Through talks, discussion and other activities the seminars will explore how open and creative approaches to teaching and learning can help students navigate the complexity of higher education and the digital environment.
So why do I feel exposed?
As well as being delighted to be involved I feel somewhat nervous too, as I’m far from an expert in ‘open and creative approaches’. I’m fully signed up to openness of course but it’s just not a field or community that I’ve been heavily engaged with over the years.
I definitely wouldn’t be called on to run any of the main seminars for #teachcomUAL! Thankfully (for participants) it’s the digital fieldwork sessions I’ll be facilitating and I’m very much looking forward to planning those and assisting in some experimentation out-in-the-open.
It’s a bit fiddly to republish at present as you must manually insert their logo and link to them. The HTML of the article is supplied and it would be great if logo & licence details could be automatically included 🙂
A prominent member of the open education movement, former Open University Vice-Chancellor Sir John Daniel, has criticised online education provider Coursera for not making its materials available under creative commons licensing.
Coursera is one of the largest providers of MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – which allow students to take university courses for free online from anywhere in the world.
Report from the UUK May 2013 event: Open and online learning: Making the most of Moocs and other models.
This Universities UK event was aimed at senior staff in Higher Education (VCs, Pro-VCs, Registrars, Deans, Directors & the like). The delegates were mixed. I’d say around 50 UK HEIs were represented, by some of the above, but also a decent number of learning technology folk. The presenters included 4 VCs & the Universities Minister, David Willetts.
2) To MOOC or not to MOOC… that is not the question
I think the day’s central question was not whether to MOOC, but how to respond to MOOCs & the changes they may bring. What’s your institution’s strategy going to be to deal with the changes ahead?
Will you look to optimise the campus experience by embracing digital & increasing quality contact time (Don Nutbeam, VC, University of Southampton)?
Will you develop a broad portfolio of on-campus/off-campus/no-campus offerings (Jeff Hayward, VP Knowledge Management & CIO, University of Edinburgh)?
And of course, will you offer MOOCs? If yes, then is ‘which courses?’ a strategic decision or whoever fancies it?
3) Reasons to MOOC
Martin Bean (VC, Open University) suggested a number of reasons an institution might want to engage with MOOCs:
Stimulating innovation (see 4)
The University of Edinburgh, the only HEI to have already delivered a MOOC on one of the big US platforms describe their objectives as: gaining outreach to new audiences; experimentation with online delivery methods at large scale; reinforcing our position as a leader in the use of educational technology in HE. More on this & lots of statistics in their report published earlier this week: MOOCs @ Edinburgh 2013: Report #1
4) Teaching Innovation
While there has been wide criticism of the pedagogical quality of the new MOOCs, Wendy Purcell (VC, Plymouth University) suggested that digital developments are putting teaching upfront & central. She sees an opportunity for a positive repositioning of the value of teaching and development of new pedagogies. Sian Bayne (Associate Dean, University of Edinburgh), the only speaker to have taught a MOOC, commented that her Edinburgh Digital Cultures MOOC had offered a space for pedagogical innovation and that teaching it was invigorating.
The world of MOOCs is full of partners. Universities are partnering with delivery & marketing platforms such as Coursera & Udacity. Companies such as Pearson are partnering with them to proctor in-person exams (eg find a test centre for your edX MOOC). The sponsors of the UUK event were Academic Partnerships & 2U. Slightly different services, but both working with universities to develop & deliver online courses. David Willetts hopes that MOOC & industry partnerships will develop & potentially help with the UK skills gap (such as computer science).
6) Future (Learn)
Futurelearn is the under-development UK MOOC platform owned by the OU. It includes 20 university partners as well as the British Library, the British Council and the British Museum.
I was really looking forward to hearing more about Futurelearn with both Martin Bean & the launch CEO, Simon Nelson speaking. We didn’t learn much. Despite their claim that ‘this is not simply re-purposing existing content’ we heard little about building on the OU’s experience of learner support or delivering ‘teacher presence’; a challenge that speakers from Edinburgh & 2U had highlighted. Nor did we learn anything about the new platform. However, Stephen Jackson from QAA, did appear to confirm that FutureLearn will offer proctored exams.
7) Future (Unknown)
Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun has predicted that within 10-years job applicants will be touting Udacity degrees. Emma Leech (Director of Marketing & Recruitment, University of Nottingham) reminded us that Thrun’s claims go further; he has suggested that in 50 years there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them.
Crystal balls aside, it’s an exciting & challenging time ahead with new players, new partnerships & business models starting to emerge. One thing is clear, whether it’s MOOCs or enhancing campus courses, learning technologies & technologists have a central role to play.
I signed up for the change11 MOOC last year but got no further than creating the blog to record my progress (the equivalent of buying a new notebook I guess). I forget why I never gave it a real go but it was definitely down to my other preoccupations rather than being anything to do with the course itself.
Between peer-reviewed journals and popular journalism lies a gap in which “the new knowledge, valuable critical insight, and fresh perspectives that academia produces” can be brought from behind pay walls to the wider readership it deserves.
Since then I’ve come across a few other similar formats / approaches.
The Rights’ Future is a new ‘book’ being published online in weekly installments via a blog & YouTube by LSE’s Conor Gearty.
I’m currently advising Conor Gearty, a Professor of Human Rights at the LSE on his use of social media for The Rights’ Future project. Conor is writing a ‘book’; except it’s not a book, it’s a website, but Conor is writing a website just doesn’t sound quite right.
It’s an online publication which will unfold over the coming weeks with the final version being launched at LSE’s Literary Festival in February 2011. Each Monday Conor will post a new essay with a webcam-recorded introduction via YouTube. Then, on Fridays, Conor will expand the original essay incorporating any comments/feedback received on the blog.