Martin Oliver

London Knowledge Lab

Setting Expectations for the Talk: Talk about ideas, not about how to do something specific – think differently about what you’re doing anyway.

Roland Barthes Mythologies. Things presented as ‘common sense’/’natural’ and taken for granted… when they should be problematised more. The importance of myth.

Norm Friesman – Not about destructing ideas, but about clearing the ground in order to be able to have different conversations.

Can ‘Blended Learning’ be Redeemed? (Martin Oliver & Keith Trigwell) – talking about blended learning being more about a bringing together of modes rather than rethinking learning.

E-Learning often defined by anything using technology…

Face-to-face learning – tutors also have differing views about what their teaching consisted of – e.g. lectures = disseminating information or interactivity for students? Tutorials, also… Broad consistency, but the details were different – same terms, but different…

So Blended Learning is a mix of 2 kinds of teaching that don’t really exist…

Like Frankenstein’s Monster – has no place in the world – was created because it could be DONE.

Cloudworks pre-conference discussion – bringing specific uses of technology together – not just a random collection of technology. Blended education rather than blended learning? Purposeful integration, formal & informal contexts..

It’s about good, thoughtful design, not abou tmixing archetypal forms.

Jon Alltree – continuity across contexts, making the ‘backchat’ public. Has promise, but is Blended Learning the best term to use?

The myth of the categorically knowable student: The idea that students are different from us “otherness” – grand claims made about generational change, and the need for educational reform. Rather than being empirically & theoretically informed, it’s a form of academic ‘moral panic’.

For students who struggled (e.g. money to access computers) – online can privilege those voices that already strong – privilege’s those already privileged.

Etienne Wenger – corporeal fallacy – idea that we lose sense of the rest of the person and forget that the body needs to carry on moving, eating.. etc Why is this such a strong myth?

Mark Buckingham – the idea of the ‘digital generation’ – is a new case of an old problem. ‘Generation Gap’ always adult fears about the escalating pace of social change (e.g. Victorians fears of children reading novels).

Media Industries keep redefining sections of society – in order to sell more products – historically can see this development…

Not all one-way – people use these categories to position themselves, too. Age, gender, interests/friendship groups, and – of course – what people say isn’t always the same as what they do…Encourages us to think about people in neat boxes/categories!

Blackboard – marketing themselves “close the gap between the way students live and the way they learn”. Expectation within institutions that they can buy a product in a box and solve a problem that’s essentially intractable.

Wimba – excludes real lives of students (shyness, problems at home, etc. supported & overcome by the product in the box).

Remember ‘the cake is a lie’ – the enticements – need to be more suspicious about the descriptions.

KNOW our learners – don’t lump them into neat boxes and think we can ‘solve’ them.

Community of Inquiry – an educational community of inquiry is a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.” This is a descriptor – it doesn’t tell you how to generate it.

Community of Practice

Mutual engagement, joint enterprise, shared repertoire, accountability.

Trajectories can be inward-bound, outward-bound or peripheral.

Constellations of practice, nexus of multi-membership and identity as reconciliation.

Identity informed by the fact that they don’t understand the process – insurance claims assessors.

Swimmers, Wavers & Drowners: High drop-out on online courses – many can’t log in & others can’t cope with high numbers of previously posted members. Up the stakes on exclusion.

World of Warcraft – can’t do some elements of the games except through collaboration. (Playing as a couple – need to negotiate their home life/online life). Which relationships were more important – the game or the marriage?!

Online courses – synchronous – scheduled sessions – need computers capable of running specific environments. Elements of their identity which have to be managed…

Learning community – can’t be cosy/jargon for a group of students. We tend to ignore negative aspects – control, exclusion, policing, hostility.

Learning communities are not entertainment services – lack of challenge is not helpful..

Is it desirable to have one dominant course community – already lots of demands on their time through other communities (e.g. family, interests, etc.) – if you have one dominating community which they MUST engage with then this is problematic.

Think about learners first, purposes second & forms 3rd. Can’t just reuse other’s material because if it’s any good, it’s been designed for specific students. Design for the students we KNOW – work with them, not just for them. Listen & learn, don’t just assume.

Be tolerant of difference & dissonance – plural communities, hegemony/inclusivity not necessarily compatible. When they’ve served their purpose, let them die.


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