#rED15- Paul Warren

Paul Warren successfully applied for #rED15 tickets and attended the day of CPD centered around educational research. Most of the sessions were school based but his reflections and notes contextualise them for an FE context.
1. Is technology wasting our time? – 5 person panel, chaired by Dai Barnes,  offering contrasting perspectives on it is/ it isn’t. 
Personal Learning
  • Use of tech needs to consider colleagues who haven’t yet made the transition to seeing how targeted, objectified use of a digital approach can engage and support students. My resolve needs to be stronger to be mindful of colleagues’ apprehensiveness and to integrate this mindfulness as an integral part of my own practice.
  • This approach can also apply to learners – learners need to see the value of a digital approach and develop critical evaluation skills to choose the right tools and learning situations. Even some learners are apprehensive about using technology, this is also an important factor to consider when planning to support learning.
2. Research for Literacy – Literacy for Research – Tom Sherrington’s musings over Greg Brooks’ comprehensive collation of literature relating to literacy Intervention and improvement strategies in schools. 
Personal Learning
  • In comparison to compulsory Education, I don’t feel that FE as a whole is as strong at providing ongoing and ‘current’ evidence based research on intervention strategies for basic and functional skills. Most research is at Government level, with practitioner-led research seemingly being marginalised in favour of statutory directives. In my own role as classroom support I am limited in what I can realistically effect in a curriculum-wide capacity. In spite of this, I can still endeavour to encourage colleagues that there is a potentially rich source of data available from colleagues who observe basic and functional skills across the curriculum (LSAs) and this ‘voice’ may reveal aspects of learning which may not be as readily considered by other areas.
  • I can think about ways in which I can further explore literacy strategies and embed these as core components of my own support practice
  • I could Google+, blog or create YouTube videos promoting research and research methodologies which I think may help to promote collection of FE specific evidence-based data collection and enquiry.
3. Research and Communities of Practice – Dr Chris Brown from UCL discussing research methodology and practice for collaborative enquiry.
Personal learning
  • An online COP may provide a useful medium to create records of measured and visible instances of each of the elements of Activate Learning’s 3D philosophy. As instances are reported, a scale of how these instances impact on learning can be created to inform further practice. Informal online discussions about how engaging brain, motivation and emotions could form the basis of an ongoing narrative which could then be used as the foundation for qualitative, interpretivist enquiry (Ethnography, Auto-Ethnography or Narratology perhaps?).
  • The excellent use of existing communities by Activate Learning on Google+ is a phenomenal way to engage in professional discussion, and I will endeavour to seek new and more fulfilling ways to benefit from this medium (without being too annoying! 🙂 )
4. Mentoring and Peer Group Learning – James Simpson from Borlase School discussing his DfE funded research project involving secondary school pupils peer mentoring primary school pupils
Personal Learning
  • There are many opportunities for a scheme like this to work in FE – Level 3 Engineering students peer mentoring their Level 1 counterparts, GCSE English students mentoring Entry Level learners and endless permutations in LLDD. Although I already have a pre-existing awareness of this, I’m now more conscious that I could seek to activate this awareness and look for opportunities to suggest or create (management-sanctioned) peer mentoring opportunities and activities as I support learners in class.
Overall, I’ve given myself lots to think about (like I needed any more! 🙂 ) and the whole day was a brilliant opportunity to engage in reflective analysis in
  • The importance of evidence-based research as a discipline,
  • The transformative power of research in Education as a whole, but specifically within FE
  • The impact of research on me as an FE practitioner
  • Awareness of opportunities to create vocational learning research contexts within the confines/parameters of my own role
  • Ways in which I can share FE related research I know about and research that I am yet to discover
  • Critical evaluation of findings to establish validity, reliability and scalability
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