Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Activity 8 Enhancement Strategies

Having reached week 10, I am stepping back and finishing what I started in week 8.... I always dreamt of being able to travel through time....

Escher’s Time - Saving by Light - on Flickr.

This week's focus is on enhancement strategies.
I will focus on this broadly as my current 'teaching' is limited to short skill workshops with small numbers of staff on campus and doesn't quite fit with the MOOC and Open Education model.

I really applaud the open education movement, but still wonder how it would be sustained as a global provision as a substitute to education through existing educators and educational establishments. How would the quality and credibility be affected if there were not the professors within higher/tertiary education, as used by, available to create these resources and provide peer review.


Will the open education world develop its own 'professors' and critical peers through Badges and online reputation alone? or will universities still be required to do this? and at what cost and whose expense?

I really like the structured approach of in their course delivery and that of the xMOOC (still getting my head around the cMOOC configuration).

As they are similarly structured to a 'traditional' higher education experience they may be more easily digested by academics seeking open content and students seeking to build their own learning experience.

Initial bullets: applicable aspects and challenges...
  • Motivation, we usually have a clear motivation for studying. The where and how are big factors in this. Choosing to study in an Open Education/ MOOC model may not suit all our learners. So I do hope we don't throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
  • Video delivery, I started doing this years ago (I don't record many of my own but enjoy the OERs of others. Academics where I work have been using slides, videotapes and DVDs for many years and are now moving to the digital version and are catching on to the rich resources on the internet and local creations which we stream. 
  • Digital media creation, this is something we are starting to do more of now. We slowly winning over academic staff to the idea that a video capture can be of value to the student in many ways. We just have to shake of the myth that face2face delivery is the only way. The biggest challenges have been cost for the equipment, servers, cameras etc, skill and time of the academic staff to create 'high quality' reusable digital media rather than live capture for one distribution.
  • Flipped teaching, I started doing this years ago but didn't know that was what it was called! Local interest is slowly growing. We have a few champions, who are an inspiration to others. 
  • Free access to books through digital devices. Fantastic and I already encourage this, I read lots of e and audio books through my smart phone (from my local lending library). Our limitation would be the licence provided by the publishing houses and student access to copyright content not published under CC BY. 
  • CC BY is great to show permission for content sharing and reuse. 
  • Peer reviewed resources add credibility and confidence to the courses.
  • Use of Professor consultants to develop course content (!adds speciality and credibility!) but as indicated earlier, at whose expense? 
  • Certificate of completion. Will this suffice in the professional workplace? Will it be possible for vocational professionals to become qualified entirely through Open Education? Is this the goal or are these the exceptions?


The final message in the video is that the MOOC is for those who are not the 'best of the best', those who are unlikely to get into the 'top universities'.

So it could/ probably is a great opportunity for students who unlikely or unable to get into the elite universities. But we should not sell them short. Traditionally students are paying many thousands $ £ for their 'university education', there is kudos in the experience, the student makes friends and builds networks with others which can be an asset to their work and career. All of which can be replicated, to some degree, in the virtual world.

Personally I believe the big challenge is its massivity and open aspect of the MOOC. As a student I want and need to have flexibility to study in my preferred way, this includes place and time, and I want and need to feel part of the cohort. When there are many thousands of learners and possibly only one member of the 'teaching' team I anticipate this would be a challenge.

I think the challenge here is for the Higher Education and employment community to value learning and skill development through non-traditional routes.
I believe we are still in an environment where employers of those in 'professional' roles require tangible validated evidence of learning. The certificate, degree, statement of professional competence. Will the Badge take over?

Friday, 21 June 2013

Activity 7 Supporting Learners with Tutor and Peer Communications

This week I focussed on two activities.

Activity 7.2: The practice of peer review

Review a fellow participant’s post on Activity 7.1 – ( I selected )   consider:

  • If the design / approach or mix of approaches is appropriate for the given context. 
  • Aspects of the design you think work particularly well. 
  • At least one suggestion for improving the design
  • Resources they might refer to in order to improve or extend the design.

I too am familiar with and use Gilly Salmon's 5-stage model.
I am intrigued to see you have flipped the model so it is top down rather than bottom up. I quite like the step visualisation that you are progressing upwards in the activity, however I also appreciate the need to step down and back up again with each new learning encounter. I like the idea of repeating steps 3-5 as each new learning activity is encountered a new set of technology skills may need to be mastered along with the acquisition of subject knowledge. So repetition is fine with me.
One improvement... echoing others  I think there is value in spending a little more time on socialisation. The wiki tool is probably ok, if there are clear instructions on how to use it (however it is also worth considering,  why do they need to learn to use this tool?) The socialisation could begin in the discussion tool (so they can master this before the learning activities begin. Participants could post images, music, voice files etc to introduce themselves.  Jim's suggestion of using Voicethread sounds like a good idea.
Although it might go against the MOOC grain, I also believe if we introduce 'required' aspects to a course the technology selected really should be delivered via institutional site licenses rather than student ploughing their way through EULA, institutional licences can be constraining but there is the bonus of support, stability and student ease of access.

Resources: You may find these an informative read.

Click this link to read my my comment published to Meegans Blog -

Activity 7.3: Reflecting on peer feedback

Having reviewed a peer’s contribution, reflect on:

  • Did the experience of reviewing someone else’s learner support design, help you to consider aspects of your own design? What skills could peer review help you to develop as an online learner?
  • Consider your own learner support design, and articulate what changes you would make to your own design as a result of having reviewed someone else’s

I liked Megans approach in alreading reflecting on her design as she presented it for critique. This experience did help me think about my own design. I find in blended courses the requirement for stages 1-3 to happen in the first week so the content delivery begins in week 1 highly problematic. There is always a small number who missed the orientation in week 0 and have not mastered the technology by week 1.

In my staff development workshops, I will spend a little more time on the face to face icebreaker activities before jumping in to mastering the technology. Pair work is really useful so encouraging pairs helps in the workshop and may also help foster a supporting partnership when people return to their offices to put everything into practice.

Activity 10.3

Activity 10.3

I had two questions...
  1. How will I/we/they (academics) know when/whether the technologies deployed have enhanced learning? 
  2. How can we identify when learners have disengaged from learning because the technology acts as something other than an enhancer? 

I am not entirely sure I have a succinct answer for either.. yet.

Right now I think my own experience for Q1 has helped me to feel more comfortable with the learner measuring this aspect. The learner will know if it has enhanced their learning, they can tell me this through evaluation of the learning activities I present. I think my role is to ensure that the technology I utilise in my teaching is inclusive/ used inclusively and where I make recommendations or use specific technologies, that they are freely available, easy to use, and suitable for the learning activities intended.

Regarding Q2, I got to this point personally a few times. Technology, even for the confident, can be overwhelming at times. A few times I did wonder whether the blog I began was enhancing my experience or creating too much stress ( from my over scrutinisation of my writing) to be worth the effort. A brief forum post would have been sufficient! I have Twitter but didn't really use it effectively, I have Google+ 'ditto', maybe I will use it more.... maybe I won't...

It was good to have choice, in the technologies and locations to post and build my evidence for my own learning activity. But to engage in meaningful discussions one to many, there was too much choice, this lead to my feelings of increased isolation. I think this view heavily shaped by my previous experience of online learning with clearly defined groups of members and communications in fewer locations. I have learned that I am an an apprehensive Blogger, Tweeter but can now reflect on experience.

I haven't felt a member of a cosy learning community but rather a knot contributing to create a huge Network...

So which knot are you?

I have enjoyed the MOOC. I have a few more weeks of materials to work through so I will continue my learning journey.

Just stuck my first badge on my backpack

Friday, 14 June 2013

Activities 6.1, 6.2, 6.3

Activity 6.1: Reading and reflection

Refer back to activity 6.1

Read pages 5 – 25 of Effective Assessment in a Digital Age (JISC, 2010), then consider the following questions.
  • How does your assessment approach(es) align with the four teaching and learning perspectives (page 11)?
    • Each of the activities oifs focussed on Associative perspectives with the subject/practice expert providing feedback to the students so they can develop their expertise in each delivery of the activity.
  • How does your assessment approach(es) align with the twelve REAP (Re-Engineering Assessment Practices) principles of effective formative and feedback (page 15)?
    • Broadly these opportunities were of a formative nature, however there were minimal marlks awarded to encourage completion of each part of the learning activity (a discussion point in itself).
    • Colleague 3 actively encouraged students to respond to their blog postings and has a dialogue with each student within the blog. C1 and C2 were primaily one way feedback to student with no follow up.
  • How would you describe your assessment design from the manager’s, practitioner’s and learner’s perspectives (page 17-22)?
    • The manager would probably be encouraged by the use of the institutions technology to develop skills of staff in ditital teaching and assessment, this is part of the institutes vision and strategy. Stability and equity are key drivers. They are also interested in student satisfaction in their online assessment experience. 
    • The practitioner in these scenarios, like the opportunity to access the students work remotely and to distribute feedback within the task. They did not express efficiency in work load as they were still reading and marking each contribution,. A quiz of technology administered test would present different workload demands.
    • The learner, might view the technology as useful for their access off site. Potentially they could engage in the reflection and critique activities and review their feedback at a time  which suited them. They wer developing skills accessing and using the technologuy which are transferrable and feature within graduate attribute profiles.

Activity 6.2: Evaluation and review

Please visit the forum to read my contrubution 

Activity 6.3: Discussion

  • What is your own experience of feedback (either as a tutor or as a student) in technology enhanced or online programmes?
  • Snail

    • From a student perspective my experience is very limited. Feedback during the MOOC has yet to arrive, probably my fault as I am behind in the work but I had hoped there would be at least one person in the course team following up snails like me.

  • How can we ensure that students engage with, and act on, in a timely manner the feedback provided?
    • Should we be striving to ensure students engage with feedback, if they own and are responsible for their learning isn't it up to them whether they engage and if they do what the then action.
    • I personally value feedback so need little motivation to seek and consider it. 

Activity 6 Timely, Effective Assessment and Feedback

Timely, Effective Assessment and Feedback

Technology enhanced learning 
  • How does the assessment align with the course learning outcomes?
  • What kind of feedback would the learner receive and how would this contribute to her progress
  • Which technologies would support this?

Several colleagues have adopted the use of CampusPack Blogs within Blackboard LMS to support students reflection on learning and their practice. The students are required to submit a blog posting to record their skill progression and reflect on their journey.

Colleague 1)  has created separate weekly blogs, each one a separate blog because they wanted to control student access and close and open the blog to permit marking activities. The learner recieves written feedback after each weeks blog. There is no clear progression between blog postings as skills can differ each week.

Colleague 2) has created separate blogs, there are four separate blogs three have prescribed themes for the student ro reflect with models/frameworks provided to guide reflection. The fourth blog the student decides from the three previous models/frameworks and then undertakes reflection on their theme. The student recieves feedback on the application of the model/framework to their reflective writing and on their skill in academic writing. The is clear progression between each blog for development of reflection skill and academic writing.

Colleague 3) created a course level blog and discovered that students were reluctant to engage in critical discussions on discuss challenging situations in their practice experiences in view of their peers, the postings presented were at a superficial level. (I can relate to this as I still find writing in this Blog a challenge at times, who is reading this?) We had to rebuild the blog so it was private reflection. The students were being assessed on their critical discussions and their academic writing.

Each of these colleagues had identified the reflection and academic writing within thir course objectives, neither had identified learning to use the blog tool as an objective. Students were given deadlines for work to be submitted so there was no distinction made between little and often or all at once submissions.

In each instance the Blog tool was not the appropriate tool for the activity.

C1 - will use Private Journal next time.
C2 - is likely to return to online assignment submission with feedback annotated on work 
C3 - still wants to use the blog tool and is considering face to face ice breakers to build student trust and ability to discuss critically in the online environment.

Activity 5.2 and 5.3

Activity 5.2: Practicals

  • What is your current virtual learning environment or the main technology you use? 
    • Blackboard Learn 9.1.9 moving soon to SP11.
  • How does it differ from the ocTEL platform? 
    • It is a closed environment where the institution validates membership and access. The Course team decide on the look and feel of the course instance and use tools to create content. Students and staff are constrained by the LMS/VLE. In ocTEL there is more openness, the forum can be read by anyone without log in, blog pages are also public. This may be a concern for those students who are still feeling their way around the subject and may not want their learning experience broadcast publicly. 
    • Our LMS/VLE environment is not available to the student after they leave the institution :-( Students creating a personal portfolio of their digital learning would need to export course resources and contributions from course into another environment to save for posterity. I am also doing this for ocTEL so I have my own personal archive. 
  • What learning styles does it afford that ocTEL cannot? Where is it restrictive? 
    • Blackboard provides style sets for various teaching styles These can be used to structure the course to focus on different learning styles. The challenge however, is when schools create standard templates to provide a common visual presence for their students then the teaching style templates get forgotten so everyone is presented with the same top level options. 
    • The tool settings are restrictive. The limitation is that the content and interactions are within Blackboard and, anecdotally, some students find the steps for logging in to the environment and navigating to the activity too tedious to bother! The desired route would be a unique url for the tool activity with direct login so you can just click and post. 
    • The visual presentation is restrictive, our design and artistically driven staff find the visual layout uninspiring and constraining. 
  • Is it ‘open’ in the sense that you can develop or configure tools that fit your pedagogy (e.g. the learning styles above), or does it command a certain pedagogy? 
    • It is not fully 'open' you are constrained by the tools within the environment and limited to their configuration. However, anecdotally, that is probably a blessing for some as they still just about manage the basics. Too many options and people start getting lost in the set up. 
    • The limitation is that the content and interactions are within Blackboard and, anecdotally, some students find the steps for logging in to the environment and navigating to the activity too tedious to bother! The desired route would be a unique url for the tool activity with direct login so you can just click and post. 
    • To increase functionality and provide 
  • What are the wider implications of enforced platforms and technologies for higher education? 
    • I struggle with the term enforced, my assumption is that technologies have been piloted and selected by institutions as being the best thing at the price they can afford at the time. They seek something which they can handle, maintain and have a support and archive package. It takes a brave HE institution to say we do not provide a technology environment to support your learning you can use what you, like when you like, how you like, and fix it yourself when it goes wonky. And for the academics choose what you like to create and deliver your content, we will not provide any platforms or technologies. 
    • I think the challenge is the middle ground, better response from the product vendors, more customisation/personalisation/flexibility in the tools. Greater institutional support for students who want to build their own personalised learning environment which is joined seamlessly with anything the institution provides. Free access to a portfolio for alumni. 
  • How can your learning platform promote inclusion? 
    • The learning platform is the tool, it is what the academic does with it which counts. 
    • Accessibility needs to ensure the resources./ tools can be used by all students regardless of ability or technical skill. It needs to be accessible across all platforms and devices so students can engage with their own devices (if they have them). 
    • Resource needs to be made for students to access and engage where they do not have their own personal device. 
    • Activities need to be designed to bring students together, discussion, reflections, group work, in a respectful and valuing way. 
    • Most importantly the student must feel safe and a valued member of the class when using the learning platform. It is an extension of the real classroom, it is ok to ask questions and challenge each other and the academic must nurture and support this interaction to 'include' all the students equally. 

How I use Google apps - link to document here (Timestamp 14/06/2013 01:15:31)

My thoughts on synchronous delivery - view my forum enty here

Activity 5.3: What does Open Source mean to you?

For me OpenSource means, the creator has given the user (co-creatoe) free rein to adapt, modify, enhance their code. I have been a long time visitor to SourceForge to try things out for my own use.
  • Do they force a certain pedagogical approach? If so, what are the benefits or drawbacks of that? 
    • Depending on the design and architecture, the level of collaborative learning varies significantly from MOOC to MOOC. MOOCs have the potential to be flexible for the learner.
    • Each MOOC requires the learner to engage with different software and applications and learning object file types. 
    • I think that those learners who are less experienced or less confident with technology then the MOOC may not be their first choice, and there will always be the fun and need for face to face learning and skill development with the real object in real time, learning a craft, and art, etc.
  • What difference would it make if the platform were Open Source?
    • If we had sufficient expertise and resource we could have a platform with the look, feel functionality of 'what we want' rather than what it does out of the box.
  • How does it differ from past initiatives for open content such as iTunes U or Khan Academy (mentioned in Week 4)? I see these as OpenResources not Open Source.You use these rather than manipulate it entirely.
  • How does open content differ from open education?
    • Opencontent is the content is freely available, usually open license for reuse, repurpose (Creative Commons  CC BY) for learning and teaching activities. 
    • Open education is where the person creats their own learning pathway to meet their personal learning need, using existing resources, outside an 'educational' establishment. They set their learning goal and only they know when they have reached their goal. They may 'validate' their learning through communities, online reputation and badges, or through 'reputation'.
    • I have added a comment to this weeks forum on this - read it here.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Activity 5.1: Course dimensions

Read the Methodology and Pedagogical Dimensions sections of Hill et al (2012) paper and think about the four dimensions mentioned (logistical, practice based, pedagogical, participation).
  1. Which of these considerations is the biggest driver towards your adoption and choice of technology?
  2. How do these dimensions change each time you run the course and what effects does this have on technology choices (e.g. ‘scale/capacity’ of certain activities for class size, physical location of activity)?
  3. How does this relate to the learning activity dimensions you may have identified in Activity 1.2?

1) I am not sure I can separate these out neatly so I will present my thoughts and reflections. Currently the course type activity features most strongly in my institution. The activities of students and staff are defined by the categories identified by Hill et al (2012), these are delivered according to the logistical categories they also identify. My observation of staff where I work is that many faculty members would identify themselves as researches who teach rather than teachers who research.
Contact environment is also key, VUW promotes itself as New Zealand's capital city University providing students with a unique Wellington experience. The focus towards an on-campus experience complemented by teaching technologies (LMS) and digital library collections.
Student 'attendance' in person on campus appears to be considered by many as 'compulsory'. Teaching technology is primarily used to provide student access to wider tailored resources for independent study outside the Lecture and Tutorial times. Courses vary from the web-supported through to web-dependent. Technology is in some instances used to deliver content for students to engage with before attending the face to face tutorials (flipped classroom).

Distance delivery is provided in a few subjects, rationale varies from widening access to geographically distant students and to offer choice to those who are local but may need to add further courses to their programme without the constraints of time for physical attendance on campus.

Recognition of the extent of web work in a given course remains an area which would benefit from greater clarity. Anecdotally staff have identified what they want to do on-line but seldom plan sufficient time within their workload to deliver. There is a reluctance to take time from elsewhere in the 'teaching activities' and utilise it for on-line facilitation/ moderation.

The decisions are shaped by the academic staff, their programme team and school as well as their faculty. My role is in essence to assist the academic to choose the right tool/technology for the teaching/learning activities they intend to undertake and to guide them to develop the skills to use the technology.

In my LMS workshops for academic and support staff my colleague and I have created a structure which presents the tools against heading for the tool type. This is to assist with orientation to the tool and activities. The institution has chosen not to provide a standard template encouraging the individual academics to work with their school to develop their own. Participants on the workshops are oriented to the Teaching style template options available within the LMS to gain ideas for their course layout and style.
We have a corporate colour scheme however this is not enforced so the individual academic or their school will decide on the look of the on-line course environment. I encourage each course instructor to attempt some uniformity across courses within their school/subject/programme to help student orient and navigate within and through the on-line courses. We also have on-line delivery outside the Institutionally supported LMS, which presents another 'experience' for the students and faculty members to master.

The most frequent layout used is based on the LMS 'traditional' layout with a home page, content areas for learning materials, collaborative activities and assessments with the use of course links to present activities beside content.

2) For the workshops I facilitate the size of the group may vary but the other components within the dimensions primarily remain unchanged. I teach in the same technology rooms, with the same hardware, software and IT infrastructure the main differences are updating resources and ensuring relevance and currency and the introducing ideas and alternative technologies in response to particular staff questions or response to staff challenges. 

On a previous course (when I worked at OBU)  I found the variables changed,  I would regularly re-purpose my resources for use in different student cohorts would adapt and/or reuse resources from other teaching colleagues. The room I taught f2f changed each delivery,but was usually on the same site. One winter, due to weather and travel challenges for the students, I changed delivery of two weeks to on-line only (WebCT VLE) and we used a flipped approach with students undertaking guided reading and watching video (professional YouTube channels) and reflecting on their practice experience, then engaging in synchronous discussion followed by asynchronous discussion. I have previously developed my own course template, which was adopted by my colleagues. I used a weekly theme approach presenting the introduction, learning activities, reflection activities, discussions and reference list on each weekly page. If I were to replicate this structure within Blackboard Learn I would probably use the 'Lesson Plan' content type. 

3) My learning dimensions in 1.2 I used these workshops as examples when I did activity 1.2 so no change but more explanation.... My current students are faculty and support staff in the University, the range of skill and experience with technology varies from those who require clear direction in its use to those who are autonomous and may also be innovators. I ask for individuals learning outcomes in advance of the workshop so I can anticipate and prepare for substantial variance from my lesson plan. I also start with an icebreaker which introduces the participants to each other and gives me more detailed information on what is expected and required from the workshop. 

5. Platforms and Technologies

Kolb and Learning

Having read through the three key questions and considered my responses, I totally agree with Sandra's (ocTEL participant) comment.

I too try and include a range of ways of engaging my audience, my personal interaction and selection of technologies varies depending on the topic and the environment of delivery.

I start by recognising how I prefer to learn and the journey I have undertaken learning the subject matter and how I have learned to use the technology. I consider the value in the learner engagement with the technology, development of transferable skills.

In my role I am usually assisting staff to learn a specific technology for their own use in teaching and would use other complementary technologies and resources to assist.

In learning how to use the institutions VLE (Blackboard Learn), staff are exposed to the following technologies and tools, and may use them at ant stage of the learning experience depending on the outcome of the learning activity.

  • Staff account 
  • email 
  • Web Browser 
  • Tools within Blackboard (Bb) 
    • content collections (text, image, video, URL collections) 
    • quizzes 
    • surveys 
    • assignment 
    • discussion 
    • announcement 
  • Third party tools and applications provided through Bb 
    • CampusPack (CP) blogs 
    • CP wikis 
    • CP journals 
    • CP lab reports 
    • Turnitin 
  • Video (VStream (Echo360) and YouTube 
  • Document creation - html (Bb), Word or similar 
  • PDF - Creation and Reading 
  • Presentations - PowerPoint, Prezi, Notable 
  • VPN - Remote access to networked drive 
  • Images - VUW collection, Flickr 
  • Library resources 
    • Hard copy texts 
    • Digitised texts 
    • Dynamic content through the library collections 
    • Digitised database collections (internally hosted) 
    • Digitised database collections (externally hosted) 
    • eTV 
    • bibliography software- endnote, zotero 
  • Social media 
    • Facebook 
    • Twitter 
  • Participant response technologies - installed hand held devices and web devices 
  • OER - what these are and how to find them for NZ 
  • Copyright and Creative Commons NZ 
  • Student submissions during class activities for for assessment, 
    • Text 
    • Audio 
    • Video 
    • Image 
    • Cloud storage solutions 

Teaching space technologies - They would also learn to use the technologies in the teaching spaces, document cameras, white boards, they would also master specialist equipment and technologies of their discipline.

and more ...

Participant response technologies (clicker technologies) have the potential to be very powerful tools. With skilfully crafted questions, engaging activities and skilled facilitators/ moderators to receive 'back channel' questions and conversations, students can experience a rich and rewarding learning experience synchronously, whether face to face or on-line, and asynchronously via facilitated and moderated 'back channel' communications after the event.

Having participated in both mode of delivery and in face to face and on-line environments using web browser clicker technologies I am excited about the opportunities 'clicker technologies' provide learners.

The challenge is to choose the right technology/tool for the learning activity, the  learner and teacher and then use them well.