Thursday, April 27, 2006

M-learning and the missing link

An attempt to study a learning object exploring m-learning has brought me up short. I have an aversion to the use of my mobile phone for all but talking and texting (oh and the odd picture of nearest and dearest ... and end of term outings!). There it's out in the open... I have confessed ... and yet I hadn't really considered this aversion at all until I started to read of the potential for learning through this medium.

When faced with an aversion of this type I generally force myself to explore further and thus the weekend will host (together with lawn-mowing, walking and study) a full exploration of the capabilities of my none-too-modern mobile and the set up requirements for on-line activity. Gulp!

To show I mean business, I have been exploring the blogs linked to my 'work based learning' lens and have found this m-learning posting to keep me going.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Faster route to procrastination!

Whilst studying a learning object entitled 'Learning in new styles of networked organisation', I encountered a reference to Gleick's 'Faster'. Always keen to take a stroll down related learning paths, I dutifully followed the link .... and what a link; a bonus for procrastinators everywhere!

If like me you can't resist following links you may, by now have a view on this ... otherwise I'll leave you wondering!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Back to Networked Learning - lest I forget

I have been meaning to add to my postings on the NLC 2006 event but ramblings (both literal and metaphorical) and procrastination (actual) have been the flavour of the day(s). Choconancy has aided and abetted my procrastination with some really interesting postings on her blog, whilst my ability to multitask has been seriously challenged as I attempt to use instant messaging with my fellow H806ers whilst my daughters gleefully send me changes of background, emoticons and winks (well- returning the compliment is obligatory - isnt it)!

Still, I am no longer attached to my walking boots and waterproofs (I kid you not), have already visited Full Circle for my 'fix' and really must mention a particularly interesting presentation from the NLC 2006 by Janice Picard entitled 'Researching Social conflict in Collaborative Groups'.

The presentation considered the impact of the on-line context, in particular, in relation to social conflict within a group of learners. Issues such as the interpretation of on-line 'silence' rang particular bells with me, having found quite peturbing those periods where interaction was lacking within the on-line seminar room of a previously studied OU module. My take on this was a lack of participation on the part of a number of my peers and yet checking 'message history' there was evidence of passive participation (equally legitimate but not feeding my need). This leads to the consideration of the perceptions of all parties in an environment where there are no visual or aural clues; the ways in which words can be interpreted and behaviours imagined.

The role of conflict in the learning process is an important element and Picard later related this to Piaget's theories; all I can remember of Piaget (to my shame) is trees and hills and perpendicularity (or not) in relation to stages of child development. It looks as though I need to pay another visit!

I have been promised a copy of the presentation and, having done it very little justice here, will request permission to reproduce excerpts. There were, in particular, some interesting references ...

Watch this space!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

From conference to conference

Visiting Full Circle, I am invited (metaphorically) to explore the Blogher Conference and am less than happy to find that this will be one of those conferences I shall have to view through the eyes of others! Having said that, un petit sejour dans la belle France is not an opportunity to be missed (not for a francophile like myself anyway) - so I am sure that I will pass the time cheerfully enough!

This virtual journey did however lead me to a blog on the topic of Blogging & Social Media; worth a look, particularly for any H806 participants - who may also find the conference topic of interest .....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Networked Learning 2006 (continues)

The narrative continues from yesterday .....

A session entitled 'Exploiting online networks and shared repositories to support the professional development of distance tutors' (Churchill, Hewling and Macdonald) held my attention this morning, linking the heuristic Communities of Practice with the reality of developing staff from a range of cognate areas and degrees of participation and within varied degrees of distance learning.

Interactive participation within and from the assembled audience added a helpful dimension to the dialogue both during and subsequent to presentations from Janet Macdonald and Tony Churchill; this served to reinforce the commonality of pedagogic issues in spite of contextual difference (FE/HE in FE/HE and oncampus/blended learning/distance learning) and the need to provide a forum for interaction and community development to support tutor learning.

Sustainability of use of portal/VLE (which and what and why) community environment was the subject of some discussion; a sense of common purpose would seems to be key to user participation ( a critical mass?), as indeed it would be in the development of a Community of Practice.

The symposium concluded with an introduction to the PROWE project (JISC, OU, University of Leicester) and the development of elgg.

This led to a discussion with a colleague from the University of Surrey on the merits and implementation of Sharepoint Portal Services, a learning space being used to some good effect at 'my' college; an unexpected bonus since educational developers of this software are not easily met.

It is sessions and subsequent encounters of this nature where theory and practice start to come together that make such events really worthwhile.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Networked Learning 2006

I am blogging from the Networked Learning Conference at the University of Lancaster and with little time for reflection. The event kicked off with presentation from Peter Goodyear of University of Sydney; a great way to start a conference. Peter presented his studies on the impact of discussion on learning and the level at which that discussion was utilised within learning development; he invited the audience to consider, within this context, the relative objectivity of 'ideas', the impact of collaborative knowledge work and the power of epistemic fluency.

The concept of epistemic fluency is one that has attracted my attention; it would seem to have particular relevance to learning within organisations and thus would seem to also have relevance for consideration in the context of Communities of Practice.

If this is a valuable concept then why do we address it so poorly (or is it my imagination) during theoretically vocational degrees and foundation degree programmes?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Knowledge Management and Taylorism

Further queries abound when I am asked to consider a parallel between Taylorism and the development of the knowledge economy. McGee's Musings have been helpful in clarifying Taylor's work and introducing Drucker's perspectives (1999) on productivity and the knowledge worker.

I am dipping my toe in the water here and any links or comments to help me explore this area would be appreciated ....

Work based learning and Knowledge Management

Work based learning has been at the front of my mind of late, having celebrated the potential for development of HE in FE within this context articulated in the FE White Paper 2006. Reading an exerpt from Understandings of workplace learning (Boud & Garrick, 1999) made me realise just how far we have come in terms of acknowledgement that work place learning can be linked with academic credit and yet how far away we are from realising the image, presented by the authors, of an era where organisations uniformly realise the benefits of learning as a fundamental component of working.

The White Paper underlines the economic drive behind the development of an era of workplace and workbased learning activity, with its aims to increase skills in both vocational specialism and underpinning basic and generic transferable skills (as we referred to them back in the 1990s); Boud and Garrick provide the background of the earlier OECD reforms and an awareness of the way in which policy was, is and will continue to be driving the initiative.

And what of the employer perspective? The case studies which are available are (inevitably?) those of large organisations and while these are of considerable interest, the preponderance of SMEs (small to medium enterprises) within the East of England leaves me with concern that these organisations (often with circa 4 employees) may feel that they do not have the opportunity to become learning organisations; that the 'now' element has to come before that of future planning and that globalisation impacts on someone else.

Perhaps this is an area for research? Does anyone have any useful links?