MOOCs & the Real Challenge

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Report from the Westminster HE Forum: MOOCs and technology‐enhanced learning: next steps and challenges (PDF) on Tuesday 21st October.

Towards the end of this event the conversation moved off MOOCs and onto online learning more generally which was most welcome. But let’s deal with MOOCs briefly before moving on to some challenges ahead.

Despite the passage of time (18-months), which includes the launch of Future Learn, this morning it didn’t feel like the conversation around MOOCs had changed much since I blogged my report (7 things about MOOCs & UK HE) from a UUK May 2013 event. OK, that’s a bit unfair, the hype has certainly died down.

Photo of Glaziers Hall

Event held at Glaziers Hall – Credit: View from London Bridge by Clive A Brown (CC BY-NC)

The last session of today’s event was where the real challenges ahead were aired. This was the best session with the panelists, in particular @bobharrisonset & @HelenBarefoot, as well as @MarkRussell from the floor, making important points which might be paraphrased as:

  • Online is central in the future of education
  • MOOCs may be one small part of that but they shouldn’t be the focus of our discussion or actions now.
  • We need to focus on both capacity- and capability-building to ensure our institutions are in a position to deliver online education (whatever off-campus / on-campus blend that may be).
  • Three key area to address are staff digital and online teaching skills, student digital and online learning skills and our institutional processes (which are generally set-up for campus-based, single entry, fixed period courses rather than online provision).
  • This will require strong governance and leadership.
  • It is a big cultural not technological challenge.

And Finally

A couple more things from today:

  1. Amara‘s Law – highlighted by @urbangenie “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”
  2. HEA’s Flexible Pedagogies reports highlighted by @AlisonLeCornu

Horizon Scanning @ Herts

May 9, 2014 3 comments

My keynote & highlights from the 2014 University of Hertfordshire Teaching & Learning Conference.

I was delighted to be invited to speak at Hertfordshire’s conference on Learning & Teaching Innovations. For my keynote I was asked to look forward and outline the likely impact of technology on the HE learning landscape in the next 5-10 years. Crystal Ball stuff. More of that in a moment.

Photo: Crystal Ball

Super Bowl Sunday Crystal Ball by Iris Shreve Garrot on Flickr (BY-NC-SA)

It was an excellent conference, and I have to say (sorry City, sorry LSE) easily the best university Teaching & Learning Conference I have attended. It was well-attended, almost 300 staff I believe, but what really stood out was the enthusiasm for teaching and for TEL. This came out in both the presentations and the discussions.

The day included 4 parallel sessions under the banner “Something to Share…”. I attended the TEL themed one and I think the format worked really well. There were 5 x 5-minute talks followed by 30-mins discussion. We used to run termly ‘show-&-share’ sessions at LSE and I’m a fan of this format but what worked well at Herts was the facilitated discussion afterwards rather than Q&A as we went along. We’re planning to introduce © ‘Show-&-TEL’ here at UWL  and I think we’ll try this format.

In a similar vein my favourite session was one on the use of Pecha Kucha for assessment. I’ve written about Pecha Kucha before but this was the first time I’ve seen it used for summative assessment. In the session we were treated to two PKs – one by the tutor, David Turner and then an excellent (Grade 83%) one on Bill Shankley & Cultural Identity by one of the students. Having tried it before myself I cannot stress enough how good both PKs were as I know how difficult it is. Four of the students then answered questions on their experiences. They had found the assessment tough, more work than other assignments but hugely rewarding and beneficial – not just for their academic studies but also in terms of confidence for forthcoming interviews for example.

Click it. Swipe it. Wink it.


My short keynote focused on four topics extracted from a variety of future-gazing reports (including the NMC Horizon Reports, OU Innovating Pedagogy Reports, and an Horizon Scanning Report for LFHE):

  1. Blended – not particularly new nor innovative, but there is a real renaissance in online learning at the moment, in part due to the hype around MOOCs. The next few years will undoubtedly see a significant increase in the online aspect of the face-to-face / online blend.
  2. Gamification – the application of gaming mechanics & psychology to education, such as ‘rewards’ as a motivating factor. Digital Badges are an example of this.
  3. Learning Analytics – the collection, analysis & reporting of data about learners and learning contexts. Student (progress) dashboards are one aspect of this but there are many applications, for example the use of analytics to inform curriculum re-design.
  4. Students as Producers – variously interpreted but essentially learning activities involving the creation of digital resources (beyond text) by students that are shared with peers; usually collaboratively and with some autonomy/student choice.

Social Media at ALT-Cs

September 9, 2013 1 comment

A look back at social media use at the ALT-C conference over the years. Very much personal recollections, certainly not a definitive history. Later today I’ll be heading to Nottingham for the ALT-C conference #altc2013 It’s ALT’s 20th conference which makes me feel like a relative newbie to the field of learning technology. My first ALT-C was in Sunderland in 2002, about which I remember very little – David Puttnam and the Stadium of Light. My first Social Media ALT-C My first social media fueled ALT-C was 2008 in Leeds and I think that’s the conference where social media first featured heavily. There was stuff going on before that (e.g. see #altc2006 photos on Flickr, #altc2007 RSS Yahoo Pipe) but a minority sport I think (I didn’t attend between 2003 & 2008, so can’t be sure). By 2008 I’d been messing quite a lot with blogs, wikis, Facebook, RSS and the like – I’d run my first social media workshop in 2006 “Social Software: Blog it, Digg it, Poke it!”.

Edubloggers at Work

Photo by samscam (CC BY-NC)

At the time of #altc2008 one of my tools of choice was Netvibes. Ahead of the conference I created this ALT-C 2008 Netvibes page and compiled an OPML file (collection of RSS) from it for others to subscribe to. I also created a conference wiki with Kris Roger (an LSE colleague) & Athina Chatzigavriil (UCL & future LSE colleague) to collate comments from delegates to help us write the 2008 Conference Review for the ALT Newsletter. The conference also featured Crowdvine which continued to be used as the conference site until last year. Crowdvine made a a lot of use of RSS and enabled delegates to add their various social media channels to their profiles e.g. my 2008 profile. The 2008 conference also saw the development of a conference Fringe with the introduction of F-ALT. I particularly remember the Edubloggers meet-up where I first met many people who have since featured heavily in my social media network. Talking of which, Twitter also arrived on the ALT-C scene at the 2008 conference with 310 hash-tagged tweets. See Twitter at ALT-C below. While ALT’s Youtube channel now features recordings from 2008, they weren’t actually added until 2011. I helped Seb Schmoller set-up the ALT YouTube channel in 2009 and the first uploaded video was Making Group-Work Work from the 2009 conference. Working as a WPC at ALT-C For the 2010 & 2011 ALT-Cs I was one of the four Web Participation Co-ordinators. This was a new role on the conference programme committee tasked with helping make the most of the online aspects of the conference including social media, crowdvine and the live streaming. I didn’t attend the 2010 conference in Nottingham in person but was very active from afar and did a lot of tweeting from the official @A_L_T Twitter account which I’d helped get off the ground in 2009. Twitter Usage at ALT-C Although Twitter featured earlier, as the chart shows it was 2009 that it really took off as the backchannel tool of choice.

Tweets at ALT-C

Tweets at ALT-C

These numbers have been taken from topsy.com and for each year I’ve counted the number of tweets tagged within the same calendar year that included #altc20xx, altc20xx, or #altcxx. Despite a slight dip last year there has already been much more pre-conference tweeting in 2013. At the time of writing – lunchtime, the day before the conference, there are 1186 tweets for ALT-C 2013. I suspect the number of tweets will increase again this year despite the growth of other networks such as Google+. Top of the Tweeters

  • 2007 – @mmetcalfe (1 tweet)
  • 2008 – @andypowe11 (51)
  • 2009 – @jamesclay (252)
  • 2010 – @dajbconf (333)
  • 2011 – @digitalfprint (423)
  • 2012 – @digitalfprint (403)

Update

Updated 08/10/2014 with the following tweet from @mhawksey:

Testing ALT-C Conference Reader

August 28, 2013 1 comment

It’s ALTC2013 in a couple of weeks and I’m involved in testing the new conference website being developed by @mhawksey The site includes a version of Martin’s Reader tool which uses the WordPress plugin FeedWordPress. It was first developed for, and can be seen in action on the ocTEL website.

At City we have used the same plugin for our EdTech: Education & Technology blog which acts as a gateway to all the learning technology related blogs at the university.

If this test works then this post will appear in the Conference Reader as my blog is registered with the site and I have included altc2013 in the post or title text.

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Infographic Investigated – Style over Substance

August 1, 2013 1 comment

A look at the data behind a recent infographic that did the rounds on Twitter. Not quite what it seems.

I love infographics. They just look so darn good. And yet… I’ve always been quite sceptical about them, so today I’ve dissected one of this week’s popular infographics to see what’s behind it. Quite revealing.

You may have seen the infographic – it’s about students’ use of smartphones.  JISC was one of many that tweeted it to their network:

Screenshot of JISC Tweethttps://twitter.com/Jisc/status/362499544505786369

The original infographic was created by The Snugg, a company that sells smartphone & tablet covers & the infographic appeared in a post Students spend their lives wired in to their phones on 13th June. However the tweets I read this week were all linking to a 17th July post This Is How Students Actually Use Smartphones on Edudemic, a US education & technology site which offers “tools, tips, resources, visuals, and guest posts” and claims 1 million visitors a month.

UK or not UK? Students?

The reason this infographic caught my eye was that the Edudemic post stated it was about UK students and this was highlighted in several of the tweets. The infographic & the Snugg post includes money in £s and refers to UK phone networks. BUT when you delve deeper the source data is actually a mix of US & UK data and not all about students.

Data Sources

The Snugg infographic includes a list of sources. Handy. As it’s an image, the links are not clickable and some are a pain to type. Not so handy.

SNUGG Infograph

Unfortuanately one of the sites (3. below) is unavailable. This is a shame as the other 4 sources appear to contribute very little to the infographic.

  1. http://www.oncampuspromotions.co.uk/2011/07/students-mobile-phone-habits-and-usage/ As the URL shows this is a 2011 article. Click through and you’ll see it’s a 7 question survey of 100 1st & 2nd students. I can’t find any of this data in the infographic, in fact it seems to contradict it but then it is 2-years old! ;-)
  2. https://fb-public.app.box.com/s/3iq5x6uwnqtq7ki4q8wk This is a market research report by IDC on behalf of Facebook. It’s a survey of 7,446 US smartphone owners, aged 18-44 undertaken in March 2013. Note the age. The report includes some 18-24 data but IDC state that 18-24 year olds were under-represented. No mention of students. The data at the top of the infographic about how quickly 18-24 year olds reach for their smartphone comes from here. That seems to be all.
  3. http://testkitchen.colorado.edu/projects/reports/smartphone/smartphone-survey/ This site is currently unavailable. Potentially the main source of the infographic. I’ve not been able to find out much about Colorado’s Digital Media Test Kitchen (there’s a 2011 article and they posted on Facebook in May 2012). It’s possible that the survey is from 2010 as I found this reference (see [15]) that refers to a survey with a similar URL. But impossible to know. Given that it’s based in Boulder Colorado it seems more likely that this is US data. Update 5/8/2013 – See comment below from Emma Tonkin. It is a 2010 survey and I’m struggling to see how it informs the infographic.
  4. http://www.savethestudent.org/money/student-budgeting/what-do-students-spend-their-money-on.html This post is based on a 2012 student finance survey of 2,219 UK university students. The only figure I can spot in the infographic that comes from here is the £24 a month spend on mobile phones.
  5. http://www.mobot.net/cost-repair-blackberry-screen/ My favourite ‘source’. A discussion post. Doesn’t appear to contribute to the infographic (other than as a source!). Thankfully.

I’ve always been sceptical of this kind of technology / social media infographic but the lack of data behind this one has really surprised me, although until I see the testkitchen survey I should reserve full judgement…

Update 5/8/2013 – having now browsed the archived site of testkitchen’s 2010 survey I think I can conclude that:

  • Hardly any of the information in the infographic comes from the cited sources – I make it 2 items.
  • The only item in the infographic from a cited source about UK students is that they spend £24 a month on mobile phone (2012).

Another quick search this morning  tells me that the real source of some of this data appears to be a 2011 survey done at the University of Sheffield! http://shef.ac.uk/polopoly_fs/1.103665!/file/mobilesurvey2011.pdf

I reckon infographic investigation would make a great student activity.

Brief Overview of MOOCs

July 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Visuals from a recent MOOC talk I did at SMUC

I gave a short ‘intro to MOOCs’ talk at the St Mary’s University College E-Learning Staff Development day on 17th July, organised by friend & ex-colleague Hervé Didiot-Cook. The slides don’t tell the whole story of course but they will give you a good idea of what I covered. More about the event in Easy Tools Please on TED team blog.

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Coursera under fire in MOOCs licensing row (Republished)

July 3, 2013 1 comment

The following post was originally published at The Conversation under a Creative Commons Attribution/No derivatives licence. See their Republishing Guidelines for further information.

It’s a bit fiddly to republish at present as you must manually insert their logo and link to them. The HTML of the article is supplied and it would be great if logo & licence details could be automatically included :-)

Read the original article.

Coursera under fire in MOOCs licensing row

By Megan Clement, The Conversation

A prominent member of the open education movement, former Open University Vice-Chancellor Sir John Daniel, has criticised online education provider Coursera for not making its materials available under creative commons licensing.

Coursera is one of the largest providers of MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – which allow students to take university courses for free online from anywhere in the world.

MOOCs have been credited with democratising higher education, making it available for those who cannot afford to attend prestigious universities. But providers like Coursera have come under fire in recent months for undermining academic jobs, not providing adequate accreditation, and, in this latest controversy, not adhering closely enough to the “open” part of the MOOC acronym. Read more…

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