Tuesday, 27 October 2009

EU FP7 STREP proposal

Isobel Falconer, Allison Littlejohn, Anoush Margaryan and Colin Milligan of the Caledonian Academy have been partners within a European Consortium led by the Frauenhofer Society developing a proposal for a Medium-Scale Focused Research project proposal on Architectural Distributed Design Studios (ARDIDES).

The proposal was successfully submitted on October 27, 2009, under the 5th FP7 ICT-TEL call.

If funded, the project will last for 3 years, and will include development of a novel learning approach and a technological environment (Distributed Design Studio) to harness the power of collective intelligence in supporting professionals (architects, engineers, designers) in creative design.

The Caledonian Academy team will lead a workpackage on pedagogic conceptualisation and evaluation, building an understanding of the pedagogic and design processes in the Distributed Design Studio (DDS) and to analyse the impact of DDSs on design processes in real-world testbeds.

Other partners in the consotrium include: Fundació Privada Universitat i Tecnologia (Spain), Humance (Germany), ILT Solutions (Germany/UK), Fachhochschule Potsdam (Germany), Universitat Politècnica Catalunya (Spain), Open University Netherlands, Katholike Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), University IUAV of Venice (Italy), Università Politecnica delle Marche (Italy), Netherlands Organisation for Applied Research, TNO (Netherlands), Baufritz (Germany), Hormigones prefabricados de Catalunya (Spain), realities:united GmbH, studio for art and architecture (Germany).

Monday, 26 October 2009

EU FP7 IP proposal submitted

In the past few months Colin Milligan, Allison Littlejohn and Anoush Margaryan of the Caledonian Academy have been collaborating as partners within a European Consortium led by the Open University of the Netherlands developing a proposal for a Large-Scale Integrated Project on Networked Innovation in Collaborative Environments.

The proposal was successfully submitted on October 27, 2009, under the 5th FP7 ICT-TEL call.

If funded, the project will last for 4 years, and will include an investigation, development, evaluation and deployment of a social and technical infrastructure
to enhance informal learning and networked innovation by professionals in the workplace. The Caledonian Academy team will lead a workpackage on the development of a Learning Framework as well as a set of charting tools to support collective learning in the process of open networked innovation.

Other partners in the consotrium include: Center for Social Innovation (Austria), Aalborg University (Denmark), RealityLab (Austria), Siemens (Germany), Audiovisual Technologies, Informatics and Telecommunications (Belgium), Logica (Netherlands), Politehnica University of Bucharest National Centre for Information Technology (Romania), and T6 ECO (Italy).

Friday, 31 July 2009

New member of the Caledonian Academy Team

Clemens Wieser will join the Caledonian Academy team on August 3, 2009. Clemens will conduct a PhD study on the role of social networks in enhancing students’ transition from education to the workplace.

Clemens obtained his Magister rer. nat. degree (equivalent to MSc) in Geography (major) and Philosophy, Pedagogy and Psychology (minors) at the University of Vienna in 2008. He passed his Master’s thesis titled “Student-centred teaching and its transfer problems into reallife geography teaching” with highest distinction and completed his Graduating Exam „mit Auszeichnung bestanden“ (equivalent to starred first degree).

Clemens’s research interests are in the intersection of imparting and acquisition of information. He has experience in qualitative research in teaching and didactics (Grounded Theory; hermeneutical text and data analysis) and evaluation of school pilot projects. His recent research projects included: Evaluation of a modular course system in a Viennese upper secondary school (AHS Rahlgasse, 2007); study on the impact of self-regulated and collective learning in geography school courses following Kilpatrick´s project method (2007); application of concepts of life world and everyday life in social science teaching (2008); reconstruction of teachers perceptions and strategies in „student-oriented teaching“ (2008). His further interests include Critical Theory and Frankfurt school of thought; Philosophy of education.

We warmly welcome Clemens to the Caledonian Academy and look forward to the fruitful collaboration ahead.

This 3-year study is funded by the Caledonian Academy and will be co-supervised by Dr. Isobel Falconer and Dr. Anoush Margaryan, with Prof. Allison Littlejohn as a member of the supervisory team.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Society for Research into Higher Education - newer researcher prize 2009

Karen Smith has been awarded the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) newer researcher prize 2009. Karen will use the prize money to develop work around the transformative potential of 'flying-faculty' transnational teaching experiences. In addition, Karen will sit on the SRHE's Research and Development Committee in 2010 and will be mentored by a senior higher education researcher from within the Society.

Friday, 3 July 2009

PhD Studentship - Being a Learner

Being a Learner: Dealing with ambiguity and complexity in research and knowledge work

We have secured funding for a new PhD studentship to be based at GCU. Here are the details:

We live in an increasingly complex and ambiguous world – sometimes described as supercomplex: ‘a world where nothing can be taken for granted, where no frame of understanding or of action can be entertained with any security’ (Barnett, 2000). Preparing and supporting researchers to engage effectively in such a world has become a key challenge to universities.

The proposed research will explore the attributes required and employed at transition from graduate to postgraduate and into a research-based career. This study will build on the pioneering work of the Caledonian Graduate Centre with Vitae, the Universities of Reading, Manchester and Southampton in developing a researcher’s attribute (disposition and qualities) framework for research students, researchers and research leaders which has benefits that relate to academic development.

A key feature of this research proposal is that it draws together expertise in education research from across the University. The supervisory team (Dr Colin Milligan, Professor Bonnie Steves and Professor David Smith) are specialists in learning communities, graduate researcher education and higher education policy respectively.

Applications are invited for a PhD Research Studentship within the Education Research Area at Glasgow Caledonian University. The studentship is for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and provides payment of tuition fees at the UK/EU rate plus an annual stipend of £13,900 [please note that students from outside the EU are required to pay the difference between International and EU fees, currently this would amount to £6,100 per annum]. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop their research skills by contributing to other research activities in the centres for up to six hours each week.

Further details of the studentship including educational requirements and instructions for applicants are available as a PDF document: BeingALearner.pdf

Thursday, 18 June 2009

JISC - Open Educational Resources evaluation and synthesis function

The Caledonian Academy has been funded to carry out the evaluation and synthesis function of the JISC programme on Open Educational Resources. The programme has funded indivudal, subject discipline and insitutional projects, which are expected to make 'a significant amount of existing learning resources freely available online' see: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/oer.aspx

The evaluation and synthesis function has three strands:
  • A generic framework tool that will provide a strong foundation and common language for collating data from projects. The framework will allow us to structure our interventions with projects, and will be used a means of evaluating the 'openness' of their outcomes.
  • Strand-specific evaluation activities will address how different communities and cultures are progressing towards openness in their shared practice. These will recruit mixed methods to examine social, technical, pedagogical and legal / organisational issues in each strand, and provide a synthesis account detailing barriers and opportunities for change.
  • The final synthesis report will include recommendations to the funders and to the stakeholders represented in the three strands of the programme, and a version of the framework tool for use by the sector to audit progress towards more open practices around educational resources.

Working with consultants Lou McGill and Helen Beetham, Allison Littlejohn is the principal investigator and Karen Smith will lead the individual strand evaluation.

We have a project wiki which will keep you informed about the progress of the project: http://www.caledonianacademy.net/spaces/oer/

International students' experiences of exams

Karen Smith from the Caledonian Academy is part of team who have successfully secured funding from the Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics (part of the Higher Education Academy) for a project to look at international students' experiences of UK exams. Karen will be working with Jackie Riley (School of Engineering and Computing, GCU) and Nick Pilcher (Edinburgh Napier).

Many students find examinations problematic; we argue, however, that the experience is all the more difficult for international students who may have language issues, potentially unrealistic or different expectations of examinations and limited time to acculturate themselves (especially for taught master’s students). The proposed project intends, through in-depth interviews and questionnaires, to explore international students’ expectations and experiences of examinations in Scotland and then to use those research findings to develop an online resource to support exam preparation.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Plans for an International Training Network in Learning innovation

The Caledonian Academy is in discussions with the Caledonian Graduate Centre to plan a joint proposal for a Marie Curie training network during the 2009-10 academic year.

If successful the ‘Learn 2 Work’ programme would be led by Glasgow Caledonian University (Caledonian Academy, the Graduate Centre and two academic schools) in collaboration with around ten leading academic and industry partners from a range of countries across Europe (including the UK, Netherlands, Austria and Germany). The programme would provide a first-rate comprehensive training programme focused at improving the transition between university and the public and private sectors. This Interdisciplinary training network will integrate:

a research programme on work related learning - an area central to the university's ambitions in learning innovation; with

a comprehensive training programme for early career researchers.

Potential industry partners have already told us that view the network as a talent and innovation pipeline and are keen to provide engagement opportunities for members to learn about corporate matters relevant to learning innovation. This network would advance the the Caledonian Academy's strategy for stratgic change, since engagement of Caledonian Scholars and the university's academic staff involved in Doctoral level study could have a major impact on raising the level of learning innovation across the university.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

More on Charting Collective Knowledge

How do universities prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist? Harold Jarche recently presented this grand challenge to Education and Industry. This challenge is highly relevant to the development and growth of talent for industry and for the economy.

My colleagues Anoush Margaryan , Colin Milligan and I (Allison Littlejohn ) have been extending our ideas on how we might rise to this challenge. We have been developing the concept of Charting Collective Knowledge by carrying out empirical research and debating ideas with a number of colleagues, including Karen Smith and Isobel Falconer from the Caledonian Academy.

Society, the workplace and knowledge itself is rapidly changing, bringing about the emergence of new economic paradigms. Production is no longer in the hands of organisations. In the information age knowledge generation is an increasingly significant means of production with ownership in the hands of individuals.
It is difficult predict what new roles will emerge over the next decade, never mind by the end of the century. However, individuals will increasingly be expected to be in control of their own knowledge, work and learning.

Collective learning and self-regulated learning (SRL) gaining importance due to global societal transformations which create new demands for learning for work (Jakupec et al, 2000). Education and training has lagged behind socio-economic demands, increasing the gap between education and work (Reynolds et al, 2001). Around the globe governments are trying to ensure that employers have a role in future development of Higher Education and the importance of bringing closer the worlds of work and learning has been emphasised internationally (ETUC, 2006; EU, 2005; EU 2006; EU 2007).

Across Europe there have been initiatives to enhance this transition from education to work. through our “employability skills” or “”graduate attributes” agenda. There has been debate as to how these skills and attributes can be defined, taught and assessed. These debates often overlook one key point: that the development of expertise is not fixed in time, but requires ongoing refinement. Therefore standalone skills development cannot provide a solution. Development of an individual’s expertise involves a change in mindset with commitment to lifelong , self-regulated learning based around self efficacy and motivation. And its essential that individuals can develop skills in networking, and collaboration to help navigate the many transitions they will encounter throughout their career . In a new society where knowledge is generated openly and collaboratively, people require new skills and literacies enabling them to learn as an individual, drawing from collective intelligence. Development of these skills has to be integrated within approaches to learning.

The transition to work from education is problematic partly because although self-regulation is required in both contexts, the nature and goals of learning are very different. In higher education learning is a goal in itself, while in the workplace it is a means to and end and a by-product of carrying out work tasks. Consequently in the workplace the underlying motives, alignment of learning with work goals, assessment and forms of support are not familiar to new graduates. This poses difficulties for graduates as they try to orientate themselves in the workplace and enhance their self-regulating skills (Candy, 1991).


Immersing new employees in Collective learning may alieviate these problems. Collective learning processes makes use of collective knowledge and intelligence within and beyond the organisation. In drawing upon such collective knowledge, the individual develops a network of relationships with colleagues, connects with appropriate resources, and actively contributes knowledge and experiences. Through network interactions, knowledge and structures emerge from which the individual, in turn, benefits in his or her learning process. There has to be, therefore, a strong link between the tools supporting individual self-direction and the collective knowledge residing within groups, communities and networks within which collective learning processes emerge.

Collective learning draws from and contributes to collective knowledge. Collective learning is based upon a metaphor of the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ (Surowiecki, 2004), the idea that large groups of connected people are better able than an elite few to produce knowledge to solve problems and foster innovation.

In recent years knowledge networks, based on Web2.0 technologies, have extended groups learning to learning communities. However some learning environments still confine learning groups within ‘walled gardens’ protected by passwords. Collective learning extends beyond the limitations of networks capitalising on all knowledge distributed on the web - in humans, their actions, their networks and their interactions through machines.

In collective learning, individuals consume, connect and contribute knowledge. In consuming knowledge, these individuals need to be able to identify and source knowledge residing within the collective. To enable them to find relevant knowledge, the knowledge base must be transparent and accessible. Connecting knowledge requires that different resources and components (both those residing in systems and in individuals) can be combined efficiently. Contributing knowledge, through creating and sharing, is a vital condition for collective learning. Generating new skills, solutions, processes and feeding these back into the collective is an essential component.

These three components of collective learning represent a set of intertwined activities rather than discrete steps. They are not novel, having been emphasised in many modern pedagogic approaches (Dron, 2007; Siemens, 2006). However, what is missing is, firstly, an understanding of how these components should be linked in a way that supports individuals in accomplishing their work and learning goals in their contexts. Secondly, an understanding and solutions to creating synergies between learning and cognition in humans and machines that allow systems to identify learning requirements, intelligently monitor progress and exploit learners actions to help them learn better.

While navigating collective intelligence the learner needs guidance in how to make sense of the fragments of knowledge she will encounter. This allows her to tap into whatever is important. We propose the concept of ‘charting’ as a mechanism for this integration.


Charting is an approach (a collection of behaviours) that helps individuals navigate their learning and development goals. Other approaches currently exist such as Personal Development Planning, portfolios and so on. The problem with these approaches is that they are not dynamic and are individually driven rather than tapping into the collective.

Imagine if a new employee setting her learning goals could dynamically look up someone else’s plan and see how they reached their learning goals. Charting allows this. It is both individually focussed AND collaborative allowing individuals use other peoples’ knowledge while setting personal development plans.

Charting is a powerful concept that can support faster acquisition of knowledge, competences and skills thereby accelerating time to competence. Charting is a process whereby an individual determines and executes their individual learning paths. In doing this, individuals assess their current competence and set precise learning and developmental goals. Although this process is individually driven, it is not an individualistic learning process, since it takes place within the socio-cultural context of the workplace. In charting a learning path ideally suited to their needs, learners take advantage of collective knowledge, seeing how others with similar goals achieved them and their reflections on the process. The approach requires learners to both create and share knowledge, to allow others to build on their experience and to contribute to the collective knowledge. Charting also connects learners to others with similar goals and development needs, creating networks of learners who may support each other in learning and work. In doing this they should be able to use their own tools, networks, communities, and resources alongside those of the collective.

Charting can be supported by a ‘toolbox’ to support individuals consuming, connecting and contributing knowledge.

Fig2: charting collective knowledge

Imagine a new employee who sets her own goals and plans the sorts of activities required to achieve these goals. Imagine she is a process chemist tasked with finding a coolant substance for drilling in a new type of substrate. To achieve this goals she will set herself a real life task of testing coolants. To select the right sort of coolant and understand how to proceed she may make use of a variety of sources of information, knowledge and learning such as formal learning resources, stored information, recommended resources, case studies and so on (see Figure 2).

These resources are not always easy to find, since they are distributed. Also they may use language unfamiliar to the employee, leading to organisational and cultural issues. To help the employee overcome these issues she may tap into the expertise of others within her organisation who can guide her, for example her manager, team, peers and so on (Figure 2)
This goal is easiest if its part of the working culture of the organisation and if it is recognised and rewarded. The employee will consume knowledge from these resources and services. She may draw on technology tools to make recommendations as to which resources to select and how to make use of them, based on the actions of others. Connecting with others within and outside the organisation can help her make best use of what’s available to carry out her work and learning tasks and achieve her goal of finding an optimal coolant for drilling. In carrying out these tasks she will, in turn, contribute back to all of these resources and services. She will carry out her work and learning tasks alongside others within her peer group who are setting their own learning and development goals and activities. Not only will this improve her learning productivity, but it will enrich the collective and she will draw upon the knowledge and actions of others as she does so. Consequently all individuals will contribute knowledge, implicitly and explicitly, that can be used by the collective as they move towards achieving their goals. Charting occurs at a level above connection, consumption and contribution. The key to charting is the ability of the employee to define her learning goals.

Goal setting

To maximise the speed with which this employee will learn, the ideal situation is where everything this individual does in her daily working life will contribute towards her learning. In other words, an employee carrying out a job will learn through her normal work tasks. Learning is aligned with her work tasks, knowledge creation and knowledge sharing. This direct route to achieving leaning goals allows for maximum learning productivity.

In reality not everything an employee or learner does will directly contribute to achieving her learning goals, particularly in workplace settings where learning goals are loosely defined and not as linear as in formal education. Learning goals may alter over time. An employee, whether expert or novice, may not be able to predict from the outset where her emerging goals will lead her.

Charting may help the learner relate where she is to where she wants to be and will help her find how to get there by recommending existing trails used by previous learners following a similar route. Charting provides the learner opportunity to dynamically interact with her goals and personal development. Charting allows the learner to make use of people and resources to fine tune her choices at any point. We cannot exactly define charting prior to looking at existing behaviours. And that is what we are currently doing in partnership with Shell.


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

New PhD Research Studentship

The Caledonian Academy is offering a 3-year studentship to carry out research leading to a PhD investigating the role of social networks in enhancing learners’ transition from education to the workplace and supporting knowledge work. This PhD studentship is funded, and will be supervised by the Caledonian Academy. The studentship offers a unique opportunity to work with an internationally-renowned research team which has strong links with leading research centres and global corporations.

Research project
Although employers demand, and universities aspire to produce, independent learners, the gap between education and work has widened in recent years. This project is based on the premise that understanding the ways individuals operate as independent or self-regulated learners in educational settings and in the workplace is an important component of enhancing transition. Most previous work on these issues has focused on individual learning activities, ignoring the role of the collective in supporting the individual, co-constructing knowledge, and influencing goals and motivations. This project will redress the balance, investigating the networks that learners develop during their study in university, the impact these have, and how they are maintained and extended when new graduates enter the workplace, the resources learners draw on (human and physical, face-to face and online), and the reasons why they choose these resources.

The fellowship is open to candidates from EU countries and the closing date for applications is 17 April 2009.

Further details of the studentship including educational requirements and instructions for applicants are available as a PDF document: learningthroughnetworking.pdf

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Learning from Incidents: an industry academia partnership

This week we started a new research study on 'Learning from Incidents' in partnership with Shell, ConocoPhilips and BP. The aim of our study is to develop new approaches to learning that will reduce incidents affecting health and safety in the workplace. This industry-academia partnership involves a 3 year PhD Fellowship funded by the UK Energy Institute.

Allison Littlejohn and Anoush Margaryan of the Caledonian Academy along with John Holmes, Shell Exploration and Production Health and Safety Executive Systems and Planning Leader, based in Houston, Texas and Peter Jefferies from ConocoPhillips Humber Refinery will co-supervise the study. Dane Lukic has joined our team as a PhD Fellow. Dane is originally from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Learning from Incidents aims to help the industrial partners embed new approaches to learning and reducing critical incidents within the workplace. Adopting a culture of continuous learning employees at all levels will become more self-reliant, scanning their environment, looking for improvements, sharing new ideas and applying safe practices. The study is based on a ‘Change Lab’ methodology which supports participatory redesign of work practices. Researchers will collaborate with workers and managers in Shell, ConnocoPhillips and BP to surface and critically analyze hazardous practices and jointly develop solutions to transform the work practices.