Here are the slides from my keynote at the Disruptive Bytes event held at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab in Coventry. The aim of the presentation (which you can hear at https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cg4g1h56o7clujg1g60vsqoi370) is to debate the changing demands of learners and their impact on how we 'do' learning in higher education.
Today I want to talk about a philosophy, it is my philosophy for sure, but it is built upon a number of projects and experiences It is a story, it is a fable of success and failure How do you be a part of changing practice, starting with yours, through to your colleagues and eventually the institution and wider
My background I started as a resistor I ran two major strategic initiatives at 2 very different organisations (UG and LSE) The common factor – the belief that the status quo is not evitable, that the perception of equilibrium is changeable That innovation is not a buzzword, not is a dirty word
This is the story of a conflict that is playing out across institutions. It is debate without winners as the positions become increasingly entrenched and the power acquired through processes such as certification and reputation, employability and student experience.
It is the argument about the foundations of how we ‘do’ learning and teaching. The screaming inevitable of change and the equally screaming inevitable resistance
Why do we need to debate or design a new pedagogical approach? The patterns and responses of resistance position anything different as having to justify why? Historical revisionism (the modern lecture is really a construct of the 1950s), a watering down of technology, the arguments demeaning online education as clearly inferior, reductionist nostalgia and other debates manifest themselves as
Resistance Replacement/Replication Recidivist
Behaviours. All the while, the learners, their jobs, their community and their learning trajectories are changing at pace
At two institutions I have argued for the need to shift the institutional pedagogical approach, to provide the conditions under which experimentation can occur, criticality can be applied and successful design scaled and replicated across disciplines.
Today, I will talk through the process that informed the why, the what and some of the how. What I am promising is not a solution in a box. It is not an easily defined pedagogy like social constructivism or connectivism. It is not clean or neat. It is messy and chaotic. But it is my messy chaos. It draws on the way I approach making and doing, both in a tactile sense and through technology.
Why do we not talk about teachers? Because almost every teacher I know wants what is best for their students, they may disagree about what that is. \ It is the institution that rusts these behaviours on through policy, estates, recruitment, responses to league tables, the REF, policy and surprisngly an uncritical sense of what students (employers etc) actually want
Equally, the does learning in ways we could not have imagined even ten years ago
Simply put the tension ends up looking like this
For our students, knowledge is presented in a very structured and sequenced way. It is how we validate teaching and learning, distinguish it from ‘informal learning’. It is episodic (the way we used to consume media). We deliver so much of learning this way. We must crawl before we walk, students are empty vessels, they learn at our feet
Yet, the way their lives are lived and experienced is rarely that aligned and constructed. Life is consumed in binges and bites. Social media magnifies this impact through discontinuous communications, fleeting connections and fluid identity making. Social media for example
Where learning happens within these spaces, it takes on the attributes of the media itself;
autonomous, collective, collaborative, critical and flexible (Tapscott and Williams, 2010).
Amongst users of social media, new skills such as collaboration, sharing, content production and inquiry have become ‘normalised’ and form part of the daily work and personal lives of learners (Thomas and Brown, 2011, Selwyn, 2012). The processes arising from these skills often occur without consideration to geographic boundaries, gender, race or age. They are facilitated by virtual communications, immediate responses, agile access to information and a community of people willing to provide crowd sourced opinions, answers and support (Kukulska-Hulme, 2010, Green and Hannon, 2007, Jenkins, 2009).
This is a fundamental disconnect that plays out inside and outside the academy to varying degrees, although power, certification and authority make the contrast sharper in HE Why?
I did a paper called ‘The logical impossibility of (the) Status Quo’ – six diconnects that demand a digital pedagogy Take you through these briefly, they are some of the conditions that shape the way we do teaching and learning in the post digital age
Disconnect #1 – What is knowledge and where do we find it?Knowledge starts as something we are told. Plato argues that a statement must meet three criteria in order to be considered knowledge: it must be justified, true, and believed.
Came from a book (edited), told to me an academic (validated as true ), written in the exam (correct is believed) The way in which knowledge is constructed, justified and communicated has changed.
The emancipatory power of alternative media like zines has been rent large for the internet generation. Learners find knowledge through searching the internet, asking wikipedia or putting a post on a board to get a collective response (amongst many other ways including books mind you). What happens when they arrive at the university experience? They are told that Wikipedia is not a valid academic source. They are told that collaboration can sometimes be seen as collusion and that their community and communications should be filtered through the firewalled VLE. So what do learners do? Exactly as they are told! They go on the VLE and post using the same language they are expected to use. And they leave the crowd-sourced, creative energy for the projects and activities they do outside university. As one blogger on Kineo notes ‘They (Gen Y) are engine that has fuelled Web 2.0 and, unfortunately, they seldom get a learning experience in the workplace that looks anything like the world they inhabit so significantly in their spare time.Learner: Knowledge drawn from a potentially limitless library of sources, both credible and credulousAcademy: Knowledge filtered and curated, from established sources.
Disconnect #2 – What is the purpose of university? ‘The fact is – you read for your degree. You don’t need to sit or listen – you just need to read, and occasionally join in tutorials to purloin ideas from other students.’ Daniel Stacey – ‘How much longer will universities exist?’ SMH 16th September 2013 Professor David Helfand of Columbia University noted that many of his students that have different views of why they are at university, with student stating in a seminar ‘I am here for a degree, not an education’. There are disconnects between both the purpose of attending university and the understanding by which learners engage in university activity. Some of it is predicated on the dated notion that students are empty vessels into which we pour the knowledge and skills that reside in our heads. But some of it is of our own making. We have changed the way we describe and structure our university programmes to make them fit an employability agenda or what we believe ‘employers’ want. It is once again didactic. Listen to what we say, do what we tell you to do and you will get a ‘good’ job. There is a place here for a two-way conversation so that the notion of a degree as a product doesn’t become the norm. The role of teacher will change from instructivist to facilitative, leading and supporting user generated and peer sourced knowledge (see Steve Wheeler’s excellent and positive blog about this and most of all the transactive nature of learning in the modern university is supplanted by a collaborative one.
Disconnect #3 – Jobs today/Jobs tomorrowThe idea that we are preparing learners for jobs that don’t exist at the start of their degree has been well explored. But how are we doing that? Has our curriculum shifted to one that is trans-disciplinary and trans-context? Do we assume learners are developing skills that can carried through the career changes they will undertake through their long lives? Alvin Toffler noted that ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn’. The disconnect lies in the ability of the university to step away from the ‘this is how you do it’ mode of teaching and learning. Learners come to higher education with experiences and ideas. These are often not valued as they sit in their first lecture of a new degree. And in many ways they are not assessed or recognised either. It goes back to the empty vessel model. Learning how to learn, knowing how they learn already and being an active partner in those processes should be at the core of a digital pedagogy. Some of the work on the ‘new university of the 21st century’ addresses the need to make our practice of teaching and learning transferable, complex, socially engaged and constructivist (or connectivist). But that aspirational goal is difficult to achieve by small incremental curriculum shifts and natural attrition.
Much of what the OU describe in their annual ‘Innovating Pedagogy’ report, especially in the medium and long term, describes learning that is connected, crowd sourced and peer-led. Good words. All of them. There is one problem. Apparently we know the answers. Assessment is often designed to ensure that the students have remembered the answers as well. How does connected learning, seamless learning, crowd sourcing or student-led learning sit with that assumption? Well, a lot of modern teaching is still question based. We ask the questions, students go away and answer them. There are right answers and wrong answers (and sometimes very wrong answers). But the internet is not about the answers. Information is stored and housed, more than at any time in human history and certainly more than could be housed in any library. The key to effective internet use is the question. The disconnect cuts to the heart of our learning design and teaching practices. We are still caught in the notion that there is one right answer.
Disconnect #5 – The ubiquity of technologyFor me this is the big one. Technology is not new. Smart phones are not the latest thing, Facebook isn’t trendy and you won’t be hip talking about Pinterest. Technology is ubiquitous, yet we as academics often get excited when we finally get to test something new in a class, whilst the learners grown about their lecturers being behind the times. Equally technology activity is not all about work and education. Most technology is about fun, social interaction, play and peers. Academics telling students that we are going to appropriate their Facebook for a course? Or even worse, telling them how to use the technology they already know how to use? No Dad, I already know who Tinie Tempah is, and please, you really have to stop rapping now at the kitchen table! #shutthehellup. There is a lot of evidence that suggests that students resist using the technologies they think of as their own (including devices) for purposes that they have not chosen. They are comfortable using the VLE or desktops in the library, but asking them to use and share their own devices can be problematic. A more realistic approach from the academy would be, here is a problem, how would you solve it and let them come to the technology they find most appropriate. It is a co-constructed approach.
Language varies between generations. Pretty obvious really. Words lose and gain power. But the way language is communicated also changes. The patterns of change even in terms of digital communications are astounding. Even now, smart phone usage amongst under 18 year olds is on the decline in favour of tablets. 43% of students prefer to find content through social media as opposed to search engines (privileging peer and crowd based learning). Instant messaging is replacing email. There are standards, ethics, behaviours and cultural habits that emerge from these different modes of communication. Yet, we have academics who honestly believe that unless the student is looking at them they are ‘skiving’ off and probably just checking their Facebook. Some lecturers even have a laptops closed rule. I was a conference a few weeks ago, head buried in my iPad, thinking through ideas whilst presentations were on. I must have look disinterested, yet it was noticed that I often made the most pertinent tweets. People (and not just yoof) can multi-task, listen whilst not looking and can learn from more than your words. The devices they have are powerful gateways to knowledge. Sure, there are times when interacting face to face is what is required, and having the geek sit at the back at the room constantly tapping away is inappropriate. But that is not and should not be the default.
What might constitute a pedagogy for the post digital age? A new pedagogy is perhaps too grand a term, this is in response to the changes in the way people learn It is not new, it builds on the work of Knowles and andragogy, drawing on the notion of autonomous learning and linking it with personal and identity concepts These are activities of teaching and learning, ambitious, tranformative, disruptive perhaps It is important to note that they don’t exist on their own, nor do they ‘replace’ the ways things are done now,
I will focus on three Found Identity Making
Found is at the heart of my artistic practice. The notion of found is fundamental to the work, as something that is lost can eventually be found. Found sounds, footage, fragments of words reconstructed, often without context or description, perhaps with just a vague sense of where. Bricolage and discovery are very powerful learning tools. The sheer scope and scale of many social media communities can create a shattered web of fleeting connections or weak ties between users (Mackey and Evans, 2011, Manago, 2015, Siemens, 2005). Users pass by each other in disconnected and transient ways, connecting with some by the way of a single photo or a comment. Rarely do users go back to those interactions to form lasting bonds. However, Siemens (2005) argues that these ties can create small hubs of innovation and creation, as users are exposed to networks wider than their own.
Found is about discovery
Found represents a way of explaining the sheer capacity of knowledges, found is a way of understanding something, explaining something, adding a sense of the undiscovered and the unknown (story of picture) Asking the question without knowing the answer Story without an ending Problems without solutions
What does found look like within the institution? LT&T futures – at the core is a proactive exercise in not knowing what people will actually say and do and how people will want to see and shape the institution Hacks, maker fests, debates, social media, conversations (LSE2020) What should teaching and learning look like in 2020? Bringing people together who would never normally meet - Harnessing the power of fleeting connections (along with lasting ones, engage in the new and the rusted on beliefs) We used papercraft in the design as it represents found, scrapbooking, bricolage From this we will find what we stand for…
Identity is critical to modern teaching and learning Challenging notions of identity and realness are at the core of my own work Identity as fluid can be discontinuous, out of sync and Challenging stereotypes (students facebooking) Constructing positive approaches to digital identity (not stranger danger) (change slide) Criticality and engagement Make connections that are authentic and real, outside and inside (Issue with LSE, first years friends, last year nodding) Digital stranger – These connections don’t have to be deep to be lasting, they can be about a construction of identity, harnessing the complexity of engagement in a digital world
Constitution UK In January 2015, the London School of Economics and Political Science launched an innovative civic engagement project which aimed to crowd source the United Kingdom Constitution. One of the key intentions of the project was to leverage and magnify the power of the community and the ‘massive’, in order to empower citizens to engage in debate, identify solutions and come to a common agreement about the need for and the content of a UK Constitution in the 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta. The project involved over 1500 participants, generating hundreds of ideas and thousands of comments and votes about specific UK constitutional issues. The crowd generated the clauses of the constitution, commented on them, voted them up and down, debated the relative merits of competing clauses and then refined them to a manageable number, which led to the writing of a crowd sourced constitution at the completion of the project. The interaction was facilitated through a social media ideation platform (where ideas can be generated, debated, voted on and refined through debate) and ran for ten weeks.
The project was informed by an innovative model of engagement and participatory online learning that challenged the structured assumptions of many on-line pedagogies and designs. The approach was built on the potential that exists in leveraging and magnifying the power of the community and the ‘massive’ through social media, in order to empower citizens to engage in debate and identify solutions to what may be intractable, impossible or controversial problems or challenges. The design model drew on the application of a number of conceptual frameworks such as peer learning (McLoughlin and Lee, 2007, McLoughlin and Lee, 2010), incidental learning (Marsick and Watkins, 2001), digital pedagogies (McLoughlin and Lee, 2007, Siemens, 2005), crowd learning and ideation (Wexler, 2011) to a higher education informed online environment. It also integrates some aspects of participatory practices such as hacktivism, making and digital citizenship which allowed the project to explore the notion of learning as incidental, tacit and exploratory. There were no readings, there was no ‘course’, no lectures, no explicit theories, just a series of challenges, a semi-gamified process of engagement and a framework to create, motivate and empower the community to make something based on what they knew and had learnt.
Identity was critical to engagement We didn’t ask people to identify, commit Engagement was discontinuous and fluid (Self paced, self structured Harnessing the power of massive (not collective, but allowing the space for identity to shape what how a problem was solved) Not lasting, didn’t keep the names, but focused on delivering a collective outcome
Making is fundamental to how I live my life Making is a philosophical approach to holidays, to eating, to engaging, to working DIY philosophy of zine making (PhD work) Digital tactility, physicality to making digitally (move to next slide) Pedagogy positions making as a form of practice and separate theory from practice Lectures and exams are great examples of that
This is a multi faceted project Professional level documentary making DIY making Photography/video/audio Design (Learning commons) Supporting undergraduate research sharing Flood the School with a range of devices, support, examples, rewards, could be 1 day, could be a summative assessment, encourage students through networks to share, reuse, critique and review student content Consultation with students isn't a broadcast – it is a dialogue Making is a trans disciplinary skill, collaboration is crucial (not enough devices for each student) Not about devices
This is the challenge, how do we bring about strategic level change. Top down and Bottom up strategies have fundamental flaws We borrowed from the middle out from Silicon Valley (and Barack Obama) It is the idea that we need to make change happen at scale…collaboration, trans-disciplinary, programme/course/cohort, structure and link this to reward, involvement and the freedom to fail and experiment
Aims To develop an engaged, innovative and critical teaching and learning community by;
Supporting a culture of innovative teaching and learning with technology; Developing, celebrating and rewarding a community of engaged teachers and learners; Enriching the curriculum and practices of teaching and learning with technology through the application of the principles and values of social science; Engaging in critical evaluation and research about the practices and science of teaching and learning with technology; Encouraging creativity, bold experimentation, innovation and evaluation of new and emerging approaches to teaching and learning with technology.
Patti Smith story Moral of the story – go hard or go home Education is too important, learning is too fundamental to let it fall into a resistant decline
Little arguments with myself: Modern pedagogy in a post-digital age (Disrupting how we 'do' learning)
‘Little arguments with myself’
Discontinuity, fleeting connections and digital strangers.
Disrupting how we ‘do’ learning in a post-digital world.
Head of Learning
Technology and Innovation
London School of Economics and
‘There is a certain
randomness to what I
am about to tell you.
I cannot promise
narrative. There is,
without doubt, a
keening sense of
disruption. And clearly
something is lost.
However, there is a
truth to what you will
hear.’(from ‘How do I know any of this
was real?’ by A Sad Waltz in D-Minor)
How the institution ‘does’ learning
1. Institutional resistance to change
2. Ambient conservatism and risk aversion
3. Pedagogy for the 20th (19th?) century
4. Critical shifts in the way information is acquired and
5. Student resistance to our use of technology
How the learner ‘does’ learning
1. Learners arriving at university are already e-learners
2. 21st century skills for a technology driven society
3. There is no real and online world…there is just the world
4. What is authentic and real can be defined differently
5. Not all students are experts in all technologies
6. Student adoption moves faster than institutional adaptation
Modern pedagogy is often…
Black ribbons, dirty scars, sour umeboshi and bright flames, all found and delivered out
of sequence. They represent hiding places, consequences, sensations and redemptions, and
not in that order, and perhaps not what they seem. Each piece has its own
momentum and sense of motion, a contrast between the reflective narration of the
characters and the need to move on, forget and get on with life.
I may have offered you a fictionalised
account or I may have told the
absolute truth. It could have been an
entirely fake persona, a digital
stranger hiding in dark
crevices. I was active one day and
then I disappeared into silence,
initiating a virtual death the next,
forever vanishing from the
community. My constructed
identify was difficult to google
search, left very few breadcrumbs or
trails and most importantly, I was in
complete control of the way it was
it was real.
In the bowl is umeboshi, each
plum crinkled and dark maroon
in colour. The brine at the
bottom of the bowl is a black
blood red. And then the
feeling of curiosity
returns. What to do next?
The first camera positions itself
over my shoulder and watches
me carefully pick up an
umeboshi and pop it into my
mouth. The credits roll. What
a strange way to end a
film, I think to no-one but
Aims of the Futures Project
To develop an engaged, innovative
and critical teaching and learning
• Supporting a culture of innovative teaching
and learning with technology;
• Developing, celebrating and rewarding a
community of engaged teachers and
• Enriching the curriculum and practices of
teaching and learning with technology
through the application of the principles
and values of social science;
• Engaging in critical evaluation and research
about the practices and science of teaching
and learning with technology;
• Encouraging creativity, bold
experimentation, innovation and evaluation
of new and emerging approaches to
teaching and learning with technology.
I believe everything we dream
can come to pass through our
we can turn the world around
we can turn the earth's
we have the power
People have the power ...
Patti Smith, People have the Power 1985
just keep counting the stars
like someday you'll find out
just how many there are
and we all can go home
'cuz there's nothing as sad
as a man on his back
Little Argument with myself
Low from the album ‘Trust’