1.1 Organise learning places



Based on the Ultraversity Project, this collection of patterns identifies the key innovations developed to teach an undergraduate programme of some 300 student researchers, supported entirely online and having collaboration between learners as a central component.

The Essence of the Problem

How to organise the online technology to support the student researcher learning experience.

The Problem in Detail

How to empower student researchers to be responsible for the self-organisation of their technology and actions.  This is a particular challenge in trying to make sense of the relationship between institutional technologies and technologies that student researchers choose for themselves.  As the latter increases, there is a tendency for the community of inquiry to fragment potentially making it difficult to organise for community learning across disciplines and interest groups.  The key challenges are:

1. the co-ordination of private, shared and public places;
2. providing access to course resources;
3. providing a secure, auditable assessment portfolio;
4. co-ordinating a range of staff and student communication needs;
5. solutions that promotes trust and provide security;
6. institution exerting control in its own interest rather than that of the student researcher.

The Solution

Components of the solution:
1. Require student researchers and staff to self-organise the integration of institutional provision and self-selected external technologies;
2. provide a place for staff only online discussions;
3. provide closed learning sets – a group of 5 student researchers who support each other;
4. provide cohort group places for co-ordination of large groups of student researchers;
5. provide online access to assessment portfolios to external examiners
6. provide module resources with facilitated discussions;
7. provide hotseat topic experts;
8. provide assessment portfolio;
9. promote private places to author and draft before sharing;
10. promote student formed and lead interest groups;
11. promote the use of external networks and communities.

Reflections on Use

In an ideal world, we support the idea that institutions reduce the level of control they exert and provide the minimal amount of services possible.  It seems reasonable that individuals should be able to make personal choices about the technology they use to support their learning. However, this tempered by the pragmatics of working within the confines of the University (rules, regulations, practices, obligations & entitlements) and the different levels of technological capacity of individuals – although always seeking to explore new approaches to learning and teaching and push at the boundary of what is possible.

Related patterns

1.1 Organise learning places
1.2 Team Teaching
1.3 Exhibition for Dissertation
1.4 Workplace advocate
1.5 Action Learning Set
1.6 Patchwork ‘Media’
1.7 Personalised Learning Contract
1.8 The ‘Hotseat’ expert guest
1.9 Nurture Online Community of Inquiry


2 responses to “1.1 Organise learning places

  1. Hi Stephen and all, I just wanted to pick up on the idea that space and technology choices can be tempered by the parameters of the system. Whilst I would agree with this reality, I would also see the solution to this as being through the innovation and community of the researchers and facilitators. As technology moves apace, solutions to integrating new, often external spaces, cannot keep up. However if the consideration of ‘how’ new technologies and spaces can be integrated to the system can be part of the norms of adoption, the solutions are derived. Reflection is a great vehicle for marrying new spaces in to the formal curriculum/systems – whilst say a facebook experience may be difficult to formalise within a portfolio, the reflection upon the experience and the articulation of learning from the encounter with another space can be rich. Reflection is a means to integrate the external with the formal system. Researchers/students though are pushing the bounds of what is technically possible.

  2. In effect capacity building? That is concentrate on peoples ability to be critical users of technology as a means of future-proofing against innovations/developments we cannot possibly foresee. Thanks for this.

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