Wednesday 28 May 2014

If 80% is #informal #learning, why focus on inner-MOOC actions? #MOOC

A small 'brain wandering journey' on why I feel MOOC research should look more intensely at informal learning outside of the actual MOOCs (informal learning generated by the dynamics in MOOCs), and overall lifelong learning in an ever changing online learning environment, for a workforce that is becoming older in an knowledge driven era.

What we learn is 80% informal and 20% formal (on the job)
For several years Jay Cross (building on previous research) has been providing evidence that informal learning makes up around 80% of on the job learning (depending on the research this figure can vary a bit, nevertheless it does mean: the majority of what is learned comes from informal learning). Now, this fact has been resonating in my brain for a couple of weeks, for this means that not one single course or curriculum will ever cover all the learning we need/do. I did think: well on-the-job learning is not the same as learning overall, but then I could not make that statement hard, as for me, learning is related to what I want to do, so in a way it is always related to my professional interest.
And as such learning needs to be traced to cover full informal learning. And that means learning/learner analytics needs to go beyond the MOOC realm, beyond the belly button of any online course offered. Having data coming from MOOC is one thing, having data that comes from the learner and her/his actions would probably bring us closer to actual learning (the learner is always right?). In a way cMOOC offered this opportunity (a bit on cMOOC and xMOOC here), as they tend to ask learners to build objects coming from their own informal learning that happened during the MOOC (e.g. share blogpost, share resources, share insights into their networks). But as cMOOCs are less in the research picture (or so it seems), some gaps related to informal learning become more visible.

Where is the informal learning/learner data from MOOC?
When I screen MOOC research, most of it focuses on learning analytics coming from MOOC's internal learning data. But maybe I am missing current research that also looks at informal learning that happens outside of the MOOCs, but is in fact related to the MOOC topic or resulting topics (if you know of such research, feel free to share, I will be grateful and read it with pleasure). And to me that leaves a gap for informal learning that is taking place, but is not (yet) researched. And with informal learning, a whole variety of learning dynamics comes into place: ranging from objects to people, from face-to-face (partners) to online experts linked through an online network, from professional learning need to immersion into a new field of personal interest.

One could ask whether a MOOC is a formal or informal learning course. In a way MOOC can also be seen as informal learning for those not joining a MOOC for certification. Or people join it simply because the subject adds something to their personal interest. But still, there is something in this current MOOC research equation that strikes me as missing the novelty of learners and learning that comes along with MOOCs.

Two nice research options I can see related to informal learning and MOOC (or any online options)
As I am plotting my research interest (main study), some topics come to mind that do involve MOOCs, but where I would like to see an additional viewpoint:
Lifelong learning for the 30 onward learner. Why does the majority of research focus on MOOC for higher ed? If we know that the working force is becoming older, the retirement age will most probably have to be raised, and informal learning is crucial in this knowledge age ... then MOOC research should focus on lifelong learning, informal learning, ... all of these subjects to get some insights in adult learning behavior and potential guidelines to enhance learning for those populations at risk (the older working force) - of course higher ed is a market, a market that thrives on parents hoping their children will get a nicer future and as such a ready to invest heavily in it. Nevertheless, when screening unemployment, it does look as though universities do not deliver the right set of skills/capacities for graduates to get a job. There is a counter action taking place, with entrepreneurial schools popping up in a lot of regions, but then again those highlight a specific, economy driven set of jobs (and taking diversity and creativity into consideration, those jobs are not necessarily fitting all of us).
Informal learning in mixed online/IRL settings. MOOCs are here now, but they are not exactly new in the sense that they build upon what was there (online learning) and they grew to embrace the globe due to wireless infrastructure being put into place. So, it would only be logical that they will be pushed aside by other learning formats, equally online. The same can be said about mobile learning, which will be absorbed in overall, technology enhanced learning. But there is an interesting difference at present between mooc and mobile learning, interesting enough mobile learning focuses much more on informal learning (learning outside of what is offered) then MOOC learning (which is directly related to the different starting point of both innovative learning strands: MOOCs online learning building upon eLearning delivered via universities; mobile learning coming from finding contextualized solutions for vulnerable learner groups that are provided specific content, discussions, and opportunities to improve their lives. So to me it makes perfect sense that future learners will make a learning collage of everything that is available and mold it into something they feel they need or want to know. This means that each learner makes their own learning landscape, a personal learning journey. Which in turn means that interactions and learning happens on many different levels, and informal skills and capacities are essential for making a success of that personal learning journey.

So here it goes: for my main study I will focus on informal learning inside MOOCs (it is my PhD, I will do it), looking at crossing devices, looking at individual/collaborative learning and solutions learners come up with for their self-determined learning (yes, getting heutagogy into my mix).
On a sideline, a potentially for my personal interest research I might start setting up a research project that looks at how experts AND grassroots successful learners (e.g. those learners that have a starting position from which you would think: they are not going to make it into the 'normal' world) grow towards professional/personal success.
I will not share the other project that keeps knocking on my mental door, asking to be realized, but for which I know it will take up so much time, and as such I keep pushing it forward. 

Wednesday 21 May 2014

#OER #mobile and online learning videos

Yesterday the last of a set of 10 videos on Open Educational Resources (OER) was uploaded by the Ontario Online Learning Portal. In these 10 videos basic OER information is shared, making it a wonderful, qualitative starting point for anyone building a course around OER (saves time and money :-)

Dr. Rory McGreal , from Contact North | Contact Nord Research Associate and the UNESCO/Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Educational Resources shares his expertise in a series of 10 short (= on average 6 minutes), informative videos that address the what, why, where, and how of OER. Through the videos, Rory guides you to effectively find and make use of OER for more time- and cost-effective course development.
In addition to practical information on OER, Rory also addresses issues of copyright, fair dealing, and licensing for freely available materials.
The information is delivered briefly and consizely. For example, I found out where to go to get some nice French, Spanish, Dutch, Turkish, Finnish, ... OER via the OpenEducationalConsortium: link. 
I will share just the one video from those 10 movies here focusing on OER and mobile learning. In this video Rory McGreal has a 6 minute look at why developing content that is mobile accessible is important. Most of you will know it: more people use mobile to access internet then desktops, more mobile users everywhere so mobile access means more access to your content. It is great content to initiate the overall topic of mobile learning and OER.

Contact North VId 6 from Signature Group on Vimeo.

Friday 16 May 2014

Free #mobile learning webinars @imlws

Next week the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) group will be providing a great set of speakers to any of you interested in mobile learning and its frontier use. It is a 3 day webinar series, starting on Tuesday 20 May until Thursday 22 May 2014. You can register for this seminar here.

The speaker line-up is quite impressive, bringing the best mLearning practitioners from around the globe together, the full schedule with links to the content and profiles of all the speakers can be found here, but gladly sharing the overview:

Opening Remarks / Welcome
Presented by Dr. Kristy Murray
9:05am – 9:15am EDT
Agenda Overview, Webinar Requirements & Etiquette
Presented by Jason Haag
9:15am – 9:45am EDT
Games-based Mobile Learning:
Presented by Dan Magaha

10:00am – 10:30am EDT
Making The Move to Multi-device Design
Presented by Imogen Casebourne
10:45am – 11:15am EDT
Digital. Mobile. Augmented. Reality - How Emerging Technologies are Redefining Context and Reshaping Our Views About Mobile Learning
Presented by Geoff Stead
11:30am – 12:45pm EDT
Lunch Break
1:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Beyond the Small Screen: Designing Mobile Experiences that Engage the World
Presented by David Gagnon
1:45pm – 2:15pm EDT
Contextualizing Mobile: MLearning In the Larger Picture of Organizational Performance & Development
Presented by Clark Quinn
2:30pm – 3:00pm EDT
Enhancing Performance through Wearable Devices
Presented by Eric Sikorski

3:15pm – 3:45pm EDT
Strategies for Implementing Mobile Learning into Existing Training Programs - Lessons Learned About Infrastructure and Instructional Design
Presented by Christine Hudy

3:45pm – 4:15pm EDT
Using EPUB3 and xAPI for Mobile Learning
Presented by Tyde Richards

Day 2: Wednesday, May 21, 2014

9:00am – 9:05am
Opening Remarks / Welcome
Presented by TBD
9:05am – 9:15am EDT
Agenda Overview, Webinar Requirements & Etiquette
Presented by Jason Haag
9:15am – 9:45am EDT
Mobile Learning at Abilene Christian University: What we learned and what we are still learning
Presented by Scott Hamm
10:00am – 10:30am EDT
When Learning Becomes Working – How xAPI Blends the Two
Presented by Chad Udell
10:45am – 11:15am EDT
Title: TBD
Presented by Kellian Adams Pletcher
11:30am – 12:45pm EDT
Lunch Break
1:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Learning in the Open
Presented by Michael Sean Gallagher
1:45pm – 2:15pm EDT
JKO Mobile Use Cases and Demo
Presented by Mark L. Willman
2:30pm – 3:00pm EDT
mLearning, 3D and Augmented Reality for Army Combat Medics
Presented by David Metcalf
3:15pm – 3:30pm EDT
From Legacy Content to Device-independent Presentation Models
Presented by Mayra Aixa Villar
3:45pm – 4:15pm EDT
Structured Content Strategies for Mobile
Presented by Reuben Tozman
4:15pm – 4:30pm EDT
Closing Remarks
Presented by Jason Haag

Day 3: Thursday, May 22, 2014

9:00am – 9:05am
Opening Remarks / Welcome
Presented by TBD
9:05am – 9:15am EDT
Agenda Overview, Webinar Requirements & Etiquette
Presented by Jason Haag
9:15am – 9:45am EDT
Patterns of Mobile Learning: From Mobile Content and Blended Learning to Mixed Reality Simulations
Presented by Christian Glahn
10:00am – 10:30am EDT
How People Really Hold and Touch (their phones)
Presented by Steven Hoober
10:45am – 11:15am EDT
Tools for Mobile Design
Presented by Sarah Gilbert
11:30am – 12:45pm EDT
Lunch Break
1:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Instructional Design for Mobile Learning
Presented by Peter Berking
1:45pm – 2:15pm EDT
(Re)Designing Learning for Mobile
Presented by John Traxler
2:30pm – 3:00pm EDT
Framing Instructional Design for Collaborative RLOs with the CSAM Framework
Presented by Rob Power
3:15pm – 3:45pm EDT
Mobile Learning as part of a Blended Approach
Presented by Mike Brock

3:45pm – 4:00pm EDT
Closing Remarks
Presented by Jason Haag

Thursday 15 May 2014

Pointers on writing a #literature review from M. Hammersley

Seminar on reviewing literature in social and educational research given by Martyn Hammersley, CREET, the Open University.

Although literature is seen as an important part of the research process, there are some criticisms from non-academics on its transparency. Martyn provides an overview of practices one can consider as a researcher to make literature review chapters more accessible, both to researchers, policy makers and interested parties.

Systematic reviews and some of their challenges
What policy makers would like to see is a systematic overview, a synthesizing the studies, so including information on how much literature is covered, and whether specific consistent criteria have been adopted

Disciplinary fields and boundaries are much weaker now, then they were before. It is important to focus on literature that is relevant for your own research, and not necessarily limit yourself to what is connected to your particular field. But when you are going to write articles about your research, you need to focus on a specific field to be published in those journals with that particular focus.

Qualitative synthesis
Do systemic review and qualitative synthesis produce literature reviews, or are they forms of secondary analysis done by other researchers (do direct reading).

Another option in qualitative literature is the interpretive critique
  • Traditional reviews attacked for being in conflict with the basic presuppositions of qualitative inquiry, because they:
  • Assume a linear model of the cumulative development of knowledge, in which each study adds a new ‘brick in the wall’
  • Assume that research studies can be objectively assessed in terms of thie methodological adequacy and/or their representational varacity, and assume that these are the most important criteria of assessment (Hammersley 2013, ch.10) 
Key question to ask: what is my literature doing, what needs to be in there in order to prepare for what is to follow in the dissertation (main audience, define boundaries, making judgments about what is more or less relevant).
  • How are you going to go about finding the relevant literature
  • How to evaluate those studies?
  • How are the studies to be selected, and which are to be included in the review
  • How are the boundaries of what would be relevant studies to be defined
  • How is the review to be structured?
(Hart, 1998)

Functions the existing literature can serve in research:
  • It constitutes the context for the formulation and development of research questions
  • It will usually offer possible answers to those questions, and indicate what might count as adequate answers
  • It may suggest ideas and methods that culd be imployed
  • It will provide resources that can be relied upon in developing arguments and evidence in support of answers to research questions
While writing the literature you will have to use your own argumentation, and research goal, making use of the existing literature. But reviewing is more then simply providing a literature chapter, it is a process.
  • Reviewing the literature is a process
  • It goes on throughout any research, albeit in different forms
  • It must begin at the start, but will need to change in the light of changing research questions
Mapping relevant literature
In the early stages of research the task of searching for and reading relevant literature is primarily a matter of identifying what could be relevant, what significance it may have and how it might be used

There will be core literature that is very likely to be relevant, but also many other areas of literature, fairly indeterminate in character, that could be relevant.

Types of searching
  • Looking in catalogues, on library shelves, or in academic bookshops for relevant literature
  • Searching via electronic databases
  • Looking through or searching relevant journals, especially for review articles, 
  • Following up references in sources already found (this is a CORE option)
  • There is a tension between exhaustiveness and pragmatism
  • There is no perfect way to do this, there is always a trade-off. 
Types of reading
  • Skim reading (good to get an account of what is out there, the birds eye view)
  • Reading in search of specific kinds of information
  • Close or in-depth reading designed to understand and to assess the arguments and evidence put forward, and how these relate to the field of investigation (see e.g. hammersley, 1997)
  • Different reading strategies will be needed, at particular times, in dealing with particular articles and books, depending on the purpose they are serving. 
Writing a literature review
  • The purpose of a literature review chapter to provide a context and rational for the study
  • Avoid sequential paragraphs about each study: some degree of synthesis is needed
  • It is also important to evaluate the studies in methodological terms. Take care not to do this in a tendentious fashion: in other words, criticising those that don’t serve one’s purposes, while not critically assessing those whose finding some finds congenial or useful. 
Using the literature in other parts of a thesis, dissertation, or book
  • In an introduction (to help the reader understand what you are doing and why)
  • In a methodology chapter
  • In analysis chapter
  • In the conclusion
Hammersley, M. (1997) reading ethnographic research, second edition, London, longman
Hammersley, M. (2013). The myth of research-based policy and practice, London, sage.
Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: releasing the social science research imagination, London, Sage.
McKinney, J. (1966) constructive typology and social theory, New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts
Oakley, A (2007). ‘Evidence-informed policy and practice: challenges for social science’ in Hammersley, M. (ed.). Educational research and evidence-based practice, London, Sage.


How to combine interdisciplinary literature into a literature review
Thesis: is written for your examiners, and the examiners would be seen as the experts in their field, so their concerns and background will provide guidelines on what to write. On the other hand, some of the research you are conducting will be known to the examiners, but you need to write as though your readers do not know what they know. Supervisors help with that.

Question on emerging fields and lack of literature
What is published can be seen as literature, but also as data: if you have got people who play a role in the research context, then these people’s writing could be used to describe a wide spread view on the topic. Parallel fields and methods can be used to build the boundary for your research.

#MOOC papers: challenges, learner self-determination & #pedagogy

In the free online, peer reviewed journal of Merlot, a nice set of articles was published in the March 2014 issue.

Research Papers
  • Challenges to Research in MOOCs by Helene Fournier, Rita Kop, and Guillaume Durand PDF1
  • Participants' Perceptions of Learning and Networking in Connectivist MOOCs  by Mohsen Saadatmand and Kristiina Kumpulainen PDF16

Case Study
MOOCs: Striking the Right Balance between Facilitation and Self-Determination written by Tita Beaven, Mirjam Hauck, Anna Comas-Quinn, Tim Lewis, and Beatriz de los Arcos PDF31

Position Papers
  • MOOC Pedagogy: Gleaning Good Practice from Existing MOOCs written by Maha Bali PDF44
  • Teacher Experiences and Academic Identity: The Missing Components of MOOC Pedagogy written by Jen Ross, Christine Sinclair, Jeremy Knox, Siân Bayne, and Hamish Macleod PDF

Focusing on two
Choosing two articles of particular interest to me, I focus on the article on participant's perception of learning in a MOOC written by Mohsen Saadatmand and Kristina Kumpulainen

Abstract: Massive open online courses (MOOCs) challenge the mainstream of higher education and provide global learning opportunities to a huge number of students so they can learn anytime and anywhere. The value and applicability of the MOOC model in the current era of higher education and the nature of learning in such an open online format need to be investigated. This study focused on participants' experiences and perceived value of participation in connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) in terms of dealing with an abundance of resources and tools, learning activities, and network engagement. The results suggest a high extent of technology deployment for learning and interactions by the participants in cMOOCs. Creating networks and developing professional connections through networking technologies are advantages of participating in cMOOCs. The study's findings contribute to a better understanding of the nature of learning and participation in MOOCs from the perspective of students, who are the main stakeholders of such new learning experiences.

The study showed that participants develop self-organization, self-motivation skills and increase their technological proficiency.

Another article of interest to me was one that looked at self-determined learning (which is closely related to self-regulation and self-directed learning). The article is called: "MOOCs: Striking the Right Balance between Facilitation and Self-Determination " and is written by people of the Open University in the UK: Tita Beaven, Mirjam Hauck, Anna Comas-Quinn, Tim Lewis, and Beatriz de los Arcos

Abstract: recent research suggests that a growing proportion of formal learning occurs outside formal educational settings, where information and learning opportunities are mediated by technology. The rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the last few years bears witness to this phenomenon. This contribution considers whether MOOCs afford a collaborative environment in which participants can develop the necessary literacy skills to become successful self-directed learners and members of online communities. It also discusses the extent to which self-determination and participatory literacy might be relevant for success in different types of MOOCs. The paper draws on data from OT12, an 8-week MOOC on open translation tools and practices run in 2012 by the Department of Languages of The Open University in the United Kingdom. The authors conclude that to conceive of MOOCs as environments where individuals coalesce around a common endeavor is to raise a series of under-explored challenges. For organizers, the challenge lies in learning design and facilitation, and the extent to which their assumptions about the participants match the learners' capabilities. For learners, the challenge rests in self-determination and participatory literacy skills.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

eLearningGuild Online forum: integrating a #MOOC in your training environment

The eLearning Guild has wonderful online forums, and tomorrow another set of interesting sessions is planned on the topic of leveraging learning infrastructure for your learners and your organization, and will run 10 sessions on the subject during 15 and 16 May 2014.

The online forums are part of the eLearning Guild membership offerings, but you can register for individual sessions as well, although I can say it is worth becoming a member.

My session information can be found here, and just adding the description below:
MOOCs (massively open online courses) offer one more training-delivery format to increase organizational knowledge transfer. But to succeed with MOOCs, we must understand what has and has not worked so far. Then, it’s just a matter of setting up and rolling out a simple MOOC, using rapid iteration and evaluation to gradually build your own “powerMOOC” that fits within your training infrastructure. In short, MOOCs are similar to music and life: They only start making sense once you practice, practice, practice, and they are open to some initial chaos.
Participants in this session will examine what MOOCs can and—as yet—cannot do, and how you can use MOOCs to improve or supplement your existing training infrastructure. You’ll explore options for starting a MOOC, from developing your own platform, to using platform partners, to using your existing LMS. You’ll also learn about the extra learning dynamics that MOOCs offer, including more diverse learner interactions, meaningful social-media options, a ubiquitous learning set at the center, reaching international learners, and creating or strengthening a community.

My presentation is scheduled for tomorrow Thursday 15 May 2014, between 12 - 13.15 PM Pacific Time (which is 8 - 9.15 PM London time). Feel free to join, or browse through the slidedeck.

EU focus on startups: manifesto also for training startups

Neelie Kroes (vice-president of the European Commission) has done a lot of work to support EU initiatives, and I admire her for her push forward to combine ICT and education. Now she is calling out to all startups to sign the Startup Europe Manifesto and gather behind this European initiative to support and help grow your own startup.

The manifesto consists of 14 pages, and anyone interested in technology will recognize some of the emphasized points raised by Neelie Kroes and her team. You can read the English manifesto here, but the manifesto is also available in Greek, Italian, Spanish, German and French.

So have a look, and if you are an entrepreneur check-out the manifesto, see what it can do for you, and - as Neelie says - innovate and change the world.

Call for papers and presentations on #mobile and online learning

Interesting conference options for all of us researching mobile, online, and technology enhanced learning.

mLearn 2014 conference
Dates of conference: 3 - 5 November 2014
Location: Kadir-Has University, Istanbul, Turkey (which is a WONDERFUL location with GREAT researchers!)
Deadline: 19 May 2014
Submitting a paper can be done here.
The conference follows a double blind peer review process.

More about the conference:
Conference website can be found here.
mLearn was the first conference on mobile and contextual learning and has developed to be the premier meeting point for interested researchers, practitioners and decision makers busy with mobile learning around the world. Backed-up by the International Association for Mobile Learning (IAMLEARN) the conference has an impressive history of focus topics, keynote speakers and scientific contributions.

The conference programme will highlight keynote talks, symposia/workshops, plenary sessions, parallel presentations, roundtables and debates, special focus sessions, poster sessions, technology and product/service demonstrations. Submissions are invited for:

· Long papers (10 – 14 pages)
· Short papers (5 – 8 pages)
· Posters (2 pages)
· Workshops (3 pages)
· Tutorials (2 pages)
· Industry showcases (1-2 pages)
· Doctoral Consortium (4 pages)

Papers need to have at least 4 pages to be included in the proceedings. Submissions for mLearn 2014 are handled through EasyChairAll contributions will be reviewed in a double-blind peer-review process. All accepted papers and posters will published in the conference proceedings.You can view the full proceedings of mLearn 2012 here, the ones from mLearn 2013 here.

Sloan Consortium annual conference
Dates of conference: 29 - 31 October 2014
Location: Orlando, Florida
Deadline: 19 May 2014
Submitting a presentation can be done here.

More about the conference
Conference website can be viewed here.
The conference program will offer a full complement of presentations that reflect the implications for the field of specific e-learning experience and practices. Keynote and plenary addresses, as well as pre-conference workshops, featured sessions, information sessions, Best-in-Track presentations, and poster presentations will address blended learning, issues of diversity, international applications of online learning, open educational resources, social networking, online learning and community colleges, and K-12 online education as well as other topics of common interest.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Exploring future #seamless learning strands for #MOOC

Last year Nilgün Keskin, Apostolos Koutropoulos, and myself stuck our heads together and wrote a research paper on Exploring Future Seamless Learning Strands for Massive Open Online Courses. There are quite a few research options to explore, so feel free to read the paper.

To provide an idea of what to expect, I gladly share the abstract below, the draft version of the article can be read here through Academia.

This chapter reviews the concept of seamless learning for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) based on the distillation of key factors from papers discussing and describing the mobile seamless learning (MSL) concept. The MSL concept was used as a starting point to explore how MOOC could be prepared for seamless learning and to explore future research options. There is a vast area of research to be explored related to seamless learning in MOOC. The authors belief that some of the challenges faced by MOOC , such as “dropout” rates, redefining learning activities to fit diversity of contexts, self-directed learning, collaborative content artifact creation, the mobility of the adult learners, and the “dip-in, jump-out” aspect of participation can be countered by researching and suggesting seamless learning designs and guidelines that fit both the adult learners and the MOOC realities. Investigating all the elements, challenges and benefits for providing seamless learning in MOOC environments will contribute to the  body of knowledge of contemporary online learning.

For those looking for references: de Waard, I., Keskin, N. O., & Koutropoulos, A. (2014). Exploring Future Seamless Learning Research Strands for Massive Open Online Courses.Handbook of Research on Emerging Priorities and Trends in Distance Education: Communication, Pedagogy, and Technology, 201.