Sunday, 13 April 2014

Getting the basics right: Atica, the LMS and to mooc or not to mooc

Thursday's first meeting was with the team at ATICA - the ITC support team who manage the LMS.
The virtual learning environment at UM runs on an open source platform developed in collaboration with US and UK universities which has all the usual accoutrements. The design is different from the ones I have used but essentially the functions are the same. One thing that stood out for me was the clear and simple links between the VLE and the university's system for recording student grades.
The Team also demonstrated a collaborative platform for staff - open to any academic to store documents, create discussions etc. This functions as a shared space to develop research.
In the maths faculty I was introduced to the Dean who has long been a champion of TEL. We discussed a student social network site that has been developed exclusively for the use of students in the faculty to share work, documents and links, ask questions and make comments. It is moderated by a non faculty member of the ITC support team, but otherwise there is no other interference.
We also discussed Universidad de Murcia's engagement in MOOCs. Having been a pioneer in its first year of running these, he is now asking what is the point of the MOOC? Unless there is clear rationale for putting a course into this format, and unless the academic involved is given some recompense for time and effort, this is an inevitable question, and one which all universities really do need to be asking themselves.
My penultimate day in Murcia ended with a visit to a salsa club with Marimar to experience a little hands on social learning! 
Today a meeting other UK teachers from Southampton (Sue White and Hugh Davis) and the Universidad De Murcia team sharing the work of each university'sTEL work - including this interesting slide from Hugh which shows the drop out/participation rate of MOOCs. One answer Southampton have found to "what's the point" is to embed the MOOC within a course for paying students. 

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