Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Describing learning activities

Chapter six in the Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age book is a nice chapter by Grainne Conole on describing learning activities. In this chapter, Grainne looks at how technology can be used to support learning as we move towards a more socially oriented learning paradigm. As outlined in the chapter we are moving away from the easy "here is the content now learn" model to a more complicated, but arguably more effective learning scenario that looks at socially situative learning.

One great thing I took away from the chapter was Littlejohn et. al levels of LO granularity, which are, in increasing levels of complexity:
  1. digital assets - single file
  2. information objects - aggregation of digital assets
  3. learning activities - involves interations with information
  4. learning design - structured sequences of information and activities
Grainne also discusses some of the standards and specifications that have been developed around these levels of LOs, from IEEE LOM to IMS LD.

The chapter goes on to define learning activities. Learning activities are defined using a taxonomy of its components, which are:
  • The context - when does the activity occur? What is the learning outcome? What type of learning outcome?
  • The pedagogy - associative, cognitive or situative?
  • The tasks - types of tasks, interaction, resources. Tasks can be classified as:
    • assimilative tasks
    • information handling
    • adaptive
    • communicative
    • productive
    • experiential
One noted critism of this model is how componentised it is. It deals with each element of a learning activity as an atomic unit when each element will always be used in conjunction with other elements. The combination of components needs to be assessed but this is a lot more complex then dealing with each component individually.

The chapter also looks at other approaches to creating learning activities including; narratives and case studies, lesson plans, templates and wizards, toolkits, models and patterns. Looking at these approaches the question is are we abstracting too much information away from the pedagogical expert that is the course creator? Although these models allow for courses to be created more efficiently using tried and tested learning design we still must make provisions to allow the expert course creator to move away from the prescribed learning designs in these models, perhaps through an "advanced view" of the learning design?

Anyway - great chapter Grainne!

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