Learning outcomes and complexity

Not entirely sure why but I begin to see parallels between participatory  learning,  communities of practice (facilitated by Web2.0) and complexity theories applied to  organisation behaviour; could be that I still harbour reflective echoes of an interesting book I read not too long ago: Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World by Margaret J. Wheatley (2012).

Sharon   Varney (2007) explains the main principle of Complexity Science: “(..) focuses on how patterns emerge from the myriad of interactions between people”….. What struck me was the next point:  “a system can make sudden, huge and unpredictable leaps at (bifurcation) points and it can’t go back. In terms of learning, this might cause us to think about the potential value, or otherwise, of trying to predict learning outcomes and seeking to take a linear approach to reaching them. “

A fresh way of looking at learning outcomes? The linear approach to achieving targets resembles to my mind what we have been trying to do in teaching languages:  fitting squares into circles, e.g by the end of term you will be able to use the Past Tense in a particular context. When, by the end of the term you might have reached a bifurcation and the Past Tense was not there….

 Varney, S., Complexity Uncovered, 2007 http://www.spaceforlearning.com/docs/Complexity%20uncovered%20-%20Sharon%20Varney%20Aug%2007.pdf

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Curriculum 2.0?

According to Mcloughlin and Lee (2007) the curriculum is not fixed any more, but “dynamic, open to negotiation and learner input, (..) inter – disciplinary in focus”. Their conclusion alludes to the importance of careful planning which should accompany a deep understanding of the impact “social software affordances” will have on teaching.  The advent of Pedagogy 2.0!

While we are still exploring and analysing the pedagogical potential of the new web tools nobody denies the overwhelming power of collaboration and connectivity in creating new learning environments. It is up to us, educators, to usher in different  tomorrows…


McLoughlin, C., Lee, M., Social software and learning: Pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the Web 2.0 era  http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/singapore07/procs/mcloughlin.pdf


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Pedagogy – centre stage

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Technology pushes pedagogy into center stage. http://langwitches.org/blog/category/professional-development/

I am following the pedagogical thread caught in a myriad of theories offered by the use of new tools for learning.  At first sight there is a lot of emphasis on the learner, in the foreground while the poor pedagogue seems to be left in the shadow.  A closer look though reveals the pedagogue who becomes a learner and joins a space in the community of practice and learning where content is generated and developed. What about curriculum? Does it remain constant, or is it itself influenced by the new tools for learning? Where is the starting point or the foundation for building  content/ knowledge in a collaborative milieu, is it like an impromptu party: everyone brings something  or more like a themed event where the host (pedagogue) has selected and planned the main features of the party for the guests?


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The same principle could be applied to Quozio: the poster slogan punch line in a decorative thematic frame. The most important element of the message that  the Teacher is trying to convey is condensed and packaged in a visual frame familiar to a specific audience.


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Wordle: SpellingsWordle: SpellingsWordle: Spellings

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Wordle for beginners in English to accompany the classic spelling tests!

I can see the use of Wordle in consolidating spellings especially at beginner level while at higher level its appeal would be in highlighting concepts.
The ancient method of making lists of spellings could be resuscitated with a powerful shot of visual aid which one could argue will have a lasting impact.

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“It’s only words, and words are all I have…..”   WORDLE

I have been playing with Wordle, rearranging words and creating patterns while trying to figure out how it could be used in the classroom. I have deliberately trying to avoid the use of certain linkers and grammatical forms only to realise that “grammatical words and non-frequent words are hidden so that the resultant representation cleanly shows the most frequently occurring words of importance.” (McNaught and Lam 2010, p.630) According to Hayes it could accompany “reading skills (predicting, summarizing, and comparing)” ( Hayes 2008) and this is the avenue I could see opening for developing learners’ creative multimodality.   Hayes, S., Voices from the Middle, v16 n2 p66-68 Dec 2008, National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ823291 McNaught, C and Lam, P, Using Wordle as a Supplementary Research Tool, The Qualitative Report Volume 15 Number 3 May 2010 630-643 http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR15-3/mcnaught.pdf

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Web2.0 Fata Morgana?

My journey with web learning started one day when I realised that Tarik and Karim (2012) (1) were right: ‘the Web 2.0 is becoming the preferred environment for communication, collaboration and sharing especially among youth population’. Being quite competitive by nature, I didn’t want to be left behind. And then the realisation that the finishing line keeps moving, something like a perpetual marathon in pursuit of emerging technologies which can be applied in educational settings. But then I am not the only one who discovered that the major hurdle all educators are facing when they try to master new technologies is that ‘the tools available, (..) are in a state of flux’ (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich 2010 p.261). (2)

While there is ample empirical evidence about the benefits of the use of emerging technologies in educational settings, there is also agreement on the fact that a theoretical frame to illustrate a major trend in pedagogical practice is yet to be developed. And who knows, maybe, my little endeavour to research some uses of web tools might fit in this frame.

(1) Tarik, M., Karim, A., 2012, The use of Web 2.0 Innovations on Education and Training, Education,  2012, 2(5): 183-187 DOI: 10.5923/j.edu.20120205.11, p.183

(2) Ertmer, P. A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010) Teacher Technology Change: How Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp.255-284       


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Web learning initiation

First nervous steps and lots of anticipation: if somebody could grant me the luxury of time …. so much to discover!

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