Thursday 19 December 2013

Learning wrap up, last post of Gregorian Calendar 2013

As the year closes and the nights become increasingly long in this Northern part of the world, looking back and reflecting seems the right thing to provide closure to the past 350 days. The darkest days produce darker thoughts.

MOOC have become mainstream, but they did not change education. They only changed business reflections at the centre of big universities. And where MOOC have been said to help those never having been able to learn before ... the latest MOOC's are set up for institutional glory, attracting new professionals, and delivering old school formats on many occasions: one person in a video, the public listens or is given the option to discuss what is provided. Producing content as a learner based upon personal knowledge needs is less frequently expected as a course outcome. The importance of online learning did grow, which is a good think from my perspective.

Another trend that kept going were the TED conferences. Again hailed as a new interesting learning option, it seems to have become nothing more than an long list of info-documentaries replacing televised National Geographic with pre-organized, strict format offerings of one person standing in front of a public. Nothing new here, please move on.

Social media 2013
With selfies being shared and produced at an ever increasing rate, social media is now fully absorbed in marketing. Although social media started as an interactive learning resource with potential, its popularity has shifted it right back into the overall societal system. Once hailed for its journalistic and societal strengthening options, and even delivering a Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman for tweeting during the Arab Spring in Yemen, social media is now much more about followers than innovative ideas.

Education budget cuts
Although online learning is high on the agenda, education overall is not. In many countries and on a variety of levels  education faces severe budget costs (hitting teachers in Europe, special education in the USA, institutional education in UK, and educational research also being brought to the slaughter house). To me education symbolizes the importance of humans, cutting budgets for education (or any human sector) shows where society is going: towards segregation and elitism. Education is an investment, granted the return takes a couple of decades to emerge, but it does come.

Mobile learning will become seamless
With mobile devices popping up everywhere, it is no longer the device which makes the difference, but the seamless learning experience that makes a difference. Tech shifts from the objects to the overall experience. Nice trend there, but tough to realize, although we only have to look at Star Trek to realize what is to come.

Technology will never save humans, nor will it save education. A pity for people like me who see human Utopia in every new, non-destructive technology. I should change that inclination... but I cannot. I blame Star Trek... or should I say I thank StarTrek for predicting the future since 1966?

Thursday 5 December 2013

Tips for planning Your #MOOC #OEB13

This slide deck will be used at Online Educa Berlin 2013 to allow people to set up their own MOOC. It is a short set of slides, with links to other MOOC information. The main idea is to get people on their way, and to make them think on where to go with their overall training.

If you are at Online Educa Berlin, feel free to join me in room Lincke (first floor) between 14.30 - 16.00. I will start / end the session on time. And if you plan a MOOC yourself, why not connect with me from anywhere? The way I see it, we are all in this together - education/training helps us all.

I made a template that I will ask participants to fill in, in order to make it easier for them to choose where they want to go with their MOOC plans. The template can be found here.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Free book increasing access through #mlearning

The Commonwealth of Learning and Athabasca University just released a great free book on mobile learning, edited by the Mohamed Ally and Avgoustos Tsinakos. The digital book consisting of three parts, each filled with great articles all looking at mobile education, including a chapter written by myself on "using BYOD, mobile social media, apps, and sensors for meaningful mobile learning".

What to expect:
Part I describes considerations for, and approaches to, designing mobile learning materials. It is important for developers of mobile learning materials to follow standards so that the learning materials can be shared as open educational resources (OER). Delivered on mobile technology, OER have the potential to enable citizens all over the world to access affordable education from anywhere and at any time. Part II of the book discusses how mobile learning can be successfully implemented to maximise access to educational resources with minimum resources, and to maintain flexibility in the delivery process. Part III provides examples of how mobile learning can be used in a variety of settings, including schools, higher education institutions, the workplace and the field, and a variety of contexts, from formal programmes to just-in-time learning.

With over 200 pages of mobile learning wisdom, there is a lot to read and reflect upon.
PART I: Designing Mobile Learning
Chapter 1
A Diachronic Overview of Technology Contributing to Mobile Learning: A Shift Towards Student-Centred Pedagogies ..................... 7
Helen Crompton

Chapter 2
Educational Standards for Mobile Learning and Mobile Application Development ......... 17
Judy Brown, Michael Hruska, Andy Johnson and Jonathan Poltrack

Chapter 3
A Pedagogical Framework for Mobile Learning: Categorising Educational Applications of Mobile Technologies into Four Types ............. 27
Yeonjeong Park

Chapter 4
Why Open Educational Resources Are Needed for Mobile Learning ......... 49
Rory McGreal

Chapter 5
Design of Contextualised Mobile Learning Applications ............................ 61
Marcus Specht

Chapter 6
Interactive Learning Strategies for Mobile Learning ................................... 73
Anthony Ralston

Chapter 7
Mobile Learning: Location, Collaboration and Scaffolding Inquiry ............. 85
Eileen Scanlon

PART II: Implementing Mobile Learning
Chapter 8
Open Formats for Mobile Learning ............................................................. 99
Geoff Stead

Chapter 9
Using BYOD, Mobile Social Media, Apps, and Sensors for Meaningful Mobile Learning ............ 113
Inge Ignatia de Waard

Chapter 10
Supporting Mobile Access to Online Courses: The ASK Mobile SCORM Player and the ASK Mobile LD Player .......................................... 125
Panagiotis Zervas and Demetrios G. Sampson

Chapter 11
Mobile Learning Operating Systems .......................................................... 141
Christian Glahn

PART III: Using Mobile Learning in Education and Training
Chapter 12
Orchestrating the Flexible Mobile Learning Classroom .............................. 161
Chee-Kit Looi and Yancy Toh

Chapter 13
Mobile Learning in Higher Education .......................................................... 175
Núria Ferran-Ferrer, Muriel Garreta Domingo, Josep Prieto-Blazquez,
Cesar Corcoles, Dr. Teresa Sancho-Vinuesa and Mr. Francesc Santanach

Chapter 14
Mobile Learning in the Workplace: Unlocking the Value of Mobile Technology for Work-Based Education ........................ 193
Christoph Pimmer and Norbert Pachler

Chapter 15
Changing the Tunes from Bollywood’s to Rural Livelihoods — Mobile Telephone Advisory Services to Small and Marginal Farmers in India: A Case Study ........................... 205
Balaji Venkataraman and T.V. Prabhakar

Chapter 16
The Future of Mobile Learning and Implications for Education and Training ..... 217
David Parsons

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. Gráinne 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. 

Thursday 31 October 2013

Free #mobile research papers from #mLearn Qatar

Free papers on mobile learning research are made available to all thanks to the mLearn Qatar organizing team. There is a wonderful and rich overview of the latest mLearning research available at 

With no particular reason except my own interest, I gladly highlight 3 papers I found interesting (so far, reading one paper at the time, whenever possible so lot of time to read still). 

The paper on "mobile learning through indigenous languages: learning through a constructivist approach" written by Mmaki Jantjies and Mike Joy was a treat to read. With their research they provide a possible solution to work around bilingual students (in this case African languages) and how this can be used to increase learning overall by allowing students to support themselves and use multilingual communication through mobile devices, and at the same time allow teachers to create solutions for the bilingual challenges. In the study learners created their own audio based bilingual learning material on mobile phones using a constructivist learning approach, in the subject area of physical science. A total of 32 high school learners and their teacher from a South African school participated in the study, and though semi–structured interviews and questionnaires learners reported on their experiences. Infrastructure challenges, including limited access to free electronic resources, and slow and expensive Internet access, became the main hurdles in supporting a constructivist learning environment. The mobile learning process however gave learners an opportunity to create their learning content in their own languages at any location at any time, and use the content later for revision. The audio option is key here (I think) as this allows people to work around writing as well. To me, it is easier to share French or German audio than to write in both languages, when I was a student an audio option would definitely have gotten me to support my peers more than only having a written option. This got me thinking about the lack of mobile OER again... will get to this in a later post. 

The paper by Edgar Napoleon Assiimwe and Sana Zubair Kahn on the topic of "Ubiquitous Computing in Education: A SWOT Analysis by Students and Teachers" immediately appealed to me as the idea of doing such an investigation is so needed! So, got reading. When going through all the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities, I immediately found myself acknowledging many of them. "I am not alone!" immediately came to mind and that gives a good feeling. The paper provides an immediate overview of the SWOT analysis as provided by teachers and students and that very simple list of ideas provides an insight in what keeps all of us busy. So copied one of its tables here as the picture to lead this blogpost.  The nice thing is that comparing both, you can see that students and teachers often have the same basis that leads to the SWOT elements. And a heart warming opportunity coming from the student list of opportunities: "Cultural or political differences are overcome/ solved". That is a VERY nice read!

Another paper I found of interest was the "Integrating Interactive Videos in Mobile Learning Scenarios" presented by Dan Kohen-Vacs, Marc Jansen and Marcelo Milrad. My interest for reading this paper was ignited by my own wish to embed more fluent interactive video in mobile learning options as part of a seamless mobile pedagogy. Enabling interaction in a multiple device learning environment is quite challenging and these people seem to be able to come close to actual seamless engagement (nice!). Idea is simple: small video sizes (enabling download or streaming), short questions within video content (waiting for a response of the learner) and ... on to the next bit of (mobile) content. The authors provide a nice flow of the learning activity and the approach has been tested during 2013 on approx. 100 students in academic courses offered by 2 universities. But although the approach is promising and the need for this type of seamless learning is clear, challenges stay multiple. Looking forward to the future research building upon this. 

Wednesday 30 October 2013

#Plagiarism and digital #citizenship

If you have, at any time, wondered how to react when some of your content was picked up without being cited, this is a nice video to view as you are reflecting on the topic.  The presenter is the wonderful Sophia Mavridi talking about digital plagiarism versus digital citizenship, a war of words. It is a wonderful overview of thoughts, cultural concepts on plagiarism, factual student realities, self expression and identity, privacy, self mediation,  and ... content repetition.

The content is of interest, but at the same time it is also interesting as it is a workshop recording. So in a way, you can enter the actions of this workshop after the actual fact. Though some editing might have cut out the group discussion and enable optimal use of time for us the viewers. But still, fun idea.

The recording makes you reflect on plagiarism, but there are various factors linked to plagiarism: human cultural (copying an author can be seen as an honor in some regions), academic mark (plagiarism is seen as a negative practice), cultural acceptable practice (copying narratives for plays, songs - covers, ... goes back to Roman times and is accepted). With new plagiarism tools (name is indicative for our perception of copying other people's work), detection is increasing. On the other end, there are still opportunities for plagiarism to be un-detected (translating from other languages is one, or rewriting...), and there is the conscious or accidental plagiarism. Sophia also remarks that sometimes grades are more important than learning, making plagiarism more attractive to get good grades (students doubting themselves, lack of time, or simply not knowing how to write something). Digital citizenship is put forward as a solution.

So what to do with this idea? Maybe it needs to be redefined, maybe personally given a place in the broader scheme of things?

In the past I saw some of my content coming up in courses or sites without being quoted, and I myself undoubtedly have sometimes used words of others while loosing the original author out of sight (endless rewriting is not ideal for me in keeping track of everything although I do try). At any occasion I am wondering on what to do. Some thoughts:

  • If I want to make a difference, surely everyone is free to use what I say for their own goals? My name is irrelevant to changing the world? In fact if any detail that I can come up with would indeed have the potential to make a positive change, than this would indeed be AWESOME already? So way should I care about my name?
  • If someone uses content I have built, surely that can only be seen as Open Educational Resources being reformatted (or not) and as such - being a propagator of open education - I must be all for it? My name - again - would not matter?

So, in the end it is my own vanity that compels me to choose my name above my idea. And if I can come up with an idea once, surely I can keep on coming up with ideas so I should not mind others running off with old ideas? Well, reflections on this topic do not seem to stop, so feel free to watch and reflect here:

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Jeff Cattel getting corporate #MOOC on the map

Jeff Cattel is the editor of Corporate Learning Network and he - and the rest of the wonderful CLN team - gets people together talking about new corporate learning options and all-round new tech-based training options. He is a one man driving force and as such it was a pleasure to write an article on MOOC and corporate / non-profit options. In the article I touched on three basic options for non-profit/corporate MOOC implementation: expert learning, knowledge marketing and professional knowledge strengthening. The article is entitled MOOCs are about to shake up the corporate and non-profit world, and can be read here.

I owed him that, because a couple of weeks earlier I got caught in a traffic jam with terrible delay as a result, not enabling me to be in a wonderful online MOOC roundtable (which I gladly provide below). The roundtable looked at the past, present and future options of MOOC and got Curtis Bonk, Craig Weiss and Kevin Currie all around the table discussing corporate MOOC options. So gladly sharing the round table below:

Friday 18 October 2013

What to research? Seamless learning or self-directed learning in MOOC?

There is a bit of a fork in the road with my PhD research. I can feel it. As data from my pilot study is seeping in, my head seems to want to tell me something, but the thoughts have not crystallized into conscious ideas yet.

So yesterday I took my doubts to the public, that is to say: I proposed it to my colleagues and that already twisted my mind towards some new ideas (and I put some of the remarks they shared into the powerpoint below). But now I would like to hear your views as well. What would you research if you were me? In order to provide some background, slides were shared (see below).

The setting: as I am looking at FutureLearn courses and how participants in mobile enabled MOOC self-direct their learning I am getting the feeling that I am missing an angle. Or that my mind feels like it is in need of something extra. Currently, I am looking for that extra in seamless learning. Mobile Seamless Learning has been put into a framework by Wong and Looi (2011) and it has some nice similarities with potential elements of SDL. As such I felt it worth exploring as a potential option for my main study (planned to start in January 2014).

Still having to finish my last phase of data collecting of my pilot study, I do have some data from a pre-pilot and some intense literature to share with all of you (if you are willing to go through a rather big probation report on the matter, it is a rewrite, the final version as it was accepted by the probation examiners). I rewrote the probation report, and now it has sections on why I choose self-directed learning and not self-regulated learning, crossroads between online learning, mobile learning and MOOC, and of course a methodological section. The appendices offer research instruments (learning logs, informed consent form, ...) and the first findings of the pre-pilot.

But the question currently is: whether to go for SDL or Seamless learning or ... maybe a mix. What do you think is the most thrilling (yes, nerd talking) research topic?

Thursday 10 October 2013

My Governor General #Award link with Alice Munro the Nobel prize winner

Admittedly I have the longest way to go to even be in the shadow of Alice Munro, the newest Nobel Prize winner of literature. Nevertheless my heart jumped a beat when I saw that in the past she got the Canadian Governor General's Award for fiction (three times!!!) and this year I was very proud to get the Canadian Governor General Gold Medal award. I agree that my award is only a start to invest in continued academic work, while Alice Munro is a completely accomplished and wonderful writer, but still it gives me a good feeling to have something in common with a strong human being. And her book the beggar maid was a good read, now in dodgy, read condition sitting on my bookshelf.  

I did not dare to write about getting the Gold medal award from the Governor General at first, as I am a bit uncomfortable with sharing accomplished work at times. But, today I thought I would just share it, because the gold medal really did give me a boost to make a difference with my future distance education work and projects. The Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada for more then 125 years now. And I am a proud graduate student from Athabasca University. The medal which I was granted to receive is awarded to the student graduating with the highest average from a university program so it is a real honor to get the award.  Prizes sometimes matter on a personal level. For one my parents were really proud of me, and my nephews and nieces patted me on the shoulder expressing enthusiasm which really means a lot to me (and surprise that gold medals are also given to non-sporty people). It means a lot to me, also because I am well passed the average graduate student age (46 at present). 

So although my roots are Flemish and my family and I live in the United Kingdom at present, I say: Go Canada!

Wednesday 2 October 2013

IRRODL journal is out with rich online, #mobile and #eLearning articles

The latest version of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning has just been published and as always it is packed with online, mobile and eLearning wisdom.

There are a couple of OER related articles in this publication. One article that immediately got my attention was the OERscout technology framework by Ishan Sudeera Abeywardena, Chee Seng Chan, Choy Yoong Tham. They dare to tackle the relevant OER searching and finding challenge: as a major step towards solving this issue, this paper proposes OERScout, a technology framework based on text mining solutions. Just imagine finding the top-notch OER in a matter of minutes, what a wonderful world this would be. 

Table of Contents


Editorial: Volume 14, Number 4HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Dianne Conrad 

Research Articles

Distance and e-learning, social justice, and development: The relevance of capability approaches to the mission of open universitiesHTMLPDF MP3EPUB
Alan William Tait 
The extent of and reasons for non re-enrolment: A case of Korea National Open UniversityHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Hyoseon Choi, Yekyung Lee, Insung Jung, Colin Latchem 
The adoption of open educational resources by one community college math departmentHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
John Levi Hilton III, Donna Gaudet, Phil Clark, Jared Robinson, David Wiley 
Making distance visible: Assembling nearness in an online distance learning programmeHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Jen Ross, Michael Sean Gallagher, Hamish Macleod 
Evaluation of the Vocational Education Orientation Programme (VEOP) at a university in South AfricaHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Lynette Jacobs, Corene De Wet 

Measuring use and creation of open educational resources in higher educationHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Ross Charles McKerlich, Cindy Ives, Rory McGreal 
Comparison of course completion and student performance through online and traditional coursesHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Thomas Wayne Atchley, Gary Wingenbach, Cynthia Akers 
Mobile app design for teaching and learning: Educators’ experiences in an online graduate courseHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Yu-Chang Hsu, Yu-Hui Ching 
Learning in a small, task–oriented, connectivist MOOC: Pedagogical issues and implications for higher educationHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Jenny Mackness, Marion Waite, George Roberts, Elizabeth Lovegrove 
Virtual worlds: Relationship between real life and experience in Second LifeHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Scott P. Anstadt, Shannon Bradley, Ashley Burnette 
The influence of e-learning on individual and collective empowerment in the public sector: An empirical study of Korean government employeesHTMLPDF MP3EPUB
Mann Hyung Hur, Yeonwook Im 
OERScout technology framework: A novel approach to open educational resources searchHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Ishan Sudeera Abeywardena, Chee Seng Chan, Choy Yoong Tham 
Power distance in online learning: Experience of Chinese learners in U.S. higher educationHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Yi (Leaf) Zhang 
Assessment of the effectiveness of internet-based distance learning through the VClass e-Education platformHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Chadchadaporn Pukkaew 

Leadership in Open and Distance Learning Notes

Editorial: Leadership in Open and Distance Learning NotesHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Marti Cleveland-Innes 
Leader-member exchange theory in higher and distance educationHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Robert Leo Power