Learning to learn through real world inquiry in the virtual paradigm

In drawing together my publications, conference papers and slides I discovered that a paper that I wrote with Kev Thompson for a conference at Edge Hill University had been selected for the new peer review journal, Nexus. Whilst the original text was a year or so old and may have lacked some finesse, this paper was one which I believe unpacks some of the subtleties of inquiry based online learning. ‘Learning to learn’ is one of those buzz phrases of recent years but I have seen little work which unpacks how, in reality, learners actually learn to learn. The publication of this paper I hope in some small way begins to fill this gap.


Published … Advancing the Patchwork Text: The Development of Patchwork Media Approaches

Following on from the July 2009 learning Conference “The” paper is now published in the International Journal of Learning and available here:


Barcelona : 16th International Conference on Learning

5415_1196398912148_1293728604_30551015_474520_nBetween Thursday and Saturday last week I was in beautiful Barcelona at the 16th International Conference on Learning where I presented a paper on patchwork media. The conference was an eclectic mix of practitioners bound together by themes in teaching and learning. The topics under consideration ranged from origami for maths education to e-learning in HE. There are pros and cons of course to such a wide ranging coverage mix. Sometimes though inspiration in practice can come from the most unlikely sessions, perhaps sometimes we try to hard to listen to a narrow band of peers afterall, learning is learning wherever it is found.

My own session was entitled Patchwork media: Advancing the patchwork text. Essentially the session focused upon how technology can enhance the patchwork text approach. Three main ways were considered: through resource creation, through online community and through media rich assessment products. The research was undertaken with Kev Thompson & Tim Williams. The presentation is here: Patchwork in BARCELONA. 

A particularly interesting session was on the promotion of professional learning in to undergraduate courses at Griffin University, Australia. Essentially, within undergraduate courses learners are being professionally sensitized,; they are  developing a sense of professionalism and professional identity and they are being encouraged to understand the industry that they will work in through direct contact sessions. The role of industry in this development was high, though not in placement the industry is adding authenticity to the campus. A super model which fuses knowledge types in ways envisaged by Barnett (1999).  [The presentation, was by Craig Cameron and Brett Freudenberg].  Presently I am involved in developing a professional development module for post graduate learners from various professions. I wonder <note to self> how for small groups of learners or cohorts from varied professional backgrounds, how online open resources can most effectively help inject professional sensitization and awareness.

Reading joy and action research


A short article in The Telegraph points out the importance of developing a love for books if children are to read well – it goes on to point to some  classic books for children. Particularly handy for me (with a six year old) is the guide for the middle years – the stage when perhaps wide eyed toddlers lose the joy of books as they turn from bright and seductive picture books to text heavy volume.

This reminded me that a number of the BA LTR researchers  have undertaken inquiries in to reading strategies; developing approaches to teaching practice that inject passion and joy and motivation in to reading. A worthy cause. A recent graduate on the BA LTR course who acted to motivate young readers as part of her final year research, reported how her action research lives on beyond her time on the course …. “the kids are really excited. teachers from downstairs are commenting that every time they come upstairs children are reading – walking along the corridor reading, books under their arms when they go downstairs to monitor etc … They get so excited when a delivery of books comes in too”.

This is a tribute to how action research can be used to develop an individual’s practice which then in turn influences others. A ripple effect. Action research can be done without enrolling on an undergraduate degree of course, but this researcher found the course to be an effective route to change.

“I would probably have had all these ideas without [the course], but I would never have had the confidence to action them. Indeed I might not have found the opportunity to get these kids “into”  books”.

It is a real joy when undergraduates can action real change – developing their own skills, their own knowledge and the practice of both themselves and others. 

Tripp and Ultraversity – an offering from 2006

As part of my hardware tidy up I stumbled across a musing made eighteen months or so ago, on how Ultraversity (the BA LTR team) embraces research and reflection in to its own practice. The piece compares Tripp’s vision of action research and reflective  practice with the reality of practice amongst the BA LTR delivery team. 

I have been asked a few times for this , so I have now added it here. 







Action Research (as culture)  and the BA LTR course configuration
Action Research (as culture) and the BA LTR course configuration

Despite organisational changes since the original piece I still believe this interpretation has held up. 

When I provided evidence for the Higher Education Academy for Fellowship status evidence from each of these three layers was used and valued. 

I wonder if others from different HE courses or teaching roles would see this as a useful interpretation of how research and reflection can be integrated in to practice for individual and collective improvement.