Creating and implementing an open online course


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Presentation for the 2014 SAAHE conference, where I discuss a project I ran in 2013. We created an open online course in professional ethics and had our students complete the course in collaboration with qualified physiotherapists from around the world.

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Creating and implementing an open online course

  1. 1. creating and implementing an open, online course in professional ethics michael rowe department of physiotherapy university of the western cape
  2. 2. background ● where is the value in a course? content? engagement? social spaces? (Cormier & Siemens, 2010) ● massive online obsessive compulsion (dolan, 2014) ● development of skills that exist “outside” the formal curriculum, including lifelong learning, personal knowledge management & the effective use of web-based platforms and services (fini, 2009)
  3. 3. rationale for open, online ● clinical practice is complex, teaching simplistic ● knowledge is increasingly distributed, connected ● digital information and interaction with technology changes how we negotiate understanding ● wanted to explore networked, collaborative learning in an open, online course
  4. 4. aim the aim of this study was to determine if an open online course in professional ethics could help students develop generic graduate attributes: - lifelong learning - critical attitudes towards knowledge, authority - confidence to engage across difference - dealing with uncertainty
  5. 5. method design the course collaboratively ran course over 6 weeks interview students & transcribe qualitative analysis of transcriptions identify themes
  6. 6. participants 52 third year UWC students 28 “externals” (UK, Canada, USA, India, NZ, Estonia, Saudi Arabia, SA)
  7. 7. process read the weekly activity reflect, question, research write a draft blog post review the posts of others, comment reflect, question, research refine own blog post, connect publish
  8. 8. each student needed to do peer review of 3 other students looked at: - content - format - structure
  9. 9. used likert scales and open-ended questions to give feedback to peers
  10. 10. student feedback
  11. 11. different ways of interacting “I could express myself and I felt it was easier for me than talking in class. Because I could do it in my own space, I could do it in my own time. I didn't feel like I was being judged, so it was easier to express myself because I'm very shy.” “But you were in public?” “Yes, but I was behind a screen.”
  12. 12. different ways of interacting (2) “when you talk then it’s out there and everyone’s heard it, but when you’re blogging you can backspace. Sometimes you think a certain way but then to actually express it and have other people understand what you’re trying to say is more difficult. So it made you think through your thoughts and organise them and then write it how you want people to understand it, which is very different to talking in class.
  13. 13. different ways of interacting (3) “I found that I'm more willing to listen to other people's opinions and think and analyse what they’re saying. You’re not just shutting their opinion out.” “One of your posts that got a lot comments was saying that too often we’re listening to other people with one ear, waiting for that pause to say, ‘Yes, but...’.” “To attack their opinion.” “Ja, without really listening.”
  14. 14. different ways of managing time “I felt like I had to be in a specific mind-space in order to get my points across. So maybe if I had to be here at eight o’clock on a Wednesday morning I wouldn’t be wanting to think about that. So when I wanted to work on it I would produce better work because it’s what I wanted to do at that specific time.”
  15. 15. context & personal learning “You had to put it into your own life context. You never really could understand what the next topic was unless you thought back onto a time where you experienced it, and then it started to make sense to me – just having the word up there wasn’t helping; you still had to provide your own context and your own information.”
  16. 16. context & personal learning (2) “It made me feel responsible for my own learning. I could choose how much input I wanted to put in and that would determine how much I got out of the course. I think you can get a lot out of things when you can chose how much effort you want to put into it.” “I felt free to think for myself. Instead of being told: This is what you need to think, I could form my own opinion.”
  17. 17. validation “it felt really cool to be able to speak to actual physios and then they have the same view as you and it made it feel like a whole lot more real that someone [who has finished] four years of study was thinking the same way.”
  18. 18. the “facebook” effect It was frustrating because I wanted to add tags but I didn’t know what that means. I wanted to add links but I didn’t know how. So, I wanted to make it cooler because I wanted other people to be interested in it, but I didn't know how.”
  19. 19. dealing with difference “How do I go about answering [a patient] without imposing my opinion on them? It needs to be an informed decision from the patient’s side, so how do they decide if you only give them your opinion? You need to give them both sides of a story so that they can process it for themselves.”
  20. 20. dealing with uncertainty “You’re being marked not on facts but on theories and ideas and what you think. And I think that scares a lot of people because if they don’t know that 'this is right', or 'this is wrong', they’ll go on thinking 'I don’t know it'.”
  21. 21. dealing with uncertainty (2) “There may not be one right answer to everything. There are guidelines but I think it’s more open because everyone is different; every patient is different. They respond differently and every clinician performs it differently. So it’s working out what’s best for you and knowing that even though that person does it differently it’s still beneficial for the patient.” “When I was on clinical practice, I listened to what the clinician would say, think about it, and then go speak to a 4th year, speak to different people and listen to their reasoning – and then from that I would just adjust my own thinking.”
  22. 22. challenging others Would you be more confident now in challenging someone’s opinion? “Yes, because knowing yourself and knowing why you think the way you do – you’ll be more confident in expressing yourself.” “It emphasised the importance of having evidence to support your opinion. If you want to challenge someone you must have evidence. You can’t just say, 'I disagree and this is what I would do'. You must have evidence to back up your thoughts. “It was nice to learn that there is a professional way of challenging other people in a way that’s not offensive.” “It was the way in which people commented and responded that made me realise that they're not going to take offence if you challenge their idea; they really do want to discuss and learn.”
  23. 23. themes different ways of interacting different ways of managing time context and personal learning validation dealing with difference dealing with uncertainty challenging others
  24. 24. conclusion Open online courses offer innovative teaching and learning opportunities that can enhance the student learning experience. As social media and other online technologies become increasingly embedded in higher education, teachers will need to be familiar with the context of learning in open, online spaces.
  25. 25. thank you @michael_rowe