What *does* learning look like . . . to a pupil? March 14, 2010Posted by IaninSheffield in research, TELIC.
Tags: digital camera, image, learning, photo
In a Tweet some while ago, Tom Barrett asked if anyone had thought of giving a camera to a pupil for a period of time . . . it might have been around the new year when all the 365 projects start. This set me thinking, as posts from Tom invariably do. In school we’re currently undertaking a thorough review which is looking at ICT as a whole school issue, at teachers’ ICT capability, at ICT across departments and we’ll shortly be exploring student ICT capability. We’ve a pretty good idea how good students are in ICT, but what do they do with it beyond the confines of the ICT suite? Part of that review will include a survey of some sort, but Tom’s comment made me wonder if there might be another way of exploring what students do in school and perhaps more importantly how and when they learn best.
Starting next year then, we’re going to equip 5 students from different years with a digital stills camera which they’ll carry with them and capture images showing what they perceive to be learning – a 365Learning project. Now there’s clearly a huge amount to think about – practicalities, technical aspects, ethical considerations, monitoring progress and more. But what’s challenging me at the moment is the basic premise – Learning. What actually is it? How can we recognise it. Oh sure, we teach, ask questions, assess work, provide feedback, set and mark tests and note that students are making progress . . . ergo students are learning? Well I guess so, but is that how students see it? And how might we (they) capture snapshots of it happening over the course of a year?
Back to the ‘textbooks’ then to see what the world knows about learning. Oh dear! The answer seems to be quite a lot and not very much. If my topic had been ‘the behaviour of gases’ rather than learning, I could have gone to a dozen different textbooks and got pretty much the same answer. But ‘learning’ is a much slippier beast and has attracted a host of theories about how it works. Greg Kearsley’s ‘Theory into Practice’ database lists 54 different learning theories, whilst the ‘Learning Theories.com: Knowledge Base and Webliography’ lists 5 learning paradigms, 4 Behaviourist theories, 10 Cognitivist, 9 Constructivist/Social, 6 Motivational/Humanist, 4 Design and 8 other miscellaneous theories. So that should be straightforward then! I’m grateful to James Atherton for a much more accessible introduction on his fortuitously titled ‘So what is learning?’ page.
Perhaps I’m missing the point though and need to return to the original question – what does learning look like from a student viewpoint? Maybe I ought to be looking at an approach using Glaser & Strauss’ grounded theory . . . might be quite a challenge as I’ve not worked that way before.
Anyway we’re going to run a pilot project to inform the planning and preparation of next year’s main study. In addition to ironing out the technical and human elements , with luck and a following wind the pilot might suggest how we could design the study to allow us to analyse the data meaningfully. Have you any thoughts? How would you capture learning in a photograph?
ATHERTON J S (2009) Learning and Teaching; // What is learning? [On-line] UK: Available: // http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/whatlearn.htm Accessed: 14 March 2010
Glaser, B.G. & Strauss, A., 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research, Aldine Transaction.
Kearsley, G. The Theory Into Practice Database. [On-line] Retrieved from http://tip.psychology.org Accessed: 14 March 2010
Learning Theories Knowledgebase [On-line] Available: http://www.learning-theories.com Accessed: 14 March 2010