#Change11 A Pedagogy to Support Human Beings

What is a pedagogy that could support human beings?

That is the research topic that Rita, Hélène and I have been working on this year.

My sincere thanks to RitaHélène for their great research efforts and  support.

Rita Kop and Hélène Fournier
National Research Council of Canada

Here is the paper published in IRRODL: A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support on Massive Open Online Courses.

Looking forward to your comments and discussion to our paper.  Everyone is welcome.

You will find all other papers published in this special issue – Emergent Learning, Connections, Design for Learning of IRRODL.

#Change11 Creativity, Constraints and Design

Quite a lot of fantastic ideas popped up, relating to constraints and creativity, as shared by Jenny.

I think the ChangeMOOC type of MOOC – if it wants the creation of artifacts – needs to look to MOOCs like ds106 and see what can be learned from them and I don’t think that the ‘constraints drives creativity argument stands up’. So where are the ChangeMOOC artifacts and what are the reasons for participants’ reluctance to produce them? Including me ☺

She has also posted here relating to getting the balance right  between soft and hard technologies.

I will respond to her questions in another post later, but now I have been thinking about “Repurposing ( creation – ‘we want you to create something of your own’)”

What would “we” want to create of our own?  If it is a wiki development, then some participants have already set up their own, and are working with others.  There are wikis built here (here (with pageflake)), developed for classes, and wikis in particular areas.  There are participants who created blog posts, and or the production of videos and podcasts (as in DS106), slideshare, flickr photos, or concept maps.

Stephen in his post on Engagement and Motivation says:

I find that many traditional measures – such as counting attendance or page views – do not account for the sort of engagement we’d like to see, and is demonstrated for example in ds106. In addition, provision of the ability to determine one’s own educational path or even to satisfy one’s other motivations, may be necessary, but are not sufficient, to support motivation in MOOCs. In the end I consider the example of how motivation is created in gaming environments, and wonder whether MOOCs need challenges and the possibility of failure in order to stimulate student engagement.

I like Stephen’s mention about “satisfying one’s other motivations, may be necessary, but are not sufficient, to support motivation in MOOCs”.

First, motivation to me could be very different from that motivation for others, and thus could be idiosyncratic in nature.  What makes it fascinating is that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are essential factors towards success in MOOC.  There are however, network dynamics which accounted for such motivation to create artifacts, or posting and commenting on each others, as observed in past MOOCs.

Second, encouraging creativity is essential in Online Courses.  In this Encouraging Creativity in Online Courses by Stephenie A, Clemons: Giving students opportunities to be creative means allowing them to find and solve problems and communicate ideas in “novel” and “appropriate” ways (Starko, 1995).

As summarised in this post by edtech, a balance between hard and soft technology is necessary to create the learning environment for learning in MOOC.

I found Jenny’s claim resonating: Constraints are not enabling creativity, but definitely stifling it. Yes, I have similar experiences, due mainly to the power constraints. An example was the use of ConnectivismEducationLearning Ning. We had no choice but to leave it as we couldn’t afford to pay the fees. Haven’t we got the creativity to develop our network community?

How to respond to those issues and challenges relating to creativity?

“To appease the masses, we could water-down the extremity of our ideas to fit into the creative categories of ideas that just support incremental forward progress, to maintain more of the status quo. Society would probably be more accepting of less radical, mediocre ideas versus ones that shake up the current ideology. So in a sense, to be a “good, peaceable member of society”, one that teachers love and employers want, the best we should strive for is to reach the highest level of mediocrity possible.”

How to balance soft and hard technology? That is still a challenging problem in networked learning.  We still need people to “temper” the technology, and educators to fulfill the roles of ensuring and supporting an appropriate balancing act when navigating the networks and teaching and learning with the learners in such technology platforms or media.  What sort of examples do we have in such balancing acts?

#Change11 Learning Style

Do we need to adapt our teaching to suit the learning style of learners?

Professor Daniel Willingham in his video mentions that learning styles don’t exist.

Daniel here mentions that these learning theories are wrong, and so teaching would not need to be based on those theories to differentiate the teaching.

Steve argues that there is convenient untruth in learning style.

And time and again, such beliefs are the justification for placing students into a specific style of learning so that a class can be ‘managed’ more effectively. Such categorisation of students is an absolute nonsense and the practice of doing so should be challenged strongly. It is lazy pedagogy, and the only reason I see that such beliefs persist, is that it is a convenient untruth which allows some teachers to stay within their comfort zones.

May be there are a lot of myths relating to the learning style, and that the learning style theories are problematic, full of dilemma, with contradictory findings.

Liz mentioned in the comment:

“Ref: my PhD thesis for the full story.

The problem is that learning styles are so seductive, they just pull you in like one of those personality quizzes you find in a magazine. People like to categorise themselves or fit to one stereotype or other. What I found though, is that learning styles are not temporally stable (you can have a different style before and after lunch) and the tools/questionnaires to assess them often have low internal validity/reliability. And there are still papers being produced that contain really quite bad stats to ‘prove’ that learning styles ‘work’… don’t get me started ;)”

I agree with Daniel that the most important part of teaching is the understanding of meaning by the students through teaching, rather than the focus on the modality – i.e. visual, auditory or kinesthetic, especially in the classroom application, as proposed by learning style theory.  And based on Daniel’s assertion, that the theory of learning – based on learning styles is wrong.

I think learning style is crucial in understanding how one learns in distance education and online learning.  In our previous CCK08 research:

“To a large extent, blogging and forum use correlated with specific individual learning styles and media affordances: the use of blogs was associated with the ability to create personal space for personal learning, quiet reflection and developing personal relationships with bloggers and others.

The use of forums was associated with fast paced challenging interaction, relationships based on sharing of ideas, more open discussion and more links to the discussed themes and bigger picture.”

Does it mean that bloggers are typically reflectors, where forum users are activists? No, both bloggers and forum users could be reflectors, and theorists, but then such styles of learning are based on the learning situations.

I think we all prefer certain learning styles whilst learning, though as educators, we may not be able to fully understand the learning styles of our learners, and thus would not be able to develop fully such teaching strategies to cater for the learners’ specific learning styles.

Here is my previous post:

Would learning style be important in kids or teens learning? I would argue that learning style do have a significant impact on young learners. For instance, some learners prefer reading, whilst others prefer listening, or watching, and others prefer doing in their learning of a skill or learning “knowledge”. If we put dancers into a classroom, and ask them to read the dancing techniques, what would be the outcome? Dancers could learn best by dancing, not by reading.  Showing videos of dancing to the dancers would also help them in learning how to dance. So, exposing learners with various media do cater for their preferred learning styles, and assist them in developing their learning skills.

Though it is very difficult to vary the teaching method to cater for individual learning style in a classroom, it doesn’t stop us from re-designing our teaching. We could consider learning methods that would cater for their learning styles instead. So, teaching could be broadened to consider the learning space, rather than thinking about teaching, and the teaching methods.

May be for centuries, teachers have been thinking about the “best practice” or teaching pedagogy, and have missed out that self-determined learning or heutagogy, (see also andragogy to heutagogy,) could be equally useful and important when designing their instruction, teaching, or learning.

So, how about a design that  focuses around learning rather than instruction? Instead of instructional design, how about learning design that is based on a learning space?  The Personal Learning Network (PLN) is just the starting point to develop such a learning design platform and space.  The provision of choice in learning space for the learners would surely stimulate their interests in learning that matches their learning styles. One-on-one online mentoring may also be incorporated to allow the learners to explore their individual learning styles.

Such PLN and an adaptive style towards learning would keep track of the fast changing learning landscape, when the learners are immersed into those networks on a life-long and life-wide basis.

Postscript: A related post on learning style.