Every day, as a Coursera Mentor, I receive notification from them in the form of an email indicating which student queries in the common forum require a response; every day I respond to one or two and in due course I get feedback. It is always a pleasure that my reassurance, prompt or suggestion is welcome. Having done this for 7 months I recognise a pattern: students (as I did) worry about assignments, which are of two types: peer reviews of submitted work and graded quizzes (typically around 12-16 carefully crafted questions). Both are tightly controlled: as a student you must review three pieces of work submitted by others (selected or offered from a rolling list as your cohort moves through the course) and to pass the course in its entirety, the quiz grade required, individually and collectively is high, certainly over 60%.
Having done four courses, each with several increasingly demanding parts, I know how much anxiety these can cause, more so where I have paid a fee to be part of the assessed cohort so that I get the most learning out of it and gain a certificate too. We don’t like being judged or criticised, so peer reviews need to be done with sensitivity and completely fairly. The instructions for assignments are specific: whether an essay, proposal or project write up, or another piece of submitted work such as a photograph, the factors that will result in marks being awarded and carefully spelled out. The student must then trust his or her work to a fellow student. Being a global and open platform Coursera attracts everybody who has access to the Internet: young, old, English a second or third language, at High School or a post-grad (even doctoral research students boosting their ego or doing a refresher). Some people take the peer review more seriously than others: you’d be unlucky if more than one student gave no more than a cursory review and worse, if they marked your work down on a trivial technicality (or plainly get their review wrong). On the better courses, and all I have experienced on five different Coursera courses (each having between One and Five substantial parts) the multiple-choice quizzes are well written and thought through; what is more, when you redo the quiz if your score is too low you will at least find the questions are in a different order, and nay find some questions are even different – you can’t ‘game it’ by repeating the test over and over trying different combinations of responses. Students new to this kind of learning experience and to opening their minds (and to some their soul) to strangers, get agitated: they panic, they fret, they even become inpatient and angry. The educators who ‘wrote’ the course or the platform itself can come in for a lot of Schtick.
Standing back from it all, were I advising a group of educators about to embark on the creation of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), I’d advise ‘tough love’ – some educators, through experience, and by their nature, might be like this anyhow. It does no one any favours to produce a course where any component may be deemed at best ‘edutainment’ and at w0rst ‘amateurish’ or plain wrong.
‘Tough love’ gets results and in the longer term is what the student and educator wants. In a different field, coaching swimmers, something that grew out of helping out at a club where my kids were learning to swim competively, it has taken me a while (over ten years) through training and experience, to deliver ‘tough love’ whether the swimmer is 8 or 18. Unlike in an online course, in these live situations I can respond to strengths and weaknesses, spot failings and go back. Crucially where something isn’t getting the results I need I can call upon a collection of approaches. They cannot progress until they can do a thing correctly. Likewise, online, the smarter courses, blocking the way to advancing, will send a student back to review a part of the programme that ought to help them with an answer they are failing to get right. Better still the student is offered a different way of seeing the problem; the better courses providing more than just a reading list – they link to a specific paper, or book, or video.
A few times, taking a series of courses on ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ I became stuck and had to go back over two weeks of material and find a different person giving a different explanation before the ‘penny would drop’ – it really was a moment of enlightenment, and getting the quiz score from something like 4/16 to 11/16 gave me such a great sense of achievement that I persevered until I settled for 15/16. I have to trust the designers and writers of the course than 16/16 is possible : students can get online and blame the course, not themselves, for being unable to ‘meet the grade’. Shame on the educators if they have made a mistake. Best practice is, in any case, to use information on any sticking point and go and fix it. It was one of the earliest findings shared by Daphne Keller in her TED lecture on the first course offered on Coursera that with tens of thousands of students the data would identify spots where the educators weren’t teaching something very well – too many students were making the same error to blame them so they went in and fixed it.
I like the idea of building a course as best you can and then using the learning stats and student experience to go back and fix problems and make improvements: you build an obstacle course for the brain, but it is no good if too many people fail where they shouldn’t. Nor is it of any value to make it so easy to render the course worthless. I know Courses, entire platforms, that are educationally valueless ‘edutainment’, PR for the educational institution – a taster of a campus based course. learning is not viewing: a timeline that indicates that you have clicked through 50% of the material is not worthy of a pass. Being flippant with a formative quiz is not funny; I’ve seen ‘educational’ quizzes where, like in a TV gambit aimed to get tens of thousands of punters wasting £1 on a punt the right answer is blindingly obvious from a choice of three. And paying to study at postgraduate level where 40% is the pass rate is so indulgent as to be diminishing of the institution.
The ‘toughest love’ is the examination hall; the ‘toughest test’ the real world. Would you want to be seen by a doctor whose course work in training repeatedly only scrapped above a 40% grade? And if the ‘learning’ was so easy did much go in and stick?
At school, and since, the educators I have most admired were always the toughest: their demands and expectations were high. However ignorant you were, if you stuck at it and showed willing they got you over the bar, they’d never lower it.
Watching TV you sit back and let it wash over you; you may even fall asleep. Learning on an interactive platform, as you should do in a lecture or tutorial, and certainly when writing an essay or sitting an exam, you ‘lean forward’ – you engage the brain – the harder you are made to think, the greater the struggle, the more likely you have learnt something lasting and of value on which you can build.
Fig. 1 Prof Gilly Salmon on Scaffolding for her Five Stages of Learning (c) Swinburne University of Technology 2014
Five levels, fifteen components
Keeping students engaged all the way through.
The building blocks or ‘scaffolding’ – perhaps Mecanno would have done the trick?
Stage 1: Familiarisation
1) Green Cube – People must have access to your platform to get in and motivation. May be issues to start with over technical access. Don’t need to know everything about the platform you are using, but they do need to be able to get in time and time again.
2) Blue Cylinder – e-moderator. Human intervention. Welcome. Support. Provide motivation to go on. To facilitate delivery of a successful learning experience. Don’t try to teach them anything yet.
3) Yellow Plank – Learning to take part, learning to log on and learning to come back frequently.
Stage 2: The start of online socialisation
Culture building and building your own little learning set.
4) Green Plank – technology environment part: not all the features, but how to navigate around and respond to others: not all the features, how to take part.
5) Blue Cube – e-moderator. A host at a cocktail party. Introductions. Basic needs satisfied.
Learning in three ways:
6a) Yellow Cube – Forming a team, getting to know others.
6b) Yellow Cube – Familiar with why they are working inline for this course.
6c) Yellow Cube – Some idea of what is coming up that is relevant for the course they are studying – don’t give them anything hard to do.
Stage 3: Information exchange
Get learners working together, exchanging known information they can bring or information that they can find.
7) Yellow Plank – e-tivity design to enable them to take part, navigate around, familiar by now.
really good e-tivities
8) Green Plank – links are working, can navigate around, feel familiar with the environment by now.
9) Blue Cube – really good e-tivities and have a presence.
Stage 4: Knowledge construction
10a/b) Yellow Columns – Constructing new knowledge
11) Green Bridging Piece – Everyone is taking part and everyone has a clear role
12) Blue Plank – e-moderator – do rather less …. gently, gently with feedback extremely important
Stage 5: benefit from looking back before looking forward
A bit of meta-cognition.
The role they have taken, what went on …
15) Green Triangle – a bit of technology (submitting assessments)
14) Red – Assessment or summative assessment
13) Blue Cube – back and forth through the online. course
For online or blended courses.
This video describes the scaffolding stage for the 5 stage model created by Professor Gilly Salmon. This is part of the Carpe Diem video collection via Scaffolding for learning (Carpe Diem MOOC).
Spending four hours with some 30 students attending the School of Communication Arts is always an eyeopener and reminder of the worth of paying the closest attention to how a person is responding to the brief they have been set. In order to spread myself across the ones, twos and threes I sit with I set the timer on the iPhone to 15 minutes.
Four hours later my overall impression is that this is an impressive intake of students – I last sat with them in October so it is wonderful to recognise that they are in tune with the needs of advertisers – solving problems in a 21st cenutry blend of ways. Every team had answered their respective briefs with a solid response – all I felt I should do was to help them think through their rational and give them confidence to push their idea with every ounce of their energies. If I had the means to take any of them on I’d so so – they are smart, open and receptive. The real world is less kind and less receptive – someone should always be there to fight their corner, but it doesn’t alter their need to be able to sell and defend their ideas too.
So what does my background in eLearning have to offer to this? And is it possible to recreate any of this sense of collaborative creative problem solving online? Many turn to the Internet to embellish their ideas; all could be smarter with their search, not least favouring images or video, but asking what it is the Web will offer before they key in a few words. All presentations they give are as two minutes pieces created in Adobe Premier – the best are online, some pick up prestigious D&AD and other awards, many of the students are now gainfully employed in advertising agencies.
If judging learning I would conside the learning theory behind it and in the context its likelihood of success; how therefore do I judge the work of these students? As I learned at the School of Communication Arts myself the test is to be able to construct a sense of the creative brief that they must have received to get them to this point: is the problem that they are responding to self-evident? Do I know who the audience is? Can I see them as a persona, if not as an actual person? Would they relate to it? Is the ‘call to action’ clear? Is the execution memorable? Would I grab it on my phone? Would I blog about it and embed the student video from YouTube?
As the education community seeks to envisage and plan for the future of learning most are too light on their fingers to consider that aspect that hasn’t changed, nor can its form or functioning be changed – the human brain. Is there a difference say between a child born into Pharoah’s Egypt several millenia ago and one born in Stoke on Trent this morning? Or a child born in the Belgium city of Liege on the 4th August 1914 and a child born in Nagasaki on the 4th August 1945. My challenge is to say examine the raw goods – what has a neuroscientist or a phsychologist got to say about the way we learn?
However and whatever sweeps us up we have an extraordinary capacity, as each new child is born and the next generation takes its place in the world, to stay true to form: our parents raise us, we learn both informally and formally, we are exposed to whatever chance provides us with – coloured by – to whom, and where, and when we are born, and how raised, and because of, or despite this, our ‘true nature’ is revealed, burried, or in other ways transmogrified.
We probably crave affection, recognition or security, we fall in and out of love, and probably mate, raise a child or two of our own, grow old as they grow up and see them on their way. In the scheme of things, on our death bed, do we reflect on what opportnities the education we were exposed to did to us or gave us? The perspective that needs to be taken is to see education holistically, especially as those parts of it that are still contained and made exclusive by books and institutions are freed up.
The latest Open University module that has my attention, H818:the networked practioner, uses a challenging approach whereby the cohort of students are to learn what ‘openness’ means through sharing and collaboration. However, already, I can see that far from being open, we have been coralled into tutor groups and the real boundaries that these create. In 1999 when I started blogging, in time, out of the hundreds I engaged with, three of us recognised eachother as likeminds and worked together on various creative writing and creative blogging projects – we found each other, we weren’t made to ‘be’ together. We stumbled upon eachother’s words and beyond liking what we read saw and came to see a common willingness to hangaround. Why this will struggle to work amongst 60 people divided into four groups is that ‘teacher’ has decided with whom we will work … not just teacher, but of course the cost, timing, platform, access and accessibility to the course content and its affordances.
There is no accounting for human nature. I can fluff up like pom-pom or prickle like a thistle; I can be as cute as a hedgehoge with its snout in the palm of your hand or fold into a ball of spikes because of a desire to be left alone. We all have these phases in various guises and can to a lesser or greater degree control them. In the vastness of the total Internet community we can be these things, whereas inside a the formal walls of an online learning module I suspect there will always be someone with some kind of stick, whether it is a tickling-stick or a club.
On reflection and baring in mind what I suggest above about the unique qualities of human nature – I like to chose the ‘gangs’ I join or to form my own. My default position is to be peripatetic. The point is, the default position of others will be as unique as they are. Across numerous modules and other collaborative activities I have seen groups wax and wane. To work the mix of people in the group generally needs to be highly diverse, with clear sets of skills to contribute and a variety of personality types too. There is good reason to build a professional team based on their skill set – take the creation of a film: not everyone can direct and produce, nor can everyone having a go at presenting or play the lead. The script can be composed collaboratively, though who did or does what, or gets credit for a line, character or scene is as complex as human nature and the sensibilities of the creative in all of us.
Two and a half years ago I took part in JISC 2011 ‘at a distance’ – distance, cost and illness were all barriers to attending in person. I’m prompted to recall one of the afternoon conferences as Chris Pegler and Tony Hirst from the Open University were on the platform. As well as questions coming from the floor (some 200 attendees) questions also came from the online participants (some 350). A question I posed was picked out by the chair and discussed. For a dreadful moment I worried that I could be seen sitting in pyjammas and a dressing gown at the kitchen table. By March 2011 I was on my second Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) module. A month or so later I applied to and eventually joined the OU where I worked, living away from home, for a year. This year I graduated and have since also completed what I see as a conversion course ‘H809:Practise-based research in technology-based learning’ with a mind, belatedly in my lifetime, to undertake doctoral research. To ‘keep my hand in’ and to stay up to date I have joined a new MAODE module ‘H818:The networked practioner’. I am yet to feel fluent in the language and practice of e-learning so need this repeated immersion, modules that I did a couple of years ago are being updated and I want to prove to myself and potentially others that I can keep up the scholarly level of participation and assessment that I began to display on the last couple of modules.
The learning lessons here are simple: persistence, repetition and practice.
Ambitions to take me e-learning interests into healthcare were thwarted at my first interviews for doctoral research – I am not a doctor (medicine), nor have I conducted a clinical trial before … let alone the ambitions for my proposal that would require departmental participation and funding. Basically, I’d bitten off far too much.
With this in mind I am falling back on a subject on which I can claim some insight and expertise – the First World War. Knowing that expressing an interest, linking to a blog or unproduced TV scripts won’t open academic doors I’ve decided to take an MA in History … the subject I set out to study some decades ago before getting the collywobbles and transferring to Geography. So, alongside a 12-15 hour a week commitment to another OU module on e-learning I will, over the next two years, be spending as much time on an MA in British First World War studies with the University of Birmingham. The additional insight I will get from this is comparing abd contrasting a series of modules that rely on an intensive day every month of lectures and tutorials rather than the dense, minute by minute closely supported and networked virtual learning environment (VLE) of the Open University.
Meanwhile, as in March 2011, I am recovering from a stinking cold. Not totally incapacitated – I have read several books, nodding off between chapters and so plagued by dreams about the causes of war in 1914. Power politics and corporate takeovers where the soldier is the worker while the owners, investment bankers and hedge fund managers risk all for their own gain.
WebScience is the scientific study i.e. the identity of problems, the formulation of hypotheses and their in depth scrutiny and analysis, written up and published for sharing, discussion and further debate. This should mean publishing findings with the broadest possible variety of audiences in mind not just to the academic community, from whom further research should be expected, building on the work already done, but to other audiences who through the Web or serendipity, would find the work either appealing, appalling or inspiring.
To help with ‘meaning making’ (Conole, 2011) the metaphor I use to describe the Web is to compare it to the earth’s water cycle where the ocean is awash with digital content, and akin to Web 1.0 influenced by currents and tides, then evaporating into the atmosphere where it forms clouds is shared and transformed (Web 2.0) only to fall as precipitation and return to the ocean.
How much the Web conforms or differs from this pattern helps my analysis and comprehension of what is taking place.
Fig. 1 How we learn behaviourism (Vygotsky) to third generation activity theory (Engeström ) and the World Wide Web. (Doodle by J Vernon, 2013)
A more organic metaphor that places the Web in one context that interests me the workplace is that used by Yrjo Engeström (2008), in which a transmogrification of the model of an Activity System (Fig. 2) becomes like the ‘fingers’ of a funghi. The web after all is alive and growing. Here, an Activity System should be seen not as a static entity, but rather a living and growing thing. KnorrCetina (2003) talks of ‘flow architecture’ and if neither of these concepts ring true for you in then Zerubavel (1997) talks of ‘a mindscape’ while Cussins (1992) talks of ‘cognitive trails’.
Such patterns help describe, explain and predict what is happening in the Web, indeed a third metaphor, building on the ideas of Vannevar Bush from the 1940s, would be to think of the Web as a brain and to draw on lessons being learnt from neuroscience on how complex systems form connections and clusters. In turn, the brain would be an additional important area of study in relation to assistive technologies in relation to chronic illness and memory loss such as with. Alzheimers or Parkinsons.
In relation to WebSciences at the University of Southampton (SOTON) my interest in the iPhD begins with the lofty desire to ‘make a difference’ and to do so drawing on a combination of interests, professional experience, training and study.
It is from a career identifying problems, devising a synopsis, writing treatments, then scripts where amongst a plethora of industry and government an interest in health has developed. This can be pinpointed further to an interest in what role the Web can play in medicine, to inform and support health workers and patients, in particular patients with chronic illnesses such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy.
Focusing even further to one illness and a particular group I have been considering what role e-learning might play to improve adherence to drugs.
I have produced training videos for pharmaceutical companies on the use of preventer inhalers.
My interest with e-learning is to use an inexpensive and readily accessed platform such as Qstream (Kerfoot & Baker, 2012) to deliver appropriate content, including video, through mobile and other devices in order to improve adherence to medication. A literature research has not shown the use of video in this way but there a number of studies where text messaging has been used to improve weight loss (Haapala, 2009), smoking cessation (Rodgers, 2005; Bramley, 2005) and diabetes management (Benhamou, 2007; Cho, 2009; Franklin et al, 2006; Hanauer, 2009; Rami, 2006) which suggests that e-learning initiatives to patients could change behaviours (Cochrane, 1992; Rand, 1994), while emails to multiple-choice questions are used to support medical students. (Kerfoot, 2008, 2009, 2009b, 2010).
A research question I would like to consider is:
‘Can the health of moderate persistent asthmatics aged 14-25 be improved through an e-learning programme that uses targeted emails linked to tailored short videos online (under 90 seconds) in order to achieve adherence to taking their prescribed asthma preventer inhalers to 80% or more?
The appropriateness and relevance to me of such an approach to research is to start with a clearly define problem and place it in a context where scrutiny can occur. In relation to the Web
increasingly the opportunity exists to use and gather ‘big data’, in this instance therefore to have at one level the belief that the globally, all those being treated for asthma form the data set.
Indeed, patients defined as anyone with a chronic illness who should be regularly and consistently taking preventative drugs for a chronic illness would embrace diabetics, those with epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimers. It is this bigger cohort, and the the role the Web can play to improve the prognosis of those with chronic illnesses that may be the focus of my interest for doctoral research.
It is vital to understand how people learn insights gained studying for a Masters in Open and Distance Education can in part be summarised in Fig. 6 as from each learning theory comes an appropriate research methodology. How therefore are patients with a chronic illness becoming informed about their condition and why in many cases are they failing to act upon it?
Fig. 2 Learning Theories drawn from multiple sources (Authors given). J Vernon (2013)
Benhamou PY, Melki V, Boizel R, et al. Oneyear efficacy and safety of web-based follow up using cellular phone in type 1 diabetic patients under insulin pump therapy: the PumpNet Study.
Diabetes Metab. 2007;33(3):220–226.
Bramley D, Riddell T, Whittaker R, et al. (2005) Smoking cessation using mobile phone text messaging is as effective in Maori as non-Maori. N Z Med J. 2005;118(1216):U1494.
Cho JH, Lee HC, Lim DJ, et al. Mobile communication using a mobile phone with a glucometer for glucose control in type 2 patients with diabetes: as effective as an internet-based glucose monitoring system. J Telemed Telecare. 2009;15(2):77–82.
Cochrane, G.M. (1992) Therapeutic compliance in asthma; its magnitude and implications. Eur Respir J 1992;5:122458/
Conole, G (2011) Designing for learning in a digital world. Last accessed 30 May 2013 http://www.slideshare.net/grainne/conolekeynoteicdesept28
Cussins, A. (1992). Content, embodiment and objectivity: The theory of cognitive trails. Mind,
Engeström.Y (2008) From Teams to Knots: Activity theoretical studies of Collaboration and Learning at Work. Learning in doing: Social, Cognitive & Computational Perspectives.
Cambridge University Press. Series Editor Emeritus. John Seely Brown.
Franklin, V, Waller, A, Pagliari, C, & Greene, S (2006), ‘A randomized controlled trial of Sweet Talk, a textmessaging system to support young people with diabetes’, Diabetic Medicine, 23, 12, pp. 13321338, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 16th March 2013
Hanauer DA, Wentzell K, Laffel N, et al. Computerized automated reminder diabetes system
(CARDS): email and SMS cell phone text messaging reminders to support diabetes management. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2009;11(2):99–106.
Haapala I, Barengo NC, Biggs S, et al. (2009) Weight loss by mobile phone: a 1y ear effectiveness study. Public Health Nutr. 2009;12(12):2382–2391.
Kerfoot BP, Armstrong EG, O’Sullivan PN. (2008) Interactive spaced education to teach the physical examination: a randomized controlled trial. J Gen Intern Med 2008;23:973–978. Kerfoot BP. (2009a) Learning benefits of online spaced education persist for 2 years. J Urol 2009;181:2671–2673.
Kerfoot BP, Kearney MC, Connelly D, Ritchey ML. (2009b) Interactive spaced education to assess and improve knowledge of clinical practice guidelines: a randomized controlled trial. Ann
Kerfoot BP, Lawler EV, Sokolovskaya G, et al. (2010) Durable improvements in prostate cancer screening from online spaced education a randomized controlled trial. Am J Prev Med 2010;39:472– 478.
Kerfoot, BP., Baker, H., (2012) An Online SpacedEducation Game for Global Continuing Medical Education: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Surgery Volume 256, Number 1, July 2012. pp.12271232 http://www.annalsofsurgery.com
Kerfoot, BP., Baker, H., Pangaro, L., Agarwal, K., Taffet,G., Mechaber, A.J., Armstrong, E.G. (2012) An Online Spaced Education Game to Teach and Assess Medical Students: A Multi-national Prospective Trial. Technology and Learning. Academic Medicine, Vol. 87, No. 10 / October 2012 pp. 1443 -1449
KnorrCetina, K. (2003). From pipes to scopes: The flow architecture of financial markets. Distinktion, 7, 7–23.
Rand, C.S., Wise, R.A. (1994) Measuring adherence to asthma medication regimens. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1994; 149:6976
Rami B, Popow C, Horn W, et al. (2006) Telemedical support to improve glycemic control in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus. Eur J Pediatr. 2006;165(10):701–705.
Rodgers A, Corbett T, Bramley D, et al. Do u smoke after txt? Results of a randomised trial of smoking cessation using mobile phone text messaging. Tob Control. 2005;14(4):255–261.
Zerubavel, E. (1997). Social mindscapes: An invitation to cognitive sociology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Living with Chronic Illness Changes Your Life (theadventuresofarthritisnfibromyalgia.wordpress.com)
- The Ingredients of being chronically ill (brainlesionandme.com)
- An A to Z of chronic illness: Part 5 (brainlesionandme.com)
Photo credit: Robin Good
‘MOOCs indicate that we are seeing a complexification of wishes and needs’ – so we need a multispectrum view of what universities do in society. George Siemens, (18:51 25th March 2013).
I took away some key reasons why OER has a future:
- Hype between terrifying and absurd.
- State reduction in funding will see a private sector rise.
- Increase in rest of world’s desire for HE OER
- Certificates growing.
- The Gap
- Accelerating time to completion
- Credit and recognition for students who go to the trouble to gain the competencies.
- Granular learning competencies and the gradual learning and badging to stitch together competencies.
And a final thought from the host:
‘If you’re not lost and confused in a MOOC you are probably doing something wrong’. Martin Weller (18:45 25th March 2013)
Which rather means I may be doing something wrong!
I posted to Linkedin, I am neither confused, nor lost. Indeed I have a great sense of where I am and what is going on, have met old online friends and am making new contacts and enjoy using two of my favourite platforms: Google+ and WordPress. (All the fun’s at H817open)
A selection of papers are proving enlightening too:
1) John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health OpenCourseWare (2009) Kanchanaraksa, Gooding, Klass and Yager.
2) The role of CSCL pedagogical patterns as mediating artefacts for repurposing Open Educational Resources (2010) Conole, McAndrew & Dimitriadis
3) A review of the open educational resources (OER) movement: Achievements, challenges, and new opportunities. Report to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
I’ll post a 500 word review of the above shortly as per H817open Activity 7.
The value is both expanding the reasons for OER as well as having a handful of objections, negatives and concerns. Like all things regarding e-learning, they is no panacea for putting in the time and effort.
And a couple of others that look interesting:
Disruptive Pedagogies and Technologies in Universities (2012) Anderson and McGreal
Open education resources: education for the world? (2012) Richter and McPherson
- Open Educational Resources – Opportunities and Challenges for Higher Education (learningwithtechs.wordpress.com)
- Embracing OER & MOOCs to TRANSFORM EDUCATION…? (slideshare.net)
- Open Educational Resources: Development and Challenges for India (slideshare.net)
- Designing OER with Diversity in Mind (slideshare.net)
- Activity 7: Exploring OER Issues (ouopenlearn.wordpress.com)
- New MOOC…Openness and innovation in elearning (totallyrewired.wordpress.com)
Fig. 1. Detail from Clouds (1812) Constable.
I’ve shared my frustrations with Cloudworks from the start of the OLDS MOOC 2013 … and had some experience a year ago so entered the cloud with a sense of dread.
I stuck at it and found some odd ways in.
What mattered was the contact with people I got to know – as they gave up it became inevitable that I would do so too, not least because I had more pressing matters. H809 a postgraduate module, partially produced by the same team as it comes from the Open University stable, but a very different beast.
More like getting on a bus with four to five stops a week.
A weekend for an assignment every five weeks and a longer sojourn to produce a short dissertation at the end. Four tutors groups each with less than sixteen people in each.
I liken my Cloudworks experience to Fresher’s Fair … every day of the week.
Every time I came in I wondered around getting interested in what other people were doing, sometimes landing their by mistake. So a Fresher’s Fair with some 12 entry doors on several floors with the people behind each stall mostly changing too. Your brain gets tired of the overload, the lack of landscape and in this sense ‘Cloudscape’ is the right term, for the wrong reasons.
I took some pictures of a Constable painting ‘Study of Clouds’ in the Ashmolean Museum when I was in Oxford on Friday.
What was I doing in Oxford. Hankering after ‘the real thing’ – a chance to meet and talk with some people in the flesh, this at an talk on Virtual Worlds in Japanese at the Centre of Social and Cultural Anthropology hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute.
After a while, all this online stuff has you eager to meet likeminds in person.
Which I guess why conferences will flourish, not die out, and then from pure e-learning vs. traditional learning the blended form might become the long term, preferred pattern. The best of all worlds, with landscapes, water courses, digital oceans and shifting clouds.
- Olds Mooc Narratives (mymindbursts.com)
- Van Dyck painting ‘found online’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Pre-Raphaelite Conference in Oxford, September 2013 (preraphaelitesociety.wordpress.com)
- Silver haul donated to Ashmolean (bbc.co.uk)
Fig.1. Mont Turia from the summit of Aiguille Rouge, Les Arcs at 3250m
On the last day, on the last run of my first week’s skiing I broke my leg rather badly. I was 13. I was in hospital for a week. In a wheelchair for two months and had the leg re-broken as it wasn’t setting properly. I spent six months at home. Idiot. But most 13 year old boys are.
I missed the next season.
For the following 20 years skiing mattered – a gap year working in the Alps (Val D’Isere in the Sofitel Hotel working 13 hours a day 7 days a week), a decade later researching a TV documentary and book (Oxford Scientific Films, Skieasy Ski Guides), falling in love with a fellow skiing enthusiast (we’ve been married 20 years), a honeymoon on the slopes and ten years later, on the slopes with a 4 and 6 year old, then again when they were 10 and 12.
I miss it.
(See above – the last week of the season, Tignes. The only people on the slopes are the ‘seasoniers’ who have worked since December. It is like being on the beach. A stream that flows above Val Claret melts and various ponds form. We ski it.)
Early in the afternoon I’d asked my girlfriend if she’d marry me. I was feeling cock-a-hoop.
We’ve been back twice in the last decade. There have been other priorities. I’ll be taking my 14 year old son out later this month or in April. Is that wise? At this age teenagers really are prone to take risks and can lack the physique.
Reasons to celebrate and look forwards
37 months to the day after starting the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE) I got the final result, for H810: Accessibility in Open Learning – supporting students with disabilities, today. 84.
It has been so worth it and such a better, engaging, effective, experience than my undergraduate degree in a traditional university some decades ago. I feel as if I have earned it for a start. I have survived disasters rather than succumbed to them.
I am a reading, thinking, writing machine.
I feel like someone who has come to skiing late in life and has caught the bug. My mother started skinning in her mid 40s … and in her 50th year (unencumbered by her husband who was with wife three by then) sold the house and did a belated ‘gap year’ working a season in the Alps. The equivalent for me has to be the intellectual challenge of doctoral research.
More reading, thinking and writing – with research and teaching too I hope.
Tutor Marked Assignment One (TMA01) for H809 (Practice-based research in educational technology) is due on Monday.
‘Practice-based research in educational technology’, to use skiing as a metaphor, is like learning to ski ‘off-piste’. Apt, as the tracks I make are ones I have planned, rather than keeping to the groomed, signed and patrolled ‘safety’ of the regular runs.
And my reward?
Fig. 2. Mont Blanc – From the Ski Resort of La Plagne, Above Montchavin. Les Arc on the right . The road to Val d’Isere clinging to the mountain in the middle distance Bourg St. Maurice in the bottom of the Valley
Skiing en famille.
We’ve not been out for five years so it should be a treat. It has to be on a shoestring, so short of hitching to Bulgaria can anyone recommend ways to keep the cost down?!!
- An Insider’s Guide to Skiing Europe: Where (outsideonline.com)
- Ski Report (kotokydo.wordpress.com)
- Best of Val d’isere (besttripever.wordpress.com)
- Ski centers think spring and hope skiers do too (poststar.com)
Daphne Koller is a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and a Third generation PhD. In this insightful talk we learn how e-learning is changing learning opportunities globally. Scale is at the heart of it.
A Machine Learning Class at Stanford with an undergraduate enrolment of some 400 when put online is followed by 100,000. And the lessons from scale led to the creation of Coursera where anyone can take the world’s top classes for free – delivered by the best instructors from the best universities.
- Personalised curriculum
- A coherent concept in 8 – 10 minutes
- Students can traverse the content in different ways background, skills or interest.
- Support or enrichment.
Practising with the material is important.
Video is interrupted to pose questions. Students are expected to engage.
- Multiple choice
- Short answer questions
- Grade math and models
To be told when you are right or wrong is essential to student learning.
How do you grade 100,000 students?
Peer grading is a surprisingly successful strategy (Sadler & Good, 2006) .
- Teacher and student grades extraordinarily similar, even self-grades.
- And the student learns from the experience.
And learning is socialised
- Around each of our courses a community of students has formed.
- Some meet online, others locally.
- Students respond to each other’s queries.
‘The median question to response time was 22 minutes because somewhere around the globe there was someone awake’. (Koller, 2012)
‘There are some tremendous opportunities to be had from this kind of framework’.
‘First it has the potential of giving us a completely unprecedented look into understanding human learning because the data that we can collect here is unique. You can collect every click, every homework submission and every form post from tens of thousands of students so you can turn the study if human learning from the hypothesis driven mode to the data driven on transformation that for example has revolutionized biology.
Fig. 2. Correcting misconceptions and poor learning paths
You can use the data to understand fundamental questions like what good learning strategies are versus ones that are not and in the context of particular courses you can ask questions like what are some of the misconceptions that are more common and how can we help fix that. 2000 students give the same wrong answer … produce a targeted error message to give personalized feedback.
Fig. 3. Benjamin Bloom (1984) , 2 Sigma problem.
Lecture, mastery based approach, taught one on one with a tutor. individual gives you 2 sigma improvement 50/50 Individual 98% above average But cannot afford to provide every student with an individual tutor. Mastery will grade multiple times and show you the same video over and over without getting bored.
How can we push towards the 2 Sigma curve.
‘The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting. From Ian Kidd’s translation of Essays’. Plutarch
0:18:50 More time required igniting their creativity, their imagination and their problem solving skills by talking with them. We do that by active learning in the classroom.
Performance improves by every metric:
- standardized tests
It would do three things:
- Establish education as an absolute fundamental human right.
- Enable lifelong learning
- A wave of innovation
Guskey, TR 2007, ‘Closing Achievement Gaps: Revisiting Benjamin S. Bloom’s “Learning for Mastery”‘, Journal Of Advanced Academics, 19, 1, pp. 8-31, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.
Bloom, BS 1984, ‘The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring’,Educational Researcher, 6, p. 4, JSTOR Arts & Sciences IV, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.
Koller, D (2012) Ted Lecture Daphne Koller: What we’re learning from online education (accessed 17 Feb 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=U6FvJ6jMGHU )
Sadler, P, & Good, E 2006, ‘The Impact of Self- and Peer-Grading on Student Learning’, Educational Assessment, 11, 1, pp. 1-31, ERIC, EBSCOhost, viewed 17 February 2013.