Tuesday, 30 November 2010

JISC Online Conference - Realising the value (theme 2)

Thursday began theme 2 - realising the value and the keynote for this theme was "how to get your innovations adopted (and change the world)" by Anne Miller. This was a really interesting presentation and Anne was really easy to listen to.

Anne said that the most important innovations are the most resisted and that resistance to innovation is normal so we shouldn't get downhearted. She said some of the problems in academia are that there is a tendency for academics to think the job is done once the paper is written. Management used to think in terms of funding and now the emphasis is more on looking for a return on investment. There is also now more of a focus on cuts rather than growth.

Anne went on to describe the 4 stages of resistance:

Stage 1 - blindness

Anne showed us a clip for YouTube Who dunnit? that had 21 differences in it that it's fair to say the majority of the audience missed - watch it and see how observant you are!

The point she was making with this was that your brain filters out the things that don't seem relevant. So we are all prone to a bit of blindness when it comes to innovation.

We then had the delight of listening to "Stairway to Heaven", forwards and then backwards to see if we could hear any satanic voices - I kid you not.

After listening to it backwards the first time and hardly any of us heard anything untoward we were presented with some proposed lyrics for the backward version - this time you hear the words that are proposed - it's force-fitted to your expectations, which can also happen with your ideas.

So with blindness a few things can happen

  • filtering - filter out what doesn't fit

  • force-fitting - "ah yes that's just like my idea" - force-fitting into pre-existing pigeon-holes - you need to listen to the detail rather than force fit

  • "we tried that weeks ago and it didn't work" - to counter this ask for the details, the report, get them onside because you show an interest in what's already been done.

  • "great this shows I'm right" - be careful you don't delude yourself that you are right when you are not

  • mismatched mental models - ideas that don't fit our mental models are ignored

So how do we open their eyes? - the hardest thing to do is stimulate. The easiest thing to do is to try and fit in with their interests, beliefs and concerns.

Stage 2 - Frozen

People are aware of your ideas but not motivated, What do you do about this? She talked about Schein's unfreezing technique. It's about making it feel OK to act. The technique reduces the resistance to change

Stage 3 - Interested

So they say "tell me about it" - this is the key to selling your idea. You need to make it concise and clear, aim for no more than 10 words. Also make sure your evidence clearly supports your message - it's not easy to do this so beware

Stage 4 - Embedded

Will they say "sorry we forgot about it" or "we've always done it this way". At this point you need to make sure you don't fall into the trap of thinking it's all done once you've written the paper. Make sure it's not forgotten that you started all this.

These 4 stages can happen quickly. They are human psychology so we need to be aware that we are not immune to this ourselves.

Great presentation and not just because of the Led Zeppelin, food for thought

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Transforming assessment for learning in the digital age - JISC online conference 2010

This was session 1 by David Bould. Even though I'm not directly involved in assessment I thought this session was really interesting. David argued that assessment has such an influence on learning, whether that is good or bad pratice. The digital environement has frequently been misused producing poor forms of assessment. He said we need to think about how assessment affects learning and ask the fundamental questions:

  • what is assessment for?

  • why are we doing it?

David argued that we need to transform assessment and stop pretending it's ok. That's not digitial assessment but any assessment. Assessment for learning and assessment for certification are in conflict -we end up with a messy compromise. Assessment should be about building learners capacity to make judgments about their work beyond the current task.

We need to see assessment in the digital environment as just part of the whole business of assessement otherwise digital assessment just locks into the primitive view of assessment. This is something I hadn't really thought about. Are we using digital assessment in a closed/negative way rather than making the most of it's potential?

We need to reclaim learning as the purpose of assessment - shift it to the longer term. Assessment for the longer term needs to be sustainable and beyond the immediate context. Something to consider - a students early experience with assessment will formulate what they believe is valuable. So if you start with memorisation then they will take that as being the most important - we need to set down at the start markers for assessment.

Employers look at what students have the potential to do more than what they have done - this is why longer term thinking is needed. We need to encourage students to develop informed judgment about their own learning.

Assessement needs to develop reflective learners. It should help them to become pratitioners, build confidence and develop the capacity to work well with others.

David provided a link to examples of assessment practice to foster learning - http://www.assessmentfutures.com/ which I haven't had chance to look at yet.

Digital technology provides the opportunity to create assessement for learning. It allows for user-control, responsiveness, collaboration, multi-media (multi-model). But we must make sure we don't fall into certain traps:

  • teachers dominating because everything can be pre-coded - ends up being oppressive

  • students not involved in key steps in the assessment process - for example when developing what are the appropriate standards and criteria to apply to the assessement don't leave them out of this stage

He saw the key areas for development as:

  • feedback - for feedback to be affective you must be able to see the effect on students work

  • self-judgment - self assessement like e-portfolios or ReView

  • collaboration in assessment - group tasks, peer feedback, consideration of standards and criteria, moderation of marks

To sum up it's not all about the technology, we'll use whatever is available and user-friendly. It's not about the method, there are plenty about. It's about the disposition towards learning and seeing assessment as an essential tool in promoting learning.

JISC online conference 2010 - Opening keynote

Well yesterday was Day 1 of the JISC online conference (Innovating e-learning). I attended for the first time last year and really enjoyed the experience of an online conference but I had forgotten how tiring it is (more so then a physical conference). However yesterday was good. I was only able to attend a couple of the live presentations but both were really interesting. I need to catch up today with the session "what do students really want?" as I was sorry to miss that live yesterday.

OK so opening keynote from Keri Facer was really interesting and has stimulated a lot of discussion. Keri asked a couple of questions prior to the session which were then discussed further in the live session:

A. what do you think the world will be like in 2025?
B. Is there a future for the physical education institution in 20 years time? Why? What might we gain/lose by going virtual?

Food for thought. It's hard to think so far ahead when many of us are worried about what might happen in the next few months rather than the next 20 years.

Keri said that we are having to get used to living in interesting times. There is a worrying trend that we are seeing education as an individual investment rather than a social investment, so then the questions are asked about why fund it? So we need to think about what sorts of education establishments would rebuild the confidence that they are a sound investment for students and society's futures. When thinking about that we need to ask the question - what sort of futures do we think we are preparing for? This is no easy task and we have to overcome barriers to do this in a meaningful way.

Keri then asked the audience what was our most important source of our belief about the future and then what we thought our institutions most important source is. It was interesting that the two did not match. The majority of those present said they used research evidence/reports from practice and industry but overwhelming felt our institutions used Government as a source - could this be a problem?

She talked about BCH programme the aim of which was to build a set of long term future scenarios for education in the context of social and technological change 2025 and beyond.
  • We will have the capacity to know more stuff about more stuff - there will be a massive growth in the amount of digital information we'll have access to
  • Personal cloud - constant connection to other people, more filtering and shaping the information we get
  • Working and living amongst machines will become increasing normal - delegation of responsibility to machines, especially for management of complex systems
  • Changing organisational space - distance will be less of an issue (don't need to travel to the institution) but geography will still matter (place plays a role as an identity marker)
  • Weakening of institutional barriers

So what does this mean? The growth of the "knowledge worker" - who will crowdsource, collaborate, manage multiple roles, work with, work on and rework data.

Thinking about the physical institution - did we think this would still be necessary in 20 years time - overwhelmingly the answer was Yes but..

Keri went on to talk about complicating factors:

  • Ageing population - will there be inter-generational conflict?
  • Decline of confidence in the knowledge economy future

We were then asked which way we thought the future was going to go; business as usual, collapse/breakdown or transition/transformation? Being a positive group transition/transformation came out on top so the follow up questions of how did we want things to go came up with around the same result. Keri was surprised by this, but as Helen Beetham said in the discussion afterwards, is that people mean difference things by transformation. I also think that it's the group of people that she was talking to. By our very attendance at an event like this suggest that we lean towards transformation and changing attitudes - or am I reading people wrongly?

The final thing I took from this (headphone fatigue was setting in) was the idea that rather than trying to "future proof" we should be "future building". That means rather than trying to protect against change or build in flexibility we should be looking clearly at the potential future. We need a strong future vision of the educational future we want. We need to ask " how can we work together to tip the balance in favour of futures that offer real well being for our students?". We need to shape students ability to shape their own futures.

I found it hard to concentrate on the discussion that what going on in chat and listen to the presentation. With this in mind for the second live session I focused on the presentation and not the chat, as it's always possible to review the chat after the session. More on session 2 in a little while....