Monday, 18 February 2013

OER - pure gold

I like things nice and simple. I have used Jorum before (after a great short intro to OER at my institution) and find its resources reliably good quality and reliably open.

This morning whilst baby-sitting a group of first years practising their digital literacy skills, I rifled through Jorums resources to help me prepare next weeks seminar on designing great research questions.

I found plenty- all of it CC share alike licensed - and so fit for purpose I can use it pretty much unaltered.

What this week on #oldsmooc has taught me is to go OER first. Oh and to make sure I license my own work.

I haven't added anything to the launch cloud as I have been posting stuff to Slideshare for years with the expectation it would be redeployed at will. But on checking I noticed it was "all rights reserved". I have changed the default settings now.

So I am also not seeking validation for a badge this week. The process for doing so seems a little unwieldy especially as my application disappears from the screen after pressing the red button and I can't check it's progress.

Anyway I am happy with my progress and have learned some really useful stuff this week and that is reward enough :)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit Prototyping and observation

I have created a simple prototype using screen shots. The VLE I use allows for prototyping on the go - you can move widgets around the home page, change colour schemes etc so this is not difficult.

I have contrasted here two main types of learning room - type 1 uses only the minimum standard - a news column to relay key information (in this example, lectures cancelled); the resource list (or link to library catalogue/reading list). Content is invisible - hidden behind the Learning Room Home Page and accessible only via the "Content" tab. There is no scope for interaction.

Type 2 (two versions) has additional "widgets" to help preview and navigate module content, links to social media, provides interaction in the form of group areas and discussion boards, and clearly makes use of e-submission and computer aided assessment. Colour and images enhance the overall attractiveness and welcome feel of the Home Page. But which do students prefer? And how would staff feel about creating a Type 2 Home page?

My cloud is here.

My plan for the observation task is to ask a typical first year undergraduate student to find a resource on line and bookmark it. In my module I want  first year undergraduates to be able to find reputable sources to aid their research and make sure they keep a note of references so that sources are correctly cited.

Step 1: find a scholarly article published in the last year which looks at students' attitude to sport

Step 2: bookmark the web page so you will be able to find it again. [will this be accessible from any PC, or just this one?]

Step 3: Make a note of the Author, date, title and publication details [where will the student record this so that they can find it when they come to write their assignment]


I captured the session (with the permission of my guinea pig) using CamStudio free screen capture software :

The beauty of doing this was that I was able to observe the difficulties a student has when they have never before been taught how to search, bookmark or reference academic or scholarly articles. The video has been heavily edited but in reality the student needed a lot of coaching.  From this I can see the value of teaching students about effective bookmarking habits and how to use Google Scholar (which we already do) but it has also shown me the need to give students a "map" or crib sheet to help them "read" a web page like this. So I created one as a document (here on Google Docs) but this could be turned into a screen capture video to talk the student through the whole process.

So - all in all a very enjoyable and productive week on #oldsmooc :)

Monday, 4 February 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit Learning by design

Feeling a bit "meh" about this week's assignment. I think the Pedagogical Pattern Collector created by Diana Laurillard has a lot of potential, especially as a place to find and share great ideas for developing (especially) online learning. However, as a tool it is not exactly intuitive to use and after completing the various exercises this week, I felt a kind of "so what?" that may just be mooc fatigue, the onset of a cold, disillusion with educational institutions or the fact that this just didn't fit with my way of working.

And yet... there is something I like about it, the idea of order in those neat little colour coded boxes, that lovely pie chart that helps you create a balanced design..... but whether I'd reach for this in preference to that handy back of a fag packet? - I doubt it.

If it hadn't been for the excellent work done by my team mate @crumphelen I am not sure I would be still on course - or on the course...but we shared the load and encouraged one another by Tweet and by Skype and yes, we have now managed to complete week 4 :)
(To find my design you need to Browse the PPC for Research Method Design)

Are the badges on this mooc in anyway inspiring? Well I have assiduously applied for my week 1 and week 3 badges but nothing more, and yes I feel I deserve a badge just for getting through the tasks. But I am not sure these are particularly meaningful to me.

I was wondering what all the fuss was about badges in general when I got a lovely surprise on my Verbal Planet home page - they now provide a feedback visual which tells you your tutor's assessment of your language skill according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This I found really helpful and made me wonder all over again about how badges might really stimulate engagement and effort especially in developing digital information literacy.

So - another design idea to build in??

Facing up to University

I have been working this weekend on putting together a poster for a conference at my University focusing on how I set up a Facebook Page for students transitioning into HE.

I have written elsewhere about this FBPage and its diminishing returns.I have now started to read some interesting papers exploring these issues which tend to confirm my developing hypothesis that too much tutor presence is bad for encouraging interactive student spaces.

In my poster I contrast 3 different scenarios:

Case Study 1:
Description: Open student led Facebook Group set up by 2nd year Student Mentors for incoming 1st year. Group is now into its second year. 93 students have joined and over 50% of these are regularly  active. Some involvement also by student mentors and other final year students. No tutors involved.
Aim: originally set up as a space where prospective students could meet prior to Induction.  No tutor involvement.
Method: students initially find Facebook page via Induction Website; later  on are added by friends
Posts are grouped broadly as follows (in order of number in category)
Requests for information: Hi can someone from Group 6 message me when we are meeting?
Requests for support with learning and assessment: is anyone doing the healthcare bill question for -- [module]? i can't find much information on it :/ x
Advice and information related to learning and assessment:   “choose a theoretical perspective like the Marxist perspective and build up your knowledge on this perspective i.e. how the perspective has changed over time and relate it to health and illness in general, adding in other perspectives like phenomenology, social construction, etc to back up the points you've made about Marxism …. Hope this helps xx
Expressions of  emotion: So struggling!! …. I'm so confused on this assignment xx …..
Congratulations/encouragement: Okay everyone, so our results are out tomorrow so a VERY GOOD LUCK EVERYONE :D
Criticisms of staff: no word of a lie three emails and not one has been replied to, it's a joke!
Social arrangements: HUGE night at Gatecrasher on weds…also, it's my 21st birthday that night! be cool if you came :)

These exchanges link to Garrison’s (2009)  Community of Inquiry Dimensions: Social Presence, Cognitive Presence and Teaching Presence. Rambe (2012) observes that self directed online groups present a “student regulated space” which subverts the normal hierarchy and power relations of educational establishments, giving a platform for complaint but also allowing shyer students a voice and permitting them to take on a teaching role.

Case Study 2: 

Closed Facebook Group set up in Term 1 by Social Work tutors in response to student requests. Currently has 50 members (about 1/3 of the student body). The posts are largely Tutor-led though one particularly active student (who is a student “social media ambassador” also dominates). Very little interaction between students so this functions more as a notice board. Staff concerns about privacy have led them to set up second accounts, official identities with which to manage this group. Lack of participation by majority of student body is possibly due to dominance of tutors.

Case Study 3:
VLE discussion Boards

Level 1 activity: Research a topic related to the module and post a link/commentary on Discussion Board. Add a comment in response to another student’s post. 80% of students did the first part of this successfully but very few (2-3%) completed the second part. Tutor responded to every post. 

Level 3 activity(Health & Social Care): work in small groups to develop a presentation. Use a closed Group Discussion Space in the Learning Room to organise and discuss progress. All students participated in this and there was good evidence of interaction amongst them. Tutor could see the group discussions but did not participate.

Level 3 activity (Social Work): take a personality quiz and work out your “type”. Post results in Discussion Board and add commentary. Comment on another student’s post. 50% of students participated and 70% of those also completed part 2. Tutor did not respond to posts.

Ke (2013) observes that frequent posting by instructors leads to shorter discussions and does not encourage student posts. He goes on to recommend interaction arrangements that prioritise student to student contact because these  lead to more elaborative and knowledge constructive interactions. Structure and leadership are needed to create deeper learning but this can be provided by students - not solely by instructors. Follows Majeski and Stover 2007 in asserting that deep learning is highly collaborative and interactive.


Chelliah, J. Clarke, E (2011),"Collaborative teaching and learning: overcoming the digital divide?", On the Horizon, Vol. 19 Iss: 4 pp. 276 - 285
Ke, F (2013) Online interaction arrangements on quality of online interactions performed by diverse learners across disciplines. The Internet and Higher Education, Volume 16, Pages 14–22
Garrison, D. R. (2009). Communities of inquiry in online learning: Social, teaching and cognitive presence. In C. Howard et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of distance and online learning (2nd ed., pp. 352-355). Hershey, PA: IGI Globa
Poutanen, P. Parviainen, O. Ã…berg, L (2011),"Conditions for self-organizing and creativity in blended learning environments", On the Horizon, Vol. 19 Iss: 4 pp. 286 - 296
Rambe, P. “Constructive Disruptions for Effective Collaborative Learning: Navigating the Affordances of Social Media for Meaningful Engagement” The Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 10 Issue 1 2012, (pp132-146)

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Dystopia now

Blade Runner cityscape

On the EDCMOOC this week readings and videos consider utopian and dystopian views of technology.
Generally I have considered myself in the utopian camp .... for the last 4 years I have been waxing lyrical about Twitter and my PLN; I have spent the last couple of years advocating the use of wikis, Facebook and blogs to my students as a way of collaborating, connecting, learning and engaging. However this week I have been sensitive to some of the down sides.... 250000 Twitter accounts hacked.....loud personal conversations on mobile phones on the bus.... a teenager's relationship suddenly thrown off course by the injudicious posting of a photograph on Facebook..... The Life Scientific on Radio 4 discussing the use of robots in combat ...

I haven't come to any conclusions but this heightened awareness is interesting and I will no doubt be exploring it more as the mooc progresses.

The more pressing dystopian vision for me concerns the future of teaching in higher education. Again I tend to be of a fairly cheery and optimistic outlook, but in a week when - over on OLDSMOOC - I have been looking at the art and science of learning design, I came face to face in a recent meeting with the real issues that shape how education is delivered (and I realise even that phrase has contentious and dystopian overtones). This consisted of a a conversation that centred not on pedagogical principles, nor even on what learners need, but how to make optimum use of classrooms and reduce staff input whilst making the KIS look good. And the message that it is not for the teaching staff to determine how best they can deliver their subjects but that this will be dictated by senior management. Grainne Conole's 7 C's of Learning Design need expanding to include an eighth - Constraints.

But to end on a positive note..... I teach a module for final year social work students which requires them to develop an online presentation of  a group project. The first year I ran this, blogs and Facebook were the tools most chose. Last year I introduced the group to wikis which was a modest success.

Last week in a classroom exploration of possible topics and platforms for this year's set of projects, one group proposed a complex but exciting way of working. Each group member is to maintain an individual blog  applying the main theories and concepts of the module to their chosen case study (Barack Obama in this case) as well as reflections on the group process; a group Twitter account is to be set up so that each member can Tweet links to the relevant posts in their blogs  and indeed to other "curated" resources - as a way of developing an aggregated resource on the topic of leadership. Frankly, if I had suggested this as a modus operandi I would have had a revolt on my hands, but watching and listening as the group developed their plan - even with some clear digital native/immigrant divide in evidence - was very exciting for me. I will be eagerly anticipating the outcome!