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POT Cert Week 2: facilitating learning online – a person-oriented approach

My thoughts – teaching online

A key point that Ko and Rossen make in chapter 1 of Teaching Online: A Practical Guide is that in an online learning environment the role of the teacher is somewhat altered, moving away from the classic “sage on the stage” to allow students to take a more active part. By skilfully steering the conversation and interaction, the role thus becomes more one of facilitating learning. Subsequently, the question is raised as to what kinds of people make the best online instructors, to which the authors declare, “it is ‘people-oriented’ people who make the best instructors” (p. 18). Oh, happy days for me it seems, both my field and my outlook are person-oriented. Furthermore, I want to develop/facilitate an online learning experience that places the learner at its centre and explores the notion of digital literacy ultimately enabling them to develop their own digital practices and competencies.

My reflection – results of the beginner’s questionnaire

On the questionnaire designed to discover your perspective on teaching I scored 6, indicating a strong Constructivist position. That is to say, I believe by experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world. It follows therefore that I favour discussion and other interactive student activities as the basis of this online learning experience that I hope to design.

Where am I in terms of getting started?

As I want the focus to be on discussion and group activities, I’m investigating the types of social learning platforms that are currently available to me. I’ve seen Buddypress in action and really like how this could be used to support my project but despite Ko and Rossen avowing that you don’t need to be a computer expert, I don’t have the skills or technological capacity to ‘self-host’ it. I’ve also heard of Instructure Canvas, which can be hosted in the cloud, but again it looks like it’s designed for a bigger project than the one I envisage. Therefore, I’m going to have to explore how I can make it all hang together using a combination of familiar discussion and collaboration applications like Facebook, Blogger or WordPress and Google Docs.Wish me luck.

POT Cert Week 1: hello fellow POTcerters

My name is Helen Crump and I’m currently an adult literacy tutor. Recently though, as part of an MA in Technology, Learning, Innovation and Change, I’ve been investigating digital literacies within higher education. I’d like to take advantage of the brilliant opportunity that the online POT cert course offers to develop this into maybe a CPD module for faculty or possibly learning support for students. I’m also excited to begin a journey exploring online teaching and learning.

I now live on the West coast of Ireland, but originally I’m from Nottingham, England. I love learning and exploring all sorts of different things, consequently I’ve always got a project on the go and a trip or two planned. I especially enjoy hiking and camping trips. I just walked coast to coast across England. I walk plenty in Spain too but dream of just wandering out of my front door with nothing more than some bread and cheese wrapped in a red spotted hanky (that’s not strictly true; I’d take an iPhone along too). For now though, let the POT cert journey begin.

It’s your text life – digital literacies in the digital university



Context: higher education, general 
This blog post has been prompted by my attendance at the 10th Galway Symposium on Higher Education (#celt12), which focused on the written word in the context of higher education and where, in the opening plenary entitled “Literacy in the Digital University”, Mary R. Leaentreated us to “step back and take a critical lens to changing knowledge making practices and the implications of these for understanding academic literacies in today’s digital university.”


In the first instance, it must be acknowledged that literacy can be variously conceptualised, with each conceptualisation signalling different concerns and approaches:
  • literacy as cognitive/transferable skill – reading and writing
  • literacy as capability (in anything) – e.g. computer literacy, emotional literacy, scientific literacy
  • literacy as situated/social practice – cultural

And further, that literacy is always changing, becoming redefined through historical moments of technological change. 

Indeed, largely to beget the production of texts, technologies have always been involved in learning. Thus, within higher education, an institution whose primary function is to produce and validate knowledge, textual production and the practices that support it are of paramount importance (Goodfellow and Lea, 2007). However, with digital technology now integral to society and valued knowledge becoming increasingly communicated in digital forms (Beetham et al., 2010), the nature of texts is changing and the concept of ‘digital’ becoming increasingly significant to higher education. Even so, given the centrality of texts, it seems to me that caution needs be exercised so as not to unduly valorise technology as the driver of change.

Moreover, an academic literacies perspective (Lea and Street, 2006) positions reading and writing as a set of social practices pertinent to the situated context of higher education and what is more, considers the relationship between texts and how both academics and students make meaning through these practices. Texts, and the technologies that produce them, embed ideologies and epistemologies. After all, knowledge is not just out there; it is always represented in and through the choices made in the production of texts. Consequently, the texts and supporting practices that become valorised within higher education must by implication valorise the ideologies and epistemologies therein. 

Thus, digital literacies are as much about one’s “text life” and what this represents as they are about one’s technology use. 
Beetham, H., Littlejohn, A. and McGill, L. (2010) Beyond competence: digital literacies as knowledge practices, and implications for learner development. LiDU (Literacy in the Digital University): Seminar Programmes, Seminar 2. 
Goodfellow, R. and Lea, M. R. (2007) Challenging e-learning in the university : a literacies perspective. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
Lea, M. R. and Street, B. V. (2006) The “Academic Literacies” Model: Theory and Applications. Theory Into Practice. 45(4), pp. 368–377.