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The less obvious underlying factors in HE learning today

Title: The less obvious underlying factors in HE learning today
Date/time: Monday 3 Nov 2014. Session: 2:40-3:30pm, (my own slot: 3pm? - 3:20pm).
Occasion: ILIaD inaugural conference
Virtual Place: Institute of Learning Innovation and Development (ILIaD)
Actual Place: Perhaps building 38, Highfield campus.     Southampton University
How to get there: a page

Presenter Steve Draper,   School of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Slides: PDF
Related material:

  • All references in the slides can be found in full within this bibliography.
  • A talk by me on the two channel (twitterized) classroom
  • 2cc: The two channel (twitterized) classroom


    Learning revolves around interaction whether with non-human resources, teachers, or fellow learners (peers). New technology and economics change the veneers for these, but not the basics. One future ("forward to the past") might see the spread of learning from textbooks with built-in exercises and answers in the back. Chi for one has shown that learners gain little from books or videos (or 3D simulations) unless they have a worksheet and better still a fellow learner as well: such resources are interactive only at the keystroke level, not at the learning level. In a MOOC class of 2,000 and "only" 10 GTAs, there can be only neglible personal interaction between teacher and each learner. Such courses will stand or fall by whether there is copious and productive peer interaction. Without peer interaction, the course is no different from a textbook. This requires creating peer interactions in huge cohorts. One approach is along the lines of speed dating: short, focussed conversations with a stranger. However there is an additional condition that all learners are ready to discuss each topic at the same time. HE mostly uses the "cohort model" of allowing enrollments only once a year or semester. A systematic analysis must consider the alternative of a "dojo model", traditionally used for learning martial arts and scuba diving. Here, students join at any time, and each weekly class has students at many levels of expertise, dealing with that week's topic. Since trying to teach is the most powerful learning method we know of, this benefits all students. A recent study found that a large proportion of a class relegated to a video-linked overflow room came to prefer it to the main hall: the spare seating meant they could always sit with their friends, the view of the screen was better, and the GTA there from early to late meant they could always ask a teacher questions. This illustrates how the neglect of the human interaction aspects of learning are exposing problems equally in campus and online teaching. A study of a highly successful MOOC showed that the same set of people studying the same thing at the same time found it natural to use many different platforms at once. This suggests that learning requires not just peer interaction of one fixed type, but many types of interaction all towards the same overall aim (each with different requirements on the software).

  • Hugh Davis' keynote slideshare

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