Category Archives: What is education?

So close and so far away

It has been some time that I haven’t been able to write in my blog, although I have been writing so much in my private space.
I have been working very hard in my research design (the image above is the result of that work) which is about all the logistics that I need to follow to connect my findings to the research question. It provides also a blueprint for success 🙂 It guides the process of finding the evidence or the data that will possibly answer the research questions. I also have been thinking about fare ways to invite students to participate in the project not using or taking advantage of my position of lecturer. I already have green light to address them in the core modules discussion time. I am thinking and writing about the benefits students will take advantage of when taking part of this study. I had a good conversation with my former external supervisor Jan van Maanen, a Dutch mathematician, teacher and historian. His advice was very dutch: think about having fun and providing them with time afterwards to have good conversations and a nice snack with drinks. So we decided to call it “the week summit”, I have thought to organise the activities near the end of the week in the student union launch in order to work first and then chill and enjoy the rest of the evening.
We coincide in using the summit in an arithmetic way –> sum-it a sum of activities that will bring us to know more about how students would like to be involved in re-shaping their own informal personal learning space which is the aim of the second phase of the project.
So my design research, the blueprint version 1.1 is ready to go and the idea is to brake my study in two phases. Phase 1 is about mapping students’ current digital practice. Understanding what motivates them when engaging in the Web with different platforms and tools in formal and informal settings. To explore their expectations, views, fears, anxieties in relation to their digital experience within the university and also when they are working from elsewhere.  My potential participants are going to be y-1, y-2 and y-3 students in educational studies, many of which are then taking the PGCE -postgraduate certificate in education-.
The methods I am using are:

  • focus group to start the conversation with students in relation to their experience and expectations,
  • the V+R continuum  approach which will give me an idea of what motivates students to engage in the Web both, in formal and informal settings and how does their informal digital space looks like
  • the day experience adapted by Dr. Mathew Riddle and Michael Arnold (university of Cambridge and Melborune respectively). It was inspired by social and behavioural science methodologies including the Experience Sampling Method (Hektner et al, 2006, Intille et al, 2003), the Day Reconstruction Method (Kahneman et al, 2004) and work on Cultural Probes (Gaver et al, 1999, Arnold, 2004).  The day experience was used on the Learning Landscape Project at the University of Cambridge in 2007. The method is attempt to reduce recall distortion and the ideological biases of other sampling methods such as interviews, surveys and focus groups. It can record temporal and situational information in qualitative and quantitative detail, and may be extended to a longer period if needed. The authors suggest It is particularly suited to those who wish to use a novel qualitative method to examine every day life situations.
  • An online survey

The aim of phase 1 is to capture how are students engaging with the Web, what platforms and tools do they use and for what purpose. Explore into their digital habits. Other aspects to explore are the views, expectations, vision, fears, needs and blocks students have in relation to the digital world and their experience in formal and informal settings. For that I am using Jisc’s cards and posters, both are already tested by other researchers and they seem to work well for starting a fruitful conversation about the topic.
One of the things I am also interested is how can the university digital literacy policy and culture include students’ informal digital habits and in doing so look at ways the university can match students’ digital literacy expectations where possible. Once all this data is collected it will be analyzed looking at what digital skills are revealed and what digital habits emerge. It will provide the study with a comprehensive view, a typology of students in relation to their digital literacies.
I am not only interested in the term “digital literacies” but also in “web literacy” which is an initiative of Mozilla Firefox in order to provide people with tools that will allow people have a proactive and informed attitude towards the web, teaching them the necessary skills to read, write and participate in the Web. How I will integrate both terms, digital and web I am still not sure. Intellectual work that needs to be done but what is clear to me is that both complement very well.

A New Culture of Learning

Some notes on
A new culture of learning:

  • A big issue for me is to really understand what is the digital culture and more than that the meaning of the knowledge society and if I can relate it to the learning of math
  • I like the idea of the fluid infrastructure of the 21st century
  • Technology is constantly creating and responding to change
  • Learning takes place with out books, teachers and classrooms. There are important but there are only one part of the resources to learn. Nowadays the resources created in class are a very important part of learning. Young students are part of ‘participatory culture’ (Jenkins) so participating is core.
  • Learning can be messy, playful, creative, chaotic, not ready jet, all that with some kind of structure. How to structure the messy???
  • Collective play is not mere preparation for life, it is life.
  • Questions are more important than answer, because answers to real questions lead to more questions. Lani Watsons’ research (here the video) is about the value of questioning in education. She argues that questioning is related with the intellectual virtue of inquisitiveness which plays an invaluable role in our intellectual lives.  She will propose the importance of a question oriented education. I said in my introduction of my first proposal that questioning is how kids start to discover the world, it is the natural way they find to discover, so it has to be incorparated somehow into the learning practice. It is difficult because of the demands for a teacher working with questions that are unknown. It needs a strategy for making it possible. There was an idea of a mail box that can be filled so and so many days before the class… Sahana Murti can be asked.
  • Philosopher ask in order to get to the nature of reality. To what will pupils go when questioning in a math class? Questions are tools to understand the problem s them selfs. The value of questioning is overlooked. Students receive answers with out even making any question. There must be dedicated time in teaching students the value of good questioning strategies and how can they be developed.
  • Think about the nature of questions.
  • Think of the capacity of wonder that all humans being have (Book the wondering brain, a read?)
  • This new culture of learning can augment learning in all its facets

It's complicated

A new book:  Social media of networked teens
( USA)
Read here
Author: Danah Boyd. 
Clicking in the author’s name you can e
xplore the webpage of the book and there is a link to her web page
An interesting table of content:

  1. identity why do teens seem strange online?
  2. privacy why do youth share so publicly?
  3. addiction what makes teens obsessed with social media?
  4. danger are sexual predators lurking everywhere?
  5. bullying is social media amplifying meanness and cruelty?
  6. inequality can social media resolve social divisions?
  7. literacy are today’s youth digital natives?
  8. searching for a public of their own

Digital education and learning series

“John Potter is an expert guide, navigating us across some of the great divides in this area: between media education and the new literacy studies, between multimodal and cultural theory, between media practices at home and at school, and, most crucially, between high theory and lived experience. His notion of ‘curatorship of the self’ takes thinking in media and multiliteracy education a significant step forward.”
– Mark Reid, Head of Education, British Film Institute, UK
“John Potter shows how learners’ creative engagements with new media form part of the ongoing ‘identity work’ of their everyday lives. His central metaphor of curatorship provides a thought-provoking means of exploring the broader implications of new media for personal identity. Unlike the utopian fantasies of some digital enthusiasts, this book provides a valuable source of critical reflection and creative inspiration for researchers, educators, and all who work with young people.”
– David Buckingham, Loughborough University, UK
“This is an important contribution to our emerging understanding of what young people are actually doing with digital media, and with what consequences. By focusing on the experiences of young people and developing the thesis of ‘new curatorship,’ Potter is able to move a number of debates forward in the fields of media literacy and educational technology.”
– Neil Selwyn, Monash University, Australia
“This book reflects two of the many strengths of John Potter’s work in the field of media education. The research is rooted in his experience as an educator of children, young people, and teachers and has an authority in practice. It also challenges us to think differently about our understandings of identity, digital media, and curatorship and encourages us to engage actively with new concepts of literacy in a digital age.”
– Avril Loveless, School of Education, University of Brighton, UK
“This authoritative new study cuts through the current confusions about young people, new media and learning. Potter’s clarity of thought and innovative use of the metaphor of curatorship produces valuable insights into the ways in which children use digital media to negotiate culture, identity and social roles. Rooted in long experience of classrooms and in detailed empirical research, it is an essential read for researchers, students and practitioners in the fields of literacy, new media, and childhood studies.”
– Andrew Burn, DARE (Digital/Arts/Research/Education), Institute of Education, University of London
“In this superb contribution to ideas about learning in the twenty-first century, John Potter artfully sidesteps the polarizing extremes of both technological determinism and its more reductive opposition to provide us with a research-based account of ‘the new curatorship.’ For academics, researchers and – most crucially – teachers seeking an intelligent and inclusive framework for bridging the widening gap between education and ‘lifeworld’ learning and between scales of access and new forms of digital ‘capital,’ this is exactly what we’ve been waiting for. Curatorship of identity and self through digital and social media is cultural, not merely technical, and Potter goes beyond observing this to map out a convincing strategy for our response.”
– Julian McDougall, University of Wolverhampton, UK and Editor, Media Education Research Journal
“This book makes an original and important contribution to scholarship in new media. Based on a study of children’s autobiographical film-making, John Potter vividly illustrates the explanatory power of the metaphor of curatorship. This is essential reading for those interested in new literacies and media studies.”
– Guy Merchant, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Web-based school collaboration has attracted the sustained attention of educators, policy-makers, and governmental bodies around the world during the past decade. This book sheds new light on this topical but ever so complex issue. Drawing on a wealth of theoretical and empirical work, it presents the various models of available school twinning programs and explores the cultural, political, and economic factors that surround the recent enthusiasm regarding collaborative initiatives. Moreover, the book critically examines teachers’ and students’ experiences of web-based school collaboration. In particular, it develops a realistic perspective of the range of challenges they face and identifies the host of technological and non-technological issues that can shape participation in collaborative programs.


“Programs that provide opportunities for transnational collaboration between schools have been around for some time, but the potential expansion of these through new technology has yet to be evaluated in a principled way. Gouseti’s book does just that. Based on case studies of teachers’ and students’ experiences of the European eTwinning programme she provides a detailed analysis of the promises and pitfalls of web-based school collaboration . . . providing an excellent overview and critique of the rhetoric associated with web 2.0 and ‘participatory culture’. This is a book that is well-informed, well-argued and scholarly throughout, offering practical guidance on how to develop school collaboration through new media. – Guy Merchant, Professor of Literacy in Education, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
“The field of educational technology is full of broad expectations and assumptions. As such, detailed examinations of the complex realities of technology and education are always welcome. In this book, Gouseti provides just such an insight into the everyday constraints that have a significant bearing on digital education. This book offers a salutary reminder than very little in education is ever as straightforward as we are promised. An important book for anyone interested in contemporary schools and schooling.” – Neil Selwyn, Professor of Education, Monash University, Australia


The Mathematics Education Project

World of Mathematics

Interactive eBook

Dive into a colourful and engaging world, discovering some of the most exciting and curious mathematical ideas. Using interactive games, animations and countless illustrations, advanced mathematics becomes accessible to both children and adults.
Topics range from fractals to infinity, prime numbers, game theory, group theory and quantum mechanics.
2013 Lovie Awards Gold Winner: Best Education Website
Inspirational for my idea

Moving beyond technological determinism?

Sorry for my english…still improving it. But I decide to show my ideas as they are. I am embracing mistakes in the open for 2014  🙂
Thinking while reading lots of posts and literature -still to much to read- about moving apart or beyond technological determinism, maybe it is a reflection of the move society is making from buying things to buying experience. It is about what you experience with what you buy.  So the ‘thing’ is moving from its objective structure or function to a subjective existence. That is why services are taking the place of things and there is the added value nowadays that society is profiting with/of. Why does mobil phones are so popular? I think that in part it is because of the experience you live while using them. Although the affordances it has is part of what you look for when buying it. But at the end what we are searching for is to have an amazing, thrilling, awesome experience.
As Michael Gallagher said in his post, if we want to go beyond determinism we must focus on generating meaning and context and move from the steady status quo and transform habitus.
This reflection he makes  -by the way, a great job he makes to open up all what he does to the world in his learning journey. I am learning from you Michael 🙂 –  I tend to think it’s because of this transformation around the world. I went to a WTF (what the fuck!) workshop at Knowmads in Amsterdam where a very interesting guy representing S2M (seats to meet) gave a talk about this. He was saying the importance of taking care of the experience more than anything.  Starbucks is taking care brilliantly he said of the experience of drinking a coffee and not much about the coffee in its self. It is what customers get out when going to Starbucks for a coffee. (Note: I don’t drink coffee in Starbucks, I prefer the old fashion of drinking coffee, old furniture, old but beautiful coffee cups, old and wicky chairs and slow pace, calm to think about what I would like to have. OLD FASHION).That is what they are doing in Utrecht where they start this business that has been amazing and growing organically hence, harmonically and sustainably. And the most incredible thing is that they started their business with the idea of offering a great experience to people who were needing a place to work and through this positive experience they will build a positive network that would bring in many “business possibilities” and that is how it works still (they have made changes of course, but the core idea is the same) I had the opportunity to go and the experience was incredible. Food for free, good energy, lots of ideas floating in the rooms, possible connections  when and where ever you looked at. A really nurturing place. They have a useful book to download with foundational theory and ideas that feed their project. A good read!
I am reading an interesting book: Cognitive Surplus from C. Shirky. There is something that relates to this. The Milkshake Mistake he calls it. McDonalds was doing a research for improving their milkshakes. The one researcher that succeed did something different than the others, he did not focus on the product he focus on the consumers. He was searching for hints that could give him clues about what where consumers looking for when buying the milkshakes. So he could describe, with all the inputs about the experience, that consumer were looking after when choosing the milkshake.
The first mistake: “[…]was to concentrate mainly on the product and assume that everything important about it was somehow implicit in its attributes, without regard to what role the customer wanted it to play -the job they were hiring the milkshake for”.
It seems that it is more about what role you want that object to play in your life. It’s abut the ‘what’ in terms of experience you are searching to live through this object. And referring to habits he said,  it should be taken into account that habits are also rooted in accumulated accidents. I like this little statement. It is absolutely true.
Thinking in my particular research, education and personalised learning environment, I am slowly realising that my interest is not in the technology per se, but in what it triggers in the learning process. What students can achieve cognitively, intellectually while creating their environment, their context to learn. Is the use of technology taking advantage of this cognitive surplusThe experience that technology in a certain form could offer to students, parents, schools, teachers, – in my particular case, a personalised learning environment. My idea is still in infancy. I am just formalising my proposal, but the more I read the more I think that I want to go beyond technological determinism, although I maybe start it with such a determinism in mind.
One of the great things of doing research is how while reading and getting in touch with relevant “learning experience” that can range from a formal lecture to an informal meeting with an unknown persona. Mapping relevant experiences could be my next task…