I realise it has been a while since I posted a message, only I have been so busy and I am only now finding the time.
I've just been visting the campus at Lancaster University and I was struck again by the positive feeling one gets from being there. The intellectual discussions in the bars, the students with their heads in books and the serendipitous meetings with interesting people. I was able to have a very useful meeting with my supervisor Julie-Ann and a discussion with Maria, another tutor on the course. Both chats help me to refocus my thoughts. It was also great to meet John, a fellow student, and to exchange references, ideas and tips. One of the reasons for my visiting the campus was to attend a short course on Atlas.ti. It was really useful as a reminder of what the tool can offer and how to take advantage of its powerful functionality. I am now keen to get on and use the tool to help analyse my data.
I recently gave a presentation at a workshop (PED74) at Online Educa. It was good to give a public airing to my work. There were several teachers in the audience and I saw reassuring knods of approval as I spoke. A very useful and rewarding experience. Incidently, for my fulltime job I participated in a couple of workshops on assessing learning in a digital world (AP18 & AP33). The first involved an insightful discussion on the need for a change in assessment approaches for online learning in a web 2.0 environment. After my opening presentation there was one offered by Thomas Ryberg (presented by me as he was unfortunately stuck in snow in Denmark) and an intervention by Kiran Trehan. Both did an excellent job at highlighting some of the challenges associated with this new way of learning. Thomas explained how learning with web 2.0 implies much more than just a new environment, it means a change in culture to participative, active learning involving such possibilities as contributing to the design of the learning and the definition of the assessment criteria. Kiran reminded us of the expectations of online learning in communities and by referring to some concrete examples from a course run at Lancaster, was able to highlight some of the darker elements asssociated with power, inequality and the ubiquitous search for consenus. The second session introduced some relevant EU funded projects under the Lifelong Learning Programme that are faced with these challenges and are looking at practical ways forward. This was the first time we had brought academics together with practitioners and it really worked. The presentations should appear on our Agency's web site in the near future and I will add link here when they do.
Last but not least, I've been very busy following and facilitation the revised Learning Event with Tiina, but this warrants a seperate posting so I shall stop here for now.
About my research
My research was set in the context of the European Commission’s eTwinning initiative and it looked specifically at the use of eTwinning Learning Events (non-formal learning). It examined how the community influences the development of teachers’ competence in online collaboration and discourse, and it considered the contribution of social aspects and online moderation.
I am very grateful to my supervisor, Dr. Julie-Ann Sime from Lancaster University, and to my eTwinning soulmate, Tiina Sarisalmi, for their invaluable support. And to my examiners, Prof. Marilyn Leask from the University of Bedfordshire and Dr. Don Passey from the University of Lancaster, for their valuable advice.