Posts Tagged ‘#ocTEL’

The Big Question

April 15, 2013


Well, I planted those spuds, and I hope it wasn’t too early in the year, given how cold the soil feels. We’ll see….

However, I still wasn’t really sure what my big question should be. My quandary is this. I have joined this course in order to try to reach an informed judgement about the potential for MOOCs in UK Higher Education. However, questions on this topic have a couple of disadvantages. Firstly, things can get circular when the theme of a MOOC is a MOOC – I generally prefer to test out ideas about teaching and learning in a separate context. Gardening, perhaps? But that wouldn’t work here, anyway. The other disadvantage is the near certainty of not reaching a definite conclusion. There is not much point in asking a question which doesn’t lend itself to being answered, given the resources, time and help available. However, on this occasion I think I will have to live with these disadvantages, and try to find ways to learn as much as I can, knowing that I will probably never get to where I want to be. I am also encouraged to see from Tom Franklin’s blog summary of questions that a few others have been rash enough to go down this route. So, MOOCs it is then. 

I could have gone for something like ‘MOOCs: Utopia or Dystopia?’. But this seems perhaps a bit too big, and with too many aspects – pedagogical ideas, business models, etc. So, with some reluctance I set aside the business side of things, and focus on the learner experience. Apparently, that is to be the focus of Futurelearn, so there is a precedent, perhaps. I was interested to hear what Diana Laurillard had to say about the 25:1 ratio in her opening webinar: that just happens to be about the size of an Open University tutor group, and also is a reasonably typical size for a group in a secondary classroom.  But MOOCs are sometimes on another scale altogether. So what happens then? Do people self-organise into smaller groups? Or does peer interaction go out of the window, with a result that people behave as though they were in a lecture room, or in a library.

So, my question is: ‘Can a MOOC give a great learning experience?’





Questions, questions….

April 12, 2013

I thought it would never happen, but I have finally joined a MOOC. This one is called #ocTEL (it may sound like a petrochemical company, but it actually stands for Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning) .

 Of course, we all arrive at these things with some ‘baggage’. In my case, it relates to the sure knowledge that all of my best learning (and teaching) experiences to data have happened in smallish groups. In other words at equal to , or less than, the 25:1 ratio suggested by Diana Laurillard in Webinar 0 (great numbering) as a norm for interactive learning. I think this applies irrespective of whether you are working online or in a classroom, by the way.

 However, I plan to be positive here. One good thing about #ocTEL is that it starts with a question; all learning starts with a question, so it’s great to make that explicit. Even better, the learner gets to make up his/her own question. You can’t fault that as a strategy for learner engagement. As someone who regularly guides groups of students in the task of formulating their own questions, it is a bit of a salutary experience for me: I am taking my own medicine, so to speak.

Therefore I have to ask myself what advice I would give myself. I would have to respond with some questions about the task itself, such as: What does an appropriate question look like? What would a good answer to that question look like? What do I need to find out before I answer that question? How long will it take me? Will anyone else care about the answer?

 There are a few more questions like these, but I won’t stretch your patience with these just now. I will go away and do some gardening while I think about them, I hope to emerge with a fully fledged question sometime around the time I have planted my last potato. Have a great weekend….