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Notes from C-SAP conference

Page history last edited by Helen Jones 14 years, 7 months ago



The C-SAP annual conference “Roles, Rights and Responsibilities” took place on 25-27th November in Birmingham. It was great to see most of the project partners there – and for those of you who did not have a chance to join us, we’re posting our notes from the conference and inviting others to jot down theirs.


Dissemination events


During the conference there were a number of opportunities to disseminate information about C-SAP OER project work-in-progress. The first one was the e-learning Special Interest Group meeting on Thursday 26th November, where we talked about the C-SAP e-learning scoping survey and the OER project. We also distributed the checklist for re-purposing OERs (which is part of development activity) and used it as a prompt for discussion among workshop participants. Unfortunately our project consultant, Richard Pountney was unable to make it and had to cancel his paper on OERs and the social sciences curriculum. Instead, we used his slot to present a paper on the C-SAP OER project. As the focus of the session was on rights and responsibilities, in our paper we commented on costs and benefits of OERs when viewed as a form of “free education” (you can see an earlier version of the conference presentation here). Finally, we also used the poster events on Wednesday and Thursday evening to spread the word about the project.


From the feedback we received at these events, you will be pleased to know that a lot of people were excited about the project and about the prospect of the toolkit. Thus, you can rest assured that the work you are undertaking on behalf of the project is quite novel and of interest to the social sciences community. In the words of one of the SIG meeting attendees “I thought I was quite savvy about e-learning, but today I had my eyes open to a completely new world”.


Some questions  arising from the conference encounters

Furthermore, in the course of all these events, a number of interesting questions were raised and we believe it might be useful to start reflecting on some of them amongst ourselves. You will find some of these questions below – feel free to add your questions/comments to that list!



  • How do we ensure that in the process of re-purposing e-learning resources we do not lose the more “personal” aspects of teaching? For instance, if we have teaching materials which have been developed with a very particular group of students in mind, how do we make sure that these materials can be reusable without losing what makes them unique?



  • Does e-learning – and by extension, open educational resources – create an environment where interactions become disembodied and we lose the interpersonal element of teaching?



  • How do we address the concerns that the drive of institutions (such as JISC, HEA etc.) to release open educational resources is merely about creating a “shopping window” experience for potential students? Especially in the context of discourses which increasingly place students in the role of consumers?



  • What exactly are the benefits of sharing your materials and your pedagogic practice? Do the benefits outweigh the potential risks?

Comments (14)

Richard Pountney said

at 7:52 am on Dec 2, 2009

Agree with these - and perhaps we need to note the concerns that (to paraphrase) in offering up what we teach we lose something in oursleves about who we are as teachers.These concerns are often expressed as fears that we will be 'no longer needed'. One way of addressing this is to emphasis (as we are in this project) that the materials are a) situated in their origin and b) will become re-situated in new contexts and c) it is this process that our approach is addressing.

Helen Jones said

at 5:24 pm on Dec 14, 2009

I agree Richard - re-situated and re-purposed means that the new user adds back in the personal element which means that the materials take on a vibrancy again rather than being flatten artifacts.

Àngels Trias i Valls said

at 1:02 pm on Dec 15, 2009

I agree with both.

Maybe it is an issue of language here, I feel there is a tendency to think of teaching encounters as 'unique', but maybe it is best said that a succesful teaching outcome does not have to be 'unique' but, as with Richard, it needs to be situated. I think, for us, the wiki works well in 'situating' and indicating practice. I think the more we can engage with the wiki, the better it will be in re-creating past and possible types of situating the courses and materials to address Richard's 'c' point.

I like Helen's analogy to the flatten artifacts -and how materials take vibrancy again. I think it is an image really well found.

This made me think of one thing, the well-known Wesch youtube anthropology presentation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU the videoing of the powerpoint, whilst filming the presentation, is a good strategy and I would welcome something similar -shorter, perhpas than the Wesch presentation. Also, could we create a good showcase of the wiki and youtube it?

Àngels Trias i Valls said

at 1:22 pm on Dec 15, 2009

Does e-learning – and by extension, open educational resources – create an environment where interactions become disembodied and we lose the interpersonal element of teaching?

Disembodiment is not a problem, rituals and other social practices that are known for creating disembodiement, manage, precisely because of it, to be forms of learning.

I think we may over-worry - I certainly do- about this feeling of 'loosing' and being 'interpresonal' when, it is people using this materials that will re-personalise and give new meanings. The lesson from rituals (as learning venues), however, is that these moments of de-personalisation and disembodiment need to be connected to some form of emotional memories for these to be 'vibrant' again for the participants.

It may seem like a strange way of looking at this, it may be too far for some to use this anthropological perspective on emotions and learning, but I believe that online media, effective online media -from viral youtube videos to popular online resources (wikipedia) succeed in being part of a larger learning experience -imput from the users- when there is an emotional connection -games are good aid, for example.

I think if we can make the new user connect, in the sense of an emotional connection, with the whole process -Wesch demonstrated this very well. Keith Hart in his recent article on Wesch explains how after his videos, staff and students started asking him when they could take his module on digital anthropology, to discover there was no such module! -they created a group in the meantime. He is a good example of someone who connected 'emotions' with the learning process using a mesh of existing materials he then re-used and made them in Helen's words, 'vibrant' again.

Àngels Trias i Valls said

at 1:28 pm on Dec 15, 2009

How do we address the concerns that the drive of institutions (such as JISC, HEA etc.) to release open educational resources is merely about creating a “shopping window” experience for potential students? Especially in the context of discourses which increasingly place students in the role of consumers?

This is a very important and large question. I wonder if we could start a thread on it? -maybe where we could answer them separately? -rather than 'as comments'?

We ought to address it in the wiki, and I would like it if could show the strenght of our disciplines in addressing these issues

Richard Pountney said

at 5:26 pm on Dec 17, 2009

I am reminded of a discussion with a colleague I team teach with. Having taught the same module together and preparing to teach it for the third year running we wondered if our teaching was getting stale. This alarmed us as we were very pleased with the student feedback and engagement so far on the learning experience - what we have come to call a pedagogy of participation based loosely around a community of practice. My colleague turned to me and said: 'The trouble is our pedagogy is becoming our curriculum'.

What he meant by this was that the dynamic elements of interaction with students (letting the discussion go where it might, setting 'snares and traps' in the learning activities to provoke insight around dealing with misunderstanding, drawing on learners own contexts, drawing on dreams and imaginings) were becoming second nature - and we were beginning to inhabit an anticipated space with anticipated learners, rather than living in the pedagogic moment with learning as it presented itself. This projection into 'learning and teaching that is yet to happen' seems to us the very snare we were hoping to avoid. We were working on the basis that an antidote to this may be what Donald Schon calls reflection in action (misinterpreted by many who understand reflective practice to be a type of disconnected nostalgia). This is what we would call our theory in use ... (continued)

Richard Pountney said

at 5:27 pm on Dec 17, 2009

But what happened was that we were polishing a repertoire of teaching and learning 'moves' that were at origin highly situated and in flux. Teaching was becoming a formula.

I mention this because the premise that you can take a set of resources and intentions and re-situate them is very dubious. They are embedded in a number of ways. What we aim to do in this project is to examine the context for the materials - the context they started in - and try to establish some of the factors in this. I would call this a kind of situational analysis, and the elicitation of these elements as a mapping. The purpose of this is to reveal this to ourselves, but also to enable others to examine this and to be able to re-contextualise this for themselves. Whether curriculum is content (with its emphasis on teaching as technique) or whether is is process (emphasis on learning as skill) could be fundamental here to what we are trying to do.

Helen Jones said

at 2:20 pm on Dec 18, 2009

I came to the wiki to look for guidelines on how to assess the materials and I've been sucked into a fascinating debate instead!! Angels, I didn't know about the Wesch youtube anthropology video and I've now spent an hour watching it and the last 10 minutes sharing it with people who I think will be interested. Richard, I've also had this experience of the pedagogy 'becoming' the curriculum and losing something in the process of 'becoming'. For me, its because it 'became' what I wanted it to be but an authentic learning experience can't just be what the teacher wants it to be - it has to be more than this.

Darren and I recently went to Glasgow to talk to Sociology staff there and one of them said how they like to have control over the learning & assessment she delivers to students. She was concerned that using wikis and blogs would damage that control. I tried to suggest that teaching is a bit like loving - you have to trust enough to set them free to be themselves and achieve their potential. Knowledge is about connecting and sharing (if it is boxed it isn't knowledge) and so our teaching will become stale if we box it up - set it free and see what shape its in when it comes back! (continued)

Helen Jones said

at 2:20 pm on Dec 18, 2009

So I think we are coming from a similar place Richard but coming to different decisions on whether resources can be re-situated. I don't think it is dubious, I think it is very, very possible - look at how the Wesch discussion shows how videos have been re-situated in a host of innovative ways far removed from the original - so I don't think the original context of the learning materials is really so important. I thinking the notion of revealing it to ourselves is valuable - we all could probably do with reflecting on this in our own teaching practice - but there is a danger (is there?) that if we over-state the context then this might hamper how the materials are re-used.

All this is 'top of my head' responses to the above debate and I'm just off now for a departmental management meeting. So I'm writing this just as much to my future self (to re-read and reflect upon) as I am to you (the person who is reading this now). I'm just as likely to change my mind as to agree with myself later - so feel free to agree or disagree, add, comment, challenge - feed my intellectual curiosity!

Helen Jones said

at 2:27 pm on Dec 18, 2009

Also - just before I go to my meeting - are you familiar with Prezi - Darren showed it to me on Wednesday and it is a pretty good way of creating Flash presentations instead of PPT - here is one that took me about 30 minutes to make yesterday

Àngels Trias i Valls said

at 3:27 pm on Dec 18, 2009

Hey, just looke at the Prezie! I will be using it for sure!

Dave Harris said

at 5:51 pm on Dec 18, 2009

A couple of stray points really...the descriptions of face-to-face teaching sounded really good, and colleagues are clearly able to engage students. I fear I am not so good, and so for me priorities are reversed somewhat - it is the electronic material that students find engaging. Face to face is too risky ( they prefer to operate as did the students in Bourdieu et al 'Academic Discourse, happily attending face to face sessions ritualistically, as long as they were not actually asked to participate). Also, if you have a spoiled identity ( too old, too large, say) face-to-face intropduces all sort sof unwelcome emotions and subjectivity.
Now on Prezi -- lovely novelty value I find, but I am working on trying to use it to do things it seems to model physically --zooming in and out helps illustrate surface/depth metaphors, for example. A zoomed out shot of joined up nodes can also illustrate a concept map of an area ( although I haven't been able to get it to try alternative paths). Any other ideas?

Helen Jones said

at 7:24 pm on Dec 18, 2009

Hey Dave - don't underestimate the impact of 'gravitas enhanced identities' (my version of 'spoiled identites')!

Dave Harris said

at 11:53 am on Dec 19, 2009

I am comfortable in my own body but I constantly encounter the difference between discussing 'f2f' in the abstract and discussing with real faces (and bodies) using my real face (and body). Reading too much Bourdieu, probably. I agree sometimes it works in my favour, and helps me look suitably 'professorial', but sometimes the generational differences between us intrude in an unhelpful way too. I must say I am equally uneasy about realizing that readers and users of e-learning might be constructing fantasy avatars of me, of various kinds!

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