Abelardo Pardo keynote #lak13 Bridging the middle space

Abelardo’s journey to middle space – starts with dialectics, considering things that are opposing in order to better understand. Interesting metaphor about 2 islands separated by sea, one with inhabitants who are interested only in tools and the other inhabited by educators. Need to build a bridge between them to bring both together and gain further insight. So, Abelardo sees learning analytics as an overarching bridge which provides agile and continuous feedback between the 2 ‘islands’. He thinks of himself as a natural inhabitant of the tool island, but became aware that he needed to become more familiar with educational theory and practice in order to teach more effectively. Has tried to move away from ‘more knobs = better tool……’ Hmmmm, OK, point understood.

But became aware that in order to understand a subject more effectively, he needed to expand his own understanding and look at issues around the core topic. Kugel argues that first experience of teaching is about self, how will I be perceived, etc. then build in confidence and are more able to focus on the topic as important, and material gets more sophisticated. But the final step is understanding that this should be about how students learn and how they perceive the topic. Students are at the centre and as active and independent learners. 

Taking this into his own practice, he needed to design a new course from scratch. Normally we would jump straight into the design stage and write a course agenda with specific design activities in mind. On advice, he started by focusing on  university objectives, ie what kind of skills should graduates have at the end? Then he needed to translate these into specific objectives for his particular module and design activities as the final step rather than the first so that finally there is a course agenda which just falls out. Students can then use the activities to achieve the desired objectives. Important to get students involved in reflecting on what they are learning and how.

First time that I, and I suspect many others, have come across the term ‘dogfooding’, using what you have developed yourself so that you are most aware of issues with it. A quick gallop through his recent research which was too interesting to type to, so…. Very skimpy notes indeed…

Development of technology is key but the need to facilitate the understanding and use of that technology is even more important. How courses are designed is now affected by the fact that we can observe activity use in real time.

Concluded with how important it is to remain in a middle space. In life, there is a choice between 2 paths. Simply survive or face the reality and let practitioners drive the design and adoption of learning analytics tools. Yay! I can only agree with that one…


About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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