For my fellow H800 students this is the place where I'm specifically blogging about H800 tutor activities. You'll see in the menu bar above that there's also a blog on 'education' which also has some stuff on issues raised during H800.
With the ECA handed in and all things being equal this should be the last post on this H800 blog post site.
Having said that, H800 has introduced me to the wonderful world of blogging. I aim to continue but I'll be concentrating on my other blogging areans. One of which is education in general. So although the blogging for H800 finishes, there's more 'on the other channels.
This is probably a good place to say that particularly to my tutorial group's other students thank you very much for participating as you did and allowing me to learn from you. For other H800 students in 2009, I also followed your comments and thoughts slightly from a distance. Job well done, wish you all the best in your futures with an H800 pass under your belt.
OK, so like those of the H800 students that are still trying to keep their blog alive, I am joining your ranks in positing an entry on the last push to get the ECA out the way. Given that my last assignment wasn't that crash hot, I really had better get this write. My two topics are:
- Blogs and blogging.
- Learning Design.
Including my and experiences of others in these two technologies. I must confess that I'm still a bit mystified as to why I chose the second topic. This is one of those 'gut feelings' that I can't see the way through this wood, but hopefully it'll turn out fine once I start to grapple with it more.
We've been discussing in our group the value of sharing our writing processes with other members in our tutor groups (or even across the course), but that seems like a 'bridge too far' for the OU at the moment. Put it this way, no-one is saying anything officially from OU on this except that 'joint work' is not permitted, and nor is 'publishing one's assignments' online.
However, we are allowed to publish our structure and thoughts and so here's a synopsis so that if anyone can get something out of this, then great. If they can see a glaring ommission then even better if they leave a comment. Right here goes:
There's no shortage of papers to choose from on the phenomena of blogs and blogging. This is quite a straight forward piece. However, the glaring omission that most of this research makes (imho) is that there's no empirical evidence to suggest that blogging actually DOES make a learner a better learner. In other words there's no controlled studies to show either (i) that blogging makes a better learning experience and (ii) assuming that it does, what aspect about the blogging experience is the ingredient that seems to make for a better learner.
Note that I'm not suggesting that loads of very academic folks haven't thought or written about this - lots of conjecture - but not much empirical research.
So I guess you can see where my…
Results of Meta-analysis
Of course, we're all attracted to the arena's in which we claim or think we have some sort of expertise. I for my part feel I have expertise in reading and understanding meta-analyses. This come in no small part because of my early exposure to the meta-analysis in the field of parapsychology.
And it's a meta-analysis has completely absorbed my attention when really I should be trying to write my final tutor-marked assignment TMA04. I 'found' the study through the various RSS feeds that I'm subscribed to for education and technology. I'm sure I'd not have found it otherwise - so this is a measure of the success of web 2.0 in a small way.
This is a US study which assessed the studies that have directly contrasted online learning compared to traditional face to face learning. If there's one major critique I've got about the emphasis in H800 is that there's no real mention of the efficacy of online learning compared to any other style of learning (f2f, or correspondence, or independent computer courses, or video instruction etc). My impression is that it's all assumed or given by the respective authors of H800 that the technology enhanced education is 'better' and we're only now trying to discover 'why' it's better.
- So this report, finally answers some of my questions. And some of the answers are a surprise to me. Here are some highlights:
- Online was better on average than face to face instruction.
- The best learning effect is for blended learning.
- Very little research has been done on K-12 learning.
- Video or online quizzes appear to have no effect on what students learn online.
- Providing guidance for group work doesn't seem to enhance learning as much as it does for individual learning.
- The authors suggest caution when interpreting these results, in particular it might not be the medium. They note for instance that the online and blended modes, tend to force the student to spend more time on learning activities, including self reflection (hey I'm writing a blog too!!).
OK, so here's a great example of the power of blogs and RSS readers. I found this article via another ed-tech blog and I think it's brilliant. Mr. Bowden of the Meadows School of the Arts at the Southern Methodist University (Texas for y'all) has boldly gone the other way of education and technology and tried to take out the computers from the classrooms. However, if you look at the interview (hopefully comes out below) you'll see that he's advocating the smart use of technology. In particular it seems he's trying (correctly imho) to rail against the use of powerpoint as a crutch to teaching. The result - death by powerpoint.
Here's an idea that I thought was great. He is suggesting that already students are finding equivalent or better quality online courses that campuse, brick and mortar universities cannot compete with. His suggestion is that why waste a lecture time giving a death by powerpoint presentation and then giving 2 minutes for some inane question that won't be answered satisfactory.
Instead Mr. Bowden asks why not record the actual 'talking head' lecture as a podcast, or even go to another university where they've done it 'right' and then come to your actual lecture with questions for discussion. He's suggesting that what the campus experience will have to offer is in fact something more than lectures delivered in a boring talking head, lecturn-with-computer-&-death-by-powerpoint-as-barrier format. Why not come to the 'lecture' having watched it already and then have 50 mins of discussion?
Why not indeed.
It seems to me (and Stephen Jenner in some tweet exchanges we've had so far) that if we are to take this Web 2.0 and 'Education 2.0' issue to the next level, we should really be providing at lot more transparency in our own work, particularly in the formal submissions that we make.
So here's my first step. I'm making my two TMA's available for download from H800 essays that are inspired from my TMA's on H800 available. I thought I'd go the whole hog and make my TMAs and ECA inspired from H805 also available. These are the original submitted different from the ones that I submitted versions so there's no commentary on them from my respective tutors - hey I have some pride :-)
So most especially for my fellow H800-ers it might be of some use, even if it's just some light comedy in how not to write an TMA essay.
Stage 2 of this would be to actually make draft versions of our current TMA04 and ECA available for peer commentary in an open format. More on this later.Update 31st July 09: Fellow H800-er Judith has been kind enough to point out that the OU regulations from the Assessment Handbook on taught higher degrees is not allowed. So clearly if OU is to embrace this we'd have to help them to change the regulations.
Specifically relating my learning to H800.
I guess, the thing about my learning on H800 is the journey that I typically take as a student in any discipline: first excitement; then bewilderment; then minor breakthroughs; more bewilderment; realisation that I know it all; realisation that I was wrong and i know nothing; finally feel like a 'groove' is developing just at the end of the course.
One thing that H800 has done for me is to (rip) open my eyes to the whole Web2.0 phenomena. I can see how this could be the 'genuine' disruptive technology that revolutionises educational practice. On the other hand I also see significant danger in being seduced by technology and not focussing on the content of the issues being taught.
I'm most excited about
I'm most excited about the personal learning environment that Web2.0 technology affords. Blogs, social tagging, rss feeds, micro-blogging & mobile devices are all fantastic ways of not just accessing but also publishing information. Modern computers and hand held devices are able to significantly make many of us able to publish more than just text, but also photos and videos, podcasts, videocasts etc.
The technology that has made the biggest change
Of the tech that I've encountered on H800, I guess it's this - the blog - that has made the most difference. The fact that it can be used to allow commentary and a (potentially) easy way to allow others to be updated on any posts (or comments to the posts) via RSS (or Atom) feeds. In a way blogs allows the ultimate freedom because it 'can' be made public, or it can be made so private that it can have an audience of none, bar the author, and all it takes is a few clicks. Try doing this with a text based journal. On the face of it blogs are nothing more than self-reflective journals. However, perhaps this self reflection via the power of friend/peer/public commentary is more than just 'self' reflective but allows multiple reflections to occur.
The technology(ies) that have…
Following on from the Ed Technie blog. Here's my mindmap of my own PLE. It's been constructed on an application shown in the map called OmniGraffle. It's very 'Mac' centric because that's the platform that I work on 99.99999999% of the time. Still whilst trying to construct this map, I was struck by how much of the technology is platform independent as it's accessed mainly through a browser.
Here are some oddites:
- I need three word processors to do H800 because OU works with .doc or .rtf files. My preferred word processor (Mellel) is the one that works with my bibliographic dbase perfectly (Bookends), and I can output in Adobe Acrobat format perfectly, but this is not the way that OU works.
- I need four browsers. My preferred browser (OmniWeb) will not display the OU H800 pages properly. Nor does Firefox, or Safari. Camino does but doesn't work all the time to hand in TMAs or ECAs, so I have to use Firefox or Safari for that. Go figure.
The software that I've used more in doing this course that surprised me were:
- NewsNetWire - an RSS reader. Easy, clean, bomb proof.
- Adobe Acrobat - to take electronic notes on the myriad of pdf documents that I've downloaded. I've got to figure out a way to sort them more intelligently. However the note taking on the actual document is fiddly but fantastic once it's done.
- Sandvox - the software that is generating this blog.
So far in our course, we've been asked to comment on the potential to use technology for educational innovation. I guess what I am finding hard to understand is where the rubber meets the road and demonstrable effects that the web 2.0 technology is in fact creating a positive educational effect - as in where can we see that the web 2.0 tech is actually providing a better teaching/learning environment compared to the luddite equivalent?
Here's one eg. that I can think of, it's the iPodTouch. As an owner of an iPhone I have until now been stumped to think what possible educational value such as beautiful machine could offer. Here's one example which I like because it's (apparently) been produced by a 17 year old student with a strong argument for not only being an easy to use system BUT has strong green credentials because it does not have to produce so many paper based resources.
Despite my previous post, appearing to show that technolgy may not be the panacea to effective teaching. I know that in myself I have benfitted enormously from teaching & learning, especially if I am allowed to define these two activties rather more broadly. In this broad definition, 'learning' is going to be anything that advances my knowledge or conceptual understanding in 'any' area of life not just academia.
I've always considered conscientious academics to be the ones that take the time to visit their library and peruse the new periodicals as they come in. OK now I'm not one of those. I guess I tend to be a 'I'll see it when I need it' academic. What this means is that I tend to try making my searching and perusing very focussed. I don't always succeed and that's not a bad thing because often I find myself reading around a topic and broadening my understanding from 'false-leads'. In the bigger scheme of things, I tend to use that knowledge later on anyway. However, I could never have done this without the current technology to hand.
Especially based in the Pacific where access to current and relevant journals is spotty at best, the ability to peruse journals, acquire the articles (inter-library loan via fax/email) has saved my academic bacon many times.
On top of that, I'm finding that living in the Pacific tends to make one a lot more multi-tasked and reliant on one's own ability to troubleshoot and sort problems out. For me this has meant in particular troubleshooting and repairing my Mac computers (hey Macs ARE the best computers but even a Mac gets into trouble after 5 years of continuous use, especially in the salt laden Pacific air). Fix-it forums, pictorial take-apart guides and even videos demonstrating the procedures to even access the components, are all available from the internet.
Who's watching you?
At the University of the South Pacific where I taught for almost a decade, we had an almost obscene amount of technology particularly for a university placed in a developing region. This was in part probably because it was (and remains) a favoured place for a donor organisations to donate money and expertise towards. Sadly (warning, cynical content to follow) the donors didn't really understand about learning – and sadly most of our academic staff at USP didn't have a real clue either. Take for instance, the hair brained idea of the Japanese aid organisation (JICA), to kit out the university with a new satellite network technology that would span almost all the countries that it represents (11 of the 12 countries, spanning an area that is more than 4 times the area of western Europe). The satellite technology would integrate telephone communications (I could call a colleague from Fiji in Western Samoa and it would 'cost' the same as calling my colleague down the corridor from me), internet and the brand new video conferencing facilities that we had read and heard about or seen on US TV shows.
Given that it was 'free' the USP didn't blink in accepting this generous gift. However, it has since been abandoned principally because it served NO significant advantage to the existing (meagre) mechanisms in either teaching or learning activities. What it did do however, was gobble up enormous quantities of technical time having the technicians trying to implement the scheme. It closed down the existing (audio alone) satellite tutorial studio and replaced it with a studio that had more limitations, for instance we could only have two way talk with two other campuses, whereas the old system could link up to theoretically 6 other stations (certainly more than two). It chewed up time with lecturers desperately trying to utilise the technology to please their departmental and school heads but with a realisation that it didn't work. I can't resist setting…
In our activities for week 19 we're considering how learning and teaching are impacted by the use of mobile devices. However, I realised that I've always considered these to really mean mobile telephones and not laptops or netbooks. Here's my rationale, but first let me say that I hadn't thought of iPods, or flash drives as mobile devices, which I accept as being absolutely mobile – however, they aren't really a mobile device in the way that I am defining it because they cannot input our output information without an additional computer. Flash drives and the like are really today's 'floppy diskettes' of the '80s and '90s.
I guess for me, the definition of mobile must mean that you could/would take around the mobile device for the whole of your waking life. That in effect means something that you can put in your pocket and almost forget. In addition the device must be self contained Hence mobile phones; but not a laptop or a flash drives.
Yes, of course a laptop and netbook can be carried around easily and you can have a complete computing experience in a lecture hall, in a library or on the train. However, you still need space to sit the laptop/netbook on. If you're standing in line at the post office, or you're at the pub, or waiting for a board meeting to start, or waiting for your bus at the bus stand, you're unlikely to whip out your laptop/netbook and start typing away.
So in summary, I think a truly mobile device has to have the following characteristics:
- You can put information both in and out of the device, it is not a component that requires another device to do this.
- You must be able to read and respond to the information inside the device.
Only a few devices appear to meet this criteria, in fact I can think of only 4 categories:
- Paper & pen(cil, biro, writing implement): for a superb version of this visit the following link, which is a way of keeping an elaborate 'to do' list up to date,…
The Observatory Report for Web 2.0 for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, makes for interesting reading with regard to how particularly tertiary institutions are trying to handle the incorporation of Web 2.0 into their teaching & learning and many suggestions of how it could be used, and potential thorny issues in it's whole scale usage are summarised.
Firstly there is a startling statistic (maybe out of date) that the vast majority of users are not 'creators' of content in the Web 2.0 experience. The statistic for YouTube or Flickr content uploading for all the visits to the site was about than 0.2%. For Wikipedia the (surprisingly for me) is about 5% of the visits are to edit entries.
Which again seems counter intuitive to me. It does suggest that for the moment most people are still 'consuming' the information which the authors cite as being a Web 1.0 activity. Having said that I don't know why I'm surprised given that I've not really encountered this technology until this course and most people think that I'm technically savvy (ha!).
This report does suggest that at least a certain number of universities are trying to NOT incorporate Web 2.0 technologies as part of a formalised 'top-down' approach. Warwick, Leeds, Edinburgh, Brighton and Klagenfurt Universities appear to be adopting a complimentary approach to making Web 2.0 technologies avaiable but not necessarily a forced requirement to use. They've allowed the students to decide themselves if, when and how to use them.
The rest of the report is interesting because it highlighted concerns about the use of Web 2.0 technologies that I hadn't thought of before. Such as when and how, to lock down information in a way that is considered a part of the historical archiving of material. The whole…
Martin Weller provides evidence that technology really will change the educational environment. So why is his evidence more compelling compared to the advent of the radio, the television, or indeed the personal-computer? I think it has to do with the ability of the interconnected world being able to vote with their feet in a virtual sense. That is universities (to focus say on tertiary education), no longer are the sole repository of information, academic expertise, or scholarly information. The advent of Google, the emergence of easy to set up, cheap and personalised social networks (eg MySpace & Facebook), allows today's and especially tomorrow's students to offer:
- Education in 'niche' areas. Want to study the minutia of actors who specialise in transgender roles (think Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie - ok that's given my age cohort away)? Not a problem, globally there's probably a sizeable class - who cares if they're scattered across the globe.
- A personalised learning space. Your learning environment is how you would like it to be because you designed it that way.
- A flexible easy to scale up system. Since there are marginal additional infrastructural costs to delivering a course for 20, 200 or 2000 students (storage space, bandwidth, additional tutors) online, this is an easy way to scale a course offering. Compared to a physical learning environment where larger lecture halls, more lecturers, tutors and admin staff are required; to say nothing of more accommodation for students that live out of town, more lavatories, dinning halls and support services.
Can we see any evidence of the 'quiet migration' that Weller alludes to? I think the answer is both 'yes' and 'no'.
'No', as much as students may prefer their freedom to pick and choose and personalise away, this is probably not the case for beginning students where they are so new to the tertiary institution that they do not know what they want to pick and choose or what kind of personalisation they want. An lecturing…
All the readings that focus on the use of computers as the panacea to the educational woes and ills of the last millenium reminded me of a personal journey that I had in terms of the use of computers, specifically to write assignments (as an undergraduate) and papers (as a post-grad an beyond).
My first year undergraduate essays were (when done diligently) works of organised chaos. I had hand written outlines, i had photocopies, I had yellow stick-its and highlighter markers seemingly thrown over all this material. All strewn across every surface (including the floor) in a 2m circumference around my writing desk. I'd hand write a draft, and then add that to the highlighted notes around me before I wrote my final draft. I didn't get 100% (or even close) for these assignments but at least I was on top of the writing process.
And then I was introduced to the word processor in a computer along with associated dot-matrix printer. We had labs of BBC Acorn computers. I did the same process as above but at the stage of my final copy I'd type my assignment up. I immediately found that my grades when up between 5-10% - I swear simply because it was typed and not hand written. I know this sounds bizzare today but the majority of assignments were hand written. When I became a postgraduate student, and had my own tutorial classes, I used to implore my tutees to have their assignments (for the lecturer not me) typed up just to pick up 5-10% 'free' marks. Many did and commented that I was right about the power of the presented work.
Meanwhile my own writing process had by now progressed to be able to type up my outline on a computer and then my notes, and then I didn't even have to bother with the highlighter marker because I could simply cut and paste paragraphs to different locations in my text - marvellous! Finally i was at the stage where I was writing the whole document from scratch on the computer with only one document, that would be edited on the screen - by this time I…
Kennedy et al (2008) review their findings of a study that started in 2006 on the internet savvyness of the so called 'Net Generation' of students entering into their first year of study. I guess what surprised me about this study (and it's precursors) was that apparently first year students in Australian universities appear to be techno-competent but are not 'Web2.0' savvy so they are not leveraging this to their educational advantage. However, now that I've read the studies I don't know why I thought that today's students ought to be able to do this?
It is still the case that (for me) the main uses students in Fiji use the internet for are
(i) do email,
(ii) surf the web to plaguerise for their assignments and
(iii) 'acquire' music & films.
What has changed though recently is seeing that many students are now using social networking sites to remain in contact with each other. This is perhaps more sigificant in Fiji where many citizens work abroad and send remittances back home, or they study abroad. Facebook and MySpace are ways of maintaining that contact. I've become acutely aware of this in about the last 18 months.
Having said that, I continue to maintain that it's 'smart' content that is more important than the technology used. Technology should be employed because it is somehow able to deliver the same or better learning experience. The value associated with the quality of teaching/learning might be the actual learning that takes place, vs. the convenience of administration of the course (electronic submissions, and hand out pick up), or the additional social dimension, or any combination of these and other factors.
Kennedy, G.E. et al. (2008) First year students' experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24, 108-122.
Here, is a fascinating (and great imho) example of a multiple intelligence approach to understanding a topic.
I read this up on Mike Wesch's blog which is basically a US college that took the video that Wesch produced (The Machine is Us/ing Us) and then created a dance to the video (different music) that actually dances out the message of the video. You may or may not understand what the dance moves are that signify a 'blog' or hypertext for instance, but for those that have high 'kinaesthetic' intelligence, it probably makes sense.
It seems to me that having a joint writing space sometimes called a 'Write Board' is a technology that is currently being used in a number of contexts. 'Wikis' are a good example. I have come across 'write boards' in project management contexts. Specifically a (brilliant imho) web 2.0 application called 'Basecamp'. This is really nothing more than a re-working of one of the oldest social internet technologies the 'bulletin board'. In principle this is exactly what they are but their layout and their accessibility is becoming far friendlier. My friends who studied and worked in HCI all seemed to suggest that technology works best the more and more transparent it becomes. That is no extra cognitive overlay is required to understand and implement the information.
Take for instance the contrast between the word processors of old (WordStar and WordPerfect) prior ot the 'graphical user interface'. If you wanted to embolden a word the word had to be encapsulated by a code (much like today's html and xml code for those that programme 'raw') and this is not the easiest thing in the world to read. Once the concept of reading and emboldened word was signified by the 'what you see is what you get' approach, the technology became more transparent in terms of reading the text.
So too the 'write-board' becomes more transparent with the ultimate being a cross referenced graphical equivalent of a 'white board' that contain text, doodles, sketches, further web links and so on. What would students of the near future think of such technologies once they are adopted on a larger scale? Hopefully they would not see the 'technology' and focus more on using the tool for the purpose of learning. Joint work becomes more meaningful because there's an electronic media rich 'pin-board' which allows collaborative work to be done in a more intuitive way. Teachers too would be able to concentrate on the actual design of their teaching aims, rather than concentrating on how to use the technology…
We've been asked to comment on Richardson's paper on different learning and teaching styles by students and tutors [RIchardson (2005), Students’ Approaches to Learning and Teachers’ Approaches to Teaching in Higher Education, Educational Psychology, 25, 673–680].
Säljö, Richardson reports, has five ways of thinking about learning, and they are: (i) learning to increase knowledge; (ii) learning as rote memory; (iii) to remember facts and figures, or (iv) to learn how to abstract meaning or even (v) to be self-reflective as a way to get at an understanding of reality.
These concepts and theories do fit my own experiences as a learner. I've definitely done each of these strategies, and I don't mean just as I was growing up, but as in even on this course I'm aware of using all of them. I understand that my goal is probably along points iv & v but in reality one often needs to have parts (i-iii) in order to learn.
Richardson also cites the notion of 'deep' vs. 'shallow' and then 'strategic' learners. Whilst I get the first two distinctions, I'm not sure what the third one really is. I understand that it's whatever takes to pass the course, but does that mean that a person who is a 'deep' learner would not adopt a 'shallow' strategy if (i) time was short and (ii) the topic seemed to have no intrinsic value or interest and (iii) the rewards for shallow learning are several magnitudes of order higher than deep learning? If this is not an unreasonable assumption, then doesn't such a person become a 'strategic' learner? It seems to me that Richardson is trying to suggest not the extremes of learning contexts in which a learner is forced to be 'strategic', but rather when all else is equal, then distinctions may occur (deep, shallow, strategic).
Unless I'm missing something, this paper illustrates the notion that these models are formulated to explain the different teaching and learning styles; bUT I don't see why we need to make these differentiations because they seem to…
The E-debate on whether technology has or has not changed the quality of education, was conducted by the prestigious publication "The Economist" in October 2007. As a student of H800, it was a bit confusing at first because it felt like it was a 'reading' that we were supposed to do in order to learn about education and technology. And I'm sure that the H800 course designers felt that some of the issues were relevant. In fact though, our main focus was to look more to whether the e-debate was in fact a valid way of presenting a debate and whether the format succeeded (or not).
I hold considerable sympathy with my fellow H800 tutorial class mate Richard Parker, who essentially thinks that the whole exercise is artificially contrived. Check out his views here.
First let me say that I actually support the proposition that technology has NOT contributed to enhancing education for 'most' people. First qualifier: 'technology' here is modern ICT stuff and not 'print'. Second qualifier the emphasis is on whether technology has improved education for 'most' people and not whether technology can improve educational goals.For those that opposed this notion, I thought that they were arguing along the latter lines (technology 'can' improve education) rather than addressing the proposition directly. In this sense the moderator has not addressed the critical notion of the proposal. I personally found the tone of the moderator's comments to be patronising in trying to summarise the debate. Maybe more appropriate in front of a live audience where I could see that some of the remarks may be made to elicit a lighter hearted response to potential antagonism. Not sure that it's the moderators job to say to which side he's leaning (and what is the qualifications of the moderator to act as a deliberating judge at this 'trial'?). I wonder if he's actually sat and typed his moderating responses to be something that he might 'say' in a live debate but hasn't realised that this doesn't…