Last Monday, I gave a talk on my research as part of the 'engaging research' seminar series associated with the RCUK funded Catalyst and SUPI projects. I explained why I think engagement is so important.
In my research, I try to identify the range of stakeholders in a given learning context that will be affected by the introduction of a technology. Through understanding the activities that the stakeholders are involved in, I try to develop technologies that will be used to facilitate learning without causing too much extra work for any individual stakeholder. By engaging, I hope to understand the stakeholders' perspectives and where possible collaborate with them to create something they will find useful.
Here's the video of the seminar along with the slides (including the cited references) and abstract...
"The implications of social constructivism for technology-enhanced learning and potential lessons for public engagement with research"
Presentation slides: pdf file (11MB)
Social constructivism, an established theory within the learning sciences, argues that knowledge is constructed in groups that collaboratively create cultures of shared artifacts with shared meanings. The implications of this theory are significant and have transformed approaches to teaching from a process of transmission to a process of dialogue. Within the OU this is reflected in our 'dialogue in print' approach, which seeks to engage students in an active conversation with their learning resources and peers through a series of self-assessment questions, exercises and assignments that clarify understanding, encourage reflection and build motivation. In this seminar, we will explore the implications of social constructivism for technology-enhanced learning, drawing on examples from communications, technology and computing research. I will describe how these implications informed a recent collaboration with the Field Studies Council, in which we developed a system to support fieldwork learning. Finally, the lessons learned from this case study will be discussed with regard to the wider implications for public engagement with research.