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1 million views in an OU Student Blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Apr 2015, 12:45

Fig.1. What do a million people look like?

I learnt when the figure was around 100,000 that these figures should be dismissed as 'pingbacks' - these automatic links to sites that link to my blog and vice versa. It's reciprocal, but it is not the same as a person reading what I have written.

It's trapped me though. At various moments over the last five years at 100, 1,000, 10,000, 500,000 views I have looked to the next figure and kept on posting content. The reality is that 1,000 'views' a day has been the norm for the last year whether or not I post anything. These 'pingbacks' are historic then: my linking to other sites, and then linking back to me. And what percentage of the views are me coming back, even linking to my external website Mind Bursts?

And if this is a record of my five years with the Open University where has it got me?

An MA in Open and Distance Education, halfway towards either an M. Ed or an Open Degree, a third of a way towards an MA in History (from another institution, but armed with 60 credits I can bring this to the OU). I worked for the Open University for a year, and I got so close to joining FutureLearn that I checked the cost of a season ticket into London. I've worked in commercial e-learning while remain attracted mostly to e-learning in higher education. The problem here is that all the roles are very junior first jobs, often technical rather than production or strategic. I can talk about the current state of e-learning for hours if asked. 

Academics are odd folk: buried in their expertise for decades they believe they should transfer their expertise and retain their status on other platforms and in other situations. It's like an author wanting to direct the movie of their best selling book; few can pull it off. Or a consultant surgeon feeling they should chair management meetings.

Those academics who take on the e-learning mantle are institutionalised academics who know their subject, and how to give a lecture series and run a seminar; does this qualify them to understand the potential of learning online with a mix of media and approaches? Whilst Clint Eastwood made the transition from actor to director, not all academics should or can make the transition to producer and writing e-learning: contributors as presents or interviewees yes ... play to their strengths, in other words, rather than revealing their weaknesses.

There are plenty of examples of academics, never at the OU, blundering into the online learning market believing that their academic reputation is enough to carry a course in a series of head and shoulders shots of them talking to camera ad nauseam.

Things are changing, and the OU, OU students and OU staff are leading the way.

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The power of Open Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 3 Nov 2014, 18:29

Over the last few weeks I've followed a number of FutureLearn Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS). These have been and are:

  1. World War One: Trauma and Memory. Anika Mombauer. The OU. Just Started.
  2. Start Writing Fiction. Derek Neal. The OU. Week one of eight 1/8
  3. World War One: Aviation Comes of Age. Peter Gray. The University of Birmingham. Completed. 3/3
  4. World War One: Paris 1919: A New World ... Christian Tams. The University of Glasgow. Completed. 3/3
  5. How to Succeed At: Writing Applications: The University of Sheffield. Completed. 3/3

By now a pattern is emerging.

All these creators will learn from the experience. Learners tool will become used to this kind of massive, collaborative experience as well. Quite often learners so that it isn't pitched right - most often in some of the above that it is too 'lite', though I have found some here and elsewhere daunting. None of the above are aimed at postgraduate research students, though that is what some in the audience had hoped for. The writing applications split between Sixth Formers applying to uni and 50 year olds looking for a career change. 

Fragmentation will occur if too many courses are offered at different levels on the same subject.

The appeal of Open learning is that it attracts all types. Those new to the subject should be given enough in the daily pieces of content something to get them started, while references and links give those who know the subject something fresh to look at. The audience diversity creates a stimulating conversation that is never overwhelming once you are used to it. There can be 5,000, 10,000 even 20,000 registered on the course and threads can run to 1000 posts and be updated by the minute. You don't have to read everything. I say 'all comers' but this precludes some levels of accessibility, different languages and most broadly of all those who don't have the kit or network to get online. They have more pressing concerns. 

The content is as usable on a large screen or a small one: on your Smart TV or a Smart phone.

FutureLearn give you three ways to filter the content that most people miss:

Activity

In a unit, or topic you can see the latest from:

  • Everyone - speaks for itself
  • Following - those you have chosen to follow on this course
  • Replies - responses to things you have posted.

Once you get a sense of who is there and whether you want to follow all or some of it you can make these choices. I find I follow a couple of people who are incredibly knowledgeable and on the ball, a couple who have some knowledge like me, and then a few newbie enthusiasts who I gravitate towards to encourage - embolden some of the most observant and insightful questions come from them because they haven't been cocooned in the 'commonly held view'.

From a learning perspectives I'd call upon:

  • 'Communities of Practice' (Lave & Wenger)
  • 'Learning from the periphery' from John Seely Brown
  • ideas of 'Learning vicariously' from Cox.

There are possibly 30 or 40 posts on each of these in my blog here.

I am on a national panel advising universities and institutions in the creative arts on how to develop MOOCs. FutureLearn is certainly a platform for some of them. The challenge, which I have seen attempted here at The OU is to create a platform where students can collaborate using visualizations and visuals: stills, graphics and photos will do for now, but in due course sharing sound files and video clips will be needed as well. I like the idea of a motion capture system recording how a student draws or paints, as you would with an elite athlete - there is a way to do these things that can be taught and corrected so long as it is obsered. 

What these MOOCs create, when they get it right, is a hub, or bazaar like buzz of human interaction between the 'elders and the wise' and others in a broad community. It is not always or necessarily the 'expert', the Professor that knows the most. In these platforms it works best when they set the scene, offer some content and ideas, then let the conversations do the rest. I find that myths and half-figured out ideas are debunked and shaped as first one person, then another adds this piece of evidence or that idea, or explains something in a slightly different way that suddenly makes sense.

There a pattern in here for me: the First World War, writing fiction ... and here with the OU - French. I have, on and off, researched and written a couple of stories set in this era: one a woman who flies over the Western Front which I might have spent over two years on, another involving the antics of the young Edward, Prince of Wales which I only started five weeks ago. Immersing myself in the place and the language helps.

 

 

 

 

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H818: A History of Openness

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 09:21

We're considering the nature of 'openness' in education as part of this new Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) module.

This is increasingly about ease of access to information, all of it, uncensored.

Often for ease of access and to gain a qualification with a marketable value, information that is packaged in books, journals and lectures, though increasingly in 'sexier' interactive and multimedia forms with the related 'scaffolding' that comes with learning design and planning. The natural tendency is to consider the hectic last decade of the Internet at the expense of the history of openness in access to information and an education over the last century.

A hundred years ago all but the most privileged were in the dark: leaving school after an elementary education, with reliance on biased newspapers, magazines and part works. Libraries, BBC radio and affordable paperbacks, secondary then tertiary education, cinema and TV have each had a role to play, as has the Open University.

Does enlightenment come with access?

What does it say of power of information and ideas where access is controlled, as in China? Does connectedness within openness lead to even greater coalescing of likeminds in cliques, reinforcing stereotypical biases rather than exposing them to valid alternative views?

Nothing is straightforward when it comes to people - heterogenous by design, homogenous by inclination.

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H818 Activity 2.2 eBooks vs. Textbooks

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:03


20131013-091401.jpg

 

Ones to  watch:

  • Amazon
  • Pearson
  • Academic publishers
  • Writers
  • Educators
  • University Faculties
  • Schools
  • Research in and of faculties.
  • Initiatives to give eReaders preloaded with course books to students.
  • Proactive use of eReaders by learners, say junior doctors.
  • Research in schools. Related research on mobile learning.
  • Drivers include cost savings.

The purchase of books and their distribution is expensive compared to digital versions that are easily uploaded and include a multitude of affordances:

  • highlighting,
  • book marking,
  • annotating,
  • sharing,
  • searching ...

Whilst digital versions of millions of books, journals and papers increase access and scope of reading, developers are producing new interactive, multimedia formats even blending eBooks into the learning process with assessment and student analysis through quizzes and games.

A student can find rapidly from vast sources the material they need to see, though distraction is an issue. They can fast track through 'reading', branch out or study something else in parallel. 


20131013-091924.jpg

 

Has this been cornered by Martin Weller?

The Institute of Educational

Technology at the OU is a leader.

Ones to watch:

  • Paul Anderson
  • Graine Conole
  • Tim O'Reilly
  • Eileen Scanlon
  • John Seely Brown
  • George Siemens
  • Clay Shirky
  • Rhona Sharpe
  • Lave
  • Wenger
  • M Wesch
  • Victor
  • Mayer-Schonberg
  • Adam Greenfield
  • Brian Kelly
  • Stephen Heppel

20131013-091947.jpg

Ones to follow:

  • Martin Weller
  • Helen Beetham
  • Rhona Sharpe
  • Allison Littlejohn
  • Chris Pegler
  • Sara De Frietas

Open Access: Guardian Higher Education Network

 

 

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H818 Activity 2.1 Openness in a connected world of education

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 08:14

Fig.1 Posing for a scamp at the School of Communication Arts, 1987

H818 Activity 2.1

I will only publish in open access journals.

I'm not a professional academic. Should I publish then I imagine the calibre of the journal will count for something. As a professional writer (copy, scripts, speaches), with exception of blogging I am used to being paid for my words.

I will share all learning material that I create and own openly online.

From the moment I started to blog I have been part of self-help groups 'publishing' openly on everything from blogging to creative writing, swimming teaching and coaching, social media, the First Worldd War and e-learning. My goal over the next year or so is to produce under a Creative Commons module a series of 30 to 1500+ micro- OERs, one minute pieces with Q&A attached, as what Chris Pegler terms 'Lego Techno Bricks'.

I maintain an online social media identity as a core part of my professional identity.

It lacks professionalism as I don't edit it or write to a definable audience but I have a substantial e-learning blog that largelly, though not exclusively, draws on my MA ODE experiences (in fact I started on the MA ODL in 2001 and blogged on that too). I use Google+, Linkedin and Twitter haphazardly by pushing blog content to actual and potential commentators, participants and followers.

I take a pragmatic approach and release some resources openly if it’s not too much extra work.

I come from corporate communications where created content is closed to employees.

I have concerns about intellectual property and releasing my content openly.

Actual words of fiction I write is my copyright, Factual I care less about. Whilst a blog is largelly like a recorded conversation, a formal paper would need to be recognied in the appropriate way.

I will share all material that I create and own openly online, as soon as I create it.

No. I cannot hope to earn a living or sustain my interests if I cannot both charge for my time and my ouput.

 

 

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H817open MOOCs to get lost

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 15 Oct 2014, 12:58

 

'If you're not lost and confused in a MOOC you are probably doing something wrong'. Martin Weller (18:45 25th March 2013)

 

A terrific webinar hosted by Martin Weller with George Seimens speaking. Link to the recorded event and my notes to follow.

 

I took away some key reasons why OER has a future:

 

1) Hype between terrifying and absurd.

2) State reduction in funding will see a private sector rise.

3) Increase in rest of world's desire for HE OER

4) Certificates growing.

5) The Gap

6) Accelerating time to completion

7) Credit and recognition for students who go to the trouble to gain the competencies.

8) Granular learning competencies and the gradual learning and badging to stitch together competencies.

 

‘MOOCs indicate that we are seeing a complexification of wishes and needs’ - so we need a multispectrum view of what universities do in society. George Seimens, (18:51 25th March 2013).

 

 

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The Digital Scholar (2011) Martin Weller NOTES

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 May 2012, 10:26

Martin Weller (2011)

INTRODUCTION

Introduced to the power of blogging by John Naughton

(Worth following in the Guardian. Surely a demonstration of how academics blur the line between academic and journalistic writing styles successfully, just as Weller intimates that students will have to learn to differentiate between social networking writing styles and the academic style of an assignment, paper or thesis?)

· Explain things in depth

· Give all sides to the argument

· Why academics can't do the elevator pitch

The Digital Scholar was written through a blog to explore the advent of new technologies.

Wrote his last book on VLEs in 2004.

(By coincidence I am using it to prop up the iPad)

  • Online databases
  • Searching
  • Bookmarks from Delicious
  • Google Reader
  • cited posts from blogs, but not only text, also video.

Blogging for around five years

Also keeps a scrapbook like blog in Tumblr.

(I’ve used Flickr, and Tumblr, even Kodak Gallery in its time. Now I put everything into Picasa Web. The 250 grabs, charts and images are open to share. Dion Hinchcliffe offers his social media diagrams free as separate assets in Flickr River).

  • A way to offer drafts to ask for feedback
  • Sharing resources
  • Working in an intellectually vibrant environment
  • Google alerts providing updates on key words
  • Keeping abreast of the field
  • Declining attendance of conferences

‘With special thanks to’

By sharing content online I believe I may finally find my own way to publication.

Many of these services did not exist or were in their infancy in 2004.

Blogs in particular

A book

There significant changes:

1) The quantity of information available - all digital compared

2) 3000 on Twitter, 2000 subscribe to his blog

Appeals

Distributed, global resource to contemporary issues, puss of new technologies,

contributions by video and audio

3) The richness and range of contributions to include blogs, comments and

debate, video and conferences.

 

A shift I attitude to the legitimacy of these contributions.

 

Both a physical object and complementary material.

Grainne Conole using cloudworks.

Another posting a weekly video to encourage debate.

 

Concept of scholarship

 

Suffiently broad term, not only teaching and research,

not just engaged in research and employed by universities.

 

In a digital

Someone who employs digital and open technologies in a particular field.

Bloggers link to each other, democratic and easy to set up.

Epitomy of the kind

of technlogy that results in innovation.

Read or unread, daily or months,

specialist or generalist.

 

How do we recognise talent?


Should people separate out that academic and informal lives?


· Quantity

· Role of social networks

· Range of resources

 

Transformation of practice


All scholars are digital if they use a word processor and PowerPoint. But this

is 'business as usual'.

 

1) Digital

All digital files and shared by the same method.

 

2) Networked, nor longer isolated.

Easy distribution VS restriction of

scholarship to libraries, conferences, lectures and seminars. Once digitised the

barriers come down.

Dunbar. Friends 150. Reinforce with interaction. Online with a wide group of

peers.

 

3) Openness

Tim O'Reilly 2004 the architecture of participation.

Finely worked material of the journal, compared to seeing where things will lead

by sharing.

 

Digital, Networked, Open.


E.g collaboration between two people (Frank & Sally)

 

The value of a person's individual network for distribution.

The collaboration of two academics sharing their outputs they go along ... Just

a shift?

Collective impact changes everything.

 

Fast, cheap and out of control.


Brian Lamb. 1970 documentary. intersection of

all three is significant to education.

Fast to write and set up, no need for central services.

Cheap tools that have a premium, no need to turn to a budget holder.

Out of control. Outside normal institutional controls.

Money/payment and the need to persist with a certain system.

Student record systems need to be robust.

 

The good enough revolution. Wired (2009)


E.g. Flip video ... Cheap, fast and everywhere.

Dinky, lower power technology that is just good enough.

VS. Dystopian and Utopian points of view.

VS. Technological determination - humans controlled by the kit, rather than the

kit controlling the people.

 

Unpredictable

 

Taking something and using it in a way never imagined

E.g. Flickr started as a game that used photo sharing.

Social construction of technology

Complex process of co-construction

Adoption of new technology is changing scholarship. Boyer 1990

1) Context

2) Evidence

3) Other industry changes in music and newspapers

4) Boyer 1990 scholarship discovery, integration, practice, application,

teaching

*

*

*

*

9) How digital scholarship may change teaching

10) Analogy of networked weather - you can't help but be touched by it.

Digital

Networked

Open

New publishing and conferencing

13) adoption

14) anxieties

Education

1

2

3) Irrelevant

 

Not peripheral, or an issue to resolve, but rather changes to society ... As

John Seely Brown.


VS. Suggestions that our students have changed and cites Marc Prensky.

 

Separating myths from the hype.

What are the solid foundations.

A truism regarding exposure to computers. Prensky 5,000 books, 10,000 digital,

20,000 TV US

75% of 9-19 have access to a computer at home UK

72% South Africa

To get information

To research say on personal health

Oblinger and oblinger

Livingstone

 

Net Gen disappointed


Gen X against pointless interaction in class and kind of connection online.

Cannot correlate truancy to educational irrelevance.

net Gens more likely to be disappointed by how tech is used.

Net gens differentiate between writing to socialise compared to writing for

school.

Those who like writing and have an aptitude are more likely to blog so no point

in getting those with poor writing skills to blog.

 

A good deal of variance.

 

Brown 2009.

 

Teens poor performance, low patience, poor

reading and poor research skills.

 

· Express themselves in personal language

· Just print off

· Visiting a narrow range of sites

· Don't question its reliability

· 21% blogs

 

The net Gen literature sees difference where none exists.

 

  • Older gens did homework in front of TV
  • Did a previous gen have an ambiguous view.
  • Similar angst amongst students in 1908, 1960s and now. Unable to show causality.
  • Differences between net gen students and general public. Differences are not
  • significant.
  • General decline in literature reading.

Bennett et al (2008) not net Gen difference.

 

18-22 students outnumbered by mature students in the US.

 

Google, Dec 2009.

87 billion of 131 billion searches.

55.6 million in 2007 to Wikipedia

Facebook, 500m, 130 friends, once a day

YouTube, in June 2008, content 91 viewers in 2008

 

Significant activity online across a range of society.

 

Future liberation of topics.

 

Griffiths (2008) graffiti artists share and behave in a way that educationalists

would design into a programme of learning, and so it is with many other topics,

on or off the curriculum, formal or informal, from knitting to physics.

Learn as the key motivational desire.

 

Physics 100,000

FLOSS communities

Demonstrates many of the characteristics:

Mentoring

Communities of practice

Learning by doing

Self directed learning

 

Communities can form that would have previously been unable to do so due to

geographical and other barriers.

 

Openness in education - shift driven by technology.

Make academic papers open.

 

Broader trend and philosophy of the Internet.

 

Web 2.0

Top 10

Public or semi-public sharing of personal information

MIT Open 2002

1 million visitors

132 million tertiary students worldwide in 2004

OU 3 million within 2 years and helped recruit students to courses 7,000.

Slideshare

More traffic than MIT

Several hundred years to create the lecture Based models

Using third party content in their lectures.

 

How do universities remain relevant to society?


Apple to iTunes

Guardian to Podcasts

Stephen Downes 10,000 hits per day (video)

Boundaries between sectors less clear-cut

Some perfect storm ... Convenient for some to see. The Net Gen literature is

exaggerated, overblown, HE is not about to face a tectonic shift.

Firm evidence of benefits and that it is necessary.

 

Critical mass

 

Ubiquity

Invisibility

Brown

2007 those using social networks in the minority, now in the majority.

Give students relevant skills.

Asses which of these technologies will be significant.

 

Why do Students choose a university?


Not because of the technology used.

Core suitability

Academic reputation

Jobs

Teaching qualities

 

Non-academic reasons:


Proximity to homes

Scholarships

Non academic services

Cost of living in the uni area

Job prospects (while studying)

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H800 SuppActs. Unit 3.3: 2nd -15th Oct 2011

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:11

SuppActs. Unit 3.3: 2nd -15th Oct

Hi all!

This is a really great activity as Open Source has passionate advocates for and against, and a driving market reality which seems unstoppable.

I wonder, in addition to the course questions, what we have between us in the way of experience on this. It would dbe good to bring that in too. What is 'our' expereince for and against of working with Open source in education?

Discuss here, and  build resource and summaries in Wiki?

Helen

H808 Course Guide: Supplementary activity 3.3: Understanding open source

This is a collaborative activity [..]You may be able to present the output from this activity as evidence of exceptional proactivity.

Download Martin Weller’s paper on eportfolio products from the resources below, which was presented to the OU VLE project as part of its discussion on developing an eportfolio system in 2005, and do a ‘Find’ search through it for the keywords ‘open source’.

How well do you think Martin justifies his recommendation to the OU to consider an open source solution for its eportfolio system?

Do you agree with him? Join a discussion in (the H808 SA Forum &wiki ) with (others) who are interested in this topic and find out what the general opinion of open source software development initiatives is.

Resources

EduTools (2007) Product Listinghttp://eportfolio.edutools.info/item_list.jsp?pj=16 (accessed 25 May 2010).

Dr Helen Barrett’s Bookmarks (2007) Commercial E-portfolio Vendorshttp://electronicportfolios.com/portfolios/bookmarks.html#vendors(accessed 25 May 2010).

Himpsl, K., Baumgartner, P.(2009) ‘Evaluation of e-portfolio software’, International Journal: Emerging Technologies in Learning, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 16–22: http://online-journals.org/i-jet/issue/view/51 (accessed 25 May 2010).

Martin Weller eportfolio report

Martin Weller's 2005 report for the OU on eportfolio products and strategic options for a university-wide system.
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