Wednesday 26 February 2014

Free report on #teaching to reach education for all

Reaching education for all has been on the lips of many developing regions and their policy makers, but the pace of that race is slow. As a distance learning researcher and specifically into mobile learning, I often support technology as an important factor to reach learners all around the globe. That fact gets disputed regularly at home as my partner is a teacher who pulls my feet back on the ground saying: in order to reach all students, you need to support and talk to all students. She is right, the only way to reach everyone and ensure education for all is to invest in teachers. Technology is only an instrument, and believing technology will help us all is as silly as saying that when everyone would have a spoon, we would all be eating. Without a fruitful soil, without teachers, without available content, any progress will only happen at low speed.

UNESCO is right on that train of thought and has recently published an extensive report entitled: Teaching and learning: achieving quality for all. I must admit I like the addition of 'quality' to the 'education for all' concept. The report is available in two formats: a 50 page summary (available in English | French | Spanish | Arabic | Russian |Chinese | Hindi | Portuguese) highlighting findings and strategies, and the full report (just under 500 pages as an  English Full Report French | Spanish (pdf.s)) for all that really want to dig in the details.

The report is divided into three parts. Part 1 provides an update of progress towards the six EFA goals. The second part presents clear evidence that progress in education is vital for achieving development goals after 2015. Part 3 puts the spotlight on the importance of implementing strong policies to unlock the potential of teachers so as to support them in overcoming the global learning crisis.

The report summary highlights some urgent goals that need to be obtained and reading the shortlist certainly got me thinking:

  • Goal 1: Despite improvements, far too many children lack early childhood care and education. In 2012, 25% of children under 5 suffered from stunting. In 2011, around half of young children had access to pre-primary education, and in sub-Saharan Africa the share was only 18%.
  • Goal 2: Universal primary education is likely to be missed by a wide margin. The number of children out of school was 57 million in 2011, half of whom lived in conflict-affected countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 23% of poor girls in rural areas were completing primary education by the end of the decade. If recent trends in the region continue, the richest boys will achieve universal primary completion in 2021, but the poorest girls will not catch up until 2086.
  • Goal 3: Many adolescents lack foundation skills gained through lower secondary education. In 2011, 69 million adolescents were out of school, with little improvement in this number since 2004. In low income countries, only 37% of adolescents complete lower secondary education, and the rate is as low as 14% for the poorest. On recent trends, girls from the poorest families in sub-Saharan Africa are only expected to achieve lower secondary completion in 2111.
  • Goal 4: Adult literacy has hardly improved. In 2011, there were 774 million illiterate adults, a decline of just 1% since 2000. The number is projected to fall only slightly, to 743 million, by 2015. Almost two-thirds of illiterate adults are women. The poorest young women in developing countries may not achieve universal literacy until 2072. 
  • Goal 5: Gender disparities remain in many countries. Even though gender parity was supposed to be achieved by 2005, in 2011 only 60% of countries had achieved this goal at the primary level and 38% at the secondary level.
  • Goal 6: Poor quality of education means millions of children are not learning the basics. Around 250 million children are not learning basic skills, even though half of them have spent at least four years in school. The annual cost of this failure, around US$129 billion. Investing in teachers is key: in around a third of countries, less than 75% of primary school teachers are trained according to national standards. And in a third of countries, the challenge of training existing teachers is worse than that of recruiting and training new teachers.

The one fact that strikes me the most is the lack of progress in adult literacy. It is all good and well to advocate free online courses, but if literacy is not reached, no matter what type of content we put out there it will not engage all learners (unless we make it non-textual and available in local languages, which would be a real bonus for all). And literacy efforts demand intense teacher and learner efforts as well (time, money restraints).

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Setting up #LGBT help in crisis #uganda

For any LGBT person there is a long history of acceptance and persecution, but it has always been clear to me that the persecution of LGBT's comes at a moment that power tensions increase. I feel that with the current Ugandan LGBT crisis involving prosecution and incarceration of LGBT, and even alleged LGBT people - actions must be set up that help those at immediate risk.

Does stopping international (read western) aid work?
There is talk of governments stopping aid sent to Uganda, but within the current debate that the West is behind gay propaganda, stopping Western aid to Uganda will probably only fuel the debate and it will be easy for president Museveni to grab this fact as proof for what he has been saying all along. I agree with Rosebell Kagumire that one of the best things to happen to a dictator is putting his people in even more dire straights, because hardship promotes violence and radicalization. So for me, in a first step one should be supportive of LGBT and the whole population of Uganda. While find targeted actions. I wish it could be as simple as: if you have a LGBT teacher in your community it doubles your amount of financial support.

Brainstorming on solutions for LGBT inside Uganda
At this very point in time, the first focus in my opinion should be on supporting and helping LGBT people inside Uganda. Helplines need to be set up (a parallel with the Underground Railroad comes to mind: setting up safe houses and safe routes to get out of the country).  An option would be for consulates to open their doors (if they are not doing so already), or any international organizations to be obvious safe houses.

Violence needs to be made visible in order to stop it
Without proof that violence occurs it is all to easy not to take action. One option is to use mobile phones, as phones are most of the time personal and private. An option for indicating where LGBT violence is taking place can be found in 'Bashing'  (currently an EU app, but maybe easily adaptable to Uganda settings) an application described in multiple articles which is a smartphone app that allows you to map where violence has taken place.
Another option is to make use of a wider mobile application to indicate where violence is taking place using the wide media offerings of Ushahidi , this software crowdsourcing tool also works with basic cell phones to indicate where something is happening.

I am sure there might be more coming from people confronted with actual violence in their regions, and having set up solutions. Any thoughts or ideas welcomed.

Challenges that need to be tackled:
Making sure that these helplines are not infiltrated with malignant intentions, meaning, that those helplines that are set up are REALLY coming from positive LGBT people and not those portraying as LGBT to actually trap them. So how can this be done? Consulates and international organizations are easy, but internal Ugandan helplines might have to find solutions for this problem. Maybe set up a quick iteration that people must go through before trust is given?  
Any action taken will result in people leaving behind their families, homes, society and that is simply devastating to all.

Last remark: sure happy that big data is not commonly available yet. What if data would now be openly available? Anyone having indicated that they are gay in any form or document will easily be traceable with big data access. 

New free #research articles #IRRODL lots of interesting papers

IRRODL has a new issue out, gathering papers from across the globe. Did not have time to read it yet, but I put many papers in my 'to read' folder based on interesting titles and related abstracts. The wonderful bonus of IRRODL is that they deliver each paper in a variety of digital formats and they are OPEN to all.

Copying from the wonderful editorial accompanying this issue and which is written by Dianne Conrad:
Several topics emerged in this issue’s selection of articles. The first, in pieces from Canada, the UK, Korea, and Saudi Arabia, considers aspects of open and distributed learning on culture, learning, and knowledge. E.g. Hamdan from Saudi Arabia approaches her cultural study through the gender lens, considering the impact of ODL on female learners in that country.
A second topic, the increasingly popular open movement, is further explored by Mtebe and Raisamo as they look at African instructors’ use and adoption of OER. And from Katy Jordan comes a wide-ranging study that presents the results of a study that draws together MOOC enrolment and completion data from courses across the major MOOC platforms. 
Thirdly, and not surprisingly in any ODL journal, South African, Balkan, Chinese, and Taiwanese researchers give us the results of their investigations into the use of specific distance learning tools. 
Finally, reflecting our evolving field’s continuing interest in the critical issue of what constitutes effective teaching and learning at a distance, several writers offer their answers to that question from a variety of perspectives. One of the most popular approaches to “what works” over the years has been the measure of student satisfaction. The relationship of satisfaction to learning is, of course, its own topic, also often researched. With examples from Canada, Spain, Russia and China.
So from four continents, multiple researchers using a variety of methods ... this sure makes one perfect mid-week read.  

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

Vol 15, No 1 (2014)

Table of Contents


Editorial: Volume 15, Number 1HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Dianne Conrad

Research Articles

Post-secondary distance education in a contemporary colonial context: Experiences of students in a rural First Nation in CanadaHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Jesse Simon, Kevin Burton, Emily Lockhart, Susan O'Donnell
Roles and student identities in online large course forums: Implications for practiceHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Jacqueline Aundree Baxter, Jo Haycock
A cultural-historical activity theory investigation of contradictions in open and distance higher education among alienated adult learners in Korea National Open UniversityHTMLPDF MP3EPUB
K. P. Joo
Benchmarking the habits and behaviours of successful students: A case study of academic-business collaborationHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Elizabeth Archer, Yuraisha Bianca Chetty, Paul Prinsloo
Multi-country experience in delivering a joint course on software engineering – numerical resultsHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Zoran Budimac, Zoran Putnik, Mirjana Ivanović, Klaus Bothe, Katerina Zdravkova, Boro Jakimovski
An exploratory study of effective online learning: Assessing satisfaction levels of graduate students of mathematics education associated with human and design factors of an online courseHTMLPDFMP3EPUB
Joohi Lee
Initial trends in enrolment and completion of massive open online coursesHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Katy Jordan
A case study of integrating Interwise: Interaction, internet self-efficacy, and satisfaction in synchronous online learning environmentsHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Yu-Chun Kuo, Andrew E. Walker, Brian R. Belland, Kerstin E. E. Schroder, Yu-Tung Kuo
Student satisfaction with a web-based dissertation course: Findings from an international distance learning master's programme in public healthHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Roger Harrison, Isla Gemmell, Katie Reed
Design and implementation of a simulation-based learning system for international tradeHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Guo-Heng Luo, Eric Zhi-Feng Liu, Hung-Wei Kuo, Shyan-Ming Yuan
How well do Canadian distance education students understand plagiarism?HTML PDF MP3EPUB
Cheryl Ann Kier
Challenges and instructors’ intention to adopt and use open educational resources in higher education in TanzaniaHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Joel Samson Mtebe, Roope Raisamo
Introducing a learning management system at a Russian university: Students' and teachers' perceptionsHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Natalya Emelyanova, Elena Voronina
Rethinking dropout in online higher education: The case of the Universitat Oberta de CatalunyaHTML PDF MP3EPUB
Josep Grau-Valldosera, Julià Minguillón
The reciprocal and correlative relationship between learning culture and online education: A case from Saudi ArabiaHTML PDFMP3 EPUB
Amani K Hamdan

Friday 21 February 2014

Future of #mLearning inspiring ideas @dave_parsons

David Parsons
Imagine a future world where mobile learning is intuitive.

And now read the challenges and ideas that David Parsons from New Zealand Massey University comes up while reflecting on that same topic. His paper swooped me from one train of thought to another, adding new insights, challenging old ideas and reshuffling current mobile learning 'facts'. Because David is such an expert, his paper also spans decades of mobile learning knowledge and evolutions, which provides new insights in how the history of mLearning has (or has not) evolved.
What a refreshing research document! He starts off with a student showing his off the shelf hardware robot to his peers, while controlling the robot with his own adapted mobile device. From there he takes us along a journey of e-glasses, over (non)-mobility, to the poor return on investment of any IT (the IT productivity paradox), all the while linking each idea to current mobile learning myths and possible misconceptions. What a refreshing and easy to read paper. If you have not done so, connect to David and drop him a line on his wonderful insights here.

Sometimes I forget the most inspiring part of science: exploring and constructing the now to imagine and build better futures for us all. Not the dry scientific facts, but the organic flow of ideas that come to us as research projects are build. The point where everything is possible and the mind shapes the actions to come.

His paper covers 4 major mLearning subsets:
top 5 myths and misunderstandings (e.g. Mobile Learning as an extension of distance learning: It is true that distance learners can benefit from mLearning. However, once again to regard the mobile device as only for use at a distance is to miss its opportunities for use in the classroom, where mobile applications can support learning processes. Or another exampe: it is interesting to consider Amit Garg’s “Top 7 Myths of Mobile Learning” (2012), and note how many of these myths are about technology rather than learning, including perceived issues with screen size,costs of creating and distributing content, security, fragmented platforms and SCORM compliance. Garg’s point is, perhaps, that we can easily get hung up ontechnological aspects of mLearning when these are not important barriers at all.)

Top 5 mobile learning innovations (e.g. having an adaptive learning toolkit in the palm of your hand: A mobile device is increasingly a toolkit. As well as the tool-like functions that are built in to the device hardware (camera, sound recorder, video recorder,multimedia messaging, etc.), there are also many applications that can take advantage of various combinations of functions and sensors to make the phone into all kinds of tool.)

Top 5 future potentials of mobile learning (e.g. One of the major potentials of learning technologies is that they enable us to provide access to learning experiences that were previously too expensive, complex,dangerous or specialised to provide. We can now overcome these limitations by connecting learners to remote learning activities. It is already the case that distance students can perform engineering experiments remotely using remote data connections (Toole, 2011)).

Top 5 future risks of mobile learning (e.g. The opposite of the green manifesto: Already there are more computers in landfill sites than on the desktop, and we continue to turn the planet to trash at a frightening rate. Every year, hundreds of millions of electronic items go to landfill in the United States and, globally, tens of millions of tons of e-waste go to landfill. To compound the problem, mobile phones have a particularly short lifespan.)

If you like some reflection and are into mobile or overall learning with technology, this is really a treat of a read. 

Thursday 20 February 2014

Flexible #pedagogies for Technology Enhanced Learning

A new report is published from UK Higher Ed Academy, this one focusing on flexible pedagogies for Technology Enhanced Learning. You can download the 23 page report written by Neil Gordon from the University of Hull, UK here. The report takes a look at potential pedagogical changes needed with the changing online learning landscape (ranging from classroom ICT based courses, to blended to fully online). The report focuses on how e-learning, also known as technology-enhanced-learning, may support flexible pedagogies, and so encompasses a range of topics where technology can enable new choices for learners. Flexible learning focuses on giving students choice in the pace, place and mode of their learning, and all three aspects can be assisted and promoted through appropriate pedagogical practice, practice that can itself be supported and enhanced through e-learning. e-Learning is concerned with using computer technologies to support learning, whether that learning is local (on campus) or remote (at home or in the workplace).

The conclusion section provided some interesting future research actions:

In terms of the three main stakeholders, future short-to-medium-term implications include: 
  • learners: taking more responsibility for their own learning, choosing and taking advantage of technologies that can improve their own learning, with advice from their teachers; 
  • teachers: identifying opportunities for flexibility in delivery, with a growing emphasis on managing the learning process rather than being the primary provider of learning material; 
  • institutions: allowing for flexible systems, where students can enrol and select learning. The role of institutions becomes that of providing systems and frameworks, as well as providing the quality checks to award credits and degrees. 
There are a number of developments in virtual learning environments and other learning technologies that could aid flexibility, beyond the typical features of current VLEs. The key ones that follow from suggestions in this report are: 
  • support for personalised learning pathways within a VLE, so that learning material can be organised into structures that allow the learner to choose their own pathway. Dependencies between material would be identified, with clauses used to potentially control some of the learners’ choices and access; 
  • flexi-level and adaptive assessment support in VLE-based assessment tools or available via standardised interfaces, such as the LTI standards; 
  • development of learning analytics to support flexible access, eg engagement data to replace attendance data; 
  • further research into the effectiveness of online, distance and flexible approaches compared with more traditional ones, with a particular focus on the retention and success data when compared with traditional approaches. The growth of MOOCs and blended learning offer opportunities to develop further work addressing questions such as to what extent engagement and attendance correlate, and whether online provision of resources encourages squirrel-like (collect and store) behaviours, rather than accessing and engaging. Existing VLEs and the new MOOC platforms offer the potential for large data sets of student learning behaviours to enable informed decisions on implementing new learning approaches. 

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Rush for free webinar on #Open Badges

Immediate action is required for this free webinar, as I only got word of it right now and deadline for registering is today.
On Wednesday 19 February 2014 from 12.30 - 13.15 London time, JISC Scotland provides a free lunchtime seminar for all of us interested in Open Badges from Mozilla.
More information can be found here.
And you can rush over to book for the session here (the organizers do ask, that if you sign up, you will actually join the webinar - ensuring synchronous interest also for the speaker, as well as the organizers).

A new infrastructure for enabling the digital accreditation of learning, Mozilla's Open Badge Infrastructure is well-placed for recognizing 21st century skills as well as unlocking career and educational opportunities. Grainne Hamilton will introduce the concept of Open Badges, covering how they could enhance current accreditation and how people are using Open Badges in Scotland. Grainne will go into some principles of effective Open Badge design and discuss tools to aid Open Badge development. By the end of the session, participants will have gained a basic understanding of the Open Badge Infrastructure, how Open Badge design can be approached and have had the opportunity to ask questions about Open Badges.

Blackboard Collaborate is the platform we use to deliver RSCtv. If you are new to using Collaborate we recommend that you read the Webinar Guidelines page on our website. - See more at this page for guidelines on getting you set up for the webinar.

Monday 17 February 2014

Report on risks of #learning analytics in education #educause

In June 2012 Educause already launched a 44 page report on possible risks and benefits of using learning analytics in Higher Education written by Randall Stiles. While Bert De Coutere and Wilfred Rubens shared a small reflection during Online Educa Berlin assuming that none of us would have ever have made it if quota on Learning analytics would have been used while we were studying, I  wanted to revisit the report of Educause. It is a really nice report taking a deeper look at all the trajectories that can come out of learning analytics and their implementation, as well as guidelines on what to take into account when deploying a learning analytics department inside a Higher Ed institute.

Synopsis of major points raised in the report:

  • Risks for institutional leaders 
  • Data and information governance risk 
  • Data and information quality risk 
  • Data and information compliance risk, specifically, those associated with “learning analytics” and the use of cloud services or software as a service (SaaS) 

And gladly adding the conclusion
This guide has provided an introduction and overview of major risk categories for an institution considering investments of time, energy, and money in analytics work. High-quality data and information (meaningful patterns of data) are essential for success, as is a data-friendly culture. It is important to have an understanding of the balance of intuitive and analytics-based decision making that corresponds to the local culture. Major and explicit risks are associated with data privacy and security as a result of various federal and state compliance requirements, as well as any internal policy requirements. In addition, special care and expertise are needed for managing outsourced (cloud or SaaS) services. In the case of the developing research area of learning analytics, questions remain about the ethical use of data—a general understanding of these issues is still in development. In Analytics: The Widening Divide, three key competencies in organizations that have been most successful with analytics are identified. These competencies are recommended as a concise summary of developmental objectives for colleges and universities that choose to invest in analytics. 
1.Information management: the use of methodologies, techniques, and technologies that address data architecture, transformation, movement, storage, integration, and governance of enterprise information and master data management. 
2. Analytical skills and tools: enhance performance by applying advanced techniques such as modeling, deep computing, simulation, data analytics, and optimization to improve efficiency and guide strategies that address specific business processes. 
3. Data-oriented culture: a pattern of behaviors and processes by a group of people who share a belief that having, understanding, and using certain kinds of data and information plays a critical role in the success of their organization. 

Saturday 15 February 2014

My sexuality and lying by omission

As a lesbian, where do I stand in the midst of a - hopefully only seamingly - increase of gay debate? Do I take action to build LGBT helfpful projects, apps, safe havens? Well no not at the moment.

Although I self-proclaim myself as a Feminist in the first place and a lesbian in second, I do admit that the last few years I have made myself guilty of 'lying by omission' on the latter. While being openly gay since an early age, and active up to a point where my mom told me "all I find when Googling you are gay activist links, why must you be so gay?" and me answering her "because I am, both in spirit and in body" (wise guy/gay I guess). But with the onset of a new job, I put my gayness on second, third, fourth plain and I focused on elearning, mobile learning... not really taking along an activist, lesbian persona on my path to educational knowledge and position. At first it came natural: absorbing elearning projects is just that, but than I knew and felt I was omitting my sexuality at times, especially when visiting countries where gay rights equal gay imprisonment. And after my diabetes diagnosis, I even got quite scared and I became guilty of not mentioning it consciously. Scared because I realized that my body no longer was autonomous, as it became insulin dependent. So even under the 'best' of prison conditions I felt I would be at risk, and imprisonment can sometimes come simply because I love my partner which seems so normal and non-threatening to anyone else.

What does this evolution tell me? That I am not as courageous as I would dream myself to be, or that with age I got more scared (who's to tell). My partner Ciska Imschoot is much stronger, she keeps on trotting, writing columns on life in the UK with our son, sharing activist LGBT links for all. I admire her for that (and so much more). She is my moral beacon more than once and on more subjects as well. This morning she told me she shared the coming out speech of Ellen Page (actress, Juno and more). It is such a simple act coming out, yet still making a difference for those unsure whether there are 'others out there'. And indeed the world is filled with gays, lesbians, queers no matter which region or time.
I feel like such a coward, and yet I once was (and I still am) an active queer, but apparently now no longer as proud as I used to be. Even under what can only be described as 'a small amount of pressure' my queerness has shrunk.
So what about all those brave women, men and others out there that keep on standing, even amid the darkest of times? Being a lesbian is nothing new to humanity. It has always been there, and at times permitted or scorned, but always being part of the world. In the best of times there was a role in society for two-spirit people, dual-sex depiction, same-sex tales and those stories can be found in most ancient and contemporary societies. It is just one of the many varieties of humanity, and it is so completely non-threatening to anyone as it bears on the person and builds on something as simple as love, that it is hard to imagine it could be a point of debate or exclusion. So, when looking at Ellen Page her coming out, it dawned on me (again) that I was just too silent. So as a Valentine's pledge I plan to focus on elearning projects related to LBGT from now on.

Thursday 13 February 2014

#eMOOCs2014 #FutureLearn new stats & findings #MOOC

There were many interesting sessions during the second eMOOC summit which took place in Lausanne, Switzerland. And I am eagerly awaiting extra content to be disseminated so I can add my notes to it and share it for it has been a great couple of days. At the bottom of this post you can see the 28 minute talk given by Simon Nelson from FutureLearn, who shared new data coming from the FutureLearn platform. FutureLearn is a MOOC platform launched only 6 months ago in collaboration with the Open University of the UK and many other fabulous partners. Donald Clark also adds some good thoughts on FutureLearn (plus and minus').

Listing my notes:

Notes from Simon Nelson’s speech
(No tie, grey suit, warm very well paced voice)
Nice parallel to the polarized debate on the downfall of HigherEd due to MOOCs with similar debates when television came and took over radio (or so was said), and fears and wonders when Lumière brothers first brought their film footage to the cinema's. 
Focusing on opportunities of MOOC is important, but the arrival of the internet was the real change, and MOOC are just the start of new opportunities that arise. “transform the future, without destroying the status quo”. [notes from me: I agree that opportunities need to be the focus, but I would like to see that these opportunities are immediately linked to ‘improvement’ and effectively attracting or embracing vulnerable learners e.g]. And after hearing Andrew Ng, Simon and others, I do believe there is a sincere willingness in some of the xMOOC drivers to embrace education for all, but work needs to be done to really change our society and lift everyone with education.

Simon mentions it is only natural that the first MOOC’ers were and are tech rich, educated people, because they did learned about MOOC due to their background and interest.
Demands partnerships with other MOOC organizers to change the debate, share benefits and dispel some of current negativity. Simon focuses on ‘attracting new audiences’.

MOOCs are seen by Simon as a starting point for online learning, emphasizing need for increased social learning. A quarter of the FutureLearn course visits comes from mobile devices. Quick iterations with immediate software updates are possible

Some characteristics of FutureLearn are shared
Telling stories
Rich media storytelling/narrations, learning from more traditional media (e.g. television, documentaries…). It is the shared event provided by MOOCs which result in shared meaning. As an example Simon refers to a course that is accompanied with a murder mystery to keep learners interested throughout the course.
Emphasis on open and intuitive learning, not necessarily content as solely being part of full curricula, also making parts of the course searchable and retrievable on the web.

Provoking conversations
Here Simon shows current elements of FutureLearn (e.g. conversational threads, peer reviews that are engaging (response within 12 hours max)
Social learning (25% of learners take part in social learning FutureLearn options): direct learning from others, knowledge sharing, vicarious learning (learner is aware of learning activity of others), implicit learning (learner engages with others to develop shared representation), conversational learning (learner engages in sustained dialogue with others), orchestrated collaboration (e.g. group work leading towards shared understanding), shared knowledge building (with dialogue and interaction with others at its core), zone of proximal development (learner learns through interaction and conversation with a more knowledgeable other – one of my favorite concepts).

Celebrating progress
Every learner is valuable no matter how long or short they engage with the learner. So FutureLearn tries to find ways to reward every interaction. Making participation a goal in itself.

The registrations of students are soon going to overtake the registrations from the Open University students (there are of course differences in registration goals).
Stats coming from the first 8 courses from FutureLearn: Starting from those registered learners that actually did view at least one step of the course, Simon shares the following stats:
86% are ‘active learners’ of the learners have marked steps as ‘complete’
54% are returning learners (learners that marked steps as complete in more than one week)
15% fully participating learners (marked majority of steps as complete + including all assessments)
34% of learners was engaged in social learning activities like those stated above.

New #gender & #mlearning news mobiles to end violence

The Gender and Mobile Learning Newsletter is a great read and is now available. There are links to mobile learning events such as the upcoming mobile learning week at UN headquarters in Paris France (17 - 21 February 2014), and the mobile learning workshop 'saving lives through mobile' organized in Barcelona, Spain on 25 February 2014.

If you have any gender/mobile related projects or events planned, make sure to let Ronda Zelezny-Green know and she will get your projects highlighted in upcoming newsletters (do remember the 2-monthly frequency of the newsletter).

Synopsis of other topics mentioned in the newsletter
How mobiles can help stop Gender-Based Violence 
The past three years – and more pointedly the past 12 months – have laid witness to monumental, if not heartbreaking, incidents of gender-based violence. The gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi last December; the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl left for dead in a pit latrine in Western Kenya last June; the mass sexual assault of women in Tahrir Square during the 2011 revolution in Egypt and since; all were high profile atrocities that ignited outrage around the world.
In the aftermath of each of these, mobile technology solutions and internet-based advocacy campaigns surged. It’s almost like clockwork: violence happens, a technology response follows. And 2013 has seen an explosion of new efforts.

Winning mLearning projects:
The GSMA mWomen Programme is delighted to announce that Accion Internationaland the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) are the latest recipients of its Innovation Fund grants and the first grantees outside of Africa.  They join current grantees Tigo TanzaniaEtisalat Africa, Orange Mali and Airtel Uganda in developing innovative offerings designed to address the gender gap in women’s access and use of mobile in their respective markets.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

#emoocs2014 solutions to including vulnerable learners in #MOOC

This is the brief overview of the talk that I give at eMOOCs2014 on the subject of challenges for conceptualising EU MOOC for vulnerable learner groups. The full paper can be viewed here (it has the full argumentation and possible solutions. With this paper the authors wanted to push the discussion on the topic of including vulnerable learner groups.

Just followed a session on MOOC and collaborations with developing regions. Can the diversity existing in MOOC be distilled from looking at the speaker picture shared here? (I know, it is easy to use the panel for doubting the reach of solutions based on inclusion... but I cannot help but add it).

Please share your ideas, possible solutions you have used/build or would like to see happen in MOOC.

Monday 10 February 2014

#emoocs2014 Liveblogging #MOOC research track sessions

Sharing these talks, so if you are interested in more information, link to any of the speakers, I will try to get .
Full papers can be found in the online proceedings from the conference here

Session 1: MOOCrank: for making learning outcomes (LO) of MOOCs visible.
By Derick Leony from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain

First step: requirements specified
Identify MOOC learning outcomes and map them with taxonomy (based on the comprehension of the students, not the teachers)
Manage users’ profiles based on intended LO
Support the discover of LO

Architecture of the solution is based on storage (mooc info, LO, LO in MOOCs), Learner profiles, Scripts (MOOC parser, LO parser), Services (manage learner profile, MOOC filter, MOOC annotation with LO).

Asked for information for MOOC recommendations from MOOC platforms.

Discussions on current LO from MOOC platforms:
existing solutions for MOOC aggregation (ClassCentral, CourseTalk)
Other solutions propose learning paths (MyEducationPath, Skillacademy)
Ease of application for other domains
Classification approach is applicable to other resources besides MOOCs
Crowdsourcing approach brings pros and cons

Next steps as MOOCrank is only in its initial project phase
Include social features (rank courses, comment and experience, feedback about professors, contents and learning pace)
Improve usability of the tool
Collecting dependencies between courses
Exploring application for learning at the workplace

Session 2: Signals of Success and Self-directed learning by Paige Cuffe and Helen Crump from the open university, UK
Both looking good and speaking eloquently. Paper on their talk can be found here (

cMOOC learning design was the basis for the OldsMOOC that was the subject of this research.
The projects for the students was group based. The course had different facilitators, that always offered a light version and a thorough learning path.
Places and spaces of the MOOC: cloudworks, google, twitter.

The fact that the MOOC used a lot of new technologies, the participants needed to overcome tech challenges.

The MOOC has a formal evaluation but also individual evaluation from the learners => research question
Collaborative auto ethnography approach (reflecting individually, collectively, and openly (3 stages).
Collaboration location was done on same course tools and social media.

Key themes came from database, which were used to put back into the collective, used some of the remarks as objects to discuss. Four key themes emerged:
defining success
the role of connection in achieving your learning
self-efficacy factors as a function of experience
and learning is personal

So success needed to be defined, as the curriculum was adapted throughout the course as well. For example: application of information can be success, but connecting can be success as well. The role of connecting in order to achieve learning is of importance, as those connections that are felt as ‘interestingly’ has resulted in longest maintaining twitter connections.

Self-direction and adaptation: tech skills are needed to cope in this environment, but also the self-confidence to adapt the curriculum to your learning needs: talk skills, inherent skills.

Learning is personal
Success is a personal construct
Continuing connection supports continuing learning
Self-direction and adaptation is essential

Remark: participants were all post-graduates, this means that the target group had different learning skills.

Scaffolding self-learning in MOOCs, by
Most MOOC participants are bachelor’s and above.
Question: how can MOOCs be useful for training (unemployed) people without HigherEd?

We need MOOCs targeting the needs of people without HigherEd: example: entrepreneurial classes, language courses, learning management…
Lack of study skills and work habits (great heterogeneity regarding study times an schedules) (n =41)
Need for rescheduling the study times several times a week
Lack of social study (with colleagues or course forums)
Lack of support from mentors that helped them plan their study
Most students could not follow online course
Almost anyone finished an online course

An application for supporting the development of study skills and work habits through MOOCs
Requirements obtained from study
Tool must be distributes as a mobile app
Tool must be customizable to different profiles
Tool must include an adaptable daily-planner
Tool must rely on crowd-sourced information
Tool must provide tips and hints to make the most of MOOCs
Tool must serve as a meeting point with mentors

Next steps
Continue implementation following an agile methodology
Provide synchronous communication with mentors
Integration with course recommenders: moocrank

Closer integration with MOOC platforms

Thoughts on power discrepancy in #MOOC #eMOOCs2014

As this first day at #eMOOC2014 day passes, I get the feeling that it really will not be possible to change the way education is heading: increasing the digital divide, replicating existing power imbalances. Dark thoughts during a really nice conference. The reason for this dark thoughts is due to some facts: e.g. the video recording studio that Jermann talked about, if the content production is supported by such a big HR team, little universities/non-profits… cannot beat those uni's content creation. Content creation is a content avalanche coming from those institutes that can produce, inundating (involuntarily) those who cannot. (metaphor: African companies will not build Swiss buildings, for these buildings have been build, the other way round does happen, think Chinese companies building in South Africa. So what is already there is the keeper). This is a life reflection blog, so sorry if certain trains of thought are open ended, as speakers keep talking as I reflect.

Although the inspiring opening speech from Pierre Dillenbourg was fun and invigorating, his belief in EU-MOOC is lost in my equality seeking mind. There is no way that any university with lack of HR can produce content at a rate that big money HigherEd can. There is no higher ed change, there is just a capital shift at most, but the same content, the same gatekeepers ensure the same doctrines and facts.

After which a president of EPFL started to talk, Patrick Aebischer. He gives his view on the MOOCs produced at EPFL. He rightfully starts from online learning, and the evolution to current MOOC. Online learning institutes have indeed paved the way for current MOOC options. One of the biggest European problems at the moment is linked to the reality of the divided states in the EU, as each country starts their own platform, which is hindering collaborative growth. And some EU universities have joined US MOOC platforms, so there is a real shift in universities in terms of region.

Let me get back to the xMOOC cMOOC discussion… cMOOC are being run over by xMOOC. Which is again an example of the big taking over the little, or the scalable norm overtaking the local, tailored option. History (in this case history in HigherEd educational change) is rewritten at an increased rate, which makes it also very interesting, I must admit.

An interesting remark was given when Patrick mentioned that the course given by Martin Odersky on Scala computer language was used by other universities as a course to be followed by other universities. So in a way – using Patrick’s words – the course was hijacked by other universities, as Martin was in fact the real scala writer, and as such the expert. But this also means that expert content is becoming a global content option, but in doing so less voices are heard. 

Another interesting number shared was the fact that a French course gets only 10% of participants compared to a similar English course. So if scale has an impact on budget, hitting the main market segment becomes ever more important. 

Continued education or lifelong learning is increasingly important, and this means courses followed need to be aligned with professional demands. Coming back at the success rates of MOOC, there is again the link to certification given during the talk, which is not necessarily linked to the personal need of the MOOC participant for her/his professional development (it might just be one part of a course that feels useful). This need or not for certification is a returning chant during the conference. I think it depends on where you are coming from, where you want to go, and what you need as a learner to proceed to new professional horizons. If you do not have a degree, certification might be very important (for the self, as well as for the career), whereas a professionally settled learner might not feel the need to pursue certification. 

Looking at continental regions: “Africa is trying to catch up with MOOC courses”, which makes me sigh. It should be African courses which are provided to African students, for so many reasons (identity, ownership, localisation). Not surprisingly EPFL saw the potential of producing French MOOC courses, as it is a specific regions currently under served by MOOCs (French regions). And of course with the best intentions, but in a way any collaboration or educational support should be aimed at providing autonomy. By the people, for the people in combination with the personal is political. 

Patrick also mentioned a remark coming from Northern face-to-face students “MOOCs are good support material. However they do not offer a good alternative for ex-cathedra courses”. So is this a reality? For if it is, any amount of MOOCs will still only deliver an alternative for non face-to-face or blended learning students, and result in an increased digital divide for those not being able to add any form of blended or face-to-face learning to their self-constructed or provided curriculum.

Not everything is dark. For EPFL has set up a collaboration which looks at priority themes for Africa (water, energy, nutrition, health…), but again although support is given … the fact that content IS created and disseminated, puts other regions that try to play catch up at the end of the line.

Students need credits or certification. For MOOCs to be included to the local curricula, academic regulations need to be amended. Collaboration across universities from different regions is possible but is said to be challenging due to the administration, and again I cannot help but think that if collaboration is offered in terms of the power beholder, it inevitably has the mark of that power, the mark of that content embedded in what is being created.

Another revolution is the learning data, but these data are also coming more from Northern sphere, so results will provide guidelines fitting those types of learners (or at least more than the others), as reality is in the eye of the beholder. 

But why do I care? That is my question. Why would I even care whether education for all is really achieved or not? For a global world is inevitable. Power will always make the rules, put down the laws… so why do I care and do I want to ‘preserve’ the drive for equality which is – at the end of the road – impossible. Conquering territory is a human fact, diversity seems to be an illusion, and only provides a map of that which will dissolve giving another few decades.  How can I ever talk tomorrow about including vulnerable learners?

#emoocs2014 Video’s do’s and don’ts from EFPL with Patrick Jermann

Patrick Jermann knows how to capture his audience and he does. His talk was also very comprehensive and practical, with a clear focus on his topic. He looks like a wonderful guy, ready to share what he knows with anyone interested.
What he shared (followed by the actual slidedeck accompanying his talk at the end of this live blogpost). He looks at his lessons learned, the amount of time it took to record mooc video's and with which equipment he did it. 

Types of videos
Teaser. Promotional video
Leacuture. Annotate and comment a slide presentation
Demonstration. Comment of a technical setup / lab movie
+ internview / discussion. N teachers discuss a topic, a student asks question
+ hangouts. Live session which is streamed online.

The teachers are the video drivers
We provide a template and teachers prepare their slides
We coordinate the production
We setup the studio and teachers record alone
Supporting presence
Teachers’ image on the slides at the beginning and at the end
Pointer and invisible hand effect during explanations
Inform design with research

First of all, a human adventure
Each person is different, so a lot of dynamics in the video happens in the ten minutes before the actual shooting of the video.

Steps in the video
Welcome: full shot
Salutation and goodbye
Split shot with professor  + professor

Handwritten content (full shot)
Presence is put in by using live handwriting or providing pointers.

Production coordination: a lot of studio sessions that is for sure!
Record => edit => review (by professor) => audio and colour => upload => add subtitle => done
(an amazing set of MOOC video’s produced. Capacity calculation: 1 unit => 7 – 15 min, 1 MOOC week = 5 units (5 hours studio, 20 hours editing), 10 MOOCs to produce in 3 months.

Studio layout
Away from any traffic
Insultation foam to absorb echoes
Black, white, green backdrops
Mobile workbench with tablet computer
Close to support team
Large enough to shoot full shot
Preparation and debriefing space

…. Just found his wonderful slidedeck  feel free to browse his slides here (facts and figures!)