Some reflections on “mapping the learning and teaching”

I’m big fan of the Visitors and Residents (V&R) mapping methodology. As well as being part of the HEA Challenges of Web Residency programme, I’ve been using it with staff in various ways from an ice breaker to a teaching activity.  It’s a really great way to get discussions started around how/where/when we use technology in our professional and personal lives. It allows us to explore and begin to articulate our comfort and not so comfortable technology zones.

I’ve always thought of it as a personal reflective tool which can then lead to discussions about how one might think about using technology for learning and teaching.  James Clay has written a great blog post on his recent experience of a mapping workshop and how he has started to think about developing he process to map learning, teaching and explore learning/curriculum design.

 . . . I then started to think about how we could use a similar concept to map teaching practice and curriculum design. This lead onto thinking about mapping the “learning” of our learners. Where are they learning, is that learning scheduled and formalised? Is that learning ad-hoc? Is it individual, group, collaborative? So the next stage was to map this in a similar manner to the Visitor and Residents, but what axes could we use when mapping learning?

On the horizontal axis we have a spectrum from broadcast to engagement. Broadcast could be considered one way, and could be one to one, or one to many. So a formal lecture would be considered broadcast, one way to many students. If lectures have opportunities for discussion and questions, then you can see how that would move down the continuum into engagement.  . . . The mapping provides an insight into how the curriculum is designed and how learners interact and engage with the different spaces, tools and delivery mechanisms.

screen shot of Vand R map

What needs to happen to inflate and expand the VLE on the map? How do you push (or expand) the use of the VLE into the engagement side of the continuum? 

As I was reading the post this immediately got me thinking about situations where you don’t use a VLE.  The recent #BYOD4L is a great example of this open, non VLE delivered learning experience.  Using James’ template, I did a quick mapping of it.

You can see that twitter moves into the centre of the formal, engagement quadrant. In terms of broadcast, instead of lectures it’s the main BYOD4L blog (wordpress site) which provides the static, broadcast content/structure/methodology/resources.  The daily update blog posts are shared via twitter and in the Google+ community.  I’ve put the interweb at the centre as it is the heart of delivery/interaction/sharing – in fact the 5C’s (connecting, communication, collaborating, curating and creating) that underpin BYOD4L.

Engagement is driven through Twitter, with the nightly tweet chats comprising the bulk of communication between participants.  The tweet chats are unfailing a really lively, highly engaged activity which is curated then shared (broadcast?) via Storify.   Personal reflection is encouraged (though not mandatory) and takes place in a number of spaces (again mostly “informal”web based such as blogs),  and generally shared via Twitter and Google +.

The Google + community acts as a hybrid discussion/reflection space. It’s a place for more considered commentary out with the very fast paces tweet chats. This year a number of people, myself included experimented with Periscope to broadcast ourselves over the week. I’ve written before about the potential and challenges of this personal broadcasting. In the context of this mapping exercise it is another hybrid space where you can broadcast and interact/engage simultaneously.

BYOD4L is an informal learning event, so there is no formal requirement for engagement. However, even a cursory analysis of twitter shows that there are a number of very active contributors. With appropriate evidence participation in the event can be acknowledge through a series of digital badges.  These can be link to more formal CPD such as PGCerts. etc.

I know from my own experience that outside the informal, web space(s) #BYOD4l exists in there are lots of other types of “real world” engagement activities. For example at my own institution we run a number of f2f sessions over the week where we engage with colleagues in a variety of ways.  The engagement in personal and professional learning and teaching practice as a result of these is hard to measure. Anecdotally I know that a number of colleagues have experimented with using twitter more formally and informally in their modules as a direct result of their experience of engagement with #BYOD4L.

The map James created has made me think about what happens here in terms of more “traditional’ learning and teaching. As we move more to fully online delivery I think that this type of mapping exercise would be really valuable in terms of getting staff (and in my context as I work in staff development they are my first port of call) to think about their online presence in a different way. It might even get them to see the potential of integrating 3rd party services such as twitter, google+, Facebook, Periscope, BoB into their overall learning designs as well as integrating more of the institutionally provided services such library services too.

Going back to James’s questions  “What needs to happen to inflate and expand the VLE on the map?”  I would like to see the VLE more at the centre, it’s the container where we can bring things  (people and services) together. It’s also the place where we manage the boring but unfortunately essential administration and quality assurance part of formal learning.  So maybe I would further adapt James’ map and change the Informal/formal axis labels to personal/institutional like below.  NB this is a quick sketch and misses out loads of things!


In terms of fully online delivery I think the broadcast/engagement axis could be really useful to help work through some issues around online tutor presence. To get staff to questions when,why and how they would use a particular tool/service. For example,  some announcements are fine to be broadcast mode, but at times you might want a bit more interaction/engagement/feedback.

Similarly when thinking about lectures, just using the terms broadcast and engagement could be a really easy way to get staff to reflect on their current practice. To think through how a broadcast resource could become the basis for more engaging activity and vice versa.  How could the outcomes/knowledge of any activity be curated, shared and re-used effectively with future cohorts. How do different delivery modes (f2f, blended, fully online) impact on the balance/structure of broadcast and more engaged activities?

Not rocket science but finding ways to facilitate and enable these types of conversations is really important.  I’m now thinking sliding scales and and fridge poetry magnet sized cards for people to play with.

I need to think this through a bit more, and try it out with some colleagues, but I can certainly see the potential of this approach to extending the use and relevance of the original V&R mapping.

4 thoughts on “Some reflections on “mapping the learning and teaching”

  1. Hi Shelia,
    Really interested to hear about your use of the V+R model, I have recently been reflecting on its uses 🙂 So useful to hear about how you have been using it. I think it often provokes a good amount of discussion- and it is a really useful tool for asking students to reflect on how they use social media/networks. For me it also ties in with ideas lurkers and contributors/creators.
    Thank you!

  2. Pingback: Where Sheila’s not been for the past few weeks – more healthy living than digital detox? | howsheilaseesIT

  3. Pingback: What Sheila’s seen this week: the homogenisation of engagement interfaces | howsheilaseesIT

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