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Martin Weller published ‘The Digital Scholar’ in 2011 on a Creative Commons Licence. You can download it for free, or purchase the book or eBook, and then do as you will with it. When I read it I share short excerpts on Twitter. I’ve blogged it from end to end and am now having fun with a simple tool for ‘mashing up’ designs called ‘Studio’. It’s a photo editing tool that allows you to add multiple layers of stuff. I rather see it as a revision tool – it makes you spend more time with the excerpts you pick out.
You cannot be so open that you become an empty vessel … you have to create stuff, get your thoughts out there in one way or another so that others can knock ’em down and make more of them. Ideas need legs. In all this ‘play’ though have I burried my head in its contents and with effort read it deeply? Do we invoke shallow learning and distraction with openness? If we each read the book and met for a tutorial is that not, educationally, a more focused and constructive form of ‘oppenness’?
In relation to scholarship shoulf the old rules, the ‘measures’ of academic prowess count? In the connected world of the 21st century ‘scholarship’ is able to emerge in unconventional ways, freed of the school-to-university conveyor belt.
Weller, M (2011) The Digital scholar
The following is an activity carried out as part of the Open MOOC #H817open in which participants are asked to based on a selection of three readings to proposed three key issues regarding the developing use of Open Education Resources (OERs).
THE THREE PAPERS
1) John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Open Course Ware (2009) Kanchanaraksa, Gooding, Klass and Yager.
2) Open education resources: education for the world? (2012) Richter and McPherson
3) Disruptive Pedagogies and Technologies in Universities (2012) Anderson and McGreal
The issues I perceive as key to Open Education Resources (OER) are
- having a clear project brief i.e. an identified problem with a goal in mind,
- and content that is personalised to the context of potential students anywhere on the globe – not just in the ‘West’.
Other equally important issues include scale, assessment and accreditation.
ISSUE ONE – Having a clear project brief.
The most important issue, that is rarely explicit, is to ask, or rather to know ‘what is the brief? And therefore to answer two simple questions:
What is the problem?
What is the opportunity?
My concern is where any technology or change is shoehorned in from the top as the ‘solution’. The briefing process requires a good understanding of where the problem lies and what it is. Using if techniques from best business that aim to resolve ‘messy’ problems (Rittel & Weber, 1973; Ackoff, 1979; Ritchey, 2011). The danger is that a platform, tool, package or approach is adopted as a panacea.
Coming through this process institutions need to ask: ‘Is Open Educational Resource (OER) the indicated way forward?’ If not consider the alternatives or incorporate OER as part of a blended approach.
In each of the papers a variety of problems were identified:
Only a small portion of the individuals seeking public health knowledge and training can attend appropriate schools each year. i.e disparities of opportunity
High cost of HE
Inaccessible to millions
and a variety of opportunities:
Overcoming challenges to those who want to study at graduate level due to distance, lack of funds, scheduling and a host of other personal and professional hindrances. (Kanchanaraksa et al 2009:40)
Creation of a worldwide knowledge society.
ISSUE TWO – Cost
There are many costs involved from inception (planning, software, copyright clearance, learning design etc:), through delivery and analysis of and dealing with the outcomes. Initial funding is necessary, however the goal should be for OER to be self-financing. Anderson and McGreal (2012) suggest that OER can also be a way to reduce costs of the student-teacher interaction through increasing the quality and frequency of student-student interaction. The first universities were funded by students who hired appropriate professors. (McNeely & Wolverton, 2008). This suggests a shift back to the classical format where students rest control. The OER model, with micro-payments and ‘non frills’ beginnings might be the future to enable millions to have the graduate and postgraduate education they desire. This plays into the view that idea of ‘disruptive technologies’ that are delivered at low cost and functionality compared to traditional offerings that improve over time while maintaining low cost or other competitive advantage. (Christensen, 1997). Experience at Stanford University indicates that through Udacity by providing a letter to successful learners, student skills might be monetized (Lolowich, 2012; Whittaker, 2012)
ISSUE THREE – Is the content appropriate for the cultural context where it is taken up?
Clearly OER on networked devices is not a solution to extreme poverty, or where the infrastructure is deficient or political systems would prevent it. Richter & Thomas (2012:202) talk of the ‘Win-win’ in the West for OERs which may not be the result in a fundamentally different context. Historically textbooks and school materials that have little relevant to the user are parachuted in from ‘the West’ and so geographically, and sociopolitically suspect and diminished. I personally recall as geography undergraduate working in Kenya one summer , a country I had never visited before, and falling into a conversation with a secondary school student who was using the same textbook I had used for A’ Levels on the glaciation of the Lake District. It struck me that with the glories of the Rift Valley would have been far more pertinent.
I could continue in this vein for several more issues which may trump those above depending on the planned use for the OER, with assessment of major importance too, having the means to cope with hundreds of thousands of students, managing change, having institutional and external support and so on.
Ackoff, R.L. (1979) The Art of Problem-Solving, New York: Wiley
Anderson, T, & McGreal, R (2012), ‘Disruptive Pedagogies and Technologies in Universities’, Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 15, 4, pp. 380-389, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 26 March 2013.
Christensen, C. (1997). The innovator’s dilemma – When new technologies cause great firms to fail. Cambridge: Harvard University Press
Kanchanaraksa, S, Gooding, I, Klaas, B, & Yager, J (2009), ‘Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health OpenCourseWare‘, Open Learning, 24, 1, pp. 39-46, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 27 March 2013.
Lolowich, S. (2012, January 24). Massive courses, sans Stanford. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/opinion/the-justice-of-occupation.html?_r=1&ref=opinion
McNeely, I. F., & Wolverton, L. (2008). Reinventing knowledge: from Alexandria to the Internet. New York: WW Norton & Company
Richter, T, & McPherson, M (2012), ‘Open educational resources: education for the world?’, Distance Education, 33, 2, pp. 201-219, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 27 March 2013.
Rittel.W.J., Webber.M.M. (1973) Dilemmas in a general theory of planning Policy Sciences, June 1973, Volume 4, Issue 1
Whittaker, M. (2012, March 4). Instruction for masses knocks down campus walls. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/education/moocs-large-courses-open-to-all-topple-campus-walls.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all
- ‘If you’re not lost and confused in a MOOC you are probably doing something wrong’ (mymindbursts.com)
- OER Synthesis and Evaluation / OER Synthesis and Evaluation Project (digitalliteracywork.wordpress.com)
- The roles of libraries and information professionals in Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives (learningwithtechs.wordpress.com)
- Activity 7: Exploring OER Issues (ouopenlearn.wordpress.com)
Martin Weller, in ‘The Digital Scholar’ looks forward to the time when there will be such people – a decade hence. I suggested, in a review of his book in Amazon, that ’10 months’ was more likely given the pace of change, to which he replied that academia was rather slow to change. That was 18 months ago.
Are there any ‘digital scholars’ out there?
How do we spot them? Is there a field guide for such things?
I can think of a few candidates I have come across, people learning entirely online for a myriad of reasons and developing scholarly skills without, or only rarely, using a library, attending a tutorial or lecture, or sitting an exam. But can they ever be considered ‘scholarly’ without such things? They’ll need to collaborate with colleagues and conduct research.
Fig. 1. The Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE).
Expressed as a Wordle. A personal collection of key influencers based on those tagged in this blog. Includes my own reading and indulgences.
On Friday, at midday, My OU student blog reached a significant milestone.
I’ve been at it for 33 months. I’ve blogged the best part of FIVE modules now – most of which required or invited some use of the blog platform (or another). I required little encouragement – I used to keep a diary and have found since 1999 that in their digital form they are an extraordinarily versatile way to gather, consider, share and develop ideas.
The investment in time, on average, an hour a day in addition to – though sometimes instead of coursework over 1000+ days.
(This excludes 8 months I spent on the Masters in Open and Distance Learning in 2001)
To mark this event, and as I need to go through this online diary, this e-journal, this ‘web-log’ (as they were also once momentarily called) ahead of some exciting meetings coming up next week I thought a simple task might be to click through the tags to identify who have been the key influencers in my reading and thinking over the last two and a half years.
Fig.2. Another way of looking at it.
Beetham, Conole and Weller are key MAODE authors from the Open University. John Seely Brown is a vital undercurrent, Engestrom one of several enthusiasms like Vygostky. While Gagne, second hand hardback, needs to be on your desk for frequent reference.
What I thought would take an hour has taken nearly 40 hours.
Clicking on a tag opens a corner of my head, the notes take me back to that day, that week, that assignment or task. It also takes me back to the discussions, resources and papers. And when I find an error the proof-reader in me has to fix. Aptly, as we approach November 5th, and living in Lewes where there are marches and fireworks from late October for a couple of weeks peaking of course all evening on the 5th, my head feels as if someone has accidentally set light to a box of assorted fireworks.
Just as well. Meetings these days are like a viva voce with eager ears and probing questions – they want the content of my mind and whatever else I bring to the subject after thirty years in corporate training and communications.
Fig. 3. Wordle allows you to say how many words you want to include in the mix.
To create weight I had to repeat the names I consider most important twice, three or four times in the list. I also removed first names as Wordle would have scattered these into the mix independently like peppercorns in a pan of vegetable stock.
- List all authors who have been part of my learning and thinking over the last couple of years.
- Include authors that my antennae have picked up that are relevant to my interest in learning, design, the moving image and the english language.
- Visualise this and draw some conclusions
I can never finish. Take this morning. I stumble upon my notes on three case studies on the use of e-portfolios from H807 which I covered from February 2010-September 2010. To begin with I feel compelled to correct the referencing in order to understand the value, pertinence and good manners (let alone the legal duty) to cite things correctly. (Even though this post was locked – a ‘private’ dump of grabs and my thoughts).
Then I add an image or two.
These days I feel a post requires a visual experssion of its contents to open and benefits from whatever other diagrams, charts or images you can conjure from your mind or a Google Search – ‘the word’ + images creative commons – is how I play it.
Fig. 5. From David Oglivy’s book ‘Ogilvy on advertising‘ – a simple suggestion – a striking image, a pertinent headline and always caption the picture. Then write your body copy.
A background in advertising has something to do with this and the influence of David Ogilvy.
I spend over two hours on the first of three case studies in just one single post. At the time I rubbished e-portfolios. The notes and references are there. Tapped back in I can now make something of it. A second time round the terms, the ideas – even some of the authors are familiar. It makes for an easier and relevant read. What is more, it is current and pertinent. A blog can be a portfolio – indeed this is what I’d recommend.
From time to time I will have to emerge from this tramp through the jungle of my MAODE mind.
Not least to work, to sleep, to cook and play.
Fig. 6. In a word
Gagne, R.N. (1965) Conditions of Learning Holt, Rinehart and Winston
- What’s in Your Word Cloud? (raventools.com)
- Chapter Sixteen Wordle (faceofthesky.com)
- Year End Blog Wordle and My Rock (henriksenlearning.wordpress.com)
- My personal learning environment (PLE) (mymindbursts.com)
- Wordle My Journal 2012 (gemhelen.wordpress.com)
- How do you use an Activity System to improve accessibility to e-learning by students with disabilities? (mymindbursts.com)
Fig.1. Apples from the Barton Orchard
First of all understand the derivation of curation from the Italian and pick not ‘caring’ for, as in caring in the medical sense for a person, but ‘curato’ – the cared for. Curation used to require a critical process – a curator in the critical sense, would decide at an intellectual level what a theme or a journey should be. Curation is also a process, a collection of choices and acts.
How does curation of art, or of artefacts in a museum compare to the way we have hijacked the term to describe what is done online where someone (are they ever a team?) make choices regarding the aggregation of content on a theme, with an audience or users in mind. At what point does this curation become marketing, or editing or re-blogging rather than this intellectual act where the value you add are the choices you make about what to put in and what to leave out?
And surely curation is diluted even further if a clever piece of software, because of feeds you suggest, words you put in or boxes you tick comes up with the content for you?
Wikipedia Definition : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curator
Digital Curation : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_curation