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Learning how to learn online with FutureLearn and The OU

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 12 Dec 2014, 07:18
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 My progress on The OU MOOC on FutureLearn 'Start Writing Fiction' (c) FutureLearn 2014

More than any module or exercise I have done over my four years with The OU, it is a MOOC in FutureLearn that is giving me the most thorough experience of where the future or learning lies. I'm in week seven of eight weeks of 'Start Writing Fiction' from The OU, on the FutureLearn platform. Just in these few weeks I've seen the site change to solve problems or to enhance the experience. Subtle lifts and adjustments that make a positive out of constant adjustment. Those tabs along the top: activity, replies where under a tab. I think 'to do' is new while 'progress' was elsewhere. This is a responsive platform that listens to its students.

In the final week we submit our third piece of work.

As assessments go these are far less nerve racking than a TMA. The first piece was 300, the second 500 and the last will be 1000. These are assessed by fellow students. In my case I had one, then two reviews. Most people seem to get at least two sometimes three. The system is designed, I'm sure, to try and ensure that everyone's work is reviewed at least once. Tens of thousands, certainly thousands of people are on the course.

We're here to the 19th of December or so ... if you follow the tracks as laid.  

I hazard a guess that between 20-100 have posted there final piece already. Some, I know, got to the end of the entire course a few weeks ago; I looked ahead to see out of curiosity. There have always been 20 who post comments one, two even three weeks ahead. If 20 are posting I hazard a guess knowing my stats on these things that another couple of hundred could be clicking through the pages to read and observe. They may, like me, be coming back later. They may only be following the course, but not participating. Often, it is like standing on a stage looking into the gloom of the auditorium. Someone probably out there. One or two let you know. The rest don't.

I hope those that race ahead come back ...

I find that if I get ahead then I slow down and retrace my steps. To learn in this connected and collaborative way you are far better off in the pack ... it is not a race to get to the end first. In fact, those who do this have already lost. They've missed the point. I'd suggest to people that if they have the time to do the week over. That's been my approach anyway - the beauty of these things is everyone can come and go as they please, at a pace that suits them. Skip a bit. Go back. Follow it week by week, day by day ... or not. Whatever works works?

There's another very good reason to stay with the 'pack' or to come back and do a week over - the platform depends not on tutors and moderators commenting and assessing work, but us students doing a kind of amateur, though smart, peer review. This is what make a MOOC particularly vibrant, memorable and effective. Not listening to an educator telling us what's what, but the contributors sharing, figuring it out, answering each other's problems in multiple ways. We all learn in different ways and at a pace that shifts too. I find that often a point I don't get first time round, on the second, or third, or even the fourth visit to an activity someone, somewhere puts it in a way that suddenly brings complete clarity - their way of seeing a thing, or expressing it, makes more sense than the writes of the course could manage. Because they can only write one version, not the 'tartan' that comes from an intelligent, threaded online conversation.

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Design Museum

An OU Student without a module is like a ship without a rudder

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For the last 26 months my OU studying has had me pointed in a direction (even if it wasn't always clear which port I was headed for I was at least at sea and in motion).

I've been blown along by the regular requirements of activities and assessments (I need the regular drip drip of weekly activities far more than an assignment every sixth week or an exam after five months).

Time to get the paddles out (if I can find them).

Or I come ashore?

The next module I'm interested in doesn't start 'til February 2013!

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H800: 59 Seeing the wood for the trees - the activity and the module they sit in

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011, 04:35

I sit next to a senior learning designer in the Open University Business School - he is wrapping up a new module for the MBA course. I'm in late doing course work - we talk as we return from the kitchen with coffee.

This is clearly way beyond what an online course can deliver in terms of the impromptu face-to-face, one-to-one mini tutorial. I'll just milk it and promise to share insights.

He knows I have struggled with getting into this week's activities; however, late in the day (last night), having finally got through all the reading and made notes and looked back on previous weeks, I told him how important it was, indeed how significant Richardson's set of papers, the reference to the previous work is.

I shall revist this week repeatedly not only as we head towards TMAO2, but for the duration of H800 and beyond.

Perhaps I can hear in the back of my mind the conversations that were had when creating H800 and each academic chose or was allocated a week, or set of weeks. Did they sit down with a learning designer? Did they work it all out from home? I do at least now fully respect and understand why they should and will refer to their own reports, papers, research and books. These are but the published corners of their minds ... and we, after all, are trying to get inside their heads, just they want to tickle the contents of our brains.

Marton, Sfard, Saljo, Richardson ... there is some quality thinking in hear to extract and play with.

(54023)

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Design Museum

H808 First Impressions. Week 1.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 27 Aug 2011, 13:16

H808 First Impressions

Someone’s been busy over the summer recess. smile

There are several noticeable differences:

In addition to the tutor there is a technical expert (Hi Helen) ‘embedded’ in the course to take a proactive role ensuring that none of us get the hebegebes with the technology. Even the basic functioning of the OU platform and its myriad of tools, attributes, quirks and foibles, can be daunting or at least irksome for the IT proficient. I doubt I am alone when I find at times I ‘just don’t get it’ when all it needs is someone to look over my shoulder and say, ‘try pressing that,’ or you’ve missed out a letter, or ‘there’s a really easy way to do that.’ I am at that stage where I am tripped up by a single letter of HTML code ... only to find that I don't need to be reading or trying to read code, if I understood how to use the e-tools being offered. Curiously this role may do more to bring students from the different tutor groups together than the mere offering of forums for this purpose ... a cafe where there is no coffee. mixed

The tutor is around a lot. (Hi Trevor).

(I have not lurked around other tutor groups to see what is going on, so perhaps we can have a pow-wow on this or what I read in an article on e-learning, a 'tribal meeting; which I suppose is a meeting of department heads, or vice-chancellors i.e. the chiefs?).

This may just be a start of course thing, but I sense a wind change that is going beyond the basic set-up to support collaboration elucidated by Salmon regarding e-moderating. My prediction is that the call-centre like support, online and on the phone, that is offered corporate e-learners and e-trainers may become something that H.E. institutions need to provide, populated by undergraduates (2nd years as it were), as well as graduates, not just the traditional PhD student as part time tutor and lecturer ... as well as Senior Tutors.

I’d like the occasional host guest or a heavy hitter too, the participation of those who wrote the module, designed the course or whose work is most often cited.

The title 'H808 Environment Map' is an unnecessarily disingenuous term for a fantastic, indispensable guide. This isn't a map, it is 'The Lonely Planets' map, plan and guide pocket book for H808. It should be on the inside cover of what is the H808 Course Book. It should be wall-paper on the homepage i.e. you go nowhere and try nothing until you have consumed it. I'm going to print it off, laminate it and put it on my desktop, the tabletop wooden one i.e. extract it from its binary code and give it form on paper.

Something’s been refreshed in the OU Library.

My first impression would be to say from a design point of viewit has been ‘Google-ised,’ i.e, its appearance has been cleared up and simplified. Is it that designers and programmers in time can prioritise their choice of tools and offer in a more clinical way the tools they know users will need as they progress through their search rather than offering a High Street DIY store cornucopia of e-tic-tacs and e-tools that may or may not be required and probably do little more than scare and confuse in equal measure.

The resources and supplementary reading have all been accessed within the last couple of months and the links work.

In H807 it was a bugbear, not overly regular, but frequent enough, to find that links did not work so documents were not found speedily. The sifting out of redundant papers and reports (their points of view have been superseded by the technology and actual practice rather than the conjecture and hyperbole of some academics and commentators) as well as the checking and fixing of links is important. It is a considerable frustration, though understandable, that published version of books.

Not overly burdensom or keen to read two study-related books over the summer (July/August) Weller’s Virtual Learning Environments(2007) and Conole and Oliver's (eds) Contemporary perspectives in e-learning Research (2007), that very few of the links to URLS given to follow up references work (very few, may be none!) and then seeking them through the OU library doesn’t always prove successful either, no fault of the library, but links into this amorphous universe that is Cyberspace leaves some e-references wanting. And being who I am I want these references as qualifying and verifying is part of the ‘bonding process’ that this student requires to feel thoroughly engaged with the material.

Might I suggest that putting an URL for an article or blog comment into a print-published book is about as lasting as putting a sparkler in a birthday cake - by the time you want to eat the cake the sparkler has burnt out.

I like the new 'tick box' alongside the study planner to help mark off your progress.

Happy Days, Exciting Days in OU Land

P.S. Did you know you have access to the Oxford English Dictionaryonline as an OU Student. This is like being invited to Versailles during the reign of the Sun King. Brilliant. Except it can't help me with 'hebe-gebe.' A term used by my family, or a Geordie term for feeling a bit nervous, gets the goose-bumps up, a tad scary in a Ghost Train ride kind of way?

P.P.S. Just learnt a few tricks to search for a word in the OED and found 'heebie-jeebie.'  A feeling of discomfort, apprehension, or depression; the ‘jitters’; delirium tremens; also, formerly, a type of dance. (OED) Far from being my native Geordie, it is 1920s New York American.

6.00am and I've learnt something new already! approve

9/9/10 is going to be a fun day.

8/9/10 was magic.

I wonder why? thoughtful

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