October 8, 2014

Flipping - thinking about students creating content

A view from the Instructional Technologist point of view

The spark for this blog post:
Tan, Ashley, 2014. Three dimensions of flipping
Working in the Learning Management System (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) I see that the un-flipped course is typically....lecture-lecture-lecture+assessment submission, read-read-read-listen+assessment or just for variation read-watch-listen+assessment. The interesting part of flipping the classroom in the above video is the aspect of  allowing the student to create content. In the online course, all the content is available and in most cases students are encouraged to work through it in a pre-determined fashion. The students may be locked out from the assessment submission points until a certain level of 'knowledge' has been gained or discussion has occurred. 

In the flipping scenario the students would create content outside of 'class-time'. In the online context I'm taking this class-time as any synchronous time with the lecturer and/or other class members.  For example a synchronous virtual online classroom or synchronous group work time.  It could also be face-time in a residential or simulated environment.To allow the dimension of student creation flipping in the online course I'm suggesting that we move away from this once-off submission but instead use the process of assessing during and integral to, the create-review-improve iteration by the student.

Here is a quick summary of a few online tools that I could see useful to do this in the LMS environment. The aim being to allow the students to create, get feedback and improve which would then lead to grading. It could also be used as a way for the lecturer to gain a better insight into the competency of the student, particularly in practical based applications.

1. Group work - enabling tools like discussion board and file sharing in groups to allow for group work to be productive towards a final piece. Having a synchronous online tool (like a virtual classroom space) available so that groups could get together and practise their presentations or expressing their ideas in a non-formal setting with peers would be very valuable.
2. Using Wiki's - a collaborative tool to work together on a particular subject. While the tool is very easy to use, in reality it takes quite a bit of work to get a polished final result that everybody has contributed to. This tool may also need facilitation (or moderation) along the way to keep the students pointing in the same direction.
3. Self review - using this tool early in a course to get students reflecting on their own work. This might be in a form of a simple quiz. However the answers to that quiz need to lead somewhere and be used for improved learning.
4. Peer review is a more complex model of review and needs good planning. In the flipped scenario the students would submit and review before having a synchronous session where the reviews were discussed and ideas moved forward.
5. Rubrics - get the students to create one. They would then appreciate the feedback they received in relation to that same marking guide. Using this tool in conjunction with the peer review would be a good idea and take out some of the subjectivity of untrained reviewers. However the LMS I'm familiar with is not setup to allow students to create or apply rubrics. The students could submit a rubric form (Word or excel) and then this could be added to the LMS environment by the Lecturer.

The suggestion from the 'three dimensions of flipping' goes one step further to suggest that students should create to teach the content. Some tools to facilitate this in the LMS would be as follows:

1. Open Journals - Allow students to create journals of content that students could read and comment on. The Lecturer would add their comments last (or on an agreed date).
2. Blogs - Short blog posts could be used to expand the teaching material. This also suits the 'chunking' method to allow for short bursts of material. The blog tool could also allow for comments which would allow the students to practise reviewing techniques. Blogs could also include links to open source videos, animations, comic strips, drawings, diagrams etc.

One tool I've considered but not put in the above list is ePortfolios. This tool is great for creating artefacts of work already completed and putting it in some logical order. It could be used for assessment purposes to show progress in the development of the students work.

In summary, there are some great tools that are available in LMS/VLE for allowing the students to not only create but to share their work. Being able to learn from peers as well as learning from the 'experts' will enrich the student experience. Encouraging more connectivity and interaction in the online learning space would reduce that feeling of isolation that can be experienced when studying in that mode. The aim is to make the most of face-time or synchronous study time by actively participating in the learning.

July 24, 2014

BYOD4L - A reflection

Curating my course efforts: July 14 - 17, 2014

One of the themes for this course was curation or collection. In the spirit of curation I am going to collect a number of items that shows my contributions and participation in the #BYOD4L course.

Let's start here: Wordpress site  http://byod4learning.wordpress.com/

The final eBook in Video format.

The final ebook is also in epub and pdf format here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B8Y9XpEdP3necENXNFhESWZHSWM&usp=sharing

Apps I used on iPad and Samsung smartphone:
Book Creator*
Google + (Community feed)*+
Google Drive*+
Google Docs*+

*apps I'm likely to keep on using
+apps that have a compatible programme on the PC/laptop platform

Final slideshare summary by one of the facilitators Sue Beckingham.
I'm quoted on Slide 26, 34 and 52.
What about BADGES? This is a work in progress. You need to apply for the badge and then the work is peer reviewed. Results will happen in a few weeks time. I have applied for 4/5 days badges.

Collection of my Twitter contributions (via Storify)

June 18, 2014

ocTEL Week 5: Activity Just one thing, 5.1 and 5.2

Week 5 – Leadership. Management & Keeping on Track

If you only do one thing....Reflect on a TEL Project you have been involved with:

Identify what could have been done better in the planning and implementation stages to improve the project outcomes. Think about what tools and techniques were used to assist with planning and their effectiveness.
ocTEL questions to consider in the reply:
Who were your stakeholders? What resources were used?
How clear/achievable was the project plan? What fallback position, if any, did you build into your plan in the event of full or partial project failure?
Did you celebrate your success and did this encourage further developments?

**The project was to update our middle-ware software that acts between the student enrollment database and our Learning Management System (LMS). Initially a wish-list of features were developed and a sub-set where planned in the first stage. We are currently in the second trial phase of a system to introduce a multi-level process of online course production which includes a peer review feature, giving academics more control of the way that their online unit goes through the unit production process managed by the Office of Learning and Teaching.**

The planning stage only involved a few key people and this could have been expanded to get a more realistic handle on what was required. Stakeholders were clearly defined, however I don't think any formal project management structure was followed. It was more approached as a "technology enhancement" but this tended to turn out like a mushroom...starting small but expanding very quickly.The first trial of the new changes was a failure and was reduced a just a very small number of units. A second trial is now in place and depending on the results of this trial, it will be fully rolled out by the start of the Summer Semester this year.The only fallback position was to stay with the current system with no improvements. This was deemed not suitable given the funding spent on the development of the enhancements. I saw no other documentation of coverage of risk. the limited result of the first trial was not measured or made available to the wider team. It was just put in the drawer and the second trial was promoted. Some of the features were not developed due to funding running out. There has been no plan provided for future funding of this project and lack of proper planning has been the reason that the initial list of features where not completed.There has been no celebration at this stage. No focus on success...just a focus on the second trial and what is 'not working' or 'needs fixing'.


Based upon your evaluation of the project identified in the first activity, what were the “key successes” and “key failures”?

Key Successes - Some of the features that have been developed (online checklist and a self-check mode) are working well during the second trial. Reporting features are being used which is a much needed advancement on the old system.

Key Failures - a lot of aspects of the Peer review process had not been thoroughly tested before the trial. This has been the most problematic part of the current trial. The development of the new features stopped abruptly and left the project leader holding the 'bundle' in it's current state. This caused quite a bit of stress and explanations required of different parts of the system. The main staff member was not supported from the Project Management side and did not have tools to handle the events as they occurred.

Activity 5.2 - RISK ASSESSMENT

Reflect on the “key failures” that you identified for your project in Activity 5.1.

Using the JISC Risk Log I have completed the details for the last Key Failure identified above.

Category Skills
Risk Condition: one person by default gets the project b/c of history in the program, not PM skills
Cause: insufficient analysis of PM skills required and not framing this project correctly (ie: software update)
consequence: resulting in funding running out before features completed, self-training by PM to complete parts of the project and little support for features not working.
Likelihood Medium
Impact High
RAG Amber
Risk Management Approach Have experienced PM staff members included in this project at an early stage. Complete PM structured documents to capture risk and preventative actions required.
Early warning signs/triggers Budget running out and project stages not complete.
Top-down pushes of requirements at last minute mean that original list of requirements change.
Staff member not able to complete work in timely fashion according to original timelines.

May 28, 2014

ocTEL Week 3 Activity 3.1 Using New Tools: Touchcast

Activity 3.1: Creating your own materials

Have a look at : Touchcast
  • How easy was it to understand how this tool worked?
    • Touchcast sign-up went really smoothly. The first choice was to browse existing touchcasts or to create your own. After browsing a couple of existing public products I was really interested to try my own. Being able to see demonstrations of the tool helped me to pickup how the tool could work. Then by starting my own, I got all the instructions on-screen (no separate help file required) to get started.
  • How quickly and easily would you find it to use?
    • In about 10 minutes I had created my first Touchcast. I could activate the basic template choice and create content with video/sound and text very easily. I estimate it would take a couple of days to refine it and add the other features such as screen sharing.
  • How could you apply this tool in your own teaching?
    • Tthis tool could be used to show new tools that are coming up in the LMS and get staff excited about new features (or improvements). Upgrades to the LMS happen at least once a year and the training aspect of this process is lacking and doesn't always get the message across. This tool offers a quick and easy way to combine video of someone talking with other information.
    • I would have to investigate the export feature (from the iPad) and how portable these files are.
    • The other issue is whether the organisation would accept it. I have tried to create innovative learning materials before but unless there is a senior person supporting the development of the material then it may not get past my immediate supervisor.
  • What does this tool offer that has advantages over your current practice?
    • Most of our "new features" or "upgrade" information is purely text and screen shots. Quite often the staff do not read the document that is sent out to them, whereas this type of format could be used to spark their interest in the new features, make them aware of what is happening and then have the document as followup with more information. This would personalise the message, make it flow better and make it more interesting to the staff.

May 11, 2014

ocTEL Week 3 Activity 1.2: Reflecting on strategies for Learning Technology - #ocTEL

This activity is about strategy and how you or someone in your role might contribute to a strategy for using Learning Technology in face to face, blended or online learning context.

Strategy for introducing the Learning Management System to a new cohort of teachers.

I am going to use the SAMR model to look at this question.

I work in a duel-sector University where an established Learning Management System (LMS) has been established for some time. However it has been taken up by the HE sector for a lot longer. Part of my role as an Instructional Technologist is to "promote" the LMS to the Vocational Educational (VET) sector. It is also part of the Office of Learning and Teaching Strategy to have an online unit for each course that is taught. I suspect that this strategy was chosen because it was easy to measure rather than actually look at the implications of that, however, it's there! Written down! Must be done!

It appears that the initial online units created have basically been a SUBSTITUTION. A dump of material (*shudder*) and requirements for print-and-submit kind of assessments. In some cases this has not even been seen as an "Enhancement" but rather just another way of looking at the same thing. Much like when you first read an e-book, without using any of the online features.

Much like this blog post that combines both the SAMR model and Gartner Hype cycle, I thought I would map some of the events and LMS features that impact the strategy by using these models. From here I can suggest some pointers that could influence the strategy to move forward.
Diagram by Wendy Taleo 2014 based on https://flic.kr/p/dSCBGm

The interesting point is that different parts of the organisation are at different areas of these models. For example, digital badges are just starting their hype cycle and have yet to be implemented in the LMS. Gamification has been on the agenda and is used in pockets. Will this really move across to redefinition? Yet in other parts there are a lot of un-released units created that have stalled. The teachers of these units are definitely in the trough of disillusionment about the technology and are "happily?" continuing to teach without using the LMS.

One of the reasons for the units not to be released is the realisation that the combination of systems that make up the LMS are designed, primarily for the HE system. A working group has been setup to look at this. There is also extra staff being hired to look at some new units that will bring extra dollars into the system. However this needs to be broader in addressing all the learnings from the units that have been on the LMS for a number of years and apply the most effective design principles to the new units.

Staff professional development is so critical here. To move the teaching pedagogy from a print-and-submit kind of assignment to eAssessment via gamification might sound great, but needs to be appropriate for the student base and be managed properly. At this stage there are some units they have online tests but the effort of the teacher goes into trying to replicate the paper version rather than looking at a redefinition of how the student could be assessed in these areas. There needs to be a lot of staff support here to assist them to move into new areas and towards MODIFICATION or REDEFINITION. Exemplar units need to be part of this strategy. For example, showing staff how ePortfolios would look and be assessed or how interactive materials could be customised to their field of teaching.

One part of this model layering that doesn't really work is that not all newly introduced technologies fit into the Substitution box. Virtual Learning Environments (VLE's) would be part of that. Using Second Life for learning is a REDEFINITION and fits into the transformation of learning. The other aspect is that not all learning technologies has to move into the transformation arena. However for my purposes I would definitely want to shift the way that that learning technologies are used from the Substitution box into at least Modification. That is where the student will get the most benefit or at least that needs to be the focus or the technology chosen. The important aspect of the Gartner curve is that you want to minimise the impact to the student by following hype and get to the point of effective learning through the use of the technologies.

May 1, 2014

MOOC Participation Plan

This is the first time that I'm preparing a Participation Plan for a MOOC.
(related to Activity 0.3 Explore and experiment)

ocTEL Participation plan:

1. What tools to use
Often: G+ community, twitter, share blog in ocTEL reader, ocTEL groups
Once-off or infrequent: twitter participation map, twitter conversations visualised, storify
2. Level of participation: blog after reading and reflection, read and respond to others in groups
3. New communication channels tried:
+ Twitter contributions mapping in ocTEL: finding one person near my location and connecting via the twitter tag.
+ Setup my blog in ocTEL profile and looking at groups and reader features.
+ Interested to try the RSS feeds for linking parts of the reader into my blog
+ May setup Blackboard Social Space or join existing space.

Reason for choices of tools

I'm familiar with G+ and twitter and use them regularly, no extra learning curve there. ocTEL reader is a new beast but seems to be similar to other curation tools that I have used. I'm steering clear of the ocTEL forums at this stage because I'm a bit "discussion board" burnt out. I also want an easy notification mechanisms where I don't have to have extra emails or extra places to click to get regular information.

Relationship forming in open social spaces

Ease of increasing my existing personal learning network (PLN): I already have an established personal learning network in G+ so it is easy for me to add and expand my PLN in that way. I think that a new community will build for this course and that is why I will dip into the ocTEL groups and twitter contributors. I like the self-enrol ocTEL groups. I think this will be important and that we can swap and change groups as the course goes along. One feature of G+ communities is that people join because of a common interests and in my experience this means less spam or useless postings. The other community that I will try and form or join is other colleagues completing this course. This will most likely be completed via Blackboard Social Spaces. Community building and relationship forming is very important for my learning because it suits my learning style and I get a buzz out of collaborating and working with people with the same interests. This level of interest will keep my motivation (or not) during the course.

April 29, 2014

Group work in a MOOC setting

In this blog I am looking at group work in a massive open online course setting. In particular, what is the most effective way to design these activities?

Working together online is not straight forward. A Higher Education Report on forming groups started with this quote "... I assumed that once students where in groups they would somehow manage to work together" (1). However the report continues to clearly define that this is not the case and there is quite a bit that can be done to ensure successful experience in group collaboration. Then if you look at the andragogy principles of self-direction and taking responsibilities (2) you might think that group work is perfectly suited to the MOOC format.

There are certain factors that make group work in a MOOC perhaps different to a paid or prescribed online course. The number of registered participants could be split into four main types active, non-active, lurking and drop-ins.  I will discuss a recent MOOC experience and suggest a possible alternative to completing and getting value out of group work.

My recent experience in Swinburne Carpe Diem MOOC in how the group work was arranged can be depicted as follows:

Notes: The preset groups lasted for the 6 weeks of the course with no option to swap or change groups. However other "community" discussion boards were made available to all participants in the last half of the course where all the main activity happened.

Background to this design choice possible includes:
a) The designers were trying to teach the pedagogy of Carpe Diem Rapid Learning design by using the same pedagogy. This started on the assumption that a group of people would be put together to create an online course design.
b) Ease of management. In a MOOC with unknown quantities of active or drop-in participants, the choice of random, preset groups are set-and-forget kind of groups

Problems faced:
a) People with low numbers of active participants wanted to swap groups but there was no mechanism to do this.
b) Participants quickly went to other sources for ways of getting together (eg Facebook). This caused confusion and lots of time spent in the first two weeks of the course trying to connect
c) Even though the first activity was an introduction post, there was still lots of twitter and facebook social connections being made outside of the MOOC. Nothing wrong with that, except that there was then no way for those people to work together on the content within the course design once they discovered their common interest. I set up a space in the University Learning Management System (LMS) as a way for myself and colleagues to interact but this was not widely used.
d) Working collaboratively did not "naturally" happen, it just felt like hard work and even the active participants who persevered posted comments about confusion/what/where/who.

A possible alternative for group work design:
The main concept for this design is to clearly provide the mechanism for active participants to find their own motivation to complete the tasks. This motivation can then be the driving force to stay in a group and participate. For drop-ins or lurkers they would still need to self-enrol in a group of interest to see the activity there.
First, List a set of topics for choice
Then, Describe the tasks that need to be done with this topic.
.... Provide self-enrol groups at this point in the course (not before). Ensure each group has active e-moderator.
.... Allow for introduction and discovery tasks to help the group settle in.
.... Setup the collaborate tasks for the group to start to work together. Participants can choose to change groups at this stage.
Lastly, provide badge submission points for individual recognition of group work.

(1) Forming Groups, Training Students to Be Effective Collaborators, and Managing Collaborative Groups. (2001). ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, 28(6), 51.
(2) Culatta, R. (2013). "Andragogy (Malcolm Knowles)." Retrieved 29/4/2014, from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/andragogy.html.

February 7, 2014

Exit - MOOC door left

To continue the story on the MOOC turning into a MOC.

I have withdrawn from the Signature track (refunded promptly) and no longer participating in the Course. It is now fairly clear the the Virtual Teacher Stream is not for me.

Certainly it would have helped to have a more complete description on this course. The word "Advanced" in the heading needs to be explained. Is it going to "advance" a primary school teacher's skill to the level of secondary? Is it going to "advance" the skills a University Professor has?

Where is the line drawn between great course content and a personal blog (in video format?). Some of the rules of Instructional Design have been lost, which is ironic given that this is part of the content discussed.

Onto more challenges, when I find them.

February 4, 2014

How a MOOC turned into a MOC - Advanced Strategies for teaching in a Virtual Classroom

What happened?
I signed up for my next MOOC and chose to join the track to get a verified certificate!

Well that has thrown me onto a different kind of path.

I investigated the Virtual Teaching stream as set of courses that are available in the MOOC format. This seems to be a great idea. To link up courses from the same platform to give you a study plan or path. Up until now, MOOC's are rather singular in subject matter and may be targetted at Diploma or First Year University level. While I had toyed with the idea of joining the "Signature" (Coursera.org) track last year I have bitten the $ bullet this time.

Rather than just enrolling and starting to study, there is a bit more to the process:
1. Do the webcam thing and provide a typing example as a dual method of verification. With only a little faith in the security software, I completed the ID requirements.
2. Tick the agreement that I would not share any content or answers. Well, that cuts out my blogging (nearly). All of a sudden this is no longer an "Open" course in the sense of sharing content and/or remixing this content.
3. Pay the fee to get a verified certificate for this course which can count towards the Virtual Teacher track. Now this course is no longer "Open" in the sense that it is freely available.
4. Always have a webcam and a 'real' keyboard available when doing the quizzes. Now this course is no longer a casual, do it anywhere, mobile kind of course.

My MOOC turned into a MOC.

What I've learnt from this experience so far is that maybe this may be more hassle than what the education is worth! It is making me really think about the value of the Virtual Teacher stream. Is the value intrinsic and part of my own Learn4Life philosophy? Is the value going to come from better pay or position at work? Is the value in sharing this knowledge with other people?

At this stage I intend to complete this MOC and with support from a colleague we will keep ourselves ontrack. However it has challenged my thinking of paid 'free' education and whether this is viable for organisations to promote. It leads into the discussion of making money from MOOC's but I'll leave that to another post.