Week 1: Induction #ocTEL

So, we’re here! The ‘Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning’ started this week and we’re in for a fun and busy 10 weeks of MOOCing, hopefully.

  • Registration is still open so, if you’re not one of the 900+ soles already involved and engaged, why not pop along to octel.alt.ac.uk and join in?

What can we expect, now we have more details than were previously available? Weekly emails, weekly webinars (including archived recording as well), and an email providing an overview to the week ahead. This is exactly the kind of student engagement and signposting I’ve been highlighting and pushing through my work and writing before. It is nice to see that I am in tune with ALT and those who are creating/running this MOOC! Thank you.

“ocTEL aims to accommodate your communication preferences as far as possible, so wherever you feel most comfortable writing – as long as it is not behind a password login – we will do our best to collect it up and add it to the general mix.”

Well, the first extended week is set aside for an induction to this MOOC, MOOCs in general, and the platform itself – get us comfortable and accustomed to the technology so we can do the learning without worrying about it. You don’t know how good this makes me feel – all too often the student’s abilities and expectations are overlooked in online courses, and the induction is the one area that both suffers and is undervalued. With nicely labelled sections like “Keeping calm in the face of abundance” and “Be selective, pace yourself, take time out” it is clear that care and attention has been taken to make this a MOOC that can provide a template that others can learn from as well as being a good MOOC in it’s own right.

“This is a professional development course, and its designers trust you, as a professional, to make your own judgements about what learning activities are useful to you and which you can skip. The reason there are so many options and alternative ways of spending your time is precisely to give you choice and control over selecting a path that feels right for you.”

Part of the registration process was giving details of Twitter and blog accounts and the now accessible profile section on the ocTEL website allows you to add Google+, Facebook, and RSS links too. Any blog post from the feed that are tagged with the #ocTEL tag are collected and “added to the mix” – this is why my posts have hashtags in their titles.

So, week one – what are we doing? Our activities are designed to relax us and engage us, with both the technology and each other.

Activity 0.0: “If you only do one thing …”
To start with then, about me and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) … I am a Learning Technologist (here’s my background) and I have over 6 years experience of being one. Ever since I started using Twitter, and linking my blog to it, I have started to understand and fully appreciate the wide void that exists between those who engage ‘socially’ in TEL and those who don’t. Thinking back to before I engaged with the wider TEL community I cannot remember how I used to , or would now, learn new tools and techniques or how I would further myself and reading and work without it. This is not my first MOOC, in fact it’s my fifth. To date I have only finished one other MOOC, the Edinburgh eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC.

Activity 0.1: “Reflecting on your own work experience and ambitions for developing your teaching,  what is the most important question about TEL for you?”
I’m not sure I have yet worked out my own personal ‘most important question’, but the questions I keep asking myself are ones around whether technology is actually improving education, or rather learning, and whether it’s an appropriate use of technology. Now this opens up many more questions for me, all based on an assumption that we can use technology (I freely admit that there are some instances where technology is just not needed, and we need to be big enough to know when this is and wise enough to say ‘no’ to it) and that we can implement it properly – I hear too many comments about an activity going wrong when all that happened is that expectations or implementati0n wasn’t appropriate to the task or tool. If we can get this right then perhaps we can move on and actually get to the original question … is technology actually improving education/learning?

Activity 0.3: “Experiment with and/or reflect on different ways of communicating with fellow ocTEL participants.”
For the most part I’ll continue to use this, my blog, for the majority of ‘lengthy’ dialogue and notes/reflection, and Twitter for most discussion. I tried hard on the EDC MOOC to engage in the discussion boards but, for various reasons best described by Ryan Tracey and his MOOC reflection, I couldn’t and wouldn’t keep up with them. It will be hard to ignore the other networks but I learned the hard way with EDC MOOC that it just isn’t possible to keep up with everything.

Activity 0.4: “Explore the resources on Technology Enhanced Learning”
Some of these resources I’ve seen before, some I haven’t, but all were worth watching/reading to get an idea and thinking process behind this MOOCs developers.

I remember the ‘Transforming Higher Education Through Technology Enhanced Learning’ (Higher Education Academy, 2009) report when it first came out and it was one of the first reports I read where I actually could relate to the contents and that the report/book “contains a thought-provoking edited collection which offers far more than a straightforward account of outcomes [and] that it is both broad in scope and reflective in tone.” It was good to be reminded of this again, in the context (for me) of what has changed since it was published.

Another resources was  Dave Cormier’s video (which I’ve blogged about before), but I’ll include here as it so very relevant and still so enjoyable to watch:

YouTube: What is a MOOC?

Next week … “TEL concepts and approaches”.