#amee2014

Post Script to #AMEE2014 #PCW16 Workshop on Personalising Learning

Here’s the second of my post AMEE blog posts which focuses on the pre-conference workshop I ran with John Sanders from the University of Sheffield on ‘How to create personalised learning opportunities in the information age: Essential skills for the 21st century teacher’.  John kicked off the workshop looking at why we might personalise learning and some relevant learning theories and how technology is being used to personalise learning.

I went on to give a quick overview of how I’ve been using technology to support my own learning and talked about some of the elements of my personal learning environment (PLE) and how I’ve built a personal learning network (PLN).  I talked about how this related to my ongoing learning in relation to professional development and the 12 roles of the medical teacher outlined by Crosby and Harden (1) back in 2000.  Whilst their focus is on medical education a good number of these roles apply to lecturers whatever their discipline or subject area in higher education.

12 roles of the medical teacher

You can see my slides below which walk through my journey of using social media including blogs, Twitter and the emergence of free open access meducation – FOAMed.

For those of us who’ve been inhabiting digital landscapes for sometime the concepts of PLEs and PLNs are nothing new but for some these are new terms.   In the lead up to the conference I was struck by a blog post by Martin Weller asking the question ‘Why don’t we talk about PLEs anymore?’.  I think Martin is right, there’s less discussion these days on Twitter and in the blogosphere about PLEs than there was 5 years and I posted this comment on Martin’s blog with some of my thoughts on why this might be.

I wonder if it’s also dropped off the radar slightly because personalised learning is talked about much more rather than personal learning. Much of this is perhaps being driven by the attention on learning analytics and how this can be used to support personalised learning. Along with MOOCs and the flipped classroom, learning analytics seems to be one of the big buzzes (hypes?) in education. I do wonder whether this is a good thing and whether we should actually be focusing more on personal learning so that students develop the skills to become lifelong and wide learners.

I picked up on these themes in another section of the workshop and made the distinction between ‘personal’ learning which is made by and for oneself and self-organised and managed versus what seems to be the current trend around ‘personalised learning’ which to me seems to have become more about learning being customised for individuals and linked to machine learning.  Learning analytics seems to be the big driver here and whilst I can see that this can all help support student learning I do have concerns that this is technology spoon feeding students rather than encouraging students to become independent self-directed and regulated learners.  Once our graduates are in the work place they have to take personal responsibility for their own personal development and lifelong learning, I’m not sure learning analytics are going to be prescribing learning pathways for them in the world of work (but who knows MOOCS might have taken over the world and this will be the future!).

John  went on to look at the importance of both students and teachers having the digital, information and learning literacies to be able to personalise their own learning.  He also highlighted that teachers need to have the skills to be able to design learning activities which provide the appropriate scaffolding for students to develop their own personal learning approaches.  I think we still have a way to go with teachers developing these skills and the continued reliance on the walled garden of the VLE perhaps doesn’t help.  There have been several posts over the past few days about VLEs/LMSs talking about why we’re sticking with VLEs which if time permits I’d like to respond to but in essence I think they kind of miss the point.  I think these posts also provide a further answer to Martin Weller’s question about why no one is talking about PLEs anymore, which I think is a real shame.

Within the medical education and health care professions world there is still some scepticism around the use of social media for learning, not least from students who make great use of facebook to support collective learning in their year and study groups but don’t connect much beyond that.  There are growing communities around #FOAMed, #WeNurses, WePharmacists etc and there’s a nice editorial by Moorley and Chinn (2) in the Journal of Advanced Nursing looking at using social media for continuous professional development.  Closer to home I was interested to see that NHS Education Scotland (NES) have teamed together with the The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) to make this video on building your personal learning network.

The press release that accompanied the launch of this video included a great quote from Malcolm Wright who’s the Chief Executive of NES.  He said:

‘The social use of knowledge is an important strand of the Knowledge into Action strategy which aims to make finding and using knowledge a routine part of everyday work.  By social use of knowledge we mean the tools, techniques and skills that connect people so that they can share experience and find ways of applying knowledge.

We know that published evidence does not translate into practice until people start talking about it and sharing practical examples.  Social networking tools such as communities of practice, Twitter and Yammer can play a vital role in this socialising process.’

If you walk the online corridors of #FOAMed this is exactly what you see, personal networks talking over the latest evidence, guidelines, critically appraising them.  Senior medics serving as virtual mentors to new doctors and students. With organisations like the NHS recognising the benefits of PLNs perhaps we can start to get PLEs talked about again.

If you’re new to the concept of a PLN and PLE take a look at Join the PLN Challenge and Earn a Rare Prized Badge to get some useful tips.

REFERENCES

(1) Crosby, R. H. J. (2000). AMEE Guide No 20: The good teacher is more than a lecturer-the twelve roles of the teacher. Medical teacher, 22(4), 334-347.

(2) Moorley, C., & Chinn, T. (2014). Using social media for continuous professional development. Journal of advanced nursing.

Summary of #amee2014 symposium on the importance of educational theories

Last week I was at the annual AMEE conference, which is probably the largest international conference in medical education attracting delegates from across the health care professions and the continuum of education.  It also has a reasonable amount of engagement from students and it was great to see so many students presenting both posters and short oral communications.  I’m hoping to write a few posts following on from last week and this one is the first in the series with some notes on the symposium I took part in on ‘Creating effective learning with new technology in the 21st century: the importance of educational theories’.  Here’s the abstract for the session:

There is an increasing variety of technology available to the 21st medical educator, from social media (such as Twitter and You Tube) facilitating free open access education (FOAMed) to large knowledge repositories and simulations to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The challenge for all medical educators is to resist the temptation of adopting the latest technology without considering how the technology can be used to facilitate effective learning. This symposium will offer participants a range of established and newer educational theories, from multimedia design and deliberate practice to ecology of learning and connectivism, and illustrate how these theories can critically inform the use of technology to create effective personal and collaborative learning. Participants will have the opportunity to consider the extent to which they currently use theory to create learning opportunities with technology and to explore how they can produce innovative learning with technology by the use of newer theories.

John Sandars, Director of Research at the School of Medicine, University of Sheffield chaired and introduced the symposium and started off by sharing Jean Marc Cote’s vision of a 21st century school from 1901.  John went on to outline the importance of the role of the instructor (a theme which was revisited in the discussion) and the need to think about both educational philosophy and theories when designing an instructional approach.

France in XXI Century. School.jpg
France in XXI Century. School” by Jean Marc Cote (if 1901) or Villemard (if 1910)
http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/06/30/france-in-the-year-2000-1899-1910/ – A reproduction of the early 20th century, scan / Репродукция, скан бумажной карточки. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

John went on to introduce the four co-presenters in the sympoisum and the topics we’d be covering.   First up was Pat Kokatailo, Professor Of Paediatrics at the University of Wisconsin who looked at ‘What type of learner do I want?‘  Pat focused on John Dewey and his core beliefs of the teacher as a facilitator or guide, presenting content in a way which enabled the student to relate to prior experience and engage in active inquiry based learning. She went on to detail how Dewey had informed Flexner and him advocating small group and hands on teaching and how this in turn informed Schon’s reflective practice. Pat went on to talk about what kind of learners we want in medical education, a theme picked up in my presentation and we both highlighted the need for students to develop into independent life long learners who were active and inquisitive and knew where to find information.  The role of technology was then considered in how it could be used to develop inquiry by designing activities that encouraged self-direction, promoted interactive activities that also provided feedback to students.

Next up was Goh Poh Sun from Yong Loo Lee School of Medicine in Singapore who presented on ‘Designing effective individual learning’. You can take a look at Poh Sun’s presentation on his Designing effective individual learning blog and the further resources he’s posted on Padlet.  One of the themes of Poh Sun’s talk was cognitive load and multimedia learning theories which Richard Mayer has written about extensively.

I then went on to my slot where the focus was on social learning and you can take a look at my slides below.

My main focus was on communities of practice, networked learning and connectivism. There are clearly others such as Bandura’s social learning theory but there’s only so much you can say in 10 minutes. These theories are inter-related and can be used  as lenses to gain perspectives on social learning and help develop frameworks to support the design of social learning activities.

Finally Rakesh Patel of the School of Medicine, University of Leicester went to provide a helpful overview of Emergent theories for effective learning. Rakesh’s focus was learning in the clinical and work-based setting and he emphasised the need to prepare our learners for the fast-paced and ever changing workplace that they will practise in.  The importance of developing and being able to assess clinical reasoning skills was highlighted and the role that technology might play n helping to identify gaps in student knowledge as well as supporting feedback.

The educational theories outlined by Dewey, Vygotsky, Mayer, Lave and Wenger seemed to weave together through the presentations and it’s clear to see their relevance when designing effective learning with technology.  What was clear from the 45 minutes of discussion is the need to explore these further and develop frameworks to support the design of effective learning approaches.  Too often our use of technology in learning and teaching has been technology lead, we’ve learned about a new technology and want to use it rather than thinking about what our students need to learn, what skills we want them to develop and how that can best be achieved.  The importance of the teacher came through time and time again from the audience and it’s we that need to be the agents of change.  With that in mind I’d recommend having a look at this paper by Kirkwood and Price ‘Missing: evidence of a scholarly approach to teaching and learning with technology in higher education‘.

You can gain a further insight into the session by checking out the Storify  which includes links to resources and live tweets from the Symposium just click the link below.

View Storify #AMEE2014 Creating effective learning with new technology in the 21st century