|Education and Technology
MeetingsMeetings are normally on the third Thursday of every other month in the David Gorham Library (Venables N1015) at 2.30 pm. Coffee and biscuits are served. All welcome - tell your friends.
This talk explores the development of the OU’s ‘Digital and Information Literacy Framework’ (http://www.open.ac.uk/libraryservices/subsites/dilframework/) by colleagues in the Library and IET, and discusses its usefulness as (a) a guide to the key digital skills and competences that OU students need to acquire if they are to be employable, and (b) a mirror held up to digital ways of working being developed by OU staff in their efforts to remain employed! Digital literacy practices of many kinds interact in the everyday business of doing teaching, research and adminstration in this and other universities, but how much does any of this impact on the curriculum?
The talk will be illustrated with examples of digital activity by students and staff in the OU and elsewhere.
In the context of the third TMA for T215 Communication and information technologies, students work in small groups and collaborate to create a set of wiki pages, with each student taking responsibility for one page. During this process students give each other feedback on their draft wiki pages. The research I shall be describing in this talk investigated this feedback: both the quality of the feedback given and the extent to which the recipients made use of it.Mirabelle's presentation
Yishay Mor is leading the design, development and presentation of the Open Learning Design Studio Massive Open Online Course (OLDS MOOC), a JISC funded project led by the OU in partnership with Oxford, The London Knowledge Lab, Leicester, Greenwich, Goldsmiths, and Heriot-Watt. The OLDS MOOC is running from Jan 10 to March 13. This MOOC takes a project based approach, leading participants through a variety of approaches, tools, and issues pertaining to learning design by guiding them in their work on learning design projects of their definition.
Our aim was to find a golden path between the chaos and emergent nature of cMOOCs and the regimented experience of some xMOOCs. We took the "open" in MOOC very literally: open content, open platform, and open participation model. We set out with high ambitions and wild fantasies, and got thrown into one of the most intensive, exciting and exhausting teaching experiences we can remember.
In this talk Yishay will present some aspects of the MOOC design, consider examples of participants' reflections, and share some of the initial thoughts he has about this experiment.Yishay's presentation
21 Jun 2012 - Jon Rosewell, Communication and Systems - Can a computer-marked exam improve retention?
Many OU courses suffer from poor retention. Folk wisdom is that exams and the end-of-module assessment represent a significant hurdle to students, who appear to be deterred by perceived difficulty and do not submit. On the other hand, computer-marked assignments (CMAs), particularly delivered as interactive quizzes (iCMAs), are typically attempted by most students.
Can retention therefore be improved by offering part of the end of module assessment in the form of an iCMA?
The specific context to be explored is T184 Robotics and the meaning of life, a 10 point 10 week course originally designed with a mid-course iCMA and a final written end of module assignment (EMA). For the last two presentations of this module, the final assessment took the form of a computer-marked exam (CME, presented as a further iCMA) and a reduced script-marked EMA. The CME corresponded to the short-answer questions of previous EMAs); the reduced EMA retained the programming and essay questions that required human marking. Students were given detailed feedback on their iCMA immediately after cut-off, rather than more typical anodyne performance profile provided some months after the end of most OU modules.
The hypothesis to be tested is that this change would result in improved engagement and confidence, feeding through to improved retention and progression measures.
Measures to be looked at:
Comparisons can be made with other companion courses in the Relevant Knowledge programme whose assessment strategy has not changed.Jon's presentation
19 Apr 2012 - Adrian Kirkwood and Linda Price, Institute of Educational Technology - Technology Enhanced Learning at University – How Can Learning Enhancement Be Demonstrated?
This session will present a critical analysis of recent research literature concerning Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) and will attempt to develop insights into the various ways in which ‘enhancement’ is conceived by academic practitioners and researchers. In respect of those different conceptions, we explore the various means by which researchers/practitioners have attempted to demonstrate that ‘enhancement’ has been accomplished and consider the range of types of evidence gathered for that purpose. The constraints involved in demonstrating enhancement are also explored. The intention is to contribute to a better understanding of the issues involved and to inform and promote the future practices of teachers and researchers in higher education to maximise the effectiveness of TEL.Adrian's presentation
SocialLearn, due to launch to students in April and to the general public in June, is the OU’s latest evolution of online learning, providing a learning space that gives users control of what and how they learn, and with whom. Users will benefit from the wealth of SocialLearn’s features, such as learning paths, bookmarks, recommended resources and a set of tools known as gadgets, that can all be accessed through SocialLearn’s Backpack. These features are designed to help users to make sense of the vast range of online educational resources and to give structure to their personal learning journeys whilst sharing with others in the vibrant and diverse community of peers, academics, and mentors, either openly or within the confines of a Walled Garden.
SocialLearn harnesses the energy of social networking by providing intelligent recommendations based on users’ learning patterns and needs, enabling the creation of limitless diverse Learning Paths.
Hannah’s talk will give you an introduction to SocialLearn, its capabilities and its potential.Hannah's presentation
The postgraduate technology and computing programme covers several qualifications. In FirstClass we created a programme wide presence, so that students could read and participate in the whole cohort forums for all modules within the programme and this facilitated wider student to student interaction, especially to discuss module choice. In moving to the VLE we have preserved this programme wide access, now as a PTC student website rather than to a FirstClass desktop. This PTC student website enables us to provide cross-qualification support to students using Elluminate and to those preparing for their MSc research modules. We have also created a PTC tutor website and extended this to include staff development resources.
The PTC office, based in R05, supports students and tutors nationally, and internationally. In the discussions about student support teams and curriculum teams, a programme presence on the VLE is important in presenting a focal point for students and staff. Kay Bromley, one of the PTC staff tutors, will talk about the practicalities of setting up the PTC VLE websites, and suggest ways in which such a site might be useful for student support teams and curriculum teams.Kay's presentation
Last year the staff tutors in Arts and Technology in Region 7 (Yorkshire) ran a 12 month 'action research' project to investigate how tutors use tablet PCs in their work as Associate Lecturers. Nine tutors from subjects including Music, Maths, Classics and Technology, were given HP Compaq tc4400 Tablet computers and asked to use these in their correspondence tuition, as well as face to face and online teaching, at the OU. One of the project aims was to collate information as to human interaction with technology in everyday activities (both work and leisure), and the impact this has on the uptake of technology.
Three tutors who participated in this project (from Technology, English, and Creative Writing), will talk to the group about their experience of using the tablet over the past year.First presentation
Between 2007 and 2009 I worked on a COLMSCT project investigating the effectiveness of the TMA marking guides on T175 in supporting tutors in giving useful feedback to students. I was then invited to propose a new approach to assessment, tutor guides and feedback on TU100 and have been working on this with a small team for the past few months. This talk will briefly report on the results of the initial COLMSCT project and then go on to demonstrate, with examples, the approach being taken on TU100 which I hope will generate lots of constructive discussion. Beware – you may be asked to mark an assignment question!Frances's presentation
10 Mar 2011 - Simon Cross, John Pettit, Susie West and Perry Williams - Introducing Elluminate: key ways to support ALs
John, Perry, Simon and Susie will set out the key findings from two major reports on the introduction of Elluminate in Arts and in FELS. Between them, the four speakers will include recommendations for future practice, based on evaluation data and on their direct experience of introducing Elluminate in OU teaching. The session should be relevant to module teams wishing to introduce Elluminate in a wide range of disciplines.
For the two reports, both of which were published in 2010, data were gathered from c45 ALs on a range of factors that can contribute to successful implementation particularly in relation to how ALs might be supported before they start to teach with Elluminate, and in the early stages of a presentation. If time allows, we will identify and explore differing models for providing this support.
Asking questions must be regarded as a fundamental right for any learner, but providing answers is time consuming and potentially frustrating when the same question appears for the tenth time. Whilst some techniques, such as FAQs, may help, the essential problem appears to be that the available tools do not enable students to find an answer to their question. Instead they provide a list of possible resources that may address the question.
Over the previous decade the MUC (DARPA), TREC (NIST) and CoNLL (Association for Computational Linguistics) conferences have encouraged the development of natural language tools to address the question-answer problem. Many of the tools are now in the public domain and could form the basis of a new class of search engine. However, the task is not a simple one.
Drawing on resources from T320, this talk will describe some of the work that has been undertaken in applying Q-A techniques for closed-domains as an adjunct for the existing search tools available within the VLE. The key tasks have been the analysis of forum messages from which to extract questions and the preparation of a corpus from which to extract answers. The preliminary results suggest that students don't ask questions and that our materials don't provide answers. But that begs another question!
21 Oct 2010 - Keith Williams - e-xcellence NEXT: developing QA criteria for use of Social Networking and OER
The E-xcellence project developed a suite of quality assurance criteria applicable to e-learning - see 2009 EATING meeting and further information. OU contributions to E-xcellence and E-xcellence plus projects were OUVS led. Funding has been secured for a further phase of activity E-xcellence NEXT with OU contribution being CandS led. Some of the quality criteria originated in 2005 are showing their age and in this next phase will be updated to encompass use of Social Networking and OER in technology enhanced learning. This session will present a review of experience so far and explore how CandS experience can be used in shaping new criteria.
In this talk I shall report on the Mathematics Online Project trial of eTutorials with Elluminate Live!, on the use of Elluminate in the Mathematics MSc programme and on my own experience giving eTutorials for M820, a Mathematics MSc course.
deep|think is a Second Life virtual campus created by the Computing Department within an ongoing innovation project for the introduction of new technological infrastructures and processes for eResearch. It was launched officially in October 2009 as part of the - Virtual MPhil. The deep|think community is growing, although current usage remains low. This session is intended as a practical session to explore current features of deep|think and its potential for wider use within the MCT faculty and beyond.
A number of PCs will be available for use during the session, and participants are welcome to bring their own laptops. The session will be facilitated by Lucia Rapanotti. There will be some 'spare' Second Life avatars available for those who do not already have one.
Since early 2008 I have been working on an ESRC funded research project looking at first year university students in five English universities and their use of digital and networked technologies. The research examined popular notions such as the Net Generation and Digital Natives to see if the claims made in the literature were supported in the English university context and to provide a sound empirical picture of students' engagement with new digital and networked technologies.
The project has now reported findings in conference papers and journal articles from the first phase and this presentation will report early findings from the second phase of research. The second phase included 2 linked surveys, interviews and the 'Day Experience' cultural probe. This presentation will draw together findings from these three sources to provide a fuller picture of how first year students are engaging with new technologies both for study purposes and in their social lives and for leisure. The findings include descriptions of clusters of students, longitudinal changes across the first year of study and illustrative vignettes drawn from video collected by the students themselves.
'Literacy in the Digital University' is the title of an ESRC-funded seminar series that is bringing together researchers from the fields of applied linguistics and technology enhanced learning to explore the relationship between literacy and technology in the digital universities of the future. In this seminar I will critique current discourses around 'learning 2.0', and the 'literacies of the digital' in the light of findings from recent research conducted by contributors to the series, which explores students' use of technologies in their studies. I will argue that if a critical and informed citizenship is to continue to be a social goal of higher education in an era of disruptive technologies, then the requirements of academic communication need to guide the development of digital practices in the university, and not the other way round.
The threat landscape in malware has changed from malicious 'fun' by individuals to organised crime by criminal gangs. 'Botnet' has become a key word in the misuse of technology and the internet. In this talk we will be looking at understanding what a botnet is and how network systems like Internet Relay Chat are used to control botnets. Using this technology to grab information such as bank details or identities becomes an attractive activity of commercial interest to criminal gangs like the Mafia.
I will look at how a distributed online identity is created through the use of tools such as blogging and twitter. The manner in which we share professional and personal elements, and combine these in different ways provides a powerful means for developing your personal network which may be your most useful asset. The ability to easily create, share and reuse also has implications for teaching.
30 April 2009 - Liam Green-Hughes and Rebecca Ferguson - Serious games: engaging, inspring and motivating learners
"If they're learning with Nintendogs at infant school, Endless Ocean at junior school and Guitar Hero at secondary school - what will they expect from us?" Liam and Rebecca consider the implications of the recent GameBased Learning conference in London.
The conference brought together educators, game designers, researchers and gamers to consider the impact that video games and social media are having on the quality of learning and teaching practice. It highlighted the changing profile of computer gamers and the growth in sales of games consoles. It also focused on broader shifts in technology use, with many moving away from television and towards social networks.
Keynote speaker Nolan Bushnell visualised a future in which students would learn in isolated pods, fed information via screens and headphones, and monitored by webcams. This nightmarish vision united other delegates in a torrent of comment in the Twitter stream. Others - particularly Scottish educators such as Derek Robertson - had a more positive message, demonstrating the use of games to engage, motivate and inspire learners.
Links the speakers recommend are:
GameBased Learning conference with links to videos and resources related to the speeches - or go directly to the:
2008 was the year when mobile broadband began to become mainstream, thanks to cheap deals and service improvements. But is it really 'broadband', and really 'mobile'? Technical and economic factors raise doubts over both terms. Nevertheless, it is now good enough, and cheap enough, to appeal both to students and educators.
In this talk I will review some of the technical and economic factors that are shaping the mobile broadband landscape. I will look at prospects for extending the reach of the service, and improving its quality. Finally, I assess the educational implications of mobile broadband. Audience members can try a mobile broadband connection for themselves simply by bringng a wi-fi enabled laptop.
This talk arises from my work on Block 3 'Mobile Broadband' of the new 30-point course T325 'Technologies for Digital Media', having its first presentation in 2009.
19 Feb 2009 - Keith Williams - Quality Assurance methodology applicable to e-learning in Universities
Keith Williams has been working with OUVS colleagues on the EADTU managed E-xcellence project to develop a Quality Assurance methodology applicable to e-learning in Universities. The project has developed Quality Criteria, an associated manual and Guidelines for Assessors. An online survey tool provides a Quickscan level of assessment and the materials will also support a peer review assessment methodology. In the initial funding period the project team developed the methodology and trialled it in three institutions. In the current second phase of funding the trials have been extended to cover institutions in twelve countries in the EU more broadly.
Keith will introduce the methodology and tools, discuss the differing quality cultures encountered in the project and reflect on the experience of participating in a multi national project. If time permits, there may be an opportunity to 'play' with the Quickscan online. Please bring your laptop if you are interested in doing this.
It is a common observation that participation in online forums by individuals is very variable. A few students post many messages, some post a few, and many lurk. A rough 'rule of thirds' is one way of quantifying this, but it is likely that this rule of thumb hides interesting structure and differences between contexts. Large scale statistical analysis suggests patterns of participation that are not captured by this rough rule of thirds.
Similar patterns are found when describing the abundance of species in ecological communities and ecologists have well-established measures to capture these patterns. It therefore seems plausible that indices of ecological diversity could also provide a useful characterisation of an online community. Such indices can unpick both 'species richness' (here number of participants) and equitability / dominance. They have been developed to be relatively invariant to sample size and statistical tests are available for comparisons.
There is also an ecological literature which uses these indices to characterise community types and it is possible that the same indices could prove useful insights into the structure and dynamics of online forums. In particular, it is possible that factors such as group size, topic focus, optional/compulsory, etc may control or correlate with measures of participation and equitability.
We will analyse some FirstClass forums to see if an ecological approach to online communities offers useful insights. In particular:
Some implications raised are:
In the summer of 2001 a young Russian programmer was jailed in the US for doing his job in Russia. The same summer, Princeton computer science professor, Edward Felten, preparing to present a paper on the music industry's new SDMI watermarking technologies, was threatened, along with the conference organisers, with a variety of sanctions by industry lawyers. At the heart of both stories was the anticircumvention provisions in the 'Digital Millenium Copyright Act'.
In the summer of 2006, Blackboard Systems were, to the shock of the educational technology community, awarded a 44 part patent on delivering courses via the Web. They immediately launched a patent infringement suit against their biggest commercial competitor and ed techies went into meltdown over the potential implications for universities all over the world.
Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig's claim that changes in laws and technologies are leading to a future of concentrated control of knowledge resources, remains as relevant today as when he started writing books and giving talks about it ten years ago. This talk will explore Lessig's claim in the context of some of the relevant intellectual property cases.
Ray's PowerPoint presentation.
We are seeing more people using the virtual worlds of Second Life, World of Warcraft and other virtual environments. If you are using virtual worlds for social networking or gaming there are still issues about malicious intent of some of the people within these environments. We will be looking at these issues and some of the malware that is appearing on websites or IRC channels to steal your avatar, your identity or your virtual goods. How can the virtual world compromise the real world security?
Rob will be examining the behaviour of students and moderators in an online course TT280 Web applications: design, development and management. The dataset is the record of activity in FirstClass forums. In a 12 week course there may be 10000 messages which a small number of moderators, and/or tutors have to deal with. This makes multiple and complex demands on their professionalism, and Rob is attempting to describe clearly how they go about their work and how that might best be captured in a toolkit for future moderators. Lately Rob has been using activity theory, and particularly the idea of runaway objects to describe the world within which the moderators live and virtually breathe. Rob will bring some of the hypotheses in conclusions from this line of thinking in the hope that his audience will test them to destruction.
If you've heard of 'web mashups', but don't know what they are, exactly...
...or if you have an idea of what they are, but don't know how to get started creating your own web mashups...
...then this EATING meeting might be just what you're looking for.
Starting off with a quick tour of just what constitutes a web mashup, from Nestoria housing maps to feedlearner.com, we'll move on to tinkering with the quick-to-get started Yahoo Pipes mashup tool, before looking at how web APIs are opening up the possibility for production strength mashups using third party web services.
The session will be run in part as a partial attention format workshop, so feel free to bring a wireless laptop along so you can join in the fun. If the hands-on approach doesn't appeal, come along anyway - the meeting will double up as a trad, "talk from the front and read from the projector screen" seminar too...
This talk will describe a COLMSCT project which has been looking at the proactive use of Web 2.0 style tools to support students. The project is looking from the perspective of the AL and also the extent to which students are prepared to engage with these tools and activities to enhance their studies. Outcomes from some proactive initiatives will be discussed such as a weekly Tutor News message incorporating a personal blog, Twenty Questions as preparation for assignments, Social Bookmarking and Photo Sharing, web pages created by contributions of students, and podcasts for assignment feedback. Student views on the value of such support will also be discussed.
17 Jan 2008 - Sally Jordan - Investigating the use of short answer free-text questions in online interactive assessment
This talk will describe a joint VLE / COLMSCT project which is developing interactive computer marked assignment (iCMA) questions which require students to enter their responses as short free-text sentences (up to about 20 words in length). A bank of such questions has been authored (based on the science content of S103), using a commercial linguistically based authoring tool, and a small number of these questions will be used summatively in S104 (first presentation February 2008). The authoring tool enables an answer such as 'dog bites man' to be marked as correct whilst marking 'man bites dog' as incorrect, something that would not be possible using a system relying on keywords alone. Students are provided with instantaneous targeted feedback on incorrect and incomplete responses.
The talk will demonstrate some of the questions which have been developed as well as the operation of the authoring software. Early stage evaluation will be described, including a human-computer marking comparison which shows that the computer's marking is typically indistinguishable from that of 6 ALs.
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