This has been a ‘concept crossing’ week on the Creativity in HE course.
I’m in a subgroup looking at creativity and emotions. Two words I wouldn’t have previously put together. Before this course I ‘d have associated creativity with areas like art, music, dance, theatre and knew Einstein had described scientists as artists. It seemed creative approaches to knowledge were needed in order to see connections which hadn’t been seen before but I’m realising this was a surface approach. I’d accepted other people’s views about creativity but hadn’t questioned or reflected on them for myself.
In terms of engagement Week 4 has been a bit fractured which can be a risk of extra-curricular activity. I adopted a strategic approach to the task and waited for others go first. A good example of how staff regress to student behaviours, like sitting at the back of the room on my night class – because I can. Not entirely entirely sure if I should be participating or facilitating with the task – or both – I was feeling a bit lost. Another good reason why prospective online teachers should try to have some online student experience first. Knowing I was still struggling with defining creativity, rather than listing ways it manifested itself, I did some reading.
In the paper Carl Rogers, Creativity and the RSA, Rowson (2014) ) refers to creativity as a novelty which is initially a subversive activity – because it’s different and goes against the norm. So with regard to creativity and emotions, confidence is required. Being creative involves not being afraid to be different. I realised I hadn’t been thinking about creativity from the inside. I could recognise how personal styles, e.g. impressionist art, were examples of innovative ways of seeing the world, but hadn’t made the leap from knowing to understanding. When I wrote my blog post about being less creative than I thought I can see now this was also saying I’m less brave than I’d like to be.
Creativity is much more connected to emotions than I’d realised. It’s about having personal courage, confidence and conviction so is intimately connected with individual identity. I enjoy the power of words to describe, resonate and challenge. I like writing performance poetry; tricky line rhymes in iambic pentameter for speaking out loud. But I get nervous about performing. In my head I’m always looking for creative ways to do presentations. I get ideas but don’t put them into practice. Instead I stick to what’s worked before, believing it’s more likely to work again. I don’t take risks so my performances don’t stand out as much as they might if I was more brave.
I can see how being authentically creative, or taking a creative approach, requires emotional as much as cognitive expertise. It’s having the passion and personality to go public, because creative agency is validated by the structural processes of institutions and the media. As well as the ability to think laterally, creativity is about what you do with the outcomes. We are all creative but we deal with it in different ways. Thanks to taking part in this fascinating open online course, I’m starting to see how ultimately being creative is about being human.
The course Creativity for Learning in Higher Education #creativeHE ticks a lot of my boxes. It’s about higher education in 21st century, teaching online, creative thinking, using social media, its open, free and above all is about the digital – which at the end of the day has always been my research and passion. This blog post is my cause memory jog as much as a reflection; a questions without answers approach. Online education supports postmodern bricolage styles of learning – much of which can go unrecorded so this is an attempt to catch some of the transient experiences.
I arrived a week late! Not the best of beginnings but a well thought out course like this from Chrissi Nerantzi can take it. A good course is like a dot to dot picture. Each dot is a link. A place to go. An activity to engage with. A paper to read. In my case I haven’t yet joined them up. But I don’t have to in order to participate and learn. I’ve been selective and this is typical of the student centred approach online learning environments have to support. Capacity for multiple approaches and pathways is essential. Online design needs a holistic structure where the parts really are greater than the whole. Teaching online is about facilitation (with a capital F), about providing a mix of opportunities and supporting exploration through them. Any online teacher who tries to replicate traditional face-to-face teaching practice is likely to fail. Any online student who expects to be taught will be disappointed.
Online courses also need to understand how digital ways of working are unique to each individual taking part. Digital literacies are like fingerprints and we all have our own distinctive styles of engagement. I haven’t done as much as others but I’m not looking for accreditation which maybe supports a more fractured level of engagement. For me this is a learning experience and within the first week I have learned the following:
I may be less creative than I think.
Creativity is a social construct.
Online communication is open to a variety of interpretations.
The video by Jess Haigh demonstrated the power of multimedia for online introductions. I learned so much more about Jess from seeing and hearing her than from reading text. This was a creative approach I wanted to copy. It was interesting to see the response to my comment to the group ‘Would like to post a video too but hit barriers of place, time and noise levels (excuses!)’ . It appeared to be interpreted as lack of confidence rather than lack of opportunity and demonstrated the vagaries of online communication where we see what we think rather than what is being said.
I’ve skimmed some of the reading around creativity. My first thoughts are how it sits between the subjective and objective spheres. We might produce what we consider to be creative outputs but their acceptance depends on the interpretation of others. Through the course I picked up on the #twistedpair invitation from Steve Wheeler to make unlikely pairings and relate them to teaching and learning, in my case Klimt and the Venus of Willendorf. Whether this demonstrated creativity or not can be measured by likes and tweets – but in turn these are related to access parameters and the subjectivity of others. I’ve ended the week thinking much more about creativity as a social construct and how to ‘know’ if I’m a creative person or not; I suspect I may be less creative than I think!
I have learned a lot so far and this is why I do it. Evenings, weekends, early hours of the morning. I’m a learning addict but I also want to discover how the digital can support the student learning experience. The one thing I know for sure is the process is helped where staff who teach become online students themselves first.
I miss my mooc. It was good to feel part of the TOOC14 learning community, in particular from the student point of view. It’s a sign of positivity when you feel sad about an ending but I reached the point where something had to give. In this case it was the mooc. For the tutors at Oxford Brookes on TOOC14, here’s my feedback.
I always felt my contributions were valued.
I liked the individual-ness of responses.
It was helpful to have additional questions built in. I felt tutors were interested in what I had to say. These questions also stretched my thinking and enhanced the learning.
What I really liked was knowing tutors had experience and expertise in managing online communication. As a consequence I felt it was ok not to know something, ok to get it wrong or even not get it all.
On TOOC14 I felt a real sense a community of shared practice and inquiry was building up.
It was a mooc but not as you might know it from coursera, udacity or khan academy. Not all but mostly, they can be impersonal. You feel like a grain of sand on a beach.
Online education is never an easy option. It takes time and commitment for staff and for students. Resources need redesigning. Retention is low. Text talk easily misunderstood. The advantages and disadvantages of virtual learning environments are about even. I think the team at Oxford Brookes have got it right. I’d have liked to complete.
I’m using the phrase tutors but am not sure this is the right word. When it comes to online ‘tutoring’ what should we be called? When the pay scale says Lecturer, how does that translate to online environments. I’ve submitted a conference proposal this week suggesting greater attention be paid to the role of e-teacher. The word e-learning has worked its lexographical way into the vocabulary of education but we rarely come across e-tutors or e-lecturers.
Who am I online?
Teacher, Tutor, Trainer? Lecturer? Facilitator? Moderator? Just someone passing through?
The pedagogy of uncertainty which underpins all online courses is also one of invisibility with regard to participants. I wonder if this is indicative of the lower status attached to virtual learning environments. It feels like they remain the second best option. Learning online is what you do if you can’t get on campus. Supplementary. Other. Students are students where ever they are but the identity of those who virtually teach remains much more of a mystery.
Like buses – you wait for ages then two come at once. I’m MOOCing again, still with Oxford Brookes and this time with the Teaching Online Open Course #tooc14. It’s been a busy week but what a great start for the tutors and TAs. 77 individual posts in the new arrivals lounge with more likely to be browsing around seeing what a MOOC looks like and wondering about joining in. It will be interesting to see how many make it through to the end but with MOOC I’m not sure completion is the name of the game. Participation is what counts. Getting theMOOC experience, dipping in, dipping out, a taster for – or reminder of – what online learning is about.
TOOC14’s first subject is induction. Something close to my work-life heart. It’s been nearly ten years since the idea of pre-arrival support for new students via the University of Lincoln’s VLE was first suggested. Today, Getting Started is a whole institution initiative led by teaching and learning, the student engagement office and made technically possible through the enthusiasm and expertise of Matt Darch in ICT. So it’s with great personal interest I’ve been following discussions and taking part in the best ice breaker activity I’ve ever seen.
But what a challenge to the digitally uninitiated this ice breaker is. First of all you need a google account. We’re not yet at the point where google registration is ubiquitous like a national insurance number. If google has its way, the day is not far off. There’s something spooky about collaborative working on google docs where everyone can see what you’re doing. Like digital text stalking. A taste of the mighty google’s omnipotent eye. Every digital step you take, Big G is watching you. Digital footprints are permanent. Online has no boundaries, no secrets, nowhere to hide. This is digression into a my digital danger sessions – or less digression and part of the social impact of the internet. This covers OER and MOOC as much as digital identity and the ways we present ourselves online. The start of any online course is a test of digital competence and TOOC14 is no exception. It highlights how virtual participation requires digital capability. I’ve learned to be brave in online environments but it’s taken time and practice and I mean brave rather than confident. The screen which protects me also creates a virtual mirror image, one which doesn’t go away. A digital slip is a lifetime online and for many this awareness remains a barrier to be overcome.
Of all the comments I’ve read this week, the one which has stayed with me is nothing to do with induction or MOOCing – at least, not directly. It was from tutor Greg Benfield who wrote: ‘Our general line on this is that we tutors and TAs try to have a life. So participants in our courses should not expect us to be around on weekends. One of us will check on things from time to time but we won’t actively intervene on weekends except in some kind of emergency.’
Wow, an off-line weekend. No catching up with email or the tasks you meant to do last week but haven’t found time for. No – dare I say – research activity, or paper writing or transcribing interviews.
Do I still have one which is not in some way or other work related? If I take anything from this MOOC it should be this reminder – weekends are not workends – so tomorrow I go to the beach with my camera to reflect on sea, sky and fossils. Sounds like a plan!
I’m MOOCin again. In danger of becoming a MOOCie Groupie. Possibly risking a reputation for being a starter not a finisher. MOOCs encourage a dip dip out way of working. It’s all part of the vagueness of the virtual where you’re known only through your choice of gravatar or what google discloses. Plus the vagaries of digital text which can so easily be misconstrued or misconstructed.
The experience of designing and delivering the course Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age (TELEDA) is as much a learning experience for me as I hope it is for colleagues. I feel we’re all in this together. We are a Community of Inquiry into virtual learning; one with no boundaries. The learning about learning online just goes on and on and on……MOOCing is an important part of this discovery process. In an environment where there’s no-one-size-fits-all model of how to ‘do’ the digital – be it literacies, scholarship or pedagogy – we need all the practice we can get. The First Steps into Learning and Teaching MOOC with Oxford Brookes is a valuable opportunity to mix virtually with others journeying across unfamiliar digital landscapes. Online teachers need to be students. Without this experience it’s impossible to understand the complexities of digital education.
There are four ‘online teachers’ on First Steps into Learning and Teaching. The language of virtual learning intrigues me. Lecturers on campus become tutors, moderators, facilitators, teachers – but rarely lecturers. Does this represent a demotion of status and if so, could it partially contribute to resistance to digital education? Or is it the beginning of a new category of educator, one where boundaries between the learn-ed and the learn-er are blurred. Like TELEDA, are we all in this together?
I wonder how much the identity of a lecturer is tied to their face-to-face performance in front of students? the personality or to use the word in its ancient sense – the glamour? Online we’re all invisible. Communication becomes a challenge. Not everyone is comfortable with creating video or eloquent with a communicative style of text which engages all and offends none.
I inducted but missed the start of Week 1 on First Steps into Learning and Teaching. Today I’ve looked at the contributions to the discussion forum and felt overwhelmed by the amount not to mention the quality which draws me in and makes me want to read everyone and comment. In the meantime the Outlook bell continues to ping new mail and I’m feeling guilty about everything I haven’t done. As is the nature of all things digital my workload is largely invisible – measured only by my Sent folder. I don’t even know how much of my online endeavour has been received or if it’s made any difference. In this is – I think – another barrier to shifting practice from stage to screen. It’s the silence. The unknown. The dependence on a digital response to take the place of a smile or eye contact or just a few words like I understand, that’s great, thanks, see you all next week.
MOOC have been good for online education. They’re raising key issues around the value of VLE where VLE can be institutional like Blackboard or any combination of free software. Bursting MOOC bubbles mean it’s time to talk about the big questions. Like do VLE enhance learning? How best can face-to-face practice be transferred? What might digital pedagogy look like?
For me, one of the strengths of the VLE is in widening participation; opening up potentially 24/7 opportunities for those unable to commit to a campus based education. But this can’t happen without appropriate support for the shift of traditional lecture and seminar content to online delivery. VLE need investment in digital literacies, scholarship and pedagogy. UCISA reports into Technology Enhanced Learning show since 2010 the top two barriers to TEL development are lack of time and money. The JISC Digital Literacies Programme released the Summary of the Professional Association Baseline Reports last year showing the main challenges for professionals becoming more digitally expert were lack of time, speed of change and training not being available, timely or relevant.
A lot of staff who teach and support learning at Lincoln have a DIY approach to technology; learning to use it effectively and integrate it into their lives. There are also those who are less confident. The adoption of a DIY model privileges the innovators and risks excluding those unsure about digital change. Taking the time to do things differently using Blackboard might not seem a viable option when it works doing it without. The issue of self-selection poses a risk. If you’re unsure of your VLE you’re less likely to go to digital workshops or seminars, attend digital technology conferences or apply for research funding in the area of education technology.
Often there simply isn’t enough time, resource, or role recognition attached to developing digital expertise. One way forward might be to highlight the development of an ethos of support and resource for shifting to digital ways of working. The University of Lincoln has a new Digital Education Plan. The VLE procurement process has highlighted the need for additional support for virtual teaching and learning. Thanks to the MOOC bubble bursting, there’s renewed interest in what works well and less well in online education. One thing is clear; ‘Staff expertise is the most important asset in a university and without it literally nothing can be achieved.’(Blackmore and Blackwell 2003: 23) I cautiously predict exciting times ahead for Lincoln next year with TELEDA at the heart of discussions about all things pedagogically digital.
Blackmore, P. and Blackwell, R. (2003) ‘Academic roles and relationships’ in R. Blackwell and P. Blackmore (eds) Towards Strategic Staff Development in Higher Education, Berkshire: SRHE and Open University Press pp 16-28
Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age (TELEDA) Learning Block Two Discussions were based on Connectivism by George Siemens (http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm). This paper suggests digital networks are making fundamental changes to education and new theoretical approaches are required.
It was clear from responses, the world has changed less than Siemens would like us to believe. Education has always been an evolving discipline, one which has taken advantage of ‘the technologies of the time’ and while Siemens’ ‘networks, chaos and complexities’ may be useful ways ‘to identify some characteristics in the digital age’ you see many of the features of connectivism as already part of our learning designs.
‘the chaos is life(!)’ A fantastic way to describe the complexity of day to day living as well as teaching and learning in a digital age. Problem-solving and decision-making are long standing examples of ‘networks of learning’ and ‘thinking, reasoning and reflecting’ are still essential. There was consensus attention to digital literacies. Students believe ‘the net holds all of the information they could possibly require’ and ‘resources will be available at a click of the button or by typing the question into a single search box’ The critical issue being‘They might find the answer… but do they understand the answer and how to correctly apply it?’……‘Context is king! So cue the tutor…’ Exactly! In this age of MOOC the role of the tutor remains vital because ‘the knowledge base is increasing at an amazing rate but just how much of that “knowledge” is real thing?’ students need guiding and supporting students to make the ‘all-important distinction between knowledge and information. Otherwise known as wheat and chaff.’ The problem can be a mix of resources and attitudes ‘…some teaching teams don’t have the time, and sometimes the inclination to change the module guide, to reflect on what tools are available to enhance the learning experience in their subject area.’
Conversations showed how the risk over exposure to virtual worlds is leading to lack of confidence with real world. ‘Many students need more encouragement and help with the social skills…[the] natural interaction that students miss because of all the social media’. Here is the irony of teaching and learning in a digital world – how do you achieve the relevant balance digital graduate attributes when students need to be skilled in all the social media because it plays such a large role in people’s lives? The internet is a technological product of our time. We only have to read The Printing Press as an Agent of Change by Elizabeth Eisenstein (1980)http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Printing_Press_as_an_Agent_of_Change.html?id=5LR1SrkIrocC or The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage (2009) http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Victorian_Internet.html?id=vPVbi6GVodAC to see how the inventions of the Gutenberg Press and the Telegraph did not happen in a vacuum. Instead they evolved out of the social conditions of their time amid a mixture of much contemporary alarm and excitement; just like the internet in 21st century!
However, the internet poses challenges across the sector. On the one hand students (and some staff) may appear cyborgs, permanently connected to their mobile devices, and the quality of that interaction may suggest they are ‘amusing themselves to death’ (see Neil Postman’s analysis of television culture on 1980s America), but on the other it’s clear how making the shift from face-to-face to virtual interaction is one which needs prioritizing and resourcing rather than taking for granted online learning design is absorbed through some magic process of osmosis!
For summing up, I couldn’t say this any better. Firstly with regard to learning theory for a digital age: ‘The characteristics of connectivism theory already exist….Perhaps we just don’t call it connectivism’ – excellent insight – but the most important point of all: ‘However, we do spend a great deal of time ensuring that they [students] know how to deal with human beings – they are still the ones that really matter.’
The collapse of the Coursera MOOC Fundamentals of Online Education (#foemooc) with an alleged 41,000 students, has raised mixed opinions. It’s clear many students were satisfied with their initial learning experience, claiming those without the prerequisite digital knowledge and experience were being disadvantaged. The design and choice of technology appears not to have suited everyone nor the requirement for students to structure their own learning with peers. This self-direction is similar to OLDsMOOC which is now in week 6. There have been similar difficulties with self grouping and establishing learning projects. Looking at the noticeable decrease in emails to the main OLDsMOOC list, there has been a significant drop-out suggesting much is still to be learned.
MOOCs are too new to have found their feet. Many of the free courses contain poor quality materials with the standard of discussions not conducive to effective learning. Quantity is often achieved at the expense of quality and the massiveness of open online courses is no exception. MOOCs also draw attention to the diversity of individual digital literacies. OLDsMOOC has been a challenge through its use of unfamiliar software like Cloudworks and Google Groups as well as its reliance of individual motivation and self-directed learning. Failure is often the best teacher and from the Coursera collapse will come new knowledge about MOOCing. The blog How Not to Design a MOOC and its follow up post The MOOC Honeymoon is Over: Three Takeaways from the Coursera Calamity are early examples. These offer three key pointers for institutions considering going down the MOOC path.
The instructional model is shifting to be student-centric, away from an institution or instructor-focused model
Sound instructional design is the; key to supporting self-directed learning experiences.
Prepare students for the Learning Experience.
No surprises here but they seem to have been missing from Fundamentals of Online Education; an irony not lost on those who participated and commented on its sudden and unanticipated demise.
MOOCs are great on so many levels. It’s hard to know where to start but already its’ clear that prioritising and organisation are key to MOOC success. How the tutors are managing to keep up with all the postings I don’t know; possibly lots of caffeine and late nights/early mornings lie ahead.
A key challenge is the proliferation of places to work in. It’s early days on the OLDs MOOC but already there is additional email traffic to manage and multiple new online places to explore (Cloudworks, Google Groups, Bibsomony etc). The summary of all the blog posts which mention MOOCs is a neat example of how the internet draws together shared interest. But is it all too much? Digital confidence directly relates to existing experience – in particular with finding your way around social networking platforms – for participants new to working online this in itself may pose a barrier.
When it comes to online presence, I prefer less to more – like single sign-on in reverse – one post appears in multiple places. I would be interested to know how other people manage their online lives and have posted this question in google groups – or was it my cloud in cloudworks? I’ve had so many MOOC windows I was getting confused. Friday activities included View and discuss the presentation introducing learning design for the OLDS MOOC. Somewhere I saw an instruction not to start a new thread but couldn’t find where I’d read it.. There didn’t seem to be one which fitted the instruction. It all got a bit messy.
Is OLDs MOOC is using reverse psychology where having a proliferation of places to post is showing less is best? Or an example of technology dominating the pedagogy and/or the user experience. OLD is open ended – there are always new tools and new ways of using them so by definition OLD can never be finished – but in terms of learning design there is a risk the practice gets lost in the process. For me, learning design has to focus on the affordances of the software and keep the interface simple. As tweeted on #oldsmooc this is a learning curve on massiveness.
The use of Multimedia in learning design offers powerful opportunities for meeting a range of learning preferences but all too often the provision of that information is limited to single or inadequate formats. It would be good to see OLDs MOOC following JISC TechDis advice on inclusive practice and setting an exemplary example with audio and video for others to follow.
MOOCs ended last year and MOOCs begin this year. MOOCs are currently here there and everywhere, but under the surface the hype is being mixed with words of caution. This is welcome. So far I’ve been happy to promote the potential of MOOCs and post links to the different places where MOOCs can be found. It’s another rung in the affordances of the internet for the life long learning agenda. However, MOOCS should be seen for what they are – access to educational resources rather than access to equivalent university experiences. Sir John Daniel, previously VC for the OU, has written a perspective on MOOCs at http://jime.open.ac.uk/jime/issue/view/Perspective-MOOCs which offers an account of their sort history and appraises their usefulness.
‘This essay has taken a critical stance because the discourse about MOOCs is overloaded with hype and myth while the reality is shot through with paradoxes and contradictions.’ 2012: 18
Not a bad place to start. Meeting your critics is one way to success. The poor quality of MOOCs and the fragility of their free access is covered and attention drawn to their frequent reliance on old out of date behaviourist pedagogies based on models of information transmission. Where in the 21st century the internet enables interaction and networks, it is acknowledged how these rarely happen in isolation. Instead, the potential for collaborative communities of practice built around subject specialisms needs online intervention and presence; this can only come from a tutor experienced in this sort of distance online interaction between a group of eclectic strangers.
This reinforces the necessity for online learning to have a number of off line prerequisites in place. These include support for learning design and content development, in particular accessible, inclusive multimedia, and appropriate digital literacies for engaging with and operating effectively within online environments. MOOCs offer the incentive for universities to revisit how they already teach and learn on campus and re-examine their mechanisms for transferring this knowledge and skill to virtual platforms and for this reason alone their potential should not be dismissed.