Monthly Archives: March 2014

Dr Debbie Holley presented work by her and Dr Sue Sentance at the Bristol Ideas in Mobile Learning Symposium (6/7 March 2014), and was intrigued with the enabling technology surrounding the event. The whole conference was open online via Googleplus webcasts  to any interested participants with all the events filmed in Cloudworks, the free OU application and available to watch live on youtube. All the abstracts and media were captured in the Cloud, enabling abstracts, slides and video to from a living archive, in that comments can be added to the individual pages.

Mobile ‘comfort’ zones: overcoming barriers to enable facilitated learning in the workplace

The affordances of mobile technologies are well documented (cf Sharples, Vavolua, Wali, Cook, Pachler). Linked with the rapid expansion of the ‘SMART’ phones, where users access fast/high quality information, new opportunities are offered to engage students at a time/place of their own choosing. Our small-scale study is located within the dominant discourse of mobile learning literature of context specific learning; it explores the attitudes and habits of trainee teachers using their own mobile devices when working full time in a school setting. Our findings indicate that students have complex/interwoven narratives that relate to issues of identity, personal/private space and their involvement in an emergent community of practice. We map these key themes into a framework for looking strategically at mobile learners in different personal/ professional contexts, and identify of the design barriers to be overcome before the full potential of mobile learning can be successful with our own students when isolated on placement and juggling busy, complex lives.

The whole conference can be accessed from here:

And Debbie’s talk, slides and abstract is here,

To create your own cloud, or to find out more:
Coming up: Open Education Week (10/14 March)  is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement – watch out for lots of free events…

Category: ALTC

Bristol calling….

And to Bristol…where I attended Professor John Cooks inaugural lecture; attended a seminar given by Professor Rosamund Sutherland; settled into the extremely well equipped postdoc researchers open plan office at UWE; and made a start on putting together a cross-case analysis the previous week.


Social network innovation in the internets global coffeehouses Professor John Cook


Summary from UWE blog:

There is much that we can learn from the past as we explore the issues raised by new technologies and the way in which they are used by learners.

Like the social networking that took place in coffee houses in the 1600s, the Internet-enabled social networks of today, like Facebook and Twitter, stand accused of being so called ‘weapons of mass distraction’ or worse.

In fact, in England in the late 1600s, very similar concerns were raised about coffee houses! However, rather than acting as enemies of industry or distractions to academics, coffee houses in the 1600s were in fact crucibles of creativity, because of the way in which they facilitated the mixing of both people and ideas.

Now the spirit of the coffeehouse has been reborn in our social-media platforms. McKinsey Global Institute, (2012) claim that social networking within companies could increase the productivity of ‘knowledge workers’ by 20 to 25 percent.

OpenWorm is an open source project dedicated to creating the world’s first virtual organism in a computer and fostering growth of a completely open computational biology community. Modern fears about the dangers of social networking are overdone.

Design research allows us to engage in inquiry surrounding the transformative possibilities for learning technologies. In this lecture, he’ll take the view that the neglected area of ‘design seeking’ can help us with attempts designing for scale.

In the Learning Layers Project, we develop technologies that support informal learning in the workplace (Health Professionals in NE England and the Construction sector in North Germany).

Co-design is being used with all user groups to help shape our designs and tools. A model is presented of design seeking and scaling.

The PANDORA design team case study from Learning Layers is used to illustrate the model. PANDORA explores, amongst other things, designs for collaborative technologies for processes surrounding a Significant Event Audit (SEA) in UK Health Sector’s General Practices.

The lecture concludes with an assessment of the model and a confirmation that Internet fuelled coffeehouses are very much alive in Learning Layers and beyond.

The lecture was followed by a two day symposium, comprising papers, round tables and a Mobifest experience, engaging members of the public with a variety of Mobile related activities, inside and outside ‘The Watershed.’

Category: ALTC

Prof Rosamund Sutherland: Education and social justice in the digital age


Research seminar as part of the University of Bristol ‘Powerful Knowledge’ series


Rosamund always starts her teaching with this quote:


“The environments in which humans live are thick with invented artefacts that are in constant use for structuring activity, for saving mental work, or for avoiding errors or they are adapted creatively almost without notice. These ubiquitous mediating structures that both organise and constrain activity include not only designed objects such as tools, control instruments and symbolic representations like graphs, diagrams, text, plans and pictures, but people in social relations, as well as features and landmarks in the physical environment.” (Pea, 1993, p8)


This seminar, drawing upon the themes in her recent book ‘Education and justice in a digital age’ (now available with a 20% discount covers some really insightful thoughts into the current curriculum debates hotly contested across the sector. Rosamund reminds us, drawing up her research and experience with schools in the Bristol area, it is not the public school/state school debate which matters, but the state school/ state school debate, especially in terms of catchment areas for schools. Her horrifying statistic shows that in South Bristol, where there is more deprivation, 18% of young people go into HE, compared with the relatively more affluent West of Bristol, where 50% of young people are able to make the transition to HE. She argues that, from a social justice perspective, the priority of schools should be to give young people the formal knowledge they are not likely to learn outside school.


“Mass schooling, as a core institution of modernity and one of the inventions of the enlightenment, is a unique opportunity for students at any age – to acquire what I will call ‘powerful knowledge’ – knowledge that they would not have access to at work or at home and knowledge that takes them beyond their experience” Young, 2010


The talk covered four key areas, Capabilities and opportunities to become, drawing upon the work of SEN (2001, 2008, 2009) Powerful knowledge, drawing upon Young 2009, 2010 – the success of pupils is highly dependent on the culture that they bring to school. Elite cultures that are less constrained by the natural exigencies of life, are, not surprisingly, far from congruent with acquiring these in different contexts (Young 2009). People and technologiescovered the importance of working with human and technological resources, and this should be recognized in schools – also includes recognizing the use of resource as what Vygotsky would call ‘a more knowledgable other’. The final theme drew upon Olsens work exploring a Fourth and future pedagogy – a pedagogy of arriving at a joint goal, both shared and public, against which either student or teacher can assess the pupil performance and take corrective action.


Summary is all mine, as are any mistakes in the narrative! Off to buy the book – already recommended it to our library as an essential addition to the policy section..thanks to Rosamund for an insightful and interesting tour around her ideas.

Category: ALTC