W13: Becoming Educational: Our Research Interests

Lecture: Our research interests

Workshops: Looking at Object Based- and Inquiry Based Learning

Peer Mentors: And after Peer Mentors, what?


Social Justice

All of the lecturers on Becoming an Educationalist are also researchers – and we all have our own particular focus – the issue, theory, topic or approach that we are exploring at this time.

Quaco is currently researching how the theorist Sen contributes to a Social Justice agenda for education. I don’t have the link to his Prezi on the topic ATM – but a quick alternative right now might be to explore the RSAAnimate on the Crisis in Capitalism http://youtu.be/qOP2V_np2c0 This offers its own argument as to factors that might be preventing education from enacting or enabling any form of social justice in society.

Transforming educational landscapes

Recently Tom and Sandra have been researching emancipatory practice with a focus on Notemaking – on Government Policy on E-learning – on transforming educational landscapes (with SecondLife) – and the avatars that students use when inhabiting virtual learning spaces (links to papers below). Currently we are looking at Deleuzian theory and its application to us all as educationalists – hence Becoming an Educationalist!Once we all know what our research interests are we can begin to understand even more where we are ‘coming from’ – and also perhaps which lecturer to go to for what advice and guidance.

An object lesson

The workshops were quite poorly attended this week – which was a shame for we had planned an interesting exercise – using a big Mac Box to develop our analytical and critical thinking. A lesson in unintended consequences – our sessions were poorly attended because the submission date for assessments for the Tuesday class was Wednesday. Hmmmm – as one of the Wednesday tutors, colour me unimpressed! Some groups did proceed with the exercise – see Sameera’s great blog: http://sameerasconfessions.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/wednesday-january-8th-2014-900am-100pm-week-13/.

We continued discussions seeded by the lecture. We focussed on the nature of society especially factors that shape how people think. Connections were made with how Hitler manipulated public opinion through the press with the portrayal and cartoons of Jews; to the stories about the undeserving poor, the workshy and the ‘not really disabled’ that followed the ConDem government into office in 2010. With the former, normal ordinary people were manipulated in to accepting the ‘final solution’, the concentration camps and the gas ovens – with us  we have a Government punishing the poorest and least powerful members of society for the failures of the bankers (and, yes, I guess this does show where we are ‘coming from’!).

So what to research?

We also looked more at research. We lconsidered the Notemaking Literature Review (below) as a model – and also as a source of information for our own literature reviews. It has some excellent discussion on Burr and social constructionism and Bourdieu on Habitus – so it is worth reading to support the writing that we are also undertaking on different modules. It all connects. We also discussed the Academic Reading Literature Review (below) for not only is it another model, it was also written as a reflective blog where the student writer reflected on the process of doing a lit review…

It is still difficult to think of do-able research – we tend to spiral off into grand projects – like how gender effects engagement and achievement in HE… which just may be something to leave till we are tackling our PhDs! Still we tried out a few ideas – for example we could ask a random selection of students where they study – or we could ask whether they make notes/why/what sort of notes – we could think about how students learn in a digital age – and Premsky and the concept of the Digital Native was discussed.

Proposals have to be submitted W19 and we are engaged in productive thinking nice and early.

After the Peer Mentors

Only a few PM arrived this week – possibly also because they too were handing in assignments. However it is making us think about what to do with our ‘fourth hour’ once the mentors leave us. Currently the most popular option seems to be that all the students convene in one room and we can have a variety of activities going on: ‘Shut up and write’ time; Peer review of writing; Tutorials with the teaching team; Preparation for Get Ahead 2014 – which is set for Tuesday 4th March!

Related material

Academic Reading – a Literature Review on the topic of academic reading – written as a wiki blog – with reflections on the process: http://litreview.pbworks.com/w/page/18059710/FrontPage

Burns and Sinfield et al (2010) Paper on Notemaking: 


Burns, Sinfield and Holley (2012) – consideration of the freedoms available when creating learning spaces in SecondLife – with a focus on the avatars that students use https://www.academia.edu/3434045/The_shipwrecked_shore_and_other_metaphors_in_Investigations_in_University_Teaching_and_Learning_V8_2012



By K Hoskins – ‎Related articles

attempt to understand the usefulness of different note-making strategies to non-  Thisliterature review however, explores the practice of notemaking as a socio- 

Sinfield, Burns and Holley (2009) – analysis of government e-learning policy:  ‘A journey into silence’:



Week 8: Analytical and Critical Thinking

Becoming an Educationalist is designed to get you exploring what it means to be an emancipatory, creative and inspiring educationalist for the 21st Century

An educationalist:

  • Helps you think for yourself
  • We are becoming… educationalists (see Deleuze).

This week

  • Simulations: 25 Moral dilemmas: read; draw; resolve; digitise
  • Notes: what, why, how
  • Academic writing: what, why, how
  • Practical writing – answering the mini-question
  • Peer mentor led activity

Embodied learning: Simulation#25 moral dilemmas: http://psychopixi.com/misc/25-moral-dilemmas/

Simulations and role plays invite whole-body learning. For this week’s simulation we shared out some of the 25 moral dilemmas collected by the Team.  We were asked to read our dilemma – then think it through via a drawing first and then discussion. We were also given links to various open source online resources so that we could represent our problem and our solution via an animation or some other more visual – or more audio – representation:

Voicethread: http://voicethread.com
Storify: http://storify.com/
Xtranormal: http://www.xtranormal.com/
Pixton: http://pixton.com/uk/
Issuu: http://issuu.com/
Storybird: http://storybird.com/
Weebly: http://www.weebly.com/
Animoto: http://animoto.com/
Prezi: http://prezi.com
GoAnimate: http://goanimate.com/
More ideas: ‘50+ web 2.0 ways to tell a story’: http://50ways.wikispaces.com/

We were shown one of Sandra’s Go-Animates as an example. This is a reflective ‘log’ on #edcmooc: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfx1_fVZbyI


One pair were brave enough to show their drawings and discuss their dilemma in the de-brief:

In 1842, a ship struck an iceberg and more than 30 survivors were crowded into a lifeboat intended to hold 7. As a storm threatened, it became obvious that the lifeboat would have to be lightened if anyone were to survive. The captain reasoned that the right thing to do in this situation was to force some individuals to go over the side and drown. Such an action, he reasoned, was not unjust to those thrown overboard, for they would have drowned anyway. If he did nothing, however, he would be responsible for the deaths of those whom he could have saved. Some people opposed the captain’s decision. They claimed that if nothing were done and everyone died as a result, no one would be responsible for these deaths. On the other hand, if the captain attempted to save some, he could do so only by killing others and their deaths would be his responsibility; this would be worse than doing nothing and letting all die. The captain rejected this reasoning. Since the only possibility for rescue required great efforts of rowing, the captain decided that the weakest would have to be sacrificed. In this situation it would be absurd, he thought, to decide by drawing lots who should be thrown overboard. As it turned out, after days of hard rowing, the survivors were rescued and the captain was tried for his action.

If you had been on the jury, how would you have decided?

They decided that the captain and the remaining crew were guilty of murder – not least because the captain had a duty of care to *all* his passengers and crew… It was interesting that discussing this allowed us to explore to what extent our solutions were context-dependent, and typically influenced by our emotions as well as our values; and how far they are dependent on our over-arching moral or ethical codes, and thus are more philosophical and independent of context.


This relates back to issues that we discussed W2: Kant and the moral imperative and Bentham and Utilitarianism. It also seeded thoughts about how far our perceived understanding of our ‘role’ in particular situations legitimises actions that in other circumstances would be counter to ourselves as *human* beings. For example, the prison guard and the prisoner, those that torture suspected terrorists… And given that we are becoming educationalists – how do we see ourselves in an educational role? This led on to discussion of the behaviour experiments of the late 20Cth:  Rosenthal and Jacobson and the self-fulfilling prophecy; the blue eye/brown eye class room experiment; the electric shock experiment…

In the Workshop

The workshops diverged slightly this week – one at least went on to continue discussing the moral dilemmas in  detail – and linking that to the way we need to use argument and evidence in our academic writing.

The others seems to have spent some time looking at active notemaking – and how that also prepares us to engage with ideas: to have a dialogue with the theories, concepts and case studies that we study – and come to our own conclusions…  See: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/studyhub/note.html Much was made of just how active we have to be to make our ideas memorable.

The workshops all covered Academic writing in a more formal way than in our first introductory Writing Workshop – that introduced us to free writing – and to Winnicott (1971)!!

The Essay: What; Why; How

…  with real writing:

To what extent is the response to the moral dilemma a question of values? To what extent does it rely on analytical and critical thinking?

We looked at the essay as the formal, discursive and more theoretical form of academic writing. It is the space where we wrestle with ideas – and struggle with them – and write to learn – as we organise our own thoughts – and discover what we think. See: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/studyhub/writing.html

We did think that essays were about finding our own voice – but obviously there is the dark side of academic writing! We write and it is measured, assessed and judged. Philosophically we may accept that any system that offers certification will measure and stamp progress… But awareness of being judged can inhibit our thinking and engagement.

We also thought of different ways to assess – by presentation and by the production of digital artefacts that ‘reflect’ on a part of a course. In #edcmooc (E-learning and Digital Cultures), assessment includes the production of a digital artefact PLUS the peer review of three other artefacts.

Here’s a Prezi Poster Presentation on Academic writing – critiquing institutional over-emphasis on ‘skills’ rather than ideas and knowledge-construction: http://prezi.com/essebcrx47jr/not-a-key-thought/

Talking of – #edcmooc: Just for the heck of it…

Here are a couple of blogpost reflections on learning from fellow students of ours from #edcmooc:

Glidden’s post reflecting on learning itself: http://morethanjustcontent.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/what-does-my-learning-look-like-octel/

And another on what it is to be human – which relates to our early discussions on our values and ethical behaviour: http://morethanjustcontent.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/what-is-a-human-edcmooc/

Week Two: Simulations, role plays, discussion and reading

Becoming an Educationalist is designed to get you exploring what it means to be an emancipatory, creative and inspiring educationalist for the 21st Century

 An educationalist:

  • Helps you think for yourself
  • We are becoming… educationalists (see Deleuze)
  • Over time, through experience, reflection, reflexivity, action research, grounded theory …


This week

Learning is active and interactive, it can happen through talk, writing, thinking, playing, drawing; it can be fast and furious; learning can also be slow and embodied. We will be learning through many different modes on this course and the job of all the participants is to understand what we are doing and why – both here and now as a student – and also for the future as an educationalist: how would you build similar activities into your own practice as an educationalist? 

Embodied learning

Simulations and role plays invite whole-body learning. We will be engaging in several role plays and simulations in the next few weeks to get you thinking about what and who education is for.  The idea is to throw yourself into the simulation, role playing your character with gusto – and then reflecting on your learning both on your own and in the formal de-brief and discussions that will follow. (See http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/subjects/economics/simulations-games-and-role-play.pdf

Simulation#1: The apocalypse is coming: who will you keep in your bunker and why?

World War III has started. You and nine other people find yourselves to be alone together in a Nuclear Bunker. You are probably the last people left on earth.

There are some resources in the bunker – but not enough for all of you to survive for a long time.

If all of you stay, then you will all live only for a maximum of two years.

If three of you wish to survive for many years, seven of you will have to leave … 

In your bunker you have:

  • sewage system
  • water
  • seeds
  • some clothes
  • a few books
  • some medical facilities but no operating material
  • a greenhouse. 

And these ten people:

  • Gay scientist
  • Buddhist priest
  • Married couple who are ‘green’ but childless (one person to speak as couple)
  • Single pregnant woman with a five year old girl
  • Army officer who has mental instability of some sort but is useful nonetheless
  • Elderly woman
  • Disabled man
  • Bisexual lawyer
  • Person who has been long term unemployed
  • Atheist doctor.

 Each person in the group of ten was allocated a character at random and then we had to play our role and argue why we should stay in the bunker…  and why someone else should go. 


  • Did anyone emerge as a leader?  Why? Why not? 
  • How did this influence the choices?
  • Explain why you feel your choices were made.
  • What influenced your decision?
  • What does this tell you about your own values and beliefs?
  • How might this affect you as an Educationalist?

 We discussed leaders and leadership – where leaders:

  • Organise
  • Take responsibility
  • Stay neutral…
  • Or can be very bossy.

If an educationalist is de facto a leader – what sort will you be and why?

Who goes and who stays – you decide

Analysing who was kept in the bunker and who was sacrificed revealed some of our values to us. Whilst most people chose to eject seven or so people to ensure their own survival – some decided that all should remain to take their chances (Kant and the moral imperative). Others formed breakaway groups – deciding that they would leave the bunker and see what happened.  This seemed to show a refreshing anti-authoritarian stance – and an embracing of life as uncertain, enriched by risk and adventure.

Most people ejected the old and infirm, the infertile and the argumentative (the lawyer) – perhaps embracing utilitarian and ‘ends justifies the means’ beliefs.  Some wanted to keep the Buddhist priest – many decided that there was no need for spirituality in their brave new world. Some argued that the doctor and/or the old woman should remain to pass on their knowledge – others decided instead that they could find their knowledge in the books.

So, values emerged that seemed to indicate what we thought it was to be human – but there was no overall agreement about what that was:

  • Be self-sacrificing?
  • Be selfish?
  • Be spiritual?
  • Survive at all costs?
  • Reproduce the species?
  • Nurture resources?
  • Teach others?
  • Gain knowledge?
  • Be adventurous and take risks?

The takeaway questions: So what is being human to you – and how will that impact on your role as an educationalist?

Topic Mediated Dialogue: Thinking through discussion and dialogue

In the seminar this week, thinking and conversation was initially seeded by statements about education or childhood – we then moved on to read about Freire – and to draw all these thoughts together in a brief piece of writing: What is a successful educationalist?


  • 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 or a portrait of one person in their group.
  • Whole class plenary: Show and discuss the portraits. Discuss the Topic Mediated Dialogue session.


  • Education is all about fitting in, knowing your place and accepting your lot in life. Some are bred for success, as for the rest; at best education bores us, at worst it teaches us just how valueless we are. 
  • Schools these days are dumbing down the curriculum; no one knows how to spell anymore; no one knows any Maths. It’s a disgrace. 
  • If I had a child I would run away to sea with them and not come back till they were 18. I would never put a child of mine through the English education system with its SATs and tests and League Tables. It’s not human.

Reading Freire

Finally, after a quick reminder of strategies to tackle academic reading:

  • Q: Question: think first – what do I already know on this subject? What do I need from this reading? 
  • O: Overview: your course: read module aims and learning outcomes; read the assignment question: these all tell you why you are reading! 
  • O: Overview: your book, chapter or journal: this will tell you what you are reading! Tips: For a book: author, title, date; chapter headings; index. Chapter/article: introduction/conclusion and first sentence of every paragraph 
  • Q: Question: So – in the light of all that: Why am I reading this, now
  • R: Read the text actively and interactively, marking it up as you go. Tips: Underline, highlight, circle key words or points;  make notes in the margin: who would agree or disagree? What does it remind you of? Where will you use the information? 
  • R: Re-read: your own annotations and marginalia:  now you are ready to make your key word/key point notes! 
  • R: Review your notes: are they any good (are they sourced: author (date) Title location/publisher)? Can you use them? What will you now read or write?

(See Chapter 10 – Burns and Sinfield (2012) Essential study Skills: the complete guide to success at University London; Sage)


… we were asked to read Freire articles in pairs, identifying key points and issues that are relevant both to being a successful educationalist – and a successful student.

Giroux on Freire:


Info-Ed: dialogue, praxis and education:


Some great discussions were had – with people wrestling with their own preconceptions about education, teaching and learning – and their hopes for themselves as emancipatory educationalists of the future. Some left determined to find out how experiments in radical education might work in practice – especially Summerhill: http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/

Essential follow up activities including reading the following:

Blogging: http://ds106.us/handbook/blogging/  

Giroux on Freire: http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/93016:lessons-to-be-learned-from-paulo-freire-as-education-is-being-taken-over-by-the-mega-rich

Info-Ed: dialogue, praxis and education: http://infed.org/mobi/paulo-freire-dialogue-praxis-and-education/

Lastrefuge: http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/artmooc-week-four-through-lens-lessons.html

Summerhill – experiments in emancipatory education: http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/