Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Student Engagement in Learning and Teaching

Source: Wikipedia Community of Inquiry model - image by Matbury (2014)

I've been doing a lot of thinking about engagement lately. The term is used a lot in educational articles and materials but what does it mean? The Community of Inquiry model illustrates several components associated with engagement. In my reading of the literature, the presence of the teacher is pivotal for developing characteristics, associated with engagement, in students.

Attributes of student engagement
  1. Self-determination - take control, organising, setting goals and timelines, decide what they want to learn and when. 
  2. Self-efficacy - belief in own abilities, persistence and prepared to take risks.
  3. Autonomy - able to work alone, or with peers, make own decisions, independent of teacher.
  4. Collaboration - work with others to create something, make decisions with peers. 
  5. Peer interaction - connecting, communicating, sharing with peers. 
  6. Problem-solving - sorting out challenges independent of teacher and asking for assistance, asking questions.
  7. Immersion in learning tasks - interested, emotionally connected, curious, actively learning.
  8. Curiosity and interest -  students are motivated to learn and seek out information.
  9. Enjoyment - learning is regarded as fun.
  10. Positive attitude to learning - self-organised and willing to participate in the learning process.
  11. Satisfaction - happy with the learning experience.
  12. Willingness to respond to challenges - enjoys being questioned, problem-solving and when expected to do better.
Students may exhibit that they are engaged in different ways, but the role of teachers is known to be important in helping them to develop their capacity to take part in the learning process (Zepke, Leach & Butler, 2010). The main influencing factors for encouraging engagement are shown in the diagram. As you can imagine, the way in which the learning environment and the learning process is designed and facilitated is crucial.
Factors influencing student engagement
Wordle by Bronwyn Hegarty (2018)

A number of researchers have explored the components of engagement and how they influence students to take part in the learning process. These lists in this post include the main ideas I have gleaned from my reading and are also based on two seminal measures of engagement; the AUSSE (Australasian Survey of Student Engagment) and the SSES (Staff Survey of Student Engagement) (Richardson & Radloff, 2014).

This post is based on an article that is currently being prepared for publication, and a link to this will be provided (with all the references) once this is in press.


Richardson, S. & Radloff, A. (2014). Allies in learning:critical insights into the importance of staff-student interactions in university education. Teaching in Higher Education, 19(6), 603-615. DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2014.901960

Zepke, N., Leach, L. & Butler, P. (2010). Student engagement: what is it and what influences it? New Zealand: Teaching & Learning Research Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.tlri.org.nz/sites/default/files/projects/9261-Introduction.pdf

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Webinar series for Open Education week Otago Polytechnic - March 8 - 10 2016

Otago Polytechnic 2016

For Open Education Week, Otago Polytechnic is offering a series of three webinars by local people. 

I'll be speaking on March 8 -  12.10 - 12.50 NZTWebinar - (login as a guest).

Are you open or on the fence? The inner workings of an open pedagogy for the faint-hearted.
 Eight attributes of open pedagogy will be discussed under the umbrella of openness and Open Educational Practice (OEP). We will explore how engagement in the OEPosphere can benefit learners and teachers alike, and precipitate creative and inclusive learning communities.

The presentation is based on my 2015 article - Attributes of Open Pedagogy: A Model for Using Open Educational Resources, published in Educational Technology magazine.

For information about the other two webinars, please visit Otago Polytechnic's Open Lunchbox Series for Open Education Week 2016.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Educational Technology article - Attributes of Open Pedagogy: A Model for Using Open Educational Resources

by Scinoptica
by Scinoptica

 My article - Attributes of Open Pedagogy: A Model for Using Open Educational Resources has recently been published in Educational Technology the magazine for managers of change in education. This article brings together some of the ideas about Open Education Practices that I have been posting over the past year. Your comments are welcomed.

Open Educational Resources (OER) have swept in on a tide of digital information and brought sweeping changes to learning and teaching. In this article, the author establishes a rationale for the term open pedagogy, and, using current research, presents eight attributes of open pedagogy grounded in the concept of openness and Open Educational Practice (OEP). Participatory technologies present many challenges for educators, who may not know how to use them appropriately to effect change in the new culture of learning that is evolving. The question is, how can an open pedagogy benefit learners and teachers alike, and precipitate creative and inclusive communities in an OEPosphere?

Wiley’s Law: You should never use “open” as an adjective unless you can clearly describe how the “open” thing differs from the normal thing. (David Wiley, 9 June 2014; Twitter: https://twitter.com/open content/status/476149397307138048 .)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Part Two: Open Pedagogy - What is web-based Open Education Practice, really?

A study in organizational openness by Opensourceway
What is web-based Open Education Practice?
Open Educational Practices (OEP) constitute the range of practices around the creation, use and management of open educational resources with the intent to improve quality and innovate education (OPAL, 2011).

This definition is simple, yet the concept is more complex than realised at first. What are these open education resources (OER) and how did they come about? What is their potential for learning and teaching? How can they be created, used and managed in our educational organisations? Why could they potentially improve quality and innovation in education? What are the benefits and what are the barriers? Who should be doing this? This series will hopefully assist you to identify the meaning of open education practices and find answers to these questions.

A history
To understand what the terms Open Education Resource (OER) and Open Education Practice (OEP) mean, it is necessary to look back at how the concepts has arisen. The arrival of the Internet probably triggered the widespread use of this term because it was considered a disruptive technology when it landed on our educational doorstep many years ago. This “global platform” disrupted or changed how learners and teachers could access and share information and materials, and encouraged a new culture of learning.  A culture where learners could access any materials they needed with or without the help of a teacher, and share anything and everything (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011).

Disruptive technology 
A term attributed to electronic tools that change the way we think, act and work. The Internet has led to significant changes in society and is therefore regarded as disruptive as are many technologies associated with it.   

In the mid-2000s, when Web 2.0 tools and approaches emerged as a phenomenon, they enabled global sharing of information, knowledge, ideas and also the materials that educators created (Brake, 2013). According to Conole, de Laat, Dillon and Darby (2008) the arrival of “new forms of mobile, internet and social software technologies” enabled “distributed collaboration” and a new direction for learning and the way we could  “consume and produce new artefacts’ (p. 511).  This changed the status quo. Teachers and learners could now interact more easily, share their work and collaborate in the learning environment. This disruption, or as some practitioners believe, innovation, led to the Open Education Resource (OER) movement and the Cape Town Open Education Declaration inviting managers and practitioners to engage with open educational resources (Open Society Institute & Shuttleworth Foundation, 2007 -  http://www.capetowndeclaration.org/). Presently, 2712 signatories have contributed to the Declaration.

Otago Polytechnic signing the Cape Town Open Education Declaration by Leigh Blackall
Otago Polytechnic signed the declaration in 2008 when educational development work at the organization was foremost in international efforts for Open Education (Blackall & Hegarty, 2011).
In the declaration, open education is described as more than open educational resources and is regarded as a mechanism that makes use of open technologies to “facilitate collaborative, flexible learning and the open sharing of teaching practices that empower educators to benefit from the best ideas of their colleagues” (para 4). It also has the potential to change not only how we teach and learn but also how we assess.

How has history changed Open Education Practices?
Disruptive technologies are the foundation of open education resources and practices. They can be a good thing for pedagogical innovation and act as a catalyst to transform practice (Conole, de Laat, Dillon & Darby, 2008). However, the changes may occur too fast and exceed the rate at which teachers can adopt them confidently or before the infrastructure of an organization is prepared enough to manage them.  Ruth Jelly has compiled an overview of the literature and therein presents a number of case studies describing the evolution of the open education movement in Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organisations and Individuals written by Leigh Blackall and edited by Bronwyn Hegarty (2011).

Out of the disruption caused by open education resources, web-based social learning and informal learning was born. Participation is the core component of social learning. Knowledge and understanding is constructed through the conversations and interactions learners have with others, generally about issues and actions (Brown & Adler, 2008). The focus shifts from what is learned to how people learn, and the connectivity amongst learners is enhanced.

In the new culture of learning, the “stable infrastructure of the twenty-first century” has become a more dynamic infrastructure where technologies are changing constantly (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011, p. 17). Even so, learning environments in this new culture do need boundaries and structure. These need to be designed to inspire the learner to move freely within the educative opportunities provided, regardless of whether this occurs in formal education or in everyday life (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011).

This new wave of learning is considered by Thomas and Seely Brown (2011) to be “arc-of-life learning”, where play, questioning and imagination are pivotal to the continual quest for knowledge (p. 19).  The key is that learning occurs seamlessly between the classroom and everyday activities. Most importantly the concepts of ‘play’ and ‘tinkering’ are encouraged so that learning throughout life becomes more like a game; it is fun. This new culture of learning requires two things, according to Thomas and Seely Brown (2011), firstly, ready access to a network of information and secondly a “bounded and structured environment” with unlimited scope to experiment (p. 19).  To facilitate this, open and collaborative networks and communities and openly shared repositories of information that are readily accessible and in which anyone can participate are essential. In the new culture of learning, engagement in the process is key (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011).

Having “time and permission to play, openness and learning from play” were key themes that emerged from case study research conducted into digital information literacy by Jeffrey, Hegarty, Kelly, Penman, Coburn and McDonald in 2011 (p. 394). For participants, engagement in accessing open digital web-based networks and platforms led to a transformation in how they learned and in their personal development.

Keeping openness in mind when designing learning is also discussed by Conole (2013) and she acknowledges several challenges associated with this, for example, the varying definitions and lack of agreement on what the term means. Some aspects of openness were explained in part one of this series using a model for Open Education Practices.

How do you currently use web-based Open Education Resources in your context?

Coming up next -  Part Three: Why should we share and be open? 

Blackall, L., Hegarty, B. (2011).  Open education practices: a user guide for organisations/models of open education. Retrieved from http://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/ako-hub/ako-aotearoa-southern-hub/resources/pages/blackall_oep_wiki

Brown, J., Adler, R. (2008). Minds on fire: open education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. Educause Review, 43(1), 16-32. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/minds-fire-open-education-long-tail-and-learning-20

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. Springer: New York.

Conole, G., de Laat, M., Dillon, T. & Darby, J. (2008). Disruptive technologies, pedagogical innovation: What’s new? Findings from an in-depth study of students’ use and perception of technology. Journal of Computers & Education, 50, 511–524. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2007.09.009

Jeffrey, L. & Hegarty, B., Kelly, O., Penman, M., Coburn, D., & McDonald, J.  (2011). Developing Digital Information Literacy in Higher Education: Obstacles and Supports. Journal of Information Technology Education, 10, 383 - 413. Retrieved from http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol10/JITEv10p383-413Jeffrey1019.pdf

OPAL.  (2011). Beyond OER. Shifting focus to open educational practises. Opal report 2011. Essen, Germany: Open Education Quality Initiative. Retrieved from https://oerknowledgecloud.org/content/beyond-oer-shifting-focus-open-educational-practices

Thomas, D. & Brown, S. (2011). A new culture of learning.   CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. https://www.createspace.com/

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Part One: Open Pedagogy - A model for Open Education Practice

Attributes of Open Pedagogy by Bronwyn Hegarty
based on Conole (2013).
This is the first part in a series about Open Education Practices. I welcome your comments.

Open Pedagogy - A model for Open Education Practice
Models that are developed to describe Open Education Practice must include the concept of openness in learning and teaching, as this needs to be understood before practitioners can engage with open education. Five principles for openness informing the adoption of open education practices are described by Conole (2013). The approach:
1. facilitates a broader approach to being ‘open’;
2. enables dialogue around learning and teaching ideas and strategies;
3. uses social media to facilitate “collective aggregation”, potentially benefiting learners and teachers over time;
4. supports digital scholarship through sharing good practice and peer critiquing; and
5. encourages spontaneous innovation, creativity and different viewpoints.

Open pedagogy as a theoretical basis for open education also needs to be considered. From my perspective, and according to Conole’s (2013) work on openness, an open pedagogy has eight interconnected and dynamic attributes. These include:
  • technology that is participatory (Web 2.0 and mobile) - includes social media and applications  used by mobile devices;
  • people who have trust in others’ work, are confident and demonstrate openness;
  • innovation and creativity – involves spontaneity and a willingness to adopt another view and different approaches;
  • sharing of ideas and resources freely so that knowledge and materials can be disseminated;
  • connected community so that practitioners can network and become part of a community of practice;
  • learner-generatedness – facilitating learners’ contributions by enabling and encouraging them to create and share information, resources and ideas;
  • opportunities for reflective practice –  initiated by participation in critical analysis of practices, professional learning and connection with others’ perspectives; and
  • peer review – the open critique of others’ work and scholarship.
These attributes are shown in the diagram. The ability to freely access resources and Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute them (known as David Wiley’s four Rs, 2013) is essential for these attributes to be enacted and is an integral component of an open pedagogy.  Wiley (personal communication, IT Forum, 2014) is not in favor of using the term ‘open’ to describe something unless it is clear how it differs from the norm. Each of the attributes for open pedagogy, as shown, can arguably occur separately and without being linked to open pedagogy but in this model, they are interconnected and contributing holistically to open practices. This model assumes that the conditions, as described by Wiley (2013), for open pedagogy are met.

Pedagogy 2.0
Another pedagogy that integrates well with Open pedagogy, relates to the use of social software tools for learning, and is claimed to be part of implementing what McCloughlin and Lee (2008) label as Pedagogy 2.0. They consider that this pedagogy includes the following:
  • Content - learner-generated;
  • Curriculum - dynamic with formal and informal learning;
  • Communication - open, peer-to-peer, and multifaceted;
  • Process - situated, reflective, and inquiry based;
  • Resources - multiple informal and formal global media sources;
  • Scaffolds - support for students from a wide ranging network;
  • Learning tasks - authentic, personalized, learner-driven, and experiential (adapted from McCloughlin and Lee (2008, p. 2).
As you can see, Open pedagogy and Pedagogy 2.0 are very similar. They both rely on a dynamic, and innovative learner-generated curriculum design. Content is generated and shared by learners who participate actively in learning that is relevant to them, creative and able to be personalised. Open methods of communication and interaction are used within a global community of learners who provide peer support and review. However, Open pedagogy places more emphasis on the concept of open practices such as openness, sharing,  connectedness and reflective practice.

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. Springer: New York.

McLoughlin, C. & Lee, M. J. W. (2007). Social software and participatory learning:
Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era. In ICT: Providing choices for
learners and learning
. Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007.

Wiley, D. (2013). What is Open Pedagogy? Iterating toward openness. Retrieved from http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975

Other topics in the series include:
  • Part Two: What is web-based Open Education Practice, really? Includes a discussion of the history and how history has changed Open Education Practices.
  • Part Three: Why should we share and be open? 
  • Part Four: What are the characteristics of an Open Education practitioner?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Expert learners: Learning and Teaching in Practice

Expert learner brainstorm
The concept of Expert Learners, became a whole lot clearer to me after the workshop last week. This is one of the topics in the first module, Learner Characteristics, Knowing the Learner.  

We brainstormed some ideas about what being an expert learner might involve. As you can see, having some experience with learning,  knowing how to process information at high levels including metacognition and critical thinking were on the list. Flexibility, seeking out information and making connections to prior knowledge and proven theories was also regarded as important. After that we did some activities located on the Excellence Gateway Treasury, a UK site for learning and skills improvement.

For me learning at the level of metacognition and using critical thinking is really important. To do this you have to be really aware of how you learn and also how you regulate your cognitive processes. For me, this involves setting goals and engaging in reflective learning, and also knowing how to find, use and critique information and resources (including people) to develop new knowledge. It also means having the confidence to get on with it rather than waiting for someone to tell me what to do and how to do it. This confidence also means being able to problem-solve, be persistent, take risks and come out the other side with a different take on things. As an expert learner, I need to be open and flexible to whatever comes along, curious and autonomous, and for me learning collaboratively and sharing knowledge is high on the list.

 This takes lots of experience and the development of many skills. Now that I have completed a PhD, I feel as if I now know how to learn. But should we have to go to that extreme to become an expert learner? I think not.

So what do the experts say? According to my reading, expert learners have many of the characteristics, I have mentioned and more. The resources and activities available for Developing the Expert Learner, also got us thinking about which characteristics were more important (high impact) or less important (low impact). Each group had different priorities. For example, one group considered that curiosity, being well organised and setting goals were important whereas the other group thought these characteristics were less important, choosing things like organising and analysing information and understanding the course or qualification requirements as priorities.

From the Excellence Gateway Treasury
When we thought  about which characteristics were more likely to show at each stage of the learning journey - from recruitment, induction, through an initial assessment, learning plans and the learning process, until assessment and graduation - a different set of priorities emerged. For example, at induction the group thought that a potential expert learner would be more likely to demonstrate flexibility when approaching new situations and be able to understand the qualification requirements, possibly already understanding how they learn but less able to establish goals and monitor progress, and be an autonomous learner since these are skills that would develop later on with experience and support.

Wild and Heck's (2011) website (ID 4 the Web) has a great synopsis about the characteristics of expert learners - who engage actively in learning by participating to develop their knowledge and understanding, take responsibility and lead their learning. They do this through self-regulation by planning, monitoring and evaluating their learning. I agree with their take on the expert learner since it relies heavily on active learning, metacognition and as such involves reflective learning. From my perspective an expert learner engages in reflective practice using critical reflection and as such transforming their behaviours, attitudes and perceptions about the knowledge they are developing. I wonder what you think about my view?

This 4 minute video about active learning by NWIACOMMCOLLEGE gives some ideas about basic activities that can encourage this in the face-to-face and online classrooms - it involves three types of approach: teaching strategies, small tasks and methods for "discovering, processing and applying information". According to the message in the video, anything that encourages participation is active learning because deeper learning occurs when the students "analyse, define, create and evaluate information". By doing this they retain "90% of what they do". Compare this to retaining "10% of what they read" or "20% of what they hear" or "70% of what they say and write". 

So the message is, you can read as much as you want or hear and write all sorts of stuff but unless you actively do something with the information to process it, you wont retain the knowledge or understand it adequately, and learning won't be as effective. Do you agree?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Have you got a happy place - my introduction

My avatar (Branwen Trevellion) in Second Life
Welcome to my blog. I will be using this to connect with you in the Learning and Teaching in Practice course. I reckon it is my role as the course coordinator to show you how it all works.  Do you know how scary that is? I have to write something interesting so you will read it. I am going to use this blog less formally to share my thoughts and ideas about the topics, and also any information that I come across. I hope you will take the time to leave me comments.

I see this as my chance to develop a digital portfolio alongside you....and find out if it really is going to work. Can you see the link to my ePortfolio top right? More detail about my profile and how I got to this space can be read on there. I see the portfolio as a more formal record of the evidence and learning for each module of the course. It will become an exemplar that I hope you find useful.

I am a little nervous about all this because getting teachers to use blogs and digital portfolios can either be an adventure for everyone or something they want to avoid, and then it doesn't work so well. Perhaps I should book that ticket to Bhutan now. I mention Bhutan because that is my favourite place at the moment - they have Gross National Happiness - how cool is that! I guess it is my happy place to retreat to when things get challenging. Have you got one?

For all this to work requires everyone to make time to read each others blogs/portfolios and leave comments. Since there are 16 people in the course you will need to be selective and to rotate around the blogs you read. Don't expect to read every blog every week - just do what you can manage. It is surprising what you can learn from others' ideas, and that can sometimes save you time. In time you may decide to only follow those people who are more in tune with your context.

So up and away. Branwen has some virtual flying to do.