Switching Research Fields?


I thought this was a great quote on change: “if you always follow the beaten track you may well find that all the grass has already been eaten”, in an article in Times Higher Education, with Nancy Rothwell.

As someone who officially originated from “history”, but has also engaged with Education Studies, Media Studies, American Studies, Journalism, and all things digital, as well as a stint at Manchester with regards to interdisciplinary research, definitely of interest.

Digital Event

Catching Up 'Levers of Change' with @jamesclay #JISCEL12

Levers of Change – seeing similarities with steam engines …

  • Some levers make sense – move forward, it moves forward
  • Some don’t have obvious sense
  • Some are out of our control – e.g. points can take us in different directions

3 Questions for this session:

What causes change? What can we do to instigate change? What can we do to mitigate some of the issues caused by change?

Unsurprisingly many e-learning people are early adopters:

James then refers to the ‘Hype Cycle’ which often appears – calling it a waste of time – a marketing tool that looks like this, because this is what we expect it to look like/fits what we’re doing:

Then James got people to mark on innovation adoption where people thought their institutions were – a much wider spread, and less innovators.

Robbie Matthews:

individuals are generally more interested in potential on new technology … institutions are generally more sceptical of new tech

Question: Do you prefer physical book or electronic text? Both have affordances and disadvantages.

I’d agree with Becky Thomas:

both! Depends on what I am reading, where I am reading and how I need to interact with the text

When I was first given an iPad (not from work!! oh no!), I started to play with free books downloaded from Kindle … started to read books I may not have done otherwise (though I’m typically a charity shop/library reader anyway) – then started to get stuck on the train and find opportunities to read work books en route… etc.

A great blog post on the topic

James challenging us to think what is important to us from this conference…

Sally Betts

Innovation is great if it is not just for the sake of playing with the latest technology – it needs to really make a difference to learning.

Thought this was interesting … as space to ‘play’ gives an opportunity to find things that we didn’t expect (e.g. mobile phones – never expected texting to take off inthe way it has)

Some thought provoking quotes

Much agreement with:

But then look at when this was written:

Lots of conversation about ‘independent learners’ – not all are comfortable in this, some need the scaffolding – and in all this, we have to remember that they ARE students, so we need to help.

Read suggested solution. (Real Environments for Active Learning)… and replace ‘REAL’ with VLE, MOOC, etc… why are we asking the same questions? Why are we not taking on board the lessons? And then why do we wonder why we are where we are?

Simon Thompson

Great learning analogy is that education is like a gym membership. Join the gym but if you don’t engage in it you’ll not get fit/lose weight. Join a course but if you don’t engage in all the facilities and expertise you will likely not pass the course.

How long does change take?

Kinda funny – but not really – from MBS Manchester:

Sometimes and go to meetings about online teaching and learning and wonder if I have wandered into a session planning to reform a band from the nineties.

Karen Clark

Is the reason we have not moved on that we focus on the technology and not the pedagogy? Institutional structures in many cases have yet to move away from the idea of learning soley as transmission

Dave Middleton:

A number of tech innovations have not been hyped and then taken us by surprise: mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Louise G-H

I think lots of technology is not being used a collaborative tool – students do not feel empowered by it and therefore do not take the responsibility that we want them to take for their learning.

Nathan Cobb

I am starting to see some learners taking more ownership of collaboration with each other now in ways I haven’t seen before – they are taking it outside the institution – a group of learners recently approached me because they had set up a group dropbox to share resources and support each other and they wanted to know whether they were allowed to download all their teachers resources from moodle to put into this dropbox area

Lots of questions about how long change takes to implement… context sensitive.

What are people researching? Why – because it’s passion that drives them, or because institution requires it?

Why do people repeat research? People don’t know that others have already done it. Want to experience for selves? See their institution as ‘too different’.

Caroline Graham

How much research gets read? Maybe that’s why things don’t appear to have change – we keep reinventing the wheel in a different guise

If we’re not going to build on our research/stand on the shoulders of giants … why do we bother publishing it? Research as a lever of change in organisations = doesn’t do the job (doesn’t mean invalid, but know WHY you are doing research).

Helen Beetham

You have to be quite expert in a community to actually know what else has been done already.

Sarah Knight

Do we need to be more explicit about how others can learn from the research we do – so pulling out the lessons which are replicable for others?

Probably a more common answer than many said:

I tend to do, then find the research that supports the theory i’ve made up, lol

Chris Thomson

We need to be better at telling the story of the impact of research as well

Julie Voce

Being able to quote other studies is useful when convincing managers of something’s worth

Nathan Cobb

I agree with Ruth – We get very positive feedback from learners where teachers use the VLE effectively – it is very easy to simply criticise it when we haven’t taken full advantage of it

Do we talk about technology or pedagogy?

Technology is shiny, pedagogy is ‘more important’? If the technology is not equally as important as the pedagogy – why do we have learning technologists/research into technology.

Sharon Lewandowski

pedagogy is what we do, technology is the tool

lilian soon

some pedagogy only possible because of the technology though

Return back to the question between paper/ebooks … a lot of reasons given for (preferring paper) are technological issues [Suddenly wants an iPad 3, as the Retina screen is a better reading experience!].

Focus too much on the technical issues, rather than the affordances that technology brings us..

Project Gutenberg – since 1971 –  was a tablet device then, but only with iPad has it really taken off (though other devices are catching up).

We give too much power to technology? This kind of quote can be replaced with all the ‘new’ types of technology:

Nathan Cobb

“Do you like books or do you like reading?” Clay, James (2011)

Dave Middleton

Is Dickens a bad writer if he is on an e-book? Surely the point is the words not the medium. Lets not forget books replaced the oral tradition.

Don’t wait for something to become mainstream before you are able to use it – some simple changes – e.g. QR codes in the library – connecting physical book with more e-resources online:

Nathan Cobb

We use QR codes as well – we have a lot of books both as physical copies and ebooks and we have qrcodes on the physical copies to highlight the fact that there is an ebook version

See JISC Project.

Another great comment from MBS Manchester:

Lecturers want to to tell them what they think need to know, but don’t want us to tell them what they aren’t interested in!

Paul Richardson

We need to understand technologies, not devices. e.g. speech-to-text.

We talk about change as if it isn’t happening – but it’s happening all the time!  Future is not the problem – we’ve forgotten about the past, and the lessons from the past.. Think about how email, PowerPoint, etc. got mainstreamed within your institution – seems to be a combination of answers from ‘top down’ to ‘early adopters’.

Clare Killen

Would require greater societal change for MOOCs to take over completely and @MarkS – I don’t think they are cheap. Technology changes how you spend money but doesn’t doesn’t necessarily cost less.

 Change from referring to ‘change’, and seek ‘enhancement’?

Clare Killen

I guess many changes in the past (even getting data projector and laptop in classroom in time) had to be organised – beauty of mobile technology is that learners drive us to make the change. The power is in their hands not ours.

MBS Manchester:

Things become embedded when people find a use for them that they percieve to be beneficial. The more you try to dictate the use, the less chance the technology will be adopted.

How do we measure change? People always talking about how fast it changes? Why do some find time to change and others don’t?

Shri Footring

It’s useful to think about how a specific change would benefits others. It needs to recognised as providing a win-win solution for all, and it’s up to us to communicate how it does that.

Kevin Richardson

Give them technology and see what they do with it … because, despite what we think, it is the students who will find the affordances that matter

Digital Event

Making Management #altc2011

First up, Dr Bex Lewis, with ‘Getting in on the Twitter Action? Using Twitter to build your professional network’.

University of Plymouth (Janice Gibbs, Neil Witt)

altc2011-wed 009

‘Learning Technologists’ is a TEQF – hangover… But money has gone!!
Learning Technologists: taken a long time to see past the technology/tied into ‘pedagogic problem to solve’ – here’s your solution.

Change in funding – leads to an opportunity to change the structure of the role. Hub & spoke models … Central team move from innovation by embedding.

Must take care with the wording use – if invite people to a Twitter/blogging/social media session – less likely to come than if you say come to to a session on ‘encouraging reflective learning amongst your students’.

Don’t disregard a technology because it doesn’t do 5% of what you want it to do just because you ‘have always done it this way’. Need to look at teaching design process.

Don’t tell the academics that ‘the VLE is dead’ … They are panicking about what they need to do next!! What may be ‘what everyone else does’ may not be sexy to learning technologist but to jobbing academics it’s still another thing to get hold of.

Go out and find the ‘not keen’ – don’t just go through the student unions. Convincing the skeptics makes for great. Staff & students – taken 2 years to convince of the value of learning technology.. Only now people coming to talk at programme design stage – now discuss/not imposed!

Virtual condom = IT often a barrier to others – need to use the right terminology.

Kent University – Steve Bailey/ Stephen Ogden

Moving from WebCT to Moodle (wanted open source, could keep on top of developments, rather than have changes forced upon them by companies buying each other out). Ensured that Learning Technology & ITS talking to each other.

Migration model – needed a process whether migrator would work without need for decision making processes (even if students sit all summer and do manually).

In moving data had to have intermediary stages to ensure that data was secure. Very carefully prepared the training programme to ensure that not overwhelmed … Timed to fit with what was needed at the time.

Lots of links to examples on the Crowdvine site, including simple file upload which bypasses the double file upload. In house developments – contributed back to the core community. Understand that the process is endless & ongoing.

See further resources for all papers on Crowdvine.

This blog entry was written live in session, with photos/headings added afterwards.

Digital Event


Dear all

I am currently moving this site to a new host. The nameservers are resetting themselves, and hopefully it will change overnight, so I can refresh in the morning, but we’ll have to see. Meantime, be aware that it may suddenly switch to an empty WordPress space… the new materials will be here soon… The site itself is having bits & pieces of an overhaul done, and I plan to sort out the categories, and start to put together formal workshop offerings soon!



Change Happens

Great new video…

Thanks to @JohnnyLaird for bringing it to my attention.