Using the rather nice tiki-toki, I produced this edtech timeline a couple of years ago. I remembered it today when I was trying to disprove the idea that edtech stalled in 2008. I failed.
There’s a bit of a jam going on, interpreting the riffs created by Jim Groom and Adam Croom (is the poetry why these guys got together in the first place? I’d like to think that.) at #dlrn. Doug Belshaw, Greg McVerry and several followers of #dlrn15 and #indieedtech joining in.
It’s Sunday here, raining steadily outside so instead of that hike I’d promised myself I have been inspired by Adam to watch the BBC’s Music for Misfits: the Story of Indie in three parts. It’s been helpful, partly because I was able to get to grips with my niggling discomfort with Adam’s USA centric presentation of Indie music; it turns out the UK and USA stories are very different. Jim and punk, well that’s another story – punk was all about DIY – fashion, art, even enterprise which eventually killed it. So these guys were conflating edupunk and indieedtech and all I kept coming back to was the phrase “long tail of edtech” and even Minds On Fire (Seeley Brown and Adler 2008). No mistake, I loved the #dlrn15 presentation and was carried away by their brilliant and fun analogies, but I was wondering where all the other genres, the little guys, fit in, you know, like _____ (insert own preferred genre) jazz?
So one of the things that the BBC programme made clear about the 80s indie scene in the UK was that it was funded, for distribution purposes, by the huge companies – EMI – Heavenly, Sony – Creation. The Indie scene changed and is still changing, but we still need people to find the quality. Is this is a bit like VC or HE funding the thinkers and dreamers Mike Caulfield mentioned during the final #dlrn session? I had forgotten that entrepreneurial part of the tale, instead remembering the earlier 70s indie story as being one of self-publishing and distribution (Zoo Records), which did resonate more closely with Jim and Adam’s narrative.
I was reminding myself about edupunk and it became clearer why Mike Caulfield stated that edtech was stuck in 2008; possibly the statement that kicked me in the gut harder than any other during #dlrn. Jim first coined edupunk in 2008, the Minds on Fire article was published in 2008, MOOCs erupted 2008, but does that really mean that there have been no new edtech ideas, or is it something else, what else is Mike thinking of? I resisted Mike’s statement which has kept echoing around my brain; selfishly personal because I don’t want to feel that now, when I finally have some time and space to think, write, connect about edtech rather than adopt, teach and fight for it, there isn’t anything new to think about. Really? No, I just don’t and will not accept that. It’s why I keep listening out for new voices in music – I don’t care about the big genres, any genre will do, just let me hear something that moves me or gets me moving. Like 3 For Silver (genre = anti-Americana), playing at the harvest festival in Camas a couple of weeks ago. First I saw the bass… DIY’d out of a galvanised wash tub and then I heard the guy sing, this band were so brilliant even my metal head partner (Metallica fan) was dancing rather than head-banging. But each to their own, you might hate the sound, who knows.
Perhaps the big idea side of edtech has slowed down (too much money embedded in the body not enough in the long tail), but perhaps it just means we now have to play the music; we have to use the ideas and technologies to educate, to reach the promise that many of us embraced edtech for in the first place. To fund the long tail with our time and energy. To turn our thinking onto the pedagogy, on using the tech, improving the tech, in order to spread education, openly beyond the cultural silos of the English-speaking nations, so abundantly represented at #dlrn.
Personal learning environments (PLEs) are simply a collection of applications, websites and technologies that we use for studying. Because I also learn from people, I have included my personal learning network (PLN) incorporated with my PLE. It also changes all the time and this one was created a couple of years ago. I would make Twitter a much bigger part of it today if I were to redraw it and I would include Moodle too.
My PLE also includes things which I am not representing on this image, because they don’t have icons. For example I am typing on a Chromebook and this little notepad computer has become the place where I study most of the time. I don’t write assessments and I can’t use Mendeley on it, but for reading, making notes and searching it is great and very portable. But the most important thing for me is that I am not at my desk, if I were at my desk I would be worrying about work rather than working on my studies. So I do think that PLEs need to also include a sense of the physical environment as well as the technological one.
When I first did this exercise I looked at a lot of other people’s PLEs and saved their images to Pinterest. Pinterest then became more interesting as a space for keeping diagrams, images of other research topics – as well as a shopping wishlist!
So where are PLE headed?
The very nature of PLE are that they are fluid, the applications and technologies will change as our needs change. So at the moment I am using Twitter much more than I have done in the past. Partly this is because it is encouraged by the course I am taking (MA ODE) and many of the students are using the #H800 hashtag to support each other and share experiences. It does make me wonder though whether the use of Twitter is therefore not really part of my PLE at all for this module but has actually been usurped by the module team? However, because I still follow many other people who are constantly introducing me to interesting resources and material, I think I can be relaxed about this.
I have also moved from eBlogger to hosting this blog in my own WordPress environment. As I learn from reflecting and I am using my blog for reflecting it therefore also needs to be included in my PLE. I purposefully chose to keep my blog away from the OU’s hosting service for it (still part of Moodle), because I wanted to use my blog more openly and, in the end, of course am intending to attract an audience. I don’t think that happens via the university’s hosted blog service. I certainly hardly ever read any blogs that are there, but at the same time recognise that for students who don’t want to have to start their own account anywhere else, it is more convenient to satisfy course requirements by taking the simplest route.
Students should be free to make choices and work together. Whether these choices are free of influence is a different matter and probably one that will become more interesting to look at in the future. At the moment I think we are in a time of settling in. We are getting more used to incorporating different technologies into our learning as students and our teaching as teachers. It is only when those technologies are embedded that we will be able to really see the effect they have had. There is a tension between innovation and experimentation and being able to give students a good learning experience.
I learnt this the hard way when I used a beta version of AppInventor with some students on a GCSE project; unfortunately the hosting of this application was changed halfway through their project and this caused a few problems. I had assumed that something hosted by Google would be more stable – now I know better. Considering the stability of any technology being incorporated into an assessment has to be a priority. Although everything turned out okay in the end, it was unnecessarily stressful at the time. When I was teaching my approach was always to stay ahead of the curve with technologies and I think that my students appreciated that they were getting to try out new things and it often made the tasks they needed to do fresh and exciting. But sometimes, as is the way with all technologies, there were delays and frustrations too.
This shouldn’t, however, ever stop us from assessing new technologies in order to find fresh ways to approach learning and teaching.
These screenshots represent the first page of our prototype website viewed on my mobile phone.
The objective was to work in a group to produce a resource enabling people to learn about local history (of some location) using mobiles and social networking.
I think, rather remarkably, we succeeded in doing exactly this and we haven’t even yet fallen out.
Thoughts from interview
in which George Siemens and Dave Cormier are interviewed by Martin Weller, about a range of issues concerning MOOCs.
- The basis of thinking about MOOCs are not necessarily to criticise the idea of MOOCs from a personal, or first world, perspective, as it seems many do, but instead to take the approach that if Universities around the world really are willing to publish courses open to students from everywhere then just this should be celebrated.
- One of the major issues is the perception that a business model has to be attached to the MOOC. It seems, to the speakers, that as soon as this happens the MOOC loses its focus and purpose.
- The technology and presentational methods of MOOCS need to continue to be innovated; it is not enough to throw another MOOC onto Coursera (or anywhere else) and consider the job done. (They all pointed to DS106 as an example of where this didn’t occur).
- Burn out of staff delivering the course. Interesting idea that as staff energy flags, so does student participation and this can be mapped! They talk about around twenty people being an optimum number for a massive course. My experience certainly is that the Moodle MOOC I attended which had at least 10 people working solidly during the MOOCs window, was more successful than those where there was only one or two visible “leaders”.
Thoughts from Maturing the MOOC
Conflicting perspectives on MOOCs divide education communities
Split between “elite” universities (in the US) who are keen to explore the potential of MOOCs (and are able to do so financially) and smaller universities who don’t have the same kind of resources.
Learning Practitioners disagree about the value of MOOCs
Though MOOCs could be innovative, they also can be seen as packaging over content. The format itself has many issues that are yet to be resolved.
Formal comprehensive analyses of MOOCs mostly concur that they are disruptive and possibly threatening to current HE models
Dramatic change is imminent :), so say various government think tanks.
Reporting of MOOC learner experiences is positive
Even though many don’t complete the courses on offer this doesn’t mean that they are not positive about their experiences. Nevertheless there is little data to support this.
The MOOC is maturing – and engaging with its business and accreditation issues
Could MOOCs be used in “my area”
Activity 7: Exploring OER issues
From OER InfoKit YouTube channel
The JISC report on OER discusses several issues in OER:
- embedding sustainable practice
- funding and resourcing
- time involved in repurposing materials
- widening engagement
- licensing and locating license holders for permission
- multiple OER models
- institutional policies, practices and coherent strategies
- technical infrastructures
- staff skills, understanding and raising individuals’ digital literacies
- “quality, institutional branding and marketisation” (p9), quality and trust of the materials
- lack of awareness of OER and their benefits
But perhaps more importantly identifies that progress has been made in significant areas:
“Increased awareness, knowledge and expertise around issues to do with technical, quality, accessibility, and legal aspects have led to the development of systems, policies and procedures to support ongoing OER activities.” (Jisc, 2013, p11)
This same Unesco report also highlights the need for policies and funding to help support the establishment of OER. And here the impact map demonstrates clearly that once an OER policy is adopted then this bring financial benefits to institutions and student, particularly the open textbook movement. Where countries report that they do not have a policy, this is not necessarily the end of the story because many are in the process of creating one.
The third issue I want to address is that concerned with digital literacies, it seems from the review that although digital skills are improving amongst staff, when combined with the need for students to cooperate in the production of OER things get a little trickier. So perhaps although students are engaged with OER they are not necessarily getting the best out of them.
It seems as though sometimes we forget that in the fast paced technological era there are some things that always do take time. The impact map is a little disappointing in terms of the results that it displays, but this is due to the voluntary nature of how evidence is included but also that it depends on individuals proposing the evidence. This could certainly skew the perception of the information that it delivers. It is my experience in K12 that making a change and assessing its impact takes many years, for example, were I to propose a digital reading list to year 7’s the interesting result (their English GCSE results) would take five years to come through.
Identifying priorities for research
- Sustainability – many OER projects have received initial funding from organisations such as the Hewlett Foundation. How sustainable are they after the funding stops?
- Pedagogy – are different ways of teaching required to make effective use of open education?
- Barriers to uptake – what prevents individuals or institutions from either using or engaging with open education?
- Learner support – how can learners best be supported in these open models?
- Technology – what technologies are best suited to open approaches?
- Quality – how can we assure the quality of open educational content?
- Rights – how do we protect the intellectual property of individuals while encouraging wide distribution?
Jordan, K., (nd) MOOC Completion Rates: The Data [online]. Available at http://www.katyjordan.com/MOOCproject.html (Accessed 21 March 2014)
My experience with open education.
This presentation isn’t really my experience of open education, though a couple of the things Wiley said struck a chord. “If you don’t want to share, why teach?” That was a good one, and another “Successful educators share most thoroughly with the most students“.
But I put this here just to get me started…. I, like one of my fellow MAODE students also first came across the concept of open as in open source software when I was studying at the Open University. I also was able to take advantage of the OU’s definition of open education, as in open entry, by completing my own Bachelors degree there, something I would have been unlikely to be able to do at any other university because of my dreadful A Level grades. Now as a tutor at the OU that open entry is something we continuously struggle with on level one courses. Students start out unprepared for university level study and yet when that one student succeeds, surpasses their own expectations and is able to progress with confidence onto higher levels it makes up for those who really can’t.
As a teacher I always used other teacher’s resources and also helped to establish a Moodle based website where whole courses could be freely exchanged, shared and updated. But this falls squarely into Open Education Resources (OERs) rather than open education. I see the OU as being the pioneer to allowing anyone access to education, provided they could find a way to pay for it, but that the definition of open education has changed more towards the idea of open as in free. But only free access to the resources, perhaps to a course structure, and if organised well, then also access to other students. A stumbling block is the notion of how a student feels successful, is it through assessment, certification, badgification?
I was very interested in the one laptop per child project and this felt to me like a project that had the potential to really change access to digital resources for the people who needed it the most. It was disappointing to discover that small use of this project wouldn’t work, my school wanted to buy a set, and server etc, for our link school in South Africa but couldn’t. The purchase was restricted to numbers over 12000 and this meant that it was governments who had to buy in. That ended up not feeling very open.
Wiley talks about people giving of their time in open education. I am trying hard not to see the irony of a professor on a six figure salary (just guessing) talking of teachers giving their time.
Over the last couple of years I have taken part in a few MOOCs and completed one. I also use resources shared under the creative commons licence in my studying and in my teaching.
Students need to be able to correct their own mistakes
Breakdown the activity
- Context & Goal: As a group, you need to decide on the context and the goal you want the technology to support.
- Shortlist: suggest items for the management team’s technology shortlist.
- Choose a technology: Each (see following lesson for discussion about terminology used in describing an activity) member of the group should choose a technology from the shortlist from point (2) and post the reasons for their choice (to the tutor group forum) here.
- At the end of the thread, nominate a group member to collate the suggestions from point (3) in doodle.com.
- Reviews: Review all the suggested technologies and why they are being suggested.
- Voting: (post the link to the Doodle vote here) Then each member of the group should vote for their preferred technology in doodle.com.
Avoid wording that slows down the process
Collaborative work needs careful design
- Context & Goal: As a group, you need to decide on the context and the goal you want the technology to support.
- Shortlist: suggest items for the management team’s technology shortlist.
- Include a review
- Include a reason for your suggestion linked to the context and goal from point 1.
- Nominate a group member to collate the suggestions from point (2) in doodle.com.
- (post the link to the Doodle vote here) Then each member of the group should vote for their preferred technology in doodle.com.
As I said, I have stopped working on this activity altogether, apart from the fact that the final selection the group has actually managed to make is one that I have already looked at in detail so feel no need to continue with it, I also have simply run out of time this week. The idea of collaborating on the 2nd part of the week’s activities, to produce a report, fills me with horror and so I will cut my losses and move on.
I feel as though I am letting my fellow students down, that I am letting my tutor down but I don’t feel that I am letting myself down.