Posted by: MandyS | February 28, 2013

Live discussion of Sfard’s paper and Bayne’s ideas…


To what extent are Sfard’s metaphors for learning (acquisition and participation) relevant and helpful to your own experience of using technology for learning, whether as a learner or as a tutor/facilitator?

I suggested that the metaphors are helpful because they allow me (personally) to focus on what the technology is trying to achieve i.e. is it facilitating acquisition or participation? One member of the group suggested that the subdivision is useful at a ‘micro level’ of learning i.e. where the learning is quite basic and it is easy to discern AM and PM but at a higher level of learning the two metaphors become blurred and complex. He gave his own example of music whereby one cannot simply learn music, one has to be able to apply it. Other interesting ideas, which were not really resolved, were which comes first? are they separate or are they really one thing? and whether participation is dependent on it being active or passive i.e. when one reads a book both AM and PM occur because one is doing something (reading) and acquiring knowledge from the book, at the same time.

The overview in plenary was that AM is founded on ‘we being receptacles and knowledge being the commodity’ and PM is founded on ‘doing something.’ However, they are not clear-cut and in many instances are merged.

Does your own experience of using technology for learning – whether in forums, blog postings, web-conferencing and so on – generate any of the feelings of anxiety that Bayne discusses in her work with students talking about identity change?

I suggested that I have no anxiety because I have experience of using technology. However, I suggested younger students were probably more likely to be anxious about technology in learning than the older generation on the basis that although they are adept with technology, it is on a social basis rather than a learning basis. This led to an interesting discussion of whether age is a factor or whether it is actually experience and confidence in using technology which is key. The only male member of the group highlighted his own anxiety in being embarrassed to ask who’s who when the ladies were speaking!

In plenary the conclusion was that the more one uses technology the more confident one becomes but this may be dependent on the way you use technology i.e. use mobile all the time as a phone but not confident when texting.

Does the use of technology-enhanced learning – as in online forums, blogs and so on – make it difficult to keep the categories (AM, PM and IC) separate? Is there a tendency to blur or to combine them, in technology-enhanced learning?

I think what we agreed that fundamentally it is not difficult to keep the categories separate but it is probably more difficult with technology as it is a different vehicle to learning than face-to-face.


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