Friday, November 25, 2011

Pebble pad presentation - Shane Sutherland

Attended a presentation this morning to CPIT staff on Pebble pad -not an eportfolio - pedagogy, principles and practice by Shane Sutherland, development director.

Shane provided a background on why and how pebblepad was developed and also overview eportfolios. The original premise was to make a easy to use interface , however, this now tweaked and a new version about to be launched. Also, principles of portability followed - allowing students to have continued access to their pebblepad space beyond their studies.

Pebblepad supports creation of eportfolios but is not an eportfolio on it's own, perhaps it is more of a 'personal learning space'. a narrative of learning journey can be archived as it evolves.

eportfolio definition (Sutherland & Powell, 2007)  but important to acknowledge the processes that underly portfolios -- JISC, 2008 - behind any product, or presentation, lie rich complex -----
aka good learning

What makes pebblepad different is to help the reflective learning process using tools - for instance 'thought' - journal, reflective journal, what now?, Kolb's cycle - as a way to encourage the meaning making process.

PLS conceptualised to be a bridge between personally provided and controlled content (facebook etc) and institutionally provided and controlled (LMS). PLS also brings peers, students, tutors together as co-creators of content.

examples of student work at

Overall, a glimpse of possibilities, providing learners with an integrated 'front end'.  It will be interesting to test the newer version of pebble pad as the present version does require some intensively/delibrate practice to learn how to use.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ways of knowing and making knowledge

ways of knowing and making knowledge

Had a day over the long weekend to put into exploring in greater detail, two new books just arrived in the CPIT library. The contents of both books, complement my current reading around 'how trade skills are learnt'. The first book is 'Ways of knowing: new approaches in the anthropology of experience of learning'. published in 2007 and edited by Mark Harris. I had skimmed read this book at the Griffith University library and placed at order at the CPIT library, so good to be able to get back into the interesting chapters. The second book is published 2010 and edited by Trevor Marchand called "Making knowledge: explorations of the indissoluble relation between mind, body and environment'. Both books have common anthropological roots with several chapters written by the same authors.

The above books complement two other books I have been working through. "Knowing work: the social relations of working and knowing", 2009 edited by Markus Weil, Leena Koski and Liv Mjelde and 'Emerging perspectives of workplace learning", 2008 edited by Stephen Billett, Christian Harteis and Anneli Etelapelto. Both have socio-cultural leanings and education backgrounds. In the knowing work book, chapters of interest and relevance include Richard Daly on 'communicating the working knowledge of working life: making visible the invisible' - using the need to decode a totally diagrammic ikea instruction sheet to built a stool, as an example.

In the book 'Emerging perspectives' chapters of relevance include:
Stephen Billett's introduction providing a summary of the purposes of workplace learning.
'Negotiating professional identity' by Katja Vahasantanen and Stephen Billet report on how individuals negotiate identity as vocational teachers in the face of continual top-down directed change.
'Learning through Errors' by Johannes Bauer and Regina Mulder provides an overview of concepts of 'error' and how we can learn from through making mistakes
'Reflection and professional competence' by Martin Gartmeier, Stefanie Kipfmueller, Helmut Heid and Hans Gruber - provides an activity theory and social perspective on processes of learning through reflection
'Developing conceptual knowledge in road transport' by Jason Lewis (avetra paper) is of interest for its exploration of guided learning and its role in helping drivers learn problem solving.

Of the ways of knowing, important chapters are
Trevor Marchand on 'Crafting knowledge: the role of parsing and production' - uses a study of masons in Mali to try to explain how craft people communicate at work with very little verbal interaction.
Greg Downey on 'Seeing with a sideways glance', derived from studies of the Brazilian martial art/dance form capoeira.

Most of the chapters in the 'Making knowledge book' are pertinent.
Trevor Marchand's introductory chapter provides a very good overview, marrying the anthropological findings reported in the book to studies in brain function, cognition, psychology, biology, etc.
His chapter on 'Embodied cognition' extends on the work reported in the 'ways of knowing book' and uses examples from a joinery programme, to again explain how people seem to be able to use bodily movements as a form of conversation, including interjections and agreement.
Of interest are the chapters on embodied learning (Greg Downey), Kazakh women's everyday craft practice (Anna Odland Portisch), Central Slovak lace makers (Nicolette Makovicky), weavers in South India (Soumhya Venkatesan) and medical students learning how to hear heart sounds (Tom Rice).

The challenge over the next couple of years is for to formulate projects that study trades skills learning, bringing together the literature on workplace learning, identity formation, socio-cultural influences with the anthropological literature on human knowledge.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First year apprentices' experiences in the workplace - report now out

The official output from the Ako Aotearoa National project funded "Belonging, becoming and being:First year apprentices' experiences in the workplace" now available on the Ako Aotearoa website.  This project began early 2010 with focus groups and interviews carried out mostly in the middle of 2010 with first year apprentices, pre-trade students and discontinued apprentices.  First year apprentices interviewed were re-contacted at the beginning of this year to find out how they were progressing and the few who had discontinued were then also interviewed.  In all 251 apprentices/students participated with 56 first year apprentices and 34 discontinued apprentices interviewed.  My thanks to all of these apprentices and the Industry training organisations (ITOs) for their support. The seven ITOs, presented various sectors of industry with the AgITO for the primary sector, the Building and construction - BCITO for infrastructure, NZ Marine, Competenz and Joinery ITO for manufacturing and Hairdressing ITO and hospitality standards institute representing the services sector. Apprentices were dairy farm trainees, Gateway students on building sites, building apprentices, boat building and marine engineering apprentices, fitting/turning, fabrication and refrigeration engineering apprentices, joinery apprentices, glazing apprentices, hairdressing apprentices, front of house trainees and cookery apprentices. So some diversity and a wide range of workplaces from small one employer, one apprentice, to large factories employing hundreds and training dozens of apprentices.

The project was an ideal one for me, incorporating and building on some of my learning from my PhD and extending my research skills with a larger cohort of research participants and amount of data. The data collected was extremely rich and much of the raw data was collated into individual reports for each ITO.  Each ITO had developed systems suited to the context they worked in, with many meeting the needs of their apprentices and their employers. As always, there is room to learn and some ITOs had very good practices that could be worthwhile sharing across to other ITOs,

The final report is largely a consolidation of the many themes emerging from the data. The main ones are 'common sense' but are crucial in helping apprentices make sure they have made a studied choice of occupation, settle into the workplace learning environment and maintain resilience and motivation to complete their qualifications. For in completing an apprenticeship, many opportunities for future career development and individual achievement are then made available.

My thanks to Ako Aotearoa for supporting this project as it has provided apprentices with an opportunity to voice their perspectives. The apprenticeship journey is viewed by many as being a 'rite of passage' and for many young people, it is an exciting and rewarding experience. However, for some, workplace and occupational mismatch mean that they discontinue. One interesting finding has been how people who are really interested in an occupation display persistence in trying to meet their 'vocational imagination' goals. So although some discontinue as apprentices, they still maintain connections with the trade either by enrolment in a full-time training programme or by obtaining work in another workplace. Helping people to 'become what they want to become' is an important outcome of this project. As the Chinese saying goes "Choose a job you like, and you never have to work a day in your life" :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Phd journey - reflections

All good things come to an end :) although for me, the continuation of the researcher/academic journey now truly begins. I started tentatively on a Phd in mid-2003 with a preliminary meeting with my associate supervisor and my primary supervisor. After exploring the feasibility of investigating cognitive apprenticeships, I muddled through with the proposal to do a longitudinal study of apprentices. The proposal was accepted in 2005, with the thesis entitled - Belonging, becoming and being bakers: The role and processes of apprenticeship. Data collection began mid-year 2005 and continued to the beginning of 2008 as I collected data in the first, second and third year of apprenticeship. Then, over the next two summers and most Saturdays of 2009 and 2010, the dissertation writing proceeded, with my supervisor Stephen Billett, providing much support as I got to grips with academic writing. Over the beginning of 2011, the final edits were made, interrupted by the Christchurch earthquakes. I submitted in mid-July and the examiners reports, which are very supportive and positive, came through at the end of September. Revisions as required by the Griffith University Chair of examiners came through in October and I submitted these with the accompanying paperwork mid-October. This morning, an email from the post-graduate office confirms all revisions accepted and provided instructions for sending in bound copies of the thesis.

I now use the skills I have learnt over the Phd process on a daily basis. The transition from bakery tutor to researcher has been a long but mostly gradual learning curve. Many of the skills and dispositions of a baker have transported well into becoming a scholar. In particular, the need to

  • Complete adequate preparation – in baking to understand the function of ingredients and to plan the process flow before beginning . In academia, to have sufficient grasp of the relevant literature and to organise one’s argument.
  • Maintain momentum – in baking, many processes are required at timely intervals, hence the need to plan a workable workflow so that processes are spaced out through the shift. In research, there is still a need to establish a realistic timeline and to stick with it. Otherwise, other activities start to take precedent.
  • Keeping at it – diligence and attention to detail are important aspects of baking. This is required to keep track of all the nuances inherent in the baking process. In research, there is also a need carefully and reflectively collect and analyse data and to hone the craft of academic writing. The initial writing is not difficult if one is prepared but fine tuning a piece of writing does take dogged persistence and hard work.
  • Continual learning – consumer demands continually drive the craft of baking. Bakers have to meet ever changing customer demands and this along with the vagaries associated with working with ingredients like flour and yeast, lead to continual learning opportunities. In becoming a researcher, the demands for continual learning are also ever present. There is the need not only to keep up with the literature, but to learn new research methods as projects evolve and new ways have to be found to find answers to research questions. Added to this is the learning required to keep up with technology, including data analysis software and the many ways to now access, evaluate and archive digital literature.
For almost 30 years in baking and teaching baking, I learnt something new each and every day. In becoming a researcher, the same holds true. So the continual learning to meet various challenges are the things that enrich my life and in doing vocational education research, I hope to help contribute to the improvement in the lives of others. So my next goal is to focus on dissemination as research is not much use if only accessible to the few who read academic journals or attend presentations at discipline specific or academic conferences.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

DK on social media for educators - CORE breakfast session

Another well attended session, at the last Core breakfast for this year. DK, who now works for Core in Christchurch, presentation an introduction to contextualise social media, to the audience who are mostly education administrators plus also touched on young peoples' use of social media using concept of young people as a barometer of change.

Social media can be defined as 'digital dialogue', so not just a broadcast medium but a form of conversation.

Hi went through a timeline of ways in which we have moved into social media- including
first sms message in 1992 as a business tool.
1994 first mass mobile phone - nokia
1996 hotmail addresses
1999 first file sharing network plus start of blogger
2000 psp 2 allowed people to play with others via web
2001 wikipedia and crowdsourcing and ipod launched
2002 second life and linden dollars
2003 myspace -
2004 Skype, flickr - concept of geo tagging
2005 youtube
2006 twitter
2007 iphone
2008 use of social media in american presidential elections, Obama shows how to leverage
2010 amazon sold more ebooks than real books

Main point is change and technology continutes regardless, there should not be a 'digital divide' between us and although most of us are 'digital immigrants' we have more experience, money, power and have access to the same technology and software tools.

Used video from zefrank on ugly myspace pages and how do we become producers to make the point of consumers becoming producers and aggregators and how this changes they way in which digital media is constructed and viewed.
Introduced the six spaces of media :
secret - text email
group social - face book, myspace
publishing public - flickr youtube
performance world of warcraft, geocaching
participation showcase - threaddless kickstarter
watching - ppt tv

desire paths - when we want to go somewhere but the majority are shifted to go down another way - stefan sagmeister - video on using speech bubble stickers

play/neoteny - ted talks - steve keil: a manifesto for play, bulgaria and beyond - the need to continue to 'play' as adults

media snackers - 2007 johannesburg - young people with limited digital literacy becoming digital journalists

blogging - seth godin and tom peters - why blog open

social media business is in the work of creating and promoting change

= change - doing something different- alvin toffler -" the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn"

The presentation covered a lot of ground in a short time frame and there were some thought provoking challenges for educators.  How can educators embrace social networking as a form of continual learning for themselves and for their students/

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ipads in schools - Victoria Australia

Via Derek Wenmouth's blog on his experiences at a workshop on BYOD - bring your own device - at school - is the link to the ipads for education site for schools in the state of Victoria in Australia.

The case studies provide a range of ideas for using ipads and there are handy hint on implementation and evaluation of the projects. Of note is their use of individual ipads for each child and the opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the device by not only using at school but also outside of school hours.  The other important point is the integration used reported in many of the case studies. The ipads are not 'add-ons' but used as normal classroom tools where appropriate.

 Good points to bear in mind for our own project.