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Whatever it is ... the Open University did if first!

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Contrary to their PR blurb Duke University, Michigan were not the first in the world to aim to put, or to put all their HE courses online: the Open University got there 16 years earlier. We too often forget this in the UK as universities such as Coventry (with OU staff running the team) doing the same.

And now everyone doing it. 

Taking up a course with the OU in early 2001, the MA in Open and Distance Learning (MAODL) I got a cardboard box containing some text books and DVDs. We went online for a threaded noticeboard thingey.

Picking up the MA in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) a decade later and going on to graduate in 2013 everything was online: a variation (not much changed) of this blog cum noticeboard platform, Cloudworks, a version of Meet or Zoom technically a decade ahead of its time, though sometimes like dragging yourself through brambles in a Guernsey jumper.

We had Cloudworks, others no offer Padlet, Jamboard and Trello. 

Having an idea for something is never good enough; having the resources, team skills and even power or energy to make it happens is what counts.

And then which platform comes to rule over them all?

Gilly Salmon's five stages of e-tivities still applies, perhaps more so. Students (and colleagues) need quite a bit of 'onboarding' to feel confident enough with and familiar enough with a new platform in order to be able to contribute. Some get left behind, some run with it to the point of taking over.

The trick is to return to the platform over and over again. Help people use it, master it and enjoy it. Leave no one behind.

For me a new platform needs a mentor or coach, a voice I can trust to talk me through step by step showing me how this new platform applies to me. I then need to go over this repeatedly, take baby steps, make mistakes, take constructive feedback, and then make my contribution a weekly, if not a daily habit.

Another platform is never the answer. Having colleagues and students each wishing to show off and use the latest 'thing' they have found does not work either. There has to be common ground.

I feel a platform as simple as this OU blog is common ground. It does what is required. Even though I have WordPress blogs, I far prefer to post here. It is simple. It is immediate. I don't need to be pushing it on social media. I can be private to me, limited to those logged-in or shared to the world. 


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Design Museum

Quick and easy interactivities for the classroom

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Dec 2019, 14:17

Taking the MAODE there were few practical, classroom activities to put into practice in schools. The MAODE felt more like a precursor to academic study of elearning practices. I recall someone who had come from corporate training quit within weeks - unlike me, he wasn't hoping to make a career change. My career change still looks like a massive step backwards to the bottom of a low ladder.

Today we had a chance to consider and try some easy win, simple interactive tolls to 'gamify' the classroom giving students somethign to do - if they are wanting to have fingers on their mobiles anway. 

We had a discussion on that: should mobiles be allowed or not? Depends on the class. HE students are allowed their laptops, for some their smartphone IS their computer. Though the distractibility is high: follow that Tweet, respond to that email.

Our usual Digital Team Meeting quickly over with after an overview of what is going on in the college and the way roles will be defined in 2020 we took part in a teacher workshop on bringing interactivity to the classroom. Various platforms were used, and we were engaged and active throughout. Barely a moment to check emails, though I did try to tell Amazon where they could put a package as I will not be home much before 9:30pm

Peardeck, Nearpod, Menitmeter and Poll Everywhere

We would use interactive Q & A polling tool such as Pear Deck. Others mentioned include: Nearpod, Mentimeter and Poll Everywhere. Yet more (unwanted) toys I will need to have a play with.

We’d also need to download Jamboard and Padlet to our phones. I didn’t have my phone in ‘class’. My line manager needed her charger. In reality there are students (and tutors) who do not have smartphones. Provision needs to be made for them.

Having tried these we want on to explore creation and use of QR codes - as easy as creating a shortened URL and then some VR or augmented experiences you can reach on your ‘mobile device’.

QR Codes for elearning
There were some intriguing examples, however, with the skull and skelleton neither offer the level of focus a particular lesson might require. I have sat in lessons for Hair & Beauty where the focus has been the finger nail or the hair follicle. Neither of these items, albeit they are 3D, drills down to the fingernail or hair follicile.
Models and QR Codes

Off the shelf bodies I have bought are aimed at the Junior Doctor learning terms - so something bespoke would have to be created. Roll on sponsorship from a hairdressing chain. 
I've got some catching up to do. One the one hand I can master the complexities of Planet eStream and Thinglink, but what teachers are more likely to use are easy wins such as these:
Interactive Tools for the Classroom to try


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