In the spirit of sharing, and with permission Dr. Justus Randolph, I’d like to draw your attention to the following message. Personally, I was looking for such a book, and the fact that Justus has made in freely available is more than generous – Hurray for open and shareable educational materials!
Dear e-learning colleagues,
As a professional courtesy, I would like to inform you of a free e-book, Multidisciplinary Methods in Educational Technology Research and Development, recently published by HAMK University of Applied Sciences Press. In that text I theoretically and empirically chart the methods currently being used in our field and also provide information on planning, conducting, and reporting educational technology research and development projects. I hope that you will find it to be a useful text for educational technology research methods courses, a helpful resource for conducting (or supervising) research, and a rich source of empirical information on the art and science of educational technology research.
In the spirit of the open education movement, this is a free resource that you are welcome to use, reproduce, and distribute as you see fit, barring commercial uses or derivate works. It can be downloaded from:
How do we design for engagement? This is a question that has hovered over my shoulders for a while. Although not explicitly verbalized it is part of my work with avatars, pedagogical agents, and virtual characters. For example, see this paper in the British journal of Educational Technology. In addition, in my dissertation, I also argue that pedagogical agents/virtual characters may incite such deep and engaging experiences so as to distract learners from the task they are engaged with (I am of course talking about the conversational type agents and NOT the passive pedagogical agents that prominently appear in instructional design research – yes, I am being sarcastic). Outside of my tiny little contributions, others have thought about this issue. Pat Parrish, drawing on the work of Dewey and others, has written extensively on learner engagement. Charlie Miller, coming for an interaction design perspective, has also talked about engagement. And, the other day, a blog by Joseph from BYU, noting sister issues of engagement, emotion, and narrative. Granted, the ID field has for long (and long overdue) been focusing on information delivery and wow-look-at-what-this-can-do, but I think there are enough people thinking and writing about learner engagement, that the topic may gain prominence – as it should.
Back to the original question: How do we design for engagement? Honestly, if I knew how to verbalize this, I would probably write it up. But, I have a few ideas. First, I think that this question spurs multiple other questions. For example, how do K-12 teachers engage children? What are the characteristics of engaging lessons? What are the characteristics of engaging learners? Note that I am writing about characteristics in qualitative (and possibly interpretive, and further, possibly phenomenological) terms. What are the characteristics of boring lessons? What are the characteristics of engaging electronic learning environments/experiences? What is the process of engagement? How do we measure engagement? Again, I think that “measuring” engagement should be done in qualitative terms – this is a poor way of measuring something as malleable and inherent to our existential being, but it’s at least a start. Could we provide some sort of guidelines for the design of engaging electronic learning experiences? What does social psychology say about this? More on the last question in an upcoming post…
A set of preliminary ideas that I have is that “fun” has a lot to do with it. The HCI field discussed funology for a while, but I haven’t seen anything recently. Additionally, I think that a sense of achievement, contribution, belongingness, ability to change things, and purpose, matter. That’s an initial list, and it is very rough. There are numerous other ideas that need to be covered, including aesthetics, transformational learning, and, alas, the learner. But, I’ll leave that for a different time because I need to do some dissertation work.
Last year, a leaflet informed me of the “experimental college” (EXCO) as a place where everyone can take or teach a class for free, a locale committed to open access to education (defined in the broadest sense of learning), and lifelong learning. More information is at http://www.excotc.org/. Since then, in the context of an EXCO, I have been thinking about how technology can (a) support the creation of an experimental type of college, (b) allow prospective students to gain a deep look into what prospective courses entail, (c) enable instructors to effectively convey the course content for prospective students, (d) spread the word about such an endeavor, (e) be used to eliminate inequalities arising due to limited access to education, (f) facilitate the development of a completely online (or a hybrid) model of an EXCO, and (g) proactively prevent the development of boring pageturning-kind of online learning.
I have talked to a friend about EXCO and we have jokingly mentioned the development of an EXCO in our country. This would be a huge endeavor, but I am at a bit of a loss – I don’t know where to start! I suppose, the best thing I could do is to start writing my ideas and talk to others about it. In this spirit, does anyone have any interest? Do you want to be involved? As you can see, everything is fluid at the moment. We could use anyone with any sort of expertise. Can you teach knitting (maybe online)? How about a beginning Instructional Design Course? Perhaps facilitate discussions on Harry Potter? Or perhaps you’d be interested in the design of an online learning environment (using opecourseware perhaps?) to facilitate the EXCO? Maybe you are interested in evaluation? Talk to us… let’s get a movement started! :)
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Update: This just came through: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/diy-education-teach-yourself.html
Indeed hello! I decided to start blogging again. Not because I have free time, but because I’d like (once again) to put my ideas out there and (re)connect with others. This might be a conversation with myself, but then again, it could be a conversation with others. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what will come of this.