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How to design learning using activity cards

Fig. 1. Activity Cards for curriculum planning downloaded from JISC

I’m very glad to be doing this OU hosted Massive Open Online Course on Learning Design

I have a couple of weeks in hand and desperately wanted to make and do stuff. I’ve joined one Cloudscape where the aim is to design learning on DIY Multimedia. I have three projects of my own too – not takers from others as they’re rather ‘out of the box’ – ideas around lifelogging, augmented learning and virtual companions.

This exercise I recommend. Indeed, I think getting away from the screen and using bits of paper, getting on the phone, not relying on webinars … and meeting face-to-face all makes sense.

OLD MOOC WK 3 Activity 2 Course Cards

Getting off the computer and into an activity, ideally a collaborative one, is always productive. A carefully moderated workshop can reveal the unexpected, more importantly it is an informed way to prioritize issues and to use a the combined expertise of a variety of people. From the OU Course B822 Creative Innovation and Change I learnt the value of constructing a team of people to address a problem – from different backgrounds, with different responsibilities and outlooks, even someone to rock the boat. No one person’s voice is allowed to override the views of others. Such a group would achieve a lot with this OULDI pack. Though game-like it is a valid and valuable tool.

Working alone there were a number of hurdles to overcome:

A black and white printer.
The sheets were printed off then painted. Not liking the look of the purple these cards all become yellow.
Ideally they would all be spray-glued to backing card to make them more robust – at least so that they don’t curl up at the edges.
On the first sweep I got the 38 number of cards down to 26. This was gradually reduced in 2s and 3s until there were the requisite 16.



Fig.2. Used a pairs table the 16 cards were ranked

Using a paired-sets in a table I was able to rank these 16 – clearly the exercise of discussing these with colleagues would have been extremely useful and the process of deliberation brought up issues of budget, resources and time-scale, and even refined the project as it is conceived and visualised as a certain number of activities.

Fig. 3. In rank order a diamond was created with the chosen cards.

  1. Problem Based
  2. Applied Concepts
  3. Mentoring in work-place
  4. Collaborative
  5. Scaffolded learning
  6. Practice based
  7. Student generated content
  8. Day Schools
  9. Blended approach
  10. Authentic resources
  11. Practice placement
  12. Professional community
  13. Portfolio or e-portfolio
  14. Peer-support
  15. Active discovery
  16. Step by step instruction

Choose a maximum of 12 cards from the pack which define the key features of your course or module.

Step by step instructions Guidance and Support
Scaffolded learning
Mentoring in the workplace
Applied concepts Content and Experience
Authentic resources
Problem-based
Practice-based
Collaborative Communication and Collaboration
Practice placement
Day schools
Student generated content Reflection and Demonstration
Portfolio or e-portfolio

In terms of the module DIY Mutlimedia I become very aware of the value of learning alongside an expert, of being with skilled practitioners even – and very much the need to have a project brief to work to. So very much a hands on learning experience with authentic tools to create a real object or digital asset, or activity. This would also take the learners away from the computer screen, even out of the classroom into a design studio or agency. In fact the ‘Online’ card didn’t make it into the 16. Even though this is to develop skills in use of digital multimedia tools I felt I was organising a workshop for potters, painters and tapestry weavers i.e. there is a highly practical element to it and there’s nothing better than having a live guide at your shoulder … and if there has to be a compromise then it would be live or ‘as live’ instruction over the Internet.

My first career was in television – I got out of a graduate position in an advertising agency and became the ‘runner’ and ‘production assistant’ in a micro-production company. We were six and were down to three for most of the time. I learnt by latching onto an experience BBC Producer – so directing, producing and writing. Then on the job. In time I supplemented this with trade association workshops and some formal day or afternoon workshops. After four years I took a fulltime course. This exercise has made me see how much multi-media production is a craft skill – we may use keyboard and computer screens, but so do TV editors these days too. I’ve even used a broadcast video camera with iPad touchscreen like controls on the viewing monitor (nightmare!) … for someone used to buttons and knobs.

I have been hugely encouraged to get away from screens and be with people face to face despite believing in all things e-learning. Even major practitioners will talk about activities away from the screen, or phoning a friend or colleague … even expecting a phone call or a debriefing workshop. This is because those commissioning learning want results and will break away from the shoehorn of e-learning to do so … great for scale, great for compliance, but hardly ‘human’.

Perhaps the ‘e-‘ is coming detached from ‘learning’.

Learning is the thing, whether it is online, face to face, mobile or augmented. The ‘e’ has to stand for ‘effective’ – did it work! And student analytics and feedback will quickly tell you if you are getting it right or wrong.

VIDEO: How to design learning using activity cards

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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.

What’s the point of a portfolio? Whether online or at home in your desk?

Fig. 1. The two faces of e-portfolios. Barrett (2010).

Think of an e-portfolio in terms of:

  • Workspace
  • Showcase
  • Specific academic fields
  • A Learning journey

Evidence (content):

  • Writing
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Research projects
  • Observations by mentors and peers
  • Reflective thinking

(Butler 2006, p. 2) My view is that these tasks, or affordances, are better and well managed by a blog. During 2010 while in my first year of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) not only were we encouraged to use the OU Student Blog platform, but we were also encourages to use the OU eportfolio MyStuff.

Fig. 2 Müllschlucker

I dutifully ‘dumped’ and labelled content, even sorted it in an effort to write assignment using this system. I would liken it to a Müllschlucker – a rubbish shoot in a tall appartment block (Isn’t the German for it such a great word?)  – it made grabbing and dumping stuff easy. What was far harder was to sift through this content and create meaning from it  a a later date. It didn’t have enough of me about it most of the time to trigger recollections. We got a warning that MyStuff would be killed off – I made a stab at sorting through what I’d put there, but like boxes of papers in a lock-up garage I was more relieved when it was over. I also tried a couple of external e-portfolio services: Peppblepad and Mahara for example. I tripped up quickly as the learning curve was too steep for me – and why duplicate what I was enjoying with WordPress?

I’m about to cook a lasagna, so why give me a pick-axe? Or, I want to make a toasted sandwich so why give me a MagiMix? All tools need to be carefully promoted, demonstrated then used in a sandpit with careful instruction and support. Basic scaffolding in other words.

“The overarching purpose of portfolios is to create a sense of personal ownership over one’s accomplishments, because ownership engenders feelings of pride, responsibility, and dedication.” (Paris and Ayres, 1994,p.10).

“The e-portfolio is the central _and common point for the student experience. It is a reflection of the student as a person undergoing continuous personal development, _not just a store of evidence.” (Rebbeck, 2008) Process (a series of activities) Product (the end result of the process) Blogging and keeping an e-portfolio are synonymous

A web-log, or blog, is an online journal that encourages communication of ideas, and individual entries are usually displayed in reverse-chronological order. Barrett  (2010, p6)

Blogs provide an ideal tool to construct learning journals, as discussed by Crichton and Kopp (2008) from the University of Calgary, ‘… that eJournals help to make ePortfolios more authentic and relevant to the students’ lives.’

Workspace or Working Portfolio. Washington Stage University.

  • Or (digital) shoebox.
  • Presentation Portfolios, showcase or ‘showtime.’

John Dewey (1933) discusses both retrospective (for analysis of data) and prospective modes of reflection (for planning). Beck and Bear (2009) studied reflection in the teaching cycle, comparing how pre-service teachers rated the development of their reflection skills in both formative and summative e-folios.

Fig. 3. JISC (2008) Effective Practice with E-portfolios. Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of JISC. (Page 11)

Reflection is the “heart and soul” of a portfolio, and is essential to brain-based learning (Kolb, 1984; Zull, 2002). Once we have looked back over our body of work, then we have an opportunity to look forward, setting a direction for future learning through goals… reflection in the future tense. Barrett  (2010, p3)

Blogs are organized in reverse chronological order; most showcase portfolios are organized thematically, around a set of learning goals, outcomes or standards. Both levels of reflection and organization are important, and require different strategies for supporting different levels of reflection.

REFERENCE

Barrett, H. (2010). Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, 3(1), 6-14. [Online], Available online: http://eft.educom.pt (Accessed 29 SEPT 2010) http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/ (Accessed 4 NOV 2012) Updated version http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/Balancing2.htm (Accessed 4 NOV 2012)

Beck, R. & Bear, S. (2009) “Teacher’s Self-Assessment of Reflection Skills as an Outcome of E-Folios” in Adamy & Milman (2009) Evaluating Electronic Portfolios in Teacher Education. Charlotte: Information Age Publishers.

Beetham, H. (2005) e-Portfolios in post-16 learning in the UK: Developments, issues and opportunities http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/ documents/themes/elearning/eportfolioped.pdf Bruce, L (1994) Self-Assessment (Last accessed 4Nov2012) http://ozpk.tripod.com/000000selfassess

Butler, P (2006)  Review of the Literature on Portfolios and Eportfolios.  eCDF ePortfolio Project. Massey University College of Education. Palmerston North, New Zealand Crichton, S. and Kopp, G. (2008) “The Value of eJournals to Support ePortfolio Development for Assessment in Teacher Education.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York City, March 24–28, 2008.  An updated version of this paper was published by the British Columbia Ministry of Education, Innovations in Education, 2nd Edition, April 2011. Available online (PDF of book); Printable version of revised article: balancingarticle2.pdf

Dewey,J. (1933) How we think. How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. (1971 ed.). Chicago:Regnery

JISC (2008) Effective Practice with E-portfolios. Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of JISC.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Paris, S., & Ayres, L. (1994). Becoming reflective students and teachers. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association. Rebbeck, G (2008) e-Learning Coordinator, Thanet College, quoted in JISC, 2008). Zull, J. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing

Granularity

Granularity is best described as creating levels of data, with full control over who can see what. Stodd (2012:45)

Failing to find notes on granularity in his own blog while reading a son to be published book on social learning by a colleague – I stumbleupon this. The best way to learn, in my eBook – serendipty, vicariously, exploratority, but with a mix of familiar and new territory.

Christopher Douce

Clive Young

Morgan O’Connell

Jonathan Turner

Where, courtesy if his link to JISC I find a satisfactory answer:

Features: planning at different levels of granularity – activity, session, module, programme. customisation of terminologies to adapt to local institutional requirements. consideration of teacher time and learner time as significant parameters for learning design. updating of information in all stages after changes made in any one stage. externalising decisions made in designing through visual representations.

REFERENCE

Stodd, J (2012) Exploring the World of Social Learning

 

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