All 4 entries tagged Research Based Learning

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December 28, 2008

Project plan: future platforms for mobile, blended, research based learning

Follow-up to Abstract for a presentation on future development in support of mobile research based learners from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

IDCM MA is the International Design and Communication MA on which I have been teaching, and which has given me opportunities to try new teaching techniques. It is also the driver behind many of my new ideas.

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Future platforms project plan

November 27, 2008

Abstract for a presentation on future development in support of mobile research based learners

An ideal:

Self-directed independent learners. Following divergent paths in creatively responding to a brief. Developing and applying a range of research, technology and communication skills. Finding and using many resources, drawn from an extensive and rich range of sources, and precisely identifying their meaning and context. Scrupulously citing authorship and attributing intellectual property where deserved. Negotiating, evaluating and recording varying roles and contributions within collaborative student-student working arrangements. Convincingly communicating the end result within required formats, styles and conventions. Guided throughout by a firm sense of purpose and value. And furthermore, earnestly reflecting upon their own abilities, progress, weaknesses and plans.


Sometimes, when working with my own students, I do encounter some of the ideal behaviours listed above. They are, after all, very capable students, having already achieved good results at an undergraduate level. Consequently, my expectations are high. I set them difficult objectives. Achieving those objectives will always necessarily require a combination of several high-level abilities, independently executed as far as possible. The result, when all goes well, is excellence, living up to the ideal described above. Often excellence that goes beyond my own abilities – we’re asking a lot more of our students today.

But more often, reality is not that perfect. We work hard to equip our students with the required toolset, to demonstrate the use and relevance of each tool, and providing guidance on applying them with precision. But the results are inconsistent. Often, as each student heads off along their own divergent path, we only notice their errors when it is already too late. And hence there is little opportunity for raising quality. The trade-off between independence and timely intervention is a difficult one to resolve.

Developing A Support Platform:

I am investigating how a convergence of technological developments may enable the construction of a platform that can help students to develop and more consistently apply key ‘research based learning’ skills. In this presentation we will consider the pedagogical workings of such a system, specifically in supporting history, archaeology and classics. I will explain how new technologies may make such a pedagogy possible. And most importantly, we will critically assess a set of goals that I consider to be essential for such a system:

  1. Connects offline events, objects and contexts with their online relations.
  2. Provides a cognitive-behavioural scaffold that can be sustained in the absence of the core technological platform.
  3. Encourages self-awareness and reflection by students and tutors.
  4. Is timely and efficient, but not intrusive or over-bearing.
  5. Supports the investigation and evaluation of student activities by student peers and tutors in the context in which the occur.

About the Presenter:

Robert O’Toole, a HEA National Teaching Fellow, is the Arts Faculty E-learning Advisor at the University of Warwick. He is part of the E-lab team responsible for developing and supporting a successful suite of advanced web based systems supporting research and research based learning. Robert has worked closely with the History and Classics departments at Warwick.

March 19, 2008

Interview with Peter Kirwan, succesful student blogger

Peter Kirwan is a student in the English Department, and author of the popular Bardathon blog, in which he has become a really good theatre critic. The success of his blogging has led him to speak at conferences, and to write for the Guardian. I recently interviewed Peter about his blog and how it has contributed to his success as a student and a reviewer.

A great result. When Kay Sanderson and I first promoted the idea of academic blogging in 2003 we had hoped that it would help students in just this way: becoming active and self-reflective writers, and becoming part of the research and cultural process.

Created using an Apple MacBook, with the built-in camera. Recorded and edited with iMovie. Screen captures created in Screenflow. Converted to FLV format using Flix.

January 04, 2007

Technology for research based [e]learning – presentation abstract

Advances in entrepreneurial and research based [e]learning at Warwick

Warwick has developed extensive [e]learning provisions: web architecture, software and hardware catalogue, support and training, network of experts and advisors, research and development programme, and most importantly a culture of innovation (especially amongst students). This has been undertaken to serve the needs of an entrepreneurial and research oriented university.

Our focus is then upon using technology to enhance student academic processes, key research and enterprise skills, and their assessment. This is achieved by making the tools and techniques used by researchers and entrepreneurs available to students. At the same time, we extend the technical capabilities of our academic staff as researchers. We aim to foster a digitally native, collaborative, network oriented, technically proficient and media savvy university population, staff and students included, such that research and enterprise is enhanced throughout. This represents an entrepreneurial and research oriented agenda for e-learning.

I will begin with a concise but effective clarification of the concept of entrepreneurial research based [e]learning, thus providing a framework through which specific technologies can be understood:

  • Valuing the process as much as the product (and implications for skills and assessment).
  • Students as researchers creating and developing novel opportunities (four essential research skills, the link between research, creativity and enterprise).
  • Surveying and understanding current knowledge (revealing gaps and contradictions in knowledge, making opportunities appear, questioning and investigating).
  • Beyond content transmission (digital nativity, collaboration, critical reflection, network/community orientation, technical proficiency and media savviness).

I will then provide a brief overview of the technologies and techniques that we have made available, evaluating how each of these supports entrepreneurial research based [e]learning differently.

Two particular technologies/techniques will be subjected to thorough investigation: podcasting and concept mapping. These have emerged, largely without conscious planning, as popular and effective tools. Podcasting, as a student collaborative research activity, has shown great promise. It has also proved popular with older staff, who find its radio-like format to be familiar and useful. Concept mapping (as opposed to mind mapping), has been rapidly adopted by individuals and groups as a tool for gathering and analysing information. It is a highly effective tool, and yet simple and intuitive to use even when dealing with large and complex domains. I will demonstrate how it can revolutionise learning, research and collaboration through the application of critical and analytical processes.