Saturday, May 31, 2014

What I have learned about MOOC design from participating in eLearning Experiences 2

The subject ELearning Experiences 2 has developed my skills and knowledge of MOOCs in multiple ways, for example when I first started I was aware in a broad sense of the concept of Massively Open Online Courses for free and open access to knowledge but had been influenced by the negative press in 2013 regarding massive student dropout rates (Lodge 2013) and cynical teachers (Usher 2013) to the point of being disengaged with the phenomenon of MOOCs
In terms of the 013092 e-Learning Experiences 2 subject objectives to begin I was unable to:
  • describe the learning theories underpinning MOOCs to any level of sophistication
  • connect my personal philosophy of the value of the benefits of a constructivist and connectivity approach in  eLearning  to MOOCs
  • have any informed understanding of MOOCs as I had never actually participated in one
  • design and implement a MOOC course if required.
My first step towards understanding MOOCs was to ‘learn from doing’ and consequently I choose to enrol into an iVersity MOOC on Gamification (Anon 2014). This experience gave me first-hand experience as a student and from this I was able to develop a number of personal insights that could never have been achieved from simply reading the academic literature on MOOCs. For example I was able to work through a number of topics on gamification, watching the tutor videos and reviewing the readings (iVersity MOOC: Gamification Design 2014) to discover that the design of  a MOOC was  comparable to a traditional eLearning courses I was used to. This removed some of the mystique of the MOOC medium for me.
Where I saw a point of difference between MOOCs and traditional eLearning courses was
  • how easy it was to access and enrol into a MOOC course
  • a key component was the use of social networking tools such as twitter, facebook and google plus to form learning connections with the tutors and other students.
From a design point  of view I found the (Cormier 2005) MOOC social networking framework very instructive to see how connnectivist pedagogical could be overlayed on my existing eLearning courses i.e.
  1. Orient - Familiarise yourself with the location of materials, links and times of live sessions
  2. Declare - Declare yourself via social media, blog, tag, tweets
  3. Network - Follow other people, create a network and communicate thoughtfully
  4. Cluster - Create a group of people to work with, form a community of kindred spirits
  5. Focus - identify a meaningful purpose, link MOOC work to your life
The other design point of interest for me was the use of video in MOOCS which simulated the one to one tutor experience online to address (Koller 2012) the classic Blooms 2 sigma problem (Bloom 1984) whereby  it is known that students perform best with one to one tutoring, a video technique which I also plan to adopt in the design of my courses.
The innovative use of Peer assessment in MOOCs was also very informative in terms of my understanding how you can manage the assessment of vast numbers of students which would just not be possible for an individual tutor (Johnson et al. 2014). However many students (Like myself) choose not to put in the hard yards to peer assess other student’s work and I found it interesting to see how the MOOC innovations are evolving to deal with massive enrolments and peer assessment in the context of the practicalities of requiring motivated self-directed and social networking literate students.
For example new innovations at such as Selective Open Online Courses SOOCs (Anon 2013) have a two-step enrolment process which enable anybody to partially enrol into a MOOC course but students need to demonstrate baseline aptitude and performance to progress to full enrolment, ensuring the quality of candidates needed to form the learning communities  necessary for the MOOC model to work.
In conclusion participating in 013092 e-Learning Experiences 2 has given me a nuanced understanding of the positive possibilities of MOOCs which I will be able to incorporate within the design of the online courses I work on in the future.
Anon 2013, Are we already entering a post-MOOC era?, ICEF Monitor, ICEF Monitor, viewed 14/5/2014 2014, <>.
Anon 2014, iVersity: What is a MOOC?,, YouTube, viewed 13/5/2014 2014,>
Bloom, B.S. 1984, 'The 2 sigma problem: The search for methods of group instruction as effective as one-to-one tutoring', Educational researcher, pp. 4-16.
Cormier, D. 2005, Success in a MOOC, David Cormier breaks down the type student behavior required to succeed in a MOOC namely, 1 Orient, 2 Declare, 3 Network, 4, Cluster, 5 Focus., YouTube, <>.
iVersity MOOC: Gamification Design 2014, .
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V. & Freeman, A. 2014, 'NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition', Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium, <>.
Koller, D. 2012, What we’re learning from online education, Daphne Koller summarise lessons learnt from implementing the Coursera MOOC, YouTube, viewed 12/5/14 2014, <>.
Lodge, J. 2013, The failure of Udacity: lessons on quality for future MOOCs, The conversation, viewed 19/11/13 2013, < >.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Technology Isn’t the Only Source of Innovation

This blog post from Charles Hughs Smith particularly resonates with my "Role based design" research in that the focus of Role Based Design  is on codifying the social conditions that will enable people to develop design  competencies and thus empower and enable them to participate in co creation processes  to innovate, which may or may not employ technology. 

Interestingly in his blog post Charles Hughs Smith states

"So what is the solution to this decline? We face a double-bind dilemma: we are constantly reassured that technological innovation can provide the solution to all problems–yet the problem here is that technological innovation is destroying the need for costly human labor. Technological innovation alone can’t solve the problem because it is a key cause of the problem."

and postulates

"The solution is to recognize the critical role of social innovation enabled by networked human and social capital."

My personal philosophy on e-learning and it’s role in the future of education

In articulating my philosophy about e-learning and it’s future role in education it is first useful to look to the academic literature for a formal definition of e-learning to frame the discussion.
“E-learning is formally defined as electronically mediated asynchronous and synchronous communication for the purpose of constructing and confirming knowledge. The technological foundation of e-learning is the Internet and associated communication technologies.”  (Garrison 2011)
I would agree with Garrison’s definition in that the focus of e-learning is on electronically mediated communication for the purpose of constructing and confirming knowledge  however I disagree with him that the foundation of e-learning is technology itself. Rather I believe the foundation of e-Learning are the underpinning pedagogical models and frameworks that inform the appropriate choice of technologies.
For example the lack of an underpinning e-learning pedagogical understanding in Udacity’s Massively Online Open Course (MOOC) platform is cited as a contributing factor to the failure of their MOOC courses to engage learners.
“The fundamental understanding of quality online learning in higher education was mostly lost or ignored in the MOOC hype.”  (Lodge 2013)
David Cormier defines a  MOOC as “courses which are online, accessed on the Web, and are massive, requiring a significant number of students to contribute to a connected learning environment” (Morrison 2013).
Thankfully there are many established e-Learning pedagogical models MOOC designers are now starting to reference to inform their choice of technologies and design of e-learning learning experiences. To illustrate my point I’ll briefly reference a few pedagogical models (Conole 2010) that I philosophically subscribe to and believe have influenced the design of an iVersity MOOC course (Manrique 2014) .
For example “Connectivism” is a model developed by George Siemens (Conole 2010, p. 18) based on the idea that learning is social and happens within a network. The application of Connectivism model principles within the iVersity MOOC can be seen in the screenshots below whereby the MOOC designer introduces the use of multiple social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. as part of a course ‘learning ecology’ to enable learners like myself  to make connections with content, learning communities, tutors and other learners to create and construct knowledge (Morrison 2013) within our preferred social networks.

"Constructivism" is a a model that argues that learning occurs when students are actively engaged in making meaning (Conole 2010, p. 14). The core of the iVersity MOOC design is modelled on the traditional ‘Cognitivist’ ‘approach to learning whereby learners develop their understanding and knowledge of a subject by working through structured topics, I also believe knowledge of the constructivist model has also guided the design of the topics whereby the video lecture, quizzes and forums are integrated on a single web page page enabling myself and other learners to construct meaning through being motivated to achieve a cognitive goal by discovering the answer to the quiz question and participating in discussion on the subject while watching the video lecture.

In conclusion to paraphrase Garrison’s original definition of e-learning my personal philosophy is that “the foundation of e-learning are the pedagogical models and frameworks that inform the choice of Internet and associated communication technologies to best achieve the desired learning outcomes”. As a consequence in the future, as familiarity of e-learning pedagogical models in relation to technology becomes more embedded within our educational culture  (Conole 2010) I believe the ‘e’ in ‘e-learning’  will gradually disappear from our lexicon to simply be referenced as “learning”.
Conole, G. 2010, Review of pedagogical models and their use in e-learning The open university, Slideshare, viewed 21/314 2014, <>.
Garrison, D.R. 2011, E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice, Taylor & Francis.
Lodge, J. 2013, The failure of Udacity: lessons on quality for future MOOCs, The conversation, viewed 19/11/13 2013, < >.
Manrique, V.R., Isidro  Garcia-Panella, Dr. Oscar  Sampedro, Yannick   labrador, emiliano , Andrzej Marczewski, Montecarlo -  Escribano, Dr. Flavio Pag├ęs, Cristina 2014, Gamification design, iVersity, iVersity, viewed 22/3/14 2014, <>.
Morrison, D. 2013, The Ultimate Student Guide to xMOOCs and cMOOCs, MOOC News and Reviews, viewed 23/3/14 2014, < >.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Master Learners, Learner Centered Design and Master Courses

Will Richardson posts on the teacher as a master learner, inspired by some observations from George Siemen’s post ‘Teaching in Social and Technological Networks’.
This snippet gives an idea of what Will means by the teacher as a ‘Master Learner’:
“George goes on to suggest a totally different way of thinking about “teaching” one where instead of controlling a classroom, a teacher now influences or shapes a network.” And he discusses seven different roles that teachers will play, all of which are worth the read…we don’t teach subjects, we teach kids. And I’ll add to that: we teach kids to learn. We can’t teach kids to learn unless we are learners ourselves, and our understanding of learning has to encompass the rich, passion-based interactions that take place in these social learning spaces online. Sure, I expect my daughter’s science teacher to have some content expertise around science, no doubt. But more, I expect him to be able to show her how to learn more about science on her own, without him, to give her the mindset and the skills to create new science, not just know old science.“
The following are codified behaviours George advocates a teacher can adopt in the context of networked learning environments:
  1. Amplifying
  2. Curating
  3. Wayfinding and socially-driven sensemaking
  4. Aggregating
  5. Filtering
  6. Modelling
  7. Persistent presence
Read George’s teaching paper and Will’s ‘Master Learner’ post for an explanation of what they mean.

I'm going to try and model their ideas in Moodle 2.0, it makes sense to me, and as a teacher I’m asking myself how do l become a master learner? The answer for me is to model a learning design for myself based on my learning need.

At the moment I have a NEED TO LEARN how to grow food so I’ve therefore found an opportunity to participate in some hands on workshops organised by Sydney Carriageworks, Kitchen Garden Project, there I will learn about.
  • Composting
  • Planter boxes
  • No dig gardens
  • Seed saving
  • Planting
  • Harvesting
By participating in the Kitchen Garden project I am expected to share the application of my newfound skills and knowledge with a wider network (i.e. using Moodle 2.0, wikibooks, youtube, flickr networks etc.) I’ll use the opportunity to try and model the George Siemen's approach, with a learning design based on the practical Kitchen Garden tasks.

From this I will document and share my resources and networks, found, adapted, linked, embedded or created by me in Moodle 2.0. The learning design, resources and networks together will make up a narrative of coherence' or ‘master course’.

(Note: It’s good to model this approach outside the context of an education organisation in that for me the point is to demonstrate a move towards self directed learning in a LOCAL AND INDEPENDENT/ REAL LIFE CONTEXT (with RPL opportunities for VocEd sector).

This diagram from GnuChris’s twitter feed (Thanks!) sums up a good workflow for developing a master course:
Based on work from
“A master course is a complete Moodle course consisting of well designed learner centered activities and resources. A master course is typically developed by a team of teachers (with experience in learning design) and made available in a community repository.

A master course can be cloned from the repository and locally adapted to improve upon the learning design. There are regular reviews of local changes and where appropriate new learning design elements are incorporated into the master course as part of continuous improvement process.” Steven Parker 2010
Plannning & documenting my own learning design approach is an important part of this master learner process and I’ll utilise some fine, easy to understand templates developed by Vicki Marchant as part of her research into learner centred design. In these templates Vicki focuses on thinking and documenting 5 elements in relation to course design.
  • Task Design (Learning Activity, Sequence)
  • Tutoring (Feedback, Discussion)
  • Teamwork (Collaboration)
  • Topics & Tools (Content/Resources/Tech)
  • Reflection (Review, explanation)
As part of my SWSI work training teachers in innovation and technology enhanced learning I advocate teachers document and share their learning designs as part of the course they deliver to students. Students can then explore and understand as to why? they are asked to do the learning tasks/ activities. Students may also see the value in developing their own learning design approach as part of their trade/business/ studies?

As said the platform I’m going with for my ‘growing food’ master course is Moodle 2.0 for its new network friendly features AND direction towards the community hub/ repository functionality. Also refer: .

As somebody who works day to day with learning platforms, learning design and networked technology I already have the prerequisite skills and knowledge to uderstsand where George Sienmens' is coming from, when teacher new to networking technologies clone my Moodle course they will have exposure to a variety of the networks which they can explore and connect to.
‘Master Learner’, nice idea I think...where to next?:
  • Design a master course for myself on growing food (based on Kitchen Garden tasks) and publish to Moodle + Wikibooks.
  • Explain my learning design.
  • Share my master course.
  • Open up lines of communication for feedback from others.
  • Let others clone a master copy of my course to build upon & adapt for their own learning needs.
  • Participate/ give feedback...learn more about growing food.
It's a draft for me but feedback is welcome.
"Leigh Blackall developed open education at Otago Polytechnic New Zealand over a period stretching 2007/2009. The Polytechnic signed progressive IP and copyright policies, and encouraged staff to use popular internet and social media to aid teaching and learning. Leigh is completing research measuring returns on this investment, and will describe the process and initial findings." - Leigh’s presentation.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Moodle + Hot potatoes makes creating a summative student quiz a breeze

Check it out. Moodle is easy, I have had many teachers exclaim 'This is just what I want' when I present the tools and this assessment technique.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Power-law distribution and openess - Be brave take the jump.

Have you heard of the 'Power-law distribution' law, it asserts that 80 percent of productivity within an organisation or company will be done by 20 percent of employees, or in other edu-blogging terms 80 percent of edu-blogging within an educational organisation will be done by 20 percent of edu-bloggers and that's being incredibly optimistic (80% itself could be quite low output!) Hold that thought.

‘You’ve got to be crazy if you want to start a wiki operation from scratch you have got to have a sustainable community’
Wayne Macintosh Wikieducator
As before with the LMS software, many educational organisations look to invest time and money into in-house systemisation of technology with the vision of staff collaborating and sharing information and creating learning resources with colleagues within the organisation, for example through an in-house installation of a technology such as media-wiki or wordpress blog on their own server.

Fair enough, but is this sustainable? Probably not based on ‘Power-law distribution’.

Why bother with in house software installs? Some valid reasons to...

  • Enable closed environments for privacy
  • Provide storage space
  • Enable protection of IP
  • Protection of staff from the open internet
  • Market courses and service
  • Aggregate staff as part of a learning group
  • Have control off the content and who views it...
As Wayne Mactintosh of Wiki educator alludes in his above statement the reality is it's hard work, costly and difficult to achieve sustainable community interactions which continually motivate contributions from members.

No matter what technological solution the organisation invests it's time and money into as per the 'Power-law distribution' law they will still be reliant on a limited pool of enthusiastic innovators to develop skills and expertise and share with the rest of the organisation.

Whereby 20% of staff (If your're lucky) will do the edu-blogging work in addition they will probably want to forgoe the carefully executed in house system and do their own thing using whatever technology they choose to keep up with the ever changing e-learning market. This is a good thing for organisation innovation.

So where is the sustainable profitiable and quality educational solution to the 80:20 problem for the progressive education organisation looking to implement edu-blogging and networked learning systems for their staff?

Support for any of the open learning mediawiki systems such as that have an active community base, contributors and flow of vistors look set to provide a sustainable and business solution for organisation's that recognise the benefits of taking the road less travelled and systematically going open.

For example, it's early days but the business oppportunities are out there for the early adopters of which has:

  • 4000 visitors per week and rising (Sep 07)- great organisational branding and marketing opportunities
  • An active communtiy of techies fruther developing the wiki educator platform for free
  • Free hosting of content
  • Anything you add to wiki educator you actually own the copyright, wiki educator doesn’t own the copyright you still retain the copyright and your intellectual property rights
  • Uses Creative Commons Share Alike licence. Which is a good thing because you get to leverage outside contributors innovations within your organisation saving time and money...

In terms of cost effectivess and achieving business objectives systemisating the use of open teaching and learning technologies such as wikipedia and wikieducator for accessing, marketing and developing your organisation's educational resources under creative commons is a sound business and educational decision.

    'Its all about numbers'
    Leigh Blackall - 'Otago Polytechic
    I recommend listening to this recording of Wayne Macintosh's visit to Otago Polytechnic to discuss all things wiki educator for educational organisations.

    Wikieducator and Otago Polytechnic

    Currently the Illawarra Institute and Otago Polytechic is looking to implement a trial project with the Tourism and Hospitality Faculty to implement a business and education model using wiki educator (More to follow).

    So why bother with time an money on house systems? Obviousily closed in house systems make sense in terms of protecting senstive information, managing aspects of child protection, managing assessment results, creating group learning environments...

    From a business point of view will organisations with in house investment in edu-blogging technology enable co-creation co-sharing and co-collaboration on educational resource work in a cost effective profitable AND sustainable manner over a number of years? Maybe if the community members personal relationships are good... but probably not.

    If the the vision is for sustainable collaboration and sharing of information within an organisation the future is open and networked using tools such as wiki educator and wikipedia and creative commons licencing networking with the other 20% of innovative edu bloggers from other organisations. Be brave and take the jump to openess.