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ICLS in Singapore

For the last week I’ve been in Singapore, at the 12th International Conference of the Learning Sciences. I kicked off the week as a respondent on the workshop ‘Towards next steps for the CSCL Community: Advancing science and informing real world collaboration in Web 2.0‘ discussing some of the methodological challenges and trends in CSCL, and concerns regarding operationalisation from theory/constructs to research design.

After a brief trip to the botanic gardens on Tuesday, the conference kicked into full swing with the first keynote Tuesday afternoon from a neuroscientist (Elsbeth Stern) with a sceptical message regarding its value for education. She particularly highlighting the great benefits of the behavioural sciences over neuroscientific explanations in both understanding learning and aiding educators in their practice. Definitely an engaging talk, although probably one we all already bought into – what’s the purpose of a keynote? (The best answer I’ve had to this question is ‘to get people talking’, I don’t think ‘learn something new’, or ‘be controversial’ are good answers).

Wednesday morning the second keynote (Yaeli Kali) did get some of us talking, discussing design research and a more honest approach to reporting the methodological journey:

A particular suggestion of this talk was that a new journal should be setup dealing entirely with these methodological narratives, describing the compromises and researcher learning that takes place in the design of learning research – a good talking point I thought!

Moving into sessions, I heard some systems level stuff on ‘Beyond Tried and True: The Challenge of Education for Innovation’ discussing pedagogy innovation strategies in Ontario and Singapore:

I confess to having a meeting for the 3rd keynote (from David Hung) on education in Singapore, but that did give me valuable time to hear more about the great stuff happening at the University of Wisconsin Madison Epistemic Games Group, and their  new work around Virtual Internships, including a curriculum-mapping tool to design such internships for deployment on the UW internship platform. I also caught up on the ‘ncoder‘ tool which provides a method to code large amounts of data through semi-automated coding – planning to use this on some of my data.

I saw a couple of great community based talks, two of which I’ll mention:

  • First, Natalia Smirnov presented on studio based learning using the design thinking community platform LOFT in ‘design for america’. The platform looks super exciting (I want to know if we can use it), and the projects students are working on sound really fantastic.
  • Second, Andi Rehak presented on the video mosaic tool RUAnalytic, which allows participants (trainee teachers) to annotate videos from a repository of classroom practice clips regarding their connection to theory (or whatever you want to target), and to view other peer’s, etc.

I also presented my own work, applying some writing analytics techniques, to my PhD research on epistemic cognition.

The banquet was pretty nice…

…and I managed to get some pani puri (and other bits) with a colleague in Little India before heading home…

Photo by Kai Lehmann


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