MOOC Discussion #change11

Came across an interesting discussion (sorry, lost the original user on Twitter) about the connectivism MOOC, which raised many comments about the validity of moocs. Some people disagree with the concept, some are obviously entrenched academics with an axe to grind.

The most useful comments (for me) came from those who have taken part in a mooc and I can empathise with some. Such as the noise, commotion and lack of ‘connection’ with the course itself. In my case, that’s because I’ve been busy with structured essays for a management course I’m undertaking. A certain amount of laziness is involved also.

Most of my connection with the course takes place in the Facebook group (mostly lurking) and on Twitter. I visit the course site occasionally.

I’m beginning to realise that I will only get out of the course roughly what I’m prepared to put in. I still think it’s an interesting concept, and have enjoyed viewing, and commenting on, other’s thoughts.

Change Mooc Week 2 Content

Fascinating content relating to large scale mobile learning at the Open University of Malaysia.

Mobile Learning

About a year ago, I remember thinking mobile learning was out of reach to all except those that had developers at hand to deal with the coding nitty gritty.

I don’t feel that way any more, and as our library has been using SMS for years, I guess we’ve already moved into basic mobile use.

The opportunities offered by tools such as Softchalk make creation of mobile content a scoosh, and we’re also looking at Captivate 5 for more graphic based content.

I don’t feel we have the time to research equivalence, i.e. how many students have smartphones, but is this any reason not to try it? An obvious problem was access: how do students access quickly on a mobile, and without the godawful process of logging in? Answer for now is a private website outside of the organisational VLE. IPR issues I guess, but seamless if academic has an OER outlook.

So where’s the beef? Scan the QR code below to have a look at a short formative assessment piece for hairdressing students. This is only a bite of learning, but time taken to set it up was less than an hour including packaging of questions.

It’s very, very do-able.

Where I Am Now

I work within a College, which is part of a larger University, the University of the Highlands and Islands. My input into HE materials is less frequent than my input into FE, as decisions at HE level tend to come from the centre, in Inverness. Therefore, my work does tend to concentrate on vocational subjects, and the lower end of HE as defined by UHI (HNC and HND level).

I believe in trying to lead the student towards the constructivist end of the learning spectrum. I think this can be done from NQ level right through to post grad level. How? I think the webquest model is as good a starting point as any. The structure of a webquest leads the student via behaviourist, scaffolded and constructivist models by telling, leading then asking ‘what if?’. Different levels of student would require different levels of materials and challenges, and the webquest model can he used in multiple arenas and using various tools; indeed, it doesn’t need to look like a webquest at all.

What this means in reality for teaching staff, is less time spent on materials creation. As students move up the learning food chain, the teacher’s input (in terms of home grown materials offered to students) lessens. The student goes out and does the work. Finally, they will be seeking new problems as well as solutions to the ones offered as part of their learning.

I’m increasingly coming round to the view that authoring tools are becoming less and less important, as is the flavour of your particular LMS. Do you need an LMS and authoring tool to teach effectively online? I would say the answer to that is categorically ‘no’.

However, my institution insists that we use the organisational VLE, which is currently Blackboard. We use Softchalk to package materials, for the most part, but have access to other tools such as Lectora, Raptivity and Adobe’s eLearning Suite. Softchalk tends to be used for its ease of use, and the look and accessibilty of its output.

I believe in offering students alternative formats of materials, and am constantly pushing the merits of audio and video. We encourage the use of high quality microphones for high quality audio, and video cameras such as the Vado and Flips for quick, cheap and cheerful video production. I would like to experiment with podcasting, but haven’t really done so yet in terms of updated content.

I would love to have the opportunity to be part of a planned and funded online course which would stretch the boundaries of the concepts and tools above, but it never really happens. Materials are usually required ‘next week’, and things are usually done on the hoof.

In terms of social networking, I use Twitter and YourVersion for observation, and sometimes conversation. So I am aware of the concept of connectivism, but not necessarily an advocate for it. Use of social media to keep in touch with latest developments in any sphere seems like a no brainer to me.

I’m also undertaking an Executive Diploma in Management which will run parallel with Change, so I’m in for a few busy months.


End of orientation week, already feeling a sense of trepidation about the sheer volume of conversation in the places I usually go; twitter, facebook, blogs.
Next week will focus on the specialist content, and start following some of those who intend (and have already started) to aggregate content. Spotted one or two already, who are generally busy and spot quality resources.
Looking forward to seeing how the dynamic changes as things progress. Happy days.

Personal Objectives

Nosing about on Twitter this morning I noticed that some people have posted quite specific goals about their objectives for taking part in this course. I don’t want to make things too specific, mostly due to the fact that my expectations are quite fuzzy at this point. However, I do have some general aims:

  • evaluate if participation in a mooc is beneficial for me professionally
  • review my personal learning network, and hopefully learn from others about tools and networking
  • write up the experience as a piece of personal research, no matter what the outcomes
  • consider the possibility of creating a sooc (small online open course)

That’s enough for a start.

Change MOOC Blog

The Change MOOC course starts today, so here we go.

My daily edition hasn’t arrived yet, presumably due to time difference.

Love the connectivist idea behind this course; as I’ve been looking at my own personal learning network recently, this is a good chance to revise and explore.

Currently, I use Facebook, Twitter, YourVersion and various other apps to make using these tools easier. I wonder if that will change during this course?

Looking forward to it.


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