PhD Spotlight #1: E-Dynamic.Place, the future kit

Envisioning innovation in education with students as co-designers


Strange as it might seem 2000 years ago, Socrates was discussing with Phaedrus about the written word:

“There remains the question Phaedrus, of property or impropriety of writing.”

But today we couldn’t imagine our world, even less the university, if we couldn’t read or write.

But we don’t read and write in static pages anymore instead, the canvas in which we express ourselves is becoming dynamic and complex. Digital tools have allowed us to publish our thoughts in any number of ways, and it is changing the way individuals, teams and organisations collaborate with each other for teaching, learning and research.

It seems to me that being literate has become something very different from what Socrates was moaning about. In fact, it is no longer literacy, but literacies; the word has even changed denoting by its plural the complexity of this new medium.

It also stresses the tension between the ancient and the modern, the monolithic and the agile, the closed and the open, the institutional and the personal; in short it denotes the ongoing tension between the virtual learning environment and the personal learning environment, something this study is interested in looking at in more detail.

For this reason, my research asks the question of how can students be supported and encouraged to engage in a meaningful way with these new literacies in a research-rich academic context?

Research shows that students do not want ready-made solutions; instead they want to be asked and be part of the solution. In this project they will be dynamic partners and co-construct their digital environment together with the researcher. Therefore, I will first explore and understand their experience, views, expectations, and current digital practice discovering patterns that will be translated into the building blocks of a scaffold structure that will support students in re-designing their digital learning environment. We will craft together a learner’s profile and deconstruct the dissertation module and with those elements and the scaffold in place the prototyping will start.

We will craft together a learner’s profile and deconstruct the dissertation module and with those elements and the scaffold in place the prototyping will start.

Much is written about personal learning environments, but little empirical evidence is available. This research aims to provide empirical evidence on the process of crafting a Personal Learning Environment.

In my research participants are not only data providers but also dynamic partners. They will be the architects of the space, being actively involved with the process of becoming digitally competent.

E-D.Space to Place

The digital environment will be a learning outcome in itself. Students will be deploying higher order cognitive skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation, gaining critical thinking along the journey.

Tools are slowly becoming transparent to the social. As the digital calculator has become the calculator, the e-book will soon become the book.

The focus is shifting from tools as the unit of analysis to what students can make out of them. What can they learn better or deeper when using some of those tools? What they need to learn or improve to be able to harness the affordances those tools have to offer? How can their learning be amplified by the skills they are deploying?

In this project there is more than one route to success, each of the students will reinvent their learning space linking technological activities with transformational learning.

Hacking the VLE, making the PLE and sharing the experience and the resources.

EXTRA: Caroline’s presentation to the ESR Conference on 16/05/16


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