Reflections: Learning about the Complexity of the Physical and Virtual Learning Spaces

Linda Karlsson, Digital Services Librarian at Malmö University, was one of the co-organizers of the workshop Mediating the Glocal Classroom, which took place at Malmö University, 18–22 September 2014. The workshop was arranged as part of the live-streamed conference Voice & Matter – Glocal Conference on Communication for Development and was targeted at visiting staff in the Glocal Classroom project. Read her reflections on the workshop below.

Mediating the Glocal Classroom – Background

The aim of the workshop was to share ideas on live-streaming, media technology, and the production of interactive web-based pedagogy, but also to get a chance to demonstrate and try out the technical equipment and solutions used by the staff of the master’s program in Communication for Development (ComDev) at Malmö University. The conference was, as usual, integrated with the course curriculum of the ComDev master, and offered a real life setting to learn from.

Convergence Pedagogy & Learning Spaces – Workshop Part 1

Over a cup of coffee we had time to get to know each other, our roles, tasks and missions at our home universities. We were a diverse group, representing many aspects of ICT and learning – management, library, media production, learning support, teachers, researchers – all keen on learning more. Although we could have spent the whole morning talking, it was time to go to the Black Box – at this time an empty space that was to be transformed into a conference room before midnight.

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Preparing in the Black Box

As the stage production students were rigging sound and light, Mikael Rundberg, Interaction Designer at Malmö University, held a presentation on the ideas behind the convergence pedagogy of the ComDev master: mediating the physical room and creating the virtual extended room – a room shared by online and on-site participants; producing the video stream as you would produce it for other media channels, news programs etc.; trying out new technology and adding it to the core of the technical setup – Live Lecture. Transparency and interaction are two important keywords in Mikael’s work.

Björn Lundgren, ICT and Learning, Malmö University, added his experiences of using Live Lecture and mediating seminars at the faculty of Education and Society, explaining how each learning situation brings different challenges.

We had also invited Marie Leijon, researcher in pedagogy at Malmö University, to add theoretical perspectives on learning spaces. Marie shared findings from her recent research on “The seminar room – a place for learning?,” and this helped us to deeper understand the complexity of the physical and virtual learning spaces. In the discussion that followed, the phrase gazekeeper was “invented,” to describe the role of the gatekeeper of the mediated room, the producer of the virtual room, the storyteller.

During the rest of the day the Black Box continued its transformation into conference venue – cameras were set up, computers plugged in, film screens arranged. The students and Mikael did most of the work, but we all met for a “roadie dinner” in the evening.

Practice & Experience – Workshop Part 2

On the following days of the conference in Malmö we shared our time between attending the conference, doing the practical, editing work of the live stream in Wirecast, and following the seminar from the online room in Live Lecture. The ComDev staff used their own streaming channel with a teacher-moderated chat – a virtual classroom for comments and questions between students and teachers. It’s also served as a gateway for questions from the students to the presenters and audience in the physical room of the conference.

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Editing the live-stream in Wirecast

A conference is not the usual setup for the ComDev program, but it’s a great example of the scalability of the technology and set-up they use. You can use it to stream a seminar with 150 participants, or a seminar with 20 students in the room and 40 online, or just to broadcast or record a traditional lecture.

Wrap Up – Workshop Part 3

We concluded the workshop with a round table discussion, focusing on what we had learned. Marie Leijon passed on some challenges based on her reflections from the first part of the workshop, the live streaming of the conference and the use of Live Lecture. Designing for learning and Designing in learning were introduced as two theoretical concepts that can help us structure our findings and better understand the challenges of different learning situations.

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Concluding discussions.

We had a lot of vivid discussions, and I’m really looking forward to taking them further at the upcoming seminar at Flinders University in November.

 – Linda Karlsson, Librarian, Malmö University

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