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Reflections on teaching and information behaviour in a Futurelearn MOOC


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Presentation given by Sheila Webber at the Open University on 23 July 2015.

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Reflections on teaching and information behaviour in a Futurelearn MOOC

  1. 1. Open University, July 2015 Reflections on teaching & information behaviour in a Futurelearn MOOC Sheila Webber Information School, University of Sheffield
  2. 2. • Using three frameworks to reflect on my experience as an educator on the MOOC "Exploring Play: The Importance of Play in Everyday Life“ • Implications of the Play MOOC characteristics for the information behaviour and information literacy of the learners Sheila Webber, 2015
  3. 3. Using 3 frameworks to reflect on the MOOC vs non-MOOC experience • Teaching-Learning Environment (Entwistle et al, 2004) • Conole’s (2014) 12 MOOC dimensions • Sharpe et al.’s (2006) 8 dimensions of blended learning Sheila Webber, 2015
  4. 4. MOOC • Massive i.e many learners (often, thousands) • Open i.e. (freely) available to anyone (although many MOOCs only accessible to those who register): also open-access issue • Online • Course i.e. some aim and structure to the learning Sheila Webber, 2015
  5. 5. Exploring Play MOOC, Sep-Nov 14 • Cross faculty team: I led week 6 of 7 on “virtual play” • Each week has steps; with videos, articles, comment- based discussion and a quiz • Each step has a comment thread • Use of a few tools outside the platform, but mostly interactions inside • Learners asked to remember, reflect, carry out observations and playful activities Sheila Webber, 2015
  6. 6. 17,000 learners registered, 8,954 did at least one step, 1,391 completed; 70,000 comments Sheila Webber, 2015
  7. 7. Demographics • No demographics for total populations: profile is short and no obligation to give age, gender, location Sheila Webber, 2015 My profile and my avatar tweets a toy selfie
  8. 8. • Primarily on campus teaching • iSchool Director of L&T, Programme coordinator • Early adopter of technology in learning, would say I take a blended approach • Espouse an inquiry based & conceptual change approach to teaching My own background Sheila Webber, 2015
  9. 9. MOOC demographics • 5,515 respondents to pre-course questionnaire • 93% female; 61% aged 26-45; 54% from UK • 75% working either full or part time • 78% first degree or above • 60% wished to add a fresh perspective to current work Sheila Webber, 2015
  10. 10. Contrasting example of non-MOOC module • 15 credit core module in MA Librarianship • “Information Literacy” (IL): 18 students 2014/5 • 3 hour f2f weeks 1-11 • Assignments: (1) Bibliography + reflection on IL; (2) Reflection on intervention teaching IL Sheila Webber, 2015
  11. 11. The Teaching- Learning Environment Entwistle et al. (2004: 3) These elements still apply with MOOCs, with potentially great diversity in student characteristics and expectations Sheila Webber, 2015
  12. 12. The Teaching-Learning Environment Entwistle et al. (2004: 3) A further key influence in specifying design & quality is the MOOC platform provider and the MOOC platform itself Sheila Webber, 2015 These elements more influential in f2f setting
  13. 13. “The most surprising insight that emerged from the interview accounts was just how significant a role the FutureLearn platform played in the course development process. Firstly, the platformʼs available activity formats largely dictated design..... Secondly, FutureLearn exercised tight control over course content and communications ... A rigorous ʻquality assuranceʼ process described by the technical developer involved editing of course content and emails to learners.” Colhoun (2014: 54, 56) Sheila Webber, 2015
  14. 14. Conole’s (2014) MOOC dimensions (to be rated as low, medium and high) • (How) Open • (How) Massive • Diversity (of participants) • Use of (varied) multimedia • Degree of (forms of) communication • Degree of collaboration • Amount of reflection • (Nature of) Learning pathway • (Form of) Quality assurance • Certification • (Link to) Formal Learning • (Degree of learner) Autonomy Sheila Webber, 2015
  15. 15. Sharpe et al’s (2006) Dimensions of blended learning • Delivery: different modes (face-to-face and distance education) • Technology: mixtures of (web based) technologies • Chronology: synchronous and a-synchronous interventions • Locus: practice-based vs. class-room based learning • Roles: multi-disciplinary or professional groupings • Pedagogy: different pedagogical approaches • Focus: acknowledging different aims • Direction: instructor-directed vs. autonomous or learner- directed learning. Sheila Webber, 2015
  16. 16. Differences MOOC/non-MOOC? • Delivery: MOOC - could be just online; non-MOOC required blended approach; both involved interactions outside “class” time • Technology: Both mixed technologies; different emphases • Chronology: MOOC a-synchronous, non-M strong emphasis (value?) on synchronous • Locus: for both, class-room based learning but with strong link to life/practice (both non-M assignments involved practice) • Roles: Wider range of people involved in MOOC design (learning technologists, film production, central MOOC team) • Pedagogy: Perhaps more difficult for those in non-M to “avoid” the teacher’s pedagogic approach (e.g. class activities, assessment requirements) • Focus: MOOC acknowledging wider range of aims? • Direction: more autonomy required of MOOC learner Sheila Webber, 2015
  17. 17. Teaching via my Second Life avatar • Reactions to SL – detached from reality ... escapism ... struggle to see the appeal ... lost ... don’t get it ... don’t see the relevance ... a sad depraved place ... – challenging ... out of my comfort zone ... – though also ... interested ... intrigued ... fascinating ... beautiful ... • Some people talked about my avatar as being cold, having odd lip movements, commented on my appearance etc. (in next iteration will discuss some of this upfront) • Draws attention to the identity and position of the educator Sheila Webber, 2015
  18. 18. Reflections on my pedagogic development • MOOC teaching had notable differences in terms of my role and responsibilities: both constraining (feared) & liberating (unexpected) • In a mainly on-campus-course environment, still challenging to integrate MOOC course design and delivery into mainstream (e.g. Work Allocation Framework) • Contrast of MOOC-work with introduction of new distance learning Masters programme • Finding it useful to interrogate module design with the Sharpe et al and Conole frameworks: differences MOOC/non-MOOC stimulating reflection • Interesting to bring some MOOC-discourse back to on-campus courses (e.g. impact (in REF sense), learner motivation) Sheila Webber, 2015
  19. 19. Still find this model useful, to step back and reflect learners - diverse in what ways? what does “quality” mean in MOOC learning? what do I (as an educator) have control over? what do we look at when we revise a MOOC? who decides? Profiling and targetting: from “designing for the unknown learner” to “increasingly designing MOOCs for outreach, rather than just making MOOCs that individual faculty might like to provide” (Macleod et al., 2015) Does “motivation” become an increasing responsibility for educators – and is this necessary? “our findings suggest that the range of pedagogic practices currently used in MOOCs tends toward an objectivist-individualist approach” (Toven-Lindsey et al., 2015) – faculty pedgagogy & market orientation of universities mentioned “these findings indicate that the instructional design quality of MOOCs is low” (Margaryan et al ., 2015) using Merrill’s principles of instruction Sheila Webber, 2015
  20. 20. A quick glance at information behaviour Sheila Webber, 2015
  21. 21. “Information Behavior is the totality of human behavior in relation to sources and channels of information, including both active and passive information seeking, and information use.” Wilson (2000) 49. Sources may be – people, their bodies, the environment, the media, books, photos, web page etc etc. You may actively seek, bump into or browse information. Sheila Webber, 2015
  22. 22. MOOC demographics • 5,515 respondents to pre-course questionnaire • 93% female; 61% aged 26-45; 54% from UK • 75% working either full or part time • 78% first degree or above • 60% wished to add a fresh perspective to current work Sheila Webber, 2015
  23. 23. So could say that • Majority in work; from comments evident many working professionally with children • Age profile (and comments) indicate many have families • Thus likely to have developed work and family networks • In contrast platform does not enable forming of groups, and is an enormous cohort, so links less likely to develop Sheila Webber, 2015
  24. 24. Veletsianos et al, 2015 • Interviews with 13 MOOC learners (from several countries), analysed using constant comparative method • Asked to describe day to day MOOC activities: 3 key themes: – Interactions in social networks outside the MOOC platform (friends, family, fellow learners) – Notetaking (from videos) – Content consumption • Honeychurch and Draper (2015) describe patterns of electronic interaction outside the MOOC (Twitter, Google docs etc.) in the #rhizo14 MOOC Sheila Webber, 2015
  25. 25. Exercise on information behaviour • Exercise during my week of the Play MOOC, on virtual play • A short video, presented by my Second Life avatar, described information behaviour, and gave examples of acquiring information inside and outside SL • 673 comments • Following are impressions from an initial scan through comments, not a formal analysis • MOOC running again in November, will do more formal analysis Sheila Webber, 2015
  26. 26. • Now, think about how you discovered any information you needed for this course and post a comment below. • Did you stay inside the course? For example scanning the videos to find what you wanted, reading the educators’ articles, asking questions in discussion threads. • Did you search for material outside the course? If so, what did you do - for example did you search Google, ask friends and family, use books, journals or magazines? • Did you tend to go searching for information, browse round for it (e.g. reading through a lot of discussion posts) or bump into information by chance? • Do you think you’ve learnt things through play that you’ve used in other parts of your life? Sheila mentioned things such as learning leadership or teamwork skills, through using games like World of Warcraft, but you needn’t restrict the discussion to computer games My introductory questions for the discussion in comments
  27. 27. Reported Information behaviour • Information in course: videos; core articles, links; comments from learners; additional reading & links • Information outside the course: – Non-human: Internet (Google, websites, Youtube) mentioned most; also learner’s own books, TV, radio, educational magazines, museum – Human: family, friends, work colleagues, gamers; including some examples of friends taking MOOC at same time; some mention getting contrasting perspectives • Information from self: Memories (prompted by discussion or MOOC); Observation; Experience; Info/understanding from current or previous courses/education /training “I used the course material and my own experiences” Sheila Webber, 2015
  28. 28. • Saving and managing information for later use • A lot of sharing information – mostly face to face but also digitally e.g. via Facebook as well as in the MOOC • Creating information, inside and outside MOOC • Applying information and understanding in work, at home; to educate others, in own practice, as self- development Sheila Webber, 2015
  29. 29. Implications for information literacy support • Literature has focus on academic information literacy (searching for information, evaluating sources) e.g. Wright (2013), Gore (2014) • Also focus on web sources or formal print sources • Supporting sharing, managing and using information might be as, or more, valuable (depending on the MOOC) – Inside and outside MOOC – acknowledging interaction of self/inside-MOOC/Outside- MOOC information Sheila Webber, 2015
  30. 30. Sheila Webber Twitter: @sheilayoshikawa SL: Sheila Yoshikawa Orcid ID 0000-0002-2280-9519 Pictures by Sheila Webber, taken in Second Life
  31. 31. References • Colhoun, N. (2014). Learning from learning analytics: can data analysis of a futurelearn mooc usefully inform design for learning? MSc Dissertation. Sheffield: University of Sheffield. • Conole, G. (2014). A 12-Dimensional classification schema for MOOCs. • Entwistle, N., Nisbet, J. and Bromage, A. (2004). Teaching-learning environments and student learning in electronic engineering: paper presented at Third Workshop of the European Network on Powerful Learning Environments, in Brugge, September 30 – October 2, 2004. • Gore, H. (2014). Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and their impact on academic library services: exploring the issues and challenges. New review of academic librarianship, 20 (1), 4-28. • Honeychurch, S. and Draper, S. (2015). MOOC research about peer interaction. (ppt) • Macleod, H., Haywood, J. and Woodgate, A. (2015) Emerging patterns in MOOCs: learners, course design and directions. TechTrends, 59 (1), 56-63. Sheila Webber, 2015
  32. 32. References • Margaryan, A., Bianco, M. and Littlejohn, A. (2015) Instructional quality of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Computers & education, 80, 77- 83. • Sharpe, R. et al. (2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e- learning: a review of UK literature and practice. York: HEA. • Toven-Lindsey, B. , Rhoads, R. and Lozano, J. (2015) Virtually unlimited classrooms: pedagogical practices in massive open online courses. Internet and higher education, 24, 1-12. • Veletsianos, G., Collier, A. and Schneider, E. (2015) Digging deeper into learners’ experiences of MOOCs: participation in social networks outside of MOOCs, notetaking and contexts surrounding context consumption. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(3), 570-587. • Webber, S. (2013) "Blended information behaviour in Second Life." Journal of information science, 39(1), 85–100 • Wright, F. (2013) What do librarians need to know about MOOCs? D-Lib magazine, 19 (3/4) Sheila Webber, 2015