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    On Saturday I revisited the OLDS MOOC website to participate in some week 1 activities. The image on the website has changed but basic details the same then scroll down to discussion groups and to twitter feed. Also scroll down to bibsonomy.org/tag/oldsmooc - no idea what this is and link leads to error message.
    So to the course tab Week 1 : Initiate. A wordle image (good and quite appealing) Then list of activities for each day (too prescriptive?). Thursdays activities - first activity is to introduce yourself and say what hopes you have of MOOC. It's slightly confusing because you click on the link thinking it will take you to the place to contribute but because anyone can read but you have to log in to post, you then have to log in somewhere.
    I must admit that I was a bit slow to catch onto to this and went back to website and then to MOOC environment tab and then tools, networks and communications looking for place to log in. Then realized I needed to sign into google with my usual account to access and then back to discussion. Lots of threads. Found one that said 'what do you hope to get out of this MOOC?'(119 posts by 94 authors). Posted a reply.
    Not enough time to go back and look at all the posts but skimmed through some.
    Back to week 1 - next activity - set up personal work space and set personal objectives for week. Link to personal learning space - this involves registering with Cloudworks (oh dear), setting up profile (asked for institution - why?) then a cloudscape then a cloud. Set up created account, then tried to create cloudscape - not sure why I'm creating a cloudscape....'a cloudscape is a collection of clouds'....I don't have any clouds....ok, I'll create a cloud instead...created. Message 'your cloud is being moderated'
    :(( giving up on all cloud related activities.
    Back to week 1 activities. View and discuss presentation. Oh, it's a prezi. Lots of text (why is this a prezi?) watched again on Cloudworks.ac.uk - still too much text (if you're meant to watch it later as suggested then why have as a prezi with embedded images of text?) will go back and watch again later.
    Next activity - dreambazaar - (followed 43 attending 48) - ok, it's more cloud related stuff - create a cloud 'what is your dream technological pedagogical innovation?' No cloud creating for me so skimmed through other entries.
    The above tasks took me about 1 hour. I'm not sure why I'm feeling negative about it. Ok, the Cloudworks features and functionality have been disappointing. Not only because I got error messages but because it seems far too much and far too complicated for the purpose. It's as if the purpose is to use as many features as possible and create as big a space as possible. And this is only half way through week 1....


    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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    Week 1 continued. I think so far I've spent about 3 hours on the OLDS MOOC not counting blogging about it. My aim is to spend 3 - 4 hours a week if possible.
    Next task - Team Up, form a team for learning design project. Rather than starting one I thought I'd look at the ones that have been set up so far and try to join in. The next task is to find or start a study circle so I thought I'd try to combine these tasks. The study circle is supposed to be based on a project team or a group at your institution or living in your area. So that's why they wanted your institution in your profile. Not sure how to match up the idea of a MOOC with a meetup in your home area - somehow that is difficult to put into perspective or practice. (Especially recommending www.meetup.com which I have joined as a social f2f get together thing in Edinburgh but not sure it's right for this context). Or you can set up a shared space e.g. Cloudspace, Facebook, google group or create a cloud etc.


    Ok, stop - just a minute - we've now reached saturation point and I'm just skimming and skating across the surface. I am in week 1 of this course and so far I have used the following:
    A website
    2 google groups/discussion forums
    YouTube
    Facebook
    Google +
    Twitter
    Bibsonomy?
    Cloudworks
    Cloudscapes
    Clouds
    Dreambazaar
    Mindmeister
    Blogs (my own plus reading others)
    And now we are having study circles both online and in real life....plus google hangouts.

    Also I don't know how many people are actually participating in this course. Presumably some are just reading and some taking part. It could be 1,000 or 10,000, I really don't know. We are creating 'stuff' - how much stuff? Will anyone read anyone else's stuff or is there not enough time as you're too busy creating??

    So I need to filter and also put in place my own filtering system. I went to look for a study circle or group, to Cloudworks, found a digilit study circle - sign in? Log in? - followed and posted to discussion. Found Digital identity and Social Media group - followed and posted to discussion. I then found a study circle for anyone living in Edinburgh 'auld reekie learners' :)

    Still more of week 1 to go - I'm still interested and hopefully I'll work out which parts are valuable to me and that I can learn from.
    Oh, and I don't know how to embed my blog into anything that's part of the course as a reflection so will just have to do what I usually do and post a link from twitter.



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    Next activity for week 1 was entitled Converge. I followed link from website to video of open google hangout session which had happened yesterday I think.
    First question posed by one facilitator to each other 'Can you get personalized learning through a MOOC?' The answer was basically that it is up to you as a participant rather than the designers of the course. Designers provide scaffolding.
    A participant did try to take part but problems with audio.
    'What are good projects?'
    'There are lots of interesting projects - difficult to engage with them all' (hmm, yes indeed)
    'One interesting project about virtual world for future digital literacies'.
    'Virtual dream bazaar as an environment with tents and flags....'
    Then the other facilitator managed to join in etc. etc.

    So that was 12 minutes into the hour long recording but I wasn't really engaging with it. It was too slow paced for me and I'm not sure what we were supposed to be getting out of this. If it was a conversation then should it have been an activity? If it was a discussion / presentation then it needed more structure.

    Last activity of week 1 - a reflection so that's what I'm going to do now. I'll write it as a usual blog post then try and embed it in a cloud :)



    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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    At the end of week 1 I'm feeling fairly positive about the OLDSMOOC.
    I have an idea of what it is about and what I can get out of it. I'm not sure if my perception of it is the correct one or even a useful one but I've put it into some sort of context for me.
    During the week I felt quite negative about it and this was because there was a big gap between my expectations and the reality. I was expecting it to be like a course but much bigger with more people but still have a similar structure or format. But instead it just felt like a mass of activity, some good, some bad, some things working, some not working.
    In fact that's exactly what it is - a mass of activity or maybe a collection of activities that are related, sometimes connected, sometimes useful, sometimes make sense but don't have a recognised structure. To some extent the mooc has gained momentum but I'm not sure that it has gained direction. It definitely feels and looks like far too much.
    During the converge activity it was stated that it was up to the individual to make it a personalized learning experience. At first I felt indignant about this but then thought that this was an approach that I need to take. Instead of trying to engage with everything that's happening, what I need to do is just cast around for things that interest me and participate if and when I feel like it. The value will be in the individual interactions with the people or tasks that I encounter. So that's the strategy that I'm using for week 2.
    But there are still some issues that I'm hoping will be addressed or become clearer in subsequent weeks.
    Why have a course with too much to it - either limit it, give it some more structure or don't call it a course, define it as something different. This issue is reflected in the badges idea - you get a badge for completing the activities of the week so fairly prescriptive but the activities of the course are open ended and vast.
    Not all the technology nor tools worked. Ok, everyone who works in education and technology knows this is the case but some worked better than others. There's nothing wrong in erring on the side of caution or going for the easy option - that's if you want to engage your learners of course.
    Some valuable ideas and suggestions will get lost along the way. Does this matter?

    After publishing this post I've decided to go back and add a bit as on reflection of the reflection it reads as if I've just accidentally stumbled across a mooc and thought 'this looks fun, I'll give it a whirl'. I know that there are different sorts of moocs and some are connectivist etc. etc. but I wanted to blog about it as a learning experience rather than a theoretical concept.

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  • 01/20/13--12:16: Badge #MoocsAndMe #oldsmooc
  • I got a badge - yay
    It's very strange how pleased I am by a virtual badge that has been electronically generated.......but hey, a badge is a badge



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    OLDS MOOC Week 2 : Inquire
    My strategy for week 2, after reviewing the ups and downs of week 1, is to plan my own levels of participation in the activities and own levels of collaboration.  
    There is an addition to the instructions suggesting a short route 3+ hours which includes Activities 1,2,3,6 & 7 or alternative short route Activities 2 & 4 or you can do your own route which fortuitously  is the one I'm taking. 

    Activity 1 - watch video introduction - Rose Luckin - Professor of Learner Centred Design at the London Knowledge Lab. She talked about Context - Personas - Ecology of Resource.  What defines the learner objectively and subjectively? What help/relationships/elements as well as people, places and things exist in the learners environment? The video was good as the content was interesting and was 3 mins which is the optimum time (for me) to engage with a video of a person talking online.
    Next was an option to look at outcomes, activity overview to plan this weeks activities, use study planner calendar, use learning journal to plan week & assess progress etc. etc. but in my new spirit of personalisation I decided to sweep on regardless to an activity I wanted to do and that I thought would enhance my learning.
    Activity 2 Contextualise Project - I don't really have a project yet although I have joined in with discussions on other peoples so I decided to revisit the dream bazaar to see what projects are out there and what people are saying and doing. I picked some interesting looking titles - I can't remember how to get back to the ones that I'd commented on before although I know they had something to do with Digital Literacies.  Looked at eMarking - a discussion going on there.  Looked at Teaching the Internet of Things Generation. Then I looked at Digital Literacy - with other ideas / potential projects I couldn't work out whether they had progressed to a project plan yet but this one has a link to a Google Doc workspace.  This was very interesting because of the content and also because the idea (cloud?) has moved into a project planning space. I read though the outline of the plan so far.  I also looked at another idea (dream?) about Digital Literacy and Personal Learning environments - it had a link to a cloud - this is the one that I looked at last week and I'll revisit it.
    So that's the activities so far and I'm happy with my new approach for the following reasons:
    I'm making decisions as to which activities I should spend time on
    I'm aware that I can't participate in every activity nor in every environment that is available and connected to the course.
    I've got a better understanding of what the format and structure of the MOOC seems to be, that I can understand parts of it but not all of it but that is enough at this stage.

    I'm also going to look more at BibSonomy because although I'd dismissed it at first, it might be interesting.



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    Last week while on MOOC related activities mainly as part of the OLDS MOOC I saw lots of tweets about #ETMOOC.  I read through a few and then predictably, even though I'm meant to be only participating in two MOOCs (the OLDSMOOC and the Edinburgh E-learning and Digital Cultures one), went to the website.
    I had seen information about the #ETMOOC and signed up with the intention that I will dip into it occasionally and see what happens.  Also I noticed that they have Blackboard Collaborate sessions which might be interesting and I like seeing how different people use either Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect. Also there are twitter chats which are interesting to follow.
    The #ETMOOC 'About' section describes how it is a Connectivist MOOC with a weak centre and that it is all about learners developing their own spaces for sharing, collaboration, reflection etc.  Somehow this is reassuring - I don't have any false expectations and I'm entering into this course very much on that basis. Also there is a lot of information about what is happening and how it is going to happen including topics and schedule and a calendar.  I'm not sure why I feel differently about this than I did when starting the OLDSMOOC - perhaps I have learnt very quickly what a Connectivist MOOC is about.  My enthusiasm is more focused but also it suits me to know exactly what's happening and preferably to have a list. I had decided with the OLDSMOOC and, from next week, the #EDCMOOC, that I was going to be committed to taking part and complete as many tasks as I can whereas I am happily dipping into the #ETMOOC just for fun. (one slight worry - why do they call the organizers 'conspirators'? - no matter)
    So for Orientation week, I've looked at the #ETMOOC blog, I've followed the hashtag on twitter, I've joined the Google+ community, suscribed to the calendar and now I'm going to work out how to connect my blog.


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    Today is the first day of the E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC from University of Edinburgh on the coursera platform. This is the third MOOC that I've signed up for in as many weeks - two planned which are this one and the OLDs MOOC and the ETMOOC which I just happened to be passing by and decided to stop for a look.
    I logged into the course site and I like the layout and the interface - it's easy to read and make sense of. The announcements are the same content as the emails that I've received so it feels slightly familiar and also saves going back to the emails to re-read the details. There are some instructions which contain clarification of how the course will be taught and assessed. Already there is a different emphasis than the other MOOCs - there is going to be some teaching and assessment. The assessment consists of a final assessment in the form of a digital artefact - wow, I'm interested now. This is appealing to me as a very task orientated person - I like to produce something, to have something to show (yes, I know this is approach / attitude is both a strength and a failing).
    Next the usual things I've come to expect from the beginning of a MOOC - make note of twitter hashtag #edcmooc to tweet and join any chat and join Google+ group community. There's also a Facebook group this time - I have joined but I'm not sure as my Facebook tends to be friends so I'll have to see whether this is good for me or not. Blogging - add RSS feed to EDC MOOC news.
    There is also going to be a Google Hangout on Friday at 17: 00 (Friday at 5.00pm?? Is this just me but I'm not sure this is optimum time for engaging with a cool work thing - I expect there is a good reason for it).
    So a quick look round the site to orientate myself - seems fairly straightforward. I had a quick glance at the discussion forums, some general discussions so I'll revisit them tomorrow. The course guides give details of the Google Hangouts and the Synchtube. The EDC MOOC News - is this the list of blogs?
    So onto the structure of the course which consists of two blocks. The first block is Utopias and Dystopias with Week 1 Looking to the past. This will involve looking at how digital culture and digital education are either utopian or dystopian. There are examples of writing on e-learning between 1998 and 2002, an historical approach. The task is to look at what has changed in relation to current debates about digital education. The Week 1 resources consist of videos / journal articles / essays / speeches etc.
    So that's the plan - watch and read all the resources and try and understand the different viewpoints. I'm interested and engaged and looking forward to taking a calm and collected approach. It will be good for me to focus and concentrate which was one of my new year resolutions.
    This MOOC feels different from the other two and I think it is for two reasons. Firstly it is more structured and feels more like a proper online course (I can't explain this yet). Secondly I've approached it differently. I've put my own filter system in place at the beginning, before I've looked at the communications and collaborations that are going on around the edge of the course. I'm starting from the inside and working out. Rather than leaping into the hurly burly, I've looked to see what I can get out of this. This approach is a direct result of the MOOC experiences of the last few weeks and also a realistic estimation of my time and resources.
    I had a quick look at what the Digital Artefact involves. It can be text, image, sound, video, links and can use tools such as Animoto, Prezi, Google sites, Wordle etc. etc. and it must 'express a question, an idea, a problem, a hope, a worry, or a provocation.....' Possible areas are communication technologies, evolution of information technology, future of learning institutions..
     So far, so good .....and tomorrow into the hurly burly as that's part of the fun too..


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  • 01/30/13--09:48: Ideate #oldsmooc #MoocsAndMe
  • Week 3 is entitled Ideate. It's about visualizing and forming ideas of learning design.
    I'm considering the approach that I use for designing learning or have used in the past. I usually start with the learner, what they need or want to learn and what the outcomes need to be. Then how this fits into the bigger picture. The bigger picture can include the whole programme of study or course and the institutional requirements. It also includes the time constraints or more exactly 'how much time have we got' or 'when does this have to be finished by'. Then the exciting part which is seeing how the learning resources and technologies match up, meet and help facilitate the learning.
    Once there is an outline or basic structure then this can be filled out, adapted, changed and developed by colleagues, learners and other interested parties. The ideas come from shared good practice at events, conferences and research.
    The difficulties can be that it is difficult to explain at the beginning of a design how you envisage the design journey and how it is going to evolve. The difficulty further down the line is that you can get so involved and embedded in the process that it is difficult to stand back and explain objectively how it is developing.


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    The #edcmooc task for Week 1 is to look at some resources i.e. videos and articles and review whether they represent a Utopian or Dystopian view of technology.
    Utopian claims of Information Technology are intrinsically democratizing, neutral as democratizing global forces of information creation and maximize public access. Dystopian claims are that Information Technologies have anti democratic properties, that hardware/software ownership equals anti democratic control etc. etc.
    First video - Bendito Machine - the characters treat technology as god like and have no choice but to follow.  It has a certain dark, satanic feel to the film but it was mainly a mixture of weirdly funny and negative 'same old same old' sort of feel, fantastical.  Dystopian.
    Second Video - Inbox - funny in a soppy way. I don't think I would have considered it in a technology way although it was about connecting.  It would be great if you could just put an object in a bag and it went immediately. Or a person, teleporting.  Utopian
    Third video - New Media - dark fantasy? Purpose? No idea. Dystopian.  
    It is easy to make technology seem evil or dark because you can portray it as exerting control or power but I'm not sure that I buy into this view.

    Chandler, D. (2002). Technological determinism. Web essay, Media and Communications Studies, University of Aberystwyth.
    Technological determinism is the view that technology is seen as the only cause of change in society.  Reductionism / holistic - I usually consider technology and society from a holistic or mutually beneficial point of view but it was interesting to consider it as less advantageous.  It is interesting to think about philosophy and technology - it is a long time since I studied philosophy and then it was religious philosophy.  I hadn't thought that I should stand back and think about technology as a philosophical issue or concept so I'm glad that I read this as it has given me some direction to explore further.
    One of the other articles suggested for reading is the infamous Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9/5.
    I'm hesitant to revisit this but I know that I should.  The 'digital native' phrase / idea / concept has become so well known not just in learning technology arenas but in common education circles and beyond that it is hard to consider it objectively.  In my opinion, and from the situations I've worked in, the digital native doesn't exist or more accurately does not exist as a clear and distinct entity.  It is not as simple as saying that a certain person born at a certain time when certain technology or digital devices existed is a 'digital native'.  I know from teaching ICT and from managing eLearning and libraries that all people, especially young people approach technology differently.  It is not the original article or research that is the issue, it is the fact that some people who know very little about learning technologies with the best intentions just blurt out the phrase as if it's a fact.  So tomorrow I'm going to read and consider the original and subsequent research again....objectively.

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    When I started to take part in the #edcmooc I made the usual social media / networking connections between the course and my accounts i.e. twitter hash tag, Google+ community, blog.  There is also a Facebook student group which I joined and then immediately had second thoughts about.  I disabled the email notifications for each time a post is made to the group but then I thought I’d leave it for a day or two and come back to it.  As I mentioned in a previous post I'm taking part in the E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC #edcmooc in a purposeful way as I want to engage with the activities and the assessment.  This is a slightly different approach to my participation in the #oldsmooc where I realised early on I wasn't going to be able to do everything but still want to participate regularly.  Different again to the #etmooc which I have dipped into when passing but without any commitment or defined purpose.
    I have completed some activities for the first week of the #edcmooc which has involved reviewing videos and articles and I have started to develop some ideas of what I am going to include in my digital artefact.  But I haven’t as yet interacted with many other people who are on the course.  This was deliberate to start with in order to avoid being overwhelmed but now I want to look at what everyone or at least some people are doing.  I have been following the twitter hashtag #edcmooc and have read some blog posts from participants which have been very interesting and commented or retweeted some. 
    However I then thought back to the Facebook group and wondered whether this was a way of looking at the middle ground – not right in the middle of the course looking at everything and yet not in the wide open MOOC twittersphere.  I don’t necessarily want to post to the Facebook group but it might be a way of seeing the video resources that people are sharing and also to quickly scan through and like some posts.  Also I wondered if, as it is a #edcmooc student Facebook page, whether it would give interesting insights into how participants were feeling about engaging with the MOOC.
    It’s not possible to look at all the posts or activity but I picked one day i.e. 30th January which was the Wednesday of the first week as I thought that  people would be starting to engage and getting used to the course but still fairly open to the new experience.  People would have had time to look at the activities so there would be some focus not just all ‘hello and welcome’ etc.
    I looked at 97 posts which were posted during the 24 hours of 30th January (there are 4676 members of the group).  As the participants are from countries across the world there are posts at all times throughout the 24 hours.  I didn't count the number of comments on each post – some posts had no comments, some had numerous, I would say that the average was 2 or 3.  Some posts had lots of likes and comments and these were ones where help or clarification was being offered.  There was one post which provided a link to a EDCMOOC Google doc presentation which had 183 likes and 47 comments.  There wasn’t many requests for help, only 4, but help that was given especially links to study rooms, how to manage material, passwords etc. were popular.  As were links to twitter chat resources and general MOOC guidelines. 
    There were still a fair number of ‘hello I'm from ......’ posts including Argentina, Belgrade, Manchester, Malawi, Kenya, Canada, Columbia, Brazil, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, France etc.
    There were 16 links to individual blogs i.e. blogs by participants about their experiences of the blog so far and what they have done or thought about.
    There were 7 links to documents and articles.
    There were 33 links to videos – examples of the topics for discussion in week or similar.
    In general the group is very helpful and positive and upbeat and participants are willing and keen to help and comment.
    But does it help as far as filtering and funnelling?
    It does filter in that all the information in the group is about the edcmooc or related activities. But even in one day on one platform / forum there is too much information to look at for the time and effort that most people would want to dedicate to the course.  So then some more ‘funnelling’ – would it be possible to pick out 5 videos a day, 5 comments a day and 5 blog links a day to look at and review.  That’s the only way I can think of to make good use of the resources.  Plus 5 random likes for things you like.......



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    I've not had a chance to do much Moocing in the last week or so due to being busy at work and also having friends to stay and generally being out and about doing interesting things.  This way of engaging with learning suits me quite well as I like to be able to come and go as I please.  I don't think it's the best way but it's one way.  So I'm now trying to catch up with EDCMOOC - I didn't know which week was the current week or where I was up to so it is very useful that there is a clear table of what is happening each week with dates.  

    Last week was week 2 and focused on future visions of technology and education.  The future of information technology as 'always on', ubiquitous communication, embedded in and with us.There are a number of videos to watch.  Video clips are tricky to get right for learning purposes for a number of reasons. They have to be of good quality.  This is not difficult these days as equipment and devices are sophisticated and can produce good videos.  The only instances when it doesn't matter is if it is impromptu and the audience is part of the context e.g. if you were filming something very quickly as part of a lesson or group activity and you needed to play it back immediately to point something out to offer immediate feedback.  However if the video is going to be shown to a wide audience and kept for a period of time then it needs to be good quality.  

    The first film recommended in the week 2 resources was Film 1: A Day Made of Glass 2. (5:58)Corning and the second film Productivity Future Vision (6:17) Microsoft.  
    I 'liked' them both, typical advertising videos as they're perfect.  Everyone is clean and calm and healthy.  As far as the technology is concerned, everything works (first time with no hitches) and is smooth and white and clear.  I love the touching and gestures and wish everything was like that so you could pick things up out of air and move them about - that would be great.  But it's not reality despite some of the things being real and others no doubt will exist quite soon. It's appealing but you know that it's advertising so it quickly becomes bland and boring.  (One thing I would like to know is what do those children need to take rucksacks to school for anymore - what do they keep in them? Surely they just need one beautifully portable device to do anything and everything?) 

    But the videos are too long and this is my main objection to many video clips - 3 minutes is surely the optimum time, if you can't show or tell it in 3 minutes then you have to take on board that people are going to switch off - unless it is absolutely amazing.  The next video clips were Film 3: Sight (7:50) - a person lying on a rug on the floor pretending to sky dive as part of a game.  Ok, fine then it moves to preparing food and how cutting up ingredients is part of a level of a game.....boring.   And there's more than 7 minutes of this with a person with weird eyes....Next film Film 4: Charlie 13 (14:20) 14 mins about a teenage boy and a bleak future....I'm really not that keen on watching this...... Film 5: Plurality (14:14) so for the finale 14 minutes of something with strong language and offensive content - thanks but no thanks.  There are millions of videos out there about technology and education and society - why have something with offensive content?  And why more than three minutes? Yes, I'm being picky but after all, I am the audience and indeed the learner. In a learning environment where there is a massive amount of available content being produced rapidly and continuously, it has to be short and sweet to be successful.

    Next two blog articles about MOOCs.
    First is 
    Shirky, C. (2012). Napster, Udacity and the academy. shirky.com, 12 November 2012.http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2012/11/napster-udacity-and-the-academy/ 
    I found this interesting, I don't agree with it all but I appreciate the comparisons with music.  A live concert or performance is not the same as a recording and we don't expect it to be.  A live conference is not the same as an online conference, face to face / campus education and learning is not the same as online learning and we shouldn't expect it to be.
     “The possibility MOOCs hold out isn’t replacement; anything that could replace the traditional college experience would have to work like one, and the institutions best at working like a college are already colleges. The possibility MOOCs hold out is that the educational parts of education can be unbundled. MOOCs expand the audience for education to people ill-served or completely shut out from the current system, in the same way phonographs expanded the audience for symphonies to people who couldn’t get to a concert hall, and PCs expanded the users of computing power to people who didn’t work in big companies”.

    This blog article was in response - yes, MOOCs are better than nothing, anything's better than nothing so let's wait and see.

    Bady, A. (2012). Questioning Clay Shirky. Inside Higher Ed, 6 December 2012.http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/12/06/essay-critiques-ideas-clay-shirky-and-others-advocating-higher-ed-disruption

    "MOOCs are only better than nothing and speculation that this will someday change is worth pursuing, but for now, remains just that, speculation. It should be no surprise that venture capital is interested in speculation. And it should be no surprise that when academics look at the actual track record, when we try to evaluate the evidence rather than the hope, we discover a great deal to be pessimistic about". 

    The final part of the week was Responses which included digital artefacts by students currently participating in the longer, Masters-level course that has inspired this MOOC: E-Learning and Digital Cultures.  I enjoyed watching and reading them.  They were all interesting and as ever the simple ones were the best.  Amy Woodgate's "Learning to Listen" video was very clever - about noise and not being able to hear everything but listening out for interesting bits.  Gina Fierlafijn-Reddie’s “Education of the very best sort” used Pinterest and I liked the format and layout as it was a great way to display a lot of interesting information.  I also liked Candace Nolan-Grant’s “A day behind glass” which had some very good parts but I'm not sure that prezi did it justice especially the embedding of the video clips.  

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    Week 3 of the EDC MOOC is 'Reasserting the human'
    Some more films to review but now using my filtering system of less than 3 minutes, I watched the first two.
    The first one was the Toyota GT86 'real deal' advert.  The opposition created here is between the digital technology as 'unreal' and de-humanising and the natural world as authentic and living.  What is real? As if everything is a fantasy world, which it isn't.  The good thing was that you broke out of the fantasy world with the technology so you can have technology in a real world.  The second film was the BT heart to heart advert which is obviously manipulating emotions to sell the product - they want to sell voice conversations.
    I read today on twitter that the media does not have as great an impact on voters voting preferences as you might think it does so I'm hoping that the same holds true for technology i.e. that media and advertising don't have as great an impact on perceptions of technology as the media hope.  It would be poor state of affairs if everyone believed that technology creates a fantasy world and that we are all going to be living in it as unreal characters.
    I then watched a video recording of Steve Fullers TEDx Warwick Talk - 'Humanity 2.0 defining humanity.  It lasted 24:08 so obviously my 3 minute rule doesn't apply to interesting and inspirational speakers.  The talk outlines the ambiguity of our notions of what is 'human' and that it is difficult to define what it is to be human.  Humanity is artificial in a positive sense and goes beyond what is required to survive and reproduce. The 'project of humanity' through the ages has not necessarily been good for everyone but it could be a collective project.  From the late 18th century there was a movement to raise the level of all humanity - concern for the poor, welfare, education etc.  An obligation to bring all into humanity.  There are many arguments against humanity and promoting the project of humanity and it would be easy to write it off and move on because it is too difficult.
    How this relates to technology and MOOCs is, I think, that there is a moral obligation is to treat education and online education as a humanistic project in order to offer equality of access and democratization.  MOOCs do offer an opportunity to make information and learning open to all and I think this is their greatest benefit or at least potential benefit.  But is it learning that is accessible for all?  Or is it access to information?  

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    Week 4 is about how 'the human' is a flexible category, one we can change and re-make in the interests of a fairer society.  
    I read a little bit of 
    Bostrom (2005) ‘Transhumanist values’ reproduced from Review of Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. 4, May (2005)http://www.nickbostrom.com/ethics/values.html
    "The enhancement options being discussed include radical extension of human health-span, eradication of disease, elimination of unnecessary suffering, and augmentation of human intellectual, physical, and emotional capacities. Other transhumanist themes include space colonization and the possibility of creating superintelligent machines, along with other potential developments that could profoundly alter the human condition". 
    Such ideas and developments are, in equal parts, exciting and scary   That's it, that is the only way I can think of describing it.  

    So what about education.  I read a little bit of 
    System upgrade: realising the vision for UK education (2012) EPSRC Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme. http://tel.ioe.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/TELtaster.pdf
    I think that education needs technology otherwise it won't be able to advance and develop the opportunities that people need and deserve.  Technology needs education in order to enable people to reach their potential and realise visions.  And to make life better.  

    I watched one of the recommended films for the week.  It is called Gumdrop and was fascinating and appealing.  It is a robot with a very human voice.  The words and the way the story is told is appealing, it's as if it's a 'real person'.  And that's the point - we can distinguish between what is real and what isn't and I believe we will always inherently know that what we should be doing is engaging on a human level.  Hopefully.
    http://youtu.be/A7sjoI5QjBY









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    The assessment for the EDC MOOC consists of creating a Digital Artefact.
    The artefact has to be published on the web so that others can view it and give feedback.
    It should consist of two of the following - text, image, sound, video, links."The theme can be of ‘utopias and dystopias’, or on the theme of ‘being human’. You should use your assignment to express a question, an idea, a problem, a hope, a worry or a provocation that the course has raised for you. Consider how you can express something of your own context as an educator, student and/or technologist. Try to build your artefact around a specific topic or question of interest to you". 

    What I would most like to create is a digital artefact about the idea that technology is positive and good and also that it does not have to be fantastical - it can be every day life.  Some of the best technology applications and uses are those that people can embrace in every day life and in education.  I'm not sure how I'm going to do this yet.


    I have one other idea which I might do first.  This is to make a summary of the topics and readings of the instruction page on the EDC MOOC and then compare that with the blog posts that I wrote about that task or topic.  I'm going to do them in the form of wordles which should visualize the words and themes.  This should show the similarities, the differences and the shapes and patterns of the text.




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  • 02/26/13--12:36: Digital Artefact


  • This is my digital artefact
    It is a video of a series of wordles which are visualisations of the words that make up the themes and ideas of the EDC MOOC course.
     They show the perspective from the 'course' side, the 'YOU' side and
    compare with the 'participant', the 'ME' side. 
    The themes, each of which represent a week of the course, move from technology at the beginning of the course to human and education at the end.
    The density of the words and colours used is a reflection of the complexities involved in being part of a MOOC and trying to make sense of the learning experience.






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    Today is the first day of ocTEL the Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning which is being organised by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).  I've been looking forward to it because of my involvement with ALT and also I'm keen to participate in another MOOC.  I've taken part in three MOOCs so far with varying degrees of success and engagement and have learnt a lot.  I've learnt what works for me as far as approaching an online course with masses of information and participants.  The most important thing that I've learnt is to put my filtering strategy in place straight away - there is too much information and I have too little time.  Next start selecting - select activities and people to find out about and to engage with.  It's quite liberating to dip in and drop out and to view success as a constantly changing variable.
    As I've been working all day I hadn't intended to look at the course guidance and materials until now but suddenly around lunchtime I started to receive a lot of emails to my gmail account.  The first three were from ocTEL - a newsletter, welcome and week 0.  Ok that's fine, a quick glance then back to work.  I quite liked the reference to cricket 'play gets under way at the civilised hour of 11.00.....Like cricket, it's best if you don't rush.' Then there was a bit of introductory blurb to reassure people.  In the week 0 email were the week's aims and if you only do one thing.... This appeals to me as I'm always looking for the quick win first then the detail or maybe to make that sound better, looking for the essentials then the options.
    However then lots of emails started flooding into my email box.  Another quick look - the emails are coming from the OCTEL-PUBLIC jisc mail list.  OK that's fine, I'll just leave them there but I don't remember signing up to a jisc mail list for this course because my jisc mail login is connected to my work email not my gmail.  What are people emailing to the list about? It seems to be the introduction contribution - obviously as I haven't read the activities at this stage I've no idea what the tasks are.  Then come the inevitable emails to the list which are unfortunately going out as emails with the subjects along the lines of unsubscribe me or I don't want these emails.  Luckily a couple of people posted useful advice as to how to unsubscribe or change the settings to receive a digest etc.  
    I suspect that most people didn't remember that they must have opted in during the registration process to the jiscmail email list - I don't remember doing this.  But it's easily remedied and worse case scenario, you have a lot of emails.  
    But i decided that i didn't want a constant stream of emails coming to me - I want to go and get them when needed.  I first tried through the ocTEL website in the profile section as I thought that might stop the notifications but it didn't work.
    But that didn't work so I went to the jiscmail website which i was sort of trying to avoid as I had to set up a new account with my gmail so now I've got two accounts.  It doesn't really matter.  I chose to stay on the list but read the emails on the jiscmail website.
    So now just time for a very quick glance through of the background information and guidance for activities.  It's useful that there is a week 0 and it is a long week.  There is lots of useful advice and help but I'm not sure why the introductions etc. weren't on the forum to start with rather than on the jiscmail list as now there are some on both.  
    Tomorrow I'll go back and read a selection of other peoples posts.  For me I find it easiest to post a summary every few days on my own blog and link via twitter with a hashtag. 




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  • 04/08/13--07:21: TEL and Me
  • This post started off as the introductory activity for #ocTEL but ended up being too wordy so it's here instead.

    I'm not great at drawing a distinction between TEL, eLearning, ICT, computing, technology etc. so  this post has aspects of them all - and the fact that they are all endlessly fascinating and useful.  When I first start using computers the thing that appealed most was that they could automatically work out codes and do something with a series of letters or numbers - that you could input an instruction and a task would be carried out - wow, how clever is that.  Also that you could create things that look or sound beautiful - again by inputting a series of instructions.

    And, if that was not enough, you could find out about practically anything in the whole world and see a picture of it just by typing in a few letters!! Ok, so you've probably got the message by now - technology is a learning experience and learning is a better experience by using technology.

    I first started using ICT when I completed my PGCE ICT and then went to teach ICT in a secondary school and sixth form college.  It was really good fun as well as lots of hard work teaching ICT even though it was mainly PC based before mobile and gadgets.  Despite the bad press lately, some of it justified, about the boringness of ICT in schools there is a lot to be learnt and gained from knowing the basics and building on those basics so that everyone has the know how and the problem solving / thinking skills to be successful.  TEL is an enabler - a way of learning that engages students and it's great to help people find out how it can work for them.  ICT / computing should have a broad scope so that it appeals to everyone from making video clips of performances to writing code to control robots - it all has value.  I still have mixed feelings as to whether it should be taught as a discrete subject. 

    I then became interested in VLEs and staff training in ICT so moved onto an FE college and worked as an eLearning Manager.  The interesting aspect was seeing how the VLE could be used to provide access to learning from a variety of places and times - the 'anytime anyplace' idea.  But also how learning resources can be a variety of formats, that it didn't have to be text based in the form of a worksheet, that there could be images and sounds, that it could be dynamic and changing.  The VLE developed to include assessment and feedback and a platform for communication through discussion boards and forums and messages and texts and virtual classrooms.  My role developed to be Head of Learning Resources (eLearning and Library Services).  This opened up lots of opportunities for interacting with students and ensuring that they had access to high quality online learning resources.  The major development was the use of mobile technologies - resources that can be accessed in mobile formats and also mobile devices.
    The Student Experience is the aspect of learning and student life that interests me the most and I currently work as Student Information Points Manager at a University.  The important thing is how information is communicated effectively - how can students access the relevant information in a timely manner in a suitable format?
    Personally, I still think ICT/TEL/technology is fascinating and interesting and will continue to be so as it changes and develops.  Communication and collaboration using mobile devices is convenient and effective.  Learning should take place in formal and informal environments and should be accessible wherever and whenever it is needed or wanted.  
    Moocs are a mixture, and reflect the advantages and disadvantages of online learning and the the use of TEL - they are easy to access but difficult to understand, they provide an environment for learning but it's sometimes difficult to work out what that learning is, there are numerous opportunities for communications but who are you communicating with and which is the best way to communicate, you can share but is there so much information it is sometimes too much to absorb or even acknowledge.  But it offers a place and an opportunity to experiment and reflect.


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  • 04/08/13--07:22: One thing.... #ocTEL

  • The induction week 'if you only do one thing...' is to write an introduction about yourself and your experiences with TEL / technology as a student / teacher / learning technologist and how it affects the way you absorb, reflect, discuss etc. etc.
    I have used TEL in a variety of roles while working as an ICT teacher in a secondary school and sixth form college, as an eLearning Manager (VLE and staff ICT training), as a Head of Learning Resources (elearning and library services) in a FE College and currently as a Student Information Points Manager in a University.
    I've used VLEs and learning platforms to learn including my MSc which I did online and a variety of other online courses and MOOCs.  Also as a tutor using VLEs, virtual classrooms and web conferencing facilities.
    The greatest benefit of TEL is as a means of communicating and sharing.  It enables communication through email, text and social media and opens up the possibilities of working with people collaboratively.  It provides a way of learning that is accessible and inclusive. 

    (This is my second attempt at writing an introduction blog post - the first one I wrote spontaneously and re reading it realised it was too 'TEL and Me' - it's still here 

    http://donlantechnologies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/tel-and-me.html
    if you want to read it). 

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    One of the activities for week 0 of ocTEL, in addition to writing an introduction about yourself,  is what is the most important question about TEL for you?  I'm not sure what my big question is.  Does technology enhance learning? Yes. Does technology enhance life? Yes. With the condition for both that it is used effectively and with consideration and 'for the greater good'. But that's true about everything.  So maybe the question is 'how can I/we use technology to the best effect to enable students/people to learn?'
    I decided to have a look at what other people are saying about their big questions.
    I looked on the ocTEL website first intending to go to the forums but got distracted by the Twitter Conversations Visualised which is 'a graph of the Twitter interactions using the #ocTEL hashtag' created by Martin Hawksey @mhawksey.  It's brilliant.
    I looked through the various forum posts and picked out words and phrases that summarised the subjects that people were asking their questions about.

    I then went to the jiscmail list and discovered that Tom Franklin had posted a table which summarised the recent posts of big questions and put them into categories.  Very helpful and another quick win for me.  
    So here are a list of words that are the most popular big questions in alphabetical order.
    It's interesting and reassuring to see that the most popular, apart from the directly relating to Moocs ones, are about engaging people either students or staff and ensuring that the engagement is effective and has impact.  
    My big question is still how can we use technology enhanced learning to engage learners and enhance the student experience and this is a question shared by many other participants of this course and those involved in TEL.




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