kath-eh-gay-oh-my

This week I was asked, not for the first time, why I use the term pedagogy in my sessions. “Why don’t you use the word andragogy?” My answer as always was brief – “because I don’t want my session to become a futile search for semantic resolutions” (well – words to that effect). Some teachers, especially those who teach teachers, can become incensed that we use a word which is rooted in the education of children. Some actually find the word offensive, for reasons they never seem to vocalise

Malcolm  Knowles, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Knowles, asserted that andragogy (Greek: “man-leading”) should be distinguished from the more commonly used pedagogy (Greek: “child-leading”). I’ve never really ‘got’ Knowles’ theory and believe it to be a fatuous argument. But, that’s personal opinion, which may change as this paper unfolds.

I’d actually prefer it if we had a completely different word to describe the science of teaching and learning, never mind the age of the learner. In reality I’d probably prefer two words – one for the science of teaching and another for the science of learning: one could be a sub-set of the other, but I won’t suggest which.

Anyway, having arrived home after what otherwise was a brilliant day, which saw me deliver two sessions on the ‘Potential of ‘M’ tools and technologies’ [https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/] I raised this subject with my wife (MSc Multimedia and e-Learning) and her sister who is visiting from the USA (Brown [Ivy-League] taught, ancient world classicist, 2 words short of her doctoral thesis). We all agreed that the semantics of this argument were irrelevant, perhaps a smokescreen to hide a deeper fear of new technology. Gail (Sis-in-law) however, was incensed that words were being bandied about that had no actual root in ancient Greek.

She said:

In Greek, a “π?????????”  (pedagogue) was a slave who led a child to and from school. The term π????? ?????? literally means “child escort” or “one who leads/guides a child.” By extension, “?v?r??????” would mean “leading a man” or, as I prefer, “walking a man.” [but] It should be noted that this word does not exist in ancient Greek. [?????? = Greek alphabet unintelligible to WordPress]

I the checked other places and found this on the Excellence Gateway:

‘Pedagogy literally means the art and science of educating children and often is used as a synonym for teaching. More accurately, pedagogy embodies teacher-focused education. In the pedagogic model, teachers assume responsibility for making decisions about what will be learned, how it will be learned, and when it will be learned. Teachers direct learning’.

‘Andragogy, initially defined as “the art and science of helping adults learn,” currently defines an alternative to pedagogy and refers to learner-focused education for people of all ages. In other words an andragogic approach is all about putting the learner in the driving seat.’

Conner, M. L. “Andragogy and Pedagogy.” Ageless Learner, 1997-2004.

I completely disagree with these views. I think that they are damaging and have no relevance in today’s learning arena. The simple fact that Conner asserts pedagogy to be teacher focussed and that androgogy is learner focussed goes against anything I’ve studied before. As we try to instil the idea that we are the guides by the side (“Sage-on-the-stage” to “Guide-by-the- side” (Stinson, Milter, 1996) we should strive to not get bogged down by ‘words’ because ‘words’ are more powerful than we imagine and can distill other, more important messages.

The penultimate word for now comes from Gail:

“If one is looking for ancient terms to apply to modern teaching/educational practices, perhaps ??????????/ ?????????  (to act as a guide/one who guides, explains) is preferable. i.e. kath-eh-gay-oh-my (well, that’s the verb). kath-ey-gay-tays (the one who teaches/guides)”

“Problem is, kathegogy isn’t quite right if you want a word that means the science of teaching/guiding. Maybe katheology. I’d have to give it some thought.”

So will I!

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Refs:

http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/page.aspx?o=135534

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andragogy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedagogy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Knowles

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/

Stinson, J. Milter, R.  (1996).  “Problem-based Learning In Business Education: Curriculum Design and Implementation Issues”.  In Wilkerson, LuAnn and Gijselaers, Wim (Eds.), Bringing Problem-Based Learning to Higher Education:  Theory and Practice.  Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA. (found on http://pbl.tp.edu.sg/Facilitation/Articles/SimWee.pdf: downloaded 27/02/10)

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Health and Safety

Many readers will know that my work is both varied and interesting. Like other ‘e’ and ‘m’ Learning Consultants, trainers and mavens I strive hard to support the various teaching professionals with whom we work.

My work might involve elements of project management, of research and of direct training; all of which requires careful planning and preparation and each role is surrounded by untold amounts of administration. As I say – varied and interesting.

The work I enjoy the most is that where I come face to face with practitioners. I enjoy delivering training sessions and seeing the e-Learning lights come on. I thrive on the participant’s feedback and learn much from them in return.

However, much of my preparation goes beyond simple ‘session planning’. In many cases I also have to plan what ‘kit’ I might require and often have to take it with me. Many readers will have seen James Clay (http://elearningstuff.wordpress.com) with his ‘bag-of-crap’ and John Whalley rarely travels without his huge suitcase full of ‘stuff’. We all do it. In earlier times, before I became ‘green‘ and when I traveled more by car I used to have a garden trolley in the boot upon which I would stack all of my boxes of ‘stuff’ for wheeling about colleges and institutions around the country. It’s at times like this you realise the difficulties that those in wheelchairs face. You should try it sometime.

Anyway, train travel has become no easier.

For example, for my recent trip to Newcastle I took a medium sized suitcase with me. In it was my laptop (and power cables); three folding polystyrene pyramids (https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/) and appropriate labels; assorted ‘mobile’ tools (portable printer, PSP, voice recorder, portable projector), an extension cable, a projector, a set of speakers, a Gyro keyboard and mouse, six Busbi Cameras and sundry bits of ‘stuff’. I also had a backpack with back-up laptop (and power cable) and any paperwork that I needed. Tomorrow I will travel to Blackburn (by car thank Goodness) and will also take an assortment of other goods and books with me for participants to browse.

So, why am I writing about this? Well – as a warning to those others who travel thus.

The bags do not get lighter and the trains are filling up again. I can no longer lift my medium sized suitcase up onto the overhead racks – the last time I tried, I pulled a muscle in my back. This healed well and quickly, but wasn’t helped by having to pull the suitcase up and down staircases in stations that do not (yet) provide lifts. Many trains, especially the ancient commuter coaches operated by Northern Rail have no luggage racks to speak of and when full (as they often are) there is no where to put the baggage other than on the floor where people growl as they trip over it.

To avoid this problem earlier in the week (I had slightly less weight [less kit] but more bulk as I was also carrying 15 sets of headphone/mics and overnight clothes) I split the goods into two bags and my backpack. However, although easier to stash above my head on the racks, it was much harder to get off the train before it filled up and set off again. This was partly because I have pulled a muscle in my tummy (probably carting the big case around last week).

It also scares me that I feel the need to take such kit with me to institutions where I really should be able to just log on (guest internet access), plug in my USB stick and go. The demonstration paraphernalia is not that heavy but the laptop, projector and speakers are.


Experiential Learning

“Rather than treat pedagogy as the transfer of knowledge from teachers who are experts to students who are receptacles, educators should consider more hands-on and informal types of learning.”

John Seeley Brown [Dec. 2006] reported by Martin LaMonica [Staff Writer, CNET News]. Accessed at: http://news.cnet.com/Futurist-To-fix-education,-think-Web-2.0/2100-1032_3-6140175.html on 21/02/10

I’ve been interested for a very long time now in the exploration of pedagogical uses for modern (‘m’) tools and technologies. I hazard to say techniques at this stage, because it is in fact the techniques which need to be pedagogically planned. I’m also interested in the social implications of ‘m’ and how these might be brought to bear on the way we enable learning to take place.

An earlier blog post [https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/]  discusses my use of Bloom’s Taxonomy as an introduction to the development of ‘m’ techniques. I use this taxonomy in the preparation of (and as part of) my workshops. Hitherto, Blooms’ has been the bedrock of my exploration and development.

However, there are other theories that lend themselves to being re-visited with one eye on the tools and technologies of 2010 and beyond. Others have begun this and the foremost seems to be:

Maslow:

I’m quite interested in the way we might revisit Maslow, with an eye on the social and economic changes that are happening around us. I think there’s a real need now to recognise how the (especially) lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy are changing. Young learners now have technological needs that the original paper preceded. As Dan Bevarly (@dbevarly) says: “You can’t engage if you can’t connect”. I am working on this, but as with everything else (and work etc), it’s a slow process.

Some others I have also explored are:

Dewey

http://effective.leadershipdevelopment.edu.au/deweys-3-stage-model/experiential-learning/

  1. Sizing up the situation at hand through objective observation.
  2. Drawing forth knowledge about such situations by recalling similar past experiences (both your own and those of the people around you).
  3. Judging how to proceed, based on this knowledge

http://www.stevehargadon.com/2007/01/john-seely-brown-on-web-20-and-culture.html (Makes a start on Web 2.0 with Dewey at the root.)

Piaget

http://effective.leadershipdevelopment.edu.au/piagets-2-ways-learning-experience/experiential-learning/

even

Confucius

I liked:

“He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”
(Lunyu 2.15) from: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/confucius/ [accessed: 19/02/10]

and to this Confucian quote I would add:

“he who teaches but does not learn – is a fool”

Yet none have addressed, as far as my brief desk-search can see, the tools and technologies of 2010. These must surely change the way we accommodate all of the well-grounded theories and although I’m certain that there are scholars out there who are re-visiting them, these are not yet easily found.

Kolb

I will however revisit Kolb as I can, like Bloom’s Taxonomy, put his theories to good use straight away.

  1. Concrete Experience – (a new experience of situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of existing experience)
  2. Reflective Observation (of the new experience. Of particular importance are any inconsistencies between experience and understanding)
  3. Abstract Conceptualisation (Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept)
  4. Active Experimentation (the learner applies them to the world around them to see what results)

I will post my reflections over time by taking each stage of the above and suggesting ways of employing ‘m’ tools, technologies and techniques to the cycle.

I’d love to hear of any existing examples.

Blooms

This week has been great. I’ve been able to carry out work that I enjoy and that I know I’m good at.

I thrive on learner feedback and these days my learners are teachers, trainers and people who work most closely with those we might call ‘real’ learners. So; smiles, curiosity, ‘bright ideas’ and enthusiasm for the subject are my reward. I’ve encountered all of these this week.

I delivered two sessions at The Sheffield College for MoLeNET on Tuesday and then co-trained with the delightful Nigel Davies (@e4communities) for NIACE e-Guides in Nottingham on Wednesday.

My MoLeNET presentation was a similar one to that delivered by me last week at The Newcastle College. It dealt with the potential for ‘m’ learning – but for these sessions I doubly interpret the ‘m‘ as meaning mobile AND modern. I try to model ‘m’ activities and techniques throughout.

I try to fix all of the session’s activities, tool-use and techniques to Blooms Taxonomy. This is the taxonomy of thinking skills which aims to raise learners’ achievements through simple knowledge acquisition, comprehension of that knowledge and its application (lower order thinking skills – LOTs) – through analysis, synthesis and evaluation (higher order thinking skills – HOTs). There are lots of reasons for doing this, but my main reason is that Bloom’s is a recognisable theory, one that should/would have been addressed during Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and therefore be an understandable foundation we can build upon.

I suggest to my participants that each learner will progress through the taxonomy’s stages at varying speeds and with varying success; often having to return to a previous level (in a cycular fashion – which fits nicely then, with Bruner’s spiral curriculum model: e.g. “Curriculum should be organized in a spiral manner so that the student continually builds upon what they have already learned.” from: http://tip.psychology.org/bruner.html) where they begin their learning journey again. I emphasise that ‘they‘ the teachers, trainers etc. ARE THE experts at this and that ‘they‘ are the creators of activities designed to allow learners to climb (cycle?) through the levels.

I iterate, time and time again that the ‘m’ technique and the ‘m’ technology should be the tool and not the master.

Occasionally, a colleague will ask me if I am demeaning the workshop participants by addressing Blooms in this way. I most certainly am not – I am often thanked/congratulated for reminding them of this long-forgotten rock upon which their teaching skills are built. Just this week one participant caught me as she left and thanked me profusely for introducing her to Blooms and for making it so interesting. She said that she had never heard of the Taxonomy. I wonder how the ITT team at ‘wherever’ missed that?

I start with techniques for using sms text and for this we use the superb Text Wall supplied by http://www.xlearn.co.uk (£25 per annum – Bargain). Two simple questions illustrate how simple it is to move from knowledge to comprehension, simply by thinking about how the question is worded. A third task (task, not question) shows how sms text can be used to deliver synthesis and evaluation. So – the simplest of technologies is addressing several levels of thinking skill. I then deliver a simple ‘odd one out’ exercise stolen from Lilian Soon (@xlearn). The idea being that the technical skills required to build the task (simply adding words and images to a PPT slide) are the same; even though the two slides require considerably different approaches to the answers (LOTs versus HOTs).

We then move on to Web 2.0 sites and their potential (I’ll return to this in another post), finishing this section with a very practical, hands-on floor exercise (keep ’em moving). Having looked at Web 2.0, I finish with an exercise that investigates the pedagogical use of mobile tools.

Experience has taught me that I cannot rely on there being access to any such mobile tools – and certainly not the variety that I would need to use to underpin my message: So I have laminated sets of cards showing pictures of mobile/handheld tools and a brief description of what they might do. These are accompanied by a handout taken from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet25/cheung.html and participants are asked to consider how they might use each of the tools and to film each other deliberating this. The simple act of being filmed helps them to focus on the achievable and to consider things they might not otherwise have considered.

I felt that both MoLeNET workshops were well received and that lots of ‘real’ learners will now benefit from the teachers and trainers’ newfound skills and ideas. Well done everybody. And thank you Benjamin Bloom.

References:

http://faculty.ccconline.org/index.php?title=Blooms_Taxonomy_Tutorial_FLASH

http://www.openeducation.net/2008/04/11/blooms-taxonomy-and-the-digital-world/

My Delicious – Blooms URLS

IPD – 2

Many thanks to those of you that read my previous IPD post and special thanks to those of you that took the trouble to comment. The time and effort you took to respond is much appreciated.

Each comment is blog-worthy in itself.

I did say, at the end of that post that I might do a part-two to IPD and so here it is.  After those thoughtful and constructive comments made by technical experts in the field, I will try to be more conciliatory than I might otherwise have been.

Throughout, I use the word ‘I’ as a composite of personal experience and those experiences related to me by various teaching practitioners up and down the land.

What is it about ‘builds’, or ‘disk images’ that is so hard to manage? I’m sure there’s a reason, but it’s not clear to me what it is. As Col said in his comment: “[we] … don’t always have a realistic insight into the roles of other departments”.

I know that this is a contentious subject – I used to have frequent discussions with colleagues about it but I’m not a systems guy and therefore find it hard to understand. “We can’t add that piece of software because we’ve finished that build now” or “sorry, it’s not part of the disk image”. Another favourite is “oo – you’ll have to wait until half term for that”. I understand the words, I hear the sounds – but not the reason and it just doesn’t translate. Why can’t I have Audacity downloaded and installed on my computer for next week? Really – why?

Somewhere on the institution’s VLE or IntRAnet there will be a software policy. I wonder when was this last updated in collaboration with people who teach or (whoa – what are you about to say??) people who learn? When was there any actual discussion about the policy?

We send our teacher colleagues out on staff development (CPD – maybe eCPD) sessions, often at great expense and during these sessions they become enthused by new tools and techniques they see and become aware of the potential for them and their learners. They then return to base where “no” is the first answer and “not until blah blah blah” is the last one.

De-motivated, the teacher resorts to chalk and talk or worse.

Management, often advised by ill informed IPDs, frequently issue diktats that result in sites being banned – I know I touched on this before but how do we move forward from the stalemate?

I was at a college recently, where Facebook had been banned. The safety of learners and teachers was the reason (in a nutshell). This seems to fly in the face of informed opinion. E.g. “Pupils given a greater degree of freedom to surf the internet at school are less vulnerable to online dangers in the long-term, [ofsted] inspectors say.”http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8505914.stm

The thing that is missing from all of the scenarios on both IPD and IPD-2 is discussion, mediation and decision. The three parties involved should be teachers (informed by and in collaboration maybe, with learners), technicians imbued with the remit for systems safety and management. No one or two of these parties should be able to make unilateral (or bi-lateral?) decisions. This needn’t be an arduous or long winded procedure.

It would seem that Louise http://loujak78.wordpress.com/ and Col http://mindmug.wordpress.com/ have this cracked in their institutions and that Ben http://homepage.ntlworld.com/armaitus/work.htm would be a welcome (if underpaid) leader of any institutional systems team.

So – are you prepared to talk?

IPDs

I’ve waited a while to post this. To protect the guilty I suppose, but even so – I think the issue needs raising. Perhaps even debating: my views might be wrong – who knows?

IPD’s? Innovation prevention departments: a term coined by a colleague in Scotland. What are they, why do they exist and how do they function?

Well, all institutions need someone, often a large team of someones, to look after their various networks and their technological kit. This, in many cases (but before you shout at me – not all, by any means) is the IPD.

These are the girls and boys who make sure the bulb in your projector is working. They ensure that your Interactive Whiteboard is aligned with the projector and that the PC running both is connected to both. They install the necessary software and keep it updated (they even ensure that all necessary plug-ins are installed and updated). Don’t they?

These are the people that make sure no one can get onto the institution’s ‘systems’ without a proper security clearance, but who also ensure that learners and visitors can easily access the internet from the institution’s premises. Don’t they?

They work with learning and teaching professionals, and management to decide which, if any, web sites should be banned or black listed following carefully considered reasoning. Often, when asked they move certain sites for certain courses onto course specific white lists. Don’t they?

Well – no: not all. Not by any means! In many establishments, several of which I have visited over recent weeks, getting onto the Internet is nigh on impossible unless you work or study there. As a visitor, an invited visitor at that, it is often a real chore to deliver the work I’m invited to deliver. Whilst I’ve yet to hear ‘not on your nellie’ I have had many similar responses when asking for access to the Internet via an institutional network. Let me clarify that – I don’t want to go onto the network itself, just to use it to access the Internet. Now – I can hear the clatter of keyboards rushing to tell me that the security of blah blah blah, is their role and to let me onto their blah blah blah is a breach of that security but surely – having someone in the room log me into ‘their’ (the staff member’s) little bit of the college network is far more dangerous. Yet it happens all the time.

Why can’t these unenlightened IPD professionals realise that all I (and others like me) want is Internet access? Like I would get in Starbucks (I think Mick Mullane, who is a [learner orientated] techie and who advocates this progressive sort of approach, calls it the Starbucks approach). I would have to log in of course, but the login I’m given would not allow me onto the institutional network, only the Internet (and by logging in I would be deemed to have accepted the institutional AUP). What’s hard about that?

Then – what about the bulb in the projector? Do these ever get changed? Several places I’ve visited lately don’t seem to have changed the bulb (or cleaned the lens) at all: ever. This leads to an unsatisfactory learning experience. One recently, was so bad that we had to borrow another projector and project that on the ceiling to get anything like a clear image. That was partly because the blinds on the sunshine side of the building didn’t function well – meaning that the poor bulb had to struggle even more in the (in other circumstances, welcome) daylight. [This would of course be a lack of communication between ‘estates’ and ‘IPD’ – but I won’t go there] Bulbs cost money I know – but so do disengaged learners that leave the course. And don’t get me started on disengaged teachers who have to put up with it every day.

So may I pose a few questions to the IPD (I’ll provide my own answers but welcome others)

What’s your role? To support the business of the institution.

What’s the business of the institution? Teaching and learning.

Who is at the core of teaching and learning? Teachers and Learners?

What’s your role?

Part two – software, updates and web sites – maybe coming soon …