Wednesday 31 October 2012

LOL Mini – Learning to Learn Online JISC RSC Scotland

Last week I took part in a online session LOL Mini – Learning to Learn Online which was presented and facilitated by JISC RSC Scotland.  They used Blackboard Collaborate and the JISC RSC Moodle.  The session lasted for 2 hours but was broken down into smaller sessions and activities.
The joing instructions were simple and straightforward i.e. a link in an email accompanied by a various instructions and some documents including an induction pack, webinar guidance and a Blackboard Collaborate guide.
I must admit that I didn't read all the instructions but as I've used the platform before it was ok and I failed to read the instruction saying that you would need a photo to update a profile etc. etc. although I had one of those handy too.  One slight issue was that i had a meeting immediately preceding the online session so I set up my computer beforehand with the email open and the link ready just to click on when i got back to my office at 09.59am for a 10.00am start.  The link didn't work and I didn't know that they had sent a new link through at 09.47am so that caused a slight delay in getting connected.
I liked the structure of the session which consisted of activities.  A powerpoint slide showed what the activities were and how long you had to do them.  Basically you had to go off and log into Moodle and create your profile and then do a quiz.  Actually I'm not sure that I've ever done an online session like that where you go off into the VLE and log in and then come back.  I've done it before where you go and search on the internet for something or watch a video and answer a quiz.  It worked well but you were relying on people having a little bit of knowledge and some skills to navigate to different programmes.  The quiz was ok although it was possible to input a wrong answer, check it, change it to the correct one then submit your answers.  Also if you spelt a word differently, not wrongly, it marked it as wrong. 
Then there was some feedback and discussion back in the webinar and some voting.  I do like voting in a online webinar / virtual classroom - it adds interest and makes you feel part of the discussion.  Also it's useful from a presenter point of view as you know whether people are still there.
Next there was a break.  Good idea - then you can go for a cup of tea for 5 mins without feeling your missing anything or sneaking off. 
Next activity was using the discussion boards and you had to post a thread about your favourite meal.  I'm not a great fan of discussion boards as i find them clunky but it worked very well.  It was an easy topic so you didn't have to think too hard about what you wanted to say but could concentrate on the platform and also reading other peoples entries.  I enjoyed that activity and it is a good idea not to have it right at the beginning of the session but once people are a bit more settled in.  Again it was convenient to have a photo available - of food. 
Then there was a talk by Grainne Hamilton about Learning to Learn Online which gave information and insight into some of the theory as well as the practice. 
The session finished with a discussion about how people had felt about the activities and whether people were considering taking part in online courses. 
I thought the session was good as it was structured, clear instructions and well organised.  Participation and discussion was mainly though the chat facility which again I like.  It's not that i don't like the audio and video but in some situations it's simpler to have the presenters using audio and video and the partcipants using text chat and other facilities such as voting.  There was the option of using audio.  The blackboard collaborate platform worked well. 

Sunday 28 October 2012

ALT-C Wednesday and Thursday

The highlights and interesting points from the second and third days of the ALT conference were

  • The Pecha Kuchas were varied and interesting and are good sessions to go to at the end of the day when you are starting to flag as they rekindle your interest and inspire you.  I have found that the presenters put a great amount of effort into the presentations and engage you in a performance.  I've learnt a great deal by attending a number of pecha kucha sessions and there is a distinct lack of white backgrounds with bullet pointed black text ......
    • Open Nottingham - knowledge without borders - social responsibility
    • MMU - Peter Reed - attitudes to OER - openness is like a dimmer switch, not on or off.  OER is still mostly a bottom up phenomenon
    • Tim Neumann All the Worlds a Stage - hat with a light bulb - using the concept of a media production for learning.  Screen writer = curriculum designer, Actor = student, Director = lecturer, blended together by the tutor
    • UEL Steve Brand European Virtual environment for work based learning - blended learning model - open source VLE E-VIEW platform - scalability is the most important thing.
    • Richard Lilleker Middlesbrough College - The Mobile Journey.
  • One of the most interesting sessions was by Steve Bunce Can knitting develop programming skills?  It was a great talk with practical activities too.  Knitting has many similarities in that you have to learn and work out the sequence of events which will lead to the correct pattern.  The correct pattern or sequence of moves will lead to the result working out correctly.
  • Tracey and I did a short presentation entitled Innovative Inductions and Feedback
  • Pandeli Glavanis from the American University in Cairo gave a fascinating talk about lecture capture and how it had been essential due to the political crisis in Egypt.  Training was given to lecturers for 12 minutes then they recorded lectures from home and students viewed them via the Internet.  Enhanced active learning.
  •  Gilly Salmon talked about the real renaissance for learning - innovation not invention - flying not flapping, got to do something different - mainstreaming.  Work on capacity building rather than staff development, stop face to face workshops and scale up. 
  • The other big topic of the conference (along with OER and upscaling) was big data and analytics.  Big data is hitting the world - 90% of digital data has been generated in the last 2 years.  Analytics dashboards are needed in all VLEs.  Predictive models can be used to predict whether students are at risk of not achieving even before they have started.  There is a shift from data collecting to data connecting.  
The conference dinner was excellent and very well organised by ALT staff.  The awards were presented before the meal which is a great improvement.  Attending a conference is an exciting and challenging experience (obviously not as challenging as organising one) but for people who are not extroverts or socialites in particular like me it is good that the social activities are structured too and don't become overwhelming.  
On the Thursday the conference ended, we held the ALT Committee Convening meeting and then I went to the Museum of Manchester to look at the Turing expedition.