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Month: February 2013

OERs: need a licence to thrill #oldsmooc

This week #OLDSMOOC looks at the principle of the open licensing of online content and the relevance of Open Educational Resources (OER) to curriculum and learning design.

Open Educational Resources [OER]
Open Educational Resources [OER]
Although the introduction to this topic gave us plenty of places to source OERs, SCORE, for example; I think that one very simple method was overlooked. Namely, that a great way to find OER resources is often through your PLN. This is how I found the resource, “Syllabus for Social Media Literacies” from Howard Rheingold. Having been previously signposted to the resource by a member of my PLN, I already had the resource bookmarked because I knew it would be useful to me at a later stage. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth tagging and bookmarking potentially useful OERs as and when they crop up. In this way you can develop your own archive of searchable OER resources and you’re not starting a search from scratch as you already have a bank of resources, which have been vetted by your peers.

Nonetheless, as Dave White acknowledges in the OLDSMOOC blog “it’s not as easy as it first appears though, many of the participants […] have been discovering that often resources are free to use but that they don’t have a proper open licence”. Indeed, on closer inspection the situation relating to OER licensing does seem to be a little murky. In the case of the Howard Rheingold resource, the following permission has been given by the author: “please feel free to use, modify, and share this syllabus. Reorder the modules, add or subtract required or recommended texts and learning activities. Use your own assessment methods”. However, I can’t find any indication as to the existence of an open licence, so consequently, at this stage, I’m not as confident as I was initially about using the resource.

Dave White explains “it’s […] likely that the author has uploaded their material with the expectation that it will be used and modified as this is the generally accepted ‘culture’ of the web i.e. if you put it online you accept a certain loss of control over the use of your work(?). It’s interesting to reflect on how the inherent principle of the web is based on sharing and how this is in tension with legal issues that are still largely modelled on physical world paradigms”, without a doubt!

All in all though, this has been an interesting introduction to the topic of Open Educational Resources (OERs), and to its complexities.

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POT Cert Week 14: audio and video

Creating Class Elements Part 2: Audio and Video

This week, continuing with the topic of creating class elements for online learning, leads the POT Cert course to an exploration of audio and video. Earlier in the course I mentioned that I wasn’t great at utilising video for teaching and/or learning, mainly because it’s so time consuming searching for relevant quality content, unless of course it’s been signposted for you by others. Since then though, I’ve been making a concerted effort to find, evaluate, bookmark and share good video content, so what really interested me this week was the consideration of audio within online teaching and learning.

wire for sound in the online classroom
Wire for sound in the online learning environment

Ko and Rossen state that “sound is a much-overlooked element in courses” (p.257), and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that audio applications, as well as providing variety and engagement, might help to assuage text dependency within the online environment and help to alleviate any associated eye strain. Ko and Rossen go on to provide an extensive list of uses for audio (see appendage below), however I’d like to share here a practical example that I discovered recently of how an audio application can be used to support an online course such as POT Cert.

SoundGecko turns any article into mp3, including RSS feeds, which means that instead of just reading the POT Cert blog roll each week, you can also listen to it as well. Not only does this give your eyes a rest, but it also means that, like the company says, you can catch up with these posts while you ‘drive to work, ride public transport, have a coffee, take a run, exercise at the gym, wait in queue or enjoy the sunset’ (nice marketing with the last one SoundGecko people, but I live in Ireland). Any how, the sound quality is good and what’s more, it’s available as a mobile app and you have the option of scheduling delivery of a digest of content. I can recommend giving SoundGecko a try.

As well as reading the book chapter, we were also tasked with exploring and trying out a few applications, with the final directive being to post a short video of our reflections using Eyejot (a video/email application) and then to embed it in our blog post. Well, here I hit a technical snag, not with Eyejot, as I found that to be a straightforward and handy application, but rather I was unable to embed it into this post because of restrictions caused by using rather than a self-hosted option. Consequently, I decided to review, and embed, audioboo for my review instead.



You can listen to my ‘boo’ here.

[gigya src=”” flashvars=”” width=”400″ height=”160″ allowFullScreen=”true” wmode=”transparent”]

Appendage: Ko and Rossen list of uses for audio in online learning environment

  • To introduce yourself to the class in a personalized manner
  • To record lectures (note that the idea here is rather than trying to capture the recording of a face-to-face lecture, but to record a lecture or commentary specially prepared for online learners)
  • To narrate a slide show
  • To facilitate role playing and/or debates
  • To record an interview with a colleague and/or bring guest speakers into the class
  • To provide feedback on assignments (for example, Adobe Acrobat PDF can convert students’ Word documents into PDF where you can record and insert short audio clips. The audio clip is directly inserted  at the relevant point in the paper and that the student only needs Adobe PDF Reader to listen to the clip)

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Simple and effective approaches for prototyping elements of learning design #oldsmooc

At first, this week’s topic and activities relating to prototyping (testing) elements of learning design within OLDSMOOC looked quite tricky. However, after a little perseverance,  the aim of prototyping, together with a few “simple” prototyping techniques, became clear. It also became clear that an aspect of design that would be useful to test would be something that helped me understand “how learners want to interact with the functionality” of the course or module.

Here, I was reminded of a comment from Ko and Rossen, “in the online classroom, students will seize upon your syllabus as if it were a map. Students will want to know how to proceed and where everything is located. So, one of the first things you must do, whether through the syllabus or in an introductory message, is to explain the ‘geography’ of the course” (p.20). Therefore, to best design for the navigational aspects of the course syllabus, namely the hyperlinks, taxonomies, drop down boxes etc, and to ascertain how students would like to interact with such functionality, I can see how a paper based prototype tool, as demonstrated by Diana in slides 5-10 of her presentation, can best serve this purpose.

[slideshare id=16278460&w=427&h=356&sc=no]

Having undergone the exercise and designed the prototype, I would then get a group of students to undertake a “trial run” and collect their feedback on their experience of the design.

A further activity in the prototyping phase is to carry out an observation. This way you can learn something of how students actually interact with elements of the course design. At the moment, it’s not possible to conduct an observation related to my prototype, so instead I decided to conduct a general observation in order to discover how students go about conducting an online search.

The observation: I asked a current undergraduate Social Care student to locate an article on the Guardian website. However, the details of the article were deliberately “vague”: viz. can you find the article about Social Workers’ use of social media and it’s implications for their professional practice, it’s on the Guardian website, probably in the section dedicated to different professions and it was probably published at the end of 2012.

The results: by undertaking this simple observation I was able to observe the difficulties, lack of strategy and the extent of the student’s perseverance in undertaking this task. The exercise was really eye-opening because it exposed not only the complexity of a search task but also the fragility of not just an important underpinning academic skill, but also an important life skill, which searching the internet undoubtedly is.

So despite this week’s topic looking daunting at first, it actually turned out to be quite straightforward and very very useful.


Ko, Susan; Rossen, Steve (2010-03-03). Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, Third Edition. Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

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