I just learned of this new 3D printer that uses paper (instead of spools of plastic floss) as input material and prints in full color! It’s absolutely amazing what one can now do with a 3D printer. The manufacturing industry may be ripe for disruption like the music and news industries over the last decade or so.
I’d like to start with a quote:
“a) teaching by telling does not work for most students, b) students who are part of an interactive community are more likely to be successful, and c) knowledge is personal; students enjoy themselves more and develop greater ownership over the material when they are given an opportunity to construct their own understanding.”
~ from the POGIL website. (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning)
I’m serving on the local OWU steering committee for the recent Mellon grant on digital scholarship, and it’s exciting. We’ve got some great projects firming up.
The OWU Radio Station is getting set to launch under new management and in a new space this semester. I’m working on the CPU now.
And, if all goes well, I’ll launch our own EdTech at OWU and Beyond LibGuide as well. This will be a central hub for educating faculty on developments in instructional technology.
While Freedman connects MOOCs genealogically to lyceums and chautauquas, I also see connections to the self-help / self-improvement movements of the 19th & 20th centuries, as well as to oft-compared mail-order education. These options are not bad, especially for the upward-aspiring masses, and MOOCs are offering such a commodified education to the broadest market ever. Therein lies their promise and usefulness.
I’m confident that Universities will remain places where students learn that time-consuming, challenging process of critical problem solving and moral leadership. MOOCs are no competition there, especially when the single-most important factor in learning such life skills is the personal relationship with one or more significant mentors.
Freedman has some good recommendations for traditional brick and mortar colleges, and they align nicely with my own thoughts of op0en educational resources (OER) being a burgeoning public commons.Instilling in the public a taste for culture and imparting scientific and social-scientific knowledge beyond the classroom was once part of the university’s mission.
So far, I’m pleased with the welcome I’ve received to this massively open online course (MOOC) E-Learning and Digital Cultures. It’s almost as if the course was designed by digital natives.
Along with the usual course welcome page there was also a “How to Study EDCMOOC” page that addressed the common problem of “This course is out of control! I can’t keep up!” and offered these specific tips:
- Read selectively: you are not expected to engage with every single area of course content
- Choose one or two media streams only to focus on: you can’t be everywhere at once
- Let go of the notion of ‘being on top of things’ – this is also impossible – instead, enjoy the serendipity of the random encounter
- Relax, select, investigate, think, write when it makes sense to write, and write in a space that you enjoy
- Forget traditional online teaching methods: there are around 17,000 people on this course, only 5 teachers and 8 Community Teaching Assistants
and this video:
I already feel more at home.
I was working with a student this morning, assisting her to learn WordPress and build a professional portfolio site. She’s doing an independent study this year on the use of technology in education–right up my alley. She asked if I had heard of Box of Tricks. No, but when she showed me the site and its list of over 200 tried and tested internet resources, there were many there that I was familiar with. It was nice to have a little collegial exchange sprinkled amongst our mentor/pupil session, one of the many reasons I love my job.
(Just off the top of my head, including all technology from chalk boards to smart phones. A general perspective on tech, a higher ed perspective on teaching…)
Meeting the learner “where they’re at”. College-aged students are immersed in technology so much more than any other generation before them.
Engaging multiple learning styles through multiple channels. Speaking and music are good for auditory learners; writing on the board or using presentation software is good for visual learners; students taking notes is good for kinetic learners. Can you see how a mobile device like a tablet computer can please all of these learners at once?
Keeping students’ attention. Most folks have a good sense for what is a good presentation and what’s boring. Prezi.com used to have a cute introductory video showing an audience falling asleep while the presenter’s shadow looked like she was holding a carving knife instead of a pointer. Technology used well has the potential for a “Wow!” factor; technology done moderately well will at least help keep your students awake.
Collaborative learning. Discussion boards, blogs, wikis, social networks all foster conversation and collaboration. Most learning management systems have a group feature allowing instructors to easily split a class up into groups, each with its own tools. And with the Internet, why not collaborate with another class in another part of the world?
Immediate feedback. Clickers, or audience response systems, including Poll Everywhere, allow teachers to assess the engagement of a class in more quantitative ways than simply reading body language. Take a step back from the classroom and mastery or other short quizzes the night before make sure everybody’s on the same page.
Active learning. Gamification of education is a big trend now because games are active, engaging, and rewarding. World of Warcraft and Minecraft, what to speak of Civilization and others, have many educational uses. Students can also be engaged in active learning in and between class times researching, fact-checking, demonstrating, etc.. And, of course, there’s bringing a guest speaker to class via Skype or Hangout and allowing the students to ask questions and interact.
So there aren’t any good excuses for a good teacher not to use technology.
I signed up for the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC long before Foundations for Teaching for Learning, but it wasn’t available until now. It starts November 4th and promises to be a better, more relevant course. #edcmooc
It’s Monday, the start of a new semester and academic year at Ohio Wesleyan, our busiest time of the year. It’s also the start of week 4–the final week–in Foundations for Teaching for Learning, the Coursera course I’ve got to be failing because I’ve been so busy with other job-related duties and obligations.
And this situation points out one of the biggest failures with MOOCs: the staggeringly high drop-out rate. Reported by Inside Higher Ed in March, it was around 90%! Because MOOCs are using a 1 to many (hundreds of thousands in many cases) or hierarchical pedagogical model, it’s nearly or probably impossible for one instructor to keep tabs on so many students, and there doesn’t seem to be any process or structure in place for getting students to keep tabs on other students. If one fails to watch the course videos and/or turn in the assignments it goes unnoticed by other students, the instructor, and any of the MOOC administrators. I failed to receive any inquiry as to what was going on and why I wasn’t participating. Furthermore, the discussion forum threads that I posted to and subscribed to haven’t seen any other activity–If they had I would have received an email notification. This makes succeeding at a MOOC entirely up to the student and their own gumption. Free to all, but we have to do it all on our own. The MOOC just puts it all out there for anyone to access (if they sign up for it) and pursue on their own. In other words, it’s like an online video tutorial unless you make some friends in the class and share the journey with them. If you don’t, you’re completely on your own.
I’m intrigued by an alternative, the DOCC proposed by FemTechNet. Instead of a massively open online course, it’s a Distributed Online Collaborative Course. As Anne Balsamo, co-facilitator of the first DOCC and Dean of the School of Media Studies at the New School in New York, says, ”Who you learn with is as important as what you learn.”
I’ve completed the first assignment in my Coursera course, grumbling about the way the assignment is setup…
First, it’s not using the web to anywhere near it’s potential, not promoting eco-friendly practices, and actually says in the instructions, “Go through each item circling the number… When you have completed this draw lines… If possible use a heavy marker pen.” I thought this was an online course! Coursera needs to have a team of web guru’s who audit their courses to point out assignments that can be handled on the web a whole lot easier than printing out two pages of paper and taking a marker to them. I suspect SurveyMonkey or some other existing system is already offering something that will accomplish this task in an acceptably similar fashion online.
My next grumble was with Microsoft. I created circles in the Word document I downloaded and connected them with lines. Doing so was tedious because when I copied a shape the text wrapping setting didn’t come with copying while all other formatting did. This seems to be one of those complaints Microsoft often gets that their Office products think they know better than you, like with auto-formatting. Then, when I went to save it (not save as) using Office 2011 for Mac I got the following error and had to preserve formatting. This is another reason to have the assignment entirely online, so you don’t have to be concerned about which version of Office students have.
So my assessment at this point is that some MOOCs aren’t done well at all. I hope and suspect that there are some that are. The news of periodic & automatic online assessment (which I haven’t seen) and teaching for mastery, rather than to a test, make me confident that there must be better examples elsewhere. I feel like I should try Udacity instead.
Sometime this summer I signed up for a course on Coursera: Foundations of Teaching for Learning 1: Introduction. It looked suitable because it only lasted four weeks and had something to do with Education. I had looked and was unable to find any free MOOC courses on educational technology. The course started last week. The course is the first in a series of seven, all on Teaching for Learning. This one introduces the format and expectations of the series and begins to discuss what it is to be a teacher.
My first impression, besides excitement and fascination, was intimidation. There was a Welcome discussion forum where we were all invited to share where we’re from. I saw fellow students from Pakistan, Nebraska, Spain, Indonesia, Mexican-born living in the USA, Poland, Polish living in the UK, American living in Nigeria, Greece, England, Lithuanian living in Spain, French living in Spain, France, California, Las Vegas, Russia, France, Romania, Las Vegas, Brazil, Spaniard working in India, Wales, The Congo, Somalia, Belgium, and on and on. You know how pages on Facebook and other sites now expand when you come near the bottom? The course intro page was like that, but it was caused by the continual addition of new posts on the page. I thought, there’s no way I’m going to get to know everyone in the class.
I found a forum thread asking if there were any other corporate trainers in the course. I responded kindly, as did 10 other people. I then found another thread under the topic “Study Groups” entitled “Post-secondary education”. I posted there and asked to join the group. If I’m going to get anything out of this course, I need to meet people, and it seems the natural way to do that is to find mutual interests or other commonalities.
The first two video lectures were unimpressive. The instructor, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Cambridge, UK, is fully credentialed. About half of the lecture was him speaking into a camera, the other half were PowerPoint-like slides, and sometimes the video of him talking appeared overtop the presentation. His speech and demeanor were casual and conversational, which made the whole presentation slower than I had anticipated. And he had that annoying habit of reading or mentioning everything on the slides. Ho hum.
The first assignment is a very brief assessment of teaching attitudes and self-perception. I see that there will be 700 and 1000 word papers that will be peer-graded, plus quizzes. More to come…