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FDOL 2014


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Summative reflection

Looking back on my reflections I realize that even though I have learned a lot, working on the different topics  of digital literacy, online collaboration, open educational practices and so on by reading I believe the overall course experience by itself stands for a large part of fueling my learning  processes.

When we started the course I reflected with the help of the media wheel on the many tools that are available in order to support our learning experiences. From a perspective of digital literacy the course offers challenges not only concerning the amount of tools you might need to develop skills to handle, but also the issues of  understanding the various digital contexts (Belshaw, 2002). That is, when you have understood what it means to create accounts on google plus, joined the various groups, created a blog and written your first blog post there is still the question of how to act and communicate with your peers in not one learning context but many.

FDOL_thewheel2


The variation of learning activities and the freedom of how to process the content individually and in the group created a sense of flexibility. Anna Nager in our group found a great article on how to divide learning experiences into synchronous and asynchronous eLearning (Hrastinski, 2008). The synchronous activities in the course would be those where you interact with your peers in real time, for instance in the google hangouts or the twitter chats, the asynchronous reading, writing or giving and receiving feedback on the reflections. When taking a course with a  full time job it is easier to plan and work on your own,  but having discussed and shared ideas within the group in real time I agree with Hranski that  the synchronous meetings is a ground for motivation, that from my personal view, many courses could benefit from.

The group activities, for instance discussions and copresenting is of course not only a source of motivation but also the underpinning  for a collaborative learning environment. Exchanging and testing ideas in an easy and relaxed way with the group is part of an iterative learning process that according to Wenger (2000)  can be viewed as a social learning system. Even better if it continues over time  – perhaps the course is a bit too short?  We where just getting started :-).

The topic about supporting learners had some great articles about motivation that was really interesting, but I when I got my hands on the 3E framework (Smyth et al, 2011)  I was stuck! We try to introduce digital tools in meaningful ways and give examples on how to use them in our workshops, but the 3E framework presents an overview with the levels enhanceextend– and empower which means that the various  tools can be introduced according to level of confidence and skills of our teachers.

When reflecting about open educational practices my thoughts where focused on how we best can use and share content along with pedagogical practice developed with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC´s). I have seen examples (Bruff et al, 2013)  of collaborations where teachers of campus based courses picks strategic parts of an online course and integrates them within their local learning context. Very interesting questions arises here around intellectual properties, meaningful integration of content, how to use (or not) the forums in the classroom and also what the role of the teacher becomes.

This FDOL course is a special kind of MOOC where you as a course participant are free to enroll and interact with others in the course without charge. It is also open in the sense that the material and course design with the PBL concept is under a creative common licence.  This opens up wonderful opportunities for learning communities in a very flexible  sense – you can have apply as an individual or as a group, you can use the material over a week with one topic every day (sounds stressful, but fun Neil Withnell ) or use the material in a stand alone manner in your classroom (as  Maria Kvarnström and Lars Uhlin told me about the other day).

Now I will end this very  long reflection by adding that I really have enjoyed working, discussing and learning with you all in this course and hopefully some of you will be back again this fall – see you then!

References

Belshaw, D. (2012). What is’ digital literacy’? A Pragmatic investigation.Durham thesis, Durham University. Available at Durham E-thesis online : http://ethesis.dur.ac.uk/3446

Bruff, D. O., Fisher, D. H., McEwen, K. E., & Smith, B. E. (2013). Wrapping a MOOC: Student Perceptions of an Experiment in Blended Learning. Journal of Online Learning & Teaching, 9(2). Find it here: http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2013/09/wrapping-a-mooc-cft-study-published-in-the-journal-of-online-learning-and-teaching-jolt/

Hrastinski, S. Asynchronous and synchronous e-learning. Educause Quarterly. Nr 4, 2008

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. Falmer Pr.

Smyth et al. (2011). Benchmark for the use of technology in modules. Edinburgh Napier University

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246


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Collaborative learning – how does a community of practice start?

After the first couple of weeks we in our group developed a kind of working process. We first worked individually,  processed content such has articles and videos provided or found material of our own. For me this phase meant extracting ideas that either interested me or that answered questions formed from the scenario point of view. Mostly it was the former.

When meeting as a group  in the Google hangout each member had the opportunity to present and give voice to the ideas, test the understanding of concepts and also to receive feedback in form of clarifying questions.  Some of our meetings resulted in a presentation in the form of a PowerPoint or a Prezi, some did not.

For me it is interesting to review the literature on how this kind of iterative learning process  – collaborate learning can be explained. According to Etienne Wenger (2000) a constellation such as our PBL-group can be viewed as a social system.  When we engage with content and ideas first individually and secondly as a group, we have two processes of meaning making  that fuels the learning. One process is participation, this is where we share our ideas and negotiate our understanding through social activities, for instance a discussion. The other process is where we transform our ideas, reification (making into an object) and create our presentations and personal reflections.  The social learning here is the result of these two processes at interplay .

Reification_participation

 

The dual process of meaning making, inspired by Wenger (2000) 

These entwined processes  are repeated  throughout the course within different activities. After writing the reflection we had the opportunity to review  peers writing and respond, and get comments in return  –  as I try to visualise this I see a form of learning spiral (might be completely wrong though :-)).

Communities-of-practice

 

Learning as a product of a social structure. Inspired by Wenger (2000). 

Wenger explains the continuos experience as an interplay where the groups create a social learning history and that the group can in fact over time create a community of practice.

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a
concern or a passion for something they do and learn how
to do it better as they interact regularly”

(Wenger, 2011)

So then, which teacher would not want their course participants to go beyond course discussions and and see their course  evolve beyond the course boarders into a learning community? It would be very interesting to try to create forums and activities within more courses at the universities that would  enable the same phenomenon that is occurring in the FDOL course  – that is facilitators teaming up as a result of a personal interest, imagine that.

 

References:

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246
Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/09-10-27-CoPs-and-systems-v2.01.pdf 


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Open Educational practices: From a flip to a wrap

I’m in a very interesting spot right now.  We are having meetings on how we could do the small blends approach in our pedagogical courses, that is introducing and describing for teachers how they could make teaching more accessible and flexible in small steps with the support of digital tools and the usage of open educational resources. At the same time we are working with other teacher teams on their way of building massive open online courses, the MOOCs.

So, how could these two projects benefit from each other? One small blends approach is making the students work with recorded lectures complemented with quizzes for self tests – and perhaps even forums for discussion, making room for more interactive learning when back in the classroom (you can for instance use TedEd, described in a previous post). This approach is called the flipped classroom (read more here).The MOOCs contain recorded lectures with invideo quizzes for testing your knowledge, often accomplished with more complex assignments like programming or peer-assessed writing tasks. But could you then use content from MOOC´s as the basis for a flipped classroom?

I discovered you can. I found an interesting article (Bruff et al, 2013),  and learned something new. If you are doing a blend with a MOOC it is apparently sometimes called wrapping a MOOC, that is wrapping your course around the MOOC course material.  The term wrapped is coined by Prof. Fisher and comes from machine learning research literature associated with an algorithm that wraps itself around another and extracts the best parts to improve the overall environment.

The blend  described in the article was in a course from  Vanderbilt university wrapping around the Stanford produced Machine Learning MOOC. The students from Vanderbilt signed up for the complete course, which means they worked their way through videos, quizzes and programming assignments.  In the classroom they discussed the videos but the facilitator of the course also introduced other more challenging reading assignments and to them related discussions, and concluded the course with an individual project of their own design.  The students reaction to the project was overall positive, especially using the weekly videos the could watch in their own pace. Another feature that was positive was the ability to change speed, add captions and test yourselves through in video quizzes. The forums of the course, which often play an important part in the standalone online MOOC did not contribute to a social network experience though. Perhaps you really don’t need this if you have your peers in the immediate surrounding? Other courses implementing parts of MOOC´s seems to experience the same phenomenon (Caulfield, 2013).

But can you then use any MOOC for your course in this our time of openness?

There must of course be different rules for using other universities’ course material, depending on the university and what platform the MOOC is published on. For instance if a course is published on Coursera you have a partner exchange programme which I believe means that you can have the previously mentioned collaboration that Vanderbilt and Stanford had. If not, then you as a university will have to choose how open you want be with your material – perhaps publish course or course material on a platform under a creative commons license.

According to Amy Collier in her TedX speak The Brave New World of Online Learning “…openness is at the very core to be accessible to as many people as possible. And the meaning of accessible here being pushed to be reimagined, editable, changeable so that the ideas can continue to grow.” There is a difference here, I think, between a Massive Open Online course  being open to enrollment and being open for the sharing of content. There are uncertainties on how you as a teacher can benefit from the vast repositories that the MOOCs in a way represent. This is an (for me) uncharted territory that definitely needs to be investigated further.

References

Bruff, D. O., Fisher, D. H., McEwen, K. E., & Smith, B. E. (2013). Wrapping a MOOC: Student Perceptions of an Experiment in Blended Learning. Journal of Online Learning & Teaching, 9(2). Find it here: http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2013/09/wrapping-a-mooc-cft-study-published-in-the-journal-of-online-learning-and-teaching-jolt/

Caulfield. M., Collier.A , &  Halawa. S. (2013)  Rethinking Online Community in MOOCs Used for Blended Learning | EDUCAUSE.edu  Find it here: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/rethinking-online-community-moocs-used-blended-learning

The Flipped Classroom FAQ
http://www.cirtl.net/node/7788

The Brave New World of Online Learning:  Amy Collier at TEDxStanford
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRl9kmpNc6A