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Tag: vicarious learning

eLearning and Digital Cultures: my vicarious learning highlights #edcmooc

In order to balance things up from my last EDCMOOC post, I had intended to write something relating to post humanism, but I’m still coming to terms with the concept and with the fundamental changes that its related values of transhumanism will wreak, not just upon society and the planet, but upon the minds and bodies of human beings themselves. So, seeing as I’ve been running a week behind and the course comes to a close tomorrow, I’ve decided to forgo any attempt at putting my thoughts down about “redfining the human” and the implications for education of such a paradigm shift, instead, I’m going to take a look back over what, for me, have been the highlights.

I have to say that although I’ve engaged with pretty much all of the course material, what’s really left the greatest impression on me, apart from Bleecker’s article about blogjets, is some of the content that other learners on the MOOC have produced, and the things that I’ve learned from them. This point only really struck me when Ary Aranguiz @trendingteacher graciously replied to a tweet saying “it’s been wonderful learning with you!” Immediately I thought, you know what, she’s right; I”ve really learnt a lot from other people on the course. Although I haven’t always kept up, or indeed had any timely comments to make within our quadblogging group, I’ve actually learnt lots just by watching the learning of others.

Vicarious learning (Bandura, 1962) is also known as observational learning, social learning, or modelling and is a type of learning that occurs as a function of observing, retaining and replicating behaviour observed in others, so here are my vicarious learning highlights from what’s been a very thought provoking and satisfying MOOC:

 “All the world’s a MOOC, and all the men and women merely teachers and learners.” – blog post by Ary Aranguiz that prompted me to go off and investigate the topic of rhizomatic learning.

WOW! They’ve glassed us! – blog post by Angela Towndrow whose brilliant use of images really brought home to me the power that a visual story can have.

Voyages of the Starship #EDCMOOC – a “cheeky” animation by Willa Ryerson, documenting the week 1 hangout, that shows just how easy some tools are to learn, and what’s more, how important it is to have a sense of fun.

Fake Identity @HamishAMacleod – a spoof Twitter account for one of the course tutors, Hamish Macleod, created by Andy Mitchell. I thought the production of this as a digital artefact to represent learning from the course was at the same time both genius and risky. It certainly makes the point about identity and online security in the digital age. Click on the hyperlink “Fake Identity” in the tweet below to get the full effect of the spoof.

“Digital Life” – an augmented music video parody – catchy lyrics “Digital Life has Changed Who We Are” to the Buggle’s tune of “Video Killed the Radio Star” by Amy Burvall, which memorably gets the message across how life has now very much changed to become digital.

The Ecology of Yearning in a MOOC – a video by Ary Aranguiz, whose message “we all yearn for meaning, growth and connection” hit the spot for me as it seems to say a lot about why so many people showed up and played their part in what’s been a very special learning experience.

And finally, my thanks have to go to the EDCMOOC team

Dr Jen Ross     Dr Christine Sinclair     Dr Hamish Macleod     Dr Sian Bayne     Jeremy Knox

who did a great job in providing such a dynamic and thought provoking MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSE. And like they say in their introduction, you can find out more about their work with the MSc in Digital Education here.

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Card tricks produce learning design magic for digital literacies and professional skills module #oldsmooc

The joy of working with “more capable others” (Vygotsky, 1978), well, specifically one “more capable other”, Jane Challinor. With the oldsmooc focus this week on design representations and their value in enabling design thinking, discourse and sharing, just look at what Jane produced so that we’re now able to do exactly that (see her blog post for the details).

Course features cards and digital literacy facilitation cards amalgamated by Jane Challinor.

The design project, that thus far we’d been working on in a fairly simultaneous fashion, really seemed to come together this week, and it was due to a combination of endeavour and serendipity. Having worked through the activities and looked at the course resources, I decided to use the Course Features Cards to help visualise what elements our course might consist of. I duly selected 12 elements, posted my choice in my learning journal and informed Jane that this was how I was thinking. I was curious to see to what extent Jane’s choice of course elements would match mine. At 6.47 pm on Friday, shortly after I’d finished the task, a tweet arrived from Rebecca Galley to say that “hot off the press “a set of Digital Literacy Facilitation Cards were available for use. Then, on Sunday, when I returned to look at the project again, as if by magic both sets of cards had been sorted and amalgamated to reveal what the Digital Literacies and Professional Skills module would actually look like. The only real clarification that was required between the two of us was in relation to a course element that I’d labelled as a wildcard, namely “specialist literacy support/coaching/mentoring”. Here, I explained that I thought there needed to be a supporting presence within the institutional VLE and amongst the social web applications that the module might utilise. Namely, someone who could model appropriate practice and guide learners as they venture out onto the open web professionally; someone who could nurture discussions about various aspects of digital literacies, professional identity and academic practice. This relates back to my point earlier in the course that technologies can no longer be considered as tools, rather they’re sites of practice where people go to converse and to learn. So to me it makes perfect sense to put a real person, a digital literacy coach/mentor, right in there where the practices that we’re interested in developing actually happen and thus providing really effective support.

In my mind, this point about support and guidance correlates to the pedagogical approaches that might be adopted within the module. In Grainne Conole‘s presentation, the 7Cs of Learning Design, the word vicarious jumped out at me. The concept of “vicarious learning” was originally defined by Bandura and equates to the notion of learning through other learners’ understandings. Here, Grainne kindly pointed to the work of Terry Mayes who had taken this concept to look at how watching videos might be used in this context. But, for me the word vicarious triggered connections to the work of Neil Mercer, which focuses on the role of dialogue within the “intermental zone of development” [IDZ]. Drawing on Vygotskian concepts of “scaffolding” and the “zone of proximal development” [ZPD], Mercer proposes that the IDZ is not a characteristic of individual ability but rather a dialogical phenomenon, created and maintained between people in interaction and through which “vicarious consciousness” (Bruner’s “vicarious learning”) is realized.

Therefore, in the context of our learning design, I think it would be extremely prudent to develop dialogues not just scaffolded by a seemingly “more capable other” i.e. the tutor, but also to design for communicative processes between the learners themselves and allow for vicarious learning to take place as well.

Image source: Jane Challinor


Mayes et al. (2001) Learning From Watching Others Learn. Available at:

Mercer, N. (2000) Developing Dialogues. Available at: