Holmes e twinning learning events

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eTwinning research work-in-progress presentation
PED74: Teachers' Continuous Professional Development workshop
Friday, December 3, 2010, 14:30 - 16:00

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  • Hello, I am pleased to be with you today and to have this opportunity to talk to you about my research
    I am a part time PhD student at the University of Lancaster in the UK
    I also work for the European Commission here in Brussels, where I am Head of department at the Executive Agency which manages part of the Lifelong Learning Programme
    In this talk I shall present my ongoing research on one specific example of the use groups for learning online
    The context is the eTwinning initiative, supported by the European Union, where online communities are being used to support teachers from across Europe to learn together as part of their Continuous Professional Development
  • I’ll start by giving you some background to my research: describing the eTwinning initiative, the nature of my research and the theoretical framework
    Then I’ll present the results from an analysis of the first online learning community that I observed earlier this year
    Followed by some tentative conclusions that I reached on what could be done to enhance competence development, reinforce the social side and foster a community
    And then I’ll finish by describing the steps that we are currently implementing to try out the ideas in a rerun of the LE that will start next week
    There are a few bibliographic references at the end of my presentation, for some of the existing research work that I am using
  • I am participating in a PhD programme entitled“eResearch and Technology Enhance Learning” with the University of Lancaster in the UK
    It is part-time and is being carried out at a distance. In is notable because I am investigating the use of technology for online learning, but also using the same technology to carry out my work
    For the first two years we worked closely online as a cohort but now for the last two years I am working with my Supervisor on my thesis
    As I mentioned, my research focuses on online learning communities and in particular
    how they influence competence development
    and how they are influenced by social aspects
    I am carrying out Action Research, meaning that I am actually participating in the online community and working with the stakeholders to make changes based upon my research analysis
  • eTwinning is an initiative funded by the Comenius action of the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme
    It’s original objective was to support teachers and schools across Europe to work together on joint pedagogical projects using the Internet
    an example would be a teacher here in the UK, say, working together with a teacher in France on a joint project where their classes share information and talk about the intertwined history of their two countries
    More recently, however, the objectives of eTwinning have expanded to better recognise the role that eTwinning is playing in supporting teachers’ continuous professional development
    eTwinning is basically a large online community of teachers. No money is paid to schools or teachers, but rather then EU supports the infrastructure which comprises a Central Support Service operated by the European Schoolnet in Brussels and a National Support Service in each country – which for the UK is operated by the British Council.
    if you are interested in knowing more, just Google eTwinning UK and you will fall upon the British Council’s website
    eTwinning is a real success, as the statistics on show
  • Participation in eTwinning has grown exponentially since it started in 2005
    And in 2008 an analysis of user behaviour was carried out which showed that teachers were using eTwinning for much more than just carrying out projects
    We noticed that a thriving community had developed, in which teachers share resources, experience and good practice
    We realised that eTwinning is a networked community of relationships
    the picture, by the way, shows a computer generated image of the network of relationships between teachers in eTwinning.
    The denser the colour, the more stronger the relationship and the closer the participant is to the centre, the more active relationships they have
    So the strategy of eTwinning was changed to emphasise social networking, both within eTwinning and with other Comenius actions for school education
    Further activities have been implemented to embrace informal learning between peers
    And social media has been integrated into the environment to support the development of two particular innovations:
    Communities of Practice called eTwinning Groups
    Non-formal learning in groups called Learning Events
  • My research focuses on the second of these two, Learning Events
    They are defined as:‘short, intensive online sessions, in groups, focused on a theme and led by a subject expert’
    Successful LEs have been held on such themes as:
    Building a successful project
    Creative writing  & Mindmapping
    Internet safety & you
    Exploiting Web 2.0: eTwinning and Collaboration
    LEs involve teachers applying what they learn in their own teaching practice as they go along
    from a pedagogical point of view, they employ the constructivist approaches of Schön, reflection in practice and Kolb’s cycle of experiential learning
    The events are stimulated or orchestrated by a subject expert – usually a fellow teacher. However, I would emphasise that there little if any teaching, with the participants mainly learning from each other
    My research has been on the LE entitled ‘Web 2.0: eTwinning and collaboration’
  • The first LE on web 2.0 took place in April this year
    It lasted 12 days, was in English and involved 156 teachers from all over Europe
    It was led by a Finnish teacher who is expert in web 2.0 tools called Tiina Sarisalmi
    Each day teachers were asked to carry out a activities that used web 2.0 tools and centred on a particular idea, such a watching videos on YouTube, creating an online blog, sharing pictures, etc
    After trying out the tools, participants were asked to vote on their preferences and to share their opinions in a forum
    Part way through the LE, participants were asked to divide themselves into small groups and to collaborate on a joint project
    I observed the event and the discussions that took place in the forums. Based upon this, I developed a questionnaire that was made available to everyone online at the end
    130 or 79% of participants replied with their opinions! This is an amazing success rate for a survey and reflects the interest that the teachers show for this type of activity.
    In a moment I shall present some of the key elements of my analysis, but let me firstly introduce the theoretical framework that I am using
  • The framework that I am using is one developed by Garrison, Anderson and Archer in 2000 entitled the Community of Inquiry
    They firmly believe that online communities that are specifically used to support learning are different in nature to a) informal communities, for example, in social networking sites or b) Communities of Practice focused on the work place
    Communities of inquiry have three interrelated elements or presences
    The first is cognitive presence, which they define as ‘the extent to which participants in … a community of inquiry are able to construct meaning through sustained communication’
    this equates to active learners, constructing knowledge through interaction with their environment and their peers
    it is essential for critical thinking and meta-cognition
    The second is social presence, defined as the ‘ability of participants … to project their personal characteristics into the community’
    in other words, the extent to which someone is perceived as real
    has a direct impact on the success of an educational experience
    The third is teaching presence, defined as ‘the design of the educational experience’
    aims to support and enhance cognitive and social presence
    the design is often led by a teacher (eg choice of content, )
    facilitation may be shared with learners
  • Let me now move on to the results from my analysis of the first LE
    Time allows me to only present an extract of the results, which nevertheless illustrate how I arrived at the tentative conclusions
  • Via the online questionnaire, participants were asked if they felt more confident and competent in the use of web 2.0 tools as a result of the LE
    the middle bar, third down, indicates ‘no real change’
    below the middle reflects ‘less confident and competent’
    above reflects ‘more confident and competent’
    87% indicated that they felt more confident and competent in the use of web 2.0 tools as a result of the LE
    In addition, the many comments that were made also suggested that the exercises – the cognitive activities – had helped to increase the learners’ awareness and knowledge of the tools
    So clearly in terms of individual activities, the LE had been successful
    -> the cognitive presence was good
  • The participants were also asked if they had found the profile pages of other participants to be useful
    the middle bar represents ‘no opinion’
    to the left of the middle, ‘not really useful’
    to the right of the middle, ‘useful’
    61% found the profile pages to be useful or really useful
    And the comments reflected a feeling of connectedness between participants and a recognition that it was important to get to know each other personally
    -> the profile pages had reinforced the social presence
  • In this final example from the questionnaire, participants were asked if the feeling of community was the same or stronger within this LE compared with elsewhere within the wider eTwinning community
    the middle bar represents, ‘no opinion’
    to the right of the middle, ‘roughly the same’
    to the left of the middle, ‘stronger’
    49% felt a stronger sense of community with the LE than elsewhere within eTwinning
    The comments reinforced how the teachers felt that the relationships had been closer, that stronger ties had developed
    Much of the feedback reflected a real enthusiasm for the experience that had been more social in nature
    -> this again reflects a feeling of social presence and perhaps the beginning of a real community
  • However, the analysis also showed some areas that could possibly be improved
    Whereas there had been close cooperation between participants, there was a feeling that the collaboration was not always easy
    frustration with the group work and the lack of contribution of some teachers
    availability of other group members was an issue, especially as things had to be achieved in such a short time frame
    indication that some of the socio-emotional aspects had not been adequately addressed, with little time to socialise and bond, and no opportunity to reflect on what it all meant
    some participants finally found it more practicable to work individually than to rely on others
    In terms of a community, a few people questioned whether one had really developed
    insufficient time
    stronger relationships or ties, but not yet a community
  • There was clearly an awareness of the importance of social interaction and the need to know some personal details of the other participants
    However, the teachers were very practical and they focused on the cognitive activities.
    There was little time to socialise, to reflect on the implications of what they were learning for their own teaching practice
    And no time to devote to building the wider community
    In other words, the social presence was less important than the cognitive and teaching presence
  • Applying the theoretical framework, let’s now look at the tentative conclusions from this first event
  • From the perspective of cognitive presence, the results suggest:
    the participants were engaged and motivated
    they were autonomous learners and became competent in the use of individual web 2.0 tools
    However, there was little meta-cognition or reflection in practice, meaning that their competence in using the tools for teaching practice and in online collaboration did not really develop
    From the perspective of social presence:
    The profile pages and the interactivity within the LE created a feeling of immediacy and greater intimacy
    So social presence was stronger than elsewhere within eTwinning
    However, socio-emotional aspects were less important than the cognitive aspects, so the social presence was not a strong as it might have been
    From the perspective of teaching presence:
    the cognitive activities encouraged engagement
    working as peers was seen as very beneficial
    However, more guidance from a tutor or from experienced peers at key points would have helped reflection and critical thinking (eg setting up groups)
    overall the LE design focused on cognitive activities rather than socio-emotional ones
  • In many respects the recommendations follow naturally from this analysis
    Reinforce the teaching presence:
    encourage and allow time for teachers to try out what they have learned in their own teaching practice
    including specific activities to encourage critical thinking, meta-cognition and reflection on what has been learned in terms of the implications for their own competence development as teachers
    provide greater tutor support and guidance at key points (what Dillenbourg refers to as orchestration)
    Increase further the social presence:
    Balance the cognitive activities by providing more time and support for social ones
    Recognise the importance of addressing socio-emotional aspects, of mutual support and feedback through peer learning
    Help a community to grow:
    give more time for trust, shared values and reciprocity to develop between participants
  • Let me close by indicating what we are doing practically in the next run of the LE to implement these ideas
  • Revised design of the LE to include
    collaboration, competence development and reflection in practice in the learning objectives (not just learning individual web 2.0 tools)
    added a specific activity at the end for feedback and reflection in groups, looking at what the experience means for CPD
    increased moderation and facilitation at key points to encourage people and support their reflections(eg allocating participants to groups)
    A longer LE in three stages
    first stage of cognitive activities complemented by a
    second stage of almost three weeks in which there is time to try out what has been learned in their own teaching practice, and a
    final stage for discussion and reflection back in the LE
    encourage the teachers to continually talk about their experiences, their feelings, their thoughts and to share stories
    Create a informal social space – a virtual staff room
    a place for informal discussion and reflection
    based initially on small groups in ‘round tables’
    foster a community of practice, leaving the staff room open during the three weeks of teaching practice
  • In terms of my research
    I am continuing with an Action Research approach
    interacting with stakeholders: the subject expert Tiina, the organisers at the European Schoolnet
    keeping a record of my discussion, thoughts and actions in a research diary
    talking openly about my experiences through my blog
    Collecting data from the revised LE
    interview a few teachers before and after the LE
    hold a focus group with an open discussion
    analyse the discourse that takes place within the forums
    So far
    everything is prepared for a rerun of the LE starting in one week’s time
    As we enter the stage where my ideas are abiout to be put into action, I must say it is both exciting and daunting!
  • Here is a short bibliography of some of the key research material that I am using
  • So finally
    If you wish to follow my adventure, please take a look at my blog
    I’d be happy for you to post a comment
    Or for you to send me an email
    For now, Thank you very much for your attention
  • Holmes e twinning learning events

    1. 1. eTwinning Learning Events: Using Online Learning Communities for Teachers' Continuous Professional Development Brian Holmes, Lancaster University, UK With the support of Dr. Julie-Ann Sime, Lancaster University, UK Anne Gilleran, European Schoolnet, Belgium Tiina Sarisalmi, Municipality of Orivesi, Finland
    2. 2. 2http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 eTwinning Learning Events: Using Online Learning Communities for Teachers' CPD 1. Background to the research 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community 3. Tentative conclusions 4. Next steps A work in progress
    3. 3. 3http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 1. Background to the research Researching online learning communities • PhD/Doctoral Programme in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning • Distance, part-time, at University of Lancaster, UK • Two years learning in an online cohort + two years thesis • My research area: online learning communities – Influence on competence development ? – Influence of social aspects ? http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/centres/csalt/csalt/tel_docprog.htm
    4. 4. 4http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 1. Background to the research Research domain: eTwinning • eTwinning funded by the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme - Comenius • Supports teachers across Europe ° Joint pedagogical projects ° Continuous professional development • Statistics reflect success* ° 75 000 schools ° 102 000 users, mainly teachers ° 44 000 ongoing or completed projects * as of 1 October 2010 (EUN, 2010) www.eTwinning.net
    5. 5. 5http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 1. Background to the research eTwinning – an online community of teachers Moving beyond projects: – Emphasising more the relationships between teachers; social networking – Encouraging synergies with other Comenius activities – Embracing informal / peer learning – Piloting Communities of Practice (eTwinning groups) and non-formal learning (Learning Events) – Integrating social media Network of relationships between eTwinning teachers
    6. 6. 6http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 1. Background to the research eTwinning Learning Events (LE) • ‘Learning Events’ are short, intensive online sessions, in groups, focused on a theme and led by a subject expert • Themes relate to teaching practice, eg: – Building a successful project – Creative writing & Mindmapping – Internet safety & you – Exploiting Web 2.0: eTwinning and Collaboration • Involve teachers in hands-on learning with peers and reflection in practice (Schön, 1983, Kolb, 1984)  focus of my research
    7. 7. 7http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 1. Background to the research ‘Exploiting Web 2.0: eTwinning and Collaboration’ • 12 day event in April 2010, involving 156 teachers • Led by a teacher expert in web 2.0 tools: Tiina Sarisalmi • Activities included: – Watching videos, voting on preferences and sharing opinions – Creating a blog, sharing videos, pictures, documents, etc – Collaborating on a joint project in a small group • My research involved: – Observing the discussions in the groups – Conducting an online questionnaire at the end
    8. 8. 8http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 1. Background to the research Theoretical framework • Cognitive presence active learners in a community ° Constructing meaning through sustained communication ° Essential for critical thinking • Social presence feeling a person is ‘real’ ° Projecting personal characteristics into the community ° Directly contributes to success of learning • Teaching presence design and support for active learning ° Support and enhance cognitive and social presence for the purposes of learning ° Design often led by teacher ° Facilitation often shared with learners (Garrison et al, 2000, p.88) COGNITIVE PRESENCE Communication Medium SOCIAL PRESENCE Supporting Discourse Community of Inquiry TEACHING PRESENCE (Structure/Process) Setting Climate Selecting Content EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE
    9. 9. 9http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 eTwinning Learning Events: Using Online Learning Communities for Teachers' CPD 1. Background to the research 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community 3. Tentative conclusions 4. Next steps A work in progress
    10. 10. 10http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community Increased confidence and competence 45% 42% 10% 2% 2% PositivechangeNegativechange 45% 42% 10% 2% 2% PositivechangeNegativechange Number of replies 87% felt more confident and competent in the use of web 2.0 tools ‘The Learning event helped me see the usefulness of web 2.0 tools in the classroom and not simply for personal use’
    11. 11. 11http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community Increased feeling of connectedness ‘(I) admit that seeing photos (of) colleagues with whom I worked, I felt closer to them’ 61% found the profile pages really useful K: I didn’t really use the profile pages L: I found the profile pages really useful 7% 16% 15% 30% 31% 7% 16% 15% 30% 31% Numberofreplies
    12. 12. 12http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community Greater ‘sense of community’ 49% felt a stronger sense of community E: There was a stronger feeling of community F: The feeling of community was roughly the same Numberofreplies 27% 14% 10% 26% 23% Numberofreplies 27% 14% 10% 26% 23% ‘There was a stronger feeling of community in the Learning Event than I've experienced before in eTwinning’
    13. 13. 13http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community Collaboration not easy Some frustration with group work : ‘Availability of the others made the individual learning (more) effective and faster’ ’I found it difficult to work with others in the group’ ‘My group didn't work but I wish it would – so I made a lot of the activities on my own’ ‘We hadn't enough time to see a whole community develop’ ‘I don't consider these people "friends", but contacts’ Community only partially developed: ‘I found it difficult that one member of our team wasn't willing to work collaboratively and just hanged on us’
    14. 14. 14http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community Social activities second to cognitive ones Social aspects recognised as important: ‘I think it is important to know a bit about the personal life of people with whom we work as that allows us to understand them, to overcome distances and to know if the person interests us or not’ ‘I didn't have much time to socialise, so I mainly centered my attention on scheduled activities’ But time spent mainly on cognitive activities:
    15. 15. 15http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 eTwinning Learning Events: Using Online Learning Communities for Teachers' CPD 1. Background to the research 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community 3. Tentative conclusions 4. Next steps A work in progress
    16. 16. 16http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 3. Tentative conclusions Emergence of a Community of Inquiry • Cognitive presence active learners in a community + Engaged, motivated learners + Autonomous, digitally competent – Little meta-cognition or reflection in practice • Social presence feeling a person is ‘real’ (Short et al, 1976, Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997) + Stronger in this LE than elsewhere – Little emphasis on socio-emotional aspects • Teaching presence design and support for active learning + Activities encouraged engagement + Teacher/tutor as peer – Low tutor guidance at key points – Activities mainly cognitive (Garrison et al, 2000, p.88) COGNITIVE PRESENCE Communication Medium SOCIAL PRESENCE Supporting Discourse Community of Inquiry TEACHING PRESENCE (Structure/Process) Setting Climate Selecting Content EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE
    17. 17. 17http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 3. Tentative conclusions Recommendations • More teaching presence ° Activities for meta-cognition ° Reflection in practice ° Increase orchestration at key points (Dillenbourg, 2008) • Increase social presence ° More social activities (Kreijns et al, 2003) ° Support socio-emotional aspects (Zenios & Holmes, 2010) ° Peer learning • Grow a learning community ° Give time to develop trust, shared values and reciprocity (McConnell, 2006)  Reinforce meta-cognition for competence development  Balance cognitive activities with social ones  Foster a community
    18. 18. 18http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 eTwinning Learning Events: Using Online Learning Communities for Teachers' CPD 1. Background to the research 2. Results from the analysis of the online learning community 3. Tentative conclusions 4. Next steps A work in progress
    19. 19. 19http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 4. Next steps A revised Learning Event (LE) • Increase teaching presence – Include collaboration, competence and reflection in practice in objectives of the LE objectives – Specific activity at the end for feedback to the group – Moderator/facilitator at key points to encourage and support • Allow time for practice and reflection – 12 days for the LE cognitive activities, 19 days to try out in own teaching practice, 2 days of final reflection in the LE – Encourage sharing of stories, feelings and reflections • Create a virtual staff room – A place for informal discussion and reflection in practice – Tables of small groups to foster stronger ties – Encourage a learning community and meta-cognition
    20. 20. 20http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 4. Next steps Research: data collection and analysis • Continue with an Action Research approach – Interact with stakeholders in the design and implementation – Keep a record of discussions and decisions – Keep research diaries • Interviews – Interview volunteer teachers before and after the event • Focus group – Open discussion with a small group of teachers at the end • Discourse – Observe and analyse the online discussions
    21. 21. 21http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 References Dillenbourg, P. (2008) 'Integrating technologies into educational ecosystems'. Distance Education, 29 (2), pp.127 – 140 EUN (2010) ‘eTwinning Statistics Overview’, (Online, accessed 01.10.10, http:// www.etwinning.net/en/pub/news/press_corner/statistics.cfm) Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T. & Archer, W. (2000) 'Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education'. The Internet and Higher Education, 2 (2-3), pp.87-105 Gunawardena, C. & Zittle, F. (1997) 'Social Presence as a Predictor of Satisfaction within a Computer-Mediated Conferencing Environment'. American Journal of Distance Education, 11 (3), pp.8-26 Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall. Kreijns, K., Kirschner, P. A. & Jochems, W. (2003) 'Identifying the pitfalls for social interaction in computer-supported collaborative learning environments: a review of the research'. Computers in Human Behavior, 19 (3), pp.335-353 McConnell, D. (2006) E-Learning Groups and Communities. Maidenhead, Open University Press. Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. London, Basic Books. Short, J., Williams, E. & Christie, B. (1976) The social psychology of telecommunications. London, John Wiley & Sons. Zenios, M. & Holmes, B. (2010), 'Knowledge creation in networked learning: combined tools and affordances', Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010, Copenhagen, pp.471-479
    22. 22. 22http://www.slideshare.net/holmebn/holmes-e-twinning-learning-events-582 Thank you Brian.Holmes@skynet.be http://holmesbrian.blogspot.com/

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