Socio-cultural theories

Does learning happen within the head of an individual, or is it mediated, situated and distributed?

Learning is mediated, situated and distributed from a range of interactions and processes that include a range of learning theories as table 1 illustrated in the Conole et al 2004 paper, p19 (see below).

To test this theory, my learning on this course is mediated by reading the course material, collaborating in the forums, engaging in dialogue, undertaking the activities, comparing my findings with the course group.

It’s situated by always being there online 24/7, and my laptop interfaces with the course site no matter where I am. I use Google docs to backup my work, so I live with the knowledge that’s it’s safe no matter what (I accidently trashed all my work on my last course and had to but special software to retrieve it… lesson learnt).

In terms of distributed, I see this as a shared concept whereby peer learning takes place alongside the wider network of resources such as online databases, journals, conference papers, websites and all the rest of the resources to hand.

What does a test or exam measure?

Depending on the context of this question, but assuming it refers to a student’s exam or test, it measures the amount of knowledge the students has accumulated about the subject, process or theory. This process of testing cannot always be accurate as under stressful conditions students may well forget certain things and only remember afterwards. Living in Kent, we still have the 11+ and perhaps this demonstrates that testing based purely on recall does not a) suit everyone or b) entirely fair.

Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design – Summarised version of key learning theories and models, their characteristics, and how they might be realised in the context of e-learning Theories

acting, thinking, feeling association, reinforcement, trial and error

human development, communication, explanation, recombination, contrast, inference and problem solving

self-directed learning through interaction with an environment, construction of conceptual structures through engagement

teacher becomes facilitator, learner engages in discovery through action via collaboration and interaction

Socially situated learning:
social interactions, social participation, learning by observation, interpersonal relationships involving imitation and modelling

Experience as foundation for learning, transformation of experience into knowledge, skill, attitudes, values emotions, reflection, problem base learning

Conole et al 2004 paper, p19
G. Conole a,*, M. Dyke a, M. Oliver b, J. Seale a


H809 so far

Turkish highways

It’s tough and there is a whole set of new terminology to learn besides feeling a little out of my depth.

Perhaps the hardest challenge is the papers, reading the first few made no sense but reading them again you sort of get the idea of what they are trying to say.

I liked the idea of just using 5 papers for reference for the TMA, this made me go back to them several times and squeeze a bit more. It also helped control that swamped with papers and quotes feeling. This is my second course on the OU and it’s interesting to see how different this is to H808… Far more is focused around research papers and being selective about them.

The refworks thing is slowly getting there but the hardest job I have is finding my way around the OU Library. I don’t think I’ve spent enough time really getting to grips with it; to me it’s all a bit of a muddle. I’m going to try out their Safari work-through tutorial to see if this makes a difference. It recommends a minimum of 10 hours to do all 7 sections. I’ll report back with my findings. I’ll try doing a section in my lunch hour which might be better than doing it at the weekends which are normally reserved for the H809 activities.

I expect for the experienced researcher, finding stuff is fast and easy. Still, I’m leaning lots and new doors are being opened so all the hard work is paying off. Learning loads from my cohort and the range of discussions in all three groups are the richest source of peer learning I’ve come across, so I’m totally converted and I have the guys to thank:)

It’s such a relief to get the first TMA out-of-the-way. I’m excited by my proposal, will be interesting to see what Rhona makes of it – and how doable it is.

The sun’s out now, so time to pack away the laptop and get a life again!

VLEs in 2010

Having just written my H809 TMA entitled Expectations of VLEs in 2010 it’s a relief to have a life again albeit for a week or so until it’s back to the grindstone.

The subject is something so worth exploring as the area to develop our VLE is wide open to pour creative energies into. We do however have some way to go before being showcased in JISC’s Effective Practice in a Digital Age brochure.

A good section of the paper is a critique of the vast UCISA 2008 Survey of Technology Enhanced Learning for higher education in the UK by Browne, Hewitt, Jenkins and Walker. I would be so interested to know the average time people spend completing that survey, I reckon  3 days at least. If anyone says 2 hours, I would be seriously worried. But all this is mentioned in the paper which you can download below.

For what purpose are UK institutions using their VLEs?

H809 – 3 weeks in

So far the course is teaching many new areas that were previously a mystery. Things such as academic search engines, citation tools and the number of cited references a paper has…! which Atholl has rightly pointed out as a serious issue for academics in England as citations and “impact” will be used in the REF, the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions that replaces the previous RAE.

It seems HEFCE will use the REF results to allocate funding – which is judged by its value based on given citation. This is a worrying factor as surely the value of the written paper should be marked on its own merits and any citation be a secondary factor. I’m also wondering if certain references are not present, the funding bids won’t even get a look in – nevermind a read.

I have to thank Jane B, Alessando and Deirdre for explaining why I couldn’t find any reference to the Wegerif Mercer paper, it was driving me mad – having never used ISI WOK, Google Scholar, Refworks or not really understanding what any of them do. What I can say is that after having set the Google Scholar preferences to use the OU Library and RefWorks, it will make life easier from now on – I’m a great Google fan and love its simplicity.

I’m not too sure about this RefWorks citation tool, I’ll try it out and see how it goes. I also have to confess to ‘not knowingly’ using academic search engines before – despite doing H808 before this.

So to me, all these clever H809 people have heaps of stuff I can learn from and by reading the forums, I learnt loads already.

Getting Ready for H809

Saturday is the start day for H809, namely the OU course in Practice-based research in educational technology, sounds boring I know but it will hopefully show me far better research techniques than the ones I currently practice… we shall see!

We’ve been warned about the heavy reading element… 17 meaty papers to chew through and refer back throughout the 5 month course. TMAs and the ECA consist of essays.

I’ll be putting my reflective stuff here and using Google docs to store stuff.

Any tips on how to read papers without falling asleep would be greatly appreciated.