Tag Archives: self-directed learning

Distributed curriculum

This Tweet caught my eye today by triggering a train of thoughts on what a ‘distributed curriculum’ might involve.

Digitally Distributed Curriculum

This idea appears to position the curriculum as an outcome of interacting within networks of people, resources and technologies. I wonder if this curriculum is a restating for a formal education context, of the sort of personalised learning I previously discussed here. One of the issues here is on curricula design and whether all students have the capabilities, capacities and capital to direct the generation of their own curriculum in a coherent and sustainable manner or whether ‘fluid curricula’ models will need and be required to be fairly striated or ‘channeled’. Similarly, there is a need to develop successful practices on supporting students and staff in approaches to self-directed and self-regulated learning enabling deep engagement with ‘wicked’ subject problems.

Another aspect to the distributed curriculum may well be a social aspect of both participating in external professional and other communities as well as generating ephemeral communities of learners that ‘swarm’ around specific learning objects and artefacts as well as collectively bringing these objects/ artefacts in to engagement with the subject problem of interest.

Whether formal or informal, its the learning that counts

I liked Nick Shacklton-Jones’ post arguing that there’s no such thing as formal learning concluding that

My point, I suppose, is that if you have a good understanding of how learning works, you don’t have to fabricate mythical species of learning to explain what you see. There is just learning, and the way in which it happens in various contexts. The more you think about it, the sillier it seems – that we should categorise learning based on the convention in which it occurs. The same mechanism is at work, whatever the context.

Formal learning, as he is describing it, is really a task-based activity concerned with completion to a quality standard (assessment/ exams). By understanding learning as what it is, intentional and self-directed allows an almost complete reconfiguration of how learning is supported (not provided or delivered). It should be emphasised that learning is about learning ‘how’ to do something and so also, knowing where to find information/ knowledge and who to ask and much less acquiring knowledge.

For this reason, I think a research project on ‘Charting‘:

Charting is the process whereby an individual manages and optimises their interaction with the people and resources who (may) have a role in their learning and development.

is well worth watching – for its implications for work-based learning as well as for higher education.

LinkPool [10032013]

A few links and bits n bobs i’ve been looking at in the last week or so:

Current e-learning practice: is a nice brief summary from Stephen Downes on what he’d include as illustrating current e-learning practice. He suggests three areas to show the span of e-learning as (a) ‘traditional’ asynchronous self-paced  courses; (b) a educational VLE (BB, Moodle etc.) showing learner interactions and (c) an example of a MOOC

Future technology trends from Forrester. Nothing particularly new or outstanding here but a useful list in one place. Includes: gesture based interfaces; big data and real-time data; collaboration tools; the internet of things; GPS based devices and services; cloud and a very vague

New federated trust and identity models for a changing world of jobs and careers … and maybe even killing all usernames and password

Self-regulated learning in the digital age SRL)from Steve Wheeler a few months back makes for a useful read especially given the constant interest in MOOCS and their shift to becoming credit bearing (Inside Higher Ed’s discussion of some of the issues here is a useful read – raising the position of ePortfolios). I’m currently involved in a project on transversal competences and in particular, “learning to learn” which I see as being (a) one of the few truly transversal competences and (b) critical to future employability. It seems to me that SRL and self-directed learning is assumed to be unproblematic by the proponents of the disruption of (higher) education but more on this later.

Designing open infrastructures for professional development

Last week I attended a seminar by the Supporting Sustainable e-Learning Forum at Glasgow Caledonia University with Peter Sloep from the Open University of the Netherlands.

[slideshare id=3578737&doc=100325sloep-sswlf-glasgow-100328105848-phpapp02]

The seminar and presentation used six “use cases” as the staring points for discussions on the efficacy of networked learning as viable solutions in terms of non-formal professional learning as well as collaborative sense-making and knowledge sharing.
The main discussions were, as might be expected,gravitated towards the debate of open v closed systems – although I find the debate at a broad level somewhat unhelpful as argued here. However, working through the issues to be considered for ePortfolios that can transfer from formal into non-formal professional learning as a useful tool for the individual while also providing suitable evidence for assessment provided a useful illustration of the difficulties of the practicalities of the “edgeless university” – for my take, see here. Other practical issues with the distributed network model that were discussed centred on institutional issues of IP and barriers derived from the imperatives of managerial control as well as technical barriers surrounding interoperability & standards etc.
A key issue underpinning many advantages of either the open/ distributed model and the closed model was one of trust and sources of ‘trustworthy’ knowledge.
An interesting day. While the seminar was about non-formal learning, the cross-over to capturing, understanding and enhancing informal (incidental?) learning were many.

The Supporting Sustainable e-Learning Forum has three more events planned for the rest of the year and more detail can be found at their Ning site here.

Informal learning & Web 2.0

Interesting to see a number of reports pulling together increasing recognition of informal workplace learning [it was always the most common way of learning at work – unless you had ceased to think] along with increased authorised/ unauthorised use of Web2.0 applications for learning. See for example, here and here. Although, for me its a pity that the second post is illustrated by someone looking at Facebook ….

Finally, Capuccino U has been updated which is an good read on informal learning [learning in general really] challenging the mental maps of many working in the formalised learning/ education arena – I work in a university but lets not mentioned that …

personal learning environments

I’ve been reading a few interesting posts on personal learning environments (PLE) here and here (as a blog on a presentation from Stephen Downes).My experience has been that constructing a PLE has had an enormous impact on my personal professional development – but developing a PLE that works for me took a long time (years really) and alot of experimentation. I like to think that my framework is pretty solid and its now more of a case of looking for tweaks of continuous improvement rather than wholesale experimentation. However, my career change into academia may well test this assumption – too early to tell just yet.

What the PLE has provided, is a mechanism for me to keep awareness of emerging trends and ideas in a reasonably diverse range of professional domains. I’ve also found having this PLE has helped me in presenting my skills, knowledge and understanding in the jobs market more effectively. As discussed by Jay Cross here the PLE has helped me in formulating a generic ‘elevator pitch’ that can be targeted for different professional areas in a specific language.

A key aspect of my PLE, given my ‘job hopping’ approach to career development/ exploration, is that it can move with me, ie, I have not tied it into the IT system of any particular employer – in keeping with a sort of free agent attitude to careers and employment.

Of course, this has some implications for the role of the learning & development professional. I, as an employee, have taken control of my learning and longer-term career development. I, as a professional, want to be a ‘high performer’ (on the basis of pride and thinking about future careers) and so make sure I (a) understand the organisation’s strategy and (b) seek to implement that strategy in my day-to-day activities (including learning and development) and my PLE gives me the tool to do this in respect of the external world. Assuming others are like me how does the L&D function of an organisation add value? is L&D less of an agent of change and more a consolidator of changes internally, supporting compliance with internal processes, disseminating effective practices, etc..

I’m not sure if I’ve explained this well – its an early thought on how effective externally hosted PLEs may change (again) the dynamics of L&D in an organisation where ‘loose-tight’ structures and a focus on informal coalitions are replicated in the delivery of learning & development.

interesting [links]

A number of people have been interested in the new report from JISC – see here – on the lack of digital literacies among the digital natives/ gen y. I’m less concerned about issues of plagiarism (tho’ that’ll change now I’m an actual academic, but we have software to spot that sort of thing) but more the issues identified in the lack of competence to appraise on-line resources. The ability to appraise such resources is, I think, critically important if the potential value creation of Enterprise 2.0 is to be realised.

This brings me to Jay Cross who recently posted on performance support as a learning ecology or learnscape:

Today, the greatest leverage in corporate learning comes from building on-going, largely self-sustaining learning processes. This process orientation focuses on the organization’s architecture for learning, a platform a level above its training programs and regulated events. The learnscape is a foundation for learning that is self-service, spontaneous, serendipitous, drip-fed, and mentored as well as the formal training that will always be with us.

Yet if the new workforce have not (yet) developed the skills to appraise and pass judgement on the value and usefulness of online resources then the learnscape becomes far less valuable as a tool of enterprise growth and innovation. I hope I’m being unduly pessimistic as to me, enterprise 2.0 and learnscape provide clear concepts that support how organisations should operate to be value generating, competitive and human.