Inspirational TED lecture
As you read through this part of Weeks 13 and 14 bear the following questions in mind.
How do these students use technology in their studies?
- It’s real. It was the online labs.
- program proper CISCO equipment
- test what you were learning
- get actual real life work done even though it was still virtual.
- a proper CISCO router
- you get to take that away straight away and be able to program real routers.
- When reading from a book you’ve not got reassurance that you can do it.
Students could use this for a ‘dry run’ offline, before taking the online tests using NetLab, which was much appreciated, as this student’s comment makes clear:
- Packet Tracer … I’ve got a lot of respect for that – very, very good. Also I like the quick reference of it. You’re reading through something and you want to work out the output for something and you think, oh I’ll check on that and you can fire it up and within 15 seconds you’re logged on.
- Quizzes will ‘fix in your mind’.
- The best course I have done with the OU … because there is so much hands-on
- A good way forward as long as simulations are realistic such as Netlab
Why do this course?
Strategically – to sit the examination for the CCNA qualification.
‘I like the idea of this being a ‘hands-on’ technical industry qualification.
- encourage frequent practice,
- reflection on progress
- study using different media
- study using different perspectives.
ICT skills are an essential part of the curriculum but not the primary focus
She needs to complete an OU Social Work degree in order to become a registered Social Worker. She is sponsored by her employer and coping with a high workload – two OU courses studied concurrently, plus a job and home responsibilities.
The OU course includes ICT skills activities in all these areas and also skills development in information literacy.
Interviewer: Did you use any of your skills from work to do the exercises?
Student: Yes absolutely … I probably took some stuff from work to be able to do it and I took some stuff from the exercise in order to develop myself in work.
I’ve sort of had to learn a different method of doing things and had to go through it all step by step.
It’s something that will be really useful but at the moment is taking so much time for me to learn how to do it and that’s taken away from time I could be doing other stuff. 'Borrowing time from somewhere else’. Terry O’Sullivan. (2011)
She welcomes the fact that most of her course is available online and it increases the accessibility of it away from her home computer.
(People’s perceptions of how much they can fit in … on the one hand flexible learning allows you to fit it in around other things … but it might encourage some to do additional courses and so have even great pressure on their time. These choices are the students’.)
This student also reported that she used ICT in her personal life, mainly for shopping and booking holidays.
I’ve learned how to do things like – what you call it – screen shots? I remember being really excited about that.
What insights are gained by looking at how students’ experience of technology-enhanced learning is affected by their work practices and vice versa?
Understand their wishes, favoured modus operandi, desire to put learning into practice immediately, desire for support, even acceptance that facts have to be learnt, tried out and put into practice until it becomes second nature.
The modules selected for this research project included two from Technology, two from Social Work, one from Business and one from Computing.
ICT is part of the personal, study and work experience of most students well before they enter a university. As you have seen, students use technologies they already feel confident about to help them study.They may or they may not use the technological tools provided by their university, such as a virtual learning environment (VLE).
Undoubtedly, peer contact, accessing module information and so on are essential for effective study. But you also need to look at how technologies are used in direct support of the learning outcomes for which students are studying.
Richardson’s (2005) account argues that students vary in how they perceive the requirements of the same module, and that, even when this variation in perception is taken into account, they vary also in their approaches to studying.
Six conceptions of learning were identified in these data, and Richardson argues that conceptions of learning are a key influence on approaches to studying, which in turn impacts on learning outcomes.
- 1 the increase of knowledge
- 2 memorising
- 3 the acquisition of facts or procedures
- 4 the abstraction of meaning
- 5 an interpretative process aimed at the understanding of reality.
- 6 a conscious process, fuelled by personal interests and directed at obtaining harmony and happiness or changing society.
As you read each vignette, look out for statements illustrating each of the six themes.
Pay attention to how ICT relates to work experience and vice versa, how (if at all) applying learning to work influences the study process, and so on.
What do these vignettes suggest about the importance of the student’s work when designing modules where ICT plays a key role?
Choice to enable them to fit it around their lives.
Bite-size, in terms of easily isolated activities that can be fitted into a tight period of time … or strung together when a longer study period is possible.
Variety of ways in to accommodate, to some degree, the experiences (or lack of) that they bring with them from their working lives, experience of studying and from home.
As Richardson’s (2005) says students vary in how they perceive the requirements of the same module.
Technologies are used in direct support of the learning outcomes for which students are studying … but are just as readily applied in our daily lives i.e. the boundaries between skills used for work and at home, particularly if computers are used in both locations.
Just because you provide a tool, or put in an activity, or offer additional reading, does not mean students will use them. ‘Students use technologies they already feel confident about to help them study. They may or they may not use the technological tools provided by their university, such as a virtual learning environment (VLE).
There was argument between a couple of Profs on Radio 4 on Thursday evening.
They were disagreeing on how best to describe the movement of photons or something in light waves. She likened it to a Mexican Wave, an idea that he rubbished. I think they ended up with a ‘pass the parcel’ idea as a compromised. Once we’ve listened to them having a go at each other for bit we are told that they are married (and happen both to work for the OU).
It was 'The Light Switch Project'.
This for me demonstrated how debate is memorable, you experience the process by which people struggle to agree, or agree to disagree about something and as a result you take your own stance.
I liken technology creep to a liquid or gas that gets into everything.
It is liberating and enabling though. For example, I’ve seen my children take an interest in something and through ‘how to videos’ online learnt skills that in the past might have taken weeks to pick up from siblings, parents or grandparents.
It can be both a catalyst and an accelerator.
Learning about technology by using technology i.e. context, applied learning … even practice based learning. Learning using technology as a tool to help students learn, Like educational films (the original documentary), radio and TV, slide-projectors and photocopies, biros vs fountain pens, the typewriter then word-processing, video and interactivity through CD-rom, whiteboards and Internet access.
Does it work?
Does use of a Spellchecker improve spelling, or simply make you dependent on the technology? It is a must. Though I’d say the first skill is touch-typing as however advanced the technology may be, the QWERTY keyboard is dominant and for many will be a barrier.
How technology is introduced matters, whether it is bottom up to meet an individual need, or top down as a perceived ‘must have’ or panacea without proper consideration for how it will be used.
The learning design comes first, knowing what resources are available, and from a teacher’s point of view deciding strategically how to mix it up given the choices and whether and how to respond to new apps and technologies as they come on stream.
Is a teacher as performer, coach, subject matter expert in the flesh and in front of a classroom audience of 30+ going to be more effective than a one-to-one with an avatar in a 3D virtual world.
At some stage we’re going to look at the technology and see that all it is doing is trying to recreate what we have already and have done for decades – taking kids out of their homes and putting them in an institution up the road while parents go to work.
If teaching online is so good why not keep the kids at home?
Surely there’s never been a better time to self-educated? Are my children growing up too fast? Does it matter that they have been exposed to so much and can dig around online to see and find out things a generation ago we had limited access too?
Physiologically and mentally they mature at the same time.
I keep the line ‘when I was a boy’ to myself, but I see far more parallels than differences; many things are faster, even instant. You want to speak to a friend or have a question answered and it is. They have no excuse to ask ‘why?’ when they are able to go online and little reason to ask ‘what can I do?’
A grant that must be spent results in a school acquiring a dozen Sony Flips (or a cheaper equivalent) so let’s use them.
The choices have surely become bewildering?
However, who should be making the choices – the head of department, the teacher or the student? Or if I spread this net wider, governments and parents? There is no doubt that reasonable IT skills are vital to employability – it’s getting to the stage where you can’t answer the phone without going through Outlook.
Growing up I took learning to be something that you ticked off; i.e. you thought, I can do that, then moved on. I feel today that this is never possible, that anything you learn is just a step on from your previous position of ignorance that can always be improved either by doing it differently or better i.e. life-long learning is the norm, and ICT makes in possible.
Could we apply the same thinking to household appliances?
Where would we be without a fridge-freezer, electric-steam iron or toaster? We’d manage. Might I suggest that nothing has changed? That ‘amelioration’ of what always has occurred with knowledge transfer is occurring? That the effect in the learner’s mind is physiologically no different to what it has always been?
It is one thing to contribute to a flash debate, it is quite another to embrace the Cloudworks platform.
There is only one way to test the water, and that is to get in. We talk of 'swim lanes' for learning design, I like every platform, every social network, business network or here, educational network, to be a visit to another pool, a lido, indoor or out, leisure pool or training pool.
They need to know who you are, you have to sign in. Then you have to change, get in, and give it a go.
So I am for the umpteenth time adding a profile picture and a profile, tagging, finding favourites debates and linking to people.
It all takes time.
Online you control time. Intensive engagement might move things along ... on the other hand, it may irritate those who've been here a while.
It should take time.
Find the rhymn of the place, observe when and where there is a buzz. Identifiy the 'champions,' come in on the periphery, pick up a thread, join in tentatively, give it a go here and there.
I make a contribution to a Flash Debate on the futre and threats to universities
Universities will flourish as they become part of the mainstream and engaged with the world, rather than distinct from it. Relationships with governments, industries, schools (for future students) and alumni (for past student) will develop and become continual, rather than passing. Student cohorts may look the same on the ground, but in the virtual world will be broader and deeper, technology and systems allowing a greater diversity. Not all institutions will have the ability, whether through lack of financing, the burden of their past and costs, to be flexible and change. The overall impact will be of an evolutionary change, though for some it will be a fight for survival.
Established, motivated, well-supported and well known colleges and institutions, where there is strength as a brand, as well as financially, in their governing body and from alumni will thrive. They can afford to exploit the changing circumstances (and they can’t afford not to). Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Bristol, UCL and the OU are not about to go under. On the other hand, new, complacent, poorly supported, little known educational institutions where the sources of income and grants may be narrow or uncertain, with weak leadership and ill-established (or disloyal) alumni will fail.
The opportunities to flourish are extraordinary; the global demand for tertiary education with tens of millions of people from Asia, for example, seeking higher education over the next decade means that there is a growing and hungry market if you have the right ‘product.’ Education is a business, whether the model is that students are educated for free or pay part of the fees, cash flow matters. Retailing has been in constant flux, from the high street to out of town shopping, with national and international brands dominating, and then online shopping cornering certain markets, from books to electronic goods. Retailers have had to change the mix, where they locate and what they sell. Universities are less agile and less prone to the vicissitudes of short-term purchasing decisions, but the impact on them of new technologies is no less profound. Negotiating their way through this will require skill, the most vulnerable institutions will fail.
Letters after your name differentiate you from other candidates for a job or promotion. Where there are many applicants for the same position where you studied, indeed, who you studied with, will matter. It helps to study under the best in your field. It depends entirely on where you wish or plan to go afterwards, where and if a position or job requires a certain qualification, and if a qualification from one or another institution has greater perceived or actual value. However, as those with experience of the job market will tell you, it is how what you have been taught is applied and how you relate to other people, that will determine your success.
CAMPUS BASED vs DISTANCE LEARNING
Technology is blending the two: increasingly students are opting for this, to be campus-based, but to take advantage of the technology to better manage their time or support their learning. Far from being the death-knell of the traditional university, new technologies will assist in their finding ways to develop and support a broader and deeper student body. Participation and collaboration, socialising away from the screen, is a vital component of the university experience for those coming out of secondary education – the demands and expectations of a mature student are very different. How people get on, how they work together, is a vital lesson that a campus based university offers. Whilst increasingly our online experiences are as ‘real’ as everything else we do, it is how and if we can work as a team that will decide how we progress. The student experiencing this will better know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and suitability for different career paths.
Like retailers, manufacturers, broadcasters, publishers and the post office, we are in a period of significant change, new technology was already having an impact, the economic down turn has aggravated this, obliging some forcing other institutions to act. How this change is managed will decide who survives and who struggles on. There is a fine line to tread between innovating early, or too late, changing wholesale or piecemeal. The wise institution not only spreads its risk, but also casts its opportunism just as wide as spreading your bets covers you in a world where nobody knows what will work or not. Libraries, one of the draws to a campus-based university, cannot be as influential as hundreds of millions of texts become instantly available in digital form. Senior lecturers and researchers should be employed for their ability to communicate, support and rally students around them, not simply because of the paper they are working on. Students will demand more if they feel it is the cash in their pocket that is buying what the institutions offers. Errors, failings and shortcomings of a person, a module or course, can be spread through online reviews and will decide their fate. New blends of courses will invent themselves where a student feels able, supported through e-learning, to cherry pick, even to study simultaneously quite different subjects. Cohorts, if on the ground still that 17-23 year old age group, will become far more diverse, with groupings formed by mutual interest in a subject. Life-long learning, already apparent in some professions, will become more common place as people recognise the need to refresh their understanding of some topics, while gaining new skills and additional insights.
Am I responding to a thread, or like the second or third speaker at an Oxford Union Debating Society getting up to say my piece?
And if I sit on the fence, what kind of debate is that?
We should be obliged to take sides, THAT would be a debate, otherwise it is a conversation, another online tutorial.
Thus far Cloudworks is like a new swimming pool, refreshing and full of opportunity. To thrive, let alone survive, it needs people coming down to swim, to jump in, to train, to meet ...
And once you have your regulars, keep them coming back.
Pic from MMC Learning
'An approach to learning activity design (Sharpe et al. 2005) concluded that, as well as ICT skills, key issues were learners’ emotional relationship to the technologies they were offered – especially feelings of frustration and alienation – and issues around time management.'
In our tutor group and module forums we've gone through time management at length.
Though I suspect that for many of us time passing is the only certain thing in our lives. It has required therapy for me to downplay events when they DON'T go to plan ... that life as a Dad, husband, parent, portfolio-worker person, studying (two courses, this and sports related), as well as feeding the guinea-pigs, putting out the rubbish, sorting the recycling, putting air in the tyres on the car, fixing the fence ... collecting children from an event, taking them to the station ... let alone the other generation, four relatives in their 80s and 135 and 210 miles away.
I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
No schedule set for the morning, let alone the day or the week can be followed. (Which is why I get my hours in 4.40 am to 7.00am each early morning ... more pleasant with the sun joining me at last)
So, to the emotional response to technology.
I've come to apply the same kind of thinking to technology, yet more technology, especially if I don't like the look of it, as something that WILL, in the fullness of time, have value.
There is no point putting off engagement with it.
The same applies to a difficult to read text (there has been plenty of that lately). It WILL become clear, it just may take three or more attempts, could involve getting advice from others in the peer group, a search on the web and dare I say it a BOOK. I actually pick up copies of 'Facebook for Dummies' and 'Blogging for Dummies' as a matter of standard practice from the library (remember them?). These books are authentic, scurrilous and engaging. The body and mind enjoy the break from the computer screen.
I got 'Digital Marketing for Dummies' for my Kindle though ... how else can I read it in the bath while holding a coffee in my right hand (I am right handed) and 'the book' in my left, perfectly able to flick on through pages with my thumb.
Design isn't just programming when it comes to software.
Compare Mac to PC. Mac not only works, but it is obvious, intuitive and often beautiful to look at.
We are so used to the extraordinary simplicity of Google, YouTube and Facebook that we baulk if a piece of software, perhaps Open Source, doesn't have the look and feel of the familiar. It IS a DESIGN issue, as in creating a love affair with the object that has both form and function, rather than function alone.
Compendium; it is versatile, engaging and intelligent ... but could it dress better and be more intuitive and less 'nerdy' ?
More from Sharpe and Beetham:
'The use of technologies can compound existing differences among learners due to their gender, culture and first language'. Beetham and Sharpe (2007)
I like this too:
Learners cannot therefore be treated as a bundle of disparate needs: they are actors, not factors, in the learning situation. (ibid)
They make sense of the tasks they are set in terms of their own goals and perspectives, and they may experience tasks quite differently if digital technologies – with all the social and cultural meanings that they carry – are involved. (ibid)
Perhaps we should be seeking advice on these feelings too, how they can get in the way of us tackling technology or a tough read/assignment. After all, if motivated, people will overcome such problems, but if we become demotivated it is habit forming.
Beetham, H and Sharpe, R 'Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age'. (2007)
p.s. This book needs an emotionally appropriate cover. Might I suggest a design from Helen A Dalby. Personally I'd like to see academic publishers make all book iPad friendly with illustrations throughout, maybe video and some interactivity too. Why stick with the rough, when you could make it smooth and cool. Video introduction from each of the authors please ... and links to their blog.
Sharpe, R, Benfield, G., lessner, E. and de cicco, E. (2005) Scoping Study for the Pedagogy strand of the JISC e-Learning Programme, Bristol: JISC. Online. Available. www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name+elearning pedagogy
Every innovation is perceived as siesmic, like a Tsunami it washes over everything. I like the digital ocean metaphor ...
In relation to H800 and the Week 1 activities the introduction and final chapter of Stephen Lax's book covers the communications innovations of the last century + enough to inform.
And whilst this is the topic for H807 'Innovations in E-learning' I recommend this. I like him so much I bought copies to give to friends; I don't know if they were grateful.
Is it available on Kindle?
Training as a TV producer I picked up some skills editing, writing and directing. A project was never too small that a person fulfilling each of these tasks wasn't required. Indeed, the 'one man band' was frowned upon. Some TV crews were still unionised so you had a cameraman, assistant and sound engineer, minimum.Today in TV production a producer may not only direct and write, but operate the camera and edit the piece. To be a TV professional in 2010 you need this variety of skills. I do. I did the courses. Camera, editing ... even six months as a sound engineer.
Which will permit easy export from MyStuff?
Can anyone explain this to me?
Export your MyStuff in the LEAP2A atom feed format (which enables transfer of data to and from other ePortfolio systems). Please click refresh feed if you have made any changes recently.
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