Sunday, September 30, 2012

HCI Course | Initial Thoughts

With the gamification almost over (this coming week is the final week), the Human Computer Interaction course on Coursera is just starting! Back in the day (2003-ish) I was finishing off my undergraduate degree in computer science and one of my final courses was a graduate course on User Interface Design, which I really enjoyed! I liked the subject matter, and the course was taught by a professor that I really liked (he was quite talented!).  In any case, I guess that about high time that I got back into it!

Right off the bat I noticed three things:

1. There are fewer videos each week as compared to gamification;
2. Scott Klemmer is quite different from Kevin Werback in presentation style;
3. There are three levels of certification in the course.

This course runs for 8 weeks as opposed to 5 in gamification, and each week the videos seem to run for about an hour in total (as opposed to 2 in gamification). I actually didn't mind the 2 hours of video each week in gamification, I actually liked it.  I don't know why people were complaining :-)  I just wish I had access to them on Sundays, instead of Mondays, so I can view things before my work-week started :-)

As far as speaking and presentation styles go, I will have to get back to you on what I think of Scott :-)  He seems like an interesting professor, but I really liked Kevin's videos in gamification. He spoke as if there were an audience there live with him, whereas Scott seems like he is having a soliloquy (or he is Captain Kirk :-)  ) It will be quite interesting to see if his style changes throughout the course.

Finally, in terms of certification:
Apprentice track
Weekly quizzes (100%). Students who achieve a reasonable fraction of this (~80%) will receive a statement of accomplishment from us, certifying that you successfully completed the apprentice track.
Studio Track
Weekly assignments (culminating in design project) (worth 67%) and quizzes (worth 33%). Students who achieve a reasonable fraction of this (~80%) will receive a statement of accomplishment from us, certifying that you successfully completed the studio track.
Studio Practicum ONLY available to students who have previously completed the Studio Track. Weekly assignments (culminating in design project) (worth 100%). This practicum is designed for students seeking to continue developing their design skills through an additional iteration of assignments. Students who achieve a reasonable fraction of this (~80%) will receive a statement of accomplishment from us, certifying that you successfully completed the studio practicum.

I think that personally I will aim for Apprentice, and if I happen to have time, I will shoot for the Studio Track as well. The apprentice track (watch videos, respond to quizzes) should be easy.  Depending on what the assignments are, and how much time is involved, the Studio track may be a good extension, or it may be an incredible time-sink :-)

I am excited about this course!
Now...I just need to carve out time for my two current research papers....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blended Learning, and Distance considerations

This morning, while commuting to work, I was catching up on some blog posts from fellow #blendkit2012 participants and I came across a blog post titled Is blended the same as half-distance? but Andres Norberg. I was originally just going to comment on the blog post itself, but the response was getting quite lengthy, so I converted into a blog post.

Anders asks:

If traditional face-to-face education is combined with distance education, what happens? Savings of classroom space and lecturing time? Better enrollment on campus due to increased flexibility in scheduling for students? Extra learning efficiency by using modern tools? More stimulating classes? A sense of being modern and up-to-date by enriching a classroom culture with digital tools? All of the above?

It's interesting, to consider f2f education combining with distance education, but, when it comes down to it, what does that combination really mean?  For example, our campus has a lot of web-enhanced courses, a designation given to an on-campus course that uses tools such as the LMS, wikis, blogs and others tools to enhance the learning.  No reduction of on-campus time takes place, which might lead to (what Sloan-C calls) the 1.5 course (1 course, but with enough to-dos for a whole other half a course). Then of course we have blended, and online modalities as well.

If you take blended, and web enhanced, you essentially have a combination of on-campus and online tools, and depending on your blend, your course may be different than your colleague's, teaching the same course, in the same department, but using a different blend.

So what is the goal of blended learning?  I think the answer depends on who you ask!  If you ask administrators they might say (and I realize I am being a bit cynical ;-)  ) that the goal is better utilization of limited resources (i.e. classroom space). If you ask students, it might be that they save money on gas and parking by not coming as often and therefore are also able to work more shifts.  Better efficiency by using newer tools?  Doubtful.  Coming from a management background I can say that efficiency does not lie in what tools you use, but rather the intersection of people, processes and tools.  You can have the tools, but without the process in place and the right people, you might end up being less efficient.

My personal belief is that blended learning is undertaken because it is the right tool for the job, and that is its main benefit.  If you are looking for better learning outcomes for a specific course, blended learning might be the tool for you.  The fact that students have to travel less, be able to work more, and there is potential better utilization of resources are only the cherries on top of the cake.  What should be driving our design and our processes is better learning outcomes for our learners.  This is what I see as the potential benefit of blended learning.

Lastly, I think that Anders hits the nail on the head when he says that the classroom is a tool itself - therefore as a tool, it's best to think about how to properly utilize it when you have it :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

MobiMOOC 2012 | Final Week!

This is it! The final week of MobiMOOC is upon us!  I have to say that this MOOC really passed by so quick that it was really hard to keep up with it :-) Last year's mobimooc seemed like it was much longer than 6 weeks (in a good way), and this year's mobimooc seemed shorter than the 3 weeks that it runs.

Comparatively, I think last year I joined the mobimooc with the intention to be a moderately active participant, and I ended up being "memorably" active, while this year I started with the intention of being memorably active...but I guess I'll have to settle for moderately active :-) .  There were a few issues, for me anyway, with this year's mobimooc - and most of them were around scheduling.  In April and May (original MobiMOOC) courses are near the end (or have already ended), so there is a little more head space to participate in the MOOC.

In September, however, the story is a bit different. Courses are just starting, there is an initial crazyness as you try to help new and returning students with what they need to be successful...and of course we are migrating from Blackboard Vista to Learn.  Not a lot of time for professional development. For me, personally, it seems like  September, January, and February are no good months for professional development.

The other thing that I was pondering the other day were my expectations from this MOOC. I am a person who thrives on seeing others participate and then jumping in participating myself.  While I initially was a proponent of the breakout rooms (the separate google groups for the different weekly topics),  I ended up feeling a bit constrained because there wasn't a ton of discussion in the breakout rooms (as compared to the main forum during week 1).

All things considered, I liked mobimooc, I learned a lot (again), and I am thankful to Inge for organizing, and the subject experts who moderated each week and shared their expertise with us.  I look forward to MobiMOOC 3 - and I am curious to see the learning innovations that will come from having had the MobiMOOC and MobiMOOC 2012 experience under Inge's belt :-)

What are your experiences with MobiMOOC?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beginning of BlendKit 2012

Last year, for me anyway, the major pondering point of the year was MOOC pedagogy. Between cMOOCs and xMOOCs I've seen, and I am now still experiencing a lot of different deliveries, technologies, interactions, and I've been pondering their underlying pedagogies, and what makes them work!

While I am still thinking about MOOC pedagogies, I have out that pot on thwack burner to slowly simmer and I've decided that fall semester is going to be about the blended mode of delivery. To this extent, I am taking the series of 3 Sloan-C workshops on blended learning to see what their experts say on the topic, and I am following BlendKit2012 out of UCF. This week is the final week of the first Sloan-C workshop, and the beginning of BlendKit. I've already submitted my blended learning module to the workshop coordinators, so it's time to deal a little with BlendKit.

The reading in week 1 is interesting. As someone with a masters degree in instructional design, and with some experience blending this stuff isn't new to me (in neither the workshop nor the MOOC) but I want to see what SMEs say and what my peers are up to, after all, aha moments strike when you are seeing what others do and when you interact with them, ponder on their issues, and th your issues also come into focus.

That being said, one of the topics that I would like to tackle is the blend, and the institutional organization. In blendkit (and Sloan) a blended course is defined as being and on-campus course with 30-70% of the work in an online manner. Of course the blend may vary (in my view) to between 10-90%. There are two sticky issues, as far as blended courses go, that need addressing. Both have to do with the administrative and support efficacy of th course as the course relates to proper learning design.

A good blended course isn't designed with certain ore-determined days of th semester as being online (in other words not face to face), but rather it is designed with th content to be learned in mind, and, depending on the flexibility of th learners, it is dynamic based on how the course proceeds and the needs of the course. This is a problem administratively and resource-wise because in order to do a proper blended course you need to have a room booked on campus just in case it is needed. Also, if it's not needed, it would be rather hard to find a complementary blended course (let' call it Blended-B) that would use the classroom space on days that Blended-A will be online.

The second issue is that of institutions (like mine) that have established online programs. When you are a on-campus-only program, blending is actually pretty nifty. When students have the option of online OR on-campus, adding a blended mode is tough because then you have to either drop the on-campus option, and do Blended and Online courses, OR you have to add a third modality (blended, online, on-campus). At which point it becomes an enrollment issue trying to keep track of enrollments in the same course in 3 different modalities. ato address one of the seed questions this week (Is it most helpful to think of blended learning as an online enhancement to a face-to-face learning environment, a face-to-face enhancement to an online learning environment, or as something else entirely?), I think that going from on-campus to blended is easier than thinking of an online course going to blended. The main issue with online is geography, if x-many sessions are in person, and y% (majority) of students cannot attend due to geographic limitations, is it worth having an in person session when most will be absent? This is why I like th HyFlex Model. For me it makes sense to drop both on-campus only and online-only modes and adopt HyFlex. But then again, I am a radical ;-)

Friday, September 21, 2012

eLearning; mLearning; uLearning; xLearning....

It's been a whirlwind tour in mobimooc this year.  Week 2 is almost done (I count my weeks by a 5-day weekday, rather than 7 days) and only one more week to go! I feel that I have not been as active in MobiMOOC this year as I was in the previous year.  Perhaps it's because MobiMOOC is only half of the duration of last year's MOOC.  It would be interesting to see how often I posted last year (per week) and this year :-)

In any case, what has come up this year (that I think wasn't there last year) is a discussion on the nuances of mLearning and what constitutes mLearning, as compared to other types of learning (I call these xLearning) such as uLearning (ubiquitous), eLearning (electronic), oLearning (online),  iLearning (internet) and so on. Here are some questions and points that were posed to spark discussion on the topic:

In the discussion forum I claimed that mLearning is just a sub-class of eLearning, but I think that this requires some clarification.  I don't see eLearning as defined as asynchronous self-paced CBT or WBT.  I know that historically eLearning has been conceived as a (generally) solitary activity of going through (or grinding in gamer parlance) certain readily available learning modules in a self-paced way.  For me, however, eLearning means learning that can be attained or achieved through the mediation of any electronic tool or implement in a purposeful and concerted way. Thus, if I am using a computer to learn (such as using an LMS online), this is eLearning.  If I am using my mobile to snap a photo of a QR code in order to learn something and move on to my next learning task, this is eLearning.

Now, since eLearning is the superclass, it tends to be a bit amorphous because it contains the general attributes that are applicable to the subclasses that inherit some common traits from eLearning.  Then, the subclasses (uLearning, mLearning, iLearning, etc.) have characteristics of their own which set them apart from their relative subclasses (classes derived from the same superclass). Thus, I would say, that anything that is mLearning is also eLearning, however something that is eLearning might not necessarily be mLearning.

Your thoughts and ideas?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Open Education - The Badge Edition!

With the Introduction to Open Education course now done (and only 6 months late!), I decided to consolidate all of my posts here for the badge requirement achievement requirements. I hope I am not too late to claim these badges ;-)

OpenEd Overview Requirements (Novice level, complete for all 12 topics to earn the badge)

  • Watch the topic video.
  • Skim the topic readings.
  • Write a short blog post summarizing what you’ve learned about the topic and why you think the topic is important.
  • Write a final post linking to the 12 previous posts related to this badge and announcing your intent to have completed the badge.

OpenEd Overview Badge artefacts:

  1. Open Licensing - Open Licensing at a Glance
  2. Open Source - Open Source in Education
  3. Open Content - Open Content
  4. OpenCourseWave - It's OCW Time
  5. Open Educational Resources - OER (or old dog, new tricks ;-)  )
  6. Open Access - Hello Open Access!
  7. Open Science - Open Science? Open Research!
  8. Open Data - Open Data (useful, but not useful?)
  9. Open Teaching - It's Open Teaching time!
  10. Open Assessment - Open Assessment - More than just badges
  11. Open Business Models - Open Business Models
  12. Open Policy - Open Policy

OpenEd Researcher Requirements  (Apprentice level, complete for 3 topics to earn the badge)

  • Carefully read the topic readings.
  • Find three additional scholarly resources (peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, etc.) and five other resources (videos, readings, podcasts, etc.) that provide additional information relevant to the topic.
  • Write a blog post linking to the additional resources and summarizing the additional material contained in each.
  • Write a blog post proposing a research study by which key assumptions of the topic could be (in)validated. Don’t worry about identifying specific participants, etc. Describe what you believe would be the ideal research setting, participants, data collection, and analysis methodologies.
  • Write a final post linking to your previous posts related to this badge and announcing your intent to have completed the badge.

OpenEd Researcher Badge artefacts

  1. Open Licensing - Open Licensing the Expansion Pack (resources)
  2. Open Licensing - Open-Licensing: Expansion Pack 2 (research proposal)
  3. OpenCourseWare - OCW Expansion Pack 1 (resources)
  4. OpenCourseWare - OCW Expansion Pack 2 (research Proposal)
  5. Open Teaching - Open Teaching Expansion Pack 1 (resources)
  6. Open Teaching - Open Teaching - Expansion Pack 2 (research proposal)

OpenEd Assessment Designer Requirements (Apprentice level, complete for 1 topic to earn the badge)

  • Design a badge for the class, including a name, expertise level, and statement of work.
  • Complete the badge yourself.
  • Blog about your proposed badge. Include all the information necessary for someone to complete the badge. Also include your worked example and a description of how it meets the badge requirements.
  • Monitor the class hashtag for someone else who claims to have completed your badge. Judge their work and decide whether they meet your criteria or not. Award the badge as appropriate.
  • You earn the OpenEd Assessment Designer badge when you award your badge to someone other than yourself.
  • Write a final post linking to your previous posts related to this badge and announcing your intent to have completed the badge.

OpenEd Assessment Designer Badge artefacts

OpenEd Evangelist Requirements (Journeyman level, complete for 1 topic to earn the badge)

  • Construct an argument by which you could persuade someone to adopt the topic as an ongoing practice. Your argument should include at least five elements (kinds of evidence), with references. Write a blog post describing your argument in detail.
  • Have a conversation with a faculty member in which you use your argument to try to persuade them to adopt the topic as an ongoing practice.
  • Without revealing his or her identity, write a blog post describing your conversation and the reactions, responses, counterarguments, and concerns of the faculty member and announcing your intent to have completed the badge.

OpenEd Evangelist Badge artefacts

Monday, September 17, 2012

Open can be lonely

Well, with  my work on #ioe12 done, it's time for a little reflection! For whatever reason, as I may have stated before, I completely missed the announcement for #ioe12, which I guess ran from January to April (or May) 2012. I thought, that since the material is still available on the course site ( I would be able to go through and self-study.

I did indeed go through and self-study, and I invited some fellow MOOCers to participate, but they had other things happening. This meant that the lone through the asynchronous MOOC might be lonely, and indeed it was.

In the end #ioe12 was a really good course, but if I weren't so interested in the topic, I would probably have dropped out by week 7, or I would have just skipped some topics.  In the various MOOCs that I have participated in, other learners/participants have helped get me through topics that I either didn't care for, or just didn't appreciate the topic as much before I saw others talking about it and shedding some more light on it (or at least showing another side of the topic).

This makes me think of participation in MOOCs in general. A lot of people will go up to bat to defend the right to lurk.  Don't get me wrong, some amount of lurking is healthy. After all, as the saying goes, if you keep talking, you don't (or can't) listen. But perpetual lurking is also an issue. How can a lurker sustain interest and learning in a course, if he doesn't participate in some way, shape, or form during the course? I was highly motivated for this topic and this course, but with no peers present, there were a few times where I almost threw in the towel.

The other thing that this experience makes me think of is the (asynchronous) OER aspect of MOOCs.  Many MOOCs are still available on the web, MOOCs that have come and gone, but whose course outlines, materials, and learnings are still on the web, for the benefit of everyone.  It's nice to have these OERs for other educators to incorporate in their courses, but I am having some doubts as to the "replayability" or time-shifting nature of a MOOC.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Open Policy

This is it! The last topic in #ioe12 - Open Policy! To be honest, there is almost nothing new to see here, if you've been following along with #ioe12 week-by-week.  All of the previous 11 topics do connect with one another, and policy issues have come up in the past, we just didn't cover them specifically. The crux of this topic is that anything that is publicly funded should be open.  For instance, for all federal grants, the research produced by these grants should be under some sort of open license so the individuals who paid for it (the people of a give country, and heck the people of the world) should be able to use it for free.

In my own experience, having lived and gone to school in Greece K-8, I know that there is a national textbook publisher in Greece. These textbooks are free to children who go to school.  These books aren't free as in "I am loaning this book to you for free", but rather "here is a free copy, do with it as you like".  Now, imagine if these textbooks were also available as free eBooks as well.  Not only could kids in a given country have access to these textbooks, but any kid anywhere in the world that wants to learn Greek, or Greek history, or 4th grade science.  If public money is paying for such knowledge tools, they should be available freely - it's only fair :-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

OpenEd Evangelist - The Reaction

With the course almost over, I decided to undertake the OpenEd Evangelism badge.

The requirements for the OpenEd Evangelist badge are:

OpenEd Evangelist (Journeyman level, complete for 1 topic to earn the badge)

  • Construct an argument by which you could persuade someone to adopt the topic as an ongoing practice. Your argument should include at least five elements (kinds of evidence), with references.Write a blog post describing your argument in detail. 
  • Have a conversation with a faculty member in which you use your argument to try to persuade them to adopt the topic as an ongoing practice. 
  • Without revealing his or her identity, write a blog post describing your conversation and the reactions, responses, counterarguments, and concerns of the faculty member and announcing your intent to have completed the badge.

Here are the reactions I got from a fellow colleague (on the previous Formulation post):

I must admit that my formulation wasn't completely new to #ioe12 - I have been thinking about Open for a while now (and advocating on and off for openness in education). What #ioe12 gave me was a few more tools to argue my point ;-)

So, a while back (3 or so months ago), I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues (let's call this person Mike; Mike sounds like a generic enough name, right?).  For the past year now, I've been telling Mike that we ought to be more open as a department. At the very least we should have our syllabi be Open so that our students (and our potential students) can see exactly what our courses entail (from the 10,000 foot view that the syllabus gives you anyway).  This way students would have more information when meeting with their advisors about courses that they would like to take, and it puts them even more into the driver's seat.  Then, depending on how comfortable the faculty felt, we could work with our University's OCW team to put our materials up, or heck even offer our own MOOCs! I would be up for that! I find it very exciting to apply instructional design and educational theory in the design of a MOOC!  Think of the possibilities.

All the while, I saw Mike bob his head, listening attentively and not really putting out any arguments against open.  Then it came... "what about copyright?" Mike asked?  "Aren't you exposing yourself? Can't someone take your hard work and pass it off as their own and benefit from it?"  Good points, Mike!  All this time, I had completely forgotten to mention that I license my work under a Creative Commons NC-SA-BY license.  I explained to Mike, that sure, som unscrupulous person could indeed take my work and pass it off as theirs and try to get some benefit from it; however being open means two things (well, at least two).

First, by posting to the internet, I am establishing prior art, meaning that even if someone were to try to claim copyright on my work, I could dispute such claims under prior art. The second thing, because I give people the right to have my work for free, and the ability to remix it, I have the right to ask for them to share-alike, meaning that the discipline (and I being part of the discipline) benefits from such creative remixing and re-sharing.  So my course and my students could benefit from people that modify and potentially improve upon my work.

Also, even if I had restrictive copyright on my work, if someone wanted to "steal" my work they could do so anyway. Copyright isn't a magic bullet, and even though I have my work open, I still retain copyright.  I saw Mike's head nodding pensively again. No rebuttals. I guess  I gave Mike something to think about :-)

Monday, September 10, 2012

MOOCs, and accreditation

It's quite interesting, but the topic of MOOCs and accreditation keeps coming up :-)
The post that prompted this blog post came from a post I saw on MobiMOOC today regarding information assessment and recognition of success.  In MobiMOOC 2012 one of the new things that is baked into the course is the awarding of badges, with an eye toward Mozilla's Open Badges. There are currently three types of badges:
  1. Wonderful Participant (for signing up in the course)
  2. Advanced learner (for participating in at least 2 topics in MobiMOOC)
  3. Memorable Collaborator (for being active in 3 topics) and writing a project overview for an mLearning project)
I've already achieved #1 by being there, and I think I will most likely get #2.  #3 might be a little more problematic since I don't have much time to think of a new mLearning project, and I don't feel comfortable just picking from my bag of existing mLearning ideas (even though I haven't articulated them before, or implemented them yet).

In any case, the issue of legitimate peripheral participation does come up, as it usually does with cMOOCs. I know that in #change11 I (perhaps) got a bit of a reputation for being anti-lurker. I am not anti-lurker, but I think that lurkers don't necessarily rise to the same level of recognition as active participants. After all, active participants not only take control of their own learning (like lurkers might), but they also enrich other people's learning by participating, adding resources, giving their own two cents and moving the conversation forward.

In xMOOCs, like the coursera courses I am currently enrolled in, you can have legitimate peripheral participation (i.e. view videos, take quizzes, write papers), and still get acknowledged.  Ironically enough cMOOC stalwarts sometimes look down upon this model because of the robotization of the grading and potential lack of human contact; but it is the same people who also defend the rights of lurkers ;-)  OK, OK, I digress!

One legitimate point, brought up by Nick Kearney, which deserves a little more discussion is that badges (and other ways of certifying people) promote certain outcomes of the course; and if a learner wanted to go down their own path (which isn't necessarily the path of the designer of the course) they won't get accreditation.

This is true, however there are a few factors to consider:

First, any course, be it on-campus, online, cMOOC, xMOOC, workshop, whatever - is designed (or should be!). The selection of content and tools is predicated on the learning goals of the course. In other words, all courses are already infused with certain values, predispositions and goals.  If this were not the case, we would not be calling it a course (the C in MOOC stands for Course), but we would call it a Social, a get-together, or Open Mic. Each course has a goal and those goals determine what I need to do to get the badge, certificate, or credit.

Secondly, even though courses do have these pre-determined values and for the course, it doesn't mean that the learner's freedom is impeded.  In a MOOC, learners can go off and tread their own paths with no consequences because MOOCs are self-directing for the most part.  In a paid college course, learners can also do this, tread their own paths, but the caveat is that they have to do any silly little assignments that everyone else is doing (that they might not want to do)  in order to pass.

In a MOOC, learners do no need the accreditation from an official body.  They can easily create a portfolio that showcases what they've learned and show that off.  A blog of reflections can be a type of portfolio for instance.

Finally, Nick writes:
The result is that my freedom to engage with the MOOC in my own way is curtailed. You move away from the OPEN and more towards the COURSE. The idea of levels also created distinctions that may be counter-productive. What about LEGITIMATE PERIPHERAL PARTICIPATION.

I think that Nick misses one thing here.  OPEN and COURSE are both part and parcel of a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course).  You cannot take one, and leave the other if you are running a MOOC.  As I've stated above, in a MOOC you do not need to do what the rest of the Course participants are doing, so no freedoms are curtailed.  Open, unlike closed is not a binary.  Closed either is, or isn't. Open, on the other hand (IMHO) is a whole variety of shades of gray, with different degrees of open.  At the end of the day, it's up to the course designers and presenters to assess  why they are there, what they want to accomplish, and what their roadmap is for doing just that.  If one wants to make their own path, so be it ( :-)  ) but that doesn't mean that they ought to accredit everyone and anyone who goes their own path. That's just untenable, and we are back to robograding, and criticisms of xMOOCs ;-)

What do you think? :)

What IS mLearning anyway?

One of the first things to deal with when tackling any topic is quantifying what we are talking about.  Since this is MobiMOOC, one of the key terms that ought to come up in the discussion is what exactly is mobile learning?  This discussion did indeed come up yesterday (see forum here).

Let me just say that mLearning definitions are probably incomplete and they are subject to an ever evolving understanding of what constitutes mobility and learning.  Initial definitions were very hardware-centric and hardware-specific, and chances are the further back you go, the more hardware-centric and specific they are. This is fine because those definitions comes from a point in time when mLearning was the new kid on the block and we probably looked at demonstrable instances of mobile usage, and that happened to be mobile phones and PDAs.

Clive asks some pretty interesting questions (and these are questions that I've heard in the past).

  • If I use my laptop on a bus or train, as I do daily, why is that not mobile learning (I am actually moving)? 
  • If I sit at a PC in an internet cafe in a foreign city, that is probably mlearning.
  • If I use my tablet, most usually somewhere other that at my office desk, why on earth is that not mobile learning?

For what it's worth mobile learning is not just about your location (i.e. how mobile you are).  If that were the case, we could claim that mobile learning is anywhere you can take a book and a notebook to. Thus, by this logic we've had mobile learning for ages, and that's the end of that :-).  However this is not the case.  Just because you can take your laptop to your neighborhood café and work on your LMS-based course there, doesn't mean you are doing mLearning.  You are indeed mobile, and you are learning, but you aren't mLearning.

Several key factors are important (at least for me, based on the literature I've read on mLearning) and those include:
  • A device that is always with you.  For some people it's their phone, for others it's their MP3 player, and for others it's their iPad.  I, for example, take my phone 99.99% of the time anywhere I go.  I take my iPad with me 80% of the places I go.
  • mLearning is also NOT about replicating what currently exists in eLearning on desktops (neither Web-based training of Computer-based training).  I had a good friend of mine (and instructional designer) claim that we can't teach about mLearning until Flash runs on the iPad and everyone has iPads.  This is just wrong thinking. With different devices come different affordances, and you play to the strengths of the device, as relating to the environment that the device is used in and the content that needs to be learned.  Remember, not all learning can or should be mLearning.
  • mLearning isn't about content-learner interaction.  mLearning is about the interaction of the environment, the learner, the content and the social connections (either physical or virtual). Things such as QR codes, augmented reality, mobile enabled LMS and Social Networks (from the software side) and cameras, NFC readers, wifi and 3G access capability and other hardware offer opportunities on mobile devices that one can't get with a laptop (but could presumably get with a tablet).

Finally, the sticky point: tablets. Are they part of mLearning or not?  My colleague Rebecca has posted an interesting post over at her blog on Tablet Learning (good read! :-) ). I would have to say that the jury is out on this.  Tablets (Kindle Fire, Nexus 8 and iPad for example) do offer many of the same affordances as smartphones that run the same OS as they do, but are they part of mLearning?  As far as my own usage goes, I would say yes - because I do take my iPad with me 80% of the time.  For other people the answer may be "no" because they just don't take their tablet with them at all.

Interesting discussion!  What do you think?

OpenEd Evangelist - The Formulation

With the course almost over, I decided to undertake the OpenEd Evangelism badge.

The requirements for the OpenEd Evangelist badge are:

OpenEd Evangelist (Journeyman level, complete for 1 topic to earn the badge)

  • Construct an argument by which you could persuade someone to adopt the topic as an ongoing practice. Your argument should include at least five elements (kinds of evidence), with references.Write a blog post describing your argument in detail. 
  • Have a conversation with a faculty member in which you use your argument to try to persuade them to adopt the topic as an ongoing practice. 
  • Without revealing his or her identity, write a blog post describing your conversation and the reactions, responses, counterarguments, and concerns of the faculty member and announcing your intent to have completed the badge.

So for this blog post I will formulate my argument.  My main argument around Open Education is that it benefits the learners and as such departments that are learner-conscious (shouldn't we all be? if we are in academia at least) should adopt Open Education policies for how they do business. At a really basic level you've got OCW (open courseware). If an entire department had all of their courses on their school's OCW (like MIT has) learners in that not only preview what the courses are about, but they can also reference future course material now if they need access to some reference that they will get in the future, but that they need now.

A second way in which OCW benefits the learners is that it allows faculty to see what fellow faculty are doing in their courses (I think this was referenced in the OCW video in week 4) so that courses don't have redundancies in them, and faculty can make reference to other courses when designing and teaching their own - thus providing that connective tissue between courses and enabling the learner to make more connections.

A third way in which OpenEd benefits learners comes in the way of the use of OER.  If materials that they've used in their courses is available as OER, they can then not only use it in future occasions when a brushing up (of the material) is needed, but they can also share this material with friends and colleagues that need it, and if need be they can update or edit the OER materials to suit their needs. Thus the learner is able to learn from the OER material initially, and then adapt it to their own purposes in the future. This type of sharing was alluded to in the MIT OCW video with regard to OCW courses, but it is equally applicable to other types of OER. As a few of the resources in the OER week point out (incl. Blekner 2005) the power of OER is that it can tap into many diverse volunteers (instead of focusing on just a few points of view), and this can contribute to a better resource (or resources, if they are forked).

Finally, Open Access (as part of Open Education) is good for learners!  Journal subscriptions can cost an arm and a leg (that intro video for Open Access week really surprised me), something that some libraries can afford, and others cannot.  Students individually cannot.  When in school, learners have access to these resources through the tuition they pay - but what about when they graduate? By using Open Access sources, and by encouraging faculty to publish in OA journals you are setting up a system whereby alumni can go on to be life long learners, and continue to enjoy access to scholarly sources that they used as a student!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Open Business Models

It's coming down to the wire on #ioe12 with Open Business Models being the topic of the week. This week (unlike previous weeks) didn't have a video to watch in addition to the readings, but it was predominantly readings. The topics for the readings this week were a mix of author's perceptions around the topic of open publishing (and therefore open business models); the effect that open publishing has had on physical book purchased (or rather correlations between books being available for free, and their sales pre-and-post being available for free); and a case study of Flat World Knowledge.

I read a few articles an skimmed some. The academic in me thinks that open publishing is a good idea, especially when it comes to publicly funded institutions (of one sort or another). It's our civic duty to openly publish if we receive state moneys (and most schools do receive some sort of state money). On top of that, as anyone in academia knows, the currency of the land is reputation, not money.  Academics don't get money (or much money) from academic publishing, so why keep it closed?

The MBA in me, on the other hand, struggles to find a way to make this viable.  Academic texts actually do have a printed value; so while students can get the textbook for free electronically, they might actually pay some money to get the paper version because it's more conducive to effective study habits. Novels, on the other hand, once you read them, that's it. Why would you buy a paper version? (Unless of course you are giving it as a gift to someone who might enjoy it!)  The silver lining here is that this arena of open business models is ripe for innovation and each opportunity can be excitingly unique. You can't take a cookie-cutter approach and be successful with it, thus every business will be unique and another puzzle to solve, another nut to crack. To borrow #gamemooc terms - there are ample opportunities for fiero in this.  By the way, Open Business Models aren't new to this MOOC - go back and review Week 2, Open Source, and view The Revolution OS.  Quite a few example of OPen business models there.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

MobiMOOC 2012 - my participation roadmap

I just noticed on the Google group for mobimooc that my MRT colleagues (Micheal and Rebecca) have posted their guides on how they will be participating in MobiMOOC this year, so I thought that it might be a good idea to do the same since mobiMOOC just started, and it's good to set expectations ;-)

I have to say that I generally don't come back for "seconds" once a MOOC is done. Once the course is done, I don't feel the need to come back for the second iteration, but MobiMOOC is different for me.  Last year I got a certificate for  being a memorable participant in the MOOC, so I felt that I should be coming back this year and reprising the role ;-) Heck, not that we have badges, it's even more incentive :-)  The other reason for coming back is that my fellow MRT members are going to be here, and this is a group of people that I've been able to communicate, learn, and co-research with for more than one year; this is pretty amazing considering that when MobiMOOC 2011 started I did not know these people. Who knows what fun stuff I will learn this time around and what interesting things we can co-research!

So, how do I plan on participating on MobiMOOC?  Mostly through my iPhone and iPad. When I get the daily email with all the posts from MobiMOOC on the Google Group, I plan on going through them and participating via Mobile Safari (or Chrome). It seems appropriate to be mobile for this MOOC, and since Google Groups plays nice with mobile, there is even more incentive for this. It also means I can catch up on this MOOC when I have some free time (a commodity that is rare given that the MRT is working on a paper, I have my day job, and I am taking 3 concurrent workshops this time of year.). Google Groups will be my 80% participation metric for this MOOC.

I also plan on keeping an eye out on my RSS where I follow some MOOCers that I've met through CCK11, MobiMOOC 2011 and EduMOOC, and I know for a fact that they are here now. I also will look at the twitter feeds and save readings for later (on Pocket).  Realistically, it might be a while before before I get through all postings that I save for MobiMOOC, but I will get through them ;-). The RSS feeds from blogs, and twitter will be my other 20% of participation.

Like Rebecca, I don't plan on being in synchronous conference sessions. They generally aren't my thing. I do like to listen to them, however, after the fact when I am running or doing something else.  So, if they are in mobile friendly format, I might just take them along while I run ;-)

So what is YOUR plan for MobiMOOC 2012 participation?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Open Assessment - More than just badges

This week on #ioe12 I tackled Open Assessment. Now, I am no newbie to badges. I can't say I've been there "since day 1," but it was pretty darned close!  Before going through these materials, which included a a video from the launch of the HASTAC and MacArthur Foundation DML competition, I thought of open assessment as something that dealt with badges for life long learning, and something that potentially disaggregated formal degrees.  When I saw the DS106 assignment submission page, which I had seen before - but never thought of in this light, I had my AHA moment!

Sure, Open Assessment can be the badge system that potentially disaggregates degree granting institutions and un-bindles a formal degree.  However, I thought of two more potential use-cases for Open Assessment:

1) Open-ish Assessment (I still view this as open, others might not):  This is the type of assessment, along the lines of DS106 assignment submissions where members of the class of people who are subject matter experts can submit assessments that are appropriate for a certain level of knowledge. These SMEs would have have some formal credential, research in the field, and belong to some sort of professional association that requires core knowledge exams or practica (examples: the bar association or being licensed to be an MD.  Sure, some may view this as a closed class, but not all students know what they don't know, so how would they be able to submit an assignment?

2) (wide) Open Assessment (some people might view this as wide open; I just see it as "open").  This type of assessment is exactly what DS106 has with the submit an assignment tool.  In this case students can indeed submit proposals for assignments.  Now the assignments can be automatically posted (no curation), or they can be curated by a group of SMEs.  There is quite some room for play here.  At the beginning of class it might not be (IMHO) a good idea to ask students to submit assignment suggestions because (1) they don't know what they don't know; and (2) they may opt for some easy assignments.  However, at the end of the semester, once they've gone through the course and have been assessed themselves, then they could submit an assignment proposal (as I was writing this, I started wondering to myself if this type of student is now part of the SME group or not....I don't have an answer, open to debate).

Finally, there were a couple of things that caught my ear in the HASTAC video that I wanted to comment on:

  • There was a speaker from NASA, former Marine who was speaking about skills you get in the armed services that are in "military-speak." These needed translation so that when armed services members transitioned to civilian life they could easily show that they has x, y, z skills to people who didn't speak military-speak. I thought this was a nice parallel to badging.
  • Another speaker said "stop measuring seat time and start measuring competency." To this I would like to say AMEN! I think this also parallels the on-campu/online divide that some academic programs have, where online is seen as a threat because people won't have their butts in seats every Tuesday at 6:30 for 13 weeks.  We need to stop thinking this way and start thinking about the reasons we want butts in seats every week.  If it is not for an instructional purpose that benefits the learner, then could we use the f2f modality better?
  • "Manufacturers call on academia to make training more relevant and train for jobs." This is not my original response, but I agree: Higher Education is in part job preparation, but it is also in part preparation for life long learning and having rounded education (in my opinion this should happen in K-12).  Manufacturers need to provide on-the-job training and reskilling whenever needed. Having the learner pay ungodly amounts of money to work for you, and have the skills you need, in my mind, is not ethical.  New employees shouldn't come into work as lump of clay (raw material) but they should come in as a clay pot that needs glazing and painting (semi-finished). This way the employee knows the environment but it is up to the employer to really help the employee fit into the organization. It's not the job of the school.