Pedagogy and Space: Empirical Research on New Learning Environments

By J. D. Walker, D. Christopher Brooks, and Paul Baepler, in Educause Quarterly

In a previous EDUCAUSE Quarterly article,1 we reported the results of quasi-experimental research on the University of Minnesota’s new, technology-enhanced learning spaces called Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs). That investigation found — after controlling for potentially confounding factors such as instructor, instructional methods, assessments, and student demographics — that teaching in an ALC contributed significantly to student learning outcomes. In addition, our findings indicated that the type of space in which a class is taught influences instructor and student behavior in ways that likely moderate the effects of space on learning. Finally, we found significant cross-sectional differences between different subsets of our student sample in terms of how they perceived the ALC’s contribution to their learning experience.

Here, we report on the next phase of learning-spaces research at the University of Minnesota (UMN), which had two components. First, to ensure that our earlier results were not simply fortuitous, we replicated the original investigation with a different instructor, student sample, and subject matter. Second, having shown that the type of learning space matters, we turned our attention to the pedagogy employed within the room. Using another quasi-experimental design, we investigated whether or not having our instructor adapt her instructional approach to fit the space would influence student learning outcomes and student perceptions of their learning experience.

Two specific research questions guided this phase of our research:

  • Holding the pedagogical approach constant, what is the relationship between the type of learning space and (1) student learning outcomes, (2) instructor and student behavior, and (3) student perceptions of the learning experience?
  • Holding the learning space constant, what is the relationship between the type of pedagogical approach and (1) student learning outcomes and (2) student perceptions of the learning experience?

Full article

J. D. Walker, D. Christopher Brooks, and Paul Baepler. The text of this EQ article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 license.


Open Badges, MOOCs and Recognising Lifelong Learning

By Grainne Hamilton

Grainne discusses participation in a Mooc, recognition and accreditation of learning including open badges:

“I think badges awarded for different levels of participation or perhaps for contribution to the wider knowledge of the learning community through blog posts, contributions to discussions etc could have worked really well here. I participated in the MOOC for my own personal development, to gain knowledge useful for my job and out of interest to experience a MOOC so I wasn’t really looking for a qualification from it. Looking back though, it would be useful to have some kind of recognition of my increased understanding of mobile learning but it could also have been a good motivator if there had been some tangible way of acknowledging if my peers had valued my contributions or spotted a particular attribute in me. It would also have been good to be able to separate the assessment for a badge from the timeline of the actual course, so that I could still for example, present evidence for assessment after the course had finished”

Full post

Getting to Know You: How I make time for social, networked learning

By Liz Renshaw

“Ever wondered about the participants in Change11 and wanted to know more about them? I have sometimes pondered about these people from different corners of the globe? What brings them to Mooc- land at this moment in time? How do they go about managing their own learning in this open environment?

I floated the idea about doing participant profiles with the crew working on this blog calendar. The idea started to grow, and I tentatively approached some people in the Change11 network. With some guiding questions to help shape their responses everyone was willing to ‘give it a go’. Their posts attest to the rich diversity of life experiences that Change 11 participants bring to our network. They speak in open and honest voices and I hope that you find their stories as engaging as I have. A big thanks to all participants who have invested much time and energy in making these features possible.”

Today we welcome to the Blog Calendar world Brainy Smurf …………………..

Stressed out? Overloaded with information?  Never enough time in the day?  I am proud to say that’s not me and here’s why:

I choose to spend a fair chunk of my day wandering like a knowmad through the events and artifacts of #change11, #ds106 and #cck12.  I have no worries about juggling three massive open online courses at once.  I know that whatever I get out of each of them is exactly proportional to whatever I put into them.  A little taste here, more in-depth looks there, no problem.

Creativity through connectivity

Although I am a learning ‘designer’ in the public sector, I don’t think of myself as overly creative or artistic.  I tend to be more detail-oriented, linear and logical so reviewing The Daily Create assignments in ds106 is one way that I have purposefully immersed myself in the company of new people and new ideas, especially ones that seem like wild tangents from my own.  I am able to connect the dots in many new combinations now and that sounds pretty creative to me.

I find that connective learning repeatedly triggers serendipity that draws me back day after day: that delightful unearthing of little gems of insight that I likely wouldn’t have been exposed to by other means.  It’s the payoff for being open to learning and working as if I am sampling from a huge buffet prepared by dozens of chefs, not eating from a fixed menu.

Now that I’ve chosen to experiment with HootSuite and Diigo and live Twitter events such as #lrnchat, I find it hard to remember a time without these tools.  I feel nauseous at the idea of being restricted to email overload and cluttered shared drives as my only sources of knowledge.  How do people actually get anything done that way?  For me, a personal learning network that is driven by collaborative, customizable technology has huge Twimpacts on my week.  It’s like having a set of living encyclopedias at my desk that are always opened to a helpful page.

Research publications on Massive Open Online Courses and Personal Learning Environments

by Rita Kop

People interested in Massive Open Online Courses will probably be aware of the research by Helene Fournier and me on Personal Learning Environments and MOOCs. We carried out research in the MOOC PLENK2010 (The MOOC Personal Learning Environments Networks and Knowledge that was held in the fall of 2010). The data collected on this distributed course with 1641 participants has been massive as well. Its analysis has kept us and some fellow researchers busy over the past year. The research has resulted in a number of publications and I thought it might be useful to post links to all of our journal articles, conference papers and presentations that were published  in relation to PLEs and MOOCs in one space. Each publication looks at the data from a different perspective, eg, requirements in a PLE, self-directed learning, learner support, creativity.

Kop, R. (2010) The Design and Development of a Personal Learning Environment: Researching the Learning Experience, European Distance and E-learning Network Annual Conference 2010, June 2010, Valencia, Spain, Paper H4 32 (conference paper) conference presentation

Kop, R. (2011) The Challenges to Connectivist Learning on Open Online Networks: Learning Experiences during a Massive Open Online Course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 12, No 3 (2011): Special Issue – Connectivism: Design and Delivery of Social Networked Learning  (journal article)

Fournier, H., Kop, R. and Sitlia, H. (2011), The Value of Learning Analytics to Networked Learning on a Personal Learning Environment, 1st International Conference on Learning analytics and Knowledge 2011, Banff, February 27-March 1st, 2011. Paper 14 (conference paper) conference presentation

Kop, R. and Fournier, H. (2011) New Dimensions to Self-directed Learning in an Open Networked Learning Environment, International Journal of Self-Directed Learning, Volume 7, Number 2, Fall 2010, page 1-18  (journal article) – conference presentation

Kop, R. and Fournier, H. (2011) Facilitating Quality Learning in a Personal Learning Environment through Educational Research, online session at the Canadian Institute of Distance Education Research, May 2011. The link gives access the the Elluminate recording, an Mp3 and Powerpoint slide.

Kop, R., Fournier, H. and Mak, S.F.J. (2011) A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant support on Massive Open Online Courses, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Special Issue – Emergent Learning, Connections, Design for LearningVol. 12, No. 7, pg. 74-93 ( journal article)

Fournier, H. and Kop, R. (2011) Factors affecting the design and development of a Personal Learning Environment: Research on super-users, in the International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments, Volume 2, Issue 4, 12-22, October –December 2011. (journal article) conference presentation conference paper

Kop, R. and Carroll, F. (2011) Cloud Computing and Creativity: Learning on a Massive Open Online Course, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, Special Issue on Creativity and OER (journal article)

Some of the background data of participants and the course cause a little overlap in the papers, but we think the diversity of subjects covered in the papers will shed light on the learning experiences on MOOCs and make for a varied tapestry of information on MOOCs. PLENK2010 provided us with rich in data and we are still working on the analysis of the dataset as a whole for a paper on motivation and one on research methods, in collaboration with Guillaume Durand, using some challenging research methods. We will let you know when these papers will be published.

UK education minister calls for open source curriculum!

by Graham Attwell,

The fundamental model of school education is still a teacher talking to a group of pupils. It has barely changed over the centuries, even since Plato established the earliest “akademia” in a shady olive grove in ancient Athens.

A Victorian schoolteacher could enter a 21st century classroom and feel completely at home. Whiteboards may have eliminated chalk dust, chairs may have migrated from rows to groups, but a teacher still stands in front of the class, talking, testing and questioning.

But that model won’t be the same in twenty years’ time. It may well be extinct in ten.

Technology is already bringing about a profound transformation in education, in ways that we can see before our very eyes and in others that we haven’t even dreamt of yet.

Nothing too remarkable here, and any regular reader of this blog will recognise similar ideas spouted on these pages. What is remarkable is the person who said it – the unpopular Minster of Education for England, Michael Gove, in a speech at the opening of BETT, the UK education technology exhibition.

This was a long awaited speech, given that Gove has said little about educational technology since the Con-Dem coalition government came to power. In a speech which seemed to go down well with the ed-tech community on twitter but was criticised by teachers union leaders, Gove went on to say:

  • The present IT national curriculum for schools would be abolished leaving schools freedom to design their own curriculum. From September this year schools will be free to use the “amazing resources” that already exist and will exist on the web.
  • Games and interactive software can help pupils acquire complicated skills
  • He wants to see the introduction new courses of study in computer science
  • We should “look at the school curriculum in a new way, and consider how new technological platforms can help to create new curriculum materials in a much creative and collaborative way than in the past
  • Rather than concentrate on hardware procurement we should focus on improving initial teacher training and continual professional development for teachers in educational technology

Gove said three main things that technology can do for learning:

  • Disseminate knowledge incredibly widely.
  • Change the way teachers teach, with adaptive software personalising learning.
  • Allow teachers to assess pupils in more complex and sophisticated ways.

Gove went on to talk about an open-source curriculum saying:

Advances in technology should also make us think about the broader school curriculum in a new way.

In an open-source world, why should we accept that a curriculum is a single, static document? A statement of priorities frozen in time; a blunt instrument landing with a thunk on teachers’ desks and updated only centrally and only infrequently?

It all seems a bit too good to be true. And of course a lot depends on how these chnages mucght be implemented and vitally what support and funding is avaiable to schools.

A website – – has been launched to discuss the new proposals. Bernadette Brooks
General Manager of Naace and Seb Schmoller Chief Executive, Association for Learning Technology (ALT) explained the reasons for the consultation:

The effective use of technology has great potential to support better teaching and learning, but there are important questions arising from the opportunities presented by new technologies. For example: how teachers can best develop the right skills; how learning is organised and delivered; and how education can be agile in adapting to new technology developments. This is an important opportunity to discuss and understand the implications.

The site contains, initially, some “stimulus questions” suggested by DFE, which can be discussed by the posting of comments. During March Naace and ALT will work together to produce a report which we will share with DFE that draws on the discussion that we hope will now ensue.

We hope that parents, teachers, technology developers and practitioners, policy people, researchers, students, people from industry and any others with an interest in and experience of this field will join the conversation.

You can add your ideas on the consultation web site. Or of course you can just add a comment here :)   I will be coming back to some of the issues raised by Gove’s announcement in further blog posts over the next week.

More pedagogic change in 10 years than last 1000 years – all driven by 10 technology innovations

by Donald Clark

Pedagogy – one of those words that’s used when people want to sound all academic. So let’s just call it learning practice. Of one thing we can be sure; teaching does not seem to have changed much in the last 100 years. In our Universities, given the stubborn addiction to lectures, it has barely changed in 1000 years. So what’s the real source of pedagogic change?

It’s not education departments who peddle the same old traditional, teacher training courses or train the trainer courses. It’s certainly not schools, colleges and universities which seem to have fossilised practice (to be fair some old practices are sound). It’s certainly not respected pedagogic experts. When they do arise, like Paul Black and Dylan William, they’re largely ignored. Here’s my theory – the primary driver for pedagogic change is something that has changed the behaviours of learners. independently of teachers, teaching and education – the internet. Let me elaborate…..

Suddenly we had Google, then in the last ten years Facebook, Twitter, BBM, MSN Messenger, Wikipedia, YouTube, iTunes, Nintendo, Playstation, Xbox. All of these have had a profound effect on how we learn, through radical shifts in the way we find things out, communicate, collaborate, create, share or play. The internet is a pedagogic engine, changing and shaping the way we learn. In this sense, we’ve had more pedagogic change in the last 10 years than in the last 1000 years – all driven by innovation in technology.

1. Asynchronous – the new default
Education and training have been tied to the tyranny of time and location. Being able to access courses, knowledge and media has been a huge positive flip towards learning where and when you want to learn. Clive Shepherd believes that the new default should be ‘asynchronous learning’ (not realtime) and not the traditional live, face-to-face, synchronous (realtime) classroom course. Only after you’ve exhausted the asynchronous online options should you consider synchronous face-to-face events. What a wonderfully simple idea, a massive pedagogic shift enabled, largely by online technology.

2. Links – free from tyranny of linear learning
The simple hyperlink encourages curiosity and is a leap to more learning. It has allowed us to escape from the linear straightjacket of the lecture or paper bound text (article, report, academic paper, book). It has led to more meaningful learning experiences adding breadth, depth and relevance. Links are a key feature of Wikipedia, online content, articles, reports and huge amounts of posts in social media that finish with a meaningful link. This pedagogic innovation has freed us from the tyranny of linear learning.

3. Search and rescue
Google aren’t kidding when they state their mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. They are well on the way to doing it and while they’re at it, providing educators with the tools, over and above ‘search’ such as Google Docs, Translate, Scholar… the list goes on. They’ve even invested in the Khan Academy. The challenge for every teacher is to ask themselves, ‘Is there anything I’m doing or teaching that can’t be found in Google?’ This pedagogic shift means more independence for learners, less dependence on memorised facts and answers to most questions, 24/7, for free.

4. Wikipedia and death of the expert
Jimmy Wales should get the Nobel Prize. A crowdsourced knowledge base that is bigger, better, easier to use, searchable and in many more languages than any encyclopedia that went before. In addition, it recognises that knowledge has blurred edges, so discussion is available. The 5th most popular site on the web, everyone uses it – yes everyone. The radical pedagogic shift is not only in the way knowledge is produced but the fact that it’s free, seen as open to discussion and debate, and so damn useful.

5. Facebook and friends
Sarah Bartlett’s study has found that students are keeping Facebook open for collaboration right up to deadline during assignments. Social media is a way of sharing experiences and knowledge with a wide range of friends and weak-tie acquaintances and has changed the way we learn. It allows us to collaborate and access recommended links to learning, as well as learning events in the real world. Being networked means living within a new pedagogic ecosystem.

6. Twitter, texting and posting
There has been a renaissance in reading and writing among young people. They text, BBM, IM, Facebook (primarily a text medium), every day, often many times a day. This is often done even when they have the possibility of voice (mobile) and face-to-face services such as Skype and Facetime, which they often avoid. They are also keenly aware of what channels are archived (text and Facebook) as opposed to discarded (BBM, IM and voice). Far from drifting towards high end media, text is alive and kicking.

7. Youtube – less is more and ‘knowing how’
YouTube has changed the way we use video in learning for ever. The irreversible change is the idea that a piece of video needs to be as long as it needs to be, not an overlong, over-produced mini-TV production. This is why the 1 hour recorded lectures on YouTube EDU and iTunes U seem so damn awful. Why replicate bad pedagogy online? It also proved Nass & Reeves original study was right that high-fidelity video is not essential. YouTube has shown us how to do video, keep it short and that we don’t need big budgets to do good stuff. More importantly, for ‘knowing how’ as opposed to ‘knowing that’, it has proved incredibly powerful.

8. Games
Games have brought the proven sophistication of flight simulation into our homes and shown that failure (abhorred in traditional teaching) is the key to learning. Repetition, reinforcement, deep processing, learn by doing and fine-tuned assessment are all features of gameplay. Games, and console hardware has opened up possibilities for simulations and experiential learning that is already shaping learning in the military and healthcare. The multiplayer dimension is also changing the way we see the pedagogy of collaboration in learning. Gameplay is just another word for sophisticated, experiential pedagogy.

9. Tools
This is not often recognised but the word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tools have effected a considerable change on pedagogy. Word processing has changed, irreversibly, the way we write (reorder, redraft, use reference, citations, spellcheck, grammar check) as well as providing graphics and layout tools. Our digital documents are also replicable and easily sent by email. Spreadsheets have given us the ability, not only to do formula driven work, especially in functional maths useful in business and science, but also driven the easy and flexible representation of data as graphics. Presentation tools have allowed us to present text, graphics, photographs and even video into teaching and learning. Tools, pedagogically, allow us to teach and learn at a much higher level.

10. Open source
Open source in coding led to the idea of open source in tools and knowledge. From MIT Courseware to Project Gutenberg, huge amounts of learning have been made available online, across the globe, for free. Free books alone have opened up the canon in a way we could never have imagined, fuelling the e-book revolution. In this age of digital abundance, open and free content is the democratisation of knowledge. This is truly a digital reformation that has swept aside unnecessary barriers to access. Pedagogy, in this sense, has been freed from institutional teaching.

These are ground breaking shifts in the way we learn. Unfortunately, they’re not matched by the way we teach. The growing gap between teaching practice and learning practice is acute and growing. Institutional teaching, especially in Universities is hanging on to the pedagogic fossil that is the lecture. The word pedagogy has become a hollow appeal for traditional lectures, classroom teaching and summative assessment. The true driver for positive, pedagogic change is the internet.

Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2011: “Open”

by Audrey Watters

When I made my 10 tech predictions for 2011 for RWW last year, I included the following:

6. Openly-licensed content – open education resources, open source, open data – will thrive, as more people question outmoded intellectual property laws. Nonetheless, there’ll still be patent and copyright infringement lawsuits aplenty.

Looking back on 2011, I don’t really feel like I can pat myself on the back about that prediction. I don’t think I can cheer, “woohoo, I got it right.” What I wrote was so very bland and vague. And while I can chronicle all sorts of interesting developments in openly licensed content this year, I’m not sure that verb I chose in December 2010 — “thrive” — is quite the right one for December 2011. Have we really seen intellectual property laws questioned this year (See: Andy Baio’s article “No Copyright Intended“)? Or are we seeing them re-inscribed (See: SOPA)?

That’s not to say that 2011 hasn’t been an important year for openly-licensed content, open educational resources, open source, open access. Indeed, it’s been quite an interesting year for the adjective “open.”

A retrospective:

JANUARY: The Departments of Labor and Education announced a $2 billion program to help build educational and career-training materials. The stipulation: the materials have to be licensedCreative Commons CC BY, making them available to be openly shared and remixed.

FEBRUARY: LMS upstart Instructure released the source code for Canvas, its learning management system software.

The first strategic meeting was held for Open Educational Resource University (OERu), a system under development by the OER Foundation to make it possible for students to gain academic credit by studying open educational resources.

MARCH: Federal Judge Denny Chin threw out the Google Books settlement, rejecting the deal that Google had made with the authors and publishers over its digitization efforts. (Not a ruling about openness per se, but definitely a ruling about ownership.)

APRIL: MIT OCW turned 10. (For an interesting read, check out the announcement back in 2001 in The New York Times.)

JUNE: Federal legislation was introduced in Brazil that would require that government funded educational projects be openly licensed. And the Sao Paolo Department of Education also mandated that all its educational content be released under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial Share-Alike license.

JULY: Activist and early Reddit-er Aaron Swartz was indicted for downloading some 4 millionJSTOR articles from the MIT library.

SEPTEMBER: JSTOR announced that it making all its early journal content freely available — because, ya know, it’s not copyrighted — including all JSTOR articles published prior to 1923 in the U.S. and prior to 1870 elsewhere in the world. (Thanks Aaron Swartz!)

OCTOBER: Washington launched the Open Course Library which makes openly-licensed content available as a (potential) textbook replacement for 81 of the state’s most popular college classes.

Pearson announced OpenClass, prompting me to use an Admiral Ackbar image in my storyabout the education company’s “free and open” LMS.

Language in a House Appropriations Bill appeared to strip federal funding for OER in any Department of Labor materials. (See January. Marvel at lobbying efforts.)

LMS giant Blackboard announced its support for OER, making it possible for faculty to sharetheir course materials. The company also said it was revising its policies so that institutions that do open up their course materials this way don’t incur any additional licensing costs when people access the materials, even via webinars and the like.

NOVEMBER: Khan Academy (undeniably one of the biggest OER stories of the yearraised $15 million to expand its faculty/platform/facility.

DECEMBER: Chrome surpassed the open source browser Firefox in market share for the first time. (IE remains the world’s most popular browser.)

Prooposed legislationin California will allocate $25 million to create the California Digital Open Source Library, a library of 50 free and openly-licensed college textbooks.

Reading through this list of events — which I realize is just a very partial picture of everything that falls under the label “open” and which really does contain a good amount of “good news,” I still can’t help but feel that 2011 was sort of a mixed bag. I am sure that OER will be on lots of folks’ lists of most important education trends of the year. And I don’t mean to say that it isn’t.

But I have this suspicion that some of the progress we’ve made towards “open” only exists at the surface or very fringes. I think we’re in store for lots of conflict over what constitutes “open” — how it’s funded, how it’s labeled and licensed, who mandates “what counts.” I don’t mean to complicate a post of 2011 trends with musings about 2012. In fact, I’d see some of these conflicts bubbling beneath the surface all year — it’s in the lawsuits and the funding battles and the business model and marketing plan re-writes.

What does it mean — culturally, pedagogically, politically, financially — that Stanford garners so much buzz for its free online courses while other MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) go unheralded? Will more universities offer opencourseware and demand open access? Will government funds help promote OER? Will these funding efforts subsidize open content from a closed set of “common” standards? Will “open” become the magical marketing term that giant education companies adopt? What happens to the open Web when companies like Facebook, Apple, and Amazon want to attract consumers to their Internet silos, and similarly what happens to open content when publishers must scramble to adapt their business models to a digital world? What does it mean — culturally, technologically, philosophically — for example, that Google’s Chrome browser has now surpassed the open source browser Firefox for market share? Do folks really care if something is “open”?