OU blog

Personal Blogs

Design Museum

Feeling wanted ...

Visible to anyone in the world

Thunderbird 5 the Space Station featuring John Tracy

Early days but a few teaching fails online talking to a blank wall of distracted teens is slowly emerging into something that will engage them - even if they want to be off camera and mostly silent. My eclectic mix is a challenge. I don't get to know a group of students, even a particular cohort or subject specialism. 

Four simple lessons learnt:

> it matters to be a 'subject matter expert' as you can talk, discuss and provide an inventive and relevant response to meet the needs or interests of the students or group at the time.

> channelled enthusiasm goes a long way, not gushing, nor over-confident, but the person at the helm with a sense of the direction to take.

> a video conference (as only the BBC will call it) i.e. Zoom (even if you're on Google Meet) can be as EdTech as it needs to be. The camera, microphone and Chat are enough to take a class and enough for most people if it is there first time. There is no need to throw in extras like slow 'death by PowerPoint', or faster 'death by PowerPoint' by making it interactive with the likes of PearDeck or Nearpod. A Google Form Quiz will do.

> where analogue meets digital. Hold something up to the camera. Prof Sir Hew Strachan couldn't be doing with 'present now' screens so during his gripping talk on the First World War he simply held up the covers of two or three books. I've taken to using a mini whiteboard while I am asking students to draw a Venn Diagram or Mind Map on whatever comes to hand. When they are done they hold it up to the screen - it works! Some go digital and use their phone or tablet, others get artistic with coloured pencils while others just doodle a thing on the back of an envelope. I can screenshot what they show me (I should have a recording of the class anyway) and for better resolution they can upload, share or email me their efforts. 


Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Casper Smith, Thursday, 4 Feb 2021, 13:22)
Share post
Design Museum

This week

Visible to anyone in the world

Views around the South Downs during a January 2021 hoar frost

This week could run to 73 pages of A4 with screenshots. It is a Google Doc I keep. Actually, that's just for the four days Tuesday to Friday. 

Teachers will be 'live' with students teaching online next week. All are on a quick learning curve both technically and culturally. The cultural shift is nudging towards greater communication, networking and collaboration. Teachers need to stop being soloists and work as an ensemble - or as they do at the OU in an orchestra with the conductor the Chair who lead the unit craetion, not the tutor 'delivery' any part of the unit syncrhonously and being the 'face' of a course for a particular intake. 

We are exposed and challenged as teachers and students and so learning a lot. More than ever before it matters to take notes! I feel at times like the last person on the planet to take notes with ink on paper, as well as digitally in mindmaps, or like this, supported with audio and video recordings. I don't go back through it all, but I do go back through much of it. I will even have some of it transcribed electronically so that I can verify what was said, by whom and get the wording right. 

It leaves a lot undone. A hoar frost the other day and I took loads of photos on an extensive walk around the edges of Lewes onto the South Downs. I've not posted a single one, though I have at lost gone through them. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Zoom

Visible to anyone in the world

I've subscribed to Zoom. I may only ever have used Google Meet, but I need the platform anyone can join with ease. I just took my first 90 minute 'class' in the hot seat. There ware only five of us and the pace was leisurely. It was an introduction to social media, indicating how we should see ourselves as 'visitors' or 'residents' and wearing a 'personal' or 'instiutional' hat (Dave White). 

I then shared a solar system of we website or blog with the plantes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube spinning around it.

I've got the 90 minutes to go back over. There is still one straggler who hasn't made iether of the two prevous sessions. 

The more practice I get the better: there's be plent of this next term with both staff and students I do not doubt. 

Meanwhile 'Reflections On E-Learning' is taking shapre on Wordpress. I am trying to pull together themese from this blog and began with 'communities of practice' as it is something I will be developing with my colleagues in the New Year. One or two are already interacting on LinkedIn so that is the place to start a group.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Understanding the digital student experience

Visible to anyone in the world

lUH_gri60Dx60BTbVN3A3c47_O3OfdqCQl-qbATuEbkRzX64UvqyOEcVitngzl1wJ3TcKGaKVF8Zz7Qt8qJBSJoea7hKckGQT-7_U2XI0aThMUAwPgZuW9aw99YHgPULTKl-mI_O

Razan Roberts, Senior Director, Strategic Engagement and Communications, Salesforce.org Research findings. Link to PDF for this interim report available. Full report Spring 2021. 

  1. The challenge of providing a sense of belonging when everything is digital and virtual. A community approach is easy to introduce and scale.

    1. In the nordic countries 21%, in the UK 31% and Spain 39%.

    2. A community feeling is easy to implement and scale. 

  2. There is a widening trust gap between institutions. The trust gap was poor before and is widening. 40% between them and the leadership and 50% saying it is getting bigger. 37% staff are feeling this gap. Optimistically institutions have an opportunity to make changes now, to drive with transparency and clear plans to close the gap.

  3. Holistic well-being. Top of mind. 73% maintaining their wellbeing is their top challenge now. 72% financial concerns. 71% just finding a quiet place to work - yet it is such a simple problem to solve. Universities are taking this to heart. E.g. LSE. Community Club or Experience Club service beyond just reviewing assessments. 

  4. Students expect more flexibility in grading, course assessments and course content. So new business models are forming. 

    1. The Immersive hybrid > all the learning is online. Blends digital and the physical. Every single service being reviewed that goes to students. What is best served online, and what is best served in person. 

    2. Subscription model so that people can go in and out of training depending on the life and career plans.

  5. Revisiting career and education plans. 

    1. Students are Looking for learning with internships and direct job opportunities. 

    2. Students are looking for contact with alumni and employers.

What are the barriers to universities?

  1. Online learning, Zoom and others. But more like a bandaid. So they have to rethink the concept of what is online learning, more project based and interactive. 

  2. Digital Transformation. The fuller view of the students who have such a poor experience because they repeatedly find they have to tell one person after another who they are. 

  3. Human interaction and empathy. 

Effective communication. How do we rebuild the trust? The sense that they are looking after staff and student

  1. Frequent personalised communication. Knowing the words to use and the channels to use. Creating the connections. 

  2. Students are not feeling the support, which they could get in the past in person.

  3. Find a way for the interaction and communication to bridge the gap.

  4. Keep the students, and staff - safe and convincing people that this is the priority.

Coming out of Covid we will land somewhere in the middle. Some things will never go back. Many institutions are using data to enrol more students and to find a better match with the right academic programmes for them and help them feel they belong to that institution while opening up new markets - not least for the millions who need to find a way back into employment with further training. With insights and data we  are better able to identify students who are being challenged and need support - and this can be scaled and will be used.

A blended model is the future, rather than all online or all in person.



Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

From family quiz to global quiz

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Nov 2020, 08:01

School Quiz

During the first lockdown the family quiz became the thing. Six location, six family hubs, my sister with her hubby, my wife and I, her kids from California and Newcastle, my own kids from London, and nephew also from London.

Eight months on and at the same time, on the same night I've got two organisations pushing a global quiz, the above from my old school (I attended unwillingly for three years and go out after O' Levels) while the Western Front Association has gone from branch, to national to an international Zoom offering too. Here we have tested the water with webinars first too New Zealand and Australia, and most recently from New Zealand and coming soon from Canada.

What has the world come to? Not so much the Global Village, as the Global Sofa - or wherever the shared space might be. 

I'm attending a face to face PGCE class so won't be able to to this. Had I been at home I may well have had to screens open and followed the class while answering the quiz - like a simultaneous exhibition of chess.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

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

Visible to anyone in the world

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

And now everyone doing it. 

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

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

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

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

And then which platform comes to rule over them all?

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

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

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

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

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


Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Class Observations III (Teaching Online)

Visible to anyone in the world
A dire online session where participants were supposed to have completed some homework beforehand. Out of 7 attendees one had done so, 2 said they had looked at it and of the other 4 a further 2 said they weren’t sure the course was for them and left.
The lesson from this > don’t give homework before a course has even started. Not even as a teambuilder. Maybe get people to fill in a profile at most.

Good practice online is to have two people. If you have the luxury. The second person works as a ‘two hander’, or helps with sign ins in the background if people are meant to have access to an App or platform, they can also filter and offer up questions that may come up in the Chat rather than having the speaker distracted.

Alternatively, set the ground rules early so that people don’t have expectations of anything in the Chat being dealt with until the end. John Sowash of the Google Academy is great at this. 
Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

So much to say, so little time to say it!

Visible to anyone in the world

I am keeping a regular work journal. As I work in Learning Tech for an FE/HE College these are busy and educational times indeed!

I am online via Google Chat all day, with at least one, sometimes several Meets in a day. These include sessions with tutors/staff and students, typically on how to make the most of Google Meet or just digital literacy. I gave a team session on Screencastify last week and attend a weekly all staff session which has between 98 and 143 attending - so far.

Use of interactive platform ThingLink has become integral to our forthcoming online Open Day. There are now 360 degree images, many linked into 'tours' or with additional interactive elements, running for all five sites and a number of departments.

As the Digital Editor of an educational charity we have seen our followers double across social media, we use Facebook and Twitter. We have responded with seminars and quizzes by Zoom, more podcasts and videos and a monthly newsletter going out every week.

Local politics too has seen our first Full Town Council, alongside a weekly informal town council meeting - also on Zoom.

The swimming and sailing clubs are less active. Sailing on our inshore lake started again - but no rescue boats out. Swimming is down to land training and a lot of cycling.



Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

Too busy to blog

Visible to anyone in the world

Its a great place to be in some respects. But I barely have time to reflect or learning anything new as I am so busy having to do, do, do. This is G Suite for Education and in Meets several times a day with colleagues on the Digital Team, with staff or with students.

And then two or three times a week I will find myself back online doing a Zoom meet or quiz with different friends and family.  And even joined a Town Council Zoom meet. 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

A new horizon in online learning

Visible to anyone in the world

In my fifth week working from home the immediate realization is that I could easily have been limiting my time ‘at work’ to once or twice a week. I get more done, my commute is into the spare bedroom and my home office set up is vastly superior to what I am provided with anywhere at college. 

The greatest shift in behaviour is the amount of time spent in online meetings. Some of these lack the discipline that is required of a formal business meeting: an agenda and end time. Though a Zoom quiz with 17 family members spread between 3 corners of England ( South West, South East and North East), California and South Africa could have happily drifted on into the night - they weren’t going to bed in San Diego.

At least two ITC laggards in the family could finally figure out that they had a webcam and microphone. It strikes me as an excellent informal introduction to online learning that should be used with staff - break down the barriers and uncertainties by doing something that is collective, collaborative and fun.

It should be the mandatory icebreaker to do a quiz !

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Design Museum

H810 Activity 14.1 Using assistive technology - reflection on access to learning through acccess to work

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 21 Oct 2012, 14:42


20121021-084048.jpg

Fig.1 From 'Access to work' a video from MicroLink

Any of us could or will stumble the first time we are faced with a new tool or piece of software - I'd like to see any of us tested using a tool such as Delicious or ScoopIt and see how we get on, or trying to use a Microwriter, programme the washing machine or even turn on someone else's Microwave.

All experiences become familiar in time if we give them a go or get some useful tips. The same implies whether or not you have a disability or combination of disabilities or not.

To make sense of the plethora of accessibility tools, software and built-in 'assists' - and the equally enormous combinations and varieties of people who may benefit from using them I am having to get into my minds eye four people, or 'personas' who have quite different needs and imagine them, in context, wanting to and trying to use tools that ought to improve access for them. Some intriguingly are likely to suit all users if they offer a short cut or a different way into the information - I prefer a transcript over lectures. I like to use narrator in the car or when busy with some other task like painting the shed - the book is read to me as I can't do what I am doing and look at the screen at the same time. I call this the 'Montesori Effect' - how meeting a learning challenge for one community of learners you gain insights and create tools that benefit everyone.

As for any of us, when it comes to learning, context is important whether we have the space, time, kit and inclination. There is a big difference between giving something a go and having to use it with a set goal in mind. Anyone remember the first time they had to create something using PowerPoint, or Word come to think of it? Or writing a blog - let alone embedding images, video or audio.

Some of this reminds me of my first computer - an Amstrad. All green text and no mouse. My father got himself a Microwriter and mastered it. Bizarre. Confined to a wheelchair (badly broken leg from skiing) for some months in my early teens I ought to have been able to keep up with school work - but somehow a box of books didn't do it for me.

When I get stuck I can now turn to a son, daughter or my wife who may or may not be able to help. We also pick up the phone to 'The Lewes Computer Guy' for technical fixes. Had I a disability how likely is it that I can turn to someone with the very same set of challenges that I face for tips and advice? On some context a blind person will and can turn to a supportive community, but this might not be so easy if you are, or feel like, the only person with Dyslexia or Cerebral Palsy at your schoolor university.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 6523532