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1 Conclusion

In this work we have started to sketch out the beginnings of an ‘observatory method’ to frame our understanding the state of the art in Technology Enhanced Learning. We have used a selection of examples to demonstrate the usefulness of the underlying methodology (section 2) for working out what seems to be relevant in TEL – the most relevant topics, actors, and their relations. Moreover, we have provided valuable (though limited) insights into the fragmentation of the field along various dimensions.

In the analysis we have highlighted the topics that have been of influence in the past (section 3 and 5.1+2) and in predictions of the future (section 8). More research, however, is needed into what is from now on happening and where we will want to go. This is a job for the grand challenges and their elaboration process.

The social network analyses (section 4 and 5.3) as well as the analyses of EU projects (section 6 and 7) point out some clear boundaries and relationships within the TEL community. This helps to understand the current landscape of actors in TEL.

Uncovering fragmentation may also be an instrument in its resolution: only by learning about the heterogeneous nature of our research communities one can react to integrate what is unintentionally disconnected and respect what is complementary. Therefore, we have decided to turn this deliverable into a live observatory and further expand it during the life of this project.

We plan to balance the analysis with additional data sets (such as additional conferences, journal publications, or memberships in projects) and analyses – and to again offer them openly on the web to allow for further exploration by the participants of the community. By contrasting the state of the art at different points in time, the development of the field can be assessed and the impact of our Network can be benchmarked.

2 Identifying "Dominant TEL topics"?

In the analysis we have highlighted the topics that have been of influence in the past (section 3 and 5.1+2) and in predictions of the future (section 8). More research, however, is needed into what is from now on happening and where we will want to go. This is a job for the grand challenges and their elaboration process.

2.1 Connecting learners

On the Web, we can see that self-directed, self-managed and self-maintained communities create successful new forms of collaboration. A wide range of tools is used by these communities for knowledge sharing and building, communication, collaboration and networking. Knowledge sharing and building is facilitated by open and closed forums, Wiki pages and personal or shared blogs. Multimedia material is shared using popular tools such as FlickR and YouTube. Communication takes place using forums, annotation, tagging, chat rooms, instant messaging and video conferences. Collaboration is facilitated by shared media repositories, version management systems and collaborative text editing systems such as Google Docs. Networking portals, such as FaceBook and LinkedIn, allow professionals to find, contact and keep in touch with like-minded. In a Web 2.0 world new communities bring together self-directed, self-managed and self-maintained users and, thereby, create successful new forms of collaboration. These new communities are typically open to all learners at any point in their life of learning. Within successful communities, inherent incentive mechanisms to motivate and encourage participation exist. The heart of learning and knowledge consists of people. Replacing the current centralized, static technology-push models with new interactive models that reflect the continuous, social nature of learning requires a radical shift from a focus on knowing what to a focus on knowing how and knowing who.

Within this theme key research questions are:

  1. what are key enabling and success factors for learner networks;
  2. how can individuals be supported to move between networks and simultaneously participate in several networks;
  3. how can learner networks profit from its members’ participation in and expertise derived from other networks.

2.2 Orchestrating learning

Situated, collaborative learning clearly demands a new approach to pedagogy, didactics and assessment. Collaborative competence for using, generating and exchanging knowledge in a peer-to-peer manner is increasingly becoming an integrated part of TEL environments. Different perspectives are to be considered. For example, from the pedagogical perspectives, concrete problems and possible solutions offered by teaching and learning situations mediated by the use of technology are to be considered. While, from the cognitive perspective, the focus should be on what the individual can learn under certain conditions and on the new skills needed. The necessity to personalise and analyse the new key abilities and skills required in the knowledge society has become a critical issue in education. The specific characteristics induced by new technologies in the teaching and learning of disciplinary content are also important issues to be studied.

Within this theme key research questions include:

  1. What is the role of the teacher/more knowledgeable other in orchestrating learning?
  2. How can we design collaborative learning models with innovative technology in order to scaffold productive collaborative activities?
  3. From the point of view of the learner what is the relationship between higher-order skills and learning of a particular knowledge domain?

2.3 Contextualizing learning

As learning has become an integrative part of our life, and as it takes place in different learner communities, the tools, resources and systems that are used need to be contextualized. Complementarily, the interplay between formal and informal learning in formal and informal contexts has to be instrumentalized through the use of physical artefacts, mobile devices and the configuration of physical and virtual space, in order to create learning opportunities beyond the traditional institutional boundaries. Technologies for learning must be designed for culturally mediated settings, which include the co-design of technology and pedagogy for situated learning, simulated environments and support for mobility. Traditional classroom learning is founded on an illusion of context stability, by setting up a fixed location with common resources, a single teacher, and an agreed curriculum, which allows a semblance of common ground. But if these are removed, a fundamental challenge is how to form islands of temporarily stable context to enable meaning making from the flow of everyday activity.

Within this theme key research questions include:

  1. How can new forms of contextualized learning enable novel experiences for learners and for development of human competences?
  2. How to support the mobility of the learner in distributed and multi environment learning settings, like the transition between real and virtual contexts?
  3. Which standards are needed to achieve interoperability and reusability of learning resources in this field? How to harmonize the existing learning standards?