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Readers familiar with European Research projects will know how they work. The projects negotiate with the European Commission a DOW – Description of Work – which details the work to be undertaken in each year of the project. It is divided into discrete work packages. Every year the work package provides a (usually over lengthy) report on research and development undertaken which is then presented to a team of expert reviewers who can ‘pass’, recommend changes or ‘fail’ the report. Although obviously large scale multi national research projects need structures and plans. But all too often the work package structure separates research and development activities which should not be separated and the DOW become a restrictive ‘bible’, rather than a guide for action. And despite the large amount of work which goes into preparing the work package reports, they are seldom widely read (if indeed read at all), except by the reviewers.
In the EmployID project which is working with identity transformation in European Public Employment Services (PES), we are doing things differently. The work is structured though cross work package teams, who follow an adapted SCRUM structure. The teams are reviewed at face to face meetings and recomposed if necessary. And this year, instead of producing a series of Work package reports, the project partners have jointly contributed to a book – Empowering Change in Public Employment Services: The EmployID Approach which has just been published and can be downloaded for free.
The introduction to the 244 page PDF book explains the background to the work:
European Public Employment Services (PES) and their employees are facing fundamental challenges to the delivery of efficient and effective services and the need to change their strategies to combat high unemployment, demographic change in increasingly uncertain and dynamic labour markets. This does not only require developing new professional skills related to new tasks, but poses for more profound developmental challenges for staff members.
Three of these changes relate to understanding the changing world of work; a ‘turn’ towards coaching; and the increased importance of relations with employers. The staff need to learn new ways of working, with a major challenge being to enhance the power of collaborative (peer) learning in order to support staff in accomplishing their goals.
All these changes are linked to transforming professional identity, which requires learning on a deeper level that is often neglected by continuing professional development strategies. EmployID makes its contribution here; that PES practitioners’ learning related to professional identity transformation needs to be facilitated through social learning approaches and the nurturing of social learning networks, which include the following:
Reflection as a way of turning one’s own and others’ experiences into general insights on multiple levels, both from an individual and a collective perspective
Peer coaching as a way of helping learners in changing their behavior through a structured process
Social learning programmes as a way of engaging learners with new topics, other perspectives, and conversations around it.
This is a summary of a study from Facebook, and it's important to keep in mind that Facebook is lobbying for a limited Facebook-only version of the internet in poorer countries. This is why it makes sense to say, for example, that "75% of the unconnected had never heard of the word 'internet.'" It's like they won't know what they're missing if they get only Facebook. That said, it is unacceptable that 4 billion don't have access to internet. And it's not because the internet isn't relevant ('reason 3') for these people, nor is it because they are not ready ('reason 4') for the internet. It has everything to do with a global model of resource distribution where the necessities of life and the means of producing them - not only internet, but food, energy, housing, and the rest - are provided only to those who can pay for them. Facebook's wealth, and the system that produced it, is the reason 4 billion people are offline.[Link] [Comment]
Kevin Kelly has a long history of being wrong about the future and his streak will continue with this article. The world he depicts here is not some sort Star Trek Federation economy or socialist ideal - it's an end-state for a capitalist dream, where all ownership has been consolidated in corporations and individual people have nothing of their own. It's a world where, if you don't pay, you don't have anything, which means that (as today) social control and individual labour will be secured by corporations through the threat of cutting access to food, housing, entertainment, and more. Security, continuity, affinity - these are important to people, and physical objects are tangible instances of them.[Link] [Comment]
Where: KICD, Nairobi, Kenya
When: September 12-16, 2016
Who: Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) is the conference host and convening partner. The Institute’s core function is to conduct research and develop curricular for all levels of education below the university. Website: http://www.kicd.ac.ke
- Prof. Erwin Sniedzins, Gamification Architect
- Gene Wade, CEO of One University Network
- Prof. John Traxler, Research Prof. Digital Learning
- Mr. Rajeev Gupta, CEO & Founder mElimu
- Prof. Peter E. Kinyanjui, Chairman, KICD Council.
- Mr. John Kimotho, Snr.Deputy Director / Deputy CEO, KICD
- Mrs. Esther Gacicio, Assistant Director, KICD e-Learning section
- Dr. Julius O. Jwan, Director & Chief Executive Officer KICD
- Dr. Penina Lam, Consultant World Bank, CGAP Gateway Academy
To register, go to http://elice.co/product/elice-2016-registration/
To make a presentation at the conference, go to: http://elice.co/speakers-application/. Applications must be received by 15 August, 2016
"It's at the intersection of machine learning and graph technology where the next evolution lies and where new disruptive companies are emerging," according to this article. These are neural network technologies, and they work by analyzing connections, not contents. But there's a difference between 'machine learning' and 'graph technologies'. "machine learning takes large quantities of data to make predictions about future events. While graph technology is more concerned with the relationship between different data points... Some ML methods use ‘ graphs’ to represent the learnings while others don't.” "[Link] [Comment]
Every day, someone new either thinks about doing an online course, or is pressured into doing one. You may have quite a lot of prior knowledge about online learning (or think you do), or may have no knowledge at all. The most important thing to know though is that you probably don’t know enough about online learning, especially if you are just starting out (which defines you as wise, according to Socrates).
I have been teaching and researching online learning for nearly 30 years (yes, online learning started that long ago). Over that time, a great deal of research and evaluation of online learning has been done. Although much more could be done, and not all the work has been of high quality, nevertheless there is a great deal now known about what works and what doesn’t in online learning. Learning by experience is often a good way to learn, but it can also lead to frustration and, more importantly, students may suffer from the instructors’ lack of experience or ignorance. Thus at least knowing the basics before you start can save you not only a lot of time, but also will help you develop better courses from scratch.
I have written a 500 page, free online open textbook on Teaching in a Digital Age, which draws extensively on the latest research into online learning, and is meant as a guide for practitioners. Unfortunately, though, there are very few short guides to online learning, to help you make the decision about whether you should make the effort to do it properly.
So this is the first in a series of blog posts aimed at those new to online learning, particularly but not exclusively for those in the post-secondary education sector. I am hoping that these blogs will not only provide some of the basic knowledge you need before starting, but will also lead you to go further by digging into the parts of Teaching at a Distance that are relevant to you at any particular time.Online learning: a definition
There is no Academie Française or Academy of Science or Technology that provides an ‘official’ definition of online learning. It is what people say it is, so I can only give you my personal definition, which is as follows:
Online learning is any form of learning conducted partly or wholly over the Internet.The continuum of online learning
I have deliberately chosen a very broad definition of online learning, because it can be seen that it comes in many different varieties. My definition means that learners will use a computer, tablet or some other device for their learning, and it also means that at some point in their studying they have to go online – through the Internet – to access information or communicate with an instructor or other learners.
I therefore see teaching as a continuum:
- at one end, there is teaching with no use of technology, which therefore is NOT online learning, but ‘pure’ face-to-face teaching. However, teaching without any technology is very rare these days, at least in formal education;
- then there is the use of technology as a classroom aid, which may or may not be online learning. For instance an instructor using a projector and Powerpoint slides would not be using online learning, but students being directed to use a device such as a laptop, tablet or mobile phone to look at a web site during a classroom lesson would be a form of online learning, but the classroom would remain the main means of delivery. However this could be considered a sub-branch of online learning, called blended learning;
- so, as with most continua, we get to a point where definitions become a little less precise, and this is blended learning, which again can mean a number of things, but in general means a combination of face-to-face teaching and a significant use of online learning, especially outside the classroom. This can take a number of forms:
- a flipped classroom is one where student do preparation online before a classroom session (for instance watching a pre-recorded video lecture, and/or online reading);
- hybrid learning is one where the whole classroom experience has been redesigned to focus on what the instructor thinks is best done online and what is best done face-to-face; in hybrid learning students may spend 50 per cent or more of their time learning on line;
- lastly, fully online learning, where students do not come to campus at all, but study entirely online, which is one form of distance education.
Note though that online learning can include learning with or without an instructor physically present, and that a computer lab where everything is already pre-loaded on the computer would not be online learning. (This form of learning is still found in some countries with poor or no Internet access).
The important thing to remember is that online learning is primarily a mode of delivery, a way of delivering education to learners, NOT a particular method of teaching. Online learning can support a wide range of teaching methods. For instance lectures can be delivered in class (face-to-face) or over the Internet, as can experiential learning, constructivist approaches and many other teaching methods. This will be a topic of later posts.
We shall also see that online learning, like face-to-face teaching, can be done well or it can be done badly, but that too is a topic for another post.Implications
With the increased use of online learning, every instructor now has to ask themselves two important questions:
- Where on the continuum of teaching should my course be, and on what basis should I make that decision?
- How do I decide, in any form of blended learning, what is best done online, and what is best done face-to-face?
Teaching in a Digital Age attempts to help you answer such questions, but in order to answer those questions well, you will need to read a lot of the book.Follow-up
So in the meantime, if you want to know more about what online learning is, here is some suggested further reading (no more than an hour). Just click on the link:
- From the periphery to the centre: how technology is changing the way we teach, Chapter 1.7, Teaching in a Digital Age
- The continuum of technology-based learning, Chapter 9.1, Teaching in a Digital Age.
‘Isn’t online learning worse than face-to-face teaching?’ (to be posted in the week July 18-22, 2016)Your turn
If you have comments, questions or just plain disagree, please let me know.
Athabasca University has the benefit of offering one of the first doctor of education programs, fully online, in North America. The program is cohort-based and accepts 12 students annually. I’ve been teaching in the doctorate program for several years (Advanced Research Methods as well as, occasionally, Teaching & Learning in DE) and supervise 8 (?!) doctoral students currently.
Applications for the fall 2017 start are now being accepted with a January 15, 2017 deadline. Just in case you’re looking to get your doctorate . It really is a top program. Terrific faculty and tremendous students.