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Take Your Teaching Online : OpenLearn from The Open University - an eight week self-paced eight online course.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 Dec 2020, 05:37

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I was in a hurry. There is 24 hours of content. I got through it in 9 day: two weekends and bits during a 2020 lockdown week when I had nowhere to go. 

This is how I got on with 'Take Your Teaching Online'. 


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Types of Assessment. This was NOT part of 'Take Your Teaching Online' but I graphic from edulastic. I am trying to embed assessment types into my practice. I suppose the ultimate test is the job succcess at the end? Which is all they had, pass or fail, at the end of the School of Communication Arts' course I did. 

Learning Design

The learning design is a combination of a little bit of reading, a little bit of watching video, a few activities where you gather your thoughts about something you have just been introduced to and then a number of formative and summative quizzes. By the end, the collection of views you have expressed should build into a coherent and personal point of view. Around the middle the summative quiz grade counts towards your end of course ‘badge’. 

This is in part a taster for the Open University's own Master of Arts : Open & Distance Education - for me ‘Taking Your Teaching Online’ was an invaluable and timely opportunity to revisit the MAODE that I did 10 years ago (2010 to 2013). I’ve always had the MAODE at my fingertips over the passing years as at the time, invited to keep a reflective student blog, I did so every step of the way. This allows me to return to what I studied then. Boy, have my views matured and bedded down in this time! At last been closely complemented, even integrated into my daily experience first as a learning technologist in a large FE/HE college but now as a ‘front line’ teacher undertaking a two year, part-time PGCE. Periods of Covid-19 lockdown or departmental lockdown have harried things along. Most recently, keeping teaching to a class or two one day a week, with five classes of 20+ students each put into isolation I stepped up to run six online classes. If anyone knows the tech I should; yet do I? I feel like the swimming teacher or coach who doesn’t swim (there are plenty of those). Or the music teacher who doesn’t play an instrument. Is that possible. The timing is right. I did my first ‘micro-teach’ to my fellow PGCE students a few weeks ago. I am on Module 3 of the PGCE and completing the first term of six. Time to take the plunge.

Does it help or hinder that I have already run sixteen talks or workshops on staff CPD days. Staff and students are very different. For the most part staff will have their cameras on, will speak up and take part. In contrast the students, 17 years olds, will only put on their cameras by accident and will only speak if there is a problem. 

Plenty went wrong. With tech you learn to ride out most problems. Some things worked. I learnt plenty of lessons reinforced by the reading. Taking a class online is a different beast: they are in their domain not yours; if not engaged they can just as easily log on and then go and watch TV or play a game - many could be ‘second screening’ (should I ask next time?). Their access to kit is mixed: some on laptops, most on phones. Are any on a desktop? And where do they find the space to take part in this? Bedroom, sitting room, kitchen table, the back of dad’s car, the garden shed or back in college? 

I do the course ‘Take Your Teaching Online’ out of personal need, to support colleagues, out of intellectual curiosity and for pleasure. I will take it again, build on my notes, follow up some of the references and find a way to pass on my tester/proofreader notes to the Open University (some links are broken, videos on YouTube are not there and a few of the multiple choice questions are a nonsense). 

It also provides me with the shape of designing a series of classes over a period of time that builds into a module - something I have done repeatedly for the last seven years ever since I completed the MAODE and had ‘Learning Design’ or ‘Instructional Design’ in mind as a career move. 

The eight modules are set out quite straightforwardly of topics that cover.

Take your Teaching Online : Open Learn

Week

Learning objectives 

1

Discuss the main characteristics of online education activities and how these differ from face-to-face teaching

Begin to determine the kinds of face-to-face teaching activities that might, or might not, transfer successfully to an online environment

Summarise the elements of online teaching that need a different skill set to face-to-face teaching.

2

Understand some of the essential principles of online teaching

Be aware of some key learning theories and classifications of online teaching technologies

Understand the concept of learning objects and some of the different classifications of these.

3

Describe some of the ways to categorise educational technologies for online teaching

Explain how some of the tools available might help with certain learning objectives

start making informed decisions about which tools you might try in your own context.

4

Understand the benefits of networks to the online teacher

Discuss the concepts of communities of practice and network weather

Develop useful online networks to augment your teaching practice.

5

Define Open Educational Resources and list some examples of what this term covers.

Understand Creative Commons licences and use these properly

Search OER Repositories and the wider internet for material that you can legally reuse in your teaching

6

Define assistive technology and list a variety of examples

Understand how to make most of your online teaching materials accessible

Assess the accessibility of OERs

Understand what alternative formats may be needed in online teaching.

7

Explain the concept of technological determinism

Use the Visitors and Residents model to assess your students’ approach to technology in learning

Make changes to teaching with technologies in a systematic and informed way.

8

Understand how learning analytics can be used to evaluate learners’ behaviour

be able to gather and understand student feedback

Apply some strategies for embedding reflection in your online teaching

Plan an action research project for scholarship that seeks to improve your online teaching.


I found that the modules could indeed take two hours, and one or two more like an hour and a quarter hour and a half. Perhaps that's because I was familiar with the subject matter already. My methodology might help. I’ve learnt how to pass these things. I take notes and get screenshots all along. I’m not going to be caught when it gets the multiple-choice quiz. These notes will carry me over the line - the bar is low. The pass mark is 50%.

One or two of the modules reminded me of topics that struck me as of enormous potential value; they deserved considerably more time than the 20 minutes given to the activity. Indeed, when it came to reviewing Open Educational Resources I took the best part of 8 hours - that was my Saturday, with my notes completed on Sunday morning. It was worthwhile. As a review of these resources it is still ‘lite’ but it’s a start.

See > Open Education Resource Institutions and Repositories, Sun 5 December 2020 in this blog. 

What I relish looking at, extracting and reworking are entire course plans and individual lessons plans, as well as interesting ‘education ready’ videos and eBooks. 

There's so much to tap into if you have the time to do this kind of research. I stumbled upon an excellent OER from the Hewlett foundation, the Africa Open Educational Resources. It’s subject matter draws on the vast continent of Africa - which makes a refreshing change from the historic gravitation to Western Europe and North America, but it doesn't change the fact that the courses are still all about women's rights, teaching employability, careers, well-being and so on.

It's refreshing to see a different take on things, to begin to get a global view. 

In the Town Council I got behind Black History month and can see that there are a lot more resources and ideas here.

FOOTNOTES

1) The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments: help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work.

2) The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. Summative assessments are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value.

3) The Postgraduate Certificate in Education, commonly known as the PGCE, is one of the most popular academic qualifications for teaching. Offered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, PGCEs are designed to enhance and increase academic training, preparing students for life as a teacher.

4) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth.

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Design Museum

Understanding the Digital Student Experience

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Josh Fleming, Head of Strategy and Oversight, Office for Students (with Sir Michael Barber).

(This is a preliminary review of a report that will be published next year). 

Triggered by the pandemic response while looking ahead. Digital poverty, definition: 

Six elements that make up digital poverty. 

  1. Hardware > having the appropriate device for the work you are doing. 

  2. Software > having the right software for what you are learning. 

  3. Connectivity > having the connection to get online 

  4. Having response TECH support when the student needs it

  5. Having a trained facilitator/teacher with the necessary skills to deliver learning online and to support the learning. 

  6. Having the space to learn.

Anecdotally the above are live issues and students are struggling. 

Emerging themes:

  1. Training for staff. There is a correlation between student engagement and the better trained the staff are and the better that staff feel that they are supported.

  2. Asynchronous learning is vital for anyone needing to be able to work around their studies especially if they are having to negotiate over who uses the one computer in the house and can do so on the kitchen table and not be disturbed.

  3. Surveys to quickly provide devices and connectivity where it is needed. 

  4. All institutions should be listening to students. THEY are best placed to tell institutions what they should be doing.

  5. Regular, clear communication is ‘so terribly important’ to navigate the situation created by Covid. 

  6. The potential is a huge opportunity. Over a five to ten year period, say taking disabled students, it can be transformative for them and for learning around the world.

We expected to find subject bias. The anecdotal bias of humanities vs hands on technical degrees, we have been surprised at how well the creative arts have transitioned so that lab time is far more effectively utilised in a way that helped with their pedagogical approach. 

With international students, asynchronous learning can be really good if there is a different time zone, but synchronous learning does aid with any sense of isolation. 

Use of AI to augment human instruction to free up staff time to concentrate on the higher order learning and to improve the student experience. The students of the future may not be taught by Bots, but they will be supported by Bots.



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