Dave White, Keynote, #pelc10

David has worked in the overlapping space between education, technology and media for over 16 years. He co-manages Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning (TALL), an elearning research and development group at theUniversity of Oxford.

At TALL he is responsible for the production and delivery of a wide range of online distance courses. The courses include philosophy, art, literature, economics, history and even nanotechnology. Over 1000 students based around the globe enrol on these each term.

David released some of the first data on ‘web 2.0’platforms which contained the type of diagrams that have ‘social’, ‘studying’ and ‘professional’ nestling alongside each other to highlight out how these boundaries are blurring. He has also researched the wild frontiers of Virtual Worlds and Massively Multiplayer Online games in the context of teaching and learning.

He is keen to see beyond the technology to the larger underlying trends that are emerging as society moves online, exploring the motivations and aspirations of students as they engage with the web and with each other. His musing on these subjects can be found on the TALL blog.

Recently David has been closely involved in the work of the HEFCE Online Learning Task Force, which has been set-up with the aims of maintaining and developing the position of UK higher education as a world leader in online learning.

Notes taken on my netbook

  • Technology and education, why we’re in the room… digital technology – just a fancy tool – is this a good enough framing for the discussion… or should we think about learning/pedagogy first?
  • Students in Second Life – philosophy discussion – moved from 3rd person to 1st person… – how many layers away is that from ‘real’? Early 1980s, computing started to appear in schools… his Dad moved from teaching RE, to teaching computing, because he was interested… asked him how teaching computing would happen.. his Dad said in future would just be part of everyday life… BBC ‘The Computer Programme’… (1982)
  • Culturally what has happened – we can now get computers in every colour… in many ways more important than what’s inside it…  The iPad – same to 1982 – just the latest technology for this year… the difference, in 1982 – was ‘a geek’ with authority, whereas iPad = a model in jeans… – mostly because of visibility of the web – who’s in space…
  • The Hierarchy of Digital Distractions.. to many, this is what technology actually is…  So many things are under the banned of ‘technology’…  if we’re not clear how we think, then others will tell us how to think!
  • Role of technology?
  • Disappearing into use; disrupting the status quo – can do both…
  • Desire: ‘Disappear (Want), Disrupt (Need) – most of us want the tech to disappear, don’t want to have to think about it, but maybe they need it to be a bit disruptive… We need to challenge students, why have we talked about ‘the student as consumer’ – when have we ever given them what they want…
  • Pedagogy – want to pass assessment, need to do group work/collaboration [difficult/messy]
  • Technology – to pass assessment – use VLE, Email, Content; Group work – blogging, social media, content – multiple points of feedback/need to be human beings… If being innovative, going to be disruptive and not necessarily easy to embed, otherwise wouldn’t be labelled as innovation…
  • Motivation – http://bit.ly.pi2qv – visitors, residents – most students/tutors, choose to engage/not engage for particular reasons and have their own strategies for getting through…
  • Bickering. Between those who want to stick with what they have, versus new tech – we argue too much – we need both & need to talk to each other constructively… it’s like talking about the internal combustion engine, rather than stepping back about where we’re trying to head… e.g. the phone – post-technical, culturally normalised (as has email) – the phone is the conversations we have on it, rather than the phone…
  • http://bit.ly/5mh790 – we should be involved early so we can influence the development so it’s useful for us… too often a tool-specific solution.. all moves to post-digital as they are culturally normalised…how many of you are players/innovators, how many pragmatists? Difficult.. Don’t get tied up with specific platforms, but recognise are somewhere in this flow… Need to talk to each other, not geeks being gatekeepers…
  • [Images, should put the origins in the base left corner…]
  • Think about where you sit on these issues…. Much of what we’re doing is mainstream – we need a good grasp on strategy, maybe even politics… maybe able to influence how education is moving forward as a whole…
  • Henry Ford, if he’d asked, people would have said they wanted faster horses… so do we give people what they want or pay lip service?
  • All tutors/teachers are also learners – should be less clear cut distinctions. Govt saying we should just listen to the student voice… IS our job to challenge…
  • Good to create some anxiety to make them think, but not anxiety re what room they are in – how much technology just causes anxiety?
  • Web contact/communication not content… online learning, find if more than 20-30 they start dropping out as want the contact.. get a better deal than f2f. Blurred boundaries as many are presented in both formats…
  • What’s the difference between education and training? Discussion not just eating content…
  • Don’t be afraid of the banal… we spend 80% of our lives … if it contributes to learning!
  • Twitter – content – merely a bridge to relationship building..
  • If you’re not teaching, you’re talking…
  • How do you recreate those conversations that you can best have down the pub? Best places – have someone centrally focused, dragging them out of their faculties, talking to each other – but innovations generally come from grass roots – if you can’t draw that out, the individual leaves, and the institution loses, we keep re innovating the same thing… really skilled thing to make that work as people are talking different languages – don’t sit in own silos assuming that we know what the others think…
  • Is it beginning to appear in strategies – started to realise that e-learning strategy shouldn’t be around the technology but about the communications strategies… may be difficult/delicate job, but will find there tends to be a technical solution for things… We need the cakes… v. important..
  • Any large institution has problem of separate kingdoms – in role – understand politics, look good at big meetings, but talk on a human level…
  • Lots of places thinking that we can solve by offering with ‘online learning’ – UK education still hugely recognised as leading – we are in a global environment…  Think reassured that education not about to be industrialised, and can maintain our essence…

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