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Awww, we are nearly at the end of the e(LATE)D module. sad I'm really going to miss going on the study calendar, checking in with people and reading about e-tivities and online pedagogy.

When I started the module, there was a questionnaire to fill in designed to help you see if you had time to undertake it. I didn't have time to fill that in so I just signed up anyway big grin. In retrospect I see I probably shouldn't have done the module at this particular time, when I am in the middle of teaching a brand new module, my daughter was just finishing primary school and going up to secondary and I had my nephew (with profound special needs) staying on his annual holiday with me. I am so glad I didn't put it off, though, because I would have been sorry to go another few months without the understanding I've gained from the course.

I was done for speeding once, and sent on a speed awareness course. I grumbled that the course wasn't for good people like me, who only occasionally tipped over the speed limit. When I got there I found it was exactly for people like me as it was designed to help good drivers stop the occasional over-enthusiastic use of the accelerator.

e(LATE)D was like that. I know a fair bit about the internet (not as much as my eleven-year old of course), and am a regular user of forums. I thought e(LATE)D would just be a way of rubber-stamping my knowledge. What I found from the start was that it was a great opportunity to reflect on my teaching online and provided many many opportunities to think about my academic praxis as an Associate Lecturer. 

Computer and cub scout top with badges (The E-Learning Mum)

Although I've been a mature student and know from the inside many of the anxieties my students experience, I haven't been a student on a distance learning module myself. Going on the course helped me see e-learning through the student's eyes. I became quite sad when I fell behind a couple of weeks and felt I was missing out - how often have I complacently reassured some student that it's OK to skip a couple of things. When I was in the situation of having to do so, I really didn't want to!

Book cover "What the Best College Teachers Do"

The module is well designed with the inclusion of pedagogic literature. As usual with OU modules, building blocks for writing assignments are set out for you, interspersed with activities which develop skills. e(LATE)D was a great opportunity to consider how to teach, and the principles around which to design teaching. I have a better understanding now of how the modules I'm teaching have probably been designed. I am keen to go and read Ken Bain's work in more depth, and explore further the distinction between social constructivist and critical learning pedagogies.

RSS icon

Of course, there was nudging towards using online applications which I had always meant to get my head around but not quite done yet. I will master the RSS feed one day! I am nearly there with it now, LOL. (I'm wondering if I can use it to make a list of e-learning academic journals, and what has come out in their latest issues. Or would de.licio.us - now 'delicious' be better for that?)

Diagramme of e-project

Writing out my e-tivity (see blogposts below) was an excellent opportunity to reflect carefully on a teaching activity I had always wanted to incorporate into my modules. I got great feedback and support from the others on the module.

I also got to read their write-ups of e-tivities, and this was very helpful to me in considering how I write and how I can improve my own academic writing. I got some excellent ideas from their e-tivities, which I hope to translate onto my own module next year (duly referenced, of course!).

I did think I would get my head around the key technologies (apps?) which are 'trending' in the academic e-world right now. But what is 'hip' today in e-learning is no longer 'bae' tomorrow. (At the time I post, the adjective 'bae' meaning 'cute, adorable, my bae-by' is so cool you can't even google it but by the time you read this it will probably have been overtaken by something else.) I learned more about a lot of apps I'd wondered about, and I found out about new ones. Most of all, I learned to keep looking and exploring in the internet world.

I was inspired by the opportunities e(LATE)D offered to develop my understanding of e-learning and of pedagogies in general. It was an entry point to the literature in my professional field. I mean now to look for opportunities to join communities where I can continue the conversations I have begun on best praxis in e-learning.

Perhaps that is the best end result of a course, that the student emerges not with a body of dry knowledge, soon to be outdated, but as a 'deep learner' (HETL interview with Bain in 2012). Someone who has been able to access 'learning [that] has a sustained and substantial influence on the way they will subsequently think, act, and feel'. 

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Give and Take in Peer Feedback - e(LATE)D TMA Stage 3

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Having written my assignment, I was to submit it to a fellow Associate Lecturer/student on the e(LATE)D module for feedback. Contrary to the gentle supportive reminders on the Study Calendar that, like our students, we may feel anxious about getting feedback, I was very keen to have some dialogue about what I was writing. It can be easy to start feeling like a tutor on a desert island when you teach mostly online. It was pleasant to hear back about my work instead of just putting wise words out on other people's work, like messages in bottles.

Dessert Island (Iles Flotantes)

(Pictured above, a dessert island: Îles Flottantes)

I got good advice from my peer commentator, although she took a more formal approach and I suspect may have been a bit guarded in what she said.

The person whose assignment I was to feed back on had not contacted me, so I was gleefully thinking I'd get to skip that part of the workload. However luckily in the Online Tutorial another student said she had not managed yet to get feedback and I leapt in to offer to do it for her.

Having to do this was very helpful. In order to give a professional level of feedback, I had to closely read the Learning Outcomes for the assignment. When I read them in order to write my assignment, I'm afraid I skipped quickly through them just skimming them sufficiently to get the general idea! I was under a lot of pressure and running about a week late (you are only supposed to have five days' extension).

That was a lesson to me in how students approach their work! since I had always naively assumed they at least read the assignment instructions carefully several times. I did used to get a bit puzzled by some of the elementary errors I would spot and wonder which set of instructions they were following mixed

So now I am poised to re-write my assignment, with my peer commentator's feedback and a clear idea of the Learning Outcomes, LOL. It has been most helpful to read someone-else's assignment and see how they approached it. I have looked at others posted on the Forum too. 

I've found it helpful writing this blog, as there were some things I covered in my write-up which I can now feel I have written about more appropriately elsewhere (such as the mind mapping planning stage of the work). I felt I ought to include them, to show I had done the legwork for the assignment - like mathematicians writing out the whole equation not just the answer. However I would rather write a clean account of the e-tivity I am attempting to develop.


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Mind mapping - e(LATE)D TMA Stage 3

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Edited by Anita Pilgrim, Friday, 31 Jul 2015, 06:43

Personally I have never got on with mind-mapping. Spider diagrammes make me want to get out my feather duster and clean that mess off the paper so I can write. I know that the livelier minds of my students can be visual or aural rather than textual so I always pretend to draw one in order that they understand how visually mapping out their ideas could support their thinking, but secretly I just write a list. Grocery shopping, To Do (cat to vet, rake lawn, don't forget to pick up child from school), Report on Social Deprivation and Education, it can all be done by The List. And then you can use the list as your Contents. Although not for the To Do tasks.

However, using mind mapping online tools was part of the game on e(LATE)D so I heaved a sigh and got on with it.

First we were to try out FreeMind. I felt very much welcomed as there is a large note at the bottom of the FreeMind instructions already saying "Did FreeMind make you angry? Write a complaint." I put my ideas into FreeMind, while telling the cat to stop complaining, I would take it to the vet in a moment, and it looked like this: 

FreeMind diagramme

Well, that is not even pretty! What about some colours and stuff, chaps? Sorry, but that really didn't do much for me.

On to the OU's own mind mapping software: CompendiumLD. My mind map there looked like this:

Compendium diagramme

OK, at least it has some colour, I suppose.

I did find CompendiumLD had value. It is designed not just for free-thinking mind mapping but for planning teaching. I found it helpful that it suggested I make particular nodes for Tasks and Outputs. It enquired tactfully who was supposed to complete these Tasks: Tutor or Student?

I don't really think using these tools used up as much time as I felt, I think they were actually quite speedy. I'm just very impatient with mind mapping, LOL, whereas if I have a chunk of text in front of me I will sit there all day, ignoring the plaintive cries of my hungry cats and child. ("Just have some crisps and sweets. And feed those damn cats.")

CompendiumLD is not valuable for presentation purposes, IMHO. I expect you can see that some of those Nodes have notes attached, but these don't readily open up for others to see. If I was going to seriously mindmap and present, I would use Prezi. Although I hate mind mapping, I adore Prezi. That shows you how super duper good it is. It is intuitive and for very little effort, you can make a set of presentation slides which look stratospherically amazing. You can muck about with all kinds of designs for your Prezi slides, and I do like that. It feels like being back in the sandpit at kindergarten - but with Einstein and Newton making models of time and motion. (I said it feels like that! What you actually produce in there is between you and your conceptual framework.)

OK, now I better take the cat to the vet. Back at you shortly with more reflections on my e(LATE)D TMA e-tivity development process! wide eyes

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The Aims - e(LATE)D TMA Stage 3

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My main aim - boost referencing ability for Level 1 students approve

  1. Referencing is a key study skill. I often see students get lower marks than their astute analysis deserves because they don't provide proper citation sad
  2. Referencing supports the academic 'voice', encouraging students to write:
  • Succinctly;
  • In a way that is directly engaged with the thinking and the evidence they are exploring;
  • With more authority.

A secondary 'affordance' - encouraging the students to do more forum posting.

This encourages student-student learning fostered by tutor support ('scaffolding'), rather than student-tutor learning.

Answers by other students, or the tutor, will refer to module materials where help on referencing can be found - encouraging better student-course content engagement, and better awareness of less obvious material in the course content.

The activity will support students in becoming independent deep learners, as Ken Bain recommends. cool

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Starting off - e(LATE)D TMA Stage 3

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Edited by Anita Pilgrim, Friday, 31 Jul 2015, 07:20

Luckily I had an activity in mind which I had long wanted to develop. I have always been passionate about teaching good referencing practice. (This is partly because it took me a long time to get my head around referencing!) I also love Forum posting.

Combine the two! What could go wrong. approve

Since I was mid-way through a module, I decided to test my lovely e-tivity live. approve

thoughtful well, that certainly was an interesting experience. As they say of e-teaching, serendipidous learning should be welcomed!

I teach in two cluster groups, so had the benefit of seeing how things go wrong work differently with different groups of students.

Group #1 - student immediately posts complicated secondary referencing example.

Group #2 - a student posts reflections on alphabetical listing in the full references, about which there is conflicting advice in the module materials. Another tutor and I cross-post (at the same time) further conflicting opinions and enter into a messy dialogue which may lead to students disengaging from the thread. 

Watch this space!!! wide eyes

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