Assembling the heterogeneous elements for digital learning

What underpins student-centered education

After a long deal due to contextual and individual (i.e. mine) limitations, the first of the two PLEs@CQUni project’s research staff has arrived and started work. Welcome Jocene.

An underlying principle of the PLEs@CQUni project is “eat your own dog food”. That is, if we’re going to be preaching the Web 2.0/Social Software mantra as a good thing, we should be “living the dream” by making heavy use of social software to do what we do. This helps us become familiar with it, identify its strengths and weaknesses and be better placed to understand how (and if) it might make a difference to learning and teaching at CQUni

This post is an attempt to do that, in particular to raise a question about something Jocene said in her first blog post. I’m doing it on my blog, rather than hers, to fulfill the vague impression I have that this is “more Web 2.0” than commenting directly on her blog. We still have the discussion as my blog software should tell hers about my comment. But our contributions are captured in our own little bits of the blogosphere.

Generating knowledge, what knowledge?

The emerging major aim of the PLEs@CQUni project is to generate knowledge that is of use to the folk encompassed by CQUni and also, as a secondary outcome, the broader community about the approaches, principles, successes and failures of harnessing social software for university based L&T.

A key part of that will be engaging with and critiquing the various philosophical and theoretical foundations which underpin various bodies of knowledge (BoK) related to the PLEs project. Some example BoKs which I currently see as connected to the PLEs project include

  • How does the human brain develop new knowledge/learning/understanding?
  • What are the best strategies to harness the findings of the previous BoK to effectively and appropriately encourage/enable students and academic staff at CQUni to make use of social media, or more broadly to improve their learning and teaching?
  • What are the theories behind existing organisational practices, including management and the support of information technology, within modern universities? How do these enhance or limit the application of social software to learning and teaching?
  • What are the theories and affordances of social software?
  • What are the clashes or mismatches between the above BoKs?
  • How can you effectively marry these together to enable the effective and appropriate use of social software to improve learning and teaching?

I’m sure there are more? Can you suggest more? Can you suggest different perspectives on the above?

The last question is the one which I think is the one of prime importance to the PLEs@CQUni project. All of the other questions inform this one. How do we do it? How can it be done well, or at least better?

Student-centred education

In Jocene’s first blog post she makes the statement

but I am at ease with the underpinning philosophy of student-centred education.

So my question for Jocene is, what is the underpinning philosophy of student-centred education? It seems an important question for folk at CQUni to understand given the institutions focus on allowing students to “be what they want to be”.

Jocene, can you give a synopsis, maybe with some pointers to other resources, in a single blog post?

I’m sure Nona has some perspectives on this?

Are those perspectives different? Are there different perspectives on this? What are the differences? Where do they originate?

I’m a skeptic (cynic, mongrel and bastard are other potential descriptors) by nature, so when someone appears to have a level of certainty about some piece of knowledge, I begin to suspect the problem of pattern entrainment. A particular way of looking at the world seen as useful by someone becomes their major way of seeing the world and often makes them inattentive to other, potentially important, perspectives.

I’m not suggesting Jocene’s demonstrating entrained patterns. I’m suggesting some/many of the rest of us maybe and that talking about these different perspectives might hopefully make us aware of other, hopefully more useful, patterns.

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