Friday, May 24. 2013
During the final week of the "Academia and the MOOC" course that I facilitated, I offered a wiki page for participanys to post a "MOOC aphorism." An aphorism is defined as a short observation that contains a general truth - a one-liner not meant to be funny. These "MOOC aphorisms" were short observations based on the case studies and student experiences about Massive Open Online Courses that people felt contained a general truth.
I can't say that I agree 100% with all these aphorisms, but I would say that any single post had more than one person's support.
We even had one image comment that addresses an entire discussion in the course - defining and redefining a MOOC.
Thursday, May 23. 2013
So, there's a course on how to cheat online. But with the purpose of preventing cheating online. This course is a massive open online course titled “Understanding Cheating in Online Courses,” which is currently in progress on the Canvas (MOOC) Network platform.
Having taught a course in Canvas, I know that their offerings are more "big" than "massive" compared to ones from Coursera and others. Canvas courses are more in the 500 - 2000 range, where we know that other platforms often run courses closer to the 100K registration rate. This particular course had a cap of 1000 and quickly filled.
Bernard Bull, Assistant Vice President of Academics and Associate Professor of Educational Design & Technology at Concordia University Wisconsin, will ask participants in his new course to cheat and then ask them to disclose to the rest of the class exactly how they cheated. Being assigned to cheat is like being assigned to hack a computer system. You're not really cheating or hacking.
Having just done workshops last week for faculty that included some discussion of online cheating and plagiarism, I know that this is a topic of great interest to online (and offline) instructors. I am of the belief that practically all the cheating online has an offline equivalent and that online teaching actually offers some safeguards that surpass what is available for face to face classes.
The course runs 8 weeks and covers the vocabulary, psychology, and mechanics of what Professor Bull calls “successful cheating” in online learning.
Cyberethics is a legitimate concern. I think it is also important to put most of your efforts as a teacher into designing assignments to discourage cheating and on prevention rather than focusing on catching students after they have done it.
Wednesday, May 22. 2013
EdX, a nonprofit provider of MOOCs, has increased its member institutions from 12 to 27 as it crosses its one year anniversary. Though edX is a nonprofit, it also announced that it is bringing in revenue and is working towards financial sustainability.
Participating institutions now include Tsinghua University and Peking University in China, The University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University of Science & Technology in Hong Kong, Kyoto University in Japan, and Seoul National University in South Korea. EdX also welcomes nine universities from North America, Europe and Australia. In the United States, the Consortium has added Cornell University, Berklee College of Music, Boston University, Davidson College, and University of Washington. From Europe, Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, Belgium’s Université catholique de Louvain, and Germany’s Technical University of Munich have been added. The University of Queensland in Australia becomes the second Australian university to join the xConsortium. The expansion reflects edX’s rapidly growing global student body and supports its vision of transforming education by bringing the power of learning to all regardless of location or social status.
EdX defines itself as a nonprofit alternative to Coursera and other for-profit companies that are working with colleges. EdX says it wants to help colleges use technology to rethink campus education as well as deliver online courses.
The xConsortium was founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a mission to focus on "transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research on an open source platform. EdX provides inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. EdX is focused on people, not profit."
Tuesday, May 21. 2013
Saylor.org, a longtime member of the open education community, announced a new K12 program of open online courses.
The academic courses are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and use open educational resources (OER) extensively, making the courses, as well as their contents, widely reusable by students, teachers, and parents nationwide.
The list of the K12 courses also suggests ways to use and reuse the courses.
Teachers can flip their classroom without shooting thei own videos and incorporate more engaging digital content into classes.
Schools can get current, Common Core-aligned materials for free.
Parents can provide extra resources to supplement what kids learn in school and accelerate or review subjects. It offers a self-contained curriculum for home school families.
And, on their own, students can do more challenging work or subjects their school might not offer. It will give you experience in learning in a different way and acclimate to an online learning environment which is common in colleges. You can also review material you learned in school and go further and prepare for your SATs/college.
(And I made it through this entire post without once saying "MOOC.")
Monday, May 20. 2013
This will be the fourth summer that I will teach my graduate class in designing social media. Every year, I have asked online for suggestions of book (not usually "textbooks") for the class which is part of the MS in Professional and Technical Communication at NJIT. Students in the PTC program tend to be (or intend to be) designers, technical writers, media & social media managers, but I always get a few students from the management, communications, media, IT and design majors.
The course examines how organizations use social media as communication tools for marketing, education & training and community building and students do social media surveys and create strategy proposals for actual organizations.
Though the bulk of the daily, short readings are current and available online, I also ask each student to select an outside book that focuses on an area of interest to their goals. they share content from that book when appropriate into the discussions online so that the class gets content from a number of other books.
Making the reading selection process itself a social media project seems appropriate. Books and readings in social media go out of date so quickly that it seems foolish to rely on a traditional textbook.
I am also a proponent of Open Educational Resources, especially open textbooks. Having put two sons through college not so long ago, I am also very cognizant of the cost of textbooks. There are lots of open texts (again, textbook may be a misnomer) and I try to use those when possible.
As general texts for the class, I will include three texts that are available free online. These three are not strictly about social media, but each contains ideas that I find provocative to the discussion. I will point students to specific chapters or sections and I feel a lot better about doing that knowing that there will be no cost to them.
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler has made the entire book and additional materials available for free download at cyber.law.harvard.edu/wealth_of_networks/
The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation, by Jono Bacon [free PDF download]
Jonathan Zittrain's book, The Future of the Internet - and how to stop it is also a free pdf download under a Creative Commons license.
Outside Reading Book Suggestions for DESIGNING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
The first section of the list below includes books I have read and found useful and that students have used. The second section includes titles suggested by readers of this blog, colleagues and titles found, read and recommended by my students in past years. You'll notice that many of the titles are not specifically on social media or are on some area within social media (such as marketing or design).
If you would like to suggest a book related to an aspect of social media, please do so by adding a comment below.
The following titles are ones that I have not read, but that have been recommended by my students and others.
Friday, May 17. 2013
If MOOCs, or more accurately, open education, is going to actually "revolutionize" education, it will have to change not only how we learn but how we teach.
Coursera, probably the biggest player in massive open online courses now, announced a partnership with 12 top professional development programs and schools of education to open up training and development courses (28 to start) to teachers worldwide. The company says it wants to "create a hub of teacher professional development courses aimed at providing teachers, parents, and anyone else who teaches with the tools and skills to help build stronger education systems.”
There is also a new project called MOOC-Ed (for "massive open online courses for educators) from the Alliance for Excellent Education which is an advocacy organization involved in encouraging digital education in partnership with North Carolina State University’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, at the College of Education.
The first free online class they offered aims at providing thousands of regional administrators in the U.S. help using technology effectively to meet the needs of their school. The seven-week course was set for April 8 to May 24 and was designed for principals, curriculum directors, superintendents, finance officials, tech directors, and others that plan technology use for K-12th grade.
It is always difficult to pick a "good time" of the year, week, or day to get educators to commit to a few hours of professional development. Asynchronous, online courses may be the best solution to scheduling. For the MOOC-Ed course, it was recommended that you needed to commit 2-4 hours per week for the course.
MOOCs for students in the K-12 environment might have more issues than in higher education. (Although all the MOOC reports I have seen on demographics, including my own course, report high school age students participating.) But using open courses to assist in teacher professional development and increase their their knowledge of technology might work very well.
In the "Academia and the MOOC" course I just completed, even though the participants were mostly from higher education, threads of discussion emerged on using MOOCs in K12 education, corporate training, professional development and, of course, lifelong learners who just want to learn new things without any concern for credit.
Coursera has partnered with the College of Education, University of Washington; Curry School of Education, University of Virginia; Johns Hopkins University School of Education; Match Education’s Sposato Graduate School of Education; Peabody College of education and human development, Vanderbilt University; Relay Graduate School of Education; and University of California, Irvine Extension. They also are partnering with institutions and museums, including the American Museum of Natural History, The Commonwealth Education Trust, Exploratorium, The Museum of Modern Art, and New Teacher Center. This is the first time Coursera is partnering with non-degree-bearing institutions and their first attempt to work with early childhood and K-12-level education.
As with the university courses Coursera offers, these education courses will have video lectures, peer forums, supplemental
materials and interactive components.
In their newly-added category “Teacher Professional Development,” you will find:
“Common Core in Action: Literacy Across Content Areas,” from the New Teacher Center
“Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classroom,” from Relay Graduate School of Education taught by Dave Levin, the co-founder of KIPP
“The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model for 21st Century Schools” taught by Mariale Hardiman of John Hopkins School of Education
“Effective Classroom Interactions: Supporting Young Children’s Development,” from UVA, taught by Bridget Hamre, Grace Funk, Allison Leach and Kathy Neesen
“Tinkering Fundamentals: Integrating Making Activities into Your STEM Classroom,” from the Exploratorium
“Student Thinking at the Core,” taught by Barbara Stengel and Marcy Singer-Gabella of Vanderbilt University
“Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes that Stick,” taught by Orin Gutlerner of Match Education
Three science content focused courses for Educators taught by the American Museum of Natural History
Eight part series on the Foundations of Teaching for Learning aimed at teachers in the developing world taught by Commonwealth Education Trust
Tuesday, May 14. 2013
The small MOOC that I was facilitating on the Canvas Network ended this past weekend. I say small because we had 800+ participants and that's small for a MOOC (call it a BOOC - big - or SOOC - small?). I say facilitating because I don't consider it to be the same experience as when I "teach" even if I 'd like to think that when I teach I am also trying to facilitate more than push content at and into students. Actually, along with my designer colleague, Mary Zedeck from Seton Hall University, most of the work was in designing the content for the course. I even have a problem with saying it was a "course" because there were no assignments or grades or credit. I said up front that the C for this MOOC stood for Conversation.
The conversation ran for 4 weeks and was open to registration right up to the last day. You might ask what value that would have to join in a conversation when it was closing, but several people who signed in very late said they were glad that he content would still be available to them after the class ended. They plan to access the content as time permits. I see some value to that, although I would say at least half the value in "Academia and the MOOC" was in connecting with other participants (most of whom were employed in academic roles) in the forums. There were more links and comments to new readings in the discussions than were contained in the modules Mary and I designed.
But I am hoping that the conversation continues. I will be posting for the next few weeks some of the takeaways from doing this converstion. I also created some areas outside Canvas for that discussion to continue. (I did not use these areas during the 4 weeks because I felt it would dilute the conversation in the course itself.) This also widens the audience and I hpe some readers of this blog will join in now.
John Graves, a "student" in the class, had created a Google+ Community https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/112243817982502760507 during our mini-semester and that is place for conversation and also the possibility of some followup literal conversations using Hangouts.
I created an open Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/464360010307595/ where we can easily continue to share links and ideas. I have done this for other courses I teach and they have a pretty good life beyond the semester. There is one on designing social media, one that was started with a group I worked with in a Stanford creativity MOOC, and one on issues in general about educational technology.
Although I don't find the conversations as dynamic in LinkIn as in other social network, I also created an open group there http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Academia-MOOC-4993629 because there are people active there. We have always hoped that more "professional" conversations would emerge in LinkedIn, but that hasn't happened for me yet. I'm actually more likely to connect professionally with people via this blog, Facebook or Twitter.
We had very lively activity in twitter using our hashtag of #acadmooc during the month that the class ran and I hope that tag continues to gather posts about MOOCs and their impact on academia.
Thanks to another participant, Ann @annindk, our tweetchat with MOOC pioneer Bryan Alexander is archived on Storify for those who missed it. A second chat that we did within Canvas (closed) with another MOOC pioneer, Stephen Downes, is open to read in several place including here on Serendipity35.
If you are not a real Twitter user, you can also follow that conversation via Tagboard without a twitter account.
Finally, there will be people from the class posting to their own social sites (blogs etc.) about the course. Hopefully, I will get notifications about them or stumble upon them in some Google searching. We discussed in the course (it is hard to drop that familiar term) how little good formal feedback on MOOCs we could find by students. There are a good number of demographics studies on who takes MOOCs, but not much qualitative information on the experience. Most of that does seem to be informal or available on student sites. Ann Priestley, who was in my MOOC, let me know that she had posted on her blog about the course and I very interested in the positives and negatives about the experience. (I already commented on her post, so that conversation continues).
All these groups are open, so join in and invite colleagues who have an interest in exploring MOOCs.
Monday, May 13. 2013
UnCollege challenges the the notion that going to college is the only path to success.
About 70% of high school graduates go on to college, even though studies seem to show that a college degree no longer guarantees success.
So, UnCollege www.uncollege.org states its mission as being "To change the notion that university is the only path to success and to help people to thrive in an ever changing world in which it is virtually impossible for educational institutions to adapt."
Some of their core belief are ones that intentionally disrupt how we have thought about post-secondary education and success.
Some of their efforts include a Gap Year Program and Hackademic Camps.
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