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H810 : Activity 30.1 E-learning - key roles for implementation

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Dec 2012, 08:15

Review and discussion

Thinking back to Topics 25 (academic perspectives) to Topic 29 (management perspectives), what role or roles do you recognise from your experience?

  • What roles do you have in common?
  • To what extent do your roles and perspectives overlap?
  • Are any differences because your organisations are of different types or are they because people in the organisations have different priorities?

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Over the last decade I have come full circle, from the belief that the future lay in self-directed gamified e-learning where everything is managed and monitored by the system - even if an avatar is thrown in to make it appear human. (There is current activity doing exactly this - creating avatars to play the role of tutor - perhaps to serve millions of new learners this will serve a purpose!)

The goal I feel should be recreation, where students want it, of the Oxbridge model of tutorial - at least at graduate and post-graduate levels - where the tutor plays a key role as intermediary. 'Where the students want it' implies choice - so in truth a smorgasbord at every step, not just the way a module is presented, but how material is tackled topic by topic. I've reviewed platforms that have the look and feel of a games arcade - resplendent with hyper-gamified activities at every stage - this for me does more than simply exclude the disabled student, it also presumes in error that all learners have or desire this mindset. They do not. Where we have choice I think we do incline to the verbal, auditory or kinaesthetic - I also believe that our moods and inclinations, and especially experience, tip us to one model over another. All this spells out 'C H O I C E' not constraints in the conduits of a gamified series of funnels and tunnels.

The OU may not get the attention of the e-learning awards panel, but they have a more important responsibility to hundreds of thousands of students, tens of thousands of ALs ... and a few thousand staff.

  • A champion - whomsoever this may be someone needs to make accessibility a cause
  • A leader - perhaps an innovator and entrepreneur, someone who can galvanise others into action, raise the funds, assemble a team and get the most out of them.
  • Disabled student representatives - not a token person in a wheelchair, but genuine engagement and involvement from various disabled group communities i.e. involving in particular a student or former student with experience of learning as a disabled person from the 'communities' that include hearing, sight, mobile and cognitive impairments.
  • Legal advice - much e-learning is now offered on a global platform. Laws differ, but it will reach the point where disabled students wise-up to their rights and how to press for them. This isn't about interpreting the law to reduce risk and get away with doing as little as possible, it is about ensuring that the 'bar' where it is currently placed, is reached.
  • Professional Managers - team players. Some educational practices have to change - the lone educator devising their own content for a prescribed curriculum greatly reduces both the greater use of readily available resources and their creation and management on accessible platforms. Even entrepreneurs and those with marketing and communications skills in order to compete in a global market for education provision.
  • E-learning design - experienced and qualified people who have a good understanding of how to construct e-learning, if necessary with people who have a theoretical and/or a technical background and awareness. Personally I would have a minimum of FOUR people representing the following skills: learning theory, e-learning technologies (programmer), visualisation (design in its broadest meaning in relation to functionality as well as look) and the subject matter expert - not necessarily to write original content, but certainly to curate resources where they are readily available and to tailor them to a specific audience's learning needs.
  • Research - it helps to have someone dedicated to knowing where we are with the technology and resources, in this instance with a specialism relating to assistive technology (software and hardware).

To be continued ...

Please add to this mix. If we could or had to create an e-learning platform from scratch who would you want on your team. Put this in your context - say creative writing, or civil engineering, language learning or health care. In the IDEAL e-learning world who would be in it and how would the mix work?

  • IT - there need to be people, a department even, that knows how to make IT sing and keeping it robust, up to date, compliant, reliable and secure.
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Livewire with Brightwave

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 May 2012, 06:48

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I have no reason to plug these guys but as an e-learning practioner I want to try and engage with everything 'out there'.

I was fabulously impressed with this service and totally sold on the benefits of blended learning, of doing it live, synchronously with a highly professional, amusing and sparky moderator and equally passionate fellow students.

This is how to learn on line.

Though I appreciate that this level of intensity is unsustainable over the duration of a module, it is nonetheless what the once fornightly Elluminate session ought to be like.

It doesn't require bells and whistles. The platform is simple.

The human interaction is key. We learn best from each other with the right mix of the knowledgeable and the ignorant who are keen to learn.

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

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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?

 

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H800:57 Learning design and moderating students online

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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)

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H800 51 Wk11 Why this is like talking with your fingers

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 20 Dec 2011, 06:03

As it is a bank holiday and the first in many years that I recall being sunny, I find I am getting online for an hour or two at dawn to do some stiudent work and write this. Then I walk the dog along the River Ouse or up on the South Downs and the day is mine/ours.

Painting the porch sad

Then nodding off in the sun with a course book or two, a couple in print, a 2011 publication from John Seely Brown on the Kindle.

How, when and why blogs and threads work or fail is the topic of conversation.

I used to treat forums and assignments, optional or otherwise, as the weekly essay - something I had to do whether or not I engaged with others. I would also take part on a whim, responding to some entries, and happily letting the conversation drift off topic. Length was no object either. I lurked in other tutor forums too, making the time to follow how what ought ostensibly to be the same conversations could be very different indeed - some very active, some dead.

A year on I am more strategic.

I would like to be sharing the learning process, contributing to the conversations whether I can help or not, whether I am seeking answers or asking questions. The Cafe and General area serves a purpose to take 'over spill' though it functioned best in H808 where a moderator management the supplementary activities.

Gilly Salmon's 'E-moderating' has a good deal to say on this.

It is worth owning,. not simply to read cover to cover, but to have as a reference. I may not like the term 'e-moderator', but 'moderator' is, however diminishing or disparaging to a Dphil, the main function here. It could be carried out by a postgrad student, even an animated undergrad.

What matters is engagement.

Someone may need to act as the 'eyes & ears' for the group until it is established. Introductions have to be made, conversations started and moved along ... if anyone is rude, they should be quietly put in their place; if anyone is being like a door-mouse, they need support.

'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)

There isn't a structure, no more than there is in a car or coffee bar.

The structure comes about from the people and activity in it. This is shaped entirely by the behaviour of the participants. 1) They have to turn up 2) Someone has to have something to say 3) Some of us need to be going around like a host, 'making polite conversation', 'networking', even introducing people. It IS a social gathering.

Tutor is a better term. It is valid.

Indeed the beauty of working online is that you can recreate the essence of an 'Oxbridge Tutorial', that privilege one-to-one, or one to two or three, that is the weekly essay read out and discussed.

Discussion is the key.

The tutor DOES NOT need to be a subject matter expert. See my interview with Oxford Senior Lecturer Dr Zbigniew Pelczynski.

Whilst the tutor cannot keep waving pixie dust over a group that simply does not gel they ought to try, especlally in the first weeks and especially with students new to this set up.

Why I participate in some forums and not others.

Often because someone else has started the ball rolling, and often. I will be the first if I have a need to get through the week's work and no one else has made a start. I may fret about covering all bases giving my response too much thought ... and therefore resulting in something overly long. Not easy to adhere to but I try to set parameters; 250 words typical, 500 words an absolute max after that think about offering it as an attachment.

It can be like chosing a restaurant!

You want to go where there's some buzz already, though not so much that you feel you will never be able to join in the conversation.

The reality is different.

This is an asynchronous beast. If I come in late I may read every post with care before I respond, which can result in a long response. People should feel just as comfortable simply answering the question, ignoring others at first .. or just reading the last couple of posts and responding to them.

It is tempting to respond to someone in a DIFFERENT tutor group if they say something strong; you're not supposed to do so! I might quote them in my own group. There have been times when lifting the thread of catalyst that got them going in another group will do the same in your own.

How my input is affected by the way the forum is structured.

At Harvard they use as system called 'Rotisserie' in some asynchronous threads/forums which, like playing pass the parcel (or pass the microphone) require people to take it in turns to say something. No harm there! No all the time, but for ice-breakers and specific, important threads it may work very well. Everyone has something worth saying, our differing perspectives are a vital part of the experience.

I'd like these threads to be presented very differently, as cards placed around a table. This sounds like a step towards a Virtual World. I just don't 'see' conversations as lists or 'toilet roll scrolls' from top to bottom, rather they should be in a circle at least, in a spiral at best.

It matters that activities have been designed that get people engaged without the need for a tutor all the time.

'Structured, paced and carefully constructed e-tivities reduce the amount of e-moderator time, and impact directly on satisfactory learning outcomes, adding value to the investment in learning technologies'. (Salmon, 2002a)

Do I behave differently in face-to-face tutorials?

I'm the student who says they understand but the tutor will see that on my face it says 'I still haven't a clue'. I will stop asking questions. Here I will ask more often, then start asking elsewhere, within h800, even beyond the Masters in Open and Distance Education. I'm still asking people how to visualise the learning process in threads, forums and blogs away from here.

Face-to-face people don't need to put up their hand to ask a question, you can read the person, you can tell if they are anxious to join in at some point. You don't need 'rotisserie' as people do take it in turns. Someone will act as the chair, even is there isn't one nominated. Think of us like the Village Elders taking it in turn to reflect on an issue.

Seeing that someone else has already made an effort to answer the week's questions I decide I can and should make the effort to do the same. It is easier to reply to the questions and ONE response than the question and 16 responses! i.e. I like to be second, or third to comment, rather than first or last. No good if everyone is hanging back. Perhaps between us we should nominate someone to go first each week!!!

'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)

REFERENCE

Salmon, G (2005) E-moderating. The Key to teaching and learning online.

AND FINALLY, I relate to this, also from Gilly Salmon's book:

'Consider this medium as like talking with your fingers - half-way between spoken conversation and written discourse.' (Hawkridge, Morgan and Jeffs, 1997, quotes in Salmon 2005)

 

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