Heutagogy, Emergent, Ambient (1)
This is the first of three posts looking at developing the heutagogic qualities of the Open Context Model of Learning into the Emergent Learning Model and from that examining the possibilities of building an Ambient Learning City in Manchester. I start by looking at what Heutagogy might tell us about teaching in the 21st Century.
The Salford Method; Using the time-shifting mechanisms available to us all in iWorld I recently gave a Philosophy Phriday talk on a Tuesday in the Salford Think Pod called Heutagogy & The Craft of Teaching. Cristina Costa kindly invited me to give the first talk in the Salford Method series, partly to answer David Roberts’ interest in all things Heutagogy. I give my Learner Generated Contexts interpretation on this here, but you might also want to read Stewart Hase on From Andragogy to Heutagogy. Heutagogy is a key element of the Open Context Model of Learning, which this blog is about so, partly because of the audience in Salford and partly to follow on from the iPED 2010 talk (The Open Context Model and the Craft of Teaching), I have chosen to refine how heutagogy might help us rethink the practice of teaching. Since our iPED talk in September I have also had time to further reflect on the innovative work of Paul Lowe as a ‘technology steward’, in developing his MA in Photojournalism, and Thomas Cochrane’s use of the PAH Continuum to help ‘Bridge Learning Contexts’ on his B.Sc in Product Design at Unitec in New Zealand.
In the Open Context Model of Learning we argue that Pedagogy, Andragogy and Heutagogy are usually associated with a single sector of education but that, in our view, they can be incorporated dynamically into learning on any subject in any context by simultaneously promoting; subject understanding, negotiation and creativity (within agreed but varying parameters). We also argue that it is an approach that is ideal for supporting a co-creation learning model whilst also providing guidance to teachers on how to effect this. In this post I want to analyse the role of teaching in the co-creation of learning in a little more detail.
Why Heutagogy? Why Craft?
Why Heutagogy? Heutagogy, arguably the ability to play with form and question existing structures, is usually related to the teaching of Art in Art School. The best discussion of this as a learning model is in the first 200 pages of Remake/Remodel where Michael Bracewell discusses the development of Art Education in the UK post-war, especially in the 1950s & 60s, and the emergence of Brian Eno as its finest achievement of its obsession with Pop.
Whilst recognising the value of playing with form that an Art Education offers, in the Open Context Model we are more concerned with using heutagogic strategies to develop the quality of ‘epistemic cognition;’ arguably that process concerned with thinking about new knowledge. This is because we are trying to develop a process of learning that is appropriate for a post web 2.0 Knowledge-based society where the ‘web is a platform’ (O’Reilly) or an ‘emergent platform’ (Steven Johnson) that can support innovation and knowledge creation. The Open Context Model, with its concern to incorporate heutagogic creativity into digital habitats, is designed to have these qualities.
Why Craft? Teaching is a profession, which I believe works best when based on a Community of Practice model; it is a craft to be learnt in practice over time. Teachers, as professionals, need to master their craft as they put in the 10,000 hours (Richard Sennett) that they, arguably, need to become effective teachers capable of supporting learning in a range of changing contexts. For the purposes of this discussion I will define teaching as the ability to ‘craft a purposeful learning process between the teacher, the learner, the available resources and the context in which that learning takes place.’ or perhaps ‘designing learning contexts.’ In the evolving Digital Habitats in which this occurs the focus of this is on tools and skills. The question here is, what tools and what skills and, as James Dalziel said in designing LAMS, does the pedagogy drive the technology or do the tools dictate the skills being used?
Teaching as Brokering
So let’s look at pedagogy first. For various reasons as a practicing teacher I never believed that good teaching was simply a process of imparting subject knowledge. After a few years practice I thought it was about motivating learners to follow what excited them, what Ken Robinson describes as discovering ‘the element’ that makes their learning ‘organic’ To make this happen I realised that as an ‘education professional’ I needed to think of myself not as an expert, or a sage, or even a facilitator, but as a broker between learners interests and the measurable ‘learning outcomes’ I was paid to deliver. This is easy enough to say but takes real work to achieve as you need to be involved with developing the syllabus that you teach. Whilst this is the default position in the USA, where I started teaching, it is less usual in the UK. Nonetheless it can be achieved in various ways, even if only at the course review stage. For our purposes I will simply summarise what I see as the key factors in turning teaching professionals into Learning Brokers;
a) Writes the syllabus & develops the learning process; get engaged in defining the syllabus you will deliver and the ‘Learning and Teaching’ strategies you will use to deliver it.
b) Enable learners to follow the ‘interests’ that motivate them; once you have acquired the experience you need to build a distinct relationship with everyone you ‘teach’ The greatest area of flexibility emerges once you identify which interests best motivates different learners.
c) Supports & facilitate collaborative learning; learning is a social process and once you have freed up the motivational drivers in learners you need to support the groups and group learning processes which will eventually enable them to become more self-directed in their learning.
d) Allows creative assessments to be developed; this takes us back to teacher-led discussions about which form the necessary learning outcomes can be structured for assessment purposes to better enable the engagement of individual learners in the ‘products’ of their learning. (John Davitt’s Learning Events Generator for example.)
Cumulatively these elements both; free up learning pathways to more closely map to learners interests and enable learners to understand the framework in which their learning will be interpreted and assessed. Then, at best, it puts them in charge of their learning and ‘front-loads’ the learning process for the teacher.
Teaching with Learning Technology;
However good the teacher becomes as a broker once new technologies enter the picture the learning process begins to change. In 1997 I created a Unit called Information Systems in Society validated by Greenwich University which used a blended learning model which treated the Web as a Resource. It became obvious very quickly that I had to design for new learning skills; learners needed to be able to plan their learning, to search for and evaluate the resources they found, and then discuss them and moderate those discussions. I also designed for collaboration so that they also needed to support and guide other learner’s research and discussions; then review the outcomes. They needed new literacies, as they were becoming their own research librarians, and appropriate netiquette as they worked and discussed collaboratively.
As a teacher I was developing the ability to design learning and I needed to take account of the affordances of the new tools I was deploying in this emerging landscape of learning. In the USA at San Diego State University Bernie Dodge responded by asking his teacher training students “Is browsing learning?” When they answered YES! he developed Web Quests treating the Web as a resource that you browsed to support learning, and developing new ways of assessing that learning (the rubric). As the Web enabled the Internet to become more diverse, less geeky and scientific, its use became more generalised. And as a consequence its communicative characteristics enabled a lot of fresh thinking about learning to take place. One of which was thinking of teachers as working best in a collaborative and supportive Community of Practice (COP) built around subject cohorts; sharing their professional concerns and the resources that they both discovered and developed. We built the TaLENT ICT Literacy for Teachers Project around this model (which lasted from 1998-2010). Not only was this built around a CoP model it used a ‘Community Grid for Learning’ platform to share learning resources, further enabling this supportive professionalism. Teaching and learning practice was changing but new technology tools were now tending to driving the teaching skill set.
Technology-enabled Informal Learning.
I spent the next few years working on developing what was labelled in the recent 2010 EPIC e-learning debate at the Oxford Union Technology-enabled Informal Learning. Designing learning resources, whether formal, non-formal or formal, foregrounds pedagogic issues and makes failure interesting and rewarding. You have to make assumptions about teaching and learning and test them out in practice, whilst realising that ‘interface design’ is just as important as navigation and content. In the Metadata for Community Content project we were designing informal e-learning. We carried out some joint research with both LTRI and some community e-learning specialists like Ian Harford from (learners.org) and Ronan O’Beirne from Shipley Online (who coined the phrase ‘context is queen’). A key aspect of this work was the ‘Digital Divide Content Debate’ held with the US CTCnet and developers at (contentbank.org). The conclusion of this was that socially inclusive e-learning required Tools & Skills rather than any specific learning content that might act as a silver bullet. It was the collaborative affordances of the tools that drove learning. These communicative, collaborative qualities meant that learning occurred discursively as resources were worked through. The ‘learning affordances’ of the Web were increasingly participatory. But as Web 2.0 emerged the ‘Tools & Skills’ model was driven more by new tools than any fresh thinking about learning. Whilst O’Reilly defined Web 2.0 as a Platform the permanent beta nature of its qualities proved challenging educationally.
Learner Generated Contexts;
However many people were using the challenge of a permanent beta world to rethink learning and the Learner-Generated Contexts Group (LGC) were one, defining learning as a “Coincidence of Motivations leading to Agile Configuration. We started with Rose Luckin’s Ecology of Resources idea which posits that many ‘More Able Partners support learning,’ not unlike Sugata Mitra’s Grannies. As we came together as a team who built a Facebook for Learning a year before Facebook appeared (2004) we were very concerned with the social affordances of the Read/Write Web. However Web 2.0 posits that the Web as a Platform is social, the learning consequences of which are that it becomes the Location where we socialise and work. It isn’t just an information resource, nor simply a learning platform, it is also a collaborative work space, where you can hang out with your friends and work at the same time; cool! To the LGC group this is a place to be creative, interactive and participative, and learning needs to be designed to incorporate these affordances. When the OU launched Open Learn we took the opportunity to review how an LGC approach might enable fresh thinking pedagogically in line with this.
Open Context Model of Learning
We need a pedagogy designed to enable the creative, interactive and participative affordances of the social web, but also to be useful in multiple contexts, in classrooms and coffee shops as well; to enable what is now termed Open Education Practice. Inspired by the obuchenie (a shared process of teaching and learning) at the heart of the Ecology of Resources model we knew we had to design for co-creation and link subject-based and self-directed learning as education is rooted in subject disciplines and learning in ‘socialising,’ Perhaps we could have more accurately called ourselves the ‘learning-generated contexts’ group to reflect this co-creation dimension more but the Open Context Model established a clear role for the teacher and a fresh way of thinking about their professional development and skill set. Teachers needed a new skill set if the creative, interactive and participative learning affordances of both dedicated and adapted new learning media were to be realised. Our focus for this was the PAH Continuum.
The PAH Continuum
In 2007 as part of the LSDA Innovation in Learning Project I was involved in interviewing some Star Award winners (David Puttnam’s ‘Teaching Oscars’) to try and understand what made them especially effective and to identify the qualities that made them successful. It seems to take time, around 3/5 years and could perhaps be distilled down to three key factors;
a) the ability to understand how to use their subject for teaching, that is an effective pedagogy
b) to understand how to manage the learning environment they are working in and treat each learner as an individual, that is the andragogy of learning relationships
c) then having learnt how to manage the learning process related to their subject they then their turned control over to their learners, enabling the heutagogy of creativity to kick in
Which takes time, as any craft should, and which we represent like this in the PAH Continuum;
|Locus of Control||Teacher||Teacher/Learner||Learner|
|Education Sector||Schools||Adult Ed||Post-Graduate|
|Cognition Level||Cognition||Meta-Cognition||Epistemic Cognition|
|Knowledge Production Context||Subject Understanding||Process Negotiation||Knowledge Creation|
Skills and Tools
So our view is that the way to respond to the evolving qualities of the Web (resource, platform, location), and also to what Henry Jenkins calls the ‘Participatory Culture’ of new media, is to identify new skill sets that enable teachers and learners to deploy the learning affordances that continually emerge from new media technologies. The exemplary TeachMeet does this dynamically all the time across several countries. Teachers need to understand a broader skill set related to designing and supporting the learning process as well as their own subject knowledge. They need to scaffold learning opportunities and cognitive development, what Steven Johnson calls ‘Mind Wide Open,’ in an age of multiple resources and fractured authority, to broker learning for everybody so that each individual comes to, first, understand, and then direct, their own learning.
Heutagogy and the Craft of Teaching
So what might this skill-driven approach to the use of new learning tools mean in practice? Well here are a number of examples for you to think about how to develop relationships with learners that allow you broker new forms of learning;
* Anthropologist Mike Wesch negotiates the purpose of learning with his students, often in very large class sizes (400!) and arrives at something that motivates them; let’s make a film!
* Professor Ian Cunningham uses a self-managed learning process where he agrees an interest-driven learning contract with each learner, for example at his South Downs Learning Centre
More technologically-driven teachers, who both seeing themselves as Technology Stewards (Etienne Wenger), use technology affordances to work andragogically to negotiate new learning process.
* Photographer Paul Lowe uses Wimba to enable students on his MA in Photo-Journalism at the University of the Arts in London to have learning sessions with the very best professional photographers around the world
* mlearning specialist Thomas Cochrane has used the PAH Continuum to structure an increasingly creative learning process over the four years of the B.A. in Product Design at Unitec, using a Community of Practice approach with his colleagues to embed mlearning use on the degree.
All of the above are using andragogic approaches, that is talking to learners and planning with colleagues, to set up heutagogic opportunities in learning, whilst continuing to meet the core pedagogic requirements of their institutions.
If you also want to get ahead of the curve of change, then look at Caroline Haythornthwaite’s series of Leverhulme Lectures entitled New Forms of Doctorate. In these Caroline analyses new ways of supporting learning and knowledge creation in terms of the network effects of social media on learning, helpfully anticipating their future impact on education.
So as the web evolves simultaneously as resource, platform and location we need teachers to develop their skill set so that they can own the learning process sufficiently to become craft professionals, capable of responding to any new tool that might enable learning, in a fresh, appropriate and relevant manner. Most of all teachers need to understand these elements of their craft;
*how best to deliver their subject understanding,
*how best to build learning relationships,
*how best to enable the co-creation of learning.
*how best to motivate learners with a conversational, participatory approach to learning that can be adapted to a developing range of learning contexts
*how best to act as brokers between the institutional requirements of education and the needs of the learner in our modern, evolving globalised world, enabling them to engage in designing their own learning.
*how best to build participatory learning processes so that we can build a participatory society.
These of course are not uncontested observations but we are happy to discuss them.
If you liked this blog post you might like our slideshare #oer The Craft of Teaching 2011, available to promote and support your own discussions.