Contributing to Cloud Dust
Thoughts about learning and teaching
Thoughts about learning and teaching
Six weeks has just flown by and I received the final notice from the UNSW MOOC – Learning to Teach Online on Sunday, August 16th ! Although I wasn’t able to be as involved as I had hoped, I gathered some great ideas, contributed some good resources back, and participated (lightly) in the online forums.
The primary “nuggets” I’ll take away from this MOOC are:
I enjoyed the flexible design of this MOOC and, although I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to complete activities and participate in the peer-feedback cycle, I found the process interesting to observe. I would think that the resulting feedback would have been very helpful but can’t be sure. I’ve been reading more about the efforts at improving the quality of peer assessments or self-evaluation in MOOCs and in the UK (Re-engineering Assessment Practices in Higher Education). I’d be curious to hear how the participants in the process felt about any improvement in their ability to assess and share?
During the final week of LTTO, Simon and Negin shared some of the demographic stats they’d collected. This MOOC (2nd one) was much more successful than the first; more participants who stayed involved (7,000) and a broader range of countries. There were:
If you haven’t already found UNSW’s COFA Learning to Teach Online project site – see http://online.cofa.unsw.edu.au/learning-to-teach-online/about-the-project or their Youtube channel – https://youtu.be/SIgK2cHwD_g
Or, to look at it another way, maybe thinking about motivation, asking questions to guide planning, selecting a type of learning activity (and potential tools) and developing a plan and a prototype is too much to deal with 4 two weeks? Some might have found that they felt like their "cup was overflowing"?
I've thought about different ways I could have approached the seminar and wondered if it would have been better to do two separate seminars; the first seminar to introduce and discuss ideas around engaging students in online learning and exploring different types of learning activities (examples). Then, the follow-up seminar could have been a real JAM and we'd have started off with ideas about selecting tools (for delivery or student response) and focused on sharing our own draft ideas for feedback. I've added a brief survey in the open seminar to collect ideas about ways to improve the experience another time.
So….today is the final day of the open, online SCoPE seminar "Creating Engaging Online Learning Activities JAM". You're still welcome to post a draft plan or prototype and get feedback. And the resources and conversation will always (as long as SCoPE continues) be available to revisit and reuse.
I facilitated a final synchronous BlackBoard Collaborate session, Friday, Aug 14th, to allow us to share our plans and/or prototypes. Although we only looked at three plans (including mine!), it was an interesting and informative discussion. Some of the highlights from my perspective:
Note: The three draft online learning activities can be found in the First Steps: Planning Your OLA forum thread.
Various questions and suggestions helped the presenters think about making minor changes or finding ways to encourage further student-to-student interactions. It will be interesting to hear about the future delivery of these engaging OLAs.
It's been a great two weeks – what an immersive learning experience for me. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to explore an idea or teaching practice. Just contact Sylvia Currie who hosts the SCoPE professional learning community.
We're off to a great start (despite inadvertently starting on a B.C. holiday weekend with perfect weather) with a growing group of educators with diverse (and extensive) backgrounds and a shared interest in developing more engaging online learning activities. Thanks to SylviaC for encouraging me (gently nagging me 😉 to dive in and commit to facilitating my first open online SCoPE seminar "Creating Engaging Online Learning Activities JAM". We began August 1st and we'll continue until August 15th. And I'm ridiculously optimistic that people will be willing to plan a future return to SCoPE to share their experiences and learnings when they actually use their draft OLA.
I'm going to blog about the experience, from two levels:
1. As the facilitator of an open online seminar in Moodle (and outside)
2. As a learner, exploring a new approach to developing an online learning activity.
My facilitator voice will be in the default font here (who knows what it really is – it looks to be a sans serif so I'm guessing Arial). I may try to find a cute hat icon but can't promise.
My learner voice will be in Comic Sans (which may not be a designer's choice but it might be appropriate).
As a facilitator, I'm trying to remember to practice what I preach – don't overcomplicate things – don't dump everything you've collected or thought about the subject on participants all at once – find ways to help them organize the information but leave lots of room for alternative approaches – encourage them to share and feel comfortable doing so – help them by "pre-digesting" the lengthier articles or videos so they can quickly identify what may be most relevant and useful.
There's more but you get my drift. So far I tried to start out with a focus (and discussion) about what motivates people in general and learners (online mostly) in particular. Some great questions so far; we have some very thoughtful and experienced educators in the group.
If you're interested in developing an online learning activity in a community of supportive peers (and for FREE!) in a little less than two weeks, join us in SCoPE. You'll only need to sign up if you want to participate (and I hope you will).
A feature I'm finding really interesting and useful in the Learning to Teach Online MOOC. currently underway in Coursera, is the opportunity to post questions and have them answered by Simon McIntyre and Dr. Negin Mirriahi each week. The questions are collected in a forum and participants vote on which questions they find most interesting.
The videos that result are friendly, conversational (lots of back and forth between the instructors) and informative. What's even better is that Simon and Negin model what their videos and course materials "say" about how to teach online; they answer the questions using simple, clear language, they express their interest in the questions and their enjoyment of the discussion, they refer back to specific course materials or they might point you to resources that other students have shared in different forums, and they are careful to provide instructions on how to find things.
To give you a sense of topics of interest with this MOOC's participants from Week 3:
"We are really enjoying responding to your weekly Q&A and have just posted our responses to your top 5 voted questions from Week 3. The videos are available from the Video List & Downloads page in the Week 3 Q&A Responses folder. You can also view the videos directly via the links below.
Some of the answers…
I poked around on the Internet and found this great resource about Scenario-based learning
5. What kind of community do you want to create? What do you want students to "get" from the community? Can you assume that you'll have a minimum number in at a certain time? Is it optional for them to participate in community activities? If so, perhaps provide community-type options for those who want a richer learning experience and allow others to complete self-learning. Consider how you might help students develop their personal learning networks outside of your course.
Lots of great food for thought. I'll certainly have to delve into the forums more often as I missed some of the great discussions that have been taking place.
And who says you can't learn in a MOOC?
UNSW's 2nd offering of their popular Learning to Teach Online MOOC began July 8th with more than 8,000 registered participants (notice I don't call them learners?) I signed up for a variety of reasons: to take a look at the MOOC design; to see what they would cover in terms of developing engaging online learning activities; to connect with colleagues around the world. Luckily, LTTO is designed to be flexible in the ways you can engage in learning; the instructors, Simon McIntyre and Professor Negin Mirriahi utilize resources from UNSW's award-winning collection of open-licensed videos and helpful documentation (aka Learning to Teach Online) combined with brief videos to support each module of the eight weeks.
I've been hopping around the MOOC structure, sampling some of the discussion forum topics / ideas, exploring the Class Resource Library (the 2014 collection is shared thru an open Gdoc), poking around the MOOC design elements (well thought out!). Although the course is designed to be flexible, I've found the survey questions somewhat irritating as they don't offer options to select more than one response (in questions that seem, to me, to require more than one answer). On the other hand, I've appreciated the straightforward, clear design, explanations and friendly, open tone set by the two instructors. The videos are generally well done although I sometimes feel like reaching out to hold their hands still and the information presented seems to provide a good foundation for completing the activities or learning from the linked resources. As they point out in the course design / getting started information, much of the learning takes place in the online discussion forums.
So, a general enthusiastic "thumbs up" to the instructors and, although they are beginning Week 3, I'm jumping ahead to Week 7 Engaging & Motivating Students.