As Director of the Institute of Educational Technology, I am privileged to lead a highly strategic unit which focuses on the enhancement of student learning, underpinned by scholarship and research. Our strength is in collaborative activity with external colleagues in nationally and internationally recognised research projects, as well as with colleagues in the faculties within the University. Our work is of strategic importance to the onward development of the OU - we support pedagogical innovation, and ensure that The Open University is a leader in open approaches to learning and teaching. Our staff lead quality enhancement within the University, and the unit focuses on the provision of co-ordinated and integrated professional development related to learning and teaching, and improving the student learning experience.
My role within the Open University has been to understand how people learn using complex media (traditional and digital) and how best to design those media to support learning, through 'media integration'. My research can best be described as Deep HCI: where the people are at the heart of the enterprise, and understanding them as they use complex media is the key objective. This involves much more than examining usability, interface design or tool use. It entails an examination of the many factors that can influence a person's approach to learning, and that can impact upon their success.
Web 2.0 and Learning
I am interested in how Web 2.0 philosophy and design can support and augment the learning experience. In order to investigate this, I am working on a variety of projects within the Open University to explore the role of pedagogic structure and content in a Web 2.0 environment.
I led the development of an agenda for e-learning research funding, sponsored by EPSRC, ESRC and e-Science.
This contributed to the development of the TLRP Technology Enhanced Learning Initiative, funded by EPSRC and ESRC. It is administered through the ESRC Teaching and Learning Programme. The TEL funding amounted to £6m for the first round in 2006/7, with a similar amount in a second round in 2007/8. For further details see the TLRP TEL website.
Participated in the European Union funded MOBIlearn project which looked at the role of pedagogy in the mobile learning environment.
2009 - 2013 Director, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University
2007 - 2008 Acting Director, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University
2006 Professor of Learning Technologies, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University
1998 – 2005 Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University
1999 – 2002 Deputy Director (Learning and Teaching Technologies), Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University
1997 – 2001 Head of Programme on Learner Use of Media, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University
1990 – 1997 Lecturer in Educational Technology, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University
1990 – 1990 Research Fellow, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University (fixed term)
1988 – 1989 Contract Researcher, Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University (part-time)
1987 – 1988 Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence, Sussex University.
1985 – 1987 Research Fellow, School of Cognitive Sciences, Sussex University
2006 – 2009 Member of the Association for Learning Technology Research Committee
2006 – Convenor of the BCS/CRCP UK Grand Challenges for Computing Research ‘Learning for Life’ GC8
2006 – Member of the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing in UK Universities
2006 – 2007 Acting Associate Director for e-Learning, Teaching and Learning Research Programme, ESRC
2001 – Co-founder IET UserLab
2005 Sponsored by EPSRC to conduct a national consultation to develop an agenda for e-learning research. This document has fed into the development of the Technology Enhanced Learning funding programme, jointly sponsored by EPSRC and ESRC. It is administered through the ESRC Teaching and Learning Programme. The TEL funding amounted to £6m for the first round in 2006/7, with a similar amount to follow in a second round in 2007/8. For further details see the TLRP TEL website.
2006 The UKCRC Grand Challenges in Computing Conference, 2006 was presented with, and accepted, the e-learning agenda as a challenge. This is now Grand Challenge No 8: Learning for Life, of which I am now convenor. If you want to join, we have a JISC Mailing List: LEARNING4LIFE@JISCMAIL.AC.UK
As Deputy Director I had responsibility for articulating the Learning and Teaching Strategy for the Institute which entailed the following activities, all of which were accomplished within teams:
UNLOCK: co-ordinating (with Patrick McAndrew) IET's response to the Capital and IT Infrastructure for Teaching and Learning initiative from HEFCE, to the leading to the successful UNLOCK bid (University Networked Location of Community Knowledge, C32). This provided IET with £200K to provide equipment which we used to implement the Knowledge Network (KN).
Knowledge Network: (see the website for the full team) managing the development of the KN concept in its earliest phases, and then overseeing the activities of the Knowledge Network team as the system was developed and rolled out into the University. The KN provides on-line access to many resources, both from within IET and outside it, supporting teaching, learning, and staff development
IET IT Support: conceptualising, defining and managing the re-organisation of the IET IT Support area. This involved recruiting a Communications and C&IT Manager to lead the team of IT support staff. I then worked with the manager (Will Woods) to define staffing levels required to ensure that the team delivered high quality IT support in the Institute. This involved recruiting 2 IT support officers, and 2 programmers. My role was to ensure that we had the funds in the right place at the right time to support this. I also ensured that appropriate management reporting lines for the IT Support area were in place, which led to the development of the Information Technologies Policy and Procedures Committee (ITPPC).
IET UserLab conceptualising, defining and managing the development of the IET UserLab (with Patrick McAndrew and Paul Lefrere). The UserLab has 2 full-time Research Fellows, and a software designer. The UserLab has been mainly externally funded originally from projects funded by the European Union. Current projects include the OpenLearn Research activity, led by Patrick McAndrew, and the Biodiversity Observatory software development, led by me.
As a member (and previous Head) of the Programme on Learner Use of Media I contribute to staff development workshops on use of media in OU courses. In my recent role as IET's Deputy Director (Learning and Teaching Technologies) I was responsible for technology strategy in the Institute of Educational Technology and for ensuring that IET contributes effectively to innovation and to the evaluation of new technologies in teaching and learning at the Open University. As part of this, I helped initiate the development of the Knowledge Network with funds from HEFCE, and set up the IET UserLab. For further info on the UserLab see our Core Briefing Document.
As Head of the Programme on Learner Use of Media (1997-2000) I managed the direction the programme, placing emphasis not only on our traditional activities (e.g. evaluation of media components in courses) but on the need to dissemination the outcomes of these activities via the University Intranet. I focused the input of PLUM academic and academic-related staff to the Courses Survey activity, where we report and critically analyse to faculties the students' responses relating to media from the annual survey.
I have designed, conducted and reported Access to New Technologies Survey (1991, 1994, 1998, 2000 - recently re-named the Access to Media Technologies Survey), surveys of drop-in viewing audiences for television (1991, 1993, 1997), use of the BBC Learning Zone by students (1995, 1996, 1997).
I have been involved in academic staff development since 1993. I was academic consultant on H500 Making the Most of the AV Media a joint IET/OUPC pack of materials for internal workshop use. This pack consisted of 90 mins of purpose-made videocassette material, an audiocassette and printed materials. Although the pack is now out of date, the video material is still used. These materials were used to run workshops for staff within IET's Professional Development in Educational Technology programme between 1993-97. I have since been involved in designing the staff development modules for the use of media in the Course Team Induction Programme, led by IET (now called Creating Quality Courses).
Software Quality Assurance Process Improvement project (SQAPI) (1999 - 2002)
Joint leader of SQAPI (with Roger Moore), a three year project funded by the OU, jointly held with LTS. The project employed three Project Officers, and its remit was to articulate an industry-standard quality process for the production of software within the University, from conception to shipping. As a result of this work, I am also involved in working on the sub-group of Learning and Teaching Quality Committee's sub-group devising QA process for non-software materials within LTS.
Quality Assurance for AV Materials (2000 - 2001)
Contribution to this working group, convened by Diana Laurillard, PVC(LTT), which has produced a standards document for quality in broadcast television. This has been supported by workshops which I designed. This work is being extended by other colleagues in IET. The group has now turned its attention to teaching materials. Our intention now is to link with the IET media training workshops to define quality standards for other media products.
Programme on Embedding Learning Technologies (PELT) (1999 - 2000)
Co-ordination of PELT project officers: the Programme on Embedding Learning Technologies, funded by the OU, provides project officer posts within faculties whose students traditionally have not had high levels of access to computing technology. The aim is to provide these faculties with an impetus to catch up with those faculties whose students do have access to technologies, and who have been progressing rapidly in the development of course materials. I managed the PELT project officer in IET, a Grade 3 post , developing aims and objectives for the CAU-based staff, supporting them in embedding technologies within their areas. This project led, amongst other things, to the development of ProMISES, resulting in the e-Desktop application.
Associate Lecturer Feedback Form (ALFF) (2001)
As a member (and ex-chair) of Learning and Teaching Quality Committee, I conceptualised the development of an on-line tool to enable ALs to easily feedback their views on courses in presentation to course teams. This project was funded by LTQC, and it is hoped that the tool will facilitate two-way communication between the Course Teams and ALs.
Taylor, J., (August 2010) Learning Journeys: The road from informal to formal learning Invited paper submitted to the International Conference on Hybrid Learning, 16-18 August 2010, Beijing
Taylor, J., (2009) Learning in Digital Worlds: What are we talking about? Professorial Inaugural Lecture, The Open University, April 2009
Taylor, J., (2006) 'Methods for studying learning, collaboration and technology use in mobile environments'. Talk presented at the Learning Sciences Research Institute, University of Nottingham, and the Department of Education and Professional Studies, Kings College London in February 2006.
Taylor, J., Minocha, S., McAndrew, P., Brasher, A., & Joinson, A., (2006) ' Smart Labs and Social Practice: Social Tools for Pervasive Laboratory Workspaces: A Position Paper' for the Designing for Usability in e-Science: An International Workshop on Interrogating Usability Issues in New Scientific Practice, within the Lab and within Society, The National e-Science Center, Edinburgh, Scotland, Jan 26-27 2006
Taylor, J., (2004) 'Collaboration in a training scenario for first aid workers: An evaluation of mobile learning under stress?', presentation at First CSCL Symposium in Kaleidoscope NoE, Lausanne, Switzerland, Oct 7-9 2004
Taylor, J., (2004) ‘A task-centred approach to evaluating a mobile learning environment’ invited presentation, ESRC Seminar ‘Educational Research and the Design of Interactive Media’, Seminar 3: Mobiles and Handheld Technologies, Bristol 21 April 2004
Taylor, J., (2004) ‘Scaffolding the design of mobile learning systems through the use of scenarios’, On-line Educa, Berlin, 10th International Conference on Technology Supported Learning and Training, December 1 – 3, 2004
Taylor, J., (2003) 'A Task-centred Approach to Evaluating a Mobile Learning Environment for Pedagogical Soundness' Presentation given at the MLEARN2003 conference, London, May 19-20, 2003 'eLearning at the Open University'. Presentation at the workshop organised by ESRC, EPSRC, DfES, and EScience 9 May 2003, entitled Realising the Potential of eLearning. The presentation gives an overview of some issues associated with implementing elearning in a large organisation.
Taylor, J., (2003) 'Pedagogy in the Mobile Learning Environment' Presentation at the 'Beyond the Classroom Computer' Symposium in collaboration with Kings College/Hewlett Packard Laboratories, April 30 2003
Taylor,J., (2002) An introduction to the MOBIlearn project (http://mobilearn.org) presented at a workshop at the Mobile HCI conference, Pisa, Italy, 2002.
Taylor, J., (2001) Keynote: ‘Designing Software to Support Pedagogy’, presented at the Annual Conference of NADE (Norwegian Association of Distance Education) on Pedagogy and Flexible Learning, May 2001, Oslo, Norway.
My research focuses on understanding the ways in which people learn from complex media (traditional and digital) and how best to design those media to support learning. My approach can best be described as Deep HCI: where the people are at the heart of the enterprise, and understanding them as they use complex media is the key objective. This involves much more than examining usability, interface design or tool use. It entails close study of what people do with technology, how they respond to it, how they appropriate it and how that dialectical process of appropriation in turn affects/changes their behaviour. Developing our theories to account for the richness of behaviour we observe in learners is also a priority.
I am currently interested in Web 2.0 technologies, and the extent to which these can sustain communities of interest. The OpenLearn project is providing an excellent arena in which to examine some of these issues.
Other recent research has been in the mobile learning environment - see the MOBIlearn project for more detail. As a result of work done within the project, I am now working with Mike Sharples and Giasemi Vavoula on developing a theory of learning in mobile environments.
It has also stimulated studies of the relevance of activity theory based evaluation to interpreting a mix of scenarios with complex technologies (see publications list). As part of this activity I have also become very interested in scenario-based design and their role in helping large multi-national consortia to develop systems.
The SuBTLE and ReFLEX projects are examining the role of semantic web technologies for digital library content, in collaboration with the Knowledge Media Institute and the OU Library.
The MENO project looked at the role of narrative as a scaffolding device in multimedia.
The SoURCE project examined the feasibility of software re-use in the educational environment. I contributed to the evaluation of the SoURCE software, and was co-author of the evaluation document.
The Personal Learning Manager project examined how learners could be supported in developing their organisational skills to cope with on-line undergraduate courses.
My preferred methods are taken from activity theory, adaptive structuration theory and ethnomethodological approaches, mainly through close observational study.
1991 - 1993 Richard Joiner, Ph.D. 'A dialogue model of the resolution of inter-individual conflicts: Implications for computer based collaborative learning'. Thesis awarded 1993. Jointly supervised with Peter Whalley, KMi.
1991 - 1995 Fiona Spensley, Ph.D. 'Representational Redescription and the Development of Cognitive Flexibility'. Thesis awarded 1995.
1993 - 1998 Magnus Moar, Ph.D. 'The Construction of Dynamic Documents by Children'. Thesis awarded 1998. Jointly supervised with Peter Whalley, KMi.
1999 - 2002 Daisy Mwanza, Ph.D 'Towards an Activity-Oriented Design Method for HCI Research and Practice'. Thesis awarded 2002. Jointly supervised with Paul Mulholland, KMi.
2000 - 2009 Eladyr da Silva, Ph.D, (part-time) 'Reaction of Users to Distance Education Media: a Case study of a Brazilian Programme' jointly supervised with N. Mercer, University of Cambridge, L. Arthur, Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET).
2005 - present David King, Ph.D, 'Information Design and Pedagogical Effectiveness of Web-base e-learning Environments', jointly supervised with S. Minocha and P. Thomas, Centre for Research in Computing (CRC).
2007 - present Jo Iacovides, MRes, 'Seventh Generation Games and Learning', jointly supervised with J. Aczel and Eileen Scanlon, Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)