Let the games (learning) begin…

Full House Playing Dice - rebel t2iSCoPE open seminar\

Creating Engaging Online Learning Activities JAM
August 1-15, 2015

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).



Weekly QandA Topics in UNSW MOOC

Dr. Negin Mirriahi and Simon McIntyreUNSW Australia  |  Learning to Teach Online MOOC

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.

  1. How do we keep pace with current Web 2.0 technology? (05:03)
  2. Group projects in the online learning environment (06:30)
  3. What is scenario based training? (03:00)
  4. Second assignment presentation (03:33)
  5. How to generate community in an online course that students start whenever each one enrols (04:34)"

Some of the answers…

  1. NMC Horizon Reports (evidence-based, peer reviewed/suggested, different sectors i.e., K-12, museum, higher ed)
    Teacher Training Videos by Russell Stannard  (topics include:  Blogs & Wikis, Screen Casting, e-Portfolios, Flipped Classroom, Sharing & Discussion
    from the Recommended Tools & Apps discussion forum:  Olga – Top 100 Tools 2014  (plus an upcoming wiki)
    a blog called Edudemic that features guides to different technologies – for students / for teachers
    check for Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) like Classroom 2.0 features forums, scheduled synchronous events that are recorded, etc.
  2. Suggestions from forum:  making assignments or participation assessed, refer to Module 7:  Engaging and Motivating Students (includes case study: Online Teamwork and Collaboration)
    Other tips:  let students know you can "see" them, tell them that everything they do in the course space is recorded, use "iterative" assignments (set milestones throughout a project where students show what they're doing), ask students to work in online space provided or, if using other tools, to report back to shared learning space, students who don't put in the same effort won't get the same marks, get peer group to set timeline and devise backup plan if someone isn't participating, encourage students to communicate with group if they will be absent, build in peer assessment of contributions to prevent "social loafing"
    Teacher presence – participate in the course, intervene early if you see students aren't participating, make sure to explain, at the beginning, what constitute "good online teamwork", explain why groupwork is important
  3. Scenario-based training/learning:  provide students with a "real-life" authentic situation (scenario) and ask them to solve that problem or discuss potential solutions; sometimes knowledge is given and sometimes students are asked to draw on what they already know. Benefit is to go beyond recall or comprehension to explore how students will apply what they've learned.

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?



Hopping thru LTTO MOOC

LTTO_MOOCUNSW'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.