Digital Hubs supporting Participation

This book chapter, written by Fred Garnett & Nigel Ecclesfield, discusses the question of what needs to be addressed in “the major infrastructural, cultural and organisational issues if integrated formal and informal eLearning environments are going to affect any change in the institutional regime,” which came from the chapter brief.
It argues that two conceptual models that we developed can help address these issues;

Firstly a social media participation model, Aggregate then Curate, that was developed on a JISC-funded project, MOSI-ALONG, which itself was designed using an integrated model of formal and informal learning called the Emergent Learning Model.

Secondly a “development framework” for institutional flexibility called an ‘organisational Architecture of Participation’, which was co-created with 15 UK Further Education colleges to better enable e-learning within educational institutions.

Recommendations are made concerning how to address the various infrastructural, cultural and organisational issues that emerged during MOSI-ALONG, as we worked with local partners to better enable adult eLearning. These also includes looking at broader proposals concerning the need for individual adult learning institutions to have ongoing support from collaborative hubs if they are to evolve a community-responsive institutional life-cycle appropriate for adult learning.

The full book chapter is available as a PDF by clicking on this link http://www.slideshare.net/fredgarnett/towards-an-adult-learning-architecture-of-participation

Policy 2.0

Policy 2.0 An Overview

Nigel and I started developing some digital approaches to policy development whilst working in the UK Government for Becta, then the  government’s e-learning agency. This is a short overview of those developments with links to related online resources

lastfridaymob; In 2001 & 2002 a large Advisory Group of 168 Civil Society organisations were involved in a UK govt project to “solve the digital divide” called “Cybrarian.” We came up with a prototype “social network,” but the term didn’t exist then. We were aware of the need for a high-concept description of what we had come up with, however we called it an “Amazon for e-gov” when our client (the UK govt) understood neither Amazon nor e-gov. When our proto-Facebook was rejected (they decided on commissioning a search engine instead – yeah I know) a bunch of us from the technical committee formed lastfridaymob as a silent protest. We were smart enough to realise that the problem was that government didnt understand how to evaluate new Web2.0 technology projects, so we thought we would help by coming up with the criteria for them.  We came up with 7 key points, but simplified it to 1; “Encourage innovative, creative and participative uses of ICT within government initiatives.”

An Information Architecture for Civil Society; One of the more laughable (OK, hilarious) aspects of the “Cybrarian” project was when we handed the project management over to a highly-paid management consultancy. It was quite clear they had no idea of nascent Web2.0 tech projects, so I wrote a piece called An Information Architecture for Civil Society in 2003 to explain how a national civil society tech project needed to be designed. I was concerned that business corporations design social infrastructure using what they understand about business systems architecture. Civil Society, the social DNS of cultures, operates differently, and we need to understand the social information architecture that enables social discourse. (We are currently a facing the same real problem with smart cities).

Learner-generated Contexts Research Group; however our plan to explain to government how to deal with the post-Web 2.0 technology back in 2004/05 foundered so we decided to re-configure as a research group interested in post-Web2.0 models of learning. We accepted that social media, Web2.0 and user-generated content was a given (as would an interactive, creative and participative education system) so we thought of developing criteria, descriptors and pedagogies that allowed for all that. We decided that the way to describe post-Web 2.0 learning was that it would entail Learner-generated contexts (shaped with learner-generated content) where “coincidences of motivations” led to “agile configurations” of learning systems. We held some public events, developing the Open Context Model of Learning. At our event on learning spaces Nigel & I were asked to develop an interactive policy forest so we could identify the policy elements that would enable the social construction of learner-generated contexts.

Policy2.0; Nigel Ecclesfield and Fred Garnett also spent 18 months working with Continue Reading »

Before & After Institutions

How we might develop Education Institution 2.0

Before and After Institutions is a Slideshare which summarises, in general terms, what we have learnt about developing organisational Architectures of Participation; how institutions might become more adaptive to facilitate digitally-driven behaviours. Slides tend to be pointed rather than discursive so this blog post will elaborate on some of the key issues that slides don’t make particularly clear.

Background Nigel Ecclesfield and Fred Garnett started looking at the issue of e-maturity at Becta in 2005 when a key issue of national UK policy concerning e-learning was noticed. It was thought that existing institutions were not e-learning ready and we were tasked to find a solution concerning their overall e-maturity, or e-readiness for e-learning. On a personal note it was working together on this project for over a year that cemented our enduring friendship.

Assumptions Nigel and I each have over 15 years of experience working with e-learning and embedding it within organisations Continue Reading »

9 Key Findings in the Executive Summary

In February 2013 the final report of the public inquiry into the management and poor practices within the Mid-Staffordshire Health Trust was published; consisting of an Executive Summary and three volumes of more than 1000 pages. The reason for the size of this report was the intense public and political interest into the way in which the operations of a public body, the healthcare trust, had failed to promote patient care and had seemed to create a climate where abuse and neglect of patients, particularly the elderly, was commonplace under a management that was more focused on financial performance and the status of the organisation than supporting and sustaining a culture of professional care. The background to the setting up of the inquiry can be found here on WikiPedia  and there is a huge range of commentary and resources which can be found by using the search terms “Francis Report” and “Mid Staffordshire Health Authority Inquiry”. One year on from the publication of the report there is much literature on what has changed as a result of the inquiry and now seems a good time to review the main findings and the recommendations of the committee of inquiry from the perspectives being developed in this blog. After this overview the next post will look at “progress” one year on from the publication of the report and how this exemplifies the issues discussed below.

The key to the Francis report was the disconnect between a managerial focus on finance and organisational status and the public expectation of professional and ethical care for all patients. This latter was overlooked, and sometimes suppressed, in an environment focused on organisational efficiency in order to achieve “Foundation Trust” status. Both the nature of this status and the Mid-Staffordshire Trust’s concern to gain this status are well described in the report, and the key issues clearly elucidated in the Executive Summary.

Francis’ 9 key concerns with the running of the Mid-Staffordshire Health Trust are summarised below. Continue Reading »

Readers of this blog will know that I have discussed an outline of the alternatives to conceptions of “public value” developed by and from the work of Mark Moore in the US and the promotion of this work in the book “Public Value: theory and practice” edited by Moore and Benington (2011). My key criticism of this approach remains that the “public value” defined by Moore and others is not “public” in the sense that publics are engaged in deliberating and defining public values and that there is an underlying acceptance that those engaged in government and public services as senior managers are best placed to form and articulate these debates and, ultimately, determine what “value” is placed on public services. Another strand of this argument could be characterised as “you can have too much democracy!” where political thinkers are putting forward ideas that support restrictions on democratic processes and criticising their application in given circumstances e.g. Berggruen and Gardels (2012), who argue that intelligent governance should replace liberal democracy as it faces crises in terms of funding and legitimacy. Similar perspectives are put forward in Michael Lewis’s “Boomerang: travels in the new third world” (2011)

As I have noted before, this approach is driven by ideas from neo-conservative economic theories and their focus on markets and financial values and “market forces”. This influence is carefully explored in Ben Fine’s work in critiquing the term “social capital” and his key arguments apply here. Continue Reading »

Enabling Digital Practice

Submission to the CAVTL call for Evidence

Background; This blog post publishes the submission that Nigel Ecclesfield, Geoff Rebbeck, Rod Paley and Fred Garnett prepared for the call for evidence issued by CAVTL concerning best practice in Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning. We have variously worked with the sector for around 20 years, with a focus for the past 12 years on implementing new technologies for learning in a manner we now prefer to call ‘enabling digital practice‘. As well as our shared working experiences the substantive part of our submission comes from the Digital Practitioner research work detailed in the last blog post and captured in the slides I Am Curious, Digital. Rod Paley from Xtensis has used xtlearn.net to curate our evidence on that platform on the CAVTL page.

Key Points; The commission asks what evidence is there from the sector on best practice and how it might be developed to improve Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning in the future. We have concluded with five key points;

  1. Authentic learning; looking how learning can be contextualised and personalised so that it best represents employer’s real world requirements whilst also reflecting individual learner needs.
  2. Enabling Digital Practice; identifying how the emerging exemplary practice of practitioners ‘artfully-constructing student-centred learning experiences’ can best be recognised and supported.
  3. The professional use of ‘social’ technology; supporting the application of new social technology, that originate in personal, social uses, in pedagogically purposeful ways, both for learning and for new forms of professional development
  4. Flexible and adaptable providers; identifying the organisational and support needs of practitioners in order to help deliver improved teaching and learning
  5. “Dealing with the future in the present”; reviewing what is required to support the ongoing engagement with socio-economic change that providers and practitioners need in the emerging world of “perpetual beta”

Our research surfaced the first three points, however it also identified

Continue Reading »

When Digital Natives Go to College

Background; This blog post is to complement the slides Digital Practitioner 2011 on slideshare. The topic of the Digital Practitioner emerged from an LSIS survey into FE College staff capabilities during the summer of 2011. It was derived from the work of Geoff Rebbeck at Thanet College who had developed original ways of surveying staff capability and built upon by Nigel Ecclesfield, with support from Fred Garnett, who redesigned the survey in a number of ways. Geoff evolved the approach of moving beyond a quantitative survey of practitioner use of technology for learning to one based upon attitudes and feelings towards the use of technology in action. Nigel developed the survey instrument on SurveyMonkey so that it both captured practitioner attitudes and provided an opportunity for additional free-text responses. Continue Reading »


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