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Design and epistemic fluency

In this podcast “Teaching as design”, Mollie Dollinger and Jason Lodge speak with Peter about design for learning. But in the last 11 minutes of the podcast Peter describes what epistemic fluency is, its origins, and our work expanding this notion. Peter also talks about how epistemic fluency is connected to design. If you are interested just in epistemic fluency, start listening the podcast from the 31st minute.

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Extensions: Approaches for making connections between academia and work

Chapter 2 includes a brief overview of the main educational approaches that are used to help students make connections between academic study and workplace performance: simulations, role plays, case-based learning, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, internships, reflective practice, communities of practice, etc. Our colleague George Hatsidimitris created a nice re-interpretation of the schema of these approaches also insightfully extended it with one element “communication technologies”.  Indeed, communication technologies could help create a hybrid space for linking the lecture hall and workplace. Thank you George.

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Schema of approaches to professional formation. Image by George Hatsidimitris (July 2017)

‘Work ready’, ‘work knowledgeable’ and ‘work capable’: Preparing students for the workplace through designing productive assessment tasks

We will be presenting our paper that discusses various designs of tasks for assessing “workplace readiness” on the 27th of June, at the  HERDSA 2017 Conference. If you will be attending the conference and interested, check the program and come to the session. The abstract is below. We will post our slides and link to the full paper after the conference.

Preparing students for the workplace through designing productive assessment tasks: An actionable knowledge perspective

Lina Markauskaite and Peter Goodyear

Abstract

Preparing students for the workplace and assessing their readiness are often major challenges for university teachers. What kinds of concrete tasks help students develop professional capacities needed for situated knowledgeable action in a broad range of possible future workplace settings?

Our research examined assessment tasks that university teachers set for students in courses that were preparing them for work placements in five professions: nursing, pharmacy, teaching, social work, and school counselling. We combined ‘actionable knowledge’ and ‘objectual practice’ perspectives and investigated what students were asked to do, what they were expected to learn and how. Specifically, we analysed the nature of the objects that teachers selected for assessment tasks and the nature of the concrete artefacts that students were asked to produce.

Our results show some fundamental differences in teachers’ choices of objects. They ranged from basic and very specific aspects of professional work to some of the hardest and most broad-ranging challenges in the profession. The tasks also required students to engage in the production of a wide range of artefacts. We classified these as ‘cultural artefacts’, ‘conceptual artefacts’ and ‘epistemic artefacts’.

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Our discussion draws parallels between these three kinds of artefacts and the notions of ‘work ready’, ‘work knowledgeable’ and ‘work-capable’ graduates, respectively. We argue that teachers, through task designs, shape ways in which students learn to link action (skill) with meaning (knowledge). Our findings raise some important questions about the kinds of authentic tasks that help prepare work-capable graduates for future learning.

Beyond professional education: Why do we need epistemic fluency?

Eight years ago, when Peter and I started this project, public interest in ‘epistemic X’ was steadily going up. Knowing, that the interest in ‘wisdom’ was falling, it made sense for us to invest some our intellectual energy into understanding ‘epistemic fluency’. At least, there was an implicit hope that this may compensate for the ‘fall’ in ‘wisdom’.

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Has the situation changed after 8 years? It is hard to get ‘hard’ evidence, but from looking at Twitter’s feeds, I think it is safe to say that public interest in ‘epistemic X’ was as ever on peak. But ‘X’, to my dismay, wasn’t ‘fluency’.

‘Epistemic closure’ was certainly on the top of the list (particularly around the US election time), followed by ‘epistemic nihilism’, ‘epistemic injustice’, ‘epistemic uncertainty’, ‘epistemic violence’, even ‘epistemic sexism’. (I am less sure about  ‘wisdom’, but its antonym ‘stupidity’ certainly was on peak too, in 2016.)

What does it mean for education? On the one hand, we may simply ignore this: word ‘epistemic’ equally happily floats above everything that we hate or value. On the other hand, we should admit that our educational systems have not yet succeeded rising up an epistemically wise and respectful population.

It is likely that 2017 will be even more epistemically challenging. We haven’t yet learnt to participate in democracies that we created, and now we need to debate democracies in which we find ourselves. This is why we need epistemic fluency.

Peter’s invited lecture at ascilite 2016

Peter’s talk at ascilite2016 on skilful design and epistemic fluency. The video recording is  here

Peter Goodyear

This may not be the final version, but will have most of the references, ideas etc.

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Analysis and design for complex learning …

Over the last year or so, there has been a good deal of online soul-searching about the field or discipline of educational technology: about its nature, foundations, scope and purpose – including whether and how it can make a difference to policy and practice in higher education, which is ascilite’s home ground. In this talk, I want to focus on the production of educational design knowledge: knowledge that is useful to people who design for other people’s learning. I will use, as an illustrative example, the ACAD framework – an Activity-Centred approach to Analysis and Design – to make some points about the creation of useful design knowledge. In so doing, I hope to (a) draw attention to a family of approaches to research and development…

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