Capturing the worst of teaching

“You don’t have to be in a classroom to have a bad learning experience, you can access one from anywhere on your iPhone!”

(brain dump and follow-on thoughts from chat with MWJ this morning)

Does technology capture the worst of teaching practice?  Or, at least, are there any important subtleties (especially of interactions?) that it misses?

Think about how the technology is positioned.  Is it there as a resource to be referred to (“electronic worksheet”) or is it driving the whole experience (LD)?  If it is the latter then how does this affect the power structure?

LD – what next?  If LD has captured something “obvious”, because this is what could be agreed on, what has it not captured?  What do teachers want to capture?

Illich – add this to my reading list.  Where does LD, Moodle, etc sit in relation to this?  What are they trying to get people to do?  Conviviality.

Ask MWJ more about his work with the RAK students, especially the group (acting?) work.  Could this be translated successfully/effectively/richly to an online environment?  How could we measure whether it worked well online?  What elements would you need to transfer in order for the learners to feel that they had experienced something useful/enriching?  What makes an enriching experience?  What is “enriching”?

There is a persistent suggestion that tools are the major reason for the non-adoption of LD.  For example this paper most recently.  Looking at the usability of IMS LD tools was the reason for my PhD Studentship coming into existence and so I’m not complaining.  But what do I think about this now?  I need to look at this more generically.

Let’s take LD out of the equation.

Let’s say I (I/we, individually or as part of a larger group) have created a concept that I think people will find useful.  I publish the concept but find that after a number of years it is not being used in “production” environments.  I think that the concept is sound.

So I ask people from the “real world” to map something out using my concept.  They can, on the whole, grasp the concept in their heads and can draw out an application of the concept on paper.  When it comes to creating an electronic version of the work they have more difficulty.  So it must be the tools.

It must be the tools, right?

At least within the confines of my study this seems like it might be so.  But have I had any unsolicited feedback from real world users expressing their frustration with the available tools?  Have I had a flood of emails saying “hey, your concept is the best thing since sliced bread and I think it could transform my life, but I just can’t get to grips with the technological implementations of it” or words to that effect?  Is there a buzz about my concept in relevant forums but frustration because of the tools?  Have there been any offers, or evidence of attempts, to adapt my tool’s openly available source code by those with a technical bent who have been evangelised by my concept?  If the reality is a metaphorical desert complete with howling winds and tumbleweed then do I dare to ask myself if many people are interested in my concept from a “production” standpoint?

Anyway, it must be the tools, right? How much time and other resources do I put into developing the perfect tool?  How do I find out how to make the perfect tool if I have no “production” feedback from people using my imperfect tool?  What if I manage to create the perfect tool that is all things to all people and then still nobody uses it?  What could be at fault then?

And in the meantime how do I manage to create some new, suitably weighty, knowledge to obtain my PhD while I’m spending all this time creating my supertool? x-|


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