Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top 10 books to shape your TEL thinking...

Image by Eric Mueller, under a
CC BY-SA 2.0 license
Okay, so this is my top 10 (and they're in no particular order) and you may well have other books you rate... but here are some books which have really influenced my thinking / proved useful for reference when it comes to technology enhanced learning and I thought it might be useful to share them.

Rather than linking to book sales sites with each book, I've linked to related resources you might find interesting!  If you want to buy them - Google is your friend.

1.  John Biggs and Catherine Tang - Teaching for Quality Learning at University
I have many rant-worthy subjects which, if triggered, will be produced and put on display for the audience... not understanding that we are involved in the practice of educating and learning... and not understanding that we also have to model practices to others is one of those trigger points.  Understand processes of learning.  Understand learning design.  And if you're a learning technologist, working with academics / students, speak the language of learning!  Start here.

2. Rhona Sharpe, Helen Beetham, Sara de Freitas - Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age: How Learners are Shaping Their Own Experiences
Another of those books which gets across the learner perspective brilliantly - and gets you to challenge yourself with your own learning and teaching practices in the process.

3. Ormond Simpson - Supporting Students in Online, Open and Distance Learning
When I had not long started working for the Open University I picked myself up a copy of this book - and it was just SO useful to me supporting my distance students.  Now about to come out in a third edition, I still rate his learner-centred approach highly and the clarity of his writing is spot on. 

4. Malcolm Gladwell - The Tipping Point : How little things can make a big difference
Heard someone use the phrase 'the tipping point'? You probably have... and if so, then this'll tell you all about it. Why is this useful for technology enhanced learning?  Because spotting that moment when things tip from being 'just a few' to 'just about everyone' is part of the trick of seeing what needs support and where the potential areas for future development lie.  And understanding how you can influence that too is also important.

5. Chris Anderson - The Long Tail: How endless choice is creating unlimited demand
You can't avoid the technology bit of technology enhanced learning (nor can you focus on it too heavily, it should be said!), so why not understand how and why technologies become established?  It'll help you see where tech fits and get you to think about what might be just around the corner too.  It'll also help you think about the value of that niche you might just have ignored, but which was existing and thriving in the long tail.

6. Daniel Pink, Drive - the surprising truth about what motivates us
Now, this one may seem like a bit of a random recommendation, but I honestly believe that if you're going to work in any area connected to learning and teaching, you have to understand where people are coming from to help support them get to where they could go.  You want real engagement?  You need to get motivation.

7. Etienne Wenger - Communities of Practice - Learning in Doing
Another of my rant-triggers is people bandying about phrases without understanding them in anything more than a superficial way.  For a while 'communities of practice' was that phrase!  It is a really important concept when it comes to e-learning and learning support / engagement - and for getting your head into what learning is and where it might exist, blurring the boundaries between formal and informal education.  An influential work.

8. Jane Seale - E-learning and disability in higher education
Of all the things that technology can do, opening up the possibilities for accessing education / learning to a wide range of people is one of the most exciting things.  So, why not understand the landscape of e-learning and disability as well as pick up lots of hints and tips too?

9. Garr Reynolds - Presentation Zen
If you're going to work in Technology Enhanced Learning then communication is vital - and getting yourself some solid presentation skills that are going to get your ideas noticed, and your presentations appreciated should be pretty high up your list!

10.  Chip and Dan Heath - Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck
This kind of goes along with the presentation skills I mentioned with Garr Reynolds book.  Present ideas beautifully... sure... but present beautiful ideas which will stick and then exciting things can happen!  You have to be a salesperson for your ideas - and this is especially true in technology enhanced learning.  It's not necessarily the tech that's the biggest issue... getting people to get on board and to engage with your ideas... that's where the tough stuff lies!

There's not a great deal of tech there, I admit it... but what there is are books that will get you thinking.  Get you reflecting.  And provide a platform from which you can build your own practice.

And that has to be worth it, I think!

What would be on your top 10 list?

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