working definitions and thoughts

Prof. Ale Armellini asked me in July 2015 the following 2 important questions linked to my research project, which helped me start defining on what I am trying to achieve.

Ale wrote: “You suggest that the key deliverable of your research will be a “collaborative learning framework for open cross-institutional academic development provision”. So that I get a better sense of what that deliverable means, what are your working definitions of (a) a collaborative learning framework, and (b) open, cross-institutional academic development provision?”

My response follows

Regarding (a), I would really want to know what such a framework would look like in the context of your research. In relation to (b), how does that concept differ from the same statement without the word “open” at the start?”

A. Collaborative learning framework for me at the moment is something, a set of pedagogical conditions that act as enabling factors to scaffold effective collaborative learning and development, which will be developed based on the phenomenographic data analysis, the categories of description and shaped by the outcome space.

How it will look like in the context of my research? I don’t know yet. From the data I have gathered so far and only analysed thematically, I can see that relationships among peers as well as among learners and the facilitators, the sense of belonging and contribution to a versatile learning community, flexibility, choice and high-level of contextualisation might play important roles for engagement, motivation to participate and learn. Yes, there seem to be external factors that influence motivation to participate and stick to completing the open course especially were participants have developed learning relationships, usually through working in small groups.

B. Open cross-institutional development, are shared openly-licensed pedagogical initiatives that sit within at least two different institutions, to create opportunities for their staff who teach or support learning to learn in distributed cross-institutional, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural settings while practitioners external to these two or more institutions are also able to fully participate and are supported in these activities. The cross-institutional provision might be linked to local formal or informal academic programmes and therefore any summative assessment might be dealt with at institutional level. Resources, expertise and support become shared tasks as well as the development and evaluation of such initiatives. Taking ‘open’ out of cross-institutional development, would simply mean a collaboration between two or more institutions without opening this offer up to colleagues from other institutions. My current understanding of open in this context, also relates to the collaborating institutions and the nature of their collaboration which is built on informal practitioners’ or unit-level agreement and therefore is more flexible, dynamic and requires a certain level of commitment and shared responsibility and trust.

Open cross-institutional development might have started with one host institution from a formal or informal provision and further developed into a cross-institutional collaboration, or it could have been created from the outset collaboratively between at least two institutions and then linked back to institutional programmes. Linking global and local are important and will enable practitioners to put things into perspective and context while also having the opportunity to put puzzle pieces together to see the bigger picture.

How will my view change over the next year and a bit?

If you have any question linked to my project, please get in touch. Very happy to respond.


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