February 5, 2014 — Uncategorized
I have started a course on Gamification on Coursera to be able to put myself in a position to implement it on Ekaola (IELTS preparation website). Trying the ‘Signature Track’ this time around – I think it will certainly motivate me to finish the course knowing I have paid for it. Interesting how that works, relating cost to value and commitment. Perhaps this relates to using money and considering the alternative benefits that could have been consumed with the same money – and also knowing that it would also take effort to ‘earn’ the money spent back again. There’s an attempt to avoid the negative emotions associated with wasting money, making a bad decision. Many websites give stuff away for free (freemium’ model) to attract people to pay for the good stuff. The ekaola website now moves to give away all the learning content for free – and as such the students and teachers attach little value to it and don’t necessarily use it as a result. In strange contrast to a more traditional based paper text book – less interactive media forms, without instant feedback, no speech recognition feedback etc etc. Perhaps the key to a business success is riding a wave of a change in perception of value, as much as spotting where value can be created in new ways.
This all has little to do with gamification unless we consider that a website is perceived as being of a higher quality when there is evidence of gamification on it. Everyone will have a suggestion about how to gamify a learning website. It follows the trend and there is supposedly solid evidence to show that it improves results – not having it can lead people to conclude the learning experience designer is a bit out of touch or the development team have a lack of awareness of their field. So, this maybe relates to the perception of value but in order to add some gamification elements I’m finally looking into this once and for all. Any gamification needs to add actual value as well as perceived value. And already from the initial videos and readings, I’ve realised that this is going to be more complex than PBLs as the professor calls them (points, badges, leader boards) although no doubt there will be a bit of that.
So, it’s about adding game elements to activities generally not associated as being game-like. In the case of the learning website, this is about getting students to study more. The learning is the goal – tied to this is the business goal of charging for the grading of submissions. With the mock test writing and speaking submissions graded online – this is how the business operates. The submissions are set as homework – everything is in place for the student to benefit from the feedback – but the final catch is getting the student to complete the HW! To integrate the website the teachers ideally schedule some class time to allow students to ask questions about the feedback they have received and even begin the follow-up study that has been suggested by the teacher giving the feedback. When the submissions are not made timely, the class schedule can begin to fall apart, the chance is missed to add further value to the students’ learning.
Goal 1: full integration of online mock test submissions into current classes as HW
Goal 2: Students actually do the HW punctually
I think gamification can help as part of the second goal. To motivate the students to complete the HW through prizes and points, perhaps some healthy competition amoung classmates, a chance to show off achievements in social networking sites etc, not sure exactly yet.
This is one tool of many – the other tools rely on teacher and centre buy-in – to show the students that the site is a valuable learning tool for them. It’s got to be useful for teachers as well as students – the non-paid for HW submission function should help with this. Breaking down the different ways students can submit HW in ways that align with the current HW submission process of the teachers is important, along with adding a simple feedback mechanism for the regular teacher to use.
Give it all away for free except for the submission grading – the teacher may recognise the value through the additional freedoms that it allows – ease of organisation, providing feedback – and then this voice, along with the gamification elements may bring about the tipping point in usage. I sense we’re getting closer, not quite there yet but not that far off either.
September 12, 2013 — Uncategorized
Had some more time this week to return to online courses, one work related on Child Protection (engaging, scenario based format, relating to key themes, with links and statistics) and 2 on coursera: Creativity, Innovation and Change, and Accountable talk.
I want to try and link the ideas around types of creativity to knowledge framework of Cynefin. There is a scale of creativity according the course principles: adaptively creative, meaning you take the existing systems and parameters that define the problem and seek improvements or reformulations of the same process, vs innovative creative where you question the existing parameters and processes, ideas may be considered more ‘radical’ or ‘out of the box’.
The cynefin framework as far as I understand it, relates to situations where different amounts of information are available, from ‘simple’ – where all variables are known, we know know how each variable affects the other. In this case, I would say that the case for following established best practice, would be a good fit here. Then we move to environments that are more complicated. Here, many different variables are interacting with each other in ways that it is impossible to understand fully. However, there are experts out there who can help and be called upon to give advice about what to do. There are common attractor states and models to follow. However, there is some unpredictability. Perhaps, a change in circumstances, political turmoil, economic uncertainty, national celebration, new technology has brought about a change. In my view, this is when the ‘out of the box’ ideas come in. The parameters that you were once working within have changed. An expert has sufficient awareness of the the interacting variables within his field to know how this change in circumstances can allow for new opportunities. In the case of knowledge and learning, this might relate to utilising a new piece of software to lead to more productive learning experiences.
The other 2 elements to Cynefin are ‘complex’ and ‘chaotic’. The ‘complex’ situation is when many variables are interacting with each other in new and unknown ways. Everything is affecting almost everything else. In this case, I think the model of Intelligent Fast Failure overlaps with Cynefin model when it talks about trying things out and learning from them. This way you are able to understand the interactions between variables better and gradually formulate the best course of action as you learn. You should not expect to succeed the first time around.
The last sector is ‘chaotic’. In this situation, I would say everything is affecting everything else and its almost impossible to hypothesise on the best course of action to take to meet any goals. Perhaps the best policy to take would be ‘fail to safe’ / ‘do no harm’ while trying the IFF approach.
I’ve enjoyed looking at the course material so far and have been prompted to reflect on my creative style. I wish to complete the project and will probably focus on my current online ekaola exam preparation site. I like the ‘morphological’ analysis involved of assessing the service again: ‘when, why, who, how’. It has also brought me awareness of the fact that there are many people out there like me trying to develop a currently small but potentially big business and that this takes ideas but more importantly – energy and drive. I think I need to plan out any achievements step by step and gradually realise the goals bit by bit.
Finally, the course on ‘Accountable talk’ relates quite directly into good training and classroom practice. This is about helping people to develop their ideas and reminds me of the auto tutoring systems I looked at a while back when thinking about developing reflective learning online. The example video of the students is nothing short of impressive with the students aged about 12 asking each other to extend ideas and reflections about the book they have read with almost no teaching prompting. I think this is going to be interesting to explore for teacher training work (online and offline) as well as trying to prompt better self-reflection and perhaps even peer assessment on the online course in future.
May 6, 2013 — Uncategorized
San Jose professors complain about the influence of MOOCs – ‘social injustice’!
Mmmn, my views on this one…
First of all, I can say that it’s possible to learn and be engaged by MOOCs. I’ve done a couple of the more radical MOOCs that attempt connectivist style of learning which I found was really inspiring and I’m onto my second MOOC on Coursera. I did the ‘Elearning and digital cultures’ a few months back and really enjoyed it – I would like to share the digital artefact
I made for that course.
Right now, I’ve started to an intro to Python programming course. Arrggh – it’s like I’m torturing myself! but I’m learning a lot. Maybe what’s missing is some kind of buddy system? with students paired up to others to offer tips and mostly encouragement to keep going.
The issue of the article as far as I can see it, is about whether students at different universities around US/world should be watching the same videos from the same lecturer. There’s a concern that the message being presented is not suitable for all students in different contexts with different life experiences etc. I think in terms of this issue of relevance and meeting students needs, the issue is probably pretty minor, especially for introductory courses to students who have broadly the same cultural background. I think the professors at San Jose are more concerned with a possible reduction in status and prestige than a concern about the education quality received by the students. It would appear that it’s just like choosing a textbook for the students to use in class, although the medium of the message is different – video rather than text. But, of course, that’s easy for me to say – I’m not a professor, never have been and probably never will be.
My overarching approach to online learning is let it do what it can do well (i.e. let students watch lectures in the form of videos etc) and keep the face to face discussion for high value collaborative communication – deep meaningful learning experiences.
I think that MOOCs in coursera could become the answer to oversubscribed introductory courses and the first year of university may become more of an online thing rather than a on campus going to lectures thing. Once the value of face2face discussion becomes more important then in the 2nd and 3rd years, students will be more inclined to pay for the interaction with the professors.
Back to the issue of teaching students from different cultural backgrounds:
Sebastian Thrun, the Udacity guy, said that there could be only 10 universities left in the world in the future. He has a point maybe – that less universities could be required in terms of massive university campus blocks. But I think the numbers will be greater than this as students from different cultural and language backgrounds will require slightly different approaches to learning and perspective on the learning materials. I would guess that the philosophy of Plato needs to presented in a different way in China compared to the US, as a result of students’ different cultural backgrounds.
February 24, 2013 — Uncategorized
My submission of digitial artefact for the EDCMOOC is:
The robot introduces a world where human interaction in person essentially no longer exists as it is no longer necessary. People are constantly connected to each other, the internet has become a connection of minds and we are all simultaneously collectively intelligent. This vision is certainly trying to draw on some of the transhumanist principles of the human being, in particular – that it is a work in progress.
The most relevant derivative values from the Bostrom article that relate to the version of the future presented:
- Improving understanding (encouraging research and public debate; critical thinking; open-mindedness, scientific inquiry; open discussion of the future)
- Getting smarter (individually; collectively; and develop machine intelligence
These are both facilitated by the constant state of collective connectivity – to each other and to the internet.
So what does this say of attempts to identify what makes us human and the need to recognise this as we move forward from a ‘post-humanist’ perspective? My thoughts on this are that our ability to communicate and interact socially has been crucial to the success of the species. It has been proposed that homo sapiens expanded rapidly and overcame other forms of human at the time when they began to develop language abilities. In a sense, the ability to communicate ideas and work together the deciding factor in the successful domination of the homo sapiens of the planet and its resources. (See Ted.com video
here). Therefore, I think, for what it’s worth, that the need to communicate does not define us as humans as such, in terms of granting pleasure or providing a sense of fulfilment, this is related to the fact that we had utilised this ability and we are innately aware that it is crucial to our survival. In this light, communication online helps us achieve this need but we are aware that it is not as good as face to face. There are elements of meaning that are being communicated that are missed – an emoticon cannot express the precise expression and feeling of the individual, it can only be an approximation.. even a video call presents a slightly distorted version of the real think as the data is processed sent and presented on the screen the other end, and in addition we of course cannot experience the location of the other person which gives fuller context and meaning, we are limited in the body language etc. Therefore, there remains a craving for the real thing as, through face to face communication, we are aware that we can see the full picture – and perhaps this increases the chance of survival of the species or (in terms The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins) the successful replication of our genes.
Well, that is probably asking whether there can really be any consideration of what it means to be human as opposed to anything else that has the goal of reproduction. To be human simply means, we have become good at doing what everything with a gene wants – that is to reproduce and the crucial factor that has led to this success is the ability to exchange ideas and thoughts through language primarily but on a more basic level through relating meaning to symbols of representation whether sound/voice or visual or the other senses.
Development as Freedom (extra)
by Badmington noted that perhaps many philosophical ideas that have come to represent the key elements of post-humanism have come into difficulties as fresh insights into the nature of humans have come into light. In particular, there was the rights. Could we be defined by a set of all encompassing rights? The essay suggests that, no, as there are some cultures and regions that dispute this. In light of reflecting on the posthumanist approach I think that these still hold and this has always been the case. I think a universal set of rights are applicable to all humans as this facilitates our ability to survive on a simplistic level – civil and political rights give us freedom to communicate ideas with others.
February 18, 2013 — Uncategorized
This is an article from China Daily which as I see it, is used to present the China perspective to foreigners as a balance to the western media. In this article a Chinese professor criticises a Human Rights Watch report about surveillance of internet use by the government. In it, he outlines what I think is the general perspective within China regarding the internet, in that it is allowing for greater expression and freedoms but within boundaries. I would agree that currently, there is an expansion of expression happening at the moment. However, it’s far from utopian as all communication is monitored and sites which allow communication that cannot be monitored (for example google+ groups, hangouts, anything from youtube) are blocked and are only accessible via a VPN. The professor tries to justify the monitoring and restrictions. I would say that most Chinese people are aware of these and accept them (at least for the moment) as freedom of expression has at least expanded a little compared to previously. Corrupt officials are regularly exposed through social media sites. That said, my office colleagues are cautious about posting anything controversial, such as an official document signed at end the war with Japan. This showed that the Japanese conceded defeat to the Nationalist government and not to the Communists at that time. My colleague chose not to post it in case this was contrary to the popular understanding that the Japanese conceded defeat to the Communists although they were not in fact the recognised power in China at the time. (They defeated the Nationalist forces after the Japanese were defeated.) I wonder if the professor in the article would agree whether or not this should be posted and shared on social networks.
So, to summarise I would say the internet is being embraced and seen as a good thing offering more ways to express ideas and connect to information. However, people are aware that the freedoms only go so far.
The original HRW article can be found here.
February 14, 2013 — ETMOOC
A Language Learning MOOC – Thoughts & Vision « A Point of Contact.
Exploring how to use connectivist mooc style learning for language learners.
I think the prospect of hastagging homework published online in the form of a digital story/learning artefact could bring learners studying from the same classroom material together to connect and interact together, is very exciting.
February 12, 2013 — Uncategorized
So, my digital story (click here) is an attempt to capture different moments of Spring festival eve a couple of days ago. I’ve tried to use video, text only and an image with context/commentary. Comments are possible in voicethread for audio/video or just by writing on the wall (or here on the blog in text / google group)
February 11, 2013 — Uncategorized
I’m only skimming the surface of this course and mostly posting reflections behind schedule. I feel it’s more formal than the ETMOOC but probably more conducive to indepth discussion. However, less accommodating for me as I’ve only got a moment or 2 here and there to read something (when kids are asleep and no spring festival appointments allow) and the videos never seem to play – probably related to the fact that I’m using a VPN to access them. But I’m finding the topics interesting nonetheless.
I thought it was interesting to read the piece about metaphors and the internet and then take a look at a piece on MOOCs from this perspective. I figure as a country where the press is trying to make money from journalism, the papers are probably reflecting the general views of their audience – not the case here in China. So, it would be interesting to attempt to correlate which category of metaphors seem to match which category of readership. I would make a very tentative assumption that the dystopia metaphor use correlates to the conservative aligned readership/news source and the utopian may correlate more to the democratic/left leaning readership.
The limitations of metaphor are interesting. The article notes that the internet as metaphor is conceptualised as a densely populated cityscape or transport system: ‘information superhighway’. The metaphors are useful to help people grasp a new concept within the realm of understanding but are of course approximations of the real thing. The, once understood, can ease the mind [cognitive disequilibrium is relieved]. However, when that individual moves to use the internet, consider it’s benefits, the utopian vs dystopian future they are really applying arguments and logic to only an approximation of the real thing. It would be easy to transfer feelings about the future of the transportation system (increased congestion, pollution etc) to the future of the internet.
Slow the revolution
These approximations of what the internet is approximating towards also slow the development I feel. Given that the internet changes the way we interact with the information and exchange ideas, learn etc, I think we naturally try to use it in a similar way as previous information exchange systems initially as this reflects how we understand the internet. The labels given to services and features are tranferred from a offline world to an online. First it was email, then to social networking and wikis etc. I think the internet and it’s use will evolve as people become more familiar with it’s affordances (posted on here in relation to #ETMOOC, I enjoy making the linkages from readings in one to the other). Digital storytelling is still about telling stories – the story itself might still need a premise etc to be interesting – but there are many other differences – these are now being reflected more and more in MOOCs to take one example. The metaphor of ‘joining a class’ is perhaps being broken down as 100,000s can access the same lecture asynchronously. For connectivist MOOCs, the concept of teacher, learner, course etc are all being questioned. Even the concepts of completion, drop-out, certification are all being questioned by the affordances of autograding, communities, etc.
As we get familiar with using the internet, I think the old metaphors are broken down and we move from surface learning to making deeper connections with previous knowledge and importantly – new experience. In a sense, the metaphor acts as a theory, but we need real usage time and reflection to fully comprehend the most effective way to use something. In this way, the metaphor is broken down and the affordances that allow real change start to speed up.
Language learning online courses are transitioning in a similar way. These offer a course of language learning that are basically the same as a course book for the ones that have more instructional design, or incorporate features of social networking. At the moment, there isn’t one that puts it all together but there are plenty of experiments that are pushing forward one element or another.
February 9, 2013 — ETMOOC
VoiceThread – Conversations in the cloud.
Found in #EDCMOOC – this could be a great tool for asychronous storytelling, personalising, communicating etc
February 9, 2013 — ETMOOC
I followed a couple of links and found this overview of storytelling in the digital age.
I think it offers a interesting dissection of the affordances of storytelling in a digital environment. Here’s my summary and thoughts on the 5 elements.
Digital storytelling offers the chance to mix-up the different media. It also recognises asynchronous vs synchronous delivery, edited or not.
Related to this – I read an article on multi-modalities. This article offered me insight into the affordances to express meaning of different modes: writing, speech, image, moving image.
“By discussing examples from learning resources we show forms and changes and the epistemological and communicational effects produced in any changes. We ask what might be gained and what might be lost in changes of mode: from artefact and action to image, from image to writing, to speech, or to moving image. ”
Text allows the writer to lead the reader in a linear way, add emphasis through the positioning of clauses etc. An illustration allows for representation of an object and can be more helpful than a photograph as a this is only one particular example of that object. Also, for image – all the details are laid bare so to speak – whereas in text we can say ‘The man sat next to the woman on the bench’ if an image is used we must show whether the man is to the left or right of the woman, his expression etc. With text, we cna allow the reader to imagine the details to fit their own individual representation. (epistemological commitment). So then, audio, video – this has the addition of controlling pace – this can be helpful or maybe a hindrance if this relates to learning material. The article is related to how use of different mediums to present language might then affect how people use language …( I think that’s it anyway). So, now in relation to telling a story, I wondering how the choice of presentation mode affects the how the message is received by the audience. I also think that once the other 5 elements are taken into account differences in how meaning is portrayed with different modes in a digital storytelling format IS different to sitting round the camp-fire. The ‘old style’ was spoken message, respected leader to followers, purpose of message, controlled pace, lack of epistemological commitment.’ Digital storytelling is (for the ETMOOC at least) unknown individual to unknown individuals, with choice of modes that offer gains and loses from written to moving image. Also, digital sharing means competing with people’s short attention span and information overload…. Hence the make 6 word presentations, animated gifs? These are short and still powerful vessels of meaning that can be expected to be viewed and in the frame of MOOCing maybe receive comments and recognition for your efforts.
In terms of the media element: digital storytelling is asynchronous vs ‘live’ round the campfire.
Refers to 1) movement within the content (I take this as video/speech but also prezi presentations offer movement from static presentation mode to another static presentation mode), 2) movement required by reader (click to move to next slide, click on link, scroll down, press play, drag and drop)
Digital storytelling can offer movement within content as well as complex action out of it or only minimal if only one video/audio etc.
This is interesting I think. The content is measured on a scale of ‘open’ to ‘closed’. Open content allows the user to control sequence of presentation, pace or manipulate the content, add to it, personalise it. If the user cannot do any of these things the content is closed. Digital storytelling allows a choice for the meaning maker in relation to all these aspects to some extent. [Back when I was taking part in change11, another participant created a prezi and invited the other participants to add to the presentation online, mmmnn ideas beginning to brew for my own shot at this...]
Refers to linking story to other ‘stories’, articles, images, related information. For this there’s: when / why / what. I guess there is also a how: do you embed the whole video, image, audio or just leave a link for users to explore? Do you give it a full introduction, offer your reflections on it or just say ‘check this out’?
I guess within a MOOC we mostly drop in the link with a few lines introduction and hope people randomly click on it.
Refers to managing the affordance of 2-way communication with audience. Are the ways to communicate explicit? (comments on blog / comments on google+?, edit within message medium?) Are the comments moderated? What are the purposes of the comments?
Whatever the story is that I decide to do, I think I’ll definitely try to utilise as many affordances of ‘digital’ as I can: multi-modal, open (with encouraged personalisation and adding of content, contextualised through links, with a different purposes for communicating.