Category Archives: Reflections

Exploring the theory, pedagogy and practice of Networked Learning (book)

Exploring the theory, pedagogy and practice of Networked Learning. (2012) by: Dirckinck-Holmfeld, Hodgson Vivien and McConnel David. Springer Verlag


Definition of networked learning

Learning in which information and communications technology is used to promote connections: between one learner and other learners, between learners and tutors, between learning community and its learning resources. P. 6

What is the pedagogic framework can this kind of knowledge underpin?

  • Openness in the educational process
  • Self-determined learning
  • A real purpose in the cooperative process
  • A supportive learning environment
  • Collaborative assessment of learning
  • Assessment and evaluation of the ongoing learning process

One key aspect in network learning is connectivity not only among learners but also among learners and resources.

Chapter 2:

Network learning, stepping beyond the net generation and digital natives (Chris Jones)
There were variations among students within the Net Generation age band and students’s section of tools were related to other characteristics, including age, gender, socioeconomic background, academic discipline and year of study. A limitation or constraint I have to face is that students’ high levels of use and skill did not necessarily translate into preferences for increased of technology in the classroom (Schulmeister, 2010) and a large number os students still hold conventional attitudes toward teaching (Margaryan et al. 2011). The variation that are seen in the research, Jones (2012) argues that patterns of access to, use of and preference for a range of other technologies varied considerably among students of similar age. He argues the argument is not generational in character this is reinforced by a work done by Kennedy et al. (2008). 

 I think that there is a vernacular among young students, they are talking in a digital language, or at least they are communicating with each other in digital format through smart devices and this shapes their social identities which underlies that vernacular. It is very likely that when this vernacular is a natural part of the learning experience there is engagement 

The authors propose two ideas instead of using the “generation” concept. Agency and Affordances. The authors are against of thinking that technology is an independent and external structural factor acting on social forms but not being conditioned by them. They are more in line with the idea that young people are active agents in the process of engagement with technology. Agency concerned with the shaping of processes by the intentions and projects of humans.

For Archer, agency is emergent and cannot be reduced to structure nor vice versa. For him agency is related with the person and the self and social identity. Agent is a subset of personal identity, it is the individual who holds the power to be active and reflexive. With this concept there is no space for technological or social determinism. The author (Jones, et al. 2000) suggest that there might be a relationship between teachers’ approach to teaching and learners’ approach to learning. Margaryan et al. (2011) noted that:

our findings show that, regardless of age and subject discipline, students’ attitude to learning appear to be influenced by the teaching approaches used by lecturers. p. 10

Archer, M. (2002) Realism and the problem of agency. Journal of critical realism, 5, 11-20
Archer, M. (2003) Structure, agency and the internal conversation . Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.

In this chapter the author finds that PLE is opposed to networked learning in relation with the extremely individualised and learner-centric view of learning in comparison with a more social perspective of networked learning. Again in my particular research which will be in the context of the dissertation module, there is a mix of personal and individual learning, a time for quiet and reflexive work and of course a part of a social work but the social work is not very much focused on learning together, co-constructing knowledge as such. I think the focus will be in sharing the knowledge in constructing the PLE and sharing valuable resources and tools used for the dissertation. Still of course under thinking and evaluating all this ideas. 

IMPORTANT –> The way research has been done is through self-reporting method, surveys and interview data. There is a need to step away from there and use new methods to access data that reveals the actual use of new technologies. It must be a way to access in a different way what students do while studying for example. What Judd and Kennedy (2010) call actual rather than reported use. (Logs of on-campus computer) I think in which could be a way to gather data within their devices. 

From this chapter there are articles that I have bookmarked in diigo and some I have put here in the post. There is an important page where there is good evidence that shows that “digital natives” are not a solid reason to make changes in education, one must go beyond this argument and look further.

PhD2Published Daily

PhD2Published Daily.

…and some more on transformation!

Susan Sontag, a great woman!!

From brainpicking blog
From brainpicking blog

We are only iterations…so keep iterating to keep a life!

The essence of philosophy is the art of thinking…and it should serve human fluorishing

From Giorgio Bertini’s blog

Questions for the EERSS


I am assisting to the European Educational Research Summer School in NTNU Norwegian University for Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway. For that I am doing some background readings in order to get the most out of it.

Question I would like to answer in that week are:

  1. What does it mean to choose pragmatism as my research approach?
  2. What is knowledge under such a premise? How is knowledge acquired? What would be a consistent or pertinent method I shall use in order to capture evidence of knowledge construction in students (what ever the students are: Prospective teachers or math high school students). How can we look at the pieces of knowledge students will produce while learning a subject (math)? Is it possible to create a knowledge artefact recolector? What framework can I use to interpret knowledge artefacts as the units of analysis to look for deep understanding?
  3. PLE are challenging environments to research due to their uniqueness, reflecting students’ needs and ways of learning. What would be a good approach to research in PLE? Can I see a PLE as a complex system?
  4.  Is the HCD a good consistent approach to gather information about what young students expect from their math classroom, math lesson, math teacher, technology use in the learning experience, how they use technology daily, what they expect from technology in their daily life, do they really want to be social connected in the academic environment, to see the emergent needs of young students regarding the learning of math (a way of creating the future), what are the patterns that are emerging in the field (where should I look for this information).Do students see social media as learning tools?
    User participation by means of self-documentation. How to design the probes that will research this self-documentation. Look at the daily factors of students learning lives.  Look into HCD page in cultural probes. It is in the readings of class 3.
    FrogDesign: Help communities to solve problems, generate solutions, connect resources and pool knowledge to solve a challenge and create change
  5. The nature of learning is changing. It is more dynamic and the social tools do foster this dynamism. It is more social, more collaborative. It is not a readymade thing any more it is a constructed experience between teacher and learners. The emphasis is on the learner experience, on his/her performance of learning.
    To transfer the open-minded innate approach of using social media into a structured learning environment requires a careful examination of the tools, the student, the affordances, amongst others. “Patterns of use are complex” Luckins et al. 2009

This is my definition of passion!

A performative definition executed by Glenn Gould!

Maybe you would ask yourself what does this post has to do with my research?
Well it has to do regarding my reflection on what means excellence and how it is related with passion and how can one come closer to it? I am an admirer of great intellects and good performances, performances that exhale passion (what ever the performance is).
But when it comes to what defines something as “good or excellent” and what could be features to look at, things get subjective and tricky. Subjective because it dependes on the subject who is stating the “goodness-excellence” of something and tricky because subjectivity has always been a muddy terrain.
It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Would it be also that truth is in the mind of the beholder? Well this is getting us into a muddy terrain I am afraid. Coming back to the starting point of excellence and good and its relation to passion, in my view, one of the ingredientes that makes me always awe is the extent to which a performer is connected to her/his piece of performance  -no matter if the piece is a piano concert or if it is a theater play, or a research-. There is something in the performer that I do admire and value very much and it is the passion that (s)he exhales while performing. The face of Glenn Gould is a poem, a poem of love to music and clarity.  His connection to the piano keys is absolutely marvellous. He talks to the piano, he whispers some words that connects him to each of the notes no matter if they are complete notes, semitones or octaves, he loves each and every note and harmony that comes out of his piano, even more, that is not jet out of the piano, the one he is willing to pull out the next second. His hands are connected to each key and at the same time to each note he plays and to the melody hi is creating while playing.
I am just a sneaky lover of classic music far from being an expert or a knowledgeable person but this performance embodies for me this connection amongst the original composer -Bach- and the executer; between each finger and the keys of the piano; between each note and his breath; between the movement of his mouth and the pace of his melody…
It is a vivid example of a profound love of what one does and of how passion and excellence walk hand in hand most of the times. It is an example that inspires me and in a sense guides my journey as a researcher. Bravo for Glenn Gould!

Talk in Oxford at the Research in Progress day of the BSHM

Queens College, Oxford

My presentation at the Research in Progress day organised by the British Society for the History of Mathematics took place the 22 of February at Queens College in Oxford.

It was in front of a small but very knowledgeable audience. Many of them mathematics professors interested in the use of the history of mathematics for mathematics education and others historians of mathematics interested in the dissemination of historical material regarding the development of mathematics. Many of them are authors of interesting books like Jacqueline Stedall, Peter Neumann, Jan van Maanen, Steve Russ among others. Some of them new researcher in their 2 or 3rd year all of them researching in the history of mathematics with no further application.
One talk :
The Jesuits in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and their treatment of the mathematical sciences. Dagmar Mrozic, interested me because I saw again how education is really a powerful tool.  The other interesting talk was done by an undergraduate student  of Exeter University, Ryan Stanley,  who won the prize for the best essay. He wrote about Cantor, Dedekind and the rigor of calculus. One of the things I liked most was his attitude in the talk. Really captured my attention. Interesting material although with some misconceptions but as he said, he just looked at what someone said about what someone wrote about what he thought and so on…so the chances of understanding something wrong are high. Or even to understand right what others (2nd sources) understood wrong. He was very humble but very secure. Enjoying the adventure of knowing and exploring the life and ideas of two great mathematicians. He had a voice and assumed a position that really amused me for half on hour.

The public engaged very much with students designing  a PLE for the learning of mathematics and the idea to develop some topics for A-level related with the calculus. For me the power is the issue that they are going to be the designers of that space. Radical constructivist maybe? There are some initiatives already in integrating the history into the classroom but have not been executed. The overall comment is that it is not easy to do. I talked to skeptic professors that had maybe tried and they found it difficult. There is a difficulty I know, but the challenge is to see how can this be done. Look at what things that did not work in their cases and see how to change them.

One aspect that is still not resolved is the how to concretise, materialise the technology that is going to bring alive the PLES of students. Are they going to have just a bundle of tools loose and spread in the web (Siemens and Downes) or are they working with a pre-made space where some tools are available that are fixed and interoperable (Mash-up) or are they having a common platform (Moodle or desire2learn) and loose tools spread in the web. There is a factor of rapid change that I need to take into account if this is going to be sustainable within time. If the technology is to close it won’t work. I have to think in the structure and integration of RME-DS and A Universe of Knowledge. A universe of knowledge could be a platform where students can put in their intelectual artifacts and teachers their inputs for the particular learning experience. But the PLE I do not know how to work it out so it is able to last and can navigates the changes to come.

There is work to do regarding the development of the idea of the calculus flower. Learning more in depth about the calculus and its component. Analysing each of them in depth and understanding in which ways they are connected and intertwined. Calculus could be seen as fabric where the threads are carefully interwoven. Or maybe better as a flower which petals are connected and -sometimes they overlap. Look for that structure among the components.
Task: Look at the syllabus of the Vol. 1 of Apostol. Think about the order. Discuss.

Here my abstract for the talk:

Our way of thinking and feeding our mind has changed with humans’ intellectual tools throughout history. For example, the technologies of the map and the clock advanced the evolution of abstract thinking. A more conceptual example would be the calculus, an intellectual tool that from its very beginning has not only kept on changing our way of thinking and feeding our mind, but also revolutionised humankind, allowing it to ‘see’ the world from a different perspective. The world we live in —the earth— could now be seen from an unexpected place such as the moon. This fact changed radically the perspective we had of our own planet. The calculus, in the words of Morris Klein, is definitely a landmark in human thought.

Bringing this subject to life, integrating Newton’s original notes (available from the Newton Project) and some relevant passages from history, I aim to enrich the understanding of the roles played by cultural and mathematical context in the invention of new branches of mathematics; hence making mathematics more human, one of the fundamental ideas Hans Freudenthal had 30 years ago. The particular examples of what this integration will look like in practice are still open for research.

Just as the calculus has changed humans’ way of thinking, so are digital tools and the Internet changing how young people approach knowledge and therefore the way they learn. As the calculus gave a new perspective to the study of space, digital tools combined with the Internet are changing the perspective of ‘space’ and in particular of ‘learning space’.  Colliding virtual and physical spaces into one that I will call ‘Dynamic Space’.My research interest is precisely in how the learning of mathematics develops in such a space.

To summarize, the aim of my research project is to design a learning intervention using cultural context and historical material as a tool to foster connections among seemingly fragmented bits of inorganic mathematical knowledge, and to promote in 17–18-year-old students the learning of mathematics through knowledge re-invention, making mathematics a human activity. This is an idea that lies in the foundations of Realistic Mathematics Education theory, a way of learning introduced by Hans Freudenthal, for which, following van Maanen’s and Lawrence’s ideas, history will serve as a guide throughout the process, using technology as a workbench for the crafting of intellectual artifacts by young students in the learning process. If there are any contributions, advice or resources you wish to share with me, please visit, a collaborative place I have created for this purpose. It will grow organically with my work and your contributions. Thank you!

Brain Jazz

The video: Brain Jazz: Douglas Rushkoff and Jason Silva
Rushkoff: “In the emerging and highly programmed landscape ahead you will either create the software or you will be the software”
Jason Silva: 
Ever ponder the miracle of life? Or perhaps wonder about the evolution of intelligence? In Shots of Awe, Jason Silva chases his inspiration addiction as he explores these topics and more. Every week we’ll look at the complex systems of society, technology and human existence and discusses the truth and beauty of science in a form of existential jazz.

Ideas talked in the video:
Technological  mediating experience
Where does my body end and the rest of the life begins?
Hack experience
Fits experience into a museum pathway
Aesthetic arrest
Technology as a second skin. An extension of humans

My reflections on my own process…


Crafting my own story in the story of developing my ideas