Massive participation but no one to talk to: #moocmooc day 3

So it’s day three of #moocmooc, and after exploring what MOOCs are, places where learning takes place, today’s theme is “Participant Pedagogy”.

We’ve been given a short list of articles offering a number of perspectives from Howard Rheingold, Amya Kamenetz and Stephen Downes, and been to consider and respond to the following questions:

*How does the rise of hybrid pedagogy, open education, and massive open online courses change the relationships between teachers, students and the technologies they share?
*What would happen if we extracted the teacher entirely from the classroom? Should we?
*What is the role of collaboration among peers and between teachers and students? What forms might that collaboration take?
*What role do institutions play?

We’ve also been asked to:
*Create your own conversation around the topic of participant pedagogy.
*Do this by writing an article on your own blog or, if you don’t have a blog, by starting a thread in the discussion forum within this course.
*Establish the space, provide the tools, and provoke your audience to respond. Announce and link to your post on Twitter w/ hashtag #moocmooc and hashtag #post (to help people search and avoid spambots).

I thought that this task might be enlivened by some face to face discussion around the questions and I’m inviting fellow moocmoo-ers and anyone else who is interested to join me in a google hang out tonight (15 August) at 8pm (BST). As well as getting to know some fellow course members, I’m hoping this will be a good opportunity to try out Google hang outs, which I haven’t done before. I understand you can record conversations to, which again would be useful.

Unfortunately, despite a couple of tweets and a post to the course discussion forums, it looks like no-one is really that interested. So if you, dear reader, would like to talk about participant pedagogy (or anything else really) and try out google hangouts – DM me (@sheilmcn) and so I can get your email address and invite you to the hangout. There is a limit of 10 people which again I think would be about the right number for a this kind of conversation. However I am having rather mixed feelings of irony that there is so much other “massive” mooc participation/activity going on, that so far no-one seems to want to participate in this activity. I’m not paranoid, honest, but am beginning to feel slightly like a Billy no-mates:-)

**UPDATE**
I should have had more faith in my fellow moocmooc-ers. Have had a great chat tonight, despite some technical ‘issues’ at the start (note to self – don’t try to do a google hangout on 7yr old mac, with domestic broadband).

Places where learning takes place (#moocmooc day 2)

So I survived day 1 of #moocmooc, and the collaborative task of creating a 1,000 word essay explaining the history, context and potential and potential pitfalls of MOOCs, worked surprisingly well. Thanks to the people in the group I was assigned to, who took charge and got things done. I’m curating the resources/ recommended readings from the course on Pearltrees and you can see links to all the group submissions in my #moocmooc pearl.

Today’s theme is “places where learning takes place”. Participants have been asked to create a video sharing their views, experiences and share them on Youtube. There there are some really great contributions which have been collated in this Storify.

Now, today has been not quite an average Tuesday for me. We had our almost annual CETIS Scotland meet up at the Edinburgh festival. This was a bit of a family affair too and so we went to see Horrible Histories - which is a very fine live learning experience in itself. Those in the UK will know what I mean – if you’re not from here, check it out for probably the best guide to British history. Anyway I was thinking about where I learn at various points during the day. For #moocmooc, it is primarily online – at the office, at home, on the train – anywhere with a decent 3G/wifi connection. But I do need quite space to contemplate too. This tends to be when I’m walking to or from work, sometimes in my favourite chair with “a nice cup of tea”.

However the level of contribution and activity in this (and any online, never mind “massive” online course) can be overwhelming. In the twitter chat last night a few of us agreed that boundaries were important to help stay focused, and also the ability to not feel overwhelmed by the sheer level of activity is a key strategy which learners need to develop.

It sometimes feels that you’re trying to juggle all sorts of mismatching things, whilst trying to doing three other things at the same time and speak to 200 people you’ve never met before.

This afternoon we stopped off to watch a street performer who ended up ten feet up a ladder, took his kilt off and then juggled three very large (and sharp) knives. All this on cobblestones! Sometimes being in a mooc feels a bit like that. Slight crazy, a bit dangerous, but great fun – particularly when you get good feedback and connect with others.

Anyway here is my little video (I’ve bent the rules slightly but using animoto and not posting to youtube ).

To MOOC or not to MOOC?

Is the one of the underlying questions of the week long MOOC being run this week by Hybrid Pedagogy. Like many others working education I am interested in MOOCs, and there has been a flurry of activity over recent months with a number of big guns joining, or perhaps taking over, the party.

The #moocmooc course is running over a week, and today’s themes centre around “What are MOOCs? What do we think they are? What do we fear they may be? What potential lies under their surface?”. There’s a group task to complete – a 1,000 word essay on “What is a MOOC? What does it do, and what does it not do?”, and a twitter conversation tonight to share experiences.

However, I think that these questions need to be underpinned by a couple of “whys”? Why are you interested in MOOCs? Why are you thinking about taking the MOOC route? Sian Bayne and her colleagues in the MSc E-Learning course at the University Edinburgh have done exactly this in their recent ALT Article “MOOC pedagogy: the challenges of developing for Coursera“.

And by way of not answering the assignment question, I’m trying to reflect on my experiences of MOOCs to date. So far it looks like the majority of participants seem to be from North America, although there are a few UK faces in there too. I’m particularly interested seeing if there are any major differences in implementation/drivers between North America and the UK. Not everyone is going to be able to go down a full blown MOOC route, but what are the key elements that are really practical for the majority of institutions? The open-ness, experimenting and extending notions of connected learning? Potential to get big enrollment numbers? It’s probably far too early to tell, and as most of the participants probably fall into the early adopters category their motivations may not reflect general practice or readiness.

Although I have a professional interest in MOOCs, it’s probably their potential for me as a learner that really excites me. I’m not particularly motivated to do any more “formal” education – for a number of reasons, but time is probably the main one. I’m also very fortunate to have a job where I really do learn something new everyday, and I feel that my peers do keep my brain more than stimulated.

Being able to participate in open courses around topics that interest me, without financial risk to me personally or my employer (which adds pressure for me) is very appealing. I’ve tried MOOCs before (LAK11) which I enjoyed – particularly the synchronous elements such as the live presentations and chat. But if I’m being honest, I didn’t spend as much time on the course as I probably should have. On the plus side, I did get a feel for being a student on a MOOC and some useful insights to learning analytics.

Although I probably tick the right boxes to be a self motivated, engaged and directed learner, sometimes life just gets in the way and it turns out that I’m a bit rubbish at maintaining engagement, direction and motivation. But that hasn’t put me off MOOCs. Like tens of thousands of others I signed up for the Stanford NPL course, and very quickly realised that I was being a tad optimistic about my coding capabilities and that I just didn’t have the time I would need to get anything out of the course, so like tens of thousands of others I silently dropped out. I did think the traditional design of that course worked well for that subject matter.

But #moocmooc is only a week, no programme required, and also a week in August when things at work are a bit quieter than normal. Surely despite the twitter conversations talking place from 11pm my time I’ll be able to cope with that? Well we’ll see. Already it has got me thinking, given me the opportunity to try the Canvas VLE and back into blogging after a brief holiday lull.

*Day 2 Places where learning takes place
*Day 3 Massive Participation but no-one to talk to
*Day 4 Moocmooc day 4
*Day 5 Designing a MOOC – moocmooc day 5
* Analytics and #moocmooc

Five new publications from JISC

The JISC e-Learning Programme team has just announced the release of five new publications on the themes of lifelong learning, e-portfolio implementation, innovation in further education, digital literacies, and extending the learning environment. These publications will be of interest to managers and practitioners in further and higher education and work based learning. Three of these publications are supported by additional online resources including videos, podcasts and full length case studies.

Effective Learning in a Digital Age: is an effective practice guide that explores ways in which institutions can respond flexibly to the needs of a broader range of learners and meet the opportunities and challenges presented by lifelong learning.

Crossing the Threshold: Moving e-portfolios into the mainstream is a short guide which summarises the key messages from two recent online resources, the e-Portfolio Implementation Toolkit, developed for JISC by the University of Nottingham, and five institutional video case studies. This guide and accompanying resources explore the processes, issues and benefits involved in implementing e-portfolios at scale.

Enhancing practice: Exploring innovation with technology in further education is a short guide that explores how ten colleges in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland (SWaNI) and England are using technology to continue to deliver high-quality learning and achieve efficiency gains despite increasing pressure and reduced budgets.

Developing Digital Literacies: is a briefing paper that provides a snapshot of early outcomes the JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme and explores a range of emergent themes including graduate employability, and the engagement of students in strategies for developing digital literacies.

Extending the learning environment: is a briefing paper that looks at how institutions can review and develop their existing virtual learning environments. It offers case study examples and explores how systems might be better used to support teaching and learning, improve administrative integration or manage tools, apps and widgets.

All guides are available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and text-only Word formats. Briefing papers are available in PDF.

There are a limited number of printed copies of each guide for colleges and universities to order online.

cetis @ #iwmw12

This week I’ve been in Edinburgh with a number of my cetis colleagues at this years IMWM 12 conference which is organised by our sister JISC Innovation Support Centre, based at UKOLN.

Cetis contributions to the conference included:
*Identifying and Responding to Emerging Technologies
*What Can schema.org Offer the Web Manager?, Phil Barker, workshop session
*Developing Digital Literacies and the Role of Institutional Support Services, by me – more info in the text below
*Data Visualisation: A Taster, plenary session with Martin Hawksey and Tony Hirst
*Data Visualisation Kitchen, workshop with Martin and Tony.

This is the first time I’ve attended the conference, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It was particularly useful to have conversations with colleagues involved managing university websites, as this is a sector of the community I don’t have very much contact with. I tend to have more contact with people who are building and using teaching and learning environments, and not the more corporate side of a universities web presence.

I ran a workshop session on the first day of the conference around digital literacies and the role of institutional support services. This was very much a discussion session, based on the findings of the current JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme, in particular the technology review I undertook with projects earlier this year and the results of the baselining work the projects have all conducted, and the baseline synthesis produced by Helen Beetham. I was particularly keen bring out the relationship and potential tensions between the personal nature of developing digital literacies and the role of institutional provision. I wish I had recorded the conversation – as it was very wide ranging and I hope, it gave some food for thought for those who came along. A copy of my slides is embedded below.

The Strategic Developer

What makes a strategic developer? Or to put it another way, what makes the role of a developer strategic? This was the theme of very thought provoking session where there was no coding but a lot of talking at dev8ed last week.

Led by Amber Thomas (JISC), Mahendra Mahey (UKOLN) and Ben Ryan (Jorum), the session started with Mahendra giving an overview of the JISC funded DevCSI</a project which is actively engaging and supporting educational developers through events such as dev8ed and the well established dev8D. It’s an old cliche that developers don’t get or aren’t allowed out much, and a large part of DevCSI is to provide increased opportunities for developers to ‘get out’, share and learn from peers. As well as running these events Mahendra and colleagues have also been conducting a range of activities around the impact and value of developers including commissioning case studies and a stakeholder survey. The findings of the survey have shown that the institutional value of developers varies greatly, and more importantly that there is recognition of the strategic value of developers.

2012-06-06-140012-000011

But how often are developers seen as being strategic in an institutional context? Like many others, they are often pretty far down the strategic food chain. Of course there are exceptions to every rule and as was pointed out there are a few “super developers” who are involved in strategic planning and know the business process of their institution and are recognised as such. I think particularly in teaching and learning contexts the developers often aren’t as recognised as they could be. They are often seen as been slightly apart from the educational developers/academics who are much further up the institutional food chain than the “techies”. Of course, developers aren’t alone in that respect, as was brought up in the discussion learning technologists and librarians have all suffered the same issues.

As the discussions unfolded I was also reflecting on the the recent Curriculum Design programme meeting, where there was uniformed agreement on the difficulty of identifying the key strategic roles for institutional change to occur. The PALET project, has described the key stakeholders needed to implement change processes as “worker bees” and I think developers often fall into this category. They actually do things that allow other changes to be build on and from but are often not the first (or event the last) names /roles that jump to mind when stakeholder groups are being formed.

The issue of management and PDP for developers was central to the discussion, with a range of contexts being shared including examples from some institutions where developers are at the heart of strategic development and actively participate in teaching and learning committees and the craft/apprenticeship model Joss Winn has been actively promoting.

There was also discussion around the pros and cons of project management techniques. There was much “nodding of heads” when the point was made that the waterfall method actually stopped communication between developers and end users/clients; and equal agreement that agile methodology whilst great for communication between developers (especially paired programming) it wasn’t that great at really addressing wider communication issues.

And communication is, imho, at the heart of the problem. If technology in education is to continue to evolve then all parts of the community need to be sharing developments, aspirations and possibilities. Yes, developer specific events such as dev8D are needed, but I would like to see dev8ed evolve into a space where more there was an equal mix of developers and non developers, where the more teaching and learning focused participants could come up with ideas and work with developers to realise them. That way the strategic role of developers could begin to get more traction from a bottom up approach, and more shared understandings of needs from multiple stakeholders could be begin to be addressed.

It was a really useful session and it is going to be followed up not only by the work outlined earlier by Mahendra and colleagues but also in a workshop at this year’s ALT-C Conference being organised by Amber Thomas.

Digital literacy, it’s personal

As part of the the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme held yesterday (15th May), Helen Beetham (synthesis consultant for the programme), started the day by giving a very useful summary of key issues and themes emerging from the baseline reports from both the projects and the professional associations associated with the programme.

One of the common themes emerging from the extensive surveys of technologies undertaken by the projects, was is the divide between personal technologies (which tend to be lightweight, flexible, web-based) and more specialised (and largely institutionally provided) technologies, which often have a steep learning curve and aren’t reconfigurable. Digital literacy (and developing digital literacies) is highly personal. To move from adoption of technology to everyday practice there needs to be a high level of personal motivation – providing a system is not enough. This leads to some interesting questions about what should an institution be providing in terms of technologies and what areas should it be actively promoting in terms of developing staff skills, and indeed as Helen asked “what are institutions good for, and what should they leave alone?”

Most of the day was spent in group discussion sharing experiences around a number of aspects relating to the development of digital literacies. Summary notes from each of the sessions will also be available from the Design Studio over the coming week. But in the meantime, I’ve pulled together some tweets from the day to give a flavour of the day.

[View the story "JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme Meeting, 15 May 2012" on Storify]

A conversation around the Digital University – Part 5

Continuing our discussions around concepts of a Digital University, in this post we are going to explore the Learning Environments quadrant of our conceptual model.

MacNeill, Johnston Conceptual Matrix, 2012

MacNeill, Johnston Conceptual Matrix, 2012

To reiterate,the logic of our overall discussion starts with the macro concept of Digital Participation which provides the wider societal backdrop to educational development. Information Literacy enables digital participation and in educational institutions is supported by Learning Environments which are themselves constantly evolving. All of this has significant implications for Curriculum and Course Design.

Learning Environment
In our model we highlighted three key components of a typical HE institutional learning environment:
*physical and digital
*pedagogical and social
*research and enquiry

1 Physical and digital
A learning space should be able to motivate learners and promote learning as an activity, support collaborative as well as formal practice, provide a personalised and inclusive environment, and be flexible in the face of changing needs.Designing Spaces for Effective Learning, a guide to 21st learning space design.

One of the key starting points for this series of blog posts was the increasing use of “digital” as a prefix for a range of developments (mainly around technology infrastructure) which seemed to have an inherent implication that the physical environment, and its development was almost defunct. However, any successful learning environment is one where there is the appropriate balance between the physical and the digital. Even wholly online courses the student (and teacher) will have a physical location, and there are certain requirements of that physical location which will enable (or not) participation with the digital environment e.g. device, connectivity, power etc. Undoubtedly the rise of mobile internet enabled or Smart devices is allowing for greater flexibility of physical location; but they also create extra demands in the physical campus e.g. ubiquitous, freely available, stable, campus wide wireless connectivity; power sockets that aren’t all at the back of a classroom?. If students and staff are using and creating more digital resources where are they to be stored? Who provides the storage – the institution or the student? If the former how are they managed? How long do they stay “live”? Can a student access them once they have left the institution? Technology is not free, and providing a robust infrastructure does have major cost implications for institutions. For campus based courses, blended learning is becoming increasingly the norm. Which leads to questions around the social and pedagogical developments of our learning environments.

2. Pedagogical and Social
Vermut has summarized a number of patterns of what he refers to as teaching-learning environments which influence effective student learning . From his analysis of these patterns, and their components he has suggested a set of key features for powerful learning environments:
*They prepare students for lifelong, self-regulated, cooperative and work-based learning;
*The foster high quality student learning
*The teaching methods change in response to students’ increasing metacognitive and self-regulatory skills and
*The complexity of the problems dealt with increases gradually and systematically. (Vermut, Student Learning and University Teaching 2007, )

Of course to create these powerful environments requires a shift in terms of what he describes as “a gradual shift in the task division in the learning process form educational ‘agents’ (e.g. teacher, tutor, book or computer) to students”. This shift creates a culture of increasing self regulation and thinking from students. Curricula are developed with an increasing set of challenges which foster key lifelong learning skills that become common practice for students beyond their formal education and into the workplace. Vermut et al refer to this as “process-orientated teaching” as it is targeted at the “processes of knowledge construction and utilization”.

This style of teaching and learning requires an increasingly complex mix of skills including diagnostician, challenger , monitor, evaluator and educational developer. Technology can provide a number of affordances to create the learning spaces for to allow more self regulation for students e.g. collaborative working spaces, and personal reflective spaces. However, there needs to be support from all levels of the institution to continually provide the wider environment which effectively develops the skills and knowledge to allow this type of student as self regulating researcher culture.

3 Research and Enquiry
There is a growing discourse emerging around effective research practice in the digital age, and the notion of the digital scholar is increasingly recognised. Martin Weller’s recent book “The Digital Scholar How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice” explores key themes around digital practice, and what the increasing role of networks and connections, the disconnect and tensions between traditional and new forms of increasingly self publication platforms and formal recognitions within Universities and the role of open scholarship. This blog post summarises his top ten digital scholarship lessons.

What is crucial now is that institutions and funders begin to recognise and more importantly not only begin to reward these different types of digital scholarly activities, but also ensure that staff and students have the relevant literacy skills to exploit them effectively. Information literacy has been recognised as having an impact on effective research practice, but we would argue for that more research needs to be done in this area to make explicit the link between effective information and literacy skills and effective research and scholarly practice.

There is a growing backlash against traditional academic publishing models which was recently highlighted by John Naughton’s feature in The Observer “Academic Publishing Doesn’t Add “Up”. Open access and open publishing can again be seen as being key to digital scholarship.

Early findings from the JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme are showing the impact of undertaking a digital literacy audit to enable institutions to define (and therefore develop) their expectations for and to students. There are differences between disciplines which again need to be understood and shared between staff across institutions. Digital literacies are becoming more prevalent in institutional policies, and need to be supported by relevant provision of services and shared understandings if there are to be more than token statements. We think our matrix may play a role in forming and extending strategic discussions.

In the next post we will try and pull together key points from the series so far and the comments we have received and frame these in terms of some of the wider, societal contexts. As ever we’d love to get feedback on our thoughts so far, so please do leave a comment.

*Part 1
*Part 2
*Part 3
*Part 4

Design Studio update: Transforming Assessment and Feedback

Those of you who regularly read this blog, will (hopefully) have noticed lots of mentions and links to the Design Studio. Originally built as a place to share outputs from the JISC Curriculum Design and Delivery Programmes, it is now being extended to include ouputs from a number of other JISC funded programmes.

The Transforming Assessment and Feedback area of the Design Studio now has a series of pages which form a hub for existing and emergent work on assessment and feedback of significant interest. Under a series of themes, you can explore what this community currently know about enhancing assessment and feedback practice with technology, find links to resources and keep up to date with outputs from the Assessment and Feedback and other current JISC programmes.

Assessment and Feedback themes/issues wordle

This is a dynamic set of resources that will be updated as the programme progresses. Follow this link to explore more.