Morphic Resonance, Threshold Concepts, e-Portfolios and OERs

The Cattle Grid
The Cattle Grid
Originally uploaded by gwendolen

Probably the most unlikely blog post title ever, let me expand.

On Friday we had our ePortfolio Scotland 2010 conference at Queen Margaret University. The final presentation on the day was by Dr Gordon Joyce entitled ‘JISC Effective Practice with e-Portfolios – Where are we now?’. As well as giving an overview/update of the JISC ePortfolio programme he introduced the JISC funded e-Portfolio Implementations Study (ePI) which is investigating, analysing and documenting how intuitions go about large-scale portfolio implementation.

The thing that caught my attention was the framework they were using to capture this information, ‘Threshold Concepts’.

Threshold Concepts’ may be considered to be "akin to passing through a portal" or "conceptual gateway" that opens up "previously inaccessible way[s] of thinking about something" (Meyer and Land, 2003).

This wasn’t the first time I’ve come across this theory (having worked with Ray Land at CAPLE), but it was the first time I heard it being used as a analysis framework. I’ve embedded Gordon’s presentation below, he starts talking about Threshold Concepts and ePI from slide 15, so you can find out how they are using this framework.

JISC Effective Practice with e-Portfolios – Where are we now?

At almost exactly the same time as Gordon was giving his presentation John Robertson from JISC CETIS published a blog post on Threshold Concepts And Open Educational Resources in which he:

considers the possible possible application of threshold concepts to open educational resources and the conceptual challenges faced by those advocating the use and release of OERs

Now what are the chances of that! Or is it just a case of ‘Morphic Resonance’?

Morphic Resonance I hear you ask. I first came across this concept on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Museum of Curiosity’. The basic idea, as I understand it, is that ideas can be shared without contact, a bit like collective unconscious. An example regularly cited is the observation that sheep in part of Australia discovered they could cross cattlegrids by rolling across them. At the same time thousands of miles away the same behaviour was witnessed in a different flock of sheep, morphic resonance.

So if you are putting a JISC bid in I recommend you reference Threshold Concepts ;-)

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This blog is authored by Martin Hawksey e-Learning Advisor (Higher Education) at the JISC RSC Scotland N&E.

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