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 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.
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:
- The appropriation of the new methodology/tool/technology.
- The adaptation of the novelty to the traditional use.
- A phase of improvement of the tasks performed.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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 Vygotsky’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.
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.
Kalz, M. (2005). “Building Eclectic Personal Learning Landscapes with Open Source Tools
”. In de Vries, F., Attwell, G., Elferink, R. & Tödt, A. (Eds.),
Open Source for Education in Europe. Research & Practise
, 163-168. Conference proceedings. Heerlen, the Netherlands, November 14 and 15, 2005. Heerlen: Open University of the Netherlands.
Peña-López, I. (2009). “The personal research portal
”. In Hatzipanagos, S. & Warburton, S. (Eds.),
Handbook of Research on Social Software and Developing Community Ontologies, Chapter XXVI
, 400-414. Hershey: IGI Global.
Roberts, G., Aalderink, W., Cook, J., Feijen, M., Harvey, J., Lee, S. & Wade, V.P. (2005). Reflective learning, future thinking: digital repositories, e-portfolios, informal learning and ubiquitous computing
. Briefings from the ALT/SURF/ILTA Spring Conference Research Seminar. Dublin: Trinity College.
Rossi, P.G., Pascucci, G., Giannandrea, L. & Paciaroni, M. (2006). “L’e-Portfolio Come Strumento per la Costruzione dell’Identità
Informations, Savoirs, Décisions, Médiations
, (25), art.348. La Garde: Université du Sud Toulon-Var.
Smith, M.K. (2008). “Informal learning
the encyclopaedia of informal education
. London: YMCA George Williams College, London.