Thomas Cochrane and Vickel Narayan from AUT University in Auckland New Zealand have piloted the use of an intentional community of practice model to transform lecturer CPD through the embedding of mobile web 2.0 technologies ( / DOI: 10.3402/rlt.v21i0.19226). Their research over two iterations of the course has significant implications for transforming how lecturing staff approach their role, moving from a heavily pedagogical approach through andragogy to heutagogy. Heutagogy (student-directed learning) requires lecturers to undergo a reconceptualization of their role and to take advantage of the mobility offered by the various Web 2.0 tools (including Twitter, blogs, wikis, Skype) with their own learning experiences being scaffolded through sustained engagement and support; these latter two elements proving essential to their success.

Although they offer a different approach to the five stage approach to e-learning offered by Gilly Salmon ( Cochrane and Narayan’s approach is not new per se, just not so widely reported in academic circles. For example, they argue that “heutagogy … need not be the domain of postgraduate research students only” and having attempted a similar approach myself when teaching HNC law I would agree, but would also reflect that moving away from a didactic approach to a place where individual learners control their own learning journey requires a willingness to relinquish that control and permit a transformation of the teacher role into that of co-learner and facilitator.

Conceptualising students as transformative agents of change is not new, and the ability to take advantage of new technologies like the iPad have a real potential to see learning move up Bloom’s taxonomy to a place where creativity is not only more possible, but also more likely and even encouraged.

Cochrane and Narayan’s redesigned CPD course is actually similar to the Moderating Online Groups (MOG) / Collaborative Learning Experience Online (CLEO) CPD course co-ordinated by the Institute of Learning and Teaching here at Northampton, in that it encourages staff to take advantage of the benefits offered by new technologies and to incorporate them in the classroom by allowing them to experience using those technologies as a student. However, Cochrane and Narayan necessarily have the opportunity to provide lectures with real opportunities to implement their learning and experiment with Web 2.0 in their own learning environments as their course is run over 6 weeks as opposed to 6 hours which is the case with the MOG/CLEO. It will be interesting to see if their model can be implemented at Northampton resulting in a deeper embedding of Web 2.0 in our practice, particularly in more theoretical and academic, rather than the vocational programmes which formed the majority of the subjects taught by the New Zealand staff.

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