I've set up another external blog to carry most of my 'reflections on e-learning' content.
Most further content will be private unless it is closely related to the MAODE, OpenLearn or Open University courses.
I've set up another external blog to carry most of my 'reflections on e-learning' content.
Most further content will be private unless it is closely related to the MAODE, OpenLearn or Open University courses.
The MAODE I started (took up again) in February 2010 is to blame. On completing that in 3 1/2 years I felt a huge void. I have completed multiple course with FutureLearn and Coursa since, and further modules, some at considerable expense: most free.
Straight out of Taking Your Learning Online and I feel I have the brain muscle and desire to do more. This time I will do and complete 'The Online Educator' even if it covers much of the same ground, and especially because i have started it before and not got to the end.
All in all in creates a massive mashup in my brain that I can feed out to others, not least urgently to get my head around learning design in FE and potentially to be able to offer cogent advice to colleauges and the college.
Debbie McVitty introduced the panel with the following preamble. We would be reflecting on digital transformation: organisations, cultures and practices.
That technology imposes on every aspect of our lives.
What this means for university cultures and how we teach and communicate with students.
A warning that Covid has created a crisis condition that has forced us onto a testbed preemptively - not everyone was ready for it.
And the difficulty of trying to add change to old platforms and practices. (The recommendation is to start again on an entirely different space and then fold the successes into the university online space).
The first speakers were:
Patrick Mullane, Executive Director, Harvard Business School Online
Rebecca Galley, Director, Learning Experience and Technology, Open University.
My own reflection on this is that it helps to have an understanding of the 'diffusion of innovations'. Going digital with has been a clear case of innovators and early adopters (The Open University, Coursera, Duke University, Coventry University ), as well as late adopters (Oxford and Cambridge University) and laggards (FE colleges and Secondary Schools?).
And thus another learning journey begins. The books are a start with 'Becoming Fluent' in audible form so that I can plug it in and listen through. As much as anything I want to try something new (new to me at least). I like reading along, but can I do that? I find on YouTube running the subtitles while watching helps me catch words and phrases that I might otherwise miss.
I also searched online courses and have thus far tried Coursera and FutureLearn. I risk becoming that statistic of students who sign up but never start. Whether a course gains traction or not is down to the ability of the course creators to engage and feed my current enthusiasm at the right level and in the right way - this learning business is just that, a business, and a competitive one.
I ought to check Open Learn of course and a myriad of other online course providers.
I get serious when I return to the likes of the Open University and pay proper money to do a tutor led designed and credited course.
|From WW1 FL Memorials|
Fig.1 The Response, Newcastle
There are several ways to enter thinking relating to the First World War courtesy of Open University subsidiary FutureLearn. Each of the First World War courses takes a different tack: aviation, Paris Treaty, idea of heroism and coming up soon, through one hundred personal stories.
During the recent course on heroism we were asked to share images of out favourite First World War Memorials.
Born and raised in Newcastle my late mother went to the Art School on the other side of the road, then King's College, Durham. She often talked of this memorial, knew its history and had done studies of it as a student.
|From WW1 FL Memorials|
Fig.2. Lewes War Memorial
I know Lewes War Memorial as I have lived here for nearly 15 years. As a member of a bonfire society we stop at the memorial every 5th November ... so whether there is a centenary or not, we make a lot of fuss about it. This memorial features online where Steve George has pinned every name to an address in the town. This make for very painful viewing as you realise how many households lost husbands and sons to the war.
|From WW1 FL Memorials|
Fig.3 My late mother and grandfather at the Tynecot Cemetery marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres).
If I were to add a couple of other memorials it would be the extraordinary First World War memorial to mariners at Tower Hill with sumptuous stone carvings around the miniature garden where it is set, and the oddly incongruous memorial to the Machine Gun Corps at Hyde Park Corner which shows the figure of Boy David. I was a standard barer at a memorial to the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Machine Gun Corps in which my late grandfather had served ... he was there too, age 94.
|From WW1 FL Memorials|
Fig.4. The Tower Hills memorial to mariners of the First World War
And most recently, at my daughter and son's school, I came across this extraordinary mural that fills the assembly hall of the old Grammar School. Surely this achieves its goal of creating a lasting memory amongst students?
From WW1 FL Memorials
Fig. 5 Brighton Grammar School First World War commemoration mural
My First World War Future Learn (MOOCs) ... online courses:
World War 1: History in a 100 Stories Follow at #FLww1stories Starts 13th April. Duration Five Weeks. Study time: Four hours a week.
Completed with repeat dates:
World War 1: Trauma and Memory Follow at #FLTrauma15 Starts 25th May. Duration Three Weeks. Study time: Two hours a week.
World War 1: A New World Order (The Paris Treaty of 1919) Follow at #FLtreaty Starts 22 June. Duration Three Weeks. Study time: Five hours a week.
World War 1: Aviation Follow at #FLaviation Starts 13th July. Duration Three Weeks, Study time: Three hours a week.
World War 1: Changing Faces of Heroism Follow at #FLheroism TBA. Duration Three Weeks. Study time: Four hours a week.
Having completed all but World War 1: History in a 100 Stories my sincere suggestion would be to set aside seven hours a week. I aim to do an hour a day during the week and complete on Friday. I generally achieve this unless I get deeply engrosses in the conversation, or have to go over a point a few times to understand it. Maybe 45 minutes every day then. Skip the discussions and these are easily done: then it becomes akin to watching a bit of TV and reading a few leaflets - not the same as testing your thoughts, and having your ideas tested, turned around, built upon and altered.
Fig.1. Philip Pirrip is confronted by the 'fearful man, all in course gray ... '
Start Writing Fiction is a FutureLearn Course. Its content makes up part of an OpenLearn Course. It is a thread in the Creative Writing Course here at the OU.Three months on having completed the course it is about to repeat. I'll be there.
|From E-Learning IV|
Fig.2. How we learn in the 21st century. J F Vernon E-learning (2011)
We learn through repetition; not simply learning by rote.
We learn through passing through the same loop over and over again. There is nothing so special about graduation, gaining an MA, a PhD or achieving the lofty status of 'professor' so long as you are willing to climb, as if on a thermal, one focused ever ascending loop seeing the same thing over and over again in new light, until, through insight or height from the ground you see something new and have something new to say.
There are some key lessons to learn from 'Start Writing Fiction; (SWF)' though it is never the whole story - for that you need to sign up to a graduate course on Creative Writing. There's plenty to work with though. I look forward to being reminded what matters. It kicks off again on 27th April and runs for three months.
Reading matters as much as writing.
The precocious child who read copious volumes and gets into literature in their early teens has an advantage. I was slow to read and reluctant to read. The only novels I may have read as a child were forced on me through school. Even in my teens as I read 'Great Expectations' and 'Silas Marner' for O' Levels and 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' for A' Levels I did say like a parrot: If I picked up an 'B' grade at both levels it was only because I regurgitated precisely what I had been tutored to put down.
Over three decades later, 33/35 years later to be exact if I check my diary from that time, I am reading Dickens with fresh eyes.
My late mother bought me a second hand edition of all the Dickens novels. I never read one. I now have 'Great Expectations' for free courtesy of 'Project Guttenberg' on my Kindle. I am reading it with lessons from 'Start Writing Fiction' in the front of my mind. SWF concentrates on the key, though not only component, of good writing: character. I am chewing over every line of Dickens with a rye smile on my face: I see what he's doing with Pip, with the escaped convict from the hulk, his older sister and her husband Joe the Blacksmith, with Miss Haversham and Estella. If 'character is plot' then the plot moves, in a series of steps, over the heads of each character. We are carried by Pip with repeated moments of laugh out loud insights to a child's perception and feelings for the world. How had I not see this before?
For the umpteenth time I am doing what doesn't come naturally to me: I should be painting, not writing.
Intellectually I feel like the child who is left handed who had than arm tied behind his back as a child to force him to write against his will with his right. I have managed well enough, but it is against character and it is too late to correct? I need to work with words as the text that describes what I see. Text has other values too of course. It can carry a story beyond a single canvas.
A creative writing tutor, editor and author - former opera singer and opera director - Susannah Waters in reviewing my writing on a retreat last September gave me more than SWF can do on its own. An A4 sheet torn in half offers the following tips on 'Scene Building:'
She expands on these.
Every line of 'Great Expectations' is in Pip's voice, written as autobiography much later in life, in the moment, capturing for now, his wonder, fear, feelings and hopes. It helps me enormously as I try to construct a story of my own set in the couple of decades 1966 to 1986, rather than 1820 to 1860. Characters don't change, technology and society does. It helps me to contain my imagination and fears as I feel it falling apart. Character will hold it together; each character needs to surprise.
I wish I could find the link to the BBC Radio 4 programme in which an author, Michael Morpurgo or Alexander McCall Smith talks about writing; it was on over the last three weeks. Or was it on TV?! Tips and devices were spoken of, but what had most resonance for me was the idea that an authors wonder at even the most mundane creates interest for the reader.
I used to discount Dickens as old fashioned; I now feel that I am reading Dickens with the same wonder of someone who has broken through the fog of a new language and is becoming fluent. Can I now translate this into my own writing? For now the juggling game I am playing is my writing in one hand, Dickens in the other.
Sharing where I stand matters hugely. Knowing that others are following my journey and are supportive matters: it keeps me going. Being online matters. It is the next best thing to standing on a soapbox in the local park and reading passages from my efforts. Feedback matters as it guides you.
On this retreat last September we read out our work, actually Susannah read my piece for me as I wanted to hear it from a different voice. We were around an open fire in a cottage in Devon. Telling stories around a fire takes you back to the origins of storytelling; what must you say to hold their attention, to keep them entertained, to make them cry (I did with that one), to make them laugh, fear, hope, clap, get angry ... and ponder, even panic over the outcome. In that story I had a soldier in the First World War slowly sinking into mud, up to his chest and neck ... screaming for life.
|From E-Learning VI|
Fig.1 Once I directed film ... I once directed a film. It was short, like my career.
I'm pointing you in the direction of this wonderful example of a free course from FutureLearn (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Open University) that has just started because I believe you, a friend, your kids, or a colleague may love it ... and even transformed by it.
This is 'e-learning' of the highest calibre: so easy to do it's like watching TV while using Twitter.
With a little guidance.
I've lived and studied online learning for five years with the OU. I've been so hooked I've kept doing MAODE courses after I completed the MA.
From FutureLearn, my platform of choice having tried and studied all the ones that matter, I can share examples of courses for PhD WebScience candidates, History of the First World War MA students, first year Geography undergraduates of Climate Change and even those in their A' Level year. There are plenty of general ones too: 'How to succeed at: applications' and 'How to succeed at: interviews' from the University of Sheffield give you what you need, right when you need it.
This one, well, go see.
I think it's one for everyone with an interest in storytelling and the magic of putting it on the screen. We've all seen a movie, right? Enjoy as a viewer, a lover of storytelling, a drama hopeful in any role, or someone who knows such a person.
I wish I was 16 again with a parent who cared about the arts as a career looking over my shoulder saying 'that's for you.' Instead, like so many of us I don't doubt, I was told 'get a proper degree, get a proper job'. Sometimes the best advice is also the worst. The 'proper' degree has never worked, it's not me. Not my first degree, not my second from the Open University. I'm not work shy. I'll work 20 hours a day if I'm fed, clothed and watered. I just lack the ability to conform, however hard I try, however much my edges are scraped off, however old and ignorant I become.
|From E-Learning VI|
Fig.1 Unexpanded mindmap using 'SimpleMinds' on 'How do MOOCs compare'.
There are tens of thousands of Massive Open Online Courses available. Their proliferation increasingly requires some means to differentiate types, to standards, and by review. Undoubtedly branding will have a role to play: it being easier to choose because the subject is delivered on a known and trusted platform, such as Coursera, Udemy or FutureLearn.
What are they brands though? Like a well-known publisher such as Dorling-Kindersely? Or a brand of cornflakes? Courses are often the product of a specific university, but does this help when a course will vary also by faculty, and in particular by the role and lead taken by a subject matter expert.
The variables are considerable.
There are a couple of review sites which aggregate MOOC lists, such as MOOC List and CourseTalk. These, like reviews on Amazon, rely upon participants of a course to come in a post. I think of it as the TripAdvisor for e-learning. How reliable are these? It'll take years to bed in and impact on the product.
Meanwhile, as I still do several MOOCs in parallel I am trying to think about the kind of criteria:
1. The Platform Provider
There are too many for one person to consider. And ample complexity requiring parameters. Some are not, or are no longer Massive and Open because they are closed, exclusive and paid for. Udemy has many thousands of short courses online, all with a price for participation, self-paced and lacking a sizable cohort to generate valuable 'connectedness' and 'collaboration', both important, identified theories of learning that have a significant part to play in e-learning. Funded by venture capital Udemy needs cash flow. EdX comes from Ivy League US universities Harvard, MIT and Berkeley offering undergraduate and postgraduate level, term long courses at a demanding academic level. They have no UK equivalent: neither Oxford or Cambridge have come on board. Although Edinburgh is on both EdX and FutureLearn. Whereas LSE and a few other top UK players are yet to have a presence. FutureLearn is a new, though rapidly expanding player: a wholly owned subsidiary of the Open University with partner institutions from around the globe, typically the UK and Commonwealth Countries, though with three partners from China too. It is the platform I am most familiar with having complete six MOOCs with another four on the boil. They make it look easy and I love learning in conversation with others. The Khan Academy is aimed at schools, while the likes of TED lectures, iTunesU and podcasts are all lectures online in one form or another, rather than complete courses with clear steps towards achieving specific learning objectives.
I am attempting to compare platforms, approaches and institutions by comparing delivery of MOOCs on Climate Change. There are probably a dozen, all variations on a theme, though the science shouldn't be different, even if the delivery is. They are: Exeter on FutureLearn, Melbourne, San Diego, Penn and British Columbia. I studied geography as an undergraduate so feel better able to form a judgment.
Funding is complex, but it matters because 'he who pays the piper, plays the tune.' Largely funded by VC money the US MOOC providers are pressured to take fees, seek donations and sell certificates and other services. To a Brit used to the BBC anything with advertising in it, especially in relation to learning, smells of hogwash. On the other hand, branding and open sponsorship may be a necessary way forward. Even Wikipedia cannot do it for free. Once again, my knowledge is in the first instance at first hand as a 'participant' who has studied 'at a distance' with the Open University and paid for it, who has taken courses as CPD the traditional way at evening and weekend workshops, though also online by subscription. I have even paid heftily for a formal assessment which gained me a distinction and 10 credits towards a university degree.
There is no 'free' learning: it is financed somehow. Learning takes time and therefore to plan, produce, put online and support. Even where the cost is carried internally as the learning is seen to have promotional or reputational value, it is coming from someone's budget. The relationship between the OU and the BBC, and the BBC and other British institutions is an interesting one as the assets the BBC creates by definition are owned by the tax payer so should UK citizens pay twice for something they have already paid for? The BBC though, like many others, create and provide content for use in learning under a Creative Commons licence.
Funding, in tertiary education, comes from many sources, not least government subsidy, grants for research and sponsorship. Creation of Open Learning meets criteria, especially in relation to research, to publicise and share research findings. The dry academic paper is being superseded by, or at least complemented by, online offerings: a podcast at least an Open Educational Resource (OER) at best.
Who decides on the subjects to 'publish' as a MOOC? Publishers and broadcasters make choices for commercial reasons, often based on perceptions or demands of the audience. Are MOOCs create in response to student and participant needs and demands, or the product of individuals and faculties simply wishing to 'give it a go' or develop and share their pet subject with others. Is everything suitable for a MOOC? Is the subject, title and delivery considered in the kind of editorial committee that exist in TV, Radio or Print ... or is to more piecemeal and fragmented? Individuals and departments in universities traditionally operate in silos, indeed, many chose to be in academia, especially research, in order to focus on their niche interest without undue disturbance or interaction. I can see MOOCs that are championed by an individual, by a faculty and by a university. Inevitably some will be less well received than others. In all media there are hits and misses. Understanding what works, and what does not, is fascinating. Often it is like wondering why, in a small French town, one restaurant is packed, while the others are quiet. Though they are yet to produce them, I would expect and hope for MOOCs on art from St.Martins, MOOCs on sport from Loughborough. I would expect to see a MOOC on the First World War from Niel Ferguson. Why has a world leader, such as the Oxford School of Geography and the Environment, a no.1. faculty in the no.1. university thus far stayed away from MOOCs? They have podcast. They're on iTunesU. They stream some lectures and seminars. The next step is not so great. Or is it a case of a cautious institution taking careful note of research done on MOOCs. They are no panacea and maybe the step towards something that will have a better fit: exclusive, income generating ...
4. The Audience
I resist calling those who do MOOCs students because their profile and behaviour of those I have done and studied is not of students, whether from school, at university or postgraduate. They are older, but not 'adult learners', far from needing the education, many have a Masters degree ... it is telling that discussions are anything but deferential towards the 'young' professors and even younger PhD students who present and moderate many of these MOOCs. Often the MOOC participant, who form the kind of TV audience that sits forward and interacts, is an MA student of the subject who may have ten or twenty years applied experience of the subject in business, government or teaching. For example, the MOOCs I am looking at on Climate Change always have vocal participants who have considerable experience 'in the field' for environmental agencies or oil companies. The academics are put on the spot, always rise to the occasion, and will surely learn from the experience as much as we 'students' do. Where therefore diversity and access? As TV producers know how in a digital world to cater for audiences of different ages and interests, so educators creating MOOCs will need increasingly to engage media professionals who know better how to target, appeal to and retain specific audiences. Whilst those creating MOOCs may wish to attract potential students to their undergraduate courses, I suspect that it is at best the teachers of such students, rather than A'level students who are getting involved.
Reputations of innovators in e-learning and whose talks go viral in a TED lecture become champions of online learning. Some become a brand that tens of thousands turn to. As free courses proliferate the bluntest and most effective branding is to have a champion, the educator at celebrity. We know that those with a TV profile with a following already will attract the most interest. In TV, even in corporate learning and development, the appeal of the broadcaster or presenter speaking on behalf of the educators is common place. Not all educators are broadcasters. It matters to have someone champion the course. If you want to study, for example 'Climate Change' and can choose between a dozen providers of a MOOC, who do you go with?
In formal learning objectives are the goal on which the learning is designed and assessments are undertaken. You are tested on what you are taught, and if you can prove that you have learnt what the material teachers you gain a grade of some kind. This in turn goes towards a qualification, or transferable credits towards a degree or diploma. This may appear clear, but there are other objectives at play: attracting students, even dissuading them if places are hugely oversubscribed. There are obligations to publish research. There are desires to join the 'e-learning race' and gain insights through doing even if it is not yet fully understood where the movement is headed. What does the course provider want from a MOOC? More students? Establishing or developing the reputation of an educator or department? Competing with others who are 'up there'? Because they have the funding? Vanity? Not to miss out?
The digital world is a free for all. It is competitive. Whatever you can imagine, someone is doing it. I was staggered to learn that the MOOC providers couldn't be named on the fingers of one hand. I think there are over 50 if you're counting and include various hybrids and anomalies. Many, many more if you venture into MOOCs that are not massive, or open ... say content created for internal use across a huge multinational. Sometimes these commercial sites and platforms are the most innovative, and of course, the best funded, for example, in supporting training in investment banking for brokers. Virgin produces e-learning for internal use - it is surely a natural step to create something open and online? The OU, with the BBC and at arms length FutureLearn makes a compelling, reputational sound brand. If anyone knows how to create e-learning that is attractive, appealing and of value this is the team. There are cultural differences though with MOOCs out of North America looking more like a multi-media version of Scientific American to the FutureLearn MOOC that is 'Look and Learn' - fun and accessible.
8. Technical aspects of the platform
My expertise does not lie in picking apart and comparing the underlying technologies that support the different platforms. I can however relate to the discussions that have, for example, explained Facebook's success compared to MySpace ... that there were, or still are, underlying technical problems on MySpace that prevented its becoming as attractive as Facebook. I have taken and followed learning online since 2000 - joining the MA in Open and Distance Learning (MAODL) in 2001 while creating online learning through a web agency for commercial, broadcast and government clients. Our understand and aspirations for what was needed or could be achieved fell short of what bandwidths and the technology then could deliver, even if we spoke about 'stickiness', collaboration, likeminds and fun.
The OU boasts that a multi-million BBC production such as 'The Blue Planet' is the kind of visual extravaganza it can now incorporate into, or complement with distance and online learning, a far cry from the black and white hippy in sandals presenting in front of a whiteboard as lampooned by Smith and Jones in the 1980s. It isn't as simple as saying costs, like those in the movie business, are divided between creation and distribution, though it is a useful starting point. In this instance the means of distribution is an interactive platform, that has certain affordances because of its underlying architecture and the skills, direction and motivation of the programmers. The content that is made available for, or put into this environment will vary widely based on the experience of the educators, the team they have around them, and how this is structured and led. In TV and print, a producer or publisher is the lead, or chair of such a group ... not the 'creative' whereas in academia the academic invariably feels they are the lead and should instigate decisions, sometimes without acknowledging that they have no expertise in 'external communications' or the platforms and approaches they want to adopt. Money is not set aside to use an external producer or production team, with sometimes, the results being self evident. Fine, perhaps, in a former age, for an internal audience of undergraduate students, but no longer adequate for a far more demanding open audience.
Multimedia, which is what this is, draws on expertise that is a combination of skills that in the past would have been more easily denoted as radio, conference, print and TV. Production values and experience in all of these is required when creating online content because decisions should be taken in the context of the learning materials as to what will work best at different times, for different kinds of content. Also recognising the need for varieties of approach and making these appropriate. I have taken, or tried to take, modules that are back to back presenter to camera, as if listening and note taking for many hours is an adequate or doable learning process. On the other hand, I have been engrossed by an entirely 'gamified' Rosetta Stone as an iPad App - rich, complex, repetitive and at times tiresome, but effective as a language learning experience. Not all, or rather few educators, are natural broadcasters. Accepting their strengths in front of a lectern and not taking them out to walk and talk or present on location unless they can clearly do it, requires production skills. There is a language for conducting interviews using a single camera, and for recording multi-camera seminars. If the technician who sets up the kit has no understanding either of framing, or of editing, the result, however good the lighting and sound, will jar. These are all production values that need have to be bought in, or developed to a suitable standard inhouse. Audiences have expectations of certain practices across the media types. Poor practice in use of PowerPoint, for example, is not simply distracting ... people will quit a course on a whim.
Increasingly leading players in many fields are coming to see that to offer open learning online is a natural progression from things they have already been doing for a decade: putting content online in websites. delivering short courses face to face, even recording podcasts for release as audio or video. There is less mystery behind how to create content and less need for owning and financing the platform. What we are seeing today, is the same transition that occurred as blogs migrated from do-it-yourself coded webpages in 1999/2000 through the first readymade platforms such as Diaryland and LiveJournal, to the 'off the shelf' ease and sophistication of WordPress. Indeed, for MOOCs, the commercial platform Udemy is offering a platform to commercial players.
Institutionally could early adopters trump the laggards? Might the likes of Phoenix and its global reach of associated universities trump traditional hubs of learning like Oxford and Cambridge which are currently proving reticent to engage? Or will inertia, reputation, funding, research and expertise see them grow into e-learning and their substantial foundations?
Whilst it may appear that the Open University was made for the digital age, can a UK institution be a global player? What happens when an Oxford or a Cambridge can do what the OU does? Or don't they ever want to? Over the last 35 years the percentage of students at Oxford from private schools has shifted from 72/28 to 48/52 .... still not representative of the national split, but moving with determination to being accessible and diverse. Ironic then that staying out of online learning is perceived as necessary to preserve their tradition of tutorial based learning that by its very nature can only be elitist and exclusive.
12. What next?
This is the hardest question and the one everyone wants an answer to. My guess is better than many another's because I've been riding this wave for several decades through linear video-based learning, to interactive and then online. Thanks to the OU over the last five years I now have the language to explain what has gone on and so make a reasonable stab at what comes next. There are several learning theories that can explain the way we learn, but only a few that describe learning approaches that are suited to the online experience: connected and collaborative learning are what makes MOOCs work. Although there are platforms too, such as QStream and Rosetta Stone that are in effect old-fashioned learning by rote or immersion with repetition constructing meaning. There are subjects, such as medicine and languages, which are suited to this approach. There will be increased fragmentation. We are, if you like, where the printed book was five hundred years ago. The book had yet to develop into multiple printed forms from the novel to the pop-up book (!) or diversify across every subject. Though change is far swifter, the variety of forms, by audience, by subject, by approach and duration is yet to flourish into the thousands of types I can envisage until there is a plethora of MOOCs as there are, or have been, magazines in the past. Some affordances are yet to be realised: feedback into FutureLearn, by way of example, is one way to measure and act upon ideas offered 'by the crowd'. Reasoned responsiveness will see the platform they have now move in regular steps into a different, and different forms. Logic suggests, to suggest an extreme example, that the tools, approaches and affordances of a platform catering to primary school children will be different to one aimed at PhD students. On the other hand, both of these groups find something on TV. With the exception of Ragdoll's 'In the night garden' which is loved by infants and PhD students in equal measure
There will be unforeseen consequences. Will 'leasure learners', a stalwart of the OU migrate to MOOCs where there are no fees, just as much learning and a far greater sense of community engagement? Will MOOCs, as the OU does with an MAODE module, be something that runs in parallel with a formal module. In this instance students in the closed learning MAODE being joined by an open MOOC audience for a period of months. I can envisage an enlightened educator using his/her MOOC to support self-directed learning online, while also acting as the backbone for a formally taught series of classes where they use the readily package content of the MOOC to support their delivery.
Those who want and need the kind of learning the MOOCs offered do not make up the bulk of the audience. How will those young people coming out of higher education who crave a university degree learn at this level when they don't have the funds to attend in person? How, when it comes to assessment, can they afford what remains an expensive process - sitting an exam or submitting a paper for formal scrutiny and grading under stringent criteria relating to potential plagiarism and to sustain standards?
For all their openness and credentials to support access and diversity do MOOCs simply 'preach to the converted' - refreshing an interest for those with a degree, or two, already? Where might a degree taught online be achieved instead of a set of A'Levels. Will it become normal to have more than one degree so raising the bar even higher for those who simply wish to get to first base?
Is there, as was in the earliest stage of the Internet, a language bias with most MOOCs invariably delivered in English?
Restricted access. Poor broadband. Lack of resources to run the MOOC. Lack of means, either time or money to do them.
Looking at it another, perhaps more subjective way, I'd like to know about:
Fig.1. My mash-up from the Start Writing Fiction, OU and FutureLearn MOOC.
Many weeks after the Open University MOOC on Future Learn closed 'Start Writing Fiction' I find I am returning to the many activities across the eight weeks to refresh, reflect, and build on my knowledge. As well as doing my bit for that 'community' by doing a few reviews (all assignments are peer reviewed). I completed the course in early December.
I return to reflect, to develop ideas, to be reminded of the excellent lessons I have learnt there, and in particular on how we use fact and fiction, whether consciously or not. In pure fantasy writing I find, inevitably, that I ground events in places I know from my youth, or have since researched. I use the hook of reality and my experiences on which to build the fiction. While currently I am embedded in what started as 90/10 fiction to fact I find it is increasingly looking like 95/5 in favour of fact as my imagination is close to the truth about a particular character and his experience of the First World War. All this from a simple exercise in week one called 'Fact or Fiction?' where we are asked first of all two write something that contains three factual elements and one fiction, and then to write something that contains three fictional elements and one factual. There are thousands of these now, many very funny, original or captivating. In week one, I'm guessing that around 10,000 got through the week. How many posted? There are 967 comments. This happens. It is an open course. The same applies for most web content: 95:5 is the ratio of readers to writers. Many people prefer not to do what they feel is 'exposing themselves' online. Why should they.
Anyway, this gives me reason to argue that it is an excellent idea to keep a blog of your OU studies. All of this can remain private, but at least, as I know have in this blog, when the doors close behind a module you can, months, even years later, return to key activities and assignments and build on the lessons you learnt. More importantly, as we all forget with such ease, we can keep the memory of the lessons fresh.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. Write a novel in a month
Not blogging, not on Facebook, but first thing I write, or plan writing. Then get down anything between 500 and 3000 words. 500 words can be a better day, these are good words.
As an OU student we are guided through our learning on our Student Homepage. These are like railway tracks, or climbing down a ladder. Whilst you can tick off your progress, it is not being measured. I wonder if a tool such as the above would be handy for preparing a lengthy assignment, say from 4000 words up? Something that you need to build up over a few weeks?
It is 'Start Writing Fiction', an OU FutureLearn MOOC that sees me using 'Write a novel in a month' to complement the course. This makes the MOOC more closely applied to the current task (amongst several). Of all the FutureLearn MOOCs I have done, this, I am sure, must bring students to The OU to do the degree course in 'Creative Writing'. It has weight, there is gravitas and a clear expertise in distance and online learning that is lacking in many others.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1 This is what a reading list looks like - too much of a good thing makes it a bad thing
I 'do' e-learning for two reasons:
FutureLearn is a magic platform
I love it's simplicity, clarity and intuitiveness. In the right hands it's the perfect cup of coffee. (and once a day takes about as long to consume)
The considered, edited and crafted content doesn't dick about: it is a brief talk, or walk and talk BBC documentary style opening (video), followed by a a dozen paragraphs of a succinct piece of required reading that is then opened to the 'floor'.
'Connectedness' is enabled
The threaded discussion looks more like this bulletin-board cum blog cum student forum. Perhaps, as this has developed over the last decade, is where the idea came from? As a bulletin-board each time you comment your thoughts are placed on the top of the pile: someone has to read it when they log in, or at least there's a greater chance of that.
This connectedness is facilitated and encouraged further by alerts you get as others comment in a thread you've contributed to or started.
Your contributions are sorted for you and so build, without you needing to do so yourself, into a threaded line of thought - you can see how you are learning, how your knowledge improves and your ideas develop.
There are parameters
There is a word count for each posting. 1200 characters I think and a time frame during which you can edit (15 minutes).
There is a modicum of overload
We, as students, are the masters of the time we have, or want to give to a thing. We are also the ones who know and control the pace. It is too simple to say that some people read faster than others, so can consume more. We approach text in very different ways. What is crucial and done in the FutureLearn module I'm doing on the 1919 First World War Paris Treaty is the amount of reading offered. It is more than enough, but not overwhelming. It takes itself and its students seriously by saying that 'we think you can read all of this and contribute to the discussions in the time allocated - five hours a week'.
Module teams get it wrong when content is sparse or when they overload the student with that laziest of get-outs 'the reading list'. Getting it right requires effort, confidence in the subject you are teaching and a belief and understanding of the way people learn and the platforms and tools now available and how their evolving use impacts on learning. I'm doing a couple of FutureLearn modules: 'Writing Applications' at two hours a week, compares to World War 1: Paris 1919 at five hours a week. The contrast couldn't be greater.
It's like the first offers you a small cup of coffee: no refills. Instant. You get it with milk whether you like it or not. While the second gives you a rich cup of coffee and, if you want them, a couple of refills. No more. There are parameters.
FutureLearn keeps it simple
What matters are the words people type. There are none of the mess of unnecessary buttons provided here. Honestly. Keep it simple OU. They just muddle things massively. Where used they invariably take away from the ability to communicate. It is enough of a challenge to type on a QWERTY keyboard. Plain text does the job. In the hands of the amateur (all of us), being able to add colour, change font size and a whole lot more serves no useful purpose.
Content is self-moderated by the group
A simple alert button allows you to flag something to let moderators know that something inappropriate is going on: hateful language, foul language, 'drunken' rants ...
'There's something for everyone'.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. L120. Ouverture. Intermediate French
Revelations and reflection. Activité 1
Whilst my comprehension is 90% correct the mistakes I make could be and were/are a significant problem if or when working in France. I get dates like 1936, but can too easily mistake 17h00 for 19:00 i.e. 'dix sept heure' is NOT seven O'clock of course, but by the 24 hour clock it is 7. I'm also lazy: I chance my response where I could have listened a second time and got something correct.
It is far too easy, when only listening, to make up a meaning for a new word and therefore make major mistakes.
Translating, as if literally to English is a huge mistake. A couple of examples include the use of the word 'profiter' in French which as nothing to do with 'making a profit', but rather, a nuanced English use, 'to take advantage of ...' in this instance, the sun and sea on a holiday by the coast in the summer.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.2. Learning where, what and why 'Pondichéry' is. A bit of history and geography with L120
Lack of adequate understanding of how France has retained some of its tiniest colonies around the globe as 'French departments' had me wondering why an indian looking gentleman could possibly come from a small island in the south atlantic, actually he was taking about the south of india. And I neither knew where, nor can I still pronounce this one:
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.3. La Ciotat
It would be brilliant if when listening to a French person you could have their words as subtitles ... maybe this is a trick that Google glass will deliver in due course. Not a translation, but the words as text to help with comprehension until you can hear and see for yourself the words that are being used without making it up or guessing.
I jotted down a few linking phrases, those fillers too that we use that add colour and credibility to any spoken language:
Checking the spelling was vital too, and not just figuring out how to get the French accents on the QWERTY keyboard but doing so. I had 'ailleurs' as 'yiers' or some such.
And also a few terms and phrases that I liked, possibly because of the English derivations or equivalents and will use:
Pronounce a word like 'idéale' correctly and you can fool them that you are French ... you can even take French words we use in English and add a French accent, though saying 'amelioration' is equally pretentious in both languages. Many French people when speaking English will trip on the word 'Idea' and pronounce it 'Idéa' even if they've lived here for decades; who'd correct them though?
A few hours into L120 and of course I crave to be back in France
I must also reflect on the learning design and platform. I've done a year of Rosetta Stone - the ultimate 'gamified' language learning platform. L120 does, understandably, feel more like being back at school. But that's what I need; it shouldn't be easy to learn anything, or how else can you learn? Rosetta Stone becomes very repetitive. You learn through tireless repetition, through immersion and ultimately by default. You won't ever be able to say why a thing is done one way or another, just that it is ... that it sounds or feels right. i.e. how an infant learns a language.
As a adult learner I think we need to be told why a thing is too i.e. have a variety of ways, even if it takes a few moments to think about it, to get something right.
A very, very different way to learn that taking a humanities module, but also exploiting many e-learning tools and methodologies in a different way. I have to wonder how such practices could translate into other subjects, that learning some things 'parrot fashion' could be beneficial whether learning history, geography or medicine: that you have to have the accurate facts and figure in your brain before you can use these facts.
Why blog this?
There are a number of ways to look at this: the value to me, and as I perceive it the value to others ... playing the game and my belief and understanding of how learning online in a 'connected' world works.
The value to me: as a learning journal. A record, tagged liked this, is a fabulous aide memoir. I could and nearly did do this on paper, but these get lost. I couldn't find a new exercise book anyway.
The value to others: the spirit of learning in the OU community, particularly in the student forums for your own module, is to share your thinking in order to stimulate and engage in an asynchronous conversation: had I been on a residential course much of the above would have come out over coffees and meals.
So why blog 'to the world', and in my case copy this or some if it, in due course to my external blog 'my mind bursts'?
Pride in the Open University is part of it. Why not plug something I love and would recommend to others?
Comments and contact: The stats say and I know that comments form a tiny fraction of viewers to a page, perhaps as low as 1%. Just this 1% I find of huge value; by finding a common interest, often beyond the confines of the module and this intake of students, I find the information begins to embed in my longterm memory. I know no other way of doing it as my brain is my sieve than sponge - everything gets filtered out and transformed unless I engage with it in a variety of ways.
And I am as interest in the e-learning and learning design of a module as I am in the content that I wish to learn. I have those interested in e-learning too to share with.
Fig. 1 Grabbed from The Times earlier this week
This may be the case but it has not been my experience with the Open University. What about you? Of the seven modules I have done five of my tutors, several professors, otherwise with doctorates in education, have all had a healthy and current record of research. I like to think that they make the time for the stimulation it brings to their practice; that content with students adds something. Those Associate Lecturer's who did not have a background in research made up for it with their attentiveness and love for 'their' module - hard to say which makes the 'better' AL, to be indulged, or to have a sharp mind strategically offering you their insights.
I cracked some ten days ago; unwell, not so unwell I couldn't flop about the house, bored and managing to read, but my brain too lacklustre to take notes or think. So I tried this.
The pilot episode was magic - like the second act of Macbeth. It all happens and you're left eager for more. 36 episodes later and it goes through a slow patch, but now I'm on the home run and can see the premise of it all. This happened to coincide with a sessions I attended on writing fiction in which I learned that 'character is plot' - in this case character is also premise and story arc. So, not on a creative writing course but there's a load to learn about writing fiction here.
$3m an episode!? Shot on 35mm film. $200m for all six series?!!
It shows. The production values are those of a movie.
The Open University has equivalent production values; you get into bed with the BBC on 'The Frozen Planet' or some such and spin off Open Learn tasters and various modules. But as a learning platform does video teach? Rather does it inspire and motivate?
Drama is about how you are made to feel, not how you come to think?
Advertising persuades, it has to. Why are 'educational videos' more like TV commercials then?
Donkeys years ago we made 'advertorials' - extended, persuasive, corporate, sponsored learning content put out on video, then distributed by satellite and eventually put on internal networks. I have to wonder if a leaflet would not have worked better and achieved as much for less, but as it was pointed out, no one read the leaflets, at least a training manager knew his workforce had watched 'the video' because they had the attendance sheets.
Were they given a test afterwards though?
That's the way to turn it into learning. 'After this video, or episode you will be given a test on .... '
Fig.1 Odd that, 12 years and I've gained hair, glasses and a tie.
In February 2001 I began an OU module on Open & Distance Learning - last year I graduated with the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE). Since then I've taken a couple more MAODE modules to stay up to date. Impossible given that any MAODE module is out of date before it goes live?
In 2001 distance learning looked like this:
Fig.2. Some of the books that came in my OU 'Box' at the start of the module
The next direction has to be horizontally into the Open University (again), or vertically towards a PhD. Or both? Or neither.
Meanwhile, I sincerely recommend that anyone with any interest in the way education is going to follow the BBC tonight.
BBC Radio 4 8.00pm
Is it an OU co-production? These days these things usually are.
I've joined the #H817open MOOC.
A few reasons for this.
I had originally signed up for H817 so this is my way of getting a piece of the action. Although my MAODE is done I'd wanted to retake H807 (my first module) and found this replacement more appealing ... H807 was languishing in the early part of the millennium when I did it. Think studying Aircraft before and after WW1 by way of example. It was all a bit clunky.
So there's that reason.
I'm on H809 which is the better potential bridge into research - applications for PhD work are coming due. I may even have to postpone 'til 2014.
And I believe in the power of total immersion.
Whilst distance and e-learning has served its purpose these last three years I now crave fulltime, campus based study - mixing with students and colleagues, attending and giving lectures, taking tutorials and moderating student forums i.e the all round educator in tertiaru ... or postgraduate study.
Onwards and upwards
(Fuelled by Prometheus which I watched last night and that infected my dreams. An add pattern of a repetitive or recurrent dream where I am Sellotaping posters to a long scroll and flying through space. Rather sums me up at the moment)
Fig. 1. A mash-up in Picasa of a 3D laser generated image generated at the Design Museum during their 'Digital Crystal' exhibition.
The image exists and is transformed by the presence of the observer in front of a Kinex device making this a one-off and an expression or interpretation of that exact moment.
'Working with dreams' and 'Keeping a dream journal' are taught creative problem solving techniques at the Open University Business School. I did B822 'Creativity, Innovation and Change' in 2012 (Henry et al 2010). I have the problem solving toolkit. I even got a hardback copy of VanGundy's book on creative problem solving.
Using your unconscious isn't difficult. Just go to bed early with a 'work' related book and be prepared to write it down when you stir.
I woke soon after 4.00am.
I'd nodded off between 9.30 and 11.30 so feel I've had my sleep.
Virtual bodies for first year medical students to work on, an automated mash-up of your 'lifelog' to stimulate new thinking and the traditional class, lecture and university as a hub for millions - for every student you have in a lecture hall you have 1000 online.
Making it happen is another matter.
I'm writing letters and with far greater consideration working on a topic or too for research.
"Nights through dreams tell the myths forgotten by the day." — C.G. Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections)
How to work with a dream or metaphorical image:
Appreciating, reflecting, looking forward and emerging
Glouberman, D. (1989) Life Choices and Life Changes Through Imagework, London, Unwin, pp. 232-6
Henry, J., Mayle, D., Bell, R., Carlisle, Y. Managing Problems Creatively (3rd edn) 2010. The Open University.
Isaacson, W. (2011) Steve Jobs. Little Brown.
VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of structured problem solving (2nd edn), New York: Van Nostran Reinhold.
I have never finished an assignment within a few hours of the deadline - it has taken, what 16 assignment and five modules to reach the stage with my FINAL assignment that I am satisfied with my fifth draft and can upload FIVE days ahead of the deadline.
If only I had understood the need to get to this stage, give or take a few days, many months ago ... to get on top of the subject in good time.
I have a week to decide whether to follow H809 on research methods ... with a view to beginning a PhD in September 2013!!!
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
My PhD topic might be on user generated content used in social learnign or the development of virtual companion (artificiual intellifence) to support people with dementia or recovering from a stroke.
Or I get a proper job
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.
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?
Fig. 1. The Open University's Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).
Expressed as a Wordle. A personal collection of key influencers based on those tagged in this blog. Includes my own reading and indulgences.
On Friday, at midday, this blog reached a significant milestone.
I've been at it for 33 months. I've blogged the best part of FIVE modules now - most of which required or invited some use of the blog platform (or another). I required little encouragement - I used to keep a diary and have found since 1999 that in their digital form they are an extraordinarily versatile way to gather, consider, share and develop ideas.
The investment in time, on average, an hour a day in addition to - though sometimes instead of coursework over 1000+ days.
(This excludes 8 months I spent on the Masters in Open and Distance Learning in 2001)
To mark this event, and as I need to go through this online diary, this e-journal, this 'web-log' (as they were also once momentarily called) ahead of some exciting meetings coming up next week I thought a simple task might be to click through the tags to identify who have been the key influencers in my reading and thinking over the last two and a half years.
Fig.2. Another way of looking at it. Betham, Conole and Weller are key MOADE authors from the Open University. John Seely Brown is a vital undercurrent, Engestrom one of several enthusiasms like Vygostky. While Gagne, second hand hardback, needs to be on your desk for frequent reference.
What I thought would take an hour has taken nearly 40 hours.
Clicking on a tag opens a corner of my head, the notes take me back to that day, that week, that assignment or task. It also takes me back to the discussions, resources and papers. And when I find an error the proof-reader in me has to fix. Aptly, as we approach November 5th, and living in Lewes where there are marches and fireworks from late October for a couple of weeks peaking of course all evening on the 5th, my head feels as if someone has accidentally set light to a box of assorted fireworks.
Just as well. Meetings these days are like a viva voce with eager ears and probing questions - they want the content of my mind and whatever else I bring to the subject after thirty years in corporate training and communications.
Fig. 3. Wordle allows you to say how many words you want to include in the mix. To create weight I had to repeat the names I consider most important twice, three or four times in the list. I also removed first names as Wordle would have scattered these into the mix independently like peppercorns in a pan of vegetable stock.
Fig.4. This even makes three of the key protagonists look like an advertising agency Gagne, Beetham and Conole.
I can never finish. Take this morning. I stumble upon my notes on three case studies on the use of e-portfolios from H807 which I covered from February 2010-September 2010. To begin with I feel compelled to correct the referencing in order to understand the value, pertinence and good manners (let alone the legal duty) to cite things correctly. (Even though this post was locked - a 'private' dump of grabs and my thoughts).
Then I add an image or two.
These days I feel a post requires a visual experssion of its contents to open and benefits from whatever other diagrams, charts or images you can conjure from your mind or a Google Search - 'the word' + images creative commons - is how I play it.
Fig. 5. From David Oglivy's book 'Ogilvy on advertising' - a simple suggestion - a striking image, a pertinent headline and always caption the picture. Then write your body copy.
A background in advertising has something to do with this and the influence of David Ogilvy.
I spend over two hours on the first of three case studies in just one single post. At the time I rubbished e-portfolios. The notes and references are there. Tapped back in I can now make something of it. A second time round the terms, the ideas - even some of the authors are familiar. It makes for an easier and relevant read. What is more, it is current and pertinent. A blog can be a portfolio - indeed this is what I'd recommend.
From time to time I will have to emerge from this tramp through the jungle of my MAODE mind.
Not least to work, to sleep, to cook and play.
Fig. 6. In a word
Gagne, R.N. (1965) Conditions of Learning Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Find it here: Smashwords
There can be no better recommendation to read a book than when its author spots you as a like-mind and invites you to read.
I am halfway through Julian Stodd's 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' and am keen to spread the word to those like me who are studying for a Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) - particularly in H807, H808 and H800 we are asked to learn collaboratively and go understand the dynamics of shared learning spaces online from this blog-cum-bulletin board platform, to student tutors groups and break-out cafes. You may even have made it over to the Open University Linkedin group (go see).
I not only find myself nodding in agreement but better still in Web 2.0 terms I find I keep wanting to pause to explore a thought or theme further, the subject matter embracing learning, social learning and e-learning - while drawing on a professional corporate learning and development background, which makes a valuable change from an academic perspective on social learning in tertiary education.
To do this I return to this my open to all e-portfolio-cum-blog to search for what I have thus far picked up on social learning, learning theories, forums and so on. And to do the same in other people's blogs as hearing these familiar voices helps make better sense of it all.
I should add a grab here of the couple of dozen books I have read in, on and around 'social learning' - I put 'Exploring the World of Social Learning' alongside:
'The Digital Scholar' Martin Weller
'A New Culture of Learning' Douglas Thomson and John Seely Brown
'From Teams to Knots' Yrjö Engeström
'The Now Revolution' Jay Baer and Amber Naslund
via a solid grounding in educational theory that you'd get from Vygotsky's 'Educational Psycology'.
An alternative to, or addition to reading about social learning in an academic papers, that are by definition are several years out of date, rate MySpace above Facebook and fail to mention iPads or Smartphones in the mix.
My Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) with the Open University (OU)
CURRENT (September 2012 – January 2013):
H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students
H800: Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates
H807: Innovations in eLearning – Learning outcomes
B822: Creativity, Innovation and Change
H808: The e-learning professional
This completes the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE)
NEXT (from February 2013):
H817: Openness and innovation in e-learning. (which replaces
H809 Practice-based research in educational technology
THEN (from October 2013):
H818: The Networked Practitioner
Successfully registered and signed up for H810: accessibility - starting September with a January finish. This will complete my first, extraordinary OU Journey after three years.
Intellectually challenging, rigorous, comprehensive, expansive and life transforming. It took a while but I am now working for a world leader creating e-learning resources for companies - manager training for the most part.
It won't end here. I have my eye on a History MA. I've discussed this with student services. Starting September 2013 in two parts this will take me into the Centenerary of that horror, the 'war to end war' (HGWells) 1914-1918 that I blog about at www.machineguncorps.com
History would have been my first degree decades ago had I not got cold feet and switched to Geography. And an MA in Fine Art (which had been on the cards in 2010 when I elected for the MAODE.
I guess that's the next decad taken care of!
I read this last in 2001; I was on the Masters in Open & Distance Learning (as it was then called).
Whilst there are hints at e-learning the closest this gets to interactive learning is the video-disc and the potential for CD-Rom. Actually, there was by then a developed and successful corporate training DVD business. In 2001 the OU sent out a box of resources at the start of the course. 16 books and a pack of floppy discs I recall to loud 'ListServe' or some such early online collaboration tool.
The nature of evaluation
There's an approach to everything. When it comes to evaluation it helps to be systematic. At what point does your approach to evaluation becoming overly complex though? Once again, think of the time and effort, the resources and cost, the skill of the person undertaking the evaluation and so on. Coming from a TV background my old producer used the expression 'pay peanuts and you get monkeys': skill and experience has a price. Evaluation or assessment, of the course and of the student (in the UK), of the student in the US.
Improvement as a result of evaluation (Kogan 1989):
The idea of summative versus formative evaluation i.e. the value of the course to achieve a task vs. aspects of the course that can be addressed and revised.
Anthropological vs. 'agricultural-botanical'.
Illuminate evaluation. People are not plants. An anthropological approach is required: Observe, interview, analyse, the rationale and evolution of the programme, its operations achievements and difficulties within the 'learning milieu'. Partlett & Hamilton (1972)
CIPP (Stufflebeam et al 1971) evaluation by:
CONTEXT: Descriptive data, objectives, intended outcomes (learning objectives)
PRODUCT: Summative evaluation (measured success or otherwise)
UTILIZATION: None, passive and active.
There are other ways to quote from this chapter:
Does the ease at which we can clip and share diminish the learning experience? Where lies the value of taking notes from a teacher and carefully copying up any diagrams they do? These notes the basis for homework (an essay or test, with an end of term, end of year then end of module exam as the final test?)
Daniel, J (1989) 'The worlds of open learning', in: Pained, N (ed) open Learning in Transition, London. Kogan Page.
Partlett, M and Hamilton, D (1981) 'Evaluation as illumination: a new approach to the study of innovatory programmes. Originally published as a paper 1972 for University of Edinburgh Centre for Research in the Educational Sciences. in: Partlet, M and Dearden, G (eds), Introduction to Illuminative Evaluation: Studies in Higher Education, SRHE, University of Surrey, Guilford.
Lord Asa Briggs
Not available as an e-Book (ironically)
Then again, Lord Briggs lives 5 minutes away here in Lewes. I should enquire about a signed hard back copy?
'In 1976 he was created a life peer as Baron Briggs, of Lewes in the County of East Sussex'.
Essential reading for all students of distance learning (and e-learning) to understand the manner in which the OU developed its remit.
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