OU blog

Personal Blogs

Graduation 2008


Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:34

I've had a chaotically busy two weeks including family dramas

However I've now caught up with my workload and my studies - phew!

The week 3 activity I previously skipped by has now been returned to, summarised in Evernote and briefly summarised in my blog.

Week 4 collaborative activity is still hanging in the air, although this is taking direction now through concerted effort to complete it. We have managed to think more about the scenario, goal and context which helps the report to be written. Last time I viewed it there was some shape and focus thanks to sub-headings and references. Until then there had been relatively useful dialogue but no real action. It feels good that it's moving on.

I've completed one week 5 activity and need to work on the next.

Additionally I've checked our wiki contacts page and added some new blogs to my list, read them and commented on some.

Now back to the other week 5 activity - feeling much more comfortable as cannot abide being behind in my studies, whilst aware that within groups we all have different commitments and it's just not possible for us all to fully collaborate at the same time.

After the final week 5 activity of course I have the TMA01 planning to enjoy - and yes it is enjoyable (the planning process anyway) wink



Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Alan Clarke, Wednesday, 5 Mar 2014, 20:43)
Share post
Graduation 2008

Wk3 - Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age (Siemens, 2004).

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:35

Siemens (2004) refers to connectivism in the digital age as learning through connections e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and elearning.

John Seely Brown presents an interesting notion that the internet leverages the small efforts of many with the large efforts of few” (Siemens, 2004). Collaborative working is an example of this.

Diverse teams of varying viewpoints are a critical structure for completely exploring ideas ” (Siemens, 2004). This relates to tutor group forum discussions - learning from each other.



Siemens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age [online], http://www.elearnspace.org/ Articles/ connectivism.htm (last accessed 04 March 2014).


Share post
Graduation 2008

Week 5 - technology for educational use

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:35



How long used for educational purposes

by my organisation (OU)

by me

Cloud computing

2010 according to http://sclater.com/blog/ou-adopts-google-apps-for-education/

Cloudworks 2012 and Google Apps for Education 2014

Mobile/cell phone

OUAnywhere app since 2013 http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/skillsforstudy/mobiles.php

Used this app since 2013. Owned a smartphone since 2011

Open content

Free, interactive eBooks available on iTunes U since 2010. OpenLearn since 2006

OpenLearn 2008. iTunes eBooks 2013

Tablet computing

OUAnywhere app since 2013 http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/skillsforstudy/mobiles.php

Owned a tablet since 2012 

Game-based learning

Second Life since 2006. OUVirtualWorlds on Twitter since 2009. http://www.open.ac.uk/virtualworlds/content/ou-second-life


Learning analytics

2013 http://www.open.ac.uk/iet/main/research-innovation/learning-analytics

As part of the OU - student since 2002 and tutor since 2008

New scholarship

Digital Scholarship 2011 http://www.open.ac.uk/iet/main/research-innovation/learning-an-open-world/digital-scholarship

Since starting MAODE in 2008

Semantic applications

Social Learn since 2012 http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/sociallearn/

Social Learn since 2012

Augmented reality

 Second Life since 2006

Listening to podcasts and viewing webinars on my smartphone since 2011

Collective intelligence

 Tutor group forums for collaborative learning since 2006


Smart objects

 Elluminate since 2009

Elluminate 2009


Content since 1971 http://www.open.ac.uk/about/main/the-ou-explained/history-the-ou and “The OU has had a partnership with the BBC for over 40 years and co-produces up to 25 TV and radio series a year with the BBC, recent examples; Empire, The Secret History of Our Streets, Bang Goes the Theory, Frozen Planet, Our Crime, Divine Women” http://www.open.ac.uk/about/main/the-ou-explained/facts-and-figures plus (in the same weblink) “•The OU is YouTube EDU’s largest UK university channel with 800 videos that have received 11.2 million views by 6.2 million visitors”.



Share post
Graduation 2008

Week 3, activity 8

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:36

Hypothesis 1: eLearning is a means of implementing education that can be applied within varying education models (for example, face to face or distance education) and educational philosophies (for example behaviourism and constructivism). Yes, this is the blended learning that I tutor.

Hypothesis 2: eLearning enables unique forms of education that fits within the existing paradigms of face to face and distance education. Yes, I’d say MOOCs are an example of this.

Hypothesis 3: The choice of eLearning tools should reflect rather than determine the pedagogy of a course; how technology is used is more important than which technology is used. Yes, there needs to be some freedom of student choice.

Hypothesis 4: eLearning advances primarily through the successful implementation of pedagogical innovation. Yes, the conversational style draws learners in (Laurillard, 2002).

Hypothesis 5: eLearning can be used in two major ways; the presentation of education content, and the facilitation of education processes. Yes, it stores and tracks as a facilitative process.

Hypothesis 6: eLearning tools are best made to operate within a carefully selected and optimally integrated course design model. Yes, seamlessness of design must be a key feature to enable a student-focussed experience.

Hypothesis 7: eLearning tools and techniques should be used only after consideration has been given to online vs offline trade-offs. No, this is no longer such a big issue now with mlearning availability.

Hypothesis 8: Effective eLearning practice considers the ways in which end-users will engage with the learning opportunities provided to them. Yes, user-friendly design is important to ensure smooth and logical flow of learning design that considers first-time users (Salmon, 2000).

Hypothesis 9: The overall aim of education, that is, the development of the learner in the context of a predetermined curriculum or set of learning objectives, does not change when eLearning is applied. Yes, this links very closely to hypothesis 8 - perhaps they could be combined. Idrus (2000), “The tools have change[d], the job hasn’t.”

Hypothesis 10: Only pedagogical advantages will provide a lasting rationale for implementing eLearning approaches. Yes, it's a tried and tested successful approach.



Idrus, R. (2000). “The pedagogical issues in e-learning.” New straits times/management times, 28/8/2000.

Laurillard, D. (2002). “Design tools for eLearning.” In Williamson, A., Gunn, C., Young, A. and Clear, T. (eds), Winds of change in the sea of learning, proceedings of the 19th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE), Auckland. Keynote address.

Salmon, G. (2000). E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online. Kogan Page: London.

Share post
Graduation 2008

Innovation in my organisation

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:36

My context is as an OU Tutor so my organisation is The Open University. In particular my work is for the Faculty of Health and Social Care tutoring groups at level 2 and level 3.

 On the basis of my experience:

  1. Do you sense that your innovations (as supporters of learning) have been valued, encouraged, supported?

I wanted to create a revision app for mlearning but the time it would take to get it authorised and functioning would be unhelpful for my students, so instead I set it up as a group interactive study aid on Google Drive (Google Docs as it was called then). This is similar for all large organisations; that ideas need to be verified at several levels. Additionally setting it up as a free app for iPhone entails Apple verification. Therefore my idea was a long term plan not really feasible in the short term. The idea was supported in principle.

  1. What evidence do you have to support your view?

Research with Apple and researching how to transform Word documents into web pages and then converting them into apps. Discussions with fellow tutors and previous Staff Tutor (line manager).

From the perspective of my context:

  1. How widespread is innovation in your organisation?

Ideas are welcomed e.g. regional staff training events have displays of published works and ask for contributions to future displays. I feel this is to inspire and motivate action rather than to ‘sell’ to existing employees or to provide a self-congratulatory exhibit. Staff newsletters also ask for contributions - however this may be more likely to fill spaces.

  1. Are there policies or statements that relate to innovation? If yes, how are they implemented?

TutorHome is similar to a human resources tool including policies. In researching innovation I came up with an award for Most Innovative Teacher of the Year given to an OU Tutor in 2012 by Times Higher Education. There is an OpenLearn module called Innovative Innovation and a paper on Health innovation (2014), which makes me wonder if it’s a buzz word. However this journal article from 2003 has convinced me that innovation and innovative work is not the latest trendy phrase, “HR policy rewarded non-managerial employees for innovation, whilst managerial staff were expected to do so as a matter of course” (The Open University Business School, 2003). This relates to the teaching award above, and when I was a senior manager in local government – where managers motivate staff by recognising their achievements.

  1. What implications, if any, does this have for your attitude towards innovation?

It makes me question the genuineness of innovation awards and job descriptions that encourage staff to be innovative.  H817 Openness and innovation in elearning is the updated version of H807 Innovations in eLearning, which replaces H802 Applications of Information Technology (OU Knowledge Network, 2007). Modules need to be current so are updated regularly to keep them fresh and relevant, utilising latest learning technology – so in this way they are innovative. Therefore as the primary purpose of my organisation is learning, the OU is innovative.



The Open University Business School, (2003) http://www.open.ac.uk/business-school/research/publications/2003/supporting-innovation-through-hr-policy-evidence-uk

OU Knowledge Network (2007) http://kn.open.ac.uk/news.cfm?newsitemid=2374&method=NewsItemDisplayFull&CFID=7132685&CFTOKEN=73420011

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Linda Audsley, Saturday, 15 Feb 2014, 14:11)
Share post
Graduation 2008

Week 2, activity 5 OER and OpenLearn

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:37

OpenLearn is accessible both financially and for those with disabilities, so it is open and innovative. For those who are 'hard to reach' e.g. have not heard of it or are not computer-literate, it is less open. Additionally "open document formats may be seen as a barrier if it means downloading new software" (JISC, 2014). The more recent easy to use drop-down boxes are much easier for locating locate topics of interest than when I last looked at OpenLearn. Its quizzes and graphics are eye-catching too - I had to pull myself away!

The Open University discusses the historical context of OpenLearn and its achievements. "Established in 2006 it started as a two-year experiment to understand how we can operate in a more open manner and what benefits it brings for learners, educators and The Open University. Since then OpenLearn has become an integrated part of The Open University attracting more than 5 million unique visitors each year" (The Open University, 2014). However the university does not state the financial implications, whether they believe the benefits outweigh the cost and if it had been considered as a target for their budget-trimming.

Conventional universities provide OER too. "The most compelling argument for the release of OER is the marketing opportunities that it provides. The more you release the more people know about you" – Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor, University of Lincoln (JISC, 2013). OpenLearn challenges conventional assumptions about paying for higher education modules by being available to anyone who can use a computer. Previously universities were places where mostly white middle class non-disabled men (and later on, women) would frequent. OER has broken down the barrier of low social economic status (Tekleselassie, 2010). Younger and mature students can study whilst juggling other commitments such as work and family.



JISC, (2013) http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2013/Openeducationalresources.aspx

Tekleselassie, A. (2010). Demystifying Conventional Assumptions: Do African American parents anticipate investing less toward their children’s college costs than their white peers? Journal of Student Financial Aid, 40 (2), 5-20.

The Open University, (2014) http://www.open.ac.uk/about/open-educational-resources/oer-projects/openlearn

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Friday, 14 Feb 2014, 20:29)
Share post
Graduation 2008

Week 1 reflection

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:38

I particularly enjoyed the research and writing up of findings from my chosen project within the Seely Brown and Adler paper (below).

I've got to grips with OUAnywhere for mlearning with my tablet and iPhone. It's a really useful tool, to quickly read and respond to tutor group forum posts.

Have read most of our groups blogs and commented on several of these, their blog addresses are saved in a folder for easy access.

Time management will of course be an issue (as ever), I've had more availability this week, which is useful because of the 'getting to you know you' activities. However considerably less time when I'm TMA marking and exam marking. Yet this has been manageable in the past by forward planning.

To summarise, I am finding this module interesting and relevant.

Share post
Graduation 2008

Seely Brown and Adler - social learning online

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:38

Terra Incognita project



“A current example of an attempt to harness the power of study groups in a virtual environment is the Terra Incognita project of the University of Southern Queensland (Australia), which has built a classroom in Second Life, the online virtual world that has attracted millions of users. In addition to supporting lecture-style teaching, Terra Incognita includes the capability for small groups of students who want to work together to easily “break off” from the central classroom before rejoining the entire class” (Seely Brown and Adler, 2008 p. 20).

Historical context

According to Linden Labs, the developer of Second Life, as of November 6, 2007, more than 10.5 million people had signed up for accounts in the virtual world. In the thirty days prior to that date, just over 980,000 unique individuals had logged in to Second Life, and nearly 500,000 people had logged in during the previous week (Second Life, 2014a).

Current situation

However this popular social learning recently closed. Dean (2014) used to run the project but due to personal circumstances could no longer do so and closed it on 09.01.2014. Second Life (2014b) confirmed Terra Incognita’s status change as being inactive and offline on 12.01.2014. Although there is a way forward, “Virtual World Web” has been used previously as a method for moving from the online Second Life website to effective offline participation (Bryan, 2014).

Other published work or research on this project - relating to PROMPT

The Seely Brown and Adler (2008) research was published in January 2008. Work by WikiEducator (2013) discusses the Terra Incognita project five years later.  However WikiEducator is associated with Wikipedia which is not considered a reputable academic source due to its multi-editing function. Therefore it would not meet the PROMPT criteria. Additionally there is a piece by Rozen and Leonhart (2008) on the Terra Incognita project written in December 2008. Although 11 months after the Seely Brown and Adler work, with sufficient time for a brief review, the item appears only to be in draft format. Moreover it is not being particularly current so there would have likely been considerable change during that time. For the purpose of PROMPT it demonstrates that is insufficiently recent.  However there are some recent and reputable sources that have discussed this project, Corder (2011) and the University of Texas (2012).


Although the Terra Incognita project has recently ended, this blog aims to demonstrate how it could continue and uses PROMPT criteria in discussing appropriate evidencing of academic work.


All comments and ideas are appreciated.



Bryan (2014) http://sled.577505.n2.nabble.com/Terra-incognita-will-go-offline-tomorrow-9th-Jan-td7582536.html

Corder (2011) http://www.leedsmet.ac.uk/world-widehorizons/Second_Life_Corder_presentation_part_2.pdf

Dean (2014) http://sled.577505.n2.nabble.com/Terra-incognita-will-go-offline-tomorrow-9th-Jan-td7582536.html

Rozen and Leonhart (2008) http://www.usu.edu/ust/pdf/2008/december/itn1229087.pdf

Second Life (2014a) http://secondlife.com/whatis/economy_stats.php

Second Life (2014b) http://gridsurvey.com/display.php?id=9917

WikiEducator (2013) http://wikieducator.org/Minds_On_Fire


Permalink 5 comments (latest comment by Patricia Dean, Monday, 15 Sept 2014, 20:40)
Share post
Graduation 2008

The benefits of blogging

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:39
I am a huge fan of Weller - following his blog and Twitter. I also bought his book as soon as it was published. He highlights that academic blogs "compete with traditional means of public engagement" (Weller, 2011 p. 49). An example of this is where blog web-links are shared automatically via Twitter. Blogs are an invaluable tool to share ideas.
Conole demonstrates how blogs and reflection link together. "Use of the site during the conference is a perfect example of how we are actively co-developing the site, watching and reflecting on user behaviour to fine tune and tailor the site specifically for educational professionals" (Conole, 2010 p. 11). I follow Conole on CloudWorks and Twitter.
This is succinctly summed up by Kirkup as "The kind of academic blogging which seems to produce the greatest sense of subjective well being, and is best at enhancing professional reputation, is the blog of ideas. In this kind of blog authors engage in conversations with their own ideas and the ideas of their peers. Blogging is both a process where ideas are developed and expressed, but often in a concise and accessible form quite different from the traditional long, analytical, and discursive academic texts that are the products by which most academics are assessed" (Kirkup, 2010 p. 21). I've come across the work of Kirkup in previous MAODE modules.
Conole, G. (2010) ‘Facilitating new forms of discourse for learning and teaching: harnessing the power of Web 2.0 practices’, Open Learning, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 141–51.
Kirkup, G. (2010) ‘Academic blogging, academic practice and academic identity’, London Review of Education, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 75–84.

Weller, M. (2011) The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice , London, Bloomsbury Academic.

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Tuesday, 4 Feb 2014, 19:42)
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: 146151