Thursday, 20 June 2013


This is a repost of some excellent work of a friend, Allan Carrington, who is also an Apple Distinguished Scholar and has considerable experience with integrating technologies into classrooms and lecture theatres.  His work blends Bloom's taxonomy with the verbs needed to articulate the specific learning outcomes desired for a course of study, the activities you might engage in with students to support the learning outcomes, and ultimately, some of the tools available on the iPad to help support those activities.

It is a very nice piece of work and well worth discussion. Go HERE to download a copy of the current iteration of the Padagogy Wheel or HERE to read more about Allan's work if you haven't already come across his work. Enjoy.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Technology-assisted Language Learning

Technology-assisted Language Learning (TALL), Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL) have been part of the tool set for language learning for over 50 years, with one of the very early innovations created at the University of Illinois in the form of the PLATO project in 1960.

Fast forward 50 years and The new generation of learning tools includes smart phones and tablets, and phablets (devices that are somewhere between a phone and a tablet in size), with more computing power, memory and connectivity than could be imagined even just a decade ago. Then you can add to the mix cloud computing and cloud-based applications that are all accessible through wireless and 3G and 4G networks, and the opportunities for language learning are almost endless.

However, putting the pieces together remains a non-trivial task particularly when you move from content delivery to students, to content creation and reflection by students. In some of the work undertaken with colleagues, we have combined cloud-based applications, mobile technologies and ePortfolios to create learning environments where the place of the teacher is important in order to develop and support (modelling and feedback) the learning framework and learning goals, While simultaneously providing an environment that is implicitly student centred and controlled, allowing students to present artefacts (in a coherent and creative manner) they have created to provide evidence of their development of language skills and proficiencies (in this example, English).   The figure below shows the structure of the learning environment, indicating which parts of the environment are entirely student controlled and centred, which parts are shared between students and students (and students and teachers), and which parts are teacher designed and organised.  Feedback welcomed. Please note, the graphic is released under a Creative Commons license and may be reused in not-for-profit contexts and it would be appreciated if the author (Professor David M. Kennedy) was acknowledged, should someone wish to reuse or repurpose the image. We are also looking for collaborators interested in language learning research.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Working in teams: A graduate attribute. Collaboration versus Cooperation

Collaboration or Cooperation

In research undertaken by the author in recent times it was found that the particular institution was not meeting its stated goals in terms of producing graduates who were able to work in teams and had developed the abilities and skills to collaborate effectively. This was in spite of the enormous effort by individual teachers and (what was thought to be) careful design of curricula to ensure that students (over a period of years) had many opportunities to engage in team work in a variety of subjects/courses.

How could this be? In subsequent discussions with both student focus groups and academic staff a common picture emerged. This involved:
  • assigning students (either self-selected or chosen by the lecturer) into groups in order for a team to undertake a particular assignment or assessment task;
  • providing templates or guides that outlined the various components required of team members to complete the team-based assignment; and
  • developing assessment protocols or rubrics to assess student learning (but not necessarily individual student learning).
So what happened? It was found that the students did the sensible thing to maximise their opportunities and their time: they chose to divide and conquer. From a student's perspective, this is a very sensible strategy. Each student takes on a particular responsibility (e.g., one student does the lit review, another designs the survey, while the third writes methodology). That is: they Cooperate. The result is a team that cooperates very well with each other but the amount of Collaboration is limited to ensuring the various parts fit together in a reasonable manner for a final submission.

So what to do?  This is where technology can help innovation. At my current institution we are working on ways of using various hardware and collaborative applications, where students in teams work on documents or research projects simultaneously. One such solution to this issue and one of the better tools for this process is Google Docs. Multiple students can work on the same document simultaneously, seeing each other's contributions and editing each other's text. Therefore classroom design (if this is a face-to-face process) is a crucial part of the process, With a shared central monitor that is large enough so that all members of the team can see it and engage with the single shared document in real time an absolute necessity (and multiple stations across the room). In a fully online environment the same effect is achieved by using a cloud-based document that all students work on simultaneously. With a product like Google Docs (and there are other examples) the history of changes can be seen in the contributions by individuals in the team accessed. We are undertaking work in this area in my current institution in a number of academic disciplines. The room (one of) is shown below. Stay tuned for updates.

The Collaborative spaceThe Collaborative space

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Blended learning: Where to from here?

I have been in transition of late and therefore have not been publishing my ramblings recently. However, 2013 is a new year with a new job starting in March, in Singapore. More about this later.

In thinking about ongoing developments in technologies to support learning and teaching, it is clear that there are a wealth of opportunities, platforms, applications (apps) and resources.  So much so, that deciding what to use, which platform/device and what applications becomes almost overwhelming to any teacher who is tasked with so many other responsibilities to manage, including having a life. However, I'd like to share a quote from Tony Bates: 

Many of the platforms/ devices and applications now available are not panaceas for poor teaching, or saving money, but like all tools, they need to be used appropriately in order to be effective. With so many choices, here is my short list of criteria for choosing one application/ platform or device over another. The non-exhaustive list is:
  • what is the specific educational need(s) the application/platform/device will help address?
    • e.g., communication, content, process, practice, etc etc;
  • what are the limiting/supporting factors in your institutional context (context is vital!)?
    • e.g., will the infrastructure support what you intend to use (mobile bandwidth is a growing problem for many institutions);
    • e.g., where will you and your students receive help from (IT Help Desk?);
    • e.g., how will the application/device provide access and engagement and what training will be needed?;
    • e.g., do you already have access to something similar that is currently installed (the modern LMS has a huge variety of communication options, and some ePortfolios have social networking opportunities built-in (e.g., Mahara);
    • e.g., can the resource be installed onto University/student computers/tablets etc without significant costs/time?;
  • how easy is the resource/application to use and how much support will be needed?
  • will there be a significant change in teacher/student behaviour needed?
  • what is the 'management overhead' for managing the use of the application from a variety of viewpoints, institutional, pedagogical and at the individual teacher level (e.g., are passwords necessary, or is privacy an issue?)?
  • what will the impact on student and/or teacher workload be?
  • is what you propose compatible with institutional policies, equipment, infrastructure, policy (IP and privacy for example) and will management support what you propose?
  • and, not at least, will students be willing to engage and work in ways that make the process worth the effort?
The last is something I have found to be the easiest to solve by involving the students in the process and giving them opportunities to provide feedback and guide the process directly. The rest I leave up to the reader.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Visualising student forum discussions - a temporal web

It has been a long time between postings. However, today I would like to make people aware of the outcomes of the project we have been involved in for some time. Today the TLC has released an open source version of the Bushgrapher software that allows you to visualise conversations in a forum (e.g., a Moodle Forum).

The Bushgrapher block provides a means of visualising the interactions between student postings in a forum. The Bushgraph produced allows a teacher or researcher to visualise student interactions as a temporal web of interactions between individuals engaged in discussion on a forum. The current release version is for internal research use within an institution only and not recommended for research that needs to ensure high levels of student privacy.

More details about the software may be found HERE.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Changing Cultures, Changing Practices: Using Mobile Tools, the Cloud and ePortfolios for Authentic Assessment

This year I have been Invited to speak at EDMEDIA 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal.  Click HERE to see more details about the presentation. If you want to engage in discussion, then Twitter using the hash tag #dmkedmedia or @davidmkennedy.

Abstract: Ubiquitous computing stopped being hype and became a reality in 2010. With the convergence of small mobile devices (the iPad and iPhone in particular), integration with cloud computing, and cheap wireless and/or 3G connectivity, this convergence of technologies has finally come of age. However, the issues for higher education remain the same: design of resources for learning, the activities that drive the learning process, and assessment.

This paper will focus on research that has been undertaken in a small liberal arts university in Hong Kong where multi-language proficiency by students (English and Putonghua) is a key goal for the University. The research focuses on three components that were key to the learning design: iPhones for teaching and learning, using the ‘cloud’ for feedback and sharing (YouTube), and ePortfolios (Mahara) for assessment.

Modern ePortfolios allow students to provide evidence of a variety of learning outcomes using a wide range of media including text, audio, images and video. Multimedia provided students with the opportunity to more completely demonstrate language skills and proficiency. Student learning was monitored by examining media produced using iPhones, stored on YouTube and presented on Mahara. The learning design enabled more immediate and relevant feedback (particularly peer feedback) on critical language abilities.

However, at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, creating this convergence of pedagogy and technology proved to be a non-trivial task and involved technical issues, re-thinking curriculum design and professional development for staff and students. The presentation will use the insights gained from this research to highlight the opportunities and risks associated with what is still seen in Hong Kong (and no doubt elsewhere) as radical approaches to curriculum design.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Change in Education: Taking the Red pill

In listening to a talk recently  about motivation and change I remembered the images associated with the impact on Neo's life in the Matrix movie: he took the Red pill. Once you take the Red pill, everything will change and nothing will be the same again, and in fact, you wont be able to go back to the way things were before.

I would suggest that once you start using technology in teaching and learning, once you change, once you start doing things differently, everything changes.  To continue the metaphor, change is not to be avoided, but embraced for very good reasons. These reasons are very nicely summed up by Eric Hoffer, who said:

"In times of change, the learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists"

 We are focused on preparing students for an uncertain future, and we need to move with them.

Think of some of the changes that have already occurred. MIT gave away their content, and the ROI was enhanced: the sky did not fall. The creation of Open Educational Content and Creative Commons licences that allow content to be shared, and academics still got paid: the sky still didn't fall. And, software become free and open source, and businesses flourished: the sky was still up.

Embrace change: it keeps us all young at heart.