Networked Learning Conference 2016 starts today

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Jutta Pauschenwein (@jupidu) and I will give a presentation at the Networked Learning Conference 2016 in Lancaster about the work we have done together using a visualisation tool, Footprints of Emergence, to try and understand more about how learners and course designers experience the relationship between structure and agency in a MOOC.

We have been working with the Footprints of Emergence framework for a number of years. The framework was developed in collaboration with Roy Williams and Simone Gumtau in 2012 and over succeeding years we have published papers and run workshops about it – even one at Lancaster University a few years ago.  I included references to our papers in my last post – Presenting at the 10th Networked Learning Conference, Lancaster.  Jutta has used the framework extensively with learners and teachers at her institution in Graz, Austria.

The Footprints of Emergence drawing tool requires users to reflect deeply on 25 characteristics of open learning environments (factors), which are organised into four clusters.

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Learners consider how prescribed or emergent their experience was in relation to each of the factors and indicate this by placing a point on the relevant line on the template. This process results in a ‘footprint’.

Here are some examples of footprints which we have collected over the years on our open wiki – http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/home

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Footprints have been drawn not only by learners, but by teachers, designers and researchers, both for formal and informal learning experiences. Jutta, for example, has recently travelled extensively in Argentina and Chile and used the footprints to reflect on her emergent learning experience of travelling alone. See https://zmldidaktik.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/reflecting-emergent-traveling-experiences/

In this research Jutta used the Footprints of Emergence framework to help her design a MOOC – Competences of Global Collaboration –  and then asked the MOOC participants to draw footprints as part of the final evaluation process. Our paper has now been published on the Networked Learning site, as have all the papers. See http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/abstracts/mackness.htm

Later this morning we will head over to Lancaster for the start of the conference at midday. Amazingly for this part of the world the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. Jutta and I have had a great weekend together in the sun, talking about footprints and a whole host of other things. Here is Jutta’s post about this – https://zmldidaktik.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/emergent-learning-in-the-lake-district/ 

Presenting at the 10th Networked Learning Conference, Lancaster

In a couple of weeks I will present a paper with Jutta Pauschenwein at the 10th Networked Learning Conference in Lancaster, which is very convenient as it is less than half an hour from my home. I think this image below will be the first slide of our presentation, but we are still working on it. The abstract of the paper has been published on the Networked Learning Conference site. Abstract

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The conference is using https://sched.org to help participants organise themselves and decide which sessions they want to attend. I have just spent a bit of time exploring this and it is very easy to use, which is helpful. I have already decided my schedule.

I have also spent some time today, looking at the presentation that Jutta and I will be giving. Jutta will arrive here from Graz, Austria on the Thursday before the conference. We will spend the Friday working on finalising this presentation, and also catching up on other projects and then over the weekend, if it is fine, we will be walking in the Lakes and maybe cycling. I hope Jutta will like the Lake District, but I suspect she will think it a mini version of Austria :-). We will hopefully have plenty of time to talk, which there never seems to be enough time for at conferences, but maybe this conference will be different.

Our presentation relates to on-going research into emergent learning and the use of the Footprints of Emergence Framework developed collaboratively with Roy Williams and Simon Gumtau in 2011/12 (see references below). This is a drawing tool for reflecting on learning experiences in any learning environment, but particularly complex open learning environments such as MOOCs. It can be used by learners, teachers, designers or researchers. The results are always interesting and often surprising. Over the years we have collected examples on an open wiki – https://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/ . The Networked Learning Conference papers are limited to 8 pages, so we put the footprint drawings related to this presentation on the wiki here.

This is not the first time that Jutta and I have worked together. We met in the Change11 MOOC run by Stephen Downes and George Siemens and then again in a course run by Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner in which we were both online participants. Bev has just posted a video about this year’s courses. And then in 2014 Jutta invited Roy Williams and me to be the keynote speakers at her e-learning conference in Graz, where she and I met in person for the first time. It was a very enjoyable experience and the preparation for it meant that Roy and I thought through our research into emergent learning even further. Jutta published our paper and I blogged about the presentation here.

Jutta has been enthusiastic about the Footprints of Emergence Framework from the start and uses the footprints a lot, both personally and with her students. In our presentation for the networked learning conference we will explain how she used them with participants and teachers in the Competences for Global Collaboration MOOC, which she has now run twice and how this has informed our thinking about the balance between structure and agency in open, online learning environments.

We welcome questions either here or at the conference and are both looking forward to discussions and the whole event.

Update 28-04-16

Jutta has also written a blog post about our presentation, in German See https://zmldidaktik.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/vortrag-bei-der-networked-learning-konferenz-in-lancaster/ 

References

Williams, R., Karousou, R., & Mackness, J. (2011). Emergent Learning and Learning Ecologies in Web 2.0. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3). http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/883

Williams, R. T., Mackness, J., & Gumtau, S. (2012). Footprints of Emergence. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(4). http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1267

Williams, R., & Mackness, J. (2014). Surfacing, sharing and valuing tacit knowledge in open learning. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxlbGVhcm5pbmd0YWcyMDE0fGd4OjUyNGIwOTJiZTMzZjhlNjM

Structure, agency and hard work

Today is my (our) wedding anniversary. Around about 47 years ago my father took his future son-in-law to one side and asked him whether he really wanted to go through with this marriage – my father was straight out of the Victorian era and doubted I would make a suitable wife – too many ideas of my own and insufficiently domestic 🙂 At the same time my mother took me to one side and asked me if I really understood what hard work marriage would be. However, a strong family belief was that anything could be achieved with hard work – so it must have rubbed off somewhere, since it seems to have paid off. We are still together after 47 years.

Also today, 47 years after my mother’s heart to heart, I have been hard at work thinking about the relationship between structure and agency in learning, for a paper I am writing with my Austrian friend and colleague Jutta Pauschenwein. So many people and well-known theorists have written about this that I wonder why it still seems to be a significant issue. That is what we are trying to pin down in our paper. I’m not sure yet if we will be successful. Despite my parents’ beliefs, hard work doesn’t always pay off, but I hope it will in this instance.

But pay-offs aren’t always what we expect, particularly if we keep an open mind about what might crop up, i.e. be open to emergent learning. I have done a lot of reading this month. Pay-off enough for me is coming across an article that makes me ‘sit up’ and leaves me thinking about it for days. This month it has been Osberg and Biesta’s paper on emergent curriculum.

Osberg, D., & Biesta, G. (2008). The emergent curriculum: navigating a complex course between unguided learning and planned enculturation. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40(3), 313–328. doi:10.1080/00220270701610746 – Retrieved from https://dspace.stir.ac.uk/bitstream/1893/464/1/emergent-curriculum%20jcs%202008.pdf

This made me think about structure and agency in relation to the role of the teacher/facilitator in a learning environment that promotes emergent learning. Having started on my teaching career 47 years ago, I feel quite resistant to the idea that it is a role of decreasing significance in a world of open learning, where it is thought by some that everyone teaches each other. Of course I understand that everyone is capable of teaching others to some degree, and that open learning has increased the potential of learning from anyone and everyone, but I don’t think that this negates the significant role of the teacher. I am still working on why I feel so strongly about this.

My third experience of ‘hard work’ this month came from a 5 day city break to Berlin, where I walked miles and came back ready for a break! There is so much of interest to see in Berlin (we barely scraped the surface) and the German people are very hospitable. I would recommend a trip to Berlin for anyone who is interested in history, art, culture and architecture – and according to my son Berlin has a great music culture and night life – although we didn’t explore this – too exhausted after hours of walking!

Brandenburg Gate

Of course, there is plenty about Berlin that can be related to hard work and structure and agency. Once you start thinking about structure and agency, you see it everywhere 🙂