Networked Learning Conference 2008
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Evolving a Vision for Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL)

Keynote: Professor Diana Laurillard
London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education, London,


Researchers do not normally trouble themselves with 'vision statements'. A vision for a field of research is more likely to be an evanescent and emergent property of its intellectual clashes, than something that can be represented as a joint communiqué. There was some debate within the Kaleidoscope Network over the wisdom of developing an agreed statement on where we believe TEL research is heading. There is too wide a range of ambitions, too many uncertainties about the intellectual foundations of the field, too little agreement about the most fruitful pathways to pursue.

Against that reluctance stood the sense that, nonetheless, there is something shared by the researchers in this field. Technology enhanced learning is expanding throughout the developed economies, and global education will extend this to the developing economies as well. Researchers believe that innovation in a system will be more effective if it is informed by a scientific approach to understanding that system. If educational leaders and policy-makers are to envisage a future role for technology in education, then the research community should have something coherent to offer that helps to shape that vision.

The Kaleidoscope Network therefore embarked on the difficult process of agreeing a vision for TEL research. It was a highly collaborative and iterative process, conducted through face-to-face meetings, an online collaborative document development environment, and through a day-long Symposium with different groups of stakeholders, from: school educators, higher education, lifelong learning, and industry. The resulting publication is now in its second edition and is our first expression of the ambitions of the research and the issues it raises.

For researchers, sharing a common understanding of similarities and differences is an ongoing process. Kaleidoscope researchers reached the point where the vision statement was likely to be stable at a general level but with the expectation that it would evolve further. The second edition, for example, embraced also the foresight activities of the ProLearn Network of Excellence (in Technology Enhanced Professional Learning). Although the statement aims for stability in its broad outlines, it will evolve to further versions by elaborating the detail that contributes to the realization of the broader vision.
The presentation will summarise the emerging research issues relevant to Networked Learning, illustrated with findings from some of the Kaleidoscope projects, in terms of:

Designing tools for learners
e.g. pedagogic and collaborative support for developing high level cognitive skills such as analysing, generalising, modelling
Designing tools for teachers
e.g. enabling teachers to orchestrate the discussion and collaboration scripts of their learners, at different levels of granularity
Technology enhanced learning design principles
e.g. designing adaptive systems that can take account of the social and cultural embedding of learners
e.g. the affordances of digital technologies for a wider range of educational possibilities in epistemology and equity.

The presentation will draw on some of the ideas developed at NLC 2006, particularly Goodyear's analysis of conceptions of learning through discussion, as one of the analytical tools for understanding the role of Networked Learning within a vision for technology enhanced learning as a whole.


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