The Experimenters


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From the blog TOETOE (ˈtɔɪtɔɪ): Technology for Open English - Toying with Open E-resources

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The Experimenters

  1. 1. Articles from TOETOE Technology for Open English Toying with Open E- resources (ˈtɔɪtɔɪ)The Experimenters2012-03-22 14:03:25 admin“I mean somebody with the wit and theguts to go and do and create. And, thatI believe is what education is all about” – Gordon Pask, 1974This post is dedicated to the memory of Gary Boyd who taught me about andinspired me with systems thinking and cybernetics for educational practice. He andGordon Pask, the guy in the Youtube clip above who on another clip someonecommented that he’d make a great Dr. Who character, began the EducationalTechnology programme at Concordia University in Montreal, the oldest EdTechprogramme in North America where I am now a student.
  2. 2. IATEFL Conference 2012, GlasgowThis week I’ve been to some very encouraging talks and presentations at this year’sIATEFL conference in Glasgow. A key theme that I’ve found running through all ofthe sessions I’ve attended thus far is that of experimentation; in learning design, inresearch, in educational leadership, and but not at all least, in teaching.Adrian Underhill kicked things off with his opening keynote, Mess and Progress,based on systems thinking for leadership, emphasizing the need for post-heroicleadership and flat hierarchies in the many educational contexts around the world.This notion of experimental leadership at the policy, institutional and individual levelwas effectively carried forward in the following presentation on Tuesday, ELT inAction, by the international A.S.Hornby Educational Trust Scholars, includingspeakers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Sri Lanka, India, Venezuela, Mexico,Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Yemen. [Find out more about the Hornbyscholars in an interview with three participating scholars at this IATEFL conference].Systems thinking is very closely connected to cybernetics and Gordon Pask in thetelevised broadcast above was a leading cyberneticist and educational technologistexperimenting with processes in education, arriving at his famous conversationtheory which the second IATEFL keynote speaker, Diana Laurillard, draws upon inher renowned book, Rethinking University Teaching – A Conversational Frameworkfor the Effective Use of Learning Technologies.Laurillard’s new book, Teaching as a Design Science – Building PedagogicalPatterns for Learning and Technology sold out at the conference. The book alongwith the tool she introduced in her talk, the Learning Design Support Environment(LDSE), which you can download for free from the LDSE project website,encourages sharing and collaboration between educators to lead, experiment andinnovate with learning technologies and to build collective knowledge in thisimportant area. In order to succeed, this collaborative effort will require openness.On Diana Laurillard’s slides she mentions OER – Open Educational Resources – inseveral places, but perhaps she needed to gloss OER and open practice moreovertly to the 2000+ audience at the IATEFL conference because only one personwho came to my session on open corpora and OER for ELT had ever heard of theterm before. This is despite the popularity of Russell Stannard’s work with freeTeacher Training Videos (TTV) which are OER for teacher and learner training withtechnology in ELT. Addressing the Training Resource Deficit
  3. 3. Utilizing Open Corpora and OERView more presentations from Alannah Fitzgerald Flat HierarchyFlat hierarchy is the model followed by and experimented with by open educationpractitioners who choose to embody openness in their everyday practices forreducing barriers to and increasing access to education for all. Openness promotes“communal management by distributed stakeholders (users/producers/contributors)rather than a centralized authority (owners, experts, boards of directors, etc.)”(definition via Wikipedia on Openness). The term OER was coined ten years ago byUNESCO and this year OER stakeholders will convene virtually and in person inJune 2012 to establish further international goals for the open education movement.Watch this space.Returning to Adrian Underhill’s Mess and Progress, he ended his talk on a high noteby performing his song, The Reflective Practice Blues, singing the need “…to reflectand not to neglect to try out something different everyday…” Basically, we can’tafford to continue to work in silos as it’s far too costly, both in the sense of wastingresources through the duplication of effort in creating similar copyrighted resources,and also in the sense of wasting potential opportunities for what could be if we wouldonly open up to sharing what we do and the outputs of what we create so we can
  4. 4. experiment with and improve upon these things. Underhill captured this ethos in hiskeynote with the following awareness-raising activity:“Talk to the people sitting next to you to identify if you work somewhere where… 1. it’s easy to get people to listen to an experiment with new ideas and suggestions 2. when one person learns something new, everyone hears about it 3. making mistakes is part of learning, you can be open about it and it’s not career limiting 4. staff members of all ranks give each other plenty of quality feedback from above, below, and sideways 5. everyone is involved in discussing school policies before adoption 6. one department knows what people in another department are thinking and they help each other” (Underhill, A. Opening keynote address, IATEFL Conference 2012, Glasgow)Is this reminiscent of your workplace and who you are in your working practice?Would you consider yourself to be an Open Educational Resource? If not yet or notcompletely, how can you become an experimenter in your practice to help openthings up for yourself and others?The The Experimenters by Alannah Fitzgerald, unless otherwise expressly stated, islicensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Terms andconditions beyond the scope of this license may be available