30 November 2010

Inquiry Based Learning at Sheffield University

Inquiry Based Learning at Sheffield University

"We aim to provide our students with a learning experience that is shaped by strong linkages between teaching and research. This experience includes:


  • being taught by inspirational teachers who are leading researchers in the subject;
  • studying a curriculum that is informed by current research topics
  • having opportunities to gain and practice research skills; and
  • learning by carrying out inquiry and research, and by participating in knowledge-building in their academic and professional areas.

"Vygotsky was the Mozart of psychology"

Student Assignment: Vygotsky is referred to as the Mozart of Psychology. Use his concepts regarding the psychology of play, mediated artifacts and social interaction to make a music video showing how "make believe" can create a zone of proximal development (ZPD).

JISC: Effective Assessment in a Digital Age

Effective Assessment in a Digital Age is aimed at those in higher and further education who design assessment and feedback for their learners. The guide draws on recent JISC reports and case studies from different contexts and modes of learning to explore the relationship between technology-enhanced assessment and feedback practices and meaningful, well-supported learning experiences.



Useful and informative guides plus case studies of some of these approaches in use.

David Jones's Ps framework

David Jones's Ps framework is a work in progress. In his PhD research David is moving towards using the Framework as a tool in a sensemaking process in the pre-decision stage of an educational technology project. The Ps Framework is based on a number of assumptions:

  • People will always make decisions based on what is familiar with them.
  • The implementation of e-learning within a university is an example of a wicked design problem.
  • Some of the characteristics of a wicked design problem include:
  • There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem.
  • Stakeholders have radically different world views and different frames for understanding the problem.
  • There is no unique “correct” view of the problem.

Learning Literacies for the Digital Age

LLiDA stands for Learning Literacies for the Digital Age, a JISC funded study which amongst other things generated a useful Best Practice page. Many of the Best Practice examples include some useful student materials for developing learning literacies. Topics include:
  • Policy or strategy for Learning Literacies
  • Central services provision e.g. library, learning development, e-learning, ICT
  • Provision in the curriculum: separate skills/literacies module
  • Provision in the curriculum: skills/literacies addressed in topic module
  • Learner led provision
  • Literacy and competence testing

Russell Stannard's teacher training videos

Russell Stannard's teacher training videos are intended for teaching ESL but are actually useful in many classroom situations. Russell Stannard is a principal teaching fellow at Warwick University. He teaches in the Applied Linguistics department where he teaches on the MA in TESOL with specialisation in Multimedia and ICT. He has won several national awards and he is well known for his work on using screen capture for providing feedback to students.

02 July 2010

Plymouth University Learning Development

Learning Development Study Guides

There's some really useful stuff here, on getting started at university, reading effectively, writing notes, essays and reports, critical thinking and reflection, all with examples and modelling the practices they recommend

14 June 2010

Cool online tools

Tools for learning, research, collaboration, organisation, study and presentation

In a blog post Darcy Moore lists many helpful, and free, tools for:


  • Taming the web
  • Sharing & Collaboration
  • Creative Commons for Images and Sound
  • Organisation
  • Customise
  • Mashups
  • Research & Answers
  • Presentation

It's intended for Year 11 school students but many other students, and staff, will find something useful in this list.

24 May 2010

Bloom's Taxonomy - Designing Activities

An interactive tool for developing online activities

Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives has been revised. Whether or not you subscribe to this approach to learning and teaching, the interactive tool at the bottom of this page provides a useful guide to the kind of activities which could be developed at each level.


Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. (Eds.) (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Critical thinking and Internet Literacy

How to evaluate the information we find on the Internet

Join Howard Rheingold and other noted educators in creating a world-class resource for teaching critical thinking and Internet literacies. Even though the project is ongoing, there are useful resources here for students and teachers.

Shifting thinking

Shifting to 21st century thinking in education and learning

This website provides ideas, tools, and resources for helping people make the shift from 20th century to 21st century ways of thinking about learning. It is a space for theory and practice to interact, for theory to inform practice, and practice to inform theory. It was set up by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and you can read more about the Shifting Thninking Community here.

26 April 2010

Could Cynefin be applied to learning and teaching?

The Cynefin framework draws on research into complex adaptive systems theory, cognitive science, anthropology and narrative patterns, as well as evolutionary psychology. It "explores the relationship between man, experience and context" and proposes new approaches to communication, decision-making, policy-making and knowledge management in complex social environments.

Cynefin is a Welsh word, which is commonly translated into English as 'habitat' or 'place', although this fails to convey its full meaning. A more complete translation of the word would be that it conveys the sense that we all have multiple pasts of which we can only be partly aware: cultural, religious, geographic, tribal etc.

Here's an explanation of the approach, from http://bit.ly/4z0581


14 February 2010

Chris Dede: How Web 2.0 Tools are Transforming Learning and Knowledge

Chris Dede recorded this in 2008

"Web 2.0 media are redefining what and how we learn. In Wikipedia, knowledge is constructed by negotiating compromises among various points of view so how do we teach students to be experts on a topic?"

He mentions Jenkins' framework for new literacies

Play – experimenting with one's surroundings in problem-solving
Performance – adopting alternative identities for improvisation and discovery
Simulation – interpreting and constructing dynamic models of real-world processes
Appropriation – the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
Multitasking – scanning one's environment and shifting focus to salient details
Distributed cognition – fluently using tools that expand mental capacities
Collective intelligence – pooling knowledge with others towards a common goal
Judgement – evaluating the reliability of different information sources
Transmedia navigation – the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
Networking – the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
Negotiation – the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms

Are these the graduate capabilities of the future?

Philosophy for children in NZ

Matthew Lipman's Community of Inquiry approach is being used in NZ schools

"Philosophy for Children is often described as a thinking skills programme or a course in critical and creative thinking. While it is true that philosophy for children does improve students? critical and creative thinking skills, calling it a ?thinking skills? programme does not do it justice. It does much more as well.

Philosophy for children builds on the students? own wonder and curiosity about ideas that are vitally important to them. The subject matter of Philosophy for Children is those common, central and contestable concepts that underpin both our experience of human life and all academic disciplines. Examples of such concepts are:

Truth, reality, knowledge, evidence, freedom, justice, goodness, rights, mind, identity, love, friendship, rules, responsibility, action, logic, language, fairness, reason, existence, possibility, beauty, meaning, self, time, God, infinity, human nature, thought.

The central pedagogical tool and guiding ideal of Philosophy for Children is the community of inquiry. In the community of inquiry, students work together to generate and then answer their own questions about the philosophical issues contained in purpose written materials or a wide range of other resources. Thinking in the community of inquiry is critical, creative, collaborative and caring. "

Philippa Levy@AUT

Student inquiry and research in the ecology of the 21st century university

This is a recording of HERDSA Visiting Fellow Dr Philippa Levy's lecture at Auckland University of Technology on 11/12/2009

CILASS: Centre for Inquiry-based Learning in the Arts and Social Sciences

Inquiry-based learning at Sheffield University, UK

"IBL reflects a strongly student-centred conception of learning. Research has demonstrated that active learning approaches such as IBL are particularly powerful educationally, improving the experience of discipline-based learning (Prosser and Trigwell, 1999). Further benefits for students include the development of a wide range of transferable capabilities in crucial areas such as autonomous learning, critical thinking, team-work and information literacy. Capabilities that are developed through inquiry-based activity are essential not only for students´ academic work, but also for their employability and lifelong learning. At the same time, IBL can greatly enhance students´ enthusiasm and motivation for learning (Brew, 2006)."