south of Siena…

The journey looks fun..  I know Viterbo – which is south of you and my parents are about 200kms from you on the adriatico south of Ortona, if youre passing send me an email or FB message and Ill tell them to expect a dusty tired and huingry cyclist 🙂  The trip looks awesome.. rgds Mike

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A Virtual Cognitive Apprenticeship or some fancy 3D graphics in Second Life tied to some learning and assessment outcomes?

I guess this is like an old fashioned pamphlet to all intents and purposes… Ive just completed an ALT module on my MSc and to a certain extent some of the ideas that came up in discussions with my Tutors and Charl Fregona my course leader have got me thinking… a dangerous thing I guess..

well here goes…

Online learning and formative assessment is branching away from the formalised emulation of standard models, online collective social presence is achieving quiet revolutions and expectations from its users that the service providers might in normal circumstances find difficult to sanction or even offer.

Further to the collective understanding achieved by online social presence where there is almost an instruction set to determine relationships within collaboration processes, cognitive presence requires the mix of cognition and collaboration. A good example maybe where the point at which an idealised seminar learning environment becomes effective… This is where peers are trusted authorities or component owners; and there is a collective will or a collaborative approach to inquiry where a learning outcome is driven by all members within the seminar objective. Vocationally from an Education business’ point of view do we really care where the stickability of the subject matter comes from as long as it is qualitative, independently usable and verifiably qualifiable…And from the learners point of view it is hopefully a fun, social and less painful journey to cognition..

Based on work by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000, 2001). A typical definition of Cognitive presence is the process of constructing meaning through a learning journey of collaborative inquiry. If we continue with the idealised or virtual seminar by definition collaborative inquiry is either a key to cognitive presence or close enough to merge, Any group of learners implies some kind of existence of a community of learners, and where there is common aims and objectives there must be some degree of inquiry… so perhaps the measurement of cognitive presence is the extent to which the collective can construct sense and meaning, perhaps an opportunity for qualification?

But I will continue with the idea of developing online formative and summative learning definitions. Current ideas surrounding the building of subject meaning through investigation and enquiry seems like a mutation of good old scientific inquiry and hypothesis. But the shift from “lecturing and telling” to questioning, probing and open inquiry potentially seems to prove that cognitive presence offers subtle differences especially where the importance of designing reflecting and thinking time into the course, dealing with problems for which there may not have been ready answers all helps to develop better learning and assessment strategies and outcomes.

If we then look closer at the ethic which is central to vocational education, cognitive apprenticeship is a theory that exemplifies the good practice and process whereby the master of a skill teaches that skill to an apprentice, and here we are in the virtual world trying to do the same thing.. Developing good (first) principle learning for formative assessment, developing into summative assessment the other side of the virtual 3D digital divide…

The advantage of first class engagement, reflects in better class retention and completion rates.. It may remain to be seen as to whether “virtual cognitive apprenticeships” offer a panacea but we have to start somewhere when most of the pre FE college population are saving up their pocket money for the next release of Call of Duty, and the schools absenteeism rate raises significantly after release day….. now that’s a virtual 3D world engagement success… and whether we like the subject matter or the worthiness of a wargame or not; it is a highly successful learning and assessment environment. But before all this bravura gets out of control Professor Randy Garrison perhaps states what is required most succinctly:

There is an authenticity, excitement and freshness when teaching goes beyond simply transmission of information. Higher education is about inquiry. If the educational process does not model a scholarly approach to learning, it is near impossible to have students adopt a questioning approach and learn the skills and values of inquiry. Scholarly inquiry is essential to develop the higher-order learning abilities such as critical and creative thinking

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The Instruction…

When my avatars arrive this is the first thing they see:

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Questionaire for assessing the students feelings about using a virtual learning practical lesson

The Virtual Woodwork and Seminar Room Lesson and Assignment questionnaire is emailed to all students at the end of the assignment: this is a quick view of it here – it is available as a doc file.

If you can indicate your preference with an X an in the last box give us some general feedback, we are trying to assess whether the virtual lesson make the practical test piece lesson easier, more fun, or gives you a better chance to understand techniques where you can go back to the virtual world to make certain you understand the first principles of woodwork

the responses are the usual Strongly Agree/Agree/Disagree Strongly/Disagree

1 I am able to easily access the Internet as needed for my virtual woodwork course of study

2 I am comfortable communicating within second life and email

3 I am willing to actively communicate with my peers and tutors electronically

4 I feel that the course of study will be beneficial to my studies

5 I believe that working with fellow students to discover facts within the virtual seminar room will help with the test piece phase

6 that the resources reinforce my basic knowledge

7 that If I want to access the virtual seminar again to refresh my knowledge that I can retain and build on my expertise

8 that as a student in the virtual would I can enjoy working independently

9 As a student in the virtual world I can enjoy working with other students within the group

10 I can have good interaction with the tutor and/or teaching assistants.

11 I possess sufficient computer keyboarding skills for doing online work. or I have learnt to use second life well enough to use it for the class lesson

12 I can also use other studying tools online at the same a time as the VR experience via wikis, dictionaries, web searching etc

13 I can ask my tutor or teaching assistant questions and receive a quick response during Internet activities outside of class.

14 I feel that face-to-face contact with my tutor is necessary to learn.the subject when I am using the virtual woodwork room

15 I feel more motivated to talk to fellow students about the subject outside of the VR lesson

and a non multi response question…
16 Please give a short note as to your experiences within second life, heres a helpful question..

Has the virtual world tutorial made the challenge of making the test piece in the real world easier

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The Virtual Woodwork lesson – first principles of joinery and the ideas behind this

The idea is that bench experience for the secondary student is now rare…

Trade Schools don’t exist, within secondary education “on-the-tools” experience is not that prevalent due to health and safety issues, the FE colleges that offer joinery and furniture VRQs and other vocational qualifications are finding that students with low skill levels are finding real woodworking skills a tough learning curve.

My idea is to take the transition educational area into the virtual world, offering students more used to the internet, gaming and interactive DVDs into potential fabrication skills.

This virtual lesson could be offered as a stand alone piece within the connexions two week work experience placement, or before this as a taster, the physical assignment (formative test piece) could then be completed in placement as an entry piece into a woodworking FE qualification such as joinery, fabrication or fine wood work…

Or this lesson could be week one joinery within the FE environment, it could also offer significant other benefits in settling the new student into new working, new study practices and the new more serious routine of bedding into Vocational Further Education. The project sets up levels of computer literacy and the concept of submitting supporting work via documentation.. It builds seminar like collaborative skills that the student make have not experienced before.. and the idea of building personal research to build professional skills…

I see this lesson or intervention as essentially a formative engagement piece… Were the summative component is the next few lessons being the actual creation of the physical work piece… here the Second life seminar could be contnually revisited for reference and to confirm cognitive and constructivist retention of knowledge.. it’s ostensibly a learn and reflect offering in an engaging environment… perhaps a virtual cognitive apprenticeship in its truest form?

With regards to ergonomic design I refer to earlier research in an earlier piece of study…

Framing the background to building valid Virtual Learning environments in my presentation, citing some of my earlier research work…

Signage in the virtual world….

And finally:

To go and experience the lesson please go to the London Met Second Life site


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Further to the assignment and additional skills required beyond first principles

We have also decided to show some essential first principle videos that will help with your assignment piece…

You may have gathered by now, with class discussion and viewing the video that the mortice and tenon joint has some virtues of simplicity, but the dovetail improves your cutting and accuracy ability, if you like you can produce both test pieces and we will grade you on the best piece.., you will get better marks for the more complicated dovetail but initially it could take you twice as long.. it is up to you…

Discuss techniques and merits with your fellow student either together in second life or offline or via any process is suitable for you… I will be available at all times during the online second life sessions and available for an hour most evenings – though email me to arrange synchronous communication 🙂

Enjoy these videos about chisels and saws and how they work and how to keep them performing in tip top condition an technique…

When you are happy you have completed the second life online first phase of the assignment… take a picture of yourself within Second life by the piece of work you have decided to build and we will meet at the workshop Ws1 at the commercial road site…

NB if you have decided to submit both pieces take a snapshot of your self within second life next to the Dovetail and Mortice and Tenon large sculptures…

Use of tenon saw

sharpening and use of mortice chisel

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An example how to build good mortice and tenon joints

I have undertaken a peer review of standard texts and in conversation with City & Guilds course material and their experts we feel this is as close as we can get to the best technique, please review with other students and discuss with you tutor at the seminar table, if you find by coinsensus better video resource replace this link here with that of the reviewed reference within the class blog:

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