Monthly Archives: August 2009

Wk 24 Activities 1-5

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice

For Activity 1 I read Technology-mediated learning contexts   by Mary Thorpe (2009) which focused on Networks and communities

“The community of practice is characterized by strong ties between its members whereas the network makes connection between weak links possible.”

This paper includes a case study of a successful online activity which involved students researching small islands states and then collaboratively creating an set of demands for these states. This process involved discussions and debates which the learners effectively managed and contributed to online.


For Activity 2 I read Jones and Asensio   (2001) ‘Experiences of assessment: using phenomenography for evaluation’ which included an example of a less successfull online activity, in which learners misinterpreted the instructions inspite of (or possible because of) a detailed 12 page booklet of instructions.


In the example provided by Jones and Asensio, do you think there was any way that the design of the assessment led to the students’ divergent understandings of the task?


It’s difficult to make judgments on the design of the assignment without  seeing the exact wording of it.  There were links in the article to further articles on the course and it’s assessment regime, but I could not get these links to work (did anyone else?).  One of the things that struck me was the fact that the TMA was provided in a separate 12 page booklet.  I think the fact that it was done in this way, separate from the rest of the course, may have added to the confusion. Particularly if this booklet was only available online.  When any confusion arose it may have been such a laborious process to find and check the relevant section in the TMA booklet, that these misunderstandings were not challenged. 

How would you respond to the problem raised in this paper if you were asked to design a learning activity or an assessment?


Here are some suggestions which may have helped in this situation;


  • Keep it simple


  • Include the TMA as part of the natural flow of the course (as opposed to a separate booklet)


  • Get as many people as possible to go through the instructions before the course goes live, and find out how they interpret the instructions


  • Ask learners to post an early draft of their TMA to the tutor


  • Post an example of the kind of outcome expected


For Activity 3 I read Wenger  (1998) ‘Learning architectures’ which identifies dimensions for learning design highlighted by the following dualities

–      Participation and reification

–      The designed and the emergent

–      The local and the global

–      Identification and negotiability


The paper was compared to the work of Goodyear 2002 who identified 3 strands of the learning experience which cannot be completely controlled by the designer and therefore the learning can not be designed but designed for.


I admit I haven’t really grasped these papers, and may have therefore completely misinterpreted what was meant.


For Activity 4 I read Beetham and Sharpe   (2007) ‘An introduction to rethinking pedagogy for a digital age’.

ow do Beetham and Sharpe view the relationship between learning and teaching?


In this paper they claim that there has been a tension with the terms teaching and learning.  They suggest that there has been a move towards focusing on learning and what is learnt rather than teaching and what is taught.  They, however, acknowledge the importance of the social interaction of teaching and the effect it can have on the learning process. 


Write down your own view of whether pedagogy is a useful term in the way suggested in the reading.


Beetham and Sharpe suggest that “despite its etymological connection with children (paidia), contemporary use of the term [Pedagogy] has lost its exclusive reference to childhood while retaining the original sense of leading or guiding to learn.”


Personally, I disagree with this and I primarily think of pedagogy as a term relating to the teaching and learning of children, while I prefer the term andragogy when discussing the teaching and learning of adults.  This is not just a pedantic matter of semantics. I feel that despite the importance of lifelong learning, there are significant differences in the studies of teaching and learning for adults and children, and they therefore deserve distinct names.


Why do Beetham and Sharpe use the term ‘design for learning’ rather than learning design?


The see the term learning design as an existing term which focuses on the design of learning activities and contents. They argue that the responcibility to learning is in the hands of the learner, and no one else can design their learning, instead they can design an environment suitable for learning.



Activity 5 Highlighted how boundries between formal and informal lkearning can be deliberately blurred in learning design with an extract  from Satchwell and Ivanic (2009) ‘The textual mediation of learning’ who cited the course manual for a media studies course which interspersed academic language with images from popular culture