Saturday, 7 March 2009

H809: Week Three reflections

I had been meaning to get this post out earlier but have been busy this week trying to submit a conference paper. But it's all in now, so will have to wait and see how it goes.

Students were asked to use academic search engines such as Google Scholar and ISI Web of Science (which you need to access through the OU library page, under databases but remember to sign in first) to find papers and evaluate their impact by checking how many times the papers had been cited. It seems that while this turned out to be a rather time consuming task and that not everyone got the same results, most people concluded that the last two readings didn't seem to have a huge impact and some students started to question whether number of citations was the only way to measure impact - surely having to read them for the course means they have an impact, despite not adding to how many times they have been cited?

There were two readings for this week; the first of which was "How can learning technologies improve learning?" (Laurillard, 1994). The main point that came out of the discussions about this was how important it was to consider the relationship between the context in which learning takes place and the outcomes which result from this learning. It isn't enough to simply ask whether technology x improves learning, but under what conditions does technology x improve learning, something H809 tutor Rhona highlights in her post and links to how to approach TMA1. JM has also posted on how the paper relates to the use of wikis. Another issue that came out of the forums is that technology can sometimes be an obstacle to learning, as students could end up spending too much time getting to grips with the software and not enough on the content they are supposed to be learning. This is actually quite relevant to my topic of research, because there does seem to be a distinction between learning how to play a game i.e. in terms of controls, and other skills that develop as a result of continued play e.g. problem solving, decisions making etc. Another interesting point raised about the paper was how the arguments within it are still valid today with respect to newer technologies (e.g. Web 2.0, virtual worlds), with a link being posted to a New Scientist article about the impact of podcast lectures.

Less was said about the second paper "Knowledge, society and perspectives on learning technology" by Oliver and colleagues (2007). I suspect part of the reason for this is that it continued the epistemological debate over positivism and other social perspectives, and also because we are getting closer to the first assignment deadline. Juliette Culver has posted quite a nice summary of both the papers, and her thoughts on them - from this and the forums it seems students appreciated how the paper outlined different perspectives and gave actual examples of how these would influence research in practice. There was also the suggestion that while quantitative approaches might be good for examining whether an effect takes place, qualitative approaches are probably more useful for explaining why the effect occurs (or not). The discussions on frameworks also link to the final activities for this week concerning the podcast about the impact of ICTs in education (you will need to be signed in to access this link). The podcast seemed to get people thinking about how important it is to consider philosophical perspectives, in addition to the other questions suggested in Week 1, when reading about research, as the approach adopted is quite likely to affect the methods and conclusions of the paper.

I think that covers the main events of the last week or so. If anyone has anything to add though, do please let me know. I'd also be happy to receive any feedback about how useful (or not!) these posts are, what I should be including in them, and about the timing of them.


JM said...

Hi Jo
Yes I think your summary is very helpful thank you - it points to some of the blog entries I may have missed. Are you also able to acces the forum discussions?

Jo Iacovides said...


Glad you find them useful! Yes I do have access to the forums so I am able to keep track of the discussions going on. I did do an introductory forum post at the start of the course, that should have been sent out to all the students, but not sure if you received it?


Costas said...

Hi Jo,

I listened to two podcasts at which you can check out. I liked the one with Ian Bogost especially. Hope it's something you find interesting.

1.Ian Bogost is a videogame critic, designer and researcher, as well as an author. We speak to him about how games can be used for activism and instruction, not 'just' having fun.

link -

2. We chat to Siobhan Thomas, a games academic who believes there's tremendous potential for games companies to use people with learning disabilites as games testers and QA staff.

link -

Jo Iacovides said...

Thanks Costas, I'm actually reading Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games at the moment and enjoying it quite a lot. I'll check out the podcasts and let you know what I think!