The Importance of an Adaptable Mind

This clip was set for viewing as one of the first tasks in CSU’s 23 digital things challenge, which I stared this morning.

It is a beautifully created visual and auditory stimulation of what is takes to make our world a better place.

The list of vital skills for our modern world contains five qualities that machines can never have:

  1. Curiousity
  2. Creativity – in the sense of liberating human energy -based on Howard Gardner
  3. Initiative
  4. Multi-disciplinary thinking – not multi-tasking but multi-asking
  5. Empathy

It left me with the question: What human skills can I offer the world?

References

Shlain, T., Steele, S., Goldberg, K. (Producers), Shlain, T., Steele, S., & Goldberg, K. (Directors). (2015). The Adaptable Mind [Motion Picture].

 

 

 

Collaborative Networking with students

There are a number of ways to get students up and active, sharing notetaking and working together.

A3 paper:

This can be a wonderful tool for getting information out of their minds and into shared space. Some examples, which may be hard to read, but which give you an idea of how it works are below. They come from a VCE History revision lesson in 2015. Preparation involved picking up on the skills that were lacking – in this case the provision of evidence to support contentions that had been made – and writing a target in the middle. Each student then had a time frame of 2 minutes per page, before they had to move on to the next page.

A3 speed note sharing 2A3 speed note sharing 1

Collaborative cube:

This was a recommissioned TV trolley which a colleague and I decided to use as a frame for four sheets of whiteboard  material. We kept the wheels so that it could be moved as required. Students of all ages and genders really enjoy using the markers to complete tasks.

Cube

This was an activity with mixed age groups from Years 5 – 8 and from a range of schools, where they had the opportunity to draw pirates!

A4 paper:

Getting students in pairs to list ideas relating to a topic within a really tight timeframe can provide an active change of pace, stimulates competition and often draws out concepts that I have not connected to each other in quite the same way enhancing multiple interpretations of the same content.

Plastic Blocks:

This activity has been blogged about here

In a time when some people are recommending standing desks, it provides a real alternative if you can get them up and moving!

PLE & PLN – it’s us!

Open and Social Learning according to Alec Couros:

An open course entitled Education, Curriculum, and Instruction: Open, Connected, Social using Free Ope Source Software through the University of Regina, was implemented in 2008. (Couros, 2010, p. 109). It was based on personal learning networks, and participants quickly realised the value of sustainable knowledge networks. This led to a context built around a series of events which quickly absorbed participants in an engaged community of participation (Couros, 2010, p. 110).

The theoretical foundations of the course were

The open movement (Couros, 2010, p. 111).

Complementary learning theories – social cognitive, social constructivism, andragogy, connectivism, and open teaching (Couros, 2010, pp. 112-115).

The primary learning environment was established collaboratively in the weeks preceding the course. The tools considered were:

Web CT (now Blackboard) – pros: familiar to students and the university had a strong infrastructure of support; cons: proprietary (modifications needed vendor support); directed learning favoured over constructivist; expensive licensing fees.

Moodle – pros: free; open source; modifiable, strong community support; touts a constructivist and social constructivist approach; available. Cons: needs PHP server infrastructure; requires technical expertise leading to hidden costs; software not as available as hoped; course-centric not student-centric; top-down instructivist approach.

Ning – pros: ease of use; freely available in 2008; familiar functionality similar to Facebook; community and individual privacy levels; user-centric spaces; content aggregation; communication tools. Cons: no wiki feature; awkward to add core content material.

Wikispaces – pros: senior, best-known and most stable of wiki providers; solid technical support; theme modification options; simple user interface – see http://eci831.ca/ (Couros, 2010, pp. 117 – 119).

The course required the establishment of a PLN, and it was mandatory that participants developed a personal blog/digital portfolio, participated in a collaborative wiki resource ( no longer active but was located at  http://t4tl.wikispaces.com; this is what happens when such a site is not paid for!) and completed a major digital project (sound like INF 530!) (Couros, 2010, pp. 119 -120).

The course was based on the following tools and interactions:

Synchronous activities: two events per week of between 1.5 and 2 hours in length; the first based on content knowledge (like our INF 537 colloquiums); the second on teaching skills (Couros, 2010, pp. 120-121).

Asynchronous activities: researching and blogging; shared bookmarking; artefact creation; participation in open professional development opportunities; creating content and uploading it to sites such as YouTube; microblogging; collaborative lesson design and contribution to the course wiki (Couros, 2010, pp. 121-122).

Knowledge networks and digital innovation’s forerunner?? Just like INF 530 and INF 536, students developed authentic, dynamic and fluid interactions both within the designated course spaces and in spaces they chose and shared themselves.

Defining Personal Learning Environments, and comparing them to Personal Learning Networks was an exercise undertaken by Couros through Twitter and recorded at http://educationaltechnology.ca/couros/1156. Key agreement indicated that PLEs are the tools, artefacts, processes, and physical connections that allow learners to control and manage their learning (Couros, 2010, p. 125). PLNs explicitly include the human connections that result in the advancement and enabling of a PLE (Couros, 2010, p. 125).

Couros makes the following recommendations for those wishing to use PLNs for teaching and learning:

  • Immersion by participants
  • Social media literacy
  • Active contributions strengthen your PLN
  • Know your “followers” or “friends”
  • PLNs are central to learning for sustained and long-term growth in both facilitators and students(Couros, 2010, pp. 125 -126).

The participatory learning communities developed by courses such as the one Couros describes continue to exist because they are not based around courses per se, but around communal learning (Couros, 2010, p. 127). Those of us taking the Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation course can already attest to that in terms of the subjects we have already finished because for many of us the content continues to be shared and discussed. If Couros is correct, this course will never have to end – now there’s a challenge to my PLN!

Reference

Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed.), Emerging technologies in distance education (109–128). Athabasca University: AU Press.

Article Review

Intelligent Questionnaire Design for Effective Participant Evaluation by Lisa Elias

Step 1: Before designing a survey it is critical that the objectives are identified – what is to be achieved and why is the survey necessary? This means considering the nature of the people who will be surveyed, those who will gain information and the purpose of the task itself.

Step 2. Then, write the questions in a clear, well thought out manner based on the objectives outlined in step 1. In this way, the data collected will be high quality and applicable to the needs of all concerned (Elias, 2015, p. 8).

Ensure that questions are:

Clear and unambiguous

Concise

Neutrally worded

Avoid embarrassment – omit or minimise sensitive topics

Ensure respondents’ privacy

Select the question formats with the objectives clearly in mind. A mix of question types will elicit the best data.

Question types to consider:

Yes/no – quick response enabling simple comparisons

Multiple choice – only one selection or multiple selection?

Likert scales – demonstrate a rating per respondent on a common scale

Open-ended responses – time-consuming to analyse but rich qualitative data. Use sparingly.

Alternative responses – allow respondents to opt out or provide their own answer

Ordinal/ranking – a series of items that respondents are asked to rank (for example from 1 to 5                         where 1 is most important and 5 least important; each number can only be used once)

Format the survey by considering the most logical layout to achieve your aims. This avoids confusing the respondents and makes analysis easier.

Introduction – explain why the survey has been established and convince people that                                    participation is valuable and worth their time and effort.

Order and group the questions according to the format you have deemed most logical.

Initial questions should be impersonal and easy to answer so that respondents continue.

Short is best (Elias, 2015, p. 9)…

But ensure the information will be adequate for the purpose.

Use contingency questions if applicable so that people do not have to answer questions                                   irrelevant to them. A preliminary question should ascertain how many, if any, questions of                           the following set need to be tackled.

Use a progress indicator for online surveys – it shows respondents how far they have to go.

Thank participants and provide your contact details.

Likert Scales should be:

labelled e.g. Poor (1) ranging to excellent (5)

Consist of an odd numbered scale so there is a mid-point – 5 or 7 options have proven best

Follow the same value pattern – either left to right or right to left

Make sure the words applied to the scale allow for the full range of responses

Elias provides a very helpful checklist to use when construction questionnaires:

  1. Has the survey been test-driven?
  2. Do others find the layout clear?
  3. Is the purpose explicitly explained?
  4. Have respondents been thanked?
  5. Is anonymity and confidentiality of data been guaranteed?
  6. Are instructions clear and precise?
  7. No duplication?
  8. Are questions plain and unequivocal?
  9. Are all questions essential?
  10. Are questions correctly ordered?
  11. Will closed questions result in the expected numerical data required?
  12. Are open text options sparingly used?
  13. Is there sufficient time for completion(Elias, 2015, p. 10)?

Reference:

Elias, L. (2015, February). Intelligent Questionnaire Design for Effective Participant Evaluations. Training and Development, 8-10.

 

#3

Blog post for Colloquium 3

What does ‘flat’ learning look like?

Flat connected learning incorporates aspects of Collaboration, Project based learning, Blended learning, Flipped learning, and Inquiry-based learning established within a framework based on a combination of Web 2.0, leadership, pedagogy and learning design (Lindsay, n.d.). In many ways, this sums up the reality of teaching and learning in an era of rapid technological development and pedagogical change.

 

It also encapsulates the five stage taxonomy of online, global learning:

  1. Online interactions
  2. Real encounters
  3. Online learning
  4. Community of practice
  5. Learning collaboratives (Lindsay J., 2015)

 

According to Julie the norms of global collaboration begin with being prepared; depend on having a purpose; require the ability to paraphrase, perceive, and participate; entail a positive mindset and productive nature; and are based on the ability to detect the potential in situations (Lindsay J. , 2015).

Pedagogical change evolves from being able to approach learning design with a flexible attitude, engaging with professional learning in a progressive manner, and adopting the essential elements of conceptual change (Lindsay J., 2015).

In this scenario the teacher is viewed as an activator and the student as an active participant in the process, while the school provides the conduit, and the community is seen as a partner in learning (Lindsay J., 2015).

Once the technological requirements are in place, and teachers have knowledge of new ways of meaningful engagement through TPACK and SAMR, and the belief that such pedagogy is important, flat connections and global learning become realistic options for developing knowledge and wisdom (Lindsay J., 2015). Such an approach leads to cosmogogy: the study of learning through connection to the world through the digital technologies available today. In such a scenario the context lies in learning with, not about, and geo-location is irrelevant (Lindsay J., 2015).

This presentation was a great introduction to the peer presentations relating to selected chapters of Wang’s extensive tome (Wang, 2014). These expositions demonstrated a potential for school adaptation where senior secondary students could lighten the load for each other in collaboratively summarising text. It certainly was of benefit to our cohort in this subject.

Three colloquiums, three very different ways of doing business – and all of them useful and thought provoking.

References

Lindsay, J. [. (2015, August 6). Colloquium 3: Flat Classrooms.

Lindsay, J. (n.d.). Flat Learning. Retrieved August 11, 2015, from Flat Collections: http://www.flatconnections.com/flat-learning.html

Wang, V. (. (2014). Handbook of research on education and technology in a changing society. London: IGI Global.

 

 

 

 

#2

Learning Analytics: A Traveller’s Guide

Anyone participating in the learning journey that is INF537 would have been intrigued by the title of Colloquium #2 (Welsh, 2015). The content, while very different in delivery from Colloquium #1 (Astbury, 2015), was equally thought provoking. Despite the title, data was not the only aspect covered, and the final comments indicated the incredible potential of learning analytics.

Simon’s opening comments related to his chosen title, as he pointed out that a traveller digs deeper than a tourist. He then commented that the interpretation and mining of data is an aspect of teaching and learning that is still sorting itself out.

For those who share an antipathy to using test scores to predict educational outcomes, Simon’s comments opened a door to improved educational futures. He explained that academic analytics are those used by institutions to aid with student management while learning analytics are interrogated to support learning and teaching for improved outcomes.

Investigating these concepts further indicates that data mining does not occur in a vacuum; it links to power and relationships; the capturing and sharing of data is in itself a development of knowledge capital (Weller, 2011, p. 43). Another aspect of such data is how it is managed and preserved (Weller, 2011, p. 43). Those generating the most data in a digital world are already privileged, and the rapidly expanding body of work is increasing the division between the haves and have-nots.

Simon referred to the example of the ATAR system and its use by schools to target areas that teachers need to improve, compared to its use by the MySchool website, where visitors choose a very different interpretation. This illustrated the importance of context and intent in such data collection and its subsequent use (Welsh, 2015).

There are three aspects of simplistic data use that cause concern:

  1. What does it mean for a student to be monitored in this way – is it profiling or determinism, as Hyacinth posted in the accompanying chat?
  2. The ethics of such use – who actually owns the data?
  3. The fact that teachers are being asked to interpret such data without training in data literacy (Liz Eckert).

It is also important to know how reporting systems are being used and where the data is coming from in order to give appropriate advice based on the conclusions that are being drawn. Much of the data comes from the vendors of Learning Management Systems, who have set up metrics based on ease of use. Algorithms based on the number of clicks or the amount of time spent on any given task are not really a measure of learning and need to be carefully interpreted. There is a big difference between measuring quantities of clicks and measuring the quality of engagement (Welsh, 2015).

The example of using Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) to capture and mine data was very interesting. VLEs are vendor focussed and often simplistic in terms of the data they gather. Once an institution has invested in providing a VLE it can be stuck with that specific product, as migrating to another platform is expensive and time consuming (a point noted and discussed by several classmates). Weller considers that introducing VLEs has led to the educational institution losing control of data to the manufacturer, and cites the example of Blackboard trying to patent many core e-learning concepts (Weller, Digital Resilience, 2011, pp. 170-171). Andrew questioned consideration of other products as a replacement, notably Moodle, which is open source.

An example Simon explored in some detail was the use of subject forums, such as those used within the Charles Sturt Blackboard internet, and, in the case of my workplace SIMON (School Information Management on the Net). If students have to participate in online forums within their VLEs then a tool to measure this must be able to “read” the type of material being entered. In this way, within an hour of the posted comment a scaffold into deeper learning could be generated, problems within comments across the group can be alerted to the educator, and extra reading could be suggested to those requiring additional explanation, or extension.

This type of monitoring could lead to an easy citation mechanism for resources utilised, which, as Greg commented, would be “referencing heaven”. It is in these potentially positive contributions to learning that most teachers can see the real value of data mining, rather than the click counting and number of visits which are so commonly applied. Resulting real time adaptation of learning programs to personalise student learning experience, development of meta-cognitive skills for learners, fast response to learning design and quick adaptation of technical equipment and systems would all be welcomed by educators (Welsh, 2015).

Weller warns of potential risk from using data to analyse and improve results by stating that it could lead to Google replacing human librarians, and user generated “playlists” of information may make teachers irrelevant (Weller, Digital Resilience, 2011, p. 171). This is a very broad allegation which has been somewhat allayed by Simon’s Colloquium session.

As Rochelle commented: the link between educational data mining, decision support systems and expert systems is inextricable; Deborah’s response that the skill lies in using the power for good sums up the feeling of most educators whose primary focus is the overall well-being of people in their classes.

While Simon’s presentation assuaged some fears, it raised other issues of potential concern for teachers and students. Needless to say, we are living in revolutionary times, and, while a revolution may be bloodless, it is rarely painless (Weller, Digital Resilience, 2011, p. 168). The critical thing for scholars and teachers is that they stay involved, because they need to be in a position to determine what goes, what stays and what comes; passitivity is not an option (Weller, Digital Resilience, 2011, p. 184).

References

Astbury, A. [Host]. (2015, July 21). ABC Splash Online Colloquium 1. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Weller, M. (2011). Digital Resilience. In M. Weller, The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice (pp. 168-184). London: Bloomsbury Collections. doi:10.5040/978184966275.ch-014

Weller, M. (2011). The Nature of Scholarship. In M. Weller, The Digital Scholar, How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice (pp. 41-51). London: Bllomsbury Collections. doi:10.5040/978184966275.ch-014

Welsh, S. [Host]. (2015, July 28). Learning Analytics: A Traveller’s Guide; Online Colloquium 2. Albury, Victoria, Australia.

Acknowledgements:

Fellow travellers’ comments from the Colloquium chat box are acknowledged in blue.

New LMS

Learning Management and Knowledge Networking:

Coming to grips with a new learning management system, based on Blackboard, particularly after the long summer break, was a little confronting. Just when I thought I knew where to find what I needed, I found I had no idea.

Discussion forum
Discussion forum

The topics were all there, but the email notifications for responses did not seem to work all the time, and it became a case of checking in at log on and working out which thread had new messages.

Threads on Interact 2 were a little tricky
Threads on Interact 2 were a little tricky

Yes, there were fewer students in the cohort, but few participated in this type of networked learning in the manner peers had communicated in INF530 and INF536.

A sub-group of the subject became very active in their own PLN, using Twitter for regular question and answer sessions, and touching base with issues and concerns.

Tweeting Example

Tweeting

Connected Education Through Twitter:

Twitter is a great space for developing and nurturing a PLN.

I have been a member since 2009

My Twitter avatar
My Twitter avatar

I have used Twitter to enhance my personal interests and my professional life with increasing degrees of success. It is quick and easy and seems to work when low Internet connectivity prevents other means of communication.

My Twitter account

My Twitter account

Since commencing the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation), I have increased all aspects of my Twitter membership as shown in the above image.

Tweeting a range of topics
Tweeting a range of topics. Twitter offers a range of topics from the amazing to the ridiculous. It enables serendipitous discovery of many gems of wisdom and leads to the development of knowledge.Tweeting connection April

 

 

Tweeting connection April

Connection with past and present study companions makes the learning journey more enjoyable and deepens understanding when links are shared.Tweeting connections

Tweeting connections May

 

Reading over the connections through Twitter this semester is another means of reflecting on the nature and depth of learning it has enabled.