Thursday, March 28, 2013

Don't close the doors yet - OLDSMOOC has one more thing!

I got an email the other day that I was awarded a badge on OLDSMOOC (one of the peer reviewed badges), which prompted me to go into Cloudworks to see if there were any more peers that needed evaluating.  I had already completed one peer review (see here for the first one) so why not complete a second one?

It turns out that Itana Gimenes had submitted all her materials for the Learning Designer badge, so I decided to have a look and see what sort of review or feedback I could give her :)

Itana's course design revolves around Agile Software Engineering, something that brings me back to my MBA days when I was working on my IT concentration.  Back then we briefly touched upon Agile methodology since it was new, but now it's much more prevalent. In any case, I found it interesting that she was wondering (scrutinizing her own design in Week 2) the type of support learners would get so that they could both learn and have a realistic (authentic?) experience in Agile Methodology.  I am actually wondering how one could run a class using Agile.  I think when we teach (unless we lecture and don't shut up until the class is over) that we are agile, but I am curious to explore this a bit more. I think there is an opportunity here to incorporate agile methodologies in teaching so that learners are learning Agile methodologies, applying them, and seeing them in action.  Who knows, maybe someone has already done this, if so, kindly post some citations in the comments :-).

In Week 3, she has posted the results of her card activity, and there is one thing that doesn't stick well for me:  Exam Assessment.  It would seem to me that this course is more of a project-based course, learning about Agile software development while doing agile software development. The Exam doesn't seem to quite fit the bill for me for assessment.  I could be convinced, I just need to know why an exam is important :-)  Here I would have to say that my conception of an exam is a sit-down exam with multiple choice questions and short answers.  Maybe the conceived exam format is different than the one that comes to mind for me.

Her course map for this course is pretty interesting. I wanted to pick out two things:
  1. Under Reflection & Demonstration, the learners are meant to have a personal reflection blog for the course. I think this is a great idea. I think of it as a developer's blog where the progress (as well as frustrations) are documented, and perhaps this is where the community can help a bit
  2. Under Communication & Collaboration I see that "Synchronous interaction should be avoided." Now, don't get me wrong, I hate pointless syncrhonous communication, but why should it be avoided?  What if learners find it useful, in their dev-teams, to have synchronous communication for team meetings?  I think this point needs to be teased out a bit more. (This is something that seems to be a question in one of her subsequent MOOC deliverables, including an evaluation)
Overall I think the course is on a good track.  I think that the communication aspect needs to be teased out a little more, and perhaps make some tie-ins to help learners become better communicators.  One major point of failure in the agile process (in my opinion), is bad communication which can snowball into a giant monster. I think providing learners with some good guidelines for communication as part of this course would be beneficial.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Aboriginal Worldviews and Education

We are almost there!  The course Aboriginal Worldview and Education is almost over! It's one of the few xMOOCs that survived the great course purge of late 2012 (courses that I decided to drop before they started because of my time commitment issues in March). When I signed up for the course I thought that the course was about Australia and New Zealand since I had only heard of Aboriginals in that context before.  Even the course description didn't point to the fact that this was about Canadian Aboriginals.
Intended for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners, this course will explore indigenous ways of knowing and how they can benefit all students. Topics include historical, social, and political issues in Aboriginal education; terminology; cultural, spiritual and philosophical themes in Aboriginal worldviews; and how Aboriginal worldviews can inform professional programs and practices, including but not limited to the field of education.
The course and the instructor were quite interesting.  The lectures and the reading materials were engaging, and the interesting thing in this implementation of an xMOOC is that the discussion forum was organized, and each week the instructor had screen-side chats where he addressed the top 10 issues that had come up in the discussion forum during the week.  This is a  change from previous MOOCs where there wasn't really an instructor presence felt.  The other thing that was interesting was that participation in forums was worth 10% of the final grade; however it was a bit shallow in that it was counted numerically- i.e. how many posts have you posted (minimum 10) versus the quality of those posts.

The one assignment was pretty interesting, it was an Ethnographic exercise, and I've done ethnographic exercises before. I have to say that I still don't see a ton of worth in 250 word essays (other than encouraging economy of words, brevity and wordsmithing). The rubric was OK, and the two quizzes tested knowledge in the lectures. Oddly enough some lectures had not showed up before I took the quiz. I took the quiz, passed, and then went back and realized that there were lectures, which I watched.

To get a certificate in this course you needed 50% minimum.  This course does seem intro level, but when thinking about all the hopes and dreams people are putting on MOOCs, I have a hard time seeing how college credit can come from this wide variety of  grading requirements.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Time flies when you are having fun

I just realized that it's been a while since I've posted something on here. I guess compared to other blogs I am still a regular poster, but I'd like to post more often.  Well, here I am!  I guess time flies when you are having fun, and getting over a cold (have we found a cure for that yet?)

This month has been a crazy month, in addition to the day job, and my part time teaching gig (which is a lot of fun; there are lots of bright people I have the privilege to have in my class), I was:
  • facilitating a MOOC Basics workshop for the Sloan Consortium which was a lot of fun
  • presented a poster on MOOCs in higher education (free download in PDF) at NERCOMP 2013
  • moderated a panel discussion on building MOOCs with my colleagues (again at NERCOMP 2013)
  • finished off a book chapter with a colleague on blended learning
  • and still chipping away at the Twitter participation in MOOCs paper analysis with the MRT.
I was a bit bummed that I couldn't really participate more in NERCOMP this year due to my cold, and that I couldn't go to AAAL (Austin was a bit far for me). Maybe next year :)

In any case, the month isn't over year and I am prepping my next steps:
  • Presenting at a local conference on our Blended experiment
  • Moderating a panel discussion on our MOOC building (same conference)
  • Working on a book chapter with some of the MRT team, on Ubiquitous learning
  • and finally finishing off that MOOC+Twitter article.
I am also currently working on a paper/article version of my poster.  The one problem I have is that it seems like the information is mostly out there, so it's not really "new" knowledge if you are in the know. Rather, it's a synthesis of the current zeitgeitst around MOOCs.  I have an issue with this.  I know that synthesis are valuable to many people, but by writing synthesis articles feel like I am contributing minimally to the overall discussion.  What do you all think?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The end of #oldsmooc

Hey! Another MOOC is done!

The MOOC I am referring to is OLDSMOOC, and it will go down as one of the better MOOCs I've attended ;-)  When I signed up for the MOOC, I did so for two reasons:
  1. I wanted to learn more about Learning Design (seemed like Instructional Design going by another name).
  2. I wanted a cMOOC, damn it! :-)
Don't get me wrong, there are some interesting courses on coursera but I don't really get that sense of community on xMOOC platforms; whereas in cMOOCs, like OLDSMOOC, I have had meaningful conversations with strangers (and I haven't gotten lost in the discussion).

Anyway, as an instructional designer, I wasn't quite sure what I would get out of OLDSMOOC, since, in the end, it seemed like learning design was another term (or a related term) for instructional design.  I decided to use this opportunity, however, as a way to think about my mLearning MOOC (which is a back-burner project for the time being). Some of the weekly tasks were focused on further hashing out ideas about my MOOC, and other weeks (when I had too much else going on), I decided to focus on the Blended version of the same mLearning course (same course, different delivery method).

Now, I didn't really get very very far with either project (nothing is at the implementation stage yet), but in the end, I am glad I attended. I was able to get a whole lot of materials I didn't know existed (like the OU cart sort activity!) that I now have handy for design project.  I also think that the tools and templates I discovered as part of OLDSMOOC I will be able to share with other instructional designers (and instructional design students) because I think that they help them out  too! :)

I guess people are asking "what's next?" from the OLDSMOOC crowd ;-)  What's the next learning experience that we cMOOC groupies can attend?  I think I will be taking a small step back for the next couple of months to work on some project.  If anyone is interested in co-running mLearning MOOC, let me know!  My goal is to have it be like #CCK and #ioe12: Offered for credit to graduate college students (if they want it), but also open to the world. So, by necessity, the course has to be 13 weeks long :)