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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.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. Pronunciations around the globe
Learning French with The OU I am finding the toughest task is to kill my British accent. I’ve been using Rosetta Stone too. There are certain words with combinations of letters that fox the English tongue.
You know you’re mastering French, for example, when you can differentiate between the subtleties of ‘de’ and ‘deux’. Do you want some croissants or two? You think you are saying you want two, they think you are saying some, they ask you how many, you repeat ‘some’ and you resolve the problem by holding up your fingers. ‘Trois’ and ‘quatre’ may flumox your British tongue too, so you perhaps go in wanting two of a thing, and end up asking for five, as ‘cinq’ is far easier on the English tongue. You then hide or eat the spare three croissants on the way back to the campsite?
As I’m working with the written and the spoken word and I’m used to Googling everything I was delighted to come across a website that purports to help you correctly pronounce anything.
I was toying with words such as ‘Victoire’ and who wouldn’t get their tongue tied with ‘Hesdigneul.’ This has to do with the FutureLearn Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ‘Start Writing Fiction’ that I’m using to galvanise my writing once and for all … the trend is good, in ‘Write a novel in a month’ I’m on course to complete at the end of November.
The ‘grin from ear to ear’ fun came when I looked up ‘Bruno’.
I had a French friend in my teens called ‘Bruno’ and I could not, for the life of me get his name right. It always sounded like Bruno, as in ‘Frank Bruno’, the name you’d give to a bloodhound as it is so droopy. In French ‘Bruno’ is perky like a sharp dig in the ribs.
What this site does is it gives you sixty versions of how ‘Bruno’ is pronounced all over the world. Click on the UK, then somewhere in France and you’ll see what I mean.
I laughed even more when I put my own name in, to hear ‘Jonathan’ said in a Swedish, Taiwanese, American, French and German accent.
Charting Progress to ‘Write a Novel in a Month’
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. Write a novel in a month
Not blogging, not on Facebook, but first thing I write, or plan writing. Then get down anything between 500 and 3000 words. 500 words can be a better day, these are good words.
As an OU student we are guided through our learning on our Student Homepage. These are like railway tracks, or climbing down a ladder. Whilst you can tick off your progress, it is not being measured. I wonder if a tool such as the above would be handy for preparing a lengthy assignment, say from 4000 words up? Something that you need to build up over a few weeks?
It is ‘Start Writing Fiction’, an OU FutureLearn MOOC that sees me using ‘Write a novel in a month’ to complement the course. This makes the MOOC more closely applied to the current task (amongst several). Of all the FutureLearn MOOCs I have done, this, I am sure, must bring students to The OU to do the degree course in ‘Creative Writing’. It has weight, there is gravitas and a clear expertise in distance and online learning that is lacking in many others.
There’s a word for everything
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1 Adventures in describing teeth types
‘Start Writing Fiction’ on FutureLearn courtesy of The OU is brilliant: I have no doubt thousands will sign up for a BA. Meanwhile I’ve taken the hint about the value of ‘peripheral detail’ to offer in a line what no paragraphs of description can do.
Several hours ago I had in mind a person as a character and began to describe their face. It all came down to their teeth. This is drawing on a teenage crush of mine and I find images and drawings to back up my idea then plunge through some weighty papers, not least, courtesy of The OU Library, a research paper on the incidence of something called ‘dental agenesis’ or ‘retention of baby teeth’ (which might be just one or two), to ‘oligontontia’ which means the rare retention of many baby teeth (0.14%) due probably to inheritance, reduction in the size and form of teeth, or reduction in the size and shape of the ‘alveolar process’ (the thickness of the bon retaining the teeth).
This will do for me, though coming away with one word, ‘retruded’ which may describe the teeth, but still fails to capture what I want to say. Teeth are either smaller, retained baby teeth, or because of the retrusion they appear smaller. Kirsten Dunst shows a touch of this prior to orthodentic treatment.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.2 Post orthodentics for retruded teeth
Orthodentists prefer to adjust the way baby teeth appear in an adult mouth rather than removing them. It depends on how many there are. One is not rare (36%).
The look on the person is of a smaller jaw, the teeth like a row of pegs, the smile of a 9 year old … though, as I have found, you wouldn’t know it.
It is genetic, clusters have be found in Sweden. It can be caused by trauma and illness in childhood.
I am left wondering why one character is studying the mouth of another which such precision.
Polder B J, van’t H of M A, Van der Linden F P, Kuijpers-Jagtman A M. A meta analysis of the prevalence of dental agenesis of permanent teeth. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2004; 32: 217–226.
Turn on the radio and take note of the first thing that is mentioned
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. Week 2, ‘Start Writing Fiction’ with The OU on FutureLearn
As exercises in ‘getting the writing juices going’ for an OU FutureLearn MOOC on ‘Start Writing Fiction’ I felt that this exercise was immediately doomed to fail. I’d put on the radio and have a familar presenter, talking about familar topic in a familiar way and feel about as inspired as realising that I’ve always used white Abdrex toilet paper. It didn’t work out that way at all.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig. 2. Alex Salmond coming up Lewes High Street – Putin was coming the over way on a tank
On an iPad I went to BBC iPlayer which was fatal; I’d followed national news on our local town exploding effigies as part of our celebrations of 5th November (Lewes) and listened to Alex Salmond making gross false assumptions on the people of this town who he erroneously cobbled in with all of East Sussex, not even that, but that percentage of the population and subsequent councillors who are Conservatives forgetting as he always does that in any population there is a spread of views – anyway, this just makes me feel that they have his character spot in so this Spitting Image caricature deserves the infamy. I then watched Film 2014 on the latest movie releases before finally clicking to the radio and realising what a cheat this was because I could select the programme.
FiveLive Extra caught my eye, because I never listen to it, but there is a lot of talking. So I opened that, only to curse because sports news has just started and that bores me even more than politics but I decided I had to trust The OU tutors and go along with this exercise anyway : that was nearly 90 minutes ago. A player in … was it tennis or rugby or football, does it matter? The player was described as ‘menacing’. At first I couldn’t see how a current or new character would ever be ‘menacing’ so I tried the antonym: ‘remote’, ‘unthreatening’ – which describes one of my lead characters perfectly.
|From E-Learning V|
Fig.3. Wonderous word tools – thesaurus.com
What would make him ‘menacing’ though?
This cracked open his mind and early life experiences like magic and I have been tapping away on my iPad ever since as if my left hand is doing an impersonation of Michael Flately across the glassy QWERTY keyboard. Is that someone who has been a Lewes Bonfire Society effigy?
P.S. If the radio is on, then turn it off and count to TEN, or switch to another channel. Then jot down the first thing that is said. I’m running with the results for the rest of the evening so its achieved beautifully at what it aimed to do.
A really magic course, so yes, if I hadn’t so much other OU baggage I’d be signing up to the creative writing BA programme. One for the wish list if I can ever save up enough.
An introduction to rethinking pedagogy for a digital age
Beetham and Sharp
This is my third, possibly my fourth read of the book Rethinking Pedagogy for a digital age. Now that I am in the thick of it working on quality assurance and testing for corporate online learning it has enormous relevance and resonance.
Reading this I wonder why the OU changed the MAODL to MAODE? Around 2000-2003? From the Masters in Open and Distance Learning to the Masters in Open and Distance Education.
Beetham and Sharpe have much to say about the relevance or otherwise of pedagogy and its teaching bias.
Pedagogy = the science of teaching not the activity of learning. (L460: Kindle Reference)
The term ‘teaching; denies the active nature of learning an individuals’ unique capacities to learn (Alexander, 2002) L477
How does e-learning cater for the fact the learners differ from one another in the way that they learn? L477
Guiding others to learn is a unique, skilful, creative and demanding human activity that deserves scholarship in its own right. L477
This quote is relevant to H807 Innovations in e-learning and other MAODE modules:
‘Papyrus and paper chalk and print, overhead projectors, educational toys and television, even the basics technologies of writing were innovations once‘. L518
I like this too:
The networked digital computer and its more recent mobile and wireless counterparts are just the latent outcomes of human ingenuity that we have at our disposal. L518
- Learning resources and materials
- Learning environment
- Tools and equipment
- Learning activities
- Learning programme or curriculum
- Learning Design – preparational and planning
- Representation or modelling
- Teachers tailor to learner needs
- Tutors can find out who needs what
Are there universal patterns of learning or not?
Constructivism – Jonassen et al 1999
Social Constructions – Vygotsky 1986
Activity Theory – Engestrom et al 1999
Experiational Learning – Kolb 1984
Instructional Design – Gagne et al 2004
Networked and collaborative work – McConnell 2000
Learning Design Jochems et al 2004
I was wondering whether, just as in a story, film or novel requires a theme, so learning and especially e-learning, according to Mayes and de Frietas ‘needs to be based on clear theoretical principles.
E-enhancements of existing models of learning.
Technology enables underlying processes common to all learning.
Cf Biggs 1999 Constructivist L737
Teaching for Quality Learning at University Buckingham SRHE OUP
Who are you? Does an Enneagram test help or confuse?
27th July 2011
Enneagram Test Results type score summary
Fives are basically on some level estranged from the rest of the world, consequently, their mind is usually their best friend.
They like to analyze things and make sense of them (that is their anchor), this makes them great inventors and philosophers. The immense inner world of fives can cause them to lose touch or interest in reality.
Sevens are optimistic thrill seekers that see life as an adventure.
They are always thinking of new possibilies and adventures. This constant zest for life is often just escapism. Once things lose there fun they are no longer interested, so many projects go unfinished. Essentially, they avoid the difficulties of life because they fear being overwhelmed by them.
Fours are all about being unique and creating their own distinct culture.
They experience the highs and lows of life more intensely than other types. This makes them great creative forces (artists, writers, filmmakers). Fours often feel like misplaced children, and they long for a sense of real family.
Ones are idealistic perfectionists.
They are rooted in morals and ethics. They live with an overbearing internal critic that never rests. They can be very judgemental and don’t understand how most people can be such slackers. Other people don’t understand why they are so uptight.
Threes derive self worth from success in the external world.
They are highly skilled at adapting themselves in whatever way necessary to achieve success.
This external success driven image often comes at a price of having a personal identity and they may lose site of who they really are.
Twos are defined by their empathy of other people.
They are uniquely gifted at tuning in on the feelings of others. This makes them great networkers. They feed on their connection to others, love of friends and family. However being too caught up with other people can drain them, and cause them to lose track of their own personal well being.
Sixes are defined by anxiety.
They are gifted in their ability to see the dark and light sides of life (and of people and situations around them). This insight into possible outcomes makes them useful planners. However since they are never sure what will prevail they are always on edge and cling to predictable structures/systems for peace of mind.
Eights are natural leaders.
They are straight forward, direct, large personalities, that are unlikely to back down to adversity. They have a talent for motivating others. They have a strong sense of justice and are often protectors of the weak. However, they also have short fuses and can become domineering tyrants.
Nines are open minded optimists.
They are able to see everyones point of view, and have a natural desire for making peace. Consequently, they are effective mediators. They often live by the ‘go along to get along’ creed. However their openess to other people can cause them to lose site of themselves and their own happiness. Traditionally, the personality type you score highest on is considered your Enneagram type, so you are a:
(In truth, you are a combination of all the personality types so examine all your scores.)
And there is a difference between WHO you are and HOW you behave, especially if you behaviour has been modified by NINE years of boarding prep and public school, a virtually all male university college (Balliol College, Oxford in the 1980s).
And Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that I have used to undo and reknit who I am and want to be.
What can you share?
I come from a family where the person who goes to work is not the person at home, where lives are distinct.
Or were meant to be.
Super-selection creates a monoculture that does not benefit society
7th January 2012
Tim Blackman, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Open University: in response to the article by Baroness Blacktone in the THE: says,
It’s interesting that selection has always been a hot topic in secondary education but widely accepted in tertiary education. Just as selective schools are our ‘best’ schools because of very little to do with the teaching but a lot to do with who they keep out, we should start to question just what makes a ‘top’ university.
What do you think? My take is as follows:
Life is messy; selection based on consistency of performance suits a type, not simply by background but by character. We gain when everyone is able whatever route they take to satisfy their desire to learn, indeed there may be greater appreciation and gratitude of the worth of education for those who haven’t gone through via the conveyor- belt of privilege. The caveat is to respect those who not only don’t want to study: they like to learn by doing, but who seek out to learn in a way that suits them and their circumstances. Flexibility has been the watch-word for this group until now; ‘personalised’ learning that turns an education into a carefully tailored and personally adjusted garment is the next step.
The thing that binds the extraordinary diversity of students at the Open University is ‘the desire to learn’, something that I find most humbling in those who have been imprisoned for their crimes and find salvation in learning, invariably through the OU, others, ‘prisoners’ of circumstance, can equally find the OU offers a way out and on, if not up and into parts of society that had shunned them because they not dine things in the right order and at the preferred time. Increasingly, in this century, courtesy of personalised learning through mobile devices the OU model of flexibility and ‘distance’ or e-learning could be picked up at secondary, even primary levels, something that is perhaps being demonstrated by the Khan Institute in North America, indeed happens anyway vicariously through learning in social networks or in online games.
The shift towards increasingly personalised, flexible, online and even mobile learning can only be achieved by self-selection; in the case of learning this becomes the point where the individual’s desire to learn is ‘activated’ never mind the advantages or ‘disadvantages’ of their prior life opportunities. The ‘system’ will improve and benefit more by valuing this moment and therefore nurturing those who make it to a course or through a qualification via what is currently thought to be a ‘different route’. To which I might add that ‘who you are’ at and during a short or extended period of learning matters more than the grades you were able to achieve in your youth, ‘privileged’ or otherwise. For many OU students the opportunity to learn, whoever and whenever they make a start, can with the nurturing and supportive environment and ‘personality’ of the OU result in countless extraordinary stories of lives being enhanced, turned around, given meaning, value and even status.
A final thought, I had this ‘converyor belt of privilege’: boarding prep school, public school, Balliol College, Oxford yet my love and respect for learning has only come from the Open University; I am a better person for it.
Might I also suggest that this perceived selection process leads to expectation that someone with such an education (not their choice but their parents’) is then possibly obliged, like it or not, to continue into the Foreign Office, MOD, Banking, Law or Accountancy instead of developing a sense of how they are instead of what others want them to be?
Tim Blackman, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Open University: in response to the article by Baroness Blacktone in the THE:http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=418423
Intellectually and spiritually content? Getting there
21st April 2011
Delighted to have found somewhere to stay in Milton Keynes.
It is extraordinary that people live such lovely lives, the privilege of the commute being a short walk over a field, from village to Central Business District in minutes. This isn’t the Britain I have ever known – a 79 mile commute being one of the worst, cattle-trucks in from South London even worse. But I’ve done the ‘weekly border’ having once been in Penrith, Cumbria while my fiance was in Paris, France for six months. Sleeping away from home is part of me of course, having had boarding school from the age of 8 I perhaps find it easy to get used to?
Of course the OU Campus is a strange beast, each Faculty a bright sparkly building set in its own grounds each building a short walk apart from the other. If it weren’t for the speed bumps to slow the traffic down (people come in by car in their thousands) I’d imagine golf-carts to be the required way to move around.
But do you much? Your faculty is your home.
My home once again has connections with the university, mother and daughter work there. This does not need to be a point of conversation at home, I have the Masters in Open and Distance Education to complete for a start and instead of talking about the OU I am delightfully engaged in conversations on the medical effect of what we eat. I find myself creeping back towards soya milk and muesli and away from coffee and biscuits.
For someone who typically blogs a thousand words a day I’ve been unusual quiet.
The pressure on my mind is considerable. If I find myself near a keyboard over the bank holiday I may catch up, though my inclination is to head for the sea.
This isn’t to say I’m not writing a thousand words an hour; that would be an exaggeration, but I find that 60 emails a day (sent), half this number received, contributions to Yammer an OU Twitter like feed and the various minutes and reports that I’m writing quite easily makes up the number.
As I will often tell people, the best contribution to my career was a touch-typing course at Oxford College of Education.
I’ll become a poor-weather blogger.
Meanwhile what I have to say has gone into note pads. I’ve filled a 80 pad shorthand notepad, both sides. This contains a good deal of ‘Everything is Miscellaneous’ and all that I wanted from ‘Use of Blogs.’ How I would have preferred both on my Kindle, all this note taking reduced to highlighting, my ideas saved or shared immediately, and the entire thing now at the edit stage. Instead I’ll have to write it all out. I find my concentration wavers if I transcribe stuff, or more likely I feel inclined to add yet further notes and thoughts.
Meanwhile, perhaps sensibly going for paper rather than technology, I have ‘The Social Life of Information’ (2002) John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid to enjoy, ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ (2007) Rick Levine et al and ‘E-moderating’ (2005) Gilly Salmon.
My perfect Bank Holiday would be to take these to sea – sail across the English Channel, a few days in French Ports.
As crew, this way I can read, all that fresh air, with occasional moments of physical agitation.
Lord Asa Briggs : the 91 year old senior academic reflects on his life and the formative years of the Open University in the UK
Not available as an e-Book (ironically)
Please go to Amazon and request the e-version. (I would have downloaded it by now and would be offering a review of the first chapter … and I’d have read it before nightfall!)
Then again, I believe Lord Briggs lives 5 minutes away here in Lewes.
I should enquire about a signed hard back copy?
(How might an author sign an e-Book?)
Essential reading for all students of distance learning (and e-learning) to understand the manner in which the OU developed its remit.