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What are MOOCs going to do for learning?

From E-Learning V

Fig.1.  Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0. The way it was, the way it is, the way it will be.  J F Vernon (2013)

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are new and FutureLearn, a wholly owned subsidiary of The OU is itself adapting as traditional institutions embrace e-learning, respond to feedback and to results and improve.

MOOCs will be new for a decade.

E-learning like this is not a lecture series online, TV online, a book or book list online, quiz or a tutorial online. Whilst this is invariably the starting place for ‘ground based’ educators, the academics working with instructional designers, not in isolation, need increasingly to begin with a blank sheet rather than looking at the physical assets of academics, books, lectures and papers around them.

What we are witnessing today is that transition from the Wright Brothers to World War One fighter planes: we are seeing hints of the jets to come: we are a long way from drones. I use the analogy having just completed a wonderful three-week FutureLearn MOOC ‘World War 1: Aviation Comes of Age‘. Innovation takes time, though not necessarily violent conflict.

Innovations go through recognisable phases.

E-learning in the forms of MOOCs is still at the stage of ‘early adoption’ – rest-assured they will become commonplace, though surely with a different name? MOOCs can be a hybrid during a transitional phase so long as this is seen as the first step in many away from traditional approaches, embracing what works online.

Academics need to resist hiding away in their silos and welcome into their midst those of us seeking to understand and to integrate the processes involved – that combination of learning and e-learning: how and why we learn (neuroscience and physcology) and how then scale (massiveness), interactivity (digital) and connectivity (openness) changes things. In time, when the academics themselves have reached their accredited status of ‘doctor’ and ‘professor’ through e-learning and when we can call them all ‘digital scholars’ – then we’ll be able to look down from the clouds and smile at how much things have changed.

Think evolution not revolution

Think how long it will take to see out the current generation of academics – thirty to fifty years? Whilst many embrace change, most do not. They chose academia as a lifestyle and fear closer, open scrutiny and engagement. Learning is now experiencing what retail has gone through over the last decade. They are exhilarating as well as scary times.

Ultimately MOOCs are about a combination of sequential activities and ‘interactivities’, collaboration and connection.

Gilly Salmon coined the term ‘e-tivities’: sadly not in common usage, it nonetheless captures beautifully what is required for students to learn online – doing stuff on your own, with other fellow students and with the academics. Academics who like to observe from their ivory towers are failing in a duty as educators, and are missing the opportunity to have their own thinking challenged and refreshed.

Collaboration is a long held view of a kind of learning in ‘communities of practice’ most associated with the academics Lave and Wenger: how working together is a more effective for of constructed learning.

Connectedness as a way of learning is dependent on a few things: the affordances of the platform to permit this with ease: if you have the opportunity compare current student messaging and blogging platforms at your institution with those at FutureLearn which has stripped back the unnecessary and concentrated on this ‘connectivity’; the number and mix of participants: massive helps as a small percentage of a group will be the front runners and conversationalists with others benefiting from listening in, out of choice not pressure and the ‘quality’ of the participants in that they need to have both basic ‘digital literacy’ skills and reliable access based on their kit and connection. ‘Connectivity’ is often associated with the academic George Siemens and is the new kid on the ‘learning theories’ block.

Embrace the pace of change

A lean and smart organisation will tumble over itself, re-inventing and experimenting with ways things are done until clear methodologies present themselves for specific types of learning experience: ‘head work’ is different to’ handiwork’ – academic study is different from applied practice. Subjects freed from books and formal lectures, like the genii released from the bottle will, in the cloud, form into shapes that are most suited to their learners and what is being taught: blended and ‘traditional’ learning most certainly have their place.

Academic snobbery is a barrier to e-learning. 

John Seely Brown, working out of the Palo Alto Research Centre, famous for coming up with the WYSIWYG interface between us and computers and a ‘learning guru’ is passionate about the idea of ‘learning from the periphery’ – this is how and when someone new to a subject, or team, hangs around at the edges, learning and absorbing what is going on at the heart. The wonder of open learning is the participation of equally brilliant and curious minds, some who know a good deal on a subject while others are just starting out, eager to listen, willing to ask questions that may be naïve but are usually insightful; in the two-way exchange both the die-hard academic and the newbie change for the better. Learning feeds of this new fluidity. It is evidence of the ‘democratisation’ of learning.

Professor Gilly Salmon talks us through her Five Stages of e-learning

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).

OLD MOOC 2013 – ‘Multimedia is part of being digitally literate’

A very important point I picked up in the OLD MOOC 2013 – and for a number of reasons.

Students, to some degree, come to higher education with some, reasonable or even a good deal of exposure to and use of multimedia online – they shoot video on webcams or digital SLRs, the edit content they find online, they post, cut and mashup images constantly to such a degree that you wonder if their language is non-verbal, like hieroglyphs for the 21st century if you follow the streams of images they collect and share in the likes of Tumblr. But, some will have this has a digital literacy and form of entertainment, some will have done things in class, others might make short films or animations, while others have had little or no exposure at all.

Perhaps therefore a cohort of students have to be treated as a group from all over the world for whom ‘multimedia’ is a second or foreign language.

I’m trying to talk myself into context here, to take on board the reading I have done as well as my own experience. For sure, even for those who ‘speak this multimedia language’ it is unlikely that they have applied it in a systematic or semi-professional way – as the end result of a careful planning, researching, writing, sharing and ‘construction’ process.

To be digitally literate requires an ability to speak and write this language using everyday tools – the end results matters more than how they got there. We know there are a plethora of tools.

Lucky them if they have access to an Apple Computer and free software such as iMovies.

Many won’t.

Might fretting over the software be like having a wide choice of cars to pick from in a car pool but not know how to drive? That either they learn to drive, or find a chauffeur? Or a buddy who can drive?

Multimedia creation has a logic to it like putting up flat-pack furniture with thousands of websites or YouTube ‘How to … ‘ clips to show you the way.

Preparation, logic … In this context, the multimedia options are a selection of what Gilly Salmon calls ‘e-tivities’ – so there is variety – a piece of video to watch and review, a piece of text to read and answer questions, a set of multichoice q&a … a series of ‘hot spots’ in an image to roll-over and read/listen to before writing in a correct answer and so on.

 

What makes an e-learning forum tick?

What makes an e-learning forum tick?

This is the crux of social learning for me, what John Seely Brown calls ‘learning at the periphery’ or Cox calls ‘vicarious’ learning and I have dubbed ‘learning through serendipity’.

As a result of taking part you acquire knowledge, you develop your thinking and understanding.

It was no different for me learning French. The school way was hopeless, what I required was total immersion, which is what I got in my late teens turning up in France on an exchange, making friends and returning … then working a gap year as far from English speakers as possible. This is how I learn, many of us prefer this informal approach.

Is it something that corporate e-learning companies and corporate learning departments have yet to tap into?

Gilly Salmon introduced the idea of the e-moderator and e-tivities in 2002.

It still takes excellent moderation, what the French call an ‘animateur’ – someone to host the event and keep it bubbling along nicely.

The mix of attendees matters too. 100 minimum sound like a big number but observation, experience and research show that around 95%  observe, 4% take part and only 1% are more actively engaged.

Whilst this 1%, even the 5% are necessary what does this say about the contributions the other 95% could be making?

This is where events need to have a long tail, to be stored, aggregated, developed, talked over and blogged at greater length. What Grainne Conole calls ‘meaning making’.

Perhaps because it lacks measurement, that there appear to be no parameters.

There are many ways to get content noticed. All the traditional tricks of promotion are required here too.

Email databases, events, trade promotions, press advertising and business cards; online is not a panacea, neither is it replacement technology. It is part of the world we live in, a choice, something else, that complements other ways of doing things.

The ‘long tail’ refers to the way content has a life before, during and after being posted.

There is a story to tell in its creation and promotion; its release should factor in for a long shelf life, then there is this ‘after life’, how once posted content may then be picked up by others and developed into different, better and alternative things. Keep tabs on this and content online becomes more like street theatre, or talking from a soap box on Hyde Park Corner, it is an opportunity to engage with an audience.

I like to blog, use Linkedin and Twitter.

Better to be the master of some platforms than a jack of all  trades.

Learning, or rather teaching as a form of education is moving towards greater fluidity and liveliness in the relationship between the academic (author/lecturer) and the student.

Fig. 1. Digital Scholarship (Vernon, 2011)

I’ve drawn on ideas from the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE) that I have been studying with The OU since February 2010. Also ‘The Digital Scholar’ by Martin Weller and ‘Preparing for blended e-learning’ by Chris Pegler.

I come to the conclusion that learning, or rather teaching as a form of education is moving towards greater fluidity and liveliness in the relationship between the academic (author/lecturer) and the student.

The model education should look to is one developed in business, something I stumble upon studying OU MBA Module ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’

Drawing on a business model, the development of a more organic structure that is less hierarchical, as envisaged by Henry Mintzberg (1994), seems appropriate; it complements what authors such as John Seely Brown say about ‘learning from the periphery’ too. Mintzberg talks of an adhocracy, doodle here when I was making hand-drawn mind-maps during revision for an end of module exam (EMA).

Adhocracy

Characteristics of an adhocracy (Waterman, 1990; Mintzberg, 1994; Travica, 1999):

  • highly organic structure
  • little formalization of behavior
  • job specialization based on formal training
  • a tendency to group the specialists in functional units for housekeeping purposes but to deploy them in small, market-based project teams to do their work
  • a reliance on liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment within and between these teams
  • low standardization of procedures
  • roles not clearly defined
  •  selective decentralization
  •  work organization rests on specialized teams
  • power-shifts to specialized teams
  • horizontal job specialization
  • high cost of communication (dramatically reduced in the networked age)
  • culture based on non-bureaucratic work

One could also draw on a simpler organic structure developed, again in the MBA arena, by Charles Handy.

Handy’s Shamrock (1989)

The advantage of a flexible organisation is that it can react quickly to a change in its external environment.

Since the 1990s, firms have examined their value chain and tried to reduce their workforce to a multi-skilled core, which is concerned with the creation or delivery of a product or service. All other supporting, non-central functions are outsourced wherever possible to the periphery.

Charles Handy suggested, however, that organisations do not consist of just the Core and the Periphery, since the periphery can be subdivided.

He calls this a shamrock organisation:

  • The first leaf of the shamrock represents the multi-skilled core of professional technicians and managers, essential to the continuity of the business
  • The second leaf Handy calls the contractual fringe, because non central activities are contracted out to firms specialising in activities such as marketing, computing, communications and research
  • The third leaf consists of a flexible workforce made up of part-time, temporary and seasonal workers.

However, the model I constantly turn to is the Activity System of Engestrom (via Vygotsky).

From E-LEARNING

which also has its organic expression, not dissimilar to the Mintzberg concentric organisational plan and John Seely Brown’s ideas of learning from the periphery:

A Mycorrihizae fungi

In the spirit of digital scholarship I’ve been experimenting with using Twitter to share thoughts on more than one book as I read them, highlighting a point and adding a Tweet. The feedback has been interesting, as has been the influx of new Twitter followers, invariable all with an academic or commercial interest in e-learning.

So come and join the feed, though from time to time you will receive tips on swim teaching best practice (how to fix a screw kick in breaststroke and some such) or as likely thoughts on life in the trenches as a machine gunner as we approach the centenary of the First World War.

Fig. 2. Expanding ideas with multiple e-tivities and assets online. Vernon (2010)

I’d like to see this offered as an APP or Tool so that digital assets (stuff) or ‘E-tivities’ (Salmon, 2002) are automatically aggregated as a fluid, initial offer. In other words, assets are seen as a way of catalysing a process of exploration.

REFERENCE

Brown, J.S., Collins.A., Duguid, P., (1989) Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan. – Feb., 1989), pp. 32-42 American Educational Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176008 . Accessed: 05/03/2011 13:10

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

Handy, C (1989) The Age of Unreason

Mintzberg, H (1994), The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning: Reconceiving the Roles for Planning, Plans, Planners, Free Press, pp. 458, ISBN 0-02-921605-2

Salmon, G (2002) E-tivities. The key to online learning

Travica, B (1999) New Organizational Designs: Information Aspects, Ablex/Greenwood, ISBN 1-56750-403-5, Google Print, p.7

Vernon, J.F. (2010-2012) Open University Student Blog

Vernon, J.F. (2011) Mindmaps, screen grabs and other e-learning ephemera

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press.

Waterman, R. H. (1990). Adhocracy: The power to change. The Larger agenda series. Knoxville, Tenn: Whittle Direct Books.

A question about e-learning and social media

I put this question through the OU Yammer feed.

‘I’ve seen through the Masters in Open and Distance Education a Presentation by Grainne Conole.

I thought this was part of the JISC project.

This was 2007. The suggestion was that a study would be carried out in relation to practice-based learning. I’m none the wiser. I’m not sure if that study went ahead, or the research was very enlightening’.

And had this reply:

Yes, it did go ahead:

Learners’ experiences of blended learning environments in a practice-based context (PB-LXP)

see http://kn.open.ac.uk/public/workspace.cfm?wpid=7174 ,

and

Student attitudes towards and use of ICT in course study, work and social activity: a technology acceptance model approach

http://oro.open.ac.uk/26467/

If in doubt ask … and know where to ask

Fielding questions to a community of online educators is like casting seed onto fertile grown rather than blasting the question into the blogosphere.

For anyone this you can ask subject specific quesstion to your OU community on ‘OU Platform’

For MAODERs sign up through the ‘Your Subject‘ link and then Education – OU Community Online

Picking up on the 2007 presentation by Grainne Conole of research carried out by the Institute of Educational Technology (OU) I was keen to learn of outcomes from the follow up research they promised on practice-based learning.

Like anyone with an insatiable curiosity the desire to chase several references or to pursue a topic to the Nth degree doing so online can be overwhelming; it is too easy to find references, even more so when they have a URL.

Time was as an undergraduate such searches meant a walk or bike road across town, the nature of Geography (in the first year at least) touching on both human and physical topics, ranging from zoology, politics and history on the one hand to geology and climatology on the other keep me on my feet and toes.

Studying online the only part of your body that is exercised are your fingers and you’re always a click away from a maelstrom of information.

Increasingly I find I want to stick to a brand I know and a name I know.

The brand might be an institution or publisher (often the same thing): Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Open University presses … and the authors whose writing I can trust, both for the quality of the content and how it is expressed:

Gráinne Conole – uber e-learning

Martin Weller – e-learning professor

Gilly Salmon – all things ‘e’

Denise Kirkpatrick – here on Flickr

Chris Pegler – In open resources

For example …

Do add MAODE names I ought to add here (this is just a starting list from the top of my head).

Learners’ experiences of blended learning environments in a practice-based context (PB-LXP)

Learners’ experiences of blended learning environments in a practice-based context (PB-LXP)

see http://kn.open.ac.uk/public/workspace.cfm?wpid=7174 ,

and

Student attitudes towards and use of ICT in course study, work and social activity: a technology acceptance model approach

http://oro.open.ac.uk/26467/

For anyone this you can ask subject specific question to your OU community on ‘OU Platform’

For MAODERs sign up through the ‘Your Subject‘ link and then Education – OU Community Online

Picking up on the 2007 presentation by Grainne Conole of research carried out by the Institute of Educational Technology (OU) I was keen to learn of outcomes from the follow up research they promised on practice-based learning.

Like anyone with an insatiable curiosity the desire to chase several references or to pursue a topic to the Nth degree doing so online can be overwhelming; it is too easy to find references, even more so when they have a URL.

Time was as an undergraduate such searches meant a walk or bike road across town, the nature of Geography (in the first year at least) touching on both human and physical topics, ranging from zoology, politics and history on the one hand to geology and climatology on the other keep me on my feet and toes.

Studying online the only part of your body that is exercised are your fingers and you’re always a click away from a maelstrom of information.

Increasingly I find I want to stick to a brand I know and a name I know.

The brand might be an institution or publisher (often the same thing): Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Open University presses … and the authors whose writing I can trust, both for the quality of the content and how it is expressed:

Gráinne Conole – uber e-learning

Martin Weller – e-learning professor

Gilly Salmon – all things ‘e’

Denise Kirkpatrick – OU Pro-Vice Chancellor

Chris Pegler – In open resources

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme – Master of the M-Learning Universe

For example …

Do add MAODE names I ought to add here (this is just a starting list from the top of my head).

Some reading if you are interested in e-learning or social media marketing

Reading this:

Picking this up a year ago at the start of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) I couldn’t relate to it. I hadn’t enough experience of ‘e-moderators’, the term Gilly Salmon uses for Tutors (also Associate Lecturers). A year on I appreciate the complexity of the role, and potentially the considerable demand on their time and efforts to help us students sing – it can’t always happen. If we are a choir, then at times we have to learn to practice in small groups in oour own time.

‘E-tivities’ is a must read at any time. You may not agree with the five-stage approach to online learning but I’d go this route until you know better from experience; i.e. play a game that has rules and works before you make up your own.

It should be a game. It should be playful.

It can be. It often is. I don’t tinker away at the QWERTY keyboard like this if I didn’t enjoy it; as Andrew Sullivan puts it, this is jazz. These ideas the latest from John Seely Brown. Remember in his lecture to the Open University he described it as ‘Bringing Coals to Newcastle’ (Week 1 or 3, H800). That is respect for the Open University who remain the leaders worldwide. As Lord Putnam, the OU Chancellor put it, ‘It’s as if the Open University was waiting for the Internet’. From TV and Radio, with books, videos and CDs sent out computer-based and now e-learning was and is pioneered right here.

More of this then.

And I’ve made a start on this, the seminal John Seely Brown publication:

I do like a good read, something cover to cover (though these days as a e-book, it does make highlighting and note taking massively easier). And we want to share what we think about what these guys say? I put my notes in the OU e-portfolio My Stuff so could/can share pages from there. Just ask.

I can’t be bothered with this:

I read three chapters nd skimmed through the rest.

I was working in a Brighton-based web-agency in 2000. Ten years ago I would have sung from it. A decade on I find it vacuous hype that occasionally gets it right but often does not.

That said, there are books that I dismiss the first time I look, but can be brought back to sing its praises. Another must read, especially for H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’ is Roger’s ‘Diffusion of Innovations’.

 

Diffusion of Innovations – Picking this up a year ago at the start of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) I couldn’t relate to it.

I hadn’t enough experience of ‘e-moderators’, the term Gilly Salmon uses for Tutors (also Associate Lecturers). A year on I appreciate the complexity of the role, and potentially the considerable demand on their time and efforts to help us students sing – it can’t always happen. If we are a choir, then at times we have to learn to practice in small groups in our own time.

‘E-tivities’ is a must read at any time. You may not agree with the five-stage approach to online learning but I’d go this route until you know better from experience; i.e. play a game that has rules and works before you make up your own.

It should be a game. It should be playful.

It can be. It often is. I don’t tinker away at the QWERTY keyboard like this if I didn’t enjoy it; as Andrew Sullivan puts it, this is jazz. These ideas the latest from John Seely Brown. Remember in his lecture to the Open University he described it as ‘Bringing Coals to Newcastle’ (Week 1 or 3, H800).

That is respect for the Open University who remain the leaders worldwide.

As Lord Putnam, the OU Chancellor put it, ‘It’s as if the Open University was waiting for the Internet’. From TV and Radio, with books, videos and CDs sent out computer-based and now e-learning was and is pioneered right here.

More of this then.

And I’ve made a start on this, the seminal John Seely Brown publication:

I do like a good read, something cover to cover (though these days as a e-book, it does make highlighting and note taking massively easier). And we want to share what we think about what these guys say? I put my notes in the OU e-portfolio My Stuff so could/can share pages from there. Just ask.

I can’t be bothered with this:

I read three chapters nd skimmed through the rest.

I was working in a Brighton-based web-agency in 2000. Ten years ago I would have sung from it. A decade on I find it vacuous hype that occasionally gets it right but often does not.

That said, there are books that I dismiss the first time I look, but can be brought back to sing its praises. Another must read, especially for H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’ is Roger’s ‘Diffusion of Innovations‘.

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