The language of learning today is full of references to “softness” and “openness.” Software, soft skills, soft performance, and the softening up of school knowledge go hand-in-hand with open source, open access and open educational resources in much current thinking about networked learning. How might this softening and opening up of the language of networked learning influence how learners think, perceive, feel and act? The emerging field of behaviour change theory suggests new ways in which networked technologies might be used as a form of pedagogical persuasion to influence and shape learners’ behavior, even at the unconscious or irrational level.
Posts in category 'Education'
In the last five years UK schools have spent more than £1 billion on digital technology. From interactive whiteboards to tablets, there is more digital technology in schools than ever before. But so far there has been little evidence of substantial success in improving educational outcomes.
Something is going wrong.
Nesta, the UK innovation agency, commissioned the London Knowledge Lab (LKL) and Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI), University of Nottingham, to analyse how technology has been used in the UK education systems and lessons from around the world. Uniquely, they wanted this to be set within a clear framework for better understanding the impact on learning experiences.
The report, Decoding Learning, says that for the past decade technology has been put ahead of teaching, and excitement at innovation has been put ahead of what actually helps children learn.
Therefore the report includes proof of technology supporting effective learning, emerging technologies that show promise of impact, and exciting teacher practice that displays the potential for effective digital education.
> See also BBC article
School children who use a tablet computer benefit the most when allowed to take it home, rather than just using it in school, reveals research from the University of Hull, reports Engineering & Technology Magazine.
The iPad Scotland Evaluation Study set out to establish the impact of handheld computer tablet devices in schools, and found that personal ‘ownership’ of such devices is the single most important factor for successful use of the technology.
The study is the largest of its kind ever conducted within the UK, covering students from eight schools across six Scottish Local Authorities over a six-month period.
The research focused on four central themes in order to evaluate the overall effectiveness of these devices in assisting with learning, and was carried out by researchers from the Technology Enhanced Learning Research group at the Faculty of Education at the University.
1. Impact of tablet devices on teaching and learning generally
The study found that benefits included greater motivation, engagement, parental involvement and understanding of complex ideas.
2. Leader and management issues (stemming from a deployment of devices)
The study found that teachers are ‘equally engaged’ by the use of such a device, which has a low learning curve enabling them to use it immediately as a teaching tool and a learning tool for themselves.
3. Professional development of teachers and how teachers cope with using new technology
The research found that ‘use of the device is contributing to significant changes in the way teachers approach their professional role as educators and is changing the way they see themselves and their pedagogy’.
4. Parental engagement
The study showed that parents become more engaged with the school and their child’s learning when the iPad travels home with the student.
The study resulted in 18 recommendations for using these devices in schools, with specific comments aimed at government, local authority and school level.
Recommendations include a wider roll-out of devices on a one-to-one level, pricing considerations – including leasing schemes – need to be considered carefully, and further studies should take place to continue evaluating this kind of technology.
The Designing Design Education for India (DDEI) Conference, which will take place in March 2013 in Pune, India, has an unusual, but engaging format:
“This will be an interactive conference. Unlike other conferences where the presenters speak from one side and the attendees are mere spectators or at the most the discussion is confined to formal Q&A sessions, this conference expects the conferees to play the role of a Moderator or a Synthesizer and interact freely in the talking circles. [...]
At the end of each day of the first two days, talking circle for each of the stream is planned. The aim is to encourage an open and inclusive format for discussion and the sharing of ideas. Talking circles are meetings of minds, directed at points of discussion, difference, or difficulty. At this conference the talking circle is intended as an opportunity to interact around the key streams of the conference vis-à-vis the themes. The outcomes of the talking circles will be discussed on the third and final day of the conference.
The Talking Circle for each stream will meet for a 1-hour session. A facilitator will be designated for each of the talking circle on each day from amongst the moderators. The facilitator will record the points of convergence and divergence and will summarize them. The discussion in the talking circle will be based on three main questions viz. What is our common ground? | What key ideas are emerging? | What is to be done?
Apparently the concept is not entirely new. It was already used at UC Berkeley in 2005, where they described Talking Circles as follows:
“Talking circles are meetings of minds, often around points of difference or difficulty. They are common in indigenous cultures. The inherent tension of the meeting is balanced by protocols of listening and respect for varied viewpoints. From this, rather than criticism and confrontation, productive possibilities may emerge.”
Also the 2011 Climate Change conference in Rio used it. Yet this participatory, co-creative format doesn’t seem to be very common.
The DDEI conference is hosted by India Design Council which is an autonomous body of Government of India established under the aegis of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
At the conference design educators, design thinkers, design practitioners share their ideas, experiences and vision about various future transformations occurring in education in the light of India’s traditional and current understanding of design education. The aim is to inspire the future of design education in India and determine the nature and future of the design education framework in India for the period 2014–2019.
As part of ServiceD, a three-year service design project, which researched future educational needs and piloted service design education, Lahti University of Applied Sciences from Finland and The Estonian Institute for Futures Studies from Tallinn University have published two remarkable service design publications:
Service Design: On the Evolution of Design Expertise (pdf) is a 196-page book that describes the developments and changes in Estonian and Finnish design competences since the 1960s and analyses how service design has emerged as a field of its own. The book also discusses how design has taken a turn towards the immaterial and provides insights to design education; how should education be developed amidst changing needs and environments.
Service design magazine (pdf, 84 pages) highlights fresh, global phenomena related to the outcomes of service design, city planning, drama and interaction studies, and futures research.
Although there are many tablet deployments in schools worldwide, there is a glaring lack of serious research on what actually happens in the classrooms with these devices. In fact, there is so far no aggregated evidence that tablet technology significantly aids learning. Obviously, official endorsement for the widespread use of tablets in schools cannot really happen without substantiated, independent evidence to convincingly prove the case for tablet technology.
Carphone Warehouse (corporate site), a UK mobile phone retailer, recently commissioned the Family Kids and Youth research agency to conduct a qualitative study of schools situated in Belfast, Kent and Essex where children are already benefiting from tablet use. The aim of the research, which ran from April to July 2012, was to find out more about how tablets are actually being used in education.
Family Kids and Youth carried out focus groups and ethnography at one of the schools (Honywood Community Science School, Coggeshall, Essex), interviewing pupils, staff and teachers, and observing the way in which different subjects and age groups used tablets in learning. Research was also undertaken with teachers, pupils and parents in one control school and two primary schools. In addition, an online quantitative research study was carried out between 22 June – 2 July with a UK nationally representative sample of 1,120 parents of children aged 3-16, 933 children aged 7-16, and 202 teachers.
The research findings (pdf) are generally rather positive (assuming that Family Kids and Youth has done its research properly, given the obvious interest of Carphone Warehouse in tablet sales): tablets enhance learning, improve communication, engage and motivate pupils, and stimulate proactive querying, initiative taking and creativity. Interestingly, the study points out that particularly less engaged pupils, those who had previously struggled with their homework, and pupils with special educational needs appear to be benefiting most from tablet use in schools (read the short report for more details).
Often cited fears – about distraction, misuse such as gaming and texting, time spent, theft, loss of writing skills, challenges in terms of classroom management – were clearly not confirmed by reality.
Yet, it is worthwhile underlining what Carphone Warehouse considered to be three primary issues regarding the use of tablet technology in schools (as summarised in the introduction of a follow-up project that is running during the school year 2012-2013):
1. A lack of specialised training for teachers around the use of tablet technology
2. Concerns for students when faced with sitting traditional paper-based examinations
3. The growing mass of unregulated content in the app world and the lack of appropriate interactive content
(“Teachers have the impression that educational publishers are merely publishing text books in the form of an app without fully appreciating the possibilities that tablets can offer.”)
If you read French, you may also be interested in the dossier “Tablette tactile et enseignement (école, collège, lycée)” – on the website of the French Ministry of Education. The (very long) web page provides an overview of what is currently going on in France, contains many links, but does unfortunately not include a deeper analysis (unless you delve deeper into the linked reports, such as this one from Paris and this one from Fribourg, Switzerland).
According to Pew Internet research, the teachers who instruct the most advanced American secondary school students render mixed verdicts about students’ research habits and the impact of technology on their studies. More in particular, they say that students’ digital literacy skills are weak and that courses or content focusing on digital literacy must be incorporated into every school’s curriculum.
Some 77% of advanced placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers surveyed say that the internet and digital search tools have had a “mostly positive” impact on their students’ research work. But 87% say these technologies are creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans” and 64% say today’s digital technologies “do more to distract students than to help them academically.”
According to this survey of teachers, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the College Board and the National Writing Project, the internet has opened up a vast world of information for today’s students, yet students’ digital literacy skills have yet to catch up:
- Virtually all (99%) AP and NWP teachers in this study agree with the notion that “the internet enables students to access a wider range of resources than would otherwise be available,” and 65% agree that “the internet makes today’s students more self-sufficient researchers.”
- At the same time, 76% of teachers surveyed “strongly agree” with the assertion that internet search engines have conditioned students to expect to be able to find information quickly and easily.
- Large majorities also agree with the notion that the amount of information available online today is overwhelming to most students (83%) and that today’s digital technologies discourage students from using a wide range of sources when conducting research (71%).
- Fewer teachers, but still a majority of this sample (60%), agree with the assertion that today’s technologies make it harder for students to find credible sources of information.
- Given these concerns, it is not surprising that 47% of these teachers strongly agree and another 44% somewhat believe that courses and content focusing on digital literacy should be incorporated into every school’s curriculum.
Here are some highlights:
Companies: Design Research Works in Practice
Design researchers are developing new, applicable knowledge together with organisations in the private and public sector. That was the clear conclusion at the mini-conference on the impact of design research that the Danish Centre for Design Research held at The Black Diamond in Copenhagen on 17 September 2012. Here, Rambøll, Bang & Olufsen and other companies shared case stories about how collaboration with researchers is creating value for their organisations.
Using Experience Design to Reach a Broader Audience for Classical Music
How can we use new, digital technologies to make classical music more appealing and accessible – especially for a younger audience? A group of symphony orchestras and educational institutions in Denmark and Sweden have set out to address that question in a large-scale research collaboration that has received funding from the EU’s interregional development fund.
Inviting the Materials Into Co-Design Processes
Materials are important actors in co-design processes. Therefore they should be invited in and assigned roles when co-designers organise projects, workshops or events, for example in the field of service design. That is one of the key conclusions in a PhD dissertation on the role of materials in co-design which Mette Agger Eriksen defended at Malmö University on 13 June 2012.
> Download dissertation (pdf)
Realising the Full Potential of Drawing
Drawing is a language in its own right that holds a large potential for idea development, says Anette Højlund, who defended her PhD dissertation on drawing and creation on 13 April 2012. In the dissertation she examines what she calls the dialogue between the drawing and the person drawing. In this conversation with Mind Design she concludes that the potential of drawing could be utilised far better, for example in visualising issues that reach across disciplinary boundaries.
> Download dissertation summary (pdf)
Hierarchies and Humour in the Design Process
Humour plays an important role in the design process, argues Mette Volf, who recently defended her PhD dissertation Når nogen ler, er der noget på spil (When someone laughs there is something at stake). In her dissertation she explores the design process as social construct. Humour is used, for example, to turn the formal hierarchies on their head.
PhD Dissertation Challenges Traditional Interaction Design
Interaction design can easily incorporate both a body element and an empathy element. This was demonstrated by Maiken Hillerup Fogtmann, who as part of her PhD project developed interactive exercise equipment for team handball players and computer-based play equipment for children. She defended her dissertation, Designing with the Body in Mind, on 23 January 2012 at the Aarhus School of Architecture.
> Download dissertation summary (pdf)
Making Active and Innovative Use of Your Customer Base
Companies are keen to get in touch with their customers and users in order to gain new ideas for products and business potentials. A project headed by the Danish Technological Institute focuses on user types that are potentially valuable for business. The conclusion is that the key lies in getting involved, identifying the company’s needs and involving the right users at the right time in the strategic processes.
Design as Innovation Facilitator
Design-driven innovation in companies can result in both actual product development and the development of processes and business strategies. That was one of the points made at the workshop Design Driven Innovation – Organizing for Growth held at the Kolding School of Design in December 2011. Furthermore, the role of the position of design in relation to the individual company or organisation was emphasised.
Recently I have been exploring developments on the impact of new technologies on the future of education, particularly in high schools. The latest trend in education is all about tablets, of course.
My provisional assessment is that there is a lot of bling: shiny objects promoted all around us make us focus on the tools rather than on the didactic objectives.
With this post I want to open my reflections and initial analysis – in twelve hypotheses – to a wider audience. Comments are highly welcome (no registration needed). Italian readers might also be interested in the Scuolalvento blog for more discussion.
- A technology-first approach thrives. The dominant Silicon Valley driven ideology is one of technology fixing all problems – institutional, social, cultural, educational. By bringing in tablets and iPads in particular, we will be “more successful at engaging our students,” we will “better prepare them for the future,” learning will be “more collaborative, co-creative, hands-on, and ‘fun’,” and we can “open up the classroom to the outside world.” These assumptions are largely unquestioned, even though the discourse is not strong on educational and didactic objectives.
- There are dominant but untested preconceptions about schools, learning, teachers and students. The ideology above gets reinforced through the messages we get about schools (out-of-date, closed-off from the real world, stressed), learning (hierarchical, old-fashioned, boring), teachers (tied to an antiquated paradigm of learning, really looking forward to new tools), and students (digital natives, experts, but unfortunately without the right tools). Little is said about the value of existing and often quite interactive educational methods, or about the lack of technical skills of students (who are experts in Facebook, but often not on text editing a history paper or doing an advanced search in Google.).
- There is a boom of iPad and tablet deployments in schools in rich and less rich countries alike. From Italy to the USA, from Thailand to Belgium, from India to Russia. Little information about these deployments is available beyond short announcement texts on school websites and local newspapers.
- Little research has been done on educational impact. Although deployments have occurred for at least two years, there is a nearly total lack of serious research that evaluates them, particularly on their educational and didactic impact. This stands in strong contrast to the sizeable size of research done on e-learning.
- Governments are pushing hard. Government ministers and heads of institutions want to be seen as modern and ahead of the times. Funding a tablet deployment also creates better media coverage than increasing the budget for teacher training. Digitization finally allows for more quantitative data on the qualitative activity of learning, which is something governments, managers, and bureaucrats tend to like.
- There is a lot of money to be made. The spending on education is huge: not only by governments and institutions, but also by parents. No wonder that companies like Apple and Pearson (the publishers) are so active in the field. Even Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation recently unveiled Amplify, its new educational division “dedicated to reimagining K-12 education by creating digital products and services that empower students, teachers and parents in new ways”. (Listen to this WNYC broadcast).
- Apps, e-books and software are often of dubious quality. While these tools definitely enable interactive visual gimmicks (zooming, 3D panning, videos, clickable contents), these are often inserted for their seductive value rather than for their educational impact.
- Other digital tools are not part of the debate. Tablet deployments are often argued for as isolated interventions, with limited discussion on how this all relates to interactive whiteboards or simply the web. In fact, with all the smartphones and computers in the homes and hands of high school students, it is now entirely possible for the teacher to create a totally free, open source WordPress site that students can update on the fly. Moreover, they can be made highly interactive due to the large quantity of (free) online plugins available. It is an attractive zero-cost intervention, yet very few bring this into the digital education debate.
- Teacher training and resources are lacking. Teachers are literally left to their own devices. The tools to support them and their schools in deploying and effectively running these implementations are few and far between.
- Initiatives to support schools and teachers are rare and often quite local. Few governments have set up structures to support their schools and teachers with this new challenge (this Australian one is an exception), and initiatives are often driven by teachers (like this Belgian one), or independent associations that are anchored in civil society or local companies (e.g. this Italian example). These initiatives are local or regional at best, and little exchange takes place between them.
- We are facing a bubble. There is such a huge discrepancy between the hype and the reality that we could face a backlash. Schools and teachers are increasingly complaining. Results will be less impressive than expected. In view of all this, it is not impossible that many initiatives will soon be shelved.
- Valuable opportunities definitely exist for players big and small. The opportunity is both on:
- people-centred training – What is it that schools and teachers really need? And how to present and convey it in a way that really helps them and creates lasting, positive behavioral change?
- the creation of tools where educational and didactic qualities and impact are the central drivers in their development.
There is not that much happening in these two areas, and I think this is where governments and consultants, tech companies and non-profit associations can really aspire to claim leadership, if they so desire.
With educational applications for kids, corporate eLearning, and online degree programs, more and more UX designers face design briefs for creating digital experiences with an educational purpose.
In this article, Dorian Peters presents 14 design guidelines that derive from key findings from relevant psychology and education research on learning with technology. These findings relate specifically to user interface and interaction design for digital learning experiences.
He has drawn most of these guidelines from the pioneering work of educational psychologist Richard E. Mayer, whose discoveries form the foundation of much multimedia instruction today.
Immediately a second post on writing done by Charles Leadbeater.
Here he asks if we were to think of the future consumers of the developing world (whose income is rising from around $2 a day to between $5 and $7 a day) as parents and learners, what would kind of education will they be looking for?
Put it another way, if we were to design a curriculum with ‘the next billion’ what would they want?
Read his (initial) answer here.
Together with a committed group of colleagues and partners, cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito has been engaged in the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative to address the challenge of how new media can support highly engaged, geeked out, and self-directed forms of learning, but also how it can make this kind of learning available to all young people.
They have been seeking to enlist a diverse constituency of educators, parents, technology makers, and young people in a new vision of learning in the digital age.
Yesterday she announced Connected Learning, a community site and a set of learning and design principles, as well as a research network that together seek to promote dialog and experimentation around a model we are calling “connected learning.”
“In a nutshell, connected learning is learning that is socially connected, interest-driven, and oriented towards educational and economic opportunity. Connected learning is when you’re pursuing knowledge and expertise around something you care deeply about, and you’re supported by friends and institutions who share and recognize this common passion or purpose.”
“Based on my experience reviewing portfolios from recent business school graduates, I would argue that one of the most fundamental failings of “design thinking” education is the _lack of craftsmanship_. Students don’t appear to learn a honed, tacit, and careful “innate” sensibility for making, and simultaneously, they don’t appear to have developed an intimate understanding of the medium they are responsible for shaping. Instead, they are equipped with a toolkit of methods.”
Truth, Lies and the Internet, a report published by the UK think tank Demos, examines the ability of young people in Britain to critically evaluate information they consume online. It reviews current literature on the subject, and presents a new poll of over 500 teachers. It finds that the web is fundamental to pupils’ school lives but many are not careful, discerning users of the internet. They are unable to find the information they are looking for, or trust the first thing they see. This makes them vulnerable to the pitfalls of ignorance, falsehoods, cons and scams.
This pamphlet recommends that teaching young people critical thinking and skepticism online must be at the heart of learning. Censorship of the internet is neither necessary nor desirable; the task instead is to ensure that young people can make careful, skeptical and savvy judgments about the internet content they encounter. This would allow them to better identify outright lies, scams, hoaxes, selective half-truths, and mistakes, and better navigate the murkier waters of argument and opinion.
> see also this short video report by the BBC
On the one hand, the innovation taking place in the educational world is fascinating and possibly greatly rewarding for learners.
Yet at the same time education is also becoming big business, as demonstrated by the fact that Rupert Murdoch is already in on the act.
The setting for the course is mobile web applications.
“Instead of laying the dead hand of key stages 1-4 on our children, we could be opening their minds to the disruptive and creative possibilities of computing and networking, reversing the decline in entrants to computer science departments and – who knows? – even seeding the development of the ARMs of the future.”
“The ERIAL (Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries) project — a series of studies conducted at Illinois Wesleyan, DePaul University, and Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois’s Chicago and Springfield campuses — [...] enlisted two anthropologists, along with their own staff members, to collect data using open-ended interviews and direct observation, among other methods.
One thing the librarians now know is that their students’ research habits are worse than they thought.
At Illinois Wesleyan University, “The majority of students — of all levels — exhibited significant difficulties that ranged across nearly every aspect of the search process,” according to researchers there. They tended to overuse Google and misuse scholarly databases. They preferred simple database searches to other methods of discovery, but generally exhibited “a lack of understanding of search logic” that often foiled their attempts to find good sources. [...]
The prevalence of Google in student research is well-documented, but the Illinois researchers found something they did not expect: students were not very good at using Google. They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources. (For instance, limiting a search to news articles, or querying specific databases such as Google Book Search or Google Scholar.)”
With this in mind, a new Mobile Learning Toolkit has been launched to empower trainers in developing contexts to integrate mobile learning into their teaching.
The 98‐page toolkit contains 15 mobile learning methods divided into 4 categories that trainers can choose from depending on their needs – whether they’re looking deliver content; assign tasks; gather feedback; or provide support to their training participants.
These methods have been designed to be as inclusive as possible, with most requiring only low end devices (basic mobile phones with voice calling and SMS capability), allowing interactive learning experiences to be delivered right to the Base of the Pyramid.
In addition to the methods, an overview of mobile learning is included in the beginning of the guidebook and a set of practical tools that allow the methods to be immediately put into practice.
The Mobile Learning Toolkit was developed by the young designer Jenni Parker as part of her master thesis on Mobile Learning for Africa and during her internship with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC‐ILO) of the United Nations in Italy (with some additional support by Experientia).
As well as a general guide, the toolkit includes recommendations for customising the methods for the delivery of a specific training course called “my.coop”, a programme currently being launched by the International Labour Organization to teach the principles of managing agricultural cooperatives in developing regions worldwide.
However, the Mobile Learning Toolkit has been designed to have a value not only within the context of this training programme, but for use in the delivery of all kinds of training within any developing context. Anyone can pick up the toolkit and be inspired to use mobile learning.
The toolkit is an open source resource that can be downloaded for free at http://jenniferparker.posterous.com/mobile-learning-toolkit.
“Although “digital literacy” is often a phrase associated with programs that have utopian pedagogical visions, it also can become a term attached to rigid curricular requirements, standardized testing, and models of education that stigmatize some students as remedial when it comes to their basic programming skills or their abilities to use software productively. Furthermore, the term “digital literacy” can generate conflicts among educators because many different disciplines may claim sole responsibility for providing any needed instruction, as I’ve argued elsewhere. Computer scientists, media scholars, librarians, composition teachers, and digital arts instructors have all made supposedly exclusive claims to design and assess digital literacy programs in both K-12 and higher education environments. In contrast, internationally known mixed reality artist Micha Cárdenas calls for an inclusive and interdisciplinary approach to “digital literacy” that is more in keeping with the latest thinking about “digital fluency” in the field.”