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Linking Thinking: Self-directed learning in the digital age

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Title: Linking Thinking: Self-directed learning in the digital age


1
Linking ThinkingSelf-directed learning in the
digital age
  • Philip C Candy
  • National Research Fellow
  • Department of Education, Science and Training
  • Canberra Australia

2
Linking Thinking Self-directed learning in the
digital age
  • Introduction
  • What is changing Four shifts in perspective
  • Gap 1 Between Promise and Performance
  • Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots
  • Gap 3 Between Vision and Realisation
  • Conclusion

3
Why choose self-directed learning?
  • self-directed learning occurs without the
    ideological or pedagogical overlay of teaching in
    formal education and training settings, and may
    accordingly provide a more direct route to
    understanding the relationship(s) between
    learning and technologies
  • self-directed learning is the prototype of all
    learning and, since it has been extensively
    researched and documented in the pre-digital
    offline world it should be possible to make some
    claims about whether and how digital technologies
    are affecting learning
  • there is a close and growing relationship between
    self-directed learning and that which occurs in
    formal education and training settings, in the
    sense that self-directed learning is commonly a
    precursor to, and even more often a consequence
    of participation in formal courses of study.

4
Why self-directed learning? (continued)
  • in the context of lifelong learning,
    self-directed learning is a principal way in
    which people keep up with change, and since we
    are currently experiencing unprecedented change
    on a global scale, the demands of a changing
    world are likely to impact on the nature and
    extent of self-directed learning that people
    engage in and, finally,
  • evidence suggests that at least some forms of
    self-directed learning are particularly suited to
    the online environment and there is merit in
    exploring the linkage.

5
The merit of viewing learning through the prism
of digital technologies
and vice versa
6
Changes that demand learning
  • Emergence of new occupations/careers
  • Continuing move to information society
  • Explosion of knowledge
  • Increasing globalisation
  • Microeconomic reform and change in work
  • Transformations of families/communities
  • The rise of fundamentalism and intolerance
  • Impact of Information and Communication
    Technologies (ICT)

7
These changes require
  • Flexible and responsive approaches to learning
    for all

8
What we have now
  • Education systems that stress the primacy of the
    individual learner
  • Educational systems that emphasise teaching
    rather than learning
  • Educational providers that are often separate
    from their communities
  • Educational institutions that are place and time
    bound

9
Shift in Perspective 1
  • From a focus on the individual learner
  • to the learner in social context

10
The Learning Society
Learning Communities
Learning Organisations
IndividualLifelongLearner
11
Shift in perspective II From teaching to learning
  • The truth is that even those who enjoy to the
    greatest extent the advantages of what is called
    a regular education must be their own instructors
    as to the greater portion of what they acquire,
    if they are ever to advance beyond the elements
    of learning. What they learn at schools and
    colleges is comparatively of small value, unless
    their own after reading and study improve those
    advantages.
  • Craik, G (1830). The Pursuit of Knowledge Under
    Difficulties.
  • London Charles Knight and SDUK.

12
Shift in perspective III Recognition of the many
sources of learning
  • Families
  • Preschools and schools - primary and secondary
  • VET Providers (public and private)
  • Universities
  • Business and Industry
  • The Media
  • Libraries and information specialists
  • Community groups (clubs/churches)
  • Government (Local/State-Provincial/National/Region
    al)

13
Shift in perspective IV The digital revolution
  • A glass web spans the globe which is
    transforming commercial, social and cultural life
    in ways we do not fully understand. The
    emergence of new digital information spaces
    alongside the existing physical places of public
    life is posing challenges for policy and service
    developers. We are seeing the creation and
    recreation of markets and economic activity of
    political and public discourse of cultural
    research and learning work.
  • Demspey, L (1999). Introduction. Information
    Landscapes for a Learning Society. Bath UK
    Office for Library and Information Networking.

14
Towards a new approach to education and training
New Lifelong Learning Paradigm
Self-directed Learning
Community Partnerships for Learning
Technologically Assisted Learning
15
Technologically Assisted Learning
  • Gap 1 Between Promise and Performance
  • Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots
  • Gap 3 Between Vision and Realisation

16
Gap 1 Between
  • the promise...
  • and the Performance

17
The promise...
  • Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god
    Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been
    hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner
    that it stretches out indefinitely in all
    directions. In accordance with the extravagant
    tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a
    single glittering jewel at the net's every node,
    and since the net itself is infinite in
    dimension, the jewels are infinite in number.
    There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of
    the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold.
    If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels
    for inspection and look closely at it, we will
    discover that in its polished surface there are
    reflected all the other jewels in the net,
    infinite in number. Not only that, but each of
    the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also
    reflecting all the other jewels, so that the
    process of reflection is infinite.
  • Cook, F H (1977). The Avatamsaka Sutra. In
    Hua-yen Buddhism The jewel net of Indra.
    University Park and London Pennsylvania State
    University

18
The performance
  • Error 404 File Not Found
  • Connection Refused
  • Connection Terminated
  • Connection Failed
  • Enter Login Name and Password
  • and, on one memorable occasion,
  • Congratulations, you've broken the Internet

19
Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots
  • 1.Connectivity
  • Telecommunications infrastructure and charges
  • Access to hardware and software
  • Access to technical support
  • 2. Competence
  • Adequate ICT literacy
  • Appropriate information literacy
  • A blended concept of digital literacy
  • 3. Content
  • Sufficient high quality digital resources
  • Affordable access to relevant digital resources
  • Preservation and continuity of digital documents

20
Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots(continued)
  • 4. Credibility and confidentiality
  • Confidence in the consistency of the technology
  • Confidence in the credibility of the information
  • Trust in the confidentiality of sites and
    transactions
  • 5. Capturing information
  • Agreed protocols for storing, tagging and
    retrieval of digital materials
  • Search engines and other resource discovery
    mechanisms
  • 6. Collaboration
  • Existing or emergent networked communities
  • Co-creation of knowledge

21
Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots
  • 1. Connectivity
  • Telecommunications infrastructure and charges
  • Access to hardware and software
  • Access to technical support
  • 2. Competence
  • Adequate ICT literacy
  • Appropriate information literacy
  • A blended concept of digital literacy
  • 3. Content
  • Sufficient high quality digital resources
  • Affordable access to relevant digital resources
  • Preservation and continuity of digital documents

22
Connectivity Telecommunications infrastructure
and charges
  • Composite nature of bandwidth demand
  • Alternative approaches to meeting bandwidth
    demand
  • Differential access in rural and urban areas
  • Private or local aspects of connectivity
  • Affordability ISPs and call charges
  • Issues of equity Need for partnerships

23
Connectivity Access to hardware and software
  • Corporate or work-related access
  • Public or community-based access
  • Private or domestic based access
  • Access for disabled or disadvantaged users

24
Connectivity Access to technical support
  • Problems with
  • dated or overloaded computers
  • incompatible software
  • slow or unreliable connections
  • fluctuating power supplies
  • lead to need for mentoring and technical support
  • Better technical support generally available in
    large organisations and urban communities
  • Pattern of use 247 increases costs for around
    the clock support
  • Stop-gap and ad hoc solutions have only limited
    applicability, especially for inexperienced users

25
Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots
  • 1. Connectivity
  • Telecommunications infrastructure and charges
  • Access to hardware and software
  • Access to technical support
  • 2. Competence
  • Adequate ICT literacy
  • Appropriate information literacy
  • A blended concept of digital literacy
  • 3. Content
  • Sufficient high quality digital resources
  • Affordable access to relevant digital resources
  • Preservation and continuity of digital documents

26
Competence Adequate ICT literacy
  • A basic literacy for the 21st Century
  • ICT literacy is using digital technology,
    communications tools, and/or networks to access,
    manage, integrate, evaluate and create
    information in order to function in a knowledge
    society (ICT Literacy Panel, 2002)
  • International Computer Driving Licence
  • Can ICT literacy be context free?
  • Intergenerational differences confidence and
    competence
  • Many users are self-taught
  • Collaboration between formal education,
    workplaces and communities

27
Hierarchy of ICT Literacy
(Market Equity, 2002, p. 19)
28
Competence Appropriate information literacy
  • Another basic literacy for the 21st Century
  • To be information literate, a person must be
    able to recognize when information is needs and
    have the ability to locate, evaluate and use
    effectively the needed information (ALA
    Presidential Commission, 1989)
  • the acquisition of those skills by all citizens
    should be treated as a basic human right NCLIS
    2002
  • Widespread support, but different conceptions
    formal education, government, employers and
    professions, librarians and information
    specialists
  • ALIA 2001 Statement on Information Literacy for
    All Australians

29
Two different kinds of literacy
  • ICT Literacy
  • Generic and domain specific elements
  • Partnership between IT and subject specialists
  • Cumulative and hierarchical
  • Various elements or components
  • Evolves over time
  • Published guides to assist learners
  • Information Literacy
  • Generic and domain specific elements
  • Partnership between Info. and subject specialists
  • Cumulative and hierarchical
  • Various elements or components
  • Evolves over time
  • Published guides to assist learners

30
Competence Digital literacy
  • A new hybrid concept that blends ICT literacy and
    information literacy
  • to be deeply literate in the digital world means
    being skilled at deciphering complex images and
    sounds as well as syntactical subtleties of
    words. Above all, it means being at home in a
    shifting mixture of words, images and sounds
    (Lanham, 1995, p. 161)
  • The ability to navigate in cyberspace and to
    negotiate hypertext documents is separate both
    from ICT literacy and form information literacy,
    but entails elements of both

31
Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots
  • 1. Connectivity
  • Telecommunications infrastructure and charges
  • Access to hardware and software
  • Access to technical support
  • 2. Competence
  • Adequate ICT literacy
  • Appropriate information literacy
  • A blended concept of digital literacy
  • 3. Content
  • Sufficient high quality digital resources
  • Affordable access to relevant digital resources
  • Preservation and continuity of digital documents

32
Content Sufficient high quality digital resources
  • Difference between born digital and digitised
  • Various formats printed materials, manuscripts
    images (moving and static) and sounds
  • Digitising keying in, OCR or scanning
  • Huge task to digitise worlds cultural resources
  • Alternative approaches digitise everything or
    on demand
  • Offer free or pay per use (equity issues)

33
Content Affordable access to relevant digital
resources
  • Proprietary databases
  • Freely accessible data sources
  • Government sources and government obligations
  • Digital rights
  • The free science movement Road Rage on the
    Information Superhighway

34
Content Preservation and continuity of digital
documents
  • The history of non-continuing technologies
  • Issues of digital continuity
  • The challenges confronting archivists and
    historians
  • The need for partnerships to ensure continuity

35
Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots(continued)
  • 4. Credibility and confidentiality
  • Confidence in the consistency of the technology
  • Confidence in the credibility of the information
  • Trust in the confidentiality of sites and
    transactions
  • 5. Capturing information
  • Agreed protocols for storing, tagging and
    retrieval of digital materials
  • Search engines and other resource discovery
    mechanisms
  • 6. Collaboration
  • Existing or emergent networked communities
  • Co-creation of knowledge

36
Credibility and confidentiality
  • Willingness to invest time, money and effort in
    purchasing, learning and using software is
    dependent on its credibility and consistency
  • Need assurance that information is not being
    customised through being transformed, corrupted
    or distorted

37
Credibility and confidentiality
  • Users will engage with digital technologies if
    they believe their usage is not being monitored
    (e.g. medical or sexual issues, private opinions,
    financial matters)
  • Confidentiality is particularly important in
    facilitating engagement with others, both
    synchronous and asynchronous
  • Reliability and security are important in case of
    commercial sites such as pay-per-view

38
Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots(continued)
  • 4. Credibility and confidentiality
  • Confidence in the consistency of the technology
  • Confidence in the credibility of the information
  • Trust in the confidentiality of sites and
    transactions
  • 5. Capturing information
  • Agreed protocols for storing, tagging and
    retrieval of digital materials
  • Search engines and other resource discovery
    mechanisms
  • 6. Collaboration
  • Existing or emergent networked communities
  • Co-creation of knowledge

39
Capturing information Agreed protocols for
storing, tagging and retrieval
  • The deep or invisible web
  • Bergman, M. K. (2001). The deep web Surfacing
    hidden value. The Journal of Electronic
    Publishing, 7(1).

40
How deep is the deep web?
  • Public information on the deep Web is currently
    400 to 550 times larger than the commonly defined
    World Wide Web.
  • The deep Web contains 7,500 terabytes of
    information compared to nineteen terabytes of
    information in the surface Web.
  • The deep Web contains nearly 550 billion
    individual documents compared to the one billion
    of the surface Web.
  • More than 200,000 deep Web sites presently exist.
  • Sixty of the largest deep-Web sites collectively
    contain about 750 terabytes of information --
    sufficient by themselves to exceed the size of
    the surface Web forty times.
  • On average, deep Web sites receive fifty per cent
    greater monthly traffic than surface sites and
    are more highly linked to than surface sites
    however, the typical (median) deep Web site is
    not well known to the Internet-searching public.
  • The deep Web is the largest growing category of
    new information on the Internet.
  • Deep Web sites tend to be narrower, with deeper
    content, than most surface sites.
  • Total quality content of the deep Web is 1,000 to
    2,000 times greater than that of the surface Web.
  • Deep Web content is highly relevant to every
    information need, market, and domain.
  • More than half of the deep Web content resides in
    topic-specific databases.
  • A full ninety-five per cent of the deep Web is
    publicly accessible information -- not subject to
    fees or subscriptions. (Bergman, 2001)

41
Capturing information Deep web
Bergman, M. K. (2001). The deep web Surfacing
hidden value. The Journal of Electronic
Publishing, 7(1).
42
Capturing information Agreed protocols for
storing, tagging and retrieval
  • The problem of non-enduring locators and the
    solution of Uniform Resource Names
  • Being visible to search engines
  • Metadata tags and hidden descriptors (especially
    for non text-based resources)
  • Identifying non-educationally focused or NEF
    resources

43
Capturing information Search engines and other
resource discovery mechanisms
  • Search engines and web crawlers
  • Portals, gateways and directories
  • Intelligent agents, Personal Digital Assistants
    and bots
  • Crossovers between categories
  • The possibility of using eXtensible Markup
    Language (XML)
  • The problem of decontextualised knowledge

44
Gap 2 Between Haves and Have Nots(continued)
  • 4. Credibility and confidentiality
  • Confidence in the consistency of the technology
  • Confidence in the credibility of the information
  • Trust in the confidentiality of sites and
    transactions
  • 5. Capturing information
  • Agreed protocols for storing, tagging and
    retrieval of digital materials
  • Search engines and other resource discovery
    mechanisms
  • 6. Collaboration
  • Existing or emergent networked communities
  • Co-creation of knowledge

45
Collaboration Existing or emergent networked
communities
  • The limits of stand-alone computers
  • The Web as a market place for ideas
  • Linkages between broadcasters, publishers,
    booksellers and other information sources
  • Online communities both sponsored and spontaneous
  • Groupware and shared task management
  • Networking and the co-creation of knowledge

46
Summary Dimensions of the Digital Gap
  1. Connectivity
  2. Competence
  3. Content
  4. Credibility and confidentiality
  5. Capturing information
  6. Collaboration

47
The Digital Gap The Matryoshka Principle
48
Gap 3 Between Claims and Counter-claims
  • Engaging with the technology for learning
  • Locating, retrieving and utilising resources
  • Evaluating sources and resources
  • Assimilating new information and insights
  • Reconceptualising - transforming understandings
  • Networking - contributing to the community of
    learners
  • For each Claim and Counter-claim

49
The e-learning hexagon
Engaging
Locating
Networking
Evaluating
Reconceptualising
Assimilating
50
Possible recommendations to Governments
  • For a start, State and Federal Governments should
    model best practice in terms of the accessibility
    of their sites, and should develop, promulgate
    and subscribe to national standards with respect
    to site design, similar to those developed by the
    Government of Canada. In particular, it is
    incumbent on Government to ensure that their
    sites are accessible to a variety of users,
    including those for whom English is not their
    first language, people with various disabilities,
    and those with older or less complex hardware and
    software.
  • There is a case for the development of a national
    elearning strategy for the dual purposes of
    enhancing Australias competitiveness (including
    the global employability of our people) and
    ensuring a robust, well-informed democracy in an
    era of increasing information. Such a strategy
    would require bipartisan support and would
    necessitate support by both state/Territory and
    Federal Governments.

51
Further recommendations (2)
  • In relation to providing adequate technology
    access for all Australians, a great deal of work
    has already been done by HREOC, COTA and the
    Access, Participation and Skills Division of
    the National Office for the Information Economy.
    However stronger linkages with educational
    authorities and departments may be desirable,
    perhaps through AICTEC. There has been some
    valuable work done by NOIE that address aspects
    of the digital divide. A joint task force should
    be established between DEST and NOIE especially
    around the issue of social justice.
  • It is particularly vital to support initiatives
    for Small and Medium Enterprises to get online.
    Again there are some significant NOIE projects in
    this regard, which should be supported from an
    educational if not a commercial perspective by
    the Australian National Training Authority and
    the relevant State and Territory TAFE authorities.

52
Further recommendations (3)
  • The National Goals of Schooling already refer to
    both ICT and Information Literacy as fundamental
    accomplishments for school aged children, and
    many TAFE and Higher Education providers have
    similar statements in relation to their students.
    However there is as yet no comparable statement
    for the population as a whole, and there is merit
    in developing such national policy positions. In
    particular, the Government could endorse the
    Australian Library and Information Associations
    Statement on Information Literacy for All
    Australians.
  • There are two consequences of these actions. The
    first is that professional development needs to
    be provided for teachers at all levels in the
    formal education system. This already appears to
    be the case within the schooling sector and for
    TAFE teachers, but the national coverage of
    university faculty is very variable. The second
    consequence is the need for extensive training
    for librarians and other information
    professionals.

53
Further recommendations (4)
  • If government information is placed into the
    digital domain as a way of informing people of
    their rights or satisfying other statutory
    obligations, this places a concomitant onus on
    governments to ensure that all citizens have
    access to the technology required to obtain,
    download and access the needed information
  • At present, a great deal of effort is expended in
    the creation of educationally relevant resources.
    In both the schools and TAFE sectors,
    significant attempts are being made nationally to
    reduce duplication of effort and to share
    resources, for instance through the Learning
    Federation and more generally via EdNA Online
    In the case of Higher Education, however, there
    does appear to be some wasteful duplication of
    resources due to excessive competition between
    institutions. There might be merit in
    establishing something analogous to the Joint
    Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK,
    which not only spans Further and Higher
    Education, but which all has a remit to identify
    and bring under a unified umbrella the
    Distributed National Electronic Resource.

54
Further recommendations (5)
  • Given the global reach of electronic providers,
    it may be a matter of concern that there does not
    appear to be any formal governmental
    participation in the Association of Commonwealth
    Universities Observatory on Borderless Higher
    Education (OBHE), although a number of Australian
    universities, IDP Australia and the AVCC are all
    subscribers. 
  • Since public libraries, museums, art galleries
    and archives offices are such major repositories
    of the national heritage and of other digital
    resources, there may be merit in forming an
    alliance between educational and cultural
    authorities at all three levels of government,
    and in providing funding to allow for the
    digitisation of relevant resources. It must be
    noted that additional funding may be required to
    ensure continuing updating and maintenance of
    such sites.

55
A reflection on learning
  • Learning is the only thing that never fails.
    You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies,
    you may lie awake at night listening to the
    disorder in your veins, you may miss your only
    love and lose your monies to a monster, you may
    see the world about you devastated by evil
    lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the
    sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing
    for it, then to learn. Learn why the world wags
    and what wags it. That is the only thing which
    the poor mind can never exhaust, never alienate,
    never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and
    never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing
    for you. Look at what a lot of things there are
    to learn pure science, the only purity there
    is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime,
    natural history in three, literature in six. And
    then, after you have exhausted a milliard
    lifetimes in biology and medicine and
    theo-criticism and geography and history and
    mathematics, why, you can start to make a cart
    wheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty
    years learning to begin to learn to beat your
    adversary at fencing. After that you can start
    again on mathematics, until it is time to learn
    to plough.
  • (White, 1938, p. 254)

56
The e-learning hexagon
Engaging
Locating
Networking
Evaluating
Reconceptualising
Assimilating
57
Elements of a model of e-learning
  • Engaging with the technology
  • Locating, retrieving and utilising resources
  • Evaluating sources and resources
  • Assimilating new information and insights
  • Reconceptualising - transforming understandings
  • Networking - contributing to the community of
    learners
  • 3 Cs Community, Communication and Cognition

58
Engaging with the technology Claims
  • Convenience - available 247
  • Suits a range of learning styles
  • Fewer (or different) impediments to participation
  • User anonymity or protected identity
  • On the Internet, no one knows youre a dog
  • Inexhaustible patience of the technology
  • Possible to exit from difficult or awkward
    situations
  • Opportunity to contribute to others learning
  • Highly addictive - engages curiosity-driven
    inquirers
  • Requires high degree of self-discipline
  • 4EsEffectiveness, Ease of Use Engagement
    Environment

59
Engaging with the technology Counter-claims
  • Costs and connectivity may preclude some
  • There is an overwhelming amount of information
  • Some sources too complex or require high levels
    of literacy
  • Impatience with breakdowns/slow connections
  • Learners may not believe in the technology
  • Phenomenon of computerphobia (gender?)
  • Many people have a fear of looking stupid
  • People may lack awareness of netiquette
  • Concerns about the presentation of self
  • Lack of feedback or context to contributions
  • Search engines may militate against serendipity

60
Locating, retrieving and utilising resources
Claims
  • Search engines facilitate plain language
    inquiries
  • Not all located resources will be digital
  • Not all finding aids will be digital either
  • Portals and specialised search engines can
    facilitate the identification of relevant sources
  • Push technologies (including personal web
    watchers) can customise searching
  • Being part of a community of learners can
    increase a learners reach (but not his or her
    grasp?)

61
Locating, retrieving and utilising resources
Counter-claims
  • Many useful resources are on the deep web
  • Some resources are pay-per-view
  • If its not on the web, it doesnt count
  • English is the dominant medium
  • Some material takes too long to download
  • Mutable resources are impermanent
  • Problem of non-enduring locators
  • Evolving nature of each inquiry
  • The challenges of navigating in hyperspace

62
Evaluating sources and resources Claims
  • Potential to evaluate original digitised
    resources
  • The lack of rigid canonical thinking frees
    learners to make independent judgements
  • Many search engines provide a relevance rating
  • Reputable institutions, publishers and
    organisations provide a seal of approval
  • Potential to obtain expert input from others

63
Evaluating sources and resources (contd.)
  • Move towards refereed sites and electronic
    publications
  • Range of useful web evaluation guides
  • Coverage
  • Currency
  • Objectivity
  • Accuracy
  • Authority
  • Audience

64
Evaluating sources and resources Counter-claims
  • The overwhelming volume of information
  • Screen-based nature of the web militates against
    study
  • The appearance of websites is not always a guide
    to quality
  • Lack of comparability between offline and online
    sources
  • Links do not always bear the imprimatur of the
    referring site
  • Understanding how search engines and portals rate
    sources
  • Lack of narrative structure leads to
    decontextualised knowledge claims
  • The dynamic nature of digital spaces affects
    evaluation
  • Information literacy itself is an evolving
    capability

65
Assimilating new information and insights Claims
  • Learning involves more than the accumulation of
    isolated factoids
  • Learners have access to diverse information
    sources and forms, and hence to various
    perspectives
  • The creation of concept maps that mirror
    understanding
  • Software can facilitate the capture and
    management of large amounts of information (Lynx,
    Storyspace, e-gems etc)
  • Dynamic nature of the domain accommodates
    evolving development of understandings
  • Considerable potential to request help from others

66
Assimilating new information and insights
Counter-claims
  • Non-linear nature of hypertext
  • Sheer number of sources to be integrated
    (Infoglut or Data Smog)
  • Evolving nature of learners understandings
  • Inconsistencies between sources
  • Decontextualised nature of many resources
  • Mutability or volatility of sources

67
Reconceptualising - transforming understandings
Claims
  • Seeing things from a new perspective lies at the
    heart of all learning (Piaget)
  • Technologies can support transformation and
    visualisation of digital information
  • The web as a metaphor for cognitive functioning
    (the interbrain)
  • Knowledge can be co-constructed through a
    learning community
  • Reconceptualisation through vicarious learning

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Reconceptualising - transforming understandings
Counter-claims
  • Technologies can pre-ordain knowledge structures
  • High degree of technological proficiency may be
    needed to use certain software
  • Possibility of misconstruing important concepts
    without correctives
  • Time for reflection may be in short supply in the
    online world

69
Networking - contributing to the community of
learners Claims
  • Provides a human aspect to online learning
  • Essentially a democratic, self-regulating
    environment
  • Unprecedented opportunities to publish ideas
    and findings (see, e.g., ornithology genealogy)
  • Requests for help have exceptionally wide reach
  • Information may be shared in a variety of formats
    (text and non-text)
  • Communities of learners may be virtual or real
    (eg companies or communities)
  • Knowledge can be co-created e.g., through tools
    such as Answer Garden

70
Networking - contributing to the community of
learners Counter-claims
  • Ability to participate is dependent on
    connectivity (may be controlled by employer)
  • Lack of quality control over information
  • In unmoderated lists, ignorance can be amplified
  • Moderated lists can exert a censoring or
    silencing of contributions
  • The willingness to share requires both technical
    competence and personal confidence

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Elements of a model of e-learning
  • Engaging with the technology
  • Locating, retrieving and utilising resources
  • Evaluating sources and resources
  • Assimilating new information and insights
  • Reconceptualising - transforming understandings
  • Networking - contributing to the community of
    learners
  • 3 Cs Community, Communication and Cognition

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Looking backwards to move forwards Implications
of fifty years of e-learning research and
development
  • We need to avoid the narrow pedagogies that are
    predisposed by available technologies, such as
    those dictated by currently available VLEs, and
    instead impose broader and more sophisticated
    pedagogies that address the necessary
    relationships between community, communication
    and cognition. Or, putting this another way, if
    we want to put the learning into e-learning
    then we have to treat technology as a mediator of
    what are, essentially, social learning processes.
    (Ravenscroft, 2002)

73
Conclusion
  • Higher education is not a factorya businessor
    a bureaucracy. We need to develop more humane
    and organic analogies and models. The relevant
    analogies are biological, ecological, organic,
    psychological, sociological and philosophical.
    Auniversity is a habitat, a society, a
    community, an environment, an ecosystem. It
    should be judged by the quality of life that it
    fosters, the opportunities for experience and
    exploration it provides, the concern for growth,
    for enrichment and for culture that it
    exemplifies. The question is not just What does
    your machine produce? but also How does your
    garden grow?
  • Pace, C R (1971). Thoughts on Evaluation in
    Higher Education.
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