#SGM15 Developing Student-Centred Learning

Together we can make learning happen! 

Our Learning Outcomes are: Managing the learning environment through a student-centred approach; Effective interaction with different groups of students;· Adapting teaching styles to different learning styles of students;· Prevention and /or management of educational conflicts that may occur in the group of students.  

Rationale for our day: Interactive practice, modelling the engaging, creative and immersive student-centred practice that is argued to produce student engagement and thus better student behaviour.

SGM15 Website and Blog: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/dppm/index.html

Don’t forget to TWEET your blogshttps://twitter.com/hashtag/SGM15

And we can publish: www.aldinhe.ac.uk  


Welcome from Sandra Sinfield in Sibiu and Tom Burns in Buccharest

We hope you enjoy this interactive day that we have designed to model student-centred learning. If you would like to contact us – our details are:

Tom Burns: t.burns@londonmet.ac.uk

Sandra Sinfield: s.sinfield@londonmet.ac.uk  

1: Introductions and scene setting: Re-discovering our passion:

  1. Ice-breaker:
    1. Individually: Re-call: ‘best ever’ learning or teaching experience: what was it? Why was it so successful?
    2. In pairs/groups: introduce yourselves to each other and share your best ever teaching/learning experiences
    3. SHARE your good ideas!!

2: Promoting friendship groups and Communities of Practice within the student group: Role Play and Simulations – because learning is talking, thinking doing.   The Nuclear Bunker:

  3: Seeding discussion: modelling the social-constructivist nature of knowledge: Image Mediated Dialogue: seeding discussion through images.

IMD in action: Participants choose an image that represents:

‘Modern Students and the impact on LTA’:

  • In writing: 1) describe the picture; 2) say why it answers the question for ‘you’
  • In triads: each one explains their reasons for choosing their picture – the others listen – and can make additional comments; the initial speaker does not have to amend their views in the light of the other comments – but may do so if they wish
  • Plenary: de-construct the activity – discuss how it might be utilised in participant’s own practice.

Reflection Point:

  • 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?
  • What next?
  • Extension: getting published: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/home.html

  Alternative activity: Topic Mediated Dialogue: Structuring discussion through seeded dialogue. TMD in action: Three controversial statements about HE – discuss in pairs – then values are deduced and discussed:

  • Talk: In twos or threes, talk about the topics below in as free and wide ranging a way as possible for twenty minutes.
  • Reflect: After 20-mins: Each person has to draw a representation of one person in their group.
  • Present: Show and discuss the representations.
  • Whole class plenary: What have we done – why – how might you use in your own practice?

Discussion topic: Cheating – friend – foe – scapegoat: How does the notion of cheating help you think about and understand University Learning, Teaching and Assessment? What does it say about a University’s purpose – the what, the why and the how of Higher Education? 

  • What does it say to you about learning?
  • About teaching?
  • About the relationship between students, teachers and the university?
  • About the wider social and cultural context we’re working in?
  • About the purpose of higher education?
  • About assessment design?

4: Developing Online Learning and Collaboration

At LondonMet we have a focus on ‘blended learning’ – and have developed a staff-facing resource that scaffolds staff development in re LTA in a digital world, the eMatrix:


Please, feel free to search the CELT eMatrix for articles relevant to your interests and practice.

For example, following links to Collaborative Learning would take you to here: http://www.celtelearning.org/expertise/detail/what-is-collaborative-learning.

In-class: this is how we developed ‘digital literacies’ and collaboration both online and off with our students:

4: Optional extra: Write to Learn – your first BLOG POST: Explore writing as a learning process via:

  • In-session Writing activity that de-constructs writing three ways
  • Participants will be set the task of writing an ‘answer’ to a  question in just ten minutes – and simultaneously writing why they are not writing we then reflect:
    • What did that feel like? How might that compare to student feelings about writing? How can we harness positive feelings and diminish the impact of negative feelings?
    • Why did you stop writing? What are common reasons for developing writing blocks? What can we do about that?
    • What did you like either this process and/or the writing that you did? What can we take from that into our own practice?
  • Meta-reflection: what can we do with this in our own practice?
  • Alternative writing resource: Write to Learn: The role of play…

  5: Designing student-centred learning Together: Design an in-class learning activity that models a game Form FIVE or SIX groups:

  • Name: Choose a GROUP NAME 
  • Acquaint: Introduce yourselves – and your favourite GAME
  • Work: In your groups – design a lesson or game that uses the 4 cards (aim of the activity; time-length of activity; nature of student participants; wild card resource to include). THINK GAME: what are the rules? How can people score? How do they win?
  • Write: Use the THINK-PITCH slide to shape your pitch (10 minutes)
  • Pitch: Each group has to explain their GAME/LESSON and how to teach it
  • Meta-reflection: What can we take from this into our own practice?

Draws on: Produce a Learning Game: http://playthinklearn.net/?p=357

Examples from Egypt: http://blog.mahabali.me/blog/pedagogy/games-pedagogy/excited-about-student-prototypes/

For other student-centred approaches: See Part Two of our online programme: https://lmudppum.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/sgm15-blog-2-a-student-centred-approach/  

6: Re-visit initial semester or year plans In the light of the day so far – each group re-visits their initial plan – and revises it – perhaps adding more examples of modern methods of teaching, learning and assessment, gleaned from the day. Each group presents their plan to the class as a whole.

7: End of day: THE ASSIGNMENT:

For online course: for each of the three 4-hour blocks – WRITE one blog post and tweet – READ three blog posts – PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ALSO.

FINAL assignment: one elegant blog post that demonstrates engagement with the Learning Outcomes and with your peers. (300 words – can be more).-

Reading List #becomingeducational – blog for all Becoming students: https://becomingeducational.wordpress.com/ Buckets and fires – teachers’ blog http://bucketsandfires.blogspot.co.uk/ Burns, T & Sinfield, S (2004) Teaching, Learning and Study Skills: a guide for tutors, London; Sage Burns, T & Sinfield, S (2012) Essential study skills: the complete guide to success at university, London; Sage Buzan, B. & Buzan, T. (1995) The Mind Map Book BBC Creativity – The Curious Creative:  https://flipboard.com/section/the-curious-creative-b5vmw7 Jeffers, S. (1997) Feel the Fear and do it Anyway London; Century Hybrid Pedagogy blog – see especially this post on classroom design: http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/discovering-natural-classrooms-hybrid-collective-learning-spaces/ Isaacs, S, Blundell, D, Foley, A, Ginsburg, N, McDonough, B, Silverstone D & Young, T (2014) Social Problems in the UK: an introduction London; Routledge Last Refuge Blogspot: http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/ Academic blog (and set as essential reading for all Becoming an Educationalist  students). Race, P ‘Making Learning Happen’: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid750119352001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAPmbRRLk~,C5G7jhYNtiexS5VyD_Z2uLViSuANsVS0&bctid=3530297533001 Robinson, K. (2006) Ken Robinson says ‘Schools kill creativity’ (speech) ONLINE: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html accessed 10.12.10 Robinson, K. (2009) ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ (speech) ONLINE: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms Schmidt, Laurel. Great Teachers Don’t Take No (or Yes) for an Answer: Teaching by Asking Instead of Telling in Classroom Confidential: The 12 Secrets of Great Teachers . Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2004.  #SGM15: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/dppm/index.html Shuh, John Hennigar. Teaching Yourself to Teach With Objects in The Educational Role of the Museum: Second Edition . New York: Routledge, 2001, pgs. 80-91. Study Hub: www.londonmet.ac.uk/studyhub (student-facing support website) Teach Thought blog: http://www.teachthought.com/ Teaching Without Walls: http://www.teachingwithoutwalls.com/ – see especially: The Liquid Syllabus: http://www.teachingwithoutwalls.com/2014/08/the-liquid-syllabus-are-you-ready.html Wheeler, S Educational Theory blog: http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.co.uk/

#rhizo15 W5: Is community learning an invasive species?

DAVE says: Rhizomatic plants are chaotic, aggressive and resilient. They model some of the qualities that can make a good learner. The rhizome, however, can also be an invasive species. It can choke other plants out of your garden such that only the rhizomatic plant remains. We’ve just heard from Aras that “the number of active participants [on twitter] are decreasing while density (interaction in the rhizo community) is increasing”. How do we make sure there is always room for new and contrarian voices? Do we need to create a them to have a we? How do we cultivate a community learning ecosystem so that it continues to grow outward rather than inward? What does that mean for learning? Must rhizomatic learning be an invasive species?


Your challenge
This week take a critical look at the rhizomatic approach. Are we just replacing one authority structure with another? Trading tradition for community? What does this mean in our classroom? How can this get us into trouble? What are the ethical implications of creating a ‘community’ for learning? Community as conformity?

Catch the really short video here: http://rhizomatic.net/2015/05/12/week-5-is-community-learning-an-invasive-species/


I’m sometimes asked what makes a good learning developer – is it a bunch of strategies, some great pedagogy, excellent resources, cool curriculum options… something else altogether? And I hark back to the people who have most influenced my own teaching…

Mr McCarthy

For my last two years of primary school I finally encountered a teacher who I thought liked me, Mr McCarthy. I think he liked us all – but in my solipsistic universe the thing that was important was that at last I felt that someone in this harsh and judgemental universe actually liked me – they thought that I was okay. From that space Mr McCarthy could do no wrong… But he also did a lot right – and especially beautiful were the times he sent me out (aged about 10 or 11) to buy him his twenty Players untipped from the kiosk down the road – and Wednesday afternoons when he would read to us. We would sit at our desks, perhaps put our heads on our arms and relax, and he would read, The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds, HG Wells is who I mainly remember, and we would be transported and challenged and held all at the same time.

Holt and Rogers

After MrMcCarthy I did not really encounter any more kind or warm teachers at school at all…but when I got to study Education (with Literature) at Poly for my first degree I found lecturers (unchained by AWAM and Performance Indicators and Targets) who also took us to art galleries and to magistrates courts and invited us to lunch and took bunches of us away for the weekend – and, we also talked in the canteen and on the bus and round each others’ flats and put the world to rights and discovered John Holt – who thought that formal education could do nothing but enslave – and Carl Rogers who said it’s all about Unconditional Positive Regard, Congruence and Empathy! And I thought – YES – that was what it was about!

So – love your students – all of them – and allow the flows and currents – trying if you can to make sure none of them fall out or fall too far – but don’t strangle them or swaddle or limit… and sometimes you will fail and they will get hurt – but that was not your intention – and that makes a difference!!

And that’s very stream of consciousness – and if you’d like something a little deeper – do read Keith’s brilliant post: http://idst-2215.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/ethics-for-moocs-power-in-rhizo-moocs.html

#becomingeducational joins #rhizo15: W4 blog post: Get (rid of) Dave!!

So this week Dave asks if we can ‘Get rid of Dave’ – can we teach rhizomatically?

Full challenge here: http://rhizomatic.net/2015/05/06/week-4-canshould-we-get-rid-of-the-idea-of-dave-how-do-we-teach-rhizomatically/

Or… “But what is the role of the facilitator/teacher/professor where we are using learning subjectives, where learning isn’t measured and where content is actually other people? What cultural concepts do we have that we can use as models? Do we need a new model?

How do we ‘teach’ rhizomatically? Or, even… do we?”

When I was training to be a teacher in the late seventies/early eighties there were many movements resisting the top down power implicit in formal education. Some resisted all power of the teacher. Madness! I’d recently been a child and remembered what the unfettered child could do. I remembered Lord of the Flies!!

If the teacher did not ‘hold’ the classroom, surely the bully or bullies did – and that was not good for anyone. (I shudder to remember that teaching practice day when they all played football on top of the desks – with real a football.)

So – how do we develop autonomy, self-actualisation and all that good stuff, when as teacher you are in charge and in control?

Seed rhizomatic practice?

I bang on a lot ATM about our module – yes – this one: https://becomingeducational.wordpress.com/ – so here it is – and here is #rhizo15!!

This year Tom and I co-taught a class of 60+ students for 30-weeks. What we attempted to do was build this cohort into friendship groups and then into communities of practice. What we wanted was that they/we bonded with each other – and that the students made friends with at least one other. We felt that the belonging and the bonding was really important in affective terms – you need a friend – but also to model the dialogic and social-constructivist nature of education.

It started with a Question

We started not with a ‘lecture’ on the what, why and how of the course – but by getting these strangers to decide on questions that they wanted answered. We followed this with several weeks of role play/simulations – where they had to problem-solve together – and present findings, together. We had topic mediated dialogue sessions and collaborative research projects and poster presentations. At no point did we have to run a session on ’How to succeed at group work’ – they were succeeding – in groups large and small. They knew each others’ names – and, throughvarious presentations, they developed knowledge of each other as people as well as fellow travellers on an interactive, dialogic journey.

By the end of the course we ceded three weeks completely for them to run as they pleased. Our wonderful students developed stop-frame animations – and taught us how to make our own; they developed a range of games for us to play and learn from; they made tee-shirts and posters of the affective dimensions of learning – and had us playing a range of ‘getting to know you’ games. In their sessions, they managed to engage and excite the last two students who we, despite all our years of experience and our best endeavours, had not managed to relax and draw into the real life of the class… (Sorry peeps!!)

Can you assess rhizomatically?

For the assignments: each student had to decide on a research project, undertake it and write a formal report. Each has to write an essay – but has the option of interpreting the word ‘essay’ – and some will produce visual versions. They also have to submit three portfolio items demonstrating their best learning – and we structured many projects into the course (cutting the reading list to do so) so that they had many opportunities to experiment and to play; to find their own metier – their own way of shining. We’re looking forward to the marking!

We like to think this is one way to teach rhizomatically – and we’d love it if some of our #becomingeducationalists joined in with this conversation to give their opinion.