Archive for June, 2015

Internationalisation, cross-border education and e-learning conference

Friday, June 19th, 2015


Image source 

A few weeks ago I did a keynote at the internationaalisation, cross-border education and e-learning conference in Nicosia. Here are some notes on some of the other speakers. Michael Gaebel (head of the higher education policy unit, European University Association), gave a talk entitled ‘Trends in Higher Education Internationalisation’. He pointed to a number of useful reports on trends including the e-learning and HE, and argued that internationalisation and digitisation are two key priorities for institutions. He said that there was a wide range of activities around these across institutions and that most did have some form of international strategy, less had dedicated e-learning strategies. A key issue was mobility in terms of quality and the development of student skills. A recent e-learning survey indicates that more and more institutions are developing blended learning and online learning offerings, as well as the development of MOOCs. George Veletsianos reported on some recent studies he has been involved with on learners’ experience and perceptions of MOOCs. The focus was on how students are using social media for scholarship and what challenges arise in new learning environments. Part of the work has recently been published (BJET, 46(3), 570 – 587).


Researchers describe with increasing confidence what they observe participants doing in massive open online courses (MOOCs). However, our understanding of learner activities in open courses is limited by researchers’ extensive dependence on log file analyses and clickstream data to make inferences about learner behaviors. Further, the field lacks an empirical understanding of how people experience MOOCs andwhy they engage in particular activities in the ways that they do. In this paper, we report three findings derived by interviewing 13 individuals about their experiences in MOOCs. We report on learner interactions in social networks outside of MOOC platforms, notetaking, and the contexts that surround content consumption. The examination and analysis of these practices contribute to a greater understanding of the MOOC phenomenon and to the limitations of clickstream-based research methods. Based on these findings, we conclude by making pragmatic suggestions for pedagogical and technological refinements to enhance open teaching and learning.

The results of the studies included the following:

  • Successful learners have highly developed study habits
  • Students take notes, if they take more than one MOOC on a similar topic they combine the notes
  • There is evidence of off platform participation via social media or face to face
  • Online learning is an emotional experience; both in terms of excitement and disappointment
  • Life’s daily routines shapes the way in which people participate in online courses, in other words the courses need to fit in with other activities individuals are involved with
  • Finally, drop out rates are not necessarily negative, some learners choose to only do part of a course for a reason

George, Pambos Vrasidas and I took part in a symposium on ‘design issues and participation in MOOCs’ in the afternoon. Pambos highlighted the following challenges of MOOCs

  • High student-teacher ratio
  • Assessment
  • Less contact with instructor
  • Learning Design issues
  • High drop out rates
  • Lack of a real college experience
  • The increase of Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs)
  • Return on investment 

And he listed the following as some of the opportunities

  • Democratisation of education
  • Providing ivy-league courses to everyone
  • Creating a vast pool of data
  • Marketing and recruitment
  • Making quality education available at a distance for a large population
  • New business models are emerging 

TELL-OP survey

Monday, June 15th, 2015


I am current involved in an exciting EU project called TELL-OP being coordinated by Murcia University. The project focuses on the development of mobile Apps for second language acquisition. We are currently undertaking a survey and would be grateful if you could take the time to complete if this is of interest to you.

Here are the details: 

Dear Colleague,

TELL-OP is a EU-funded Strategic Partnership that seeks to promote the take-up of innovative practices in European language learning by supporting personalized learning approaches that rely on the use of information and communication technologies and open education resources.

Our aim is to promote cooperation in the field of language learning and we hope to foster the use of already available web 2.0 services to facilitate the personalized e-learning of languages in the contexts of higher and adult education, in particular, through the use of mobile devices. To learn more about us, you can visit our website at

In the framework of our project, we intend to create a mobile application for foreign language learning that includes a selection of language processing technologies.

We have designed a survey to help us learn more about the current use of these technologies and mobile devices in the European teaching context. Our survey seeks to explore the spread and take-up of language, and/or text, processing technologies for language learning.

Completing the survey should not take more than 10 minutes.

By answering the questions, you will be taking part in a European project that seeks to foster the use of new technologies in adult and Higher Education for the learning of languages. You will similarly have the possibility to be among the first teachers to test our TELL-OP app as soon as it becomes available  (during the first half of 2017). Please make sure you leave your e-mail so we can get back to you.

Survey in English

Survey in French

Survey in German

Survey in Spanish

Survey in Turkish


Thank you for your time, support and feedback!


The TELL-OP team.



Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

1.    cyberstalking.jpeg

Image from

As many of you know I am pretty open on social media and on the whole the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. It’s great to get comments on blog posts, get people replying or retweeting my tweets, participating in debates on fb or remotely following a conference. But recently I have had some experiences that have made me rethink my open policy. In general on fb I accept friendship requests if we have mutual friends or I can see that they are in the same line of work. Recently I have had quite a lot of friendship requests from people I have no connection with, furthermore when I look at their fb page, there is nothing there… Needless to say I don’t accept their friendship request. Another recent incident was that someone I did accept a friendship request from started fb messaging me, for some reason I felt uneasy about this and didn’t respond. Then this morning he started liking literally hundreds of my posts, so naturally I de-friended him. What on earth did he think he was doing? Cyberstalking can be defined as “Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group, or an organization.” Bonnie Stewart and George Veletsianos are doing an interesting study at the moment about disclosure online, people who are being staked, or victims of identity crime. I think given the openness of the web and the potential dangers of adopting open practice this is a timely and important study. I look forward to seeing the results.