Thursday 30 April 2015

Combining xAPI with #MOOC learning? Yes!

Just received a call from Aaron Silvers (xAPI) and Ben Betts (Learning Locker) about the upcoming MOOC on xAPI, so I ran to the Curatr platform and enrolled. The MOOC starts on 12 May 2015, and takes about 4 weeks, with an estimated workload of 2 to 3 hours a week. This is what the organizers share about the upcoming mooc:

xAPI represents a small step and a giant leap for learning-kind. In many cases, the small step will modernise how organizations go about storing, sorting and sharing learning data built up around online courses. The giant leap will enable more personalized learning experiences, allow us to measure ROI and make corporate learning all about performance, not completion.
Join this MOOC to explore both the technical realities and the strategic possibilities of the Experience API. If you want to write your first xAPI statement and understand the difference between an Activity Type and a Context Extension, this is the place to be.
Equally, if neither of these things mean a damn thing, we are the community that will help you make sense out of your data strategy, and your roadmap for the medium term.
This MOOC will be open to contribution and allow you to explore the content and conversations that best fit your needs.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

new issue of free #mobile journal and Learning #Analytics newsletter

Just sharing two new free options (one journal and one newsletter) that are filled with interesting articles on mobile learning (including a focus on lab experiments) and learning analytics (including a regional viewpoint).

The Learning Analytics Community Exchange newsletter is out, addressing the latest learning analytics research projects and ongoing ideas from the LACE community. 

There is a new series of country reports from scholars renowned for their contribution to national and international learning analytics research: a Dutch, Korean, Chinese and a Taiwanese perspective.

The newsletter also features interviews with Learning analytics experts and their views into the Future.

And one evidence based article is placed into the spotlight (I like this focus): The ‘Evidence of the Month’ on the site for April 2015 is a paper from this year’s Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK15) conference, ‘Crowd-sourced learning in MOOCs: learning analytics meets measurement theory‘.

A new iJim issue is out packed with articles that focus on remote labs (really interesting research):

*International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM)*
Volume 9, Issue 2 (2015)

*Guest Editorial*
From the eScience Project Chair (Thomas Zimmer)

*Special Focus Papers*
  • Developing a Remote Laboratory for Heat Transfer Studies (Ridha Ennetta, Ibrahim Nasri)UC1 Oscillator Remote Lab for Distant Electronics Education (Saida Latreche, Zehira Ziari, Smail Mouissat)
  • Remote Lab Experiments in Electronics for Use and Reuse (Thomas Zimmer, M. Billaud, M. Pic, D. Geoffroy)
  • Implementation of Online Optoelectronic Devices Course and Remote Experiments in UC1 iLab (Saida Rebiai, Nour El Houda Touidjen, Smail Mouissat)
  • Online Temperature Control System (Ikhlef Ameur, Kihel Mouloud, Boubekeur Boukhezzar, Guerroudj Abdelmalek, Mansouri Nora)
  • Online Laboratory in Digital Electronics Using NI ELVIS II+ (Ahmed Naddami, Ahmed Fahli, Mourad Gourmaj, Mohammed Moussetad)

*Regular Papers*
  • Agent and Mobile Tools for Telehomecare in Developing Countries: An Architecture Approach (Karim Zarour)
  • Exploring Smartphone Addiction: Insights from Long-Term Telemetric Behavioral Measures (Chad Tossel, Philip Kortum, Clayton Shepard, Ahmad Rahmati, Lin Zhong)
  • Virtual ATM: A Low Cost Secured Alternative to Conventional Mobile Banking (Shabnam Shaheen Sifat, Ali Shihab Sabbir)
  • A Mobile Based Tigrigna Language Learning Tool (Hailay Kidu Teklehaimanot)

*Short Papers*
  • Do We Have to Prohibit the Use of Mobile Phones in Classrooms? (Heba Mohammad, Ayham Fayyoumi, Omar AlShathry)
  • Influences on the Adoption of Mobile Learning in Saudi Women Teachers in Higher Education
  • (Leena Ahmad Alfarani)

Cartoon in this blogpost is from the fabulous Nick D. Kim - the site

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Free pdf eBook: theory & practice of #online teaching and learning

Routledge offers a free (pdf) eBook on the subject of "the theory and practice of online teaching and learning: a guide for academic professionals". It is an eBook comprising 60 pages of useful eLearning information. The authors are known UK experts: Gilly Salmon, Diana Laurrilard,  Allison LittleJohn to name but a few. It is a nice synopsis describing key concepts and basic practical options.

Although it is a free eBook, your contact details are required before Routledge sends you the download link.

The eBook has 6 chapters that are taken from other Routledge books mentioned at the beginning of this eBook:

Chapter 1: the basics: This chapter takes on some basic but important questions about online teaching: how is it different from teaching in a traditional classroom environment? Do I need to be a computer expert? How can teaching online benefit my students? How can it benefit me? In answering these questions (and more), the book offers practical tips designed to help instructors make the most of their online teaching, regardless of their level of experience with Internet instruction.

Chapter 2:: In this chapter, from Essentials of Online Course Design, Marjorie Vai and Kristen Sosulski run through the basics of an online course and address questions such as how the timing of online teaching and learning differs from the timing of onsite teaching and learning. They also give you a sense of what sort of preparation and maintenance work goes into designing and teaching an online course, and provide some useful time-saving tips.

Chapter 3: This chapter introduces you to what author Gilly Salmon calls ‘e-tivities’: “frameworks for enabling active and participative online learning by individuals and groups.” These collaborative activities can be adapted to a wide array of different situations.

Chapter 4: Here authors Barbara Means, Marianne Bakia, and Robert Murphy take on the issue of establishing some sort of typology for online learning. As the practice of learning online is such a wide and varied endeavor, it can be difficult for researchers to draw conclusions about the field. To address this issue, the authors of Learning Online propose a system that classifies online teaching methods using four categories: context, design, implementation, and outcomes.

Chapter 5: In this chapter from Reusing Open Resources, authors Allison Littlejohn and Chris Pegler explore how the use of open resources expands the definition and outcomes of teaching and learning. By including open resources in educational experiences, opportunities for learning increase dramatically.

Chapter 6: CHAPTER 6 In this chapter, Diana Laurillard examines the relationship between technology and education and issues a call to action to fellow educators: “it is imperative that teachers and lecturers place themselves in a position where they are able to master the use of digital technologies, to harness their power, and put them to the proper service of education. Education must now begin to drive its use of technology.”

Thursday 23 April 2015

Using Somebody app at #eMOOCs2015 conference? Art & communication

Would you be willing to use the Somebody app at an academic learning conference? Being able to connect with people you know, through strangers? Getting more conversations going? I would, so I wonder whether the Somebody app could be used regularly during the eMOOCs2015 conference in Mons, Belgium (18 - 20 May 2015).

Like everyone, I have my own chosen key artists. They inspire me, something in me aligns with the art they produce, and I turn to their work/ideas when I feel in need for energy or difference. One of these artists is Miranda July. To me she is a core artist, a living artist enabled to turn everyday life into art in a natural, flowing way.

This morning I got an e-mail update from Miranda's mailing list, telling me the Somebody app was back to be tested (iPhone and Android enabled). The somebody app brings people together in an unexpected way. By using the app, you can share ideas or bring messages across from you to another person, but via a third person - the Somebody. This turns any conversation into open data, open communication, open resources... I find that a wonderful idea.

In many conferences I attend I have a mixed feeling of closeness and emptiness. Sometimes I know a lot of people, and that makes me feel welcomed, at other times I feel the odd one out, and I can have trouble mixing in with the other academics and practitioners. It depends on my day, the jet lag, my self-esteem at that moment, the conference atmosphere... context is always multi-layered.

The reason I like this Somebody app is because it stimulates conversation = exchanging ideas, it brings people together = networking, and it uses technology in a human way. It has a lot of parallel with online learning in this contemporary world. So... would you want to use it?
The app has another similarity to online learning, and particularly MOOC: the numbers threshold. In order for it to work with bewildering wonder, enough people must be using it in the same community, and gps enabled smartphones must be available and used.

Nevertheless, I want to try it. Here is a video on how the Somebody app works, wrapped in a short movie directed and written by Miranda July... I love it.


Tuesday 21 April 2015

Free eBook on #mobile learning in context

The eLearning Guild keeps distributing relevant and updated eLearning information with an amazingly high frequency. They keep providing me with information that helps me keep an eye on corporate training based regularly on academic evidence-based findings and I love it.

The wonderful freely available eBook "Mobile in context" combines contemporary mobile learning insights from experts around the world, engaged in formal, informal, academic and corporate mobile learning. The contributing editor Janet Clarey assembled a 23 page booklet with 7 chapters all dedicated to mLearning:

  • mobile learning: getting started (Brenda Enders)
  • mobile learning: creating a shift in what we teach (Helen Crompton)
  • mobile learning in a European context (John Traxler) - with a focus on rural communities and overcoming technological challenges
  • using augmented reality for contextual mobile learning (Jason Haag)
  • motivating learners to complete training (Phil Cowcill &Krista Hildner)
  • mMOOC design: providing ubiquitous learning (Inge de Waard)
  • micro-video for mobile learning (Sean Bengry)

The eBook is available in pdf, epub and mobi, making it an easy read no matter which device you have available. You do not to provide your contact details to get to the download page of the eBook.

The book is an introduction to the upcoming mLearnCon 2015 which will be held in Austin Texas, and Oh-my! How I wished I could be there! But writing on my thesis ... hoping to get more travel miles under my belt once the PhD is written. 

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Research instruments investigating Self-Directed Learning in #MOOCs #SDL

In reply of a question asked by the inspiring colleague and rising academic Bernard Nkuyubwatsi from the university of Leicester, I have grabbed my three research instruments and put them on Academia, here.

These three research instruments, or better: these three inquiry's to collect data related to my research, are related to three phases in my main study:

  • Pre-course - using online survey questions;
  • During course - using learning logs to capture the actual learning and reasons behind directing the learning as perceived by FutureLearn participants
  • Post-course: one-on-one interviews, investigating the reflections learners have after having finished the course. 

These instruments were sent to experienced online learners that were enrolled in FutureLearn courses (three courses were selected: all from a different subject area, and organised by different universities).

As I am writing some parts of my thesis, and I still need to untangle some of the terms used referring to either Self-Directed Learning, Self-Determined Learning, Autonomous learning, Self Learning... I thought it would be good to share this already.

They are part of a research rationale which is partially shared in my probation report which you can find here ... writing updated chapters, but will take some time.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Guidelines on writing a #paper: a synopsis

The writing paper phase is here again... so I jotted this post together to have a short document for future use.

For those wanting more information, you can also take a look at the 'top tips' for educational research shared through Academia by Mike Lambert.

Please add things I might have overlooked.

This post is Based on two sources:
Writing a paper – by George M Hall – third edition (referenced with pages in this post)and San Francisco Edit:

Here we go:
Readers must be able to
  • Assess the observations you made
  • Repeat the experiment if they wish;
  • Determine whether the conclusions drawn are justified by the data.
Some pointers:
  • Search a peer review journal with best reputation in publishing for your domain. Journals of societies have a larger circulation. Is the journal referenced a lot?
  • Use active verbs and clear subjects (not ‘several’ but ‘three’, not ‘somewhere’ but ‘in the Maritime region of Canada
  • Make every sentence useful, no blabla
  • Explain abbreviations before including them
  • Help the editor by using the format (style sheet) journals prescribe
  • Write the first draft without hesitation, editing comes afterwards
  • Guidelines on figures and tables:

Step 1: references – always start with the literature/research that is already out there
The references are the backbone of your paper. They provide the scientific background that justifies the research you have undertaken and the methods you have used. They provide the context in which your research should be interpreted.
References should be limited to relevant ones with clear scientific interest (too many references shows insecurity of the author)
Whenever you find a reference, archive them in a clear bibliographical way (use Zotero for instance)
The Vancouver format is preferred for scientific references:
Journal article:
Surnames and initials of authors. Full title of paper. Title of journal Year of publication; Volume number: First and last page numbers of article.
Example: de Waard I., Writeress G. Best practices in building mobile courses. eLearning Magazine 2100;55:123-234.
Book or monograph
Surname and initials of authors. Full title of book. Number of edition. Town of publication: Publisher, Year of publication.
Example: de Waard I. Putting humour into eLearning. 3rd edition. Antwerp: Epo, 2010.
Chapter in multi-author book
Chapter author (surnames and initials). Chapter title. Book authors or editors (surnames and initials). Book title. Town of publication: Publisher, Year of publication. First and last pages.
Step 2: make an outline
This is the blue print of your paper.
Summary (from San Francisco edit: )
  • Develop a central message of the manuscript
  • Define the materials and methods
  • Summarize the question(s) and problem(s)
  • Define the principal findings and results
  • Describe the conclusions and implications
  • Organize and group related ideas together
  • Identify the references that pertain to each key point
  • Develop the introduction
The basic structure of a paper: IMRaD (p1)
Introduction: what question was asked?
Methods: how was it studied?
Results: what was found?
Discussion: what do the findings mean.

2.1 Introduction:
One sentence says it all and engages the reader. Not more than one paragraph to explicit the first sentence. Keep it short, arresting and clear, usually between 300 – 500 words.
(From San Francisco Edit: )
  • Begin the Introduction by providing a concise background account of the problem studied.
  • State the objective of the investigation. Your research objective is the most important part of the introduction.
  • Establish the significance of your work: Why was there a need to conduct the study?
  • Introduce the reader to the pertinent literature. Do not give a full history of the topic. Only quote previous work having direct bearing on the present problem.
  • Clearly state your hypothesis, the variables investigated, and concisely summarize the methods used.
  • Define any abbreviations or specialized terms.
  • Provide a concise discussion of the results and findings of other studies so the reader understands the big picture.
  • Describe some of the major findings presented in your manuscript and explain how they contribute to the larger field of research.
  • State the principal conclusions derived from your results.
  • Identify any questions left unanswered and any new questions generated by your study.
Other points to consider when writing your Introduction:
  • Be aware of who will be reading your manuscript and make sure the Introduction is directed to that audience
  • Move from general to specific: from the problem in the real world to the literature to your research
  • Write in the present tense except for what you did or found, which should be in thepast tense
  • Be concise
Or plain and simple: what is the elevator pitch

2.2 Methods:
“This section should describe, in logical sequence, how your study was designed and carried out and how you analyzed your data. “ (p16) A clear method should be described before starting a study.
“If your research aims to answer a question, you should state exactly what hypothesis was tested” (p16) Always state clearly the a priori hypotheses (p17)
When you use statistics, give the exact tests used to analyses the data statistically.
A good methods section can answer these questions (p21)
  • Does the text describe what question was being asked, what was being tested, and how trustworthy the measurements of the variable under consideration would be?
  • Were these trustworthy measurements recorded, analyzed, and interpreted correctly?
  • Would a suitably qualified reader be able to repeat the experiment in the same way?

How the study was carried out (p18)
  • Describe how the participants were recruited and chosen
  • Give reasons for excluding participants
  • Consider mentioning ethical features
  • Give accurate details of materials used
  • Give exact data
  • Give the exact use of all the instruments involved

2.3 Results
The introduction has defined the questions and the methods the means of getting the answers. Decide during the design stage of your study how the results will be presented. (p34)
Results should not be interpreted, just delivered.
Follow these rules:
  • The text should tell the story
  • The strongest results should be mentioned first
  • The text should complement figures or tables
  • The figure will show the highlights
  • Provide a heading for each table or figure
  • The statistics should support the statements
  • Use the past tense when you refer to your results (the present tense everywhere else)
2.4 Discussion
(should not take more than a third of the total size of the paper)
Try not to repeat what you have already stated in the intro to your paper.
Decide which of the references with an important message seem to have involved the strongest methods and make them the centerpiece of your historical review.
Summary (p41)
  • Three ways to start your piece: mini-seminar, main finding, or what’s different.
  • Summarise relavant important previous work
  • Put your results in context
  • Mention doubts, weaknesses, and confounders
  • Three ways of ending: problem solved, more research is needed, or uncertainty remains.

From San Francisco Edit:
  • Organize the Discussion from the specific to the general: your findings to the literature, to theory, to practice.
  • Use the same key terms, the same verb tense (present tense), and the same point of view that you used when posing the questions in the Introduction.
  • Begin by re-stating the hypothesis you were testing and answering the questions posed in the introduction.
  • Support the answers with the results. Explain how your results relate to expectations and to the literature, clearly stating why they are acceptable and how they are consistent or fit in with previously published knowledge on the topic.
  • Address all the results relating to the questions, regardless of whether or not the findings were statistically significant.
  • Describe the patterns, principles, and relationships shown by each major finding/result and put them in perspective. The sequencing of providing this information is important; first state the answer, then the relevant results, then cite the work of others. If necessary, point the reader to a figure or table to enhance the “story”.
  • Defend your answers, if necessary, by explaining both why your answer is satisfactory and why others are not. Only by giving both sides to the argument can you make your explanation convincing.
  • Discuss and evaluate conflicting explanations of the results. This is the sign of a good discussion.
  • Discuss any unexpected findings. When discussing an unexpected finding, begin the paragraph with the finding and then describe it.
  • Identify potential limitations and weaknesses and comment on the relative importance of these to your interpretation of the results and how they may affect the validity of the findings. When identifying limitations and weaknesses, avoid using an apologetic tone.
  • Summarize concisely the principal implications of the findings, regardless of statistical significance.
  • Provide recommendations (no more than two) for further research. Do not offer suggestions which could have been easily addressed within the study, as this shows there has been inadequate examination and interpretation of the data.
  • Explain how the results and conclusions of this study are important and how they influence our knowledge or understanding of the problem being examined.
  • In your writing of the Discussion, discuss everything, but be concise, brief, and specific.

Step 3. come up with a titaliting Title (p43)
  • Concise and precise
  • Informative and descriptive
  • Not misleading or unrepresentative
  • Words appropriate for classification
  • Interesting, not dull

Step 4. write a clear and interesting Abstract
Start preparing the paper by writing the abstract if you do not have a clear outline of the paper or leave the abstract till last if you already have a clear idea and you want to make sure the abstract completely covers the paper.
  • Check the maximum number of words ,(mostly between 200 – 300)
  • Keep it simple and comprehensive (p46)
  • Check for consistency: the abstract should reflect the paper and describe your message succinctly and accurately. Do the objectives described in the abstract match those in the paper?
  • State your hypothesis or method used in the first sentence.
  • Omit background information, literature review, and detailed description of methods. ( )
  • Remove extra words and phrases
  • Revise the paragraph so that the abstract conveys only the essential information.

Step 5 add Authors
First the person who wrote the paper, second and third authors: significant contributors, last one is mostly the heavy weight and guarantor. (can vary).