Monday, 29 August 2011

A couple of European conferences

I'm about to set off in the direction of the leading European educational research conference EARLI, which is about to start in Exeter. I say "set off", but it's not too many paces away... Exeter is a wonderful city, by the way!

I've not come across too many conferences to which I want to return, but the biennial EARLI conference is an exception. It's too large, really, (5 days of 23 parallel sessions?! 4 parallel keynotes at a time?! A 2000 page book of abstracts?!); its submission deadlines are ridiculously long (10 months in advance, this year); and technology is not as strong a focus for EARLI as it is for several other European conferences. But in my experience the papers at EARLI tend to be of a higher quality and the discussions more thoughtful than elsewhere.

It may be a bit late now for you to get to the 2011 conference, but luckily this year the keynotes are being webcast, and anyone can join in the discussions. Here is the link to the EARLI Virtual Conference.

You might also be interested in its sister conference EAPRIL, which is the "European Association for Practitioner Research on Improving Learning". I've not attended EAPRIL, so I can't vouch for it, but it looks very relevant to those who are interested in practice-based research.

The 2011 EAPRIL conference is in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, 23-25 November. There's still time to submit a paper: the deadline is 14 September. Details at

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

2 days left to sign up for H809's 2011 presentation

I've always thought "presentation" was a peculiar word to use to talk about the running of an Open University course over a defined period of time. Unlike conventional universities we don't have "terms" or "semesters". And, if we want to distinguish the time periods when the course is running, we can't always use "years" either, since many course run more than once a year. Moreover, our students have great freedom over which courses they take and when; and so could never be fitted into neat "annual cohorts".

So we refer to "presentations". Which conjures up images either of a PowerPoint sales pitch or of the handing over of some kind of trophy. Neither of which images seems to fit with the active, personal and dynamic peer-to-peer, tutorial and assessment interactions that I associate with an OU course.

But I digress. (And I should now be referring to OU "modules" rather than OU "courses", it seems. Naughty James.)

H809's next presentation starts on Saturday 5 February 2011. The closing date for registration is in two days time, on 21 January. H809 only runs once a year, so this is your final chance for 2011!

This deadline is slightly earlier than usual, because we've found in the past that when students register later than this, course login details and tutor group allocations aren't always sorted out in time, which can end up being disorienting.

Comments from last year's students

If you're still undecided here, here are some comments from last year's students:

“The library was fantastic, and through the course I learnt a lot about searching, including citation searching & RefWorks.”

“H809 was a very interesting course for me. Most of the things we learned regarding new technologies and cutting edge research methods were new and unknown for me. That’s why I feel that I learned a lot of things from the course.”

“The course’s requirements were clear and comprehensive. [The assignments] were strongly related to the things we were taught.”

“This course gave me a real jump start in being much more aware of technology, its impact and possible applications in education.”

“Developing the theoretical skills [enabled] me to apply them to a real research proposal”

“The subject matter... [was] fascinating and [I] was quite disappointed when it came to an end.”

“Coming from a background in psychology I was concerned whether I would manage to do this course, but I enjoyed it more than I thought and got a lot from it including more confidence in my research capabilities.”

“I was able to put my research skills into practice and further develop my knowledge of Educational Technology.”

Reading List

I thought it might be useful to post this year's reading list:

Block 1
This block gives a flavour of the nature of the field, and provides a common grounding: a shared set of five main readings. These readings are intended to provide an introduction to common approaches and techniques that are often assumed to form a background to discussion of new methods. ... Which is why they tend to be older than the other readings!
  1. Hiltz, S.R. and Meinke, R. (1989) ‘Teaching sociology in a virtual classroom’, Teaching Sociology, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 431–46

  2. Wegerif, R. and Mercer, N. (1997) ‘Using computer-based text analysis to integrate qualitative and quantitative methods in research on collaborative learning’, Language and Education, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 271–86

  3. Laurillard, D. (1994) ‘How can learning technologies improve learning?’, Law Technology Journal, vol. 3, no. 2

  4. Oliver, M., Roberts, G., Beetham, H., Ingraham, B. and Dyke, M. (2007) ‘Knowledge, society and perspectives on learning technology’ in Conole, G. and Oliver, M. (eds) Contemporary Perspectives on E-learning Research, London, RoutledgeFalmer
  5. Roschelle, J. (1992) ‘Learning by collaborating: convergent conceptual change’, Journal of the Learning Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 235–76

Block 2
Much of the focus of this block is on theoretical perspectives often met in research on educational technology, and it also considers the audiences for research and ethical aspects of research.
  1. Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M. and Seale, J. (2004) ‘Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design’, Computers & Education, vol. 43, nos. 1–2, pp. 17–33

  2. Jones, A. and Preece, J. (2006) ‘Online communities for teachers and lifelong learners: a framework for comparing similarities and identifying differences in communities of practice and communities of interest’, International Journal of Learning Technology, vol. 2, no. 2–3, pp. 112–37

  3. Tolmie, A. (2001) ‘Examining learning in relation to the contexts of use of ICT’, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 235–41

  4. Crook, C. and Dymott, R. (2005) ‘ICT and the literacy practices of student writing’ in Monteith, M. (ed.) Teaching Secondary School Literacies with ICT, Maidenhead, Open University Press

  5. To be confirmed. Last year's reading is being replaced: Jonassen, D. and Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999) ‘Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments’, Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 61–79
Block 3
The final block is all about cutting-edge research methods and cutting-edge research.

  1. Bos, N., Olson, J., Gergle, D., Olson, G. and Wright, Z. (2002) ‘Effects of four computer-mediated communications channels on trust development’ in Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Changing Our World, Changing Ourselves, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2002, New York, NY, ACM

  2. Ardalan,A., Ardalan, R., Coppage, S., and Crouch, W. (2007) 'A comparison of student feedback obtained through paper-based and web-based surveys of faculty teaching' British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 38, no. 6, pp. 1085-1101

  3. Davies, J. and Graff, M. (2005) ‘Performance in e-learning: online participation and student grades’, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 657–63

  4. Cox, R. (2007) ‘Technology-enhanced research: educational ICT systems as research instruments’, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 337–56

  5. Hammersley, M. (2006) ‘Ethnography: problems and prospects’, Ethnography and Education, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 3–14

  6. Gillen, J. (2009) "Literacy practices in Schome Park: a virtual literacy ethnography", Journal of Research in Reading, vol. 32, no. 1, pp 57–74

  7. Lindroth, T. & Bergquist, M. (2010) "Laptopers in an educational practice: Promoting the personal learning situation", Computers & Education, Vol. 54, No. 2, pp. 311-320

Last minute questions?

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