Opening up my Educational Practice 5/5 #pgcapfdol

In terms of openness in relation to my educational practice related to my students, and in relation to UKPSF K4 (HEA, 2011), I currently use Twitter but have come up against student resistance to this medium. Hilton et. al.’s (2010) research detailed the amount of time needed for utilising FDOL to open up practice and the lack of benefit felt by students enrolled on a course and as such any ‘opening up’ of educational practice should be carefully considered in terms of evidenced pros and cons. Some of the resistance to open practice is due to the concerns of students about privacy and public/private boundaries (Costa and Torres, 2011), and as such in one module I opted to trial a slightly more closed peer discussion forum via the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE). More students engaged with the less open forum, and this might therefore provide a good starting point for motivating student involvement in open practice however, it must be noted that students were asked to participate as part of attendance requirements which may have stimulated the difference in engagement. Further, student fears about privacy and public/private boundaries should not be side-lined because opening up in this way could involve risks such as non-constructive negative feedback by internet commentators or by peers engaging in bullying, and whilst students on the course engaging in this behaviour could be sanctioned under university regulations, those from outside could not. Kelly (2013) however, argues that the benefits of openness outweigh the risks, and as an open educational practitioner with many years of open practice he has not had a bad experience. The success of open educational practice may in fact be attributed to what is often called ‘digital literacy’, but which it is argued could also be a more general ‘social literacy’ and maturity, in that for students to benefit they must understand what is and is not appropriate activity in the context of a wide and largely unknown audience.

As part of the PGCAP I have maintained an open blog of my teaching practice which has opened up my educational practice to course peers, students (although I do not think they have accessed it), and to others. In a few instances this has facilitated reciprocal engagement with other academics, something which has been observed by Tosato & Bodi (2011) as positive for creating communities of practice (COP). Further, from WordPress statistics I have also engaged those from outside of these environments, which addresses V4 of the UKPSF (HEA, 2011) to acknowledge that higher education works within a wider context. wordpress statsPersonal benefits have been that it has engaged me in an ongoing process which I actively consider on a regular basis, and motivation through the feedback from peers and others. On the negative side not receiving feedback on such an open platform can be demotivating, and in researching Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Kop et. al. (2011) did find that some learners found creating relationships with others online difficult. However, Weller & Anderson (2013) argue that MOOCs could provide an opportunity for the survival of what they see as an educational system under threat, and in this light it may be important to not only engage with open practice but to embrace it in terms creating MOOCS related to already established courses. However, in using such open platforms there are also legal issues to be aware of as Mewburn & Thomson (2013) highlight in their research on academic blogs. Further, in the context of sociological research an academic’s blog has the potential to bias fieldwork if the behaviour of research participants is altered in relation to their perception of the researcher’s work.

In terms of the future for openness in relation to my academic practice I will engage in a considered development of online peer support mediums, research and teaching open blogs for connecting with others, and further understand the relevance of MOOCS in relation to my academic practice and educational ethos.



Costa, C. & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society Retrieved from‎1 i i i

 Hilton, J.L., Graham, C., Rich, P. & Wiley, D. (2010). Using Online Technologies to Extend a Classroom to Learners at a Distance, Retrieved from:

Kelly, B. (2013). Webinar on Open Educational Practices, 5 Dec 2013, retrieved from

Kop, R. Fournier, H. & Sui Fai Mak, J. (2011). A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support on Massive Open Online Courses, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(7), Retrieved from:

Mewburn, I. & Thomson, P. (2013). Why do academics blog? An analysis of audiences, purposes and challenges. Studies in Higher Education 38(8), 1105-1119. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2013.835624

The Higher Education Academy (2011) UK Professional Standards Framework. Available from:

Tosato, P. & Bodi, G. (2011). Collaborative Environments to Foster Creativity, Reuse and Sharing of OER, European Journal of Open, Distance & E-Learning, Retrieved from:

Weller, M. & Anderson, T. (2013) Digital Resilience in Higher Education, European Journal of Open, Distance & E-Learning, Retrieved from:


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How do I support my students and what are the opportunities for further improvement through digital technologies 4/5

As discussed in a previous post I have attempted to support students through digital technologies, and to foster peer-support in students, specifically through the use of Twitter outside of the classroom.IMG_4220  In line with UKPSF (HEA, 2011) A2, A4 and K4 I work towards effective approaches to learning and support incorporating appropriate learning technologies. Feeding into this is my position in regards to a philosophy of intelligence and education which can be described by Dweck (1999) as ‘incremental’, that is I believe that intelligence (and education) can be increased by effort. I am not what Dweck (1999) describes as an ‘entity’ theorist in that I disagree that students bring with them a fixed amount of intelligence to class, rather I believe that effort and environment can strongly contribute to achievement. brain trainingAs such, I do carefully consider how to support and motivate my students in order to stimulate this effort, and my attempts with Twitter and digital technologies to support students are based on this philosophy. Simpson (2008) however, relates that Dweck believed that students need to be persuaded of this theory (that intelligence can be improved with effort) and as such it cannot be assumed that students come with the same learning theory as the teacher,  thus it will be important in future for me to discuss theories of learning and/or intelligence with students in order to provide the best learning support for them.

It must be said that my attempts in using digital technologies to foster a supportive learner community engaged with literature outside of the classroom have been somewhat of a failure; only one student regularly engages using the mode of communication. In considering the literature it becomes obvious that using this blended form of face-to-face and online learning requires far more consideration than just knowing that it is conducive to learning, and introducing it to students. In a descriptive and anecdotal text MacDonald (2011) puts forward a variety of ideas for supporting online learners which includes chasing non-participators, not being over optimistic about participation rates online, being present as a moderator in online discussions, in acting as a moderator linking or ‘weaving’ discussions and summarising student discussions. These ideas seem plausible as techniques for stimulating online learning, but would require research evidence to give a clearer picture. As such, this week it was brought to my attention that some classes on a course I was teaching have been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, and in considering how to develop my support of students using digital technologies I suggested that I could support the cohort of students discussion Due to levels of student resistance and frustration to online mediums I decided against starting with a live online session, and thought that students may find it easier to engage in an online discussion forum (which if successful could lead to use of other digital technologies). In thinking about the effect of levels of commitment on the community of learners (Capdeferro & Romero, 2012) I have asked that ‘attendance’ be taken for the online discussion, and in considering MacDonald (2011) I intend to be more ‘present’ in the online discussions than I possibly have been on Twitter. Further, based upon research with students on student retention and motivation Simpson (2008, p11) argues for the ‘Proactive Motivational Support’ (PaMS) approach which involves individualising student needs, having interactive support and applying motivational theory based upon recognising and working with student strengths. Thus, in extending student support via digital technologies to students more socialised to the ‘live classroom’ it is especially important for me to retain student engagement and motivation, and as such I will actively engage in praising student strengths when moderating forum discussions and will use this opportunity to reflect upon the effect of PaMS on student engagement and activity.


Capdeferro, N. & Romero, M.  (2012) Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences? The International Review of Research In Open and Distance Learning, (13) 2. Retrieved from

Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self theories: Their role in motivation, personality and development. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.

Simpson, Ormond. (2008) Motivating Learners in Open and Distance Learning: DO we Need a New Theory of Learner Support? Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning. (23) 3, 159-170 Retrieved from

MacDonald, J. (2011). Blended Learning and Online Tutoring: Planning Learner Support and Activity Design. London: Gower.

The Higher Education Academy (2011) UK Professional Standards Framework. Retrieved from:

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How I extend collaborative learning using digital technologies 3/5


To begin with this post demands a definition of ‘collaborative learning’ which Gokhale (1995) defines as:

            ‘[…] an instruction method in which students at various performance levels work  together in small groups toward a common goal. The students are responsible for one another’s learning as well as their own. Thus, the success of one student helps other students to be successful.’

Dillenborg (1999) however, based upon discussion workshops with 20 academics, problematizes any simplistic definition of ‘collaborative learning’ given that collaborative can mean 2 or 102, working together in a variety of modes from face to face to online, synchronous to asynchronous etc, and that learning again has a scale of definitions. Thus, for the purposes of this short post, I will use Siemens (2002) loose definition of ‘collaborative learning’ which involves people sharing ideas and working together. Further, the basis for positively engaging in extending collaborative learning is the wealth of pedagogic literature which argues for the benefits of collaborative learning (Brindley & Walti, 2009, Gokhale, 1995, Wenger, 2012), and the UKPSF (HEA, 2011) which demands appropriate consideration of educational environments. In particular in relation to the positives of collaborative learning I find Wenger’s (2012) argument that collaborative learning environments, whilst not exempt from power relationships, offer the opportunity for power relationships to be somewhat diminished and for a more egalitarian approach to knowledge to, even in some small way, come to the surface.

 Due to the definition of collaborative learning as something which occurs between learners, by implication informally, it may often be assumed that this is an activity outside of the teacher’s responsibilities. However, literature and experience evidences the need for active teacher engagement in facilitating and supporting collaborative learning (Brindley & Walti, 2009, Palloff & Pratt, 2005). As previously argued, the online learning space requires the same level of consideration and skill as face-to-face teachers regarding how to facilitate learning, and how to engage students in learning with one another. Brindley & Walti (2009) argue that nurturing and establishing learner relationships is crucial to collaborative learning. In accordance with my own experience teacher involvement is necessary from the outset to build, maintain and supporting learner relationships and is a vital part of collaborative learning and something which I wish to develop further in my own practice by observing and researching effective strategies for building learner relationships.

 Despite convincing arguments which demonstrate the need for teacher involvement in creating collaborative learning environments Capdeferro & Romero (2012) found that it was differing levels of learner commitment which affected how well collaborative learning environments fared. It may be that similar levels of learner commitment coupled with teacher facilitation skills makes for the optimum collaborative online learning environment, although it also must be highlighted that this research, as with much research into online learning, was done with masters level students as such these types of debates and frameworks may only work for more advanced level committed students as there appears to be a paucity of evidence relating to undergraduate learners in an online collaborative environment. Further, even more fatalistically, Wenger (2012), finds that many contrived communities of practice (professional collaborative learning communities) fall apart and fail. It would be important to examine Wenger’s definition of failure, but it may also be assumed that some level of unmalleable personal characteristics, and how they mix in a collaborative situation, has an effect on the success of the exercise. Thus collaborative learning may indeed be a positive thing which teachers need to extend to the digital learning environment, using their support and context setting skills from the face-to-face classroom environment however, the efficacy of the collaborative context may not solely depend on the teacher, it may also be affected by learner level, levels of motivation and how they are matched, and interpersonal differences and similarities. 



Brindley, J., Walti, C. & Blaschke, L. (2009). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment. The International Review of Research In Open and Distance Learning Retrieved from

Capdeferro, N. & Romero, M. (2012). Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences? The International Review of Research In Open and Distance Learning. Retrieved from

Dillenbourg P. (1999). What do you mean by collaborative learning? Retrieved from

Gokhale, A. (1995). Collaborative Learning Enhances Critical Thinking. Journal of Technology Education. Retrieved from 

The Higher Education Authority. (2011). UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) Retrieved from <

Palloff, R. & Pratt, K. (2005). Why Collaborate Online? Retrieved from

Siemens, G. (2002).  Interaction. E-Learning Course. October 8. Retrieved from

Wenger, E. 2012. Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. Retrieved from

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Digital Teaching Practice and Opportunities for Change 2/5

In this post I will consider opportunities for developing my digital teaching practice. For me, incorporating flexible, distance and online learning (FDOL) into my teaching aims to address A4, K3, K4, and V2 of the UKPSF (HEA, 2011). It is about understanding how students use FDOL environments, how I can promote participation, and how I can enhance learning. Wiley & Hilton (2009) and Barnes & Tynan (2007) imagine this generation of students to be hyper-connected and digitally literate with a need for their learning to fit with this experience. However, if evidence shows that students are utilising technology with such appetite in other life spheres, it does not necessarily mean they are ready to embrace digital teaching practice. However, in my experience FDOL is not always something which students embrace. I introduced Twitter as a secondary tool for engaging students. After a few sessions I asked for anonymous feedback on how students felt about Twitter as digital learning tool.


I categorised the responses as either positive, neutral/undecided, or negative. 14 students were positive, commenting that it was less scary than other modes of communication with academic staff. 16 either said that they didn’t mind, or that they could see positives and negatives to its use. 15 students said that they felt excluded and that it was an unprofessional way to communicate.  I did stress to students that no one was excluded by the use of twitter from content as this was available elsewhere however, some still felt uncertain. Thus, contemporary students are not always as eager to embrace FDOL as we might imagine. I would argue that digital teaching is not something which can be parachuted into practice simply because students use digital technologies; rather, FDOL requires a pedagogically led and evidence-based consideration of how to best implement it into learning environments. In researching online learning Coomey and Stephenson (2001) assert that in order for online learning to be effective aspects of dialogue, involvement, support and control (DISC) need to be carefully designed and implemented. What seems important is that the digital teaching provides a different environment for learning however, it still requires the features of the live classroom, and consideration of digital or technological literacy. In terms of my own practice, in order for engaging students via FDOL to be effective, it may require a more integral place within a course which would need to be consistently and explicitly implemented throughout course.

The point of digital teaching practice and opportunities for change may however, be one of access and participation. Anderson & Simpson (2012) argue that distance education is grounded in social justice and equity. In extending learning via digital technologies and thus making it available to those who cannot physically be in our classrooms, Anderson & Simpson’s (2012) argument is extension of access represents social justice and equity. I dispute that this is always the case for example, FDOL may be about widening participation for the benefit of the economic interests of academics, higher education workers and technology developers. Further, rather than representing equity, digital learning may simply extend the ‘education market’ to those in marginalized positions who remain in those positions yet with more expectations placed upon them.  Mahieu and Wolming (u.d.) for example, found that a majority of women were motivated by the format of digital learning, and despite the fact their study is weakened by size and Sweden-specific research, the plausibility of this is obvious. Women in the modern era who are expected by societal norms to perform family and domestic work, alongside the societal norm which defines valued citizenship as participation in paid employment (Levitas, 2005), would plausibly find the format of digital learning attractive because it is accessible to them. Thus, digital teaching may provide opportunities for widening participation and access, but this should not be taken as a totally positive development if it contributes to the further marketization of education, and society at large does nothing to address the marginalization of certain groups.


Anderson, B., & Simpson, M. (2012). History and heritage of Open, flexible, and distance education. Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, 16(2), [1–10.]. Retrieved from

Barnes, C. & Tynan, B. (2007). The adventures of Miranda in the brave new world: learning in a Web 2.0 millennium. Research in Learning Technology  15( 3) 189–200 Retrieved from

Coomey, M. & Stephenson, J. (2001). Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement support and control – according to the research. Teaching and Learning Online. Retrieved from

The Higher Education Authority. (2011). UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). Retrieved from

Levitas, R. (2005) 2nd ed. The inclusive society? Social exclusion and new labour. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Mahieu, R. Wolming, S. (u.d.) Motives for Lifelong Learners to Choose Web-based Courses. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning Retrieved from

Wiley, D. & Hilton, J. (2009). Openness, Dynamic Specialization, and the Disaggregated Future of Higher Education. Retrieved from

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Twitter Journal Club; Flexible Learning & Teaching in the Digital Age

journal club twitter

This week as part of Flexible Learning and Teaching in the digital age we were asked to take part in a Twitter Journal Club to discuss Stephenson and Coomey’s (2001) article Online Learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to research. The debate centred around the authors’ assertion that in order for online learning to be effective aspects of dialogue, involvement, support and control (DISC) need to be carefully designed and considered as integral to the learning. Further, they argue that depending on the learning environment, which quadrant of the online paradigm grid it falls into (Commey & Stephenson, 2001), the features of DISC must adapt.


Many of us were interested in which quadrant our learning or teaching experience fitted into and it would be useful to know if there is an evidence-base which suggests which of the four quadrants is more effective for which subjects/learners. However, what appears most important to me is that the same features of the ‘live classroom’ are pertinent to the online classroom. Even with a decent level of digital literacy learners will not necessarily engage with learning in an effective way in digital spaces, much as those with other literacies may not engage in classroom activities. The more I understand about online learning the more I believe that the same features apply rather, what is necessary is to get to grips with the technology evidence the benefits and drawbacks of each application and use accordingly.

Through the modes of experiential and problem based learning that this course entails I can immediately evidence some of my own experiences for this context. My experience of the Twitter Journal Club today was useful in that it motivated me to re-engage with the literature and analyse some of the important features in relation to practice. The online discussion involving many from the course had a motivating effect on me. It may be then that this application is useful for getting students going on a particular theoretical area in providing them with an ice-breaker and some motivation. I do however, see drawbacks in that many may not participate if the activity is seen as optional or periphery, I know that Nadine experienced resistance and problems of this nature when she attempted this. This then, may relate to the support and control aspects of (DISC) however, I think that it relates more to constructive alignment, and if there are studies which show improved learning as a result of this motivation or engagement then these activities should be built in as course requirements and formative assessments in order to ensure students take the activity seriously.



Coomey, M. & Stephenson, J. 2001. ‘Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to the research’ in Teaching and Learning Online [online] Available at: 16 September 2013)



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Digital Literacies and Twitter

What are the implications of using Twitter for teaching and learning?

As part of our Digital Literacies PBL task for this week my task was to explore Inclusion and Exclusion in regards to Twitter.

‘Digital literacy is the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate and create information using a range of digital technologies. It requires one “to recognize and use that power to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms.’ (Henry Jenkins, 2009, p.?)’

In relation to Twitter digital literacy and inclusion there are three aspects to consider. The first is financial physical access to the necessary technology. Whilst a majority of students may now have smartphones (only 35% on average did in 2011) there will still be students without access to the technology. As an online learning application Twitter requires ongoing and regular access to the internet as provided by a smartphone however, only having static access to the internet would not necessarily exclude students from participation. Cotas and Torress (2011, p2) state: ‘We would be naïve to state that the web as it stands today has become fully democratised, but we can assert that at least it has been made open to the masses.’ However, again this information is from 2011 and with technology moving so fast it may be that the student masses do all now have access. This said, in the language of Human Rights the authors of Futurelab (u.d.) assert: ‘Digital literacy is an important entitlement for all young people in an increasingly digital culture.’ Thus, in order to mitigate the effects of exclusion in this first form it would be possible to highlight and print particularly useful documents, links or discussions however, the student would miss out on the opportunity to contribute.

Secondly, there are technical abilities which may prevent students from accessing learning via Twitter. Students may have access to applications such as Twitter but may find it difficult and frustrating to set up and follow. A particular digital literacy would have to be engaged to enable some students to access the tool and time spent familiarising a student with the tool would have to evaluated against time lost on other activities to decide whether or not it is a necessary exercise. However, thus ubiquity of digital tools such as Twitter in the workplace may strengthen the argument for developing this skill.

Thirdly, there is the digital literacy involved in using the tool. Aviram & Eshet-Alkalai (2013) argue that digital literacy can be broken down into five distinct areas of literary: ‘photo-visual’, ‘ reproduction’, ‘branching’, ‘information’ and ‘socio-emotional.’ If these distinct areas hold as particular literacy skill subdivisions student would need to have some level of skill in all areas in order to access and utilise Twitter in order to learn. As part of what might be defined as ‘socio-emotional’ digital literacy Costa & Torres (2011) found that students were not keen to have digital spaces imposed upon them, rather they preferred to connect via digital spaces under their own terms. This is interesting in relation to my current use of Twitter as a digital learning tool because I have found that only a few students connect visibly in terms of ‘following’ the tutor or engaging in online discussions however, in class they revealed that they do observe the ‘ conversation’ without visibly participating. However, rather than demonstrating their level of digital literacy in this area the lack of active participation may be due to the potential to cross personal/professional boundaries and as such the use of Twitter for this function is limiting their inclusion.

I introduced Twitter as a secondary tool for engaging with my students. After a few sessions I asked for some anonymous feedback on how they felt about twitter as a tool for learning used by lecturers, and whether or not they felt excluded by it.


I categorised the responses as either positive, neutral/undecided, or negative. 14 students said that it was positive, commenting that it was less scary than other modes of communication with academic staff. 16 either said that they didn’t mind, or that they could see positives and negatives to its use. 15 students said that they felt excluded and that it was an unprofessional way to communicate, one student commented ‘I feel excluded where twitter is concerned this is because I do not know how to use twitter. I’d rather contact lecturers via e-mail.’ I did stress to the students that no one was excluded by the use of twitter from reading materials and content as these would be posted on Blackboard however, some of them still felt unsure about this. This is interesting because in terms of exclusion the students felt excluded a) because they didn’t know how to use the tool in line with the second issue I stated above, and b) because they felt it overstepped some private/professional boundary they felt important in the lecturer/student relationship in line with the third issue stated above concerning digital literacy in relation to the socio-emotional sphere.


Aviram, A, & Eshet-Alkalai, Y. N. D. u.d. Towards a Theory of Digital Literacy: Three Scenarios for the Next Steps. [online] Available at: (Accessed 5th October 2013).

Costa, C. & Torres, R. 2011. To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society [online] Available at:‎1 i i i (Accessed 5th October 2013).

Futurelab. U.d. Digital Literacy Across the Curriculum; A Futurelab Handbook. [online] Available…/handbooks/digital_literacy.pdf‎1 i i i (Accessed 5thOctober 2011)!/file/mobilesurvey2011.pdf


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Digital Me: past, present and future 1/5

My digital journey starts with an anecdote which typifies me in relation to digital innovations. At university I was offered a job as a brand ambassador for something called ‘Facebook.’ I declined thinking it was mad, who wants their picture all over the internet?!

Today, however:

fb gplus someth twit wp

I am not what Prensky (2001) would term a ‘digital native’, that is I have not grown up entirely in the digital era however, in 2010 I began online learning with the Open University. My experience of this was mostly positive, indeed I concur with Coomey & Stephenson’s (u.d.) review which reported the positive aspects of online learning as engagement with content, motivation, increased learning and greater efficiency. Although I did not experience the development of collaboration skills which Coomey & Stephenson (u.d.) found, and this, I would argue, is related to course design and how collaboration is built into the course. As with the ‘physical class’ the ‘virtual class’ requires pedagogically sound planning and delivery to create effective learning environments. I could not be defined as a ‘digital native’ (Prensky, 2001) however, I have embraced online learning and would argue that my experiences make me more of a ‘digital native’ in certain contexts than ‘digital natives’ and as such I would rather be described in relation to White and Le Cornu’s (2011) digital continuum of ‘digital residents’ and digital visitors’. The vastness of digital spaces means that I am more of a ‘digital resident’, that is comfortable and skilled, in some digital spaces than ‘digital natives’.  For example, I could be described as a ‘digital resident’ in Socrative and Twitter, whereas I have found many of my students to be ‘digital visitors’ to these spaces. Thus I would argue that although I may not be a ‘naturally’ digitally inclined person I have developed my digital and online skills and am able to adapt to, and utilise, different digital environments.

Most recently, I undertook the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) module which required engagement with digital online learning for collaboration with colleagues outside of the classroom, and for assessment (blog portfolio). During this module I experienced technical frustrations which are a common negative associated with online learning (Coomey & Stephenson, u.d). However, in learning through experience I now have new digital knowledge and this in itself is useful.  Further, I found a positive of the open (public) ongoing assessment was that I perceived my assignments as on-going which motivated a deep and continuing engagement with the work. Morss and Murray (2005, p78) state that online learning, ‘permits the process of learning to become more visible because all dialogue is conserved.’ Due to making the learning more visible I believe I feel an on-going connection to, and engagement with, the work which is preserved online. Further, the online portfolio enabled me to make links with people from outside of the course, an openness  which Wiley & Hilton (2009) argue is vitally important to the changing shape of higher education. The nature of this assessment was positive for me however, in terms of protecting one’s professional and personal identity a certain ‘digital literacy’ such as the ‘socio-emotional digital literacy’ described by Aviram & Eshet-Alkalai (2013) meaning an awareness of the social and emotional etiquette of such an open forum such as the internet,  must be employed. Arguably,  ‘socio-emotional digital literacy’ is difficult to define as different from the socio-emotional literacy employed in face-to-face experiences of education, as with teaching, educational exchange in the digital arena must be careful considered utilising one’s social skillset.

My experiences of digital online learning have contributed to how I think about my own teaching and thus I believe that an ability to access and utilise digital resources can enhance learning. As such, in line with UKPSF (HEA, 2013) A1, 2 & 4, K4 & V2 & 3, I find that my teaching should be pedagogically sound and developed using digital technologies to offer the best learning environments for my students.


Aviram, A, & Eshet-Alkalai, Y. N. D. (u.d). Towards a Theory of Digital Literacy: Three Scenarios for the Next Steps. Retreieved from

Coomey, M. & Stephenson, J. (u.d). Online learning: it is all about dialogue, involvement, support and control – according to the research. Teaching and Learning Online. Retrieved from

The Higher Education Authority. (2011). UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). Retrieved from

Morss, R. & Murray, R. (2005). Teaching at University: A Guide for Postgraduates & Researchers. London: Sage.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

White, D. and Le Cornu, A. (2011) “Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement.” First Monday, 16 (9).

Wiley. D & Hilton, J. (2009). Openness, Dynamic Specialization, and the Disaggregated Future of Higher Education. Retrieved from


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Reflections on Professional Discussion

final modelThis is the Lego model description of my learning journey. It begins with me attempting to be very prepared for teaching so much so that I’m very teacher-focussed. Then there are some technological hazards (I really should storify this epic but I don’t have the energy) and the excitement of working in collaboration with colleagues for dialogic feedback(forward). Next comes the building blocks of literature which have informed my journey along with the feedback and peer support. Then there come a focus shift to the student perspective, focussing on what the student does and how they may best learn based upon evidence. Finally I jump on a motorbike, less encumbered by preparation and rev off in the feedforward future. To be Continued……

final model 3At first I felt like making the Lego model was a little bit wasteful of time and a bit of an annoyance. However, I then started to explore the pieces and think about the questions in relation to building a 3d model, and found that it helped me to think about my journey more clearly in a way that could make sense to others.  I also found it relaxing and enjoyable.

final model 2I felt intellectually challenged and engaged during the professional discussion. This sounds cliched but I really did feel engaged with what I had learned and excited and inspired by the opportunity to debate this knowledge.

The prompt assessment feedback in writing was brilliant. It is really great to have feedback on how you have performed whilst the topic is still fresh in your brain. 
In comparison with more conventional assessment procedures this method felt challenging in real way in that it felt like it mirrored a real application of knowledge to some extent, For example, it seemed to create the type of experience one might have within an academic department whilst formulating modules. It was also useful and motivating to have immediate feedback.

I would consider using Lego in my own teaching as I see that it can enable thought processes to be more fully thought out and visualised for presentation to, and discussion with others.  I also think that discussing a model helps direct focus away from the speaker and thus relaxes the speaker and enables them to think more about what they want to say.

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Preparation for Professional Discussion -draft thoughts ramblings

  • To what extent have you met your initial goals?

Develop discipline knowledge – this is developing outside of this course through my teaching and PhD research and I feel this aim is being met but is a continual and developing process.

Appropriate methods for teaching and learning within my subject area -My understanding of how the student learns has developed, especially in terms of understanding what the student does during a learning experience and how I might best facilitate that for best practice. For example, in one of my initial sessions I observed quiet students and myseld doing a lot of the talking. In a later session with this new understanding I had a more vibrant and relaxed session more led by student knowledge and input. I asked them to work in groups writing on the walls their thoughts in response to the questions, to show their thought processes and then to photograph it for later use as it was constructively alligned.

The use and value of appropriate learning technologies – I have understood the use of online communication such as twitter and how updating and communicating students in this manner can make the learning experience more approachable and able to meet diverse needs. That communities of students (learning communities can be developed with input from the instructor in order to enhance and enrich the learning process – learning is social and experience, in-congruent, diverse, happens outside of the classroom!). I have also experimented with learning technologies for engaging students in preparatory reading (socrative) and for questioning and researching independently in the classroom (google etc.)

Methods for evaluating effectiveness of teaching and quality assurance and quality enhancement – I have understood the use and mechanisms of feedback and feedforward both for the quality assurance and enhancement of teaching and for student learning. For example, engaging in peer observation and feedback using a reflective process has enabled me to evaluate my teaching practice and consider it in relation to academic literature. This has given me a chance to think about what is going on in my teaching, and in students’ learning and how this might be enhanced using ideas based on evidence from the literature. It has also facilitated my understanding of the feedback process and how this might be used effectively.

In my initial post I wanted students to learn in order to achieve,  to evaluate, form informed opinions , formulate new questions , to learn that education is valuable and for all members of society. I think that my work on the PGCAP has helped me to better understand, based on evidence and literature, what this means and how it might be achieved. I think that some elements of my teaching address these areas, but I also feel better equipped to work towards understanding how more of my teaching could meet these ideals.

  • What does it mean achieving your goals?

Achieving my goals would be satisfying because it would mean that I live up to my ow considered expectations and that hopefully student learning is benefiting from that. I feel like I am working towards achieving my goals and that I have a better understanding of why they are good goals to have, and how they might be achieved more fully.

  • What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome these?

Challenges which stand out are the nervousness I felt regarding the first observation and some of the subsequent observations. I overcame these feelings of nervousness and uncertainty really, through a better understanding of what peer observation is for and how it can work.

The second challenge which stands out was a difficulty with enabling students to contribute during sessions and I do feel I overcame this somewhat through my understanding of how students learn and how they experience the classroom environment.

The third challenge was the introduction of technology into the classroom and the difficulty of motivating students to do preparatory work. I don’t feel that I have overcome this yet but I do know that I have learnt something about the process. I have learnt that introduction of any teaching technique benefits from clear and open communication about the aims and methods to the students so that they can understand what is going on and how it might benefit them in order for them to invest in the process rather than seeing it as something new and annoying which is imposed upon them.

A final challenge was the initial difficulty I had in finding subject specific pedagogic literature, which I overcame by searching and thinking and reading, and now I know many places to go for such literature.

Revisit your reflections linked to your practice and the observations carried out and captured in your Learning Journal to identify any important milestones in your journey and evidence how reflection has helped you to enhance your practice and in what ways.

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Reflections on Recordings

How did you feel being filmed/filming yourself?

I was not that comfortable being filmed to start with, but as we had already been photographed on the course and seeing my image had become natural it felt less daunting. I was interested to see the films.
Did you watch the videos, how many times? 

I watched the videos that my tutor and peers took about 3 or 4 times each.
In what way were the videos useful for you?

They were very useful for me as I could evaluate my voice, my expression the way the students interact with me. I could get an impression of what it might feel like to be a student in my class which helped me to think about the experience of my students.

Do you have any indication that filming influenced what was happening in your class?

I think that students were slightly less talkative and quiet due to the observation rather than filming as students are usually a little louder and more relaxed. However, I’m also very aware that this was my position during being filmed, especially the first time, as I felt nervous and conscious of saying the ‘right’ things. I think observation influenced the class, and that any influence was led by my reaction to it rather than necessarily student reaction to it.
Any other thoughts linked to the recording? 

I think recording is a great idea as it really gives you the best picture of what is going on in your class. I think asking students to film you without the need for an observer might be a good way to even out any influence. I actually wish the recordings were a little longer so that I could understand more about how I am teaching and how students appear to react to that teaching.

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