Tuesday, 9 April 2013

#ocTEL - An open course in Technology Enhanced Learning

Well here I am with great intentions of slicing off enough time to engage with a new MOOC. I must confess right from the start that despite great intentions I have never been able to sustain the commitment needed to complete a MOOC. This in no way reflected on any of the courses; it was simply at those times life took over - home, work, formal MSc study and the unexpected...

The MOOC I am starting this week is being run by the Association of Learning Technologists and is titled the Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning or for short ocTEL. Further details can be found on the website and there's still time to join in! Having learnt an awful lot from people in the ALT community I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth into this learning opportunity. I think what I realise now is that I'm not alone in  not being able to keep up with all that is presented within a MOOC, in fact in this one it is actually pointed out that it is practically impossible to do so!

Week 0: Induction Activities

Introducing myself

I work at Sheffield Hallam University in the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences as an Educational Developer and Associate Lecturer. I have to say that despite not being a learning technologist I have loved taking the opportunities to play with new tech and where appropriate include this both in my own personal learning and in teaching. The recent advances in technology have meant that it is so much more accessible. You don't have to know how to code to be able to create a website or blog, or a techy to take a photo or record video or audio and post this on your blog. I've found this empowerment of becoming a producer not simply a consumer of resources really exciting. I am also studying for a second Masters degree - MSc Technology Enhanced Learning Innovation and Change so am looking at both innovation and barriers to implementationMy research interest is in the use of social media with a focus on higher education, digital identity and online presence. 

My big question about TEL

I think this has to be how can we evidence the value of technology enhanced learning most effectively. Does it have to be measured in a certain way? What would that entail? 

Given the many excellent examples of good practice I am coming across there are clear indicators it is working and yet there seems to be a minority rather than the majority who are embracing new innovations. Is this because there is not enough time or support to introduce these new ideas?  

Secondly I'm looking forward to sharing new ideas about how people are engaging students in distance learning - what new activities are they using to get students to interact and participate with each other.

Exploring and experimenting

I've tidied up my inbox and organised a weekly digest of emails via the jisc-list. I can skim these but won't get to all of them. A regular user of Twitter as @suebecks I have contributed to the conversation and find the succinct messages there are more appealing. The forum discussions are where I think we will be dipping in and out of, with some having more personal appeal than others. It's good to see a variety of ways people can communicate.

What I am hearing:

The introductions by email have been fascinating and it's clear we all have different skills to bring to the table. It's going to be a busy and noisy environment to learn in but already we can see people reaching out to answer questions, suggest useful resources and also challenge ideas. 

Reasons people say they are joining the MOOC
  • want to enhance learner and tutor engagement using new technologies
  • keen to learn about best practice in TEL
  • interested in student perspective when embracing new technology
  • also involved with other MOOCs
  • looking for a more effective medium for teaching
  • I remain extremely interested in distributed learning (distance, online, notes taped to a rock and left by the third fence post to the south of the duck pond, mobile etc) and the idea of a Learning Society. 
  • I'm far more interested (especially in research terms) in the pedagogy of online learning and particularly how meaning is socially constructed in the classroom. However, I've decided that I need to to know more about the technology and that's why I'm here ... 
This is the value a learning community will bring - sharing ideas and trying to solve issues

Concerns people are sharing
  • my use of TEL is basic - we have a VLE and use video and podcasts
  • steep learning curve
  • concern through previous experience of MOOCs it will be overwhelming
  • information overload - number of emails as JISC filters not been set
  • students wary of online posting through fear of public exposure
  • Am sort of overwhelmed by all the emails I've been getting this afternoon
People usually know more than they think, and where they are stuck this is the place to reach out and ask. It's all part of the learning experience.

Tech speak, jargon and acronyms!
  • I try to keep technical terms to an absolute minimum in order to encourage teaching staff that they need not fear TEL. You don't after all need to be a mechanic to drive the car.
  • E-learning is inclusive of, and broadly synonymous with technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), web-based training (WBT), online education, virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE), and digital educational collaboration. 
  • TEL - What do I mean by enhanced?  How do I measure it - qualitatively or quantitatively?  
There are some interesting questions coming up which may not be answered immediately but as we grow as a group this collective body of people will no doubt get around to each one in time. 


As a starter here is a list of acronyms used in higher education I've been collating in Google Docs. Feel free to add to this open list.


To aid my memory (which is currently overloaded!) these are some links I think I'll find useful to refer back to:

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