EMMA summer school

EMMA flierI was invited to lead a workshop at the ‘Design and deliver your own MOOC’ summer school run on Ischia, Italy, by the European Multiple MOOC Aggregator (EMMA) project from 6-10 July 2015. The summer school was organised jointly with JTEL, and the workshop was attended by people from both projects.

Workshop description: This hands-on workshop will work with learning design tools and with massive open online courses (MOOCs) on the FutureLearn platform to explore how learning design can be used to influence the choice and design of learning analytics. This workshop will be of interest to people who are involved in the design or presentation of online courses, and to those who want to find out more about learning design, learning analytics or MOOCs. Participants will find it helpful to have registered for FutureLearn [www.futurelearn.com] and explored the platform for a short time in advance of the workshop.

Slideshare spike

Puzzling spike in Slideshare views

Intriguingly, my presentation (slides above) was immediately very popular on Slideshare, taking only eight days to become my most-viewed presentation ever – far outstripping a presentation with exactly the same title that I posted a few months ago, as well as my other presentations that have steadily been building up views over the past seven years.

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CALRG conference and FLAN

FLAN participants at CALRG 2015

FLAN participants at CALRG 2015

The 36th annual CALRG conference took place from 15 to 17 June 2015 at The Open University. This year, we began the programme with a day for doctoral student work associated with the FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN). The keynote address, An Ecology for eLearning: MOOCs, Minnows and Monsters, was given by long-time CALRG member Professor Sir Tim O’Shea, Principal, University of Edinburgh.

Presentations included:

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CALRG: Computers and Learning Research Group

Building Knowledge seminar slide

Building Knowledge seminar slide. Credits: https://xkcd.com/1478/ and https://xkcd.com/552/

Along with colleagues – Liz Fitzgerald, Janesh Sanzgiri, Jenna Mittelmeier – I am responsible for organising weekly meetings of the Computers and Learning Research Group (CALRG). The group brings together research staff and doctoral students within our department, as well as people from other areas of the university who have similar research interests.

We have established a pattern of events that continues throughout the year, with breaks where necessary for major events and holidays.

First Thursday: CALRG Seminar Regular slot for internal and external speakers to share and discuss their research.

Second Thursday: Reading Group Discussing key papers in the area from the past and the present. The contents of this forthcoming book help us to identify ‘must-read’ papers. In the autumn, Janesh and Jenna will be running short sessions before the reading group in order to give new doctoral students the confidence to share their views.

Third Thursday: Building Knowledge Seminar An opportunity for us to share our expertise by talking about our research, introducing methods and discussing new opportunities. At a recent session on writing up quantitative and qualitative research, I introduced ways of presenting and evaluating these types of research and then group members discussed how they had done this themselves, and the challenges they had faced.

Fourth Thursday: Cake Drop! An informal session. Chat to your colleagues and enjoy cake. Mmm.

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MOOCs 2030: A Future for Massive Online Learning

Book coverWhat lies in the future for MOOCs? This chapter, which I wrote with Mike Sharples and Russell Beale, looks ahead 15 years, to a time when MOOCs have left the hype cycle behind and are being used by millions of people worldwide as a part of their learning journey. The book as a whole provides a comprehensive overview of the past, present and future of massive open online courses around the world

Abstract

This chapter looks ahead to the year 2030 and considers the ways in which current visions of massive open online courses may develop into realities. In order to do this, it considers the changes in pedagogy, technology, and the wider environment that will be necessary in order for them to flourish. The chapter argues that, by 2030, the systems that develop from MOOCs will be meeting the needs of societies by educating millions of digital citizens worldwide. These systems will have opened up access to education and be enabling people from all over the world to enjoy the benefits of learning at scale. In order for this to happen, MOOC providers, policy makers, and educators will all need to proceed with this vision in mind. In effect, if MOOCs are to make a difference and truly open up education while enhancing learning, the pedagogies in place by 2030 must take into account entirely new groups of learners as well as vastly new roles that will emerge for educators. Such pedagogical approaches must also utilize innovative approaches to the design of that learning, whether it be MOOCs or some other form of learning delivery at scale.

Citation: Ferguson, Rebecca, Sharples, Mike, & Beale, Russell. (2015). MOOCs 2030: A Future for Massive Online Learning In C. J. Bonk, M. Miyoung Lee, T. C. Reeves & T. H. Reynolds (Eds.), MOOCs and Open Education Around the World. Routledge

 

 

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1000 citations and counting

1002 citations according to Google Scholar, and  20,548 downloads from the university’s Open Research Online repository (ORO).
citation count - 1002 citations

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LACE Spring Briefing

Spring briefing workshopOn 15 April, the LACE project held a one-day briefing and workshop in Brussels on Policies for Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics. Originally planned to take place in the European Parliament, a security alert required a move to the nearby Thon Hotel.

The day began with a welcome from Julie Ward, MEP for the North West of England and member of the Culture and Education Committee. She was followed by  Robert Madelin (Director-General of DG Connect) and Dragan Gašević (president-elect of SoLAR). Their talks were followed by overviews of the current European-funded learning analytics projects: LACE, Lea’s Box, PELARS and WatchMe.

During the afternoon discussion and review session, participants from across Europe worked together in three separate discussion groups  to review specific issues related to the use of learning analytics in schools, universities and workplace training.

I worked as rapporteur in the universities workshop (pictured), which had 186 participants, including people from England, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Sweden. Our policy recommendations included:

  • Privacy and ethical issues are important. Encourage institutions to develop policies covering privacy, ethics and data protection. However, this is a broader issue than educational policy making and legislation. We should aim to influence the wider debate.
  • Guard against data degradation – develop and make available methods of retaining data over time
  • Develop data standards and encourage their use so that we have standardisation of data
  • Address the problem of over-claiming and mis-selling by vendors – institutions do not necessarily have access to the expertise that allow them to interpret and assess these claims
  • Need to identify procedure for due diligence around intervention strategies, the competencies do staff need, and certification opportunities relating to these
  • Identify requirements for data collection, and structures for doing this on a sector or national basis
  • Support the development of standard datasets at national or international level, against which other data can be compared to see if performance is above or below the norm
  • Identify behaviours in the field of education that regional or national governments should support and encourage
  • Identify ways of preventing the providers of educational tools selling our own data back to us.
  • Take into account that it is not just the data we are concerned about, because once it is removed from its context it does not necessarily make sense. Data needs to be associated with metadata that is produced using standardised conventions

 

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Teacher-led inquiry and learning design: BJET special issue

virtuous circle of learning design, learning analytics and teacher inquiryIn mid March, the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET) published our special issue on learning design, learning analytics and teacher inquiry.

This special issue, edited by Yishay Mor, Barbara Wasson and myself, developed from an Alpine Rendezvous workshop we ran in 2013 that dealt with the connections between learning design, learning analytics and teacher inquiry.

This special issue deals with three areas. Learning design is the practice of devising effective learning experiences aimed at achieving defined educational objectives in a given context. Teacher inquiry is an approach to professional development and capacity building in education in which teachers study their own and their peers’ practice. Learning analytics use data about learners and their contexts to understand and optimise learning and the environments in which it takes place. Typically, these three—design, inquiry and analytics—are seen as separate areas of practice and research. In this issue, we show that the three can work together to form a virtuous circle. Within this circle, learning analytics offers a powerful set of tools for teacher inquiry, feeding back into improved learning design. Learning design provides a semantic structure for analytics, whereas teacher inquiry defines meaningful questions to analyse.

Contents

BRITISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

VOL 46; NUMB 2 (2015)
ISSN 0007-1013

Mor, Yishay, Ferguson, Rebecca, & Wasson, Barbara. (2015). Editorial: learning design, teacher inquiry into student learning and learning analytics: a call for action. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(2), 221-229.

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