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Do you know you xMOOC from your cMOOC?

The realities of MOOCs

I stumbled upon this succinct article on MOOCs by Ben Betts.

MOOCs are why I returned to the OU having completed the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) at the end of 2012. I followed H817:Openness and Innovation in eLearning, joining the Open but, and have now complete two further modules: H809: Research based practices in Educational Technology (with an eye on research) and the phenomenal H818: The Networked Practitioner (just completed) … this as the field keeps transforming I intend to stay abreast of it. Indeed, I’ll keep on eye on H817 for 2015 as this is a considerable advance on the old H807 I did in 2010 that had its content stuck somewhere between 1999 and 2005.

What is interesting in this article is that the author Ben Betts ponders as a passing thought at the end of the piece on the need to ‘learn how to learn’.

This for me is where too many practitioners go wrong – they have their eye so firmly fixed on the ‘next big thing’ that they forget or ignore the understanding we have gained about how we learn over decades. There needs to be a healthy loop that obliges us to consider the basics: learning theories and to see MOOCs in context – all learning is ‘blended’ – even the purely online learning module is conducted by someone with their feet or bum firmly on the ground or in a chair.

The other mistake that other authors make too often is to sensationalise activities or developments such as the MOOC. Every advance builds on something else, and for all their strengths they have weaknesses too, and whatever affordances they have may be exploited or ignored. Interesting times and delighted to find an expert author and practitioner to follow.

What I needed, and got from H809 was a grounding in learning theory which at last I am starting to master. If a further course is required for me it would be more on the application of learning theory, probably in the broader setting of ‘education’ rather than an e-learning context and probably informed by a role educating on the ground – so practice based and applied. Which rather suggests in business – as indeed I did for the best part of 15 years.

A ‘conversational approach’ to learning

Conversational Approach (Laurillard, 2002) This looks at the on-going learner-teacher interaction, and at the process of negotiation of views of the subject-matter which takes place between them in such a way as to modify the learner’s perceptions. From this she develops a set of criteria for the judgement of teaching/learning systems, particularly those based on educational technology.

http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html

http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/pask.html

http://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

 

Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice.

For those on H809, H800 and H817 which are all current, as well as anyone else on the MAODE but treading water between modules, the following paper from Linda Price and Adrian Kirkwood will be of interest.

Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice. (2013) Price and Kirkwood. From our very own Institute of Educational Technology

What forms of evidence (if any) have influenced teacher’s practices?

As a pragmatist I’ve always wanted to believe that decisions are always made on the best possible evidence; humans aren’t like that though. The e-learning industry was as much a part of the 2001 dot.com bubble as anyone else creating content and putting it online. Clients wanted even if they had no evidence that it worked or not and even once you have pages of content online for a while they wouldn’t listen if you said ‘this is all going to end in tears’ – or rather, questioning their motives, trying to understand where the value would come from. It came in time. Thought FT Knowledge pulled out and another site I was working on, Ragdoll, turned from an information portal to a sales platform for its TV shows … then an online TV Channel.

Now in week 4 of H809 we are preparing the first TMA. My approach has been to read as many papers as possible until a pattern starts to form. I could be reading short stories, or listening to rock ballads – the goal is the same, to see and understand the shape of good research.

This is a mixed-method study that includes:

  • A Literature review – using a framework – 96 papers/reports reviewed
  • A Questionnaire – analysed using content analysis – SurveyMonkey completed by 58
  • Interviews – using inductive thematic analysis – 8 interviews conducted

I had thought these 96 papers would be given as references or in an appendix. I guess only those that are cited appear. I would have liked to see the SurveyMonkey questionnaire too. But would this mean there would be no need for the paper – just release all the research and data and let readers draw their own conclusions?

If that happened I wonder how many diverse views we would get from 10 or even 100 responses. However objective we try to be it surprises me how different reports can be, sometimes to the extent that I wonder if people have been looking at the same event. The human mind is a wonderful and contrary thing.

Re-enactments of traditional activities in different media formats.

In the medical professions research favours positivist experimental methods. From large-scale controlled quantitative experimental studies such as clinical field trials.

Mixed method = a pragmatist paradigm.
Methodological triangulationn = research from more than one perspective

Increasingly, though my interests are diverse, I do find the research done on the use of e-learning in medecine of particular interest. There is a greater clarity and objectivity where you have 1000 medical students put through a randomized controlled trial over several months and the outcomes on their knowledge, or recall of facts, can be tested in a formal examin. There are no ifs or buts about naming organs, muscles groups or bones in the human body. It becomes less certain if you are testing changes in knowledge in say sociology as a result of using student forums or blogs. As Dianna Laurillard says when people push for answers, ‘it depends’. The variables are many and complex.

‘If conclusions from each of the methods are the same, then validity is established’. (Price & Kirkwood, p3. 2013)

This is a pattern that I could see myself applying:

Sequential mixed-method design (Cohen et al., 2011, p. 25)

  1. Literature review – informed who might be suitable for interview
  2. A short practitioner questionnaire
  3. Interviews with practitioners
  4. Analytic coding (Cohen et al., 2011)

My wife does medical market research and has to take or create transcripts, as well as do the interviews sometimes, with medical specialists. Some 35 hour long interviews must then be analsyed using a system, currenly manual, where phrases and terms are categorised and clustered. From this an attempt is made to write a comprehensive and object report. I always thought she was having to write a paper or sometimes the equivalent of a thesis every few months.

Clients of course want the ‘heads up’ or the ‘abstract’ and the report reduced to a series of slides. They must read the report but they far prefer to have it presented to them. By the time you are ready to stand up and talk someone through the findings you ought to feel fairly confident about keeping it succinct.

QQ When contemplating using technology for teaching and learning, what do practitioners considers as evidence of enhancement?

For me this could read, ‘when contemplating using technology for learning and development, what do managers consider as evidence of enhancement?

May answer is = be thorough, show evidence of being thorough, explain and share your thinking and practice.

After three years of the Masters in Open and Distance Education I am delighted to say that as a student I have got my head around all of these

E-learning artefacts that could be studied as such:

  • Blended learning/e-learning/hybrid courses
  • Audio/podcasts
  • Video resources/lectures/games
  • Multimedia tools
  • Virtual laboratories/fieldwork
  • Blogs
  • Collaborative tools/wikis
  • Online discussion boards/conferences/forums
  • E-Portfolios
  • Online courses resources
  • Electronic voting/personal response systems
  • Assistive technologies

I should go back and put these into a table to indicate where across H807, H800, H808, H810 and H809 I have done these. Some expansion could be given to forums. I got my blended learning not through the MAODE which is entirely online, but from B822 Creativity, Innovation and Change. There isn’t much use of video either – though these days through TED lectures and a few OU inaugural lectures you get a taste. For video and interactivity I did parts of a video-based Social Media course. I’m familiar with virtual labs from OU Stories in the press. I first used electronic voting in 1997 during a live, broadcast event at Unipart Group of Companies … and then during a day long workshop on Creative Commons at the Open University. I have seen assistive technologies in the IET Labs, but also on visits to special needs schools and of course, studied assistive technologies as part of H810.

There are Micro, Meso and Macro scales

  • Accounts of innovation
  • Lessons learned
  • Changes in practice

Respondents were more likely to be influenced by direct contact with colleagues and by experience of engaging with relevant work or personal activities. (Price and Kirkwood p. 10. 2013)

  • Institution’s Centre for Academic Development 40%
  • Academic Colleagues 25%
  • Departmental advice for e-learning 12%
  • Inductive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006)

This is revealing of human nature and human desires. Despite all the technology that might keep us at our desks there is still a desire to seek and take advice from another person. This is so much more apparent in the commercial world where sales people or project managers take clients through what e-learning technology can do, the strengths and weaknesses. Clients are then sold packages, platforms and tools. They want to hear from the experts, they don’t want to read the papers – or to go on a course (though a few do some or all of the MAODE).

Four themes were identified by Price and Kirkwood.

  1. Nature of evidence and its collection
  2. Use of evidence
  3. Generating and sharing own evidence
  4. Changes in practice

Teachers are more concerned about ‘what works’ while researchers are more concerned about ‘why it works’ (Hargreaves, 1997, p.410).

We are all guilty of having our own agendas and perspectives.

Practitioners preferred to consult an academic developer or colleagues for guidance, rather than reading journal articles. (Price and Kirkwood p. 14. 2013)

CONCLUSION

Educator may think they are ‘improving’ learning in that learners retain more, achieve higher grades and get it down smartly and for less cost – they key driver and outcome is for a more flexible offering that that offered previously.

The academic developer’s role appears to be key in mediating evidence for practitioners. (Just as, I would suggest, the commercial developer’s role is key in mediating evidence for learning and development managers in business). i.e. we won’t review the evidence, that’s your job. Sell us something that works, that we can afford.

‘A dissonance has been observed’ by Norton, Richardson, Hartley, Newstead & Mayes (2005)

– subjectivity in categorisation and sampling methods countered by pragmatist paradigm adopted in this mixed-methods approach.  (Price and Kirkwood p. 14. 2013)

REFERENCE

Braun, V.,  & Clark, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3 (2), 77-101

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011) Research methods in education (7th edition). abingdon, Oxon. Routledge.

Hargreaves, D.H (1997) Educational research and evidence-based practice. London. Sage.

Norton, L., Richardson, T.E., Hartley, J.,  Newstead, S.,  & Mayes, J. (2005) Teachers’ beliefs and intentions concerning teaching in higher education. Higher Education, 50 (4), 537-571

Price, L., & Kirkwood, A.T. (2013) (in press). Using technology for teaching and learning in higher education: a critical review of the role of evidence in informing practice. Higher Education Research & Development.

 

It is well known that the average quality of websites is poor, “lack of navigability” being the #1 cause of user dissatisfaction

Fig. 1. A model for professional development of e-learning (JISC, 2010)

It is well known that the average quality of websites is poor, “lack of navigability” being the #1 cause of user dissatisfaction [Fleming, 1998; Nielsen, 1999].

Should a link from a reference that gives dated commentary such as this be given in a contemporary piece of e-learning on accessibility?

My frustrations may be leading to enlightenment but when a subject such as e-learning is so fast moving it is laughable to find yourself being referred to commentary published over a decade ago, and so potentially first written down 13 years ago.

At times I wonder why the OU doesn’t have a model that can be repeatedly refreshed, at least with every presentation, rather than every decade when the stuff is replaced wholesale. They need a leaner machine – or at least the Institution of Educational Technology does.

I did H807 Innovations in e-learning in 2010 – it has now been replaced by H817 – at times H807 told me LESS about innovations in e-learning that I picked up myself working in the industry creating innovative online learning and development in 2000/2001 while the tutor struggled with the online tools.

Here we go again, not from the resource, but from someone cited in it :

In 1999, in anticipation of Special Educational Needs and Disability Rights in Education Bill (SENDA), funding was obtained to employ a researcher for 2 days per week over a 6 month period to produce a concise usable guide to the factors which must be taken into account in order to produce accessible online learning materials.

I don’t want to know or need to know – all of this should be filtered out.

There needs to be a new model for publishing academic papers – quicker and perishable, with a sell-by-date.

In fairness, in this instance, I am quoting from a reference of a 2006 publication that is a key resource for H810 Accessible Online Learning. But I have now found several specialists cited in Seale’s publication on accessibility who say very different things in 2007 and 2011 respectively compared to how they are referenced in papers these two wrote in 1996 and 2001.

For example, compare these two:

Vanderheiden, G. C., Chisholm, W. A., & Ewers, N. (1997, November 18). Making screen readers work more effectively on the web (1st)

Vanderheiden, G. C.(2007) Redefining Assistive Technology, Accessibility and Disability Based on Recent Technical Advances. Journal of Technology in Human Services Volume 25, Issue 1-2, 2007, pages 147- 158

The beauty of our WWW in 2012 is that a few clicks and a reference can be checked and the latest views of the author considered, yet the module’s design doesn’t instigate or expect this kind of necessary refreshing.

The other one to look at is:

Stephanidis et al. (2011) Twenty five years of training and education in ICT Design for All and Assistive Technology.

Social Media Analytics from the I.E.T.

 

 

Settling down to some H800 reading at the end of an extraordinary week.

 

Monday ‘attended, live-stream conference from the Institute of Educational Technology.

 

Tweeted through-out and got one question in either to Martin Weller or Andrew Laws.

 

Screen grabs and blog notes all the way through.

 

Yet to digest but gripped by Weller’s growing view that page views, links and friends for a stream of online writing may be gathered in time as evidence of scholarship.

 

Also informed by Tony Hirst and the meaning behind Goodhart’s Law in relation to analytics that cease to be a measure as we become skilled at warping/twisting the means by which the stats are generated.

 

Informed too by the notion of Open Learn content, understandably, as having a commercial as well as a public remit, to inform, but also translate into people signing up for courses.

 

If there was a Coast course I’d do it. All I’ve ever had is a fancy booklet.

 

That was Monday.

 

This is turning into one of those weblog things. Now why am I not into all that reverse chronology posting thing? Its having something to say and the desire to say it.

 

Four entries one day, none for a while.

 

That’s fine too.

 

P.S. Now that all this stuff is public facing and broadcast should there not be a dress code.

 

I find myself watching an event taking place in 2011 and being reminded of an OU Physics Lecture of the 1970s. (I often watched this stuff as a boy in the middle of the night. Hippy, beard, denim jacket, flaired-trousers and sandals.)

 

 

Screengrabs and blogs on visualizing analytics and Goodhart’s Law

Settling down to some H800 reading at the end of an extraordinary week.

Monday ‘attended, livestream conference from the Institue of Educational Technology.

Tweated through-out and got one question in either to Martin Weller or Andrew Laws.

Screen grabs and bllog notes all the way through.

Yet to digest but gripped by Weller’s growing view that page views, links and friends for a stream of online writing may be gathered in time as evidence of scholarqship.

Also informed by Tony Hirst and the meaning behind Goodhart’s Law in relation to analytics that cease to be a measure as we become skilled at warping/twisting the means by which the stats are generated.

Informed too by the notion of Open Learn content, understandably, as having a commercial as well as a public remit, to inform, but also translate into people signing up for courses.

If there was a Coast course I’d do it. All I’ve ever had is a fancy booklet.

That was Monday.

This is turnng into one of those weblog things. Now why am I not into all that reverse chronology posting thing? Its having something to say and the desire to say it.

Four entries one day, none for a while.

That’s fine too.

P.S. Now that all this stuff is public facing and broadcast should there not be a dress code.

I find myself watching an event taking place in 2011 and being reminded of an OU Physics Lecture of the 1970s. (I often watched this stuff as a boy in the middle of the night. Hippy, beard, denim jacket, flaired-trousers and sandals.)

 

I’ve just read the introduction to H800 : Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

I’ve just read the introduction to H800.

Or should this read Technology-enhanced debates, learning and practices?

Fig. 1. OU VLE Screengrab January 2011

I imagine and hope there will be some hot discussions.

This is a module in the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education.

I found this is a gentle, caring, thoughtful and reassuring ‘laying out of the OU stall.’

No jargon, clearly written in a reassuring and friendly tone.

Even the lay out is more magazine article than academic abstract, I like this. Don’t scare new folks on day one. Or me. And old hand now.

Were we gathered in the real world this is the equivalent of tea and cake with the course team and future student colleagues.

Even though this is now my third module towards the MA in Open & Distance Education I begin with trepidation as pressures on my time mount; professionally I am now incorporating the contents of H807 and H808 into my daily life and activities – evangelising about all things to do with e-learning (and the OU), while developing projects and talking to prospective clients and sponsors, employers and potential employees.

Personal Development Planning wrapped up the H808 ECA

Fig.2. Personal Development Planning (PDP) expressed as a riding skywards on a thermal

This was my take on PDP. This is now, along with reflective blogging and use of MyStuff (the OU e-portfolio) very much part of my weekly routine.

I struggled through H807 on an old iBook, succumbing to printing off far too often. With H808 I acquired a new laptop and barely printed off a thing (the ECA and evidence being the exception). Everything went into MyStuff.

(I tried Pebbelpad for several weeks then gave up. Having paid an annual sub of £20 for this I will give it a more thorough try in H800. I sense a need to have an alternative e-portfolio as the OU abandons or replaces MyStuff).


With H800 I feel the need, professionally, for a Smart Phone.

Returning from Learning Technologies 2011 I came away with one conviction – mobile learning and a number of trends (more video, less text; more chunking, easy create software and platforms; the creative/planning/production process being brought inhouse; shake up in higher education; significant investment/development in learning & development departments/functions … a list I will continue to develop this week as I finish going through my notes. See below for my take on Learning Technologies 2011)

Going mobile doesn’t simply mean learning on the commute, or during a lunch break or riding a chairlift in a ski resort if only), but using the device at a desk, around the house, in corridors. Think of is this way, why do so many of us work from Laptops at a desk, when surely a desktop computer would do a better job. I feel a Smart Phone will simply offer an alternative way to work, as if on a micro-computer … on a bench overlooking the English Channel. Stuck in traffic (as a passenger) .. even while making supper.

We will see.

Perhaps Smart Phone and the next piece of business will go hand in hand.

I’ll no doubt often using sports related analogies, so I’ll treat week one and two as a warm up, rather than a sprint. In previous modules I’ve been like a pace setter at the start of the four minute mile, dashing off quickly only to retire before the end.

My key thought for H800? Pace.

In any case, I’ve got a self-assessment tax form to submit, more job interviews, client meetings too – even seeing a Venture Capital organisation. This and some swim coaching and quite a bit of swim club managing/organising (internal training, submission to a national audit, final assessment for the Senior Club Coach certificate). As well as time with family, children, our dog and the guinea-pigs ‘E’, ‘C’ & ‘A’.

Serendipity took me to Space Ed when I had just started H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning.’

English: The front of Balliol College as viewe...

English: The front of Balliol College as viewed from Broad Street, looking west. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr Price Kerfoot is an alumni of Balliol College and he was featured in the College Magazine.

This Balliol and Harvard trained doctor had considered ways to improve the way in which medical students learn. A great deal must be learnt rote, you have to know your anatomy (to start with). This means dissecting a cadaver, making the information stick, then testing yourself relentlessly so that exams can be passed.

Here is a professional educator using e-technology to solve a problem.

As an innovation in e-learning nothing compares. It may not use second life or 3D animation, but is addresses a learning problem and offers an effective solution – good-bye factoids on Rolodex cards, hello 21st century email and text alerts probing you to answer multi-choice questions correctly. If you get it wrong, you receive the right answer and an explanation. This question will be resent in due course and sent repeatedly until it is self-evident that you now know the correct answer.

I’m signed up for Core Anatomy.

I haven’t a clue but using Google and go into research mode. It is staggering the wealth of visual materials to support learning, beautifully rendered images of the human body, podcasts from doctors, definitions of the terminology with audio so you learn how to pronounce these things. I still get the first couple of questions wrong, but never mind. I understand what the right answer is, I am building a corpus of knowledge that will in time enable me to answer 100 questions rather than only 25.

Give it a go.

Better still, build your own Space Ed programme. The platform is free to use and you are free to offer the results of your endeavour for free … or for a fee.

REFERENCE

TESTING NEW INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS

Interactive Spaced-Education to Teach the Physical Examination:

A Randomized Controlled Trial

B. Price Kerfoot, MD EdM1,2,3, Elizabeth G. Armstrong, PhD2,3, and Patricia N. O’Sullivan, MD3,4

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