So many of us are connected and/or using our connected devices regularly. Some might say we / you are addicted to them and suffer withdrawal symptoms when we forget them or leave home home without them.
You can read all my posts from this MOOC on the OpenBadgesMOOC tag, when I’ve written them!
Why this MOOC?
Why is this MOOC interesting to me? I have posted about Open Badges a number of times, and how I feel the ability to demonstrate skills and knowledge obtained during a formal course of study (University) are not always easy to spot, and certainly not easy to show through the normal / formal certification received. If students can earn badges for skills, group work, ability, etc. rather than an overall ‘grade’ which is considers pass / fail then this is of use to prospective employers? Aren’t we always hearing how students are not being prepared for the modern workplace? With a Mozilla BackPack full of badges (here’s my Backpack: Mozilla Open Badges) the student able to show and demonstrate these skills will have an edge. Yes?
Now that the CourseSite has opened up the meatier sections we can see what the next six weeks is about. We’ll be looking at Openness, Badge Fundamentals, Employers and Learners, Providers, and Opportunities. There are a number of groups for us to join, no doubt to help us focus on the area(s) of most interest or importance to our own badge requirements (personal or professional). I joined the following groups:
Badges for Higher Education Instructor/Faculty Professional Development
Badges for MOOCs
Badges in Traditional Higher Ed Courses
Week 1 – “Openness”
Week one is about ‘openness’ and the disparity between job descriptions and alignment of knowledge that formal courses have to the job specifications. This fresh approach (badges) could be viewed as a new ‘currency’ exchange “between job seekers, learning providers, and employers”. Continue reading →
Regular readers will know I’ve been writing about what I think it is to be a Learning Technologist in a series of posts I’ve been calling ‘What is a Learning Technologist?’. Welcome to part 10 in that series.
Part of my journey is the continuing exploration of the technology and of the role itself, and how it is received and perceived by people I come into contact with (academic, administrative, etc.). I made it clear in 2011, once I completed my PG Cert course, that I wanted to take my learning and teaching more seriously and gain a qualification that would reflect my abilities.
I have considered several Masters level courses since then but have finally settled on the MSc in Learning Innovation from the Institute of Learning Innovation here, at the University of Leicester.
What is at the core of an online course or a MOOC? You could argue it’s the academic integrity of the materials or learning. It could be the level of student engagement in required activities. I would argue that (even if not at the core, but very close to it) should be the expectations placed on the students both academically and technically!
There’s no point having a good (large, massive?) number of students enrolled on the course if you already know that a proportion of them are not technically or academically capable of engaging or completing the course. Is this one of the criticisms of MOOCs?
If you’ve been away (for a long long time) you may not have heard about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). If you’ve been away for only a short time you’ll know of these things, but you may not have heard of Futurelearn.
In short, Futurelearn is the first UK-led “multi-institutional platform for free, open, online courses” whose aim is to “increase access to higher education for students in the UK and around the world by offering a diverse range of high quality courses through a single website.”
All good stuff so far. With the experience and weight of The Open University behind it, and partners including the British Library, the British Council and other leading UK Universities (Leicester, Bath, Warwick, Cardiff, etc.) it poses a significant investment of time and energy to ‘do it right’. Futurelearn
“believe there is great potential to change the way people access high quality higher education. With our partners, we are seizing the opportunity to create amazing new learning experiences, twinned with a clear pathway to qualifications for those that want them.”
In this article on the Times Higher Education website today – “Futurelearn’s boss on breaking into MOOCs” – Simon Nelson (Futurelearn CEO) claims the course platform “has the potential to become a social networking site for the student community as popular as Facebook”.
What a great video with so much to say, but I’m concentrating on the elements of the “importance of teacher presence” section, especially given my recent experience with the Coursera / Edinburgh EDC MOOC:
“The role of an academic now is really designing learning environments that engage students. If I’m saying that engagement is the Holy Grail I’d better be engaging in ways they enjoy, not that I’m used to.”
A. Prof. Emma Robertson:
“You have to be there, you have to be paying attention to what they’re saying. And what I find is if you do that effectively in the first two weeks the rest takes care of itself – you’ve established the benchmark that you’re expecting”
Prof. Matthew Allen
“Teacher presence is a very important part of the socialisation of students into online learning, and it’s not that you are therefore dominating and telling students what to learn, it’s that you’re playing the role of ‘guide-on-the-side’, the person who’s there to help the students along but not to become the one they rely upon.”
The rest of the video is also worth watching, for an insight into creating learning environments, strategies for motivating students, and sustaining participation and engagement. A good resource, as are others in the series ‘Learning to Teach Online’.
I’m a Learning Technologist. Regular readers will know I have an interest in using, and understanding how we can use, Social Media and Social Networks with students and learning. It’s not just about helping students understand their ‘digital footprint’, or improving their digital literacy, or how their actions online can affect their employability. It is also about using the different tools and techniques for learning and Social Media and Social Networks are a valuable source of learning materials from many different cultures and backgrounds.
Which is why this book is of interest to me – ‘Using Social Media in the Classroom‘ by Megan Poore. Billed as a book that provides “an overview of different types of digital technologies” it is more important to me and how I work that it also covers more contextual and “constructive guidance on how to safely and intelligently use them as tools for learning”. All good stuff I hope you’ll agree.
This quote from Megan is key to the understanding of the benefits for communication, collaboration, participation and socialisation of, and in, education:
“One of the most exciting features of social media for education is precisely their socialness. They allow us to break out of the paradigm of the monolithic learner into the more intricate and complex world of constructivist, active, and situated pedagogies.” (p. 8)
How I did this was quite simple … I knew I’d fade out after a week or so so I set a goal of one blog entry per week’s activity, including a pre-MOOC post and post-MOOC ‘submission feedback’ post. Now I had set myself this public goal I needed to follow and live up to it. It worked. This may not be to everyone’s taste or motivational style, but after 3 other failed MOOCs I wanted to finish one, just one.
MOOCs were also presented at the 2013 Blackboard Users Conference (#durbbu) by Jeremy Knox: MOOC Pedagogy
Which now brings me to the nature of the different MOOCs available. By now just about everyone knows what a MOOC is – if not there are plenty of excellent resources to help you on your favourite search engine. With more and more MOOCs available, and the organisations offering them increasing all the time, just what types of MOOCs are they, and what do they mean for the student?
Here we are, the final week, well done everyone, we made it!
A ‘Digitial Artefact’ you say? What’s that then? I was not sure when the MOOC started what a digital artefact was, but now understand it’s just another term, albeit slightly pompous, for a blog post, a video, an image, a collection of audio/visual elements that make are collected together in one ‘presentation’ mode.
And what is this artefact to do: The artefact will be critically peer-assessed on elements and themes of the course:
The artefact addresses one or more themes for the course
The artefact suggests that the author understands at least one key concept from the course
The artefact has something to say about digital education
The choice of media is appropriate for the message
The artefact stimulates a reaction in you, as its audience, e.g. emotion, thinking, action
I decided to bring together some thoughts around the MOOCs theme in a Prezi, see below: Continue reading →
Week four and we are so nearly at the end of the five week Coursera / University of Edinburgh MOOC: ‘eLearning and Digital Cultures’. From ‘being human’ (last week) to ‘redefining the human’ we will be introduced to the perspective that the “notion that the human’ is a social category which is made, not a biological or philosophical matter-of-fact”, apparently!
Videos are again the staple of the weekly resources, and the discussion boards are full of analysis, sympathy, and criticism with the themes and characters within. However, there is far more criticism than in previous weeks – have we now arrived at a stage where we, the students, are either more confident in opinion or we are just more comfortable with the subject?
Robbie is not human, but can demonstrate human-esque experiences (loneliness, happiness, faith, etc.). The big question here is why we continue to treat ‘Robbie’ as non-human when he has all the traits and characteristics of an entity that is human – he has a life-span, he is self-aware, he understands the importance of his existence, he ‘dreamed’, and the importance of his impending demise, he knows what is is to be lonely. Are these not human characteristics? While you may argue that he was made not grown … aren’t we all made, at conception? He became “self-aware” .. well, children become more and more aware of themselves at different ages. Is this not what happened to Robbie, albeit in a different way. Yes, he is not organic, but is that the only condition to being classed as ‘human’ that Robbie does not fulfill?Robbie clearly has human characteristics, but how many were programmed and how many were developed, learned, or ‘evolved’? Is that the true definition of human, the ability to evolve, is it more than just organic material?