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Tag: #ocTEL

#ocTEL ends with a leisurely dip.

Before #ocTEL rolls out of town, I spent a couple of pleasant hours today looking over some of the course materials and posts from the last couple of weeks. Although I’ve been deleting the daily newsletter for the last couple of weeks because I wasn’t able to engage sufficiently with the course material, or do justice to the discussions, today I did have some time so I took a peak at what’s been going on.

The first item that caught my eye was James Little’s blog post evaluating his participation. The opening line certainly struck a chord, “I’m finally joining in at the end”. Ditto. Importantly though, his post articulated the reality of balancing, or juggling, the requirements of MOOC participation while daily life goes on unabashed. Here, he rightly called attention the philosophy of the course designers, who from the outset gave advice on “how to keep calm in the face of abundance”, advocating selectivity and that participants pace themselves and indeed, take time out. All the same, I have to say that I’ve been a bit bothered by how my own engagement in this course has panned out, and I can’t honestly put my finger on (i) why I’m bothered and (ii) why it was so patchy. I suppose I just have to acknowledge that maintaining engagement and holding a steady course isn’t always possible, or indeed expected and that dipping in and out will do just fine, if that’s how the cookie crumbles.

Taking a dip
Taking a dip

Any way, after that I then tracked back to last week’s “if you only do one thing” activity which offered a paper by Tim Cochrane as an examination of why TEL, or more accurately mLearning, projects fail and what might be learnt when they do. I enjoyed reading this paper and was especially interested to learn of the researcher’s affinity with the PAH Continuum, pedagogy-andragogy-heutagogy (Blaschke  2012;  Luckin  et al. 2010), which he uses as a critical framework to measure how much pedagogical change a project achieves; that is, a change in pedagogy from teacher-directed pedagogy to student-centred andragogy and ultimately to student-directed or negotiated heutagogy. Equally, I was interested to learn of the researcher’s advocacy for establishing, prior to the deployment of a project, supporting Communities of Practice [COPs] that include all of key tutors, or lecturers. Useful article.

I wasn’t able to complete the task set with the reading; it asked that I think of a project I’ve been involved with or have experience of and write down a list of points relating to the “key successes” and “key failures”. However, I did take a look in the discussion forum where I enjoyed reading and learning of the experiences of others, especially the fact that they were all able to powerfully learn from experiences that might not strictly be deemed as having been successful.

Moving on to read the final week’s activities, I was able to look back over the course and reflect further on my participation. Actually, I was quite surprised how much I did in fact cover, but what really stood out for me the most was the hour or so that I spent in week 5 watching the webinar in which Martin Hawksey gave a run-through of the #ocTEL platform and the technology needed to host a course along the lines of a connectivist style MOOC. Awesome stuff, and strangely I’d quite like to understand this technology some more. Viewing this webinar gave me a real insight into the power of technology, but at the same time it left me with the sense that I was somehow powerless and that without a better understanding or level of skill in terms of “writing the web” then, for better or worse, I’m at the mercy of others. Intriguingly the course ends with the question “Finished ocTEL? What’s next?”. Indeed, what next?

Actually, there’s mention of #ocTEL 2.0, which is something I’ll definitely look out for as I’d like to do this again. There’s much to learn.

Finally, a big thanks to the #ocTEL team. The opportunity to “take a dip” is appreciated.

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Learning from experience, narrative style #octel

This week #ocTEL MOOC takes a look at “Platforms and Technologies“. It’s a topic that I’ve really been looking forward to as I want to gain a better understanding of the pros and cons of hosted and open source options. Why? because like it says in the course notes and commentary, I realise that

ultimately this is about power and control. Within educational technology, power and control basically means the forms of pedagogy that a tool enables or prevents.

However, it looks like such lofty ambitions will have to wait a bit longer because I’m going to be pushed for time this week and have, in the meantime, become interested by something related to the “one thing” activity. Namely, narrative learning and its facilitation through blogging or, if I’m going to tie this in to the theme of the week, blogging platforms. The “one thing” activity asked that we refresh our memory in relation to Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory and then think about the use of technology in terms of the learning cycle and learning styles that he advocates. Well, I’ve never been sold on the theory of learning styles, but this time I wasn’t inclined to be sold on Kolb’s experiential learning theory as much as I might have been in the past either. This is because I’ve recently been investigating the role that stories play in learning, and it’s led me to think about narrative learning and to consider experiential learning more widely.

Narrative Learning.

In adulthood, learning is integrally related to lived experience, but the relationship between lived experience and learning can be understood in a number of ways. Similarly, conceptualisations of when learning actually occurs can be understood in a number of ways too. According to Kolb, individuals choose a way of “grasping the experience”, and choose a way to “transform the experience” into something meaningful and usable. In constructivist learning theory such as this, the learner connects to the experience by reflecting upon it, thus learning is located in reflection. It might be said that constructivist interpretations see the person and their experiences as existing somewhat separate from one another. However, within situated learning theory the learning is seen as occurring in the interaction between learners and their contexts, and reflection as occurring within this social and highly contextual interaction. Narrative learning theory though, still under the constructivist umbrella, argues that there is a much closer connection between learners and experience. It regards experience as being  prelinguistic; that is, experience must afterwards be “languaged”, or storified, and it’s in the process of “languaging”, or narrating, the experience and ascribing meaning to it that learning occurs.

Experience is the basis of meaning making, and it’s in the construction of the narrative, the way in which it’s made accessible to language that determines the meaning individuals ascribe to it. Individuals need to make sense of many many experiences, as Clark and Rossiter point out in the article that I’ve been reading

Everyday we are bombarded by a dizzying variety of experiences and we make sense of those by storying them, by constructing narratives that make things cohere. Coherence creates sense out of chaos by establishing connections between and among these experiences.[…] Narrative is also how we craft our sense of self, our identity.

The quest for sense and coherence through the construction of narrative, or story, is how we demonstrate our growing understanding of a thing and it’s how we make our learning visible, not just to ourselves but to others too.

I find that blogging is not only a way of making learning visible, but it’s a powerful way to achieve learning too, striving to narrate understanding, make sense and achieve coherence.

Thus, informed by experiential learning theory, narrative learning can be seen as not just fostering learning through the telling of stories, but as the learning process itself. What’s absolutely fabulous about this though is the sheer amount of tools available to tell stories and to be a narrative learner today.

I’m glad that as part of this week’s activities, I didn’t reflect on whether or not I accommodate Kolb’s learning styles in my teaching/learning because otherwise I wouldn’t have considered accommodating learning “narrative style”, whereas now I most certainly do. I’m also glad, that on open courses such as this that I’m given license to choose my own learning pathways – previously not sticking to the question would have had me marked out as being awkward, and would have lost me marks. This is way better. Self-determined narrative learning rocks!!

Thanks #ocTEL folks.

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References: Clark, C. and Rossiter, M. ( 2008) Narrative Learning in Adulthood. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 119, Fall.

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Make it personal, keep it simple: finding and creating resources. #octel

In Week 4, the fundamental question that #ocTEL asks is “how can we take advantage of technological developments in order to create and source relevant learning resources?” Actually, the question continues “for our students”, but I’m going to ignore that bit. I’m just going to throw in here the idea of “self-organised learning” and, on the very same subject, quote Steve Wheeler in his blogpost today, when he refers to “the ability of the learners themselves to direct their own learning, and to be able to call upon the resources they need, when they need them”, before I move on to relate how I’ve engaged with the question and with this week’s activities.

The first activity was about finding and reviewing resources and, in terms of ease of use and usefulness, comparing a number of resource repositories. The repositories were split into two camps: “official” ones, such as  Jorum and Merlot, and “open” ones like YouTube, TED and iTunesU. I have to say that I was disinclined to do this activity as I’ve done it before. It’s so time consuming, and never mind that it seems to smack of either desperation or wild anticipation akin to a lucky dip. However, I was interested to read Imogen Bertin‘s post in the forum “iTunesU – you need to learn how to search it…”. Interesting, as having undertaken a detailed review and comparison of the repositories, Imogen reports over all lukewarm enthusiasm for the “official” repositories both in terms of their search function and in terms of the resources found. However, the “open” repositories fare somewhat better, especially iTunesU. Imogen says,

if you know how to search it, then it’s actually very good. […] there is a rake of useful stuff on there, lots of it free, but how to search isn’t obvious at all.

And on that score, Imogen kindly enlightens us.

itunes u
iTunesU. You need to learn how to search it.

She also declares that “YouTube rocks!”, and attributes this to its great search engine.

It’s an excellent post, with a great follow up conversation, but my point is this: with the likelihood of such patchy results, why bother to go looking for such content in the first place. Wouldn’t it be handier to have a filtering system in place whereby relevant resources come to you. I mean, why not harness the power of your personal learning network [PLN]?

When a member of my PLN posts a link to a potentially handy resource, I bookmark it in the hope that it’ll be useful to me at a later stage. This way I’ve started to develop my own database of searchable resources. It means I’m not starting a search from scratch as I already have a bank of resources, resources that to some degree have been vetted by my peers. This is how I’ve found a number of great resources recently. Just for the record, I searched iTunesU with the term “digital literacies”, and what do you know, it came up with the exact same resources that I already have bookmarked, plus one! So thanks, Imogen for bringing this to attention. 🙂

A further activity this week related to creating you own materials. You were asked to choose a tool with which you’re not already familiar and consider its application in your context. A number of suggestions were offered for review:

and the following questions were amongst those provided as prompts:

  • How easy was it to understand how this tool worked?
  • How quickly and easily would you find it to use?

In terms of context, I paddle my own canoe. I’m an individual (tutor, facilitator, guide, learner…) who simply wants to develop online learning resources that add interest and stimulate interaction with the learning experience. Consequently, I need “low-threshold, low-barrier” technologies that are easily learned and easily accomplish my teaching and/or learning objectives, and more often than not, have sharing and collaboration features built-in to them.

With this criteria in mind, I took a look over the suggested tools. Straight off, Xerte failed to grab me because it didn’t actually tell me what it did. It opened with “Welcome to the Xerte Project”, whatever that is, and went on to tell me that:

Xerte Online Toolkits is an award winning suite of browser-based tools that allow anyone with a web browser to create interactive learning materials quickly and easily. Content can be delivered to all devices using standards compliant HTML5

Err, I’m sorry, I just want to know what the tool does. Can I design a quiz, record audio, make a video or animate a scenario etc? I didn’t appreciate all the technical terminology either. Therefore, at this stage, I’m not inclined to investigate Xerte any further, despite enthusiastic recommendations in the “what people are saying…” section of the website. Glomaker and Cmap fared similar fates with me I’m afraid. However, Camtasia, Jing and Screen-o-matic were more the sort of tools I’d be looking for, and pretty much said what they did on the tin, so to speak:

Enhance Your Online Conversations With Jing.
Jing gives you the basic tools to start sharing images and short videos of your computer screen.

  • Capture What You See
  • Record What You Do
  • Quick & Easy Sharing

The tools I require need to be intuitive and easy to take up in the first instance, maybe with the option of progressing to more advanced capabilities over time. In fact, I just recently used Screencast-o-matic to produce a presentation for another course I’ve been taking, and I found it to be very straight forward and easy to use. I can certainly recommend it. Co-incidentally, the presentation was on the topic of personal learning networks and how developing a PLN has helped me learn and make progress towards my learning goals. I’ll provide the link here, in case anyone would care to take a look.

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