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!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blogging - Quantity or Quality

Had an interesting discussion with a colleague today about blogs - whether its better to write good, well edited, well thought through posts every so often or whether you should post as often as possible in what ever way you can effectively articulate your thoughts. What do you think?

I suppose if you have read any of this blog you know that its more the "just get it out there" type of blog. I make no apologies for this. It is my blog and I choose to use primarily as a way of expressing what I believe to be true and invite people to correct me if I am wrong. This serves me in two ways - allows for reflective learning and also exposes my thoughts and beliefs for analysis to be contradicted and so I have the opportunity to correct any misconceptions I may have on a subject through a feedback loop.

Today I had a listen to Stephen Downes talk on the role of Open Educational Resources in personal learning - MP3 . Stephen talks about how knowledge can be viewed as a network of nodes and how nodes interact with each other. To that end my "knowledge" must be viewed as a mere node in a bigger network of individuals - for the network to learn I need to expose my thoughts for other nodes to contradict, contribute and concur with my thoughts, reasoning and logic. In turn I leave comments on other people's blogs to do the same. This is essentially how the network as a whole learns and becomes better.

So in conclusion - yes, I admit it, I throw rambling thoughts up on this blog. Why? Well to reflect on them and to invite comment - good, bad or indifferent.