22 SES 09 A, Paper Session
This paper is based on a large research project, which we – as part of a research group- completed in the spring 2020. The project was initiated in 2017 by VIA University College with a link to a strategy named “Future Education in VIA, UC”. The strategy originated from the idea that the educational staff should mobilise and share good teaching and learning methods developed by high-qualified teachers. The goal was to develop the way of organizing education and teaching in order to involve and release all available resources to support student learning.
On this basis, we identified some key issues, which we have elaborated and expressed in the following research questions:
What are the implications for a context-sensitive professional teaching practice, when the learning design is developed by others than the reusing teacher herself?
What importance does it have for the process of developing and sharing learning designs that others should reuse it in a context-sensitive professional teaching practice?
We based the project on some pre-assumptions: On a long-term basis, there is a risk of learning designs having a preservative effect, so that the teaching in higher education programs will be less development-oriented than learnings designs are meant to be. This could happen if the didactic dialogue between teachers about reuse is disregarded, so the reusing teacher does not understand intentions and prior motives of the learning design. Then she is also unable to evaluate the learning design, which is crucial for the development of both the learning design and her own teaching competencies. It was also assumed that teaching might become less context-adaptable than if a teacher has planned and structured the teaching herself. This would be the case, especially if the learning designs do not take the knowledge and experience of the reusing teacher into account, nor the specific students in question, as well as other contextual factors. We therefore came up with two normative premises for what learning designs should aim at; one should be the capacity for context-sensitivity and the other should be a capacity for continues development.
The term “Learning designs” we conceptualized by using theory of “digital didactic designs” (Dohn & Hansen, 2016). Inspiration has also came from Dale's notion of didactic rationality where didactic work can be seen as a highly complex practice (Iskov, 2017) and is composed of different kinds of knowledge, including experience-based and tacit forms of knowledge.
In the processes of moving practices across sites and organizational domains, we enacted theories of “translation”. Inspiration here has come from Actor-network theory, (Latour, 1996; Callon, 1986) and Scandinavian institutionalism (Czarniawska & Sevón, 1996), (Røvik, 2007, 2016) and (Wäraas & Nielsen, 2016) These theoretical perspectives are related to a concept of didactic context sensitivity, which means that teaching is aligned with institutional and personal-linked didactic conditional moments (Iskov, 2017).
Concerning the relationship between developer and reuser, we drew on theoretical and empirical research by Wills & Pegler, 2016. Their work shows how “distance” between developers and reusers influences motivation for reuse. The term “zones of proximity” has had great explanatory power on this issue.
Based on the above-mentioned approaches and theories, we constructed an analytical model by which we see acting with learning designs as moving through three different sub-processes or phases: Developing, sharing and reusing. In practice, they overlap, but separating them analytically have made it possible to shed light on significant issues in each of the phases, and also specific dilemmas arising from the translation between the different phases. Furthermore, this division has made it possible to uncover challenges that teachers face concerning autonomy, authority and new power relations.
The reseach project was initiated after a series of learning designs were implemented in various educational programs, independently of the research project. The aim of the research project was then to monitor the process without interfering in this, but eventually to reveal crucial challenges and issues in developing learning designs. This created an open and critical space for the research project, which comprised a number of qualitative studies. First, we completed two preliminary studies. The first was a documentary research of how already planned learning designs were actually developed and shared. To strengthen the teacher-subject perspective on this, we completed a second study of how teachers generally collaborate on teaching. Ten teachers representing different educational areas were selected for semi-structured interviews. These studies served to establish an existing “ground” on which the primary research process could be decided and carried out. With the insight gained so far, the focus sharpened to identify how and to what extent learning designs could be compatible with a development-based and context-sensitive teaching practice. For that purpose, we chose a multiple case-study design comprising five different learning designs. Each case represented a whole of data sources comprising documents, digital materials, interviews and observations that related to the learning design. In studying the cases, focus was on the three processes: Developing, sharing and reusing. Initially, the analyses were data-driven, but later they were supplemented by more concept-driven interpretations of the cases, which have further qualified the analytical gaze that eventually was enacted to answer the research questions. The case-study has primarily been based on hermeneutic epistemology. It has been a strategy for empirical exploration of a selected contemporary phenomenon in its natural context using various data sources (Robertson, S., Neves de Azevedo, M., and Dale, 2016) (Robson and Yin in Ramian, 2012,). In accordance with hermeneutics, the case study is characterized by a hypothesis-testing research method (Flyvbjerg, 2010; Yin in Ramian, 2012). Our main hypothesis was - as previously indicated - that the initial planned use of learning designs potentially overrides didactic context sensitivity. Learning designs were then investigated contextually, and our use of different data sources enabled triangulation. From the case-analysis, theoretical generalization followed which contributed to challenge and develop the pre-understandings and theories that preceded the research.
The project has generated significant results. From the case studies in particular, we have identified a spectrum between domination and autonomy also expressed as a range “between manual and inspiration catalog”. The former refers to domination and the latter to autonomy. However, through the research process this spectrum has been further developed by two concepts: declaration and regulation. Declaration addresses how thorough and detailed a learning design is described, while regulation is about how authoritative and prescriptive it appears. These two concepts should be seen as crossing continua, whereby a Cartesian plane occurs. Then it becomes possible to map the different learning designs on the plane and thereby highlighting their different characteristics, issues and dilemmas; hereby also their potentials for context sensitivity. For example, if a learning design has a detailed declaration, it is rich on resources (materials, assignments, guidelines etc.). If it is also highly regulated, it will at the same time exclude the reuser’s didactical adaptation to her own context. Consequently, it will not be become context-sensitive! However, if the learning design is low regulated, the detailed declaration works as inspiration and makes the reuser’s didactical adaptation possible. It may then become context-sensitive. A simple declaration of a learning design will need supply of resources from the reuser: Thus, If such a learning design is highly regulated, didactical adaptation is required, but within the limits of the actual declaration! However, if the learning design is low regulated (together with a simple declaration) didactical adaptation is still necessary, but then it is autonomous! Not only may this conceptual model serve as an analytical tool, but we also consider it as a more general conceptual contribution to international research areas of learning objects and granularity (Wiley, 2002; Quinn, C., & Hobbs, S., 2000).
Czarniawska & Sevón (red.) (1996). Translating Organizational Change. de Gruyter Studies in Organization. Walter de Gruyter. Berlin. Dohn, & Hansen. (2016). Didaktik, design og digitalisering. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur. Flyvbjerg. (2010). Fem misforståelser om casestudiet. In B. og Tanggaard (Ed.), Kvalitative metoder. En grundbog (2nd ed., p. 633 sider). Kbh.: Hans Reitzel. Iskov, T. (2017). Didaktisk intentionalitet Mod en udvidelse af den analytiske didaktik. Danish University Colleges (UC-Viden) Ramian, K. (2012) Casestudiet I praksis, Hans Reitzels Forlag. Robertson, S., Neves de Azevedo, M., and Dale, R. (2016). Higher education, the EU, and the cultural political economy of regionalism. In R. D. and Q.-A. D. (eds) S. Robertson, K. Olds (Ed.), Global Regionalisms and Higher Globalisation Education & Social Futures Education, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Røvik, K. A. (2007). Trender og translasjoner : ideer som former det 21. århundrets organisasjon. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Røvik, K. A. (2016). Knowledge Transfer as Translation: Review and Elements of an Instrumental Theory. International Journal of Management Reviews, 18(3), 290–310. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12097 Quinn, C., & Hobbs, S. (2000). Learning objects and instructional components. Educational Technology & Society, 3(2). Retrieved from the Internet on December 1, 2003 from http://ifets.ieee.org/periodical/vol_2_2000/discuss_summary_0200.html Wæraas, A., & Nielsen, J. A. (2016). Translation Theory ‘Translated’: Three Perspectives on Translation in Organizational Research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 18(3), 236–270. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12092 Wills, S., & Pegler, C. (2016). A Deeper Understanding of Reuse: Learning Designs, Activities, Resources and their Contexts. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2016(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.5334/jime.405 Wiley, David A. (2002). Connecting Learning Objects to Instructional Design Theory: A Definition, a Metaphor, and a Taxonomy in The Instructional Use of Learning Objects Agency for Instructional Technology, Association for Educational Communications & Technology
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