Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Keynote: Josie Taylor - Assessment, Technology and Learning: Who is in the Driving Seat

Keynote slides
Report on keynote address
Josie Taylor started by reminding the audience that the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology was set up to train staff when the institution was operating in the “broadcast model” – education in the middle of the night! She then floated the idea that Higher Education needs to open out and allow people to move about in academia. Although the OU is heavily into Open Educational Resources (OER), Josie also made the point that it's more than OER that she is propounding. After describing the Open Learn project she pointed out that social learners are less motivated to work through masses of content, and she espoused formal materials delivered in an informal way. However, she acknowledged this would produce issues at the institutional level. From the institution she envisaged such questions as: What is a University for? Who determines what is of value? Who says what is worthy (or not)?

After revealing a previous life as a teacher of Prologue programming, Josie discussed ecological space, affinity space and informal space (for learning). She gave a good overview of research in the area, before detailing work at the OU on an automated formative assessment tool – which they are working on presently. I will close this short report with direct quotes from her that struck a particular cord: “learners are emancipating themselves…” and “… affinity spaces can be spontaneously formed around any topic”.

The slides and video of this keynote are available should be referred to for more detail, including a comprehensive reference list. An excellent keynote and introduction to the theme, which was referred back to by other speakers and the panel discussion at the end of the day.

Steve Chilton
Educational Development Manager

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