Learning Technologies of Change

Learning Change Project: 8 Blogs, +7100 Readings

The Learning Environment as a Chaotic and Complex Adaptive System

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Thrivability is a novel concept describing the intention to go beyond sustainability, allowing a system to flourish. For a society or organization to be thrivable, educated, responsible acting agents are needed. Traditional education focuses on (efficient) reproduction of existing organised bodies of information. We argue that complex adaptive systems theory and chaos theory provide concepts well suited to inform the design of learning environments, in order to facilitate a thrivable organization. This learning is not linear and externally controlled, but happens in a chaotic, yet guided manner. After discussing the suitability of the theoretical body of these general approaches, we show how a concrete progressive education approach, called the Dalton-Plan pedagogy, implements and supports these elements. By doing so, we show that the Dalton-Plan pedagogy is well suited for education of agents working in and for thrivable organizations. Support for teachers as part of this evolving learning system is provided by an e-learning environment.

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Self-organized Collective Decision Making: The weighted voter model

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Collective decision making in self-organized systems is challenging because it relies on local perception and local communication. Globally defined qualities such as consensus time and decision accuracy are both difficult to predict and difficult to guarantee. We present the weighted voter model which implements a self-organized collective decision making process. We provide an ODE model, a master equation model (numerically solved by the Gillespie algorithm), and agent-based simulations of the proposed decision-making strategy. This set of models enables us to investigate the system behavior in the thermodynamic limit and to investigate finite-size effects due to random fluctuations. Based on our results, we give minimum requirements to guarantee consensus on the optimal decision, a minimum swarm size to guarantee a certain accuracy, and we show that the proposed approach scales with system size and is robust to noise.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Rethinking University Teaching – A Framework for the Effective Use of Educational Technology

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There have been extensive changes in the technologies available for learning over the last decade. These technologies have the potential to improve radically the way students engage with knowledge and negotiate ideas. However, this book argues that the promises made for e-learning will only be realised if we begin with an understanding of how students learn, and design the use of learning technologies from this standpoint. This new edition has been updated in view of recent technological advances and provides a sound theoretical basis for designing and using learning technologies in university teaching. The author argues that although the new learning technologies are not individually capable of matching the effectiveness of the one-to-one teacher, together they can support the full range of student learning, both efficiently and effectively. This book is essential reading for all academics and academic support staff concerned with improving the quality of teaching in Higher Education. Diana Laurillard is Professor of Educational Technology and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Learning Technologies and Teaching at The Open University.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Why Technology Hasn’t Delivered More Democracy

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The current moment confronts us with a paradox. The first fifteen years of this century have been a time of astonishing advances in communications and information technology, including digitalization, mass-accessible video platforms, smart phones, social media, billions of people gaining internet access, and much else. These revolutionary changes all imply a profound empowerment of individuals through exponentially greater access to information, tremendous ease of communication and data-sharing, and formidable tools for networking. Yet despite these changes, democracy — a political system based on the idea of the empowerment of individuals — has in these same years become stagnant in the world. The number of democracies today is basically no greater than it was at the start of the century. Many democracies, both long-established ones and newer ones, are experiencing serious institutional debilities and weak public confidence. How can we reconcile these two contrasting global realities — the unprecedented advance of technologies that facilitate individual empowerment and the overall lack of advance of democracy worldwide? To help answer this question, I asked six experts on political change, all from very different professional and national perspectives. Here are their responses, followed by a few brief observations of my own.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Democracy, Technology

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Evaluating Pedagogical Practices in MOOCs

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Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have become a prominent feature of the higher education discourse in recent years. Yet, little is known about the effectiveness of these online courses in engaging participants in the learning process. This study explores the range of pedagogical tools used in 24 MOOCs, including the epistemological and social dimensions of instruction, to consider the extent to which these courses provide students with high-quality, collaborative learning experiences. Findings suggest that the range of pedagogical practices currently used in MOOCs tends toward an objectivist-individual approach, with some efforts to incorporate more constructivist and group-oriented approaches. By examining MOOCs through the lens of engaged teaching and learning, this study raises concerns about the degree to which MOOCs are actually revolutionizing higher education by using technology to improve quality, and challenges educators to strive for more creative and empowering forms of open online learning.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 24, 2015 at 11:53 am

The use of Flipped Classrooms in Higher Education: A scoping review

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There is increasing pressure for Higher Education institutions to undergo transformation, with education being seen as needing to adapt in ways that meet the conceptual needs of our time. Reflecting this is the rise of the flipped or inverted classroom. The purpose of this scoping review was to provide a comprehensive overview of relevant research regarding the emergence of the flipped classroom and the links to pedagogy and educational outcomes, identifying any gaps in the literature which could inform future design and evaluation. The scoping review is underpinned by the five-stage framework Arksey and O’Malley. The results indicate that there is much indirect evidence emerging of improved academic performance and student and staff satisfaction with the flipped approach but a paucity of conclusive evidence that it contributes to building lifelong learning and other 21st Century skills in under-graduate education and post-graduate education.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 24, 2015 at 11:28 am

The Brain in your Pocket: Smartphones used to Supplant Thinking

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With the advent of Smartphone technology, access to the internet and its associated knowledge base is at one’s fingertips. What consequences does this have for human cognition? We frame Smartphone use as an instantiation of the extended mind—the notion that our cognition goes beyond our brains—and in so doing, characterize a modern form of cognitive miserliness. Specifically, that people typically forego effortful analytic thinking in lieu of fast and easy intuition suggests that individuals may allow their Smartphones to do their thinking for them. Our account predicts that individuals who are relatively less willing and/or able to engage effortful reasoning processes may compensate by relying on the internet through their Smartphones. Across three studies, we find that those who think more intuitively and less analytically when given reasoning problems were more likely to rely on their Smartphones (i.e., extended mind) for information in their everyday lives. There was no such association with the amount of time using the Smartphone for social media and entertainment purposes, nor did boredom proneness qualify any of our results. These findings demonstrate that people may offload thinking to technology, which in turn demands that psychological science understand the meshing of mind and media to adequately characterize human experience and cognition in the modern era.

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Read also: The relationships between college students’ cell phone use, personality and leisure

Perceived academic effects of instant messaging use

The relationship between multitasking and academic performance

Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 24, 2015 at 10:59 am

Web 2.0 Use in Higher Education

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This study analyzed current uses of emerging Web 2.0 technologies in higher education with the intent to better understand which tools teachers are using in the classroom. A total of 189 faculty in higher education from three western US universities were invited to participate, with 54 completing the survey. The survey included open-ended questions as well to offer an alternative analysis approach. In this study, the respondents claimed that the intrinsic factors of a lack of time and training were the main barriers to use, and reported positive views of Web 2.0 use in class, with 75% saying that these tools would benefit students and 83% saying they would benefit teacher-student interactions. In contrast to these results only 44% of the respondents used at least 4 of the 13 listed Web 2.0 tools with students. The reported uses did not match with the reported benefits, and this would support the results that extrinsic factors (time, training, support), instead of intrinsic factors (beliefs, motivation, confidence) are the main barriers to faculty in this study using more Web 2.0 in education. The top five Web 2.0 tools used, in order of preference, follow: (a) video sharing with tools like YouTube; (b) instant messaging; (c) blogs; (d) social communities, such as Facebook; and (e) podcasts or video casts. This data was originally submitted to the Abraham S. Fischler School of Education in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 23, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Accreditation of MOOCs

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Higher education institutions face conflicting challenges; they must equip students with up-to-date knowledge in fields in which knowledge is constantly being renewed, while they also need to guide students to examine reality through broad-based observation and consider different scientific disciplines. They operate within different constrictions such as: learning program boundaries, budgetary constrictions, and lack of accessibility to experts in different areas, and the range of courses offered to students is limited. To cope with these constrictions, Ort Braude Academic College of Engineering opened an experimental program. As part of this program, students were allowed to study MOOC courses under the college’s supervision, and were eligible for accreditation if they completed the courses successfully. Only 15 out of the 600 students offered the program, registered for these courses. Only seven were accepted for the program. This paper describes the background for the college’s decision, the registration process and supervision of students, detailing students’ challenges and achievements in the MOOC courses. Students who completed the MOOC courses reported that they enjoyed meaningful learning, requiring serious efforts in comparison to the courses that the MOOC courses replaced. Given this positive feedback by the students, it was decided to continue with the experiment.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Higher education, MOOC

Tagged with ,

Emotional Affordance of a MOOC

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This exploratory study examines emotional affordance of a MOOC. Postings in a discussion forum of a MOOC in computer science are analysed following a research design informed by virtual ethnography. Emotional affordance is investigated, focusing on non-achievement emotions which are not directly linked to achievement activities or outcomes. The study identifies two non-achievement emotions in the MOOC. First, altruistic emotion evolves with the collaborative learning community and possibly compensates for teachers’ minimal emotional intervention in a large, diverse class. Second, intergenerational emotional resonance is observed and this bears a key implication on managing age diversity for the future MOOCs.

Emotion evolved with the course, apparently coupling with the formation of a collaborative learning community. Emotion becomes more salient, more verbal, and more public in the MOOC. It also becomes more shared and distributed. Through the mediation of the discussion board, both knowledge and emotion were created by the community. Learning and teaching have an emotional underpinning. A holistic understanding of the emotional affordance would definitely help build massive but personalised, emotion-based learning experiences with MOOCs.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Emotions, MOOC

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