Supporting Mobile learning in HE

In July, I chaired an Inside Government event on ‘Maximising Mobile Technology”. The event brought together researchers, teachers and managers from across the UK. Overall, a good experience and a well-organised event, where the difficulties that occasionally mar effective chairing (i.e. speakers not sticking to their allocated time, orchestrating discussion during and beyond the sessions) were absent as speakers and audience were very keen to communicate and interact. Continue reading

Ready, steady… KOOC (Part 2)

… continuing from our previous blog entry Ready, steady… KOOC (Part 1)

3. Brand consistency

Brand consistency samplesWe wanted all KOOC elements to be easily identifiable and so templates were created for the purpose of developing a consistent brand that would visually encompass all elements: KEATS (Moodle) interface, Videos, Multimedia objects, Google hangouts, additional textual resources…

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Ready, steady… KOOC (Part 1)

KOOC interfaces

The first two styled King’s Open Online Courses (KOOCs): “Scientific Writing” led by Dr Alison Snape and “Data Analysis using Sigmaplot” led by Dr Lawrence Moon were launched at the end of September 2015. Around 250 Year 2 Biomedical students have been enrolled on these two KOOCs. They will have the opportunity to be the first students trialing this new King’s venture.

This launch follows months of work by a small team of developers within the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning. Led by Elena Hernandez-Martin, Senior e-learning content developer and supported by Vanessa Skiadelli and Dr Andreas Konstantinidis, e-learning content developers, the work has resulted in a new and bespoke design and development of a KEATS interface. It has been designed to suit the style of learning expected of these type of online courses, comparable to that of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The media-rich courses contain among textual and graphic content, 35 videos and 64 multimedia objects. Continue reading

Six things we learned from MOOCs

  1. Videos as content are still a powerful medium

This is something we have known for a long time, ever since the ‘talking heads’ of the first VLEs. However, MOOCs have led to a re-evaluation of the perceived value of the non-interactive video in online learning content, which had frequently in the past received criticism as being non appropriate when used in online learning. In the context of the MOOCs there have been some good and engaging examples of combining “talking heads” with visual material (not necessarily focusing on narrated PowerPoints). The most successful seem to be short, thematic videos that can be searched/navigated/accessed easily by the learner.

  1. Social media can support independent learners

Connectivity in MOOCs is usually provided through conventional computer mediated communication media such as discussion fora and through social networking or other forms of social media. These seem to work well provided they are fully embedded in the course environment and there is some form of moderation. What makes them work, despite the lack of full moderation, might be the ‘massive’ numbers of students in MOOCs, but also the expectation in this context that you will get some help from your peer if not always from your tutor. Continue reading

Designing for MOOCs: PART II – How are MOOCs different? (If at all)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have become a major focus of perceived innovation in online learning. The major innovations with MOOCs are not the elements of access to academic support, peer interaction, computer mediated communication, and automated assessment. These have been used elsewhere to support student learning in more “conventional” online learning environments. Although it may share in some of the conventions of an ordinary course, such as a predefined timeline and weekly topics for consideration, a MOOC generally carries no prerequisites other than Internet access and interest, no predefined expectations for participation, and generally no formal accreditation.

What marks a MOOC out from conventional online learning is that no professional academic time is allocated to guiding or supporting individual learners. This is probably the biggest difference between other forms of online learning and the element of support in MOOCs.

Whether MOOCs are a genuine innovation, or a mere repackaging of prior heritage in open learning, is a significant theme in the academic literature. I will contribute to the debate in this space by considering the learning design approaches and features in MOOCs and their perceived value, based on evaluations and evidence from the literature. Continue reading