Wednesday 30 January 2013

Ideate #oldsmooc #MoocsAndMe

Week 3 is entitled Ideate. It's about visualizing and forming ideas of learning design.
I'm considering the approach that I use for designing learning or have used in the past. I usually start with the learner, what they need or want to learn and what the outcomes need to be. Then how this fits into the bigger picture. The bigger picture can include the whole programme of study or course and the institutional requirements. It also includes the time constraints or more exactly 'how much time have we got' or 'when does this have to be finished by'. Then the exciting part which is seeing how the learning resources and technologies match up, meet and help facilitate the learning.
Once there is an outline or basic structure then this can be filled out, adapted, changed and developed by colleagues, learners and other interested parties. The ideas come from shared good practice at events, conferences and research.
The difficulties can be that it is difficult to explain at the beginning of a design how you envisage the design journey and how it is going to evolve. The difficulty further down the line is that you can get so involved and embedded in the process that it is difficult to stand back and explain objectively how it is developing.

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Monday 28 January 2013

So far, so yay with E-Learning and Digital Cultures #edcmooc #MoocsAndMe

Today is the first day of the E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC from University of Edinburgh on the coursera platform. This is the third MOOC that I've signed up for in as many weeks - two planned which are this one and the OLDs MOOC and the ETMOOC which I just happened to be passing by and decided to stop for a look.
I logged into the course site and I like the layout and the interface - it's easy to read and make sense of. The announcements are the same content as the emails that I've received so it feels slightly familiar and also saves going back to the emails to re-read the details. There are some instructions which contain clarification of how the course will be taught and assessed. Already there is a different emphasis than the other MOOCs - there is going to be some teaching and assessment. The assessment consists of a final assessment in the form of a digital artefact - wow, I'm interested now. This is appealing to me as a very task orientated person - I like to produce something, to have something to show (yes, I know this is approach / attitude is both a strength and a failing).
Next the usual things I've come to expect from the beginning of a MOOC - make note of twitter hashtag #edcmooc to tweet and join any chat and join Google+ group community. There's also a Facebook group this time - I have joined but I'm not sure as my Facebook tends to be friends so I'll have to see whether this is good for me or not. Blogging - add RSS feed to EDC MOOC news.
There is also going to be a Google Hangout on Friday at 17: 00 (Friday at 5.00pm?? Is this just me but I'm not sure this is optimum time for engaging with a cool work thing - I expect there is a good reason for it).
So a quick look round the site to orientate myself - seems fairly straightforward. I had a quick glance at the discussion forums, some general discussions so I'll revisit them tomorrow. The course guides give details of the Google Hangouts and the Synchtube. The EDC MOOC News - is this the list of blogs?
So onto the structure of the course which consists of two blocks. The first block is Utopias and Dystopias with Week 1 Looking to the past. This will involve looking at how digital culture and digital education are either utopian or dystopian. There are examples of writing on e-learning between 1998 and 2002, an historical approach. The task is to look at what has changed in relation to current debates about digital education. The Week 1 resources consist of videos / journal articles / essays / speeches etc.
So that's the plan - watch and read all the resources and try and understand the different viewpoints. I'm interested and engaged and looking forward to taking a calm and collected approach. It will be good for me to focus and concentrate which was one of my new year resolutions.
This MOOC feels different from the other two and I think it is for two reasons. Firstly it is more structured and feels more like a proper online course (I can't explain this yet). Secondly I've approached it differently. I've put my own filter system in place at the beginning, before I've looked at the communications and collaborations that are going on around the edge of the course. I'm starting from the inside and working out. Rather than leaping into the hurly burly, I've looked to see what I can get out of this. This approach is a direct result of the MOOC experiences of the last few weeks and also a realistic estimation of my time and resources.
I had a quick look at what the Digital Artefact involves. It can be text, image, sound, video, links and can use tools such as Animoto, Prezi, Google sites, Wordle etc. etc. and it must 'express a question, an idea, a problem, a hope, a worry, or a provocation.....' Possible areas are communication technologies, evolution of information technology, future of learning institutions..
 So far, so good .....and tomorrow into the hurly burly as that's part of the fun too..

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Dipping in to #etmooc #MoocsAndMe

Last week while on MOOC related activities mainly as part of the OLDS MOOC I saw lots of tweets about #ETMOOC.  I read through a few and then predictably, even though I'm meant to be only participating in two MOOCs (the OLDSMOOC and the Edinburgh E-learning and Digital Cultures one), went to the website.
I had seen information about the #ETMOOC and signed up with the intention that I will dip into it occasionally and see what happens.  Also I noticed that they have Blackboard Collaborate sessions which might be interesting and I like seeing how different people use either Blackboard Collaborate or Adobe Connect. Also there are twitter chats which are interesting to follow.
The #ETMOOC 'About' section describes how it is a Connectivist MOOC with a weak centre and that it is all about learners developing their own spaces for sharing, collaboration, reflection etc.  Somehow this is reassuring - I don't have any false expectations and I'm entering into this course very much on that basis. Also there is a lot of information about what is happening and how it is going to happen including topics and schedule and a calendar.  I'm not sure why I feel differently about this than I did when starting the OLDSMOOC - perhaps I have learnt very quickly what a Connectivist MOOC is about.  My enthusiasm is more focused but also it suits me to know exactly what's happening and preferably to have a list. I had decided with the OLDSMOOC and, from next week, the #EDCMOOC, that I was going to be committed to taking part and complete as many tasks as I can whereas I am happily dipping into the #ETMOOC just for fun. (one slight worry - why do they call the organizers 'conspirators'? - no matter)
So for Orientation week, I've looked at the #ETMOOC blog, I've followed the hashtag on twitter, I've joined the Google+ community, suscribed to the calendar and now I'm going to work out how to connect my blog.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Participating and Personal Planning #MoocsAndMe

OLDS MOOC Week 2 : Inquire
My strategy for week 2, after reviewing the ups and downs of week 1, is to plan my own levels of participation in the activities and own levels of collaboration.  
There is an addition to the instructions suggesting a short route 3+ hours which includes Activities 1,2,3,6 & 7 or alternative short route Activities 2 & 4 or you can do your own route which fortuitously  is the one I'm taking. 

Activity 1 - watch video introduction - Rose Luckin - Professor of Learner Centred Design at the London Knowledge Lab. She talked about Context - Personas - Ecology of Resource.  What defines the learner objectively and subjectively? What help/relationships/elements as well as people, places and things exist in the learners environment? The video was good as the content was interesting and was 3 mins which is the optimum time (for me) to engage with a video of a person talking online.
Next was an option to look at outcomes, activity overview to plan this weeks activities, use study planner calendar, use learning journal to plan week & assess progress etc. etc. but in my new spirit of personalisation I decided to sweep on regardless to an activity I wanted to do and that I thought would enhance my learning.
Activity 2 Contextualise Project - I don't really have a project yet although I have joined in with discussions on other peoples so I decided to revisit the dream bazaar to see what projects are out there and what people are saying and doing. I picked some interesting looking titles - I can't remember how to get back to the ones that I'd commented on before although I know they had something to do with Digital Literacies.  Looked at eMarking - a discussion going on there.  Looked at Teaching the Internet of Things Generation. Then I looked at Digital Literacy - with other ideas / potential projects I couldn't work out whether they had progressed to a project plan yet but this one has a link to a Google Doc workspace.  This was very interesting because of the content and also because the idea (cloud?) has moved into a project planning space. I read though the outline of the plan so far.  I also looked at another idea (dream?) about Digital Literacy and Personal Learning environments - it had a link to a cloud - this is the one that I looked at last week and I'll revisit it.
So that's the activities so far and I'm happy with my new approach for the following reasons:
I'm making decisions as to which activities I should spend time on
I'm aware that I can't participate in every activity nor in every environment that is available and connected to the course.
I've got a better understanding of what the format and structure of the MOOC seems to be, that I can understand parts of it but not all of it but that is enough at this stage.

I'm also going to look more at BibSonomy because although I'd dismissed it at first, it might be interesting.

Badge #MoocsAndMe #oldsmooc

I got a badge - yay
It's very strange how pleased I am by a virtual badge that has been electronically generated.......but hey, a badge is a badge

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Ups and downs - reflection on OLDSMOOC wk1 #MoocsAndMe

At the end of week 1 I'm feeling fairly positive about the OLDSMOOC.
I have an idea of what it is about and what I can get out of it. I'm not sure if my perception of it is the correct one or even a useful one but I've put it into some sort of context for me.
During the week I felt quite negative about it and this was because there was a big gap between my expectations and the reality. I was expecting it to be like a course but much bigger with more people but still have a similar structure or format. But instead it just felt like a mass of activity, some good, some bad, some things working, some not working.
In fact that's exactly what it is - a mass of activity or maybe a collection of activities that are related, sometimes connected, sometimes useful, sometimes make sense but don't have a recognised structure. To some extent the mooc has gained momentum but I'm not sure that it has gained direction. It definitely feels and looks like far too much.
During the converge activity it was stated that it was up to the individual to make it a personalized learning experience. At first I felt indignant about this but then thought that this was an approach that I need to take. Instead of trying to engage with everything that's happening, what I need to do is just cast around for things that interest me and participate if and when I feel like it. The value will be in the individual interactions with the people or tasks that I encounter. So that's the strategy that I'm using for week 2.
But there are still some issues that I'm hoping will be addressed or become clearer in subsequent weeks.
Why have a course with too much to it - either limit it, give it some more structure or don't call it a course, define it as something different. This issue is reflected in the badges idea - you get a badge for completing the activities of the week so fairly prescriptive but the activities of the course are open ended and vast.
Not all the technology nor tools worked. Ok, everyone who works in education and technology knows this is the case but some worked better than others. There's nothing wrong in erring on the side of caution or going for the easy option - that's if you want to engage your learners of course.
Some valuable ideas and suggestions will get lost along the way. Does this matter?

After publishing this post I've decided to go back and add a bit as on reflection of the reflection it reads as if I've just accidentally stumbled across a mooc and thought 'this looks fun, I'll give it a whirl'. I know that there are different sorts of moocs and some are connectivist etc. etc. but I wanted to blog about it as a learning experience rather than a theoretical concept.

Not inclined to converge #MoocsAndMe

Next activity for week 1 was entitled Converge. I followed link from website to video of open google hangout session which had happened yesterday I think.
First question posed by one facilitator to each other 'Can you get personalized learning through a MOOC?' The answer was basically that it is up to you as a participant rather than the designers of the course. Designers provide scaffolding.
A participant did try to take part but problems with audio.
'What are good projects?'
'There are lots of interesting projects - difficult to engage with them all' (hmm, yes indeed)
'One interesting project about virtual world for future digital literacies'.
'Virtual dream bazaar as an environment with tents and flags....'
Then the other facilitator managed to join in etc. etc.

So that was 12 minutes into the hour long recording but I wasn't really engaging with it. It was too slow paced for me and I'm not sure what we were supposed to be getting out of this. If it was a conversation then should it have been an activity? If it was a discussion / presentation then it needed more structure.

Last activity of week 1 - a reflection so that's what I'm going to do now. I'll write it as a usual blog post then try and embed it in a cloud :)

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Monday 14 January 2013

So much. Too much? #MoocsAndMe

Week 1 continued. I think so far I've spent about 3 hours on the OLDS MOOC not counting blogging about it. My aim is to spend 3 - 4 hours a week if possible.
Next task - Team Up, form a team for learning design project. Rather than starting one I thought I'd look at the ones that have been set up so far and try to join in. The next task is to find or start a study circle so I thought I'd try to combine these tasks. The study circle is supposed to be based on a project team or a group at your institution or living in your area. So that's why they wanted your institution in your profile. Not sure how to match up the idea of a MOOC with a meetup in your home area - somehow that is difficult to put into perspective or practice. (Especially recommending which I have joined as a social f2f get together thing in Edinburgh but not sure it's right for this context). Or you can set up a shared space e.g. Cloudspace, Facebook, google group or create a cloud etc.

Ok, stop - just a minute - we've now reached saturation point and I'm just skimming and skating across the surface. I am in week 1 of this course and so far I have used the following:
A website
2 google groups/discussion forums
Google +
Blogs (my own plus reading others)
And now we are having study circles both online and in real google hangouts.

Also I don't know how many people are actually participating in this course. Presumably some are just reading and some taking part. It could be 1,000 or 10,000, I really don't know. We are creating 'stuff' - how much stuff? Will anyone read anyone else's stuff or is there not enough time as you're too busy creating??

So I need to filter and also put in place my own filtering system. I went to look for a study circle or group, to Cloudworks, found a digilit study circle - sign in? Log in? - followed and posted to discussion. Found Digital identity and Social Media group - followed and posted to discussion. I then found a study circle for anyone living in Edinburgh 'auld reekie learners' :)

Still more of week 1 to go - I'm still interested and hopefully I'll work out which parts are valuable to me and that I can learn from.
Oh, and I don't know how to embed my blog into anything that's part of the course as a reflection so will just have to do what I usually do and post a link from twitter.

A cloudy start to week 1 #MoocsAndMe

On Saturday I revisited the OLDS MOOC website to participate in some week 1 activities. The image on the website has changed but basic details the same then scroll down to discussion groups and to twitter feed. Also scroll down to - no idea what this is and link leads to error message.
So to the course tab Week 1 : Initiate. A wordle image (good and quite appealing) Then list of activities for each day (too prescriptive?). Thursdays activities - first activity is to introduce yourself and say what hopes you have of MOOC. It's slightly confusing because you click on the link thinking it will take you to the place to contribute but because anyone can read but you have to log in to post, you then have to log in somewhere.
I must admit that I was a bit slow to catch onto to this and went back to website and then to MOOC environment tab and then tools, networks and communications looking for place to log in. Then realized I needed to sign into google with my usual account to access and then back to discussion. Lots of threads. Found one that said 'what do you hope to get out of this MOOC?'(119 posts by 94 authors). Posted a reply.
Not enough time to go back and look at all the posts but skimmed through some.
Back to week 1 - next activity - set up personal work space and set personal objectives for week. Link to personal learning space - this involves registering with Cloudworks (oh dear), setting up profile (asked for institution - why?) then a cloudscape then a cloud. Set up created account, then tried to create cloudscape - not sure why I'm creating a cloudscape....'a cloudscape is a collection of clouds'....I don't have any clouds....ok, I'll create a cloud instead...created. Message 'your cloud is being moderated'
:(( giving up on all cloud related activities.
Back to week 1 activities. View and discuss presentation. Oh, it's a prezi. Lots of text (why is this a prezi?) watched again on - still too much text (if you're meant to watch it later as suggested then why have as a prezi with embedded images of text?) will go back and watch again later.
Next activity - dreambazaar - (followed 43 attending 48) - ok, it's more cloud related stuff - create a cloud 'what is your dream technological pedagogical innovation?' No cloud creating for me so skimmed through other entries.
The above tasks took me about 1 hour. I'm not sure why I'm feeling negative about it. Ok, the Cloudworks features and functionality have been disappointing. Not only because I got error messages but because it seems far too much and far too complicated for the purpose. It's as if the purpose is to use as many features as possible and create as big a space as possible. And this is only half way through week 1....

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Tuesday 8 January 2013

Pre-Start #MoocsAndMe

The OLDS MOOC starts on 10th January. In anticipation of it starting I thought I better check up what it is all about and what and when I needed to do something. I found the original email from November when I'd registered an interest. It gave the website for the course and suggested joining the announcement list and open discussion forum.
It also stated that there would be a live launch on Monday 7th Jan.
A further paragraph gave details of the structure of the MOOC which 'reflects a proposed process for a design inquiry project'.
I visited the website. (The image is a bit cheesy but ok - would have been really cool if the push on the door opened the door to the course). Anyhow I missed out the blurb and went straight to the 'The course' tab. The drop down menu gives a 1 word title for each week. Week 0 Register gives links to the announcement and open discussion list (google groups). I joined these and specified daily abridged summaries of messages as I don't want loads of email notifications.
There was nothing else to do so I thought I'd wait until the start date but over the last couple of days there have been lots of people doing the 'where are you from activity' which is part of week 1 I think.
I returned to the website. Week 1 has a number of activities split up into different days, something for each day. I watched the 5min video introduction.
I discovered that there had been problems with the live launch which was due to problems with an error on Cloudworks which must have been annoying and frustrating for the organizers but these things happen. A recording is going to be available.
So far:
I like the interface and the layout of the content. It is easy to navigate and easy to read and understand.
I like the interface and functionality of the google groups and they're easier to use as discussion forums than those that are part of VLEs especially when using an iPad.
The content of the course is quite specific - you need to be an educationalist interested in curriculum design. It is presupposing that participants have prior knowledge.
The course also presupposes that you are familiar with quite a number of online learning tools and environments - this suits me fine but is it a prerequisite for taking the course?
The only other point is that there are specified activities for each day and for weekend??? I'm not sure how many people will be able to dedicate time each day and it feels a little prescriptive. This may be a personal working preference but I tend to log in to courses 3 or 4 times a week max and catch up with what's happening.
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Saturday 5 January 2013

MOOCs and Me

As most people know MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) were the 'exciting new thing' in 2012 as far as education / technology enhanced learning are concerned .
The big question is 'will they still be the exciting thing during 2013'?
There is at least one new blog post or opinion published every day (every hour?) about how effective they are going to be, about the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, pedagogical factors etc. etc.

The only sure things are that firstly MOOCs are here and here to stay in one form or another, and secondly no-one knows if they are going to be successful or not.
I've done quite a few online courses both as a student/learner/participant and also as a tutor/facilitator.  Most of them have been through a VLE with a relatively small number of participants (less than 100).

So I've signed up for two MOOCs.
"Open Learning Design Studio MOOC"Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum" ( which is a free and open nine week course led by the Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology, in partnership with Goldsmiths (University of London), University of Greenwich, Heriot-Watt University, University of Leicester, University of London (Centre for Distance Education and London Knowledge Lab at the Institute of Education) and the University of Oxford"

2. The University of Edinburgh Coursera 'E-learning and Digital Cultures' MOOC
"E-learning and Digital Cultures is aimed at teachers, learning technologists, and people with a general interest in education who want to deepen their understanding of what it means to teach and learn in the digital age. The course is about how digital cultures intersect with learning cultures online, and how our ideas about online education are shaped through “narratives”, or big stories, about the relationship between people and technology". 

I'm looking forward to participating and seeing what the courses are like, what they include, what activities they entail, how engaging they are and how successful they are.
Will all of the many thousands of participants complete the course?  Have people signed up just see what it's like?  There is definitely an element of 'jumping on the bandwagon' and not wanting to miss out - every eLearning / TEL person in the world seems to have enrolled on a MOOC.  Is this the target audience?
Personally, I hope I have the time and inclination to dedicate to the courses - I always enthusiastically sign up for things and then find that I haven't enough time to do them as well as I would wish (but better to do a bit, than not at all).
I hope I don't feel lost among the thousands of people and the vast scale of the activities and environment. I hope that it is not too impersonal or perhaps my expectations are unrealistic for a MOOC and more in tune with a more traditional online learning environment.
Who knows?