#EduMOOC Openness

This is my first post relating to EduMOOC.

I watched Erik Duval’s video presentation on openness with interests.

Here are my takeaways and comments:

Erik’s approach towards openness in his University teaching relates to the use of social media and tools such as Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Delicious etc.

His presentation relates to

Open Standards, Open Content, Open Learning, Open Attention, and also Open Research.

Erik’s adopted a strong intervention approach, as was suggested in his presentation, that he stressed that if the students didn’t blog, they failed.  I am not sure if such intervention provides enough choice for the students, as my experience is: learner autonomy always comes first in learning.  Throughout my past few years of teaching and learning using blogs, I realized that it is never easy to blog and share with the public.  Some students may even voice: Is blogging polluting the media?  I still think we need to be cautious when introducing blogging as a learning tool, especially when students are new to the media and Web 2.0 tools.  Adequate planning and explanation about the use of blogs and why and how blogs could be applied in course might ensure higher degree of success. Also, the use of blogs may appeal to some learners, but not to others, as revealed in our CCK08 and PLENK2010 research, and subsequent CCK and PLENK2010 observations and research.  As a blogger, I think it is also very difficult to be both creative and informative in blogging, where critical thinking  and curating skills are very important in the development of blog posts.

Should blogging be mandatory for students?  What are the policy and assessment criteria relating to the students’ blogging?  How would blogging be incorporated into part of the course or module?  What is the role of the instructors in the “teaching” or facilitation of blogging as a learning tool?

Erik mentioned that around 10% of his students continued to blog even after the course.  I think this is also the case of CCK08 experience and some of the open courses that I am aware of.  Why would those course participants continue their blogging journey?  What did they achieve with those blogging experience? This may be an interesting area to research.

There are a few interesting points:

– The use of Twitter and Facebook in his course.  I was quite amazed by his comments: If you don’t tweet it, you fail (he instructed his students that they must tweet).  I don’t think this would work with my students, and my style of teaching too, as I preferred giving options to students, especially where competency based training is still outcome and content focused.  Besides, students who haven’t got internet access would likely be dissatisfied with such an instruction and intervention.

– Difficulties in paying attention.  I like Erik’s question: What does it mean to pay attention?  Erik’s advice that students have to comment on each others’ blog may sound simple in principle, but could be difficult to implement.  Throughout our CCK courses, didn’t both instructors and participants urge everyone to comment actively in blogs?  What caused the low number of comments in blogging?  Were participants motivated to comment on other blogs?  Why/Why not?

– I also liked Erik’s presentation about Learning Analytics, where he showed how intervention could be made where necessary, on those students who didn’t participate actively, or who were at risks.  However, there are still many ethical and control issues relating to Learning Analytics as I have shared here and here. Here is LAK11 and Martin’s post on Learning Analytics.

– I think at the end of the learning program, one must relate the learning back to the achievement of personal goals, and consider the power of feedback loops as mentioned by Erik, and review the effectiveness and impact of such learning on individuals and the group.

I am not sure if such open learning would be welcomed by the “oriental learning” and competency based learning, where the content and outcomes are relatively more important as compared to the learning process.  I am also doubtful if openness could be assimilated into certain Asian education culture, where openness is still a taboo, in both higher education and research.

Here is one of my posts on open courses and Jenny’s post on openness. Openness is challenging but exciting, especially when people realized the benefits of sharing, contributing and receiving valuable ideas and information openly.

What are your experiences in openness?

#LAK11 Learning Analytics – my third post

Love your post Roy, and views.  I share with you especially your concerns.  I have written my post in my blog post

I reckon using softwares to generate the Analytics shouldn’t be difficult, as nowadays there are a lot of turnkeys, like the SPSS, or the Statistics Package, PROMODAL, ithink etc.  The challenge is: (1) how would we interpret the statistics? (2) what does the statistics or analytics tell me (as an educator or a learner)?  and (3) what actions or interactions are appropriate for certain patterns of connections?

I also think that learning analytics are like thinking that the use of SQC (Statistical Quality Control) – the 7 QC tools or even the new QC 7 tools – Quality Function Deployment, Affinity Diagrams, Relationship Diagrams, etc. might have given us all the solutions.  Surprisingly, they won’t, mainly because the complexity behind all these learning won’t be that simple. Also, would lots of assumptions behind those aftermaths statistics be good predictors of the future?  New agents, new interactions, and new environments would yield new results, and so only novel solutions – i.e. based on probe, sense and response in case of complex situation could help.

Still pondering on these presentations.


#LAK11 A first post on Learning Analytics

Great to learn about Heli’s views on Learning Analytics.  I share many of those views with her, in particular the “ethical dimensions” relating to the analytics.  I don’t think my learners would like to be “observed” under those lenses, honestly, and as David mentioned, the interpretation of the findings could become the science.  This reminded me of the Quality Assurance and Improvement, and Total Quality Management movements which emphasises on management by facts and data.  In an institutional setting, any improvement efforts are plan driven, and there is a need of control and intervention exercised by management, managers, and workers, based on a “scientific approach” using statistical analysis and control, together with a range of quality tools to improve and innovate in an organisation.

This may be a perfect solution when learning analytics are applied under a LMS and integrated learning environment, where institution control is of critical importance. However, would this work in an autonomous to semi-autonomous online learning environment such as PLENK?  Would it provide the diagnosis as promised by the learning analytical approach?

To a great extent, I think there is still a gap between conducting and interpretating Learning Analytics and an understanding about its significance both from an educator and learner’s perspective – in particular the ethical dimensions and the privacy issues.  To what extent would participants like to be “analysed” under such a system?  If the learners are interested in learning, then the analytics would reveal that some of such learners could be actively participating and contributing to the networked learning.  However, how about those who are not creating or participating that much, but are self-organised learners learning with their own learning pathways?  Surely, these learners may become the outliers as identified in the social network graphs, analysis and statistics.  How would lurkers identified under such analysis be actioned upon?  What would an educator do based on the findings of such Learning Analytics?  Intervention?  Reinforcement of learning? Review of teaching practice? More support provided to the learners? Or a change in the course/network design?

I could however, see the value of Learning Analytics in PLENK, in that it provides a picture and pattern of learning of the network and community.  Thanks to Rita and Helene for such a great slide presentation.  Very informative.

Still pondering on the deeper significance of these sort of data mining in education and learning….


Postscript: Love to read this post by Martin Weller, especially on the ethical issues.