Is ICT leading to a paradigm shift in educational practice? (10,000 words+ Thesis)
In a number of arena’s dedicated to the Lifelong Learning and widening participation debates (European Union – OECD, Government – White Papers and Academia – published papers) it would appear that Information Computer Technologies (ICT) is being heralded both as a potential panacea and an enabler for a paradigm shift in educational practice. Whilst acknowledging that we are currently in a transitional stage in the application and understanding of digital technology, and that in the near future, the attributes of ICT will no doubt re-shape our educational and social systems, the claims and policy statements regarding the present practical capability of ICT raise a number of concerns and barriers, which include:
• The Digital Divide – Computer hardware is still relatively expensive and consequently, precludes access to certain groups;
• Pedagogic software is often crude and limited (when compared to virtual reality and computer games);
• Is there a knowledge and experience ‘gap’ between the academic designer and the student end-user.
Whilst the definition of ‘new technologies’ is broad and can include hardware, software, and a range of applications, the most commonly held association and meaning within academic literature seems to be regarding virtual on-line delivery and tele-communications, and as Thorpe states,
‘New technology’ is being used here to refer to the Internet, the World Wide Web, electronic communication and other computer based applications. We point forward to the promise of television and hand held devices for providing Web and communications functions in future (Thorpe, M, 2000)
However, my primary concern and area of focus is in the design and application of pedagogic courseware. Numerous examples of what might be called “well-intentioned” academically produced computer based learning materials in the HEI have emerged over recent years. My argument here however is that many of these fail to appeal to or satisfy their target audience, for a number of reasons. The present research project seeks to identify the points in the new materials/pedagogic production and application at which a student’s perception and expectation of pedagogic interface design, navigation and learning activities are judged/mapped against their real-world experience. It asks whether, on the basis of this observation, new approaches to teaching and learning material design should be adopted, and what these new approaches should be if the materials produced are to satisfy expectations while enhancing the students’ generic and transferable skills base.
1.1 National Context
The context of this study is then that the stratification of the UKHE music sector has clear lines of historical and cultural division. Traditionally, music courses were focussed on the classical canon with musicology, composition/arranging and performance providing the main subject disciplines and expertise. These elite boundaries were later breached with the acceptance of jazz, popular and electro-acoustic music entering into the discipline. More recently, with the development of technology, the subjects of acoustics, recording and computer music technology have now entered the frame. However, at each intersection there has been resistance and debate regarding the necessary areas of study and the perceived skills and attributes a music undergraduate should posses When the computer can replace the technical craft skill of the musician and secondly, permit composition and arranging through music software, then the question arises that, is a traditional musical education and understanding necessary for students to work and compose classical music ?. If not, will the academics within the elite institutions recognise this new paradigm and consequently re-evaluate their position regarding the profile of their typical student and the entry requirements that the student must possess: It is questions such as this that the study is designed to investigate.
The ICT revolution has radically transformed the capacity to store, transmit and use information, which in an educational setting, can be seen to have far reaching implications for the way institutions operate and the systems are structured. The concern for this paper is that at this present moment, there appears to be an element of hyperbole surrounding ICT as the elixir of education and that the proposed time frames for change, in which ICT is expected to play a significant role, are not realistic or achievable. When reading the projections for the use of ICT from a number of eminent sources, a similar theme and pattern emerges: For example, in The Learning Age: a renaissance for a new Britain (1998), the then Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett declared,
…using leading edge technology to make learning available at work, in learning centres,
in the community, and at home;
This theme was repeated in A Memorandum on Lifelong Learning (2000), by the Commission of the European Communities which stated,Enabling individuals to become active learners implies both improving existing practices and developing new and varied approaches to take advantage of the opportunities offered by ICT … and also by the Education and Culture European Commission’s report, Lifelong Learning: the contribution of education systems in the Member States of the European Union, which projected that, adopting the new information and communication technologies (ICTs)…to extensively promote the use of ICTs as a teaching tool…innovate and set up flexible learning environments through the use of novel teaching methods incorporating the new ICTs…
And finally, even a normally cynical and opposititional academia responded to the White paper in overtly positive tones when the CTI stated, The CTI strongly supports the extension of lifelong learning opportunities to all. We are enthusiastic about the contribution which communication and information technologies (C&IT) can make to this enormous social enterprise.In attempting to meet the challenge for ICT to develop both Nationally and Inter-Nationally, Government and Higher Education agencies have created a number of ICT specific initiatives and Bodies; which have enjoyed various levels of success –National Grid For Learning, JISC, ILT and IMS (Instructional Management System). Ryan (2000, p.29), cites one such UK initiative when he refers to the Coopers and Lybrand (1996) evaluation and critique of the earlier phases of the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP) initiative into the creation of educational materials. Ryan argues that although some £40,000,000 plus was spent on a national project, the overall quality of the reported findings was poor, highlighted by comments such as,’must be deemed amateur’ and also, ‘in only a small number of cases did we encounter projects which had taken account of pedagogic issues in any systematic way’: Having been involved in the latest stage (TLTP-Phase 3) as a developer, I believe that I am well placed to comment on the process and judge the relative success of the latest initiative.
At the macro-level, this study sits within the wider boundaries of a mass education system grappling with the widening-participation agenda, and reflects a number of the key areas of debate; the power relations between the various players within the learning debate (students, staff and policy makers); the apathy and ‘technophobia’ of certain groups of academics to ICT and the conservatism of certain institutions, in failing to rectify issues of social exclusion and the barriers, both technical, cultural and political, which impede the uptake and participation of ICT for certain groups. Examples of contestation can be then found on a number of fronts, including:
• Economic and access barriers in the socially-excluded groups – The Digital Divide(see, U.N. Report on Bridging Digital Divide – 2001; OECD – Beyond the digital divide,May 16, 2001)
• The technology and expertise is in its infancy – and Copyright, is a significant problem for academics who cannot produce original, or rely on extant material when creating their teaching materials (www.ncteam/copyright).
• Resistance from students; to poorly designed courseware, to academics without sufficient expertise, to a lack of funds and to the stratification within academia (S.Ball et al).
1.2 Local Context
For under-twenty one year-olds, the entry requirements for a number of HE music programmes (Royal College of Music, Leeds College of Music, London College of Music) demand 21 points and normally Grade VIII on at least one instrument, in addition to a theory test and musical audition. This situation can create an obvious barrier to socially excluded groups, who may not have not gained access to the cultural capital and benefits of a secondary level musical education. If students are only selected for interview based solely on their academic profiles, rather than on an individual audition, then this system does not recognise the equivalent musical and compositional skills that the student may posses; skills which are in fact invisible and unrecognised by the selection criteria. A target Music Technology student at Rose Bruford College will normally have a musical skill equivalent to Grade 6, however, the university collegewill also acknowledge non-standard entry criteria (practical skills and musicality) and often judge the student’s abilities in a face to face interview/audition and thus, generally permit access to a higher education, for a broader group of the population.
This research therefore, is concerned with the ways in which undergraduate students in a Digital Arts Department understand and interact with two examples of computer-based pedagogic music courseware The first exemplar the students evaluate will be produced by academics from a Music Conservatoire and the second exemplar; will be created by music technology students from within their own department. The department is located in a publicly-funded university sector institution, which offers a range of degrees dedicated to the theatre and associated arts. The academic staff who designed the first exemplar are based at the Royal College of Music. The case study then describes my own involvement as a developer with the Higher Education Funding Councils initiative into computers and learning: The Teaching and Learning Technology Programme – Phase 3, 108 consortium, Origination and Exploitation of High-quality Digital Materials for Courseware Development. It outlines some of my attempts to investigate a genuinely student-centred approach to the production of an exemplar for computer-assisted musical courseware in the HEI. These two groups of participants can be seen to be located at both ends of the UKHE music sector and consequently at the local level, this study should expose cultural and generational differences of understanding and approach to ICT and pedagogy within the music sector and in doing so, seeks to identify a number of questions:
• what range of approaches to music-based courseware design might be employed
• how do we chart student perceptions, expectations and evaluation of instructional courseware and the computer as an interface?
• is there a knowledge and experience ‘gap’ between the academic designer and the student-user
• are there cultural and ideological differences towards music education between the two institutions
1.4 Introduction :Summation
This project is therefore important and relevant for a number of reasons. Firstly, if ICT is to have a significant contribution and impact upon the curriculum and structure of the Learning Society,then in order for it to be successfully embedded, the academics who design the pedagogic software will have to understand the needs and requirements of the end-users (the students) they are designing for. Secondly, if widening participation is a real goal, then certain HEI’s will have
to re-evaluate their philosophies and ideologies regarding mission, knowledge and learning. A small-scale study of this design will provide an insight into one local and specific context, but in doing so, will only be able to make modest claims regarding its analysis at the sector level. What it may achieve however, is both an insight into the subject area and also, to provide a model for the design of future and larger projects
Having now identified a number of lenses with which to focus on the issues and problems raised by ICT and education, this dissertation will split into five sections: Learning Theory, initially concentrates on the relationship between learning theory and ICT and then proceeds to examine practical examples of extant educational courseware; Case Study Implementation, both highlights and examines the overview/background, local context, and pedagogic model contained within the project; Methodology, explains how qualitative theory and critical knowledge can be mapped onto the practical application within the project plan and then secondly, introduces and discusses the application of tools such as sampling, case study, ethnography, action research and ground theory to the project; Data Analysis, presents and analyses data produced from both student and academic participants; Conclusion, attempts to firstly collate, interrogate and summarise all the data and then secondly, provides a suggested strategy for future ICT courseware development.
2. Learning Theory
Whether in the traditional delivery modes of teaching or in the emergent distance learning models of open and flexible learning, the ultimate goal for the educator is to facilitate and encourage student learning: In order for the designer of ICT courseware to create and develop compelling, innovative and pedagogically sound software, an understanding and appreciation of educational theories is therefore essential. However, although the question, “what is learning?”, seems simple enough, philosophically it is a very hard question to “answer”, and this is why it has been a challenging topic for philosophers for centuries. The schools of thought on the nature of learning have been many and varied, but at the most basic level they differ on only a limited number of fundamental questions. These are questions like; “How does learning occur?”, “What are the properties of knowledge ? How should we teach learners to learn? Do current theories help us towards our key educational goals of the retention, understanding and application of knowledge? And more recently, how can ICT be utilised to underpin and support student learning?. In this section, I will both examine theories and discourse relating to learning theory, pedagogy and knowledge, and at the same time, map their relationship with ICT. But before proceeding, it is necessary to interrogate the notion of theory in order to identify the problems of firstly formulating and agreeing a universal theory and secondly, implementing academic theory into practice.
‘a theory is an attempt to consolidate in a systematic way our knowledge of some particular aspects of our experience. The worth of the understanding that is thereby achieved is judged by our enhanced capacity to explain selected features of our experience and/or to predict successfully trends in future experiences
A number of commentators recognise and identify the problems of implementing theory into practice, for example, Hager (1999) highlights the limited success of historical ‘monotheories’ (Marxism, Freudianism) and argues for a pluralist approach to theory as it, ‘encourages the creation of new views and approaches’ and Eraut (1994), discusses the difficulty of trainee teachers implementing pedagogic theory into their practice. These different examples serve to demonstrate that even when a theory is devised and agreed, it may not necessarily be successfully implemented, and so a note of caution must remain regarding over ambitious expectations for the successful adoption of ICT pedagogies.
Eraut (1994), when discussing the concept of both private and public theories of education argues that theory must also relate to practice, and in so doing, he highlights the traditional divide between the abstract theory of education and the practical application of knowledge and learning.
Educational theory comprises concepts, frameworks, ideas and principles which maybe used to interpret, explain or judge intentions, actions and experiences in educational or education-related settings.This definition excludes the use of theory to mean something, opposed to, or apart from, practice…’(Eraut 1994, p60)
Laurilliard (1993), echoes these concerns when she discuss the challenges for educators in facilitating and encouraging student learning to incorporate the following factors within ICT courseware design:
• To develop the active engagement of the learner rather than the passive reception of given knowledge.
• To overcome the problem of two worlds, the everyday knowledge and experience and that of academic learning.
She concludes that everyday knowledge is located in our experience of the world, whilst academic knowledge is located in our experience of our experience of the world and therefore, often relies on simulation and analogy. Thus, in order for courseware to be successfully embedded within student learning Laurilliard (1993) suggests that,
• Academic learning must be situated in the domain of the objective, the activities must match that domain.
• Academic teaching must address both the direct experience of the world, and the reflection of that experience.
There are also issues regarding the nature and focus of the learning activities and curriculum content as they relates to pedagogy and ICT. The concept of knowledge, as a single body of information or content (like that of the school curriculum) and which can then be passed from the expert (teacher) to the empty vessel (student), is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, the concept of knowledge has a number of types and meanings (codified, tacit, explicit, implicit, corporate, social and individual) and dependent on which discipline, location or activity the knowledge is being applied, the context and model need to be understood when defining an appropriate ICT based pedagogy (for example, school, workplace, non-formal). As will be seen, when designing music courseware, the assumptions of prior understanding and knowledge of for example, musical literacy for the end–user, highlights the cultural difference between both institutions and the associated difficulty in creating generic courseware for all sites.
Secondly, the transmission or ‘delivery model’ of learning is contested by, for example, socio-cultural theorists such as Lave (1993) and Young (2000), who argue that the acquisition of knowledge and learning is, in part, a social process which takes place in the broader context of organisational and social changes (social constructivism). Dowling (2000) develops this theme of community of practice with the idea of ‘transmitters’ and ‘acquirers’, which can be seen to map over the design and implementation of this project: It could be argued that the initial student designers are ‘full participant – transmitters’, whilst the student testers are, ‘yet to be participant – acquirers’. Thus, although the social and situated approach to learning challenge the more traditional and established pedagogic theories, they may be more appropriate and suitable for an ICT approach and consequently, require discussion when deciding on an appropriate pedagogy(ies) for ICT courseware and in which setting ICT pedagogy (ies) are to be applied (HE Institution, home, workplace).
More recently, attention has been given to the negative effects of the traditional presentational style of lecturing on the quality of learning outcomes, which it is argued, produces only a surface understanding. If one of the main aims of higher education is to produce critical reflection and discourse, a deeper engagement by the student is necessary. Pedagogic theorists (Peters, 2000: Garrison & Anderson, 2000) debate the validity of the student learning experience in a mass lecture, arguing that there is little opportunity for the student to engage or interact, and as a consequence, the activity will only produce a surface understanding. ICT is seen as a possible solution which can both accommodate large numbers of students, be cost effective and afford a learning environment, tailor made for the individual student, and which is then expected to facilitate deep learning in the student.
Despite inherent resistance to change, budget reductions and increasing numbers of students have forced institutions to become more efficient…common response…to increase class size and continue lecture format…reduce opportunities for interaction and critical discourse…reduces the opportunity for high-order cognitive abilities…emergence of powerful and inexpensive communications and information processing technologies to mitigate the move to larger lectures.
(Garrison & Anderson, 2000, p24)
Whether in an academic setting, home or a work-based location, the universal questions of how do you define the learning process and what activities do you perform, when learning? can be posed. Laurilliard (1993),cites (Rothkopf, 1970), when he terms the phrase, Mathemagenic Activities, which expresses the idea that there are activities the learner can carry out that will result in their learning. The following table has been adapted from Rothkopf, and contains a typology of the process of learning; the left-hand column contains ideas from Rothkopf ,the central column contains my responses for an educational setting and the right-hand column details problems/solutions with this model for an ICT approach.
The acquisition of information through lectures and reading.
|Self-directed/resource based learning via text based information/instructions,Voiceover commentary/avatar/video|
|The interpretation of symbol systems – linguistic, symbolic or pictorial.
|Ensuring communication through clear icons and metaphors. Combining tasks, activities with multi-media elements|
Acting on the World.
|Learning through practice orimitation of practice||Create virtual learning environments,practical tasks and activities|
|Intrinsic feedback is that which isa natural consequence of anaction. Extrinsic feedback isusually a comment on an action.
|Interactive formative andsummative feedback on useractions and results Either throughsimple text commands or
Reflecting on goals/feedback
|Understanding and analysing the achievement of the goal and feedback.||Either programme response/suggestions for improvement/future work or, stimulus for tutor comments with user|
Although the process of learning as proposed by Rothkop (1970), can be seen to provide a useful model in which to design an ICT learning environment, it tends to concentrate on the individual as a unit, rather than as a collective member of a group.
There are therefore, a number of challenges for educators in facilitating and encouraging student learning, and which then has a direct relationship with the structure and design of ICT pedagogy. According to Laurilliard (1993), these include, ‘ to develop the active engagement of the learner rather than the passive reception of given knowledge’ and also, ‘to overcome the problem of two worlds, the everyday knowledge and experience and that of academic learning.’ There are also decisions for the pedagogic designer in evaluating which learning strategy or strategies to employ. For example, when one identifies the varieties of learning activities in both a formal and informal setting (reading, lectures, essays, tests, workshops, individual work, group work, av, visits, placements, apprenticeship, conversation)one can ask which method(s) are most successful/least successful in acquiring knowledge? How or when does the individual recognise they have learnt. What indicators do they rely on?
• Increase of knowledge
• The acquisition of facts, procedures for use in practice
• The abstraction of meaning
• An interpretative process for understanding reality
• A credit/certificate
The designer of ICT courseware should take account of the factors which motivate or describe how the individual interacts and responds with the learning process and consequently, build appropriate strategies within the ICT pedagogic model.
The aim of teaching is simple: it is to make student learning possible
(Laurilliard, 1993, p13)
This statement by Laurilliard on the surface would seem to be a tautology, and typifies the ideas and expectations of learning contained within the policy documentation. However, as Laurilliard proceeds to examine this declaration, her conclusion that the relationship between that of teaching and learning is complex, involving a range of disciplines and theories, can also be mapped onto the learning policy rhetoric. Traditionally, those disciplines regarded as relevant to pedagogic theory include psychology, philosophy and sociology but which are however, beyond the scope of this paper to elaborate and so, I will now proceed to examine the relevant pedagogic methods and theories where appropriate. Firstly, I will look at generic ideas regarding student learning which would be relevant in any educational setting, secondly, examine some of the existing pedagogic theories to examine whether they can be abstracted from education setting to ICT and thirdly highlight how the new social theories of learning can be mapped onto ICT.
If we speak in very broad terms about the trends in the twentieth century, we can identify three fundamentally different ideas about the nature of learning and what the properties/ nature of knowledge are. In other words, the approaches not only include a view of how learning occurs, but also a view of what knowledge actually is. From the behaviourist theories of B.F.Skinner, to the Cognivist school, pedagogic theory is littered with totalising ‘mono-theories’ which for a period hold influence, before going out of favour. The latest influential discourse of situational learning (Lave and Wenger, 1991) and Activity Theory (Lev Vygotsky, 1978) can be located on a Constructivist axis, and which follow on from the earlier work of John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner, amongst others.
For the earlier Behavioristic theories, the learner is viewed as adapting to the environment and learning is seen largely as a passive process in that there is no explicit treatment of/ interest in mental processes. The learner merely responds to the “demands” of the environment. Knowledge is viewed as given and absolute (objective knowledge). Here the teacher or the world has the knowledge and is the standard form of learning large bodies of information (taxonomies) and therefore results in little reconstruction of the data by the learner: Repetition of ideas until the learner is confident. In ICT courseware, this approach could still hold some relevance today, in for example, a mixed-mode theory where behaviourism, was an important component in stimulating and motivating users through a gaming environment, or in developing tacit knowledge and practical skills through drill and practice activities.
The Cognitivistic school “went inside the head of the learner”, in that they made mental processes the primary object of study and in doing so, tried to discover and model the mental processes on the part of the learner during the learning-process. In Cognitive theories, knowledge is viewed as symbolic; mental constructions in the minds of individuals and learning becomes the process of committing these symbolic representations to memory, where they may be processed. The development of computers with a strict “input – processing – output architechture” from the 1960’s and up till today, have inspired these “information-processing” views of learning. In sum, the cognitive approach & cognitive theories emerged as a new perspective, employing “information-processing ideas” rather than the behaviouristic assumptions that the learner is determined by his environments and so passively adapts to the circumstances. This cognitivistic view emphasized the active mental processing on the part of the learner. However knowledge was still viewed as given and absolute just like in the behaviouristic school: Changes in behaviour are observed, but only as an indicator to what is going on in the learner’s head. In ICT courseware, this method would be of value in for example, the assessment of progress or in a training exercise of an individual where question/answer routines and set tasks could be set and the user works at their own pace, receiving individual performance feedback, as they progress. As with the Behaviourist approach, for specific learning activities in a mixed-mode courseware package, the Cognivist model would be of some value.
The Constructivist theories view knowledge as a constructed entity made by each and every learner through a learning process. Knowledge can thus not be transmitted from one person to the other, it will have to be (re)constructed by each person. This means that the view of knowledge differs from the “knowledge as given and absolute” views of behaviourism and cognitivism. In constructivism, knowledge is seen as relativistic (nothing is absolute, but varies according to time and space) and fallibilist (nothing can be taken for granted). There is an important distinction within the constructivist school of learning. Cognitive oriented constructivist theories emphasize the exploration and discovery on the part of each learner as explaining the learning process. In this view, knowledge is still very much a symbolic, mental representation in the mind of the individual.
In the second view, Piaget argues for a dual process of Assimilation i.e. addition of non-conflicting knowledge into previously developed schemas, and Accommodation, new knowledge reshapes existing schemas. This is essentially a conflict-based mechanism of learning in which the learner takes elements of the environment and incorporates them into their knowledge and understanding. Piaget stated that, the principal aim of education is to develop the intelligence itself, and above all to teach how to develop it ‘for as long as it is capable of further progress (1991,p6) and proceeded to identify three areas of concern for a constructivist perspective:
• the nature of intelligence or knowledge
• the role of experience in the formation of ideas
• the mechanism of social or linguistic communication
Although Piaget is extremely important, his cognitive model failed to properly address the socially oriented collaboratory efforts of groups of learners as sources of learning. From the perspective of a theory for ICT-based learning, the socially constructed constructivist model can be applied when the user engages in the transfer of understanding and knowledge between their non-formal tacit information to a process of codifying that information; for example, when the music students reflect on their ‘artistic/musical/craft/technical skills’ or pass on technical procedures and musical practices to their fellow students. This idea of the social and situational aspect of learning has been developed from the early work of Piaget to Vygotsky and more recently Lave and Wenger (1991), and underpins the current dominant pedagogic theories of Active Learning, Self-Directed Study, Situational Learning, Open/Flexible Learning and Resource Based Learning.
2.4 Activity Theory & Situational Learning
The activity in which knowledge is developed and deployed is not separable from, orancillary to, learning-it is an integral part of what is learned (Dunne et al, 2000, p128)
Vygotsky developed the concept of assisted learning through the adoption of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). He argued that good teaching will awaken the functions of learning of a person and will occur within the ZPD. Assistance should be offered in those interactional contexts most likely to generate joint performance (scaffolding). Vygotsky identified four stages of learning:
|Process of ZPD||
|Stage 1||Learner has a limited understanding of the task, situation or goal. The teacher in fact willselect the material to be examined. Through time and interaction the role of the teacher will subordinate.|
|Stage 2||Performance is assisted by the self|
|Stage 3||Performance is developed and fossilized. Assistance would now be disruptive.|
|Stage 4||De-automatization of performance leads to recursion. Life long learning. Enhancement and maintenance of performance will involve self assisstance and other-assistance|
Mathews and Candy (2000, p51) declare that the importance of the theory of Vygotsky is important for two reasons; firstly in ‘focussing on the learner’s context as an important variable and secondly, that the learning process itself is important, ‘the immediate product of learning is the potential to learn more’. In the case of this project, a Vygotskyian approach can be identified in the activities of both groups of students. From the perspective of the student designers, the actual process of researching, learning and creating the courseware will have involved the four stages of the ZPD and secondly, as Mathews and Candy state, they will have learnt more about the discipline of educational courseware design, through the activity. For the student user/testers, working through the various exercises of the courseware will again involve both aspects of the Vygotskian model.
Recent pedagogic theories of Active learning and participation (Lave & Wenger, 1991: Guile &Young, 1998:Eraut et al, 2000), as witnessed by collaboration, problem-solving and student self-directed study (the model closely adopted in the design of this student-led project) are seen as effective enabling strategies for the student, but pose new problems for the traditional model of the teacher. Garrison & Anderson (2000), argue that these new pedagogic approaches then position the lecturer into a new role as facilitator; supporting, reflecting and probing the student understanding: As will be seen, this description of the new role of the teacher as facilitator, mirrors and describes the role and activities undertaken by staff in this project. But as this is a contentious issues in the sector, it is debateable as to whether colleagues in the sector are willing to adopt this new model of teaching and professional position.
ICT can underpin an approach of supportive and facilitative learning through multimedia managed learning environments, virtual learning environments and communications (Laurillard, 1993), and in the long term, provide a cost effective alternative to the traditional lecture format. Ryan (2000) acknowledges the emergence of Resource-Based Learning as a pedagogic theory which can provide the foundation for ICT based learning, and includes the majority of factors identified above. The Australian National Council of Open and Distance Learning (NCODE), describes RBL as,
Resource-Based Learning is defined as an integrated set of strategies to promote student-centred learning in a mass education context, through a combination of specially designed learning resources and interactive media and technologies. (Ryan 2000, p22)
However, it must be remembered that ICT and pedagogy is a new and developing area, and s therefore open to contestation and debate. The problem of putting theory into practice as already noted, is just one of the barriers impeding successful implementation. Garrison & Anderson (2000), highlight the problem of integrating new ICT approaches for academic staff, with the notion of ‘sustaining’ technologies where the use of internet, PowerPoint and video reinforce existing presentational practices, and ‘disruptive’ technologies, where innovation and change develop new strategies (computer conferencing, problem based learning) and so force staff to
re-evaluate their teaching methods and activities. Thus, both time and financial investment is required, in order to allow staff to understand the true potential and need for re-conceptualising their teaching approach. Garrison & Anderson, (2000), proceed to explore the current situation and identify two types of academic within the typical institution. First, the ‘Early adopters’ who become champions and evangelists for the use of ICT and second, the ‘laggards’ who are perceived as resistant and negative towards potential of the new technology. This very problem has been identified within the project, as reported by the Royal College of Music, regarding feedback from a test site,
One site inferred that the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme was primarily about engaging greater numbers of students in learning, and to an extent about de-skilling teaching. This attitude was clearly a hangover from earlier phases of this UK national programme.
In this instance, within the academic music community, the course teams at RBC and the RCM could be seen to be ‘evangelists’ and the academics at one particular test site, ‘laggards – these opposing positions highlight divisions between academic staff and again, could be seen as a barrier which can inhibit the uptake of ICT at a national level. Having, albeit briefly, highlighted the significant pedagogic theories and more recent developments which may provide models with which to base and underscore ICT educational courseware, I will now look at some practical examples of ICT based educational multimedia.
2.5 Educational Multimedia
When examining the role of the computer in educational terms, although many of the areas of hardware and software to be discussed overlap and interchange, I wish to address two distinct roles of ICT: communication and content media. By this I mean firstly, the computer delivery model of communication via the internet and secondly, the interactive educational environment located on the computer desktop, which facilitates learning between the user and the educational application/program However, the concern for this paper is that currently, the interface and design of the majority of applications examined tend to be textually based, with interactivity predominantly gained through hyper-links (hyper-text). Although there is much academic discussion regarding computer mediated communication (telematics), computer conferencing and resource based learning (Ryan, 2000; Curran, 2002; Roscoe,2002) at this present moment in time and for the student user, there is limited focus on content media. Thus, regarding the actual learning environment which students’ are confronted by, I would argue, can often appear drab and un-interesting, when for example, compared to a gaming environment. But ICT offers the opportunity to combine sound, video, animation and interactivity, which then poses the question – If text is the main means of communication and interaction, why replace a book with a computer?. As noted earlier, the difficulty of turning theory into practice (Praxis) is also evident in ICT and this maybe accounts for both the majority of interfaces examined and the academic discourse reviewed, concentrating on an easier to produce, text-based solution.
As the internet has developed in terms of power, sophistication and availability (Broadband communications, application programs and proliferation of PC’s) so E-Learning, Web-based distance learning and Distributed learning have emerged as dominant models of ICT pedagogic discourse: Interactive Multimedia Learning Environment (IMLE); Managed Learning
Environment (MLE) as characterised by Hamburg (2002) as,
‘manages the delivery of curriculum materials to students so that they are presented with individual programmes of work…provides feedback to pupils as they work and detailed records which support both student and tutor…by delivering course materials, examination and assessment via a common interface, usually a web browser. It will also have email facilities, discussion groups… and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), described by Britain et al as,… learning management software systems that synthesise the functionality of computer-mediated communications software (e-mail, bulletin boards, newsgroups etc) and on-lime methods of delivering course materials (e.g. the WWW)…to provide learners with new tools to facilitate their learning.
With the definition and description of both MLE’s and VLE’s seeming to share similar characteristics of distribution, dissemination and monitoring of curriculum modules, materials and courses, when compared to traditional models of HE provision, these programs (see for example, WebCT (http://www.webct.com.) and Blackboard (http://www.blackboard.com/), do provide new models of flexibility and open learning. Thus Web based ICT is therefore rightly reported and discussed in positive terms regarding its’ ability to both support flexible student learning patterns whilst concurrently, reinforcing institutions drive for quality measures and strategies in generating documentation and audit trails. But there is little focus or mention in either description of the quality, complexity or interactivity of the actual curriculum materials for the student. Moreover, the difficulty in developing and creating animations, video, interactivity in terms of time, money and expertise may again account for the paucity of discussion regarding the pedagogic content media of most programs.
IMLE’s, VLE’s and MLE’s then tend to be structured around generic templates and ‘engines’, where the academic or contracted developer is then expected to produce the content media; for example, (http://digitalbrain.com, & http://oracle.com) However, currently this situation appears doomed to failure for two reasons. Firstly, it would seem that for both economic and strategic issues, hiring professional new media consultants is prohibitive in terms of actual cost and also management (difficulties in coordination, understanding and communication between educationalists and designers). Secondly, the majority of academics lack both the time and experience to produce digitised materials other than HTML pages, and so for the near future and until the motivation of staff together with appropriate resources and training are provided, a lack of developed content media will continue.
My unease regarding a lack of quality in content media is not shared by all however. Roscoe (2002) takes a different position, when he raises a seemingly common academic concern of the pedagogic validity of ‘infotainment/edutainment’ (which was also raised within the project team – see later),
There is a lot of expertise in making glossy and engaging material for delivery on a television screen . Where the expertise is lacking is using the material to support learners to achieve learning outcomes that can be assessed and accredited…Most television entertainment is not designed to result in learning …It is designed to engage for a short attention span, be transitory and superficial…
Whilst I agree that as a new paradigm of supporting student learning and teaching underpinned by ICT evolves, so the means of assessment also need to develop, but as yet, I have not found any computer examples of high quality visual materials as described by Roscoe. Similarly, Trivedi (2002), raises a note of caution regarding the overuse of graphics, stating that, ’Despite the ability of graphics to improve learning, it is imperative that designers use them only whey they are relevant to the instruction; otherwise they will provide no benefit to the learners’. However, that accusation can be levelled at any strategy (text, lecture, sound) employed to underpin learning. Thus from the student perspective, once the initial ‘honeymoon period’ of being able to study flexibly at home passes, the actual presentation, content and learning activities of the MLE’s may over time, be no more compelling or engaging for the student, than a book or attendance at an institution. And as I will later argue, as the nature of the student changes in a digital age, so the views of pedagogic facilitator/teacher/designer need to evolve: for students who have grown up with computers, often in a high quality gaming environment. Therefore, in order to both engage the future student learner and also, to successfully embed ICT within the curriculum at a National level, I will argue that a compelling, rich and sophisticated ICT strategy combined with a cogent pedagogic structure, will need to be in place.
A landmark early example of combining practically pedagogic theory within the ICT environment was developed by Seymour Papert, with his computer learning programme Logo, which developed the constructivist theories from Dewey and Piaget in creating a computer based learning environment, where the student could explore and experiment and so learn by themselves (an early attempt of Active Learning/Self-Directed Study). More recent ICT and music based courseware includes,
• The CALMA project at Huddersfield University, whose software provides an environment and interface to manage audio/visual materials.
• The Patron Project at the University of Surrey, which offers a web-browser environment for similar sets of audio-visual materials.
• The SoURCE Project, from the Open University, developed the Elicitation Engine, which as the name implies, provides a template and environment for the educator to place their own learning materials. This has been tested on a number of HE sites including RBC. Although it follows a conversational model, prompting communication and collaboration, in testing, the students tended to feel that the interface was ‘dry’ and they did not expect to return to it for their learning.
But again, these approaches tend to be based around a text orientated interface and also rely on the tutor creating their own digital learning materials.
2.6 Learning Theory:Summation
I suggest that for any educational courseware to have any credibility and relevance for the future end-user, it is essential that the design and implementation of the program is underpinned by an appropriate pedagogic theory(ies). Thus, this section has initially discussed theories of learning, knowledge and pedagogy and secondly examined extant examples and approaches of educational multimedia and draws the following conclusions:
• An ICT platform would seem potentially, to be an ideal platform for the RBL and self-directed activity approaches to the social and collaborative approaches to learning.
• A constructivist approach will provide the dominant pedagogic model and underpin the strategy and design of the project.
• The design and content of the courseware will attempt to provide alternative approaches to those of a textual approach and aim to encourage discovery and engagement.
3.0 Case Study Implementation
In this section will examine overview/background, local context, and pedagogic model of the project
As already highlighted, this personal research project developed out of my involvement with the TLTP Phase 3: 108 project which consisted of a consortium headed by Dr David Burnand of the Royal College of Music as lead member institution and Rose Bruford College as associate member. The overall aim of the project was to promote reuse and sharing of digital materials, together with the exploration of questions of authoring and copyright. However the Rose Bruford College project aims differed: the project as it was developed was student-centred in the sense that from the outset undergraduate Music Technology and Sound and Image Design students were major participants. They were required to agree the parameters of the subject area to be developed and, within their learning programme, were responsible for producing all content media, as part of a major research project. In this section I begin by providing a brief outline of both the consortium and the Rose Bruford College students concerned, in order to establish the context for the challenge faced by both the teaching programme and the students themselves. I then proceed to consider a number of questions, which include cultural issues, learning and teaching principles and methodologies, and pedagogic processes including student-produced commentaries which are used to further develop the enquiry and the further production of learning and teaching materials.
3.1. Initiating the Project
In initiating the project, the Royal College of Music chose a number of classical pieces – Debussy: La Mer; Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Beethoven: Symphony no.4; the Royal College produced a range of musical digital media – i.e. audio recordings, digital video and scores, collated from a performance produced by the Royal College orchestra. These materials were then distributed to the students, who were encouraged to utilise them as they saw fit. The Rose Bruford contribution to the consortium project, was to submit a pieces of student designed music courseware: Recording the Orchestra; authored by third year Music Technology students
3.2. Local Context
Rose Bruford College is a publicly-funded university sector institution offering a range of degrees dedicated to the theatre and associated arts. The College was founded in 1950 and, from the first, offered courses that combined professional training for the theatre with education at degree level equivalence. Teacher training status was awarded from 1951 and continued until 1976. The College became known for its contribution to theatre and theatre in education and was in a particularly strong position to pioneer vocational degrees in theatre in the UK. From its first degree course in acting the College has now developed a range of courses – in technical theatre, design, acting, writing, directing, music technology and musical performance – and currently offers ten such degrees. In 1996 the College launched its Distance Learning programme with BA degrees in Theatre and Opera Studies and an MA in Theatre and Performance Studies. The College has registered a number of research degree candidates, and recruited for its first full-time MA in Theatre Practices in 1999.
3.3. Subject specificity and developing technologies
New and developing technologies mean that music composition, performance and recording can be undertaken by a single individual as part of a continuum. I would argue that this approach depends on a sophisticated understanding of the potential of the technology in conjunction with a developed musical imagination, rather than on the mastery of traditional music skills. The Music Technology programme at Rose Bruford College is designed to train and educate composers and audio technologists in this developing area of musical creation.
Parallel with these changes in addition and approach, there has been a growth in the application of extant materials – music, image, text – to a range of artistic and commercial products. The Sound & Image Design programme at the College is designed to train and educate the media developer in this developing area of new media technology. This work is as complex and individual as that of the music technologist, but relies for its primary mode of operation on the manipulation of material to create or establish meaning-potential. Typical applications span the commercial world of advertising and CD-Rom design, through the development of informative and journalistic programmes, to film, photographic and other art-works based in technology.
Essential to this work is the intellectual and aesthetic appreciation of initial material and the projected end, and the technical skills to realise it. The audio-image designer is concerned with the manipulation of sound and image to create meaning-potential as part of a range of artistic and commercial applications. This may involve origination of material but is primarily concerned with its “design” to achieve a set of agreed objectives. To do this requires an analytic understanding of the potential for meaning-production in sound and image, together with a range of technical and artistic skills many of which are common to those required by the Music Technologist.
The primary difference in undergraduate-focussed provision between the music technologist and the sound and image designer, lies in:
- the development of skills in a number of specific areas (Design and Desktop Publishing, Multimedia Authoring and practice in Digital Visual Media) replacing those specific to musical activity (composition, keyboard skills, performance and use of composition-specific software);
- the understanding of the relationship between image, sound and text;
- the ability to analyse integrated multimedia as context for specified products or work;
- the ability to suit a range of materials to a prescribed commercial, information or other given project aim.
3.4. Issues and Anxieties
Although the consortium project outlined was attractive, it did seem to me to present some problems from this sort of viewpoint. I was firstly concerned that the conception seemed to fly against received wisdom concerning multimedia design: that is, have an idea/concept, then create the content media to support the objectives. In the given instance, the content media had already been decided; hence the concept would have to be driven from the extant material. But as one of the main aims was the reuse of digital materials, the challenge lay in creating a piece of original courseware that would stand on its own terms within a particular learning and teaching environment. Like many of my colleagues in the HE sector I was aware, in addition, that the department at RBC had little previous experience in producing courseware, and uneasy in these terms about the quality of the final product, as well as about agreeing and meeting TLTP deadlines. But again, this lack of experience and expertise in ICT production is common in most academic circles, and this study may also then provide data or a model for other academics to refer to in terms of time, effort and developing skills.
3.6 Pedagogic Model utilised in Project
As a starting point, the theoretical model informing our participation in the project relied heavily on the conversational framework for the learning process proposed by Laurillard (1993). I would argue that the project permits evaluation of that conversational model from two perspectives. Firstly, the actual process of the student engagement with the design and implementation of the courseware as a work-based learning exercise can be elaborated in terms of a critical appraisal of that model: secondly, the response and reflection of both the student developers and the end-user-participants to the finished courseware can be modelled in Laurillard’s terms, and thereby serve as a second model of a particular engagement which I would argue can cross disciplinary boundaries as well as pedagogic circumstances (i.e. it is transferable). The ethos and approach of the project can also be seen in the work of Liu (2002), where she examines cognitive skills development by engaging student multimedia designers and users in a practical project.
Project-based learning, deriving its theoretical underpinnings from Dewey’s educational
philosophy (1907) and constructivist epistemological belief, organizes learning around a project…Starts with an end product, which serves as a driving question compelling students to learn about the central concepts and principles of a topic…corresponds closely with what happens in the real world (Liu, 2002)
However, it soon became clear that the conversational model provided would have to be adapted and modified to suit the specifics of this particular project. Currently, much published literature focuses on students’ response and engagement with extant courseware; this seems to enable an evaluation of the learning process itself to be presented. But in the case I outline here, what was set up was a genuinely student -centred work-based model. After the initial briefing from the tutor, the majority of conversation, negotiation and interaction was between students, led by students, within the framework provided. In both workshop, e-mail and seminar interaction, students discussed the learning objectives, interface design and reflected on the iterative feedback from their peers and users. In the majority of the two weekly meetings, tutors kept their input to a minimum in order to maintain both a presence and an observational role.
The table below (Fig.?) has been modified from the iterative model (Laurillard 2000), in order to demonstrate both the interactions, reflections and input of both student and teacher at the developmental stage.
Laurillard’s iterative model
|Teacher presents conceptual knowledge||Tutor presents initial project to Year 3 students.|
|Student expresses partial understanding via comment, question or answer||Tutor sends out questionnaire to external test sites||Those students who wish to participate ask questions about the nature and activities.|
|Teacher adapts experiential task to help student experience the concept||Tutor and students evaluate extant courseware||Interested students attend performance at the R.C.M.|
|Task sets goal for student||Tutor and students agree areas of initial research||Students agree subject areas and commence individual subject research|
|Student adapts action in light of conceptual knowledge||Tutor observation||Students present findings and present interface approach|
|Student acts to undertake task||Tutor observation||Students commence design and authoring. Mutual technical support and discussion.|
|Student receives feedback on action||Tutor observation provide feedback after group discussion||In group workshop, students interact and reflect on progress|
|Student reflects on interaction using conceptual knowledge||Tutor observation||In group workshop and e-mail, students interact and reflect on progress|
|Student further adapts action||Tutor observation||In group workshop and e-mail, students interact and reflect on progress.|
|Student generates new action to undertake task||Tutor observation||Students commence additional design and authoring again with mutual support systems and conversation.|
|Student receives feedback on new action||Tutor observation||In group workshop and e-mail, students interact and reflect on progress|
|Student reflects on interaction to develop conceptual knowledge||Tutor observation||In group workshop and e-mail, students interact and reflect on progress|
|Teacher reflects on student interaction to begin new dialogue||Tutor observation and group discussion|
|Student articulates understanding of conceptual knowledge||Tutor observation||In final presentation students discuss the project and submit an individual report.|
|Teacher gives feedback on student’s account||Tutor summarises project in group meeting and provides individual assessment of report.|
According to Underwood (1994) there are three models of learning, each of which has its validity in a specific area:
• the constructionist model for formal conceptual learning
• the apprenticeship model for skills development
• the behaviourist model for passing on large bodies of structured material.
When we re-examine the iterative model within the context of a creative music and image departmental project, we find that a range of different learning activities has been employed. These are dependant upon the activity to be undertaken – that is, behaviourist, cognitivist and/or constructionalist activities.
From practical observation of their peers and tutors, students would appear to have utilised the apprenticeship model when implementing the technical authoring skills, and the behaviourist model, when attending the initial formal lectures. However, the basis for my analysis is provided by constructionist theories and the question of how they inform practice in a nominated environment. Constructivist learning, as Underwood suggests, is based on the notion that learners are involved in building or “constructing” their own knowledge and understanding, within a specific environment. In order to clearly identify the range of learning activities instigated within the project, I have drawn on and adapted Schofield’s model relating to Constructivism: Building Blocks for Induction into Undergraduate Study,(ILT Website, publications) – Fig?. In this model he utilises the Bickmore-Brand principles of learning, mapping them over the learning activities of the nominated project. The rationale for my use of this model in the present circumstances is the perceived match between Bickmore-Brand’s mapping of principles and my own professional experience and reflection. On some occasions however, I have modified or added to the basic outline (these changes are indicated in bold, Arial font):
|Bickmore-Brand’s 7 Principles of Learning||Examples of Treatment within the Project|
|ContextCreating a meaningful and relevant context for the transmission of knowledge, skills and values, close to the learners’ ‘real-world context’.||• Practical studio based workshops• Computer based new media authoring skills.• Seminars recreating real world experience• Text analysis and group presentation.|
|InterestRealising the starting point for learning is the knowledge, skills and/or values base of the learner.||• Skills audit prior to commencing the project• Tutorials and group discussion• Free-choice in project activity|
|ScaffoldingChallenging Learners to go beyond their current thinking [through the provision of technical and other support structures] continually increasing their capacities||• Engaging in collaborative work within the project• Providing a project which extends their creative andintellectual capacities.|
|MetacognitionMaking explicit the learning processes which are occurring in the learning environment||• Examining learning theory through creative practice.• Creating effective learning strategies for individuals.|
|ResponsibilityDeveloping in learners the capacity for developing increasingly more responsibility for their learning.||• Creating personal log books and portfolios• Finding appropriate work placements.• Selecting the focus for project and research• Tutor-led discussions, e-mail and workshops|
|CommunityRecognising that a supportive group dynamic and opportunities for dialogue supports learning.||• Encouraging open discussion in setting group projects• Collaborative seminars and reflective discussion.• Student as mentor|
|ModellingProviding the opportunities to see the knowledge, skills and/or values in operation by a ‘significant’ other.||• Tutors model effective communication and inter-personal skills.• Guest lectures from the profession.• Work placement experience.• Exposure to existing student-produced models.|
3.6 Case Study :Summation
If methods refer to techniques and procedures used in the process of data-gathering, the aim of methodology then is…to help us to understand, in the broadest possible terms, not the products of scientific inquiry but the process itself.(Cohen&Manion,2000, p45)
Having identified the context and key issues of the research project, in order to gain credible and relevant data, the next step was to decide firstly how the data was to be collected and secondly, how that data was to be analysed and interpreted. In designing and applying an appropriate research methodology to this research project, the key decision was therefore an analysis of the two significant paradigms of research theory: Positive/Scientific/Quantative and Humanistic/ Anti-Positive/Qualitative. In summary, whereas the key elements of the positivist paradigm can be seen to be deductive, objective and detached, utilising highly structured and systematic data collection and analysis procedures, by comparison, the humanistic approach is inductive, relativist and situated, using for example, free choice interviews and participant observation.
It would seem however, that an understandable and simplistic solution for this research methodology design, would have been to combine both methods where appropriate. However, Clarke (1999) discusses the problems of mixing qualititative and quantitative methods when he cites Rossman and Wilson (1985):purist, the situationalist and the pragmatist. Rossman and Wilson argue that a purist, embedded in either discipline, would reject the notion of combined methods as the two paradigms, are in fact, irreconcilable. The situationalist would, only where appropriate, combine methods whereas the pragmatist, would openly promote a mixed-mode methodology within one study. Although the Quantative approach held many attractive elements (Bogdan & Taylor,1998; Cohen & Manion, 2000), as it was the intention to study groups of student designers and testers within the college setting, where specific and unique data could be sought and found from the students’ experiences, it was felt therefore, that the humanist/situationalist approach would be the most appropriate model to adopt in this research project. However, within the paradigm and broad umbrella term of qualititative research, there are a range of approaches and variations both political, ethical and procedural of which Bogdan & Taylor (1998) identify a number of theories and positions (Blumer, 1968; De Vault 1990; Clifford 1988; Foucualt, 1980). As can then be seen, qualitative research has a number of variations which are beyond the scope of this paper to elaborate and so, I will now proceed to highlight the relevant methods of qualitative research as they relate to this project.
4.1 Qualitative Methods
In this section, I will firstly outline the relationship and possible approach between theory and practice, that is, I will attempt to explain how critical knowledge can be mapped onto the practical application within the project plan and then secondly, introduce and discuss the relevance of tools such as sampling, case study, ethnography, action research and ground theory to the project.
The table below is adapted from that of Bogdan & Taylor , which identifies the central elements of a qualitative research design and aims to illustrate how the theoretical aspects of qualitiative methods were realised and practically initiated within this project. I recognise the limited view of Bogdan & Taylor, as Atkinson et al (2000), highlight some of the internal debates within the qualitative community regarding the multiple approaches of data gathering and the theoretical positions of, for example, the post-modern and modernist. However, for this study, the table from Bogdan & Taylor provides a useful initial structure (The comments in column one are from Bogdan & Taylor and those in column two, detail my response and how I included those strategies within the research plan)
|Qualitative researchers are concerned with the meanings people attach to things in their lives||Empathise and identify with people they study in order to understand how those people see things – how will student’s perceive courseware|
|Qualitative research is inductive – develop concepts, insights and understanding fromthe data collected.||Apply Grounded Theory – derived and based from the research data and therefore follow a flexible research design – alter questionnaires and lectures in response to students comments|
|Qualitative research looks at settings and people holistically||Identify location and context of participants – Digital Arts music student’s and Conservatoire academics|
|Qualitative research are concerned with how people think and act in their everyday lives||Adopt unobtrusive research strategies – observe/interview – video, observe, group discussion|
|All perspectives are worthy||A voice to the lowly – students have an equal role|
|Qualitative research emphasises the meaningfulness / validity of the participants lives.||Ensures a close fit between data and everyday lives.- critical in designing and creating academic courseware that will be successfully embedded and used in teaching & learning|
|Qualitative research is a craft||Flexible in how they approach study – unique methodology- will adopt iterative methods|
4.2 Political -Action Research
Following on from the work of Habermas (1972), action research in this context, was seen as underpinning the practical aims of this study with a political agenda which sought to interrogate both how power is produced and reproduced through education and also, who defines worthwhile knowledge. Cohen and Manion (2000, p28) when discussing critical theory and educational research, identify themes and issues of ‘repression, voice, ideology, power, participation, representation, inclusion and interests’ and also cite Morrison (1995,b), who describes features of action research to include, ‘all participants are equal… a community… frequently uses case studies…strives to be emancipatory’. They also refer to the definition by Kemmis and Mc Taggart (1998), who describe action research as ‘collective self-inquiry undertaken by participants…only action research when it is collaborative…is achieved through the critically examined action of individual group members’.
The recurring themes of collaboration, emancipation and equality of voice from a range of sources can then be mapped over the design of this student-led and student-centred project. This study can therefore be seen, to a limited extent, to be politically charged as its intention, in this context, was ‘transformative’ (to transform society and individuals to social democracy). Although action research tends to be associated with the role of the teacher, in this instance however, the focus was on the collaborative action of the student.
It can be seen that action research is designed to bridge the gap between research and practice (Somekh,1995:340), thereby striving to overcome the perceived persistent failure of research to impact on, or improve, practice. (Cohen & Manion, p227)
Linked to and following on from action research, are elements of Ethnography, which Denscombe states is employed,
…to find out how the members of the group/culture being studied understand things, the meanings they attach to happenings…( Densconbe, p69)
Cohen and Manion (2000,p24) describe Ethnomethodology, as ‘concerned with how people make sense of their everyday world…the assumptions they make, the conventions they utilize, and the practices they adopt’. Consequently, when the student group communicated ideas both collectively and individually, the data recorded was utilised in describing and reporting the experience of the students, both from observed sessions and from documentation. Equally, to maintain a balanced and representative approach, the perception and intentions of the academic authors was also sought and documented.
If the intention of this study was to understand and examine a students’ perception of ICT and pedagogy then in an ideal world, the whole student population would be investigated. However, as this was beyond the resources (time, finance and access) of the project, an opportunistic sample of the college student body was taken, in the hope that the evidence found would apply more broadly, to the general student experience. Consequently, due to the context of this project, a non-probabilty ‘Purposive’ sample was deemed to be the most appropriate tool.
…is ‘handpicked’for the research…selected with a specific purpose in mind…who or what is likely to provide the best information.( Densconbe, p15)
The participants had been selected for a specific purpose in that they represent a music student’s view of ICT. Bauer and Gaskell (2000, p20)  echo this view with their term, ‘corpus construction’, which they argue, ‘means systematic selection to some alternative rationale…maintains the efficiency that is gained from selecting some material to characterize the whole’. However, as stated earlier, this selection will produce limited data and is liable to produce biases, but as these issues are understood and expected, care was taken in how the project was introduced to the students and how data was gathered (see page ?).
Glaser and Strauss (1967) propose Ground Theory, which is a method for discovering theories, concepts and assumptions from the data, rather than a priori from existing texts and theories. They identify two approaches; the Constant comparative method (in which the researcher simultaneously codes and analyses data in order to develop concepts – refining, exploring integrating into a coherent theory) and Theoretical Sampling, a procedure whereby researchers consciously select additional cases to be studied according to the potential for developing new insights or expanding and refining those already gained . In this study, the sampling process was iterative with the second stage being created and informed from the earlier results and so, the Theoretical model was utlised.
4.4 Case study
…its focus on just one instance of the thing that is to be investigated…there is obviously far greater opportunity to delve into things in more detail and discover things that might not have become apparent through more superficial research. ( Densconbe, p31)
The decision to utilise a case study as one of the tools of the research project is not without debate, for example, Nisbet and Watt’s (1984) identify possible weaknesses with this approach which include, ‘results not generalizable…not easily open to cross-checking, hence bias…prone to bias of observer’. However, in this instance, although the case study was a ‘phenomenon in a bounded context’, the results should be relevant to other sites and cases where students are encouraged to utilise computer-based learning courseware (both music and non-music based), and as Denscombe (1998) states, ‘..there may be insights to be gained from looking at the individual case that can have wider implications…’.
The single instance is of a bounded system…provides a unique example of real people in real situations…case studies can penertrate situations in ways that are not always susceptible to numerical analysis. (Cohen & Manion, p181).
Of the three types of case study Yin identifies (exploratory, descriptive & explanatory), the exploratory as a ‘pilot to other studies or research questions’, did seem an appropriate and relevant model for this study. Again however, this proposal is not without challenge as Adelman et al (1980, p183), counter this view when they describe the case study as a, ‘significant and legitimate research method’ in its’ own right. Whether one agrees with the definition of Yin, that the exploratory case study is only useful as a starting point or with Adelman, who argues for the validity and credibility of the case study in its’ own right, the notion of a case study is accepted, and it is this model that was followed in the research design. That is, the first case study will provide data relating to the context and student response to the academic courseware and the second case study, will provide information regarding the student-user analysis of student produced courseware.
To summarise, having albeit briefly identified the significant theories and debates relating to qualitative research, this project followed a situationalist methodology, based around a case study, which was designed to employ a purposive sample with the analysis of data being informed through ethnography and action research.
4.5 Research Conduct
I will now proceed to discuss the research conduct (which will include the practical tools and instruments utilised), the ethical dimensions, the practical and contextual approaches and how theoretical issues were implemented in the research design.
The ethical dimensions raised through this study concern three specific groups; the students, the academic designers and the participant observer. In order for all the participants to be properly informed and for the validity and integrity of the data collected to be maintained, I will now briefly identify the key ethical dilemmas and also detail how these were be dealt with.
The context and nature of the first group is undergraduate students examining pedagogic software, located in a university college setting. The student participants fall into two groups- the student designers (A) and the student testers (B). The student designers, firstly had the study explained to them, and then were invited to participate in the project; which also contributed to their final year studies. Although it was intended to refer to their written reports as part of the data collected, the student designers were allowed anonymity if they chose, and also were informed of their right to withdraw (informed consent). For the student testers, again they had the project explained to them, had the right not to participate and also were able to choose anonymity.
The role of the researcher is also open to ethical and procedural dilemmas. According to BERA, the responsibility of the researcher includes,’…avoid fabrication, falsifications or misrepresentation of evidence…honesty and openness…mindful of cultural, religious, gendered differences…’; these guidelines were followed as closely as possible. However, Clarke (1999, p81) argues that the role of the participant observer is problematic on two counts, firstly ‘…the possibility that individuals will modify their behaviour if they are aware they are under observation’ and secondly, ‘observation can lead to bias…when the fieldworker is so caught up in the activities under observation that it affects what is actually observed’.
Conventional wisdom among qualitative researchers advise against studying areas in which the researches have an interest, in case objectivity is compromised or preconceived frameworks are applied. When we pose the question, what is the relationship between the observer and the observed in this instance, it was tutor and student. This close relationship could then have created a situation which conflicted with the BERA guidelines and follows the concerns of Clarke. However, in the first instance, I tried to remain as detached as possible, as I was observing the students both working at their computers (I would not expect them, when they are engaging with the courseware, to modify their behaviour for my benefit,) and also when in group discussion: Although they were aware of my presence, I do not believe they acted in any forced manner (I was able to triangulate the comments voiced in the discussion against their individual reports and evaluation sheets). Regarding the second problem, I had no reason to force the results into any particular area, as I am keen to examine all possibilities and remain objective. The physical results of the student designers (courseware and reports) produced tangible, reliable and original evidence and the results of the student testers, was reported faithfully and accurately, both by questionnaire and field notes. Accordingly, this range of data, both annotated field notes, student reports, actual courseware exemplars and questionnaire/evaluation sheets was examined and analysed by the researcher in order to establish if any patterns or principles could be identified: If common trends or approaches could be found, then some questions relating to a student expectation of pedagogic ICT may be highlighted.
The remaining ethical problem was the sensitivity and political dilemma of how the data produced from the students (if critical or negative), was then shared between the institutions. This information was reported honestly but at the same time, mindful of professional sensitivities and position. Equally, as I am interested in mapping the perceptions of both groups, I also endeavoured to illicit the views of the academic architects regarding the ‘perception discrepancies’ between their early intentions and the final result. Thus, it was essential to gain the trust and confidence of the academics in how this data was reported: The RCM kindly provided me with a case study report which included feedback responses from institutional test sites and the RCM response and project summary.
4.7 Case Study /Procedure
The table below has been adapted from Bodgan & Taylor (1988) and is a stepwise procedure for completing a qualitative research project. The left hand-column contains the suggested procedure from Bogdan & Taylor and the right-hand column, details my response and action/timetable.
|The techniques||Multi-method – participant observation, open-ended interviewing, questionnaires, student reports.|
|Strategies for identifying and obtaining access to informants||Students from within my department and if possible, external sites.|
|The approximate number of people and settings – size of sample.||Main group of 11 student designers within Digital Arts Department. Approximately 25 other students to act as testers. Students from other sites will be approached if appropriate,|
|Data collection and recording procedures||Field notes, transcripts, video,multi-media courseware|
|Data analysis procedures||Ground theory – evaluation of student reports, questionnaires;ethnography|
|Timelines for the completion of the research||June 2002|
Rather than impose hypotheses and procedures a priori, research design in participant observation remained flexible. General questions at the start were that I knew the context of study, participants, location and tasks. Initially in the development processes, there was no contextualising lecture provision for students regarding aesthetics of design, pedagogic theory or approaches to navigation. However, extant examples of academic courseware were circulated and evaluated by the student group prior to commencing the project. In order to allow student developers (A) to proceed, only minimal technical support was provided; so as not to unduly influence students’ creative ideas and practice. Students then combined their shared experiences of computer technology within a piece of courseware designed and created by the target user. This courseware was then be user-tested by their peers in order to gain a wider student view. The student testers (B) were only informed that they are to examine two examples of computer software and that they should write their comments down on the questionnaire provided. On completion, the observer collected the papers and then generated a general discussion regarding their views (which was recorded). A summary of the student conclusions was then mapped against those by the academic designer in order to examine where ideas and expectations of pedagogic ICT both harmonise and also, more significantly, instances where mis-understanding and tension occurs. This data should then provide a model or set of guidelines for the potential academic courseware developer to consider, before undertaking the time consuming and costly exercise which current ICT creation involves.
4.9 Methodology :Summation
5. Data Analysis
This section will firstly discuss principles of HCI as they relate to the project, and proceed to detail student designers approach, academic approach and student testers response.
5.1 Interface design – Overview
The principals of HCI (Human Computer Interaction) are both a complex and extensive subject,
incorporating a number of different disciplines, which include:
• Information systems
• Software engineering
• Interactive hardware
• Cognitive psychology
• Social psychology
• Organisational psychology
Rees et al.(2001, p75) divide the various aspects of the HCI discipline into the following sub-segments:
• The capability of the human brain and the senses used in HCI
• The human ability to learn to use computing systems
• The context of the joint performance of tasks by humans and computing systems (ethnography)
• Structures of communication between human and machine.
• Human task analysis and how the computer contributes to successful task completion
• Design of user interfaces
• Implementation of user interfaces
• Evaluation of user interfaces
In order to develop effective and efficient user interfaces, the HCI specialists and designers therefore have to comprehend the combined psychological, organisational and social factors of the human and the computer system. In reality, the extent of the required in-depth knowledge about humans and technology exceeds the capabilities of any single individual and so consequently, software-development companies have to employ a team of specialists to cover all the aspects of the HCI discipline. This situation then highlights the challenge faced by Higher Education establishments in developing instructional courseware and maybe, accounts for the generally poor results achieved so far (e.g. Coopers & Lybrand report – TLTP Phase 1 & 2). One possible solution for HE institutions is offered by Newby (1999), who suggests a commercial partnership approach where,
…the universities provide most of the academic expertise – and crucially the ‘branding’ necessary for market credibility – the partners provide production facilities, distribution, and marketing, as well as much of the underlying technology, in order to proceed on a truly global basis
Consequently, having identified the difficulties in ICT creation for academics, for the student designers involved in this research project, their approach and application in designing and creating exemplar courseware, cannot be under-estimated.
The discipline of HCI is well beyond the scope of this paper, and so consequently, I will take a pragmatic approach, focusing only on the relevant aspects as they relate to this research project; and will therefore, concentrate discussion on mapping methodologies for developing effective and efficient user interfaces (User Interface) and general design principals against the students’ approach.
Human computer interfaces, usually referred to as user interfaces, are the main communication device in an interaction process between the user and the computer. When developing, implementing and evaluating user interfaces it is imperative to distinguish and acknowledge the three main components;
• The human
• The computer
• The interaction
The main objective of HCI principals is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the interaction process between the user and the system. It is essential that the designers and developers comprehend that the level of usability of an application is independent of the application’s utility for although an application may possess extensive features and functionalities, the level of effectiveness and efficiency of the interaction is crucial for the application’s success. The user’s requirements and needs have to be prioritised over the technology and the system should be constructed accordingly. Consequently, on commencing the project and in order to correctly target the end-user’s specification and requirements, the students created a questionnaire requesting data on suggested content and approach (see appendix 1), which was then circulated to both internal students and external institutions. From the resulting data, the students then agreed the subject areas to be covered, to what level and by which individual student. Thus, each subject area of the courseware (now referred to as ‘movie’) is authored by an individual student, and consequently, although contained within a single piece of courseware, there will in fact, be eleven different student approaches to instructional design and approach.
Before proceeding to examine user interface design, it is appropriate to acknowledge that computer systems are designed to assist the end-user and therefore, the user’s physical and psychological requirements and characteristics and equally, their limitations and capabilities, should be of the highest priority for the HCI designer: Sensory Perception (visual/aural/touch), Memory (short-term/long-term); Perceptual (processes visual/aural data),Motor (carry out physical responses) and Cognitive (working memory/knowing) will all be examined and assessed. In this instance however, for reasons of both scale and time, whilst acknowledging the broad characteristics and range of a potential end user, the student designers limited their definition of the end-user as an able bodied, undergraduate music/ music technology student: As this project was research into a student led and designed courseware exemplar, limiting the scope seemed both practical, reasonable and appropriate.
The usability of an interactive application is determined by its effectiveness, efficiency and ease which a new user can interact with the system and achieve maximum performance (learnability). This process is dependent on the user’s previous interaction experience where the user predicts the result of his future action by recognising the interaction device from other similar interactive systems. Typically new users often have varied range of interaction experience from the external world or with other computer systems. A new user’s initial experience with an interactive system consists of a correlation between his/her existing knowledge and the knowledge required to establish effective interaction with the system. The new user’s initial perception of the system determines the user’s interaction approach towards the system.
Some psychologists argue that there are intrinsic properties, or affordances, of any visual object that suggests to us how they can be manipulated. The appearance of the object stimulates a familiarity with its behaviour.  (Dix A. et al. 1998, p166)
A common method adapted by UI designers is to utilise previous successful UI designs form similar application as guidelines for developing user interfaces for new applications. Another constructive method to avoid mistakes when developing user interfaces is to study previous unsuccessful user interfaces and analysing the elements, which lead to their failure. The majority of the students created their movies on a Macintosh computer, and consequently, the Apple Desktop interface served as an excellent guideline (especially in a learning context) in designing a working environment.
The Apple Desktop interface is based on the assumption that people are instinctively curious: They want to learn, and they learn best by active self-directed exploration of their environment. People are artistic when they are provided with a comfortable context; they are most productive and effective when the environment in which they work and play is enjoyable and challenging.  (Rees M. 2001, p 177)
In this instance, the student designers in discussion, agreed and decided that the interface design and navigation would follow from their shared experience and analysis of web pages, computer games and existing educational multimedia, projecting that their student peers would have similar experience and expectations of multimedia. So rather than attempt to create a new or complex design approach, which might in fact confuse the end-user, a common overall navigation approach of home, quit, help, forward/ back buttons was utilised. Within the individual ‘movies’ however, once a user entered the individual ‘subject movie area’, students were free to experiment with alternative approaches to navigation and interface design and thus, following the Apple Desktop Model as described by Rees et al, could attempt to create an enjoyable and challenging learning environment.
The screenshots of the student-produced courseware below show a combination of the home page (agreed and designed by the group) and also, a selection of individually designed ‘movies’ by the student developers. In total, eleven students contributed to the creation of the courseware, and to varying degrees, all the students combined text, sound, animation, video clips and interactivity in their work (each student also submitted an accompanying four thousand word commentary regarding their process; which I will refer to as I analyse each movie). I was particularly interested at this stage, in the approach to design aesthetics a music student would employ. As one would expect, there is a broad range of styles and approaches in terms of colour, proportion and complexity.
The UI is a visual representation of the application and is all that user sees when interacting with the application, consequently the users familiarity with the system involves the user’s initial impression of the system, where the user determines how to interact with the system. Effective use of metaphors from the real world to represent icons or other UI controllers can improve the user’s initial perception of the system. Barker and Van Schaick, when discussing the use of metaphors and icons, suggest that the characteristic of an effective icon is reflected by the level of ease which the user is able to learn and remember the icon and its functionality. Moreover, the individuality of the icon is essential as the user should be able to identify the particular icon as it is displayed among a group of icons embedded within the GUI. The stimulus effect and the mental process, which the icon generates in the user is another issue which the designers have to contemplate thus ultimately, the potency of the generated stimulus is dependent of the icon’s physical characteristics, such as size, shape and colour. Students utilised a range of metaphors within their movies including books, microphones, musical instruments, speakers and tape machines.
One area of concern by the design team was that by involving eleven developers, establishing a sense of consistency within the courseware might prove difficult and could result in a confusing and amateurish looking end result. These anxieties were overcome by employing an efficient naming strategy (by utilising simple words for the naming and the description of the functionality of the of menu labels and the integrated UI controllers) and a consistent colour code. The student designers felt it was important to utilise words with single meaning and even more, to avoid employing two different words to describe the same function. Further, it was also agreed that whenever possible all the user’s actions should be reversible, which was usually achieved by either utilising an ‘undo’ feature or alternatively, utilising a dialog box as a user prompt.
5.2 Student Developer Individual movies
This section will detail and examine each student movie together with the accompanying student commentary.
5.3 Academic Designer
5.4 Student-User Tester
Now provide some examples of anecdotal evidence recorded during student evaluation and discussion of extant courseware, particularly regarding approaches to navigation, learning outcomes and interface design. 24 testers. First questionnaire test run – too complicated (see appendix 2) consequently, re-designed to a simpler version (see appendix 3) form those responses and notes form a general discussion, the following comments are presented. This first series of responses relate to student analysis of academically produced music (all student comments are in Arial Font).
6.1 General conclusions and discussion
6.2 Cultural and Power Issues
A number of un-foreseen issues emerged as a consequence of our involvement within the consortium. These include questions of ideology, widening participation, generational differences and the evaluation of education itself, within specific institutions. I want to identify these here since it would seem that they may inform the ways in which members of the consortium actually proceed to evaluate the outcomes of the project on the ground. At the point of this evaluation, differences may be revealed between what might be termed the ethos, ‘cultural’ attitudes on the ground and the mission statements of the two different institutions.
As stated earlier, a target Music Technology student at Rose Bruford College will normally have a musical skill equivalent to Grade 6, but is generally interested in popular music and recording technology: focus tends to be on composition for games, chart music, television music. Consequently, that student will not normally possess the entry requirements for a B.Mus or conservatoire musician and thus rarely have the opportunity to either record, play or work with a classical orchestra. The wider project we set up, through the consortium, seemed initially to be an ideal opportunity to create access through a virtual orchestral recording session, where questions concerning orchestral instrumental design, recording practice, acoustics, communication and performance could be addressed through the development of new ICT courseware. But this question of access or ‘widening participation’ was key.
However, on a number of occasions during the project, differences in understanding, knowledge and ethos became evident at the interface between staff and students at Rose Bruford and those of the Royal College of Music. This caused me to pose the following questions:
1. Might there be ideological differences, with regard to access to ‘culture’, within the consortium and the wider H.E. music sector?
2. Might the production of teaching materials be informed by different (implicit) agendas, from those openly shared by the consortium members, when we are dealing with the differences between – for example – music technology professionals (RBC) and concert professionals (RCM)?
3. To what extent does the work undertaken by consortium partners require at the outset an explicit account of ideological positioning, from each researcher ?
4. Might the Bruford component be interesting to the other participants precisely because students at point of entry to RBC may not have a music competence/culture that the other participating institution takes as essential ?
5. Is the Bruford work at the “widening participation”-end of the music-cultural scale?
6. Is evaluation of student-centred materials produced liable as a consequence to be informed by the different positions on the ideological scale which these sorts of questions refer to?
7. Do those different positions necessarily equate to the conventional status of the institutions, and their evaluative mechanisms, within which researchers and students find themselves?
8. Might there finally be generational differences, as well as ideological differences, between different institutional partners in the framework of the consortium project?
In one attempt at highlighting the implications of these sorts of questions, I return to Laurillard (2000), who notes, when discussing Affordances in the learning process, that
A designer may describe the features of an educational medium objectively and accurately –learner choice, self-paced, structured index – but the learner may perceive it very differently. Our question is rather: ’what are its affordances for the target learner?’ The way it is perceived by the learner may be very different from the designer’s expectation.
In personal/professional terms, what is likely to be the impact of the generational difference, on the material produced, between a middle-aged academic courseware designer (who has begun work with digital technologies rather late in his life) and a user-learner who is in her or his late teens (for whom access to digital technologies may have begun in late childhood)? One of the driving forces of this project was the wish to examine generational differences relating to computer use between academics and students; that is, to consider how a student might differently approach design and creation of learning technologies to an academic. The questions which emerged later dealt with institutional differences, in addition to the generational.
My general and unformalised observation is that, due in part to their different enculturation, the post-MTV generation uses knowledge differently to the uses made by the pre-MTV generation of academics who generally design and implement the majority of ICT Courseware. What this general observation leads me to suggest is that, if, from the perspective of the student, the initial interface is flawed, then the basis of academic research, observations and results from student testing will be unreliable, if one of our objectives is to produce materials which are fully acceptable to and embedded within the student user group. According to Eisenberg, in more general terms,
Things have, in fact, changed. And technology does make a difference –maybe a large, systematic, and ominous difference—in the lives of the young. When kids spend significant portions of their days watching television (or playing video games, or surfing the Net, orwhatever) it’s only fair to ask what the impact of those activities might be.
The relationship between humans and computers is in a state of flux; and this has implications for learning materials design and uptake. Taking this line of thought to one extreme, Hayles (Hayles, 1999, p3) suggests that we have become ‘posthuman’: ‘the posthuman view configures human being so that it can be seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines. In the posthuman, there are no essential differences or absolute demarcations between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetics’. Plainly Hayles’ argument would not be fully accepted amongst educational software designers. However, the viewpoint expressed does signal that debates about pedagogic interface design and approaches and the new generations may come to rest on rather different assumptions.
In terms of immediate implications, I want to propose that the ongoing validity of any new courseware will depend on student-initiated design and creation of courseware, within appropriate frameworks established and maintained by teaching staff. If this is the case, then we can argue that the observations and findings of student developers and other student participants, will be situated within the target audience itself, and will reflect more accurately the needs, expectations and demands of the target group. Once these frameworks are established and the processes undertaken, then the design and implementation of academically produced courseware should be able to combine a rigorous pedagogy with a compelling student centred interface and navigational approach.
On the other hand – and to return to the difficult questions of ideology set out above – I want to note here two conversations I had during the development and early implementation of the consortium project with colleagues. The first conversation relates to both this perceived generational divide, and to the question of evaluation and quality, and it concerns education and entertainment. The phrase ‘edutainment’ was used, in order to ask why we might need to utilise colour and animation in materials production, to maintain student interest. The upshot was my colleague’s assertion that academics ‘should not have to pander to students’ wishes or taste’ and that academics are ‘in danger of underestimating the abilities of the MTV generation’. What responses should we make? The students have clearly stated their views and opinions regarding the content and approach of music bases multimedia, both in the creation of courseware exemplars and in the testing and evaluation of academic courseware, yet the academic response is to ignore this viewpoint. In the report of one of the student developers of courseware, this subject is tackled quite perceptively, and it focuses on the question of motivation and software production:
Distance learning or private study remove immediate social motivation, other factors must motivate the student to learn. I suggest that making learning enjoyable is such a factor: rewarding study with entertainment. Interactive multimedia is ideally suited to this process.
The second conversation, with a different colleague, related to the musical competence/culture issue regarding the differing positions between students at the RCM and RBC. In a project meeting, I reported back to my colleagues the various responses from the music technology students to the courseware created at the RCM. A number of students had declared that they thought it would have been a useful design element to allow the participant to follow the music on the score with a timeline. The colleague burst out laughing and seemed incredulous that such a facility would be required. This honest and spontaneous reaction, from a well respected and professional lecturer, demonstrated more clearly than words that two different worlds of music education were colliding together. If the projected aims of the composition software is intended for educational outcomes, then this reaction would suggest that the RCM courseware is aimed at a tightly defined end-user and consequently preclude certain groups of students from access.
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www.bera.ac.uk Ethical Guidelines
ROSE BRUFORD COLLEGE: MIDI Orchestration
Questionnaire for Students
Name:……………… Course:…………… Institution:………………
This questionnaire is designed to gain an understanding of what elements you would expect to find or utilise within a computer aided learning package such as this. The questions posed, only provide a broad framework of key areas, so please feel free to identify any subjects you feel are not adequately addressed.
1. Would a program of this nature be useful to you, in your area of work? Yes/No
- What areas would you like to see addressed within the program?
The recreation of performance data through MIDI Yes/No
Comparisons between real and synthetic voices Yes/No
The ability to synchronise real performance and MIDI files Yes/No
The option to follow a score in real time Yes/No
The ability to mix/audition different combinations of instruments Yes/No
Instructional material and tests throughout the courseware Yes/No
A structured approach or, Yes/No
a non-linear navigation Yes/No
Information resource Yes/No
- What do you hope the program will enable?
Understanding of how to recreate real instruments? Yes/No
Appreciate how real instruments blend together sonically Yes/No
Understand different synthesis techniques Yes/No
Understand the musical application of MIDI Yes/No
Please add any other comments you wish
- Do you have any reservations about the proposed courseware?
TLTP 3: Student Developer Checklist 1
Name of Developer:…………………………… Date:…………
Courseware title:…………………………… Version:………
Educational Issues Student Staff
Is the use of a computer necessary to achieving your objectives and outcomes? Yes/No Yes/No
Will the courseware arouse student’s interest in the subject? Yes/No Yes/No
Will the courseware provide information not available elsewhere? Yes/No Yes/No
Will the courseware encourage practice? Yes/No Yes/No
Does the courseware cater for a range of learning styles? Yes/No Yes/No
Is it clear what levels are catered for? Yes/No Yes/No
Is there sufficient interaction and active participation on the student’s part? Yes/No Yes/No
Do students get appropriate and sufficient feedback? Yes/No Yes/No
Are assessments used? Are they integrated into tutorials? Yes/No Yes/No
What will learners learn? (please elaborate below)
Have spelling errors been corrected? Yes/No Yes/No
Has grammar and punctuation been checked? Yes/No Yes/No
Is text economically and efficiently used? Yes/No Yes/No
Is the language used appropriate to the level and background of the students? Yes/No Yes/No
Have you checked for any rhetorical questions that need to be removed? Yes/No Yes/No
Is this the latest version being tested? Yes/No Yes/No
Is this version backed up at a remote site? Yes/No Yes/No
Do all link buttons work? Yes/No Yes/No
Does all navigation work? Yes/No Yes/No
Is all redundant code removed? Yes/No Yes/No
Are all redundant buttons, navigation and resources removed? Yes/No Yes/No
Does sound, animation and video function satisfactorily? Yes/No Yes/No
Are all media (font, file size, screen size) written to the agreed standard? Yes/No Yes/No
Is all content media (interviews, images, sound) cleared? Yes/No Yes/No
Look, Sound and Feel
Has a menu page been included? Yes/No Yes/No
Do all the links from the menu work? Yes/No Yes/No
Is there an introduction? Yes/No Yes/No
Does the introduction mention learning objectives? Yes/No Yes/No
Are fonts, font sizes, line spacing and styles of text consistent? Yes/No Yes/No
Is the use of colour consistent throughout the courseware? Yes/No Yes/No
Are effects used consistently? Yes/No Yes/No
If flashing is used, is the rate below 2Hz? Yes/No Yes/No
Are all useful navigation methods used (i.e. not just mouse clicks)? Yes/No Yes/No
Are key commends consistently applied? Yes/No Yes/No
Is the screen layout simple, neat and readable? Yes/No Yes/No
Are screens well designed? Yes/No Yes/No
Is there a good balance between consistency and variation of screen layout? Yes/No Yes/No
Are objects aligned vertically and horizontally? Yes/No Yes/No
Do images and graphics look professional? Yes/No Yes/No
Are images, graphics and video consistently framed? Yes/No Yes/No
Does sound function consistently? Yes/No Yes/No
Are all sound excerpts cleanly edited? Yes/No Yes/No
Have delays and poor synchronisation of sound been avoided? Yes/No Yes/No
Please provide below, any comments regarding the questionnaire?
TLTP 3: Student –User Tester
Educational Software Evaluation
Thank you for agreeing to take part in this research project. The information you provide will be collated and inform my research into student learning and Information Communication Technologies. Your responses will be treated with confidentiality, however, if you wish to remain anonymous, you do not need to sign your name. You have the right to withdraw from this exercise any time you wish.
You will be asked to comment separately, on two examples of instructional courseware relating to music and sound. I am interested in understanding your views relating to the approach of Interface Design, Navigation and Learning Outcomes. Please add additional comments in the space provided. Thank you for taking part.
The ICT revolution has radically transformed the capacity to store, transmit and use information, which in an educational setting, can be seen to have far reaching implications for the way institutions operate and the systems are structured: The effects of ICT in Higher Education can then be seen on two related groups. First, at the micro-level of the university department, both the technical possibilities and the impact on social dynamics can be witnessed in the following arenas:
• The dynamic social/power relations between the student/lecturer and the lecturer/manager
• Web resources for both staff and students
• Courses and modules delivered either fully or in part via the Internet
• Creation of computer based learning materials, feedback and electronic assessment
• Rise of quality management systems – student records, retention/progression data
At the macro-level of the institution within the international super structure, initiatives and pressures
• international competition
• ‘e-learning’, distributed learning represents a shift from traditional formal education, institutions and qualifications to a flexible, open and.
• Social inclusion, widening participation and the possible implementation of Lifelong learning.
• Problems of Power relations as a social basis of ‘e-learning’ – inclusion/exclusion- Digital Divide and staff.
Amongst a number of aims, this paper also seeks to understand what is meant by ‘leading edge technology’? Is it the virtual reality as used by the armed forces or NASA in its flight simulators ? Or, is it a networked PC and a printer ? Who will create these ‘novel teaching methods’. Software engineers, who probably do not understand pedagogy? Or, certain groups of academics, who in my experience, either perceive themselves as possessing little ICT expertise or conversely, demonstrate a high-handed approach to the needs of their students. Who will fund the development of pedagogic software and where will the expertise be found to create software that will both stimulate and challenge an active learner, and also be able to intelligently respond to a range of questions posed by the user. In the course of this research, we will look at one such
U.K initiative, the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP), and attempt to examine the contribution to creation and dissemination of ICT courseware within the H.E. sector.
Alternatively, is a multi-modal model the solution, for example, combining a Problem Based Learning (PBL), which includes a structured competencebased curriculum with a guided discovery pedagogy, in-conjunction with a Cognitive Apprenticeship model (for the skills acquisition). For an audience who are used to a relatively sophisticated and dynamic games environment, how will their interest and motivation be maintained if the interface design is static and basic.
1.1Framework – Articulate stages of research process. Context – ask the right things. What is area of research and why. Why is it important – can I communicate it to someone else.
What does the reader need to know about the background to be persuaded of what I am about to discuss – rhetoric/ elitism/stratification of academia/widening participation.
Fulcrum – my methodology & methods.
How best do I proceed – what is my methodology. Case Study (Yin)
I have made you aware of the problems and why. I am now going to tell you how – about attitudes – qualitative. In order to uncover layers, dimensions, multidynamics – rich texture.
What are/were the effects of hidden politics –dimensions.
I have made you aware of the problems and why. I am now going to tell you how – about attitudes – qualitative. In order to uncover layers, dimensions, multidynamics – rich texture.
What are/were the effects of hidden politics –dimensions.
Reflection. Anticipation of problems – realistic boundaries. All things which hinder /help this thing to work e.g. access, politics, ethics. How to produce realistic conditions for delivery – pitfalls. How to reduce margin of error.
Dissertation plan from Jan – 13/11/01
- Rhetoric, claims, problems
- Why your concern – TLTP
- What has learning theory got to say
- Look at research data
- Power issues
- Analyse data and positioning
- General conclusions and recommendations for the future.
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 Densconbe, M (1998). The Good Research Guide for small-scale social research projects, Buckingham: OUP
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Densconbe, M (1998). The Good Research Guide for small-scale social research projects, Buckingham: OUP
 Cohen, L & Manion, L (2000). Research Methods in Education, London: Routledge.
 Ibid. p 182 – Cohen and Manion cite the work of Yin regarding case studies,
 ibid, p183
 Clarke, A (2000) Evaluation Research:London, Sage.
 Dix A. et al. (1998) Human Computer Interaction ,Prentice Hall, Europe, p 166
 Rees M. et al. (2001 )Designing Web Interfaces Prentice Hall, London p 177
 Yazdani M. Barker P. (2000) Iconic Communication, Intellect Books
 The Universties Funding Council (UFC) launched the Teaching and Learning Technology Programme (TLTP) in 1992 to encourage higher education establishments to collaborate with the development of new technological methods of delivering knowledge.http://www.ncteam.ac.uk/
 Jones, M. G. What Can We Learn from Computer Games: Strategies for Learner Involvement; Amory, A. et al The Use of Computer Games as an Educational Tool:Identification of Appropriate Game Types and Game Elements; Wong, K. Video game effect on computer-based learning design.