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Section 4 How can we recognize and evaluate an LGC

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 4 months ago

Section 4 How can we recognize and evaluate an LGC ?


The examples given on this page are very much 'works in progress'


LGCs do exist. The issue is one of "Learning to see" them (Blaug REF), overcoming the institutionalised filtering that prevents us lifting aspects of practice up into conscious awareness.


(Comment:) Sorry, this seems a bit "Emperor's New Clothes" to me. If they exist, let's examine bring them under the spotlight and study them carefully. But if lgcs are so beneficial, wouldn't their benefits make them more obvious? In general: are we seeing local shining examples of learning all over the place and realising what they have in common is lgc? Or are we more painting a picture or how things could be in the future? Judy


One approach to the recognition of LGC would be a "checklist" approach. It may be accepted that learners "need" to take more control over the technological parameters of their learning - or that staff development should be formally oriented to these ends. As then with other organisational imperatives one could develop a series of "benchmarks", quantitatively evaluate a course, department or institution as to whether it meets these criteria and assign a "score". If it surpasses a certain level then "learner generation" is occuring. BUT the very ability to set such definitions in the first place is made exclusionary. Such a "top down" approach can gloss over the exclusions which still remain. Compare to the "personalisation" rhetoric of UK Govt? Set within the existing centralising, standardised technostructural context - can it succeed?


A more normative, critical stance, in which ”LGC’ness" is judged by the participants, on an ongoing basis and depending on their needs. It can also be seen not as something you "are" or "are not" (dichotomy), but as a sort of centre of gravitation, towards which you can approach, or move further away.


…if we had LGC glasses – what would we see?


Learners engaging in the critically aware transformation of their learning context:


(Comment:) I have not yet read all the other sections (sorry just surfacing from flu) but we need to make sure that we have nailed down the need for lgc on a vast scale. We want to avoid some of the comments I have seen in blogs about our work been diverse and diffused, what I mean is that. if there is an irrefutable case for lgc, then we can afford to paint the big picture (e.g. the criteria below) and say we need more work, more collaboration, a community of lgc etc etc Is the Nevison paragraph trying to move in this direction? We seem to be calling for a huge agenda of research, deveopment, practice transformation and engagement. And why not, if don't who will? John C.


(Comment:) If we are calling for a huge agenda of practice transformation, we'd really want a lot of research evidence to base it on. We'd want to have studied examples of lgcs, and the circumstances under which they work or fail. At the moment we aren't giving any detailed examples, or even making specific claims about why they would be beneficial beyond the claim that learners would have more agency. We are assuming, but not spelling out, that learner agency is a good thing. BTW, are we saying that lgc is an advanced stage in the learning process, kind of like an end point in sophistication? That it can be reached after going through stages of PAH? Or that we should replace what we do at the moment with lgc from the earliest nursery school class? Judy





Knowledge and Curriculum:



  • learners have agency and are pro-active in identifying a social learning need and/or a knowledge gap
  • learners work is published and accessible outside of school and 'visitors' or experts are brought into the dialogue via physical meetings or virtual spaces.
  • learners as learners are generating content and meta content that is recognised by others, thus validating the organisation of their contextually generated knowledge.
  • learners can understand the relevance of their knowledge gap to the rest of their lives, beyond their current environment.


Resources and Administration:


Learners can recognize and understand enough about the resources available to them to appropriate them to meet their needs. They can understand the functionalities and affordances of the resources that make up their environment and how they match to their recognition production gap.


  • The Environment and its Organisation can be characterised by:
  • Loose frameworks and freedom of choice
  • Learner ability to understand the elements that make up their environment in terms of multiple perspectives, such as physical, social and communication so that they can marshall them into symbiotic relationships. This activity might operate from scratch or may simply mean the tailoring of existing relationships and interactions


The Learning process is:


  • Personally meaningful for the learners
  • Facilitated in some way by their environment
  • There are signs of ever widening boundaries of dialogue with and between multiple participants across multiple locations




  • The LGC group itself
  • The Sussex Self Managed Learning Environment
  • Media Citizens
  • Wikiversity (see the Lawler paper also in this issue of JIME)


Dartmouth College (Nevison 1976)


Let us look back to the past as well as to the future, for decisions about technology policy too often fail to recognise what has been tried before. One fascinating case is that of Dartmouth College, USA, in the 1970s, as described by Nevison (1976).


By 1971-72 some 80% of student body had actively used a computer in teaching... and 1/4 the faculty did so regularly, with another 1/4 having had some experience but not choosing to use it at the present time.


Nevison is talking about a situation in which these skills are not just taught to people but thoroughly embedded into curricula, and in all subjects too.

Note his relatively blithe assertion that this has happened mostly "organically":

The growth of computing among the students and faculty at Dartmouth has been organic. It has proceeded at an unhurried pace where students and faculty learn to program largely on their own.
A new instructor at Dartmouth will find computing all around him. At a faculty meeting about half of those attending will have used computing and almost one-quarter will have included it in their teaching in the last year.


There is more going on here than just providing "access" to technology - or even using a single system to "deliver" teaching or help administer it. Nevison says that when students "creatively interact emphasis added with a computer, either by writing a program or imaginatively using someone else's program, they can, and do, become more involved with the subject of the course".


It is no longer the case that "computer literacy" will be equated, as Nevison suggests, with the ability to "write a computer program". But it does not take a great change of emphasis to see that his belief in the importance of a facility with technology - and the freedom to exercise one's facility in the service of organisational learning - remains vital for learners and faculty alike.


Effective use of technology in HE is still criticised as lacking, functioning at only a low level (e.g. Selwyn 2006) - but look at Nevison's figures - that an organic, emergent . Obviously we cannot retrospectively apply the criteria listed above to a detailed analysis of this case: the present state of Dartmouth College's IT infrastructure would need to be studied with an eye on what has happened to that institution, organisationally, since 1976. But from Nevison's report almost all the criteria above are being met at least at one level, with higher rates of genuine IT facility (e.g. the ability to manipulate the technological environment, not just passively act within a context defined by others) higher in 1976 than they would be in most 21st century universities, among students and faculty alike.


Joyce, Calhoun and Hopkins (2002) Start their work from the pint of view of learning experiences being composed of content, process and social climate. In their work they explore recent models of learning and how they help to generate tools for teaching. Their view of teaching is to support the move from pedagogy to learner autonomy and in their review of the models considered, they provide many examples of the application of the models considered.Taking the models in turn it is possible to extrapolate how learning might change as learners become autonomous and collaborative, able to determine the range and scope of their learning to meet particular needs. At the bottom of the table are behaviours and personal qualities that give rise to lgcs. the next step will be to try to explicate what could be observed or evidenced in an lgc or teaching activities working towards that objective. This will follow shortly. The approach adopted here outlines in the move from the top to the bottom of the table, the moves that might be made from pedagogy to androgogy and heutagogy, discussed elsewhere.


What might a learner generated context look like?

Experience of Learners focussed on a Pedagogy









Group Investigation

Role Playing



Reading and Writing

Information Giving

Nature of Concepts

Group cohesion and management

Facility with facts and concepts

Group progress and management

Interpersonal skills

Integrative communication

Tools for learning

Tools for self-teaching



Concepts, conceptual systems and their application

Tools for metaphoric thinking

Tools for mastering information and concepts

Constructivist ideas of knowledge

Analysis of personal values and behaviours

Tools for self-understanding/ reflection

Curriculum knowledge and skills

Skills for inquiry

Skills Development

Concept learning strategies

Problem-solving capability

Sense of intellectual success

Discipline of collaborative enquiry

Strategies for dealing with interpersonal problems

Self-development activities and resources

Developing self-confidence

Reading schemes to develop skills

Hypothesis Formulation

Taking the range of approaches listed in the first row the columns move from a focus on teacher activity to a focus on learner qualities that will support an lgc and can be observed/evidenced.

Achievement of curriculum goals


Personal independence

Capacity for integrating different personal perspectives

Responsiveness to feedback and commentary

Tools for conceptual control over reading and writing

Conceptual flexibility



Respect for others

Comfort in expressing opinions/feelings

Developing capacity to learn and achieve

Self-expression through writing



Forms of reasoning


Self-reliance and independence

Social enquiry as a way of life

Academic and social motivation

Sensitivity to cause and effect and other relationships

Culture of reading

Collaborative Research


Exploration of ambiguity

Generation of curriculum and learning programmes

Collaboration and mutual respect

Interpersonal warmth and affiliations

Negotiating skills


Independence as learners

Collaborative activity

Learner Generated Context

Adapted from - Joyce B, Calhoun E and Hopkins D, 2002, Models of Learning – tools for teaching, 2nd Edition, Open University, Buckingham


The right hand column deals with reading and writing and its implication is that learner autonomy and engagement needs to be developed early in order to support confidence and comptence in these skills and in the current educational context, early in life.

What can we know about learners, learning and lgcs?

At this stage, I'm not sure that we have many examples of fully developed lgcs, not least because our tools for evaluating learning contexts tend to be governed by institutional or organisational factors e.g. the Common Inspection Framework (CIF) in the UK (reference below) where behaviour and activity in individual settings is set against a concern to explore organisational processes and reach aggregated judgements on efficiency and effectiveness and "the capacity to improve" p3 based on the inspection teams answers to the 5 Key Questions. In classroom's and other contexts, where observation is used to gather evidence and reach judgements the primary focus is upon learning and achievement in the lesson, shown by the learner's behaviour and accumulation of product evidence (Key Question 1) p3 and of the quality of facilitation, organisation and presentation of the tutor/teacher/organiser (Key Question 2) p3.

There is some consideration of the responsiveness of teachers and their institutions to learners needs (Key Question 4) p4 and a new focus on "the learner voice" in the education system, but this is concerned with institutional responses on consumer issues such as satisfaction with the existing arrangements for teaching, learning and of hygiene factors such as accommodation. This leaves learners, with few exceptions, out of the decision making about curriculum issues, which are increasingly limited by restrictions on national funding e.g. the National Curriculum in schools and "Train to Gain" in post-16 and adult education. This more limited role for education, of producing workers with the skills needed for employment, is exemplified by the Leitch Report (reference below) and current legislation encouraging all sectors to meet the skills needs of the economy as seen by employers.

While looking for learners' ability to influence the pace, content and outcomes of the lessons observed, there are no clear requirements to look for increasing learner autonomy as programmes progress and planning is generally carried out between staff and individuals as an auditable activity for funding purposes rather than as a developmental activity that may be appropriate for groups as well as individuals.

While inspectors look to record learning through observation, consideration of product evidence and questioning of participants, and link the observations to the questions in the CIF, their focus is on the institution and the formal requirements for efficiency and effectiveness. In this context, formal arrangements/contracts with learners are the focus of concern, with less emphasis on learners as influencing their experiences or as participants in planning and delivery, despite the wording “how well teaching and/or training and resources promote learning, address the full range of learners’ needs and meet course or programme requirements” KQ2 p3. In the context set by current policies in the UK, the principle of learners having a range of needs that may fall outside the “course or programme requirements” conflicts with funding priorities while pointing towards the need for mechanisms to provide a setting for addressing those needs, perhaps lgcs?

Across the full range of the curriculum, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has defined a set of curriculum goals for personal development, where learners, aged 11 – 19, develop Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) defined in six groups to become;

  • independent enquirers
  • creative thinkers
  • reflective learners
  • team workers
  • self-managers
  • effective participators

The aims of the curriculum are that young people should become successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens. The development of PLTS is an essential part of meeting these aims. PLTS have considerable impact on young people's ability to enter work and adult life as confident and capable individuals who can make a positive contribution.”


An example of the aspirations for individuals is given below, taken from the 14-19 Diploma in IT Level 1, but generic across all 14-19 diplomas.


Young people organise themselves, showing personal responsibility, initiative, creativity and enterprise with a commitment to learning and self-improvement. They actively embrace change, responding positively to new priorities, coping with challenges and looking for opportunities.”


As noted above, these are, in any context, desirable qualities in individuals, but there are few references to what contexts are the most appropriate for developing such qualities. There is an assumption that these qualities can be developed in existing educational settings e.g. description of “effective participators”, but there is no description of the contexts which may help participants to develop these qualities, or how they are to be nurtured in existing settings without changes to organisation and management.

“Young people actively engage with issues that affect them and those around them. They play a full part in the life of their school, college, workplace or wider community by taking responsible action to bring improvements for others as well as themselves.” If schools, colleges, the workplace and the wider community are to develop these qualities in young people, it may be pertinent to ask how they will demonstrate these qualities in their own operations and work with learners to do so. At a more practical level, many organisations would find individuals equipped with the PLTS difficult to deal with in existing arrangements based on existing models of teaching and learning and there is no national guidance on how they might do this.

The model of the lgc described in this wiki uses learners’ capacities to identify their needs, organise and commission learning as the starting point for a suitable context which may include expert input and facilitation. One model that has evolved in adult learning has been learning clubs where participants have developed skills and expertise to the point that their learning needs will not be met by central government funding and who now develop learning contexts to suit their needs that can draw on their own contributions, community, cultural development and health funding. In one instance, a learning club started with IT skills, which led to another development in social activities for health and fitness, building the group’s capacity to define their own needs and the capability to negotiate with funding bodies to support their learning. The group are using their skills to support other community initiatives including peer support for those returning to learning.

If we look at evidence of learning in this context, Howell’s (1982) description of learning, “learning is incorporated into living to the extent that viable options are increased” (p14), drawn from counselling practice, may apply here. In the group described above their learning from IT to personal health is incorporated into their lives through their group and their understanding and proposals tested there.

In another context, this example demonstrates that within an lgc, learning not only has individual outcomes, but also social and collective outcomes, in Habermas’ terms communicative actions as well as the rational-purposive actions that lead to the management of processes and organisational issues.

In an lgc we may then see participants who understand the purposes of their learning as well as the “how to”. In an IT lgc the use of actions with purpose supplants the memorisation of actions for a formalised assessment; a letter of application supplants a prepared exercise and sharing work becomes a means of learning.

Vesel project example

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