I have just had a preview look at the three artifacts I’ve been given to review and the level of thought, finesse and imagination in each of them is incredible.

EDCMOOCers I salute you!

All the negative press around completion rates seems to me to be stuck in old paradigms and  blind to the fact that MOOCs are chock full of people who are passionate and motivated, creative and original.

Do you necessarily have to complete a MOOC to get something from it and have the experience of connecting with others with similar interests from around the world? Sometimes there isn’t time to do it all and if you can’t use the certificate then there is no point in flogging yourself. Sometimes you only want to know about one topic. This in no way detracts from the merit of MOOCs.  I have completed some and dipped into others but have learned something from all of them.

In this case I completed. I’ve enjoyed the journey and especially being part of a study meet for the first time. Thanks!

Digital artefact – Samantha Clarke #edcmooc

Link to the “lesson”: Sam’s TED-Ed lesson – “Cloudy Times Ahead…the Future of Education in a Digital World”

Like Amani, I  too am determined to complete this MOOC…and my digital artefact is also rather hastily put together. I used TED-Ed lessons, which allow you to create a lesson around any You Tube video you like – also very easy and fun to use!

I second Amani’s comments about how the MOOC inspired me to keep learning and how I’m noticing the themes of the MOOC everywhere!! Check out last night’s news piece from the ABC…couldn’t fit better I they tried!

Also, big thanks to the EDCMOOC teachers and USYD team! I have very much enjoyed the experience!

Digital artefact – Amani Bell #edcmooc

I’m determined to complete this MOOC, so that means a rather hastily put together digital artefact. I wanted to use a tool I hadn’t used before, and came across the Puppet Pals app. The app allows you to create a puppet show using various characters and backdrops. It’s very easy & fun to use – I think it’s probably designed for children!

The tool definitely shaped my approach to the task, in that my puppet show is a child-like story, with a naive quality. The show only touches on what I’ve learned from the MOOC ( can you guess what Bee and Bug represent?). The MOOC has definitely inspired me to keep reading and learning about post humanism. And I’m now noticing the themes of the MOOC everywhere – I’ve just been at an education conference where one of the speakers gave us this lovely quote from Braidotti (2013):

“Human embodiment and subjectivity are currently undergoing a profound mutation. Like all people living in an age of transition, we are not always lucid or clear about where we are going, or even capable of explaining what exactly is happening to and around us…Human, all too posthuman, these extensions and enhancements of what our bodies can do are here to stay. Are we going to be able to catch up with our posthuman selves, or shall we continue to linger in a theoretical and imaginative state of jet-lag in relation to our lived environment?”

Anyway, thank you to the EDCMOOC teachers and fellow travellers, it has been a very interesting journey.





What would a transhuman education look like? #edcmooc

This week (week 4) the Sydney edcmooc study group has decided to reflect on one of the questions Jeremy posed in his introductory video – what would a transhuman education look like?

The obvious thing that springs to mind for me is some kind of memory implant for students – a la the Matrix ‘I know kung fu’. A quick google search shows that this idea is not as far-fetched as it seems, with scientists already working on memory restoration, and another saying to ‘check back in a couple of hundred years’ for the full Matrix learning experience.

And what kind of brain implants or enhancements might an educator want? How about some kind of vision that allows them to see students’ thought processes, and difficulties with the topic? (I once saw a video ‘abstract’ of a paper on this – not an implant, but some kind of visualisation tool for educators, but of course I can’t find it now). And what of the ethical issues associated with this?

If I was able to select one type of ‘brain implant’ for myself, it would be something that helps remind me of people’s names 🙂

A little aside…Unstoppable Learning

While this is not directly related to the eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC, I found it very interesting and could definitely see parallels to some of the themes of the MOOC, especially during the parts of the show talking to Sugata Mitra and his vision of a “School in the Cloud”…

So this week during some long drives to and from field work (at the beach, just thought I’d point that out 🙂 ) I indulged in my new favorite thing: listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR. So many interesting things, it’s hard to know where to start. For those of you not familar, the TED Radio Hour combines segments of a few TED talks that relate to a similar theme and intersperses the talks with interviews with the speakers.

One particular show caught my attention, especially with respects to this MOOC – the program “Unstoppable Learning“. Particularly relevant was Sugata Mitra, who found that he had stumbled upon a new method of education. His discussion on how education is constructed in it’s current form and how he sees it in the future was very cool! Sugata Mitra, a Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University in the UK, was actually awarded “$1 million in seed-funding for his wish to design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. His ideas of building a School in the Cloud, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online” (SOLE Challenge), had nice parallels to the MOOC we are undertaking.

What an interesting vision for the future of learning! If you have a spare hour, I really recommend having a listen the the whole show!

That’s it for now!

Sam 🙂

Week 3 – Notes on Kolowitz.

Kolowitz talks about the ideas/research conducted by Douglas E. Hersh, dean of educational programs and technology at Santa Barbara uni.

The premise of the discussion is that students are more likely to drop out of distance education courses. Many reasons for this (e.g. being too busy) – some of these cannot be addressed

But Hersh believes there is a major reason however which could be addressed – that is the lack of human touch.

Solution: incorporate more video and audio components, i.e. videos of themselves teaching or interacting with their online students

2008 – Hersh convinced Santa Barbara uni to drop Blackboard and use Moodle. He built there the “Human Presence Learning Environment”.

  • Professors deliver lessons and messages using their webcams
  • It show who is logged into Skype
  • Students could post their answers in video format.

Hersh believes engagement goes hand-in-hand with audio-visual communication.

John Bourne, executive director of an online-education research group, says “social presence” reduces drop out rates. There is a link between increased interaction between humans and increased engagement with course, which would result in greater retention rates in the long term.

Hersh’s presents his dissertation on the satisfaction and completion rates of 145 students in his “presence-oriented learning environment” compared to a similar sample taking their courses through a “traditional” LMS as proof of the above-mentioned idea.

He credits the higher engagement and retention rates to the “illusion of non-mediation”, a term taken from virtual-presence scholars Matthew Lombard and Theresa Ditton. It means that when students can see the face of the instructor they trust her/him more and they feel more invested in the course. The same applies to classmates.

Hersh admits to a downfall of his system: the loss of focus. Written communication forces the participants to focus more. But it is also alienating.

Reggie Smith, president of the US Distance Learning Association, is sceptical of Hersh’s ideas. He claims that the use of video might be just an attempt to add flash to lower standard materials. He does admit that student-instructor and student-student communication is important, but he doesn’t think it is an essential ingredient for an online course to be successful.

Dahlberg: non-reductionist methodology

Against a background of an explosion of research into ICT, impacts on society and individual etc [a little scathing perhaps… mentions ‘intoxicated’ with the information society] Dahlberg takes a stand against views of ICT which are one-dimensional.

These are 3 categoriesof 1-D approaches:

  1. Uses (instrumental uses of tech)
  2. Technological (focuses on form)
  3. Social (social determinants)

Each of these can become deterministic ie the technology is paramount and determines how people use it

Uses (instrumental uses of tech)

How people use technology. Some versions see users as passive (dystopian) while others see a more active role for users – human actors make multiple interpretations (polysemy), purposefully use media/ICT. Uses and gratifications ie what people get out of using technology. This view sees technology as neutral tool, satisfying needs of agents/ actors. However – a mistake to assume actors are in complete control – social embeddedness – other systems and actors also shape media/ICT

Technological (focuses on form)

  • Techno-determinist – technology predetermines social outcomes eg reduced social cues theory – countered by Dahlberg.
  • Constructive medium, ‘languages’ for creating new realities (utopian)? The medium inscribes meaning cf McLuhan thus not neutral, some level of determinism BUT:
  • Actually diversity of effects – people adapt technology to own uses – STILL causal agent with key role in social change.
  • Socially shaped as well as shaping
  • Subset: positive – techno – utopians – we must adopt all latest tech or be left behind – biological/ natural/ evolutionary metaphors – includes accepting political and economic imperatives eg free market.
  • Subset – negative -cyber-pessimisim – passivity, withdrawal. Agency is with the technology.

Social (social determinants)

  • Outcomes affected by social and economic structures, social construction of tech artifacts. Eg economic organization of comms industry promoting certain cultural forms over others
  • However user agency is neglected in these arguments

Need research which combines three approaches use, technology and social determinism, complex interplay between them

Actually social context, technology, users are mutual shaping. Technologies involve multiple interests, unintended consequences, institutional and technological rigidity and possible alternative uses. Not a ‘thing’ but fluid, indeterminate (but not too much so, otherwise impossible to describe)

Technology as a ‘referred reading’ ie what most of us agree it is all about but still open to various uses

Does admit difficulty of multi-dimensional research.