Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Call for gender, mobile and learning research cases ideas

If you work on a project, or idea which involves gender and mobile or online learning, make sure you get an article in to Ronda Zelezny-Green. She is the founder and organizer of the Gender & Mobile/Learning Newsletter, packed with news and now running up for its first year edition. And you can easily subscribe to the newsletter here.

In order to get your gender/tech article added to the celebrating-one-year-newsletter, you can submit your articles before 4 December 2013 by sending them to Ronda (RondaZG3 at or/and Alex(andra) Tyers (alexandratyers at And become part of a growing network.

Ronda Zelezny-Green is just one of those stars that will and are changing the learning world. Ronda is an upcoming, yet already sparkling researcher and a prolific blogger. I must say even a quick glance at her work is enlightening. So get your projects mailed to her, so she can give them a boost by sheer information dissemination. 

Ronda wrote a formidable piece in the Guardian's Global section on bringing education education to young mothers through mobiles, based upon her current main project. The article is rich in information and insights and provides insights on how girls can be kept in the learning loop by offering mobile education (really great article!). 

Call for eLearning Africa as an extra
And why not give your project a double boost, and submit it for eLearning Africa if you have a potential development link in your proposal? 
The 9th eLearning Africa conference will take place in Kampala, Uganda, from 28 - 30 May 2014.
Theme of this year: Opening Frontiers to the Future. 
More information on the conference can be found here:
Speaking proposals need to be in by 15 January 2014. You can submit a proposal here

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

free online #elearning research articles from JOLT

Vol. 9, No. 3 of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) at has been published and is available online. The contents of the issue are listed below. In this issue you will find 12 articles concerned with various aspects of online learning and teaching. I hope you will find several articles of interest, and that you will take the time to forward this notice to colleagues who might also be interested in JOLT. 

Articles I read and found useful:
The Rachell Sturm-Beiss shared an interesting paper on the efficacy of online exam-review sessions for math students: reaching both high- and low-performing students (paper pdf here) simple actions for hightened student performance ... always nice.

Abstract "Teaching mathematics in a class comprised of students with varying levels of 
preparation and aptitude poses a significant challenge: How does one keep the top 
performers engaged without losing those who are struggling? In an effort to 
accommodate commuter students with little schedule flexibility, screencast videos made 
accessible on YouTube were used as means to deliver optional exam-review sessions 
in two pre-calculus classes. The screencasts were introduced before the second exam; 
thereafter, several poor performers began to score better and appeared more motivated 
in class. Students in both classes completed brief surveys regarding their preparation 
for the first two in-class exams. An analysis of survey data together with test grades 
showed that 55% of the students viewed the entire screencast series and that high- and 
low-performing students viewed the videos in equal proportions. The mean 
standardized grade of the student group who watched the entire video series increased 
significantly from the first exam to the second exam. Subsequently, in an effort to 
promote autonomous mathematical problem-solving skills the author experimented with 
videos containing embedded math exercises. Positive student feedback suggests that 
this type of teaching medium is beneficial to and appreciated by the motivated student. "

The position paper accompanying this JOLT volume I also found of interest as it provides options for collaboratively constructing instructional design with multiple actors coming from different fields (within the same university). Real title: Instructional Design Collaboration: 
A Professional Learning and Growth Experience written by multiple authors of the Calgary university in Canada.
Abstract: "High-quality online courses can result from collaborative instructional design and 
development approaches that draw upon the diverse and relevant expertise of faculty 
design teams. In this reflective analysis of design and pedagogical practice, the authors 
explore a collaborative instructional design partnership among education faculty, 
including the course instructors, which developed while co-designing an online 
graduate-level course at a Canadian University. A reflective analysis of the collaborative 
design process is presented using an adapted, four-fold curriculum design framework. 
Course instructors discuss their approaches to backward instructional design and 
describe the digital tools used to support collaboration. Benefits from collaborative 
course design, including ongoing professional dialogue and peer support, academic 
development of faculty, and improved course design and delivery, are described. 
Challenges included increased time investment for instructors and a perception of 
increased workload during design and implementation of the course. Overall, the 
collaborative design team determined that the course co-design experience resulted in 
439 MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol. 9, No. 3, September 2013 
an enhanced course design with meaningful assessment rubrics, and offered a valuable 
professional learning and online teaching experience for the design team. "

Pasting the whole set of articles below. 
Research Papers

An Exploration of Students' Experiences of Learning in an Online Primary Teacher Education Program
Margaret Cain and Sharon Phillip

Quality of Interactions in Face-to-Face and Hybrid Career Development Courses: An Exploration of Students' Perceptions
Siu-Man Raymond Ting and Laura M. Gonzalez

The Use of E-Learning Tools for Improving Hispanic Students' Academic Performance
Jennie Johnson and Edith Galy

Adjunct versus Full-Time Faculty: Comparison of Student Outcomes in the Online Classroom
Brian Mueller, B. Jean Mandernach, and Kelly Sanderson

Experiences with Military Online Learners: Toward a Mindful Practice
David Starr-Glass

Which Instructional Design Models are Educators Using to Design Virtual World Instruction?
Victor J. Soto

Using a Video Game as an Advance Organizer: Effects on Development of Procedural and Conceptual Knowledge, Cognitive Load, and Casual Adoption
Jennifer J. Vogel-Walcutt, Katherine Del Giudice, Logan Fiorella, and Denise Nicholson

Case Studies

Developing a Supportive Framework for Learning on Biosciences Field Courses through Video-Based Resources
Anne E. Goodenough, Lynne MacTavish, and Adam G. Hart

Improving Undergraduate Sociology Students' Presentation Skills through Reflective Learning in an Online Learning Environment   
Natalia V. Smirnova and Irina V. Nuzha

Old Concepts, New Tools: An Action Research Project on Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning in Teacher Education
Orly Sela

The Efficacy of Online Exam-Review Sessions: Reaching Both High- and Low-Performing Students
Rachel Sturm-Beiss

Position Paper

Instructional Design Collaboration: A Professional Learning and Growth Experience
Barbara Brown, Sarah Elaine Eaton, D. Michele Jacobsen, Sylvie Roy, and Sharon Friesen

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Making Learning #data public from @CarnegieMellon

Wonderful article from Inside Higher Ed mentioned that "Carnegie Mellon University will open the world’s largest database on student learning to the public in an effort to identify best practices and standards for using technology in the classroom". The initiative will be called the Simon Initiative, and which will (initially?) build upon the research taking place at the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (PSLC) and their partners.

The science of Learning Center or LearnLab will open up their data collected over the last 9 years and publish them on an open wiki. The data already resulted in some insights: reflection increases learning, explaining algebra (and I guess scientific or other ideas) in your own language increases comprehension and retention. Seems of interest to keep an eye out for this Simon Initiative for sure. Learnlab already has this nice feature called data shop which is a data repository and analysis service for the learning science community. And this data shop offers everyone the opportunity to look at public data sets, isn't that GREAT! Have a look, it even has links to papers based upon the data. Really nice.

The article got my attention, as opening up data from which we can all learn will increase chances of moving all of us ahead. Especially if factors or elements that interest us can be put forward as potential meta-data or simply to be used for data mining and getting us the results that matter to our learning/teaching. The approach for this initiative seems to be created by people at the top, as the article mentioned that "to support the open-access initiative, the institution will form a council of higher education leaders, education technology experts and industry representatives to distribute the data and guide the conversation". I hope some of the thoughts or debates coming out of these sessions will also be made public, or that the interested public for this initiative will be able to voice their remarks based on hot discussions. A bit of bottom up views to weave into the top down views.

Carnegie Mellon is one of the institutes I would love to work for. It is just the way they move forward and the attempt they constantly make at using education to lift everyone up.
The Open Learning Initiative which has been doing groundwork on effective online learning, open and free online courses and getting Open Educational Resources (OER) out there for everyone to share and use, is now a key actor in getting learning data out to the public and scientists. Their approach is multidisciplinary which is also always of interest.

In the comments given at the end of the article, people rightfully remark that it would be good if the data would also include data from long lasting online learning providers. This would indeed be a great addition to the open learning data initiative and I hope they will achieve this (I gather this will take time to get everyone in agreement around the table).  

Monday, 18 November 2013

Blogphilosophy: annoyed by genius @Thrun on education, me on a rant

Every good teacher will be able to tell anyone that education and learning is really complex and that no two learners are the same. All of us having the learning gene will learn no matter what. We cannot help it, but for each one of us learning success is something different. For some it is the classic 'career and money' goal, for others it is finding 'happiness in life'. Last week I read an article on Thrun (one of the guys who organized the AI course and attracted 1.6 million learners of which only a few finalized the course in a way that is described as successful) and it got me slightly agitated.

Giving up is the easiest thing to do
Although the article does mention a positive view on the education Thrun is envisioning for his now 5 year old son: achieve happiness (which I fully agree with), his remarks on education and specifically why he decided to turn away from MOOC and go corporate mass class just got me pissed.

So bear with me as I voice my discontent. Because the article got me increasingly agitated the last couple of days, as Mr Engineer was simplifying education rather heavily and was surprised that his GREAT GENIUS was not able to come up with an education-for-all solution within 2 years time! As a result he gets out of the MOOC idea altogether and dives into profit education (or - benefit of doubt - at least that is how the content of the article came across).

So MOOC do not work? Well Ladida! They work, but it cannot be measured in HighEd classic terms! It is simple: MOOC are a gathering of interested people, hence bringing together a group that is subject to so many changing algorithms that a solution for 'successful learning' is FAR off! Even the mere definition of successful learning is one of the tougher nuts to crack: is it certification, career, personal growth, personal deductive use, a group twist...  Nevertheless MOOC can make a difference for each individual following it: self-esteem, getting just that bit smarter, understanding where a personal interest lies or not, connecting with new people - new insights, crossing cultures, exploring the world, heck even just learning how to learn in an innovative way. It is not about the Uni professor definition of what learning is, it is about the self-defined idea of what MOOC learning is for the learner themselves.

Let's be honest, I was happy to see a high profile person such as Thrun take up free education. And when he shared  "promising a world in which education was nearly free, available to poor people in the developing world, and better than anything that had come before it" I was overly enthusiastic because money and drivers are needed if we ever want to reach education-for-all. But where I started cursing was when I read in the article that he would now focus on corporate learning, because "At the end of the day, the true value proposition of education is employment". Education is just a value proposition and employment can be assured by it? So that is his answer to lifting up a society for all?

There is more: "Not only is reinventing the university a worthy goal tuition prices at both public and private colleges have soared in recent years, and the debt burden borne by American students is more than $1 trillion", reading this I simply see what happens all around the world: the divide between the have and have not's starts in school, which certainly puts a strain on happiness for all based on the enlightenment provided by education (and dare I add critical thinking). So Boohoo, his courses do not result in as much self-defined success as he envisioned and so he turns his wagon! That is how big his altruism goes clearly. All of the down-to-earth teachers, sometimes hardly earning the money to stay afloat themselves keep at it, day in day out to reach the vulnerable and get individuals (not the masses mind you, but one kid at the time) educated in the hope that will make the world a better place. Did Thrun sit down with these teachers? I wonder, but my guess would be he did not (again, he could have). Or maybe he did discuss it with some high brow colleagues, sitting in the same well-payed institutions (which would just be too little).

Change is driven by humanity
Of course I find his inventions worthwhile (no problem with calling him a tech genius either) and it is obvious I admire him for what he has come up with. But he is innovative in tech, not in humans that much is clear. To me he choose the simpler side of life: automation consists of a limited/manageable amount of algorithms, it is far off the organic diversity that each of us comes across and solves in our mind on a daily basis. And if you do not put your efforts into motion to create a better world for all, it just seems sad to have been blessed with such good brains.

I just cannot fathom how Thrun - who is said in the article to have massively rich friends in his networks - does not keep going at it? Altruism is not a commodity, it is a way of life, a decision, a human decision to engage for life! Even if a personal dedication might not be something he is interested in, at least he (with rich friends) can set up an organization of idealist teachers/educators/researchers that are willing to put in their lifetime of thinking and finding solutions to resolve the educational divide that sets back people across the world. Of course, what is there to be gained by helping those? Not much apparently. Because which schools or learning centers around the world can compete with the fact that "Higher education is an enormous business in the United States--spending approximately $400 billion annually on universities, a figure greater than the revenues of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter combined". 

Are we - humans - just all bad, egocentric researchers?
So where does this leave us? Although humans are capable of thinking, even researching, the result of all this research almost never pushes a human change. Which completely frustrates me. If the sciences were so almighty, climate change would have been tackled, famine would no longer exist and war would be eradicated. For we have proof, there are systems, and there is enough money in the world to actually make this blue earth a better place - for us humans. But we just don't push change through do we. Why? Not for research reasons (I hope), but for material/profit reasons, stuff that is just the opposite of life itself.

... Sighing, this change will be up to us grassroots people again probably. But it would make such a difference to be able to build a mixed approach, getting grassroot and topdown people working on the same human, hot topics. They are manifold: creating local language digital content, providing digital skill training for teachers new to educational technology, understanding learning for the variety of people that we are, researching old and new learning methods (indigenous learning among others), getting minorities interested in learning... so walking to the drawing table and tackling one thing at the time.

Later addition to this post, thanks to Stephen Downes I gladly add other (more down to earth posts):  Rolin Moe says "Shifting models means never having to say you’re sorry." Also, Audrey Watters: "Why We Shouldn't Celebrate Udacity's 'Pivot'" And Michael Caulfield, "Thrun Enters Burgeoning Sieve Market." And Alastair Creelman, "Staying the Course." And Bonnie Stewart, "In the wake of MOOC hype, what shall we talk about?" And Martin Weller, "Stop me if you think you've heard this one before."

Friday, 15 November 2013

Call for #papers & pre/postdoctoral #Fellowship in Japan

Great news this morning, an interesting funding opportunity (travel cost, residency, settling in) for people residing in the UK, but having a European, Canadian, American or British nationality and looking for a collaboration with research institutes in Japan. The program is open to researchers from all departments (including social sciences). It is a short-term option, which - to me - makes it even more appealing (explore, evaluate and grow). More information on the fellowship can be found here.

From the funding organization website:
This Programme provides the opportunity for short-term visits for pre- and post-doctoral UK researchers and researchers from Europe and North America based in the UK to conduct cooperative research with leading research groups at Japanese Universities and Institutions. The Programme is designed to provide researchers with first-hand experience of the research and living environment in Japan, whilst expanding academic exchange between Japan and the United Kingdom. Researchers from all fields of sciences including humanities and social sciences are eligible to apply. Awards will cover visits of 1 to 12 months.

Calls for paper:

M4D (mobile for development) in Dakar, Senegal
When: 8 - 9 April 2014 
submission deadline 1 December 2013 (this is the extended deadline)
More information for the call of papers: 
Overall information on the conference:

Call for paper on Special Issue: New Media and Social Learning
Guest Editor: Prof. Dr. GrĂ¡inne Conole
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2014

You may send your manuscript now or up until the deadline.
Submitted papers should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere. We also encourage authors to send us their tentative title and short abstract by e-mail for approval to the Editorial Office at:

This Special Issue will be fully open access. Open access (unlimited and free access by readers) increases publicity and promotes more frequent citations as indicated by several studies. Open access is supported by the authors and their institutes.
More information is available at

The Article Processing Charges (APC) will be waived for well prepared manuscripts. However, a fee of 250 CHF may apply for those articles that need major editing and formatting and/or English editing.
For details see:

Please visit the Instructions for Authors before submitting a manuscript:
Manuscripts should be submitted through the online manuscript submission and editorial system at

Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760) is an international, peer-reviewed, quick-refereeing open access journal (free for readers), which publishes works from extensive fields including anthropology, economics, law, linguistics, education, geography, history, political science, psychology, sociology and so on. Social Sciences is published by MDPI online quarterly.

MOBILITY 2014, The Fourth International Conference on Mobile Services, Resources, and Users
July 20 - 24, 2014
 - Paris, France
Submission deadline: February 28, 2014
  • regular papers
  • short papers (work in progress)
  • posters
Submission page:
Sponsored by IARIA,

Monday, 11 November 2013

All content videos on #OER, #MOOC and #opened13

If you can, take the rest of the week off for research purposes. Go home, activate your internet, take which ever device you like best and look at one of the sessions coming from last weeks Open Education conference. All the talks can be viewed, everything is out in the open and most of the talks are about 30 minutes long, so fairly digestible.

All the speaker sessions can be viewed here: and you simply select the session you think is going to lift you to the next knowledge level. And there are a lot of content topics to choose from:

  • If you are interested in Open Educaitonal Resources (cases and theory - either from educational, library resources or a researcher perspective ... there will be a session of interest for you).
  • If you are interested in MOOCs, simply select one of these sessions
  • If you are interested in using Open Badges, again there are multiple sessions covering those as well (again in practice and theory).
  • If you want to learn more about institutional change and whether or not to move towards Open or more towards Corporate open for your online modules... there are sessions of interest.

And if you are unsure of where to start, have a look at the wonderful and thought provoking keynote delivered by Audrey Waters on the Future of Education and THE END OF TIMES, talking the viewers on an epic journey through the movies and into the realm of the singularity and beyond! Great stuff! The slides accompanying her 40 minute talk can be found on slideshare here, but just watch her speak energetically does the trick.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Successfully implementing #mobile 2.0 within institute using participatory action research

The following paper provides insights and arguments on embedding, optimizing and collaboratively changing the institutional approach to mobile learning involving social media or mobile 2.0. In a mere ten pages Thom Cochrane shares his learning path (the what, the how, the result) on using mobile social media in actual classes, getting other lecturers and tutors involved and providing a solid, research basis for changing education in favor of mobile learning within an institute building upon the Community of Practitioners method. Thom was the lead in getting this change realized via participatory action research. It is a clear paper, with three case studies, each time illuminating what was planned, how it was implemented, adapted and how the complete approach influence institutional change embracing different types of courses as well. A fabulous and insightful read. The full paper can be read and downloaded via Thom's account, this is the link to the paper.

To me, Thom Cochrane is one of the most amazing mLearning researchers around, he works at the Te Pune Ako learning centre in Auckland, New Zealand and he has incredible drive and energy. He is a one man paper machine who produces so much comprehensible, transparent and PRACTICAL research I am completely at awe by his output and approach. Whenever I am at a stand still in my thinking, I just look at one of his research projects and get ignited with enthusiasm again.

To give an idea of this paper, here is a bit of the introduction:
"This paper reflects upon how the integration and support of mobile Web 2.0 projectshave transformed a tertiary education institution’s approach to e-learning. This transformational journey is based upon four years of research on appropriating the pedagogical benefits of Web 2.0 and pedagogy 2.0 (McLoughlin and Lee 2008) anywhere anytime using mobile Web 2.0 and wireless mobile devices (WMDs), in particular WiFi (wireless ethernet) and 3G-enabled (third-generation mobile ‘broadband’)smartphones, and 3G-enabled netbooks. A series of participatory action research(Swantz 2008; Wadsworth 1998) m-learning projects was used to draw out implications and strategies for facilitating social constructivist learning environments. Thesem-learning projects were situated within a variety of educational contexts, at different educational levels, and took place longitudinally across one to three years of implementation, involving cycles of reflection and refinement with earlier project results informing the design of the following projects. The learning contexts included:Bachelor of Product Design, Diploma of Landscape Design, Diploma of Contemporary Music, Bachelor of Architecture, and the Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Exploring #seamless learning for #MOOC and #mobile

Seamless learning is still a new area, and the challenges are multiple. As this discipline merges the technological and human challenges faced by the emerging new technologies of the last decade (mobile learning, social media, MOOCs, etc.), it is becoming clear that the ultimate learning environment will have to provide a smooth learner experience, with options to both consume and create content. It is a bit of unexplored territory and as such I thought it would be good to launch it to the broader eLearning community. The wonderful Bill Brandon editor of the Learning Solutions Magazine (online, free magazine with lots of practical eLearning news) allowed me to write a short introduction to seamless learning in an overall setting, combining mobile and MOOC/online features. The full feature article can be read here

The article combines informal learning, ubiquitous learning, collaboration, technology... and more challenges that need to be addressed in order to reach seamless learning. Getting the article written pushed my mind, now ... writing on a more elaborate research article based on this first brainstorm. Feel free to share any additional thoughts you might have, or simply push the appreciate the article button at the bottom of the article itself - if you did like it of course.