Tilbage i rollen som didaktisk designer

Mandag d. 3. marts startede jeg officielt som lektor i forsknings- og udviklingsmiljøet Digitale læringsmiljøer og didaktisk design i Center for Skole og læring på Professionshøjskolen Absalon. Og det har været en helt fantastisk meningsfuld første uge! Min nye nærmereste leder, Karsten Gynther har den indstilling, at man lige så godt kan kaste sig ud i reelle arbejdsopgaver fra start, så ud over enkelte praktiske forhold, der skulle ordnes, har ugen faktisk budt på masser af fagligt indhold, hvilket har været alletiders.

Ud over en enkelt dag på Danmarks Læringsfestival, hvor jeg bla. havde fornøjelsen af at facilitere en debat mellem ledere fra EUD om udvikling af pædagogisk-digitalt strategi, så har ugen budt på opstart i tre projekter, der kommer til at fylde en del i mit arbejdsliv fremover:

  1. Møde i et projekt, der omhandler design og implementering af e-læring i de praktisk-musiske fag på læreruddannelsen.
  2. Møde i et projekt, der omhandler design og implementering af MOOCs mhp. at styrke digitale kompetencer blandt undervisere på de videregående uddannelser. Projektet har titlen ‘Det dobbelte læringsfællesskab’ og indebærer samarbejde med RUC og Zealand.
  3. Forberedelse af møde i et projekt om design og implementering af MOOCs til læreruddannelsen og praksis. Her skal vi fokusere på to obligatoriske emner, hhv. seksualundervisning og uddannelse og job. Projektet indebærer samarbejde med fagdidaktikere fra hhv. VIA og KP.

Som den kvikke læser nok kan fornemme, er der fokus på design i alle tre projekter, og jeg er virkelig glad for at være tilbage i rollen som ‘didaktisk designer’. Vores opgaver i de forskellige projekter retter sig mod forskellige niveauer, så vi kommer til at beskæftige os med både uddannelses- og undervisningsdesign.

Mine nye kolleger er naturligvis nysgerrige på, hvad jeg kan bidrage med, og i den forbindelse har Karsten bla. bedt mig om at forberede en ganske kort præsentation af, hvad man med fordel kan være opmærksom på ift. design af et læringsfællesskab, der er helt eller delvis medieret af digital teknologi. Mit bud, der skal præsenteres på mandag d. 9/3, kan ses herunder:

Når jeg vælger at fremhæve denne opgave, så er det fordi den indebærer, at jeg har skulle søge tilbage i min phd, hvilket jeg ikke har haft mulighed for før nu. Det har været en interessant opgave, dels fordi jeg lige skulle tilbage i tankesporet og dels fordi, jeg faktisk stadig synes, at der er gode elementer i afhandlingen. Set i bakspejlet virker mine fund i afhandlingen ret banale, men pba. af ugens forskellige møder, står det dog også klart for mig, at design af digitalt medieret uddannelse og/eller undervisning stadig kan være en udfordring. Så selv om jeg er blevet klogere siden aflevering af afhandlingen, håber jeg naturligvis, at jeg fremadrettet kan komme til at arbejde med nogle af de ideer, som den var baseret på – og umiddelbart ser der ud til at være gode muligheder herfor :-)

En del af vores arbejde med design og implementering af helt eller delvist digitalt medierede uddannelses- og undervisningsdesign vil naturligvis foregå bag ‘lukkede døre’, men jeg vil bestræbe mig på at dele som meget som muligt, hvilket jo også afhænger af tid. Men altså, hvis du interesserer dig for ‘didaktisk design’ så ‘stay tuned’ ..

/Marianne

A CoP approach to facilitate university teacher PD in ICT and POPP

On December 17th, 2010 I had the great pleasure of attending my (now former as she’s back in Costa Rica) e-Learning Lab colleague, Mayela Coto’s PhD-defense. Mayela’s thesis is entitled “The case of UNAgora: A community of practice approach to facilitate university teacher professional development in ICT and project-oriented problem pedagogy”, and is now available for download here.


Mayela presenting her findings on Dec. 17th, 2010 at Aalborg University.

Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

  • The overall aim of this research is to enhance the understanding of to what extent a distributed community of practice approach affects the professional development of university teachers and whether this leads the teachers to promote a transformation in teaching practices mainly regarding the introduction of ICT and project-oriented problem pedagogy (POPP).
  • More specific research questions are concerned with what is the impact of belonging to the community of practice on teachers?; what kind of changes takes place in the teachers’ practice?; which factors support or hinder the professional development of teachers who are part of a distributed community of practice?; how does technology contribute (or not) to the formation of the community, and to the professional development process?; and what principles may be used to guide the design of a professional development model- based on communities of practice for fostering change of practice?
  • The main findings of the study were that the distributed community of practice approach appears to be a productive form of professional development under certain conditions. It provides an environment for learning and dialogue that can enrich and deepen teachers’ knowledge, as well as an understanding of important educational issues and change of values, beliefs and practices. Issues of access to technology, culture of online communication and collaboration, teachers’ workload and time have been identified as conditions that need to be carefully studied in order for the approach to be potentially effective.
  • The overall result of the approach to professional development proposed by this study, offers teachers a scope for learning, negotiation and identity formation within the community. The study also suggests that teachers who are closer to the center of the community are able to identify with, and develop a feeling of belonging to the community to a greater extent than the teachers with a peripheral role. However, it seems that both kinds of teachers are able to transform, to some extent, their teaching practices.

Mayela’s supervisor (who’s also my PhD-supervisor) was Professor, PhD Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld (Aalborg University), whereas the examining committee consisted of Maite Capra (Univercidad Nacional Costa Rica), Marianne Lykke (Aalborg University), and Etienne Wenger.


Similing faces after the very successful defense: Lykke, Wenger – Mayela Coto – Capra and Dirckinck-Holmfeld

It’s a pretty long thesis, but well worth the read :-)

/Mariis


COMBLE – “Project of the Month” at elearningeuropa.info

In July it was announced that the COMmunity of integrated Blended Learning in Europe (COMBLE) project had been chosen as “Project of the month” by the elearningeuropa. info portal. This portal is established by the European Commission to promote the use of multimedia technologies and Internet at the service of education and training, and so all of us involved in the COMBLE project are quite happy about this recognition of our work :-)

In this project several colleagues from e-Learning Lab (Aalborg University) and I worked together with partners from Germany, Poland and Estonia from January 2008 – December 2009.

In the COMBLE project we investigated the following questions:

  • When is an institution (universities, further education, enterprises) ready for Blended Learning?
  • What are the common challenges and solutions?” and
  • How can trainers design for active and collaborative learning?

Together with my PhD-colleague, Heilyn Camacho, I designed and ran a highly successful 6 week course on Problem Based Blended Learning in Second Life and Moodle on which I’ve written several posts (i.e. this one explaining the course concept).


A scene from one of the SLectures in the course.

Besides this the COMBLE project also resulted in:

  • A wiki-based community called Methopedia for Blended Learning experts to share relevant knowledge and experience. Methopedia is available in four languages and contains about 100 different learning activities and an interactive seminar planer.
  • A Blended Learning Readiness Wiki to support strategic planning, change management and the evaluation of blended learning scenarios at the institutional level.
  • The Methopedia Learning Designer: an online flash tool to design seminars.

BTW: we would like to encourage anyone interested in Blended Learning to join our community – either at the Methopedia website or on Facebook :-)

/Mariis

My first presentation at UCB’s Center for New Media

Today I did my first presentation of my PhD project at UCB. Sadly only a few people turned up, but they seemed engaged and asked a lot of questions, so that was good. It was the first time I presented some of my recent ideas on remediation, so that was quite interesting for me personally. I clearly need to refine my thoughts and the lack of proper English vocabulary, when I want to make a specific point, is really, really frustrating, but it is all part the learning process and I feel confident that it will become easier as time passes.

Among other things I addressed one of the challenges I currently have in relation to my thoughts on remediation. I’ve incorporated several dichotomies in my models for remediation, but I only see them as theoretical/analytical tools – reality (in whatever shape it represents itself) is much more complex and I don’t necessarily consider them to be mutually exclusive. Another problem is that some of the concepts I’m using are ambiguous, so I have a lot of work ahead of me in determining how I will define these concepts, and as examples of this uncertainty I presented the following three slides:

BTW, for the presentation I’d found a nice template displaying an Ethernet cable, which I thought suited the topic very well – only later I realized that as part of the terms of use I’m not allowed to upload them to any sort of file sharing site and this is why they can only be found here in pdf format … and so I will not use that type of template again!

/Mariis

#vwbpe 2010 – 2nd day impressions (part two’ish)

Continuing my reflections on the 2nd day of the VWBPE-conference the next session I participated in was on “Rapid Development of Interactive Educational Content in Virtual Worlds: From Analysis to Evaluation”– a panel consisting of DoctorPartridge AllenFirery Broome, Quincy Solo Sherman Gustafson, who shared their experiences with content development. The panel spoke of their work with “Immersive Learning Simulations” (ILS) and the premise was stated in the abstract, which can be found here in the programme;

Emerging technologies in Immersive learning, like Second Life, afford us significant opportunities to explore new mechanisms for educational interaction, but they also present us with a wealth of new challenges. A common theme with the adoption of such technologies is that we are recycling older technologies rather than genuinely leveraging the tools and resources exposed by the new technology. This panel is composed of people who have been confronting this challenge, and working diligently to embrace both the new immersive learning technology and to fully utilize the new features and facilities inherent in those technologies.

I always find it highly inspirational to hear other instructional designers talk about their approach and their theoretical foundations, and a couple of things struck me in this. First of all there seems to be growing consensus on using the term “immersive” to describe the main affordance of technology/media like Second Life. I understand the need to distinguish Second Life from other types of virtual teaching and learning environments, but I find the use of “immersive” somewhat problematic. If by “immersive” we simply refer to a sense of “being in a place” as opposed to the less concrete “space” concept, I agree that virtual worlds like Second Life can promote this sense, but it is only a potential, not a given. I’ve had students in all my in-world courses that didn’t feel immersed at all, but this is also a matter of how you define “immersive” and something I’ll return to in later posts. Secondly, I agree with the panel that there are two major strategies for the technology/media adoption namely “recycling” and “genuine leveraging the new affordances” – two strategies that I refer to as respectful vs. radical remediation and have incorporated in my model for 3D-remediation of people, places and practices.

When describing their work the panel referred to the ADDIE model, one of the most common instructional design models that resembles the classic Action Research cycle of planning, acting, observing and reflecting – especially if continual feedback is applied i.e. through the use of RAD.

After I started writing this post my Mac broke down again – this time apparently for good – and sadly I hadn’t taken any backup of my vwbpe-photos or notes, so the rest of this will be based on memory (hence the ‘ish in the title).

The next event “Learning in 3D: A New Educational Dimension” with Abbott Bundy & Wada Trip was something I had been really looking forward to. When I did my first lecture on SL back in the fall 2007 I relied heavily on the work – primarily blog postings – of both Abbott & Wada and I’ve been following them on a regular basis ever since. Based on the abstract for the session it was clear that they would talk about their book “Learning in 3D. Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration”, and since I haven’t read it, I found it quite interesting – the session is archived here on Treet.tv.

Afterwards Abbott wrote a post on his experience stating that he had seen the future of conferencing – in many ways I tend to agree that participation through 3D Virtual worlds can replace RL participation, but I think it’ll be quite some time before the larger part of at least the academic society will follow and it also requires a whole new outlook on identity validation. So many people I meet tell me they would never take an avatar serious. Essentially Abbott & Wada talked about instructional design, principles and practices and demonstrated a model they’ve come up with and I definitely need to have a closer look at that. They also mentioned Light Sequent, who also contributed to the book and who wrote a Masters Thesis on “Learning archetypes as tools of Cybergogy for a 3D educational landscape: a structure for eTeaching in Second Life.” It is worth noticing that they use the word archetype in a non-jungian way, and more as some sort of  characteristic traits of pedagogical practice (building blocks i.e. instructional strategies, methods for facilitating learning) – a bit confusing, I think, but I need to read the book to learn more…

Another much anticipated session was conducted by my two friends Chimera Cosmos & Spiral Theas, who presented their work with “Learning in a Virtual World: Using SL for Medical Education” – slides can be found here. There’s also a recording of the session here, but as you can hear the sound wasn’t terrific, especially Spiral’s voice was breaking up. Based on a pilot study on Continuing Medical Education, that they did together with colleagues and 14 participant family practice physicians (described in an article here) Chimera & Spiral presented some interesting results and also showed us how they had been experimenting with the use of mock avatars in role-playing. At a certain point Chimera logged in (via another computer) as the diabetic patient, Mariana Hexicola and started communicating with the audience. From the post Spiral wrote afterwards it was evident that they deliberately wanted to show, not just talk about, the things they had implemented in the pilot study.


Pictures kindly provided by Spiral show the overweight, diabetic patient, Mariana interacting with the Professor as part of the pilot study.

The study proved some highly interesting results with participant improvement in clinical skills, but what also was fascinating, was the participants’ rating of the experience in SL as they all agreed that the experience was superior to other online methods, and the majority felt that the SL method was as good as, if not better than, f2f methods. Having read the above mentioned article, I’m quite sure that the success stems from a very deliberate instructional design strategy, which addressed the participants’ needs not only as learners of a particular subject matter, but also as users of SL. Even though it is a small study, I think it supports the growing body of studies done by especially natural scientists in virtual worlds very nicely, and the article is well worth a read even for educators in other fields.

After this, the next session I wanted to attend was on “Creating a Positive First Hour Experience“, which of course is highly relevant, but as the presenter decided to do his session in text only, I decided to skip it. SL simply doesn’t appeal to me without voice … I might as well read a regular text in my own pace. Instead I decided to get some sleep before attending the last session (at 5 am in Denmark), which was by another friend of mine, Tab Scott who has been actively teaching and researching in SL since 2005.

RL Tab is Director of Creative Research Lab at Montana State University and Tab presented some of the many projects the lab has been involved in since 2005 and also gave some hints as to where they are heading in the future – there’s a recording of the session here. A central keyword of the CRLab is collaboration, and when Tab first entered SL is was to investigate whether SL could be used as an environment to support collaboration, and well they’ve been using it in teaching architecture and arts classes successfully ever since. One of the many things I appreciate about Tab’s philosophy and approach to using SL is that he doesn’t see it as a stand-alone technology. Now, first of all there’s a very pragmatic reason for that, namely the stability of the environment. As Tab mentioned using SL back in 2005 (and even when I entered in 2007) could be really frustrating due to technical issues, constant updates of the viewer, maintenance etc. The stability of SL has improved a lot, but there still is a risk that you or your students will have technical problems, so a backup plan is highly recommendable. (i.e. Chimera and Spiral had Skype as backup as part of their instructional design). But I think a more appealing reason for not using SL alone stems from the fact that even though the core of the environment is 3D, the more interesting uses (naturally depending on your goals) often come when combing it with other 2D technologies such as SNS, shared documents and streamed media and at the CRLab they work with the concept of PLE’s thus trying to ensure that the students become media literate in a broader sense. Given that most new users find the learning curve in SL pretty steep, I think it makes perfect sense to include some more familiar technologies that also can help reduce the alienation some new users experience.

At the CRLab collaboration goes way beyond university and even state and county boarders, and another of Tab’s points was that we as in-world educators need to help each other validate the use of SL. I agree and I think that even though educators have been tirelessly using SL for many years now, it still is an emerging technology and in my point of view we have yet to pass the early adopter phase. Someone in the audience, who had been using SL for three years, mentioned that his problem wasn’t to get the students to use SL, but rather the rest of the faculty – and this is definitely something I can relate to.

Having a conference like this vwbpe – with proceedings expected in May 2010 – certainly is a good way of spreading the message and thus hopefully convincing more educators to at least have a go at using SL. I spent two great, inspirational and meaningful days participating in this, and my only regret – just like at RL conferences – is that I missed so many other interesting sessions. But unlike most RL conferences, many of the sessions were recorded:

All sessions on Treet.tv
All sessions on Metaworld

/Mariis