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|From E-Learning V|
More than any module or exercise I have done over my four years with The OU, it is a MOOC in FutureLearn that is giving me the most thorough experience of where the future or learning lies. I’m in week seven of eight weeks of ‘Start Writing Fiction’ from The OU, on the FutureLearn platform. Just in these few weeks I’ve seen the site change to solve problems or to enhance the experience. Subtle lifts and adjustments that make a positive out of constant adjustment. Those tabs along the top: activity, replies where under a tab. I think ‘to do’ is new while ‘progress’ was elsewhere. This is a responsive platform that listens to its students.
In the final week we submit our third piece of work.
As assessments go these are far less nerve racking than a TMA. The first piece was 300, the second 500 and the last will be 1000. These are assessed by fellow students. In my case I had one, then two reviews. Most people seem to get at least two sometimes three. The system is designed, I’m sure, to try and ensure that everyone’s work is reviewed at least once. Tens of thousands, certainly thousands of people are on the course.
We’re here to the 19th of December or so … if you follow the tracks as laid.
I hazard a guess that between 20-100 have posted there final piece already. Some, I know, got to the end of the entire course a few weeks ago; I looked ahead to see out of curiosity. There have always been 20 who post comments one, two even three weeks ahead. If 20 are posting I hazard a guess knowing my stats on these things that another couple of hundred could be clicking through the pages to read and observe. They may, like me, be coming back later. They may only be following the course, but not participating. Often, it is like standing on a stage looking into the gloom of the auditorium. Someone probably out there. One or two let you know. The rest don’t.
I hope those that race ahead come back …
I find that if I get ahead then I slow down and retrace my steps. To learn in this connected and collaborative way you are far better off in the pack … it is not a race to get to the end first. In fact, those who do this have already lost. They’ve missed the point. I’d suggest to people that if they have the time to do the week over. That’s been my approach anyway – the beauty of these things is everyone can come and go as they please, at a pace that suits them. Skip a bit. Go back. Follow it week by week, day by day … or not. Whatever works works?
There’s another very good reason to stay with the ‘pack’ or to come back and do a week over – the platform depends not on tutors and moderators commenting and assessing work, but us students doing a kind of amateur, though smart, peer review. This is what make a MOOC particularly vibrant, memorable and effective. Not listening to an educator telling us what’s what, but the contributors sharing, figuring it out, answering each other’s problems in multiple ways. We all learn in different ways and at a pace that shifts too. I find that often a point I don’t get first time round, on the second, or third, or even the fourth visit to an activity someone, somewhere puts it in a way that suddenly brings complete clarity – their way of seeing a thing, or expressing it, makes more sense than the writes of the course could manage. Because they can only write one version, not the ‘tartan’ that comes from an intelligent, threaded online conversation.
|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.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1 This is what a reading list looks like – too much of a good thing makes it a bad thing
I ‘do’ e-learning for two reasons:
- love of a subject, or a desire to fill holes or build mountains in my knowledge
- fascination in e-learning: what works and what does not.
I love it’s simplicity, clarity and intuitiveness. In the right hands it’s the perfect cup of coffee. (and once a day takes about as long to consume)
The considered, edited and crafted content doesn’t dick about: it is a brief talk, or walk and talk BBC documentary style opening (video), followed by a a dozen paragraphs of a succinct piece of required reading that is then opened to the ‘floor’.
‘Connectedness’ is enabled
The threaded discussion looks more like this bulletin-board cum blog cum student forum. Perhaps, as this has developed over the last decade, is where the idea came from? As a bulletin-board each time you comment your thoughts are placed on the top of the pile: someone has to read it when they log in, or at least there’s a greater chance of that.
This connectedness is facilitated and encouraged further by alerts you get as others comment in a thread you’ve contributed to or started.
Your contributions are sorted for you and so build, without you needing to do so yourself, into a threaded line of thought – you can see how you are learning, how your knowledge improves and your ideas develop.
There are parameters
There is a word count for each posting. 1200 characters I think and a time frame during which you can edit (15 minutes).
There is a modicum of overload
We, as students, are the masters of the time we have, or want to give to a thing. We are also the ones who know and control the pace. It is too simple to say that some people read faster than others, so can consume more. We approach text in very different ways. What is crucial and done in the FutureLearn module I’m doing on the 1919 First World War Paris Treaty is the amount of reading offered. It is more than enough, but not overwhelming. It takes itself and its students seriously by saying that ‘we think you can read all of this and contribute to the discussions in the time allocated – five hours a week’.
Module teams get it wrong when content is sparse or when they overload the student with that laziest of get-outs ‘the reading list’. Getting it right requires effort, confidence in the subject you are teaching and a belief and understanding of the way people learn and the platforms and tools now available and how their evolving use impacts on learning. I’m doing a couple of FutureLearn modules: ‘Writing Applications’ at two hours a week, compares to World War 1: Paris 1919 at five hours a week. The contrast couldn’t be greater.
It’s like the first offers you a small cup of coffee: no refills. Instant. You get it with milk whether you like it or not. While the second gives you a rich cup of coffee and, if you want them, a couple of refills. No more. There are parameters.
FutureLearn keeps it simple
What matters are the words people type. There are none of the mess of unnecessary buttons provided here. Honestly. Keep it simple OU. They just muddle things massively. Where used they invariably take away from the ability to communicate. It is enough of a challenge to type on a QWERTY keyboard. Plain text does the job. In the hands of the amateur (all of us), being able to add colour, change font size and a whole lot more serves no useful purpose.
Content is self-moderated by the group
A simple alert button allows you to flag something to let moderators know that something inappropriate is going on: hateful language, foul language, ‘drunken’ rants …
‘There’s something for everyone’.
Fig. 1. Poster commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima for Japan, 1985. Ivan Chermayeff, de la warr pavilion, Bexhill.
Trip FIVE to this exhibition, this time with my brother-in-law, is imminent. What I adore about exhibitions here is that they are ‘bitesize’ and smart; they are a perfect ‘mind burst’. They are the ideal repeat show too as with each visit you see more, and see differently … and are influenced of course by the person you are with.
The right image says what each viewer sees in it.
This idea naturally translates into any and every conflict we see today: MH17, fractured and not yet stuck together, the Middle East utterly smashed into dust – I have this visual in my head of Hanukkah Lamp, the smoke from which forms a fractured map of Israel and Palestine.
|From E-Learning IV|
From a learning point of view to start with a poster such as this is to follow Robert Gagne theory of learning design; also the natural skill of storytellers and good communications: get their attention.
Fig. 1 My big sister and me
‘Preach to the converted’ is the mantra of advertising; increasingly it should the mantra of e-learning, and especially of Massive Open Online Courses which are both open and free. Give potential students what they want in a way that they are already open to. Don’t force feed platforms and tools that are foreign to them, nor pander to the book, pen and notebook when by its very nature if you are learning online you are in front of a computer screen. Think more in terms of the needs of the student, than of the willingness of the faculty to give this kind of e-learning a go. Engage someone with a background in communications.
‘Preach to the converted’ ties into the need to know who your students are – in all their diversity. There’s a bunch of personas used by the Open University to help with this. We’re a handful of shifting types across a spectrum of some 12 personas. This helps educators design for hidden, massive audiences.
Fig.2. The Santorini Museum
Big Sis and me both wanted a book from the Santorini Museum.
We’d done the Akrotiri excavation and did the museum in our separate ways (family event on the island with people arriving at different times and staying in different place. When we met up we agreed immediately at the frustration at no having a shop at either location. You whet your appetite on a subject are ripe for a bit more. I even started looking for a two week course on Archaeology in Future Learn. No book. Not much of a website. Ample content with each artefact.
Visitors to museums are converts; not just easy to sell postcards and tea-towels too, but ready to learn and suckers not just for ‘the book’, but just as prepared to come to the talk, even, these days, to sign up to a taster course.
I wrote this and posted it February 2011 (my Open University) it was an open post.
At what point in e-learning design do you feel that by spoon-feeding learners that you are doing them a disservice?
That learning is better achieved as a result of effort, even through making mistakes.
How, with all these increasingly versatile and ‘easy’ tools therefore, do we ensure that effort is applied, that learners remain engaged?
We show, we test; they read, they write; they work alone, then as a group; they make mistakes and try again. They do something new, they see something in a different way.
The other day I was about to print off a recipe for a chocolate cake that my 12 year old son and a friend were willing to make.
Enlightened by a piece on the use of dreadful fonts in learning and how effective it can be to make information stick I printed out not in Arial or Callibri or Times Roman in 16 point, but in some swirly imitation of Edwardian handwriting in 10 point … beige.
They said nothing. The cake was a success.
Did it the lesson stick?
Perhaps I’ll try again today. Can they make the cake without referring to the recipe?
One aspect of this is slightly disingenuous, my son and I did make this cake together a couple of months ago in a more nurturing, assisting manner in which I played the role of ‘the talking recipe’ with demonstrations on how to melt the chocolate, split eggs, whisk egg-whites and fold the ingredients together.
It helped that my son could teach his friend.
How does this apply to the safe storage of Uranium Trioxide underground or dealing with an asthma patient? Or handling a customer who is complaining of the smell of sewage along their street? Or making a subject choice decision at A’ Level? And how about in the creative industries, as an art director or copywriter, even in Fine Art?
There are environments, clearly, where making mistakes is part of the learning process … but if you learning to fly commercial aircraft or reprocess spent rods in nuclear power, best to make the mistakes in a simulation.
To which I receive the following charming reply.
While learning a new language, some learners prefer to be spoon fed, and some would hide somewhere quietly and never surface to attend any tutorial, despite my persuasion, encouragement, nagging……but I haven’t resorted to threat so far.
I would love to know the chocolate recipe…………
In the cooking lesson in secondary school where I helped out, for example, making muffins, the teacher would demonstrate in the first lesson, and then in the same lesson, the students do some written work, eg, comparing muffin and cup cake, their ingredients, calories, and why A is healthier than B. They also wrote about the purposes of sugar, flour, butter……Students also need to design a box, with labels on, to sell their muffins.
The Students only get to cook it in the following lesson – if they remember to bring the ingredients at all.
I’m trying to say students do not get to cook in every single cooking lesson. There is an awful lot of writing, drawing, designing labels on computer, health and safety and planning involved.
Font – At first, I was wondering if the font was the school’s favourite — Comic Sans? And if so, why do so many men hate it?
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. Grainne Conole’s 7s of Learning Design
7Cs is an OU with OU Learning Design Initiative with JISC through the Curriculum Design Programme. Activity Profile and Course Map. Trialed thoroughly.
Gráinne Conole continued this work with the JISC funded CARPE Dium learning design workshops at Leicester whiuch provides a ‘ rich storyboard of learning design’.
Overarching conceptual framework a lot of Cs here:
- Course features – the essence of it.
- Creative activity
- Combine – into course map and activity profile
- Consolidate – running it as face to face, or VLE, or more specialised learning design tool
or …. From Gráinne‘s blog:
|From E-Learning V|
With current thinking on 7Cs Various systems offered and can be tried.
Listening to OLDs MOOCers it appears that the 7Cs framework has been received well
- It articulates what teachers already do.
- There are 7 aspects in a whole design process.
- What level are you teaching, what level of support do they need etc:
- Teachers (all of us I would say, educators, learning designers, L&D managers) are bewildered by the range of tools, the range of approaches so fall back on their own content. So use the tools to think about the activities, the core essence of hte course.
- Indigenous Culture on locality.
- Introducing elements of serendipity.
- Activity profile
- Is it the right mix of learning for what you want the students to do.
- Correlation of time mapped out to what students are achieving … so she is poor at communication in Spanish … and there is little communication in the course she is doing.
Is this the right tool set?
- Covers all the aspects of design.
- Getting a taster for these in the course.
‘A huge amount in the MOOC is mix and pick, so take your time, come back to the resources. Six months down the line, you discover which ones you like’.
- Some love the activity profiles some don’t, so find the mix that works for you.
- Some with learning outcomes.
- Some with the content.
- Some with the characteristics of the context of the learners.
- Different tools will mean different things to different people.
‘We’re offering a Smörgåsbord of offerings that you can develop and use over time. Pick the ones that are relevant to you, don’t feel that you have to use all of them’.
(More coming up in WK 8 to act as a springboard to reflect)
- What is learning design?
- How has it come about?
- Why is it different to structural design?
2011 ALTC National Teaching Fellow
- Driven by people in Europe and colleagues in Australia.
- What is learning design? How has it come about?
- How is it distinct from instructional design?
- Major Epiphany moment Sept 2012
- Two days in Cyprus
- Timeline of key moments since 199 learning design
REF: Key books on design science (Dianna Laurillard) Teaching Design as a Science It’s aimed to be pedagogically neutral so that it can be used across a range of methodologies and pedagogies.
- Tools for guidance and support
- Tools for visualisation
- Tools for sharing like Cloudworks
What works for you
- It depends on the nature of how people want to go about things
- Connect and be sociable
- Open, unstructured … to form some kind of navigatable way through, as well as enjoying the serendipity. Having the options of the long and short routes.
- Is something more needed in the middle ground. B MOOCs.
‘Teachers want support and guidance to help them rethink their design practice, to think beyond content to and activities to make pedagogically informed design decisions that make good use of technologies’. Grainne Conole.
I’ve just been listening over the OLDs MOOC hangout for Week 3 and particularly enjoyed the Q&A with
The sentence above stood out from the 60 minutes, as well as how this was put into context for the MOOC in Week 3 and coming up in Week 8.
Personally I wish that we’d had something like this to begin the week. I got in early, did a couple of activities then followed the noise from the active design group I’ve joined. Give others a turn. Let things roll over. This works. Leave gaps and sometimes others will come along and think, OK, he’s done that so I can see how it works, or might work for me. I won’t bother with that tool, I’ll try something else and see what people make of it.
I cherry picked and as this hangout suggests and recommends; I’ll go back and pick out more as required.
I enjoyed downloading, colouring in, cutting out then using the Activity Cards. This is more my thing than the EXCEL spreadsheet – which I planned on a sheet of paper then transferred over. I might use an APP to generate such a thing. I find EXCEL somewhat heavy handed, or I’d want to design it in a way that I like. We learnt about the background to 7Cs. The background and context was invaluable. Credibility ought not be taken for granted. Work like this needs to be put on a pedestal and people told of its credentials and worth – i.e sell it to me!
OLD MOOC WK 3 Activity 1 Spend 10 minutes thinking about the last time you needed to design a learning experience
Every week I ‘design’ a programme of learning when I take, one after the other, four groups of swimmers at my local swimming club.
Some 12 years of doing this, training and CPD means that I no longer prepare a programme in advance, rather I know the stroke and skills we are covering each week and have in my armoury a set of activities. These build from warm-up over 5-8 minutes into a variety of drills tailored to fixing problems with a stroke. The pattern whole-part-whole is used – to swim the stroke, spot problems, then put in a series of drills and exercises, typically involving only the legs or only the arms – as in ‘part’. There are then advance ‘whole swim’ drills and any number of complementary fun activities. Diving or racing typically ends the session.
Often I draw on sets of images from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’ to show swimmers poolside what I want them to do – so a sequence of actions or a particular arm, body or leg position. Used in this way these sets of images can become like a set of cards that can be placed in whatever order I feel is appropriate as we go along.
Planning a programme of work for a squad is akin to creating a curriculum that runs from September through to the competitions season that runs through the Spring and Summer.
Creating e-learning for corporate clients – compliance on health and safety, data protection, graduate induction and so on, might follow a remarkably similar pattern.
The ‘warm up’ is an introduction, ideally something to grab their attention. Headliners on the banking crisis, a news piece on a data protection scandal, a criminal banged up (CPS induction) or a young person (actor) having an asthma attack. Like the swimming session these modules typically run for an hour, so 12 modules at five minutes each isn’t unusual. There will be introductions to themes and ideas, following by activities to check learning or integrating an activity with fact finding.
It isn’t all online – learners might have to figure something out on paper and then return to the screen.
It may also be personalised, so going into the system to generate something like a holiday request as per the instructions in the learning activity. Whilst the swimmer is observed and various skills checked off, in the e-learning experience the ticks relate to an activity successfully completed. This is not always linear, sometimes it is more exploratory, or can be done out of sequence, but the goal is to get everything done and demonstrate knowledge. At some stages a follow up set of questions will be issues to keep the information fresh.
The outcome is primary – what are you trying to achieve.
It is either state bluntly or apparent from the activities that day.
GOAL – To ensure that all swimmers keep their hands in front of their shoulders when swimming competitive breaststroke.
GOAL – To ensure that all graduate lawyers starting with the CPS can visualise a file as a defendant/law breaker – a person on whom all kinds of institutions and other people impact as their case comes to trial.
I have always used a communications industry brief to spec out the project and to help focus on the ideas that are required. On a single sheet of paper respond to the following:
- What is the problem?
- Who are you speaking to?
- What do you want to say?
- How do you want them to respond to this?
- What else do we need to know?
In Swimming ideas come from formal courses, from colleagues, from resources online and books. You see something that works, so you give it a go. You show what appears to be an intractable problem with others and they offer a solution.
In e-learning the ideas are developed in a lengthy workshop – the client(s) and several team members strip down the creative brief, draw on the knowledge of an experience L&D manager at the client end, may include a subject matter expert, but certainly includes a learning designer and project manager. Flip charts and post-it notes are used.
A number of creative problem solving or idea generating activities can also be used – moderating and leading techniques compiled, trialed and explained by VanGundy, for example.
Marker pens on large sheets of paper – typically on sheets of A1 Flipchart paper – sometimes these are taped together.
My personal preference is for wallpaper backing paper as the long strips mean that people around a table can all contribute. These sessions need to be carefully choreographed … and at various points the outcomes stated, written down so that everyone can see and agreed.
Once done the Learning Designer takes it all away and compresses it into a form that can be shared digitally – typically a PowerPoint, with the warning that this should not imply a strict linear expression of the learning. Other programmes can be used, usually something built by the agency or a licensed commercial product.
Other learning experiences I have ‘designed’ – linear and interactive video to support facilitated learning, run to some 50. These followed a far less collaborative process of taking a brief, brainstorming ideas alone … sometimes using an interactive tool called ‘Ideafisher’ then producing a synopsis, treatment and script. When other professionals come in to produce the learning the design stage is complete. For interactive learning the video is scripted as a number of components that are an integral part of the learning journey.
Guzman, R (2007) The Swim Drills Book
Herd, C., Bentley, J., Morrison, D., Earnshaw,M., Haines,B., Woodford,S., Hooper,M., Lancaster,G., Knox.S., Nebel,A., Doyle,A., Bishop.A. (2003) The Client Brief – A best practice guide to briefing communications agencies – Joint industry guidelines for young marketing professionals in working effectively with agencies. Copyright by ISBA and CAF, representing the IPA, MCCA and PRCA (last accessed 9 Jan 2013 http://www.apra.cz/data/dokumenty/PRCA-The_Client_Brief-Full_Guidelines.pdf)
VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed., Van Norstrand Reinhold.