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MOOCs are a must to create sticky fingers

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 8 Dec 2014, 14:03
From E-Learning V

Fig.1  'Stickiness' and vibrancy

Staying power in a MOOC means keeping fingers on the keyboard

The subject matter and how it is delivered matters a great deal. I did the OLDS MOOC mentioned in the paper: it was long, demanding and complex. No wonder only 30 active contributors were left by the end - I'd got out a few weeks earlier. The starting numbers were low for a MOOC, 2300. You can generally add a zero or two at the start.  The OLDS MOOC was like a postgraduate course. The first I completed, First Steps into Teaching in Higher Education from Oxford Brookes I paid a hefty fee to submit an end of module assessment and have this marked - it is that that got me through to the end, a distinction and 10 credits towards a degree. Also the intimacy of small groups, the interest in fellow students from around the world, and close, constant contact from a team of educators and moderators.

There is every variable imaginable.

They will be and are as different as books, as TV shows, or traditional university courses governed by resources, platforms, financing, the educators and production team. And they are still in an experimental phase ... like television in the 1950s. 

Some completion rates are as low as 7% ... but if 100,000 started, as happened with an engineering course Stanford put up a few years ago, the figures are 'massive'. From this 7,000 they found that all of the top scorers outperformed the students who were on campus. They could then invite the top 'scholars' to apply for scholarships. They could also improve the course where they as educators were failing. The problem is if it fuels a hunger for higher education that cannot be satisfied ... over 200m students chasing 5 million university places globally.

How do we address that?

This paper covers the ground well.

Dropout rates of Massive Open Online Course: Behavioural Patterns

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It took me too long to realise that things are in a module for a reason ...

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- some intelligent educators have sat down together to figure out what would be best for 'us'. For this reason I try to do all the activities rather than question them - often I am surprised.

In H817, the timeline of technologies we did to which learning theories were to be added is one of these (there's more in the wiki and I'll keep adding to this, and eventually have my own version in Google Docs). I could have cut to the chase three years ago - all I wanted to know was how to match learning theories to e-learning practice. I thought there were a set of off-the-shelf 'solutions'. The reality is of course far more complex.

Every kind of learning surely existed before someone came along and packaged as a theory?

The ability to keep learning, and to learn from eachother, and to solve problems is what makes us human and has enabled us to survive and thrive over the last 70,000 odd years.

Turning back to learning theories - there are only a few, at least they can be grouped under (with overlap): cognitivism, behaviourism and constructivism. While 'connectivism' is supposedly what the Internet delivers I would suggest that actually 'connectivism' came first, and is learning as an infant and child from a mother, parents, siblings and extended family. All the the Internet does is to amplify or permit such relationships on a global scale - keeping families close who might now live thousands of miles apart.

Surely we need to turn to Socrates and 'Socractic discussion' to understand the origins of discussion as a form of guided learning?

The simple relationship between someone who doesn't know something and someone who does. In H807 three years ago I interviewed a retired Oxford philosophy tutor on 'the Oxbridge Tutorial Method' (search Dr Zgigniew Pelczynski H807) and this is how he explained it - for the most part, someone who knows something pouring content into an empty vessel (John Locke).

My brother learnt to fix cars from his grandfather, I learnt to cook and draw from my mother, I taught my children to swim and my wife to drive ... this for me is what is missing in most online learning as developed out of distance learning by The OU.

In three years I have never had discussions with Grainne Conole, Martin Weller or Diana Laurillard.

The couple of MOOCs I have done, OLDS MOOC and #H817open have had these names participating, getting away from their research as I see it and showing their true colours as 'educators' (or not). My chosen pattern of learning would be to gravitate towards the expert, something I have to try and get right if I am to move into doctoral research.

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Working in the clouds

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 08:52

Fig. 1. Study of Clouds, John Constable. Inscribed 31 Sept.r 10-11 O'Clock.

Constable did little else but paint the weather conditions from July through to Ocotber 1822, which is why curators can accurately say that the artist did this painting on the 1st October.

I've shared my frustrations with Cloudworks from the start of the OLDS MOOC 2013 ... and had some experience a year ago on H807 Innovations in E-learning ... so entered the cloud with a sense of dread.

I stuck at it and found some odd ways in.

What mattered was the contact with people I got to know - as they gave up it became inevitable that I would do so too, not least because I had more pressing matters. H809 a postgraduate module, partially produced by the same team as it comes from the Open University stable, but a very different beast.

More like getting on a bus with four to five stops a week.

A weekend for an assignment every five weeks and a longer sojourn to produce a short dissertation at the end. Four tutors groups each with less than sixteen people in each.

I liken my Cloudworks experience to Freshers' Fair ... every day of the week.

Every time I came in I wondered around getting interested in what other people were doing, sometimes landing their by mistake. So a Fresher's Fair with some 12 entry doors on several floors with the people behind each stall mostly changing too. Your brain gets tired of the overload, the lack of landscape and in this sense 'Cloudscape' is the right term, for the wrong reasons. A 'Freshers' Fair' is when students invite the entire new intake at a university to come and see what societies are on offer - imagine the eqivalent of several village halls, with stalls manned by students, offereing everything from ballroom dancing to nueuroscience, Pooh Sticks Society to the Conservative Association, Bikers to Chess.

I took some pictures of this Constable painting 'Study of Clouds' in the Ashmolean Museum when I was in Oxford on Friday.

What was I doing in Oxford. Hankering after 'the real thing' - a chance to meet and talk with some people in the flesh, this at an talk on Virtual Worlds in Japanese at the Centre of Social and Cultural Anthropology hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute.

After a while, all this online stuff has you eager to meet likeminds in person.

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Lonely Little Cloudworks

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 11:29

Lonely Little Clouds

There are all kinds of ways to share your learning online.

Have you tried Cloudworks?

The group I've been wokring in have dubbed them 'lonely little clouds'.

They are.

I takes me a while to spot my own, let alone find anyone else or specific group activity. Navigation is a nightmare. Instead of being tethered to the ground like a kit, every time you enter Cloudworks it is like trying to get a helium filled party baloon to go in a specific direction by blowing on it.

Serendipty built in.

There's no sign in page. To login in I click through pages until something I want to do requires a sign in.

Bonkers

Blog posts can be the same.

Finding the place, space, time and group where there will be some co-ordinated as well as vicarious engagement is not so easy. Getting it to work is a science not an art.

I had experience of listServ in 2001 on the original Masters in Open and Distance Learning.

I rather think it was a bit like this platform. It worked because you could respond in turn.

I also find the right forums in Linkedin work where there are enough people contributing to the degree that an asynchronous conversation becomes quasi synchronous.

There are ways and habits and even an acquired culture of behaviours with all of these.

The most valuable insights I have gained comes from being part of this Open University Student Blogging Platform.

You have a basic blog, but every post from all students is posted in a strict chronology just like the old, threaded ListServ. One hand on top of the other.

Like cards being dealt from a pack.

Your voice gets its chance. Never mind if it isn't picked up. It has its life in your blog too.

It's as if it is getting two chances of being spotted. A third would be to 'stack' an entry in a subject specifc platform too. i.e. common categories creating another distinct list.

This means that anyone who is active has a chance of being read.

There's no obligation. But it impies when you post publically that you are part of a collective enterprise rather than a diarist writing on your space, strictly on your terms.

And it doesn't offer bells and whistles.

Nor should it. This platform offers a way in for the novice. In fact, I recall how I struggled three years ago when I first joined in. Why couldn't it be like WordPress or Blogger or LiveJournal? I'm glad that it isn't, glad that there is a sense of continuity with bulletin boards and the ListServe.

It works.

Both from my own modules and especially the eclectic mix of everyone else here, I have been introduced to a wonderful myriad of possibilities, ideas and perspectives.

There's a very tricky balance that decides if one means of communicating catches on, or even works with a particular group.

I am going to throw myself at the OLDs MOOC afain this afternoon and see if I can see where my head should be.

 

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - all you need in the learning mix

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 1 Feb 2013, 09:03

JENGA.JPG

I love the beauty of  Jenga. Like Google, it's simple and it works.

Simplicity has a purity about it. Don't knock it. Behind its functionality and its look and feel there will be some hard thinking.

'Keep it simple, stupid'. (K.I.S.S) may be a training cliche but there is considerable truth in it.

I've now had three years here at the OU and here on this Student Blog platform (short of five days, first post 6th Feb 2010).

I've been working on my ideas regarding learning and e-learning design in particular Courtesy of THE OU hosted OLDs MOOC 2013 (Online Learning Design - Massive Open Online Course)

I'm experiencing what feels like undertaking an 8 week written examination - the contents of my brain are being pushed through the cookie cutter.

And out comes this:

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

(Of course I had shut down for the gadgets for the day and was brushing my teeth when this came to me).

The%2520good.JPG

The Good

Learning events or activities, moments that make the participant smile, think, reflect, nod in agreement, understand, be informed and generally feel good about the world and this particular learning experience. Hit them with some of this, as the say so succinctly across the Atlantic - at the 'get go'.

The%2520bad.JPG

The Bad

The effort required and built into the learning. OK, we want them to love this too, and you can if you're 'in the flow', have done your work, have wrestled with what you didn't understand, asked for help, listen to fellow students, gone out of your way to do extra reading and research until you have it, one way or another.

There needs to be assessment.

An assignment is a soft assessment to me - though like everyone I have terrible days when the thing just slips through my fingers like a snowball on the beach. A dissertation or end of module assignment is tougher, but tough and 'bad' in a certain way - like commitment to a triathlon. And a good analogy as working on and developing three issues at 2,000 words a pop is about right. And you won't get far if you leave training to the week before. It's a slow burn.

The 'bad' has to be the written examination.

They have to be hated and feared, and like learning lines for that school play, you have to get it right on the night (or day). And what do you do if you act? You have good lines to learn, you learn and rehearse your lines and you practice, and do a test run or two. The curtains going up is the equivalent of your turning the examination paper over. I feel the fear from a year ago - April 2012. I hadn't sat a written exam in 30 years. All my undergraduate and school-boy fears came back. I used rusty techniques that had last seen service during my first degree.

Bad is good. You want to do everything not to feel like you are naked on stage - a dream we all have when faced with such an 'exposing' test?

The%2520ugly.JPG

The Ugly

Shock 'em. Not scare the witless. Have up your sleeve some smart stuff. Whether an idea or the technology offer a creepy and certainly memorable surprise.

Boring a student into making a fact or issue stick is like throwing mud at a brick wall - it'll stick, it'll coagulate and build up, but is easily washed away in a shower and destroyed in a storm.

Use storytelling techniques perhaps, better still, follow the pattern of a ghost story.

Scare them? I'm back on fear I guess.

We humans are fearful of many things and will go out of our way to avoid, run away or confront our fears. As I said, the idea here isn't to lose your students, but to empathise with them, understand the ugly side of their learning experience then help them confront their worst fears. It is ugly having to tackle the parts of a subject that stink, but inevitably these are the blocks at the base of JENGA.

So can I apply it? And can I go back to bed now?

Which leads me to another theme - we no longer simply bring work home with us, we take it to bed and sleep with it. If this pisses you off then let me introduce you to 'working with dreams'. If you are prepared to get up for an hour in the dead of night, or can flick on a light without invoking divorce then scribble stuff down to catalyse the thought in the morning. Can work wonders, can produce nonsense, can just be some things you need to put on the supermarket shopping list ... or another dream of being naked on the stage, not knowing your lines and needing the lo but all the exits are locked and the orchestra has stopped and you have to say something.

Which, courtesy of the wonders of the mind, has me in the front row of a performance of The Tempest at the University Theatre, Newcastle when I was 13 or 14. Caliban was naked, covered in mud and wearing a prosthetic erect penis.

HORROR!

P.S. And give me 20 minutes searching the Internet and I will be able to name the actor, date the show and possibly even find a picture. Perhaps you'd like to have a go. But before you do so, be very fearful of what the search terms you use might throw up.

P.P.S. It may have been David Suchet, with Juliet Stevenson or some such as Aerial. The performance was in 1974, possibly a precursor to the RSC doing a Newcastle Tour every March at the Theatre Royal and Gulbenkien. It may have been Jim Carter. Or none of these!


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OLDs MOOC 2013 'Precision in creative output'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:27

I spent yesterday afternoon at my alma mater (or one of them at least).

The School of Communication Arts, partially industry financed, develops the creative talents of would be advertising creatives.

'Precision in creative output' is the perfect definition of what is taught.

Working to the exceedingly tight parameters and demands of a creative brief to sell or promote a product or service, the creative teams (there are always at least two people assigned to a problem) must come up with an idea or concept that meets the demands of the brief ... and then craft, cling onto, nurture, protect, raise, build and sell their idea.

A creative director in this situation will try to help maintain the precision which permits the creativity.

If David Jennings worries that learning might be over designed, over engineered and over specified, then reading the above may suggest that I am just adding another layer that wants to see learning as a commercialised, branded, designed and marketed product. Is it not anyway?

My hope is for something far less complex, demanding or expensive that what may seem to be implying - it is about working collaboratively, so trying to bring academics into a new kind of working practice, those in research out of their cupboards and those in the class or lecture hall away from the crowd of students to bravely do something as a joint enterprise - and yes, build on what others have done before.

When it comes down to it all I'd like to see are ideas that are confident, and wear the thinking behind them expressed with skill.

I know from some good experiences that when you get the thinking right the outcome might be easy to deliver on a microbudget ... and if a budget is required one would hope that the quality of the thinking behind the idea will help it get financed. I know this is education, certainly not advertising, or even 'corporate training' - but aren't things like TED lectures and the Khan Academy neat expressions of a simple idea?

Another one I can think of is Qstream - a spaced educational delivery system developed by a Harvard Medical School Prof.

 

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OLDs MOOC 2013 - Week 3 Hang Out on the 7Cs of Learning Design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 22 Oct 2014, 08:52

‘Teachers want support and guidance to help them rethink their design practice, to think beyond content to and activities to make pedagogically informed design decisions that make good use of technologies’.

I’ve just been listening over the OLDs MOOC hangout for Week 3 and particularly enjoyed the Q&A with

Professor Gráinne Conole

The sentence above stood out from the 60 minutes, as well as how this was put into context for the MOOC in Week 3 and coming up in Week 8. Personally I wish we’d had something like this to begin the week. I got in early, did a couple of activities then followed the noise from the active design group I've joined. Give others a turn. Let things roll over. This works. Leave gaps and sometimes others will come along and think, OK, he's done that so I can see how it works, or might work for me. I won't bother with that tool, I'll try something else and see what people make of it. I cherry picked and as this hangout suggests and recommends, I’ll go back and pick out more as required. I enjoyed downloading, colouring in, cutting out then using the Activity Cards. This is more my thing than the EXCEL spreadsheet - which I planned on a sheet of paper then transferred over. I might use an APP to generate such a thing. I find EXCEL somewhat heavy handed, or I’d want to design it in a way that I like. We learnt about the background to 7Cs. The background and context was invaluable. Credibility ought not be taken for granted. Work like this needs to be put on a pedestal and people told of its credentials and worth - i.e sell it to me! 7Cs is an OU with OU Learning Design Initiative with JISC through the Curriculum Design Programme. Activity Profile and Course Map. Trialed thoroughly. Gráinne Conole continued this work with the JISC funded CARPE Dium learning design workshops at Leicester whiuch provides a ' rich storyboard of learning design'. More on this from: Gabi Witthaus Ming Nei More at http://www.olds.ac.uk/ And http://e4innovation.com/ Overarching conceptual framework A lot Cs here: Conceptualise - vision for the course, who is it for, what is the nature of the learners and personas Course features - the essence of it. Creative activity - capture, communicate and consider Conceptual Combine - into course map and activity profile Consolidate - running it as face to face, or VLE, or more specialised learning design tool, or …. From Gráinne's blog:

7 cs of learning design fromGráinne Conole

7Cs element
Learning Design tool
Conceptualise
Course features
Design Narratives
Personas
Analysing context: factors and concerns
Capture
Resource audit
Repository search strategy
Create
Course map
Activity profile
Task swimlane
Storyboard
Communicate
E-moderating framework
Mapping forums, blogs and wikis
Communicative affordances
Collaborate
Collaborative affordances
CSCL Pedagogical Patterns
Consider
Assessment Pedagogical Patterns
Learning outcomes map

With current thinking on 7Cs Various systems offered and can be tried. Listening to OLDs MOOCers it appears that the 7Cs framework has been received well

  • It articulates what teachers already do.
  • There are 7 aspects in a whole design process.
  • What level are you teaching, what level of support do they need etc:
  • Teachers (all of us I would say, educators, learning designers, L&D managers) are bewildered by the range of tools, the range of approaches so fall back on their own content. So use the tools to think about the activities, the core essence of hte course.

Gráinne introduced the work of Helen Keegan, Augmented Reality and risk. More on use of augmented learning 7Cs has been found useful in Australia

  • Indigenous Culture on locality.
  • Introducing elements of serendipity.
  • Activity profile
  • Is it the right mix of learning for what you want the students to do.
  • Correlation of time mapped out to what students are achieving … so she is poor at communication in Spanish … and there is little communication in the course she is doing.

Is this the right tool set?

  • Covers all the aspects of design.
  • Getting a taster for these in the course.

‘A huge amount in the MOOC is mix and pic, so take your time, come back to the resources. Six months down the line, you discover which ones you like’.

  • Some love the activity profiles some don’t, so find the mix that works for you.
  • Some with learning outcomes.
  • Some with the content.
  • Some with the characteristics of the context of the learners.
  • Different tools will mean different things to different people.

‘We’re offering a Smörgåsbord of offerings that you can develop and use over time. Pick the ones that are relevant to you, don’t feel that you have to use all of them’.

Larnica Declaration on Learning Design

(More coming up in WK 8 to act as a springboard to reflect)

  • What is learning design?
  • How has it come about?
  • Why is it different to structural design?

Professor James Dalziel

2011 ALTC National Teaching Fellow

  • Driven by people in Europe and colleagues in Australia.
  • What is learning design? How has it come about?
  • How is it distinct from instructional design?
  • Major Epiphany moment Sept 2012
  • Two days in Cyprus
  • Timeline of key moments since 199 learning design

REF: Key books on design science (Dianna Laurillard)  Teaching Design as a Science It’s aimed to be pedagogically neutral so that it can be used across a range of methodologies and pedagogies.

  • Tools for guidance and support
  • Tools for visualisation
  • Tools for sharing like Cloudworks

What works for you

  • It depends on the nature of how people want to go about things
  • Visual
  • Linear
  • Connect and be sociable
  • Open, unstructured … to form some kind of navigatable way through, as well as enjoying the serendipity. Having the options of the long and short routes.
  • Is something more needed in the middle ground. B MOOCs.

BLOG http://www.larnacadeclaration.org

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