With summer finally here, yes it’s pouring down outside, it’s time for the August edition of the eLearning Digest. Recent editions are listed here, and an archive of editions up to June 2018 can be found on Cloudworks.
This digest contains:
- UK conferences & workshops
- Online learning and adult education MOOCs
- UK HE news
- MOOC news
- Commercial news
- Industry news
- Short news items
UK Conferences & Workshops
Online learning and adult education MOOCs
|4 wks x 7 hrs||e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age, University of Illinois [Coursera]|
|6 wks x 7 hrs||What future for education?, University of London [Coursera]|
|5 wks||Assessment in Higher Education: Professional Development for Teachers, Erasmus University [Coursera]|
|27 Aug||5 wks||Basics of Inclusive Design for Online Education, University of Colorado Boulder [Coursera]|
|8 wks x 4 hrs||Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement Capstone, University of Michigan [edX]|
|5 wks x 4 hrs||Foundations of Virtual Instruction, University of California [Coursera]|
|3 wks x 3 hrs||Inclusive Learning and Teaching Environments, University of Southampton [FutureLearn]|
|2 wks x 4 hrs||Blended Learning Essentials: Developing Digital Skills, University of Leeds/UCL Institute of Education [FutureLearn]|
|1 Oct||4 wks x 1 hrs||Academic Integrity: Values, Skills, Action, University of Auckland [FutureLearn]|
|2 wks x 4 hrs||Enhance apprentices’ experience with digital technology, University of Leeds [FutureLearn]|
|2 wks x 4 hrs||Blended Learning Essentials: Digitally-Enriched Apprenticeships, University of Leeds/UCL Institute of Education [FutureLearn]|
|3 wks x 6 hrs||Multimodal Learning Analytics, University of Texas [edX]|
|8 wks x 6 hrs||Instructional Design and Technology: Learning Theories, University of Maryland [edX]|
|3 wks x 4 hrs||Blended Learning Essentials: Embedding Practice, University of Leeds/UCL Institute of Education [FutureLearn]|
Self-paced online learning and adult education MOOCs and BOCs
A selection of short courses can be found on the OU Learning Design self-paced learning webpage. These can be studied at your convenience to fit in with other commitments.
Following headlines last month, further talk of the dramatic increase in unconditional offers from universities comes with mixed reactions. For many students, it secures them a place at their first-choice university and takes the pressure off. For others, it leaves them with a difficult choice; securing a place early on or holding out for the result of their Oxbridge application. With A-level results out this week, it is expected that the 40% increase in ‘unconditional firm’ choices from 1,710 in 2017 to over 42,000 this year could cause a drop in top A-level pass rates. Amid predictions of soaring dropout rates, only time will tell, but with student debt always in the news, it could turn out to be an expensive experiment for some.
A growing number of UK universities are pushing teaching hours into the evening and, while this is great for students looking for flexibility that allows them to balance studying with work, one branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has raised concerns. Not only could the change increase pressure on teaching staff and impact their family lives, it could also have implications for equality and health & safety.
Adding to the second wave of MOOC hype, Coursera has announced a new MOOC-based online degree in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania; the eleventh such degree offered by the MOOC provider. The Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT) is a graduate degree costing $26,300, just over a third of the cost of the offline counterpart.
After a successful first edition, Y Combinator recently invited applications for a second edition of Startup School MOOC. The 10-week offering is part of a mentorship program, with participants competing for a $10,000 investment—100 of the most promising companies completing the course will receive the equity-free funding.
[TechCrunch; EdSurge; Campus Technology]
While big tech companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all been performing well, Apple has outdone them all by reaching a valuation of one trillion dollars, that’s right, Apple is now worth a massive $1,000,000,000,000.
Meanwhile, amazon has donated over half a million dollars to a Canadian non-profit organisation that seeks to improve coding education—skills that may contribute to future EdTech.
Despite recent financial success, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei has overtaken Apple to become the second largest smartphone distributor in the world. However, Samsung – with 20.9% of the market – is still, despite a slight decline in shipments, on the top spot with a margin of over 5%. Figures released indicate that Huawei’s increased market share has come from Samsung rather than Apple, so the likelihood is that Apple will overtake them both when their figures spike with the next iPhone release.
Moodle and Blackboard partnership ends after six years. Blackboard will transition out of Moodle’s certified partner program in the coming months but will no longer be permitted to us Moodle trademarks to advertise their Moodle-related services. Despite this, Blackboard has reaffirmed its commitment to the open source community and its Moodle-based Software-as-a-Service product.
User-led design essential for digital success
[LTI Communications; Rebecca Galley]
Universities must look to students for guidance if they want to maintain focus on their needs in an ever-changing age of technological innovation. Response to change needs to be meaningful and supportive of students and tutors alike. The Open University employs a user-led approach to inform UX (user experience) design of websites, the curriculum, teaching systems and tools. The aim is to avoid frustration and alienation, and to improve the student experience.
Technology for the sake of technology doesn’t work
Reminiscing, John Couch (Apple’s Vice President of Education) recalls the early days of Apple when Steve Jobs referred to computers as an “amplifier for intellect”. He was passionate about education and wanted his brand to make a difference. It has—to some extent, but now, as technology grows faster than ever before, education needs to be rewired to make the most of what’s available and to allow for future advances. An iPad alone won’t change the world. Teaching methods need to change to enable technology to fully support teaching and pedagogy.
Five controversial arguments for educational reform in the US
Universities are being blamed for overbuilding, high tuition, teaching too many subjects and incurring too much debt. Is this really a university problem or an economic one? Five key arguments for educational reform may have contributed to the current crisis. Should HE institutions be run like businesses? Should the public fund HE, or should it fund itself? Is it fit for purpose? Does it cost too much? Should international students be encouraged or discouraged? All food for thought, but reform must benefit students.
Google ‘Course Kit’ introduces a new assessment tool
[Campus Technology; EdSurge]
Innovations at Google see the introduction of ‘Course Kit’, a free toolkit that links Google Docs and Google Drive with LMS systems—it is also due for integration into Google Classroom in the Autumn. The Course Kit feedback tool eliminates assignment uploads by transferring ownership of the document in situ rather than creating additional copies.
UK students unprepared for master’s level study
Academics are having to put in extra hours to bring students’ skills up to the required level for master’s study. Research indicates a gap between institutional assumptions of student support requirements and actual needs. Skills that are lacking include critical thinking and essay-writing, but many postgraduate students are not ready for the level of independent study expected at that level.
How YouTube shapes education
A new mini-guide launched by EdSurge explores the value and influence of YouTube on education. An overview of how teenagers use the social media site highlights the likely need of future HE students who already use YouTube for active and passive learning.
When OER isn’t as open as it could be
Sharing reproducible OER (Open Educational Resources) that include mathematical code is made difficult by the need to have the right environment to run it in. This reduces the openness of such resources but Tony Hirst describes the complex issue and explores a possible solution using Jupyter notebooks.
Online learning deepens student discussion
Teaching isn’t a one-way process or simply a passive transfer of information, even online. With activities designed to encourage discussion and participation, the learning communities that form in face-to-face settings can also occur online. Plus, there are added benefits of online learning spaces, such as the 24/7 nature of online learning—providing students with more opportunities to participate. The inclusion of students who wouldn’t normally join face-to-face discussions also adds new perspectives that can deepen the learning experience.
- Northumbria University partners with Pearson to expand its portfolio of online degrees. [Avril Jamieson]
- 2018 UCAS application figures indicate 18-year-olds still prefer full-time HE. [Avril Jamieson]
- Learning analytics in distance education provide an equivalent to body language in face-to-face environments. [Martin Weller]
- Survey finds that purchasing course materials is a top source of financial stress for students. [Campus Technology]
- Game-based learning encourages creativity and exploration, and two new learning games promise to enhance history and art teaching. [Campus Technology]
- Encouraging students to focus on their goals and aspirations is a great way to drive intrinsic motivation, leading to greater levels of engagement. [The Chronicle]
- A report from the Online Learning Consortium indicates increasing complexity of accessibility in digital learning. [Campus Technology]
- Digital badges are at an indeterminate stage. The fact they haven’t failed is promising, but more needs to be done to increase acceptance. [Martin Weller]
- Innovation is needed in HE, but only the right kind. [Inside Higher Ed]
- RaiseMe Gets $15M to Help Students Cut College Costs If They Do Well in School. [EdSurge]
- A personalised email to students could boost performance and is more effective in supporting them than waiting for students to ask for help. [The Chronicle]
[Wikipedia; Game Revolution; BBC; ABC]
…something a little sweeter. To mark National Honey Bee Day this Saturday, we have a small section of news from the world of bees:
Move over Fortnite, video game developer Varsav Game Studios have released a trailer for Bee Simulator—the perfect, non-violent, game. Due out in the autumn, it will be available for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch. It’s touted to be even better than Goat Simulator… I know …the mind boggles!
Bees in Rome are buzzy helping scientists to monitor air pollution. The level of toxins in honey and wax are measured to provide a clearer picture of air quality. Similar methods have been used previously in New York, Tokyo and London.
Native Australian bees may hold the answer to the global plastic problem. A New Zealand-based company is attempting to reverse engineer Banksia bee nesting material to create a water-repellent and flame-resistant form of natural plastic.