Thursday, 2 December 2010

Shaping our learning futures? - final keynote JISC online conference 2010

The final keynote was from Elliott Masie. He used one slide, which I was very impressed with, no death by PowerPoint here. He talked about flip happening - flip in learning. Sometimes you need to flip and idea to get it work. He told a story of an academic who used to give a lecture then send students home with homework - he flipped it, he recorded his lectures sent the students home to watch it then they did the homework in class. He found this worked really well and by watching the lecture before attending in person a lot of discussion was stimulated both before and during the class.

He talked about affordances - when a new technology comes to us we need to look at what it affords us the ability to do. What can we now do with the technology that we couldn't do before. We have a habit of falling in love with new technology without necessarily looking at their affordances realistically. It's about benefits, what are the benefits to our users?

He argued that our learners want greater autonomy of their learning but at the same time they also want more mastery and purpose.

He said the challenge facing e-learning is that it's been hijacked by regulation. I guess this takes some of the creativity and innovation out of it. There are a variety of changes coming, not to replace the instructor but people around the world sharing their knowledge.

We do however need to be careful in our language so we don't create the digital "in-group" excluding the "digital-out" group - we would run the risk of becoming an exclusive club which isn't helpful. We can learn from each other.

He sees the role of the university is to aggregate the students experience, assessment and feedback as we do gain value from learning together and from sharing space. It's not all about virtual learning. E-learning isn't a solitary activity and it isn't there to create the death of the classroom.

He also argued that failing is part of the learning process. We need to build more failure into our technological assisted learning. You need a pilot to crash in the simulator so they learn from that and don't do it in the real thing. The live chat talked about supporting learners to fail in a safe environment but Elliott argued we need to toughen up our assessment so failure happens. The question was raised though whether this is motivating or demotivating? I also think that in a time when universities are in competition which each other and in a world where league tables and results are valued, it's very hard for us to allow people to fail - it doesn't tend to be seen as a positive. So a wider change in the way we think would be needed for this to work.

Other possibilities for flip are to play with the sequence of laddering - do we ever analyse the order in which we do things in a course and play around with the sequence?

Video and time flips have an impact on industry in the creation of video stories and the fact that you can be one click away from expertise.

He talked about time compression and time expansion. With time compression 5 day courses are 3 day courses, 3 day courses are 1 etc. With time expansion you get the opposite - if you could do a 7 year MBA that had little impact on your day to day working, would this be attractive?

The question was asked whether reputation (especially digitally) would replace qualification as an indicator of who we can trust? Elliott sees it as more of a mosaic, user ratings along are not enough, qualifications plus the ability to continue to learn could be the way. He said we shouldn't be graduating people but that you should become a member once you've graduated and your membership is dependant on whether you continue to learn - very interesting I thought.

This session and in fact the rest of the conference was really good and I've taken lots away to ponder. For the first time I used Evernote to take my notes (not on the first day though) which I found to be really really good (thanks go to @theREALwikiman for tweeting about this some time ago, which got me started). Wish I'd used it for the entire conference and I will certainly be using it again. I find when I type notes rather than scribble them I make better notes, because if something looks wrong in type I delete it whereas I would just leave the scribble on the page and then not know what I meant when I came back to it. Evernote also gave me the option to capture bits of the screen so as this was an online conference if any of the presenters had nice slides which diagrams I'd never be able to redraw (especially at speed) I just captured it. Still getting to grips with what it can do but liking it so far.

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