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xMOOC or 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 sensationalize 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.

How do you cater for every kind of user under the sun?

<a href=”https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/CQLF-879TZQ0lxwHDDReaNMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=embedwebsite”><img src=”https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-n1Z5KvOVFFs/UpHMkI6JKjI/AAAAAAAAv-s/oNy9Dcdjr3I/s640/Screen%2520Shot%25202013-11-24%2520at%252009.52.24.jpg&#8221; height=”209″ width=”640″ /></a>

From the expert to the novice, from the professors of computer science and information technology who are undoubtedly here, or the newcomer to the Web, let alone to learning online and all that entails. I have little doubt that this MOOC on Web Science will show the extraordinary diversity of people and ways we engage and understand, or misunderstand, and have to ask questions, or look for answers elsewhere, that will undoubtedly get shared and commented upon here.  

I’m impressed with the platform – for someone who has been blogging since 1999 and did his first open and distance learning module in 2001 this has the look and feel of all the best things I’ve come across. How to cater for everyone? How to avoid being a broadcast aimed at everyone and reaching no one? Does the Soton team have one or more ‘personas’ in mind? Or do we acknowledge that how our individual brains process and engage with the information creates the opportunity to engage?

Picasa Web Galleries – My Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education in 1,790 images

Google offers a myriad of ways to share content, whether images or words, from galleries to entire conversations. with circles and hangouts. Unwittingly I’ve been part of their ‘game’ since the outset, an early adopter of Picasa having migrated from Flickr. I’ve not invited much in the way of sharing though I now have over 175 ‘albums’ some of which contain a thousand images (the album max). I have THREE album galleries of screengrabs and photos, graphic mash-ups and such like spanning the three years and nine months I’ve been on the MA ODE. This current E-learning III album is taking everything from H818. It is in every respect an OpenStudio platform – if I chose to share its contents then people may, with various copyright permissions (creative commons) use and re-use the content – though plenty of it I grab as a personal aid memoir and is therefore of copyrighted material. I make no apologies for whatever copyright permissions I breach and try to avoid breaking OU guidelines and rules otherwise I’d have grabs from Skype and Elluminate sessions in here. The value of these becomes greater over time – it is a short hand back into a topic, and in time, indicative of how swiftly things are moving. These platforms are leaking out into formal learning contexts; there could be a tipping point, where someone or something happens that galvanises massive interest, say the ‘Stephen Fry’ personality of Twitter, or the Arab Spring of Twitter where J K Rowling or Tracey Emin open their galleries to the world. Meanwhile, without meaning to be unnecessarily derogatory, OpenStudio is the ‘sheep pen’ while Picasa Web Galleries or Google Galleries are the ‘market’ – the sheep pen is closed and local, while the market is global, open, virtual, connected and online.

I have THREE e-learning album galleries of screengrabs and photos, graphic mash-ups and such like spanning the three years and nine months I’ve been on the MA ODE.

This current E-learning III album is taking everything from H818. It is in every respect an OpenStudio platform – if I chose to share its contents then people may, with various copyright permissions (creative commons) use and re-use the content – though plenty of it I grab as a personal aid memoir and is therefore of copyrighted material.

The value of these becomes greater over time – it is a short hand back into a topic, and in time, indicative of how swiftly things are moving. These platforms are leaking out into formal learning contexts; there could be a  tipping point, where someone or something happens that galvanises massive interest, say the ‘Stephen Fry’ personality of Twitter, or the Arab Spring of Twitter where J K Rowling or Tracey Emin open their galleries to the world. Meanwhile, without meaning to be unnecessarily derogatory, OpenStudio is the ‘sheep pen’ while Picasa Web Galleries or Google Galleries are the ‘market’ – the sheep pen is closed and local, while the market is global, open, virtual, connected and online.

E-Learning I

E-Learning II

E-Learning III

E-Learning I, II & III – the Picasa Albums of the MA ODE

Fig.1. E-Learning I covers FIVE modules of the Open University Masters in Open and Distance Education

E-Learning I – MAODE Modules, include innovation in e-learning, professional practices, open learning and ‘creativity, innovation and change’.

E-Learning II Research Practices in use of technology in learning

E-Learning III The Networked Practitioner

Google offers a myriad of ways to share content, whether images or words, from galleries to entire conversations. with circles and hangouts. Unwittingly I’ve been part of their ‘game’ since the outset, an early adopter of Picasa having migrated from Flickr. I’ve not invited much in the way of sharing though I now have over 175 ‘albums’ some of which contain a thousand images (the album max). Many of these albums are closed, or linked only to key family members or friends as they contain family snaps or holiday pictures. Some now contain an archive of deceased relatives (a grandfather, father and mother no less). Others are concept boards or scrapbooks, not just of OU work, far from it … but a place where these snippets of ideas and moments will be for decades while the hardware changes or breaks down, or hard copies, albums and scrapbooks, get lost, or damaged (or both).

I have THREE e-learning album galleries of screengrabs and photos, graphic mash-ups and such like spanning the three years and nine months I’ve been on the MA ODE.

This current E-learning III album is taking everything from H818. It is in every respect an OpenStudio platform – if I chose to share its contents then people may, with various copyright permissions (creative commons) use and re-use the content – though plenty of it I grab as a personal aide memoir and is therefore of copyrighted material.

The value of these becomes greater over time – it is a short hand back into a topic, and in time, indicative of how swiftly things are moving. These platforms are leaking out into formal learning contexts; there could be a  tipping point, where someone or something happens that galvanises massive interest, say the ‘Stephen Fry’ personality of Twitter, or the Arab Spring of Twitter where J K Rowling or Tracey Emin open their galleries to the world. Meanwhile, without meaning to be unnecessarily derogatory, OpenStudio is the ‘sheep pen’ while Picasa Web Galleries or Google Galleries are the ‘market’ – the sheep pen is closed and local, while the market is global, open, virtual, connected and online.

Applying learning on the First World War with e-learning – some Kindle reading.

Fig.1. Applying learning on the First World War with e-learning – some Kindle reading. 

I believe very much in the process of pulling apart, opening out, expanding, then editing, revising and condensing. There is an applied ‘creation process’ here – the three diamonds or Buffalo system that I sense H818 is taking us through.

Fig.2. The ‘Buffalo’ system of opening up, the compressing thinking

These days it is easy to grab and mash any content on a digital screen, but where I have a book I will, in some circumstances take pictures rather than write notes, then quickly bracket and annotate this text before filing it in an appropriate album online – for later consumption.

Regarding CC I’m afraid as the music and movie industries have already shown people will do as they please even where the copyright is bluntly stated. Academia will require and expect that everything is done by the book – the rest of the world won’t give a monkey’s … ‘we’ll’ do as we please until there’s a legal shoot up or the ‘industry’ realises that it has moved on.

Regarding eBooks, Amazon are looking at and expect to be very much at the forefront of the evolutionary of the book. Google are competing in the same space.

‘Have we reached the Napster moment in publishing?’ a senior engineer at Amazon asked.

My head, content wise, is in another place, studying First World War military history. As never before on the MAODE or subsequent OU e-learning modules, I know have content to put into these processes. For example, ‘the causes of the First World War’ might require reading of a dozen books and papers/pamphlets starting with H G Wells in 1914 and ending with books appearing on tables in Waterstones this week. Courtesy of the Internet just about anything I care to read, at a price, I can have within seconds on a smart device … or overnight courtesy of Amazon.

Whatever my practice, this content is mashed-up in my head.

If I mash it up through screen grabs, notes, sharing in social media and blogging then this is another expressing of what is going on in my head – though controlled by the parameters of the tools and platforms I use – currently a wordpress blog, SimpleMinds for mindmaps, and ‘Studio’ for layering text and images over screengrabs i.e annotations. As well as what ever Kindle gives me in the way of notes and highlights.

This kind of ‘extra corporeal’ engagement or visualization of what is going on in my head with the content gives it an life of its own and an extra dimension while also re-enforcing my own thoughts and knowledge. I’m sure that I am rattling along this learning curve at a far, far greater pace then I could have a decade or two decades ago. Patterns are more apparent. And I am spotting too many misappropriated images too. The idea that you can grab a frame and relabel it is 100 years old!

Fig.3. How I filmed the Front. Geoffrey Malins

For example, the footage from the ‘Battle of the Somme’ is often ‘grabbed’ with subsequent combatants and authors claiming these to be original photographs of their own – they must have had access to the negative. This footage, as I am very familiar with it, is repeatedly put into films and documentaries completely out of sequence.

As reference above is correct – I find ‘grabs’ from the film footage and photographs taken by Ernest Brooks who accompanies the ‘cameramen’ around the Somme in June/July 1916 constantly claimed as another person’s own photograph or belonging to their collection. 

A false or alternative impression is therefore built up.

Then, across YouTube, sections of TV dramas and films are snatched and cut into a person’s own re-hashing of a different story. Harry Patch died age 111 or something – the last veteran. A tribute to him uses footage from the TV drama starring Daniel Radcliffe called ‘My Boy, George”.

Are we therefore seeing with text, stills and moving images what has been happening to music for the last decade or more – deliberate, and often illegal sampling and mashing, rehashing, exploiting of someone else’s work? If so what impact will this have on content in the future? Does too much of it start to look familiar, rather than original? Or does originality come out of this process too?

The conclusion might be that people simple sidestep the stilted, stuck, formal process of academia – where the sharing process is so desperately slow. The paper I read on use of audio and tracking in a museum I thought was reasonably current as it was published in 2008 but the technology used comes from a different era – 2003. Research done in 2006, initially submitted as a paper in 2007, published the following year.

An R&R department functioning like this would be left behind.

Knowledge must leak, must be shared sooner, and where those share a work in progress it should be commended.

Digital Scholarship


I’ll reflect on and absorb the H818 academic stuff in due course – somewhere in the reading a couple of authors were mentioned so while the pressure is low I’ve been reading Lawrence Lessig ‘Remix’ and re-reading, possibly for the third time, Martin Weller’s ‘The Digital Scholar’.

Open Learning is with us.

Whilst more people globally will get a slice of the tertiary education pizza, there will still be those that who are stuck on the edge with the crust while the ‘privileged’ few get the real substance. This applies between ‘first’ and ‘third’ worlds, but also locally in an education catchment area – when it comes to the democratization of education through e-learning some are more equal than others through having the kit, access, inclination, support and opportunity.

Speaking with a school friend I’d not spoken to since we were 10 or 11 we got onto those OU broadcasts in the middle of the night, and then the BBC ‘Trade Test Transmissions’ – how else could we possibly know anything about how the stain glass windows were made for Liverpool Cathedral on how animals were rescued during the flooding of the Zambezi? Repetition, rich content and a dearth of anything else to watch. In sharp contrast ‘open’ today, and TV too means everything and anything. How can anything stand out? Because the search engines offer it, because of branding and association, through word of mouth through your social and other networks i.e. as a consequence of the nature of your ‘connectedness’.

The nature of relationships in a connected world

20131002-203503.jpg

Fig. 1. A mashup with a screengrab from Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’.

This uses an App called Studio from which I may have been expected or to which I am supposed to provide a link. As I screen grab then crop from the App so that I can ‘publish’ the way like now what?

The nature of relationships in a connected world do matter while the difference between face to face and online may be tangential. Whilst I feel I make new acquaintances online, of more interest  is how I have been able to pick up very old friendships  – even reconnecting with a Frenchman with whom I went on an exchange visit in 1978!

I wonder about the 150 connections given as a figure that can be maintained  – this depends very much on the person and their role. Even when I collected people for the joy of it as an undergraduate I doubt I could muster more than 70 I felt I knew something about and could care for, whilst my father in law, a well respected, influential and even loved university tutor has, in his eighties several hundred contacts – former students on whom he had an impact as an educator. So, the person and their role will have more to do with this ‘connectedness’, which comes with a price, My father in law saw/sees himself as an educator who put significantly more time than his contemporaries into the students rather than research.

I’d like therefore to see ‘digital scholarship’ associated with educators not simply for what they publish – collaboratively or otherwise, but by the ‘quality’ and ‘validity’ of the students they mentor, supervise, inspire and motivate – made all the more possible because of the extraordinary tools we now have at our fingertips.

Reference

Weller, M (2011) The Digital Scholar. @4% or Kindle Location 199

The value of blogging according to Lawrence Lessig

20131002-064326.jpgThe value of blogs is not that I’m likely to find a comment that surpasses the very best of the New York Times. I’m not. But that’s not the point. Blogs are valuable becuase they give millions the opportunity to express their ideas in writing. And with a practice of writing comes a certain important integrity. A culture filled with bloggers thinks differently about politics or public affairs, if only because more have been forced through the discipline of showing in writing why A leads to B’. LL (2008:92-93)

The communismization of knowledge and Open Educational Resources

Fig.1. I like spirals. Thirty years ago this was just a photo. For me it is an expression of what learning looks like. (I think this is St.John’s College, Boat House – or is it Balliol?)

At the base are the undergraduates, the first years, as you climb the steps you find the second and third years, then the middle common room the MA and D.Phil students while at the top are the lecturers, senior lecturers and professors.

And when you die they raise a flag.

In 1983 (or was in 1982?) this was the epitome of ‘closed learning’ – the Oxford College boat house.

Not so much ‘dreaming spires’ as ‘dreaming spirals’.

  • It was a privilege, but like many of these I’ve been either in denial or trying to shake them off for the best part of 25 years.
  • ‘Je suis comme je suis, je suis faite comme ca’ (Jacques Prevert)
  • And there’s no going back.

I was up at 4.03am. Back to bed at 6.15am. Then up again 20 minutes ago.

  • My body was tired, my head continued to buzz.

Regarding ‘Open Learn’  what’s all this fretting about process for?

Have we all forgotten the purpose of research????

Not ‘how?’ but ‘why?’

Why? Why? Why?

We are seeking answers, not trying to construct a bridge across the English Channel with chopsticks and bendy-straws.

Not to get the process right, but to get answers to problems, to find better ways, to understand and share what is going on so that we can act, or not act on it?

Sometimes I read an academic paper and it is all about the process.

Too often I write an assignment and it has to be written to be marked – not to generate ideas. In fact, my finest few hours, a total End of Module Assignment rewrite was a disaster for a set of marks but is my theory and philosophy of what learning is. It was the culmination of months of work, years even. Expressed somewhere like the School of Communication Arts I would have had the attention of eyes and ears.

Fig.2. Submitted as the hypothesis for an End of Module Assignment the grade was catastrophic – it is of the module, but the examiners didn’t have a grid filled with the appropriate crumbs that would permit them to ‘tick the boxes’. (I did submit more than the image, 6ft high and drawn on a sheet of backing wallpaper).

Creativity doesn’t fair well in a process driven system, either in research or in marking assignments.

This isn’t an excuse regarding a grade or the need and value of process drive, guideline controlled, parameter set research, but rather a cry for some ‘free thinking’ the ‘parcours’ of mental agility and expression.

Fig.3 The cliffs below Roche de Mio, La Plagne

There is value in going off piste.

It isn’t even the democratisation of education and knowledge either, it is the Tim Berners-Lee rather than the Google approach to knowledge – i.e. give it away for free.

It  is ‘communismization’ – which is a word, however horrible it sounds, I just looked it up.

This moves me onto dwelling on Creative Commons.

If the idea of openness is to give it away for free what is the reward for the author? Recognition as the author. However, I get the feeling that unless it is published some readers think they can help themselves to the ideas and words of others and claim them as their own.

There will always be theft, but as children aren’t we told that for someone to copy your ideas is a compliment?

We need to behave like the children we still are.

But does even that matter in an open society – theft of intellectual property I mean?

If the spreading of the word is all important should any of us give a fig?

If we have a roof over our heads, food and water, electricity to charge the iPad, the BBC  … a health service like the NHS what more can we want?

  • Better schools.
  • Better roads.
  • Better weather.

‘Peace on earth and good will to humankind’.

A better word needs to be found for what is meant by ‘communismization’.

Is is just ‘communization’?

  • Is it simply ‘open’?!
  • ‘Open’ might do.
  • Free
  • Open

As the air we breathe …

P.S. I worked the season in Val d’Isere in my gap year and returned a decade later and stayed in La Plagne from December to May researching a book and a couple of documentaries for Oxford Scientific Films. None saw the light of day, though after several weeks thinking about it I came down that cliff face. I made a big mistake by slowing down at the edge and nearly didn’t have enough distance to clear the rocks. I no longer have a death wish. And it wasn’t even fun. It focused the mind though. In fact, the best way to stop yourself thinking about other stuff is to take such risks. Racing Fireballs in the English Channel has its appeal  – I  have a tendency to end up in the spinnaker or under the hull though.

The Digtal Scholar (2011) Martin Weller

Alerted by a Tweat, I bought the book in minutes.

There’s never a better time than ‘Now’.

Purchase your copy here.

Unwell, so having it read to me on the Kindle, while taking notes on an iPad.

When I wander off I pick up the thread on the iPhone.

It’s surprising how much can be read while the kettle boils.

In due course and I’ll have my very own 3,000 word interpretation of this 50,000+ worder, far more once I’ve added my notes, thoughts additional references and illustrations.

My web 2.0 sensibilities are for the online equivalent of the Illustrated, hardback coffee-table book, with video and podcasts, interactivity and links.

I’d have Dion Hinchcliffe‘s graphic designer do some colour diagrams, Steven Appleby provide some cartoons, while I would interview the author for YouTube and set it all to something suitably camp like Mike Oldfield with a Roger Dean poster decorating the set.

When do we get the webinar?

And I pre-emptivelly wrote a review in Amazon on the basis of the first two chapters, hearing the author debate and speak the subject and reading his blog (as well as his earlier book that he brings up as a way of looking at how things have changed since 2006).

P.S. Buy you e-book version now then return here to discuss, or find you in Linked in or Google+ …

Or for some blended learning if you live near Lewes, East Sussex, over at the Needlemakers for a coffee.

My ‘take-aways’ so far:

  • Digital, Networked, Open.
  • Fast, cheap and out of control.
  • Why students choose one university over another.
  • The ‘good enough’ revolution. Wired (2009)
  • The unpredicatable use of technology.
  • (and Martin Weller‘s daughter, he writes on page one, didn’t think, based on his ‘ellevator pitch’ that the book would do very well. This, with a bit of ‘airplay’ on the blogosphere, need not be the case. Get to work tweeting, noting, sharing, putting into Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Xing and Viadeo. I can’t see a movie in it though).
 

 

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