and pasting’ as a way of life.

Characterising children in this way is not about identifying good ways or bad ways of using technologies. Nor is it about fixing them into certain types – many of the young people we spoke to moved through a number of these types and combined them in different ways. Instead, it is a way of describing life with digital technology from the perspective of children.

Summary p.1. However, there is a smaller group of digital pioneers that is pushing at the boundaries of conventional practice. For every focus group we ran there was a ‘leader of the pack’ who was one step ahead of the other children. These individuals have strong digital identities and are making the shift from consumption to creation. A range of characteristics is common to this type of activity – self-motivation, ownership, purposeful creativity and peer-to- peer learning.


Towards new learning networks – Future Lab

p.4. In this paper, we argue that we need to move away from the institutionalized logic of the school as factory, to the network logic of the learning community.

Indeed, we need to move beyond the concept of ‘extended schools’ – whereby schools extend the range of services they provide – towards a notion of extending learning, whereby learning institutions rethink the possibilities around what can be learnt, where learning can happen and who is involved in the learning process. What this paper implies is that it will not be possible

To personalise education whilst maintaining a conception of learning as happening only in certain places, under certain assessment regimes and involving certain people. Instead, we suggest that rather than continuing to build a system based upon the ‘megastructures’ of schools, universities and a national curriculum, we need to move to a system organised through more porous and flexible learning networks that link homes, communities and multiple sites of learning.

p.18. “…a fundamentally new possibility for 21st century learningscapes… This new learningscape would be supported by an understanding of the interplay between the social and cognitive basis of learning, and enabled by the networked age of the 21st century.”

This possibility is under-explored in the use of ICT in most UK schools, with the communicative, collaborative and networking aspects of new technologies often being restricted or barred. Whilst there are obvious issues to take into consideration relating to things such as pupil safety, firewall restrictions and so forth, these technologies could potentially challenge and change the way we currently think about the ways in which we learn. It is perhaps no surprise, given the relatively controlled and insular way that schooling is currently delivered, that the tools most likely challenge the current configuration of education are treated with some caution.


The problematic of pedagogy – John Anderson

From the moment the principal of a secondary school, leading-edge in its use of ICT, urged me not to use the word ‘pedagogy’ when talking with his teachers about e-learning, I realised we had a problem. The problem lies in the gulf between those who think of e-learning as self-contained packages (‘ready-meals from M&S’ as one put it) and those who digest it as an ingredient of a healthy teaching and learning diet.

The more I see ICT resources being used in lessons (whatever that e-learning resource is: from learning objects and internet resources, through productivity tools, to online lessons) the more it reminds me that many teachers still do not have the intuitive understanding of e-learning design that they have, for instance, of textbooks, worksheets or linear video.


Safer Children in a Digital World – The Report of the Byron Review 08

  • There are concerns over potentially inappropriate material, which range from content (e.g. violence) through to contact and conduct of children in the digital world.
  • Having considered the evidence I believe we need to move from a discussion about the media ‘causing’ harm to one which focuses on children and young people, what they bring to technology and how we can use our understanding of how they develop to empower them to manage risks and make the digital world safer.
  • There is a generational digital divide which means that parents do not necessarily feel equipped to help their children in this space – which can lead to fear and a sense of helplessness. This can be compounded by a risk-averse culture where we are inclined to keep our children ‘indoors’ despite their developmental needs to socialise and take risks.
  • While children are confident with the technology, they are still developing critical evaluation skills and need our help to make wise decisions.
  • I propose that we seek to achieve gains in these three areas by having a national strategy for child internet safety which involves better self-regulation and better provision of information and education for children and families.
  • Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe – this isn’t just about a top-down approach. Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.