OU blog

Personal Blogs

Kim Aling

Comparing national reports

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Kim Aling, Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013, 09:28

Comparing the US Horizon Report , the NSF Report and the BECTA report with a report on education technology in Australia.


All the reports share several features in common.  Firstly they are all optimistic about the ability of education technology to improve learning outcomes and the learner experience.  The BECTA Report also suggests there are wider social benefits, developing greater social cohesion through the creation for networks for learning and communities of practice.  Secondly, they identify the driving force behind adoption of technology as primarily economic, to create a future workforce and to compete effectively in the global economy.  The Horizon Report suggests the US lacks scientists and engineers for example.  The Australian Report also identifies the needs of the workplace as driving change as does the BECTA Report for the UK.  Thirdly, the reports all argue that technology is ubiquitous in learners' lives outside of school and developments with Web 2.0 have created more tolls for use in education.  A final common feature is that the reports all recognise limitations, or barriers that need to be addressed.  The main barrier seems to be the slow adoption by teachers, though some innovative examples are given in the reports.  The BECTA report also argues there is a lack of reliable infrastructure.   The ESF Report argues that embedding digital skills is slow. 

The Australian Report is very similar in tone and intention, but also argues that integrating education technology will improve outcomes for indigenous and remote learners, which are probably particular concerns to Australia.  They also identify further barriers in their case, firstly, the fragmented nature of education policy between the states and, secondly, the inadequate bandwidth.    The Australian proposals include:  to create an agreed national future directions framework;  to develop a blended approach in the classroom; and free access to publicly funded learning materials.

The reports for the US, UK and Australia all see the further adoption of education technology as important for education, to improve learning, to develop new skills for the digital workplace and to align the experience of technology in education with learners' experience outside education. 



Australia's future using education technology  (2004) found at http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/DA49B95A-DDF8-4081-B4E7-92AD14959634/4597/aust_future.pdf


Becta (2008) Harnessing Technology: Next Generation Learning 2008-14, Becta report on behalf of the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skill, Coventry, Becta; also available online at http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res20018

National Science Foundation (NSF) (2008) Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge, A 21st century agenda for the National Science Foundation, report of the NSF Task Force on Cyberlearning, Arlington, VA, National Science Foundation; also available online at http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res20019


New Media Consortium (NMC) (2009) Horizon Report, report from the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative, Austin, TX, The New Media Consortium; also available online at http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit-button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res20026

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Kim Aling, Friday, 22 July 2011, 11:30)
Share post
Kim Aling

VLE versus PLE

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Kim Aling, Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013, 09:28

Like Martin Weller (2007) my own personal learning environment has built up over time and grown into a complex of sites and hardware.  It also links university and external tools.  The university tools currently used are my blog site, provided through tutorhome, the OU library and RefWorks.  However, beyond these tools I use Delicious, Google and Google Schola, iGoogle (Google docs) for my RSS feeds to useful blogs, Youtube, Twitter, SkyDrive for stroing documents and pictures and various apps on the iPhone, such as BBC news, Wired and ITN News.  Most of my computing is done on the move or away from home and so be able to use the cloud is important.   

Like Weller (2007) this also blurs the boundaries between work and learning for me.  Research for work often reveals resources for my course and vice versa. 

External sites for searching, storing and sharing resources as well as sites for specific software, like mindmapping, are freely available for students and so developing a PLE is quite an easy task.  These tools can also be used alongside institutional VLEs and in some cases linked to via VLEs, for example linking students to blogger.com, or wikispaces where you may want to share to a wider audience than the institution.  It may not necessarily be a choice between VLE and PLE but a choice of tools from both environments with students moving to a wider PLE as they develop confidence and competence.

For many first year students on course I tutor they have little experience of web 2.0 tools and so using institutional tools means that students can be easily guided in their use.  Some students do come already using other tools, eg delicious or diigo, and their continued use is encouraged.  Whilst on the course I also encourage students to use delicious as this is where I share good links. Use of VLE or PLE may then be influenced by the degree of competence of the student, starting with a safe and guided VLE and moving into a PLE.


Weller, M. (2007) 'My personal work/leisure/learning environment' blog post 06/12/2007 in the Ed Techie found at http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2007/12/my-personal-wor.html [accessed 09/07/11]

My personal learning environment:


Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Kim Aling, Tuesday, 12 July 2011, 23:45)
Share post
Kim Aling

Technology and its impact on a tertiary college

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Kim Aling, Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013, 09:29

Technology and its impact on a tertiary college:

New technology has impacted on the college in two ways.  Firstly there was the adoption of a VLE, in this case Moodle, and secondly, the development of new college information systems (CIS).  Both have had an impact on the teacher’s role and increased their workloads.  Both developments have also required changes in the organisation.  An eLearning team has been created and the CIS department expanded.

Teachers have found that they have been expected to create course pages on the VLE and develop resources without being given time to do this.  Also there have been additional CPD requirements on staff to learn how to work with the VLE.  When the idea of creating a virtual learning platform was first mooted it was taken up by enthusiastic staff in the Business and IT department, together with the librarian.  Moodle was chosen and staff trained and there was a lot of focus on bidding for external grants and buying equipment such as iPod touches, PS3s, Nintendo DSs, flip cameras and equipment for podcasting and software for screen capture etc.  However, in the last year a dedicated elearning team was formed with new members, with the brief to develop the VLE into a more professionally designed site.  The VLE also grew in an uncontrolled manner meaning that it became very difficult to find resources.  The whole VLE is now being restructured and redesigned with new guidelines for standards of course pages, copyright awareness, and a simpler structure.  The equipment purchased in the initial period has gradually disappeared into department cupboards with little evidence that it has been used.  It has been gathered back in and user guides and teaching advice written for each one and they have all been put in the library to be loaned out and their usage logged.  Training courses have been put on to develop skills with these technologies, but they have been poorly attended.  Some departments, such as Science and Maths, are more enthusiastic than others.

 However, there have been severe constraints on how far the team have been able to go.  Conole (2011) argues that changes have been piecemeal when a system overhaul is required to fully embed new technology.  This appears to have happened at college where changes have been made to the team driving elearning, but there still doesn’t seem to be much support from senior management and other departments in the college that have a direct impact on elearning have not been changed at all and now present an opposition.  The main area of conflict is the IT Support department that maintains a ferocious control over all the college IT systems.

Across the college innovative practise only occurs in small pockets.  A review of the VLE recently showed that many course had little or nothing on their sites.  Teachers reported that they didn’t use ot because their students didn’t use it.  There seemed little drive to encourage students.  Yet, as Conole (2011) argues students are using their own laptops in college and some teachers are using Facebook and Youtube to upload resources, such as podcasts, which students are using. 

A recent project set up by a small group of innovative staff, including the elearning team if the Supported Experiments Project.  Teachers are aiming to change a small aspect of their teaching and then share experiences and results with each other and then the rest of the college.  Some are ideas are simple changes in teaching strategy, some involve new technology.   The elearning team are involved to support staff using new technology and to build a site for them to share their ideas.  One of the tools we are using is a wiki for people to bring all their ideas together.

Three innovative projects I have researched are

·         the Penntags Project (http://tags.library.upenn.edu/): which is a social bookmarking page set up by lecturers and students as Pennsylvania University. 

·         Welkers Wikinomics (http://welkerswikinomics.wetpaint.com/): a wiki edited by K12 economics students of economic concepts which also has study guides for students.  The wiki is managed by an economics teacher.

·         OU Secondlife project  (http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Case_Study:_The_Open_University):  there are 6 OU environments including Open Life, Open life Ocean, Open Life Village, FIT Island and Deep Think I and II.  OU events and conferences held in SL.  Anna Peachey, does her tutorials in SL.  This is the most radical and most interesting project.



Conole, G. (2011) ‘Stepping over the edge: the implications of new technologies for education’ in Lee, M.J.W. and McLoughlin, C. (eds) Web 2.0-based E-learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching, Hershey, PA, IGI Global; also available online at http://www.igi-global.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ gateway/ contentowned/ chapter.aspx?titleid=45034&accesstype=infosci

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Kim Aling, Sunday, 10 July 2011, 20:58)
Share post
Kim Aling

Are values embedded in Web 2.0 evident in learning technologies today?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Kim Aling, Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013, 09:29

Weller (2009) suggests that decentralisation, democratisation and bottom-up processes characterise the world of Web 2.0. Using your reading in the module thus far, provide one or two examples that would support this claim and one or two examples that would modify or counter this claim.

Examples in support: 

  • Wikipedia is also an example used by Weller
  • Blogging can reflect all three. Learners can have any blog site, so not controlled by any one institution, they can post their own thoughts to blogs and interact with others via comments. However, blogs can be limited by the requirements of the course to blog on certain subjects, especially where it forms part of assessment - which reduces the element of democracy
  • Activity Theory and expansive learning suggest that learners work towards defining the problem and creating solutions. If learners are able to choose their own tools to research and collaborate then this would be a supporting example
  • Wesch's arguments about Youtube as a social networking and publishing medium - emphasises the democracy, decentralisation and democratisation


Examples that partially support

  • The Evolution MegaLab and the citizen science projects. Using the voluntary participation of many to provide evidence for the study. Not totally bottom up as the study has been decided by a group of experts and the results will be interpreted by this group.
  • Elluminate is available for H800 students to use anytime to discuss topics arising, though sometimes this is directed by the course material and Elluminate is controlled by the OU and only open to course members. Elluminate is often used as a virtual classroom, maintaining the processes and values of the traditional classroom. Elluminate is also fixed in time which creates exclusion.


Examples against:

  • Learning design suggests that learning outcomes are determined by the institution and the course and the tools are also prescribed. Compendium has icons for tools and learning outcomes.
  • Cox's paper on vicarious learning also had specified tools and the experiences that students drew upon were also chosen by the course team
  • Forums where the subject is determined by the course requirements, though participants can choose to discuss any topic. Forums are only available to the group, therefore limited participation determined by the institution.
  • OERs - learners follow determined course structures using prescribed tools



Weller, M. (2009) 'Using learning environments as a metaphor for educational change', On the Horizon, vol.17, no.3, pp.181-9; also available online at http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/ .m/ welleronthehorizon.pdf [accessed 11/06/11]

Share post
Kim Aling

Blogging in teaching and learning

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Kim Aling, Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013, 09:30

Web.2.0 has seen the introduction of a new activity, blogging.  These are online journals where individuals can write and publish their thoughts, ideas or research and open them to be read by either a select few of the whole world.  Blogs then invite comment and debate and can be tracked via RSS feeds.  So, can this technology be utilised in a formal teaching and learning context to improve skills, expand knowledge, promote collaboration or form a basis of assessment?

By 2004 the number of blogs post had was claimed to be passed 4 million (Husband as cited in Flatley, 2005, p77).   The literature highlights many benefits for blogging in an educational context.  Goh et al (2010) identify four benefits: the ability to customise and take ownership; safe environment where the blogger can be anonymous; learning through collaboration; encourages introspection and deep thinking.  Blogging also has the potential to improve students writing skills and self expression (Nedeva and Nedev, 2010).  It also helps develop critical thinking and to 'develop articulate critical voices' (Oravec, 2003, p232). 

Oravec (2003) looks at different ways educators can use blogs in learning to achieve these perceived benefits.  Firstly, students can simply post work for feedback and comment.  We have been encouraged to do this on H800 and the benefits have been, for me, a sense of progression and a chance to read ideas of others and check my understanding in the light of their posts.  Secondly, students can exchange hyperlinks.  We have not done this specifically on H800, but we have provided sources of our writing for others to explore. Thirdly, students can be encouraged to subscribe to other blogs outside the group that are specific to their field, eg educational blogs for H800.  Educational blogs we have been encouraged to visit are e4innovation.com and The ed Techie.  Other useful blogs can be found at:

Oravec's (2003) fourth use is to form knowledge communities.  It is argued specifically that 'weblog-based knowledge communities can also form as bloggers link to blogs with similar themes and provide critical commentary.   This is happening naturally with H800 as we have developed a community of practise based around the course content and we all are involved in some aspect of education.

 Kerawalla et al (2008)identify actual behaviours with regards blogging, suggesting there are five main types, resource network building, support network building, self sufficient blogging, anxious self sufficient blogging and blogging avoidance.  Goh et al (2010) investigate blogging behaviour in an Asian context and find four common perceptions of blogging: concerns over offending others and writing in a public space; a pragmatic approach where blogs were not customised due to lack of time; and  a tension between agreeing that collaborative learning is beneficial and a fear of being seen as incompetent.   These studies of students' behaviour and perception suggest that the potential benefits suggested above may not always be achievable and teaching strategies using blogs, as detailed above may not always be successful.

 I have really enjoyed the experience of blogging and of reading others blogs, but can understand how it may be difficult to achieve high participation rates and successful outcomes when integrating it into teaching.  The challenge is to find ways to make it relevant to the student, interesting to do and provide a safe place for students to express themselves. 



Flatley, M.E (2005), 'Blogging for enhanced teaching and learning', Business Communication Quarterly, 68, 1, pp. 77-80

Goh, J.W.P., Quek, C. J., & Lee, O. K. (2010). An Investigation of Students' Perceptions of Learning Benefits of Weblogs in an East Asian Context: A Rasch Analysis. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (2), 90-101.


Kerawalla, L. Minocha, S. Kirkup, G. and Conole, G. (2008) 'Characterising the different blogging behaviours of students on an online distance learning course', Learning, Media and Technology, 33: 1, pp21 - 33


Nedeva, V.,  and Nedev, D. (2010) 'A new approach of elearning education using blogging' Universităţii Petrol - Gaze din Ploieşti Vol, LXII pp162-169

Oravev, J., A. (2003) 'Blending by blogging:  Weblogs in blended learning initiatives' Journal of Educational Media, 28:2-3 pp225-233

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Kim Aling, Thursday, 2 June 2011, 23:23)
Share post
Kim Aling

Surveys v audio logs v video logs

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Kim Aling, Tuesday, 9 Apr 2013, 09:30

Surveys versus audio logs versus video


These are three research methods used to examine the student voice with regards their use and perception of technology in their learning and beyond.


Surveys represent the traditional way of gaining data on opinion and feelings.  The benefits today are that they can be quickly distributed to a wide number of people via email and easily completed and returned via email.  The researcher can ask specific question to elicit specific data and by using questions with a Likert Scale, can create quantitative data.  It is also a method that respondents are used to and familiar with.


The disadvantages are that respondents are self selecting and may represent only those who had a particularly negative or particularly positive experience.  Additionally there is the difficulty of asking the right questions and problems where respondents feel they cannot give a true answer as their choices are limited and they cannot provide a free text answer.

Audio logs are a more recent method and in Conole et al (2008) respondents rang in to record their log and were reminded of the survey questions.  It was argued that 'audio logs were chosen because such diaries can provide rich data about day-to-day events, as they happen, and contain a realistic account of the activities undertaken by the learners' (2008, p512).  This type of data collection is found often in anthropology and I found a study called 'Memoirs of togetherness from audio logs' (Korchagin, 2009) which investigates how family relations can be improved by the use of technology to break down distance barriers.  Here participants logged their social events via palm top devices. 

Conole also reviews audio logs on Cloudworks (2010), where she outlines the advantages as:

  • Simple and effective
  • Captures emotion and immediate feelings
  • Good response rate from students
  • Can triangulate with other data
  • Very rich data gained
  • Adds a nice angle to presentations of finding

But the disadvantages are:

  • What devices to use, students or central number
  • Ethical issues of anonymising
  • Background noise and recording quality

Further problems might occur when trying to analyse the data and the need to transcribe which may lose valuable emotional material unless a coding methods is used.


Video logs:  These also provide rich data and can capture emotion.  The video diaries form the LXP project, Laura's video and Jenny and Emma's video capture their enthusiasm for their technologies much more than words could (JISC).  The advantages of video logs are therefore similar to audio logs, but also add a richer communication of emotion and feelings and we really do see 'the learner' at work. Wesch's video 'A vision of students today' also captures the learner's voice, but in a more choreographed way (Wesch, 2007).

  • However, the disadvantages are:
  • Participants may be more self conscious and not want to take part
  • Deciding what technology to use involves knowing what learners are competent in using
  • Or, the costs of setting a up someone to video the learner
  • The problem of analysing the data and losing even more richness if transcribing it

The learner voice means just that and actually hearing students speak for themselves is the very best way to capture that.  Lessons can be learned from disciplines that use video and audio to overcome some of the problems of using these methods.  However, any study really needs a range of methods in order to gain the most reliable and valid data and so no one method should be used to the exclusion of others.



Conole, G (2010) 'Briefing on the use of audio logs' found at http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/3197 [accessed 15/05/11]

Conole, G. De Latt, M. Dillon, T. And Darby J (2008) ''Disruptive technologies', 'pedagogical innovation':  What's new? Findings from an in-depth study of students' use and perception of technology' Computers and Education 50:2 pp511-524


JISC (2010) The Learners Voice,  found at (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearningpedagogy/learneroutcomes/learnervoices

Korchagin, D. (2009) 'Memoirs of togetherness from audio logs' Idiap Research Institute found at  http://www. publications.idiap.ch/downloads/papers/2009/Korchagin_UCM_2009.pdf [accessed 15/05/11]

Wesch, M (2007) 'A vision on Students today' [video] found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=dGCJ46vyR9o [accessed 15/05/11]

Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 149423