At the nexus of learning and innovation

Patrick Olivier - Students as co-producers of learning experiences

Some reflections by Gareth Denyer and others on the recent Student Partnerships SIG meeting. This meeting included the special guest presenter Professor Patrick Olivier, and other presenters from around the university.

Patrick Olivier

Below are reflections from various SIG members on the talk Patrick gave (video soon to come). If you have your own comments or ideas, add them to the comments below and we'll add them to the post.

Gareth Denyer

  • The same grass roots commissioning philosophy used by AppMovement – the citizen commissioning platform which lies between an on-line petition and an app – could be used to work out WHAT lessons should be developed and what structure the lessons might take.  i.e, the students are asked what they need lessons in and when there are enough votes, that’s what gets developed.
  • Bootlegger facilitates community video commissioning and leverages the crowd to get a multi-faceted movie of, say a concert.  In the same way, if I can get each student to contribute a small, but professional and polished bit of content from a particular perspective, the sum of all this might be very powerful and useful.
  • Patrick made the observation that students seeing (and then mimicking) what each other are doing works really well in media – it feels natural and leads to better product…. Whereas people freak with that happening in an essay (it gets reported as plagiarism!).  But I reflected that I’ve enjoyed similar success with my content commissioning in lecture material and student-generated MCQs in Peerwise – ie, if I go in to give early and public feedback to submissions which are viewable by everyone, a culture and understanding of what is required emerges and the product is much better.   It’s obvious, I know, but sometimes you miss the simple….
  • Courtney’s question on how to build on the lessons created each year was very interesting.  Instead of making more and more half-baked lessons each year, leverage reflection on what’s been done before to build critical skills in the students AND make my work easier (less need to think of new topics!) AND have instant sustainability and continuity – all of which leads to a good product.   Fully realises Patrick’s observation that it is much healthier to think of a module as a knowledge creating thing rather than just a ‘dead’ year-on-year repeat.  Use and build on the material next year!
  • The chap from Chemical Engineering gave me some good idea in the same vein as Courtney’s suggestion.   There are many existing and editable Biochemistry based SmartSparrow lessons available on the community site – it would be easy to get the students to critically analyse these, make suggestions for improvement and then divvy up the renovation jobs.
  • Other suggestions were to provide more rigid templates so that the students concentrate on building the content and so that work from different students can more easily be spliced together.

Courtney Hilton

  • It seems that the notion of student partnerships, especially when supported in technological systems, can be uniquely positioned to make learning and teaching more progressive. I mean this in the specific sense of learning and teaching improving and building over time; teaching and learning environments that do this are progressive. So when students are supported in contributing something to the systems that support their learning—when students become co-designers of their learning—we should find a way to channel this effort into incrementally improving these systems.
  • One way to approach this is to frame the learning system as a design object that learners are co-designing as part of their own learning. I am reminded of arguments put forward by Carl Bereiter in his book Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age (2002) about modernising education and making it progressive.
  • Relatedly, Bereiter and Scardamalia's whole knowledge building approach to learning can be very much seen within the framework of student partnerships, where learning is framed as students actively co-designing the knowledge they are learning rather than memorising a canon of pre-established facts and procedures. Various technological scaffolds, including the video commissioning stuff Patrick discussed, could be useful ways of supporting this.