OU blog

Personal Blogs

Design Museum

How we learn online keeps me up at night!

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 8 May 2016, 06:39

Ideas that are encouraged to fester mature at the most inconvenient of times

Often I find that I am up in early and keen to put my thinking into practice

Currently I am trying to develop a simple notation to show, share, explain and develop online courses. During the MAODE I completed in 2013 we often used flowcharts, one with an OU software package - these could become a bit tricksy. My answer was to set up plans of MDF shelving in the garden and get out a chess set to try and show the relationships between the required components.

Common thinking is that there are three parts to creating online learning: technical, human support and, of course, us students. Technical means the platform, its ease of access and intuitive use; human support means, in the case of The OU, the course chair, associate lecturer and us student (those who are familiar with the setup and the subject matter are encouraged to, and enable to help newcomers to the ways things are done, and to the subject when you get stuck).

 Professor Gilly Salmon presenting a 'how to' video on YouTube for Swinburne University on the 'Five Stage Model' of e-learning

Prof Gilly Salmon talks us through 'the building blocks' of an online course 

Of note is a short, charming and engaging presentation made by former OU Business School Senior Lecturer, and now Prof Gilly Salmon at Swinburne University in New South Wales. Here, like a Blue Peter presenter, she uses a set of kid's coloured building bricks to talk us through the components required to make an online course (OU style) that works.

How Gilly Salmon uses green, yellow, blue and red building blocks to show how to plan an online course.

Green = Technical

Yellow = The students or 'learners'

Blue = Human support (i.e. in OU Land the 'associate lecturer')

Red = Assessment

As I am trying to develop a shorthand, language or 'notation' to be able to compare and create online course, I invested in my own set of building bricks. Once again I set up a length of MDF in the garden to play around with ways to communicate the nature and order in which these components appear.

The results have been enlightening.

It is extraordinary what happens when you start to get stuff out of your head, and especially valuable not to be confined by the parameters of a piece of software: it is so easy, and so necessary, when thinking things through to be able to play around with the pieces.

Gilly Salmon's 'Five Stage Model' revisited 

A colour photograph of a choice of coloured building bricks used to help explain Gilly Salmon's FIve Stage Model for e-learning prepared by Jonathan Vernon MAODE

Gilly Salmon's 'Five Stage Model' for e-learning using the bricks she used in her seminal video

For simplicity's sake, let's say that this 'Five Stage Model' is for a five week module from the OU.

The bottom row of green bricks represents the Learning Management System (LMS) on which the learning appears. The technical side of things includes accessibility, web usability, reliability and good 'design architecture' i.e. it works well, is clear, intuitive, reliable and follows the most common user behaviours for anyone online in 2016.

The middle row of yellow bricks (and one red one) represents learner activities, from a gentle introduction to the platform to engaging in activities, which typically includes nothing more complex that watching a video, reading text and doing research or doing a multiple choice quiz. The red brick represents formal assessment: at The OU, this would be a Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA) or End of Module Assignment (EMA).

The top row of blue bricks represents the human interface between the students and the education institution, in this case The OU. Here, typically, we are talking about live and as live contact via various platforms, though it can include phonecalls, 'online hangouts' and even a residential component to the course. At The OU there is an assigned Tutor or Associate Lecture who 'handles' a group of 8-12 students. It is this practice that is impossible to scale when it comes to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You cannot employ 2,000 tutors to manage 16,000 to 24,000 students. Some MOOCs of many more participants than this!

It is this component too that is increasingly blended into, or comes out of the technical side of things, or from the students themselves. Firstly, increasingly detailed and easy to use Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) answer typical enquiries that students have, increasingly the ease of use of a platform is such that little to no support from the 'team' or 'Technical Help Desk' is required. At the same time, students are formally enrolled to conduct 'peer review' and when several do this for each submitted assignment a grade is come to in this way. The degree of student interaction, and the benefits of collaborative knowledge construction through this, is far harder to get going and sustain without the proactive role of the tutor or a moderator. When 'classes' are smaller, MA and PhD students are sometimes given a role to act as a catalyst for engagement and to answer enquiries and deal with some problems.

My own take on the 'lay-out' of a 'typical' MOOC is pedagogically different.

I believe that 'assessment', of the micro-quiz and multiple choice variety, is a crucial component of e-learning. This is engagement that obliges participants to think, even to struggle and repeat parts of the content, until the knowledge that matters begins to stick. Gilly Salmon's model is one for 'distance learning' while today, especially the MOOCs coming from Coursera, test you from the start. This might be as simple as interrupting a six minute video piece with a two question 'quiz'. I liken this to a teacher in class pausing, putting a question then taking an answer from one of the raised hands, or picking someone out. It makes you aware that you need to listen. You want to get these questions right even if they don't count towards anything. It is a form of light gamification, while also preparing you for an 8 or 10 or more part set of questions at the end of a component of the learning where the answers need to be right, and are based on these earlier interjections. It matters that these are a genuine challenge, that the pass mark is 80%. An easy ride isn't one that leaves you with much recollection of what you have been studying. A tough ride, as I find, and applaud, however frustrating, requires you to do a the week (typically a couple of hours) over, and sometimes over again ... until you can pass. 

 A colour photograph of a model flowchart of a Massive Open Online Course using a set of coloured building bricks

Jonathan Vernon's take on phases of the ideal 'Massive Open Online Course' where constant assessment is key

Here, drawing on the wide variety of online courses I have done: creative writing, photography, web science, language learning, history, psychology, medicine and the arts, climate change and more, I have tried to envisage an ideal format. Of course, subject matter, subject level and other criteria would immediately causes adjustments to this.

My five phases are:

Technically the platform needs to be solid. This technical side now encroaches on student support, not just from FAQs, but other ways the content and technology can step in to do what a person would have done in the past (and still does in blended courses). There might be video, there might even be some kind of AI to nurture some of the many thousands of students taking a MOOC. There is some kind of testing from the start. This might be nothing more than a check that students have understood some components of the introduction, but it gives them a taste of things to come; they will be doing these 'quizzes' regularly. If interaction between students can be encouraged then here, as early as possible, they need to be online in a 'social' like environment.

The second phase gentle eases students into learning proper. The technology is a solid 'bridge' into the content. Support is done through the platform for the most part rather than needing to call on a person. With many thousands on a course in many times zones around the globe how can a call centre of technical people be expected to be available?

The second phase repeats the second with more learning: the yellow brick. And a touch more testing.

With phase three we are up and running: support for activities, which can be as inventive as the course creators want and the technology and budget permits. Content is delivered in a variety of ways and testing continues in a style and manner that by now, if not a little later, will be formal, requiring an 80% pass rate.

Phase five, which segues into a phase six of sorts, is crunch time: formal assessment with a tough, longer quiz that has built on previous ones and a peer reviewed written assignment too. These need to be constructed with extraordinary skill and care given that students will be marking each other's work, and where many, if not most, will not have English as their first language. As well as testing there should be a chance here to gather one's thoughts, to reflect and even go over some of the learning in the course.This might also be the time for those who have become friends during the course to pick up the conversation on Facebook or in a LinkedIn group. It may also be the moment when you buy 'the book' on which the course was based, or sign up for the next module in the series. 

In future posts I will use this approach to 'strip down' and re-assemble a number of MOOCs. For example, 'Learning How to Learn' from Coursera written and presented by Barb Oakley. I should also look on MOOCs I have done on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), on Photography and a variety of other subjects. 

 

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

What do you understand by the word 'curation'? What does it mean in relation to content online?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014, 13:01

Fig.1. Bristol Fighter at the Imperial Museum

My understanding of curation is embedded in museums - I overheard the curator of the current Superhuman exhibition at the Wellcome Foundation Museum being interviewed by Aleks Krotovski on Tuesday.

When I took a picture using my iPad a member of the museum staff  politely told me that 'the curator asked that people did not take pictures' (and that the curator was in part to blame as he hadn't wanted the signage saying 'don't take pictures' too prominent) – curator as stage manager and executive producer of a collection of themed objects. The term 'object' itself embracing stills, artefacts, video-clips and activities. You curate stuff in a space and set parameters so that an audience of visitors can get their head around what, in effect, has come the curator's mind.

In the bizarre ways that these things happen I recall, age six at most, creating a fossil museum with ammonites found in the low rocky cliffs of Beadnell, Northumberland.

I was a curator, I brought together a themed collection of rocks, set them out in a room and invited people in – no doubt in the back of my mind imagining the glass cabinets and displays in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle.

Ian McGreggor of the British Museum with his History of the World in 100 objects is a curator - far more so than an amateur's eclectic collection of e–stuff. Or am I being a 20th century snob? Craving for academic elitism that is fast vanishing down the plug–hole as the digtal ocean and equally digital–cloud washes and blows over everything? I search that externalised part of my own mind, an extensive blog 13 years in the writing, for what I've said or stumbled upon before regarding 'curation' and find three entries, one prompted by my intention to attend this session in Bath and feeding off a visit to the De le Warr, Bexhill and the rest from Martin Weller's book 'The Digital Scholar' in which he lists curation as something universities will need to do. On Chapter 12 he has this list on publishing as:

  • Publishing
  • Research
  • Authoring
  • Submission
  • Rejection/modification
  • Publication
  • Dissemination

WHY?

  • Accepted practice
  • Academic respectability
  • Reward and tenure
  • Dissemination
  • Curation

I wonder if this following quote gives a sense of Martin Weller's comprehension of the term 'curation' as used in a Web 2.0 context:

'If Boyer's four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing'. Weller (2011).

On a quest to become 'digital scholars' or 'thought leaders' we should, to change one word –engage, experiment, reflect and curate'? The word, used in this, come to think of it, ought also to include 'moderate', even to 'chair' or 'host'.

In 2002 Gilly Salmon, then a lecturer at the Open University Business School, tried to coin the terms e–tivity and e–moderator.

Perhaps then, as these things go, the digital community have not picked up on these terms – instead they have hijacked 'curation'. We are going through a rich phase of redefining and inventing words and understandably they result in carnage and debate. Academics are guilty I feel of sometimes wanting to be the first to coin a word or use a new phrase or word in a new way because citation will mean that they are then quoted for every more. This happens in academic publishing and study, unfortunately 'curation' can leave you wondering about the source. Is 'jumbling together' the content of others from multiple sources even more questionable than turning to self–monitored wikis such as wikipedia?

Weller also says:

'If the intention is to encourage engagement then low-quality routes may be more fruitful than seeking to produce professional broadcast material'. Weller (2011) and 'Low quality individual items because of their obvious ease of production, can be seen as an invitation to participate'. Weller (2011)

Is curation a dirty word? Is curated content reliable? What does it mean in the corporate world?

REFERENCE

Krotovski, A (2012) The Digital Human. BBC Radio 4 (last accessed 22 October 2012)
McGreggor, I (2011) The History of the World in 100 Objects –http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects/ + Neil McGreggor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all
Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities: the key to active only learning. Sterling, VA : Stylus Publishing Inc. ISSN 0 7494 3686 7
Salmon, G (2002) e-moderation
Stodd, J (2012) https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/creating-and-sustaining-high-performance-learning-cultures/
Sullivan, A (2000-2012) The Daily Beast
Weller, M (2011) The Digital Human. More from Martin Weller in his blog: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/Wijekumar, K. J., Meyer, B. J. F., Wagoner, D., & Ferguson, L. (2006). Technology affordances:  The "real story" in research with K-12 and undergraduate learners. British Journal of  Educational Technology, 37(2), 191-209.

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Exploring the World of Social Learning

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013, 11:04



20121007-063532.jpg

Find it here: Smashwords

There can be no better recommendation to read a book than when its author spots you as a like-mind and invites you to read.

I am halfway through Julian Stodd's 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' and am keen to spread the word to those like me who are studying for a Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) - particularly in H807, H808 and H800 we are asked to learn collaboratively and go understand the dynamics of shared learning spaces online from this blog-cum-bulletin board platform, to student tutors groups and break-out cafes. You may even have made it over to the Open University Linkedin group (go see).

I not only find myself nodding in agreement but better still in Web 2.0 terms I find I keep wanting to pause to explore a thought or theme further, the subject matter embracing learning, social learning and e-learning - while drawing on a professional corporate learning and development background, which makes a valuable change from an academic perspective on social learning in tertiary education.

To do this I return to this my open to all e-portfolio-cum-blog to search for what I have thus far picked up on social learning, learning theories, forums and so on. And to do the same in other people's blogs as hearing these familiar voices helps make better sense of it all.

I should add a grab here of the couple of dozen books I have read in, on and around 'social learning' - I put 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' alongside:

'The Digital Scholar' Martin Weller

'A New Culture of Learning' Douglas Thomson and John Seely Brown

'From Teams to Knots' Yrjö Engeström

'The Now Revolution' Jay Baer and Amber Naslund

via a solid grounding in educational theory that you'd get from Vygotsky's 'Educational Psycology'.

An alternative to, or addition to reading about social learning in an academic papers, that are by definition are several years out of date, rate MySpace above Facebook and fail to mention iPads or Smartphones in the mix.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

E-book, paperback or hardback?

Visible to anyone in the world
PDF file printed out or not? Notes taken directly on an ipad or long hand? I am tempted to buy e-books I already have in hard copy to give me a more flexible snd versatile way to read, highlight, store, order and share notes. Currently goving 'Rethinking pedagogy in a digial age' Rhona Sharp a second look, also 'E-tivities ' from Gilly Salmon and 'Preparing for blended e-learning' Chris Pegler. And refreshing myself on e-learning for disabled people by reviewing the many H810 student blogs.
Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Bren P, Sunday, 1 Jul 2012, 20:52)
Share post
Design Museum

Our memory of how to do things is often tied to the situation in which it was learnt.

Visible to anyone in the world

What does this mean for distance learning?

Is this why the odd residential school becomes such a focus and a vital memory? On the MAODE modules there are no tutor groups, nor any residential schools.

Does this make the Tutor Group Forum and the Elluminate sessions all the more important to get right?

The tutorial system of the Oxbridge Colleges does two things: it ties the learning to the personality of a tutor and it socialises learning within a small tutor group from (usually) a single college where the annual cohort may be as low as 30 and generally not far over 100.

How can this be replicated online?

The tutor relationship matters. Better and immediate tools engender the possibility of a closer relationship but the OU isn't geared up for it.

Are Associate Lecturers chosen for the e-moderating skills?

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 Apr 2012, 10:41)
Share post
Design Museum

Social Learning

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Oct 2012, 12:52

This isn't something new; the best way to learn is from and amongst others. John Seely Brown gets it right when he talks about 'learning from the periphery'. Think how in the playground or when joining a club where there may be no formal induction or training, how you gravitate towards the centre over time as you listen in to conversations, get the drift of what is being said, get up the courage to ask questions (which is hopefully encouraged), and in time gain knowledge and confidence to offer your own unique take and things. In time you gravitate towards the centre; you may even become the centre. the 'leader' or part of the 'leadership' those wise folk at the centre of things.

I recall this as an undergraduate on campus, an outsider for a year, at the centre for a year and then worrying about Finals.

The OU launched 'Social Learn' yesterday.

This is exciting. It brings the hubbub of the eclectic learning community online. This is more than a forum, it is a virtual learning space.

It will take all kinds of participants for it to work otherwise it is like one of those South American Pipe Dreams to build cities from scratch in the Amazon Jungle. It is the people and their ideas, thoughts, knowledge and participation that will bring it to life. It will require moderators, and leaders, and champions, and people to listen and guide and share. It will require moderators:

'The essential role of the e-moderator is promoting human interaction and communication through the modelling, conveying and building of knowledge and skills'. (Salmon, 2005:4)

And a new take on things:

'Online learning calls for the training and development of new kinds of online teachers - to carry out roles not yet widely understood'. (Salmon. 2005:10)

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Practice-based learning

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 25 Nov 2011, 14:16

Learners’ experiences of blended learning environments in a practice-based context (PB-LXP)

see http://kn.open.ac.uk/public/workspace.cfm?wpid=7174 ,

and

Student attitudes towards and use of ICT in course study, work and social activity: a technology acceptance model approach

http://oro.open.ac.uk/26467/

For anyone this you can ask subject specific question to your OU community on 'OU Platform'

For MAODERs sign up through the 'Your Subject' link and then Education - OU Community Online

Picking up on the 2007 presentation by Grainne Conole of research carried out by the Institute of Educational Technology (OU) I was keen to learn of outcomes from the follow up research they promised on practice-based learning.

Like anyone with an insatiable curiosity the desire to chase several references or to pursue a topic to the Nth degree doing so online can be overwhelming; it is too easy to find references, even more so when they have a URL.

Time was as an undergraduate such searches meant a walk or bike road across town, the nature of Geography (in the first year at least) touching on both human and physical topics, ranging from zoology, politics and history on the one hand to geology and climatology on the other keep me on my feet and toes.

Studying online the only part of your body that is exercised are your fingers and you’re always a click away from a maelstrom of information.

Increasingly I find I want to stick to a brand I know and a name I know.

The brand might be an institution or publisher (often the same thing): Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Open University presses … and the authors whose writing I can trust, both for the quality of the content and how it is expressed:

Gráinne Conole – uber e-learning

Martin Weller - e-learning professor

Gilly Salmon - all things 'e'

Denise Kirkpatrick - OU Pro-Vice Chancellor

Chris Pegler - In open resources

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme - Master of the M-Learning Universe

For example …

Do add MAODE names I ought to add here (this is just a starting list from the top of my head).

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

H800:57 Learning design and moderating students online

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 17 Apr 2012, 07:12

Some thoughts on e-moderating from Gilly Salmon all from 'E-moderating'. (2003)

Perhaps we ought to call them Tutors or Associate Lecturers though, rather than moderators.

What do you think?

'It is worth structuring your course to provide participants with rhythm, enticement, flow and pace to their online study.' p63

'We have found that the first few weeks of being online is a critical time for group forming and confidence building'. p64

You've got to make a good first impression, enough, but not overpowering, leading the way?

'Participants in online learning are involved in a variety of communities of learning and practice at the same time, and have a myriad of other responsibilities. Some of these may be similar in values and beliefs and norms of behaviour to those of the course groups and some may not. You need to build enticement, inclusiveness and pacing to make your experience stand out'. p65

Should this come from the Tutor or from Learning Design? Who sets the pace? It depends on whether the module is an obstacle course or the shot-put.

'Long message take time to read and respond to (but may be more worthwhile than short ones). p66

I guess to stay friends with your fellow students and the Tutor you should keep the length down a bit ... but do they read it at all?

'Summarizing, archiving and weaving are the key skills for the e-moderator. They save participant's time, and enable participation in new ways. Furthermore, the more successful an e-moderator is, the more likely he or she will be overwhelmed by success in terms of many student messages'.

A note in relation to countries with poor fixed-lined telephone systems:

'Mobile connectivity through cellular systems will provide access to many more people who will 'leap-frog' over others, technologically, by missing out interim stages'. p70

And a note in relation what learning means.

'What we know of learning is that we want people to change what they actually do, we need to offer experiences that shuffle backwards and forwards between what they already know, and what they are prepared to develop, between specific details and their implications in wider contexts, and between practice and reflection.' (Harvey and Knight, 1996)

Meanwhile I have 60 pages of course work to read, take notes, and comment on ... and then comment on the comments of others in the Tutor Group Forum .. and then I can climb into a hot elluminate session.

(Or should that be a bath?)

REFERENCE

Harvey, L and Knight, P (1996) Transforming Higher Education, SRHE and Open University, Buckingham.

(52294)

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Intellectually and spiritually content? Getting there

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 20:09

Delighted to have found somewhere to stay in Milton Keynes.

It is extraordinary that people live such lovely lives, the privilege of the commute being a short walk over a field, from village to Central Business District in minutes. This isn't the Britain I have ever known - a 79 mile commute being one of the worst, cattle-trucks in from South London even worse. But I've done the 'weekly border' having once been in Penrith, Cumbria while my fiance was in Paris, France for six months. Sleeping away from home is part of me of course, having had boarding school from the age of 8 I perhaps find it easy to get used to?

 

Of course the OU Campus is a strange beast, each Faculty a bright sparkly building set in its own grounds each building a short walk apart from the other. If it weren't for the speed bumps to slow the traffic down (people come in by car in their thousands) I'd imagine golf-carts to be the required way to move around.

 

But do you much? Your faculty is your home.

My home once again has connections with the university, mother and daughter work there. This does not need to be a point of conversation at home, I  have the Masters in Open and Distance Education to complete for a start and instead of talking about the OU I am delightfully engaged in conversations on the medical effect of what we eat. I find myself creeping back towards soya milk and muesli and away from coffee and biscuits.

For someone who typically blogs a thousand words a day I've been unusual quiet.

The pressure on my mind is considerable. If I find myself near a keyboard over the bank holiday I may catch up, though my inclination is to head for the sea.

This isn’t to say I’m not writing a thousand words an hour; that would be an exaggeration, but I find that 60 emails a day (sent), half this number received, contributions to Yammer an OU Twitter like feed and the various minutes and reports that I’m writing quite easily makes up the number.

As I will often tell people, the best contribution to my career was a touch-typing course at Oxford College of Education.

I'll become a poor-weather blogger.

Meanwhile what I have to say has gone into note pads. I’ve filled a 80 pad shorthand notepad, both sides. This contains a good deal of ‘Everything is Miscellaneous’ and all that I wanted from ‘Use of Blogs.’ How I would have preferred both on my Kindle, all this note taking reduced to highlighting, my ideas saved or shared immediately, and the entire thing now at the edit stage. Instead I’ll have to write it all out. I find my concentration wavers if I transcribe stuff, or more likely I feel inclined to add yet further notes and thoughts.

Meanwhile, perhaps sensibly going for paper rather than technology, I have ‘The Social Life of Information’ (2002) John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid to enjoy, ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ (2007) Rick Levine et al and ‘E-moderating’ (2005) Gilly Salmon.

My perfect Bank Holiday would be to take these to sea – sail across the English Channel, a few days in French Ports.

As crew, this way I can read, all that fresh air, with occasional moments of physical agitation.

(48720)

Permalink Add your comment
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: 5340022