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It's worth taking note of how the display of page content has changed over the years. The rise of mobile devices and touchscreens has been influential. Today it makes more sense to design pages that respond to swipes rather than clicks (while keeping mouse options in play). The long-scroll does that. This article highlights some design patterns you've probably already come to recognize. At some point I'll explore more deeply how to create these (though that said they're available in most standard CSS template collections).[Link] [Comment]
This is a placeholder for when I need to respond to arguments like "we can't afford free tuition" or "OERs must be sustainable". The money does exist, however, it has been concentrated into the hands of a very few, where it serves nobody but them. In Canada the situation isn't really better where just two people (pictured) have the same wealth as a third of the rest of the Canadian population. This also explains why education alone will not solve poverty and inequality; we need policy changes at a higher level.[Link] [Comment]
Actually, that's a little misleading - synthesis is a skill required by academics and scholars, whether technology is present or not. But a mash-up takes several ideas, formats or sources and places them together in a new form, to say something new. That's why I like it. It's creative and it's often thought provoking.
Amy Burvall and I did this a while back, when we invited people to write some thoughts on learning around an image. #Blimage caught on, encouraging hundreds of educators to write blogs, and spawned several other mash-up ideas related to blogging, including #TwistedPair (where two seemingly unconnected people were brought together to create a metaphor about learning - what about Donald Trump and Mickey Mouse?).
I saw the above image on Twitter today, courtesy of Mark Barnes (originally from this post by Jackie Gerstein) and it got me thinking. How much more could we say about the uses of technology when we place them up against a pre-digital age theory such as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs model? I did something similar when I speculated on how Paulo Friere might view blogging. I followed this up with Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget and how learning from YouTube draws on constructivist theories, and then Wikipedia - a Marxist perspective. You can have a lot of fun with this approach to personalised learning.
Maslow's Hierarchy is a very well know theory, and has featured in numerous slides, journals, books and blogs in the past. It's a simple model and requires little effort to see how it could be applied to explain motivation. Yes, it has problems, conceptually, structurally and academically. Carl Rogers for example, disputed its relevance as a hierarchical progression of activities, when he claimed that he had observed people self actualising instantly. The concept of self-actualisation is in itself problematic, and the means through which Maslow obtained his data have also been cast into doubt.
But putting these objections aside, there is a lot that could be done with this model and its application to an explanation of how we use technology. Does technology offer no support whatsoever for physiological needs? What about Fitbits and other health related wearable technologies? The model in the graphic also misses out on some important higher level connections - what about digital music making in the aesthetic area? (In fairness, Jackie mentions this in the original post) In the orginal Maslow model, a higher level - transcendence - is included which is almost always missing from published versions - usually because it is poorly understood. What technologies might apply to this level of human experience?
Image courtesy of Jackie Gerstein
Maslow, technology and learning by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's
Fascinating research from April Yee, program officer for the James Irvine Foundation in the USA. In a report entitled “The Unwritten Rules of Engagement: Social Class Differences in Undergraduates’ Academic Strategies” and reported in Times Higher, Yee says even when students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds are able to access higher education they face further challenges that their more privileged counterparts do not. This she believes is due toe different learning strategies. Whilst the learning strategies of middle class students are recognised by the institutions, the strategies of first generation working class students are not.
“First-generation students believe that they are responsible for earning good grades on their own,” she writes.
“First-generation students employ engagement strategies that emphasise independence while middle-class students…emphasise interaction, in addition to independence. Thus middle-class students are more likely to achieve not because they exert more absolute effort, but because they employ a wider range of strategies.”
She adds that the research, published in the Journal of Higher Education, “points to the role of institutions in defining the implicit rules of engagement, such that middle-class strategies of interaction are recognised and rewarded while first-generation strategies of independence are largely ignored”.
Of course all this leaves more questions than it answers (and is why people should read full reports, rather than rely on the Times Higher digest). I am interested in just what is an engagement strategy that emphasises interaction. To what degree can the design of student assignments, for instance with groupwork, support interaction – if indeed such a learning strategy needs to be supported. And if this research holds true for universities what might it mean for the schools sector.
Graham Brown Martin talks about Personalised Learning. Does #EdTech personalise, individualise or standardise, he asks? “In the age of big data and learning analytics, are we seeing Taylor’s ideas – masquerading as progressive “personalized learning” – forced upon unwitting education systems where all that matters is the what rather than the why?” And he says that despite the fact he is not anti technology it may be time to “tap the breaks”.
Times Higher Education reports the number of first-year students from outside the European Union enrolling at UK universities fell by 1 per cent from 2014-15 to 2015-16, according to data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
Data from the past five years show which countries are sending fewer students to study in the UK.
Despite a large increase in the number of students enrolling from China, a cohort that has grown by 12,500 since 2011-12, enrolments by students from India fell by 13,150 over the same period.
Other notable changes include an increase in students from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and a fall in students from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
Has Learning Analytics dropped of the peak of inflated expectations in Gartner’s hype cycle? According to Educause ‘Understanding the power of data’ is still there as a major trend in higher education and Ed Tech reports a KPMG survey which found that 41 percent of universities were using data for forecasting and predictive analytics.
But whilst many universities are exploring how data can be used to improve retention and prevent drop outs, there seems little pretence any more that Learning Analytics has much to do with learning. The power of data has somehow got muddled up with Management Analytics, Performance Analytics and all kinds of other analytics – but the learning seems to have been lost. Data mining is great but it needs a perspective on just what we are trying to find out.
I don’t think Learning analytics will go into the trough of despair. But i think that there are very real problems in working out how best we can use data – and particularly how we can use data to support learning. Learning analytics need to be more solidly grounded in what is already known about teaching and learning. Stakeholders, including teachers, learners and the wider community, need to be involved in the development and implementation of learning analytics tools. Overall, more evidence is needed to show which approaches work in practice and which do not.
Finally, we already know a great deal about formal learning in institutions, or at least by now we should do. Of course we need to work at making it better. But we know far less about informal learning and learning which takes place in everyday living and working environments. And that is where I ultimately see Learning analytics making a big difference. Learning Analytics could potentially help us all to self directed learners and to achieve the learning goals that we set ourselves. But that is a long way off. Perhaps if Learning analytics is falling off the peak of expectations that will provide the space for longer term more clearly focused research and development.
Community Tracking in a cMOOC and Nomadic Learner Behaviour Identification on a Connectivist Rhizomatic Learning Network
The difference between the research we see in a connectivist MOOC (cMOOC) and those offered by Coursea, Udacity, etc. (xMOOC) is striking, and nowhere better exemplified by this detailed diagram we see in this paper. The best we get from the xMOOCs are demographics and completion rates. Here we get visible evidence of interactivity and social presence. The authors actually call for similar research to be undertaken for xMOOCs. The authors argue "cognitive presence has a critical function for meaningful learning experiences" and report "findings that reveals (sic) high cognitive presence, higher order learning skills and low dropout/high completion rate (in cMOOCs) when compared to other MOOCs." Note: found via OERCommons, which reports the author as 'Anonymous', which is an injustice to the actual authors.[Link] [Comment]
On my blog I have not dealt so much with my home country Finland – given that I have worked since 1994 most of the time elsewhere in Europe. During our EU-funded Learning Layers project I found several occasions to address some developments in Finland as impulses for the project work (e.g. developments in apprentice training and the ‘sustainability commitments’ in education, training and economy). Last December I felt the need to write about the Finnish independence, now that Finland is celebrating its 100th independence day in the coming December. In this respect I will picking more Finnish issues to celebrate during this year.
And just now I have a perfect case – the 40th anniversary of the most popular and sustainable children’s TV program – Pikku Kakkonen (Tiny 2-er). Today I watched the special TV program “Postilokero 347” (P.O. Box 347) in its full length and was amazed what all this program could report on the history, characters, contributors, feedback etc. Here I give the link to the program (made in Finnish for Finnish children) and then try to describe what all I learned.
The song “Pikku Kakkosen posti”: The TV-program invited children to send drawings and other post and the postal address was presented as a song that was performed by children. And this special program was started with this very song – performed by several groups of children at different times. (And they all enjoyed it.)
The initial start of the program: Some of the founders had already been involved in making an earlier children’s program for the Finnish TV 2 but it had been based on a British format and was scripted in the UK. In this context they came to the conclusion that they could develop a program with their own format and with Finnish content and Finnish-initiated characters. Of course, they were also looking for contents and impulses from other countries. But on the whole Pikku Kakkonen was a Finnish design (from TV 2 and Tampere).
Some key characters and program elements: The program was composed of short elements glued together by the moderators. A special feature was to bring hand puppet animals as partners of the moderators. The most popular was Ransu the dog and his two mates Riku and Eno-Elmeri (together known as Karvakuonot – Furry Noses). Sometimes they were also making special outdoor visits (e.g. boat trips on the nearby lake or visiting police stations or fire brigade stations). From Poland the program borrowed Teddy Hangor (Nalle Luppakorva) and his animal friends. From DDR the program got its Sandman to start and to conclude the sleepy time tale (that was told by a famous Finnish actor – male or female). One of the most popular slots was that of the Circus clown Hermanni – announced either as Hermanni’s clown school (Hermannin pellekoulu) or as Hermanni’s hotline (Hermannin hätäapu). And all kinds of children’s concerns could be dealt by the sympathetic, shy and clumsy clown who was speaking directly to (fictive) kids somewhere in Finland and commenting their (fictive) answers.
Special excursions: The very special initiatives were to send a moderator with Ransu the dog to visit Leningrad in the 1980s – just to give insights into everyday life of children in Soviet Union (avoiding all kinds of ideological ornaments). Later on the same moderator and Ransu visited Berlin – and wondered why the people had got into such bad terms with each other that some got the idea to build the wall. Ransu made the point that they should learn to get along with each other so that no such walls would be needed. This was in the autumn 1989 – and by chance: the wall was opened next week (and the moderator and Ransu could add this delightful news as a PS to their travel report. Later on another moderator went with Ransu to interview the presidents of republic about their childhood memories or relations to their pet animals.
Echo from kids and families with kids: This special program presents several episodes in which city kids and rural kids rush to watch Pikku Kakkonen when the program starts – and the parents can count that the kids will focus entirely on the program the next half an hour. And in many cases this had gone from one generation to another. BUT even more striking was that in the 1980s Pikku Kakkonen had been the ‘window to west’ for the Soviet Estonian children and their families. And for Estonian children of that time it was easy to learn Finnish just watching the program.
Echo from other viewers: It was fascinating to hear a special fan – a severely disabled and blind man who had suffered from his disease from his childhood on – to tell that he had been able to follow the program very well in spite of his blindness – the program was sufficiently conversational and had a lot of music. But it appeared that the program is also popular in elderly people’s homes – it brings the children to the inhabitants of these homes (even if they may not have grandchildren of their own). And – what was striking to me – Pikku Kakkonen has become popular among the refugee families in Finland and a key facilitator of the language learning of their children at pre-school or school age. This became apparent in the talks with a Syrian family (in Arabic) and their children (in Finnish).
And finally, at the end of the celebration program “Postilokero 347” I was inspired to hear the current bedtime storyteller of Pikku Kakkonen present the Grimm brothers’ story of Bremen town musicians (Bremer Stadtmusikanten). That made me happy in my present location – in Bremen.
– – –
I guess this is enough to give a picture of Pikku Kakkonen, its history, key characters and impact. If you want to learn more, just click the link and make your own observations! I was overwhelmed by memories of the childhood of my kids (that we shared with Pikku Kakkonen in the 1980s). And I was surprised to learn what all came after those years (when we grew out of Pikku Kakkonen but the program moved on). Congratulations, Pikku Kakkonen – years and more!
More blogs to come (but on other topics) …
The Evolving Economics of Educational Materials and Open Educational Resources: Toward Closer Alignment with the Core Values of Education
Overall this is a pretty good article from David Wiley on some of the basic concepts behind the use of open educational resources (OERs). I have a couple of quibbles (which should not be taken as detracting from the overall value of the article). First, Wiley defines "education" in economic terms. "Ideas, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are public goods," he says. "This means they are nonrivalrous and nonexcludable." I don't see the world that way, which makes me impatient about the whole concept of licensing in education to begin with. Secondly, he writes that copyright law concerts digital resources into "club goods". Why doesn't he say they just become "private goods", which is what they were when they were physical resources? He explains, "Club goods are resources that are nonrivalrous but excludable, like cable or satellite TV." I think this is a distinction without a difference.[Link] [Comment]
This article gleans the relevant datum from the recent study of Harvard and MIT MOOCs. This year saw enrollments drop at each "to about 540,000 at HarvardX and 670,000 at MIT." This is against a background in MOOCs generally where enrollment (as reported by Class Central) doubled over last year. What makes the different at Harvard and MIT? "The leveling off of interest probably has a lot to do with the schools’ choice early in 2016 to no longer offer certain certifications for free — a choice those in charge almost certainly knew must negatively impact enrollment."[Link] [Comment]
When you say things "don't work" you have some idea of what it would look like if they "worked". In education, however, this definition of an outcome has remained elusive. In simplistic terms, "worked" might mean "got better grades", but according to this article "setting achievement standards" isn't one of the things that works. One might define "worked" as "grew relative to one's previous state", but this implies a direction of growth, which is thus far undefined. Many people prefer growth toward specific "content knowledge", but I think that's only because it's easier to measure (and standardize). Measurement against content knowledge fails, however, when evaluating class size, because the benefit of smaller class size is to personalize the direction of growth toward student interests and inclinations. Similarly with spending; wouldn't "what works" depend on how that money is spent? All this could have been discussed in this article, but wasn't. Pity, as the end result is the generation of misinformation rather than knowledge.[Link] [Comment]
In my previous blog I wrote from a personal point of view on the coming of a new era. But, of course from a global point of view I have a stronger reason to use the expression ‘change of era’ when referring to the end of the Obama presidency in the USA. It is not my habit to comment the politics of other countries on my blog. Therefore, I will not make comments on Obama’s successor and what to expect of his presidency. What I want to do at this point is to celebrate the outgoing statesman and the special Obama moments during his years of service as the president. Much of this has been written and will be written elsewhere. So I limit my remarks to personal experiences and to observations on recent events.
Barack Obama gets elected and re-elected
Strangely enough, I find it difficult to retrieve my memories from the time when Obama was elected for the first time in 2008. Somehow there were too many things going on that I didn’t quite pick the momentum. Of course, Obama had impressed me with the “Yes we can” but yet I was waiting for him and his popular movement to show where this enthusiasm brings him and his administration. Yet, I do remember the politically correct gesture of the good loser, senator McCain when he announced that he had had the honour to congratulate Obama as the next president. (And already at that time the republicans showed that they are poor losers by greeting McCain with angry boo-shouts.)
Far more strongly I experienced the re-election of Obama in 2012. I was on other duties in Berlin and then continuing from there to Barcelona to attend the Learning Layers kick-off meeting. The elections in the USA took place on the very night that I spent in a hotel in Berlin before my morning flight to Barcelona. At this time there was much at stake and the result of the elections was not clear before the critical day. So, I just couldn’t get sleep and turned the TV on to follow the program of the German TV-channel ZDF. So the night passed, there were moments that I was nodding away and then getting wake. The race was tight and at the end there were the famous ‘swing states’ of which one was never so sure which side takes the votes.
And then – in between – came the announcement of the moderator Christian Sievers: “And the next president of the USA is – Barack Obama!” Indeed, Obama had won in Ohio and that already ensured the result. Then, with similar results from the remaining states the victory of Obama was clear. And I felt so relieved. At the airport I met some older American tourists who were heading to Barcelona. They were very disappointed and made it clear. I didn’t feel a temptation to enter a debate with them – after all, it was up to the US citizens to elect their president.
The farewell speech of Barack Obama – spelling out his legacy
Then time passed – and I had my attention mainly on the project work with the Learning Layers – and before long there was the time for the next US elections. And now it was about the successor of Barack Obama. Well, the results was what it was – the citizens had spoken (popular vote) and the election system had spoken (the result in terms of electors). One may speculate just as much one can – but the result remains. The Obama presidency will come to an end with a hand-over to a completely different presidency.
At this moment I prefer to focus on the farewell speech of President Barack Obama and how he has explained his legacy to his voters and supporters . To my great pleasure I found that the report of the leading German TV channel ARD on this event provides a link to Obama’s speech in full length (and not dubbed into German). So, let us give our full attention to Barack Obama making clear what has been achieved during his presidency and how to face the challenges of the American democracy in the coming times:
Other kinds of Obama moments to be remembered
But when speaking of Obama moments to be remembered, it is not only about Barack Obama as the president that we are thinking. Clearly, Michelle Obama has made something special of here role as the First Lady – by staying with the ordinary people and keeping her feet on the ground. And that has been appreciated – she has given the people their own Obama moments. When a popular TV show invited people to express their thanks to the outgoing First Lady, there were many volunteers with deep thoughts and deep feelings. And the TV-program and Michelle Obama had their special way to return the compliments to them. Let us enjoy these Obama moments as well:
I think this is enough of the Obama moments to be kept in memory. I will not continue with comments on American politics on my blog. But I am pleased to express my thankfulness and respect to the Obama couple now that they take the most important office in a democracy – that of a citizen.
More blogs to come …
The new year 2017 is already two weeks old and I returned back to work already one week ago. During the last few years I always new, how to start my blogging after the holiday period. I just started to report, what is on the agenda in the EU-funded Learning Layers project. And there was no time to waste because there was always something moving. But now the project has come to an end and we only have the Final Review Meeting ahead us (next week, to be precise). So, in principle this year is to me stepping to a new era – to the period after the major European project. I had prepared myself mentally for a quick transition to follow-up activities but it appears that this transition is slower and the follow-up needs to be shaped carefully. Luckily enough I have now got an unlimited contract with the University of Bremen that makes my life easier and my participation in research activities more flexible.
Yet, it is not only the closure of the Learning Layers that gives me reason to speak of a new era. In the middle of last year I was hit heavily by health issues and the second half of 2016 was no longer like the first one. In June-July I was on holiday in Finland and had to go to a medical doctor because of problems in my lungs. Then I had a series of medical examinations and at the end I got the diagnosis: Prostate cancer with metastasis in lungs. I returned quickly back to Germany (where I am insured) and got the treatment started – firstly with medication and from November on with chemotherapy. So, I had to skip the conferences that took place in the autumn season and to limit my field visits and participation in project meetings to minimum. Yet, I was able give full contribution to the writing of the final reports of the Learning Layers.
Now that I am writing this down I can pass the message that my condition has greatly improved and I have all the reason to be optimistic – although I need keep my optimism in limits. The chemotherapy will be continued to the middle of February and then there will be control examinations and a new situation assessment. So, in the light of the above I am preparing proposals for some conferences in the coming year. Of course these have to pass through the review process, no question. But even more I have to add a personal question mark – “ready to participate provided that my health allows it”. And with possible changes in my health I have to be cautious and humble – to live with my disease day by day.
So, I am looking forward to keep myself in the picture and to face new challenges in the new year. The next milestone is the final review of the Learning Layers (I will get back to it) and then I will start shaping my post-LL activities. There we have a legacy of project work with using Learning Toolbox to support workplace learning – in particular in vocational education and training for construction sector. But before I get to these topics I would like to make somewhat different personal remarks on ‘change of era’ and ‘remarkable moments’ in other contexts. Then I will get back to topics on ‘working and learning’.
More blogs to come …
This is my next MOOC; it starts January 30 and runs for 10 weeks. It provides an overview of my version of connectivism as it applies to teaching and learning. It covers a lot of the ground I've covered in my talks and papers, but as a single structured unit. Unlike my previous MOOCs, I've prepared a ton of video content ahead of time, so you can follow the course at your leisure. I'll probably want to do events and things during the course but I haven't planned these yet. But there will be opportiunity for interaction and participation. Meanwhile you can sign up at the Federica.EU web site - they host the course and designed the site.[Link] [Comment]
Gary Sieling, Jan 13, 2017
Interesting site. It looks like they've scraped the talk and lecture listings of conferences, universities and some other major players and created these listings. I think this is only the surface - there's probably ten times or more lecture-type content available for free out there. You can also read more on the Find Lectures Blog (including the 'launch story' from December (actually, that's the only post)). It got a little push from Amazon.[Link] [Comment]
This is a substantial report (182 page PDF) on the state of the art in MOOCs and their adoption in French Canada. Please note that the report is written in French. Robert Gregoire does justice to the origin, development and original intent of MOOCs (if I say so myself). The latter part of the report summarizes a survey on the adoption and use of MOOCs by French-language institutions in the country. The document is also supported with a number of direct interviews with representatives from those institutions.[Link] [Comment]