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Fig.1 Alice in Wonderland pOp-Up.
FutureLearn MOOCs are as easy and as pleasurable to do as a child turning the pages of pop-up book on Christmas morning surrounded by friends and family.
Engaging. Puts a smile on your face. Teaches you something. Leaves you wanting more. What content is presented and the way it plays out changes things. The interaction with others matters massively.
My interest is e-learning. A decade ago it was web-based learning and before that it was online learning … as compared to ‘offline’ learning on an intranet or in a computer learning centre. Across this period, whether on Laser disc, CD-rom, DVD, or online the key words to describe a successful piece of learning might include: easy to use, intuitive, effective, measurable results, gamified and impressive. ‘Impressive’ for a corporate client has always been important – they want to see how their money is spent. It matters to jazz a thing up, to find a way to deliver exception creative qualities in both the ideas and the execution of these ideas. In H.E. this ‘impressiveness’ has been thin on the ground the experience and view of H.E. that someone talking to camera with a slide show or whiteboard will do the job; it doesn’t, not any more.
At the risk of writing a list I want to think about the ‘enhanced learning’ experiences that have impressed over the last 15 years:
Audi Shop DVD – Gold Award Winner at the IVCA awards. Stunning animated 3D animations of the engine. Like a 3D animated Dorling Kindersley
What are you like? – Gold Award Winner at the IVCA awards. An interactive life and career guide for teenagers done in the style of ‘In Betweeners’ and ‘Some Girls’ – nailed the audience with creative tone and visual effects. This won BAFTAs, the IVCA Grand Prix and NMA Effectiveness Awards.
Ideafisher – first on floppy discs, then a CD. It did in the 1990s what various websites do today by linking vast collections of aggregated ideas and concepts that it filters out and offers up. The closest I’ve felt to AI for creativity.
MMC – online marketing courses. These were, for me, in 2010, an early example of stringing the face to camera lecture together with course notes to create a course. Still more like a self-directed traditional lecture series but the volume of content was admirable and some of the tools to control the viewing and reading experience were innovative.
TED Lectures. Are they learning? Or are they TV? Are they modelled on the BBC’s Annual Reith Lecture series? Top of the Pops for the lecture circuit so tasters and Open Education Resources for grander things.
Pure simplicity. I love these. I gave a year to an intermediate course in French, learnt some grammar and fixed several problems with my pronunciation. Like that game ‘Pairs’ you play as a child: a pack of cards with pairs of images on one side that you pair up. With considered, only sometimes over art-directed photography. Repetitive, always in the language you are learning. The next best thing to being dropped in amongst native speakers as an infant. It just works.
Not so much a course as a series of stunning and memorable cartoon pieces that galvanise your interest. The next step is to follow through with a free trial course through OpenLearn and perhaps a nudge then towards a formal course with the Open University proper.
As easy as reading a book. I’ve done eight of these and have another three on the go (two for review rather than as a participant). Across the myriad of subjects and offerings there are differences, all gems, but some are more outstanding than others. It is no surprise that those MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) produced by the Open University are some of the very best; it’s what you’d expect with their experience. Other university’s shine through for their confidence with the the platform too, for example, ‘How to read a mind’ from the University of Nottingham.
MOOCs I love enough to repeat:
Start Writing Fiction: From the Open University
I may have been through this a couple of times in full and now dip back into it as I get my head into gear. I’ll do this as often as it takes to get the thinking to stick. It’s working. I read as a writer. I will interrupt a story to pick out how a succinct character description works. I’m also chasing up a myriad of links into further Open University courses and support on creative writing. For example: next steps, creative writing tasters, and audio tasters on iTunes.
MOOCs I may repeat next year … or follow similar topics from these providers:
Word War 1: Trauma and Memory: From the Open University with the BBC
World War 1: Paris 1919 – A New World: From the University of Glasgow with the BBC
MOOCs I admire that target their academic audiences with precision:
Shakespeare’s Hamlet: From the University of Birmingham
Web Science: How the Web is changing: From the University of Southampton
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)
Try putting any letter from the alphabet in front of ‘learning’ and you’ll be able to say something about it.
It is learning whether you prefix with an ‘e’, ‘m’ or ‘b’ as in – electronic, mobile or blended.
Increasingly the opportunities, particularly with learning on a hand-held computer – 20th century terms for the 21st century smart phone or table – are for ‘a’ or ‘s’ learning – standing for applied or ‘action learning’ that is ‘situated’.
For example, I use a combination of an iPad or Kindle when coaching swimmers – not just for registers, but to show images from a swim drills book.
I am waiting for the wrist or lapel badge computer – an iPad the size of a Nano or ring. Will these come to be known as ‘w’ learning or ‘r’ learning or has ‘e-learning’ become generic? The Google display will be one to watch.
Various questions are answered by the Deans of the Australian School of Business, Melbourne Business School, University of Western Australia and the Fculty of Business and Economics, Monash University and Macquaries Graduate School of Management.
You wouldn’t expect them to knock the MBA but at this point in the dialogue a potential student has made up their mind and needs reassurance, indeed, if readership figures were available I’d suspect the biggest percentage of readers for an article such as this would be people who have just signed up, or are on a course. It’s like buying a car, you want reassurance that you have taken the correct decission.
Given the car analogy perhaps current MBA students could describe to me what kind of car they consider their MBA course to be. I’m reminded of being interviewed in research for my then employer JWT as a recent graduate employee what kind of ship or vessel I’d come up with to describe the business.
Is the MBA obsolete? The Deans are asked:
Far from it, it should evolve to meet new demands … global demands that make it all the more relevant. It remains valid at a career point where a person is going from specialist to generalist. Opening horizons and leadership comes up again. On the other hand there are a wider range of specialisms being offered … though once again, leadership is the goal. And the relevance of it … students and employers want something that can be applied.
What should we think about MBA rankings?
Rankings are one thing to bare in mind … but not everything. That at a broad brush they may help i.e. you get a picture of top, middle and lower rankings. We humans do this kind of thing! (We make lists, we measure and weigh everything).
(I just conclude that if someone is of MBA calibre they are going to understand how to consider these rankings, how prepared, and what other rankings have been done and matter to them).
What counts as innovative?
(I would ask how important is innovation to an MBA student? I thought it would give the three Rs of business, clearly I’m wrong.).
I do understand a course’s value in transforming a person, that coming out empowered, informed and invigorated, matters if you are then to take, or already have and wish to develop a leadership role. Names like Yale come up for offering what I’d describe as a smorgasbord of modules. It must depend and rely on the ‘maturity’ of candidate to feel this is for them, both for whom they work, and for whom they’d like to work (or start-up their own business). On the other hand, Yale distinguishes itself from other MBA courses by taking this apparently risky step.
What are the trends?
A community feel (on the one hand) … with a global dimension (on the other); social impact and responsibility; being competitive, and developing/exploiting ‘web-based and technology-facilitated education’. Older, more experienced candidates – not three years after graduation, but more like ten. Each Dean I feel offered an answer that gave them a chance to play to their course’s strengths (understandable).
It’s constantly in my mind to wonder if I should I do an MBA.
The only advice I took for a friend who had made it to the board of directors of an International Bank without one who naturally thought it irrelevant; I guess he had tested himself by building his own successful PR firm so didn’t need the letters after his name.
The Australian Financial Review
From a web 2.0 vs. old media point of view this spread in newsprint highlights some interesting points. Online we’d link to the schools, and the people, the rankings cited and any schools of faculties that interested us. We’d no doubt search for peer reviews too. Then what kind of a picture would we have?
Monday 4th April 2011
Eating humble pie
At various times over the last 12 months I have knocked the MAODE because of the amount of reading required, particularly in H808 ‘Innovations in e-learning’, where it rankled to read reports that felt out of date or books of the last century, and across the modules for the lack of examples of ‘innovations in e-learning,’, as if the MAODE should exploit the students by sending through the online hoops the equivalent of a performance in a Cirque du Soleil show.
I take it back
I eat humble pie for and offer three reasons:
1. Reading works
2. The earliest investigations on things we now consider common place and highly revealing
3. Bells and whistles may have no tune Reading works, though it is unnecessary to have the books in your hand, or to print of the reports.
I’ve done both, starting the MAODE or ODL as it was called in 2001, I had a box of books delivered to the door (I have many of these still).
Picking it up again in 2010 with H807 ‘Innovations in e-learning’ for want of an e-reader or adequate computer I found myself printing everything off – it unnecessarily fills eight large arch-level files (where if kept for a decade, they may remain).
There is value in printing things off
Whilst some links and too many follow up references from books and reports read in H807 were broken, I have the links and reports I downloaded and printed off in 2001.
One of these, exactly the kind of document I would have rejected in 2010 as dated, was written in 1992.
What is more, this paper addresses something that one would imagine would need a modern perspective to be of interest, the subject is the value of networking – what we’d call online collaboration or participation today.
The earliest investigations reveal the inspiration at a time when there were few options.
One the one hand I can go to the OU Library and type in ‘participation’ and ‘e-learning’ and be invited to read as PDFs a number of reports published in the last few months, on the other, I can go and see some of the earliest efforts to understand the possibilities and overcome the technical issues in order to try and recreate for distance learners what campus based students had all the time – the opportunity to meet and share ideas, the tutor group online, as it were.
Computer Networking for Development of Distance Education Courses (1).
In my teens and helping out on video-based corporate training films I recall some advice from the Training Director of FIH PLC, Ron Ellis. It’s one of those irritating corporate communications acronyms:
(as it was, though as some now prefer)
‘Keep it short and simple’.
It’s a fascinating story and remarkably for Wikipedia were entries are often anything but, it is short and straightforward.
The points I am making are straight forward too.
2. Research and References
An e-reader is simple
The process is enhanced and highly tailored once the content you need to consume is in a device that is slimmer than a slim novella. The affordances of the e-reader mean you can do away with pen and paper (though not a power or USB cable).
My passion for reading, where the ‘Content is King’, which perhaps unnecessarily brings me back to Wikipedia.
What you read, and the fact that you read, matters more than its being in paper form, whether chained to a shelf in the Duke Humphrey’s Library, Oxford (Bodleian), or bubble-wrapped from Amazon, let alone printed off on reams of 80sgm from WHSmith, holes punched and the thing filed for delayed consumption.
Reading too, I realise, is the purest form of self-directed learning
Vygostky would approve.
You are offered a list of suggested titles and off you go.
It is too easy to read the irrelevant if your only guide is Google and it is just as easy to purchase or download a book that has the title, but whose author could at best be described as ‘popular’.
It may fell archaic and arcane to be presented with a reading list, but I recognise their value, if only as the maelstrom of digital information spins across your eyes you can focus.
It may require effort to skim read the abstracts and contents of 33 books and papers in order to extract three or four to read over a two week period (as required to do in May 2001 on the then ODL), but the method works:you get an overview of the topic, a sense of who the authors and institutions your ‘school’ considers of interest, and then motivated by making some choices yourself, you read.
This in itself is one reason to avoid Wikipedia
if everyone reads the same content, everyone is likely to draw the same conclusions.
In any case, my issue with Wikipedia is three-fold, entries are either too short, or too long and there is no sense of the reader, the audience, for whom they are written; at times it is childish, at others like reading a doctoral thesis.
Or am I missing the point?
it isn’t a book, not a set of encyclopedias, but a library, communal built, an organic thing where those motivated to contribute and who believe they have something to say, do so; though all the corporate PR pap should be firewalled out.
Either way, my ambition is for WikiTVia, in which the entire content of Wikipedia is put in front of the camera and shot as chunkable video clips.
Anyone fancy giving it a go?
I digress, which is apt.
If you have a reading list you are less likely to get lost
What is more, you will have something to say in common with your fellow pupils when you’re online.
It matters for a niche conversation to be ‘singing from the same hymn’ sheet which is NOT the same as singing the same tune.
(Aren’t I the one full of cliché and aphorisms this morning).
Which brings us to point three, and a theme for Week 2 of H800 ‘Technology-enhanced learning: practice and debates.’
A title I have just typed out for the first time and I initially read as ‘Technology-enhanced debates’ which could be the right way to think of it given an initial taste of Elluminate.
It doesn’t work and there seems to be little desire or interest to fix it.
Google take over please.
I’d liken my first Elluminate session to my first attempt (indeed all my attempts) to learn to row.
Think of the Isis, early November morning, eight Balliol Men kicked out of bed by 3rd year student Miss Cressida Dick to cycle down to the boathouse.
We varied in shape and size like the cast of a James Bond movie:
Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, Jaws and Odd-Job, Scaramanger and Ros Klebb, Goldfinger and Dr. No.
Despite our coach Dick’s best intentions everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
Later that term on in our only race we were promptly ‘bumped’ and were out.
I wonder if the joint experience of Elluminate will find us bumping along discontentedly for the next few months?
My suggestion would to disembark to something simple, that works (as we did in H808)
Elluminate to Skype with Sync.in or Google.docs is the difference between crossing the English Channel on Pedalos, or sharing a compartment on the Eurostar.
Had this been a business meeting I may have said let’s email then pick up the phone and do a conference call that way.
If it had mattered and the journey was a matter of hours I may have said, hold it, let’s meet in a couple of hours.
What matters is achieving the outcome rather than trying to clamber on board a beach-side round-about on which the bells and whistles are falling off.
Reading, referencing and simplicity brings me to a paper we were expected to read in 2001.
Computer Networking for Development of Distance Education Courses (1) Tony Kaye.
Institute of Educational Technology
Downloaded 15/05/2001 http://www.icdl.open.ac.uk/mindewave/kaye.html
(Link broken and my searches thus far have not located a copy of this paper)
It was written in 1992.
(Until this week I baulked at reading anything pre Google, Facebook or Twitter. What, frankly is the point if none of these highly versatile, immediate forms of collaboration and communication online are not covered?)
This report is as relevant to synchronous and asynchronous collaborative online learning in 2011 as the earliest books coaching rowing.
The basic issues remain the same: the problem to solve, the goal and outcomes.
It’s relevance is like starting any conversation about the Internet with Tim Berners-Lee and CEARN.
In the paper, expert discuss the potential for computer support through local and wide-area networks for ‘work groups engaged in collaborative authoring tasks.’
You see, this, to keep it simple, is all we were trying to achieve on Elluminate, a ‘work group engaged in collaborative authoring tasks.’
Today we can hear and see each other, though the voice will do – and despite being so anachronistic, we can, presumable, all type on a QWERTY keyboard.
Courtesy of Cloud computing any other shared tool, from word, to spreadsheets, presentations, art pads and photo manipulation, we could choose to use from a plethora of readily available free choices.
‘it takes as a basic premise the need for a progressive co-evolution of roles, organisational structures, and technologies (Englebart and Lehtman, 1988), if technology is to be successfully used for group work.’
‘A summary of some of the main findings from studies of traditional (i.e. non technology-supported) course team activities is presented’.
This I consider important as it re-roots us in the very process we are trying to recreate online, a meeting between people, like or not-alike minds, with a common theme and goal.
This report was written for and about teams planning and writing distance teaching materials, however, as it points out,
‘many of the issues raised are relevant to other group collaboration and authoring tasks, such as planning and writing reports, research studies and books.’ Kaye (1992:01)
It makes fascinating reading, not least the comprehensive list of items that would have to be co-ordinate to create a distance learning ‘package,’ resplendent with diskette and C90 audio cassettes, 16 hours of TV and a 300 page course Reader.
Have things moved on?
Where’s our TV in MAODE?
I actually believed in 2001 I’d be getting up in the middle of the night to view lectures.
We don’t have lectures in the MAODE, why not?
It should not be a dying form.
The detail of designing, developing and producing a distance education package, though interesting in itself, is not what I’m looking for in this report, so much as how the teams used the then available technology in order to work together collaboratively online.
They had a task to undertake, a goal.
There were clear, agreed stages.
The emphasis on this report (or book chapter as it is sometimes referred to) are the ‘human factors’.
A wry smile crosses my face as I read about some of the problems that can arise (it sounds familiar):
- Lack of consensus
- Differing expectations Nature of roles and tasks‘differences in the perceived trustworthiness of different colleagues’ [sic]
- Different working patterns “Varying preferences in use of technology (which in this case include academics who use word-processors and who ‘draft in manuscript prior to word-processing by secretary” [sic]
Then some apt quotes regarding the process from this disparate group of individuals:
‘working by mutual adjustment rather than unitary consensus, bending and battering the system until it more or less fits’ (Martin, 1979)
‘If some course teams work smoothly, some collapse completely; if some deliver the goods on time, some are hopelessly late. Course teams can be likened to families/ Happy families do exist, but others fall apart when rebellious children leave home or when parents separate; most survive, but not without varying elements of antagonism and resentment.’ (Crick, 1980)
There is more
In microcosm it’s just the same on the MAODE.
I come to this conclusion after four or five ‘collaborative’ efforts with fellow students.
We work together best of all face-to-face, with a real task, tight deadlines and defined roles, preferably after a meal together, and by way of example, putting on a university play would be an example of this.
Recreating much or any of this online, with a collections of heterogeneous strangers, with highly varied lives not just beyond the ’campus’ but possibly on the other side of the planet, is not unexpectedly therefore primed to fail.
This said, in H808, one collaborative experience I was involved with, between six, with one in New Zealand, was a text book success.
As I put it then, ‘we kept the ball rolling,’ in this case the time zones may have helped (and my own insomnia that suggests I am based in Hong Kong not Lewes, East Sussex).
It also helped to have a Training Manager from the Navy, and a Training Manager (or two) from Medicine.
There was professional discipline that students and academics seem to lack.
Indeed, as academics often say themselves, they don’t have proper jobs.
Isn’t it about time that they behaved like the professional world, indeed, took lessons from corporate communications instead of getting things wrong all the time?
I read this from the 1992 report and wonder if when it comes to the people involved much has changed inside academic institutions.
‘There is evidence to suggest that course team processes can become pathological if the factors listed by Riley(1983) (particularly, it could be argued, the ‘private’ factors) are not properly addressed.’ Kaye, (1992:08).
‘One experienced course team chairman (Drake, 1979)goes so far as to say that …
“the course team is a menace to the academic output and reputation of the Open University,”[sic/ibid]
‘because it provides a framework for protracted (and exciting) academic discussions about possible options for course content and structure, but that when the real deadlines are imminent, many academic are unable to come to define decisions and produce satisfactory material.’
Our maturity and NOT being academics probably
‘problems can arise in the relationship between academic staff and radio or television producers’ Nicodemus (1984) points out that the resultant anxieties can cause “ … a lot of flight behaviour which simply delays and dramatises the eventual confrontations.’
I have an idea for a soap-opera set on the campus of the OU; this report provides the material
I’m not going to quote it all, but there is some social science behind it. Hopefully this paper or chapter is traceable.
Brooks (1982) has observed that when complex tasks are shared amongst individuals or small working groups, the extra burdens of coordination and communication often counteract the productivity gains expected from division of labour.
Problems arise from social psychological processes:
for example, pressures to confirm in a group might cause people to behave less effectively than if they were working alone, and diffusion of responsibility and lack of ownership of a group product can lead to group members contributing less effort to a group task tan they would to a personal, individual, project.
However, we are left on a positive note by this report
“ … the cycle of integration-disintegration is, after all, also known to be important in creativity.” (Nicodemus, 1984)
In the case of distributed course teams (eg those working on interdisciplinary, or co-produced courses) where, a priori, a strong case might be made for networked computer support for collaboration, it would seem important to pay even more attention to the underlying dynamics within a team.
Enough, enough, enough … I am only half way through this report.
Let’s skip to a conclusion, which is as pertinent today as it was in 1992.
‘The social, psychological, and institutional factors influencing the processes and outcomes of academic teamwork were stressed in the first part of this chapter (see above, this is as far as I got), because these factors are probably of greater overall importance in determining successes than is the nature of any technology support which might be made available to a course team’. Kaye (1992:17)
Brooks, F 91982) The mythical man-month: Essays on software engineering. Reading. MA.: Addison-Wesley.
Crick, M (1980) ‘Course teams: myth and actuality’, Distance Education engineering, Reading, MA.: Addison-Wesley.
Drake, M. (1979) ‘The curse of the course team’, Teaching at a distance, 16, 50-53.
Kaye, A.R. (1992) ‘Computer Conferencing and Mass Distance Education’, in Waggoner, M (ed) Empowering Networks: Computer Conferencing in Education, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Educational Technology Publications.
Martin, J. (1979) ‘Out of this world – is this the real OU?” Open Line, 21, 8.
Nicodemus, R (1984) ‘Lessons from a course team’, Teaching at a distance, 25, pp 33-39
Riley, J (1983) The Preparation of Teaching in Higher Education: a study of the preparation of teaching materials at the Open University, PhD Thesis, University of Sussex.
In the course of writing this I discovered (courtesy of Wikipedia) that Leonardo da Vinci may have coined the phrase, or a version of ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ and also invented the pedalo. The mind boggles, or is Leonardo still alive and contributing ? (his fans certainly are).
Once was web-based training, then became cyberlearning – currently it’s e-learning (not eLearning, certainly not e.learning and can’t be elearning) Should be just learning?
Web-Based Training (WBT) (2000)
I bought this book in 2001. Nearly a decade on I am delighted how apt it remains, even if the term may now have been superseded by e-learning – while cyberlearning had currency for a few years too and before this we had ‘interactive learning’.
Even a decade on I recommend the book.
Training and learning are in different camps, one supposing a component of applied engagement (health and safety, fixing photocopiers, burying uranium trioxide, driving a delivery van, making cars, selling phones, employee induction) while the other is essentially cognitive (though with its physicality in this kind of prestidigitization).
Yet we made ‘training programmes’ on things like cognitive behavioural therapy. Corporate and government clients had the money to do these things.
Driscoll’s definition of WBT is somewhat longer than Weller’s definition (2007) of e-learning (electronically enhanced learning with a large component of engagement on the Internet). A bit ‘wishy-washy’ my exacting Geography A’ Level teacher would have said.
Hardly a clear definition if it has a let out clause. But when was anything clear about what e-learning is or is not, or should be? The term remains a pig in a poke; its most redeeming factor being that it is a word, not a sentence, and fits that cluster of words that includes e-mail.
Web-based training Driscoll (2000) says should be:
- Easy to use graphic interface
- Structured lessons
- Effective use of multimedia
- Attention to educational details
- Attention to technical details
- Learner control
I like that. I can apply it in 2011. I did.
I was reading ‘Web-Based Training’ (and using the accompanying CD-rom) in 2001 and then active in the development of learning, or knowledge distribution and communication websites for the NHS, FT Knowledge … and best of all, Ragdoll, the home of Pob, Rosie and Jim, Teletubbies and the addictive pleasures of ‘The Night Garden.’
We may call ourselves students, mature students even, or simply post-graduates, but would we call ourselves ‘Adult Learners.’
It’s never a way I would have defined my clients, or rather their audiences/colleagues, when developing learning materials for them in the 1980s and 1990s. Too often they were defined as ‘stakeholders,’ just as well I saw them as people and wrote scripts per-the-script, as if for only one person.
That worked, producing for an umbrella term does not.
Adult Learning doesn’t conjure up innovative e-learning, perhaps because of the connotations Adult Learning has in relation to the catalogue of F.E. courses then comes through the door every July or August.
This definition of an ‘adult learner’ would apply to everyone doing an OU course surely?
The special characteristics of adult learners Driscoll (2000:14)
- Have real-life experience
- Prefer problem-centred learning
- Are continuous learners
- Have varied learning styles
- Have responsibilities beyond the training situation
- Expect learning to be meaningful
- Prefer to manage their own learning
With some of these definitions baring more weight than others, don’t you think?
And additional references used by Driscoll but not cited above:
References (Adult Learning)
- Knowles (1994) Andragogy in action. Applying modern principles of adult learning.
- Brookfield (1991) Understanding and facilitating adult learning
- Cross (1992) Adults as learns: increasing participation and facilitating learning.
- Freire (1970) A cultural action for freedom
- Merriam and Caffarella (1991) Learning in adulthood
- Kidd (1973) How adults learn