Academic journal article Research in Learning Technology

Redesigning Professional Development: Reconceptualising Teaching Using Social Learning Technologies

Academic journal article Research in Learning Technology

Redesigning Professional Development: Reconceptualising Teaching Using Social Learning Technologies

Article excerpt

Introduction

The researchers developed the social learning technologies (SLT) course as an experiential learning environment for its participants, and it was informed by a graduate-level critique and reflection upon emergent learning theory. The goals were to provide participants with a model and experience of both a community of practice (COP) and enabling mobile web 2.0 tools that they could then continue to develop within their own teaching and learning contexts after completion of the course. This was underpinned by a rigorous investigation of social learning theories and frameworks throughout the course and by scaffolding the experiential learning via the establishment of the course as a supportive COP. In particular, we used the concept of heutagogy (Hase and Kenyon 2000) as a framework to measure participants' progression along the pedagogy-andragogy-heutagogy (PAH) continuum (Luckin et al . 2010) from teacher directed to student directed. This represented a significant reconceptualisation of the role of the teacher and students in learning, as described by Brown, Metz, and Campione (1996).

In this model, the teacher and pupils agree on the areas and themes for research within an overall context. Students act as researchers on one of these themes or sub-themes and in so doing become the community experts on that theme. They are then in a position to teach the others in the classroom and thus contribute to the creation of common knowledge and understanding. In order to carry out these tasks, the learners develop a language that becomes increasingly subject specific and academic as they learn and disseminate. (p. 161)

While there is a growing body of research around the concept of heutagogy in education (Blaschke 2012), there are few examples in the literature of heutagogy in practice, and even fewer examples of it being used as an explicit framework for lecturer professional development. The authors redesigned the SLT course around a social constructivist pedagogy that leveraged several emergent learning frameworks. Creating the foundation and circumstances for pedagogical transformation was the goal. This transformation is aptly described by a group of educational technology researchers calling themselves the learner-generated context group (Luckin et al., 2010) via the concept of bridging the PAH continuum. Luckin et al . (2010) argue that heutagogy (student-directed learning) need not be the domain of postgraduate research students only, and propose the concept of learner-generated contexts as a framework to help achieve this. Originally proposed by Hase and Kenyon (2000), the concept of heutagogy has been extended by Garnett (2010), who describes the process of reconceptionalising pedagogy in three steps following the PAH continuum: moving from pedagogy (teacher-directed learning) to andragogy (student-centred, student-generated content) and finally towards heutagogy (student-directed learning).

1. The ability to understand how to use their subject for teaching is an effective pedagogy .

2. To understand how to manage the learning environment they are working in and treat each learner as an individual is the andragogy of learning relationships.

3. Then, having learnt how to manage the learning process related to their subject, they then turned over their control to their learners, enabling the heutagogy of creativity to kick in (Garnett 2010).

We argue that heutagogy does not imply an abdication of the responsibility of a teacher, but involves a reconceptualisation of the roles of the teacher and learner. Achieving this reconception takes significant time, involving sustained engagement, support, and critical reflection. The critical need for transforming pedagogy via sustained collaborative research based on sound design principles has been highlighted by other educational technology researchers, such as Reeves (Amiel and Reeves 2008; Reeves, Herrington, and Oliver 2005) and Laurillard (2012). …

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