Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

3.1.1: Getting to the HEART of things

An article in the latest Distance Education 30(2), called "Approaches to learning design: past the head and the hands to the HEART of the matter" by Donald et al (pp.179-199) makes an excellent contribution to instructional design theory and practice. Donald et al accentuate the differences between learning design considered as a product, and learning design as a process. Essentially:
  • learning design as product assumes the primary importance of distribution channels;
  • learning design as process reveals matters of the "ill-structured/belief-driven" (p.184) approach characteristic of "real, messy" (p.183) learning design activity.
Right away, this distinction makes it clear why efforts to re-use learning materials across institutions is problematic. The questions usually addressed assume that learning design is defined by its output, and not the processes that generated the output. The results of learning design are highly contextualised and "driven by individual pedagogical beliefs" (2009, p.179). Learning object and reusability enthusiasts tend to focus on learning design as product, leading them to focus on the representation, storage and accessibility of learning designs rather than pedagogical transferability across different contexts (something that hasn't really changed since Littlejohn's 2004 Reusing online resources).

However the real reason I am impressed with the work of Donald et al is because they approach learning design in a way that acknowledges the value of the teacher. Their work is empowering to the teacher, recognising an aspect of e-learning that needs to be restored (their citation of Palmer certainly helps with this!) The HEART (HEaring And Realising Teaching) model they describe place the focus on teachers' (and instructional designers') epistemological, pedagogical, curriculum and CAL ('computer assisted learning') beliefs as a diagnostic and reflective tool that no doubt assists with conversations and collaboration between member of faculty and instructional designer. This article will certainly influence the way we approach learning design projects at our College!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

*.*: Open access journals in e-learning

Some recent exchange in ITForum included this editable compilation of "Open Access Journals in Learning Technology", initiated by George Veletsianos of the University of Manchester - a very valuable resource.

There is a truly staggering availability of literature available in e-learning. Conversations are diverse, paradigms are many. The purpose of the E-Primer series is to help provide some sort of orientation to the major themes in literature, and to serve as a foundation for further investigation.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

5.3.4: Virtual world accounts reach 579m

The SLENZ blog is one worth subscribing to. Posts are always full, informative and well written! Number 121 includes reference to reports from kzero, a UK consultancy concerned with "the marketing dynamics relating to virtual worlds". The results are very interesting - and re nicely presented in a "Universe-graph" (here). The graphs show registration numbers for various worlds across different age groups (target audiences) over various years. Registrtaion growth is particularly high across the 9 to 12 and 13 to 18 age brackets.

The difficulties with the number '579 million' are primarily twofold:
  1. Registration is not a good indicator of actual activity, and
  2. Individuals can have multiple registrations across different virtual worlds.
The leap from marketing potential to higher education potential is also not very clear from the statistics... particularly when the various virtual worlds are broken down by 'sector'. The genre of higher education is not well represented, though gaming, social chat and TV/film/books are. It is important that the significance of growing registration is not blown out of proportion as an indicator that such contexts are ready for higher education to exploit, as the use of virtual worlds for the purposes of academic learning is not as simple as having technically savvy users! Rather, what we ought to be considering is whether the genre of academic learning can be facilitated through such environments.