Blog posts

Slides from my invited lecture at ascilite

This may not be the final version, but will have most of the references, ideas etc.


Analysis and design for complex learning …

Over the last year or so, there has been a good deal of online soul-searching about the field or discipline of educational technology: about its nature, foundations, scope and purpose – including whether and how it can make a difference to policy and practice in higher education, which is ascilite’s home ground. In this talk, I want to focus on the production of educational design knowledge: knowledge that is useful to people who design for other people’s learning. I will use, as an illustrative example, the ACAD framework – an Activity-Centred approach to Analysis and Design – to make some points about the creation of useful design knowledge. In so doing, I hope to (a) draw attention to a family of approaches to research and development that are particularly well-suited to understanding and improving complex learning systems through local action, and (b) explain why analysis and design processes involve epistemic fluency (an ability to work with different kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing). The talk should be of interest to anyone who is concerned about connecting inquiry and action in educational technology.

Education and Brexit

From the day of the Brexit poll

I have been a professor of education for 21 years. Like a lot of people in my line of work, I’m committed to the eradication of ignorance and I’m becoming more optimistic about us finding a cure for stupidity. In fact, I’m hoping that 2016 will be the year of ‘peak stupid’ – the year when the tide finally turns.

We have made a significant contribution in Australia. Tony Abbott is no longer our prime minister. Canada has picked Trudeau. Now the baton is with the Brits – you have just a few more hours to get out to the polls and vote to stay in the EU. The ‘leave’ campaign has played to the lowest of human instincts. It’s the day to tell Gove, Farage and Johnson that their time is over.

Next month, we’ll see if Australian Labor can replace the Coalition and clear the way for serious, long overdue, work on inequality and climate change.

And then … it’s back to America for the big one.

Abbot, Gove, Farage, Johnson, Joyce, Bernadi, Christensen, Brandis – and Trump.

Stupidity is expensive, it’s unsustainable and it’s so last year.

After the poll closed

Watching the BBC live map of Brexit votes on Friday, I saw that the last result had come in from Scotland: every constituency had voted ‘Remain’. That’s a country that takes Education seriously.


More recently, The Guardian has published some correlations between demographic variables and Leave/Remain votes – the single strongest correlate for ‘Remain’ votes is with the % of residents who have a university degree.


Source: Guardian

QUT HERN Symposium 17 November 2015

I’m really looking forward to being back in Brisbane for a few days – giving a keynote on networked learning at the HERN Symposium: Future Higher Education Research for Future Learning

Slides are here.

The abstract:

In this talk, I will use some of our recent research on networked learning and learning networks to illustrate an approach to researching complex learning situations – an approach which gains power and focus from a commitment to informing real-world design activity. This commitment to serving the needs of (re)design provides a valuable source of constraints on what counts as useful knowledge. In the case of learning networks, periodic redesign can be undertaken by small teams entrusted with the role, or it may be distributed more broadly across many or all involved in the network. Either way, there is a need for methods of analyzing and representing how the network functions, such that those participating in the evolution of the network can co-ordinate their activities.

Some suggestions for follow up reading:

Books on networked learning

Carvalho, L., & Goodyear, P. (Eds.). (2014). The architecture of productive learning networks. New York: Routledge.

Carvalho, L., Goodyear, P., & de Laat, M. (Eds.). (2016). Place-based spaces for networked learning. New York: Routledge.

Jandric, P., & Boras, D. (2015). Critical learning in digital networks. Dordrecht: Springer.

Jones, C. R. (2015). Networked Learning: An educational paradigm for the age of digital networks. Dordrecht: Springer.

Design for learning in HE

Ellis, R., & Goodyear, P. (2010). Students’ experiences of e-learning in higher education: the ecology of sustainable innovation. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

Goodyear, P. (2015). Teaching as design. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 2.

Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a design science: building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. Abingdon: Routledge.

Background on socio-material; grounded, embodied & distributed cognition

Clark, A. (2003). Natural-born cyborgs: minds, technologies, and the future of human intelligence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Clark, A. (2008). Supersizing the mind: embodiment, action, and cognitive extension. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fenwick, T., & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor network theory in education. London: Routledge.

Fenwick, T., & Nerland, M. (Eds.). (2014). Reconceptualising professional learning: sociomateral knowledges, practices and responsibilities. London: Routledge.

Fenwick, T., Edwards, R., & Sawchuk, P. (2011). Emerging approaches to educational research: tracing the sociomaterial. Abingdon: Routledge.

Gatt, C., & Ingold, T. (2013). From description to correspondence: Anthropology in real time. In W. Gunn, T. Otto, & R. Smith (Eds.), Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice (pp. 139-158). London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Hodder, I. (2012). Entangled: an archaeology of the relationships between humans and things. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the wild. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press.

Hutchins, E. (2010). Cognitive ecology. Topics in Cognitive Science, 2, 705-715.

Ingold, T. (2000). The perception of the environment: essays in livelihood, dwelling and skill. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ingold, T. (2011). Being alive: essays on movement, knowledge and description. Abingdon: Routledge.

Ingold, T. (2012). Toward an Ecology of Materials. Annual Review of Anthropology, 41, 427-442.

Ingold, T. (2013). Making: anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. Abingdon: Routledge.

Knappett, C. (2011). Networks of objects, meshworks of things. In T. Ingold (Ed.), Redrawing Anthropology: Materials, Movements, Lines (pp. 45-63): Ashgate.

Knappett, C. (Ed.) (2013). Network analysis in Archaeology: new approaches to regional interaction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Malafouris, L. (2013). How things shape the mind: a theory of material engagement. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Malafouris, L., & Renfrew, C. (Eds.). (2010). The cognitive life of things: recasting the boundaries of the mind. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological ResearchUniversity of Cambridge.

Markauskaite, L., & Goodyear, P. (forthcoming, 2016). Epistemic fluency and professional education: innovation, knowledgeable action and actionable knowledge. Dordrecht: Springer.

Online learning doesn’t happen online …

Jo McKenzie tweeted a nicely tidied up comment from me at the ISSOTL conference recently.

Jo tweet

One of the reasons I wanted to mention this at the conference is that good empirical research into the study practices of “online” learning is surprisingly scarce. We have a couple of nice examples of research on people configuring their learning spaces in the next book to come from the Laureate project. The book is called “Place-Based Spaces for Networked Learning” and should be published by Routledge in 2016. Two chapters that are right on the topic:


Chapter 7: THE SONIC SPACES OF ONLINE, DISTANCE LEARNERS  (Michael Sean Gallagher, James Lamb and Sian Bayne)

If you are interested in this area, see also: Kahu, E. R., Stephens, C., Zepke, N. and Leach, L., 2014. Space and time to engage: Mature-aged distance students learn to fit study into their lives. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 33(4), 523–540 ( )

ISSOTL – employability and learning spaces

I had the opportunity to speak at a very enjoyable panel session at the ISSOTL conference last week. The panel members focussed on the question: How will universities contribute to students’ employability in 2020? Other panel members were

  • Professor Vijay Kumar, Associate Dean of Digital Learning, Office of Digital Learning, MIT
  • Professor Dawn Bennett, John Curtin Distinguished Professor, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University
  • Mr Bennett Merriman, Founder and Director, Business Operations, Event Workforce (Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Sport Science, Deakin University)
  • Professor Beverley Oliver, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Deakin University, panel chair
  • Ms Siobhan Lenihan, Adviser to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Deakin University, moderator

My specific brief was to talk about how universities can reinvent their learning places and spaces – traditional and emerging physical spaces, in the cloud, and in the spaces between – with the question of employability in mind. I made four main points:

  1. The capacity to design and manage learning spaces depends heavily on an ability to articulate the logic connecting specific properties of spaces (physical, virtual, hybrid) to significant educational affordances of various kinds – cognitive, perceptual, epistemic, social, etc.
  2. It’s a mistake to see the physical and the digital/virtual as alternatives to one another: they are best thought of as interwoven. We need to get better at connecting appropriate mixtures of digital and physical artefacts, tools, infrastructures etc to support specific kinds of valued activity
  3. When the future is uncertain, valued activities include: acquiring deep knowledge of a domain; authentic participation in the working practices of a discipline/profession; learning how to be a self-directing lifelong learner. These are familiar enough. But also, learning for an uncertain future ought to involve opportunities to participate in processes of innovation – a chance to engage in collaborative knowledge creation and to design new methods, tools and environments for inquiry.
  4. We shouldn’t think of this as just an institutional responsibility – i.e. to provide spaces appropriately furnished for these classes of valued activity. We should also be helping students to learn how to configure the spaces they’ll need for innovation and work (etc) in the future. Knowing how to construct the right environment for innovative knowledge work, and how to bring together the right mix of talents to analyse and solve a complex problem – these are key meta-level skills for success in an uncertain future.