In September 2020, The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) created a Joint Institute with Qingdao Agricultural University (QAU). The aim is to “…expand transnational higher education in the land-based sector” (Royal Agricultural University, 2020).
The UK-China Joint Institutes has set up an online symposium series exploring student experience.
“This series of workshops seeks to bring together members of the UK-China Joint Institutes to share best practices in assessing student learning and experiences. As Joint Institutes we have a range of issues unique to our situation: portability of content from one campus to another, quality and consistency of content, high staff turnover, teaching students whose native language is not English, and cultural differences between Western and Eastern thought. How are our students doing? How are they learning, and what is their experience? And how do we know?”
UK China Joint Institute (2021)
Attending the sessions every Monday to explore how other institutions were navigating their technology-enhanced transnational learning (TETL) journeys was very helpful.
On Monday 15th April, I presented a short 10-minute presentation exploring the development of a technology-enhanced transnational learning (TETL) toolkit. The recording can be accessed here.
The emergent toolkit included a range of dimensions including research-informed practice, testing, demo sites, digital accessibility, capturing the range of pedagogic actors and their voice, and this blog particularly the China series. The presentation also explored the Transnational Education Toolkit created by AdvanceHE here.
Perhaps it is the case that the use of toolkit, is “…few and far between” in Education (Reinking, 2019: p2). Transnational education is not just an activity exclusively for teachers; other roles are involved too (Smith & Jarvis, 2020: p2). Roles can experience a different “Transnational reality” (Roldán Vera & Fuchs, in Roldán Vera & Fuchs, 2019: p4). An online questionnaire was used to capture the perspective of the different ‘actors’ involved with RAU’s transnational activity. As transnational education evolves, our toolkits will change too.
Jonciano, J (2021) Using Digital Badges in Monitoring and Student Engagement. UK-China Joint Institute Symposium. 13 April, Online.
Reinking, A (2019) Difficult Conversations: A Toolkit for Educators in Handling Real-Life Situations (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield)
Roldán, V, E & Fuchs, E (eds) (2019) ‘Introduction: The Transnational in the History of Education’ in The Transnational in the History of Education Concepts and Perspectives (Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan) pp1-49
Exploring ‘Open Education & Pivot Choreography’ through Speculative Virtual Dance at the OER Conference 2021.
The Open Education Resources (OER) Conference is an annual event organised by the Association of Learning Technology (ALT). Responding directly to theme 4: Shifts in agency and creativity as empowerment of learners and educators, I presented an alt-format, 7 Minute GASTA presentation which was pre-recorded using StreamYard. A big thanks to Maren Deepwell (@MarenDeepwell) and Tom Farrelly (@TomFarrelly) for their support with this.
Strictly Come Dancing is a popular television show on BBC 1 where participants work with professional dancers in a weekly dance performance competition. A panel of judges score the dancers. Can we score a ten? We see a range of dance genres are performed including jive, tango, waltz, and paso doble.
Drawing on dance as a way to explore open pedagogy issues, the presentation explored the Open Covid Pledge and the OER Commons. How can open education be compared to the Cha Cha Cha? Dance has been used in education before, for example Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses (Daley, Orr & Petrie, 2015). Dancing and learning technology can be foudn together for example “Dancing with Digital Natives” (Manafy & Gautschi, 2011).
Getting involved with the OER Committee by attending regular meetings using the Blackboard Collaborate platform to find out how the event is organised was a helpful experience and to reflect on the issues arising from open pedagogy. Part of this involved writing a guest blog for the OER conference website here.
Often the conference experience can involve a range of formal and academic presentations. This presentation was a conscious effort to provide a fun and alternative event. Dance can be argued to be an interdisciplinary and joyful shared act. How do you dance to the online pivot? How could we dance to open education?
Part of the preparation for the event was to watch episodes of the television programme and purchasing the official board game. Research was also carried out on the different types of dance.
Perhaps it is important to acknowledge that technology can be argued to have a negative impact on the body (Selwyn, 2021). Perhaps digital dancing can stop us from “seeing digital technology in terms of embodied discomfort” as a default way of thinking (Selwyn, 2021). It could be the case that “relational encounters” and “bodily enactment” are both fundamental to the act of teaching, particularly online representations of both processes (Todd, 2021). Perhaps education is similar dance in virtue of both time and rhythm and the “…the temporal complexity of self and society” (Alhadeff-Jones, 2016).
The idea of digital body language has become more important. For example, “digital body language” and “telehealth” are emergent practices (Dhawan, 2021). (Digital) dancing and technology can work together. Using Power BI, Strictly Come Dancing results were shown:
The recording of the presentation can be accessed on YouTube here or it is possible to play the YouTube video below.
One of the presentations explored co-creating a ‘zine’ entitled Collective Hope by Sarah Honeychurch and Wendy Taleo. Contributors were invited to respond to a range of prompt for example ‘What was your favorite conference presentation and why?‘. One of the highlights of the conference was the session by Eamon Costello and Prajakta Girme entitled ‘University V is alive! Now open to the closed, the cruel and the Dead’. What was really interesting was the idea aof the ‘pedagoganym’ and Eamon’s speculative performance.The zine can be accessed here.
Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) ‘Strictly Come Digital Dancing Exploring ‘Open Education & Pivot Choreography’ through Speculative Virtual Dance’ OERxDomains2021 Conference. Online. 21-22 April. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8aag5JF9ec&feature=youtu.be [Accessed: 21 April 2021]
Association of Learning Technologists (ALT) OERxDomains21 Guide (Online) Available at: https://oerxdomains21.org/ [Accessed: 21 April 2021]
The term assemblage in art refers to “…art that is made by assembling disparate elements – often everyday objects – scavenged by the artist or bought specially” (Tate Modern, n.d.) The PressEd conference could be argued to be a ‘digital assemblage’ of a range of tweets from different contributors.
Presenters are assigned 10-15 tweets within a 15 minutes time period to share ideas on Twitter. This can include text, images, videos, and gifs. Helpful guidance is provided to presenters for example exploring digital accessibility in Twitter by adding image descriptions and VoiceOver. Each year, the conference has a hashtag, so it is possible explore the conference content such as #pressedconf18 #pressedconf19 and #pressEdConf20. This year’s hashtag is #pressedconf21.
It is possible to follow the PressEd Conference on Twitter here – @pressedconf and explore the schedule here. You can access the tweets from the presenters for the 2021 conference in the PressEdConf21 Presenters list here. A Twitter moment with the tweets form my presentation is available here. Calls for contributions are advertised annually and it is also possible to submit your WordPress projects to the gallery here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
The University of Kent host monthly Digitally Enhanced Learning Webinars organised by Dr. Phil Anthony. The purpose of the webinars is to provide “…an opportunity to share examples amongst our colleagues when using digital technologies for teaching” (University of Kent, 2020).
The theme for March 2021 was pedagogy and practice when teaching online. For the SDAU project, we used Zoom to deliver the interactive sessions. I submitted a talk entitled ‘Indiana Jones & the Temple of Zoom. A Transnational Online Pivot Adventure‘. The talk explored Technology Enhanced Transnational Learning (TETL). Using metaphors as way to understand what we do as Learning Technologists seemed to be a creative approach. Can an online classrooom be understood as a digital temple? Could a Learning technologist be a Digital Archaeologist? If this is the case, perhaps we would take digital field notes such as those discussed by Rapport (1991) or Remsen (1977). In the temple of doom itself in the film, the main character Indiana Jones faced a range of different challenges including spiders, bugs and traps. As Learning Technologists we also face a range of challenges that we must overcome. This seems like a universal metaphor.
The fundamental question is the extent to which using metapors can help us improve what we do? It is possible to observe that metaphors in learning technology were becoming widely used, for example the EdTech Metaphor Generator. One of the most compelling examples of using metaphors in learning technology was the article entitled VLEs: A Metaphorical History from Sharks to Limpets by Tom Farrelly, Eamon Costello and Enda Donlon. If the VLE was “dead“, then perhaps using metaphors can bring it back to life (The Ed Techie, 2007). Thinking about the VLE as a “digital car park” challenges us the use our imagination in different ways (Farrelly, Costello & Donlon, 2020).It is important to acknowledge that “Metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature” (Lakoff & Johnson, 2003: p3). To what extent can we use metaphors successful in a technology-enhanced transnational context with respect to “cultural coherence” (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003: p22).
What was interesting about the webinars was that Microsoft Teams Live was used due to the high numbers of attendees. There are some key differences between a normal Microsoft Teams meeting and a webinar for example uisng the Q&A feature and automatic muting. Lots of the presenters, including me, had not used Microsoft Teams Live before, so it was very helpful to participate in the test session before the live event.
One of the points I was keen to make is the importance of capturing the voices of Learning Technologists particularly in research contexts. This formed the basis of a techno-autobiographic or techno-autoethnographic approach in order to capture the reflections of a Learning Technologist. In a previous collaborative blog post, I had explored this approach with an academic here. Can we improve the future by exploring the past? Back to the future?
Attending a webinar exploring the use of Zoom delivered by Autumn Caines, an Instructional Designer from University of Michigan (@Autumm) was really compelling and informed many of the ideas I shared during the talk. She talked about the importance of exploring power and digital hierarchies in Zoom, for example being a host or a co-host and how it is possible to view different versions of meeting participants. Her article exploring the “Zoom Gaze” can be found here (Caines, 2020).
Perhaps the role of both the imagination and metaphor can be a platform to think and re-think what we do as Learning Technologists, particularly in transnational distance learning and online pivot contexts. Have educational institutions written off creativity in a systematic capacity? (Nelson, 2018). It can be argued that there are two critical points about imagination. Firstly, that imagination is “…a powerful, meaningful prize of a capacity” and secondly that imagination can be lost (Morris, 2021). Finding creative opportunities as Learning Technologists becomes important. Could the next adventure be ‘Indiana Jones & the Breakout Tombs?’. If this is just pseudo-archaelology, it has still been useful to use metaphor.
Check out the #CreativeHE group and the blog post about the February 2021 meetup, the hashtag #DigiEduWebinars to find out what people are saying about the webinars on Twitter. It is possible to submit an idea for a talk here. A video recording of the presentation is available here.
“Imagination is the beginning of creation”
George Bernard Shaw in Jackson, 2006 in Jackson, Oliver, Shaw & Wisom, 2006
Caines, A (2020) The Zoom Gaze Video conferencing offers an illusory sense of unilateral control over conversations (Online) Available at: https://reallifemag.com/t [Accessed 3 March 2021]
Caines, A (2021) The Zoom Gaze w/Autumn Caines [Zoom] (Online)
Jackon, N (2006) Imagining a Different World in Jackson, N., Oliver, M., Shaw, M. and Wisdom, J. (Eds) (2006) Developing Creativity in Higher Education: An imaginative curriculum pp1-10 (London, Oxon & New York: Routledge)
Lakoff, G, & Johnson, M (2003) Metaphors We Live By (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press)
Rapport, N. (1991). Writing Fieldnotes: The Conventionalities of Note-Taking and Taking Note in the Field. Anthropology Today, 7(1), (Online) Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3032670?seq=1 [Accessed: 2 February 2021]
Wheeler, P [@Pennyjw]. (2021, 2 March) ONE OF MY PROBLEMS WITH THE PROLIFERATION OF INSTITUTIONS “RE-IMAGINING” THINGS IS THAT I’M NOT CONVINCED ANY IMAGINATION WENT INTO THE FIRST VERSION [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/pennyjw/status/1366864197611524103
The #CreativeHE community “…supports pedagogical rebels and free-thinking innovators in experimenting with, developing, sharing and getting support for novel learning and teaching ideas. Together we aim to transform the student and staff experience within and beyond institutional boundaries” (#CreativeHE, n.d.).
Having successfully achieved Adobe Creative Educator Level 1 and 2 in 2020 and having attended a bootcamp, I was really keen to embed creativity in my approach to being a Learning Technologist.
I had attended one of the #CreativeHE events before and was struck by how innovative, inclusive and supportive the community was. This felt like something I really wanted to be part of. When the call for contributions was announced for the meet up in February 2021, I did not hesitate. We were invited to contribute one slide to a Google slide deck with a series of prompts to respond to for a 5 minute presentation. The theme for the event was exploring Creative approaches to building and fostering community with CreativeHE. I shared my experience of preparing to be an AI Wellness space facilitator at Mozfest 2021. The event started with an opportunity to contribute to a collaborative Jamboard which was an effective way to engage our community in a multimodal capacity.
As part of the campfire stories part of the meetup, I shared how we build up a toolkit of approaches and tools to create and nurture a community even if it is a temporary community as part of an online event. I was inspired by the idea that it is possible to “arrive with an idea, leave with a community” (Mozfest 2021). My submission to Mozfest 2021 is called The Post Digital Audio Quilt. The idea of the quilt was inspired by the FemEdTech Quilt which is a physical quilt which was co-created.
I wanted to draw on metaphor of ‘quilting’ in an audio context. The idea is that we would tell a story together. Having experiment with this approach on DS106radio, I was keen to explore the post digital ideas in terms of exploring the human component of using technology particularly in a speculative AI world. I shared a number of tools for example Soundtrap by Spotify, PhilospherAI and Rory’s Story Cubes to engage the community with the topic.
The #CreativeHE community provided useful feedback on our presentations. Beth Cross shared her ideas and work on quilting here with an interesting article about walking and weaving here.
One of the most moving and meaningful presentations was from Dr. Paul Kleiman (@PaulKleiman) exploring bereavement and creativity. One of the fun highlights of the #CreativeHE meetup was the opportunity to dress up facilitated by Neil Carey from Manchester Metropolitan University (@NeilC). The fun can be seen in the screenshots form Microsoft Teams in ‘Together Mode’.
#CreativeHE is a community that that is a privilege to be part of. Perhaps we should all intend to create little (creative) fires, everywhere!
We have now advertised for a Learning Technologist to help us develop a wide range of new digital learning experiences drawing on a both online and blended approaches in our friendly team. The Learning Technologist will support the development of innovative digital resources to transform pedagogy for both students and staff.
You can find out more about the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) here.
What is Edupunk? Edupunk could be argued to be an approach to pedagogy that involves a do-it-yourself philosophy whilst embracing a rebellion towards tools used in a wider capacity and a rejection of commercial approaches. It has been referred to as an “…ideology referring to educators and education strategies with a do it yourself (DIY) spirit” (Lam in Wheeler, 2008). The New York Times defined Edupunk as …”an approach to teaching that avoids mainstream tools like PowerPoint and Blackboard, and instead aims to bring the rebellious attitude and D.I.Y. ethos of “70s bands like the Clash to the classroom” (The New York Times, 2008). Perhaps it is the case that “…true Edupunks deride definitions as tools of oppression used by defenders of order and conformity” (Downes, 2008). It is possible to access a series of five YouTube videos entitled EDUPUNK Battle Royale where you can hear Jim explore Edupunk. In ‘EDUPUNK Battle Royale – Part 1’, Jim explored Edupunk as a “metaphor” (Groom in educoz, 2009). Whilst “Metaphors are not just a matter of language…” we could ask what Edupunk really is (Johnson & Lakoff, 1980: p6). Perhaps Edupunk is more, a “meme”, “ideology”, “‘stylistic approach” and a “Zeitgeist moment” (Groom in educoz, 2009). However, we choose to define Edupunk, the term Edupunk has been “…widely discussed in educational-technology circles-with some people excited about it, and others arguing that professors should use tools provided…” (Young, 2009)
The critical question is: what did punk got to do with learning technology?
Wheeler (2013) created a YouTube video to explore Edupunk. He explained that punk has a number of characteristics: loud, subversive and energy, about doing things for yourself. It could be argued that in the same way that the music in the 1970s was in need of revitalisation and was re-energised by punk music, our “tired education system” was brought to life by Edupunk too (Wheeler, 2013). He asks the critical question show is punk relevant to education? He identifies that Edupunk is about being a “self-starter”, and rejecting centralised controlled systems (Wheeler, 2013). It is about embracing the ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ approach in terms of making the most of what you have to create learning experiences. Wheeler draws on Levi-Strauss’ (1962) notion of bricolage as being a way to making the most of what is available to enable the creation of something else from The Savage Mind (1962) Perhaps this is what good educators do without realising (Levi-Strauss, 1962 in Wheeler, 2013). According to Mambrol (2016) the bricoleur is concerned with “mythological narratives” and the conversely the engineer with the “scientific mind” (Mambrol, 2016). To some extent, perhaps Learning Technologists are bricoleurs and digital engineers. We have to work with the tools we have to enhance teaching and learning with technology.
The next critical question is: what does Edupunk still got to do with learning technology now?
Wheeler (2013) also identifies Edupunk as being about rhizomatic learning, personalised education, taking ownership of your own learning and traditional learning identities and relationships can change (Wheeler, 2013). All of these things are still important to Learning Technologists now. It could be argued that Edupunk is fundamentally against techno-capitalism. This is still a challenge. In a blog post in 2008, Wheeler also discusses how Edupunk “stalks” the institution due to social network tools and free platforms (Wheeler, 2008). To some extent, Edupunk is still challenging institutions. “Anarchists take into account that knowledge is produced through situated processes” (Haworth, 2012: p6). How do we want to produce knowledge?. It can be argued that anarchism can divide opinion. It can be perceived as “…a sign of intellectual bankruptcy; by others as a sort of treason, a desertion of the democratic front…by still others as merely poetic nonsense” (Read, 1974: p56 in Suissa, 2006: p1).
Jim Groom (@jimgroom) who is organising the OER Open Education Conference this year is pictured in the image and is credited for creating the notion of Edupunk (Ebner, 2009). He argues that Edupunk has “hit a nerve” and provides us with a critical space to think about “how we think about our learning in terms of our culture” and “brings the logic of culture back into teaching and learning” (Groom in educoz, 2009).
The final critical question is: what does edupunk still got to do with learning technology?
Drawing on Edupunk as an approach to open education can be a constructive foundation on which to base best practice in terms of both working with what we have and sharing what we can. Edupunk is still unequivocally still relevant. Perhaps this could the age of Neo-EduPunkor Post Digital EduPunk? For me, being a Learning Technologist is about being equally critical as enthusiastic about educational technology. Cole (2005) describes the power struggle between the cyberpunk and the megacorporations where “power is imposed by a system of social domination” (Cole, 2005: p259 in Eli, 2017). Edupunk can give us a space to think about open education. It can be exciting to be one of the “…rebellious professors who were interested in deconstructing education from the inside” (Kamenetz, 2011). Is it possible to be a polite techno-anarchist? Jim, if you are reading this, “The fluorescent lighted space of the LMS” could be the title next punk album and I would love to be a part of it (Groom in educoz, 2009).
If you want to find out more about Edupunk, heck out The Edupunks’ Guide by Anya Kamenetz (2011) here and her blog DIY-U here. Kamenetz also has a book with a helpful resource guide for Do-It-Yourself Education (Kamenetz, 2010: p136).
Nørgård, T, T (2021) What comes after the ruin? Speculative design for preferable university futures [Online]. in PaTHES Fall 2021 Thematic Webinar Series on “Foresight, speculative design and preferable higher education futures. September 2021.
Susan Baker, Library Operations Manager and Pip McDonald Learning Technologist, explore how to make the most of the library in a remote capacity using learning technology. This is a collaborative blog post to bring together the Library and Learning Technology at RAU. The Library plays an important role in your student journey and the digital studuent experience. Due to the impact of the global pandemic, accessing the Library off campus has become important. The Library itself is always changing and evolving to embrace digital tools and has been argued to be a “virtual destination” (Campbell, 2006). At RAU, Learning Technology can help to engage with the Library when you are not on campus. It is important to acknowledge that “The role of…libraries in our digital age is one of the most pressing concerns of humanities, scholars and citizens worldwide” (Mizruchi, 2020: p2). In this blog post, we explore four key ways to do this.
RAU Resource Lists
RAU Resource Lists enable students to access a list of resources for each module, many of which are available online. As the RAU Library say, RAU Resource Lists “…are full of ideas of what to read, where to start and have links to relevant online books and articles” (RAU Library, n.d.).
Login to Gateway – https://gateway.rau.ac.uk/ and scroll to the bottom of the page. RAU Resource Lists are located on the menu on the bottom left-hand side of the page. Click on ‘RAU Resource Lists’. Login to the RAU Resource Lists by using the same login as you use for Gateway.
Type in a module title or topic or key work into the search box. A list of modules will be shown below. Click on the module to view the list of resources.
Click on a module to load the online resources.
It is possible to view the online module resources on each individual module page. You can also download the resources list by clicking on ‘View & Export’.
Find IT @ RAU
Find it @RAU is a dynamic way to search for a wide range of resources including e-books, journals, databases and the library catalogue.
In order to create a successful search, type your search into the box. You can then narrow down your search results. Access the results of your search. Ensure that you sign in, in order to customise your results. Enter your search terms. It is possible to also use the Advanced Search feature.
A White Paper was published that identified the existence of “digital estates” in higher education (Manifesto, 2021). Is the Library part of the “digital estate?” (Manifesto, 2021). Using both the RAU’s Library and its learning technology are fundamental to making the most of your studies and to ensure you have a positive student experience. It is possible to acknowledge a “worst-case scenario” where students suffer “the worst of both worlds” – those enjoying the online component being forced to participate in web-based communication, and those happier communicating online having to attend classes” (Sharma & Barrett, 2007: p8). As a student during challenging times, it is critical to make the best of both worlds. We encourage you to makethe most of the Library remotely using Learning Technology.
From 8th March the Library is open Mon – Fri 9am-5pm by appointment only. Appointments are needed to collect a reservation or to book a limited number of study spaces via email@example.com Online support is available from 10am to 5pm Sat – Sun via firstname.lastname@example.org
A related blog post exploring accessing the Library remotely can be found here.
This blog post has also been cross posted on the Library blog here.
Campbell, J, D (2006) Changing a Cultural Icon: The Academic Library as a Virtual Destination. EDUCAUSE Review, 41(1), 16-18.(Online) Available at: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/99195/ [Accessed: 18 February 2021]
Mozilla Festival took place in a virtual capacity in March 2021. MozFest is “…a unique hybrid: part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world” (MozFest, n.d.). The notion of of the possibility to “arrive with an idea, leave with a community” is very compelling (MozFest, n.d.). The festival is structured into different spaces and themes including neurodiversity, decentralisation and shifting power in tech.
Mozilla offered a range of support sessions on Zoom and Slack to support Facilitators with their sessions in addition to Wranglers to support us through the MozFest journey. Facilitating a live 60 minute discussion session called The Post Digital Audio Quilt: A Pop Up, Speculative & Inclusive Audio Fiction Experiment exploring AI Wellness at MozFest was both an exciting and unique opportunity. The project was inpsired by FemEdTech Quilt. The Post Digital Audio Quilt involved collaborative storytelling using a range of prompts, frames and provocations for example Rory’s Story Cubes and a live session with an AI tool called Philospher AI that uses GPT – 3 hosted by Open AI created by Murat Ayfer (@Mayfer) on Zoom. We also explored the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Barlow from 1996. How is this relevant today and in the future? AI can bring up a wide range of issues going back to Laplace’s Demon. A range of multimodal provacations were used including quotations for example form Neuromancer (Gibson, 1948). It can be argued that people have made a choice to embrace fiction particularly as a result fo the global pandemic (Morgan, 2021).
In order to prepare for the session, I shared my journey at the #CreativeHE meetup in February 2021 and wrote a blog post about this experience here.
I am very grateful to the Wrangler who provides support for the session, Ahnjili, and to the participants whose contributions were thoughtful. It is It was also possible to reflect on the session and contirbute to the MozFest Studio for Tuesday 9th March here with another Facilitator, which involved answering questions in a live broadcast from Amsterdam using Zoom. The host asked the Facilitators about the extent to which AI can be creative. How can we define creativity?
MozFest used Spatial Chat which was an exciting new platform. Miro Board, the online whiteboard, was also used.
Both tools were useful. Positive feedback from a participant was recieved:
Simon Alexander also wrote about the session in a blog post on the Libraries Connected Blog post entitled ‘MozFest 2021: Using technology as a storytelling tool‘ here.
There are so many interesting AI tools. Peter Tolley, the RAU’s new Learning Technologist identified Shortlyai, an AI writing partner. Would studenrts benefit from an AI writing partner? As Peter asked, how would issues arounn plagiarism and collusion be handled? ” Ai wrote my essay?”
MozFest 21 was an exciting, cutting edge and interdisciplinary event to be part of. The quotation from Bob Alotta below consolidated this:
“Whether playfully or audaciously – it is only by imagining what does not yet exist: new pathways, new solutions, new possibilities – that we can break our silos and strengthen our commitment to operate interdependently. The joy of playfulness and invention that is at the core of MozFest is critical to fueling our movements”
(J. Bob Alotta – VP, Global Programs – Mozilla In Mozilla Festival, n.d.).
Follow MozFest on Twitter here and follow the hashtag #Mozfest.
Recently, I have been listening to the podcast version of 25 Years of Ed Tech by Martin Weller. It reminded me that perhpas the past is a good place to explore the future.
It is Thursday 11th February 1897. We are practising our handwriting, writing our names and the date.
In February 2021, I attended a Victorian lesson from the Pit Village School at Beamish Museum streamed live on Zoom and delivered by a teacher in authentic Victorian clothes. In this blog post I reflect on the Victorian lesson experience. To what extent have our approaches to pedagogy and technology-enhanced learning (TEL) changed since then?
The Revival of the Sandbox
The teacher talked us through the learning objects or ‘technology’ in the Victorian classroom. In addition to the abacus and the blackboard, one of the objects that really stood out was the mini sandboxes for each student. The teacher explained that students would practise making shapes in the sand and when they made a mistake they could start again by shaking the box. This is a powerful approach. This struck me as being familiar in virtue of the fact that in learning technology, we often make use of a sandpit or sandbox approach. For example, when we train staff, we create a copy of the tool and call it the sandbox platform in which staff can be trained and feel free to make mistakes without being concerned about having an impact in a live site. This seems to be a valuable approach that exists in both Victorian and present pedagogical realities. Perhaps there are no mistakes, only learning!
The teacher showed a board with a range of writing frames and sentence builders with an image to reinforce the content for example exploring the use of the definite and indefinite articles “hat, a hat and the hat”. Perhaps this could be an early example of dual coding potentially paving the way for multimodal instruction from the “monomodal world” modes (Kress, Jewitt, Ogborn & Tsatsarelis, 2001: p8). Studies have been carried out to explore the impact of embedding visual content in the pedagogic process (Clark & Lyons, 2004 in Caviglioli, 2019: p13). Multimodal learning can be argued to be teaching with “the multiplicity of modes (Kress, Jewitt, Ogborn & Tsatsarelis, 2001: p8).
Manners maketh…the Pedagogy?
The teacher identified some of the famous sayings that could be heard in the Victorian classroom such as ‘Children should be seen and not heard’. It seemed that there was an overarching teacher-centered approach. Conversely, nowadays it could be argued that there has been a significant pedagogical shift to embracing student-centeredness. Furthermore, educational institutions have celebrating increasing their opportunities to celebrate student voice. Students are both seen and heard.
Chalk & Talk, Sage on the Stage
The approach to teaching was explicitly ‘chalk and talk’ and ‘sage on the stage’. The teacher explained that the teacher would stay at the front of the class and students would come to the front to show the teacher their work and the teacher would rarely walk around the classroom. The classroom itself seemed to be in a linear and traditional with desks facing the front. The teacher informed the lesson participants that the days at school would be long with not a great deal pedagogical variety. Students also attended Saturday and Sunday schools too. In contrast, modern classrooms are often designed in circles and a dynamic structure.
The teacher discussed how poor children may not have gone to school, how factory work after school would be common, how some students were required to pay the teacher, and how there was not a great deal of homework due to the need for students to work and the lack of daylight.
The teacher brought to our attention the use of slate that students would use to write on using chalk. It was interesting to reflect on how the slate is similar to the tablets we use today. I recall visiting Beamish Museum with English for Academic Purposes (EAP) students and reflecting on how an iPad is similar to the slate tablets. The blackboard was a key feature in the Victorian classroom. The teacher used a stick or pointer to draw the students’ attention to content on the board. Learning by repetition and or by rote was commonplace. We took part in a live poem reding where the teacher recited a poem and we all copied. The teacher tested one student to see if they could remember the whole poem. Copying from the board was expected. Perhaps the blackboard was like a form of collaborative Google document. It was interesting when we participated in a timetables activity that the teacher asked us to keep off the chat function in Zoom. The teacher also led a money task exploring shillings, farthings. The teacher talked us through how students could use ink and that could be an ‘Ink Monitor’ who mixed the ink powder with water and distributed the ink to the individual desks. Modern learning environments appear to be curated in dynamic circles. According to the teacher who led the session, there were 70 students in the Victorian classroom. Nowadays, perhaps there is a trend towards smaller class sizes. However, the lecture format does emulate Victorian pedagogic features such as a large number of students facing forward with a static Lecturer delivering content. If it is not broken, don’t fix it?
The teacher explained that students were instructed to write in a right-handed capacity only and that if a student did not do this then they would have their hand tied behind their back. There seemed to be a need to make every student the same. This reminded me of the famous blue eyes and brown eyes experiment. In 2019, I delivered a TED style talk exploring this experiment where I placed printed out images of blue and brown eyes under the seats of the audience and emulated the experiment live followed by a reflection.
To some extent, perhaps the Victorian classroom was still a “political place” (hooks, 1994: p4). The teacher discussed how the curriculum was constructed of “God, Queen & Country” (Teacher, Victorian Lesson at Beamish, Thursday 11th February 2021). In the Victoria classroom, there was a picture of Queen Victoria on the wall and an image of Grace Darling who rescued survivors from a shipwreck in 1838 (Grace Darling.co.uk, 2020). Perhaps “The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy” (hooks, 1994: p12). The experience was a ‘radical’ experience bringing up issues of equality, pedagogy, and social justice.
A few weeks after the lesson, digital certificates were emailed to lesson participants. This could remind us of open badges. It was possible to download the certificate and personalise the content.
Attending a live Victorian lesson on Zoom was a radical experience bringing up issues of equality, pedagogy, and social justice. It was almost an experience of ‘pedagogic neostalgia’. Neostalgia can be defined as “the combined emotions of nostalgia and newness at the same time. Often feels like rediscovery and has more of a positive connotation than nostalgia” (DangerousMuteLunatic, 2013)Perhaps attending a Victorian lesson and reflecting on the experience was a useful activity in terms of exploring how it has led to the modern experience and to help us speculate in the “Brave New Digital Classroom” of the future (Blake, 2013).
It is possible to book the Victorian lesson experience here.
Beamish Museum (2021) Victorian Lesson at The Pit Village School on Zoom [live performance] Performed by Beamish Museum. (Beamish Museum, Country Durham, 11th February