No weekend break on a MOOC. Activities were scheduled throughout Week 1 and by Day 5 (today) I should have a team, a study circle and be ready to brainstorm. (For anyone cringing at the use of the word brainstorm look here for the latest thinking).
My problem is linking interested people. Already I’ve had an gentle email suggesting some of my responses have been in the wrong place! I’m not sure on MOOC-ing protocols – should I chase people or wait for them to contact me? Up to now I’ve been proactive but have concerns about the time needed to keep on top; as this week goes on there will be even less time available. Actually getting started with the Online Learning Design seems a long way off. I’m still trying to get familiar with the clouds, groups and hangups. It seems unless everyone is in the same place it’s hard to make connections.
For me, the broad range of technology on OLDSMOOC is a barrier. Good learning curve but it replicates what often happens when technically competent people lead those further across on the spectrum of technical confidence. I’m not exiting the MOOC building yet; I think once the group is established with agreed lines of communication then contact with will be quicker and easier – but I haven’t got there yet!
If anyone would like to join my group, I’ve proposed developing a user guide to staff adopting a DIY approach to using audio and video in their teaching; this will cover the media capture and production and be aimed at the beginner – and my preferred mode of contact remains my work email email@example.com 🙂
Having a primary interest in the social effect of the internet, in particular on higher education, I’m running to stand still with the MOOC experience. Every MOOC I take – currently the JISC/OU OLDsMOOC on Online Learning Design and the soon to start Coursera MOOC on E-learning and Digital Cultures – is another step towards the future. The affordances of MOOCs are overwhelming in terms of building networks of shared expertise and interest across all boundaries of time and geography. MOOCs do what the internet does best. All the old clichés about harnessing the power of technology come to mind.
MOOCs are also providing opportunities to revisit the way virtual learning is constructed. I’m using the OLDSMOOC to explore online learning design with multimedia. This has now shifted from the professional studio and become a real possibility for everyone with the means of access. Yes, it takes time and there is a learning curve, but that curve has decreased significantly over the past few years. I want to build on the DIY approach at Lincoln where staff do their own media production to enhance their teaching and learning resources. I hope to produce a collaboratively formed set of guidance on DIY audio and video. Key to successful multimedia is inclusive practice where alternative formats are seen as an integral stage of pre-production rather than a bolt on post-production afterthought.
PBS Newshour examines the MOOC phenomena suggesting the current boom in online learning could change higher education. The video, ‘How Free Online Courses Are Changing the Traditional Liberal Arts Education’ is a perfect example of how learning online could look. It can be watched, downloaded and listened too. Best of all there is a full and complete transcript, provided as though it were totally natural. Which it should be. Yet it’s unusual enough for me to pick it up and write this blog post.
Multimedia should look like this. As MOOCs stimulate attention to online learning design, they offer a valuable opportunity to revisit our digitally inclusive practice.
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.
Do a MOOC. The experience of the loneliness of the long distance learner is one of the best staff development activities for teaching and learning in a digital age. There are multiple options to choose from (see previous blog posts) and Udacity have five useful tips for getting the best out of any online learning experience. http://blog.udacity.com/2012/12/5-tips-to-be-motivated-learner-in-2013.html There are no surprises here but they do reinforce the need for strategic approaches to virtual learning and how social networks really can offer viable alternatives to face to face collegial support on campus.
Inevitably MOOCs are bringing with them a new language for learning. In Five Steps to Success in a MOOC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8avYQ5ZqM0 David Cormier recommends participants Orient, Declare, Network, Focus and Cluster. Again, this emphasises the value of using social networking tools to find and engage with like minded people and create online communities of practice. Here is the power of the internet in action with real potential for offering alternative access to teaching and learning opportunities.
FutureLearn Ltd is the brand name for the twelve UK universities getting together with the The Open University to provide free online learning opportunities – now commonly referred to as MOOCs. The MOOC twelve are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick. It’s early days with little information about business models or other structural essentials but FutureLearn Ltd will be majority owned by the OU who are providing initial funding and technology. With their long standing experience in delivering education at a distance, the OU are in a good position to make this happen and exert influence over the processes of design and delivery of materials. UK universities in online launch to challenge US from the BBC tells us courses will be offered on the FutureLearn online platform next year with the twelve universities being responsible for their own content, quality, accreditation and cost of courses. Cost? Not truly open then? The article goes on to say there will also be social networking-style communities for students and materials will be designed for portable devices, such as iPads or mobile phones.
All of this represents a huge shift from traditional HE with massive implications for curriculum design, content production, teacher education, learning development and ICT support. Not to say this shift isn’t already happening, but those universities taking the lead will be those who already have already taken steps to ensure support is in place. Online distance education is so much more than filming a 50 minute lecture and uploading a powerpoint presentation. It requires a different approach to constructing content and social networking-style communities don’t just happen, they require shaping and supporting if they are to have relevant form and function. If open education is to work it needs appropriate support and resources around digital scholarship and digital literacies. MOOCs are the word of the moment and care needs to be taken so initial enthusiasm for the affordances of online learning are not disguising some of the potential problems underneath.
Moocs are in the news again. They are dominating Guardian Online Education where the latest headline is UK universities are wary of getting on board the mooc train. MOOC should win a prize for the unlikeliest, and possibility ugliest, acronym of 2012. Putting that to one side, MOOCs, and the philosophy behind them, cannot be ignored. The speed at which MOOCs are developing makes it almost certain the Massive Online Open Course bubble is going to burst but it’s not yet clear what will make that happen.
Times have changed. The UK e-University was complex involving massive amounts of investment, partnerships, market research plus the building of a new technology platform, all with multiple drivers including hefce and the government. Compare this with MOOCs. User generated content and social media networks have revolutionised the internet in a very short space of time. Uploading content and enabling platforms for discussion and collaborative working has never been so easily achieved while the production and distribution of multimedia has been democratised.
We live in changing times and MOOCs reflect this. In 2004, an e-university was conceived of as a company following traditional organisational structure and practices. In 2012 that model has been thrown out of the window. Open education is becoming a reality for those with means of access. Open Educational Resources and publishing is making quality content freely available online. The UK e-University and MOOCs are polar opposites in philosophy and practice. Somewhere between the two is a workable model but we haven’t yet recognised quite how that will look.
MOOCs are everywhere. This week sees the start of a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) from the OER Foundation. Open Content Licensing for Educators runs from 3-14 December and is an online workshop designed for educators wanting to learn more about open education resources, copyright, and creative commons licenses. 293 people are currently registered from 58 different countries. You can register at http://wikieducator.org/Open_content_licensing_for_educators/Home
If you prefer a home grown MOOC, the Open Learning Design Studio’s ‘Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum’ is a 9 week course starting 10/01/13. Designed with further and higher education professionals with an interest in curriculum and learning design, the course has been funded by JISC as part of a benefits realisation programme and is intended to build on the success of the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) and other JISC funded curriculum design and delivery projects. Go to http://www.olds.ac.uk/ to find out more about the course and to register.
MOOCs are currently getting media coverage and the only way to have an informed judgement is to try one. As well as the links above, MOOCs are also offered at Udacity and Coursera. There must be something somewhere for everyone.
At last the government acknowledges digital exclusion is about more than access to technology – it is also about the quality of that access. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20236708 Digital literacies are moving centre stage. This is reassuring. For too long the focus has been embedding technology into systems or attention to early adopters pushing the boundaries. It’s time the user experience received some attention.
This past year the JISC Developing Literacies Programme has funded projects designed to embed core digital skills into the curriculum. JISCs definition of digital literacy is those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. Within HE they give examples of using digital tools to undertake academic research, writing and critical thinking; PDP and showcasing achievements. But it’s not easy to package digital literacies into any single box and this makes strategic approaches to supporting their development a tricky task.
A report commissioned by Go On has concluded 16 million people in the UK lack basic online skills; defined as using a search engine, sending and receiving emails, completing online applications and accessing information online. Organisations are pledging to train their employees in these four areas. This barely scratches the surface when the full implications of digital engagement are set out. Broader digital literacies have become essential life skills for example personal and financial safety online, the permanence of digital footprints and hard criticality with regard to online content. In an unmoderated environment, the evaluation of authenticity and authority lies with the individual user. Distinguishing between knowledge information and personal opinion is an increasingly essential art – and not always an easy one.
Being let loose on the internet can be exciting and inspiring. It can also quickly become a nightmare. Digital literacies have moved on from the skills required to access virtual environments, although there is a danger these are assumed more than are in evidence. However, I’m not sure they have moved far enough. There are broader issues around living in a digital society which are surfaced less often. Any attention to digital literacies is good but the attention has to be focused in the right places for it to be truly effective
A recent Edudemic post addresses the non-use of teaching technology. The reference to teachers who are ‘not comfortable with technology’ resonated. They may be more of them than is often realised. Change is always a challenge and adoption of technology for teaching requires major shifts in practice. Support for the process is essential, either through staff development or teacher education. The Edudemic post claims the amount spent on technology for schools in the US is rising while professional development budgets are decreasing or non-existent. Here in the UK, it can sometimes seem resourcing for staff engagement with technology is not sufficiently prioritised. Competition for funds has never been greater yet digital literacy has not only become plural it’s become complicated. Keeping up to date with is hard enough when you work with the technology. For those at the far end of the digital spectrum, it can seem impossible to even know where to begin.
There is a growing need to support staff to use technology effectively. Without investing in resources to bridge the divide between teaching and technology, staff cannot develop the prerequisite confidence with virtual learning environments. Embedding OER Practice at Lincoln, now in its final weeks, showed how staff engagement with the internet for teaching and learning doesn’t happen in isolation. It happens with appropriate targeted support, customised to suit individual disciplines and personalities. It works best within small groups of shared practice and requires initial scaffolding which can be withdrawn for use elsewhere as the affordances of being online are realised and the necessary skills and competencies embedded into day to day practices. The review into the future of the institutional VLE offers an appropriate opportunity to also review the way in which digital literacies are defined and resourced across the university. The internet and all its associated tools for learning are not going away any time soon. The more we invest in their use the better that use will be.
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