#becomingeducational W20: Becoming… critical learners

Our class – our Cave

This week we explored the value of taking control of our own learning – arguing that it is impossible to become a good educationalist if you cannot also become an engaged and active learner or student. Of course when you start a degree the module or course names might mean very little – we have no idea what the course it about – let alone what it might offer us – or what we might actually want from it. First of all we just want to survive – survive the strange new buildings and people – the new demands – and the blind confusion and panic involved in being a student… BUT – at some point it is useful to stop – think – and start again more slowly!

 20 13 summer Tim,Dad, Robbie Leysdown 029

The hermeneutic space

Firstly we reflected on five things that we actively want from Becoming – how we’ll know when we’ve got them… and what we feel about the module now – and YES – this will help you with the end of course ESSAY!!

So – what did people actually want from Becoming?

As well as research skills, people wanted to become more creative and to engage in different sorts of learning activities; to be pushed into engaging positively – especially with things outside current comfort zones – for example to get more confidence online. People wanted a good teaching experience – to be part of dialogic practice and to grow in confidence. Some wanted to experience different ways of designing lessons, learning and teaching – to experience and to learn about different sorts of engaging tasks and practices. Still others wanted to develop their critical and analytical thinking – especially with respect to the reading – and in the process learn and become more comfortable with the different terminologies and academic language. People wanted more confidence in giving presentations – and to build their confidence and social capital in general. Some saw Becoming as a journey – to their learning – to their career: “becoming what I’m meant to be.”

After voicing our own hopes and expectations – we compared these to the 14 principles for improving higher learning: Angelo: A “Teacher’s Dozen”: Fourteen General, Research-Based Principles for Improving Higher Learning in Our Classrooms:
http://www.csuchico.edu/~lsederberg/ceeoc/teachers_dozen.pdf – actively discussing the first few in class: active learning is essential; we need to focus – be aware of what is important in the subject; learners must have their own goals (explicit, reasonable, positive) – and it helps if these are congruent with the teacher’s goals; we remember by connecting new learning to old schema; we may need to unlearn what we already know – and this is difficult; and  – as the notemakers know already – personally and meaningfully organised information is retained.

Tip: Reflect on the 14 principles: how far are students themselves in control of these – how far are they down to teaching practice? How far might they help you to become a more successful educationalist? How far will they help you with the Becoming essay?

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Getting jiggy with the MLE/VLE

Yup – we are all digital residents now – and much of the digi in university is delivered through its Managed or Virtual Learning Environment (MLE/VLE) – so the next class investigation asked: How would YOU design a VLE?

In LondonMet we used BlackBoard’s WebLearn – and if you really wanted to get serious with taking control of your own teaching right now – you could access this free version of BB – and design your own VLE: https://www.coursesites.com/webapps/Bb-sites-course-creation-BBLEARN/pages/index.html Things to think about:

Who are our students? Young/old? So what? Academic capital or not? So what? TIME or not? So what? Digital visitor or resident? So what?

Why WebLearn: What’s it really for? Who is it really for? What could or should it do? What would you really like to see in there? What about the Social Media?

Pedagogic models?

Interestingly, CourseSites offers different pedagogic models – to help you think about and structure your online space:

Activity: hands-on, fieldwork, PBL – with conversations and live chat

Case Study: develops knowledge through cases – enabling brainstorming, blogging and the application of theory.

Conference session: allowing collaboration in a web environment.

Constructivism: facilitating the construction of learning – with groups, sharing, knowledge-base and reflection.

Expedition-based: active/exploratory – with base camp, storytelling and My Trip Journal.

Experiential: knowledge created through concrete experiences – hands-on plus reflection. Round table, our blogs and my reactions.

Question: Do any of these inspire you? Could any of these be used productively in F2F teaching as well as on line?

And finally – a bit of Critical Pedagogy

When thinking about designing learning and teaching it is useful not just to reproduce what we already know – but to think differently about who and what education is for – or what it could or should be for; to think about social justice or ethics or humane ways of behaving – factors not always present in traditional schooling! So here are some tips from Critical Pedagogy – things to think about when DESIGNING your own teaching – and perhaps to use when EVALUATING the learning and teaching that you experience:

Content is …  a proposal…  to inspect, laugh about, jump off from.

Narrative structure: All courses are compositions, and as such they should tell a story…The course should begin one place and end someplace decidedly elsewhere…

Open-ended questions: Yes or no questions are for computers, not people…

Actual work, no busy: Activity in a course should never be empty … Learning isn’t an act of recall…

No assessments: … A course should be challenging enough that just getting through it is an accomplishment (and compelling enough that learners want to get to the end of the story).

Business casual: … use contractions or ellipses or emoticons or ironic parentheticals or risky language (or run-on sentences)… Perfect grammar shakes no one’s hand, gives no hugs.

See http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/6-principles-of-critical-pedagogical-course-design/

Also Mayer on Principles of designing multimedia learning:


Tip: Start thinking about all this in relation to your Becoming essay!!



#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/