My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 8 – Diana Laurillard’s Plenary

Wednesday, 21st March 2012, Glasgow Conference Centre.

The IATEFL Day 2 Plenary Speech by Diana Laurillard

The day began with a plenary by Diana Laurillard, a professor of Learning with Digital Technologies, who started off her presentation ‘Supporting the teacher as innovative learning designer’  by highlighting how we can learn through technology. Combining digital tools with what we already know about the learning processes, Diana Laurillard shows us the available technological resources that spur us on to look to technology, allowing for a shift from classroom teaching to personalized learning, and making learning more productive. After all, as she says, teaching is not telling people stuff, but engaging them in activities.

Learning through…

discussion can be done through synchronous webinars with chat and playback, and asynchronous chat forums;

practice can be done through digital interactive tools with meaningful feedback on actions;

collaboration can be done through roleplay simulations with user-generated scripts in interactive games;

production can be done through user-generated digital multi-media combinations of film, animation, sound, images, captions, etc.

Reminding the audience not to let technology wag the dog, she asserts that when we use technology, we should always think of the educational requirements and what it takes to learn, and ask ‘What are we trying to do?’. Then we can challenge the technology to produce that for us. And if technology is doing its job, we hope this might mean less admin work for all of us.

As a professional learning community, we teachers can also make use of technology to:

  • Build on the work of others;
  • Articulate our pedagogy;
  • Adopt, Adapt, Test, and Improve Learning Designs
  • Sharing learning designs
  • Comparing conventional with digital teaching

(These are things that teachers are now using Twitter, Facebook, and even Second Life for these days)

Diana Laurillard then goes on to make some lucid points about the learning process, showing how technology could better suit the learner.

  • Learning isn’t a one-way process from teacher to learner. The learner must be required to think, to be asked to do something, and be given feedback on what they have done.
  • Meaningful feedback doesn’t always have to be from the teacher telling the learner. They can review themselves and their peers can too.
  • Teaching is neither a science nor an art.

Below are the learning cycles that take place.

And here are the tech tools we can use in those learning cycles, and a significant advantage of digital tools is its ability to help the learners do their own reflections, generate new concepts and modulate their own actions.

Diana Laurillard then goes on to show the audience a pedagogy patterns collector, that could possibly collect lesson frameworks to suit different contexts and students…something that for some reason reminded me of Roald Dahl’s The Great Automatic Grammatizator… or should it now be called the Great Automatic Lesson Plan Generator…?

Regardless of one’s biasness towards or against such a tool, one has to admit that digital technology is here to stay and can become a huge advantage to not just our learners but to us educators, and our own continual professional development.

Author: Chia Suan Chong

I am a writer, communication skills trainer and a teacher trainer based in York, UK. I have been English Teaching Professional's resident blogger since 2012 and have a regular feature in their bimonthly magazine. My book Successful International Communication was published in Dec 2018.

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