Cool webinars for Open Education Week 2014

This year Open Education Week falls 10 March through 14 March 2014.  What is Open Education Week, I hear someone ask? Open Education Week raises awareness of the open education movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Open education encompasses notions of open educational resources or OER, open courses such as MOOCs, and other open practices.

Because the Institute of Learning Innovation is working on the EU-facilitated eMundus project, we are doing a special themed webinar on Friday, 14 March, at 11am until 12noon GMT. Our webinar is one of a series showcasing aspects of the eMundus project, which is (among other things) mapping out institutional partnerships in open education, such as universities which accept MOOC credits for transferring in, and the OER University. Our Friday webinar will look at the pedagogies of MOOCs. Check out  the poster below for more cool webinars you can join in during Open Education Week. With special thanks to Athabasca University for facilitating our whole series of webinars!

OER benefits for enrolled students

The open education movement has often focused on explaining the benefits of open educational resources (OER) and other open education initiatives to people beyond the reach of formal education — those who cannot afford it, who live too far away from schools, who cannot access formal education for any number of reasons. But in addition, current students benefit from the use of OER. This article by CK-12 Foundation gives good examples of how American schools are making OER work for students, largely through saving money on textbooks.

The Manufacturing  Pasts project (video above) was funded by JISC to digitise and mash up into learning materials artefacts from Leicester’s industrial past.  I had the privilege of working on the project. Now, a year on since the project ended, I can see that the work we did is benefiting current students in ways we did not expect. For example, I was just helping to teach a digital media session in University of Leicester Museum Studies department. The students are putting together museum displays with sound and video installations augmenting the photos and physical items. When we directed them to MyLeicestershire.org.uk and the Manufacturing Pasts collection, and told them these were all CC-licensed, there was an audible sigh of relief that they did not have to hunt for copyright permissions as they must for other items.

Another way OER and open practice benefits currently-enrolled students is in the way some universities are launching MOOCs designed to help their own students. University of Northampton, for example,  has launched and is continuing develop a MOOC teaching academic skills (referencing, how to handle feedback, writing) — with a version for undergrads and a version for postgrads. These MOOCs require only about 2 hours weekly and are offered to students who have been accepted to the university, as well as any student already having begun to study. Academics who were already teaching these things to smaller groups of students have put together the online materials. It’s a bit early to conclude yet how well these MOOCs will help the student. I will check back with Northampton in a few weeks as I continue to gather stories of how open educational practices can and are helping students currently enrolled at the participating institutions. Please comment if you have such a story.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist & SCORE Research Fellow, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

A Pedagogical Look at MOOCs

As a part of Open Education Week 2014, Professor Gráinne Conole and I plan to hold a webinar (details to be announced shortly; watch this space) on the topic of A Pedagogical Look at MOOCs. This webinar is not simply a University of Leicester production; it will be part of the EU-funded eMundus project, one task of which is to map out patterns of open educational partnerships between institutions around the world. An example of such a partnership would be the OER University, or a university accepting some form of credit for successful completion of a MOOC.

Our webinar will take a pedagogical look at MOOCs in the following way: first we choose 5 MOOCs, each corresponding to a primary learning approach taken in the MOOC. Then we map each MOOC against 12 dimensions identified originally by Grainne in her blog post “A New Classification for MOOCs” (and with thanks to Stephen Downes for identifying the last two dimensions (Downes, 2010)). Below is my initial attempt, having chosen only 2 MOOCs so far: the Open University Learning Design MOOC (OLDS), which I identify as constructivitst, and the original George Siemens Connectivist MOOC. Many thanks to Paul Rudman for his input on this mapping exercise as well.

One obvious question is: how does one pedagogically categorise a MOOC? Another big question: how are we defining these dimensions and what would constitute Low, Medium, or High for each one. I am interested in your views on these and other questions — please comment! I include the webinar abstract at the end of this post.

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Webinar Abstract: As the number and variety of free online courses and MOOCs increases, it becomes more important to be aware of their differing pedagogical approaches. After initial attempts to categorise MOOCs as cMOOCs and xMOOCs (roughly, C for connectivist and X for EdX –style), it began to be clear that more nuanced categorisation was needed, and especially when considering the course’s primary learning approaches. Taking Conole’s 12-dimensional MOOC classification (Conole, 2013) and choosing 5 learning approaches often used in elearning (Mayes & De Freitas, 2004) (Bird & Conole, 2013), we categorise 5 MOOCs as an exploratory exercise for this webinar. Does this exercise display clues to the direction of MOOCs and free online courses in general? Are there any warning signals which we as educators should note? In the context of the eMundus project, does this classification help quality officers make decisions in open educational practice, for example about accepting credit for a completed MOOC?

Bird, T., & Conole, G. (2013). From E-Learning to M-Learning. In From E-Learning to M-Learning. Singapore. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/tbirdcymru/from-elearning-to-mlearning

Conole, G. (2013). A new classification for MOOCs. e4innovation Blog. Retrieved January 25, 2014, from http://www.e4innovation.com/?p=727

Downes, S. (2010). Fairness and equity in education. Huff Post Education.

Mayes, T., & DeFreitas, S. (2004). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study Stage 2 : Review of e-learning theories , frameworks and models.

 Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

MOOCing for learning or MOOCeting for earning?

At the ALT MOOC SIG gathering in Southampton on 6 November, we were assured by Helena Gillespie, of University of East Anglia, that MOOCing is definitely a verb. I’d like to add a new one to the ever-increasing glossary of the MOOCosphere: MOOCeting. It is perhaps best explained by the image below:

Language of the MOOCosphere

Language of the MOOCosphere, G. Witthaus

It is clear that there have been two strands of MOOCs developing for some time now, and this distinction is often couched in the language of xMOOCs vs cMOOCs. Having previously carried out research into the Open Educational Resources university (OERu), which is dedicated to widening participation in higher education, I have become familiar with the language used to describe and bring into being a means of enabling everyone, everywhere, to get a fully accredited degree from a recognised institution by learning from openly licensed content on the Web. The key concepts that are at the root of the discourse here are: enabling massive numbers of learners with limited financial resources to get an accredited higher education qualification; reusing existing course materials; providing a basic level of support for learners to access the resources and navigate their way through them; disaggregating the provision of content, teaching and assessment for the benefit of the learners; providing assessment and accreditation at cost, and ensuring sustainability of the process.

The emerging discourse about the MOOCeting version of MOOCs, is, as the name implies, informed and dominated by institutional Marketing Departments. The primary question seems to be, “How will this benefit the institution?” Answers are speculative at this stage, but tend to centre on notions around “expanding our global footprint”, and ultimately recruiting fee-paying students by “converting” MOOC students into “real” students. To do this, the strategy is to develop MOOCs with substantial amounts of new, glossy materials, particularly video content. The quality of the content, both in terms of academic quality and high-tech multimedia quality, is seen as critical to the success of the project.

One thing both MOOC strands seem to agree on is that the MOOC explosion is innovative. Ultimately, it may happen that both strands move closer to one another in terms of the other dimensions too, as the apparent side-effect of institutional marketing might bring unexpected but valuable benefits to those institutions that are not explicitly seeking it, and the apparent side-effect of widening participation might actually turn out to be an important factor in the ultimate success of the MOOCs that are aimed at recruiting students with deeper pockets.

I have created a slide presentation containing more of my thoughts on MOOCs and some random factoids from these recent conferences:

Blog post by Gabi Witthaus

New Institute of Learning Innovation papers at ALT-C 2013

The Institute of Learning Innovation will be well-represented at ALT-C 2013 conference: Building new cultures for learning.

Brenda Padilla’s full paper was accepted, with the title ‘Student engagement with a content-based learning design.’ Brenda summarises her paper: ‘While learning is commonly conceptualised as a social, collaborative process, in corporate organisations, online courses often provide limited opportunities for communication between people. How do students engage with content-based courses? How do they find answers to their questions? How do they achieve the learning outcomes? This paper aims to answer these questions by focusing on students’ experiences in an online content-based course delivered in a large Mexican organisation.’

A short paper by Terese Bird was accepted with the title ‘China is harvesting your
iTunes U – and other findings from researching how overseas students engage
with open learning materials.’ This paper will share findings from the HEA-funded iTunesUReach project in which the use of open educational resources (OER) by overseas students was researched. This project was represented at OER13 with the poster below.

A short paper by Ming Nie was accepted with the title ‘iPads in distance learning:
learning design, digital literacy, transformation.’ This paper will share findings from the JISC-funded Places project which is evaluating the use of iPads in two University of Leicester distance learning Masters courses.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

New global open education trends: policy, learning design, mobile

Snapshot of New global open education trends webinar

Snapshot of New global open education trends webinar

Happy Open Education Week 2013!

At the Institute of Learning Innovation, we celebrated Open Education Week with a webinar. Four speakers shared their recent work on open education topics including several projects we have been part of.

Professor Grainne Conole started us off with ‘Open practices and the implications for education’ – beginning with open education’s place on the timeline of E-learning, continuing with her work on OPAL and POERUP, and rounding off with openness in learning design as examined in the SPEED and METIS projects.

Dr Ming Nie then took us on a whirlwind tour of open practice, looking at OER policy as practiced around the world. OER: The Policy Context was based on the POERUP project.

Next Terese Bird presented Mobile devices and open education: match made in heaven or shotgun wedding? The idea here is that open education, like education in general, is moving toward mobile devices. But corporate interests exert ever-heavier influence and may lead to more expensive and less open solutions.

Finally, Bernard Nkuyubwatsi presented A View from a Developing Country, describing how he learnt English by radio programmes created by the BBC. These lessons taught English with the help of Elvis Presley songs. The power of radio in education should not be underestimated especially in the developing world.

Gabi Witthaus expertly guided the discussion and chaired the webinar, and we were joined by participants from all over the world. And as usual, it was a lot of fun! If you missed the webinar or would like to review it, you can access the recording here.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, Institute of Learning Innovation University of Leicester

New global open educational trends – policy, learning design, and mobile

Image

Beyond Distance PhD students and colleagues from around the world

To celebrate Open Education Week (begins 11 March 2013), Beyond Distance colleagues will be doing an online webinar to which you are cordially invited! We hope to have discussion, debate, and controversy! So please save the date and time —- more information and a link to connect will be blogged closer to the time.

Webinar title: ‘New global open educational trends: policy, learning design, and mobile’

Date and time: 11 March (Monday) at 12:30 -14:00 GMT

Presenters: Professor Grainne Conole, Gabi Withaus, Dr. Ming Nie, Terese Bird, Bernard Nkuyubwatsi

The webinar will be in format of a roundtable discussion. Informed by our work on various open educational projects of international scope (POERUPSPEED, TOUCANS, SPIDER, and iTunesUReach, among others) our team will share their perspectives and invite discussion on intercontinental policies for OER uptake, developments in the use of open resources and open practice in learning design, and issues around open practice in mobile learning, with a special focus on the view from the developing world.

Hope to virtually see you there!

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow

OERs by Video

I am preparing for a project in which I will need to make video open educational resources (OERs). I will be creating split-screen video clips of lectures showing the presenter on one side, and whatever she is demonstrating on the computer on the other side. I am trying to imitate some Open Yale lectures I have seen here. I’m pretty sure Open Yale is using some sort of hardware and software lecture-capture solution which I don’t have. My solution will be low-cost: I will film the presenter, and capture whatever she is presenting via some screencast software such as Quicktime Pro or Camtasia, and use the split-screen wizardry of Final Cut Express to create the final product. If you want to learn more about how that is done, see my blog post from last week.

The next wrinkle in the video OER saga is that some of the footage will contain unsavoury language, and some may contain images of vulnerable adults and minors. Therefore, I need to bleep out words and blur out faces. I found a great tutorial for the face-blurring here, and I embed below a very helpful tutorial on bleeping out unwanted words.

Final Cut Pro Tutorial: How To Bleep Out Words So Your Mama Doesn’t Hear It from Andy Coon on Vimeo.

These are new issues for me in the realm of creating OERs. These learning materials will be created for a very specific medical-related audience (I will reveal more when I have something to show), but because they will be open-access, they should reach unknown audiences and unforeseen uses. That’s the beauty of OER!

Terese Bird, CMALT

Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester

My so-called digital life: making split-screen video OER

It has been a while since I have written a blog post. I got busy; I got out of the habit. And yet I know how useful it is to write a blog post on what I’ve been learning lately, what I’ve been musing on, problems I’ve been trying to solve, conferences or events I have attended and learnt from. And so I am back, trying to get back into a good habit of digitally reflecting, as part of my so-called digital life. On Tuesday, I will be describing the benefits of blogging to a group of PhD students here at University of Leicester. And so, it’s time to start practicing what I preach.

Since I last wrote a blog post, I helped carry off Follow the Sun 2012, our very successful third online-only conference on the future of learning. I also earned my CMALT. Thank you, Association for Learning Technology! These are good to note. But what else have I been doing? Mainly, I have been building open educational resources (OER). I have done some for the history-focussed Manufacturing Pasts project. I will link to these and share them out when the website is ready, which should be in the next few weeks.

Intro to Final Cut Express by Techcast Focus

I have also been learning to use Final Cut Express, because I have to build OER out of a film of a presenter, combined with a film of what she is demonstrating on the computer. The best way I can think of do this, with the resources available to me, is to make a split-screen video comprised of the two films.  I am pretty good with iMovie, and decent with MovieMaker, but have never touched Final Cut Express. And so I went to YouTube for tutorials. I link above the first of a series of 5 very useful tutorials posted by Techcast Focus — I highly recommend these if you are just getting started in Final Cut Express.  I learnt how to do the split-screen process from this tutorial by oneironaut420. I plan to make the video of whatever is being demonstrated on the computer by a simple screencast — probably using Quicktime Pro if it can be done on a Mac, or on Camstudio or Debut if it must be Windows.

One main reason I decided to blog about this is that if I don’t, I will forget this technique. Blogging is my open research notebook.

Please comment on what you blog about, how you keep yourself going with blogging — or your own cool tips for building video OER!

Terese Bird, CMALT

Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester

New Project: Manufacturing Pasts

Manufacturing Pasts is a new JISC-funded project with the aim of creating open educational resources (OER) from artefacts of twentieth century British industrial history. Wow! This is a new sort of endeavour for Beyond Distance on a number of fronts. First, no animal acronym! Second, we are the junior partner, supporting our University of Leicester Library, the Centre for Urban History, and the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester, and Rutland as they head up the project. And third, while creating OER is not new to me, this is the first time I am considering issues of creating OER from material originating in the private sector.

Ghost sign for Fashion Hire on Belgrave Gate, Leicester, by Dennis Duggan
 
This project is particularly exciting for me because I will get to help decide on and configure the distribution channel of these materials from the ground up. D-Space? JorumOpen? Merlot, perhaps? Humbox! All of the above! Maybe even iTunes U!
 
Some of the resources to be turned into OER are already available on the My Leicestershire History website which has lots of interesting materials but which are not all licensed to allow for reuse. So that’s the job of this new project. Also, these materials will be incorporated into modules here at University of Leicester, and the educational value of the OER evaluated, so there should be some very interesting outputs from the project. (The photograph above is taken from the My Leicestershire History collection).
 
Finally, the whole project team, myself included, will be blogging about this as go along on the Manufacturing Pasts blog. We’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #manufacturingpasts. Follow us as we trace and share the industrial past of Leicestershire with Manufacturing Pasts!
 
Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Fellow
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