Implementation: A Tight-Loose Approach

29 04 2013

Initially my big question was a very simple ‘what works and how can I adapt it’.  I’ve subsequently added a few more:

  • What comes first technology or pedagogy?
  • How can we take the T out of TEL?
  • How can we measure and evaluate the effectiveness of planned changes / innovations?
  • How can we join up the pockets of good practice in a way that is ‘greater than the sum of its parts’
  • How do we get beyond just early adopters and enthusiasts?

Then I realized that the last question is equally applicable to learners and to colleagues.  I think that is why I like ‘digital residents / visitors’ over the original ‘digital natives / immigrants’.

That brings me to consider the subject of implementation (ocTEL activity 2.2.4) …Implementation will meet resistance…Change means bringing the majority along.

As earlier post ‘Reading & some thoughts collated’ I am tackling the HEA’s ‘Transforming Higher Education Through Technology Enhanced Learning’. I think the next chapter, Nichol & Draper  ‘A blueprint for transformational change in HE: REAP as a case study has much to offer.  The part I am going to extract here is the tight-loose approach.

The tight-loose approach is a management approach found particularly in consideration of enterprise and innovation and comes from Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellence.  It is a flexible approach in recognition that complex situations do not benefit from either-or solutions.  It is about strong core values but allowing these to be adapted locally with creativity.  “Loose” does not mean sloppy.

Back to the book (page 200):

  • … the principles were not promoted as a fixed template or set of rules to be followed. Rather, course teams were encouraged to, and did, adapt the principles to their own disciplinary context. The implementation process might be described as ‘tight-loose’: course teams were encouraged to maintain fidelity to the pedagogy behind each principle (tight), but they were also encouraged to tailor the application of the principles to their own disciplinary context (loose). […]. The tight-loose strategy provided a way of accommodating salient differences across disciplines while using a common underlying educational framework.

This has helped me to recognize the need to carefully articulate the aspirations and purpose in terms of key principles or core values and to ensure the pedagogy underpinning each is clear – this then allows for interpretation in the implementation, rather than one-size fits all.


Perhaps this approach has an equal relevance for how we view engagement with course materials – tight on learning outcomes, loose on how these are met.

Power Law of Participation – Ross Mayfield

28 04 2013

I can’t get Howard Rheingold out of my head! His video ’21st Century Literacies’ seems to be on a loop in my head.

• Attention
• Participation
• Collaboration
• Network awareness
• Critical consumption

This is posting is loosely connected to ocTEL activity 2.1 about exploring colleagues readiness to engage with TEL. I haven’t done it as suggested but I did participate in a focus group this week on engagement with our VLE.  I didn’t consider it particularly useful to think  further about why people didn’t engage (lack of time and skill as a sweeping generalization)  but to spend time on what might encourage them to start. As earlier posting on motivation, purpose and mastery clearly have a place but I’m not sure that gets the T-avoider out of the starting blocks.  I am interested in the potential of participation as a motivator. This graphic shows a way this participation can build.  The social aspect may then encourage further participation to the point of collaboration.  Possibly over-optimistic but I like the fact that all forms of participation count.

More on Ross Mayfield’s blog here:


The graphic also illustrates the difference between collective intelligence and creating new collaborative intelligence – but one thing at a time…

Motivation – role of autonomy, mastery and purpose

27 04 2013

In this ocTEL learner’s needs / readiness week I have been mulling over the importance of intrinsic motivation in learning.

I thought I would share this:RSA Animate — Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us (10.48  – worth it for the content but the animation adds another dimension and makes it really memorable. Enjoy this 10 minute version of Dan Pink’s book Drive.

Dan Pink 1

I am grateful to Roger Harrison’s blog this week too for making me aware of Knowles.  This is taken from his posting:

  • Knowles made a distinction of adult learners with the term “andragogy,”. Andragogy focuses on special needs of adult learners. Knowles identified six assumptions about adult learning: (1) need to know, (2) self-concept, (3) prior experience, (4) readiness to learn, (5) learning orientation, and (6) motivation to learn

Dan Pink 3

Also to Helen @

  • People will actually need to contribute, share, write, create, collaborate…online – and we need to let them know.

Something is taking shape in my head…

Bursting (filter) bubbles

27 04 2013

I didn’t know about filter bubbles till last week.  I have clearly been existing in a happy bubble unaware of the potential implications of Google’s algorithms generating / tailoring a reality just for me.  I do like all the personalization that comes with Google now but hadn’t really thought about potential flip-sides.  Nothing like a TED talk to open your eyes:

Google will customize results based on a person’s search history, which can give you biased search results (called the “filter bubble”).

filter bubble

There is a good article on Google’s Mr Search, Amit Singhal in the Guardian (Adams, 2013):

This article also  highlights different options on search engines e.g. DuckDuckGo which searches the web without filtering results based on previous searches.


Another Google response to this can be found here

But I’m off to Google the knowledge graph…

Digital literacies – a bevy of infographics

26 04 2013

I was prompted to really think about the term ‘digital literacy’  after the ocTEL webinar this week when HelenB made the specific point about how it was different from technical competence.  Firstly, this was a relief for me as I am far from technically competent.  However, I hadn’t previously considered the significance of the actual words so I am grateful to Helen for highlighting this to me with her likening it to a language. Whereas before I would have thought it was more to do with fads in common parlance this has now helped me that how we use technologies will be as diverse as how we use language  – to: write / read / sing / connect etc.  and that this will also change for each individual with time and context. Which takes me back to an earlier posting: JISC understands Digital Literacy to “define those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society”

In this vein of ‘helping me see’ I thought I would collect together the infographics on digital literacy; I looked for a collective noun beginning with ‘i’ for this but couldn’t find one, so here are the bevy of infographic beauties:

First up is from the Rheingold video (21st Century Literacies) that is recommended in the course notes this week:

Attention and other 21st Century Literacies (also at

Rheingold 2

  • Attention
  • Participation
  • Collaboration
  • Network awareness
  • Critical consumption

Next I was directed towards Futurelab thanks to Imogen Bertin’s posting regarding questionnaires ‘Surveys… the nerdy view’. The handbook is aimed at educational practitioners in schools, provides a rationale to embed technology across the curriculum. There are also supporting case studies as well as these lovelies:


I love the graphic from the front cover but Diagram 1.1 is probably more useful as it demonstrates the inter-relationships.  This then prompted me to think about the readiness-questionnaires – we need to consider the relevant importance of each of these to individual learners and their desire to develop each as well as their starting point. Think webinar quote was ‘bundles of attributes’. My results from the 4 surveys were: yes / yes / no / proceed with caution which was confusing until I read ‘Surveys… the nerdy view’ and some of the more cynical views on their purpose in the webinar.  The results from the surveys from HelenB’s forum question ‘An alternative approach’ are much more useful (sliding scale) and come with colour-coded guidance too.  Guidance that encourages the learner to think about their results and as a prompt for taking responsibility for their learning.  I hope to do a separate post on the role of self-motivation in developing fluency.


These are from the webinar yesterday too:



Finally:  Nice to end on a TEDx link too


JISC understand…

22 04 2013


JISC understands Digital Literacy to “define those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society”

Resources from the chat-room (ocTEL webinar week 1)

22 04 2013

I just wanted to post 2 links that came from the chat-room during this webinar:

There was an interesting discussion going on about consistency.  While I am all for ‘deliberately vague’ as an approach to prepare students for their unknown futures, I think there is also a lot of merit in a consistent starting point or base-line and this seems useful to that end.


Then this wonderful resource of OERs to explore…