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, < >.