Archive for January, 2008

New course about to start!

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

maodeWe’re just about to go live with our new masters-level course ‘Practice-based research in educational technology’ or as we at the OU affectionately call it ‘H809′. This is part of our Masters in Online and Distance Education. This is the first course I have been involved with producing at the OU. As many of you will be aware teaching at the OU is team-based. Course production and delivery are separated; so a team of academics produce the course, whilst a different team help deliver it (in OU speak this is called ‘presentation’).Students are guided through their studies with the help of associated lecturers or tutors. It’s been a really interesting experience being part of the team producing H809. The course is chaired by James Aczel. His vision was to produce a course about researching in this area - taught through the research itself, therefore the course is primarily based around a series of key readings representing different facets of research and methodology in this area. We will be using discussion forums for structured debates and we also want to encourage students to keep a blog, so that they can get a feel for what it is like to be part of the online research blogging community! The tutors role is vital. They will provide support to the students, help monitor the online discussions and keep an overview of students’ progress. We have an excellent bunch of tutors supporting the course, who all have extensive experience in the field.  Further information is available via courses in IET and the MAODE.  

E-learning in Zurich

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

gudrun and evaI’ve just returned from doing a keynote at the ELC-NET conference in Zurich. Picture Eva Seiler Schiedt (conference organiser) and Gudrun Bachmann (Basel University). The day was designed in two halves: the morning with four keynotes (the others were Lorenzo Cantoni from Lugano, Don MacKenzie from Derby and Erik de Graaf from Delft) and the afternoon with a series of parallel interactive sessions. The topics in the morning were broad ranging and provided a useful snapshot of some of the current research in e-learning along with key issues. Lorenzo opened with an excellent considered piece on Open Educational Resources. Don provided some valuable practical examples of how e-assessment can be used in a variety of different imaginative and challenging ways. Erik considered the possibilities new Virtual Learning Environments offered for learning. I used some of the data from our learner experience research and other international studies as a means of looking at how use of new technologies is changing the way students learn (the process of learning) and their approach to learning (and associated motivation and attitudes). I then reported on our learning design work which is working towards creating a pick and mix learning design toolbox to provide support for teachers in making decisions about using technologies. The presentation is up on slideshare. I concluded by looking at the implications of the changing external environment, and ever evolving technologies in particular, at both institutional (strategy/policy, roles and structures) and individual (teacher/student – skills and motivations and learning/teaching – changing paradigms) levels. Schewa MandelOne of the interesting things about attending different conferences is seeing the way they are organised and what works well. I particularly liked the afternoon format of the conference. Lunch was located in amongst the posters and interactive sessions so that delegates could browse and talk to the authors over lunch. The picture is of Schewa Mandel, organiser of the conference, during the lunchtime session. Three parallel sessions were designed to try out different interactive formats to encourage discussion and debate. Lorenzo chaired the ‘Learning café’ session on OERs which was designed as a series of informal tables for discussion. Don chaired a panel session on quality assurance in e-assessment and I was part of the poster session on new ways of e-learning chaired by Eric. It is evident that people are increasingly keen to supplement the traditional lecture style conference format with alternative more interactive sessions. Koni Osterwalder, one of the co-organisers, challenged me in his introduction for my suggestion of having a walking conference (something that David McConnell and other researchers reported working as a nice format) – so maybe next year in Zurich in the Alps – now that definitely sounds like my kind of conference!!!

Learner experience paper out!

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Just got notification that the Computers and Education paper we produced on some of our learner experience work on the LXP project is now available online. Always satisfying to finally see these things published - but the length of time from submission to publication seems very very long in comparison with being able to blog at will!!!