Friday, April 29, 2016

Looking ahead to dissertation defense...

A little funny-Friday stuff here.  This comic was shared by a cohort-mate this week.  It provided some good levity while we wait for grades for EDDE 804. That said... I do wonder how one can go on the offensive in a Distance Education context where the dissertation is defended via Adobe Connect...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What MOOCs can do for the traditional classroom

Back at the tail end of 2013 I had written a two part article, which I aimed to pitch to Learning Solutions Magazine. However, if memory serves me correct, the MOOC craze had been waining a bit, and corporate MOOCs weren't really talked much about; even today I would argue that corporate MOOCs are a non-starter - many seem to confuse and conflate a MOOC with self-paced eLearning.

In any case, due to this cooling off on MOOC interest, and a directorial change (again, from what I recall) I don't think this two-part article was accepted.  The articles were stuck in suspension in my Google Docs account merrily forgotten, until I started looking for other documents yesterday and I stumbled upon them. I am not sure how much use these still are, but I thought I would publish them anyway ;-)

Part I of What MOOCs can do for the traditional online classroom can be found here, and part II here.  I've also embedded part I in this post.

Friday, April 22, 2016

OLC - Dual Layer MOOCs

Here is the recording of the live session I was in where Matt Crosslin talked about the dual layer MOOC design.  I still question the notion of assessments in MOOCs :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Missing...but not missing OLC this year

For as long as I can remember (well...for the last 10 years anyway) I've been able to participate in at least 2 our of 3 virtual conferences that the OLC (formerly Sloan-C) put on.  I've never been able to attend in person (for a variety of reasons), but I've always liked to have the ability to participate, even remotely.   I am often on twitter during the live sessions tweeting away with commentary. It's a lot of fun, and I've "met" a variety of interesting individuals through this.

A couple of years ago I was not able to participate in #et4online (now #OLCinnovate) because the school I work for didn't have the funds to "send" me virtually. I have to say that I really missed the opportunity to participate, even remotely, at this professional development conference. I kept an eye on the twitter stream but things didn't make as much sense. The reaction, and #OLCsnark didn't connect with me because I was missing a piece of the puzzle.  I wanted in!

Flash forward to this year, through a fluke (well financial issues which came up this year at the university) I was not able to register for the conference as a virtual.  My colleagues did get a day-pass that we have projected in a conference room so many of us can attend with one virtual pass, but  it's not as convenient (although I may crash that party today ;-) ).  Even though I am not signed up to attend the vast majority of the recorded and virtual sessions at OLC Innovate, I find that I am not missing it as much this year, and that's thanks to friends and colleagues over at virtually connecting, and presenters who are virtually-connecting friendly.

We had a blast yesterday during the Hybridity presentation. The on-site buddies (and fellow co-presenters) did such an amazing job at including us virtuals (Alan, Maha, and I) that I really felt that I was part of the conversations (big thanks goes to my on-site buddy Autumm who was awesome!). At my table there were a total of 8-10 discussants (including me and Autumm).  Due to the narrowness of the field of view of the camera I was only able to see 2 people at a time, and every time Autumm turned the laptop my reaction was "OMG! There are more people at this table interested in talking! Awesome!").

There are, of course, logistical issues with this approach (i.e. how does this scale to 100 or more registrants? Do you 'dual-layer' a conference to make it more manageable? etc.), but it was a pretty fantastic experience.  The funny thing is that I was on Google Hangouts on my Mac, which was positioned in one part of the room and I could see the room from the podium, and I was on skype, on my ubuntu box, participating at the table discussion.  Initially I would glance over at my Mac and try to compare where Autumm, Andrea, and Rebecca were talking to and from in order to ascertain my "position" in the room. Which table was I at? How close was it to the podium? Who was at other tables?  It was an interesting experience.

The other way of being included is in Matt Crosslin's presentation on Dual Layer MOOCs.  It seemed that Virtually Connecting was integrated into this (again, thanks Autumm for being my legs in the room! :-) ) and not only did we see the presentation, we participated as well, along with the in-room participants.

While I do "miss" not registering for OLC innovate, these 2 sessions yesterday were more fulfilling and satisfying than any other virtual conference participation experience to date. It's not the quantity that matters, but the quality of interaction.

Your thoughts?

sidenote: for the people at the table during the hybridity session - feel free to connect on twitter and linkedin :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

wrapping up this MOOC book...

Finally!  I've made it to the end of the book!  It only took me nine months to do so (a couple of chapters each month?) but it's finally done!  This will be my final review of chapters in Macro-Level Learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Strategies and Predictions for the Future.  I was going to write two separate blog posts about this, one for each chapter, but I've sort of run out of steam, and I have a sense that I will be writing the same (or similar things) for the last two chapters. Today under the microscope are chapter 11, which is titled MOOCs: Evolution and Revolution, and Chapter 12 which is titled The Evolution of Online Learning and Related Tools and Techniques toward MOOCs. It should be noted that there is actually a chapter 13 and 14, but I had received those to review before I got this book, and I've written briefly about them, sometime last year - so no rehash in this post.

The abstract for chapter 11 is as follows:
This chapter introduces the evolution of the MOOC, using narratives that are documented by research generated from the educational community. It concentrates on the history and progression of distance learning and its movement toward online education. The authors' perspectives focus on their own anecdotal evolution, from traditional classroom teaching, infusing distance and online learning, to designing and teaching in a MOOC setting. In examining whether the MOOC is more of an evolution or a revolution in learning, they explore questions that have emerged about MOOCs including what distinguishes this model from other online offerings, characteristics of learners who succeed in this environment, and debates regarding best practices. Critical reaction and responses by proponents of this learning format are presented and acknowledged. The research, perspectives and debates clearly impact what the future of the MOOC appears to offer. This continues the discussion within the book section ‘RIA and education practice of MOOCs,' aligning to the discussion on the topic of ‘educational training design.'

The abstract for chapter 12 is as follows:
The latest development in the online learning environment, Massive Open Online Courses, dubbed ‘MOOC,' has garnered considerable attention both within and without the academy. This chapter discusses tools and technologies that can support the development of a MOOC, and concludes with commentary about the potential for such a development to continue into mainstream postsecondary education. This chapter delivers a small yet meaningful contribution to the discussion within the book section ‘RIA and education practice of MOOCs,' aligning to the discussion on the topic of ‘educational training design.'

For me, chapter 11 seemed lengthy (which isn't bad) but it has sparse citations.  Granted, the abstract tells you as much -that this chapter is the author's anecdotal perspectives on the evolution of the MOOC, but I guess I expected something more than that.  See, when I sit here and blog, whoever reads this blog knows that I am generally responding or reacting to something I've read or experienced.  So, when I write about something there is usually some sort of link to that original something.  On the one hand I did like this chapter's look back at educational technology, and specifically looking at the minitel system and how that was applicable to language learning here in the US - historical details like that don't seem to be acknowledged in our EdTech world of today and some of us seem to be suffering from memory loss in this experiment quickly and fail-fast world. I think there is value in knowing about the past and what those heuristics, affordances, and capabilities were (especially for systems that no longer exist).  That said, I really don't think think this chapter was well researched (makes sense since this was mostly anecdotal), and to me that doesn't provide a lot of value, especially since the list price for this chapter is around $38 US.  Furthermore, the authors seem to be hyper-focused on worries about cheating MOOC, which to me seems like a non-issue. There are articles in open access journals that do a better job than this chapter with the same theme.

In Chapter 12, on the other hand, the chapter was very brief.  In this chapter the technologies used to support a MOOC might as well be technologies that support regular, "traditional" online and distance education. I really did not see a convincing  differentiation between MOOCs and the traditional, for-credit, online learning environment.  I did like the little section that the authors wrote on getting the MOOC publicized and having people sign up for it because I know I haven't seen this elsewhere. So, for a novice in MOOC this might actually be valuable. Again, though, this was only a small part of the chapter.

All things considered, I am glad I read this book, but I really didn't come away with seeing the value in it, include those who are novices at the MOOC. I'd personally prefer to curate the equivalent amount of chapters from open access journals and people's blog posts and package that as a perspectives on MOOCs volume. I hope I am not being too harsh :-)