lørdag den 13. april 2013

This is not activity 8, but....

As already said this is not a late blog post for activity 8. Instead of collecting OERs for an imaginary course, it is about my planning for next school year. 

Thursday it was decided that I'm going to teach a physics class next year. The upcoming 4th secondary.  I look so much forward to it as I am a physics teacher, but I have only had the subject in the younger classes (as a part of integrated science in 1. - 3. secondary) ever since I moved to Bruxelles 7 years ago.

Our school has a problem with the science in secondary year 4 and 5. Too many students fail. The teachers complain that they do not have the necessary time. The syllabus is long and they only have 2 times 45 minutes a week. They don't have time to explain the concepts over and over again. On top of that there is four obligatory B-tests during the year. Everytime that occupies 2 lessons and the teacher gets a pile of corrections to do. 

I would like to see if I can do parts of this different.  Inspired by all the personal experiences and the knowledge and theories I been through the last 9 months, I have begun to collect OERs to make my own partly online courses for my students. I want to experiment with the flipped classroom. 

Googling around yesterday I found Sophia where I've created a free profile. They offer a platform where I can work with modules of text, images, sound, videoes etc and even make small formative quizzes, to build a tutorial for my students. Yesterday I made two tutorials about forces and work. They are in danish but feel free to have a look: 

Screendump from one of my tutorials on Sophia

I arrange the links for the tutorials in a tabel on my website. In the other colonnes you find the codes for the areas in the syllabus (e.g. M1), the parts of the book connected to the content and the practical work we will do in the class. Below the tabel I try to collect java applets and other simulations and animations to help the students understanding as well. 

Both the website and the Sophia tutorials are projects under construction and it will possibly stay like that for months. I have to make a lot of tutorials to have enough to cover the entire syllabus. If you would like to get an idea about the site, you can have a sneak peek here. The link will leed to the site of mechanics. It''s the one I've worked most on until now.  

Flipping the classroom so the students study the theories at home and then come to class to solve problems and work practical with the peers will put more focus on  what you gain by  knowing and using the theories (I hope).

I've been very fascinated by all the advantages in peer discussions and peer assessment. It will become a more important part of my future physics class.  

All these discussions in the medias about MOOCs and do you actually learn anything when you sit isolated in front of your computer. Here is a danish example from the passed week. The articles picture says it all :)  Recall EDC?

Picture by Katrine Bælum
I find it quite amusing. Because I know how much these online courses have added to me and my practice. Now I'm just exited about the students opinion :)

Feel free to make a comment or leave a good idea.

Activity 14. comparing MOOCs.

Compare either DS106 or the Change MOOC with offerings from Udacity or Coursera.
Write a blog post comparing the courses with regards to: 

  • technology
  • pedagogy
  • general approach and philosophy. 
Gif from SOM of ds106.us/. See how below in "Ressources and tech".

Of the four MOOCs I chose to compare DS106 and Udacity because I didn't know anything about neither of them. I was familiar with Coursera (I participate in their courses and I have used Coursera in several other blog posts) and I had already had a look at Change MOOC earlier  (in activity 10).

I started by checking out the two sites. 
Before you read even one word, the layout shows a huge difference. Udacitys site is very clean, light and organized. Udacity makes me feel safe, in professional hands and in a very structured, easy navigating environment. 

ScreenCapture of www.udacity.com

DS106 contrasts by welcoming me with a dark background, rough typography, rolling pictures and a sort of a warning: "You have heard the rumors, are you ready for ds106?"  I love it :)

A deeper dive into the two MOOCs

 "The DS106 course began at the University of Mary Washington in Spring of 2010 when Jim Groom re-imagined the way the Computer Science Course in Digital Storytelling, CPSC 106, might be taught." (http://ds106.us/history/)

Their site is only for that single course. Their objectives for the student are:
  • Develop skills in using technology as a tool for networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression
  • Frame a digital identity wherein you become both a practitioner in and interrogator of various new modes of networking
  • Critically examine the digital landscape of communication technologies as emergent narrative forms and genres (http://ds106.us/about/)
When I surf around their site and watch both students testimonys, the students handbook and the students advice DS106 is clearly a course, where you develop your skills by intensive work, networking and a lot of creative thinking. Have a look at aetherbunny2012s advice to future students:

DS106 offers neither certificates nor badges for participation. People join for their own interest or to be a part of the community. Alan Levine describes DS106: 
"Thus, ds106 is more community than course" 
"Much more than a course, ds106 is an experiment in the shape and potential of open education"   (http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/ds106-not-course-not-any-mooc)
The students create their own blog platform, Flickr, Youtube channel, Soundcloud etc. Much of the information flows via Twitter. The community creates the frames they feel are necessary and they create tutorials if needed. There are no video lectures. Assignments are published weekly, including a mix of readings, videos, and creative work. The site itself offers stuff like an impressing toolbox and applicable attributes e.g.
"The Assignment Collection includes over 500 creative activities, all contributed by participants. Rather than being assigned specific tasks, UMW students are assigned, say, 15 stars of Audio Assignments (stars being a crowdsourced difficulty rating). Students are free to choose the challenges that appeal to them. Via tags, the work that students publish for a particular assignment are linked from the original assignment as an example for others to see." (http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/ds106-not-course-not-any-mooc)
As a participant in DS106 you have to work with a lot of digital tools. This is how you prepare for the course acc their Quick Start Guide:
  • Create a Gravatar
  • Create social media accounts on TwitterflickrgoogleSoundCloud
  • If you will create/use a blog for your work, register it at ds106
  • Participate in the #ds106 in twitter
  • Check our toolbox for what software you might need
  • Do Daily Creates sign up for email notice or follow @td106dc on twitter)
  • Try ds106 assignments or create new ones
  • Explore the remix tool for assignments
  • Follow the flow of ds106 blog posts or a current class’s syllabus. Spread the love of feedback via comments.
I find this final reflektion from Linda McKenna (student from spring 2012) is a good visualization of a DS106 students development:

Udacity is founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens and Mike Sokolsky, Stanford University. They provide 22 courses, the number today (7. April 2013), in 3 levels: beginner (high school student), intermediate (college student) and advanced (professional). 
Their objectives are:
"Our mission is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and careers." (https://www.udacity.com/us)
In Udacity you have the option to earn college credit. The courses from Udacity does not demand much from the students. You need a computer, a pen and paper for the course I signed up for (Visualizing Algebra). They do tell you to work with other students, as you see in the first quiz of the course: 

I did not find an active discussion forum for the students on the site. Everybody will be able to recognize the workflow in this course. Even though they work with short video clips instead of lectures, it looks pretty much like something I have experienced in school. Here is how it goes in Visualizing Algebra:

First the instruction.

Then a quiz.

And in the end the answer / explanation 

Compare the two Moocs on the three given points

To do the course Visualizing Algebra from Udacity, you need nothing but a computer with internetconnection and bandwith enough to watch Youtube videos. Their site informs:

What should I know?

Almost nothing! Students should know their multiplication tables (1-12) and be proficient with adding and subtracting integers (for example, -7 - 16). A pencil and paper will be a student’s best aid rather than a calculator. https://www.udacity.com/course/ma006

 As a student doing the DS106 you're expected to work a lot with different programs and digital tools. It can become a advantage to have programs to make movies, edit pictures etc on your computer despite the website says
"the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferrably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster" (http://ds106.us/about/)

It's all open in DS106. You can jump in and out of the course as you want to. The student community is the arena for the help and the learning. You can pick the challenges you want.

Visualizing Algebra is also open for access when you want. But your path through the material is predetermined. The small quizzes are there to assess if you have understood. In DS106 ther is not a "right or false" answer. 

DS106 is peer based. Udacity offers expercts to teach you. 

General approach and philosophy 

This course will require you to both design and build an online identity (if you don't have one already) and narrate your process throughout the fifteen week semester. Given this, you will be expected to openly frame this process and interact with one another throughout the course as well as engage and interact with the world beyond as a necessary part of such a development.
In many ways this course will be part storytelling workshop, part technology training, and, most importantly, part critical interrogation of the digital landscape that is ever increasingly mediating how we communicate with one another.The course objectives are rather straightforward:
  • Develop skills in using technology as a tool for networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression 
  • Frame a digital identity wherein you become both a practitioner in and interrogator of various new modes of networking
  • Critically examine the digital landscape of communication technologies as emergent narrative forms and genres (http://ds106.us/about/)
"Our mission is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and careers". (https://www.udacity.com/us)

By comparing these two MOOCs I could say, that the one from Udacity is more traditional and gives the student the properties of today (or maybe even yesterday) and the DS106 gives the needed skills for tomorrow. Though in a way I do not find that fair. The two MOOCs are about two very different topics. You have to open up, when the aim is blooming creativity. And you do not take the course to get a credit for further education. The Udacity on the other hand is meant for something completely different. Personally I could attend both of them depending on my goal. 

Added 17.4.2013:

Ressources and tech:

  1. .gif of ds106 made like this:
    Screencast the site with 
    Upload the screencast to Youtube
    Make a .gif from the Youtube url in gifsoup (it's free for .gif up to 10 seconds).
  2. Article: Not a course, not like any MOOC, by Alan Levinehttp://www.educause.edu/ero/article/ds106-not-course-not-any-mooc

lørdag den 6. april 2013

Activity 12. Backgrounds to MOOCs

  • Watch this interview in which George Siemens and Dave Cormier are interviewed by Martin Weller, about a range of issues concerning MOOCs. 
  • Read McAuley et al. (2010), The MOOC Model for Digital Practice.This is a lengthy report so if you do not have time to read it all focus on the Executive Summary and the section entitled ‘Gaps in knowledge about MOOCs’.
  • Read Weller (2012b), MOOCs Inc.
Before we examine MOOCs in more detail, briefly consider if the MOOC approach could be adopted in your own area of education or training. Post your thoughts in your blog and then read and comment on your peers’ postings. 

Could the MOOC approach be adopted in my own area of education or training?
My own area is teaching in the secondary level in the European School of Brussel. My pupils are in the age between 11 and 14. Could the MOOC approach be adopted here? My answer will be, that some aspects and experiences from the MOOC  are very re-usable in my teaching. Most of the MOOC  I've seen are meant for adults, but I've gained new pedagogical ideas and found lots of OERs that can add more quality  to my teaching. 

For years I've been working with the students online. I scaffold a lot of the ressources, my ideas, my students productions and/or questions etc on my website. We work daily with web2 tools and are more independent of time and geography. 

I teach in the danish section of the school, and I'm supposed to teach in danish. Which I do. But the European School syllabus differ from the danish, so I can't cover everything with danish books etc. To add sources I find a lot of OERs and organise them with our (my and my students)  own materials. These OERs are in english (a few in french) but we talk and write about them in danish. All of my students are taught at least three languages, so it's not a problem for them. 
Obviously I've learned to appreciate the openness before my MOOC experiences (that   began in the autumn 2012, but became "serious" with the EDC MOOC offered by Edinburgh University via Coursera in February this year). 

I don't want to give a list of OERs, that I came to know through my MOOC work, but I will mention the code.org, because it offers an exceptionel learning ressource. It's so good, that even I have learned how to code now. In a beginners level, oh yeah, but I use it almost every day now to make my blog and website appear as I want. Or to to see through and understand a web sites source code, so I can pick stuff. Quite appropriate that  I learned about the Creative Common Licence last week :)     CC is certainly a subject I'll include in my future ICT lessons. 

The most important learnings I bring with me from the MOOC , are the power of peer to peer assessment and the power of explaining through pictures (we already use movies and Prezi a lot, otherwise it should have been mentioned here, too). Now I've told my students to use blogs and assess each others posts in our history subject about China. The students are 12-13 years old. In the beginning I gave them very specified categories to assess and some examples of how to do it. They both had to learn how to do it AND to gain confidence letting other students assess their work. 

In a weeks long course about bullying their final assignment was in two parts: The first was a  written statement about their view on bullying. The second was to make a visualisation of their written statement. For this picture they could mix existing pictures or make their own from scratch. Some of them mixed pictures with word clouds made in Tagxedo. All of these remixed or produced pictures were uploaded to our wall in Padlet

As mentioned above, some of the elements of the MOOCs can improve my class teaching. In addition to that, the MOOCs are a valuable source for me as a teacher to learn and learn and learn. And purely personal I enjoy to learn and it gives me both energy and new inspiration. 

Short about working with the Google Hangout interview.
For the work with activity 12 I first had to watch a 40 minutes Google Hangout where Martin Weller interviewed George Siemens and Dave Cormier. 

My brain is simply not capable to focus on a visuel monotonous video. Even though it's very experienced people who really had interesting views to share, I keept on falling a sleep or unconsciously engaged my thoughts with other things. So I had to work active with the video to really catch the message. 

To be able to split the interview in some chapters and add some notes, I used listentoyoutube.com to download the soundfile from the youtube video. As it came down as .mp3 it was a quickly upload to Soundcloud, where I used the comment field to add notes and chapters to the file. 

 In that way it became easy to get an overview of the interview by looking at the comment stream (from bottom to top). That worked for me.

torsdag den 4. april 2013

Activity 10. Applying sustainability models

  1. Was the sustainability model for each OER initiative apparent?
    -Change MOOC
    Open Learn
  2. Did Wiley’s models cover all approaches or did you think a different model was operating for one or more of them?

Tabel with the OER projects in Wiley's models
I found it difficult to find all the information to place the four OER projects in Wileys model. 

Change Mooc is the most difficult to fit in the model, because it a very small scale OER provider compared to MIT, USU and Rice. 
The three facilitators of Change Mooc are in total control over the content (who will be their video guest of the week). They put all of their production on the web, like MIT, but you can't compared them to such a big scale project. 
No information about salary to the professors or researchers that introduce their central contribution to the field. Nor to the facilitators themselves. 

Coursera doesn't produce courses but provide them. We do not know the average price of the courses they're providing.

Jorum provides a system to share OERs. They don't produce any courses. And they do not control the courses on their platform. They didn't give any information about the average price per OER. 

Open Learn is a part of Open University and provides some of their courses like USU. I didn't find a price per course.  

Due to lack of time I do not write an entire text for activity 10. I just post my notes below.

Source: Wiley (2007), On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education. (Page 5):

"Many of the open educational resource projects currently underway receive targeted external funding in support of their work. Specifically, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has put millions of dollars into university-based open educational resource projects around the world. Given the current budget climate for education, a concern naturally arises about the future of the university-based open educational resource projects. What will happen when the targeted external dollars dry up? Will the initiatives themselves also dry up? How are these initiatives to sustain themselves over time?

"In order to answer these questions we must understand at a minimum (1) the different types of open educational resource initiatives underway in higher education and (2) the different costs associated with supporting these different types of projects. We will then be prepared to consider the long-term sustainability of these different projects." 
"Sustainability might be defined as the ability of a project to continue its operations. So the definition of sustainability should include the idea of accomplishing goals in addition to ideas related to longevity. Hereafter, sustainability will be defined as an open educational resource project’s ongoing ability to meet its goals."

Ressource: Learning
Goals: https://www.coursera.org/about:

"We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.
Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in."

Funding: (Foundation model.)

Couseras funders accept it will take time before they start to earn money on the project. Right now they have several ideas of how to make a profit on Cousera. 

The have a team of 38 persons to take care of engineering, design, course operations, business development, administration and recruitment.

Coursera has welldefined goals and realistic (I think) economic visions to continue in the future.
Cousera has a high sustainability. 

Change MOOC:
Ressource: Learning
Goals: http://change.mooc.ca/index.html
"This course will introduce participants to the major contributions being made to the field of instructional technology by researchers today. Each week, a new professor or researcher will introduce his or her central contribution to the field."

I think the facilitators do this mooc for free. They use free online tools:
"Through out this "course" participants will use a variety of technologies, for example, blogs, Second Life, RSS Readers, UStream, etc. Course resources will be provided using gRSShopper and online seminars delivered using Elluminate."

Several of the links are dead. It can be a result of nobody with the responsibility to maintain the OER.  

I find the sustainability for Change Mooc very low due to the lack of maintenance / accessibility.

Ressource: Learning and teaching

Goals: http://www.jorum.ac.uk/about-us, http://www.jorum.ac.uk/powered
"Jorum is a Jisc funded Service in Development in UK Further and Higher Education, to collect and share learning and teaching materials, allowing their reuse and repurposing. "
"We have been working closely with our community to understand their requirements beyond those met by the Jorum core offer. Across the education sector there is a demand at a local level to manage, share or promote OER and Jorum has the capability to support these needs, using the existing Jorum infrastructure to create new services. In essence, we can help your community or organisation to manage, share and promote its OER, minimising the hassle and the cost to you, enabling you to focus on building your content and community."
Funding: (Foundation model)

  • "This free online repository service forms a key part of the Jisc Information Environment, and is intended to become part of the wider landscape of repositories being developed institutionally, locally, regionally or across subject areas." http://www.jorum.ac.uk/about-us

Jorum is run by Mimas, based at the University of Manchester and stands out from the other open education initiatives by focussing on how to facilitate platforms to share OER content rather that develop or collect OERs.  It's an approach to help users to find the ressources. It's easy to use their search funktion and their archive contains ressources in different medias (high granularity). I find the sustanibility is high.

Open Learn

Ressource: Learning

Goals: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/about-openlearn/frequently-asked-questions-on-openlearn
"Our shared vision was free online education, open to anyone, anywhere in the world. OpenLearn is the result and we have since reached over 23 million people."
Funding: (Foundation model and Voluntary support model.)
"We launched OpenLearn back in October 2006 thanks to a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation"
"In developing OpenLearn, The Open University is very grateful for the generous support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The philosophy of open content mirrors exactly The Open University's founding principles of widening access to high quality educational opportunities. Through OpenLearn, the University expects to contribute significantly to the development of both the quality and reach of open educational resources delivery at an international level.The generosity of our users, supporters and partners will help our dedicated staff to continue the academic, pedagogic, technological and research activities that support OpenLearn." 

tirsdag den 2. april 2013

Danish lockout of 70.000 teachers.

I feel I should tell about the situation for the danish teachers right now. 
70.000 teachers has been lockouted from today. They are not allowed to be in the schools area. 

874.281 students kids and adults will loose their classes. And right now nobody knows for how long. The teachers won't receive any salary, but those in the union can get some help there. They will get an amount smaller than their salary, and maybe a part of it will be as a loan without interest. 
The union informs, they have money enough for 60 days.  Experts expect, and so do I, that the government will intervene in two weeks, and we are many, that think they will make a law, that goes against the teachers.

So what is the conflict between the teachers and the employers about? The minister of education, Christina  Antorini, wants to reform the public school. And she wants to let the teachers pay for that reform. The idea is to force the teachers to have more hours of teaching and less hours for preparation. During the passed 10 years the number of school children has decreased with 2 %. In the same period has the number of teachers decreased with 10 %.  So already now the teachers have to run faster.

The danish minister of education claims, that an average teacher only teach 16 hours a week. The union says the number is 25,5 hours a week. The minister wants the teachers to teach up to 3 hours more a week. Within the same time frame. The minister has more ideas about where we can gain time to extra lessons by cutting in the preparation. 

Today was the first day of the lockout and teachers all over the country have been participating in a lot of activities. Here's an old "hippie" song, that some teachers rewrote, so it's now about the conflict. 

The teachers try to convince the public, that this is not because they do not want to teach more, but they want time to prepare quality lessons. 
And all over the country teachers organise teaching for the students despite they are not allowed to be in the school. Some teachers write blogs to tell the students what to study and how. And even where to find the books in the school (the students are allowed in the buildings). In Odense, the city where I used to live, the teachers organise educational trips such as historical walks in the city and fishing trips.

The employers have threatened with the lockout almost since the negotiations began months ago. Teachers from the public school of Løsning made this Gangnam Style to inform about all the things a teacher has to do next to the teaching in the class. They called it Gangvagt Style. Gangvagt is danish name for the teacher doing the surveillance during the breaks.

Everytime I look in the newspapers or on Facebook, I'm amazed by the unity and the positive spirit among the teachers. Colleagues like them are a reason to be proud to be a danish teacher. 

Bon Courage to all of you and thank you for fighting battle for my rights as well!