I work in the Learning and Teaching Development team in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. The purpose of the team is to help the Institute deliver on key University learning and teaching strategies, which means that we get involved in a wide variety of research and development projects. I have been in the team since January 2005, having previously worked in the Userlab.
My current projects include:
Design of learning activities
I am part of the team working on the OU learning design initiative the aim of which is "to develop and implement a methodology for learning design composed of tools, practice and other innovation that both builds upon, and contributes to, existing academic and practioner research". Most of my work within this initiative has focused on the development of CompendiumLD a software tool for designing learning activities using a flexible visual interface.
Recent work includes
I am interested in how content (e.g. web pages, Word™ or text files, images, movies, or any multimedia combination of these) may be structured so that it provides some form of added value for its users. Related to this is how content can be described in ways which add value for users. In particular, I am interested in the human factors affecting the design, creation, and exploitation of structures within educational resources and descriptions of educational resources. My recent work in this area has concerned semi-automatic generation of audio versions of learning content (and there's a journal paper about this that is in press). This work has built on issues concerning metadata, for example the paper "A Model For The Creation Of Human-Generated Metadata Within Communities", but it covers a variety of topics including schema design and vocabulary selection.
In general the aim of a technology roadmap is to provide a consensus view or vision of the future landscape available to decision makers. I have worked on several roadmap studies aiming to define future research activities related to educational technology. The first of these aimed at creating a roadmap for research into e-learning relevant to Higher Education in Europe and is described in the paper "Determining Research Questions in e-learning" (McAndrew, Brasher, Hardy, 2004). In the Mobilearn project I led the development of the Mobilearn roadmap which considered ways that the lessons from MOBIlearn can inform future research and activity on mobile learning.
In 2005-2006 I worked on a roadmap for e-assessment (funded by the JISC e-Learning programme). This work has attempted to combine inputs such as governmental and organisational policies with the views and research outputs of domain experts into a coherent vision of the future of e-Assessment in the UK HE and FE sectors. My colleagues Denise Whhitelock and Simnon Cross have just started a studyu of the current state-of-art in e-assessment: it'll be interesting to see how (in)accurate our roadmap is even after such a short time has passed.
Before joing the OU
From 1989 until joining the Open University UserLab in 2001, I worked for Pira International the UK research and consultancy company for the packaging, paper, printing and publishing industries worldwide. There is more information about this work (on e.g. object-oriented and knowledge-based approaches to information management and publishing) here.
Since 2004 I have been very interested in the idea of using ambient (or ubiquitous or pervasive) technology to gain a detailed view of peoples learning experiences. I have written and presented a couple of papers about this, one of which (co-authored by Josie Taylor) won the best paper award at the MLearn conference in 2004. I have been looking at applying these ideas to longitudinal studies of informal learning, because these are the studies for which the practical limitations of current methods (which usually involve participants or researchers as observers) are most acute. There is a presentation showing the direction I am going in with this work: "A look at ubiquitous technology for testing theories of informal learning longitudinally" (this was presented at the CALRG conference, 2006).
Relevant projects: Mobilearn.
last updated 11-Oct-2012