All Ireland Society for Higher Education (AISHE), AISHE-C 2009: Valuing Complexity

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Teaching and Participatory Media
Eamon Costello

Last modified: 2011-12-20


How can diversity of teaching practice be appreciated? Perhaps to appreciate diversity we should consider where we have arrived at a consensus, and hence conformity. It is normally expected that mobile phones should be switched off during lectures. For this talk the speaker will request that all mobiles be turned on (though set to silent). As this is against most orthodox teaching practice it could reasonably be concluded that the speaker is not an authority fit to lecture on the subject. For this reason the speaker will instruct the audience not to learn anything during the talk. Notes should not be taken. Instead listeners will be encouraged to send text messages. These messages will be in the form of single words, short phrases or multiple choice answers to questions (similar to classroom voting systems).

It was recently reported that the UK government is considering introducing Twitter to its primary school curriculum (Guardian, 2009). This paper will evaluate ways in which new participatory media are impacting education. A free tool created by the author will be used during the oral presentation of this paper to show how these technologies allow increased participation in learning scenarios. One of the significant aspects of teaching strategies that are utilising text messaging and micro-blogging is that they are allow for teachers to delegate control to learners whilst keeping the format of learner participation sufficiently constrained for use with groups. This can be seen as an application of education research on the concept of Control and how its negotiation and subsequent delegation can be used to increase the degree of autonomy for a learner within a learning trajectory (Moore, 1993; Dron, J. 2007).

Dron, J. (2007) Control and constraint in e-learning: Choosing when to choose. Idea Group Publishing.
Moore, M. G. (1993) 2 Theory of transactional distance. Theoretical principles of distance education. pp22.
The Guardian (2009) Pupils to study Twitter and blogs in primary schools shake. 25 March 2009, Retrieved from