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How many virtual learning spaces do students need? Professor Peter Hartley (Professor of Education Development) & Neil Currant (Enhancing Learner Progression Project Officer) University of Bradford
Which technologies make the most useful learning spaces? Looking for the future  ‘classrooms’?
The ‘pre-technology’ world: where did learning take place? The lecture room? The seminar room? The café? The library? The private study space?
New lines of conflict: the collision of learning spaces The formal, public, controlled The institutional world of control and individual assessment The collaborative, informal, exploratory The world of facilitation and enquiry  The personal, private and exclusive Talking to invited friends only
The lines of conflict: the collision of learning spaces The formal, public, controlled The institutional world of control and individual assessment The collaborative, informal, exploratory The world of facilitation and enquiry  The personal, private and exclusive Web 2.0 software now available across the whole spectrum
The collision of learning spaces: do we need 3? ‘ LIBRARY/MUSEUM’ vs PLAYGROUND vs REFUGE   The web 2.0 software
So what will our University look like? Social Space Formal Space Private Space
So what will our University look like? Social Space Formal Space Private Space
 
But don’t we need 4 spaces?  Need a ‘safe’, ‘controlled’, ‘non-corporate’ space for discussion and experimentation
Institutions need to accommodate/plan for 4 inter-related learning spaces ‘ MUSEUM’  vs PLAYGROUND  vs SALOON  vs REFUGE   The web 2.0 software
Some inspirations  TESEP project Moves towards ‘non-corporate’  corporate innovation?: Oremi Community at Brighton And experience at Bradford …
Example: Background Recent learning theory has recognised the social nature of learning  (Leslie & Landon, 2008)  and the importance of discussion online  (Laurillard, 2001) . University of Bradford MEd Training and Development degree (distance learning) The course:  2 year part-time professional course for Trainers & HRD staff “ Studying is more of a team sport than I  realised . I really miss …not being able to talk stuff through down the pub.”  student blog post in first few weeks of course.
Example: The Tools members only social network for each cohort of students. Facilities include: blogs, images, discussion forums, personal page, video, audio, ability to embed any type of web2.0 widget & RSS feeds Widgets used:
Delicious social bookmarks widget Recent activity Forum Aggregated student blogs Podcasts Reading material widget Member photos
What are the benefits of using social software? Key benefits we have observed: Builds more personal relations between students Better quality and quantity of group discussion. Learning processes are more explicit and obvious, so can pick up problems earlier. Evidence of greater reflection through blogs. Greater ownership of online environment. More motivated to work and share online. Better assessment results??? (partly due to greater engagement with tutor.)
Findings: ownership & control Greater sense of ownership of the space. This is their space. They want everyone to engage fully. “ I think that those of us in the cohort who use ning regularly have already normed and to have someone (a new tutor) suddenly pitch-forked in is very disconcerting.”  Student “ I really would like to interact with more people, particularly now as I'm struggling to make meaning of what we're doing and would like to hear others' points of view to get me along.”  Student Images seem to be so crucial for building social bonds. ©   Aardman Animations Student A In pilot group (n=12) -  5 users changed their personal images. The ones most likely to change their image were also the ones most likely to contribute.
Motivation “… recognition of the centrality of a user’s motivation to the success of systems aligns very well with the general turn to ‘learner-centricity’”  Leslie & Landon (2008:5) More  motivated, Produced  more  discussions, Better  quality  discussions (for example, more theory was used). Some numbers: From just 12 participants Discussions – avg. 28 per week Blogs – avg. 3.7 per week Longest post: 2,530 word blog post that took 2 ½ hours to write!  Site use: 21 visits/ day (i.e. each person visits more than once a day), 12 page views/ person/ day. All of this was completely voluntary, none of it was assessed.
Findings: Safety & privacy Students valued a safe, sheltered environment to share, through discussion and experiment with tools such as blogs. “ I'm concerned about others I don't know having access to my blogs and thoughts …what if …I’ve said something indiscreet in a blog? Remember, I’m leading a major change programme and my staff don’t know some of the stuff I’ve shared with cohort colleagues.”  Student Leslie and Landon (2008) suggest that we should teach our students to learn in the open and not in private environments.  However: - How do we get students started who are fearful of that public nature of open blogs. - How willing will they be to write and reflect openly given: - They may want to discuss privileged information. - They may want to criticise organisations / individuals without fear of reprisal. - Revealing personal thoughts to an environment where anyone, employers included, can access them.
Watching learning as it unfolds Reflective blogging in a safe environment has made explicit some of the learning processes that have been taking place.  Peers as critical friend audience (Costa & Kallick 1993) Better & faster learning??
… and finally - the student view. “… told you this gets more addictive than 'e' bay. My students haven't had so many fag and brew breaks” “ I anticipate not being able to use ning for part of each week…there are implications: 1) withdrawal symptoms for me… I'll just have to come back with a vengeance at the weekend!” “… express my gratitude to you for being there for me and for caring about me, I just want to say: THANK YOU! to all of you and to tell you that it's a real privilege for me to be in this course with you!” International student who has never met any of the other students. “ Unleash the Ningmaniacs… How fantastic was all that Ning activity on Monday?” “ I have no idea why but I am strangely inspired to bare my incredibly shallow soul through this medium.”
Your Thoughts? Do we all need a ‘fourth’ space?

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How many online spaces do students need?

  • 1. How many virtual learning spaces do students need? Professor Peter Hartley (Professor of Education Development) & Neil Currant (Enhancing Learner Progression Project Officer) University of Bradford
  • 2. Which technologies make the most useful learning spaces? Looking for the future ‘classrooms’?
  • 3. The ‘pre-technology’ world: where did learning take place? The lecture room? The seminar room? The café? The library? The private study space?
  • 4. New lines of conflict: the collision of learning spaces The formal, public, controlled The institutional world of control and individual assessment The collaborative, informal, exploratory The world of facilitation and enquiry The personal, private and exclusive Talking to invited friends only
  • 5. The lines of conflict: the collision of learning spaces The formal, public, controlled The institutional world of control and individual assessment The collaborative, informal, exploratory The world of facilitation and enquiry The personal, private and exclusive Web 2.0 software now available across the whole spectrum
  • 6. The collision of learning spaces: do we need 3? ‘ LIBRARY/MUSEUM’ vs PLAYGROUND vs REFUGE The web 2.0 software
  • 7. So what will our University look like? Social Space Formal Space Private Space
  • 8. So what will our University look like? Social Space Formal Space Private Space
  • 9.  
  • 10. But don’t we need 4 spaces? Need a ‘safe’, ‘controlled’, ‘non-corporate’ space for discussion and experimentation
  • 11. Institutions need to accommodate/plan for 4 inter-related learning spaces ‘ MUSEUM’ vs PLAYGROUND vs SALOON vs REFUGE The web 2.0 software
  • 12. Some inspirations TESEP project Moves towards ‘non-corporate’ corporate innovation?: Oremi Community at Brighton And experience at Bradford …
  • 13. Example: Background Recent learning theory has recognised the social nature of learning (Leslie & Landon, 2008) and the importance of discussion online (Laurillard, 2001) . University of Bradford MEd Training and Development degree (distance learning) The course: 2 year part-time professional course for Trainers & HRD staff “ Studying is more of a team sport than I realised . I really miss …not being able to talk stuff through down the pub.” student blog post in first few weeks of course.
  • 14. Example: The Tools members only social network for each cohort of students. Facilities include: blogs, images, discussion forums, personal page, video, audio, ability to embed any type of web2.0 widget & RSS feeds Widgets used:
  • 15. Delicious social bookmarks widget Recent activity Forum Aggregated student blogs Podcasts Reading material widget Member photos
  • 16. What are the benefits of using social software? Key benefits we have observed: Builds more personal relations between students Better quality and quantity of group discussion. Learning processes are more explicit and obvious, so can pick up problems earlier. Evidence of greater reflection through blogs. Greater ownership of online environment. More motivated to work and share online. Better assessment results??? (partly due to greater engagement with tutor.)
  • 17. Findings: ownership & control Greater sense of ownership of the space. This is their space. They want everyone to engage fully. “ I think that those of us in the cohort who use ning regularly have already normed and to have someone (a new tutor) suddenly pitch-forked in is very disconcerting.” Student “ I really would like to interact with more people, particularly now as I'm struggling to make meaning of what we're doing and would like to hear others' points of view to get me along.” Student Images seem to be so crucial for building social bonds. © Aardman Animations Student A In pilot group (n=12) - 5 users changed their personal images. The ones most likely to change their image were also the ones most likely to contribute.
  • 18. Motivation “… recognition of the centrality of a user’s motivation to the success of systems aligns very well with the general turn to ‘learner-centricity’” Leslie & Landon (2008:5) More motivated, Produced more discussions, Better quality discussions (for example, more theory was used). Some numbers: From just 12 participants Discussions – avg. 28 per week Blogs – avg. 3.7 per week Longest post: 2,530 word blog post that took 2 ½ hours to write! Site use: 21 visits/ day (i.e. each person visits more than once a day), 12 page views/ person/ day. All of this was completely voluntary, none of it was assessed.
  • 19. Findings: Safety & privacy Students valued a safe, sheltered environment to share, through discussion and experiment with tools such as blogs. “ I'm concerned about others I don't know having access to my blogs and thoughts …what if …I’ve said something indiscreet in a blog? Remember, I’m leading a major change programme and my staff don’t know some of the stuff I’ve shared with cohort colleagues.” Student Leslie and Landon (2008) suggest that we should teach our students to learn in the open and not in private environments. However: - How do we get students started who are fearful of that public nature of open blogs. - How willing will they be to write and reflect openly given: - They may want to discuss privileged information. - They may want to criticise organisations / individuals without fear of reprisal. - Revealing personal thoughts to an environment where anyone, employers included, can access them.
  • 20. Watching learning as it unfolds Reflective blogging in a safe environment has made explicit some of the learning processes that have been taking place. Peers as critical friend audience (Costa & Kallick 1993) Better & faster learning??
  • 21. … and finally - the student view. “… told you this gets more addictive than 'e' bay. My students haven't had so many fag and brew breaks” “ I anticipate not being able to use ning for part of each week…there are implications: 1) withdrawal symptoms for me… I'll just have to come back with a vengeance at the weekend!” “… express my gratitude to you for being there for me and for caring about me, I just want to say: THANK YOU! to all of you and to tell you that it's a real privilege for me to be in this course with you!” International student who has never met any of the other students. “ Unleash the Ningmaniacs… How fantastic was all that Ning activity on Monday?” “ I have no idea why but I am strangely inspired to bare my incredibly shallow soul through this medium.”
  • 22. Your Thoughts? Do we all need a ‘fourth’ space?