Thursday 31 May 2012

Adding a MOOC to my PLN

First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

This is a new MOOC which is being delivered by Oxford Brookes University and is a pilot funded by HEA and JISC. It is a short course that will run between 21 May and 22 June 2012.   

Being involved in this new MOOC was in my mind an opportunity not to be missed. Although I have recently completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and as a result gained Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, that course was taught face to face. The students were all colleagues from across the university I work for. Don't get me wrong it was a great experience and I learnt much from it and from my peers. The reason I want to be involved in this online course is to experience first hand what it feels like to learn with others new to teaching from all over the world. Another reason is that I will find it useful seeing how others use the online environment in learning and teaching which in this case will be Blackboard Collaborate and how participants will engage with Twitter using the course hashtag #fslt12.

My inner voice is asking me "how will you fit this in on top of everything else???". Already engaged with part-time study on the MSc in Technology Enhanced Learning, Innovation and Change (which is how this blog came about - to record my reflections and things I have learnt along the way) as well an online short course on the Introduction to Cooperation Theory led by Howard Rheingold, I am busy! What is so refreshing about this and other MOOCs is that it so open and free of the rigid rules and regulations we come to associate with formal learning. The sessions are recorded and if I miss a webinar I can go back to it and watch at another time. Yes I will miss the interaction of being there in real time, but at least I don't miss it all. I and anyone else who wants to be involved is warmly and openly welcomed to join in any part of the course and the multiple modes to engage. Topics to be covered are below.

Given other commitments I have I know that it is highly likely I will be engaging outside of the live sessions, but having already listened to George Roberts and Rhona Sharpe's first session I know it is still a valuable experience for me. I should also add that I won't be committing to the assessment, mainly because I have to prioritise my other commitments but I would have liked to experience this online approach to compare with my face to face experience in the PgC in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. 

You might be now wondering what a MOOC is. Well it stands for Massive Online Open Courses. 

A MOOC is by itself a “non-defined pedagogical format to organize learning/teaching/training on a specific topic in a more informal collaborative way” 
The principles of a MOOC are: 
autonomy, diversity, openness and interaction/connectedness. 
The principle activities of a MOOC are: 
Aggregation, Remixing, Re-purposing, Feeding forward. 

For more information on MOOCs there is a useful guide that Educause have put together called 7 Things you should know about MOOCs. (one of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative's (ELI's) 7 Things You Should Know About... series provides concise information on emerging learning technologies and related practices). 

This an opportunity to engage in open learning of academic practice - to participate, to share, to connect, to reflect and along the journey I will undoubtedly learn and extend my personal learning network.

Sunday 20 May 2012

The Purpose of Education is learning how to unlock your true potential

Purpos/ed #500 Words - Take 2

Last year I contributed to the first Purpos/ed Summit where over 50 people got together for the day to discuss, debate and to share their thoughts and views on the purpose of education. I met some wonderful people, that I continue to learn with through Twitter. Although I didn't present on the day, my contribution was added to the Purpos/ed Slideshare collection.  
The purpose of education is to provide the skills to open many different doors to new opportunities for learning; it is individual and personal; that we need to continually provide signposts to share ways of both formal and informal learning; and finally that learning is lifelong - there is always something new to learn. 

Education is a magical key that can empower individuals to unlock their true potential and to share their learning with others. Having read the #500 words blog posts to date and many other blog posts written by educators, there are many examples that show us that where we provide children, teenagers and adults with opportunities to learn in ways that suit them as individuals, they not only develop confidence in their own learning, they develop a passion for learning. 

Social media and mobile technology have opened a whole new world to individuals across the globe who are now able to communicate and collaborate in ways that have never before been possible. Creating, curating and sharing using a variety of digital media within the mini computer we call our phone has opened up many creative ways to learn. They have also opened up new ways to socialise, to work and to play. For many it has made learning fun and who ever said learning can't be fun? And yet... so many educated people have yet to see the benefits or even tried to use social technology as a means of learning themselves or to facilitate learning
Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.

John Cotton Dana
This is a video created by a student for a university assignment that looks at the progression of student communication and classroom settings. It serves to remind us that despite the leaps technology has made, the way we use it in the classroom is being restricted by the spaces we ask our students to learn in.

But this only a part of it. We need to support, encourage and develop new ways to enable critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication to provide us with the digital skills and literacies we need to participate in today's society. 

The purpose of education is to help us to learn how to progress

The purpose of education is to make the world a better place for everybody to live in. 

If technology can help us do this then we need to learn how to use if effectively. 

The purpose of education is unlocking the potential for everyone to be a part of this. We all have something to contribute.   

Sue Beckingham
#purposedu #500words