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Blog by Lars Harrysson

Life as learning

In this blog I am sharing views, ideas, experiences and hopefully some inspiration for learning about things.

Facilitating ONL – a new experience

Blended learning Posted on Mon, November 27, 2017 18:24:32

As a final individual task, all participants in the
ONL-course have to revisit their learning processes. I decided to make it too,
because it has been a great learning experience, again. This time as a

I think among important things I have learnt this time one is
about group working, and another about myself.

First, I believe group work is one of the most rewarding ways of learning new
things. However, it is crucial that you are set to accept its terms and that
ways of cooperation and collaboration are both time consuming and produces
relationships involving clear (and unclear) expectations on your efforts. I am pretty good at
seeing a bigger picture in educational projects (and other projects) and I
seldom get worried about reaching learning goals, I usually just adjust my
efforts to make ends meet. In educational group work I am convinced that the
learning journey is far more interesting than the final presentation from it. I
learn from adding to the common, allowing myself to change in the group’s work
and from getting what I have added scrutinised by others. So, in my view, how
to present the results from a learning project depends on how to best
illustrate the learning process that has occurred. There is no perfect mould for
that, rather we need to know what we want said, and then find ways of
doing that in a convincing way. As an example; I would argue that journal
articles are a poor way of presenting research, compilation dissertations are
even worse, as the format expectations violate the very essence of a research
effort. In sum; without knowing what we want to say, there is no way we can
know how to say it. Thus, it is crucial that all and everyone in a group add
work in various ways and fairly promptly; be it in meetings, in writing or in supporting in a presentation

ONL is somewhat about tools to present things, to learn new things about
techniques available, but it is also about building support structures to make
learning the focus for the efforts. Facilitating means to make the participants
learning processes profitable to them by making them seen and supported, questioned
and praised. I think the PBL-8 has been an incredible group to be part of. The
mix of personalities, backgrounds and educational abilities has made every step
of the way very enjoyable.

However, second, about myself, I love discussion and do not dare confusion,
thus I may very well allow more of that than what is advisable in an ONL
PBL-group. As said above, I personally just devote more effort to balance that,
but in regard of facilitating a group through a very tight schedule, I could have held back now and then and requested from myself to provide
clear and accurate advice to the group to move forward. I do not mean to allow
for a mere, or more of, product focus (for sure not and if I have to choose between process and product, the former is always prioritised), but rather to make the group better aware of the time constraints
designed into the course. I
have, in other words, learnt that my neglect to worry about reaching deadlines
should not spill over onto those for which I am part of the scaffolding.

How will
your learning influence your practice? I am not really sure. I think I need to
sit back for a while and give it a proper thought. It is not that easy to
change one’s personality, it is probably easier to change where it plays out.

What are
your thoughts about using technology to enhance learning/teaching in your own
context? I am already convinced about the bright sides of tools to enhance
learning. I think the major challenge is not in technique itself, but in
education as such. There will be battles for quite some time, but then it has
just happened. What we see as revolutionary today will be either dead or as natural
as anything in a teaching context. To make education for all, and for those
involved in it, something that is not the same as an assembly line, silos,
pre-thought steps, perfect models and manuals …., but something else is
important to me. I am a John Dewey fan. He made education a question of
democracy. I believe in techniques that can help pedagogics support such a

What are you
going to do as a result of your involvement in ONL? I am already developing
several ideas to be able to support my colleagues in their efforts of providing
good education. I think I
would like to intensify that.

what a great experience it has been for me personally to, first, be given the
opportunity to co-facilitate in ONL, second, having a great companion in my group facilitator Victoria from which I have learnt a lot and, third, to meet such a great group (PBL 8) of
colleagues (that is what we are beyond ONL, aren’t we?).

Cheers, I am buying a new fridge :-))

Sharing – where to start?

Blended learning Posted on Wed, October 25, 2017 12:09:07

In my new role as co-facilitator in the ONL172-course, I feel somewhat unclear about what this role is. This same feeling was aired by several members in our last PBL-group meeting. They felt a bit lost. In this sense we may say that we are lost together, we are in the same boat.

Anxiety in relation to learning is normal, even necessary. You cannot feel completely safe and secure when you are moving towards personal change, but you should not fall into worry. Most things may be handled by accepting the challenge and allowing enough space in life to fulfil it. Bodil Jönsson, professor in Physics, explained in a lecture a few weeks ago, how we need to allow for time to come to us, not to chase it, the time. (Jönsson, 1999) I think it is wise, perhaps hard to do, but wise to focus on the challenge of learning, rather than on time lacking to do so.

Another issue at hand regards our pedagogical development and a wish to make our new knowledge useful in our teaching. At School of Social Work, where I work, we educate coming social workers. A central idea regarding the use of new ideas and tools in my teaching; supervision and lecturing, is to consider what I know about myself. To provide insights in social work, social policy and other areas focusing on how (many) people suffer social problems of various kinds and how to reach out to support them, includes to understand that you may not help anyone further than what you know about yourself. If you have not dealt with your reluctance of meeting people in distress, you will have problems handling such situations too. We have to get closer to our unconscious self, perhaps Freud would have said (I am not a psychologist, so beware if I am wrong).

I think the hypothesis is important in pedagogical work as well, and that is why I have asked the PBL-group to share experiences from sharing, or fears of sharing, or anxiety about what is right or wrong in openness. Because, I argue, we may not be able to become “sharers” with our students, to teach them openness, unless we allow a sharing idea to be embedded in our emotional self.

What do you think?

Jönsson, B (1999), Tio tankar om tid, Stockholm: Brombergs

A closure – or not

Blended learning Posted on Mon, April 24, 2017 18:21:40

Minister Bartolo said that schools are not meant to be ‘learning factories’, but to help realise the potential of every learner to the fullest extent possible. This involves not only preparing learners to face challenges which cannot yet be foreseen, but also assuming that addressing these challenges will require significant fortitude.

This is my final blog post in the ONL171 course and I allow the Maltese minister of education, Evarist Bartolo, inspire an idea linking to my other posts during the course.

Education must be something more than organising it. It has to allow for young (and us older but still young in mind) people to become skilled, knowledgeable, democratic and courageous thus fit to develop our society. Shape it into something more than a productive unit, but a world worth living in.

The past ten weeks of collaborative work in ONL171 have strengthened my view that we are in this together and have to try to understand each other and our various ways of seeing and solving problems. We need to question how things are to be able to create opportunities for change, but still uphold democratic values and a realisation of our common responsibility for people’s equal right to take part.

This would not be done in a few minutes, we don’t run five-minute-universities. It will take time to allow for changes that make difference, it for sure involves starting by myself. I read a comment by Alastair Creelman to another blog just before and found it illuminating (read the blog too, it is very good) : I don’t think many of our students or even teachers realise what collaboration really means, neither on-site nor online. It’s a literacy that needs time to develop, much longer than just the 10 weeks we have on ONL. But this is a good place to start.

I have had the pleasure to be part of this collaborative journey in a great group of scholars and educators inviting to an excellent mix of ideas, discussion and hard work. I think we have become more aware of our capabilities as well as provided with a well founded purpose to continue work with(in) open education.

Thanks all in PBL7 and the ONL-team

The state of digital education (Malta EU 2017). Report from European Commission conference.
Topic 3 – How ONL changed my views on collaborative work – finding the missing piece
Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University

E-learning a democratic challenge

Blended learning Posted on Tue, April 18, 2017 22:02:29

An unstated
bias rooted deep in Australian life seemed to wish that “real”
history had begun with Australian respectability – with the flood of
money from
gold and wool, the opening of the continent, the creation of an
middle class.

This quote
from Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore
(1988, p xi), a book I read many years ago, but picked up again during Easter
and got stuck in, has helped me figuring on the place and projection of open
education as of today. We might perhaps not compare convict transportation
history with current education, but what caught my mind is the issue of denial,
of wanting to present something as to fit well to our lack of vision of a
future ahead.

education is deeply rooted in how we see our social world. Our ideas of what is
good and respectable education are rather fixed in our concepts of modern day.
We are, in higher education, as stuck to an industrial production idea as is
the schooling system as such. We chase research money, we claim evidence based
teaching methods, we protect our freedom of thought, and more. In so doing we uphold,
actually strengthen, the cage in which we are trapped. Particularly so in our
quest of showing what makes research findings, using scientific methods, rather
better than other ways of gaining knowledge.

I am in the
midst of this too. I am no different. I teach research methods and I supervise
students in their endeavours of doing scientific research. I am following suite
and try to publish things as to have a chance to show scientific production and
count publications (and ranking). If you have not seen yourself caught yet,
well think again. “gold and money” from the quote above is the explosion of
consumption (or perhaps unread publications and time spent hunting grants), “open the continent” is the
ongoing quest for economic growth in society, but – what are we to be respected
for in retrospect

are, if we agree with Joakim Israel (1982), deemed to see ourselves “inflating
a balloon from within”, we are not able to stand outside the balloon and view
what is happening. Still we might ask ourselves What is actually going on here? and of course we might set out to
change the world – What should actually be
going on here?
in quite a pragmatic way inspired by John Fagg Foster (Tool,
1989). Marc Tool describes how he became an “institutionalist” from having had
Foster as a teacher. He remarks on four main attributes (p. 328) illustrating
such a process:

Fosterian legacy highlighted how social values are inherent in all attempts to
reason efficiency and necessity. Tool (p. 331) reflects on the issue: “What was
most novel and important for me was his exposition of the normative criterion
of “instrumental efficiency” as an integral part of institutional economics.” His didactical ideas were argumentative, searching coherence and example. The
social value principle led to effective teaching by avoiding making any
invidious difference on relative human worth (power, income, gender, …) as
criteria of merit. Tool remembers how “His assault on efforts to give the mores
principle a normative standing – to convert the existing cultural matrix into a criterion of what ought to be – was
especially memorable.” (p. 332, italics in original) Foster shared John Dewey’s
belief in that when an inquiry is set in motion we do not really know where it
will end up – there is no real way to fully predict the outcome. In so doing
Forster argued that democratic ways of determining rules and restraints are
most efficient to arrive at social judgements. It ignites interest in finding
answers about the world as is and as ought to be, to find solutions to real
problems. But it also fosters ways of realising and handling limits and
responsibilities. For me in the social policy field this is of course a
necessary component in education. Not any rules, and for sure not powerful
elites’ or other self-imposed influential groups’ rules, but a setting were
conventional wisdom is questioned and rules formed in a democratic fashion
including those beings they actually might impact. “A university that does not
promote heterodoxy has abandoned one of its primary instrumental functions.”
(p. 330)

It matters to
allow for ideas and emotions to play as motivating force in inquiry as well as in
education. In ONL171, a pedagogical course on Open Networked Learning, we shaped
the opportunity to discuss this in considerable length. Emotions became for us
something reflecting restrictions to the opportunities of open access e-learning. How to
make digital tools sensitive to emotions, not merely allowing for shallow
expressions of smileys, likes, +es?

At times
changes appear that might allow us to actually see things different, thus
challenge the status quo of the times we are living. I think we most often
judge change potential of what is
from a value judgement of what ought to
based in what is rather than in
the more risky unknown potential of trial and risking an error. It might be
easier to take on a provided model than to question it and abolish or revise it
to make difference. An example from education in scientific method is rather
illustrative. I am not saying that such education is unimportant, far from, but
I would argue that unnecessary boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not
should be avoided. An example is the divide between qualitative and
quantitative methods – a rather complex, but also suspect, division (see e.g.
Åsberg 2001). We need numbers and we need words as data, so let us reason data
and get to conceptualise this data to solve real world problems, problems that
have some relevant meaning to people, relevant to those it concerns. A main
concern as Barney Glaser (2010) would call it.

Then, is
open access e-learning this new blessing, the new challenge allowing for a leap forward, or
will it, as so many other things, be snared by an academic conscience of what is as standard of what should be
important? Well if the latter, the moment will be lost in translation. That is my
guess. Many articles, a lot of discussion, beautiful rhetoric and policy
statements …..

However, if
we believe in the former, if we place value in the opportunity of actually
making higher education something available to the many, then there might be a
chance. Then we might take on the world, not merely confirm it as John Dewey might have argued. As with
democracy, which is never won, but an ongoing political struggle, the values of
education in a Fosterian legacy will request from us to battle for not just the
intellectual freedom, but for the democratic order and the right to use
relevant methods set in social values lifting the main concerns for the many,
not a singled out elite. Then we might become respectable, and then we might
actually refer our history to those in the making of it – to Us (all of Us).

Glaser, B
(2010), Att göra grundad teori,
Sociology Press (Swedish edition: Thuleducare)

Hughes, R
(1988), The Fatal Shore. A history of the
transportation of convicts to Australia, 1787-1868
. London: Guild

Israel, J
(1982), Om konsten att blåsa upp en
ballong inifrån
. Göteborg: Bokförlaget Korpen.

Tool, M
(1989), “An institutional legacy – Remarks upon Receipt of the Veblen-Commons
Award” Journal of Economic Issues Vol
XXIII, No. 2, p. 327-336

Åsberg, R
(2001), “Det finns inga kvalitativa metoder – och inga kvantitativa heller för
den delen. Det kvalitativa-kvantitativa argumentets missvisande retorik”. Pedagogisk forskning i Sverige, Vol 6, No
4, pp. 270-292.

Collaboration and emotional stress

Blended learning Posted on Wed, March 29, 2017 12:47:30

I like solving problems together with other people. As
a consequence, I believe I try to make people feel socially and emotionally
connected to the process we ought to share. As pedagogue I would argue that problem-based
learning (PBL) as strategy is a highly structured way of achieving this. Not
only in allowing us to collaborate around defining and solving a common
problem, but also in shedding light on our social relationship in a group. Most
often the material outcome is at the forefront when we assess our achievements and we often do what we think will take us to an
end, however without real considerations whether the tools used are that well fitted. We are quite habitual, and as I like PBL I might for example think PBL helps solve many
educational problems, perhaps far more so than what is advisable.

The issue of our social relationship, discussed
sometimes as a group reflection, but rarely as an outcome itself, is without
doubt important to move this equation forward. An article in the Harvard
Business Review by Cross (2016) discuss what they call Collaborative overload.
Their research concerns how collaborative cultures in organisations have a
tendency to become inefficient, unfair and badly monitored as they overload a
small group of knowledgeable, popular and service-oriented colleagues sharing
their personal resources in various collaborative problem-solving projects.
Some spend a lot of time helping
others to collaborate and goes by unseen as it is often forgotten to monitor (monitoring is not always a good thing) who does
what in a work process. It is taken for granted that participants engage
equally and add equal input as the material results are what is assessed in the end. As a
worst scenario the “real” problem solver is not credited at all, hence not merely an
issue of that some people are credited and should not.

We underestimate time
devoted towards collaboration and in a habitual fashion we see collaboration as
good without any real reflection on time consumed, but rather, as Steve
Wheeler does in his blog False
, highlight space before time, in an otherwise really interesting
post on collaboration as a learning device.

So, then, how important is it to make our social
connectedness an issue of shared time, equal workload and appropriate credits
as to reach success in collaboration? Well, collaboration ought to be based on a group’s members
sharing of knowledge, information, experiences or whatever are necessary ingredients
for moving a problem-solving task forward. Often the timely input is far more important than the size of it, thus equal can be defined as equal engagement at times, and similarly, some input requires more preparation than other and might in pure size seem less. The assessment of equal workload is thus not simply measured by volume, but by its impact in the work process as such. This can only be reflected in and by the group.

It brings me to my final reflection in this post,
namely emotional connectedness. What we do is reflected in how we feel, and I guess vice versa. A group
with the onset to solve problems together, but a group where the social
contract of equal terms of collaboration feels skewed provokes a risk of triggering
emotional stress among its members and thus affect the learning process negatively. At
least that is my experience from being both well prepared and clearly unprepared, both hard working and less so, at

Please also check the blog by Amanda Kinners on how skewed expectations may hamper collaboration in a group.

Openness, democracy and pragmatism

Blended learning Posted on Thu, March 16, 2017 10:33:02

In the JRC report ”Opening
up Education
” (2016) the authors refer to five major recommendations to
promote open education (p. 30-31). Two of them I feel will have an immediate
impact on me in my role as a teacher; hence I will focus on them in this post.
The first refers to how we should embrace change and the second about how such
change should be directed.

Openness requires a willingness to share what you believe is yours with
others, as David Wiley express in a TED-talk concerning
education. This is a necessity in education in the various relationships viewed
as part of learning. As an educational activity it is set within historical boundaries
to how it may be fulfilled. The perception of these is, I would argue, why the JRC
report so heavily focuses on changing structures as to create space for

Student centred learning is a
pedagogical buzzword of today, and, admittedly, it is a pretty good platform to
start a teaching effort from, a pedagogical faith in which you can embrace your
ideas of how to share. So we have to acknowledge how students learn as to adapt
to their needs and from there develop our support (ways of sharing). John
Dewey, the pragmatist and philosopher, devoting much of his work towards
education, knowledge, democracy and peace, did early reflect ideas of learning
as capacity evolution related to self-realization. Douglas J Simpson (2001)
starts his study into Dewey’s view of students with a clarification, an
important one, namely that Dewey argued parents, educators and others holding
the main responsibility for a students education, but that the student need to
show initiative and involvement otherwise educational efforts are wasted.
Learning is something the student has to do and the initiative lies with her. (p.

To realize capacity /…/ means to act at the height of action, to realize
its full meaning. The child realizes his artistic capacity whenever he acts
with the completeness of his existing powers. To realize capacity means to act
concretely, not abstractly ; it is primarily a direction to us with reference
to knowledge, not with reference to performance.
(Dewey, 1893:659)

Very largely, however, we think of some parts of this life as merely
preparatory to other later stages of it. It is so very largely as to the
process of education ; and if I were asked to name the most needed of all
reforms in the spirit of education, I would say : “Cease conceiving of
education as mere preparation for later life, and make of it the full meaning of
the present life.” And to add that only in this case does it become truly a
preparation for after life is not the paradox it seems. An activity which does
not have worth enough to be carried on for its own sake cannot be very
effective as a preparation for something else.
(Dewey, 1893:660)

Emily Robertson (1992) asks herself 25 years ago if Dewey’s thoughts
have much to share with modern education. A conclusion is that it has not had
much impact on American public schooling, which is for sure still educating for
later life (so is Swedish). However, with reflections on Dewey’s attention to
investigative thinking there was for sure room for revival and, if related to
his clear demand on classroom democracy, it is, I would argue, open to
negotiate the buzzword student centred
despite his focus on the facilitator’s work in education.

It is important to understand that today’s students are current, not a
future alone. For an educational institution and policy makers it is thus pivotal
not only to focus on education as investment, but on learning per se – a way of
be someone in society. From this standpoint it is clear that openness in
educational resources, including tutoring, is crucial from a democratic
perspective. Students do not only build capacities, but also in doing so
becoming aware of them as they on a daily basis challenge their frontier of
knowledge. We, facilitators, must be on the same journey in this life-long
learning process. So, even us facilitators need help to breach the resistance
to change (Weller & Anderson, 2013) and be less of administrators and more
of critical learning companions. We, in our professional capacity, need to make
what activities we engage in worthwhile for both us and our students, because
the meaning of our capacity rests in what we do here and now, it is practical.
At least if we go the pragmatic way!

Openness of education does not change this. It is rather, I would argue,
a premise for an evolving democracy in society allowing many more to take part
in solving actual problems, and for much less.

Resources used

Dewey, J. (1893). Self-Realization
as the Moral Ideal
The Philosophical Review Vol. 2, No. 6
(Nov., 1893), pp. 652-664

Inamorato dos Santos, A.; Punie, Y. & Castano Munoz (2016). Opening
up Education. A support framework for higher education institutions
27938 EN European Commission.

Robertson, E. (1992).
Is Dewey’s Educational Vision Still
Review of Research in Education Vol. 18 (1992),
pp. 335-381

Simpson, D. J. (2001). John Dewey’s Concept of the Student
Canadian Journal of Education / Revue
canadienne de l’éducation

Vol. 26, No. 2 (2001), pp. 183-200

Weller, M., &
Anderson, T. (2013). Digital resilience in higher education.
European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 16(1), 53.

Wiley, D (2010). Open
education and the future
TED. Retrieved from Youtube 2017-03-16

I doubt that we are creative, but we have fun anyway!

Blended learning Posted on Mon, March 06, 2017 20:13:15

Earlier today I was invited to a conference for librarians to present
some of my experiences from blended learning. It was quite an exciting group to
meet as I have asked myself how to better introduce one of
the seven elements of digital literacy (JISC 2014) in our curriculum. The element
of information literacy. I have been engaged for many years in the social
science libraries, and one of the issues was this issue. Since I left my
direct involvement I have checked in quite often to see how it goes. It doesn’t
do that well. Why so?

In many respects I should blame myself for not better being able to
convince my fellow lecturers and course coordinators of the importance of
information literacy despite many attempts and good examples of how it can be
introduced and used, lending more capable and knowledgeable students. It is
like, seemingly to many, that the library is still a building with books, a lot of dust,
and some strange people using time to catalogue these books according to some
odd system I have never caught up with, really. And, yes, they now how to
search things too, the people working there. I believe we can agree upon that.

First problem brought by ONL171 – embarrassment. To teach is not (or
should not be) about telling someone what I know, that is to give a lecture,
which of course can be part of instruction in teaching. To teach is rather to
facilitate the opportunity for someone else to learn. It may be from a set
curriculum, as often in the university, or it may be less restricted than that,
like organising a class in weaving or something. It requires leaving the
comfort zone, the full control of what is going to happen, and to trust your
expertise in the subject at hand to show when needed. It means that there
will be several things happening that you do not control and you may find
yourself embarrassed due to that. Don’t!

By engaging in blended learning it is sometimes effective to make technical mistakes
and to allow for the companionship with the students to solve them in
collaboration. There are always technical issues as soon as you involve various
forms of digital devices. It is a bit like when the film showings in school years
ago did not work out as planned when the teacher could not get the film in right. To
see this as an opportunity to co-learn with the students is excellent, but in
allowing for this, we must not worry about embarrassment for not having full
control. It may actually work as a positive force for students to feel capable,
thus allowing for them to engage in your class in a better way. To show
slightly vulnerable in some respects allow for expertise to be expressed in

I believe in simplicity and proximity with the students in teaching. Not
always achievable, but rewarded when so. Digital tools allow us to do things,
which are a challenge to achieve in a classroom. We can ask students to share
thoughts in a blog, on love for example, to allow for expressing ideas of
concern, which later can be brought up in class a step away from the actual
experience, taking distance, or to elaborate on expressions made in a small
group to help illuminate what are shared beliefs and not about love. You can of
course do this in a classroom, but the asynchrony of the blog allows for shared
preparation and reflection before class. You can ask for the same thing on
other issues, why not information literacy (not as teasing as love though) and
perhaps tough for us to admit now being that good at.

Second problem brought by ONL171 – social restrictions. The physical
classroom at our department is most often defined by a pedagogical idea based
in a power dynamic of teacher centred education. This type of social
restrictions may be challenged by a blended approach using a digital classroom
to initiate or follow up on themes of importance. Sometimes digital solutions
are used as substitutes for social relationships between teacher and students.
A typical example is digital course evaluations. They are required, but often
useless, unless integrated as a constructive part of course development. The
same concerns education on information literacy often left in isolation and not
followed up properly. This holds an issue of power dynamics as well, where
librarians and lecturers may not be on “speaking terms” when it comes to share
responsibilities and influence on curriculum in regard of raising the
information literacy among students, and us.

Blended learning has allowed me to increase the opportunities for
students to take control over their learning and studies, thus be able to share
the responsibility as well.

So, my final issue here is how blended learning has allowed for less
focus on the goals and their testing in my pedagogical layout and more focus on
how to facilitate the journey towards more knowledge. It has meant more time to
be accessible to the students when they need support, and far more
opportunities to be part of how they achieve set learning outcomes.

In the ONL directions it is said that we shall be creative in our
blogging. I believe it is hard to produce creative ideas. What are they? Who to
judge? The Swedish philosopher, Nils-Eric Sahlin (2001) discuss creativity as
something that requires problem-solving, but not any such, it asks for the use
of new tools, not merely reuse of tools. With such a definition it is hard to
be creative. However, Sahlin also present some ideas of what could be an
environment allowing creativity to exist. The following are brought to our
attention: generosity (share your ideas), community (feel part of), competence
(know your stuff), cultural diversity (allow for impressions), trust and
tolerance (be honest and look for strengths), equality (see others as you
alike), curiosity (ask), freedom (allow diverging thought), and small
scale. Very few environments can live up to this as we far to often are driven
by arrogance, greed, pleasure, envy, indulgence, anger and a doze of
indifference. (Adapted from Sahlin p. 174)

From this I would conclude that our PBL-work this far has been a success
in many ways. We are the creative environment (it is a relationship, not a room) I would argue because it has been based on sharing personal experiences
and allowing them to be reasoned and reflected upon. From that we may even have
come up with some creative ideas, at least the term “learning companionship” as
an illustration of a teacher – student relationship qualified as it surprised me.
However, it is of course not new …..


digital literacies (2014) JISC guide
license CC BY-NC-ND

Sahlin, Nils-Eric (2001), Kreativitetens filosofi, Nora: Nya Doxa

Less is more – or does instrumentalisation of Problem Based Learning methods miss the pedagogical point?

Blended learning Posted on Sat, February 18, 2017 10:50:25

being a teacher for so many years to act student for a while is illuminating
the power relationship often lost in transaction while things are done ”as
always”. In my last blog post I lifted the issues of the historical foundations
of education providing an example in a film clip. Reading some articles on
future education and problem-based learning (PBL) pedagogics it seems as if we
are in a junction where we need to expect change, but on what premises is less
clear. ”History will tell” or ”Future will tell” are two options we are meant
to believe exist.

In a
draft version of an article by Maggie Savin-Baden (2014) we are familiarised
with a mapping of various consteallations of PBL-methods well reasoned in their
theoretical and practical foundations. By using this approach to prepare
ourselves for the future pedagogical challenges we might want to make a choice
of category and deal with the pedagogical challenges well grounded within a
single or a combination of constellations. Nothing wrong in that and well in
”tact” (Cockburn, 1998, from Savin-Baden 2014:5) with what is expected from us
as academics. The idea of tact is, I would argue, a cultural explanation to how
to behave well within a known power relationship. History will tell what to do.

I am
not very tactful I must admit. Barnett and Coates’ (2002, from Savin-Baden
2014:12) higlights something very interesting regarding educational identities
by lifting an issue of ”self” as one of three identity domains (knowledge,
action and self). The ”knowledge” domain is always present, while it is more
contested if the other two are. The authors’ argue that more profession
oriented a curriculim is, the more integration between the three. From a
pedagog’s perspective, a profession in itself, it is hard to argue anything but
integration. Taking a student perspective, studying a subject asks for an
opportunity to develop its identity, ”self”, on terms not necessarily
controlled by those competencies (knowledge domain) in control at the moment.
The acceptance of not in ”tact” is required as for a ”Future will tell”
perspective of pedagogics. Savin-Baden (ibid) argues for liquid learning as
”charac­terised by emancipation, reflexivity, and flexibility so that knowledge
and knowledge boundaries are seen as contestable and always on the move.” (p14)
This would be to rewrite the music, not just the lyrics, as to how students
engage and connect to their studies. Former ideas for ”tact” would thus be

will tell” is highligthed by Megan and Huijser (2015) in their wish to take
control by using PBL as a device of challenging powerful educational domains
through empowering students and teachers. It is an interesting approach, but it
falls back on a human-ecological theory that is not new, and hard to contest,
like most system theory in being verified by itself (that was unfair, but good
for my argument). Still it is good to adhere that when we change things in the
classroom, whatever it starts from, there will be unexpected changes, many of
them hard to foresee. In the critique of an all-in-one explanation of the
setting like presented above, and in so making ”Future will tell” into a
”History will tell”, I would like to argue for a less overarching approach to
learn about how education might work. My example is a middle-range well
grounded theory of why students follow an online course and why they might drop
out. Helen Scott (2007) explains the choices made by students to whether
continue their studies or not from how it connected to their daily lives. Less
curriculum focus, more social life focus, or in other words, how well their
studies connected with their everyday lives. This is partly in line with Megan
and Huijser’s (2015) human-ecological idea, but with an important difference,
the grounded character of the main concern, namely the students and their

is easy to get stuck in our traits of power relationships at work regardless of
if we so wish or not. Thus in its consequences we instrumentalize the pedagogical challenge for the future by resting it in the past through our boundaries of “tact”.

M. (2014). Using problem-based learning: New constellations for the 21st
century. Journal on Excel­lence in College Teaching, 25(3 & 4), x-x.

Megan Y. C. A. Kek and Henk
Huijser (2015). 21st Century Skills: Problem Based Learning and the University
of the Future. Third 21st CAF Conference at Harvard,
in Boston, USA. September 2015, Vol. 6, No. 1

H. (2007). The temporal integration of connected study into a structured life.
The Grounded Theory Review Vol. 6, No. 2

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