Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Thing 5 - Pedagogy Profile

After completing Thing 5
  • You will know what the 'pedagogy profile widget' is all about
  • You will have tried applying it to one of your own courses
  • You'll know whether it can be useful for you

What is the 'Pedagogy profile widget'?

The 'pedagogy profile widget' is another way of visualising the make-up of a course, developed at the Open University. The tool is designed to help instructors analyse their course by collecting its many student activities into seven categories. The time assigned to activities in each category is summed, giving a bar chart which shows the spread of types of activities within the course. The categories are derived from a learning activity taxonomy developed by Prof. GrĂ¡inne Conole at the OU that characterises the types of tasks learners undertake into six types of learning activity, plus assessment:
  • Assimilative: attending and 'understanding' content, such as reading, viewing or listening
  • Information Handling: e.g. gathering and classifying resourcing or manipulating data
  • Communication: dialogic activities, e.g. pair dialogues or group based discussions
  • Productive: Construction of an artefact such as a written essay, new chemical compound, sculpture etc)
  • Experiential: practicing skills in a particular context or undertaking an investigation
  • Adaptive: use of modeling or simulation software
  • Assessment: diagnostic, formative or summative

How is it used?

It's an online system which means you but you can download the results as .jpeg, or print it out. You can also 'save the data' so that next time you visit the URL, the information is still visible in the same way. The aim of the tool is to give course designers a way to assess the balance of activities across different ways of engaging with the material, but also to get an overview of the total time spent engaged in each kind of activity, and to make courses comparable in these terms. It is intended to apply equally to courses in development and established courses.

Step by step instructions

  1. Visit the 'Pedagogy Profile Widget' here
  2. Try it out for your own course, or a part of it, e.g. a single unit or lecture. You could reflect on a single course from some weeks ago, on a whole lesson package from last term, or maybe even on a course or lesson package you're planning to give in the near future as way to assess it before actually lecturing. Each row represents a chunk of your course - you decide what size chunks you want to use, depending on the scale of the course you want to analyse. A Tripos Part might be best broken down by terms, a single lecture by minutes, a module by lectures and labs. You can give your chunks titles by clicking in the appropriate row headers on the left of the table (e.g. lesson 1: xxx). For each chunk you then fill in the amount of time spent in each type of activity. Units are whatever makes sense for you, but hours are often effective. Fill in each of the cells in the matrix. Click 'add' or 'delete' to vary the number of rows. Click update to see the completed profile. Profiles can be printed or saved as .jpegs and uploaded.
  3. Done! Now blog about what you think.


    Could be divided into weeks...

    or in modules...

    or in terms... or in whatever you think suits you best!

Blog Thing 5
  1. What do you think of the idea of 'pedagogy profile widget'?
  2. What do you think of dividing the rows into 'modules', 'terms' and so on; or do you think the original idea of using 'weeks' works best?
  3. How does it compare with any other methods you're using to balance learning aspects across the spread of activities etc?
  4. Filling out your own pedagogy profile, did you find it illuminating or frustrating? Are there any ways you would change it to better reflect what you do?
  5. In what ways do you see this being useful to you as a course designer?
If you're interested...
  • Add the .jpg of your own 'Pedagogy profile' to your blog post (hint: use the 'save as .jpg' button and afterwards upload it to your blog post using the 'image' icon in your blog )
  • Look up 'Pedagogy profile' on Cloudworks (here's a link) and share your response directly with the OULDI team there

1 comment:

  1. An easy-to-use web widget aiming to show teachers how their delivery breaks down by learning style, this OU-designed tool was excited quite different reactions.

    13things Blog Trial found this (and the Course Map which preceded it) easy to use and stimulants to thinking, even if one takes their categorisations with a pinch of salt: “Of the tools so far I think these are the ones I am most likely to revisit as I review courses this year”. They “are very simple to play with” and “act as prompts that are useful in ensuring a thorough overview of a course”, producing gains “without massive input of time to master the tools”. Socratic Investigations however found this tool an unecessary elaboration, adding “sophistication and complexity there where I would rather seek simplicity and flexibility.”

    Other respondents struggled with the categories. “Why these categories?” mrj10 wanted to know.  “It is indicated that these are based on a learning activity taxonomy developed at the OU, but I would like to have known more about the theory behind them ... There would seem to be an implicit assumption that a “good” course involves all elements, but I don’t see why this should necessarily be the case.” Socratic Investigations interpreted them as “a system of pre-emptive responses to students' doubts concerning assessment criteria ... [serving] to mask, rather than reveal, the real Art of Assessment ... I would find it more helpful to ask: is the student really thinking?”

    What to do with the information was another problem. mrj10 asked “Even if the categories are necessary and sufficient (and a “good” course should include all of them) what is the right balance between them? ... it is unclear why certain profiles might be considered better than others.” Without knowing, and being persuaded by, the arguments behind the tool “it is difficult to see it as more than a box-ticking exercise.”

    Overall this tool has simplicity in its favour, but against it is its appearance of being something that can be done, not something that should be done. If its categories were justified, and given application through the provision of “good” profiles, it could be useful. Without those aspects it serves only as a sort of stimulus.