Thursday, 17 November 2011

Late into Learning in a time of abundance - Erik Duval

(from Erik Duval)

#globaled11 drew me away from the MOOC #change11 this week, but I'm back! So late into making sense of this week's topic - Learning in a time of abundance by Erik Duval.
Duval said three things are different now:

  • Connectedness
  • Openness 
  • Always on
These make it appropriate to look for a different approach to learning and teaching. Implications for learning:
There will be differences in
  • WHAT we learn
    • Things keep evolving so rapidly that memorising current knowledge (of engineering - his subject) does not make sense. We still do emphasise knowledge even if we say we do not.
  • HOW we learn
    • We should leverage the abundance of information to change how we learn, using the three differences above; "please put your mobile phone ON" is his comment at the start of his lessons.
    • Duval's lessons can be up to 5 hours long and the learning takes place throughout the day and night, with dips in the very early morning.
Are students strategies to learn appropriate given that factual information is so easy to find? Duval implied that the internet has changed the dynamics of communication, people are always on (that is to say, even though you are off [asleep] your digital identity and information is there for all to find). 

Assessment - the inevitable question:
Paraphrasing Duval: "We should do something else but we have not figured out how to assess it so we should keep on doing what we have always done" - Duval says that this does not make sense to him.
Duval uses a lot of formative assessment and self-tracking data as feedback, not as assessment. He says that he does assessment in the same way it is done in professional life - he will have a conversation with the student and then translate this into a number between 0 and 20.

Question - how much do you tell your students?
Duval explains the following at the start of the course:
  • Students will publish in blogs - not write report documents
  • He will not just stand in front of the class
  • He explains why they have to tweet (mandatory)
  • The dangers of neglecting other classes.
Sometimes too much analysis paralysis (great term!) - talking about some issue for ever, need to just move on.

Can clear objectives be maintained but work in a much messier, fragmented way?
Duval doubts that there are such clear objectives except in an abstract way. He says that it is just how life is, messy. Answer is never 42 in engineering terms....

Permission to operate in this way?
"Don't ask anyone for permission"! Like a good lapsed Catholic he just asks for forgiveness afterwards if things go wrong. Great approach.

Comment on coherence and messiness: Duval will spend quite a bit of time with students if what they are presenting is incoherent. Incoherent - self contradicting statements - but messiness? Things connected to many different things in messy ways? Fine.

Practical guidelines for educators based upon his experience:
  • "Let go" is his best advice - let go of fake control, since we as teachers focus on things we can control since we often doubt our capabilities to teach.
  • Accept that other teachers will be just as scared.
  • Connect to the life of students - how do I make it authentic and valuable to them.
Erik Duval's challenge for the week:
  • Find examples of where this approach works really well.
  • What are the limitations to openness? Challenge him with situations where openness does not work.
Good practical MOOC session - thanks!


J Lynn Routh said...

Thanks for the concise summary and reflection on this week's topic. I've been overwhelmed by the topic of learning in abundance.

Deb Murdoch said...

So good to see some practicality! Learning has to include understanding and what better way than to ask students to explain in myriads of ways.It's about learning HOW not just WHAT.