Hannah Wright has an interesting study on cognitive advantages of programming, which she finds are similar to those of bilinguals:
The performance of 10 professional computer programmers (aged 22–25) and 10 adolescent computer programmers (aged 14–17) is compared to age-matched and IQ-matched controls in two executive control tasks. In the Attention Networks Test, as predicted, programmers recorded faster global reaction times than their monolingual peers; the difference was significant. In the Stroop colour-word task, programmers recorded slower reaction times; however, these results were not significant. Overall, the results suggest that extensive computer programming experience may, like bilingualism, be associated with enhanced executive control. Whatever the direction of this relationship, it could have important implications for education; these are discussed, along with areas for future research.
Hannah is very cautious about her results, and is well aware of the difference between correlation and causation. Nevertheless, this does warrant further investigation. In fact, here is one area of educational research where pre- and post- tests would be meaningful. And, I wonder if there’s a case for a cognitive neuroscience perspective? Yes, surely coding changes your brain – just like any tennis, or any activity you practice regularly. The question is, how?
Another perspective (personal plug – Mor & Noss 2008) is that programming creates mental bridges between mathematics and narrative. Narrative, as Bruner showed, is the means by which we organise experience into meaning. As Hirsh, Mar & Peterson argue: “A growing body of theory and research indicates that the broadest and most integrative levels of an individual’s knowledge system can be characterized as narrative descriptions of reality”. For example, Mar (2011) shows a strong link between narrative comprehension and theory of mind – our core mechanism of social cognition.
What has all this to do with Mathematics? Very little, and that’s the problem. Most people find mathematics hard to grasp, precisely because it is de-narratised. Wittgenstein said “Mathematics is invented to suit experience and then made independent of experience”, stripped of person, time, context – all the elements that make a narrative. The pure perfection of maths is the source of its power, but it leave our narrative apparatus nothing to latch on to.
And this is where coding comes in. Code is narrative in form, but mathematics in essence. A wolf in sheep’s skin. It tells a story, but that story has no tolerance for ambiguity or error. By putting our picture of the world into code, we tell a story – and in doing so construct meaning – but that story is mathematical.
Hirsh, J. B.; Mar, R. A. & Peterson, J. B. (in press), ‘Personal narratives as the highest level of cognitive integration’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences. http://www.yorku.ca/mar/hirsh%20et%20al%20in%20press_BBS%20commentary%20on%20Clark.pdf
Mar, R. (2011), ‘The neural bases of social cognition and story comprehension’, Annual review of psychology 62 , 103-134, http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/b8bKtPdBRtrMBKFacmYd/full/10.1146/annurev-psych-120709-145406
Mor, Yishay and Noss, Richard (2008). Programming as mathematical narrative. International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning (IJCEELL), 18(2), pp. 214–233. http://oro.open.ac.uk/30344/
My Phd, made practical: “SNaP! Re-using, sharing and communicating designs and design knowledge using scenarios, narratives and patterns”
Mor, Yishay (2013). SNaP! Re-using, sharing and communicating designs and design knowledge using scenarios, narratives and patterns. In: Luckin, Rose; Goodyear, Peter; Grabowski, Barbara and Winters, Niall eds. Handbook of Design in Educational Technology. London: Routledge, (In press).
In order to enable a culture of critical, informed and reflective design practice we need a linguistic framework for communicating design knowledge: the knowledge of the characteristic features of a domain of practice, the challenges which inhabit it, and the established methods of resolving them. Such an infrastructure must “serve two masters”; on one hand, it should adhere to the requirements of scientific rigor, ensuring that the proposed conditions and challenges are genuine and the solutions effective. On the other hand, it should maintain pragmatic adequacy, ensuring that the insights it encapsulates are readily available for practitioners to implement in real-world situations. Several representations have been proposed to this effect: design narratives (Mor, 2011; Barab et al, 2008; Bell, Hoadley and Linn, 2004; Hoadley, 2002; Linn & Hsi, 2000), design principles (Kali, 2006, 2008; Linn, Bell, & Davis, 2004; Merrill, 2002; Quintana et al., 2004; van den Akker, 1999), and design patterns (Derntl & Motschnig-Pitrik, 2005; Goodyear, 2005; Mor & Winters, 2007; Retalis et al, 2006), to name a few. The aim of this chapter is to characterise two of these forms – design narratives and design patterns, and propose a third form – design scenarios, and suggest how these could be embedded in a cycle of reflective learning design.
All this is very well, except it does nothing more than to reproduce, at the level of architecture, the usual split between subjective and objective dimensions that has always paralyzed architectural theory—not to mention the well known split it has introduced between the architectural and engineering professions (and not to mention the catastrophic consequences it has had on philosophy proper).The paradoxical aspect of this division of labor envisioned by those who want to add the “lived” dimensions of human perspective to the “objective” necessities of material existence is that, in order to avoid reducing humans to things, they first had to reduce things to drawings.
The OU’s Innovating Pedagogy report seems to be generating a lot of interest.
In case you haven’t seen it yet:
The series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation.
The first report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education:
Cross posted from http://www.olds.ac.uk/development-blog/aggregationrumination:
I’ve been thinking about Martin Hawksey’s excellent post “Show me your aggregation architecture and I’ll show you mine“. Martin surveys some 14 MOOCs (or, to be precise, cMOOCs) and compares their aggregation mechanisms. Theoretically, MOOCs are about making connections between learners’ independent journeys, and synergising the resources and insights they bring. If you have hundreds of participants or more – that needs some machinery to make it happen.There’s a wide range of social technologies in the bag (flickr, twitter, facebook, lots of google groups) but only two RSS aggregators stand out: FeedWordPress and gRSShopper. The first is a wordpress plugin, so obviously only works if you choose wordpress as your platform (and have your own installation, rather than a wordpress.com or institutional one). The second requires root access to a web server. The sourceforge page cites 4 downloads, so I suspect its used mainly by its creators.Martin seems to suggests we need a robust aggregation technology for MOOCs, and I agree. I’d also like to suggest the kind of activity it needs to support:Nomination: you run a MOOC, I participate. I want to propose a feed for you to aggregate. you can accept the feed automatically, manually, or by public vote (e.g. it has 3 people to speak for it).Aggregation: harvest the posts from a large group of feeds and display them in a way that I can easily sift through and find the stuff I’m interested. e.g., let me navigate by tags / keywords / most liked.Curation: I want to select items from aggregator brought in, and compose a new item from them. Storify style.Correlation: I want to find and display links between items. “Joe says A, Ann says B. But Ali links the two in a surprising way.”And – I want it all with zero install. Ideally, as a platform independent embeddable component.
✢ Call for Participation ✢
Teacher-led Inquiry and Learning Design: The Virtuous Circle
A hands-on research workshop at the
Alpine Rendez-Vous 2013 scientific event
January, 28 – February, 1st 2013
Villard‐de‐Lans, Vercors, French Alps
The Workshop at-a-glance
“TILD” is a practice-centred, hands-on workshop focused two key areas of Educational Science: Teacher-led Inquiry and Learning Design. Participants from all areas of research and practice (teachers, researchers, school leaders, etc.) are welcome.
Requirements: Expression of interest registration and a position paper of 2 pages
Outputs: (tbd) peer-reviewed journal issue, open-access journal, book, website, joint research proposals
Register NOW: Register your expression of interest on the workshop website
31 August 2012: Position Paper submission deadline. Submit using EasyChair: https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=tildarv2013
Mid-September: Attendees invited:
28 January 2013: Workshop begins!
The Alpine Rendez-Vous
The Alpine Rendez-Vous (ARV) is an established atypical scientific event focused on Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). The ARV series of events are promoted by TELEARC and EATEL associations. The goal of the Alpine Rendez-Vous is to bring together researchers from the different scientific communities doing research on Technology-Enhanced Learning, in a largely informal setting, away from their workplace routines. ARV is structured as a set of independent parallel workshops located at the same time in the same place. Workshops last two to three days each, half of the workshops taking place in the first part of the week and the other half in the second part, possibly with a “common day” in the middle. The Alpine Rendez-Vous of 2013 will take place from January 28th to February 1st, in Villard-de-Lans, a village in the middle of Vercors. Snow is used as “social facilitator”: the schedule includes slots to enjoy ski and outdoor activities. Breaks and meals are organized in a way that promotes informal encounters between participants from the different workshops. Participants will be able to enjoy Alpine and Nordic skiing and other activities, (see http://www.villarddelans.com). The Rendez-Vous will be hosted at Grand Hôtel de Paris where special rates have been negotiated.
The Workshop on Teacher-led Inquiry and Learning Design
This workshop is situated at the intersection of two fields of Educational Science; Learning Design (LD) and Teacher-led Inquiry into Student Learning (TISL). Learning Design is the act of devising new practices, plans of activity, resources and tools aimed at achieving particular educational aims in a given situation (Agostinho et al, 2011; Craft & Mor, forthcoming). It is informed by subject knowledge, pedagogical theory, technological know-how, and practical experience. At the same time, it also can engender innovation in all these areas and support learners in their efforts and aims. Teacher-led Inquiry into Student Learning is an approach to pedagogic practice and continuing professional development, within which the teacher applies systematic and rigorous methods to the evaluation of student learning in relation to teachers’ practices in order to improve learning design (Kelly, 2003). It places the teacher at the centre of a dynamic process of goal setting, analysis planning, analysis execution, reflection and communication (Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D., 2003). There is a critical need for synergy between these areas.LD, to be effective, should be informed and evaluated by teacher inquiry, or, indeed should ideally be a process of inquiry. TISL, to be meaningful, should support optimising the design of activities and resources. The objectives of this workshop are to establish a new strand of research aimed at the synergy of Learning Design and Teacher-led Inquiry, to solidify its theoretical foundations, to propose new methods, tools, and representations which support research and practice.
Three concepts will be at the centre of the theoretical discussion: context, practice, and change. Examples and use of these will be explored during the workshop along topical strands. The topics will include:
● Articulating the relationships between Learning Design and Teacher-led Inquiry by capturing the learning context, epistemic and pedagogical practice, and models of change.
● Exploring methods to support educational innovation though Learning Design and Teacher-led Inquiry, and identifying ways to link them more closely through tools and representations
● Establishing a culture of practitioner design inquiry in which educators use the representations, methodologies and tools above to sustain scientifically informed creative practices in their professional context.
The workshop will enrich conversations about both Learning Design and Teacher-led Inquiry by bringing together new perspectives and will explore how the different communities can learn from each other. It brings together teachers and researchers seeking to articulate the key concepts and who wish to develop a shared understanding that will engage and inform other practitioners.
This timely workshop is grounded in the fertile soil of two key knowledge domains (LD and TISL) and facilitates much-needed cross-fertilisation between them. Specifically, we aim to:
● Establish a new area of research in Education, synergizing LD and TISL, and focusing on context, practice and change
● Network to build a new community around this research theme
● Produce 5-6 draft papers for a special journal issue
● Potential for new significant research grant proposals
● Archive the work outputs from the workshop activities as a useful resource to other practitioners
You will need to submit a 2 page position paper, as specified below. Submissions will be peer-reviewed, as places are limited. Submissions should focus on the themes of representation and manipulation of context, practice and change in learning and teaching. We will consider four categories:
● Research reports - an account of innovative research at advanced stage
● Demos of tools for supporting the above
● Synergy propositions - drawing on existing literature, identifying gaps and points of intersection, and proposing cross-overs
● Research proposals - arguing for the need and viability of new research initiatives
Contributions will be selected by the organizers on the basis of individual quality of the papers and the overall balance and coherence of the programme. The selected papers will be uploaded to a shared repository and participants will be asked to review their peers’ contributions and identify possible links prior to the workshop. These potential links will be posted for review and discussion and will inform the workshop activities. There is no standar format for submissions.
We are looking into funding options, but these will be limited. If you wish to be considered for support please indicate so in the expression of interest form. However, until further notice, all participants should assume that they must provide their own funding.
Expression of interest should be registered on to workshop website (http://www.ld-grid.org/workshops/design-inquiry2013) as soon as possible. Short (2-3 pages) Position Paper submissions should be made to EasyChair by 31 August 2012.
The workshop is a collaborative initiative of the NEXT-TELL research project (http://next-tell.eu) and the “Inquiry of Design for Learning” project at the Open University Institute of Educational Technology (http://iet.open.ac.uk/).
Davinia Hernández-Leo email@example.com
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
Katerina Avramides firstname.lastname@example.org
Institute of Education, London, UK
Rose Luckin email@example.com
Institute of Education, London, UK
Gabriele Cierniak firstname.lastname@example.org
Knowledge Media Research Center, Tuebingen, Germany
Barbara Wasson email@example.com
Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen
Thomas C. Reeves firstname.lastname@example.org
College of Education, The University of Georgia
Susan McKenney email@example.com
Learning & Cognition Group, Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC), the Open University of the Netherlands and the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences at Twente University
Karen Littleton firstname.lastname@example.org
Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology, the Open University, UK
Patricio G. Herbst email@example.com
School of Education; Department of Mathematics, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan, US
Thomas Ryberg firstname.lastname@example.org
E-Learning Lab, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark
Agostinho, S.; Bennett, S.; Lockyer, L. & Harper, B. (2011), ‘The future of learning design’, Learning, Media and Technology 36(2), 97-99.
Beetham, H. & Sharpe, R. (2007), Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age, Routledge, New York, NY, 10001.
Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2003). Teacher Inquiry Defined. In The reflective educator’s guide to classroom research (pp. 1–11). Thousand Oaks,CA: Corwin Pr.
Kelly, A. E. (2003). Research as design. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 3-4.
Koper, R. (2006), ‘Current Research in Learning Design’, Educational Technology & Society 9(1), 13-22.
Laurillard, D. (2012), Chapter 1: Teaching as a design science, in Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. , Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
I’ve been asked to revise the Grand Challenge Problem I proposed at the STELLAR Alpine Rendez-vous. At this point, I’ve been asked to provide a new summary. So here is what I produced:
Current technology offers us access to rapidly expanding riches of high-quality, low-cost learning resources in any topic we wish to engage with. This calls for a shift in the role of educators: from providers of knowledge to designers of learning experiences. Design, in this context, should be seen as a grounded rigorous creative process of perpetual educational innovation: grounded in a well-defined concrete context of practice, rigorous in its attention to scientific evidence and pedagogical theory, and creative in its approach to generating new solutions to educational challenges. A design attitude should be reflected in the production of new resources, as well as in effective configuration and customisation of existing ones. The call for such a repositioning of educators is heard from leaders in the field of TEL and resonates well with the growing culture of design-based research in education. Yet, it is still struggling to find a foothold in educational practice.
To address this discrepancy, we need to establish an open culture of Learning Design in TEL. Such a culture requires a set of common practices, supported by appropriate representations of design knowledge in education, and the tools to manipulate such representations. It needs the capacity to develop a common language and make this language accessible to the widest possible audience. Such a language, and the related media of interaction, should allow experts and novices to extract design knowledge from experience, articulate it in a coherent manner, connect, combine and manipulate it, and use it to resolve new challenges. This language should be supported by appropriate tools and community spaces, which will streamline the process of constructing, validating and utilising design knowledge, making it open, accessible and transparent. It cannot be a uniform, centralised entity – but needs to allow for a diversity of discourse by establishing a set of open protocols and standards over which an open process of massively collaborative knowledge building can thrive. This process needs to be embedded in the culture of the professional community.
Thus, we pose the following grand challenge: how do we create a platform for open, live, malleable, dynamic representation of design knowledge in TEL, supporting collaborative processes of design for learning, learning to design, and learning by design. Such a platform could promote the emergence of a new culture of educational practice, in which expertise is rapidly and effectively shared, critiqued and aggregated. It will provide for the wide proliferation of cost-effective and robust educational practices, making effective use of technological advances as they appear. However, such a culture will not be instigated simply by the existence of the right tools and representations. The existing learning design community needs to engage in a massive project of professional development, driving a new perception of educational profession, as a rigorous creative practice of perpetual innovation. The principles underlying the learning design approach, the practices reifying those principles, and the methodological framework binding those together need to be made explicit and communicated to the widest audience possible.
Together with Christian Glahn and Gill Clough, I’m co-chairing the workshops & tutorials at mLearn 2012. Looking forward to your proposals!
Call for Workshops and Tutorials
Mobile technologies are a vibrantly developing and constantly create new challenges for education and learning in a wide range of contexts and settings. In conjunction with the 11th International Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning (mLearn 2012) in Helsinki, Finland we are delighted to announce the unique opportunity for holding a limited number of scientific workshops and practice-oriented tutorials on mobile and contextual learning. This provides a forum for special interest groups to exchange experiences and for experts disseminate best practices in the community of mobile and contextual learning.
Parties interested to organize a workshop are asked to submit a proposal of max. 3 pages outlining the theme of the workshop, workshop format, expected participants and domains addressed, dissemination activities, programme committee, and organizational requirements.
Parties interested to organize a tutorial are asked to submit a 2-page proposal that outlines the tutorial’s objectives, the target audience, and the format.
Both workshops and tutorials are organized as half- or full-day events on the day before the conference. Submissions for workshops and tutorials need to indicate if they are planned for a half or a full-day time-slot.
All submissions will be evaluated and selected based on their quality and the relation to the overall conference theme.
Workshop and tutorial organizers and participants are expected to register with the mLearn 2012 conference. No extra charges will be applied for the workshops.
The mLearn 2012 Workshop and Tutorial Chairs
- Christian Glahn (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland)
- Yishay Mor (The Open University, UK)
- Gill Clough (The Open University, UK)
- Workshop Proposals: Max. 3 Pages
- Tutorial Proposals: Max. 2 Pages
- Full Call for Papers available for download
- Submission template available for download
- Deadline for Submissions: 30 April 2012
- Notification of acceptance: 14 May 2012
- Last date of early-bird registration: 26 July 2012
- Workshop and Tutorials day: 16 October 2012
- Main Conference: 17-18 October 2012
A couple of weeks ago Daniel Spikol visited my mLearning class. My students prepared a presentation, outlining their projects. I asked for their permission to share it with the world. Comments are very, very welcome. I promise to pass them on:
(I tried to embed the presentation, but the plugin doesn’t seem to work, so you can watch the presentation here)