CDE Conference 09/02/2009. M Oliver. From present findings to future agendas: communities and the Higher Education Academy Exchange

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Research in Distance Education:
from present findings to future agendas. Closing keynote presentation.
Martin Oliver
Higher Education Academy Research Observatory

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  • CDE Conference 09/02/2009. M Oliver. From present findings to future agendas: communities and the Higher Education Academy Exchange

    1. 1. From present findings to future agendas: communities and the Higher Education Academy Exchange Martin Oliver London Knowledge Lab & Higher Education Academy
    2. 2. …what happened to the Observatory? <ul><li>“The project formerly known as…” </li></ul><ul><li>As of last week, it’s (currently) the Higher Education Academy Exchange </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No substantive change to purpose, form, timescale etc </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. The Higher Education Academy Exchange <ul><li>A service promoting and exploring the use of practice- and research-based evidence to influence policy and practice in teaching and learning in Higher Education </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools to enable access to evidence and syntheses of this evidence (e.g. prototype repository and syndicated search, wiki) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spaces (real and virtual) to help communities explore evidence-based practice and its implications for students' learning </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Overview of development <ul><li>August 07 – July 08 – “Phase 0” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scoping the Observatory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Landscaping report for e-learning (exemplar area) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generation of pilot resources and services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proof of concept piloted at Academy conference </li></ul></ul><ul><li>July 08 – June 09 – “Phase 1” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Development phase </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pilots focusing on community engagement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoted at Academy conference July 09 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>July 09 – “Phases 2, 3, etc ” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adding functionality, broadening engagement, etc </li></ul></ul>We’re here
    5. 5. Landscaping evidence use in e-learning <ul><li>Series of exploratory studies within e-learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beetham, Sharpe & Benfield </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>https://mw.brookes.ac.uk/display/hearoc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Landscaping’ consultation </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with key informants </li></ul><ul><li>Survey (116 responses) </li></ul><ul><li>Follow-up interviews </li></ul><ul><li>https://mw.brookes.ac.uk/display/hearoc/ </li></ul>
    6. 6. A resounding “Yes, but…” <ul><li>Keen on single point of access; research reviewed, evaluated and synthesised </li></ul><ul><li>After that, great variability </li></ul><ul><li>“ The impossibility of categorising respondents as users, producers, policy makers or intermediaries for research is in itself is an important outcome.” </li></ul>
    7. 7. Authority with the sector, not for it <ul><li>Variability reflects differing questions and practices within the sector </li></ul><ul><li>Contrast with the dominant (caricatured) medical model </li></ul><ul><li>Valuing qualitative research, reflective practice, etc </li></ul><ul><li>Building of theories and narratives, rather than mathematical models </li></ul><ul><li>Politics of quality control: who’s allowed to write to it? </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence in e-learning of benefits arising from involving practitioners in research, rather than differentiating researchers from practitioners (the studied) </li></ul>
    8. 8. The proposed approach <ul><li>A social model of knowledge production and use </li></ul><ul><li>Expertise of the sector, not for the sector </li></ul><ul><li>A scalable approach (people can develop as many topics as they’re interested in) </li></ul><ul><li>A sustainable approach (not dependent on central budgets, subscriptions, administration and control, etc ) </li></ul><ul><li>Sensitive to differences in evidence use, vocabulary, interest, etc . </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic (spotting emergent topics, identifying gaps, informing decision making, etc .) </li></ul>
    9. 9. A theorisation <ul><li>Wenger’s communities of practice model </li></ul><ul><li>Practice and Reification as necessary but fundamentally different (experience and abstraction) </li></ul><ul><li>Reifications received by communities and meaning negotiated in relation to practice </li></ul><ul><li>A social account of acceptable (policed) interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>This has implications for how we make sense of research </li></ul><ul><li>How big are these communities of practice? Any overlap with disciplines, institutions, departments, special interest groups…? </li></ul>
    10. 10. Piloting community approaches <ul><li>How do people produce, share and use evidence? </li></ul><ul><li>SIG site </li></ul><ul><li>Expert review </li></ul><ul><li>Community discussion of practice </li></ul><ul><li>Open peer commentary on published research </li></ul><ul><li>Review processes, to identify approaches that may have wider value </li></ul><ul><li>Feed these back to inform the development of the whole observatory </li></ul><ul><li>Currently, findings are mostly about problems… </li></ul>
    11. 11. Building from this: e-Learning projects <ul><li>Small grants for research </li></ul><ul><li>Historically: projects awarded, visited once, conclude by generating reports </li></ul><ul><li>New model </li></ul><ul><li>Projects awarded, brought together, given technical infrastructure (wiki, Ning) </li></ul><ul><li>Are visited, encouraged to use Web2.0, brought together mid-project and again at end </li></ul>
    12. 12. Wiki for Academy-funded projects (& others) www.academy-research-observatory.pbwiki.com
    13. 13. Understanding social use of evidence <ul><li>Success will depend on documenting and understanding communities’ use of evidence </li></ul><ul><li>An evidence base for our work, as well as for others </li></ul><ul><li>Working with pilot groups </li></ul><ul><li>Special interest group, membership group focusing on professional role, etc . </li></ul><ul><li>Further projects building capacity for this </li></ul>
    14. 14. Longer term vision <ul><li>People can… </li></ul><ul><li>Look to see if there’s relevant evidence about their problems </li></ul><ul><li>Add their own evidence to existing reviews (community authoring) </li></ul><ul><li>Find other people interested in these issues </li></ul><ul><li>Form and support Special Interest Groups </li></ul><ul><li>Support events, e.g. through centralised calendar, document store, space to develop shared interpretations </li></ul><ul><li>Pose questions to the sector if they can’t find what they want, which might spur new work or groups </li></ul>
    15. 15. And it’s happening here… <ul><li>Centre for Distance Education </li></ul><ul><li>“ From present findings to future agendas” event </li></ul><ul><li>Research into practice publication </li></ul><ul><li>An example of the kind of process we want to see happen more often </li></ul><ul><li>How can this be sustained and built on? </li></ul>
    16. 16. Towards 2012… <ul><li>What can you do in three years? </li></ul><ul><li>One big project? </li></ul><ul><li>Two small projects? </li></ul><ul><li>One bit of development, implementation and evaluation? </li></ul><ul><li>Set up, run and possibly wind down a special interest group? </li></ul><ul><li>So… what’s the single issue you care about the most? </li></ul>
    17. 17. What are the priorities for the CDE that can inform our services to learners? (challenge from this morning) <ul><li>Understanding our students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Describing what they do (e.g. mobile use in Africa, studies of vet use of images in CoMo) – or letting them do this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Describing what they don’t do and why (e.g. ‘non-progressers’ and reasons for non-completion) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Asking what they like … but not taking this at face value (e.g. didn’t take up study skills modules even if they needed them) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Debunking “them and us” (e.g. “culture” as a proxy for variation) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding how peoples’ use of technology varies (e.g. the Proteins students: richness & enhancement vs. accessibility) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Theorising what they need (Denise’s issue with feedback) </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. And… <ul><li>Teachers are learners too </li></ul><ul><ul><li>…in the most constructive sense! (So they also need understanding…) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Giving time/space/support to relate this to practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporting comparative and exploratory work (what happens elsewhere, and what can we do with this stuff…?) as an opportunity for learning </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Conclusions? <ul><li>The Exchange/Observatory: less about what we should look at, more about how we should look at it </li></ul><ul><li>New round of project planned; emphasis on social processes </li></ul><ul><li>What can be learnt from the work here? </li></ul><ul><li>What can change our work with students? </li></ul><ul><li>What connects to wider debates or the concerns of other communities? </li></ul><ul><li>This will need support and encouragement: a few people will do it anyhow, but with the right environment, more will benefit </li></ul>
    20. 20. Thanks! <ul><li>Emails </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- [email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More information at: </li></ul><ul><li> http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ourwork/research/observatory </li></ul><ul><li>Piloting site: </li></ul><ul><li> http://academy-research-observatory.pbwiki.com/ </li></ul>

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