Archive for May, 2016

Get involved in the LiDA course!

Thursday, May 5th, 2016


As I mentioned in my last two posts I am working on an OERu course, which we are crowdsourcing content for. Below is an announcement about it from Wayne Mackintosh and details of how to get involved.

Learning in a Digital Age (LiDA) has been confirmed by the OERu Management Committee as a course for inclusion in our 1st year of study.
Otago Polytechnic will provide assessment services for transcript credit and we extend an open invitation to all OERu partners who have an interest in providing assessment services for transcript credit or credit transfer options for the LiDA course to contribute to the determination of the learning outcomes for the course.
The course structure and outcomes will be derived from similar courses at TESU and USQ because we are aiming to achieve maximum reuse potential of the LiDA course in the OERu network. See:
We are also crowdsourcing ideas for inclusion in the LiDA course from the open community. If your institution would like to submit ideas to help shape the learning outcomes for this course, please ensure that we receive these inputs by 12 May 2016. (Please forward this message to colleagues in your institution who may be interested).
For more information on submitting ideas, please visit:
Within the next three weeks, we will convene an online workshop to identify four micro courses and corresponding outcomes for the LiDA course.

Don’t be missed by your absence!


Crowdsourcing a curriculum

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016


Image source 

Today’s social media enable you to interact with people around the globe, to pose and answer questions, to seek advice. I have nearly 1,500 friends on facebook and nearly 9, 000 followers on Twitter. I an eternally grateful for how generous people are with their time, providing support and answering queries. I noticed that Alec Couros & Katia Hildebrandt at the University of Regina posted on facebook the other day that they are using crowdsourcing to develop a course they are working on ‘Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology’.  They included a link to a google docThey stated:

How you can help: We would love if you could add your thoughts below on what are essential questions or topics in the area of educational technology and digital learning. Thank you for any suggestions you can provide!

And then posed a series of challenging questions on Educational Technology, such as:

  • Does technology improve learning, and if so, how (and when, and under what circumstances)? How do we know?
  • How do/can innovation and technology work together? Against each other? IOW, when is it smarter to stop?
  • What are the key digital skills that K-12 students need to acquire before they graduate?

They included a list of the Twitter IDs of those who have contributed. I think this is a great way to develop a course and the questions they pose are in themselves very interesting!

Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work or funding, usually online, from a crowd of people. The word is a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’. The idea is to take work and outsource it to a crowd of workers. The most famous example is Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia, where anyone can contribute to the development of pages. The idea behind crowdsourcing is that more heads are better than one. By canvassing a large crowd of people for ideas, skills, or participation, the quality of content and idea generation will be superior. There are different types of crowdsourcing:

  • Crowdsourcing design – for example to get a logo designed
  • Crowdfunding – where people are asked to contribute money to a project
  • Microtasks - which involves breaking work into smaller task and sending the work to a crowd of people
  • Open innovation – where different stakeholders collaborate on a business proposal.

The benefits of crowdsourcing are that it enables different people to contribute ideas and provide support. The contributions can then be filtered to get the best results. However it is important to carefully manage the crowdsourcing process and provide clear instructions on contributions.

In the OERu course, Learning in a Digital Age, we are developing we are using crowdsourcing to gather ideas for the curriculum. We have set up a wikieducator page which provides the context for the course development and a series of key questions for consideration:

  • Ethics: How does my digital footprint, online identity, etc. provide evidence of what I know (Unit I), what I can do (Unit II), and most importantly, the values that underpin my contributions towards making the world a better place (Unit III)?
  • ICT: How can the same information and communication technology (ICT) be ideal in one particular context yet be a bad choice in another, quite different context?
  • PLN: How does your personal learning network (PLN) reflect how, when, and where you learn? How does your PLN compare to those of your classmates or colleagues?
  • PLN: What is the relationship between human interaction, technologies (or materials more broadly), and ideas when it comes to cultivating your own PLN?
  • Learning: How much of what you learn should be open or transparent (i.e. public) and how much should be kept private? Why?
  • Ethics: How might the written word be misinterpreted or offensive to an interlocutor who has no access to verbal and non-verbal communication? How might writing this way be avoided?
  • Philosophical: What is learning and how has it changed over the years, and how has it not changed?
  • Philosophical: How do definitions of digital literacy differ and what single aspect sticks out the most as being the most relevant to who you are and how you learn?
  • PLN: How might my PLN help me be less dependent on my instructor, allowing me to be a more independent and subsequently a more interdependent critical thinker?

People can add contributions via google docs these will then be copied to the wikieducator page. I am looking forward to seeing the contributions come in and to developing the course! Social media rocks!








OERu Learning in a digital age course

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016


Image source

I have just started doing some consultancy with the OERu foundation and in particular Wayne Mackintosh. The focus is to design a course on ‘Learning in a Digital Age’ (LiDA). The target audience is first-year undergraduates and the aim is to help them develop their academic digital literacies so that they can use digital technologies more effectively for their learning. Today’s learners have grown up in a world of computers and the Internet, however they do not necessarily have the digital literacy skills to use technologies for their learning. The course will enable them to develop these skills; such as how to evaluate whether resource they find are relevant for their learning and how to manage their online presence. Most importantly the course will help learners to manage their self-learning. 

I had a good online meeting with Wayne last week via zoom, where he outlined the nature of the course and walked me through the various tools we will be using. I think there will be a lot of interest in the course and that it will have international appeal.

We are currently in the process of defining the curriculum. We are drawing on two existing courses: one from Thomas Edison State University (TESU) and one from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) The course will be designed for maximum re-use by OERu partners and others.

The course will consist of four ‘micro courses’, which will be structured as ‘learning pathways’. Learning pathways are routes learners can take through the content. Each micro course consists of 40 hours of learning; 20 hours of learner participation over two weeks and then 20 hours of focusing on the summative assessment. The pedagogical approach for the courses is one of discovery, self-directed learning and peer-to-peer learning. Learners will be encouraged to interact with others on the course using social media. As much as possible learners will be directed to free existing resources. The structure of each learning pathway consists of: an overview and aims, a signposting video, content, and e-activities/learning challenges (start, tasks and outputs – which learners are encourage to share on their personal blog).

Wayne directed me to an existing course ‘Digital skills for collaborative OER development’.  The course had four tabs: Start up, Course Guide, Interactions and Learning Pathways. The start up tab describes the focus of the course and lists the things the learners need to do to get started. It also provides study tips, including using the course hashtag and the course feed. It indicates the suggested study time (40 – 50 hours), namely 9 sessions over three weeks, with a suggestion of two hours study a day. The assessment element is 10 hours and it is possible for the learners to get formal credit for the course. The course guide consists of the following: 

  • Overview
  • Course aims and learning outcomes
  • Syllabus
  • Learning challenges
  • Course assignment
  • Recommended resources

The interactions tab consists of:

  • Course announcements - which are emailed to participants and also posted on the site
  • Course feed - which harvests all #ds4oer posts from registered course blogs, Twitter, Google+, and WEnotes on Wikieducator.
  • Webinar – the course is asynchronous, but each week there is an online webinar. These are scheduled twice to accommodate different time zones, and sessions are recorded. 

The learning pathways tab describes the content of the course as follows:

  • Orientation
  • Developing wiki skills
  • Designing a blueprint
  • Developing a storyboard
  • Outline a course
  • Improving digital skills for OER
  • Completing the digital skills challenges
  • Creating a learning pathway
  • Publishing a course site.

One of the tools for designing the course that we are using is a variant on Kanban, a planning tool. As the website states:

The kanban board is a visual representation of the work stream, where each work item is represented by a card. Each stage of your workflow is represented by a column, determined by the team. As work progresses, the project member assigned to the item in question can simply drag and drop his/her card between the columns.

Kanban is a methodology developed from (Japanese) lean manufacturing. The OERf has started using Wekan which is a particular Open Source implementation of the technique. It looks really good and simple to use and seems a good way to manage a multi-team project. We currently have two boards: ‘Learning in a digital age’ and ‘LiDA curriculum storyboard’. These are hosted on Here is a screenshot of one of the boards.


The first provides an overview of activities and the second is a mapping of the curriculum drawing on existing courses and identifying areas for development. Each board has four columns: To Do, Doing, Almost Done and Done. Any team member can add cards to the columns, these can be tagged to enable filtering once the boards get more complex, and others can add comments to the cards. The cards can be moved about as the project progresses. The ‘LiDA curriculum storyboard’ has four columns: Possible learning pathways from existing courses, suggested pathways (what’s missing), and then columns from each of the four micro courses. In the first column cards indicated existing content from courses that might be included, each card is tagged to indicate which course the content comes from, namely: TESU, USQ or OERu.

We also have a WikiEducator page, which indicates that the aim of the page is to facilitate discussion on the configuration of the four micro-courses. It gives an overview of the proposed course. It summarises the content from TESU’s ‘Using open resources for self-directed learning’ (PLA-300) course and USQ’s e-literacy for contemporary society course, along with an initial indication of the focus of the four micro-courses.

Courses also have an associated forum, as a space for learners to reflect on the course and ask and answer questions. The forums are designed to be learner focus, encouraging peer interaction. The concept is similar to stackoverflow, based on mutual trust and recognition, learners can earn badges and as an individual’s trust level increased they can gain access to more functionality. Each micro-course will have an associated general forum.

For general communication within the team we will be using and we are using #OERu on Twitter. I am really looking forward to being involved in this work and it’s great that the whole process is so open and using open source tools, liberating!