Public Group active 2 years, 10 months ago
In this presentation we will describe our use of new technologies to extend opportunities for situated learning to a cohort of students who might traditionally – due to their mode of study – have been unable to take advantage of these modes and methodologies of learning. As part-time, online distance learners, the number of sites/spaces/communities for learning can be as numerous as both the number of the students and the diet of modules they study. For this reason, historically, much of their learning took place in semi-isolation, but with the benefits of new technologies (especially Moodle, Mahara and Adobe Connect) it has been possible to frame, track, archive and assess concrete personal learning engagements in the ‘real world’ as part of an online community of practice. By ‘personalised situated learning’ we propose a form of community-based and experiential learning that – unlike more orthodox understandings of situated learning, concerned with groups operating in shared physical spaces – instead consists of a multiplicity of real-world learning experiences that are then collated and interrogated in online spaces. Personalised situated learning is of particular value to our students, who are pursuing a BA in Theatre Studies, and who – as adult and professional learners – arrive and continue with variety of very different experiences; reflecting the internationality of the cohort, the wide range of age and experience and so on. Pre-VLE, sharing experiences and building communities of practice was especially difficult in distance learning, but the advent of VLEs and attendant social media have removed these barriers to communication. Furthermore, unlike an undergraduate cohort – who may be relatively homogenous in terms of age, background, experience and so on – this large group of distance learners bring a wealth of academic, professional and lived experience to their studies which serves to amplify the core curriculum by way of peer-to-peer learning and support. The purpose of personalised situated learning is to make use of this multiplicity of experience and to design activities and assessments such that they can be matched to the opportunities available to any given student. For example, students at the first level of the programme will join a module that includes an extended attachment to a theatre for the purposes of in-depth primary study. However, whilst all students complete the same activities, it is overwhelmingly likely that they will focus on different theatres – and not unlikely that they may never visit some of the theatres they encounter through their peers (because they are on the other side of the planet, for example!) Thus, whilst the context may be specific, the physical environments in which learning takes place might differ widely – hence ‘personalised.’ In this presentation we will discuss developments in the programme over the past five years, both pedagogical and technological, and our attempts to shift towards a more practical and negotiated form of learning and teaching than was possible in the past. This should be of interest to academic teaching staff, learning developers and learning technologists.