Managing change – patterns and analytics


One of the keynotes at this year’s PELeCON conference was Steve Warburton from Surry University. He had two themes: Pedagogical Patterns and Learning Analytics. He started by referencing Gartner’s technology acceptance curve and He stated that computing power is doubling every year.  He recommended Ray Kurzweil’s book ‘The singularity is near’, which argues that technological change is exponential. He listed four stages of acceptance


  • Ignorance
  • Irrelevance
  • Important (but not for me)
  • I always told you so!

He distinguished between institutional controlled technologies (such as VLEs) and user controlled ones (such as OER, open networks and social media).  He argued that new jobs were emerging such as social networking workers and new scientist ethicists, referencing the report ‘The shape of jobs to come 2010-2030. He suggested that there were five challenges facing universities:


  • Business models
  • Big data
  • Demographic shift (an aging population)
  • Digital literacies, participation and exclusion
  • Value proposition, relevance, value network (i.e. what are universities for?)

He then introduced the concept of Pedagogical Patterns, derived fro Alexander’s work (Alexander, Ishikawa et al. 1977).  He defined patterns as formal structures for tackling a problem and providing a solution in a real world context. A Pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again and describes the core of the solution. Pedagogical Patterns capture and reuse well known designs and provide a common language for describing them. He referenced the Pedagogical Patterns collection website

In the second half of his talk, he focused on Learning Analytics, and in particular how data can be harnessed by both teachers and learners. He highlighted George Siemens’ distinction between Learning Analytics and Academic Analytics. After describing some of the benefits of Learning Analytics and the ways in which they can be used, he listed a number of issues: ethics, legality, neutrality, Art vs. Science of teaching, Objective vs. Subjective interpretation and ocularcentrism i.e. representations become true. He concluded by arguing that design is both human and meaningful and that models are active and effective.


Alexander, C., S. Ishikawa, et al. (1977). A pattern language: towns, buildings, construction, Oxford University Press, USA.