17 March 2015

A few more comments were produced as feedback to peers in Coursera platform, and some days have passed since my last posts.

The course is at its final, with the last Unit on Differentiated Learning taking placing last week.

Discussions in the different fora have been prolific, with extensive posts on the themes proposed. This exchange of viewpoints has been interesting and whenever one posts one has to reflect (and sometimes quote from articles/publications) on the issues and that’s a good exercise.

An overview of the 7 affordances for learning in my last artifact.


9 March 2015

My comment for Week 8-Differentiated Learning,  about the ways in which technologies supporting differentiated instruction can change the experience of learners:

Homogeneity of students has been the traditional class presumption, but students are different and learn in different ways. Some learning theories have for long highlighted the cognitive differences of learners, such as Howard Gardner’s theory of the multiple Intelligences.

«Differentiated instruction is an approach to teaching and learning for students with different abilities in the same classroom. The theory behind differentiated instruction is that teachers should vary and adapt their approaches to fit the vast diversity of students in the classroom. (Tomlinson, 1995, 1999a; Hall, 2002). Teachers who differentiate instruction recognize that students differ in many ways, including prior knowledge and experiences, readiness, language, culture, learning preferences, and interests.


(in http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/uploads/005/120/Culturally%20Responsive%20Differientiated%20Instruction.pdf )

To grant equal opportunities for all to learn, doesn’t mean to give all the same, because each one has different needs. Each student is unique and different learning strategies are required to give room for each one’s progression. Working in digital environments allows a tailored approach and tracking learning path.

Alternative pedagogical approaches, like modern school movement (and other ones), have understood that children have different modes, interests and pace of learning, that it’s important that they take part or design their own learning objectives. They can benefit from peer learning, students with different ages can mingle and learn from each other, learning should not be divided by subjects and timetables.

Traditional schooling aims at uniformity and conformity and this has been a political choice.

Technology disrupts the only source of information, in the same class, with the same teacher and the same resources for all. Technologies open up the physical and confined space of the classroom.

TV cultural programmes have its good influence (Discovery, National Geographic, History…), but interactive and communication technologies allow the student to become the producer and agent of the learning process.

The School of Education of the University of North Carolina has a series of short videos on the use of technology to differentiate learning:

Inclusion in the 21st-century classroom: Differentiating with technology – http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/every-learner/6776

Using technology to differentiate by content – http://www.learnnc.org/lp/multimedia/19117

Using technology to differentiate by process – http://www.learnnc.org/lp/multimedia/19119

Using technology to differentiate by product – http://www.learnnc.org/lp/multimedia/19120

Using technology to differentiate by learning environment – http://www.learnnc.org/lp/multimedia/19118

My personal posts on particular concepts, such as:

Focusing on Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities is a broad term that embraces a variety of learning difficulties that may include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum disorder(ASD), Asperger syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), etc.

The person has no cognitive disabilities nor is less intelligent than the average, but the brain is wired differently.

Usually referred as «hidden disabilities» because the person looks perfectly normal but may reveal certain limitations to demonstrate a certain skill expected from someone of a similar age.

The term may be used with different scopes as is explained in the UK Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities – http://www.learningdisabilities.org.uk/help-information/about-learning-disabilities/definition-learning-disability/

An expert from the American National Center for Learning Disabilities explains in this video the different types of Learning Disabilities – http://youtu.be/yG_xSBsFMPQ

Types of Learning Disabilities are described in the American Learning Disabilities Association website – http://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learning-disabilities/

«Simply put, children and adults with learning disabilities see, hear, and understand things differently. This can lead to trouble with learning new information and skills, and putting them to use. The most common types of learning disabilities involve problems with reading, writing, math, reasoning, listening, and speaking…

It’s not always easy to identify learning disabilities. Because of the wide variations, there is no single symptom or profile that you can look to as proof of a problem. However, some warning signs are more common than others at different ages. (in http://www.helpguide.org/articles/learning-disabilities/learning-disabilities-and-disorders.htm )

The Canadian official Learning Disabilities definition is stated in http://www.ldac-acta.ca/learn-more/ld-defined/official-definition-of-learning-disabilities

«Learning disabilities range in severity and may interfere with the acquisition and use of one or more of the following:

  • oral language (e.g. listening, speaking, understanding);
  • reading (e.g. decoding, phonetic knowledge, word recognition, comprehension);
  • written language (e.g. spelling and written expression); and
  • mathematics (e.g. computation, problem solving).

Learning disabilities may also involve difficulties with organizational skills, social perception, social interaction and perspective taking.»

Inclusive/assistive technologies may help considerably people with learning disabilities, such as word prediction apps, speech synthesizers, talking calculators, screen readers, voice recognition, optical character recognition (OCR), audio books, alternative keyboards, symbol boards (AAC), etc.

How tech can help your student with learning disabilities – http://youtu.be/mwVhJGePFlg

A testimony from a young lady with learning disabilities expressing her feelings of distress and low self-esteem due to her condition and how technology helped to overcome these limitations – http://youtu.be/Npd_ETGZcRE

Load2Learn channel has a good collection of videos with applications and solutions for learning disabilities – https://www.youtube.com/user/load2learn/videos

Focusing on UDL

UDL framework focuses on the differences and the respect for each one’s learning, is concerned with adaptations and choices.


« The term UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING means a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that:

(A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and
(B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and  challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient
. (in http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udldefined )

UDL guidelines are very clear and useful to highlight the need for multiple means of representation, multiple means of action and expression and multiple means of engagement – http://www.udlcenter.org/research/researchevidence .

Technologies are a great medium for this diversification.

Principle I. Provide Multiple Means of Representation

Guideline 1: Provide options for perception

Guideline 2: Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols

Guideline 3: Provide options for comprehension


Principle II. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Guideline 4: Provide options for physical action

Guideline 5: Provide options for expression and communication

Guideline 6: Provide options for executive functions


Principle III. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement

Guideline 7: Provide options for recruiting interest

Guideline 8: Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence

Guideline 9: Provide options for self-regulation

UDL framework bridges the theory and practice and many videos demonstrate how these guidelines can be put into practice:

UDL Principles and Practices – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDD6870F2D42327F3

UDL Guidelines 2.0 – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL274B4A4C32F8F4CB

UDL Implementation – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLR6ytVuE7QqQ8sZIIObluQCQ3r8qV_s87

Focusing on Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT) is  a generic term used to refer to a group of software or hardware devices by which people with disabilities can access computers. They can be specially developed and marketed devices or off-the-shelf products that have been modified. Assistive technology can include devices such as alternate keyboards and mice, voice recognition software, monitor magnification software, multiple switch joysticks, and text-to-speech communication aids. (in http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/assistive_technology.html )

The definition of an assistive technology device is very broad, some are relatively “low technology” and inexpensive (i.e. a pencil grip used by a student with a physical disability to improve handwritten communication through increasing the student’s grasp of and control over his or her pencil)

pencil grip-writing bird

and other can be electronic devices such as alternative keyboards, switches or AAC softwarebig mac kid

and more expensive devices such as electronic magnifiers, braillers, etc.electronic magnifier

In http://www.gpat.org/Georgia-Project-for-Assistive-Technology/Pages/Assistive-Technology-Definition.aspx

The AT Industry Association defines:

Assistive technology (often abbreviated as AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

  •  AT can be low tech like communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt.
  • AT can be high tech such as special purpose computers.
  • AT can be hardware such as prosthetics, attachment devices (mounting systems), and positioning devices.
  • AT can be computer hardware, like special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices.
  • AT can be computer software such as screen-readers or communication software.
  • AT can be inclusive or specialized learning materials and curriculum aids.
  • AT can be specialized curricular software.
  • AT can be much more, including electronic devices, wheel chairs, walkers, braces, educational software, power lifts, pencil holders, eye-gaze, and head trackers.

(in http://www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3859 )

There are many videos on AT but one of my favorites is this one from Edutopia: Assistive Technology: Enabling Dreams – http://youtu.be/rXxdxck8Gic

INDATA Project from the American Easter Seals Crossroads has a vast collection of videos and tutorials on AT – https://www.youtube.com/user/indataprojectESC/videos

The trend is for technology to embed accessibility programs and apps, in the framework of universal design products – http://www.assistireland.ie/eng/Information/Information_Sheets/Apps_for_People_with_Disabilities_and_Older_People.html  

5 March 2015

Related to Metacognition other concepts are addressed in this week’s theme, such as:

Self-regulated learning

«Self-regulated learning is a process that assists students in managing their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions in order to successfully navigate their learning experiences.»

«Self-regulated learners’ proactive qualities and self-motivating abilities help to distinguish them from their peers»


(In http://www.self-regulation.ca/download/pdf_documents/Self%20Regulated%20Learning.pdf )

Mnemonic work

«Mnemonics are a way of remembering using association – associating easy to remember things with data.» (in http://www.psychologistworld.com/memory/mnemonics.php )

Epistemology in learning

« Epistemology basic is a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge. Such beliefs influence the development of knowledge because they are considered to be the central values or theories that are functionally connected to most other beliefs and knowledge (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997).» (in http://www.ucdoer.ie/index.php/Education_Theory/Epistemology_and_Learning_Theories )

Learner engagement

«Student engagement has been defined as “participation in educationally effective practices, both inside and outside the classroom, which leads to a range of measurable outcomes” (Kuhet al., 2007), and as “the extent to which students are engaging in activities that higher education research has shown to be linked with high-quality learning outcomes” (Krause and Coates, 2008, 493. Similarly, Hu and Kuh 2001, 3) define engagement as “the quality of effort students themselves devote to educationally purposeful activities that contribute directly to desired outcomes» (in https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/StudentEngagementLiteratureReview_1.pdf)


(in http://checkandconnect.umn.edu/model/engagement.html)

Intrinsic motivation

«Intrinsic motivation refers to performing an action or behavior for the sake of enjoyment.» (in http://study.com/academy/lesson/intrinsic-motivation-in-psychology-definition-examples-factors.html )


Courtesy of Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger. Copyright: CC-Att-ND (Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported)

Pattern recognition

« In psychology and cognitive neuroscience, pattern recognition describes a cognitive process that matches information from a stimulus with information retrieved from memory. Among others, the recognized patterns can be those perceived in facial features, units of music, components of language or characters and other symbols.» (in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pattern_recognition_%28psychology%29 )

Conceptual learning

«According to Sydelle Seiger-Ehrenberg in “Developing Minds: A Research Book for Teaching Thinking”, a prevalent misconception is that concepts can be taught and learned the same way as facts. But in reality, concepts and facts require different approaches and different learning strategies. The problem is that facts and concepts often get lumped into the same category, making students unable to distinguish the differences between them. This results in students’ incomplete understanding of subjects and lessons.» (in http://www.inspiration.com/blog/2011/10/the-importance-behind-concept-learning/ )

Critical analysis/Critical Thinking

«Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.»

«Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.»

(in http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766)


«Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following:

  • understand the logical connections between ideas
  • identify, construct and evaluate arguments
  • detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning
  • solve problems systematically
  • identify the relevance and importance of ideas
  • reflect on the justification of one’s own beliefs and values»

(in http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/critical/ct.php )

We think critically when:

  • we rely on reason rather than emotion, require evidence, and are concerned with finding the best explanation;
  • we are self-aware, weigh the influences of motives and bias, and recognize our own assumptions, prejudices, biases, or point of view;
  • we are honest and recognize emotional impulses, selfish motives;
  • we are open-minded, consider other viewpoints or perspectives and remain open to alternative interpretations;
  • we are disciplined, precise, meticulous, comprehensive, resist manipulation and irrational appeals.

(in http://www.criticalreading.com/critical_thinking.htm )

A short and clear video on Critical Thinking – http://youtu.be/6OLPL5p0fMg



(in https://www.mentoringminds.com/developing-21st-century-critical-thinkers-infographic)


4 March 2015

Week 7 is focusing in e-Learning Affordance -Metacognition.

Educational technologies can facilitate metacognition, because they enable students to manage the pace, time and place of their learning, meaning self-directed and self-regulated learning. In most virtual learning environments students have the freedom to navigate through a wide range of resources, either text, or graphics, or animation, or audio, or video, which often appear in a hyperlinked and non-linear way. Students can choose different paths and reach different sources of information, reflect upon them and generate new constructs.

Students may organize an e-portfolio, which can be a structured representation of their knowledge acquisition and construction. When one builds a mindmap to represent a synthesis of a publication or an article with the main concepts and ideas, a process of reflection is required to extract what one’s has found more relevant.


TEDxWilliamsport – Dr. Derek Cabrera – How Thinking Works – http://youtu.be/dUqRTWCdXt4

An interesting talk about metacognition and how to stimulate the process of thinking of students. He proposes four vectors:

  • Distinctions (between ideas, objects, things)
  • Systems (organizing things in part-whole groupings)
  • Relationships (establishing connections between and among things)
  • Perspectives (looking at things from different perspectives)


Metacognition concept relates to reflect on one’s thinking, it has to do with the active monitoring and regulation of cognitive processes. The ability to think about one’s thoughts with the aim of improving learning. Metacognitive processes are central to planning, strategic thinking, problem-solving.

As a child gets older more awareness he/she demonstrates of his/her thinking process.

(in http://www.instructionaldesign.org/concepts/metacognition.html)

More precisely, it refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of (i) one’s thinking and learning and (ii) oneself as a thinker and learner.

Assignments addressing metacognition:

  • Preassessments—Encouraging Students to Examine Their Current Thinking: “What do I already know about this topic that could guide my learning?”
  • The Muddiest Point—Giving Students Practice in Identifying Confusions: “What was most confusing to me about the material explored in class today?”
  • Retrospective Postassessments—Pushing Students to Recognize Conceptual Change: “Before this course, I thought evolution was… Now I think that evolution is ….” or “How is my thinking changing (or not changing) over time?”
  • Reflective Journals—Providing a Forum in Which Students Monitor Their Own Thinking: “What about my exam preparation worked well that I should remember to do next time? What did not work so well that I should not do next time or that I should change?”

(in http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/metacognition/ )

These are recommendations in Edutopia website: How to Teach Students to Be More Metacognitive –  http://www.edutopia.org/blog/metacognition-gift-that-keeps-giving-donna-wilson-marcus-conyers

Another good article in the Education Portal – Metacognitive Strategies: Definition, Examples & Quiz – http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/metacognitive-strategies-definition-examples-quiz.html

A link shared by one of the peers – http://theelearningcoach.com/learning/metacognition-and-learning/


25 February 2015

Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly (Wenger).

Three characteristics are crucial:

The domain: A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain, and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people.The community: In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other.

The practice: A community of practice is not merely a community of interest–people who like certain kinds of movies, for instance. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice.

The size of the communities can be small or very large, can be formed by a dynamic group and gather other not so active members, they can be local or with a geographic amplitude, they can meet F2F or be virtual. Some exist within an organization and others may include different organizations. Some may be formally constituted and others may be totally informal. They can originate in a business, organization, government, education, professional associations, projects or civic life contexts.

In http://wenger-trayner.com/theory/


Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour: a tribe learning to survive, a band of artists seeking new forms of expression, a group of engineers working on similar problems, a clique of pupils defining their identity in the school, a network of surgeons exploring novel techniques, a gathering of first-time managers helping each other cope. In a nutshell: Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. (Wenger)

In http://infed.org/mobi/jean-lave-etienne-wenger-and-communities-of-practice/

I run a community of practice constituted by circa 55 teachers working in a national network of ICT Centres for Special Needs. The community has been consolidating since 2008 and is supported by Moodle platform. It has a very specific mission, a well defined domain, they share their practice and resources in different disciplines (Moodle platform). They meet F2F a few times, at national level, and in some regions more regularly.

Guide for Cultivating Communities of Practice  http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/nli0531.pdf

What are communities of practice? A critical review of four seminal works http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/wbs/conf/olkc/archive/oklc5/papers/e-4_cox.pdf

Dr. Étiènne Wender: Learning in landscapes of practice (lecture at the University of Brighton, 2013)


24 February 2015

Week 6 is focusing in e-Learning Affordance – Collaborative Intelligence, and a definition is given in the course:

«Collaborative Intelligence—where, for instance, peers offer structured feedback to each other, available knowledge resources are diverse and open, and the contributions of peers and sources to knowledge formation are documented and transparent. This builds soft skills of collaboration and negotiation necessary for complex, diverse world. It focuses on learning as social activity rather than learning as individual memory.»

The four videos of the week address issues of  external motivation related to institutional recognition/awards versus intrinsic motivations as tasks and collaborations one feels engaged to take over.  Addresses a Generation P as peer collaboration and help, giving feedback to each other in order to progress; the importance of peer assessment and feedback on artifacts shared, contributions to improve in a knowledge environment; how positive feedback by peers can be highly motivating and higher standards set by good work of capable peers can generate and support better work.

Other related concepts are mentioned in this week topic, such as:

Distributed intelligence- Together, with people around the world, we are able to perform acts of “intelligence” that are far more efficient than if we perform them alone. Thomas Malone of the MIT Sloan School of Management and founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, has defined collective intelligence “as groups of individuals acting collectively in ways that seem intelligent”. He uses “families, companies, countries, and armies” as examples of “groups of people working together in ways that at least sometimes seem intelligent”. (Malone, 2012) in https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/cctp-797-fall2013/archives/699
Example of collective intelligence: Whiteacre’s Virtual Choir

Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. While this definition from Merriam Webster is valid, a more specific definition is heavily debated. The process of crowdsourcing is often used to subdivide tedious work and has occurred successfully offline. It combines the efforts of numerous self-identified volunteers or part-time workers, where each contributor of their own initiative adds a small portion to the greater result. The term “crowdsourcing” is a portmanteau of “crowd” and “outsourcing”; it is distinguished from outsourcing in that the work comes from an undefined public rather than being commissioned from a specific, named group.( in Wikipedia)
Example of crowdsourcing: Paul Verhoehen’s movie Entertainment Experience

Situated CognitionEmerging from anthropology, sociology, and cognitive science, situated cognition theory represents a major shift in learning theory from traditional psychological views of learning as mechanistic and individualistic, and moves toward perspectives of learning as emergent and social (Greeno, 1998; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Salomon, 1996 .In http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Situated_Cognition

Everyday Life and Learning with Jean Lave (video)

Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. Three characteristics are crucial:
•The domain: A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest.
•The community: In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other.
•The practice: A community of practice is not merely a community of interest–people who like certain kinds of movies, for instance. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice. (in http://wenger-trayner.com/theory/)
Communities of Practice – Etienne Wenger (video)

Peer-to-peer learningThe term peer-to-peer (P2P) refers to a network of equals (peers) in which two or more individuals are able to spontaneously collaborate without necessarily needing central coordination (Schoder & Fischbach, 2003). In http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/641/1389
Peer-to-peer learning is where one student leads another through a concept, in which the first student is an ‘expert’ and the second is a novice. The peers don’t necessarily need to be from the same class or age group.(…) We all know students learn at different paces, so encouraging the faster learners to help others is always a good idea. But peer-to-peer learning is helpful for both students: by explaining and presenting a concept, the ‘expert’ student takes their own understanding on a level, and develops their exposition skills .in http://www.itworx.education/collaborative-learning-vs-peer-to-peer-learning/
Journal of Peer Learning

A comment on two peers’ posts about Summerhill School:

Alternative progressive education is a passionate field of research.
There are different models and influences from exceptional pedagogues and educators across the centuries, worth (re)visiting (some good short readings were provided in the bibliography of this course).
All student-centered pedagogies interest me, and I think technology plays a relevant role to deepen personalized learning.

Summerhill is quite a unique case (Sudbury schools in USA and few others have followed the model), but A.S.Neill remains the iconic personality who persevered in his project, in spite of all adversities and «ups and downs» of the school.

The survival of the school was not easy. As a private and bold project, has faced the institutional opposition. From the start, when it was founded in Germany, it faced the local religious community animosity, and moved to England. And more recently, during Blair’s government had to fight to resist closing down – http://youtu.be/Ya2NvhJILT0.

Summerhill has always been viewed with suspicion by the status quo, because its philosophy and organization has nothing to do with the institutional school.

«I am only just realizing the absolute freedom of my scheme of Education. I see that all outside compulsion is wrong, that inner compulsion is the only value. And if Mary or David wants to laze about, lazing about is the one thing necessary for their personalities at the moment. Every moment of a healthy child’s life is a working moment. A child has no time to sit down and laze. Lazing is abnormal, it is a recovery, and therefore it is necessary when it exists.»(Neill)

A.S. Neill was a psychologist and his main concern was about the emotional equilibrium of children. Many of the children and adolescents that joined Summerhill didn’t adapt to the mainstream school and would end up in Summerhill. It was a boarding school with children of different nationalities.

There’s an interesting book based on interviews of Summerhill students across the ages that is very interesting because it tells the stories of life, the impact of the school and gives an historic flavour across generations «After Summerhill».

There’s a book on the Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States, by Paul Avrich that refers to correspondence exchanged between A.S.Neill and Jim Dick of the«Mohegan Modern School», a letter written in 1928 where a similar school vision and experience is shared:
«Dear Neill, I have just received a copy of «New Era» containing your report of «Summerhill» and I cannot refrain from writing to you about the similarity of your methods (or lack of them) with ours at the Mohegan School. (…) Problem children we have in galore only to find that it is the problem parents that is the seat of the trouble. We have had «thieves» and «vagabonds» from families of «respectability», but with a dose of freedom and a hale-fellow-well-met attitude they soon develop into something like social being.» (Avrich, 2006: 323)

Fascinating theme for research.


17 February 2015

Regarding e-Assessment, in spite of suspicion on automated machine feedback, we hope that tools may eveolve to have the capacity for semantic interpretation.

This TEDXx of a professor of Leuven Univ./Belgium speaks about his experiences with MOOCs and Learning Analytics – http://youtu.be/LfXDzpTnvqY – the pros and cons of the machine giving constant feedback to student telling him/her what to do.

This intervention of George Siemens in a seminar in 2013 is quite comprehensive of the use of data mining – http://youtu.be/0ILt-ERdb64


A more recent conference by a professor from the UK Open University – http://youtu.be/LqDEJtlzMiw.
Some questions are raised in this last intervention such as in these slides:



How PISA results influence education policy?

Issues raised by Learning Analytics


The usefulness of Learning Analytics might impact in an accelerated  feedback to learners, helping them to keep track and put extra effort to overcome their weaknesses and improving outcomes. An open Learning Analytics might delegate authority in defining goals and meaning, distributed between the actors of learning (students, teachers, administrators…).
Discourse analysis is a fascinating field to interprete and observe participation of participants.


15 February 2015

In the scope of Week 5 discussions I’ve produced a post on formative assessment and learning analytics, for which I made a mindmap.

I value formative assessment, teacher, peer and self-assessment and the best tool to present evidence of learning – the ePortfolio.

This post is short, because I have produced a mindmap where I make a synthesis of different approaches of assessment with notes, links and images.


Learning analytics is a field of interest and I have used some software, such as the free tool SNAPP that allows content analysis.

There’s an interesting video analysing Mitch Resnick’s cMOOC Learning Creative Learning, by Fred Bartels – http://youtu.be/M3_dg6nVlDs and a  good article «Changing Assessment — Towards a New Assessment Paradigm Using ICT», by Christine Redecker and Øystein Johannessen, which integrates this timeline diagram from computer-based assessment towards embedded assessment:



14 February 2015

Week 5 technology affordance is Recursive Feedback where the different types of assessment are addressed.

The definition of recursive feedback is provided in this course:

«Recursive Feedback—or a new generation of assessment systems, including continuous machine-mediated human assessment from multiple perspectives (peers, self, teacher, parents, invited experts etc.), and machine feedback (selected and supply response assessments, natural language processing). Student work can also be assessed through data mining techniques, analyzable either as individual progress, or comparisons across cohorts. Students are also offered just in time feedback, or assessment that is for learning (formative assessment) and not just of learning (summative assessment).»

The videos of this week focus on the importance of feedback in the process of learning and how we make meaning, the feedback from the teacher, from peers, multiple sources and perspectives give us the possibility to improve, re-analysing and re-making our work. Our own self-reflection help to give steps forward in our learning.

The traditional assessment based on final and retrospective testing is poorer than a formative assessment as we construct and progress in our knowledge.

Digital environments and tools provide us with more efficient feedback than in the traditional F2F environment.

Learning analytics is evolving and automated assessment/machine feedback is becoming more sophisticated (knowledge survey psychometrics). Tracking the learning path of a student is a promise. Advancements in natural language processing, in the computational linguistics field, will be very useful. Particularly in MOOCs with hundreds and thousands of participants.

Peer assessment is also highlighted in the vídeos, associated to rubric criteria, it’s a constructive and prospective way towards future improvements of students’ work.

Self assessment (and self score), reflective comments based on previous peer reviews lead to improvement.

New trends of distributed assessment (crowdsourcing assessment, teacher, peer, self, expert…) will be a smart way and probably more credible and thorough to evaluate someone.

Portfolios are also referred as a reflexive way to organize one’s work. ePortfolio spaces are evidence of practice, concept understanding, problem-solving, critical thinking.

Plagiarism, concerning the easy ‘copy-paste’ in digital environments,is counterbalanced with the exposure in the Web, where anyone can easily search the sources of plagiarism. So, the most important is to teach research ethics, proper citation and identification of sources to avoid uncomfortable situations.

Personally, I’m an advocate of e-portfolios, peer and self assessment,


12 February 2015

Corroborating a peer’s opinion about how technology changes the way we learn:

Hi Aaron,

I also think that technology changes the way we learn, this article in SH!FT refers four trends:

1- from individual to collaborative learning ( a situation in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something together, MOOCs are just one example)

2 – from Passive to Active or Brain-based Learning ( from a teacher-centered to a student-centered approach)

3 – the Rise of Differentiated Instruction (Web’s ability to bring complete personalization to the learning experience)

4 – The Phenomenon of Multitasking

Neuroscience research addresses the impact of technology use in our brains –http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-565207/Modern-technology-changing-way-brains-work-say…

How is Technology Transforming Education? Sir Ken Robinson

Technology certainly changes the lives of people with severe disabilities – this is a remix of some vídeos I made on bionics.-http://www.metta.io/groups#/watch/a84

Another article on the ways Internet change the way we think – https://edge.org/responses/how-is-the-internet-changing-the-way-you-think

More articles:

5 interactions between the Web and education that are changing the way we learn, by Timothy O’ Riordan

Which Technologies are Changing the Way People Learn?


10 February 2015

This week eLearning Affordance 3: Multimodal Meaning was introduced. The two videos highlight the big shift in the capacity to produce artifacts in multi formats (text, image, sound, video, data) with affordable devices, accessible to the student.

Multimedia enhances learning and broadens meaning.

Traditional literacy was restricted to text, written format, nowadays we talk of multiliteracy, respecting the capacity to intertwine all formats in an artifact. New modes of representation are now accessible to any student or worker to present an outcome.

The reference to the old books of the 17th century that included prints from plates in different pages led me to relate that engraving techniques and more sophisticated mezzotint printmaking were greatly developed for this purpose at the time.

Mezzotint fascinates me for the smooth grading of the black. It’s a laborious technique but quite rewarding for its results. A video explaining the technique – http://youtu.be/rX47mOt8NE4

An early example of Mezzotint, by its inventor, dutch Ludwig Siegen
The Evening of the Deluge, Mezzotint and engraving, John Martin

Mezzotint was recovered by contemporary artist such as Escher, his famous eye


or Carol Wax – http://www.carolwax.com/mezzotintengravings/

Week 4 discussion question: «Make a comment about the ways in which the multimodal affordances of new media can change the nature of learning.»

Multimodal and multimedia make a lot of difference the way we learn (and teach) with computers and Internet.

In my school days (60’s/70’s) we only used handwriting to present our school work and at the university we used typewriter. In my schooldays there were no photocopy machines, the reproduction of texts was made by typing stencils.

Tape recorders existed but we didn’t use them for school work. Teachers might use slide projection in lectures. Overhead projectors were used with (terrible) full written transparencies. Later on, Powerpoint was a useful tool to produce graphically acceptable transparencies.

Imagine, in a few decades, we have the possibility to compose our own images, to take photos and videos with our mobiles, to produce sound for our videos, an infinity of free tools that allow us to improve our presentations and enrich our reports and artifacts.

In a 5 minute tutorial we learn how to manipulate tools and devices.

A vast diversity of writing, drawing, sound recording, video editing, mind mapping, organizing and curating tools are available to create amazing works.

I’m an enthusiast of all the amazing tools we can access for free, a few examples of recent artifacts I’ve being producing for The You Show MOOC:

My diagram for 3Act Shape Story & Literary Elements
My Thinglink on Kurt Vonnegut
Animated GIF in Pho.to dedicated to The You Show
Slides with my stacks of books in Haiku Deck –
Poster made in Canva dedicated to The You Show
View from my office window
Piktochart on my web presence

All these tools allow you other modes of representation and freedom to create new artifacts.

I’ve submitted my Case Study draft on MOOC INCTEC

CASE STUDY_draft_IdaBrandao

8 February 2015

A post on assessment and standardized testing related to a previous one on Meaningful Learning:

Related to Meaningful Learning we need to apply an authentic assessment.
I’m a current reader of Stephen Downes’ OlDaily and today he mentions an article in the canadian press of a chinese teacher who «warns standardized testing ‘destroys school’»  – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/chinese-expert-yong-zhao-warns-standardized-testing-d…
Most educational system suffer from «regurgitation» and the chinese system in particular, they excell in faithful reproductions and in memory skills.
Having lived 6 years in southeast Asia in late 80’s, I recall the primary school classes of children collective loud repetition (kind of a chant) as in my primary school we used «to sing the multiplication table» in the 60’s.
So, it’s nice to read chinese critical voices reacting to traditional pedagogy and assessment.
I found this short video in National Geographical of a typical primary school in rural China, and though it highlights the advancement of teaching english to children, the old desk rows and the great leader Mao picture on the wall remain pretty backward.
The respect for the teacher is maintained, whenever the child speaks he/she gets up from the seat.


5 February 2015

Reacting to a colleague’s post about Jacques Delors publication, I posted:

I found curious that Jacques Delors Report «Learning: The Treasure Within» was mentioned after so many years (1997). I remember to have read this book, which I enjoyed at the time. The pillars of learning are still valid today. The publication is available online: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001095/109590eo.pdf

It reminded me of another publication of Edgar Morin «Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future» (1999) – http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001177/117740eo.pdf – a more humanistic and philosophical approach to Education.  A video with Edgar Morin addressing the theme – http://youtu.be/oUfqZE-Ywts. I always find fascinating to watch these treasure pieces in the Internet.

Reacting to a colleague’s post on The Brain tool, where he gives interesting links how it is used in a teaching Hospital – http://youtu.be/0RWF6IdCTfs.

He gives another interesting link for uses in Education – https://webbrain.com/all/categoryID/4

my comment:

I became acquainted with The Brain, which is a more dynamic tool than the usual Mind Mapping tools (Mindomo, MindMeister, Mind42, Popplet, etc), some years ago. One professor used it to structure one of my Master’s Unit.

Probably this tool didn’t get as many users as other tools because it seems more complex. I myself have been promoting the use of Mind Mapping tools and have not included The Brain in my selection, in spite of its potential. The links that you share with us are particularly interesting. Thanks for reminding this tool.

Reacting to another colleague’s post on partcipatory learning and standardized assessment, I commented:

I wish you the best for your attempt to change the «old fashioned lecture». I think that all strategies that try to disrupt the traditional teaching to give students a more active role are welcome.

My experience as a student at the university in late 70’s was not particularly inspiring, in spite of being my choice and interest the course I chose and in spite of a more opened environment we were living at political and social level at the time (after the revolution in 1974). I was a full-time worker and I went to the lectures and F2F classes in the evening, which were not that exciting, though important because we needed the «transmission» from the professors (no computers or Internet existed). I attended classes because I found important to take notes and follow the professors’ guidance but it makes no sense nowadays. In fact, in some courses, some students would miss lectures and would just apply for the exams (specially memory based courses like Law).

Each person learns in a different way and perhaps «online learning» suits me good, not only for convenience of time and space, but also I feel confortable with the medium.

I don’t wish to deny  the importance of good teachers who are inspiring mentors and have a positive impact on students (unfortunately I was not lucky; or am I too demanding?).

However if you give some guidance at a distance much of the theoretical knowledge can be accessed on a personal and/or peer/group level, you really don’t have to be in an auditorium listening to someone. My master’s degree was an online course.

As for practical training I think one should learn in context. Even with simulators and immersive virtual environments I think one has to put «hands on». Only the experience in real settings can prepare you, in many professional fields (medicine, engineering, etc).

I think that the importance that has been given to rankings (institutions, teachers, students) and marks for admission to HE has subverted the «purity» of learning, and I think that national exams should be abolished. The costs in the logistics of exams/national tests should be invested in resources and staff.

This is a Canadian Report with a suggestive title – Real Accountability or Illusion of Success? – about standardized tests and the costs involved:

«The assessment process is a large and complex undertaking. Each year, five different assessments are prepared, each in both French and English, and administered 600,000 times at 4,300 schools.The
budget of the EQAO was $32.9 million in 2011-12.»
Interesting issues are raised regarding the structure of the tests relative to objectives, the impact of testing within the classroom (how much time dedicated to train for the test), the validity of test results, public reporting and use of test results (interpretations are ambiguous).Many critical voices have made public interventions on the issue and critical articles, such as:
What’s wrong with standardized tests?
When do you think assessment will catch up to teaching and learning practice?
Worried about PISA?
Stop stealing dreams

My viewpoint is that assessment should be based on formative processes and e-portfolios, where the evidences of learning might be demonstrated. But the whole system is subverted into a competitive race – http://youtu.be/Uem73imvn9Y.
Top Charts seem more attractive to publicity purposes (Top education institutions, Top Schools, Teacher of the Year, etc).


4 February 2015

Related to Week 3 discussions I posted a comment on Problem-Based Learning:

School projects need to be closely related to reality to make sense to the students. There are many examples that show that even in social disadvantaged areas, students can engage if proper contexts are provided.
The six A’s of designing projects is summarized in this table – http://www.gsn.org/web/pbl/sixa.htm – which  includes Authenticity, Academic Rigor, Applied Learning, Active Exploration, Adult Relationships and Assessment .
Considering the huge advantages of technology for learning one must be aware of the human features of the brain as well: the human brain prefers to recognize rather than recall; the human brain prefers chunking the information, requiring learners to grasp too many concepts or attempt too many tasks at one time can cause them to “drop” that information; the human brain likes to organize the information; the human brain likes patterns.

Several approaches to make learning meaningful for students can be shown in the following videos (Teaching Channel):
Deeper Learning through Personalized Learning Plans

Illustrating Democracy through Art

Inquiry based teaching – Discussing Fiction

A  school in New York offers a comprehensive college preparatory curriculum with a focus on interdisciplinary study of real-world problems, individualized learning, and on-line – http://youtu.be/-c4okPYD8rE

An environmental school project (Imagine) for primary school in Canada – The theory and practice of the project is supported by Place-Based, Imaginative and Ecological Education. Learning and teaching will be experiential, in context, and through activities that engage the mind, body, and heart. The project is based in principles of inquiry and inclusion. – https://vimeo.com/27469337

A set of environmental projects presented by Singapore pupils –  http://youtu.be/IGfiwFPJ6b4

3 February 2015

Week 3 addresses e-Learning Affordance 2: Active Knowledge Making and the question raised is:

Make a comment about the ways in which educational technologies can support learners to become active knowledge makers. Do you think this is feasible or desirable? Why do you think so?

It is desirable that educational technologies support learners to become active knowledge makers. We are living a big shift from knowledge consumers (where content transmission prevails) to knowledge producers, where we participate in and build knowledge. The flow of knowledge looses the top-down trend (together with a hierarchical feature) to a flow of knowledge that is distributed by co-learners.

In an eLearning environment anybody can contribute and engage with others. The textbook and the content delivery lose the stage and learners become active researchers and producers.

Learning is highly anchored on «doing», participating with others, so more horizontal and lateral production of knowledge prevails.

Another fundamental shift has occurred from cognition (memorization) to knowledge representations (artifacts). At present, memory is less valued considering the access to massive information in the Internet, everything is registered electronically (telephone numbers, geographic locations, etc). The big disadvantage is that we become much more dependent on our e-devices and if we have no access to them we are much more vulnerable.

This has an impact on education, where the artifacts become more important learning outputs than a memory test. A good report produced by a student or group of students, based on extensive searches and articulation of concepts, is more relevant as a learning outcome.

At present, people are expected to work more in teams and be more active, creative, innovative and risk-taking than to obey a command. People are expected to be contributors.

Gamification shows a potential to develop strategic thinking. The game industry has surpassed the film industry and both narratives are different. Games make users to take decisions and choose paths, films deliver what an audience consumes. So, a different culture is brought by this interactivity and connectivity, and in schools the environment has to change to allow students a more active role on their learning.

Methodologies like problem-based learning and inquiry based learning are better suited to reality.

PBL diagram

Project-based learning can be grounded in different contexts, such as role-playing, real-world scenarios, blended writing genres, multiple reading genres, authentic assessments, real-world expertise brought into classroom, units that assess multiple skills, units that require research and comprehension of multiple subjects, student choice, collaboration, multiple methods of communication (writing, oral speaking, visual presentations, publishing, etc.)

Five Keys to Rigorous Project-Based Learning

We had the opportunity to address progressive education in the first week and to connect learning to real life activities is not a pedagogical novelty. Dewey defended teaching and learning linked to experimentation and community based, Freinet also promoted peer study and self research to fulfill students’ learning objectives, field trips (class promenade) served to know about nature, and so on.
Recent learning trends also try to centre learning on student’s interests and autonomy (flipped classroom, maker movement, STEM projects, etc)

Some European projects examples:
Pupils at Spetalen School in Norway created an interactive walking trail as part of local history Project

Students at Istituto Comprensivo di Cadeo in Italy engage in a project «Tell a Story», to create video biographies of famous personalities

Students at Cramlington Learning Village in England used a dance mat to learn Spanish & Nintendo Wii to learn French

29 January 2015

Profs. Dron&Anderson have pulished a recent book  «Teaching Crowds» which addresses many of the themes of eLearning Ecologies. It’s an excellent book and it can be downloaded for free.

«In Teaching Crowds, Dron and Anderson introduce a new model for understanding and exploiting the pedagogical potential of Web-based technologies, one that rests on connections — on networks and collectives — rather than on separations. Recognizing that online learning both demands and affords new models of teaching and learning, the authors show how learners can engage with social media platforms to create an unbounded field of emergent connections.»

I have made two short videos on the two first chapters related to Social Software and Social Learning Theories.

Another book on Contemporary Theories of Learning, a collection of articles by different authors gathered by Prof. Illeris is also available for free access.

28 January 2015

This week focus on Ubiquitous Learning and a question is lauched for discussion:

Make a comment about the ways in which ubiquitous learning technologies can change the nature of learning. Do you think this is feasible, or desirable? Why do you think so?

I think that elearning modality has been a great achievement of recent decades, particularly for adult learners who have jobs, families and a series of responsibilities that turns more convenient to be independent from schedules or specic places to learn.

I remember that I took my degree at the University of Lisbon in the late 70’s. There were no computers or Internet at the time. I worked all day and took lectures in the evening, usually arriving home around mid-night. I had to take the bus and it was tiring do it day after day. Some books had to be ordered from abroad and it took around one month to get them. Other books were obtained at the University’s library, we couldn’t afford to buy everything.

Imagine how easy it is now to access bibliography and other resources. The problem is to be selective because we have no capacity to read all, there’s an abundance of material, compared to the scarcity of those days.

Eventually, as one had limited resources one might concentrate on them, depending more on one’s own analysis and synthesis. Abundance may lead us to a more superficial look of so many things. Still, I prefer to live in abundance than in scarcity. Any doubt, any difficulty one can search in the web and in a few seconds get the answer.

Distance learning is not a recent reality, this infographic makes the history of distance learning since the 18th century .


I recall that my brother took an electronic distance course by post many years ago. He followed instructions and I remember the transsistors and all the electronic stuff he had to make the circuits (maker movement of those times), assessment was made by answering to questionnaires as tests.

In what regards teacher training in my country, teachers are practically reduced to saturdays for F2F training, which is not convenient for leisure and family reasons. So,  online learning is the way people can participateand interact at their own speed and time.

I wish I had the opportunity to work from home, but it’s not a current practice, in spite of existing of laws on teleworking. Very often I reply to my work email on week-ends or interact through Moodle platform, which I use frequently. I also use other online tools for other type of projects, sharing files by Dropbox, etc.

27 January 2015

Following some peer’s posts on Paulo Freire, it’s always rewarding to revisit Paulo Freire and one of the reference sites is http://www.freireproject.org/, a great tribute to his work and memory, building an international community of critical pedagogy and activism.

Paulo Freire was a humanist pedagogue and thinker and an engaged citizen who devoted his life to fight for social justice and education for the underprivileged and illiterate. One of his last and fabulous interviews in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60c1RapBN7U (EN subtitles)

There’s an excellent documentary about him and his work: Seeing Through Paulo’s Glasses: Political Clarity, Courage and Humility – http://vimeo.com/47117497

I’m acquainted with his work since the seventies, when I myself got engaged in voluntary programmes to erradicate illiteracy. At that time the rate of illiteracy in Portugal was pretty high and after the Revolution (1974) many campaigns and community-based initiatives took place regarding the most basic living conditions of poorer population.

More recently I became acquainted with the work of the american school of critical pedagogy, such as Henry Giroux, Kincheloe and McLaren. And there’s a lot of interventions worth watching in the Internet. Mainstream media don’t give voice to «these voices».
Henry Giroux: Figures in Critical Pedagogy

What’s great about revisiting these themes is that one can find new and rich interventions by these engaging and committed intellectuals, like this great interview of Henry Giroux on the politics and culture in the casino capitalism we live in , where only markets count and people are disposable, where the 1% gets all and the rest have to pay. These neoliberal policies are void of compassion, equality or any sense of social justice. Praise the successful ones and blame the people who are thrown out of their houses, their jobs and basic human rights to health, education and the right to live a life with dignity.

I’m particularly sensitive to this problem because Portugal has been under financial intervention and is just following the Greek tragedy, with huge unemployment, a new flux of immigration (we hadn’t since the 60’s under dictatorship), huge cuts on education, national health service and social security. Let’s hope the next elections may bring some hope like the Greek elections. Enough is enough!

In 2013 a forum took place in MIT School of Education with Chomski, Gardner and della Chiesa to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Pedagogy of the Opressed, which is worth watching and listening – http://youtu.be/-SOw55BU7yg

Michael Apple also speaks of the importance of Paulo Freire’s influence and work in this video – http://youtu.be/3wfoHQJgt24

Finally, an interview with Peter McLaren by Kincheloe – http://vimeo.com/72938904

A Linoit with some quotes by Paulo Freire



23 January 2015

Brief notes on week 1 videos and readings:

Video 1 – From Didactic Pedagogy to New Learning

The mainstream architecture and classroom design remains the same since the 19th century, a teacher and master that overlooks and supervises students aligned in desks.

This space organization reflects the kind of pedagogy that prevails still today.

However, alternative student/child centred pedagogies had introduced radical changes, since the beginning of the 20th century: Summerhill school (founded in the ‘20s had no classrooms. Modern School (Freinet) adopted an informal and communicative setting with class group work.  Montessori had also tables for autonomous and peer-group work.

Ideally one can look at modern  Swedish VITTRA schools as something desirable that respects students’ choice of space to work and that reflects the flexible pedagogical approach. This video from WISE shows very different realities, architecture concerns and different pedagogies – http://youtu.be/R-RWQUOODLo

Video 2 –  What’s the Use of Technology in Learning? Introducing Seven e-Affordances

The introduction of technology doesn’t mean that the pedagogy changes, one can use technology in a very directive and instructional way, but technology has a great potential to engage to learn differently, according  to the 7 affordances presented in the diagram:

  1. Ubiquitous learning – any time, any space
  2. Active knowledge making – designing meanings
  3. Multimodel meaning – multimedia
  4. Recursive feedback – formative assessment
  5. Collaborative intelligence
  6. Metacognition – thing about thinking
  7. Differentiated learning – personalized learning

Video 3 – Can Education lead technology? Plato example

Interesting video on the history of computing at Univ. Illinois, showing the first computer for students’ learning by 1062, made of transistors. About PLATO a learning system also developed at the Univ. of Illinois. EUDORA email system. Primitive computers were mere calculating machines, visual interfaces connecting language and image appeared later on. The challenge is that Education institutions may lead technological inventions for education purposes and not just take whatever technologies appear for other purposes.

I suppose that more and more tools and technological devices are developed in educational environment research

Video 4 – New Technologies, new relationships and learning 

This video is presented by Prof. James Paul Gee, well known by his works on Gamification. I totally agree with his critiques on the perpetual technology of textbooks in schools. The cost it represents to families is quite considerable and there are more exciting ways to learn. Resources are everywhere on the Internet. The important is to create context for meaningful learning, he talks about the power of games and the maker movement which I also find very exciting. I’ve been involved in a European project which has ended in Dec 2014 but the Facebook community is still active and I’ve shared this video by Prof. J.P.Gee on the principles of Gamification- http://youtu.be/4aQAgAjTozk . Another interesting article on the affordances of Gamification in Education by Karl Kapp.

As for the Maker movement is also fun to learn by doing and as he refers very young students are making exciting tools like this 12 year old – http://youtu.be/e9lvW6ZY-Gs

The affordances of these movements for special needs are also amazing and this is just an example promoted by one of our ICT Centres for Special Needs – http://youtu.be/AjgT_00pp7g

Video 5 – School or society

Prof. P.J.Gee addresses the fact that we don’t learn only in one place – school, home and society are often neglected. At present, kids learn more outside the school with all communication devices they possess.

He is very critical of certain ideas that make believe that contents «per se» will be enough to spread learning, the fact that many institutions are making available their courseware (pioneered by MIT) or the big success of Khan Academy and that the fact that these good resources are the key to raise the level of education around the World.

I also think it’s not enough, there are dimensions of contextualizing learning experiences, experimenting and collaborating that are missing.

I value all these good resources being open and free but I also think that Education is more than contents and I also think that to shape a responsible citizen more is required.


The readings for Week 1 embrace several authors, some of which influenced alternative and progressive education (Dewey, Montessori, Illich, Freire), that remains aside of mainstream.

Yes, there are alternatives to the traditional education system, and they date back to many decades, even centuries (Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel…) ago. And there are schools (most as private initiatives) that carry on legacies of modern school movement like Freinet.

It’s amazing how the system keeps failing so many people without changing. This is a sequence of a dialogue between Stephen Heppell and Mark Prensky – What’s going to happen next in education?

Many critical voices have been spoken for decades on the need for school to change taking into account society development, but governments and institutions choose to maintain the status quo. This is a well known intervention by Alvin Toffler on the «industrial» system of education – Alvin Toffler on Education.

John Dewey wrote about democracy and education and as he describes in the 30’s «time schedules, schemes of classification, of examination or promotion, of rules of order…subject-matter…text books as the chief representatives of the lore and wisdom of the past… the school environment of desks, blackboards, a small school yard» pretty much of the same formulas subsist in present times in most schools, even if the blackboard turns into a green or white or a smartboard.

Dewey’s concerns in turning learning connected to life and experience, meaningful for students are the concerns of many people at present. Keeping students «alert and active, instead of passive and receptive» (at present: absent minded, bored, disruptive), «school (as) a genuine form of active community life, instead of a place so apart in which to learn lessons».

A short flavour of Prof. Michael Apple thoughts on Democracy and Education (worth exploring  other interventions and readings).

An experimental approach pedagogy was also defended by Freinet, with his «class promenade», learning field trips and experimentation «tâtonement experimental». A diagram of Freinet Pedagogy


His «Invariants Pédagogiques» are still revolutionary: http://www.icem-pedagogie-freinet.org/node/2952

Studies have proved that we learn best when «we do», so project based learning, Maker movement are all convergent with these old approaches.


Why we insist in segmented spaces like classrooms, segmented times with ring bells, segmented subjects, when everything is interconnected and global approach to understand reality should be embraced in transdisciplinary projects?

One of my favourite educational websites is Edutopia – Five Keys to Rigorous Project-Based Learning


22 Jan 2015

The first video of Unit 1 shows some photos of traditional classrooms, desks and pupils in rows, a stage with teacher’s desk (sometimes uplifted) and more recent classrooms with the same old space arrangement.

In fact recent school buildings perpetuate the same architecture and design of classrooms, with modern equipment.

Rarely we see the disruption of such spaces like in Swedish Vittra model schools. But you don’t need all this modern design luxury, to have a more collaborative and communicative space arrangement. One  can pursue a student centred approach with an open environment like  in this example of a dutch Freinet school presented  by a central american teacher from a twin school in Nicaragua. The environment is a collaborative one, with a strong peer-to-peer evaluation and support, with a guidance from the teacher. Pupils learn how to present their work and receive peer help and critique to improve. The space and environment is quite informal, it’s more of a round formation where everyone looks and speaks at each other.

An example in France with a teacher from Romania and another rural school in France.

Montessori schools are also well known for their strong individual and autonomous work of children in a very structured environment with specific didactic materials.

There are a few documentaries about Summerhill  and I’ve just watched  this French one – Summerhill children .

My Prezi with a selection of quotes and videos about alternative education and schools – https://prezi.com/ykvs7iim-hob/uma-escola-alternativa/

I still remember my primary school and «liceu», the same traditional space arrangement and 50 minute ringbell. This scheme was slightly altered at the university, with some language classes in a U-shape arrangement, but most of the space arrangement was still in rows of tables and the auditorium lectures.  It’s the same when we attend to conferences, an audience and a speaker (or more).

As part of my career developed in the organization of professional training, training rooms were usually U-shape favouring communication. In the last 2 decades I’ve been involved in the pedagogical use of  ICT and more recently in online learning and this has impacted tremendously in my own learning. The disruption of physical spaces and timetables and the possibility to search for open resources in the Internet is a true change.

20 Jan 2015

UNIT 1 opened and a set of videos addressed the 7 eLearning Affordances:

Ubiquitous Learning  –  Active Knowledge Making  –  Multimodal Meaning –  Recursive Feedback  –

Collaborative Intelligence  –  Metacognition  –  Differentiated Learning


A question was launched for comments:

What do you think? When is ‘Didactic/Mimetic’ or ‘Collaborative/Reflexive’ pedagogy more appropriate? Or when has/does the one worked better than the other? Speak from your own, personal experience.

I think we tend to mimic the way we’ve been taught and the mainstream teaching pedagogies have remained more behaviorist influenced than constructivist.

It’s true that we can introduce fancy technology and still perpetuate the old pedagogy, taylorist like, teacher centred, student consumer based. We keep praising  the prodigies of excellent memories, knowing every fact. National and international testing have helped this race and ranking. There’s nothing wrong to exercise one’s memory but that cannot remain the main criteria to value learning.

The old pedagogy has resisted so long, in spite of Internet and social media, because it’s a political choice. Power and authority, indoctrination and non-reflexive approaches format students for conformity and acceptance, not to question or challenge. That is the bottom line!

education quote_Gatto

All educators who tried to introduce alternative education philosophies remained segregated and in a minority position.  Ferrer Guardia with his Escuela Moderna in the beginning of the 20th century was murdered by the state/church, his anarchist ideas were an heresy, empowering the poor illiterate. Montessori was exiled in India during fascism, Paulo Freire was exiled during Brazil dictatorship, Freinet resisted Nazism and was able to launch the Modern School movement with branches in some european countries, Portugal and Brasil, in many cases in the private education sphere. Very few of these movements have spread to the public system. A few exceptions like Malaguzzi kindergarten influence remains at municipality level in Reggio- Emilia (Italy) and influenced many of Swedish pre-schools. And the fact is that these pedagogical movements have a major expression in pre and primary schools.

We can find true survivors like A.S. Neill Summerhill (Sudbury schools in USA followed the model) and some community-based schools that breed on democratic school movements, but they are an oasis in the global system.

In the Portuguese public  school system we have a single Freinet model school, which strives to cope with standardized testing and all the rules imposed by the system, once they’ve engaged in lower secondary school with national exams in 9th grade.

In Portugal, project based learning was granted a space a few years ago but has been removed, considered not very successful, instead if improving it, it was banished. Primary school tests were reintroduced in recent years, after decades of being banished. A total regression! Who has ever learnt anything with national exams, beyond the anxiety, learning by heart to regurgitate in a few hours and then forget everything.

With more or less technology one can adopt pedagogies that make a difference for the students at every level. I believe technology presents those affordances to engage the students and to amplify their learning.  We are all different and learn in different ways, and the system has to accommodate these differences, not the other way round, the system continues to fail not only those with special needs but those who never felt motivated.

Education should not be confined to learn facts or train memory, rather to stimulate questioning and reflection, to plan one’s own objectives and work, collaborating in projects that congregated different areas of knowledge, making sense of interconnected aspects of life, discussing real life, doing meaningful things, becoming responsible citizens.

My experience as a student was not good. I had a regular journey along my school days (during fascism), but never felt particularly engaged. It was a duty. School looked much like a prison where I had to obey and fulfill the tasks. And so it goes… Unfortunately I can’t even remember any teacher as a mentor or an inspiration. A few were awful and most just did their job.

University was a choice, but I had to endure lectures in the evening (I had a job during the whole day). Consider the affordances of technology, comparing to those days.

School should be the place where everyday would be challenging, experimenting and making things, learning the connections between theory and practice, where field trips would become learning events. It’s probably a romantic view of an older person who resents a system that failed and keeps failing for a lot of people, in spite of big advancements in education literacy worldwide. But it’s not enough!


19 Jan 2015

Several lines of discussion were opened in Coursera platform and one of them was about «Emotional Learning», which led to this post:

Emotional Learning recalled me of Emotional Intelligence book of Daniel Goleman which explains its meaning in this short video from the series Big Think.
In his book he describes how our brain works and the dynamic interrelation of the cortex (rationality) and the limbic system (emotions). He suggests that the emotional intelligence can be learnt with experience. He also claims that most of our success emerges from our emotional intelligence.
We can find many diagrams and schemes on the components of Emotional Intelligence and this is one of them:

EDUTOPIA dedicates some articles and videos to the theme of emotional and social learning:
«Helping students develop a sense of self will ultimately help them to better manage their emotions, communicate, and resolve conflicts non violently.»
Video – 5 steps to social and emotional learning successes – http://youtu.be/DqNn9qWoO1M

As for the Case Study I proposed to share a previous experience in the organization of an online course on inclusion and technology, run under a european project.

I can describe the planning, the process and the results, using your instructions as a template:

  1. The Educational Challenge
  2. ‘Parse’ the Ecology
  3. The Underlying Learning Theory
  4. The Technology or Learning Process in Practice
  5. Critical Reflection
  6. Conclusions and Recommendations

12 Jan 2015

Announcement of course opening next 19th Jan

Course website  –  Scholar platform community  –  Orientation module

One post per week is required, published in both Coursera and Scholar platforms.

One Case Study is proposed as activity, according to instructions.

«case study of an e-learning innovation—something in which you have been involved, or which you have observed in a place where you have studied or worked, or an interesting intervention somewhere else that you would like to study in more detail. This may be a piece of software or hardware, a teaching and learning activity that uses technology, or a case study of a class, a school, or person using technologies in learning in an innovative way. Use the seven affordances framework to analyze the dynamics of the e-learning ecology that you are investigating.»

Template_case study


5 Jan 2015

The first emails announcing the beginning of the course started to appear and I’ve joined the social media communities as well as the Scholar Platform , which has already some communities constituted for Art in Society and New Learning.


The website New Learning provides the basic bibliography, a book that can be bought, but is available for this course in and a collection of texts of different authors and videos illustrating viewpoints on education- http://newlearningonline.com/new-learning


Youtube Channel – eLearning Ecologies videos 


30 Dec 2014

The 8 weekly topics:

Week 1: Conceptualizing Learning

Week 2: Spatio-Temporal Dimensions of Learning (Ubiquitous Learning)

Week 3: Epistemic Dimensions of Learning (Active Knowledge Making)

Week 4: Discursive Dimensions of Learning (Multimodal Meaning)

Week 5: Evaluative Dimensions of Learning (Recursive Feedback)

Week 6: Social Dimensions of Learning (Collaborative Intelligence)

Week 7: Cognitive Dimensions of Learning (Metacognition)

Week 8: Diversity Dimensions of Learning (Differentiated Learning)


New Learning ebook – http://newlearningonline.com/new-learning 

Literacies ebook – http://newlearningonline.com/literacies 

 Course Videos:

Ubiquitous Learning – http://newlearningonline.com/e-learning/ubiquitous-learning

Active Knowledge Making – http://newlearningonline.com/e-learning/affordance-2-active-knowledge-making

Multimodal Meaning – http://newlearningonline.com/e-learning/affordance-3-multimodal-meaning

Recursive Feedback – http://newlearningonline.com/e-learning/affordance-4-recursive-feedback

Collaborative Intelligence – http://newlearningonline.com/e-learning/affordance-4-recursive-feedback

Metacognition – http://newlearningonline.com/e-learning/affordance-6-metacognition

Differentiated Learning – http://newlearningonline.com/e-learning/affordance-7-differentiated-learning


11 Dec 2014

I’ve just enrolled in a new MOOC starting in 19 January 2015, 8 week course, promoted by the University of Illinois/Coursera:


Scholar Platform: https://cgscholar.com/community/profiles/user-64679/activity_streams

Social Media Communities:

Twitter – #ILLINOISeLearning



Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Learning/105504046146787

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