"It is cool learning together" Is it? HEA Conference Contribution, 2-3 July 2014


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"It is cool learning together" Is it? HEA Conference Contribution, 2-3 July 2014

  1. 1. “It is really COOL to learn together." Is it? Exploring collaborative learning in an open professional development course for teachers in HE Chrissi Nerantzi Academic Developer Manchester Metropolitan University, UK @chrissinerantzi Annual HEA Conference: Preparing for learning futures: the next ten years, Aston University, 2-3 July 2014
  2. 2. Abstract This session will provide insights into the experience of open learners of the Flexible, Distance, Online Learning (FDOL) course. Benefits and challenges will be explored with delegates. FDOL is a case study, part of a PhD project in open cross-institutional academic practice for professional development of teachers in Higher Education (HE).
  3. 3. Voices • ecological university (Barnett, 2011) • personalisation, collaboration, informalisation (Redecker et al, 2011) • blending of formal & informal learning (Conole, 2013) • call to open-up, join-up (European Commission, 2013) • the danger of monocultures (Weller, 2014) • lifewide curriculum (Jackson, 2014) • recognising the positive impact of human interaction for learning
  4. 4. my personal digital open timeline (1/2)
  5. 5. my personal digital open timeline (2/2) Live link: http://www.dipity.com/chrissinerantzi/my-story- of-open/
  6. 6. (about) collaborative learning in Openland http://www.dipity.com/chrissinerantzi/collaborative-learning-in-openland/
  7. 7. aim of my PhD research to develop a flexible collaborative learning framework for open cross-institutional Academic Development courses at postgraduate level
  8. 8. http://globaldimensionsinhe.wordpress.com/ http://fdol.wordpress.com/ 2+ cases Phenomenography (Marton, 1981) Main data collection individual interviews Complementary data via survey instruments (initial and final) Collective case study approach (Stake, 1995) Case study 1: FDOL132 PhD research: to develop a flexible collaborative learning framework for open cross-institutional Academic Development courses
  9. 9. FDOL132 and organisation Nerantzi, Uhlin & Kvarnström (2013) • Open cross-disciplinary professional development course for teachers in HE • Developed and organised by Academic Developers in the UK and Sweden • Developed using freely available social media • Offered from September – December 2013 • Pedagogical design: simplified Problem-Based Learning Numbers • Registered: 107 • FDOL132 community in G+ until now: 72 • Signed up for PBL groups: 31 • PBL groups: initially 8-9 in each x 4 > then 3 (group 2: 6, / group 3: 5 / group 4: 6) • PBL facilitators: 4 • Participants in webinars: 10-25 • Participants who completed in groups : 31 (42% of participants learning in groups) •Countries • UK - 66 • Sweden – 17 • Canada – 4 • Ireland – 2 • also participants from: Hongkong, Argentina, Greenland, Switzerland, New Zeeland, Slovenia, Belgium, New Zealand, Norway Nerantzi & Uhlin (2012)
  10. 10. Findings: initial survey 19 participants in study 17 completed Countries: UK 37%, Sweden 37%, other 26% Age range: 35-54 82% Gender: 35% male, 65% female Qualifications: 53% Doctoral qualification, 35% Postgraduate qualification, 12% undergraduate qualification •All employed ( 88% HE and 12%Public Sector) •Participated in online courses before 88 % •Participated in an open online course before 47% Learning values to be an open learner To connect with others To collaborate To be supported by a facilitator Application to practice Prior experience Working in groups 77% Problem-Based Learning 30% Online collaboration 38% Social media in a professional capacity 50%
  11. 11. Findings: final survey Final survey: 11 completed Mode of participation Group member 91% Autonomous learner 9% Study hours per week 55% 3 h, 27% 5h, 18% over 5 Main reason for not participating in a specific aspect of the course: TIME Learning values •Structured course •Variety of synchronous & asynchronous engagement opportunities •Flexibility •Resources •Communication •Feedback from facilitators, peer and others •Recognition for study •Group work > participation was often a struggle Personal Learning goals achieved 100% Learning goals •Technologies for learning •Problem-based Learning •Learning in groups •Open learning •Open course design Facilitation (satisfaction) Support 100% Participation in online discussions 100% Provision of regular feedback 64%
  12. 12. Key observations importance for learning initial survey final survey group work 100% 74% feedback 61% 97% recognition for study 47% 94% independent study 100% 100% facilitator support 100% 100%
  13. 13. 45 h transcribing 292:57 mins audio 37,274 words 7 interviews Case 1: FDOL132
  14. 14. “Why should cooperative or collaborative learning be effective for learners, who are, after all, exchanging only imperfect understandings of the content, if the teacher is not present to advise or correct them?” (Slavin, 2004, 287)
  15. 15. cooperative vs collaborative cooperative learning collaborative learning shared product/outcome shared product/outcome focus on individual goals within group goals focus on group goals the individual constructs learning learning is co-constructed, challenged, modified, agreed, shared understanding product consists of individual contributions product is co-constructed roles/responsibilities pre-defined/imposed (not always) roles/responsibilities negotiated/agreed process is clean and defined (not always) process is fluid, responsive and adaptive focus more on individual achievement focus more on collective achievement
  16. 16. Learning to use NVivo FDOL132: A closer look at learning in groups Warning! Preliminary findings Struggling at the moment and lost in nodes… will I ever manage to untangle this mess?
  17. 17. • Commitment – Motivation increased because of working with others – Motivation of others increased own motivation – Learners working towards credit had a positive impact on others • People – Multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary groups enriched experience – Cultural and language challenges – (In)tolerance, empathy and care – Strong sense of group belonging • Use of PBL for group work – Seen as opportunity for authentic learning linked to own practice – Kept learners engaged – Constraining as structure and as the exclusive design for learning Group related data Preliminary thematic analysis
  18. 18. • Collaboration in groups – Synchronous communication made it real for some (others find it a challenge) – Learners felt part of a community – Organisational, technology challenges at the start – Time challenges throughout (synchronous meetings helped some, others not) – Valued learning with and from peers – Contributing to group and peer feedback seen as valuable – Intellectual challenge – Assessment obstructed from group work, too much focus on output/reflection – Quality of output considered good, acceptable, poor – Group size, small worked best (3-4, pairing suggested) – Experiencing group work as a student valuable – Facilitator support was valued – Extending learning opportunities offline in local communities Group related data Preliminary thematic analysis
  19. 19. FDOL132 participant’s experience Source: http://www.freemovement.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/skype-m.jpg Dr Isobel Gower, Writtle College Dr Sue Moron-Garcia, University of Birmingham Dr Stephan Haas, Karolinska Institutet
  20. 20. Opportunities Challenges Cross-disciplinary learning Managing time constraints Cross-cultural learning Dealing with differences Sharing experiences Grouping, is pairing an answer? Flexible modes of engagement Learning approach(es) and choice Personalised learning Nature of group work Motivating each other when learning in small groups Assessment (process vs product) Develop practices that will be useful in other contexts Supporting (collaborative) peer learning Authentic and contextualised learning Collaborative learning requires higher levels of collective commitment Learning in small groups/pairs enables more active participation (less threatening) Scaffolding learning and flexible structure
  21. 21. FDOL131 > FDOL132> FDOL141 Course FDOL131 FDOL132 FDOL141 Course duration 11Feb – 7 May 13 12 weeks 12 Sep – 5 Dec 13 12 weeks 10 Feb - 23 March 14 6 weeks Thematic units 6 7 6 Learners 80 107 86 Learners from the UK 42 65 38 Learners from Sweden 21 20 27 Learners from other countries 17 22 21 Groups 8>4 4>3 6>4 Learners in groups/% 64/80% 31/29% 27/32% Facilitators 4>3 4 14>11 (in pairs/threes) Learners per facilitator 27 36 7 or 14 (in pairs) Learners that completed in groups 16 13 17 Completion rate based on the whole cohort insufficient information insufficient information insufficient information Completion rate based on group participation 25% 43% 63% (Nerantzi, 2014, 55)
  22. 22. Opportunities institutions to collaborate and create open joined-up CPD? 1. Could open cross-institutional collaborations and courses such as FDOL be adapted more widely and become part of the standard CPD offer for academics and other professionals who teach in HE? 2. What about other postgraduate provision. Are there now opportunities for co-creation of curricula among institutions? How can we make it happen and what are the benefits?
  23. 23. Hard fun? “I think, […] I enjoyed the process of collaborative working, work that was struggle, it was fun, it was interesting to communicate with others, especially due to the […] multi-national structure. So I can encounter the […] different, other […] backgrounds. It's […] inspiring, it's, interesting for me, in contrast to me communicating with our other, colleagues […] So this was inspiring […] that I thought, it's, it's a valuable way to do a project work.” Participant F4
  24. 24. “You do not learn to play the piano by reflecting on the piano, you have to play the piano, yes? And you don't learn e-learning technologies by reflecting about learning technologies, you have to use e-learning technologies.” Participant F5 Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Piano-keyboard.jpg
  25. 25. • Continue data analysis of case FDOL132 using Nvivo, define categories of description • Continue literature review (cooperative, collaborative learning) • Write up paper about FDOL132 learning in PBL groups • … Next steps
  26. 26. Astin, S. (1993) What matters in college? Four critical years revisited. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Barnett, R (2011) The coming of the ecological university, in: Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 37, Issue 4, 2011, Taylor & Francis, pp. 439-455. Barrows, H S (2000) Problem-based learning applied to medical education, Southern Illinois School of Medicine: Illinois Browne Report (2010) Securing a sustainable future for higher education, Department for Employment and Learning, available at http://www.delni.gov.uk/index/publications/pubs-higher- education/browne-report-student-fees.htm [accessed 1 November 2013] Dillenbourg, P., & Schneider, D. (1995). Collaborative learning and the internet, available: http://tecfa.unige.ch/tecfa/research/CMC/colla/iccai95_1.html [accessed 12 May 2014]. European Commission (2013) High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education. 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  27. 27. cross-institutional #BYOD4L 14 – 18 July Is your institution joining us? Manchester Metropolitan University Sheffield Hallam University University of Sussex University of Ulster London Metropolitan University
  28. 28. “It is really cool to learn together." Is it? Exploring collaborative learning in an open professional development course for teachers in HE Chrissi Nerantzi Academic Developer Manchester Metropolitan University, UK @chrissinerantzi Annual HEA Conference: Preparing for learning futures: the next ten years, Aston University, 2-3 July 2014