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A presentation at the first CNIE conference in Banff Canada 2008

A presentation at the first CNIE conference in Banff Canada 2008

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  • 1. CNIE Conference Banff 2008 Changing conceptions not just changing technologies Mary Thorpe Professor of Educational Technology The Open University UK Institute of Educational Technology http://www.openuniversity.co.uk/iet1 http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/home.php
  • 2. currently
    • Director of the postgraduate awards from OU Institute of Education Technology :
      • MA in Online & Distance Education
      • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice
      • MSc in Research Methods in Educational Technology
    • Co-Principal of Practice-based Professional Learning Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning
    • Researching
      • Student experience of ICT in practice-based courses: JISC funded
      • Social networking for practice-based learning
  • 3. Online interaction & social networking
    • What benefits does online interaction offer?
    • What are the challenges we face?
    • How can we design courses that foster
      • high levels of online participation?
      • effective learning for students?
    • An example of a course that does this
    • Diverse conceptions of & approaches towards online interaction – individual, groups, networks and collectives
    • Expanding into social networking
  • 4. Distance learning – Social software’s killer ap? Anderson, 2005 ODLAA Conference: How to combine freedom, community and support ?
    • networked tools that support and encourage individuals to learn together whilst retaining individual control over their time, space, presence, activity, identity and relationship
    Much of the high cost…is related to time requirements placed upon instructors to interact with students. Although…student teacher interaction can be substituted by student-student and student-content interaction, it is not easy to orchestrate and support such interactions and both…students and teachers easily slip into cost ineffective models of e-learning (Anderson p1/2)
  • 5. Why do students avoid online forums?
    • No time
    • It’s not assessed
    • They lack the skills of online interaction
    • They lack confidence in their own views
    • They fear to offend other students
    • They do not have a good experience when they try it
    • Other students do not contribute
    • They do not see how it helps them to learn important things
  • 6. Researching interaction
    • Interaction and integration across 36 courses using the web – funder Andrew W.Mellon Foundation
    • Students identified benefits from learning together (Thorpe & Godwin, 2006 Studies in Continuing Education, 28(3))
    • Conferencing problematic – not just because of costs but because of how it’s conceived & designed
    • A case study of a course with a successful design for online interaction – not tutor dependent
  • 7. U316 – The Environmental Web Web-based course, up to 50% of study is online Study led by online activities feeding into conferencing at Group and course level Students alternate between independent study of online activities, using external websites, CDROM resources & tools, and interaction with peers, using asynchronous conferencing, integrated with assessment; work as a national network; attend one day school (no tutorials) Course is skills focused; students learn how to search & evaluate Web, debate online, use climate modelling tools, write environmental Web journalism, complete a project, and submit assignments as web pages
  • 8. Environmental & collective interaction: Authentic tasks – the Biodiversity data collection activity
    • Use detailed field notes on recognition of a sample of birds, dragonflies and woodlice; Students observe their area, noting what species they find
    • Complete field notes and upload to the Course Biodiversity database
    • This creates a geographically referenced map of all the students’ data, enabling students to see where there are species ‘hot spots’ and to work out what might be good strategies for nature reserves
    • Submit an assignment based on this activity, for credit
    • The OU data is submitted to the national biodiversity database and so adds to ‘real’ knowledge
  • 9.  
  • 10. Granularity a key issue for interaction & learning activities: Dron & Anderson – Collectives, networks and groups in social software for e-Learning National database, voting Forums for chat, Q&A, tech help Threaded small group discussion Environmental Web Data mining, search, individual entries` Queries, discussion Collaborative projects Activity Collective Network Group
  • 11.
    • Pedagogy of active involvement and participation delivered through a variety of forms of interaction, at different levels of granularity
    • The course team understood WHY they wanted students to interact and HOW to achieve it
    ‘ Our overall aim is to provide you with the skills needed to develop your own environmental literacy and to take part in informed environmental debate and action , rather than to expand your environmental knowledge as such.’ Course Chair, introduction The Environmental Web
  • 12.
    • A web-based course at level 3: core to BSc Environmental Studies
    • High retention and credit achievement
    • Online conferencing is integrated in online activities that students have to do – half their study time is spent online
    • Conferencing is highly structured and integrated into the course learning outcomes and the assessment
    • Conferencing is designed for student collaboration online and is not dependent on tutor skill – though tutors log on daily and ensure students online from week 1
    • Participation is both mandatory – and, tutors say, enjoyed by students; no compromise or optionality
    The Environmental Web
  • 13. Research your Island’s data Using websites Complete Short report on your island & upload to the group conference Role play meeting of AOSIS, Representing your Island’s needs For environmental protection Group decides on a set of demands from AOSIS to the UN Assignment - Student Reports on Role play & uses data on their island To support the consensus reached 35% marks Blue= individual Green = report to group Yellow = group work Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) activity - A design that really works
  • 14. Task and roles enabled interaction without knowing other students
    • Interviewer: So did you find it difficult to contribute…because you hadn’t met these people first?
    Research findings from student interviews No no, not at all – because in there we had an aim, we had a target, so I didn’t mind at all that I did not know the fellow students. We just exchanged views
  • 15. Interaction promoted reasoned discussion & argument
    • Interviewer: did you find it possible to disagree?
    Oh very much so. People did disagree a lot and managed to put forward their points of view a lot, which I really liked, and backed it up with examples…most people’s decisions were informed and you could see that .
  • 16. Identifying with ‘your island’ We used a spreadsheet to see what kind of opinions were coming forward and it was quite clear that three issues were coming forward from most people, so you thought if you weren’t in that consensus you’d be in a minority and probably you’d have more sway if you felt able to join the majority. On most of the issues I could but there was one or two issues where I said no there’s no way I’m going to compromise on that …I was Haiti so I was very poor. There was a lot of wealthy islands so some people didn’t have the issues that Haiti did so there was some things I just couldn’t compromise on. Student voice
  • 17. Open source software ‘compendium’ used to map the design of online interaction
  • 18. Online activity continues tutor Student
  • 19.  
  • 20. Key features of this – cost-effective - learning design
    • SEQUENCE OF ACTIVITY - Combining individual online study followed by online group debate – not purely discussion
    • Identification with a Small Island State crucial to quality of engagement and willingness to disagree & argue
    • Well structured activity, tied in closely to assessment, ensured participation by all students, without prior meeting
    • Quality of interaction NOT dependent on tutor skills – but tutors log on daily and encourage but don’t actively moderate the discussion
    • Course team do not compromise on CMC – tied in to the design of the course and learning outcomes
  • 21. Diverse conceptualisations within the OU: interaction perceived largely in terms of group forums as primary entity
    • Putting the face to face tutorial online – tutor level groups
    • Increasing the opportunity for group discussion – e.g.asking students to discuss things they study in the course
    • Providing a new medium for student support
    • Offering networking across the course cohort – course level groups for chat, Q&A, course messages, etc
    • Social construction of knowledge – peer collaboration
    • A tool for achieving aspects of the course learning outcomes e.g.debate
    • A tool for developing skills – typically teamwork
    • Work-related knowledge sharing – crossing boundaries of different contexts
  • 22. Mixed success in u/graduate Health & Social Care courses
    • good discussion in tutor groups difficult to achieve
      • Activities in texts leading out to online conferences often fail to spark off significant discussion
      • Tutor dependent – they need to develop their skills in order to engage students and stimulate interesting discussion
    • Examples that were more successful
      • Course level conferences with experienced moderators did generate more social presence and some continued after the course on facebook
      • tutor groups that did work involved design of peer group interaction around a shared task
  • 23. Integrating interaction into assessment
    • A two-part assignment
    Part 1: mandatory but no marks. You are a community development officer in public health working in a town of 80k with diverse health needs(more details)…work with 4/5 students online to reach a consensus over the most appropriate public health intervention for your town. You must contribute to your group’s discussion on at least 5 occasions . Part 2: an essay of 1500 words: Drawing on your experience in Part 1, write a reflective analytical essay on the challenges you faced and the skills you developed when working in partnership with your group. 100% of the marks for this part. Learning outcomes include key skills : Demonstrate independent and collaborative learning through use of ICT. Professional skills : Recognise effective partnership working in different settings in public health.
  • 24. Tutors surprised – normally they see their input as key (‘chivying’) Well now that did surprise me and I thought they did come alive a bit…we needed something at the beginning of the course which more or less made them do this so that once they got into it they quite liked interacting…I think we might have had a much better group interaction all the way through. (tutor 1) I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with that. They did better than I thought they would…they put a lot of work in to what they were doing, so they came up with ideas, they volunteered to design interventions and they specifically drew other students in by asking them what they thought. (tutor 2)
  • 25. Using social software with a ‘vanguard’ group of tutors – Social Networking for Practice Learning
    • Business and Health and Social Care tutors work with faculty using social networking tools
      • Google reader + RSS feeds
      • Social bookmarking using del.icio.us
      • Wiki for collaborative authoring
      • Facebook for discussion
      • Flashmeeting for group synchronous meetings
  • 26.  
  • 27. A tutor using social bookmarking with Business students I carry out an activity of social bookmarking a few weeks into each presentation of BU130 - which I tutor on. Students have to carry out research into two work based learning topics and I find that social bookmarking is a great way to kick off their research. There is a compulsory topic on 'time management' that they research and so it is ideal for them to share any links they come across. What I like about delicious is how easy it is to use and it is a great way to ease students into using the internet and seeing benefits instantly. I find it very quick to login and install the buttons and away you go..
  • 28. Student feedback
      • "I used the del.icio.us website and it was brilliant! What a useful resource. The features are outlined below, but it was very user friendly, and I mean very, because I am the first to admit that I am slightly nervous of new technology! I would definitely recommend it...it is a key time management tool, and one that I shall be commenting on for my WBL Topic of Time Management. When I searched for some info on Time Management as a test it came up with some key resources... "
  • 29. Social networks consist of people connected by a shared object – the social networking services that really work are the ones that are built around objects Jyri Engestrom’s blog
    • Yet activity design is key even here – the defining of a purpose with which learners can engage, and the creation of an activity through which to achieve that purpose
    • But purpose and activity will derive from how you conceptualise interaction – its important to recognise different forms of online interaction at all levels of granularity
    • Social software tools now require this reconceptualisation so that we take advantage of what they offer
      • 'networked tools that support and encourage individuals to learn together whilst retaining individual control over their time, space, presence, activity, identity and relationship' (Anderson, 2005)
    • But we trade off control for the benefits of connection and strong links
  • 30. Granularity a key issue for interaction & learning activities: Dron & Anderson – Collectives, networks and groups in social software for e-Learning National database, voting Forums for chat, Q&A, tech help Threaded small group discussion Environmental Web Data mining, search, individual entries` Queries, discussion Collaborative projects Activity Collective Network Group
  • 31. ‘ It feels much more like – how can I put it – more like genuine teaching if you see what I mean. I have a lot more contact with students…the level of interaction is much higher, much more enjoyable. Certainly the students say that to me and I find it much more enjoyable’ course tutor The benefits of elearning – an online Course at the OU UK: The Environmental Web
  • 32. connections
    • [email_address]
    • http://kn.open.ac.uk/workspace.cfm?wpid=4245
    • http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning_pedagogy/elp_learnerexperience.aspx
      • Thorpe, M. and Godwin, S. (2006) Interaction and e-learning: the student experience. Studies in Continuing Education, vol 28 (3) pp203-221
      • Thorpe, M. (2006) Perceptions about time and learning: researching the student experience, Distances et Savoirs, Vol 4 (4) pp 499 -511
      • Thorpe, M. and Godwin, S. (2006) Computer-mediated interaction in context
      • http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/sydney06/proceeding/onlineIndex.html
  • 33. End of presentation
  • 34. Why is online interpersonal interaction so valued for elearning?
    • New medium for creating learning dialogues
    • Opportunity for online collaborative learning that delivers knowledge construction by students
    • Means through which students learn valued skills, notably argumentation and team work
    • Engages students in processes key to deep learning –
      • Explanation, self-explanation, reflection, analysis
    • Vicarious learning possibilities – students ‘over hear’ valuable learning dialogues, learn from peer learning
    • Can support boundary crossing – sharing knowledge across different contexts
    • High social presence feeds into positive emotional support, reduces sense of isolation, helps retention of students
  • 35. The challenge for interpersonal interaction delivered as dialogue – forums, conferences
    • Low levels of participation a persistent problem
    • Knowledge construction fails to develop much beyond ‘sharing experience’
    • Debate may be stifled - social harmony/superficial consensus preferred
    • Argumentation may be undermined by poor use of evidence, weak skills in shared problem analysis and so on
    • Quality of the interaction can be dependent on the skills of the tutor or facilitator – vulnerable therefore to poor moderation and understanding of the medium
  • 36. Benefits of conferencing: (1) Interaction and elearning: the students’ experience thorpe&Godwin(2006) Studies in Continuing Education 28(3)
    • Learning together benefits
      • Access to broader range of views
      • Getting rapid answers to problems
      • Clarification of issues/problem areas
      • Vicarious learning – identification with others
      • Explanation to others – elaborating own knowledge
      • Development of own views
      • Skills of online communication improved
  • 37. Benefits of conferencing: (2) students’ perspective
    • More contact/emotional support
      • Reassurance that difficulties are shared
      • Feeling of being part of a group
      • Reduced sense of isolation
      • Friendly place to get help/guidance etc
      • Identification with other learners
      • Accessibility of the group/other students, at all times
  • 38. Campus combines formal with informal learning Crook and Light(2002) Virtual Society and the Cultural Practice of Study
    • Campus designed to engineer development of academic discourse through combination of casual interaction with formal study modes such as lectures, seminars, workshops. Formality and informality work together to ensure disciplinary cultures are engaged with.
    • Conferencing – and social networking more broadly – needs to develop a range of forms of interaction – working across the formal and informal boundary, content versus interpersonal interaction, small group with strong ties and larger group with weaker ties……..
    • Conceptualisations (at my own institution) need opening out to encompass a range of forms of online interaction and ways of integrating these
  • 39. Putting the face to face tutorial online
    • A model that probably impedes effective design of online interaction
      • e.g. mistiming tutorial slots, not moderating effectively, no clear purpose etc
      • Assuming tutors are professionals and not to be directed in their support role – leave it to them
      • Viewing online interaction as a poor second, only effective if students already know each other, best blended with face to face etc – all can communicate to tutors a low confidence in online interaction/conferencing, optionality among students
      • Relies on tutors ‘chivying’ students to contribute
  • 40. A novice user – tutor in Health and Social Care There are stages in adopting new tools (and forgive my assumption but I think this might be new to the majority of Health and Social Care students and perhaps a few of my fellow HSC tutors; ::::. Once you have been guided how to set it up you need time to familiarise yourself with the functionality of del.icio.us before thinking about the intention of use and organisation of your folksonomy; (tutor 2)