Friday, October 30, 2009

Elearn Thursday

I have officially designated this the no show conference. The number of presenters not turning up to give their presentations is quite shocking. There was one session today, fortunately not one I wanted to go to, where three presenters were booked for the hour, and none of them turned up.

Martin Ebner, Graz University of Technology, Austria
OLPC (one laptop per child) primary school children using, e.g. ReckonPrimer for number learning - one aim to pilot for roll out in developing world - that struck me as instantly a very diffcult aim, especially when he went on to say that one of their biggest problems had been connectivity. If it's a big problem in Austria, what's it going to be like in the developing world. I dont' have any doubt about the OLPC model, but I have serious misgivings about the way some people think they can set about implementing it. It's the same problem as elsewhere, an assumption that we can unproblematically export western technological models to other places. To be fair to this speaker he made the problems of cultural export clear, but he did seem to be making easy assumptions about the technological model.

Reuben Dlamini, Ohio University transforming the walls of the classroom - the three paradigm change for FutureMinds Initiative. He described the fundamental ideas underlying the initiative (e.g., mindset change, invention process, broad stakeholder ownership, consensus-building process, and participatory leadership), and the strategy by which the FutureMinds Initiative operates. This seemed to me to be at least partly about recognising the fact of informal learning and its power; and about the massive changes needed within the school system in order to engage effectively with it. This pushes me further into thinking that "informal learning" is entirely the wrong phrase for what it refers to. It means what learners actually do regardless of the formality or informality of the situation. Interesting how you see things through your own lenses - I'm thinking a lot about informal learning at the moment, so I see it everywhere.

Zehra Akyol, Suleyman Demirel Universitesi - Design Tips for Online and Blended Learning to Develop an Effective Community of Inquiry. This was based on teh Garrison model - social presence, cognitive presence, teaching presence, back to Athabascaaaa. Research on how this all developed in online and blended learning context. The big issue taht came out is that every COI is different, therefore needs effective design before start

Michelle Scribner-MacLean, UMass Lowell Graduate School of Education, USA; Heather Miller, Walden University, USA - Online Team Teaching: Strategies for Success for Creating an Online Learning Community
Students demanding and needing immediate feedback. We're being paid to facilitate course content, but reality is students bring their admin needs. Team teaching helps here. I was hoping to compare this with my experience on AA100, but I rapidly realised I couldn't call it team teaching because we don't actually do that. It's cluster teaching in which a certain amount of co-operation goes on, but it's really three different groups in the same space, not a team approach at all. I expect some clusters will develop a team teaching approach but it's not mandated.
Elements of a successful team -
- open to the approach
- similar educational philosophies and styles
- strong technology background, esp within course platform
- instructors see benefit of suggestions to improve their teaching

Syllabus is online, instructions are online; dso it's all there for the students to get on with - but teaching is still active.

- if there is not clear communication between teachers (could do more of that)
- if one teacher is feeling more burdened and taking additional responsibilities for the course
- if students' assessments are being evaluated more quickly by one teacher. (This is apparently a big issue for the students.) Also need to keep interventions roughly equal.

- reach out by phone calls or emails, especially at the beginning
- provide a lot of initial support
- set up personal pages with resumes etc

Building assessment criteria together; with rubrics and checklists; is very important. That doesn't work because of the division of labour on AA100. The mods do it on T183 and TT280; can we blend that with tutoring responsibility? Of course we can - that's what they have done.

Dina Kurzweil, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, USA - A Missing Link - instructional design. Or I should say on instructional designers. It's all about relationships; workign *with*. Status issues, teamworking issues, etc. One designer in the audience is introduced to each new faculty, spends a whole day with them, and team teaches with them, so isn't seen as "the tech person" any more. If you consider yourself as a peer, people respond to that.

Renata Vincoletto and Hawa Sydique, Camfed International - empowering young women in rural area in Zambia - through education to university or to business. Introduced new technology a year ago. Goal to train 200 girls in skills like IT, business, etc. A very interesting facet was online mentoring - allowing the women to be mentored by successful entrepreneurs in the UK. There was no electricity supply. Entire system with 18 terminals, 2 servers, projector, printer, modem - less than 1500 watts - less than a kettle. They started with a generator, but are now moving to solar power. First alumnae are now managers in the centre.
Phase 1 introduces concept of entrepreneurship, leadership, lots of games; second phase putting skills into practice; phase three same as 1 but more advanced. They taught them how to use Twitter.
Goldman Sachs award "hungry to learn across the world".

Beverly Leeds: Demystifying Reusable Learning Objects - unpackaging objects to change for local context or to repurpose. Good example here of speaking to your audience. Objects intended for teachers so "Evolution" put them into lesson plan format - tasks with objects as drop in resources. Resources developed as mini presentations - enhance ppt using Adobe Presenter. Any block can inform - assess - apply. And any block can be exploratory, enquiry based, directive or diagnostic by moving the objects around.
Evolution materials depository at All zip files. All SCORM compliant.
glomaker - for creating multimedia learning objects that can be added to ppt files. She mentioned glo maker: but the site is not currently responding.

Hsin I Yung, National Taipei University of Technology - Integrating the pedagogical agent with eye tracking system to measure extraneous cognitive load - very important to track learners' attention - you can see what they're actually doing (referring back to the thread about informal learning). Key issue is to avoid extraneous cognitive load; split attention effect is negative impact. I wonder if there is a possible negative in terms of being so focussed that you detract from people's learning creativity. Interaction is crucial - the more you have the more you learn.
Yesterday's speakers were telling us Chinese people follow the master. Hsin calls her pedagogical agent tool Confucius, which adjusts instruction level to previous answers. They have another one called Socrates Dialog. Story telling activities.

Marvin LeNoue, Ronald Stammen, North Dakota State University - Building Online Learning Communities with Web 2.0 Tools - LeNoue, works from Knowles basis - andragogy etc. While saying that he thought learning was the same whatever people were doing it. I agree with him, which as far as I can see means I disagree with Knowles. Ho hum. Sociability aspects of web2.0 are so good; ideal for courses. Their work is centred on social network tools, especially ning. Quotes Boyd and Ellison 2007.
Students can customise their personal page (private to the class) - and are very quick to do this. They are ESL students, but they have no problem with basic functions even if not good at writing about it. They try to design pedagogy that takes advantage of this space.
Key issue here is this is flat network, not teacher or institution dominated.

Joan Thormann, Lesley University - Use of Synchronous Conferencing to Help Build Learning Communities - using Skype; has Skype Out ($3 per month) ready to use for any students who are unable to use Skype. Groups of 3 or 4. 1/3 of students reported technical difficulties - but she didn't report on how much this put them off.

Hasan Cakir (pronounced checker), Gazi University, Turkey; Omer Delialioglu, Middle East Technical University, Turkey - Factors Affecting Student Engagement in a Blended Learning Environment. Student engagement defined as effort on educationally purposeful activities. Elements of engagement - time on task, contact between student and faculty, co-operation among students, active learning (learning is not a spectator sport), giving prompt feedback, communicating high expectations, diverse talents and ways of learning.

Cisco's CCNA programme - Cisco provide all materials and assessment material. 40% ftf 60% online. 51 junior pre service teachers 33% female. There was a lot of discussion about the impact of gender on engagement. Turkish woman says they are directed towards things other than maths and science. Some research findings show girls engage less but get higher grades. Perhaps they are better at self directed work. The other speaker for the session did not turn up, so several of us used the spare time to stay around and have a general group discussion about gender and technology, and about learning and improvement.


Key issue for definition of informal learning is what is actually being described - are we describing the fact that everyone learns differently. If we looked at the different definitions offered, could we find common themes which afford a different definition e.g. will we find that they all say that students learn differently.

Richard N. Landers, Old Dominion University - Using Social Networking and Learner-Centered Measurement in Automated Social Mentoring Systems. He was motivated to look at inexpensive ways of delivering training to avoid cuts in hard times - I like it. Starts with automated assessment system; then adds mentoring system. Assesses students on 7 point scale from newbie to grand master, different permissions for different levels - grand masters can set up own tutorials. This is well thought out, provides for both collaboration and motivation. This is the kind of thing that really makes me feel I'm not being creative enough - a guy who is doing just the same job as me, and has created a complete environment to encourage his students to learna s well as they can.

Fumihiko Anma, Toshio Okamoto, The University of Electro Communications, Japan - Development of a Participatory Learning Support System based on Social Networking Service "University of Electro Communications" sounds really retro, and a touch goth. Something you might find in a Terry Gilliam film maybe. The speaker wasn't though. Problem: participation in learning communities is necessary but difficult. Many of the easterners here read their ppts. For some it may be better than trying to speak off the cuff in English, but others have good command of the language.This was about using a social networking model to assess cumulatively how well students learn by aggregating their interactions - I think - I'm not at all sure. It's very mathematical.

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