• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Want to get organized in 2022? Let Dokkio put your cloud files (Drive, Dropbox, and Slack and Gmail attachments) and documents (Google Docs, Sheets, and Notion) in order. Try Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) for free. Available on the web, Mac, and Windows.



Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 3 months ago

LKL Workshop: 12 September 2007


Presentation by Rose Luckin and Tom Hamilton  

Debate 1: What are the contexts in which content is generated and how can technologies support innovative approaches to this process for learners?



My purpose here is to explain what I think Learner Generated Contexts are - why they are important and why we need to open this debate now.


A Definition 

A Learner Generated Context can be defined as a context created by people interacting together with a common, self-defined or negotiated goal.


For example, if we accept the view that a context can be described as a user-centric Ecology of Resources then a Learner Generated Context is one in which a learner or group of learners marshall the resources available to them to create an ecology that meets their needs. In some senses all contexts can be described in this way; all are created from some combination of human enterprise in the world.


The key aspect of Learner Generated Contexts is that they are created through the enterprise of those who would previously have been consumers in a context created for them.


Key questions


  1. How has technology changed over the last 15 years (or so) and what has this meant for people's activities?
  2. How have pedagogies changed during this time?
  3. How have people's social and educational mobility changed during this time?


A very simplistic and brief history


  • WWW brought opened up ability to publish
  • The internet brought networking and enabled people to communicate to more people in more places: to collaborate, to co-author and to co-publish
  • The increased availability of digital devices such as cameras and sensors enabled us to capture more about out physical environment and store it in digital formats
  • The increased availability of mobile, ubiquitous and pervasive technologies brought us more choices about who we keep in touch with, and about where and when we keep in touch
  • The increased sophistication of WWW took us from hypertext to multimedia
  • The social capabilities supported by the Internet and WWW made explicit and more widely available through Web 2.0 and User Generated Content


Take 2 on those Key questions


  1. How would we like technology to change over the next n years (or so) and what should this mean for people's activities?
  2. If Web 2.0 could be described as the re-aggregation of media, do we now need World 2.0: the re-aggregation of life?
  3. What would that look like?
  4. How could/should pedagogies change?
  5. Should there be more emphasis on helping people set their own goals, on supporting metacognition, motivation and personal epistemic development?
  6. How could/should people's social and educational mobility change?
  7. Should we be exploring the administrative, organisational and curricular boundaries in learning contexts and consider how technologies might make them more permeable?


Ikea Flat Pack Metaphor

In 1990 we could describe Education as 'flat pack', by which I mean if Ikea offered education, my flat pack would have contained some ready-made components, a few tools and some instructions. These could only be put together in a particular way in order to produce a pre-defined outcome. Now I don't need a flat pack, I have lots of tools, I can make my own components, I can decide that I want a different outcome, but when I look at the instructions I am being offered they haven't really changed.


In order to progress this agenda we need to increase our understanding of how to scaffold learners to effectively generate their own learning contexts.





My particular interest is in transformational insights – those breakthrough moments in creativity, learning and personal development where an individual is able to see the world in new, previously impossible, ways.


As embodied beings, I am interested in how our environment shapes our beliefs and behaviours and especially how technology can be combined with space design to facilitate new behaviours, understandings and insights.


Context: Teaching & learning is changing

Although my particular interest has been HE, this is the case at all levels


• Range of drivers – theoretical/ political/ social

• Need for learning to be more engaging, to build and support learner motivation

• Shift in learning - more experiential, student-led, collaborative approaches & the development of personalised learning


Space: New teaching and learning requires new spaces

Our environment shapes our behaviour. We are constantly reading cues from our environment as to what is possible, permissible and desirable.Our behaviour can influence our thinking. Changing our environment may impact on our learning.If we want to change behaviours, then we need to factor this in to the design of our learning spaces. We can consider the ‘environment’ as comprising three levels:


• Physical environment

• Socio-cultural environment

• Cognitive environment


Technologies can be used both to shape both our physical and socio-cultural environments.


Flexibility: recent trend toward more flexible spaces:

(as demonstrated in the recent JISC report) and other examples such as i-Lab in Essex etc


Some emergent trends:


• Flexible space use & ‘zoning’ – to support a range of activities

• Flexible, multi-use furniture

• Increased use and integration of AV technologies

• Hidden technologies & embedded processing

• Personalisable learning spaces

• Contemporary, ‘non-institutional’ aesthetics


However, supporting a more constructivist, learner-led approach to learning is not just about flexible space design, it is also about how the space is set up, managed and maintained – the ‘rules’ around its use.


This is being addressed to some extent by other key trends:


• Distributed, local support mechanisms

• 24/7 access

• The freedom to use the space in diverse ways at different times – e.g. game playing etc



Although a great start, this doesn’t go far enough. There is a lot of talk about ‘flexibility’ in learning space design but without some form of ‘ownership’ by the learner, the final control over the learning experience rests in the hands of the tutors – acting against the open exploration inherent to a learner-led, constructivist or constructionist process.


Ownership: ‘Ownership’/ ‘personalisation’/ ‘customisation’/ ‘control’?

Flexibility within learning space design is only part of the solution.It shouldn’t be used just to improve efficiency of estate. Instead it should support a more student-centred approach to teaching and learning. To do this we need to give some measure of ‘ownership’ or ‘control’ over to the learner, mirroring what they increasingly experience with digital environments and resources. If we are serious about authentic ‘learner-generated’ learning contexts then the learner needs to be in control of their environment, how it feels and works. 


We need to consider 2 principal forms of ownership:


• Ownership over the physical space

• Ownership over the technological resources within the physical space.


The former sets the ambient environment for the activity, and the level of stimulus available. The latter enables the creation of personalised learning environments, with external representation of the learning and the learning journey. 


Creativity: InQbate

Within the InQbate project at the University of Sussex we are trying to implement an ‘ownership cascade’ model. This involves supporting tutors to take active ownership over the technology and physical space in order to set up engaging, interactive learning environments for learners, while simultaneously encouraging them to design them in such a way that the learners are empowered to take subsequent ownership of the space, technology and content. It is hoped that this will promote exploration, collaboration and discovery learning. 




  1. Are we using the right terms?
  2. Is ownership the same as personalisation? Are we using either term correctly? Should we be calling this customisation? Should we talking instead in terms of ‘control’?
  3. If ownership is the right term, then can you have real ownership if this is only temporary?
  4. Can you have partial ownership?
  5. Have we got the right to give them any ownership of the learning space?What is our own ownership of the space?
  6. Given the issue of widening participation, are we assuming that learners always know the best way for them to learn? If they haven’t had exposure to other contexts, how much can they be expected to generate the ‘right’ context for optimal learning?
  7. Is ‘preferred’ learning context the same as ‘best’ learning context?


Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.