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Observations of good and poor practice in the classroom

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“The hardest and most time consuming prep for these classes are the slides.” This might be how our tutor feels - she said this a couple of weeks ago, but she’s cracked it with the cool, upbeat font and colours. That’s what would have me fretting for hours: what theme, what font … 

This week there is stuff we just must understand how to do, and why we have to do it. Using Google Classroom (as as student). The docs shared are templates personal to us. We just have to complete one of these and hit the ‘Hand In’ button when we are done.

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We were then taken through her expectations of what we need to include in each of these sections. Were Module 1 a written exam, then these would be ways (old school) to keep the examiner’s pen giving a tick. And the most likely way we will be tripped up is the process of handing in. [Beware using the term ‘to turn it in’ as this is now branded]. Habitually I would try to turn my Open University ‘Tutor Marked Assignments close to midnight. Like at 11:55pm. It caught me out more than once. Making sure I was ready at 11:45pm didn’t help much. It was only when I figured out I should turn something in the day before or a week before. Just get the flipping task over with!

Observations

We talked again about things we have observed in teaching that we consider good practice and poor practice. As we are invited to look online as well as see practice in college I have to wonder if we can stretch this to an episode of Waterloo Road, or Grange Hill, or my favourite ‘Sex Education’ which somehow created a bizzare, mid-Atlantic, international sixth form like college in the Welsh countryside colour-graded to look like the California. See British High School Television series. For the best representation of my school days see the film ‘If’, even ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ or ‘Goodbye, Mr Chips’ even a bit of the original ‘St.Trinians’ for the all girls school (Casterton) down the road.  

Punishment and humiliation

I recall my own school days and individual classes vividly; there is no need for a schoolboy diary for this: chalk and board-rubbers being hurled across the room, boys being threatened with corporal punishment if they did badly in a test … and a teacher getting me to change my answers in a written exam that they were supervising … let alone humiliation for getting something wrong - despite my best efforts. 

Storytelling

Thinking of the positive, then it is the power of stories in Latin (Romulus and Remus and the foundation of Rome) - making something memorable, and on keeping a notebook of new words (tips for building vocabulary) (which I was told about age 12 or 13 and kept up for another 5 years), or trying to write a poem in French (even though I was rubbish at languages) and getting such great commitment and feedback from the teacher. And the teacher as a good disciplinarian who had our attention and respect, taught well beyond the needs of the exams to keep us motivated and would read every word of some of the very long homework essays I wrote and illustrated (Geography). In these three examples, the realisation that these three teachers were both interested in the pupil and their subject and wanted you to enjoy it as much as they clearly did. It was motivational. 

Feedback and being attentive to the individual

Likewise discussing some mad-cap immersive multi-sensory walk in/sit down ‘pod’ experience as an installation for an O’Level year group Art Class and being persuaded to take an interest in Opera. 

A Person’s Name

More up to date, like the last few days, rather than the last few decades, I shared the importance of knowing and using a students name, and checking what they would like to be called - Bella, not ‘Isabella’ or ‘Oliver’ not ‘Oli’ or nicknames like ‘Lolly’ rather than her name on the class list ‘Lahra’ - and getting Irish and Polish names correctly, whether Niahm, Siobhan or Saoirse, Wanda or Kasia. 

A chance to be heard

And then pronouncing it correctly and then using their name often. And then, like the Chair in any meeting, trying to ensure that everybody’s voice is heard - not just your own, or ‘hands up’ if you know the answer. 

Death by PowerPoint

Of course, avoiding ‘death by PowerPoint’ - the worst case of this being yet another ‘should have been retired’ historian, with no teaching experience, taking a class where, his back turned to us, he reads from one slide after another. In sharp contrast to lecturers I know who might put up 15 slides, each being an image as a catalyst or a prompt for discussion. And the best presenter ever, who provided a prose written text to cover, more or less, what he had SAID (unscripted) during the presentation. He was a barrister; he was used to talking in public.

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Design Museum

Authentic and Alternative Assessment and Feedback

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This requires some defining. We are talking e-assessment and e-feedback here (i.e. digital) and for 'authentic' and 'alternative' we mean 'vocational' and accessible digital initiatives.

I am here to search through my Student Blog. I had hoped to be able to use the 'Massively multiplayer online role-playing game' Second Life but it is no more.

Can anyone suggest a virtual world where students with accessibility needs can get online 'in character' and role play some actions and decision making?

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What makes this blog of value

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Especially to me.

This is a learning journal. It charts my learning journey. It records, curates and collates what I studied, what I had to say at the time and even holds mundane things like notes from units and books/papers read. 

At times I have questioned its long term value. My career has been spent in education and training though, albeit 'corporate training and communications' using linear video, and then a move to the web with a few personal hijinks on the way as I decided I could and should be writing a novel or screenplay while raising the kids.

A year in education, at the front line, if only in a support role, and about to embark on teacher training, I am finding I am calling on the contents of this blog quite often to pull together my thoughts, the ideas of the experts and to formulate this into something practical.

My current target is feedback and assessment. I put these 'Search' and get links to a few dozen posts. I then go through these and slowly put together a practical plan. Today it is a 1 hour teach the teacher session on digital feedback and assessment. I think there is an angle on students with accessibility needs relating to learning and challenging behaviour. 

So here we go.

Or rather, here you go.

You are interested in 'assessment' or 'feedback' as it related to elearning - search for it here. 

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What are MOOCs doing for learning?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 17 Nov 2014, 08:24

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are new and FutureLearn, a wholly owned subsidiary of The OU is itself adapting as traditional institutions embrace e-learning, respond to feedback and results and improve.

MOOCs will be new for a decade.

E-learning like this is not a lecture series online, TV online, a book online, quiz or a tutorial online. Whilst this is invariably the starting place for 'ground based' educators, the academics working with instructional designers, not in isolation, need increasingly to begin with a blank sheet rather than looking at the physical assets of academics, books, lectures and papers around them.

What we are witnessing today is that transition from the Wright Brothers to the World War One fighter planes. We are seeing hints of the jets to come. We are a long way from drones. I use the analogy having just completed a wonderful three-week MOOC 'World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age'.

Innovations go through recognisable phases.

E-learning in the forms of MOOCs is still at the stage of 'early adoption' - rest-assured they will become commonplace, though surely with a different name. MOOCs can be a hybrid during a transitional phase so long as this is seen as the first step in many away from traditional approaches, embracing what works online.

Academics need to come out of their cupboard, come away of their studies and welcome into their midst those of us seeking to understand and to integrate the processes involved - that combination of learning and e-learning: how and why we learn and how then scale (massiveness), interactivity (digital) and connectivity (openness) changes things. In time, when the academics themselves have reached their status of 'doctor' and 'professor' through e-learning, when we can call all them 'digital scholars' rather than simply 'scholars', then we'll be able to look down from the clouds and smile at how much things have changed.

Think evolution not revolution.

Think how long it will take to see out the current generation of academics - thirty to fifty years?

Ultimately MOOCs are about a combination of sequential activities and 'interactivities', collaboration and connection.

Gilly Salmon coined the term 'e-tivities': sadly not in common usage, it nonetheless captures beautifully what is required for students to learn online - doing stuff, alone, with other students and with the academics.

Collaboration is a long held view of a kind of learning in 'communities of practice' most associated with the academics Lave and Wenger: how working together is a more effective for of constructed learning.

While 'connectivity', often associated with the academic George Siemens, is the new kid on the 'learning theories' block. Connectedness as a way of learning is dependent on a few things: the affordances of the platform to permit this with ease: if you have the opportunity compare current student messaging and blogging platforms at your institution with those at FutureLearn which has stripped back the unnecessary and concentrated on this 'connectivity'; the number and mix of participants: massive helps as a small percentage of a group will be the front runners and conversationalists with others benefiting from listening in, out of choice not pressure and the 'quality' of the participants in that they need to have both basic 'digital literacy' skills and reliable access based on their kit and connection.

Embrace the pace of change

A lean and smart organisation will tumble over itself, re-inventing and experimenting with ways things are done until clear methodologies present themselves for specific types of learning experience: 'head work' is different to' handiwork' - academic study is different from applied practice. Subjects freed from books and formal lectures, like the genii released from the bottle will, in the cloud, form into shapes that are most suited to their learners and what is being taught: blended and 'traditional' learning most certainly have their place.

Academic snobbery is a barrier to e-learning

John Seely Brown, working out of the Palo Alto Research Centre, famous for coming up with the WYSIWYG interface between us and computers and a 'learning guru' is passionate about the idea of 'learning from the periphery' - this is how and when someone new to a subject, or team, hangs around at the edges, learning and absorbing what is going on at the heart. The wonder of open learning is the participation of equally brilliant and curious minds, some who know a good deal on a subject while others are just starting out, eager to listen, willing to ask questions that may be naïve but are usually insightful; in the two-way exchange both the die-hard academic and the newbie change for the better. Learning feeds of this new fluidity.

It is evidence of the 'democratisation' of learning.

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It’s easy to blog, so more should do it.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Nov 2013, 11:20
  • low-threshold creation of entries
  • a flexible and personally meaningful way to organise and maintain them
  • opportunities to retrieve, reuse and analyse blog content
  • opportunities to engage with others.
  • fitted in while working on something else
  • providing a way to keep abreast of others ideas
  • capturing ones’ own emergent insights
  • clarifying matters for a public
  • over time ideas on a topic accumulate and connections between them become clearer.
  • feedback from readers turns blogging into a sense-making practice
  • eventually an ideas is ‘ripe’ and ready to become part of a specific task.

Efimova (2008. p. 208)

But how many do it? Ask around in your tutor group. I doubt the figure gets above 5% unless it is compulsary and then I doubt that more than 50% post more than three times during the course of module - a minimum requirement.

REFERENCE

Efimova, L. (2009) Passion at work: blogging practices of knowledge workers. Novay PhD
Research Series 2009 (www.novay.nl.dissertations)

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Blown away by my LAST TMA Result!!!!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 5 Dec 2012, 06:42

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Fig. 1. Won some team shield - age 12 years and 9 months

Over the last 34 months I have watched as various folk have posted news of a TMA success - the most important lesson and life lesson I have learnt through the OU (this time round) is to stick with it come what may.

This result doesn't win me clients, but as I stop for the day and set out into the night to meet folk who might be part of a team or might even be clients I can so with growing confidence.

'89'

I look at it and want to call my Mum.

We're discussing criticism and feedback in a forum on Linkedin - E-Learning Global Network.

I am inclined simply to shower someone with praise - they can figure out where it isn't up to scratch but the lift will do them wonders.

Stick with it. It takes time.

Somewhere I've posted how I felt going into this. 'In the flow'

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Find the support to get through the stumbles and bad decissions. This either comes from internal strength or external support - this could be the institution, might be your family.

An EMA and the MA is done.

 

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Design Museum

Learning Design looks like this

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:26

Gagnés events of instruction:

1. Gaining attention. The scene opener, even the preview or title sequence.

2. Informing the learner of the objective . Laying out your stall

3. Stimulating recall of prerequisite learning . Tapping into what has already been understood - creating empathy.

4. Presenting the stimulus material . Presenting the case, offering evidence that might impress or inspire, that could be controversial and memorable.

5. Providing learning guidance. Offering a way through the maze, the thread through the labyrinth or the helping hand.

6. Eliciting the performance . Now it's their turn.

7. Providing feedback . Sandwiched, constructive feedback on which to build.

8. Assessing the performance . How are targets going?

9. Enhancing retention and transfer . Did it stick, could they pass it on and so become the teacher?

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Paint never dries

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 30 Mar 2011, 03:09

'Paint never dries' is how one theatre-goer described the sequel to Phantom of the Opera 'Love never dies'.

Catch a feeling and put it well and it goes viral. The wise digital marketeer responds, but how?

'There is an inverse relationship between credibility and control,' according to Martin Sorrell (2008). 'The more control you keep over the message, the less credible it is. And Vice Versa.'

It is known that negative ideas have more impact than the positive; the professional though will share negative feedback wrapped in the positive.  How I'd respond to the above if it is what I felt I don't know. These shows are locked and they not? Does dropping a scene or two or a song improve matters.

As Larry Weber (2009:58) puts it, 'ignoring nagative comments is the equivalent of 'No Comment,' which is the biggest communications mistake executives make.

Max Clifford in a lecture to students says that his PR work is almost entirely damage management - people publishing lies.

I wonder how he'd deal with the above?

Might it be a question for a student of digital marketing?

Ethan (in Webber 2009:218) offers the answer. 'When you have actively engaged an audience, your biggest supporters will actually become very vocal and will step up to your defence.'

'Old news keeps like fish', they say. When it comes to a negative comment online is it just a fart in the wind? It passes. or is it hot gossip that grows?

REFERENCE

Webber, L. (2009) Marketing to the Social Web (2nd Ed) Wiley & Son

Sorrel, M. (2008) Public Relations: The Story Behind a Remarkable Renaissance. Institute of Public Relations Annual Distinguished Lecture, New York, November 5, 2008 in Argenti P,A and Barnes C, M.Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications. (2009) McGraw Hill.

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