Education, Research

EARLI greetings

September 6, 2013

During the last week in August I attended the biannual JURE/EARLI conferences in Munich. EARLI is besides ECER THE major educational conference in Europe.

This year JURE attracted over 200 junior researchers and EARLI around 2300 teachers and researchers, also outside Europe. At JURE I had the opportunity to present a paper (now available at ResearchGate and LinkedIn) regarding my research topic, Measuring Personal Epistemology in the Digital Age.

EARLI provided a huge palette of paper presentations, symposia, round table sessions and keynotes, running in almost 30 parallel sessions over five days. Here a few small excerpts and reflections.

In his keynote Jan Elen challenged us by maintaining that “Instructional design assumes erroneously that all students are compliant and obedient!”. Yes, unfortunately. You provide literature, students don’t read. You give instructions, they don’t do. Of course, lots of students both read and do, but as a teacher you can’t rely on it. Consequences? I think that in all teaching and learning we need to ensure that tasks we give students are relevant; they have to open new insights and generate useful and usable knowledge. Also, we need to use both whips and carrots. E.g. the task to read an article should be followed by another task where the article is being applied – a test is a simple example but a better one would be to have a discussion around the topic and require students to draw support for their argumentation from the article(s), or apply the article into a concrete problem in context.

Another of Jan’s (and several other researchers’) messages was that learning research should move beyond self reports and observations, and start utilizing the potential in combining observed and measured activities, e.g. logs that are aggregated in different information systems. In the future we will probably hear more about the concepts “Learning Analytics” and “Educational Data Mining”. Or perhaps Arcada should be in the forefront and start talking about them and use them?

Computer Literacy was the topic for one of the sessions, where the important question was raised  whether ICT literacy is viewed as computer vs. task oriented? I still think that the ICT Driving License we apply at Arcada is important, but this session reenforced my view that the learning objectives, content and structure of the ICT Driving License is in desperate need for revision. I’m not saying it’s outdated, but in its current format the ICT Driving License is totally computer oriented, and does not acknowledge the huge development in net based and mobile communication that has taken place during the last decade. The challenge lies in changing the course of an enormous ship. Concretely it’s about convincing University of Helsinki (producing the ICT DL) of the need for revision, but in a bigger picture it’s about reaching consensus around how ICT and media literacy should be learned in primary education. Norway seems to have a good approach to this matter.

There is so much more to report from EARLI but I’ll stop here. If you want to hear more, feel free to contact me!