Can Laurillard really help?

Let’s vote on it.

I am going to tick two of the boxes here by being both ‘sincere’ and ‘immediate’ in my response to Laurillard’s conversational framework because this is one big, scary elaboration of Yacci’s simple ‘communication loop’.

My first instinct was to recoil in that I felt I was being pigeon-holed again into the mechanical restraints of pedagogical design. Then I calmed down. I explored, I clicked, I scribbled, I ruminated and thought to myself that this model is not so wild and can be tamed. There is the instructor on the left, student on the right, lots of exploring going on inbetween, feedback, dialogue, several lightbulb checks and a little path with signposts to follow to take you from the beginning to the end. Start with the story, assess whether the learner has got the gist of it and if not clarify and elucidate that bit more. In the middle of the story ensure the learner joins in the tale and is clear in the telling. Get them to act it out a bit, play with it in their hands, toss it around a bit. Find out what other learners think about it. Get them to join in and challenge the story. With a clear goal in mind the learner seeks to complete the story, with the director (instructor) on hand to re-assure and provide feedback. The script is amended, the performance adapted until the learner is confident the story can be told to the end without fault. The director nods and the learner produces the end result. Curtains down.

In theory.

Although I doubt that Laurillard would agree with my over-simplification and dreadful use of metaphor.

I do, in fact, quite like this model.The use of technology to explain it, with Cheryl’s excellent voice-over to further elaborate on it and guide us through, is in itself, a good example of how multimedia can help interpret complex concepts. The breakdown of media types to complement the learning process is quite a useful tool but a bit too prescriptive for myself. What do other people think?

I believe Laurillard developed this “model of teaching with aim of applying it primarily to the use of technology in higher educationhttp://tinyurl.com/ycx5t49 which explains its very precise nature.  Online simulations may work very well with HE learners studying academic subjects like engineering or medicine but may be less useful to a group of disaffected, young vocational learners studying a practical subject. Then again, perhaps some of the kids I have in mind would love to get their hands on an interactive game in which you change the spark plugs without having to go near a car! But where would the money come from to get such useful simulations?

What I have found useful about this “conversational framework”, despite my reservations about the black and white breakdown of technologies for each step, is that it has simply highlighted the importance of interactivity and dialogue between teacher (facilitator) and learner as the bedrock of successful teaching and learning. How technology can facilitate this interactivity is the big question and one which I have yet to answer but one I will answer, once I have explored the concept collaboratively with colleagues.

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3 thoughts on “Can Laurillard really help?

  1. Hi Beth,
    I had the same feeling as you when I first looked at the framework – pigeon-holed by something prosaic, stifling and heavy-handed. Oh no, another model telling us how to do things! But in actual fact I think it’s quite elegant, and realised we do a lot of what is in the framework anyway. And of course, once you get people involved, any model or framework can go right out of the window as emotions come into play. And then when technology is thrown into the mix, for example in the form of a VLE or purely virtual setting, how do we nurture and cultivate learning, and reassure our students (and ourselves) when we all feel asunder with the technology, the learning content and the (virtual) relationships with our/their peers? I think aspects of Laurillard’s framework serve as an excellent starting point for interaction and communication, and possibly even community building between students, but I’m interested in the other stuff that’s needed to stimulate and cultivate learning between tutor-student and student-student. Dube et al (2006) introduce 21 ‘structuring characteristics’ for successful VCoPs and Fontainha et al (2008) write about ‘Critical Success Factors’. Should we really take into account some of these elements in online environments and cultivate them in order to successfully initiate aspects of Laurillard’s framework? I’m think ‘aloud’ here, but it’s somehow all joining up with what I wrote over the summer on CoPs and VCoPs. I love the way we’re all bringing new things into the mix here. It’s really making me think. Thanks 🙂

    Dubé, L, Bourhuis, A. and Jacob, R. (2005) ‘The impact of structuring characteristics on the launching of virtual communities of practice’ Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol.18, no. 2: pp.145-166 [online] Available at [Accessed 5 August, 2011]

    Fontainha, E. and Gannon-Leary, P. M. (2007) ‘Communities of Practice and
    virtual learning communities: benefits, barriers and success factors’ eLearning Papers, no. 5 [online] Available at [Accessed 10 August, 2011]

    • Sorry, here at the references again.

      Dubé, L, Bourhuis, A. and Jacob, R. (2005) ‘The impact of structuring characteristics on the launching of virtual communities of practice’ Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol.18, no. 2: pp.145-166 [online] Available at [Accessed 5 August, 2011]

      Fontainha, E. and Gannon-Leary, P. M. (2007) ‘Communities of Practice and
      virtual learning communities: benefits, barriers and success factors’ eLearning Papers, no. 5 [online] Available at [Accessed 10 August, 2011]

  2. I’m happy to be open and say that I like the model, but think the complexity renders it a little inaccessible. I struggled to get me head round it at fist and even had to get h book out to help me understand it. Once you understand it though, the multimedia model is brilliant. It summarises a whole book. Here’s the question though – does it summarise, or does it simplify?
    I think you young vocational leaners woudl love online simulations. Anything that adds an element of fun and control in my experience engages learners at all levels.

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