Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Granularity of learning

I was watching this very interesting presentation by Martin Weller, called Bridging the gap between web 2.0 and higher education

Something that caught my particular attention was Martins remarks about how technology challenges presuppositions on granularity, and what the consequences for the granularity of learning might be. I find the idea of more granular learning compelling, in particular in combination with personal learning (although Martin also rightfully points out that this is not just about what you want to learn, but also how you want to learn it!). On the other hand I also cannot help being concerned with what we loose from the holistic approach if we insist on atomizing everything. The whole is after all often more then the sum of its parts.

Perhaps the solution lies in a differentiation between atomized accreditations on the one side, the majority of which will probably be APEL, and separate aggregating accreditations that require you to integrate and join up what you've learned, and reflect on it on the appropriate level. These qualifications woudl focus more on (meta cognitive) skills and trans-disciplinary thinking.

As I've said before, our future is not in content, it is in guidance and accreditation!


Martin said...

Hi Rene, thanks for the comments. I take your concerns about the atomisation of learning - this came up a lot a few years ago when we started looking at learning objects. My point in this presentation was rather different - that at the moment we conceive of the undergraduate course as the right chunk of time and content, but perhaps that is a function of the economics of HE. It is probably much more elastic than this - not necessarily smaller, just variable.
I agree with you that support and guidance are the key 'services' (along with accreditation). This will be increasingly the case when content is available everywhere, so students don't view the lecturer as the source of information. Makes sense really - if we can watch a video lecture of a top physics lecturer at Stanford then if I'm a physics lecturer at small university X, why not get students to view it and spend our time discussing the issues and guiding their understanding? Rather than just repeating it in slightly different words.

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