Innovative Programmes

I was recently asked a question about innovation. .. what are some characteristics of truly innovative programs (sic) using technology ..”

I had to say that I no longer have any confidence in programmes.

Like ‘project’, the word programme conjures up something that has a defined beginning and end, and which can be put away when finished. I’m sorry to say that this is my jaundiced view of many such programmes that have taken place over the past ten years or so; there seems to be a nod in the direction of sustainability but no more.

MoleNET for example, was at its outset a truly innovative and far reaching programme. As time progressed (it lasted three years until funding stopped) its value became more widely understood and it became a catalyst for understanding the potential for pedagogical use of technology per se and not just for mobile technologies. Mobile became interactive web and then cloud; each development being incorporated into projects and disseminated via the team of MoLeNET Mentors. It was just beginning to work when the financial rug was pulled. Despite the £millions pumped into MoLeNET and its requirement for sustainability the hosting websites have disappeared from view – they don’t even show up on Google anymore. In fact the Programme administrators, LSN are no more!

I’ve been asked lots of times what innovation is and I’m not sure that I know. Not for certain. I’m sure that it means new things, useful things, exciting things? But what is the purpose of innovation? Is it simply to exhibit new, useful and shiny things or is it to see these through to mainstream acceptance and understanding? I suspect that the latter is right but that innovators get bored once mainstream gets ahold and they move on. In that case I’m not really an innovator. I see the point and given the opportunity will try to mainstream that point.

With MoleNET we were able to see a widespread acceptance for the use of mobile tools and technologies throughout Further Education but I’m not certain that this innovation transferred to schools or universities. Schools are still running scared of mobile tools (unnecessarily in my opinion) and H.E. simply doesn’t get it. e.g. I delivered a workshop at an ALT conference some time ago, showing the then innovative use of PDAs (this was just before the iPhone) to those attending. Afterwards, someone from a university came up to me and asked if I really thought that PDAs would replace PCs because if that was so it would save the university £1,000s. First of all – I’d never said that anything mobile would ‘replace’, only ‘supplement’ and ‘add value’, and secondly, all this person could see was a way of saving money for her Chancellor.

I know that this isn’t the place to say it but … hey ho … the programme we most need is one that doesn’t finish: one where all those of us involved in education constantly seek effective ways of reaching our learners, we use what we can (whether it be a new method or technology or an old one) and move on from what doesn’t work.

Also see:

Day 2

Day 1

Malt Project

I’m away soon to deliver a week-long course with Khawar Iqbal. We’ve written the course between us following Khawar’s initial idea and plan. It will be delivered to representatives of six European partners: Italy, Sweden, German, Turkey, Lithuania and the UK.

I’m setting off shortly to meet the participants at good old Weetwood Hall Hotel, a favourite NIACE venue. We’ll begin with an hour long meet and greet session before dinner, during which there will also be getting-to-know-you exercises.

The week will revolve around aspects of motivating adult learner teachers (malt) and include things like educational theory, ILT, blended learning and desktop software skills. We’re using blogs to reflect and I have a NING set up ready just in case, but that’s about as far as we’re going with Web 2.0 at the moment.

Our hope is that the course is successful and that it becomes part of a European database of fundable qualifications.

More as the week unfolds (hopefully).

Theories of learning, need and motivation

Maslows hierarchy of needs

Maslows hierarchy of needs

I’m currently working on the development of a week-long course to be delivered in June, to about 16 European ‘partner’ delegates. The course will take place in Leeds (so not far for me to go then!) and investigate theories that underpin adult learning. It will also  introduce participants to the potential of Web 2.0 for enhancing the learning process.

I thought I’d make a few notes here; not just for my benefit – but for the benefit of anyone who’s interested (after all my notes need not be secret).

Much of what I will personally deliver is scattered around my various laptops and memory media, but what I’m noting here is what my co-presetner will lead on. I’m making sure that all my revision notes are in one place!

I’m not working alone, it’s not my project, but I’ve been asked along to help – partly for my T & L knowledge but mainly for my ‘e’ knowledge.

Day 2 is an interesting day with lots of input and activities around various theoretical approaches to adult learning:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (above) is just one. We will also be investigating:

The idea will be to introduce the theories and to set active-learning tasks for the participants to develop a deeper understanding of  how the various theories interlock.

For example ARCS v Gagne

Attention Matches Gagne’s 1) Gain attention

Relevance Could match 2) Inform learners of objectives + 3) Stimulate recall of prior learning and 4) Present the content – all of which could be designed to ensure relevance.

Confidence Could come from 5) the provision of “learning guidance”, 6) the actual performance of practice which enhances the ‘encoding and verification of learning. 7) Feedback – if given positively also helps confidence

Satisfaction Might be gained from the satisfactory 8) assessment of performance. 9) Retrieval and generalisation of the new skill can then be applied to a new situation.

Anyway – must get on …