Learning design & learning analytics – building the links

After presenting at the SoLAR Flare learning analytics event last month, I was invited to the London Knowledge Lab to present at one of their regular What The Research Says seminars. This month, the subject was on ‘Designing a MOOC’, and I talked about building the links between learning design and learning analytics. This included a look at patterns of engagement in MOOCs, and how they vary according to pedagogy and learning design.

Other speakers at the event:

  • Diana Laurillard: Introduction to designing MOOCs: Theory, practice and evidence
  • Russell Beale: Social Learning the FutureLearn way
  • Matt Jenner: The research says very little: Designing a MOOC Platform
  • Natasha Bonnelame: Tate / Khan Project: Learning in an Altermodern World
  • Tim Powell-Jones: Encouraging learning through social dynamics in a MOOC

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Teaching in MOOCs: Unbundling the roles of the educator

Tweets about presentationLast week I gave a talk at the Design4Learning conference at The Open University, Milton Keynes, on the roles of educators in MOOCs. The paper was based on analysis of materials relating to six FutureLearn MOOCs, and was co-authored with Denise Whitelock.

Abstract

Educators in massive open online courses (MOOCs) face the challenge of interacting with tens of thousands of students, many of whom are new to online learning. This study investigates some of the different ways in which lead educators position themselves within MOOCs, and the various roles that they adopt in their messages to learners. Email messages from educators were collected from six courses on the FutureLearn platform, a UK-based MOOC platform with 36 university partners. Educator stance in these emails was coded thematically, sentence by sentence. The resulting typology draws attention to the different ways in which educators align themselves in these settings, including outlining the trajectory of the course, acting as both host and instructor, sometimes as fellow learner, and often as an emotionally engaged enthusiast. This typology can be used, in future, to explore relationships between educator stance and variables such as learner engagement, learner test results and learner retention.

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Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year

Congratulations to all the team for winning ‘Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year’ at the THE Awards.

Celebrating at the awards ceremony

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Learning futures in Athens

Poster for TEL event in AthensThe Plato Academy in Greece invited me to talk about ‘Visions of Future Learning’ at their Technology-Enhanced Learning conference on 14 November.

I talked about how we create visions of  learning futures, how we use them, and why we keep developing new visions. I covered visions of education, visions of school, visions of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and visions of pedagogy, the theory of teaching and learning.

Speakers

  • Maria Gregoriadou, University of Athens: Plato Academy – The Roads of Knowledge
  • Stella Vosniadou, University of Athens Benefits and traps of technology for learning
    Discussion
  • Rebecca Ferguson, The Open University, UK: Visions of Future Learning
  • Alberto J. Cañas, Institute of Human and Machine Cognition,: CmapTools: Towards a Worldwide Network of Knowledge Constructors
  • Kyparissia Papanikolaou, School of Pedagogical & Technological Education: Opportunities and challenges of digital technologies to support modern educational planning
  • Pantelis Balaouras, Kostas Tsimanis, Lazaros Merakos, Greek Universities Network (GUnet): Open courses at the University of Athens and Greek universities

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Innovating Pedagogy 2014

Cover of Innovating Pedagogy 2014Innovating Pedagogy 2014 has just been published and is available as a free download. It is the third in a series of reports I have co-authored with colleagues at The Open University that explore new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world. While many of these are enabled by technology, these are not reports on new gadgets, but on new ways of teaching and learning.

This year’s report focuses on

  • Massive open social learning
  • Learning design informed by analytics
  • Flipped classroom
  • Bring your own devices
  • Learning to learn
  • Dynamic assessment
  • Event-based learning
  • Learning through storytelling
  • Threshold concepts
  • Bricolage

One of my favourites is learning through storytelling. Of course, this is not a new pedagogy. Writing up an experiment, reporting on an inquiry, analysing a period of history – these are all examples of the use of narrative to support learning that have been used for hundreds of years. However, the use of technology opens up new possibilities. We are increasingly able to create virtual story worlds in which guided exploratory learning can take place. A storyline can also be used to build engagement and provoke discussion in massive open online learning, or in other learning environments where participants spread across the globe build a narrative together. This is an example of technology opening up new possibilities that allow us to expand our use of a tried and trusted approach to teaching and learning.

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SoLAR Flare

Rebecca speaking at the SoLAR Flare

Speaking at the SoLAR Flare

On 24 October 2014, the Learning Analytics and Community Exchange (LACE) project invited everyone interested in the research and use of learning analytics to a one-day networking gathering event in October at the Open University in Milton Keynes (UK).

This Solar Flare event – co-chaired by Doug Clow, Simon Cross and I – formed part of an international series coordinated by the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR). SoLAR Flares provide opportunities to learn what’s going on in learning analytics research and practice, to share resources and experience, and to forge valuable new connections within the education sector and beyond.

Around 50 people attended in person, with another 356 from around the world tuning in via the livestream.

There were two keynotes: one from Alan Berg, talking about the Apereo learning analytics initiative, and another from Chris Lowis, talking about learning analytics on the FutureLearn MOOC platform. In addition, there were 13 lightning presentations from people working with learning analytics in multiple countries and contexts including the UK, France and Spain. My lightning presentation focused on patterns of engagement identified in FutureLearn MOOCs from a variety of different universities. In the afternoon, participants split into four sub-groups that discussed evidence about learning analytics that can be added to the LACE Learning Analytics Evidence Hub.

Recordings of all the LACE SoLAR Flare presentations are available online.

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EC-TEL

Presenting at EC TEL

Mike Sharples and I presented at EC-TEL 2014 in Graz on Innovative Pedagogy at Massive Scale: Teaching and Learning in MOOCs.

We examined the implications for pedagogy of education at a massive scale. Educational approaches designed or adapted to be effective for large numbers of learners include direct instruction, networked learning, connectivism, supported open learning, and conversational learning at scale.

We used a grounded approach to analyse data from 18 MOOCs run on the UK-based FutureLearn platform. This enabled us to identify benefits and challenges for learners, for educators and for society as a whole of learning at massive scale. These need to be addressed in two ways, through learning design and through platform design.

After our presentation, Yishay Mor interviewed us about it for the Open Learning Europa website.

EC-TEL posterAlso at the conference, I presented a poster co-authored with Denise Whitelock, ‘Taking on different roles: how educators position themselves in MOOCs’.

Abstract:

Educators in massive open online courses (MOOCs) face the challenge of interacting with tens of thousands of students, many of whom are new to online learning. This study investigates the different ways in which lead educators position themselves within MOOCs, and the various roles that they adopt in their messages to learners. Email messages from educators were collected from six courses on FutureLearn, a UK-based MOOC platform that had 26 university partners at the time. Educator stance in these emails was coded thematically, sentence by sentence. The resulting typology draws attention to the different ways in which educators align themselves in these settings, including outlining the trajectory of the course, acting as both host and instructor,  sometimes as fellow learner, and often as an emotionally engaged enthusiast. This typology can be used to explore relationships between educator stance and variables such as learner engagement, learner test results and learner retention.

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