A mostly open journey thru ETUG’s Fall Unconference

UDG Agora Dream TeamWe began and ended in the open. Friday, November 6th was the long-awaited ETUG Fall Unconference! 

We gathered together at VCC's downtown campus (formerly known as VVI) and, after some opening remarks and housekeeping, were plunged into the virtual public meeting place created by the UDG Agora "Dream Team" led by Tannis Morgan, JIBC's Associate Dean in the Centre for Teaching, Learning & Innovation. Other members of the team that worked to create an amazing gathering place in the cloud: 

Despite some technical challenges, their hybrid, connected presentation was a glimpse of the possibilities of connecting learners and engaging them in challenging, scaffolded, layered learning online.

The Dream Team's challenge was to facilitate / create an open, blended faculty development experience working with the CIEP Docentes (http://ciep.cga.udg.mx) at the University of Guadalajara (UdG). Approximately 300 UdG professors are enrolled in a six month diploma program with a focus on teaching professors how to create student-centred experiences supported by mobile devices (read "iPads").

Tags from UDG AgoraThe participants from the University of Monterrey had a range of technological understanding and motivations and experience with open tools or learning; the "dream team" managed to engage them in Twitter-conversations, studio-learning, exploring regular creative challenges and sharing online, and supported them in revisting their existing courses to redesign and energize their teaching and learning. An illustration of the amazing "cloud-conversations" that are occuring in the open Agora (now with contributors around the world) is shown by this TAGSExplorer (built by Martin Hawksey) snapshot.

Even more exciting is that the whole challenge-based, layered, open and flexible learning approach is available for anyone to review and use. So, dive into the tag cloud or peruse the somewhat inaptly named "Agora Site Map"  Find out more about Tannis' "ETUG Taco Challenge" and, don't be shy, build a taco and share.

It was great to see familiar faces from last year's ETUG sessions but there were also lots of new facesUBC students open textbooks to get to know. The second plenary presentation was focused on open textbooks, a familiar BCcampus topic.  We were given a clear overview of student issues and concerns about open textbooks and resources during a lively and thorough presentation by UBC student leaders, Jenna Omassi and Daniel Munro #textbookbrokeUBC  It sounds as though the conversation has involved many students and instructors and the support people at UBC, including the bookstore. Loved the contest where students shared pictures of how much they spend on textbooks, in particular the one that showed expensive textbooks acting as a TV stand! They presented a strong case for pursuing "openness" and more and more instructors are getting involved; not just in open textbooks but in developing a more "open learning" approach (see "Physics Course Adopts an Open Textbook and Saves Students $90,000"  – some compelling arguments.

I attended a number of "unconference" sessions and learned a fun Liberating Structures activity that Tracy Kelly and Leva Lee facilitated – 25-10 crowd sourcing. The focus question we explored was how to make ETUG more relevant to members. The activity involved writing our best idea and the first step we thought should be taken to achieve it on a file card. Then we circulated (milled around) passing cards back and forth. We stopped 5 times and explored the ideas on our card with one other person – adding a rating from 1-5. At the end, we added up the scores (top score = 25) and now I can't remember what the "10" stood for?  If you're interested in learning more facilitation strategies, BCcampus is organizing a 2.5 day workshop led by Keith McCandless of Liberating Structures. Early bird pricing ends Nov 23rd and the workshop takes place February 17-19, 2016 (more information at urls.bccampus.ca/LS)

I did really enjoy some of the one-to-one or one-to-several discussions that I was involved in during sessions, in the back of rooms, waiting in the hallways, standing in line for food, tea or coffee. Lots of interesting people there – just not presenting for some reason. And I suppose I was the same. I came with two ideas to pitch and put them in my back-pocket (so to speak) because they didn't seem related in any way to any of the topics others were pitching or that were part of the featured focus – so much openness is great but a little overwhelming (I can't believe I just typed that sentence but, surprisingly, it's how I was feeling).

I did enjoy the closing session (which wasn't so much a closing session as a bit of a passionate rant by Brian Lamb about a new project he and Grant Potter (of UBC?), were pulling together using the new UBC educloud server (see BC OpenEdTech http://oet.tru.ca ). I've signed up and they've already given me access and I'm happily playing with a couple of open apps (creating my first grain) but so far I haven't figured out how to bring in Dropbox or SPLOT – two ideas that Brian talked about. Obviously I need to do some more reading and poking around. I enjoyed hearing about some of the ways people are using SPLOT (see http://trubox.ca/)

Although I didn't find as much to inspire me at this year's ETUG, it was still a really worthwhile event. Kudos to the organizers and the hosts. It was a good reason to explore a part of Vancouver that I haven't seen for a long time.

 

 

 

Online learning activities jam – messy learning!

SCoPE online communityWell, it’s been a couple of weeks since I wrapped up my first open online learning seminar with the wonderful SCoPE community. I have always enjoyed the interesting discussions and activities and people you meet during these open seminars and had benefited so much from this community when I lived and worked up north. It was a great chance to share back; I hope someone else steps up soon. If you have any ideas you’d like to explore with a varied audience of educators, contact Sylvia Currie, the community steward!

jammaking3My intent for the Creating Engaging Online Learning Activities JAM was to start from a focus on what motivates people who learn online, and then to move on to planning a single online learning activity and sharing it with an audience of informed and experienced educators who would provide constructive criticism, suggestions, ask questions and generally help us all polish our initial designs. I even had hopes that we’d have time for a few practical participation sessions where people could demonstrate part of an activity to see how it worked with “students” before trying it in a “real” class. So…obviously that was too ambitious for two weeks. Hindsight is always 20:20 and I certainly see ways I could have restructured it, narrowed the scope and perhaps segmented the sessions? I’ve posted a feedback survey and, even if you didn’t participate in the whole seminar, if you have any thoughts to share, please do.

20150604_BonktripWhile I didn’t get the participation I’d hoped, I had an unanticipated but welcome guest. Professor Curtis Bonk (whose book with Elaine Khoo “Adding Some TEC-VARIETY” I’d used to help us organize our thinking about learning activities from a motivational perspective), stopped by to share some of his adventures since the book was published. He’s had the book translated into Chinese and spent time in the last year visiting Chinese universities to talk about his books. Check out his latest book – MOOCs and Open Education Around the World.

For my own online learning activity (OLA), I developed a rough plan to gather 4-5 videos found on the Internet (TED Talks, Google Talks, etc.) that focused on new ideas about teaching online. I wanted to explore ways to use videos to provoke more critical thinking and then use them to “seed” online/face-to-face discussions for a workshop about new approaches to teaching and learning. I had been playing with a new tool H5P that I’d added to my new website (educomm.ca) and decided to use it’s ability to create html5 annotated videos.

The value of testing OLAs in a community like SCoPE were quickly evident when I received some really thoughtful questions and suggestions about my initial plan. My final sample video was reviewed in detail by a very knowledgeable participant who pointed out a potential copyright issue I hadn’t recognized, and tested the playback in different browsers and using an iPhone. She also provided some “best practices” around using videos including some accessibility issues I had thought of but hadn’t addressed.  I’m in the process of creating a map to the questions I embedded in the video and I plan to provide a link to the interactive transcript (a bonus of using a TED Talk!). I’ll have to choose carefully for the next 4 videos as I would like to ensure that the resulting OLA is accessible as well as engaging.

We’ve posted all the resources – from a great collections of links to digital Bloom’s Taxonomy ideas to some open digital bulletin boards with questions to ask yoiurself when planning an OLA. And I’ll share the revised interactive video(s) as I develop them, on this site.

Sylvia

 

 

 

So long, and thanks for all the fish…

goodbyeSix 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:

  • dealing with students questions by having them post in a forum and vote on which questions were of most interest – then the instructors responded to the top questions in short discussion-based videos emailed out to registered participants each week (very helpful);
  • well-organized and structured course (never felt lost – could always find forums, assignments, videos quickly);
  • collaborative Googledoc to accumulate suggested resources to support the weekly topics (easy way to involve participants!);
  • criterion (and explanatory videos) to support peer-grading of optional assignment (interesting to listen to why and how); and, finally,
  • the friendly, open supportive instructor presence established by Simon McIntyre and Dr. Negin Mirriahi!

Learning to teach online MOOCI 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:

  • 11,727 participants from 167 different countries
  • 36% were from emerging economics
  • top five countries – USA, Australia, India, United Kingdom, Russian Federation
  • most (90%) participants had at least a bachelor’s degree
They anticipate publishing future journal articles once they’ve had a chance to analyze the data they’ve collected. And it sounds as though they plan to offer the MOOC again so keep an eye on their Twitter feed UNSW ltto – (probably same time next year?)

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

 

 

Two weeks is 2 short…

overflowing cupOr, 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:

  • Leonne B. explained how she blends her journaling activity (which includes a success-building rubric the students complete each week) and some computer-skills, applied in their BlackBoard LMS, to develop self-motivated, self-reflective learners with skills to help them in future learning.
  • Viviana C. explained her yet-to-be-tested learning activity that utilizes a focused conversation model to help students explore different science-related quotations from an evidence-based, critical perspective. Her activity provides flexibility and autonomy (two motivational elements) in how students can respond and share their reflections privately with the instructor. The activity is creative and relevant to engage learners.
  • I presented my still evolving learning activity as part of a blended workshop approach to encourage instructors (higher education) to explore different approaches to online learning from a critical perspective. The online component of the blended delivery would be 4 or 5 interactive videos (created in H5P's interactive video tool) that would feature "new" approaches to online learning including at least one that focuses on MOOCs and online learning design.

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.

Additional notes:

  • We briefly discussed finding ways to use the SCoPE online learning community and platform to connect researchers or instructional designers wanting to test new teaching/learning activities with teachers who want to try new approaches but who don't have the time to fully develop them or support them during a busy teaching semester.
  • We talked about the upcoming research by Leonne Beebe (University of the Fraser Value) and Sylvia Currie (BCcampus/SCoPE) into the Facilitating Learning Online workshop's self-assessment of participation rubric.
  • We found out about the November 13 BCCampus-sponsored symposium Scholarly Inquiry into Teaching & Learning Practice – registration opens August 31st – they're accepting proposals until September 20th.
  • And a final contribution from SueH – a new MOOC platform launched in Europe – EMMA (European Multiple MOOC Aggregator) – something to check out and blog about in the future!

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.

 

 


 

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?