Month: March 2015

Activity 1.3: Redefining the relationship between student+universtiy

This activity is intended to compare and critique the 3 models of students, the consumer model, the co-producer and the one that puts the student at the centre of a community of practice.
In my view the first 2 models have inherent flaws in how students are supposed to play their role and they do not explain fully what is happening in HE. If we see students as consumers of a service and therefore we explain what is happening in HE we are missing some aspects in the explanation or we are adjudicating to the model to many issues. Questions like this came to my head while reading: What happens with students who have studied all their life in a private school and for them paying for education is nothing new for them? What if their parents are paying for the fees and haven’t even asked them selves about this issue? What if they are considering that they are paying for the expertise and experience of their teachers and for being in a safe place to learn? This approach of students as consumers as the only explanation makes not much sense to me. Definitely education should not be treated as a market place and should not be seen as a service empty of value and humanity. And yes I agree students who see them selves as consumers of a service for which they are paying are missing a big part of the university experience.
I agree with some of the critiques exposed by McCulloch. I do agree that the model of student as consumer de-emphasises to much her/his role as a learner, it takes away her/his responsibility of doing the hard work to learn and in a sense it seems like the money you are paying will easy the struggle learners have to go through in order to transform and grow intellectually. But I do not think it means automatically that students will not have a deep learning experience. The idea of “satisfaction” as a core aspect in the learning experience is awful. There is a limit to this and I do agree that there is a responsibility in teachers to engage and motivate students but it is not about making of the lecture a circus. If one reads about how boring or un-understandable the lectures of brilliant thinkers were, i.e. Newton, Einstein or John Nash but how motivating it must have been to have the chance to listen to them. Learning is not only about having fun it is about reflecting, struggling, rethinking one self in the process. It is far from being measurable in a satisfaction survey.
In order to find some solutions to this problematic model, McCulloch proposes a different one, the student as co-producer but not without some difficulties and inconvenience. The student as co-producer is meant to be partner in the production of knowledge, therefore they are given some responsibility in the work. They are also involved in the community at a collective level. In that sense they should be brought into the decision-making process, involve them in the curriculum as well as give them control of some parts of their learning environment. This is one of the strong points in this model from my perspective. Not so sure about the curriculum bit as maybe students do not have the knowledge nor the expertise to plan or design a curriculum but maybe they could be part of the discussion and think together in how to assess the course maybe. The learning environment is for me one of the key points to exploit in this model of student. This model is enriched and improved by Coffield who developed the idea of community of practice where learning is seen more as an inductive process, a process of becoming active and engage participants of a community interacting not only with teachers but also with fellow students. The goal in this approach is building and being part of a community of practice, learning is becoming a participant, students are apprentice and teachers are expert mentors, knowledge is an aspect of practice and knowing is belonging and participating. Very much what happens with academics in their field. It is very much about belonging to the community and working hard in the pursuit of new knowledge that could enhance the understanding of the field and create new applications. Learning is seen as an ever evolving organic process. In this view students have power but in order to exercise it they need to engage and commit participating proactively in their community of practice.
To conclude my reflection in relation to the idea of redefining the relationship between students and their universities the model to follow is the one where students are part of a community of practice with all the responsibilities it entails and taking the commitment seriously transforming in a proactive manner the areas of their concern. Adding to the community and enhancing the university experience.

Identifying drivers for change

Unit 1: Activity 1.1: Identifying drivers for change in HE

A more general vision of how society will evolve in 2020


This is a more specific one from which I am paying attention to the educational sector.

Some important trends and how do they impact education?

Shortly it is going to be unbundled, personalised and dynamic education will be the new normal in the classroom of the future; virtual learning, digitisation, virtual environments and augmented reality will determine what education means, who delivers it and how. Energy and the environment will be spoken around the 3Cs: connect, collaborate and coexist. Citizens together with smart devices and drone monitoring among others, will be better prepared to protect the environment but for that to happen they need to be proactive digital citizens.

I am interested in the technological driver as it is and will be the key factor of change not only in education but also in health care, governments, manufacturing, energy and environment. That means we need smart citizens that are able to understand what these smart devices are telling them and what decision need to be taken. On the other hand there is an increasing demand in HE participation, being the prediction for 2025 incredible high, 65%!! Technology is key in delivering higher education to all of them and definitely new pedagogies need to be in place.
Government is seen in 2020 not as problem solver but as a network integrator and citizens are seen as inhabitants of a much broader and organic ecosystem where the boundaries are not the one we think of now. Global citizens and proactive problem solvers.

The idea for change agents is to look for the challenges and problems in order to fit the technology into that context and provide viables solutions.

Unit 1: Becoming a change agent

Learning outcomes

  1. Identify some of the drivers underpinning change in the FE/HE sector;
  2. Identify key aspects of the role of a student change agent;
  3. Recall the evolution of student engagement in FE/HE using named examples;
  4. Evaluate strategies to overcome some the challenges of working as a change agent;
  5. Select the best approach for determining institutional readiness for student-led change;
  6. Identify the potential advantages of student-led change for a range of named stakeholders.

David, Jonassen (1997). Computer as cognitive tools (Article)

There is also the book: Computers as Cognitive Tools. No more walls. (Susanne P. Lajoie, 2000) that needs to be revised, particularly the epilogue: Fallible, distractible, forgetful, wilful, and irrational learners.

Analysis of the article

The basic idea of the article is that web-based or computers can be seen as cognitive tools as they are used to re-present knowledge that has already been learned or that needs to be processed in order to learn it. Computers can be seen as cognitive tools that can expand learner’s thinking. I think one analogy that could be made here is VLEs seen as computers in front of which students are passives and asked to operate in a closed already made system whereas in a PLE the student is asked to design it, think about which tools can support which bit of the learning, how to organise a digital working space, how to find ways in which new tools can serve the purpose of old ones but adding new features, the tasks involved in a learning process. PLEs are seen using Jonassen’s framework, as cognitive tools, like constructive environments, where students need to interact with the environment in order to create it and also to use it as a workbench to re-present the knowledge for which has been designed for:

Learners function as designers when they use computers as cognitive tools for analysing the world, accessing information, interpreting and organising their personal knowledge, and representing what they know to others. Cognitive tools are generalisable computer tools that are intended to engage and facilitate cognitive processing, hence cognitive tools. (Kommers, Jonassen, & Mayes, 1992). They are knowledge construction and facilitation tools that can be applied to any subject matter domain represented in university.(p.2)

Learners as designers: The process of articulating the knowledge in order to construct the artefact or even in choosing the tools to create that artefact forces the designer to reflect on the knowledge and its process of transformation in new and meaningful ways. Give the representational power of the tool to the learner. Perkins (1993, cited by Jonassens) is of the idea that tools are powerful in their ability to represent knowledge, if that is for what they are chosen to, but they are not “fingertip” tools that learners use naturally, effortlessly and, effectively. Rather they provide an environment and vehicle that ofter demand from the learner to think harder about the knowledge they want to represent generating thoughts that without the tool may have not arisen.