Learning Life 2014 begins

And we’re off…this week has seen for me the start of 2 study adventures “Practice Based Research in Educational Technology” (30 OU Masters Credits) and the first week and a half of Coursera’s “Future of (mostly) Higher Education“.  My head is rather full, and this post is an attempt bring a bit of order to overstimulated synapses.

FutureEd week 1

First of all to Coursera:  Cathy Davidson has framed #FutureEd with the words of Alvin Toffler “the illiterate of the 21C will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”  Week 1 took us on a tour of the four information ages: Writing, Moveable Type, Mass printing and Internet. Cathy’s short and engaging video lectures detailed how each of these ages were associated with fears.  The things that jumped out to me were:

  • the similarity in fears associated with each “age” – I was particularly amused by Socrates’s worries about writing stifling dialogue.
  • The way that Wikipedia (rightly) brings a global perspective to history
  • That Cathy’s discourse on the Internet Age didn’t include Sir Tim!
  • That HASTAC’s collaborative “Bill of Rights” for learners is worth revisiting
  • The course’s big question: What is the purpose of education? “to prepare the current generation for their future, or to maintain the status quo?”
  • How easy it was to pass the end of week 1 quiz – but Cathy’s view on this being formative was enlightening  (see comments on Sukaina’s blog).

Peer Review

The end of Week1 brought a challenge to detail an area of “unlearning” which would be peer assessed. The intention was that each submission (<500 words) would be posted to the forums so I chose something that wasn’t too personal ( you can’t snowplow turn down a red run), rattled off 300 words and posted it off. Oh Dear! the course team appear to have come in for a bit of flack on this and the auto-posting is binned.  Given that the platform is closed to Coursera users I’m not too sure I see the big issue, but clearly it had been a concern for others.  Now, of course, I have the joy of a bit of peer review:  5 discourses on unlearning to “mark” – did they meet the three criteria, justify why they did.  I fear my “review” may have been a bit insubstantial, let’s face it I could only give a maximum of 3 marks and most of the time when justifying scores I wrote a not quite complete sentence.  But, then I was doing this in a spare 40 mins, on an android tablet before running out for the evening.  Of course I enjoyed reading the submissions and for me there was value in this,  I consciously tried to say something encouraging, but the setting, size of submission and rigour didn’t really warrant anything that would get beyond what I have termed the “fluffy threshold.”

Apart from the video lectures, peer review and a dip into Twitter I’ve not really got that stuck into making connections.

OU Life

In comparison, we’ve had a fun week on H809 doing introductions in our tutor group of 15ish.  I’m looking forward to developing some critical skills (pertaining to research) and have an awesome tutor group with some many rich perspectives to offer.

Putting aside the trauma of writing 4 essays in the next 20 weeks I know I will enjoy the journey.  Apart from intros this week we’ve been asked to have a go at reading Hiltz and Meinke’s 1989 paper “Teaching Sociology in  a virtual classroom“.  We all get to ponder it this week, before participating in a critique next week – our discourse is *most* unlikely to be fluffy!  At the moment though I am permitted to entertain positive thoughts:

  • what clever people to be risking on-line learning in 1989 when the connected world was running on VT100 terminals and “e-moderating” was in it’s infancy.
  • Why didn’t anybody tell Thrun about this 15 year old insight? –  “Students lacking the necessary basic skills and self-discipline tend to do better in a traditionally delivered course.”

19 weeks to go!

[Picture by Paul A Rizer]

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One Response to Learning Life 2014 begins

  1. Well done on doing the MOOC and H809 at the same time. I look forward to following your thoughts on both. I didn’t do H809 as I had enough credits for the MAODE, so interesting to see what might have been 🙂
    Am starting my peer reviews on #FutureEd MOOC and wonder if I will get over the fluffy threshold. But very interesting to see how others have approached the assignment.

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