In 2007, I was working for Brisbane Catholic Education as an Education Officer for Learning Management. The brief was to define learning management requirements and to set the organisation on a path towards implementation of an LMS. Around this time I was discovering web 2.0 and it’s potential for education… Retrospectively I think I took a tangent from the expectations of my role as it produced a metaphor for reflecting on learning, a scope of learning management beyond the expectation (and what was technically available at the time) and revealed more questions than I did answers about ‘which LMS’ to deploy. It was professionally a wonderful time for me and I was able to immerse myself in a network of learning and ponder ideas. Luckily they seem to have recovered from my randomness with hopefully some positive legacy from the ideas I helped promote.
The discussion paper “Learning Landscapes: Exploring and imagining learning in the 21st Century“, set out to position the conversation about the potential of online tools within a context of a reflection on pedagogy.
Recently, I’ve been pondering the value of the metaphor that is a central part of the paper. “The metaphor builds upon work of Stephenson and Coomey (2001), who undertook an analysis of elearning research. The learning experiences that they reviewed ranged from teacher-controlled to learner-managed environments and from directed tasks to open-ended and strategic activities”. The online learning paradigm grid from Stephenson and Coomey’s meta-analysis of online learning research articles identifies 4 quadrants where the opportunities for learning range from teacher-controlled to learner-managed and from specified tasks through to open-ended and strategic activities.
For each quadrant I added a metaphor for reflection (as a different type of landscape – an unusual choice for be since I have limited success from a horticultural perspective) and this was used with some schools as a reflective tool for thinking about the learning opportunities that teachers provide. It also provided some rich debate about whether a teacher can really give students all of the power for there learning and what should be controlled and when. I also had some individual teachers tell me that they realised that they were not allowing students to take control or that they were expecting students to be able to do things like group-work without the support of vital scaffolding. More than that, it lead to some fascinating discussions about where certain activities best fit and how this applies to the complex interactions that occur throughout a learning cycle and the diversity of student needs and interests.
On many occasions the best answer was “it depends…” and “students could be learning in any or all of these environments”. Synthesizing this complexity is difficult especially when it involves rethinking pedagogy or allowing differing perspectives to coexist. Pedagogically I needed a way to describe the diversity of pedagogical approaches and how they could all have a place within the practice of a teacher. It certainly lead to a lot of thinking and reflection but sadly I think a lot of that occurred within my own brain!
At the time I was very into it at the time and saw it as a lens for looking at almost any educational situation. So my current pondering is whether it made a difference and does it still have merit?
Rablin, A. (2008). Learning landscapes: Exploring and imagining learning in the 21st Century. Brisbane Catholic Education – Curriculum Discussion paper. Available from: https://ackygirl.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/learning-landscapes-booklet.pdf
Stephenson, J., & Coomey, M. (2001). Online Learning: It is all About Dialogue, Involvement, Support and Control-According to Research. In J. Stephenson (Ed.), Teaching and learning online: pedagogies for new technologies (pp. 37-52). London: Kogan Page. Available from: http://labspace.open.ac.uk/file.php/4799/Activity_2_extract.pdfThis link may work: http://labspace.open.ac.uk/file.php/6925/activity_2_extract.pdf
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