The Digital Leadership Workshop part 1

I took part of Jisc’s “digital leadership” pilot programme, a two day residential in Bristol. Jisc is ‘prototyping’ a service for institutions that will allow institutions to diagnose themselves and their staff in relation to their digital capability in order to think about actions that the institution and their staff need to embrace to move towards being an agile digital university (If that is possible).

Not forgetting that the ‘digital’ represents the medium, the vehicle by which the human project is partly mediated and delivered. It implies changes because the medium is influential but it is still the medium through which part of the experience is mediated.

When the printing press appeared -1442- and books started to be available for the public, people had to learn many new skills that we do not question anymore as for us reading is a default skill that we learn even before we go to school.

This video is a parody about how to use a book. Though the video refers more to the mechanical skills about how to operate the book, how to open and close it, how to read it, from the last page to the first or vice versa? there are also many intellectual skills like understanding how does the intonation of a story can be understood with out any voice telling the story. How to make sense of long chunks of texts or where is the pause to be made when reading, to mention just some of them. History says that people started to read out loud first and then slowly learned how to read in silent. I can imagine it was a process similar to this we are experiencing now with digital literacies. It is trying to understand how this new media operates, how can we make sense of the world using new tools that allow for new procedures to capture reality for example. I was imaging how would I design a workshop for printing press leaders (?).

The main idea of the service is to see what skills, knowledge and attitudes do people need in order to be able to bring change to their institution. The change this time is related to the digital experience. This change has to do with one of my interests in my dissertation, digital literacies and digital capability in students. The time plan for Jisc’s service can be seen clicking on the picture. I think the image is beautiful and it tells the story pretty well ūüôā


The workshop:

Day 1 was mainly about the V+R (visitor and resident) approach developed by White and Lanclos (2014). The intention is to understand the motivations of people when engaging in different activities in the Web. Discover the logic behind peoples’ choices and actions. Making meaning of those actions we are interested to change or act upon. The way to do this is to map the tools you use and the platforms you visit in the Web and for what reasons (personal or institutional) and in which way you engage with them, in a visitor mode or a resident one. This idea was inspired by the Kevin Kelly’s Internet mapping project


My Visitor and Resident map

Visitor + Resident Map

After this first exercise of mapping our ways of engagement we started to annotate the map using the six elements that imply digital capability:

  • ICT proficiency
  • Information, data and media literacy
  • Digital creation, innovation and scholarship (Creating)
  • Digital communication, collaboration and participation (Participating)
  • Digital learning and PD (learning)
  • Digital identity and well being (self-actualising)

What activities are we deploying and which of those capabilities are involved in them. Although we start with tools and platforms the focus is in the activities we are doing with those tools. But thinking about tools is a more concrete way to start the thinking process. Discussion and reflection where very useful to see in which ways we operate in the Web, how active we are and how much trace do we leave in the web. It was also interesting reflecting about what is a space in this virtual context. Is Twitter a space, a tool, a platform? Why do we visit that space, what are we looking for? Do we want to broadcast about our professional interest, engage in a professional network and share resources and ideas?

Day 2 was about the institutional side of the map. After reflecting about ones own practice we needed to move on to the institutional mode ūüôā How is our institution engaging in those platforms and tools and for what reason. Is the institution open or does it operate with many gateways to important spaces? Here the axis on the left side is related with open content and the one on the right hand side with open engagement, people with people instead of a more instrumental engagement looking for things, content and information. So the resident side of the map is related with the nature of the interactions in the institution. This was tricky for me as I am still quite new to the institution and I am still more of a PhD student I think. I had an exploration of what I thought Bath Spa looks like but I think it is nothing very accurate. Still needs more exploration and digging deeper into the institution. The discussion was very rich in any case. I saw the differences between institutions and how they have their own personality.

We had also parallel sessions to which we went. Digital storytelling and the use of social media for leaders in the institutions. Both of them interesting and food for thought. In particular I liked the storytelling one. The power of a story has always fascinated me. The presentation was very well thought and rich in good and eloquent images. I had to tell a story my self a week ago about my PhD in 3 minutes and that was a real challenge! Points to stress of the storytelling session:

Nancy Duarte has a TEDTalk about the structure of talks and stories as a powerful means to communicate ideas. With a story you get a physical reaction, a reaction for example, Steve Jobs enacted in his discourse. You can see the video for more details.

@cbthomson talked about the pixar story rules

The session on leaders and social media use was rich in content and discussion. Some time was spent on the ‘do and dont’s’ using social media from a leaders perspective. The value of an authentic leader but what is an authentic leader? What is her/his role when twitting from an institutional handle and so on.

The last session was about how to implement a change given a particular issue related with (in our case) assessment and progress in students. Very down to earth and to the point. It was about HOW TO implement a change, the practical side of it. Excellent session. Here the link to the document we edited in the session

We went home with lots of things to think about and in 4 weeks we are back to learn more!

The storify of the workshop


Jisc Teaching + Learning Experts Working group session


Today I went up to Birmingham to attend (for the first time) to the 34th meeting of this group. The topic today: Developing employability, this project is of course linked to Building digital capability as well as to my own idea of personal learning environment for undergraduate students and it is an extension of this study.

Initial ideas (of the Jisc community) to share are:

  • How can HE engage in developing ways in which students can articulate the skills they learn throughout their degree for their future employability?
  • Students articulating their own development, a self-directed process or self determined, as Lisa Blaschke would prefer to say.¬†Look it up in this link.¬†Here is their community of practice, worth looking at.
  • What does maturity look like in students in relation to their digital skills? This can also be related to the self-determined learning?
  • It should be a learner centre approach where students need to reflect and write about the evidence of their digital skills acquired throughout their university learning
  • Digital technology enhances employability, therefore there is a need to embed digital technology in authentic learning and then reflect and pin out the skills learned.

Some twits

From the digital students project

Themes emerged from the students survey

  • Students need ongoing support: “We need ongoing development” [here is where my idea of a scaffolding structure fits in very nicely ūüôā ]
  • “We expect the same or better services as in school”(this idea comes from a research project lead by David White and Joanna Wild in partnership with Jisc: Incoming Expectation of the Digital Environment Formed at School)
  • “Don’t assume I am digital literate” (again a good point to justify my idea)
  • Having discussions with staff how they can work collaboratively for some digital strategies to move forward to the development of those skills
  • “We expect college to provide what we need”
  • “We expect modern learning resources that are easy to use” (video, podcast, youtube videos)
  • “Consistency across all courses”
  • “We want to work with lecturers” (2nd year learners to co-design the module, use their skills to design the course)
  • “Treat us as going up, we want to contribute”
  • “Ask us what we need” Their voice is feeding into what the college is doing in relations to the digital experience


  • How can colleges undertake evaluations of learners use of tech? How can colleges engage learners in the process?

Southwest College Northern Ireland is an example to look at. They closed their campus for a week so they could train their staff in that week.

Afternoon session

Building digital capability / Developing students digital capability. Sarah Davies

Initial consultation is needed to start the project

Digital capability framework : What it would be like? To what skills am I setting questions to? It is about upscaling the staff digital skills?

What would your pathway be through this triangle?

digital capabilities framework: Functional roles in staff

  • LeadershipRDF Public Engagement lens
  • Administration, operations
  • IT facilities infrastructure
  • Content/knowledge management
  • Research and scholarship
  • Teaching and learning support
  • Staff/educational development
  • Public engagement/communication (Vitae useful material¬†and another useful PDF for public engagement)

Session 2: From prospect to Alumnus challenge. 

Looking at the journey from beginning to end of students.
What are those phases and how is the path through it?
Looking to improve that journey. Where are the problems in that journey?
How to optimise those stages?
Badges that can help with the connection of learning and employability. I think that badges are an interesting topic to look at. Mozilla is doing excellent work not only with open badges but also with what they call Web Literacy and Jisc has done another bit which of course is worth taking a look!

An interesting activity was reading the digital capability framework and their draft definition of the elements of digital capability and see if we had any suggestions

  • ICT proficiency / fluency: Adopt, adapt/develop and use ICT-based environments, devices, applications and services;critically assess benefits/constraints; design and implement ICT solutions; recover from failures; stay up to date with ICT relevant to role; computational thinking(coding; algorithm, etc)
  • Information and data literacy:¬†Find, evaluate, interpret, manage, curate, organise (i.e. through filing, tagging) and share digital information (curate) including open content; collate, manage and analyse digital data including leaner and organisational data; be aware of digital copyright/IP issues; be aware of legal, ethical and security issues.
  • Media literacy: Critically read and creatively produce academic and professional communications in a range of digital media; appreciate relevant aspects of digital design including cadence, purpose, accessibility, impact, modality; understand digital media production as a practice and an industry
  • Networking and digital participation:¬†participate in digital teams and networks for learning, teaching, research, public engagement (Sconul and vitae guidelines for public engagement)professional practice; collaborate effectively using digital tools; appreciate different cultural social and communicational norms online; build and enable digital teams, groups and networks.
  • Digital research and innovation (digital scholarship):¬†Collect and analyse data using digital methods; discover, develop and share new ideas using digital tech; undertake open scholarship; design new research questions and programmes around digital issues/methods; develop digital tools and processes.
  • e-Learning and professional¬†development: ¬†Teach, train, coach and support others to learn, in online and blended spaces, using digital tech as appropriate; use digital means to assess and give feedback; undertake own learning/PD using digital tech as appropriate; design learning courses and activities that make effective education use of digital technologies.
  • Digital reputation and identity management: Project a positive digital identity and manage digital reputation across a range of platforms; collate digital evidence of achievement; support others to manage and project positive digital identities.
  • Digital wellbeing:¬†Look after personal health, safety, relationships and work-life balance in digital settings; promote e-safety and responsible use to others; manage stress, workload and attention/distraction in a digital environment(this is repetitive) consider environmental impacts of digital technologies and activities.

There is a need for me to look at other frameworks (on digital literacy in order to see which fits best for what I am looking at.

One idea I came to in the discussion is that the EDdynamic.SpLace E-DynamicSpace with no frame
needs to serve as a “reflective space” for students to articulate the skills they are learning in the process of designing, developing and implementing their PLE. It can be a reflective space to -amongst other things- pin down the skills learned, the higher order thinking involved in each task, etc. Maybe through my work I could refine those definitions and say more about them once I have collected and analysed the empirical evidence. Then I hopefully will now better what a strong framework can be in order to pin down what does it mean to be digital literate.

It appears again and again –>¬†Emergence as a property of the network I will look at. (I see the PLE in itself as a network, the classroom is also a network and the PLE’s interacting with each other sharing, collaborating, creating knowledge is another network. This needs deep theoretical thinking)

Jisc came with 7 challenges in enhancing the digital experience of students:

  1. Take a strategy whole-institution approach to developing the student digital experience
  2. Deliver a relevant digital curriculum
  3. Prepare and support students and staff to study and work successfully with digital technologies
  4. Develop coherent policies for “bring your own” device, service and data.
  5. Deliver a robust flexible digital environment
  6. Deliver an inclusive student experience
  7. Engage in dialogue with students and empower them to develop their digital environment (this is what my project is about)

It is in 2+7 that I am interested. I think that skills are learned best when they are embedded in an every day activity and that students ought to be empowered and heard as I believe they have an enormous potential as designers of their digital environment.

Following the link from the tweet many examples of effective practice can be found

The slideshare from Helen Beetham: ‘how can we meet the needs of digital students’

Here the link to the Jisc project with links and theoretical sources for developing digital literacies.

To summarise the event here is the storify told by Sarah Knight.

At the end for me it is all about connecting the dots and, so I draw my dots…

Follow the link to the slides and presentations of the event for more details on the different topics

Kolb’s experiential learning cycle

The ability to reflect on our practice and learning progress is an essential ingredient in academic and professional development. Opportunities to reflect, and to build upon those reflections to enhance performance, should be built into learning designs.
One way of looking at this process of reflection, review and improvement was described in a model by David Kolb and his colleague Ron Fry, called the Experiential Learning Model (ELM). This is often referred to as ‚ÄėKolb‚Äôs learning cycle‚Äô.
In this lesson you will examine Kolb’s learning cycle in more detail, and start to relate it to your own experience as a learner. You will also consider how you would design a learning experience based on the cycle.

Learning happens after we reflect about what we did and we conclude what is to do next. Learning is not a given and it does not happen while we are doing thus it doesn’t finish when the activity finishes. Learning occurs in a continuous loop of reflection.¬† Many times teachers ask their students to reflect on their learning. But what this means and why it is useful?
Kolb has come to a model of reflective learning taking as the starting point the concrete experience. Kolbs learning cycle.1Reflection, what does it mean? It is like looking in a mirror but instead of trying to see your face or arm what you try to see is your experience in order to identify what to do in the future. Sometimes it is best if you can do it with others so you can ask for feedback. Sometimes outsiders can see more clearly than you do.
How to reflect? You should go through a series of phases that will you allow to reflect upon your experiences. It shall begin with concrete questions that ask you to describe what happen and how do you fell so you can evaluate the positive which you want to maybe repeat as well as the negative which you would try to avoid to improve the next time. The idea is to identify your own problems for which asking for feedback is very much advice. Once you have conclude your current experience there must be a planing what comes next in order to improve and learn upong this experience. You can follow this steps:

  • Describe what happened
  • Explain how you feel
  • evaluate the positive + negatives
  • analyse the reasons
  • conclude what you learned from the experience
  • plan how to improve

So know lets do the cycle in my own learning. Some hands on activity!! Here is a good set of questions proposed

Questions to help you reflect Write your reflection here
Describe: What happened?
Feel: What were your feelings?
Evaluate: What was good about the experience? What problems did you have?
Analyse: Why did you have those problems? Did others have the same problems? What is their feedback?
Conclude: What general conclusions can you draw? What specific (personal) conclusions do you have?
Plan: What will you do to overcome the problems? What will you do differently next time?

Summarising the idea is to use questions as devices to focus our thinking and direct it to those areas where reflection can pay the highest dividends

Describe: What happened? Students where not so engaged. They did not show much interest and when it was difficult to start the discussion
Feel: What were your feelings?I felt some of them where bored and I felt that the majority
Evaluate: What was good about the experience?  I think the good part of the experience is that students face for the first time an activity that was related with formalising digital literacies or using and understanding digital literacies from a more reflective stand point.
What problems did you have? Students where not seeing the point of the activity.
Analyse: Why did you have those problems? I am still not sure. I had some discussion with students about their lack of interest in digital tools and they said to me: “why bother if we are finishing now? It would be better to work with first year students” So maybe it is they are oriented towards superficial learning?
Conclude: What general conclusions can you draw? Activities must be linked with assessment in order for students to see the point of learning. I think they are still to young and their motivation is mostly extrinsic.  What specific (personal) conclusions do you have?
Plan: What will you do to overcome the problems? I will think better in the assessment part of the module and think if it is possible to connect the activity to the overall course. What will you do differently next time? Plan better and use this experience to make it different

To complement this questions, there is also Gibbs’ learning cycle (which is the starting point for Kolb’s cycle) that suggest a more detailed set of questions that can help us to reflect

Gibbs learning cycle

Describe the situation:

  • When and where did this happen?
  • Why were you there?
  • Who else was there?
  • What happened?
  • What did you do?
  • What did other people do?
  • What was the result of this situation?

For the next step, what Gibbs calls feelings, the learner should be encouraged to talk about what she/he thought and felt during the experience.

  • What did you feel before this situation took place?
  • What did you feel while this situation took place?
  • What do you think other people felt during this situation?
  • What did you feel after the situation?
  • What do you think about the situation now?
  • What do you think other people feel about the situation now?

In the next phase, evaluation the aim is to look objectively at what approaches worked, and which ones didn’t.

  • What was positive about this situation?
  • What was negative?
  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What did you and other people do to contribute to the situation (either positively or negatively)?

Once the learner have evaluated the situation, conclusions need to be drawn about what happened. The teacher ofr peers can encourage him/her to think about the situation again, using the information that has been recorded so far. Then ask questions like these:

  • How could this have been a more positive experience for everyone involved?
  • If you were faced with the same situation again, what would you do differently?
  • What skills do you need to develop, so that you can handle this type of situation better?

The learner should now have some possible actions that you can take to deal with similar situations more effectively in the future. In this last stage, the learner needs to come up with a plan so that he/she can make these changes. Once the learner has identified the areas he/she will work on, him/her needs to commit to taking action, and set a date on which progress will be assessed.
Here another source of information for reflective learning

Hands on activity:

Think about a topic that you have recently covered in your current studies or training. To what extent, if any, can you identify elements of Kolb’s reflective cycle in the way that you were taught that topic?
Imagine yourself as a teacher. How could you use Kolb’s reflective cycle as a framework for the design of a lesson on that topic?

I have had just workshops at the university related to research skills and I do not see at all that Kolb’s cycle has been use to deliver the workshop. There is always a feedback sheet we must fill and there some questions like what did I learn and how I will apply what I have learned can have some relation with my final reflection but I do not think the workshop is planed with that cycle in mind.

I will use a concrete experience I had with 2 lectures I gave (as an invited speaker)  in a course at the university related with creativity, technology and learning. My main idea was to find meaningful ways to link technology to creativity and to learning. I decided to work with web literacies, in particular I followed Mozilla web literacy map as the framework to learn. I decided this particular aspect because I thought it would be relevant for students in general and also in their future placement as primary teachers.
Lets analyse the lectures using Kolb’s cycle

Describe: What happened? I gave the lecture in an interactive way involving students along my exposition asking them questions about their own experience or ideas in relation to the topic. Students take a long time to answer. I had to insist, ask again, re frame the question and wait in silence. Not to many students did give answers, it stroked me. I did not point at particular students because I don’t think putting them on the spot works, I walked along the hall and looked at them and started like a conversation where the question was embedded. They did not show much interest, it was difficult to start the discussion and once it started it did not last very long. The result was a lecture that was not very dynamic.
Feel: What were your feelings during and after the situation?
Before the lecture I felt very exited! I had worked hard to deliver a dynamic and interactive lecture as I do not like this format of teaching. I wanted to do something different. I did my presentation using Prezi which is a dynamic software. When the lecture started I felt they were bored and not engaged with the lecture (or maybe that is their way to engage, being silent and listening?). On the other hand less than the half of the group attended the lecture as they were preoccupied with their dissertation, this was a little bit disappointing for me.
Evaluate: What was good about the experience?  I think the good part of the experience is that students face for the first time with an activity that was related with formalising digital literacies or using and understanding digital literacies from a more reflective stand point. They thought how could they teach them which in turn brings them to reflect deeply about it.
What problems did you have? Students where not seeing the point of the activity. They were asking if it will be considered as part of the assessment, etc. Some of them could not connect to the Internet, which was necessary in order to do the activity, so they did not work. Another group did struggle to find their way into the web page and the activity and I offered enough guidance to allow the necessary struggle so that learning occurs.
Analyse: Why did you have those problems? I am still not sure. I had some discussion with students about their lack of interest in digital tools and digital literacy and they said to me: “why bother if we are finishing now? (they are in their last year) It would be better to work with first year students” So maybe it is that they are oriented towards superficial learning?
Conclude: What general conclusions can you draw? Do not expect anything from the lecture. Maybe at this age students need that the activities are linked with assessment in order to see the point of learning. I think they are still to young and their motivation is mostly extrinsic.  What specific (personal) conclusions do you have?
Plan: What will you do to overcome the problems? I will think better in the assessment part of the module and think if it is possible to connect the activity to the overall course. What will you do differently next time? Plan better and use this experience to make it different

Deep vs suface approach to learning

The idea of this activity is to understand what does deep learning means and what are the kind activities and assessment that the teacher needs to create so that deep learning can happen.
In order to study this aspect of the learning experience there are some resources to read:

  • The Higher Education Academy guide
  • This blog post
  • The National Education Association blog
  • Conceptions of learning and knowledge in HE: relationships with study behavior and influences of learning environments (Noel J. Entwistle and Elizabeth Peterson, 2005)
  • Some files I have been reading are available this link to my box
  • Steven Johnson’s Ted Talk: Where does good ideas come from?

Normally I adopt a deep and strategic approach to learning. Meaning with deep that I seek for meaning by relating ideas, using evidence and monitoring my learning so I can improve if needed and, with strategic I use Entwistles’ ideas meaning that it is an integral personal understanding. Achieving through organised and self-regulated effort guided by self-determination.

My experience with deep and surface learning

I usually want to go the bottom of things and understand the origins of ideas, from where they come and to what they relate in the bigger picture. I try to construct meaning all the time looking for connections among prior knowledge and the new one. The more connections I found the deeper and stronger the knowledge and the broader the range to where I can apply this knowledge. I think I have a big connected network of knowledge units that feed each other. I try, through my learning, to connect the majority of nodes in my knowledge network that I can, making it a strong and relevant network for my job and life in general.
I am not after grades. I do even read many things and take many online courses for the sake of learning and I am not interested in any certificate or accomplishment. Although I think this is not entirely right as in our society other people will ask me for evidence of my knowledge and I need to have those grades or certificate at hand to show them when necessary.

When the topic is not of my interest I try to think how relevant it is to what I am interested in and so I decide if I will go deep in that particular topic. If it is not so relevant I do the readings but more than reading I scan and see how that can answer the questions and then I move on.

In this course I adopt the two approaches in different moments. For example if my time is very limited and I do know the content I do not go very deep in the answers because time is gold at the moment but when I confront myself with new content that is relevant and totally new for me, i.e. unit 3, I will stop and go deeper in order to be able to connect this unit to my overall work in the university and my own research.

There must be a relevance to my practical work which is normally close connected to my intellectual interest. Therefore I have to say that most of the times I adopt a deep approach to learning.

Deep vs deeper learning

 It is very rare that I learn with a surface approach, it is against my nature. So I have chosen deep vs deeper and both experiences in mathematics.

As you know I am a math teacher so I studied math education as my undergraduate degree. There I had a math teacher that taught us integrals. He gave us the algorithm to calculate the integrals and voil√° he gave us 234 exercises for homework. I did them all but I just followed the rules he gave us. It was quite easy and at that time I was so busy (I had already my 3 children, house, husband, dog and all the rest of a very active family life) that I did not care about not understanding the essence of it. I did wonder why we didn’t see any theorems but again no time to go deeper. 15 years later (2014) I became interested in the history of math, so I started to research in the origins of calculus. I had to give a workshop in a summer university in Denmark, so I new the only way to do a good workshop is having a deep understanding of the subject. So I went deeper!! I struggled so much, I read and read and looked at many different sources of knowledge. I saw videos, I heard podcast, I read original sources, secondary sources. I did a lot of exercises, I did a time line with the important stepping stones of the development of the calculus, I assisted to talks. I did not leave my house for a week just studying. I wrote an email to my supervisor one day really desperate and he send me from the Netherlands via post a chapter of a book but also an attachment with an exercised I did not understand, already resolved and explained and suddenly, the light came to me smile I got it!!! I understood the whole threat of reasoning I was after (Descartes and his discovery of analytic geometry as one of the stepping stones for Calculus to move forward and develop). It was really intense for me. I did not any thing different for almost a week. I know one should change, go out, forget, etc but I couldn’t, I was so into my learning desperate finding connections, links to my prior knowledge that I couldn’t leave nothing aside. When all the bits and pieces of discrete knowledge strarted to become part of a continuum I felt inside my head how all suddenly was making sense and many of the problems became clear to me.

After my workshop, I felt the ontological transformation I went through!!  I really changed inside, it was such a nice feeling. This moment of AJA, UNDERSTANDING, THE PENNY FALLING, its for me one of my favorites. So I guess that is why I avoid surface learning

Unit 2: How people learn in HE

2.1: Theories of adult learning

Andragogy Principles:

1) Need to know: It is important for adults to know why they are learning what they are learning, why they will benefit of it and what are the risks of not learning it.
2) Self-concept: Adults are responsible for their own decisions giving them ownership of the learning deciding what and how to learn. Ideally they are self-directed which could lead to be self-managed in their learning experience
3) Grained ideas about the experiences they have can make them biased and narrow minded limiting them to have a broader view of a topic they are learning
4) Readiness to learn: Focus on what is useful in a particular context making the learning relevant and timely.
5) Orientation: Learning should be focus on tasks and problems rather than subject
6) Motivation: Is generally intrinsic in adults. They usually learn for the sake of it (I am not so sure about this)

I would like to this a different approach but not disconnected from andragogy but an evolution of it which evolves to Heutagogy ( Blaschke, L. M). Canning, (2010) explains that there are 3 levels, pedagogy which is the first level where students need to be engaged with the learning material, in the second level, andragogy learners cultivate them self through learning and knowledge and in the third level, heutagogy the learner reaches realization. It is a continuum that evolves with life.
Andragogy (Self-directed)                     Heutagoy (Self-determined)

Single loop learning                                  Double loop learning

Competency development                        Capability development

Linear design and learning approach        Non-linear design and learning approach

Instructor-learner directed                         Learner directed

Getting students to learn                           Getting students to understand how learn

(From Blaschke, L. Sustaining lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning)

Heutagogical practice implies self-determination, self-governance. It emphasises more to prepare students for the workplace where more reflection is needed regarding what and how content is learned. Heutagogy is based on the Greek for “self” and the focus is to develop learner’s capabilities where learners are the major agents in their own learning, being the learning a consequence of personal experience (Hase and Kenyon, 2007. I have a reference list if required but I will not put all of them here for space reasons).

In the heutagogical approach the instructor facilitates the learning process by providing guidance and resources but the design of the learning path is entirely by the side of the learner.

Students engagement history

Activity 1.4: Students engagement history. Main events.

The video is quite dynamic and I think it is a good synthesis of what have happened in relation to this topic of students’ engagement.

More than naming them, as I do think it is clear in the video and writing them down wont be of much value for me, what I think is relevant to mention is, in my view, the shift from the idea of the ‘corps’ in the Greek era where the driver was to recognise the quality and reputation of the teachers to then shift to “defend” students rights. Two very different drivers. Although in Padua the situation of the majority of students as foreigners is what triggers the movement. The idea is that they need to take care by themselves of their rights, they need protection I guess. Then students start demonstrating against social issues like the Vietnam war or the massacre of Tiananmen amongst others. When the fees are introduced the philosophy is completely different and students are seen as ‘clients’ that are paying for a service and that turned the attention to a different aspect which is the quality of the experience of students at the university and how can they be part of that experience in a productive way. Which is what started in 2005 until now.

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.