Face to Face

I had another great day out yesterday. Once again, I was working directly with practitioners.

Sincerest thanks to West Thames College, in Isleworth for inviting me down to deliver two sessions on the pedagogical use of mobile phones in teaching and learning

And thank you too, to the thirty odd staff members that passed my way for being so receptive, positive and enthusiastic. Your students are very lucky.

Since the downturn, I’ve found it hard to get this type of face-to-face event, but every time I do I come away reinvigorated and recharged.

Since all of the national eCPD progammes stopped, several colleges and providers have been kind enough to invite me in on their staff training days and each one has told the same story: Practitioners still need help in learning how to utilise technology in teaching and learning and how to recognise opportunities for that utilisation – the difference is that they are now ready to accept this learning.

There is nothing like face-to-face workshops to encourage this kind of development. I never just deliver, I always show and then allow time for practice. Yesterday it was TEXTING (we all sent texts and explored Wordle as an aside) >> PEDAGOGY (some Q&A interaction around Bloom’s Taxonomy) >> QR CODES (everyone created codes and discussed uses) >> MULTI-MEDIA (we looked at iPadio, and sent photos and videos to Flickr). Everyone contributed and everyone stayed on board. Well done.

Over the last twelve months, I’ve also been invited to lead workshops at Blackburn College, Gloucestershire College, Leeds College of Music, Pontefract New College and at a small number of events with mixed audiences. Each time it has been like giving ice creams to children: much appreciated and very much enjoyed.

Thanks again to all concerned.



e-Learning Context

A Reply to http://elearningstuff.net/2011/02/02/focus-on-the-technology-or-not/

picture of a Starbucks cup of coffeeToday I read James Clay’s recent blog post (above), but I can’t decide whether to agree with him entirely, or not.

Generally, I do agree with James when he says:

“In the context of the classroom or lecture theatre, a practitioner is facing a series of learning problems that need solving. Some of these if not all of them can be solved using traditional learning methods and processes. However some of them can be solved smarter, more efficiently (ie cheaper) or solved faster using learning technologies.”

.. and again when he goes on to suggest that focusing on the technology during training sessions can often present teachers with interventions and solutions that would help them.

However, the issue I would take is that for this to happen, the teacher/practitioner would need to welcome the use of technology and to embrace the idea that such an intervention would work. I’m just not sure that this is universally accepted yet.

Many of us embrace the use of technology for learning and welcome it in its many forms. However, we start from a place where technology’s foibles and idiosyncrasies are expected, sidestepped and/or researched, so these don’t bother us at all. The staff James is talking about (generally, not specifically) do not – and this makes it much harder for them to accept technological change or to give up their time to explore/understand those same foibles.

I know it’s an old argument, but how many teaching colleagues do you know were shown PowerPoint all those years ago (it might still happen) and still use that as their main form of a): delivery and b): use it badly? (Please replace PowerPoint with any technology of your choice).

My point? Well, I believe that a pedagogical need to should be required before a technological intervention is offered. I get James’ point about context and I suppose I just stand slightly to one side of his position, but there’s often an awful lot of background needed by the practitioner before he/she ‘gets it’.

I’m sorry if this is a ramble, I suppose it would have been better discussed over an e-Learning Stuff Podcast but …


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!








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)


Yesterday I delivered workshops to 22 people over three sessions.

I’d set out to show how the ‘m’ in m-learning could also mean ‘modern’ and not just mobile. Like others I think that the ‘m’ and the ‘e’ before learning needs to disappear – but not just yet. There is still a lot of work to do before we can truly say that ‘learning’ is all encompassing and includes the use of tools and resources appropriate to that learner (those learners) at that time (24/7) and in (or out of) that place.

We did a little texting early on to show how we could engage learners and then tied this activity to Bloom’s Taxonomy. I notice sometimes, when I introduce this, that shoulders sag and wry smiles are glanced at each other. But no matter – I like to think that I deliver it in a palatable way – I was a chef after all. Having fixed Bloom’s in the minds of my groups, I moved on to show how technology need not be a barrier to the delivery of higher order thinking skills. I did this by means of two simple odd-one-out exercises. The first had an easy answer but the second needed thought and discussion before coming to a conclusion. This works well as it allows the groups to become animated, talking to each other and working out (often wrong) answers. They all see/saw the point I’d tried to make and was able, once more, to tie-in the result into Blooms. (For those who’ve seen this: I’ve replaced Bush with Barak!)

We then went back to texting and to an exercise that required the group to evaluate a piece of Shakespeare (the two morning groups had to do the same with a newspaper article). The activity engaged the group at the higher levels of Blooms and I like to think that they understood that once again, the technology was by no means a barrier to the learning that took place. Hopefully they will realise that THEY are the experts in their teaching rooms and that as such it is their job (their skill) to make the learning as valuable and inclusive as possible. Simple thought and preparation are often enough on the one hand, but on the other, an understanding of the available tools is just as essential.

We addressed the current plethora of tools next by looking at various Web 2.0 facilities. The discussion around Web 2.0 (what it is and what it isn’t and what it might do and what it might not) was valuable and I think that each person took a better understanding of blogs/wikis; Web/Web2.0 away with them. They explored the various sites for around 20 minutes. Videojug and MoleTV were favourites of most vocational tutors with builders and hairdressers becoming quite animated at what they found on these sites. MoleTV was a big winner with the practical trades. Others found online Mind Mapping software useful. No one really looked at Flickr or YouTube, although one or two did investigate Delicious.

During two of the three sessions we were able to discuss how these web sites could be made to address our Blooms pyramid and on the third we looked at individual tool types (video camera, MP3 player etc,) and addressed these in the same way. I’m a big believer in going where the learner needs to go at that time and provided it fits my aims to roll with it. The time exploring Web 2.0 sites was very much an example of this. I’d planned a 15-minute session with 10-minute feedback and identification of pedagogical opportunities but the group were so animated and engaged I allowed them the full 25 minutes to explore. They were discussing use across the room anyway!

I thought that the day was a really useful one, with engaged learners throughout. I had prepared too much (as always) and struggled to fit everything in – in fact on two sessions I stopped well short and on the third, we adjusted the session to fit the room. Sadly, the room did not engender group work, which is what I’d planned. But that’s always a difficulty in colleges: computer rooms are for computering and non-computer rooms are designed for ‘stand and deliver’. We need to make more rooms (spaces?) available that offer the opportunity to blend learning activities. Two or three to a computer is not always a bad thing especially if the activity is well planned.

My room was also very very warm – so to the teacher I met at MoLeNET training last year but whose name I have forgotten :-() who loaned me his fan – I must say a hearty ‘thank you’. It was a real life saver. Thank you Gloucestershire College.