Saturday, 26 January 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit Card sorting and designing a module

1. Digital Literacy Facilitation cards

2. diamond

3. amalgamated cards

In this exercise I am making use of:

(1)  JISC Digital literacy Facilitation cards

(2) JISC/OULDI Course Features Cards

The Course Features that seemed key were (in order of priority)
1. Authentic Learning and assessment - a task that is directly related to professional practice and helps develop employability skills
2. An enquiry based task which leads to student generated content.
3.Student choice in terms of research topic, platform for presentation, developed in collaboration with others and thereby involving peer support
4. Learning that is supported by guidance through the process but which also emerges from conversations using social media
5. Other key elements: the task is well scaffolded, a blended delivery is employed and students are encouraged to reflect - perhaps through the conversations with peers?

The elements at the bottom of the diamond were not there because they were unimportant but because they are to some extent a given. Group tutorials will be important to some students and feel like an option to others.
6. Peer and tutor assessment
7. Group tutorials

I then tried amalgamating these elements with the Digital Literacy Facilitation cards (3). No instructions for this and not sure if it is a legitimate way of working, but intuitively I was drawn to making links between them.

I used the Digital Literacy Level 1 cards.

Collaborate and share digital content seemed to relate to the elements Collaborative and Student generated content: e.g "Contribute to online dialogue.... contribute digital content.... share digital content"
Here I am envisaging students developing an online project/presentation

Understand and Engage in Digital Practices links to Social and Peer Support : "describe own digital footprint.... use VLE.... digital technologies for creating and sharing knowledge....find an expert on line". The use of social media within the module will need to be scaffolded to embrace understanding of digital identity and safe use of networks to using them effectively to find information and connect with "experts" and professionals in the field

Manage and Communicate Information links to Conversation and Applied Concepts - select references, record search results, write in different online contexts. Here I was thinking about how the concepts of plagiarism and referencing need to be applied within the project rather than taught as a standalone. Conversation here could mean in class discussions, online discussion boards, peer support in work groups.

Find Information is about using Authentic learning and assessment and an Enquiry based approach: currently students are given abstract exercises to show them how to search on line. The group project and the research question the group focuses on will drive the how and the what of their information searches.

Critically Evaluate information,  online interactions and tools for me connects with Peer assessment and Reflective log or blog. In the development of their projects - documented in their reflective logs - as well as in the process of assessing one another's projects, students will need to apply quality criteria.

This has been a useful exercise and seems to be helping me to articulate how I want the module to look. Next step is the Course View Map....

So here it is below - note that I have incorporated some of the learning outcomes from the Digital Literacy Facilitation Cards in brief, to remind me how to link the activities to LOs in designing the overall module.

Friday, 25 January 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit Week 3: Let's put our our heads together

image: Jane Challinor

My most recent design experience was designing a 20 week blended learning module in Public Sector Leadership for a Masters in Professional Practice. The starting point was the module specification and course curriculum map which had already been validated and specified the Learning Outcomes to be achieved. There was also an agreed template for the VLE learning room and balance of activities which had been designed by learning technologists and which was going to be used across the whole course.

There were therefore quite a number of parameters to work within, but this is normal in an institutional setting where there are certain givens (contact hours, delivery patterns, timetabling restrictions, staff availability/expertise).

The next stage was to try to envisage who our learners would be, what they would already know about the topic and what added value they would be looking for from the module. This whole course was a new venture and as a course team I felt we had little guidance about our target audience or market.  I based my thinking on previous experience of leading post graduate modules in this field.

The assessment was also a given - a 5000 word report on the leadership of change - so working back from this, a colleague and I began to brainstorm the sort of things students would need to know to be able to meet the learning outcomes, then the sort of activities that would a) help them to learn those things b) be appropriate for a mainly on line module, c) would develop their skills and knowledge over time (scaffolding).

Finally, we rummaged around in our own toolboxes for things we had made earlier and could be adapted, then looked for new resources that would fill any gaps.

To complete the design I drew a form of story board on an excel spreadsheet which week by week sketched out what students would be doing and estimated how long it would take them.

From this the final set of learning materials or study guides were written and returned to the learning technologist to be checked, formatted and uploaded to the VLE.

The process, now I think about it, was very similar to the design process involved in the development of a blended learning leadership programme for the NHS that I project managed some years ago. The difference there was that the market intelligence was excellent as the employers and even some potential students were involved in the design. Consequently there was much greater confidence in the CONTENT of the course, although the delivery METHOD was new (to the employers, not to the institutions designing and delivering it).

Looking at the design activities in week 3 of OLDSMOOC and reviewing some of the tools has brought home to me how little conscious designing actually goes into thinking about new or revamped modules in my current organisation. At present our whole School is being asked to go through a "Portfolio Review" which for some courses is involving wholesale redesign of modules, even courses. We have been given parameters but really no tools for thinking about design.

I have an opportunity next week to discuss the changes with the course team and I am wondering whether there are some tools here that could help us to try and see the wood for the trees.

I thought the OULDI Course Features cards and the Learning Score tool looked really useful and could see how we might use or adapt these to help our thinking. (Going to add the Digital Literacy facilitation cards into the mix and see how that goes...) will probably use both to develop a Course View Map. Anyway - that's the plan!!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit still a bit misty

Image: Jane Challinor

I can't believe this is only the end of week 2. I feel as if I have been at it for weeks already. Spent the whole weekend grappling with force maps and personas and clearly haven't really got the hang of it.

I could see how if the force map were to be generated by a design team and involve users, a rich picture of the context could well emerge. But I feel all I have done is drawn a picture of what I already knew and reconfirmed my own beliefs.

So my sense is that I am not really doing this properly.... the discussion forums and reading others' scenarios highlights similar concerns, so that is a relief.


In other news... some synchronicity. I attended the VLE Steering group at my University this week and the discussion was all about teaching digital literacy skills to staff, the advent of MOOCs and setting up an interest group to look at distance learning options. I got so excited I nearly fell off my chair!

This morning, en route to my office, a colleague stopped me to tell me with great enthusiasm that she was setting up wikis for her PG students as collaborative and reflective spaces and was using a "how to do wikis" wiki I had designed a year ago.

Other things I have enjoyed this week: Helen Crump sharing her dissertation with me about academic staff and Twitter (excellent!);reading Dave Cormier on Rhizomatic Learning; joining the FB groups for this and the edcmooc;discussing the MOOC with my Spanish tutor, (on Skype).

Helen's work articulated for me the different attitudes of staff towards social media and helped me write another persona.

In Dave Cormier I found reassurance about my lack of engagement with the context mapping. Too neat for my head possibly?:
The rhizome is, in a manner of speaking, a kind of network. It’s just a very messy, unpredictable network that isn’t bounded and grows and spreads in strange ways. As a model for knowledge, our computer idea of networks, all tidy dots connected to tidy lines, gives us a false sense of completeness.
The Facebook groups and Twitter streams for the moocs have that organic, serendipitous, rhizomatic, nomadic feel to them that makes me feel at home. Lots of links (hyper and personal!) to be harvested here.

My Spanish learning journey is deeply nomadic (to quote Cormier again)
The nomads make decisions for themselves. They gather what they need for their own path.
I have attended f2f classes, listened to teach yourself CDs, read grammar texts - but what I do now is pay a teacher to talk with me (about anything...)  so I can listen to her and she can listen to me as I practise. I also read lots of novels and articles and tweets in Spanish, listen to podcasts, and somehow just get the feel of the language. On Monday night I was frankly dreading my session as I was exhausted from work, the mooc experience and the gym, but in fact it was the best I have had - flowing and fun. Maybe because I was tired and not too inhibited.... the point is, I have been on this Spanish learning journey for 8 years, gathering what I need, online and off, to the point where I am beginning to feel pleasure and at-home-ness in the expression and understanding of the language.

I don't know how to teach others how to be learning nomads. Maybe that's not the point. Maybe I just need to get out of their way and let them "become".

Saturday, 19 January 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit the skies are clearing

image: jane challinor (Sky over the Trent)

Decided to organise myself a bit and put links to those clouds (or pages) that I NEED altogether on my learning journal page - creating my own PLE within the MOOC!

Some interesting ideas for developing a design through exploring context, using scenarios and personas. Today onto mapping tools. I think this is a useful way to articulate what I have had in my head for a few years now and should hopefully help me to design something that could work instead of my usual "suck it and see" method.

Having a buddy really helps. Helen C developed a scenario for a mature student and I did one for a "traditional one". Despite never having met or even really discussed my course, her scenario was uncannily accurate. The mature student she described is definitely one I recognise from my current cohort!

Some other thoughts about context - the staff side of things. Within the course team I think I am one of only three members of staff who have a FB account. Two of us are on Twitter. None of these uses these sm platforms for anything other than social contact. One other besides me uses wikis with her students but confesses to never having used a wiki herself. None do social bookmarking or have what could be described as a (virtual) PLN.

Use of the VLE varies and the quality of design of those learning rooms which are well used  is highly inconsistent. The preferred way of organising teaching and learning is:

Lecture - notes/PPT on the VLE - seminar group discussion - individual assignment handed into school office - feedback sheet with grade and brief comments. Occasionally, group work involving Power point or an A3 poster. Rarely, VLE Discussion Board activity which is mainly student to teacher oriented with little student to student interaction.

Having discussions in the team about e-submission of assignments causes anxiety; mention of Twitter,FB or wikis for learning evokes a) terror b) moral panic c) derision d) awe

I think therefore that I need to add some new personas into my scenario because I need to recognise that without wider acceptance within the team of the need for digital information literacy, this module is not going to change things at the rate and to the extent needed to be really effective.

Working in favour of change is the team's recognition that research skills among our students are poor and levels of independent learning low. Poor academic practice is also rife and student engagement could definitely be better.

Ultimately, my dream is that a  well designed digital information literacy module should  provide support for the course as a whole.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit Week 2

Oh now this is interesting. Week 2 has been designed in a very different way by Joshua Underwood and suddenly Cloudworks has coherence. Clouds are nested within clouds/cloudscapes  and deftly connected through hyperlinks. NOW I feel there is a trail of breadcrumbs allowing me to find my way round. In fact, this now seems to look and feel like a wiki, which I suppose is what it was all along!

When I try to get back to almost anywhere I have been in Week 1 I end up lost and trying to find a person I met, a cloud I browsed, is impossible.

SO - is this a product of intelligent design, or have I just got better at navigating?

Still don't seem to get any updates from Clouds I am following - which is annoying - only from Clouds I have created.

The task this week is to work on scenarios, personas and developing an idea of a context for our projects. This morning I found this a scary concept, but after some directed reading and a cloud based exchange with Joshua, I am already feeling a bit clearer.

(A thought: the more I look at this, the more it reminds me of soft systems processes)

My objectives for the week then are to:

Complete enough of the activities and reading to enable me to understand context and how/whether to use scenarios, personas and other proposed context tools

To create a scenario, collaboratively with other people in the team (a team of 2 so far) which is sufficiently useful and accurate (for me to use)

To gain insights from this scenario creation stage to help me think more clearly about designing the module I have in mind

To evaluate the proposed tools and understand why they are used/how they support design and/or make a decision whether to use them or something else.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit Reflections

The end of a traumatic and exhausting week. I can now totally empathise with my students during course inductions and more pertinently with those poor souls who have to endure the double challenge of getting to grips with new technology/platforms as well as a new course.

The third whammy for me is trying to find and connect with project team members in order to complete this learning-by-doing mooc. On line. Without previously knowing anyone. And not really having a clue what anyone else does, or is interested in. Well somehow like minded people have begun to get together and study circles (or is it project teams?) have formed, so something must be working, but I wonder how many people have given up already?

My despair over the Cloudworks platform has not lessened. I am not totally lost, having created clouds, added them to Cloudscapes, attracted visitors and received email notifications on my own clouds, but I still fail to see what I gain from favouriting and following clouds as I have to visit them to see any updates and now I have just stopped doing that.

And don't even ask about the Google forum - who has the time?? (288 topics and counting)

So I have been having a lovely conversation with my dear friend (of five days) @crumphelen via my cloud and now we are off to share and work together on a project on the civilised realms of Evernote.

The project will be in the area of digital identity, social media and supporting the development of digital (information) literacy skills. Already compiling a list of references and stealing from others' great ideas - not least Catherine Cronin's excellent Wordpress based course in digilit skills for IT professionals.

I am sure I'll be keeping you updated on this blog!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

#oldsmooc #diglit Day 4: we start to congregate...

Like the start of a new universe, there has been a swirl of individual ideas floating around for the last couple of days since Dreambazaar started and now the process of accretion begins, the pull of gravity attracting like-minded individuals to form project teams (or study circles? still not sure) in the form of cloudscapes and clouds. This is exciting and scary all at once, but at least I no longer feel so lonely and inadequate. I have followers! I have favourites! People are talking to me! I am contributing! YAAAY!

On the other hand, I am sorry, but I really still don't get Cloudworks. The process of following or favouriting a cloud doesn't add info to my own profile;  I do get email alerts about replies to my posts, but not about other developments. Instead I have to keep checking into clouds I have favourited for news. I can't even work out how to contact or message other participants, other than by responding to a discussion on a cloud. (All of this must sound like gobbledegook to anyone not currently using Cloudworks, which is another issue in itself - it is a closed world layered with esoteric practices and language). The only open discussion space is on Google Forums and the course guide is on Google Sites. To try and generate a buzz around the project I am leaning towards, I have had to add (identical) discussion posts to three separate project clouds and then resorted to Twitter. Sorry guys but this is overly complicated, involves duplication of effort and is not particularly user friendly.

I am hoping me and my team can escape in the near future to somewhere that is better capable of supporting human life forms .

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Year's resolution

I am challenging myself this year by joining a MOOC. I have decided to participate in the OLDS MOOC which focuses on learning design as this is obviously relevant to my work. However I think there is another aim here for me which is to participate in a MOOC as an end in itself (what is the experience like? how easy or difficult is it to participate and to learn in this format? what are the technical, pedagogical and psychological barriers/enablers? what are the likely problems for facilitators/teachers?).

I personally think it is important for teachers to remind themselves how challenging it is to be a learner, from time to time.

Already I notice my frustration - at the technical hitches experienced during the live launch on Monday; my confusion - "where am I meant to be now? Google sites, google groups? discussion forum? Cloudworks (whatever that is!)"; my sense of inadequacy (everyone else knows so much more than me! They know one another, I feel like the new girl on the block!..etc) and a growing panic that I won't have enough time to really do justice to this  whilst simultaneously working full time.

My learning objectives for this week are simple: discover how to use Cloudworks, (which I will know I have completed when I get my cloudscape up and running); find some pals (which will happen when I join a team and get some followers); think up a learning design project that will be both useful and fun (which will be measured by the existence of a cloud covering this topic); make it to week 2!

I'll let you know how that goes...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Student engagement and social media

Not got a lot to post this week, back to work on Monday so I may get back into the swing of things then. In the meantime - here are some thoughts on the continuing FB group/page experience

Latest reading: 
In the Pamela Pollara article above it was very evident that not all mentors (staff) were fully engaged in the FB group and this had an impact on students' engagement both on and off the page. Mentors worried about privacy and also felt technically incompetent. Where mentors did engage, mentor/mentee relationships were experienced as more positive.

In other news:
A third Facebook group - private, tutor administered, has been established for Social Work students. Early days so far, but level of engagement is low. So far dominated by tutor posts and one particularly media savvy student. A theme has been established around social media and their relevance to students. I suspect the SW team may also want to use this as a medium for supporting NSS uptake.

A couple of students are beginning to exchange information and a desire to work together on a particular issue. Some have also expressed an interest in University events and an external conference which has been plugged by tutors, but this is largely institution driven. I'll probably just maintain a watching brief and see how it develops. One good thing is that there are three active tutors posting, so the burden doesn't rest on just one.

Starting to think about developing a research project - based on in depth interviews with students about engagement, social media and the VLE. With two years of FB student group, 93 students, and a current cohort of 78 first years on the FB page there is a good sized population that should yield useful data.

First though I need to get on with some reading. Here are some articles saved to my "pocket" for reading later: