November 24, 2014

EDEN research papers: OERs (inc. MOOCs), quality/assessment, social media, analytics and research methods

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EDEN RSW me 2

EDEN has now published a second report on my review of papers submitted to the EDEN research workshop in Oxford a couple of weeks ago. All the full papers for the workshop can be accessed here.

Main lessons (or unanswered questions) I took away:

OERs and MOOCs

  • what does awarding badges of certificates for MOOCs or other OER actually mean? For instance will institutions give course exemption or credits for the awards, or accept such awards for admission purposes? Or will the focus be on employer recognition? How will participants who are awarded badges know what their ‘currency’ is worth?
  • can MOOCs be designed to go beyond comprehension or networking to develop other critical 21st century skills such as critical thinking, analysis and evaluation? Can they lead to ‘transformational learning’ as identified by Kumar and Arnold (see Quality and Assessment below)
  • are there better design models for open courses than MOOCs as currently structured? If so what would they look like?
  • is there a future for learning object repositories when nearly all academic content becomes open and online?

Quality and assessment

  • research may inform but won’t resolve policy issues
  • quality is never ‘objective’ but is value-driven
  • the level of intervention must be long and significant enough to result in significant learning gains
  • there’s lots of research already that indicates the necessary conditions for successful use of online discussion forums but if these conditions are not present then learning will not take place
  • the OU’s traditional model of course design constrains the development of successful collaborative online learning.

Use of social media in open and distance learning

There were surprisingly few papers on this topic. My main takeaway:

  • the use of social media needs to be driven by sound pedagogical theory that takes into account the affordances of social media (as in Sorensen’s study described in an earlier post under course design)

Data analytics and student drop-out

  • institutions/registrars must pay attention to how student data is tagged/labeled for analytic purposes, so there is consistency in definitions, aggregation and interpretation;
  • when developing or applying an analytics software program, consideration needs to be given to the level of analysis and what potential users of the data are looking for; this means working with instructional designers, faculty and administrators from the beginning
  • analytics need to be integrated with action plans to identify and support early at risk students

Research methods

Next

If these bullets interest you at all, then I strongly recommend you go and read the original papers in full – click here. My summary is of necessity personal and abbreviated and the papers provide much greater richness of context.

 

 

Getting ready for the EDEN Research workshop

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Oxford: City of Dreaming Spires (Matthew Arnold)

Oxford: City of Dreaming Spires (Matthew Arnold)

I’m now in England, about to attend the EDEN Research Workshop on research into online learning that starts tomorrow (Sunday) in Oxford, with the event being hosted by the UK Open University, one of the main sources of systematic research in online learning. (EDEN is the European Distance and e-Learning Network)

This is one of my favourite events, because the aim is to bring together all those in Europe doing research in online learning to discuss their work, the issues and research methods. It’s a great chance for young or new players in the field to make themselves known and connect with other, more experienced, researchers. Altogether there will be about 120 participants, just the right size to get to know everyone over three days. I organised one such EDEN research workshop myself several years ago in Barcelona, when I was working at the Open University of Catalonia, and it was great fun.

The format is very interesting. All the papers are published a week ahead of the workshop, and each author gets just a few minutes in parallel sessions to briefly summarise, with plenty of time for discussion afterwards (what EDEN calls ‘research speed dating’). There are also several research workshops, such as ‘Linking Learning Design with Learning Analytics,’ as well as several keynotes (but not too many!) I’m particularly looking forward to Sian Bayne’s ‘Teaching, Research and the More-than-human in Digital Education.’ There are also poster sessions, 14 in all.

I am the Chair of the jury for the EDEN award for the best research paper, and also the workshop rapporteur. As a result I have been carefully reading all the papers over the last week, 44 in all, and I’m still trying to work out how to be in several places at the same time so I can cover all the sessions.

As a result I’ve had to put my book, ‘Teaching in a Digital Age‘, on hold for the last few days. However, the EDEN papers have already been so useful, bringing me the latest reviews and updates on research in this area that it is well worth taking a few more days before getting back to the strengths and weaknesses of MOOCs. I will be much better informed as a result as there are quite a few research papers on European MOOCs. I will also do a blog post after the conference, summing up what I heard during the three days.

So it looks like that I won’t have much time for dreaming in the city of dreaming spires.

 

 

Instructional design, the academy and industry: a ‘blended’ event

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image © eLearning Industry Companies, 2013

image © eLearning Industry Companies, 2013

What: The Academy and Industry: Exploring Instructional Design Roles

In a professional discipline, sometimes there can be uneasy tensions between those in the Academy (i.e. professors and researchers) and those in industry. This collaborative event will attempt to highlight some of the tensions that exist in instructional design. How do I.D. practices and conditions differ in the Academy vs in the corporate sector? How important is it to keep up with current research? What value is placed on formal credentials, or practical experience? Join us in our discussion online, and attend the culminating panel session.

Who: CNIE (Canadian Network for Innovation) + CAID (Canadian Association of Instructional Designers – ACCP en français)

When and how:

EDEN research workshop on open and distance learning

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Oxford Spires Four Pillars Hotel

Oxford Spires Four Pillars Hotel

What: Challenges for research into Open & Distance Learning: Doing Things Better: Doing Better Things

EDENRW8 is very focussed on you the researcher and what you can learn from and with your peers.  It takes place in an intimate setting where researchers including postgraduate students can share research, connect with peers and have adequate time to discuss the challenges of their work. EDENRW8 is suitable for researchers and postgraduate students and particularly those wishing to actively connect with peers and debate

When: 27-28 October, 2014

Who: Organized by EDEN (the European Distance and e-Learning Network) and hosted by the Open University (U.K.)

Where: The Oxford Spires Four Pillars Hotel, Oxford, U.K.

Format: This is not your usual conference program and definitely a workshop format! ….The networking occurs as an essential aspect of your experience. Featuring small groups for deep dialogues, feedback on your research, team symposia, ‘research-speed-dating’ papers, demonstrations, poster sessions, a connect lounge, informal sessions for meet the professor for early career and postgraduate researchers, world café style facilitation and presentations along with our resident keynotes.

How:

Call for contributions: Submissions that relate to the Workshop Scope and one or more of the Workshop Themes are welcome in the following categories by the deadline: 1 September. You are encouraged to submit your proposal earlier to support a speedy evaluation of the proposals and enhance your possibility to register early in time. Proposals submitted before summer will be evaluated within two weeks.

Online submission: Click here

Registration does not open until 1 September 2014

Comment

I really like the EDEN research workshops. They are usually relatively small (around 100 or so participants), informal and great for networking. If you have any interest in research into online learning, open or distance education, this is a must.

EDEN Annual Conference 2014, Zagreb, Croatia

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 Zagreb

What: E-learning at work and the workplace. This is the 2014 annual conference of The European Distance and E-Learning Network

When: June 10 – 14, 2014

Where: The  Hypo Centre, Zagreb, Croatia

Who: Keynote speakers include:

  • Alan Tait Professor of Distance Education and Development, The Open University, United Kingdom
  • Jeff Haywood Vice-principal, Knowledge Management at University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Blaženka Divjak Vice Rector for Students and Studies at the University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Ana Carla Pereira (via video link) Head of Unit at European Commission, Directorate-General Education and Culture
  • Terry Anderson Director, Canadian Institute Distance Education Research (CIDER), Athabasca University, Canada
  • Olaf Zawacki-Richter Professor of Educational Technology, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany
  • Jim Devine DEVINE Policy | Projects | Innovation, Ireland
  • Fabrizio Cardinali (Invited) SVP Global Business Development, sedApta Group,LACE Project, Workplace Learning

How: You may just have time to submit a paper, but otherwise registration is not yet open but should be at any time from now. Go to the conference web site for more details

Comment

The EDEN conference is one of my favourite conferences on open, distance and online learning. And Zagreb is one of my favourite European cities. This year’s theme though brings it directly into competition with the much larger and more commercial Online Educa Berlin, which takes place each year in December. However, as well as the theme and keynotes, it’s a great networking opportunity and a chance to meet the university movers and shakers in European online, open and distance learning.