e-Supervision (II). Ismael Peña-López. e-Supervision: framing the debate

Notes from the workshop on Doctoral education and e-Supervision, organized by the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP), the International Association of Universities (IAU), the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and the Kenyatta University (KU) within the project Personal Learning Environment (PLE)-PhD project financed through the IAU LEADHER programme, and held in Barcelona, Spain, in October 31, 2013. More notes on this event: plephd.

Ismael Peña-López, lecturer and researcher, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)
e-Supervision: framing the debate

We can define four stages in technology adoption:

  1. During appropriation people get to know what new technologies are out there, they learn how to use them, they master them… but not necessarily use them or use them in a specific environment and for a specific purpose. E.g. learn that text editors exist, learn how to use them, but still use typewritters.
  2. In the adaptation phase, old technologies are replaced by the new ones, but just to perform exactly the same tasks, routines, processes. E.g. typewritters are trown away, but text editors are used to type the very same letters. The cost of using a new technology is clearly here an expenditure, as no major benefits appear.
  3. Improvement happens when benefits begin to overrun the cost of using new technologies. Here, costs are investments that pay back in the medium and long term. E.g. text editors are used intensively allowing for thorough edition (copying, pasting, formatting, etc.), tracking changes and versions, passing documents along (by e-mail, that is, another concurring technology) so that they can be commented, reedited, etc.
  4. Last, and most important, transformation implies that the whole process is though (almost) from scratch, deploying the full potential of new technologies to redesign processes and tasks. E.g. documents begin not with an original from a single person, but collaborative tools come in place (like wikis, pads or the like) where everyone can contribute at the same time, with no need for centralization, no need for preset structures, etc.

e-Supervision can be described in this framework. Thus, there is not a single definition of what e-Supervision is, but a continuum of definitions as e-Supervision itself evolves from adaptation to improvement, and from improvement to transformation (and including a phase 0 of adoption, which is by the way most needed).

  1. During appropriation e-supervision is, actually, supervision. Period. Everyone is using technology, but not for supervision purposes.
  2. In the adaptation e-supervision can be defined as electronic supervision as traditional tasks (meetings, reviews) are done with the help of technology: videoconferences, support of digital documents. This phase is needed because it bridges both worlds (supervision with e-supervision) but has to be quickly overcome, as the cost of the change of technology does not come with any evident benefit.
  3. Improvement happens when these benefits of e-Supervision imply an evolution, an evolved supervision. Tracking changes, control version, creation of communities of practice and communities of learning within (or with-out) learning management systems… even xMOOCs can imply several opportunities for improvement of old practices.
  4. Last, and most important, transformation is rethinking e-supervision (almost) from scratch. It’s about enhanced supervision, deploying all the potential of research 2.0, connectivist MOOCs, peer-to-peer assessment, e-portfolios, personal learning environments. That is, rethinking the whole research and supervision practice, now taking into account not only tools, but the concurrence of other actors, of new roles (and responsibilities

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Peña-López, I. (2013). e-Supervision: Framing the Debate. Workshop within the LEADHER PLEDS Project at the Open Univeristy of Catalonia, 31 October 2013.
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Peña-López, I. (2013). e-Supervision: Framing the Debate. Workshop within the LEADHER PLEDS Project at the Open Univeristy of Catalonia, 31 October 2013.

Doctoral education and e-Supervision (2013)

e-Supervision (I). Opening Session

Notes from the workshop on Doctoral education and e-Supervision, organized by the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP), the International Association of Universities (IAU), the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and the Kenyatta University (KU) within the project Personal Learning Environment (PLE)-PhD project financed through the IAU LEADHER programme, and held in Barcelona, Spain, in October 31, 2013. More notes on this event: plephd.

Hilligje van’t Land, Director, Membership and Programme Development, IAU

There is a dire need for real phds, in Africa or elsewhere, virtual or not.

There also is a need to collaborate, to innovate in the field of how to foster brand new research and how to support the new research done by PhD students.

Added to that, there is a need for research networks: it is important to note that supervision is also part of being a network.

A very important challenge is how to provide technical support, how to bring into research ethical dimensions, or how to lead the administrative changes that have to accompany the changes in research and in supervision.

But most important of all, beyond theories, we have to see how to put e-supervision into practice, to make it happen.

Marta Aymerich, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

One of the keys of research and PhD is supervision. It is not a trivial matter and thus needs being addressed properly.

ICTs have provided very powerful in knowledge related tasks. We thus need to leverage the power of ICTs in research in general and in supervision in particular.

We need to discuss the structures in place for doctoral education.

Olive Mugenda, Vice-Chancellor, Kenyatta University (KU), Kenya

There is a dire need for research and for PhDs.

We especially need to train the trainers, people that will earn their own PhDs so that they can supervise/train others.

The whole process needs to be accountable, in general terms of performance, but especially in terms of ensuring quality.

We can’t keep the old model of supervision, we have to open up supervision.

We have to change paradigm, get out of old way of thinking and foster e-supervision.

Jaume Casals, Vice-Chancellor, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in representation of the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP)

PhDs are the jewel of the crown, thus we have to harvest them with care.

Doctoral education and e-Supervision (2013)

A comment on PLEs, ZDPs, heavy-switching and translearning

Easton Phidd commented on my “pre-paper” called Personal Learning Environments and the revolution of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development — “pre-paper” as it later became a full published paper Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning. As the questions he is putting are very interesting, and my answers were getting longer and longer, I thought I’d better share them on a new post.

Is there any empirical research on substitution patterns?

My own experience / applied research — which depicts (in Spanish) these processes in my own teaching in a graduate programme on e-Government — can be accessed here:

Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo i Martínez, A. (2012). “Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación”. In Cerrillo i Martínez, A. & Delgado García, A.M. (Coords.), La innovación en la docencia del Derecho a través del uso de las TIC, 143-157. Actas de la III Jornada sobre Docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación, 8 de junio de 2012. Barcelona: Huygens.
Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo i Martínez, A. (2011). “Herramientas 2.0 para el desarrollo de competencias profesionalizadoras”. In Cerrillo i Martínez, A. & Delgado García, A.M. (Coords.), Las TIC al servicio de la docencia del Derecho en el marco del EEES, 89-102. Actas de la II Jornada sobre Docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación, 6 de junio de 2011. Barcelona: Huygens.

On the other hand, an (almost) complete list of works around the area (most of them with a theoretical approach) can be found at The Personal Research Portal: related works, a collection of works related with personal research portals and e-research (as enhanced research).

Another option is to navigate this collection of works related to Personal Learning Environments penned by yours truly.

In a more informal way, I’d say there are lots of examples out there:

  • There are many examples were usual textbooks are being substituted by open educational resources. I’d dig in OER repositories for experience of reuse.
  • There are also examples of university-enterprise partnerships that can be understood as shifting some formal teaching towards informal training/learning.
  • And, last, but not least, cMOOCs are definitely a transition towards total hybridization.

Definitions of heavy-switching and substitution pattern

Heavy switching

Heavy switching is a way of denying multitasking in pedagogical terms — it already has in psychological terms by evidence. And of proposing tearing down the walls of compartmented learning.

I would define heavy switching as the constant interaction between learning actors — resources, environments and institutions — that takes place once planned and unplanned learning, and structured and non-structured teaching take place simultaneously and seamlessly, thus blurring the boundaries of time, space and formality that usually artificially compartmentalize learning.

Substitution pattern

A substitution pattern is the path that one goes through to replace a methodology, tool or technology in actual use by a new one. A substitution pattern will very likely have four stages:

  1. The appropriation of the new methodology/tool/technology.
  2. The adaptation of the novelty to the traditional use.
  3. A phase of improvement of the tasks performed.
  4. A transformation in the very essence of the tasks being performed.

How does the heavy-switching/translearning model can impact second language (L2) learners?

I, in fact, made a proposal/reflection on the topic of Personal Learning Environments for second language learning during the “II Conference on language learning: environments, tools and learning resources” in 2011. My keynote was Native Latin teacher wanted. Linking personal teaching and learning strategies on the Net.

My reflections were published at that time, but I may reproduce some of them here for the sake of easiness:

  • The teacher is a researcher, a student, and should thus make their learning strategies explicit so that students can copy them or be inspired by them.
  • Read a lot. If you’re a knowledge worker, you have to read.
  • Read thoroughly: analysis, synthesis, abstraction are a requisite for juicing a reading.
  • The best way to learn is to teach something. A Personal Learning Environment is also about teaching, or about learning by teaching, not only “just learning”.
  • In a digital world, everything is connected.
  • Thus, inside/outside is a false dichotomy, artificially created to raise walls were there were none. Ask yourself why someone would try and build such walls.

Related downloads

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Peña-López, I. (2013). Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning. In On the Horizon, 21 (2). Lincoln: NCB University Press. [FULL TEXT]
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Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2011). Tools 2.0 for the development of professional skills. II Jornada sobre docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación. 6 June 2011. Barcelona. [SLIDES]
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Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2011). Herramientas 2.0 para el desarrollo de competencias profesionalizadoras. II Conference on Law teaching and Information and Communication Technologies. 6 de junio de 2011. Barcelona. [FULL TEXT & SLIDES]
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Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación. III Jornada sobre docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación . 8 de Junio de 2012. Barcelona. [SLIDES]
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Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging en el aula. De la información a la participación. III Jornada sobre docencia del Derecho y Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación . 8 de Junio de 2012. Barcelona. [FULL TEXT]
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Peña-López, I. & Cerrillo-Martínez, A. (2012). Microblogging in the classroom. From information to participation. III Conference on Law teaching and Information and Communication Technologies. 8 June 2012. Barcelona. [SLIDES]
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Peña-López, I. (2011). Es busca professor nadiu de llatí. Enllaçant estratègies personals d’aprenentatge i docència a la xarxa. II Jornades d’Aprenentatge de Llengües: Entorns, Eines i Recursos Didàctics, Generalitat de Catalunya, 24-25 de febrer de 2011. Cerdanyola del Vallès: UAB. [SLIDES]
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Peña-López, I. (2011). Native Latin teacher wanted. Linking personal teaching and learning strategies on the Net. II Conference on language learning: environments, tools and learning resources, Generalitat de Catalunya, 24-25 de febrer de 2011. Cerdanyola del Vallès: UAB. [SLIDES]

Book. Personal Learning Environments: keys for the networked educational ecosystem

Book cover for Entornos personales de aprendizaje: claves para el ecosistema educativo en red

Professors Linda Castañeda and Jordi Adell have just published the book Entornos personales de aprendizaje: claves para el ecosistema educativo en red (Personal Learning Environments: keys for the networked educational ecosystem), the most comprehensive work to date on Personal Learning Environments in Spanish language and, arguably, one of the most comprehensive too in any language.

This book is a tremendous (and, in my acknowledgedly biased opinion, succeeded) effort to produce a definition, a compilation of research approaches (pedagogical, technological, sociological…), framework of application and applied examples of what we understand by personal learning environments or PLEs.

The editors of the book asked me to contribute with a chapter — The research-teaching PLE: learning as teaching — which aimed at reflecting the use of the PLE in the intersection of research and teaching. In other words, how most scholars and teachers of all kinds could understand the PLE (a) beyond a tool for their students (i.e. for themselves), and (b) beyond the classroom. If I was to summarize my chapter in just one short sentence I’d say that the PLE becomes meaningful for the teacher when we understand the teacher as a learner too.

Part of the content of my chapter overlaps with what I dealt with in Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning. But, as I have pointed at, the book chapter (which was written first) has a more practical, hands-on, do-it-yourself approach, while the article definitely has a more academic flavour. And, of course, the former is in Spanish and the later in English.

The presentation of the book is terrific with a very cool website. Besides the printed edition, the book can be downloaded (as a whole, by sections and by chapters) and can be reused thanks to its BY-NC-ND 3.0 Creative Commons license.

My gratitude to Linda and Jordi goes “beyond usual” as they really encouraged me in putting together all my stuff on this topic, which ended up in the chapter and the aforementioned article. Many thanks for that!

Downloads

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Chapter 6:
Peña-López, I. (2013). El PLE de investigación-docencia: el aprendizaje como enseñanza. In Castañeda, L. & Adell, J. (Eds.) (2013). Entornos Personales de Aprendizaje: claves para el ecosistema educativo en red. Capítulo 6, 93-110. Alcoy: Marfil.
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Full book:
Castañeda, L. & Adell, J. (Eds.) (2013). Entornos Personales de Aprendizaje: claves para el ecosistema educativo en red. Alcoy: Marfil.

Book. Citizenry and Nonprofits

Cover for book Ciudadanía y ONG

After a long collaborative process of several months, the book Ciudadania y ONG (Citizenry and Nonprofits) has just seen the light. This has been a very interesting exercise of co-coordination along with Imanol Zubero, Carlos Giménez and Enrique Arnanz.

For the making of the book, the website CiudadaniayONG.org was used in two steps:

  1. A delimited survey open to everyone, to copse the main topics around the three axes that we had predefined:
    intergenerational relationships, transforming participation, and digital citizenry.
  2. An open forum, where the main conclusions of the survey were discussed and complemented with many insights.

In each step documents were produced to provide the appropriate context for the coming reflection.

Besides being part of the whole process, I concentrated in the third axis, that is, digital citizenry, and what did it mean for participation, volunteering and nonprofits in general entering the new era of the Information Society.

I am deeply grateful to the promoters of the book, Fundación Esplai, and, of course, to the rest of the coordinators. Scholars have fewer occasions to collaborate with people outside the Academia and higher pressure not to: being part of the book was keeping a wire attached to the power that boosts citizen movements. Besides the later, some of the many people that helped in making the book a reality are Carles Barba, María Jesús, José Maria Pérez, Maria Jesús Manovel, Elvira Aliaga, Virginia Pareja, Cesk Gasulla, Josechu Ferreras, Jorge Hermida, Carles Campuzano, Luis M. López Aranguren, Consuelo Crespo and Rafael Rodríguez.

The book has been published in Spanish and translated into Catalan.

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Peña-López, I., Zubero, I., Giménez, C. & Arnanz, E. (Coords.) (2013). Ciudadanía y ONG. El nuevo papel del Tercer Sector ante el cambio de época..
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Peña-López, I., Zubero, I., Giménez, C. & Arnanz, E. (Coords.) (2013). Ciutadania i ONG. El nou paper del Tercer Sector davant el canvi d’època..

New article. Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning

Cover for the article Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning

On the Horizon — the academic journal on education policy and strategic planning — has just published has just published a special issue on the Knowmad Society and borderless work and eduction.

The issue includes a paper of mine entitled Heavy switchers in translearning: from formal teaching to ubiquitous learning, which is quite a title indeed.

The nonwords I use in the title, more than gratuitous, really want to point at some crucial points I address in the paper:

  • Heavy switching is opposed to multitasking, in the sense that not only people do not actually multitask (increasing scientific evidence on that matter) but actually switch tasks very quickly and, more important, switch environments: their (formal) learning environment, their job environment, their family environment… When your environment is where your laptop is, people really can and actually do switch tasks quite heavily.
  • Translearning is about learning through (instead of at) several places, learning as one goes along different environments and, above all, learning resources, especially those that are found outside of educational institutions.

Thus, heavy switching and translearning are used in the sense that ICTs do transform the context and the environment where learning usually took place. And that is why Vigotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development is revisited, this time to redefine the more knowledgeable other in the framework of Personal Learning Environments.

In his introductory article to the special issue, guest editor John W. Moravec describes the article as:

an interesting approach in blending Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development (ZPD) (see esp. Vygotsky 1978) with personal learning environments (PLEs), afforded through ICTs, that enable translearning and heavy switching that is difficult to manage in formal learning environments. In other words, PLE-based learning strategies could be employed to manage an individual’s engagement within their own ZPD. Such an approach, [the author] argues, blurs the distinctions between teachers and learners, in addition to questioning the roles of formal institutions of learning.

The paper is still in its preprint version, so it may still go under some minor edits.

I am very glad to see this paper published as its conception has been a gradual process of putting scattered ideas together since, as far as I can remember, my reflections after the Open EdTech Summit in November 2010. Most of them were tested live at TIES2012 in my communication The PLE as a personal tool for the researcher and the teacher.

I am very grateful to John W. Moravec for his infinite patience, comments and hints way beyond his duties as guest editor.

Download

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Peña-López, I. (2013). Heavy switchers in translearning: From formal teaching to ubiquitous learning. In On the Horizon, 21 (2). Lincoln: NCB University Press.

Abstract

Purpose – We explore the role of Personal Learning Environments in an already ICT-dense context and in combination with some educational approaches in the field of technology enhanced education. We analyze how Personal Learning Environments are not a device but a learning strategy that threatens the way educational institutions and their functions are understood, by contributing to enable a borderless learning society.

Design/methodology/approach – We will begin revisiting Vygotsky’s concept of the Zone of Proximal Development and assess the role of educators and educational institutions as the actual more knowledgeable others in scaffolding learners’ learning paths. This role will be put in relationship with different learning scenarios (formal, non-formal, informal and autodidactic) according to their inner structure (or lack of) and degree (or absence) of planning. Last, we put PLEs in relationship with other “physical” spaces (VLEs and LMSs), the digitization of content (open educational resources), records and assessments (e-Portfolios) and the possibility to flip some traditional tasks or processes that enabled regaining the social component in the classroom (Education 2.0).

Findings – We suggest that PLEs have come to close the circle of ICTs in Education with a highly transformative power: the power to blur the boundaries between formal teaching and informal learning. Indeed, the traditionally difficult transition from one learning scenario to a different one has been made smoother by the appearance of OER and, especially, social media constructs that can be used for learning purposes, especially within a PLE-based strategy.

Originality/value – It is stated that institutions should embrace and even foster the possibility that learners could easily and intensively switch educational resources, just like they could shift among different registers and learning scenarios, as a newly enabled way to tear down the artificial divisions that formal learning edified.

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