ocTEL Week 2- Learners and Learning
Automatically, I was attracted by this week’s title. Once again, I found myself having to complete my tasks and engage with my learning at the weekend.
I’m sure I’d be getting a great deal more from this MOOC if I was able to engage with it more frequently throughout the week but perhaps I’m wrong and most people are engaging in this way…
Approaches to Learning
Learning styles has long since been viewed as a contentious subject among teachers. ocTEL suggested that ‘deep’, ‘strategies’ and ‘surface’ approaches might be more helpful.
Defining features of approaches to learning Source: Marton, F., Hounsell, D. and Entwistle, N., (eds.) The Experience of Learning: Implications for teaching and studying in higher education. 3rd (Internet) edition. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/institute-academic-development/learning-teaching/staff/advice/researching/publications/experience-of-learning
Our task was obviously to consider these ‘learning approaches’ within the context of technology. Although, being who I am, I couldn’t help but think about them in a more general ‘learning’ sense.
Thinking about myself as a learner, depending on the course and the circumstances, I’ve most definitely displayed aspects of all three of these.
I think when I explore learning for myself, out of a genuine interest in a subject (generally teaching & learning), then I have worked at a ‘deep’ level. I have taken a ‘surface’ approach when I studied the second year of my PGCE at a College where I had to travel further, I didn’t know anyone on the course, and I was pre-occupied by the demands of teaching full-time. I did work to ‘tick the boxes’ and I was frequently fraught with worry. I have to admit that I’ve rarely taken a strategic approach to learning. I think I tried this at school when I wanted to ‘impress’ the teachers who I knew wanted their work in a certain way. This approach wasn’t effective and I soon disengaged with learning at school as my experiences certainly encouraged a way of learning that didn’t come naturally to me… it didn’t lead to great success.
With ocTEL, I’d suggest that my approach falls somewhere between ‘deep’ and ‘surface’ at present. I think I begin at a surface level but then I worry that I’m not gaining as much as I could from the process and so I work towards a ‘deep’ approach and I feel far more relaxed because I am engaging, applying what I’m reading to my context and experiences and learning is actually taking place. I think that learners who take a ‘surface’ approach online will learn far less effectively online than they will face-to-face. Due to the generally independent and certainly autonomous approach to learning that’s required; without reflection and not relating content to one another and wider experiences, their learning experience will be less rich. There might be certain online learning that merely requires (or could be thought of this way) recall and memorising information (just as there are courses like that in the face-to-face world) but I’d suggest that the majority of learning should take place on a ‘deep’ level for it to be meaningful. I believe that ‘deep’ learning is already encouraged on ocTEL through:
- Open questions that employ higher order thinking skills.
- Forums and groups plus activities that involve engaging with these.
- Tasks that demand participants to relate content to their own experiences.
- Encouraging participants to share their lengthier reflections on blogs.
These kinds of approaches can be used in any online context to ensure that learning is more effective.
Activity 2.2: Learner Diversity
I’m not totally sure if this is the right kind of response to this task but we were asked to share a resource that we think exemplifies good practice in taking a technology-enhanced approach to addressing a key aspect of learner diversity. The app I have chosen is ‘Dragon Dictation.’ It allows students to make notes easily in class by merely dictating them. This works for students with low literacy levels or dyslexia and it provides a set of notes that they can keep, use for later and they can focus on what they’re learning, rather than the stress and worry of writing. It can be great for LSAs who work as scribes for students too. This is one example of how I believe technology can make learning far more accessible.
Activity 2.3: Theories of active learning
We were given a whole list of learning theories to engage with and I chose, at random, ‘experiential learning.’ More information can be found here: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm
I think I would personally fall into the ‘pragmatist’ category for the majority of the time and ‘reflector’ for the remainder of the time.
In considering how I could design and support online learning so that it could engage a learner of this type, the reflector part is easily catered for through blog and forum activities with thinking questions to accompany the tasks. It is the ‘pragmatist’ on a course that may struggle to have their needs met in an online forum. I suppose open-ended tasks could be set for a learner and they could have a go at them. If it was a written task then they could receive feedback to see if it works. Actually, as I’m writing, I think online learning could be quite easily adapted to this kind of learner such as online activities that involve quizzes/check-boxes that are marked afterwards or even better, learning new skills by creating a final product using an online tool.
Be a TEL Explorer- 2.4 (a) Design an authentic learning activity
Title: Approaching poetry for the first time.
Learning Outcomes: You will be able to:
- Outline the stages of approaching a poem for the first time
- Apply the stages to a poem of your choice
- Use comments in a Google document
Activity description and timeframe:
10 mins: All learners would watch this video (made with Wideo).
Whilst watching the video and 10 mins afterwards: They could make notes in Thoughtboxes, on a Popplet or a Google document (Or any other technology tool of their choice) that could be shared on the Google+ community or directly with me.
30-40mins: Learners would then select one of the poems on offer (all in Google docs) and would comment on the poem, following the stages set out in the video.
Additional activity: They would later comment on one another’s comments so that they are exposed to more poems and so that the learning about the stages is made more secure.
Prerequisites: Students are A2 level students so they would have an awareness of many literary terms already. They would be given additional links to specific poetry materials via our class Google site. Internet connection. My video guide for adding comments to a Google doc would be shared for students feeling less confident with that aspect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYebvYcsGjc
How do you plan to engage students in the activity and hold their interest?
I would offer feedback throughout the process on their notes and also their comments on their poem to encourage and to stretch their learning. The choice of poem will engage them as they will be able to select something they understand and a style of writing that appeals to them.
What technical issues might occur and how could you deal with them?
The video may not work but I have a written version of the stages that I could share with them on Google.
Students’ internet connections may not work but I would get them to download the new Google Docs app on their phones, which would enable offline editing.
We would use our Google Community if learners had questions or issues with the process.
What ‘learner diversity’ considerations are particularly relevant to the cohort in question, and therefore to the design of the activity?
This kind of activity suits one of my learners in particular as he is autistic and gets incredibly anxious about peer review and annotation of texts under timed conditions in class. This kind of approach would offer him the opportunity to think about his answers in detail before responding.
The video offers some of my learners in particular to pause the input of information and to absorb it fully before having to apply it.
Activity 2.5: Active play
Over recent decades, game-based learning has grown as a form of TEL. It encapsulates many principles of active learning, such as engagement in an authentic context, learning by mistake-making and reflection, experiential learning, collaborative learning and learning by problem-solving. As such, it is worth considering the techniques that games use to engage learners and what can be learned from them.
I played this game for around 15 minutes: Adventure: Lost in the City
What do you think you could learn playing this game?
Skills of close attention to detail.
Skills of determination and patience.
What (if anything) did you find engaging?
Initially, I felt the reward in finding the items but I became extremely frustrated and demotivated when I couldn’t find things. The added bonus in the second round of having objects that opened something or did something made the game more interesting.
I was demotivated by the numbers round as I couldn’t see how it needed to be done. I lost the game and I wouldn’t have played again because I didn’t even have a clue about how that could be answered!
This week’s webinar was lead by Dr Panos Vlachopoulos, Macquarie University, Australia.
To be honest, it was late in the day and I found the webinar difficult to follow.
The main message seemed to be around empowering both the teacher and student in the process of design. If staff are engaged form the start then they are more likely to continue to engage further down the line (I think this is probably the case with in class learning too).
When we give more control over learning to the student then there is resistance and fear but it also requires any willing teacher to participate fully: giving control fully and therefore accepting students’ ideas and contributions positively.
If we are opening up the learning experience to students leading things then we need to still be mindful of our intended learning outcomes as any activity should be aligned with these (we shouldn’t forget why we’re doing something, just because we’re putting learning in the hands of learners).