Didactical and psycho-pedagogy university module: Student Group Management Unit: #SGM15

Welcome to the online part of the Student Group Management Unit (#SGM15).

We are Tom Burns and Sandra Sinfield from the UK – and we are developing this programme with Vincenzio Piccione from Italy.

We have a website!

To get the full flavour of the online aspects of this course – you can go straight to our website and blog:


Here you will find our Welcome video – where we introduce ourselves and the website and its resources. We hope that you explore all the resources there – and find ways to incorporate them into your own practice.

In summary

In this online course we are offering you THREE activity blocks – with which we would like you to engage – after we have our face-to-face (F2F) sessions at the end of May/early June 2015.

As you can see – all the Content here, also appeared as a Word document in your VLE.

Please engage with our online materials by reading the material – answering the questions – following the links – and especially by writing and posting your own blog responses.

For each 4-hour block of activity with which we ask you to engage, we would like you to write at least ONE blog post of your own – and to READ and COMMENT upon at least THREE posts by your fellow students.

For our assignment we require only one elegant blog post that sums up the key aspects of #SGM15 from your perspective.





ONLINE – SESSION ONE: #SGM15: Collaborative Learning in a Digital Landscape


Tom Burns & Sandra Sinfield

Duration: 4-hours

Activities: reading, answering questions, making notes, watching video, writing a blog post, reading three blog posts from peers.



1: Welcome

2: Get Digital

3: What we can do to promote better student behaviour

4: Feed forward

Learning Outcomes:

  • To explore online learning as a dialogic activity – and to consider participation in this Unit as a step towards developing a Personal Learning Network and an online Community of Practice
  • To set up a personal blog for this course – and to share that blog with fellow students and the tutors
  • To consider the role of the teacher in setting the context for developing positive student behaviour
  • To consider the structure and content of all the elements of this #SGM15 and to proactively prepare for positive engagement.

1: Welcome

Welcome to Student Group Management online! We are really looking forward to working with you here in our virtual space.


We are Tom Burns and Sandra Sinfield – and you can see a bit more of us in the video clips on the #SGM15 website. We hope to get to know more about you as we read your blogs over the next three or four months.

As this is the beginning of our online course and conversation – this is where we urge you to get digital – to set up your blogs and start blogging about the course overall and this Unit in particular. It is where we suggest that you join Twitter and find and ‘follow’ academics in your field – and where we urge you to find and follow a MOOC (massive open online course).

Tip: We want you to alert us to what you are doing and reading and thinking about #SGM15 – by including the hashtag #SGM15 in all your tweets – and especially when you tweet out your blog posts!

Here’s most of that again – but a little more slowly!

2: Get Digital

Entering the age of digital teaching and learning can be unsettling for students and staff alike: we know all this technology is there – we even play with some of it – but we may not know how to harness it effectively in our practice. As part of our online work with you, we want you to please ‘Get digital’!

We would like you to use the whole Student Group Management Unit (#SGM15) – as an opportunity to benefit from taking forward your learning in online spaces. So we want you to set up your own blogs and to use them to reflect on everything that we do together over the #SGM15 virtual and F2F course. Every time you undertake one of our activities – or undertake some reading on the topic on your own initiative, we would like you to reflect on what happened in a short, reflective blog post.


  • Blog posts need only be 300-500 words long – the point is to be reflective and useful rather than descriptive.
  • Your audience will be other teachers just like you – so write your posts for them: why will they be interested in what you have done or learned? What will you want them to think or do after reading your blog post?
  • Blogs are less formal than articles or essays – so find a writing style that works in a blog.
  • It can help to add pictures (photographs or drawings) to make your blog more user-friendly and readable.
  • We will want you to read as many blogs from other students as possible!! But you should aim to rea at least THREE for every Section covered here.
  • Each time you read someone else’s blog – ‘like’ it – leave a Comment. The point with the blogs is to create a friendly dialogue about what we are doing.
  • Your final assignment for us will be to write just one 300 word blog post on what you think has been the most useful aspect of this course. You will be assessed on how well you demonstrate your engagement with the Learning Outcomes of the module – and how well you have engaged with the blog dialogues of your peers.


Note: For each block of teaching that we deliver – we want you to write at least ONE blog post – and to read and comment upon at least THREE blog posts from your colleague.

Community of Practice and Personal Learning Network

A desired outcome of this module is that all participants collaborate on their learning in open webspace – and use that experience to begin to act and feel like a Community of Practice and to build your own Personal Learning Network (PLN). We want you to initiate this by ‘blogging to learn’ – and we hope that this blogging continues after the Unit itself concludes – such that you continue to have dialogue with each other as you put the theory of the Unit into practice in your own contexts.

Activity: Read this post on the evolution of PLN – think how this can help you with the blogging that we want you to undertake on this Unit: http://www.teachthought.com/learning/3-ways-personal-learning-networks-are-evolving/

What we would like you to do:

a: Blog to learn:

We would like participants to blog about their learning on this Student group management Unit. We want you to blog about your engagement with the contents of the Work Book; blog about your experiences on this the online part of the Unit; blog about the Face-to-Face (F2F) sessions; even blog about how you went about setting up your own blog for this course – and how you feel as an academic about putting your thoughts – your experiences – your learning – ‘out there’.

Activity: Read and blog:

Big Activity: Set up your own blog. Give it a catchy title – and start blogging about the #SGM15.


To set up your own blog – try:





b: Twitter for learning:

Twitter is NOT about what you had for breakfast or who that celebrity has married or divorced this time. Twitter is the site to join to keep up with the latest research in pedagogy and everything else you could possibly be interested in. We think that to be a successful academic in the 21st Century, it is essential to join Twitter and ‘follow’ academic leaders in the field in which you wish to excel.

Activity: No matter how sceptical you may be of Twitter – please open a Twitter account to use at least for this course and ‘follow’ your tutors and other academics.

Set up your own Twitter Account Welcome to Twitter – Login or Sign up

Tip: Check out the Education Twitter chats captured on this list: https://sites.google.com/site/twittereducationchats/education-chat-official-list



c: OPTIONAL: Do a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course):

A key aspect of teaching, learning and assessment (LTA) in the 21st century University is the ubiquity of the digital. We have found that one of the best ways to become informed about LTA in a digital and multi-modal world is to undertake a free MOOC and to reflect on it.

There are MOOCs on everything from Quantum physics to Song writing and they are usually quite short, only a few weeks long, so they provide an intensive experience of what it means to be a student in a digital environment. From there you can move on to becoming a skilled teacher in a digital world.

Creative MOOCs that interrogate teaching and learning include:

#ccourses: http://connectedcourses.net/ – which explores the nature of co-creating knowledge in a connected world. Even though the 2014 course has concluded, the resources are all cached on the website – with many videos to watch – and a blog roll of course participants which you can explore.

#rhizo15: http://davecormier.com/edblog/2014/12/05/rhizomatic-learning-a-big-forking-course/ – which explores rhizomatic learning and the notion that the community is the curriculum. This MOOC very much explores process over content – especially the processes of LTA in a digital world.

#ds106: http://ds106.us/about/ (refer back to the Case Study above). DS stands for Digital Storytelling and DS106 started as a synchronous MOOC in 2010. This MOOC was so popular that the community created refused to die! On this site the resources and activities are cached – and a new synchronous course springs up from time to time. If you have always wanted to ‘get digital’ but been afraid to try – this site will take you on a friendly journey to digital storytelling.

Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/courses – for more traditional courses. Search Coursera and see if they have anything on offer that you would like to undertake.

Tip: Even if you feel that you have no *time* to do a MOOC right now – find a course that is running – join it – and just ‘lurk’. See how people teach and learn in the online space. Find the various fora in which people communicate – and follow some of the posts. Just enjoy it… and blog about it.


3: What we can do to promote better student behaviour

When we plan courses we might think about the Content (the what) – we might even think about our teaching and assessment (the how) – but one of the things that can help us to keep students engaged in their learning, is if we really know the WHY of our courses. The following video is designed to seed our own thinking about how we can adapt our practice to make more engaging courses – and thus create ‘better learners’.

Activity: Please watch and make notes on this video on ‘Why we need a why’ – accessible here from #ccourses:


The video is one-hour long – and begins with an exploration of the presenters’ ‘best ever learning experiences’ – and the idea is that we can be better practitioners if we learn how to harness our own experiences of learning – and if we engage with how our learners learn best.

Make notes as you watch the video – and blog about what you personally have gained from it – and how you might apply the lessons learned in your own practice contexts. Try to really address: What is the real WHY of your course? Why should students take it? How will they be changed by it? Why does it matter?

Optional follow up activity: go to Why Do You Teach – and watch Mike Wesch’s Vision of Students Today (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o) – and think about contributing your own thoughts on why you teach: https://whydoyouteach.wordpress.com/

BONUS DIGITAL ACTIVITY: If this has given you the digital bug – you may want to look at the Syllabus of this course for Producing Online Teaching: https://sites.google.com/site/potcertclass13/syllabus

The ‘Where the hell do I start’ tutorial is introduced by a video discussion of the sorts of pedagogy implied by our own preferred way of teaching material – and of students learning it: http://mccpot.org/wp/2012/03/self-paced-where-the-hell-do-i-start/ – a great way to remind us of what we are doing and why… and most importantly HOW.

4: Feed forward

Final Activity: Read through the list of things that will be covered both in the workbook and the virtual and online aspects of this course (below): remembering that the Learning Outcomes for this Unit are:

SGM: Specific competences:

  • Managing the learning environment through a student-centred approach;

§  Effective interaction with different groups of students;§  Adapting teaching styles to different learning styles of students;§  Prevention and /or management of educational conflicts that may occur in the group of students.


#SGM15 Unit Overview:


What do I already know about these topics?

Why has the course been structured in this way?

What do I hope to get from this Unit?

Blog it!


Setting the context:

  • Present changes and their impact on learning styles of youngsters and of new generations of university students.
  • Analysis of the impact of scientific information on learning and teaching styles.
  • Analysis of the impact of cultural and social phenomena on learning and teaching styles.
  • Cognitive strategies.
  • Transforming data and information of analyses in both strategic / methodological approaches and in didactical tools.
  • Narration as strategic tool supporting the “sense of belonging”.


A student-centred approach:

  • Student attitudes and pre-University educational experiences of LTA (learning, teaching and assessment).
  • Pre-University experiences
  • Do we change the student – or our practice?
  • Learning Environment, student-centred approach, “student engagement”, sense of belonging.
  • Building a student-centred blended programme
  • Teaching styles and effectiveness within educational and training settings.
  • Developing positive student qualities
  • Supporting students with engaging learning
  • Adapting teaching styles to different student learning styles – preventing conflict – and creating more engaging assessments.
  • Association for Learning Development in higher Education
  • Critiquing traditional teaching – and promoting multiple intelligences
  • Visual and creative strategies
  • Collage
  • Collage and critical thinking
  • Simulations and role plays
  • Question-, Enquiry- and Problem Based Learning – and the flipped classroom
  • Writing to learn: Writing in the Disciplines/Writing Across the Curriculum
  • Effective interaction and formative assessment.
  • Helping students learn how to be students
  • The Context for the Case Study Module
  • Becoming an Educationalist
  • Models of learning: Communities of Practice and effective interaction
  • Facilitating belonging, collaboration and formative writing
  • A focus on writing: The essay – The blog
  • Formative Assessment.
  • Blogging to learn – and for formative assessment
  • Peer Mentors for interaction and Blogs as knowledge-construction
  • Blended learning.
  • Extract from: Burns, Sinfield and Holley (2009) ‘A journey into silence:
  • The Policy and Pedagogy Contexts?
  • Technology as a Central force in Economic Competitiveness
  • Technology as a Change Agent
  • Embracing technology in the complex learning dance
  • Competences and tools for blended learning.
  • Scaffolding student digital competences – the Salmon model
  • Narratives of the self
  • Scaffold student digital development – design engaging assessments.
  • Blogging the learning
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Join #ds106 and sign up for the teaching blog roll
  • Design engaging assessments: Digital Artefacts
  • Twitter for study
  • Basic Didactical tools for supporting Blended Learning.
  • The competences required for Blended Learning.
  • Why is learning changing?
  • How is learning changing?
  • Making sense of MOOCs
  • Heutagogy and technology
  • The impact of new technology
  • APPENDIX 1: MODULE HANDBOOK: ‘Becoming an Educationalist: reading, writing and enquiry


Remember to write at least one reflective blog post on this – the reading – the video – the questions…

Remember to read at least three posts from your peers.

Remember – ‘like’ your peer’s post – leave a Comment.

Get involved!


ONLINE – SESSION TWO: #SGM15: A student-centred approach


Tom Burns & Sandra Sinfield


Duration: 4-hours


Activities: reading, answering questions, making notes, watching video, writing a blog post, reading three blog posts from peers.



  1. Understanding our students
  2. Developing positive student qualities
  3. Teaching styles
  4. A student-centred approach
  5. Flipping the Classroom
  6. Research – Explore – Blog!
  7. Resources (for students and staff).

Learning Outcomes:

  • To revisit the tutor role in setting the context for positive student behaviour
  • To consider the power of a student-centred approach
  • To consider how to build engaging learning, teaching and assessment practice.


Welcome to the second instalment of our online course for #SGM15. In this section we are going to discuss a student-centred approach to LTA (learning, teaching and assessment) – arguing that there are engaging practices that we can harness in our LTA that seed student curiosity and enquiry and help to promote positive learning.

We can help students to speak and ‘be with each other – thus helping to bond students together into friendship groups – that can develop into Communities of Practice fostering a positive learning environment and praxis (and obviate inappropriate behaviour). We can scaffold student reading and notemaking so that they do actually read (!) – and that they engage actively in making sense of their own learning. We can set students visual and digital challenges that help them decode and make meaning in this more multimodal age; we can flip the classroom to focus more on the processes of learning … and we can stimulate student engagement and curiosity by setting them real problems and projects that value their work and model purposive academic endeavour.

Specifically we are going to explore:

  • Understanding our students
  • Developing positive student qualities
  • Teaching styles
  • A student-centred approach
  • Flipping the Classroom
  • Research – Explore – Blog!
  • Resources (for students and staff).

1: Understanding our students

Who are our students? Are students today the same as you when you were a student? What might have changed for our students both before they enter our institutions – and once they leave? Why does any of this matter?

In the UK there has been rapid expansion of the HE sector:

  • We have moved from a situation where only 7% of the population engaged in HE to one where nearly 50% of the population to have access to HE.
  • This ‘Widening Participation’ (WP) agenda meant that a once free higher education, whilst still subsidised, now costs students £9,000 per annum in fees – plus living costs.
  • Many students, especially the WP students, have to work whilst they study.
  • A fee-paying student is possibly a ‘consumer-student’ who demands value for money whilst not perhaps understanding what might constitute value in an academic setting.
  • There has been a massive expansion of the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies – and students are no longer dependent on the University as gate keeper to information.
  • In the UK – the pre-University experiences of our students are swamped by narratives of assessment, measurement and control (SATs, League Tables, OFSTED).
  • All these changes can and have impacted on our students – on who they are – how they think and feel – and how they learn. Arguably the more we can understand our students and adapt our teaching for the people that they actually are – the better the will learn.

Activity: Answer these questions and reflect on the implications for your practice of your answers:

  1. In what ways are the experiences of Romanian students similar to or different from those of students in the UKHE context?
  2. On your own, or with a study partner – create a thumbnail sketch of the ‘typical’ Romanian HE student – the sorts of students that you regularly teach:
    1. What are their strengths? How do you harness their strengths when you design your teaching?
    2. What are their potential weaknesses? How do you scaffold your students’ learning such that their weaknesses are addressed without making those students feel deficit?
    3. How do you ensure that you start from where your students actually are?
  1. Developing positive student qualities

By now you might be thinking that we are placing too much emphasis on you, the professor or the tutor – surely the students themselves must bring something positive to the encounter?

Currently there is again in the theoretical education community, discussion of the qualities that students themselves have to bring to a positive learning encounter – and most recently debate has centred on ‘care’: that the student has to care about their learning – they have to want to learn – they have to see the value of the educational encounter for themselves.

Activity: Follow these blog links and read the posts on the purpose of education and the nature of caring (a really interesting but informal debate). Make notes as you go on how you can apply any ‘lessons learned’ in your own contexts:

  1. Teaching styles

In the end – we cannot control the student nor the level of care they are bringing to the encounter! But we can acknowledge the wider socio-economic-political aspects of society and education: a really influential voice in the education debate globally is Ken Robinson. Robinson critiques traditional teaching methods as too rooted in nineteenth century models that stifle creativity in (staff and) students – and are fundamentally ill-suited to our place and time.

Activity: Watch the following videos and animations on schooling and creativity – and the need to change our educational paradigms. Make notes on the content – and how the ‘lessons learned’ might be useful to you in your own context.

Theoretical perspectives on teaching and learning

In the sections below, you will find guidance on practical activities and strategies that we have put into place across our University with a view to improving students’ engagement, behaviour and success. As preparation for reading through some of those, you might like to think about what sort of teacher you would define yourself as. Major theoretical influences on our own practice include:

  • Carl Rogers who said good learning is all about unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence
  • John Dewey who thought we needed education for democracy via democratic education
  • Freire who did not want to do education to people – he wanted to work with them
  • Ivan Illich who thought that we needed to ‘de-school’ society …and
  • John Holt who was so disillusioned with formal education that he thought no positive change could happen within formal academic settings
  • Less theoretical but equally convincing is Jim Davies who in his (2011) TED Talk, ‘Don’t waste student work’, suggests that rather than setting students the task of reading for reading’s sake or writing assignments designed for the re-gurgitation of ‘facts’, we require students to engage in unique and meaningful tasks: construct and share their own interactive revision resources or find and review a fresh article relevant for their studies – publish this to a class website.


Research Activity: Search online for information upon the theorists named above. Think about what they stand for and how you might harness their ideas in your own practice.


  1. A Student-centred approach

In our institution we see that our project is to empower our students for informed action (Freire 1997) both in and outwith the University. We argue that it is possible both within and alongside the curriculum to create student-centred approaches that leverage student attitudes and aptitudes and in the process create positive space for students to actively engage in their own learning and with each other. Moreover we argue that when such a positive and empowering approach is adopted, students become bonded into Communities of Practice and issues of ‘bad behaviour’ have been designed out.

All the resources on the #SGM15 website have been put together to seed your thinking about possible different ways to engage your students with your teaching and in their own learning – please have a look at the resources cached here and think about if and how you might build them into your own LTA practice.


Activity: Explore the resources (Developing a digital student; Developing notemaking and reflective learning; IBL & PBL: Problems and Projects; Promoting Discussion: Promoting Reading; Simulations and Role Plays; Visual and Creative Strategies; Writing in the Disciplines/Writing Across the Curriculum) cached on the #SGM website: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/dppm/index.html

Look for ideas that you would like to incorporate into your practice.

Each of the sections include some practical ‘pick up and go’ suggestions with links to further reading and resources.

  1. Flipping the classroom: Question- Enquiry- and Problem Based Learning

We have argued that traditional LTA methods are in danger of being non-effective not least because they cannot compete with the dynamic nature of the sources of information with which our students can and do engage. Moreover they tend to instil a passivity in our students where all the power for their learning resides with us, the tutors, and the only power the student has is to be docile – the passive good student; or resistant – the non-attender or the poorly behaved class member. There are many movements or tropes in education all designed to engage students more actively in their own learning processes – for example QBL, EBL, PBL and the flipped classroom or flipped learning.

Activity: For a brief overview of the field, please see – and makes notes upon the flowing make connections between your own practice as it is – and as you might like it to become:

Flipped Classroom:


See also: http://ctl.utexas.edu/ctl/teaching/flipping-a-class

Flipped Learning:


Definition of flipped learning:


Object Based Learning – University Resources: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/learning-resources/object-based-learning

Problem Based Learning:


Resources to support PBL:


Enquiry Based Learning:


EBL and Research Based Learning:


  1. Research – Explore – Blog

Now that you have researched, explored and followed – think about the following questions – and blog your answers:

  • How well do the resources/theories/approaches that you have discovered ‘fit’ with your current approaches to LTA? How do they differ? Which ones interest you?
  • What new strategies/approaches are you now planning to build into your own LTA practices? Give brief reasons for your answers.
  • Blog it!!


  1. Resources

Resources for Students:

To support students with engaging learning, we have developed the Study Hub http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/studyhub/ – with advice and resources that they can harness to develop the efficacy of their own learning styles and study strategies. We have also launched the Study Chat FaceBook group and Twitter feed using the hashtag #studychat – and you are welcome to invite your students to use the resources on the Study Hub and to participate in the Social Media enabled conversations: https://www.facebook.com/LondonMetStudyChat and in Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23studychat&src=typd .


Resources for Staff: Association for Learning Development in Higher Education

We are founder members of the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (www.aldinhe.ac.uk) and whilst ostensibly ALDinHE is for Learning Developers, we also like to think that ALL university academics who are interested in helping their students to study effectively are in fact Learning Developers. Thus we invite you to consider joining the Association and consider bringing your experiences of developing student learning and achievement to our annual conference. But we offer to all academics access to our online community of practice: www.jiscmail.ac.uk/ldhen and free online journal: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/ojs/ – and also to use the peer-reviewed teaching resources that are emerging from our community http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/


Remember to write at least one reflective blog post on this – the reading – the video – the questions…

Remember to read at least three posts from your peers.

Remember – ‘like’ your peer’s post – leave a Comment.

Get involved!


ONLINE – SESSION THREE: #SGM15: Collaborative Teaching in a Digital Landscape


Tom Burns & Sandra Sinfield


Duration: 4-hours


Activities: reading, answering questions, making notes, making a digital artefact, writing a blog post, reading three blog posts from peers.



1: Blended Learning

2: Scaffolding Blended Learning

3: Digital Storytelling

4: Resources for the future

Learning Outcomes:

  • To explore teaching as a dialogic activity in a blended landscape
  • To consider using a class blog as a way of modelling online learning for your students
  • To scaffold student blogging as part of their reflective learning – and to support the evolution of confident academic writing
  • To explore multi-modal ways of assessing student learning – and, by being more engaging, supporting positive student behaviour.


In this section we really get digital – we want you to think about blogging to your students – and getting your students to blog their learning. We recommend that you consider the role of digital storytelling in your practice – and that you make and blog about a digital artefact – for the experience – and for the fun of it. Let’s get started!


  1. Blended Learning:

Activity: To set the scene for a consideration of the role that technology might play in supporting positive student behaviour please read and reflect on the flowing:


Why is learning changing?


How is learning changing?


Making sense of MOOCs


Heutagogy and technology

See also this interesting blog post that explores the impact of technology on pedagogy – and proposes that the nature of technology itself is moving us towards the age of heutagogy – or more self-directed learning (drawn from the Digitally Literate Leaner blog): http://dllearner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/week-6-activity-21.html


Teaching as wayfinding:


  1. Scaffolding blended learning

We refer in the WorkPack to the module Becoming an Educationalist wherein we wanted students to blog their learning to develop academic voice and power as they narrated themselves becoming academic. To model collaborative practice and the writing of quasi-academic blogging, we wrote our own reflective blogs on the module; see http://becomingeducational.wordpress.com/. We also demonstrated ‘blogging to learn’ by sharing posts from our own reflective pedagogic blog, Last Refuge, where we write about our own learning experiences, including MOOC participation; see http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/.

Activity: Read some of our Becoming blog: https://becomingeducational.wordpress.com/. See how we reflect on the lessons – re-post student blogs – and discuss the assignments. What do you think about this mode of addressing students? Is this something you might consider in your own practice? Make notes.

Scaffolding student digital competences – the Salmon model

We wanted our students to blog their learning to make their learning conscious to themselves – and also to gradually develop mastery of academic writing itself. In the process we modelled blogging for our students – and we utilised Salmon’s (2000) Five Stage model of e-learning to seed our students’ blogging:

  • Stage 1: Access and motivation: invited students to take part in blogging the learning, demonstrated blogging tools, modelled blogging; asked Peer Mentors to facilitate the setting up and customising of blogs;
  • Stage 2: On-line socialization: encouraged playful voices and commenting upon the blogs of others, suggested quad-blogging to ensure dialogue; commented lightly on the student blogs, not marking spelling punctuation and grammar – and positively encouraging energy and enthusiasm;
  • Stage 3: Information exchange: more encouragement of commenting on the blogs of others; re-blogging student blogs to the whole class;
  • Stage 4: Knowledge construction: blogged about the classes and the topics covered, re-blogged academic blog posts of relevance and used student blogs in class to illustrate aspects of the course and to seed discussion;
  • Stage 5: Development: students encouraged to re-visit their blogs for use in their final essay and to compose a meta-narrative when submitting blog extracts for assessment.

Blogging the learning: some tips

Require that students write regular weekly blogs on their learning. Writing for real audiences helps students to realise that academic writing is about having something to say – to real people. Blogs are multimodal semi-public and quasi-academic spaces in which students can narrate themselves as they become academic. Setting students the task of blogging their reflective learning journals also develops student learning through the act of writing.



Narratives of the self: And this is what our student voices said:


‘Week 9 was all about my nightmare….drawing!

My drawings always mock me:

“Ha! I have defeated you! You may have many words, but give you a pencil, and watch the intelligence disappear! That’s not how you wanted it to look, is it? Is that a person or a tree? Dumbo!’’

In a class of five year old children, I am quite happy to display my ridiculous sketches. I explain to the children that drawing is not my strong point, and they assure me that I have done a very good job of representing the characters, props and scenery in the storyboard. However, if someone were to come in, they would be quite convinced that the children had drawn the pictures – and not the most artistically gifted children, either!

At the moment, I feel afraid of failure, but I have to remember that I have been here before. In 2011, I graduated with merit at the Barbican, from a Foundation Degree in Education: Primary Pathway. So I need to keep three things in mind:

  • Keep taking risks!
  • It will be worth all the hard work!
  • There are people to help me on my journey!’


‘In this week’s lecture, we were subjected to a 10 minute free writing exercise. If we stopped writing, then we were to write the reason why we did so on a separate piece of paper. Seemed easy enough, but the question given was very ambiguous to us: Winnicott (1971) argued that play is necessary to        counteract the implicit threat of transitional…

“What?” I asked myself. “Who is Winnicott? What does he mean by play? Implicit threat?” I started writing, even though I had no idea what the question was asking. It took three attempts to get my writing flowing.’


When reading the blogs that students did write, you can see the voice, the energy and the passion – you can see playfulness and a rounded self emerging. This – these – are voices feeling their way into university and carving identities that feel like the student and the person that they are – but that is also transforming into the academic they are becoming. Moreover, we would argue, that that transformation is happening much more on the students’ own terms than if the writing only happened within the formal constraints of the restrictive academic essay. Further, the very nature of the blogging process underscores that it is about writing within and for communities of practice; it constitutes (online) dialogic (collaborative) learning. We felt and feel that blogging to learn has the potential to offer students playful online collaborative spaces to facilitate their learning. Moreover, as students could be said to have moved productively through Salmon’s (2000) Five Stage model of e-learning – we urge that this five stage model be taken back and used in classroom settings: what bonds students, builds efficacy and promotes active learning in virtual spaces, also fulfils that function in F2F spaces.

Activity: When, where, why and how might you use blogging to learn with your own students? Make notes.

  1. Digital Storytelling

The digital age is predicated on the notion of Student as Producer (of knowledge) – as opposed to earlier education ages that appeared to position the student as a consumer of knowledge. If helping your students to become digitally capable and proficient, set students the challenge of making digital artefacts and/or telling digital stories. Here are some useful strategies for developing Digital Storytelling in your students.

Activity: See http://edtechteacher.org/tools/multimedia/digital-storytelling/ – for school examples to inspire and resource your own practice.

Join #ds106 and sign up to the teaching blog roll

DS106 – or digital storytelling 106 – started as a MOOC, massive open online course, which created an international community of practice of educationalists interested in developing their and their students’ digital capacities in engaging and dynamic ways. The tutors have curated the website and its tasks and resources so that it continues to act as a meeting point for digitally developing educationalists. #DS106 has Quickstart Guides, Assignments, Handbooks and Daily Create challenges – and you can use them yourselves or require your students to use the resources to become more active and powerful in digital media. Tip: Sign your class up to #ds106 and enrol their blogs on the blog roll: http://ds106.us/teaching-ds106/

Design engaging assessments: Digital Artefacts

For certain assignments or parts of assignments, rather than writing an essay or report; require students to produce a digital artefact that sums up their learning – or to produce a teaching and learning resource that would convey learning about the key issues on the course. To assist with this we have built the AniMet Challenge: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/animation/ – you are welcome to build this resource into your own practice if you feel it would be useful.

Didactical Tools and Resources from our PLN

One way that we inspired our students to get digital was to show them the following digital artefacts – and then ask them to ‘Develop a Digital Me’. That is, we asked them to set their own short project where they used an artefact to tell a story about themselves or about studying. The final activity on the Project was that they had to design a Poster for an Exhibition that would show case their learning.

Make an Artefact Activity: Explore the following artefacts. Choose one – and create a short ‘story’ about any aspect of this online part of the #SGM15 Unit that has particularly intrigued or engaged you. Post the link to your artefact in your blog – and say yourself what you did – why – and how you think it turned out.


Bonus Activity: This is what our students produced when teaching themselves technology with the tools of their choice: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/posters-digital/ .

Have a look – explore the Posters and artefacts: write about whether and how you can use this in your own practice.

  1. Resources for the Future

Alan Levine is one of the leading lights of #ds106 and has curated these didactical tools for developing our practice and our competences:

Alan Levine (aka CogDog) put this together:


And here is Alan Levine’s older iteration of that site: http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools



Remember to write at least one reflective blog post on this – the reading – the video – the questions…

Remember to make and share a digital artefact.

Remember to read at least three posts from your peers.

Remember – ‘like’ your peer’s post – leave a Comment.

Get involved!



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