Week Ten – Learning Log (sort of)

W11 Additional Blog post: Welcome to Chloe’s 30-day drawing challenge.
We have been drawing to learn, think, explore, research, communicate and understand. We know that you are ‘getting it’ – especially those of you who only ‘got’ ontology and epistemology by drawing them…
SO – here’s a 30-day challenge – with 30 drawing prompts.
Draw something every day for thirty days – take pictures – put them in your blogs – and share them with Chloe – and – have a good time!!

#becomingeducational W11: Research Projects and METHOD

This week we were mostly preparing for our research projects. We wanted to use the time to clarify the task through exploring the PROPOSAL and the REPORT. In the process we were hoping to get people thinking about the issue that they want to investigate – and we wanted to enthuse people about using more creative research METHODS than the questionnaire.


  • Investigate something about University life or study or success that really interests you – and
  • Think: about having something to SAY to REAL PEOPLE.

With that in mind – let us see if we can use an exploration of the WRITING that will be involved to help make sense of the project overall.


Of your RESEARCH PROPOSAL readers will be asking:

  • So what are you going to investigate?
  • Why would that be relevant to this Module/Course?
  • Why are you interested in that topic?
  • What use is this study to you as an educationalist?

And all in only 1000 words! This means you have to develop really concise and effective writing. NB: Your research project overall is worth 30% of the marks for this module – but as the Proposal is handed in W19 (when your writing/thinking is in an earlier stage of development) – this part gets 10% of the marks whilst the Report – which is handed in W29 (when you have had a chance for the writing/thinking to mature a bit more) – is worth 20% of the marks.

Analysing the OBJECT

To get us thinking more deeply about research methods – we studied some raw research data – specifically a 3D Maze that had been produced by a Graduate in answer to the question: can you make something that represents your university experience.

We spent quite a lot of time with the maze – thinking not just about the ‘thinginess’ of the maze itself – but about how we deduct and induct meaning from research data.

We noted that something like a 3D object offers a series of complex things to analyse: the shape and size of the thing – the colours – all the different materials used – the textures – the words – the additional images – the inside and the outside…

On the one hand this can be seen as tiresomely difficult – on the other – this offers an opportunity to wrestle with something complex and thus to produce sophisticated analysis of its many potential meanings.

Obviously our hope was that this process inspired some creative thinking about research methods!

Reflection point: Why might we be disappointed if #becomingeducational students produced such an artefact as their comment on the module?

If you’re struggling to answer that question – have a look at the video on this #ccourses website (#ccourses involved the exploration of the co-creation of knowledge in a connected world): http://connectedcourses.net/thecourse/why-we-need-a-why/


Of your RESEARCH REPORT readers will be asking:

  • So what happened when you conducted your research? What are the key highlights?
  • What do your findings mean?
  • Tip: link your findings back to the research you discussed in your LITERATURE REVIEW
  • What overall conclusions do you draw about University teaching/learning?
  • What should we do differently because of what you have found out?

Good luck everybody!

Big Tips:

W10: The Official Blog!! Draw your Research!!

So – we really wrestled with RESEARCH (yes – it deserves those caps!)… But we’re not going to reproduce the lecture here – oh no – why would we do something as obvious as that?  Here’s the link to the Prezi: https://prezi.com/ow4jnz68mt-a/research-context-for-becoming/

And if you really want to make sure that you have it all – for yourself – to keep – for ever: then turn it into your own Comic Strip or Comic Book. Once you have converted the ideas to the appropriate images you will own this – and you will remember it. If you SHARE your illustrations with the rest of us – you can start a conversation going on the role of illustrations in promoting deep learning.

And to start us off thinking about the role that the visual can play in teaching, learning, assessment, communication and research – the day started with Draw to Learn – part two.



We urged you to develop your CREATIVITY:

We recommended VISUAL NOTES – and suggested you check out the examples on the visual literacies periodic tacle for inspiration:


We discussed DRAWING FOR RESEARCH – and how Kandiko Howson (2012) used student  Brainstorms & Pattern notes to explore student expectations about HE. Have a look at her Research Report – see how she has justified her METHOD – and how she uses the data she collected to produce her Findings:  http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/learningteaching/kli/research/student-experience/student-expectations-perceptions-HE.aspx

And to encourage EVERYBODY to have a go at drawing – we highlighted Penny Pullman’s short video of a Graphics Made Easy Workshop: https://vimeo.com/95197809#comment_12535098

What’s stopping you? Get drawing!

W10 – Bonus post: Why we need to write those blogs!!

Okay – so Becoming is a practical hands-on course – that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to work at it – and think about it. In fact you could argue that you need to work harder and think more to make the learning conscious… and it will be the same for you if you take the experiential learning route when educationalists yourselves.

Here’s a re-posted blog from TeachThought – on how to make experiential learning more meaningful:

Experiential Learning: Just Because It’s Hands-On Doesn’t Mean It’s Minds-On

by Grant WigginsAuthentic Education

I recently visited Thetford Academy in Vermont (one of the few and interesting public-private academies in New England) where they have a formal and explicit commitment to “experiential learning.” So, the leaders of the school asked me to visit classes that were doing experiential learning and to talk with staff at day’s end about it.

I saw some great examples of such instruction. I visited the design tech course (see photos) and the class on the Connecticut River where students were learning about soil types prior to a wetlands field trip.

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I also spent the previous day at the Riverdale School where all 9th graders were learning the skills and habits of innovation and entrepreneurship as part of a cool new project headed by John Kao, former Harvard Business School innovation guru. (I am a consultant to the Edgemakers project).

Below are some pictures from the “Design a better backpack exercise” that started the work of the day.

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Just because it’s hands-on doesn’t mean it’s minds-on. But the gist of my remarks at Thetford was to propose caution. Just because work is hands-on does not mean it is minds-on. Many projects, problems, situations, and field trips do not yield lasting and transferable learning because too little attention is given to the meta-cognitive and idea-building work that turns a single experience into insight and later application.

Years ago when I worked as a consultant at School Without Wallsin Rochester NY (one of the first really interesting alternative High Schools to emerge from the 60s and a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools), they put it very succinctly in their caution about all the independent projects students routinely did. If you were going to learn carpentry to build a chair, then “The learning is not the chair; it is the learning about learning about chairs, chair-making and oneself.”

I have also often used the following soccer example, because it makes the same point beautifully and practically. Merely playing the game over and over need not cause understanding and transfer. It takes a deliberate processing of the game experience, as summarized in the powerful approach used by my daughter’s high school coach a few years back. Instead of talking on and on at players at half-time, Griff asked 4 key questions of players:

      • What’s working for us?
      • What’s not working for us?
      • What’s working for the other team?
      • So, what do we have to do in the 2nd half?

My daughter (now a starter at Stony Brook University) has often remarked that Griff was really the only coach through HS that taught her to ‘think soccer’ and it paid off in her growth and the team’s success.

As a coach of soccer, baseball, and Socratic Seminar, I learned this lesson the hard way many times myself. I often over-estimated student understanding as to the purpose of activities and assignments, and the important learnings from the experiences. My teaching became far more focused and effective when I forced kids to be metacognitive and reflective about what had been achieved against goals. So, for example, 30 years ago I used a variant of Griff’s questions towards the end of each Socratic Seminar:

      • What have been the highlights?
      • What have been the rough spots?
      • What do we now understand?
      • What do we still not understand?
      • Whose voices didn’t we hear? Why?

With the Thetford staff I prompted a focused discussion in a 2-part exercise: What is the difference between effective and ineffective experiential learning? What are the key indicators to look for in judging whether your attempt at experiential learning is working? (Hint: mere engagement is NOT sufficient.) You might try this exercise locally.

The answers are not surprising but worth committing to. One of the most frequent answers is a clear and specific sense of purpose, linking the activity to the WHY? question – We’re doing this becauseWe’re learning this because… etc. The other common answer is that the activity needs to be processed in terms of what was and wasn’t learned. (It is key that students explain this independently. Many teachers think that just because they may have said something about purpose at the start that therefore students can answer these questions later on. It is often not the case.)

A third optional part of the exercise is to share examples of the most powerful experiential learning in one’s own experience as a learner to provide a check and to go beyond the earlier answers.

I always ask all kids when I visit class the three questions at the heart of this caution:

  • What are you doing?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • What does this help you do that’s important?

Alas, many kids do not provide adequate answers. And that’s why we need to worry about merely hands-on learning – even as hands-on learning is vital for making abstractions come to life.

This article was excerpted from a post that first appeared on Grant’s personal blog; Grant can be found on twitter here; Experiential Learning: Just Because It’s Hands-On Doesn’t Mean It’s Minds-On; image attribution flickr user nasagoddardacademy

#becomingeducational W9 Blog: Research… and Draw to Learn

So this week we started the discussion that starts us thinking about our individual RESEARCH PROJECTS: what is ontology? What is epistemology? Why are these concepts important to us as educationalists?
Now every #becomingeducational student should be able to answer those questions by swiftly returning not just to the notes they made in the lecture – but also to the drawings that they made of ontology and epistemology… (the link to the Prezi will go up next week).

Reflection Point:

If you now analyse your own pictures of ontology and of epistemology – what do they tell you about your own understanding/beliefs about what constitutes ‘knowledge’?
What did your picture of epistemology contain? Books – libraries – research practices – conversation?
Did you draw an historical perspective – showing how ‘evidence’ for our knowledge-claims has changed over time?
For example we discussed that whilst it is normal for us to conduct empirical research (to discover information by conducting primary research – as opposed to only reading about a topic – which is known as secondary research), this was not undertaken in the Middle Ages. Such acts of the body would be seen as base – true revelations could only come from the spirit – as revelations from god (think forty days and forty nights of fasting in isolation to have the ‘truth’ revealed to you). Even where people no longer expected that truth would be god-given – there was distrust of what we might discover through primary research. For example, we mentioned Descartes who worried that what could be revealed to us through our senses could lie (for how can we tell when we are awake and when we are dreaming?) – and thus it is only what we discover by rational thought that we can trust: I think therefore I am…
Overall – what does an analysis of our drawings tell us about what and how we ‘know’?
AND – asking these questions about the drawings – leads us in to a discussion of the second part of our session – where we explored Drawing to learn – communicate – research.

Draw to Learn
“Drawings can both evoke and record insight into a situation, and different visualization techniques such as visual brainstorming, imagery manipulation and creative dreaming have been developed … because our intuitive consciousness communicates more easily in impressions and symbols than in words.” (Garfield, 1976; McKim, 1980; Shone, 1984; Parker, 1990).
Pictures can help us think: http://systems.open.ac.uk/materials/t552/pages/rich/richAppendix.html
Pictures can help us observe more clearly – and good observation can lead to good analysis – hence your W5 analysis of the different learning spaces around the University: first you had to SEE CLEARLY – then you had to ANALYSE what you had seen in order to draw meaningful inferences about the spaces and the learning that was happening in them.
We considered drawing as reflective practice – and the art students who drew their learning logs on their overalls – and then used the overalls as an exhibition on their Art Project. See also:
McIntosh, P (2010) Action Research and Reflective Practice: Creative and visual methods to facilitate reflection and learning London; Routledge
McIntosh, P Postgraduate nursing students – drawing-only reflective log: http://qmul.academia.edu/paulmcintosh/Papers/731108/Creativity_and_reflection_An_approach_to_reflexivity_in_practice
Hopefully it is clear from all these examples that drawing is a useful process for thinking and reflecting – and also for use as a RESEARCH METHOD which:
“ … initially stimulates non-verbal activity and then via a probing of what images mean to research participants and why those images were chosen, it goes on to stimulate verbal responses that would otherwise not have been accessible to verbalisation” (Boddy, 2007). Moreover it is argued that:
“Using visual stimuli calls for right-brain activation and bypasses more rational evaluation procedures, thus allowing the researcher to get at the more sub-conscious aspects of respondent’s minds” (Boddy, 2007). This means that we prevent our participants from giving us ‘performative answers’ (the ones they think we want – or the ones that they think they should give) – and allows us to get at something deeper…
Other visual methods to use in your own research projects might be:
Bubble drawing … research participants are asked to complete the verbal and thought response of a drawn person in a given visual and/or verbal reply situation…
Collage in focus group discussions – participants given a selection of magazines, newspapers or other pictorial materials to select a range of images which represent the [issue] being researched.
Image mediated dialogue: choose a picture…
Brainstorms & Pattern notes of the issue being investigated…Viz. Kandiko Howson (2012) http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/learningteaching/kli/research/student-experience/student-expectations-perceptions-HE.aspx
And last year #becomingeducational students used all but the first of these in their research – which made the whole process more enjoyable and interesting for them – and for us!
Note: Whatever METHOD you do use for your Research Project – you will have to JUSTIFY it – by reference to the ‘literature’ (Boddy, 2007; Garfield, 1976; McKim, 1980; Shone, 1984; Parker, 1990) there will be more on this in our lectures – but for now – do check out the McIntosh references above to see how he justified what he did.
Useful Resources for Developing Visual Practices
AccessArt http://www.accessart.org.uk/
Excellent drawing workshop:

Current stuff: http://www.accessart.org.uk/?p=9061
Creativity, learning & doodling: http://www.ted.com/talks/sunni_brown.html
Best thing ever: http://www.drawastickman.com
The sketchbook revolution: notemaking & drawing:
Drawtivity – site for e-learning, drawing & feedback: http://www.drawtivity.org
Visual Directions: use of sketchbooks for developing ideas & reflective learning & essay writing:
Explore links and information available from Pauline Ridley’s Drawing to Learn site: http://www.brighton.ac.uk/visuallearning/drawing/
… and ideas on visual learning strategies :

Click to access D2L_ST_LOW.pdf

Observational skills for geoscience fieldwork : http://www.kingston.ac.uk/esg/fieldwork_tutorial/
Techniques for drawing botanical subjects under the microscope
Looking vs. Seeing: 15’Tutorial: Getting the most out of Microscope Viewing
Picturing to Learn This is part of the Harvard Envisioning Science Program. It enables undergraduate students to clarify their own understanding of scientific concepts and processes by making freehand drawings to explain these concepts to non-experts. These drawings are also used as assessment tools.
Our AniMet challenge http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/animation/index.html