Institute of Educational Technology
I talked about how we create visions of learning futures, how we use them, and why we keep developing new visions. I covered visions of education, visions of school, visions of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and visions of pedagogy, the theory of teaching and learning.
Innovating Pedagogy 2014 has just been published and is available as a free download. It is the third in a series of reports I have co-authored with colleagues at The Open University that explore new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world. While many of these are enabled by technology, these are not reports on new gadgets, but on new ways of teaching and learning.
This year’s report focuses on
One of my favourites is learning through storytelling. Of course, this is not a new pedagogy. Writing up an experiment, reporting on an inquiry, analysing a period of history – these are all examples of the use of narrative to support learning that have been used for hundreds of years. However, the use of technology opens up new possibilities. We are increasingly able to create virtual story worlds in which guided exploratory learning can take place. A storyline can also be used to build engagement and provoke discussion in massive open online learning, or in other learning environments where participants spread across the globe build a narrative together. This is an example of technology opening up new possibilities that allow us to expand our use of a tried and trusted approach to teaching and learning.
On 24 October 2014, the Learning Analytics and Community Exchange (LACE) project invited everyone interested in the research and use of learning analytics to a one-day networking gathering event in October at the Open University in Milton Keynes (UK).
This Solar Flare event – co-chaired by Doug Clow, Simon Cross and I – formed part of an international series coordinated by the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR). SoLAR Flares provide opportunities to learn what’s going on in learning analytics research and practice, to share resources and experience, and to forge valuable new connections within the education sector and beyond.
Around 50 people attended in person, with another 356 from around the world tuning in via the livestream.
There were two keynotes: one from Alan Berg, talking about the Apereo learning analytics initiative, and another from Chris Lowis, talking about learning analytics on the FutureLearn MOOC platform. In addition, there were 13 lightning presentations from people working with learning analytics in multiple countries and contexts including the UK, France and Spain. My lightning presentation focused on patterns of engagement identified in FutureLearn MOOCs from a variety of different universities. In the afternoon, participants split into four sub-groups that discussed evidence about learning analytics that can be added to the LACE Learning Analytics Evidence Hub.
Recordings of all the LACE SoLAR Flare presentations are available online.
The series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation.
This third report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education. You can see a summary of each innovation at the menu on the right. Please contribute your comments on the report and the innovations.
Mike Sharples and I presented at EC-TEL 2014 in Graz on Innovative Pedagogy at Massive Scale: Teaching and Learning in MOOCs.
We examined the implications for pedagogy of education at a massive scale. Educational approaches designed or adapted to be effective for large numbers of learners include direct instruction, networked learning, connectivism, supported open learning, and conversational learning at scale.
We used a grounded approach to analyse data from 18 MOOCs run on the UK-based FutureLearn platform. This enabled us to identify benefits and challenges for learners, for educators and for society as a whole of learning at massive scale. These need to be addressed in two ways, through learning design and through platform design.
After our presentation, Yishay Mor interviewed us about it for the Open Learning Europa website.
Educators in massive open online courses (MOOCs) face the challenge of interacting with tens of thousands of students, many of whom are new to online learning. This study investigates the different ways in which lead educators position themselves within MOOCs, and the various roles that they adopt in their messages to learners. Email messages from educators were collected from six courses on FutureLearn, a UK-based MOOC platform that had 26 university partners at the time. Educator stance in these emails was coded thematically, sentence by sentence. The resulting typology draws attention to the different ways in which educators align themselves in these settings, including outlining the trajectory of the course, acting as both host and instructor, sometimes as fellow learner, and often as an emotionally engaged enthusiast. This typology can be used to explore relationships between educator stance and variables such as learner engagement, learner test results and learner retention.
The following blog post was originally published on School of Open’s blog on 4 November 2014.
It’s now been a couple of weeks since we formally ended our four-week Open Research course on P2PU … And what a month it was! We had 139 people sign up to the course, which looked at the theory and practice of open research, how you can be ethical and open, how to disseminate in the open and open reflection. You can view the course materials here.
From the very first discussions about the course last fall with Jane Park at Creative Commons to the team brainstorming the course early in 2014, spending several months co-authoring the course and developing assets, going through School of Open’s community review, getting the course up on the P2PU platform, creating our badge, and running the course itself, it’s been a fascinating and rewarding process. Collaboration was central…
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Last weekend saw over 1600 people get together at this year’s Mozilla Festival. I made my way down to Ravensbourne College on Saturday and have put together a quick Storifty to capture some of the amazing collaborations, sessions and people that participated. You can check it out here.
Yesterday I was in Edinburgh, Scotland for the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project kick-off meeting and to run a “highly interactive session” to capture experiences and thoughts on OER and OEP in Scotland. Martin was also there, speaking on his forthcoming book (to quote, an “ideal stocking filler”) The Battle for Open. I’ve created this Storify to capture some of the discussion and activity. Enjoy!
On 10 September, I was at the University of Southampton, talking about the evaluation of MOOCs to the FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN). This group is open to members of FutureLearn partner institutions who have an interest in researching MOOCs. If you fall into that category, and you’d be interested in joining, search for the group on Facebook. It’s a closed group, but straightforward to join, if you send a message introducing yourself.
The video shows the second half of the morning – start around 40 minutes in if you are interested in viewing my talk. There’s also an account of it on Sheila Webber’s blog.
On 16-17 September, I was in Graz with the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) . Before our consortium meeting, we held the 1st Learning Analytics Data Sharing Workshop. This brought people together from across Europe to discuss possibilities for data sharing.
The workshop was designed to act as a bridge between research and practical action. It also dealt with the technical, operational, business, policy and governance challenges involved with data sharing – with a particular focus on privacy issues.
The workshop was followed by a consortium meeting, and plans for developing this Europe-wide learning analytics community further.
It’s been a super September at the OER Research Hub: here’s an overview of what we’ve been up to over the past month:
Open Research Course
We had 139 people sign-up for our School of Open course Open Research! This four-week community reviewed course explores the nature and practice of open research and takes a closer look at how to conduct ethical and open research, dissemination and the relationship between reflection/evaluation and openness. We are just over half way through the course at present: if you’ve missed some of the great discussions and our weekly Hangout sessions, or just want to watch some of our videos, head over to our YouTube playlist or to the Discourse forums. There’s an overview of everything course related also available here.
Out and About
Earlier in the month, Martin and Rob headed up to the University of Warwick for ALT Conference. Rob…
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This post was originally published on Peer 2 Peer University’s blog on 29 September 2014.
Are you participating in Peer to Peer University’s (P2PU) Writing for Change course? Did you recently complete a pre-course survey? Curious as to what the survey was about or what the findings were? Well, read on!
First, the survey was conducted by the OER Research Hub in collaboration with P2PU. Who are the OER Research Hub? Well, we are an award-winning Hewlett funded project based at Institute of Educational Technology (IET) at The Open University (UK) and we collaborate with great organisations and initiatives such as P2PU to look at the impact of open educational resources (OER) such as Writing for Change. We’ve also been conducting some research with School of Open; you can find out more about our findings to date here. I’m
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As September beckons, here’s a quick round-up of what’s been happening at the Hub over the past month:
Join us to explore Open Research
As you might be aware, we’ve been working on our School of Open Open Research course over the past few months … August saw the launch of our four-week exploration into of the concept and practices of open research, including how to conduct research ethically and in the open, dissemination and the relation between openness and reflection.
Sign-up is open until Friday 12 September with the course formally starting on Monday 15 September 2014. We’re super excited and honoured to have had so much interest in the course and hope that you’ll be able to join us!Your Open Research course facilitators! (Clockwise: Bea de los Arcos, Beck…
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It’s been in the pipeline for a while now, but we’re super excited to announce that our four-week School of OpenOpen Research course opened for sign-up yesterday! You can sign-up to participate in our four-week course until Friday 12 September 2014 with the course starting on Monday 15 September.
So what’s in store for participants? Week one of the course explores the idea of open research and encourages participants to think about the challenges and benefits of open research. In week two we take a closer look at how we can be both open and ethical when conducting research. Week three focuses on open access publishing and disseminating your research. We close the course with week four’s chance to look at where openness makes a difference to evaluation and reflection.
You also have the opportunity to be awarded our very own Open Research badge for participating in, and completing, the…
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I have decided to move openmind.ed from server space provided by The Open University and onto a general WordPress.com site. This will make the site more independent and give me a bit more control over how it works – but the content is essentially the same. I will only be updating the new site from now on although some of the stuff in the sidebar will continue to update automatically.You can find the new version of this site at:
Much sharing and use of open educational resources (OER) is relatively informal, difficult to observe, and part of a wider pattern of open activity. What the open education movement needs is a way to draw together disparate fragments of evidence into a coherent analytic framework. Rob Farrow provides background on a project devoted to consolidating efforts of OER practitioners by inviting the open community to contribute directly and submit impact narratives. Through the mapping of these contributions, the data can continue to grow iteratively and support the decisions made by educators, students, policymakers and advocates.
The Open Education movement is now around ten or twelve years old and has started to make a significant difference to education practices around the world. Open educational resources (OER) are resources (article, textbook, lesson plan, video, test, etc.) that might be used in teaching or learning. They are considered ‘open’ when they are openly licensed in ways that [permit] no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions or, more simply their free use and re-purposing by others.
This distinction might seem rather subtle and legalistic at first. But the whole of the open education movement is predicated on the idea that open licensing leads to far reaching and beneficial change. By providing an alternative to traditional copyright, open licenses make it possible to share and repurpose materials at marginal cost. It is often stated, for instance, that OER have the potential to increase access to education through lowering the prohibitive cost of textbooks or journal subscriptions. Some claim that OER allows for more innovative teaching and closer bonds between students and learners as a result of a more reflexive syllabus. Others hold the view that open licensing will align existing pedagogies along more collaborative and networked lines.Image credit: opensource.com via Flickr (CC BY-SA)
When open licensing in conjunction with digital technology can enable duplication and adaptation of materials almost anywhere in the world at next to no cost, it’s easy to see how the implications may be manifold for educational institutions. Perhaps the strongest evidence for this thus far comes from the open access movement, which continues to leverage academic publishers for better value.
Unsurprisingly, much research has gone into ascertaining the evidence that exists in support of these claims. A good portion of earlier OER research focused on establishing the relative quality of open materials and found that they are generally at least as good as equivalent commercial materials (though there are of course variations in quality). But there are reasons why establishing a clear picture of the wider impact of OER adoption is more complex.
Let’s leave aside for now issues around the much discussed and yet nebulous term “impact”. OER adoption is taking place within a world of education undergoing radical change. Where OER does change practices there are often multiple interventions taking place at the same time and so it is hard to isolate the particular influence of openness. Use contexts can vary wildly between countries and education levels, and cultural differences can come into play. Furthermore, much sharing and use of open educational materials (such as Wikipedia) is relatively informal, difficult to observe, and part of a wider pattern of activity. This is not to say that there isn’t good quality OER research out there, but the typical dependence on softer data might sometimes be thought unconvincing. Further complications can arise from inconsistencies in understanding what ‘open’ means to different groups.
Nonetheless, there remains a need for evidence that would support (or discount) from the key claims expressed in the rhetoric around OER, as well as an overall picture of global activity. What the open education movement needs is a way to draw together disparate fragments of evidence into a coherent analytic framework that can support judgments about OER impact for a range of use cases.
OER Research Hub (OERRH) is a research project in IET at The Open University which approaches these issues through an open and collaborative approach. Our project aspires to be open in both its focus and the methods we use to gather and share data. We’ve taken a mixed-methods approach to research depending on the context, and we’ve also undertaken some of the largest surveys about OER use and attitudes from a range of stakeholders. By using a survey template that is consistent across the different samples it becomes possible to see patterns across countries and sectors. Our research instruments and data are released on open licenses and we have an open access publication policy. By encouraging a culture of open sharing we have been able to consolidate the efforts of OER practitioners and help to build a shared understanding.
We work openly with a range of collaborators around the world to gather data and share practical experience and also have a fellowship scheme that helps to foster a worldwide network of experts. By focusing on collecting data around ‘impact’ in situ we are able to build up an evolving picture of changing practices.
The analytic framework for pulling together the data includes a set of research hypotheses which reflect some of the main claims that are made about OER. These help to provide focus but a further structuring is provided by the use of geospatial coordinates (which are of course universal) and map disparate data types on a map across a shared geographical base.Image credit: OER Impact Map (OER Research Hub)
Mapping has become popular within the OER world, and there is a lot of interest in maps for strengthening communities and as tools for building a shared understanding of the world. Accordingly, OERRH’s OER Impact Map acts as both research tool and dissemination channel. By using a simple metadata structure for different data types it becomes possible to visualize (as well as simply ‘map’) information. For instance, real-time reporting of the evidence gathered across each hypothesis or visualising the sum of evidence gathered help us to understand the data. Soon it will be possible to browse the project survey data directly as well as interact with more detailed, structured narratives about OER impact. The map itself will continue to help us to see patterns in the data and cross-reference evidence gathered.Image credit: OER Impact Map (OER Research Hub)
By no means is OER Impact Map complete; by its nature the data set continues to evolve. But openness is the key to the sustainability of a service like this: by inviting the open community to contribute directly and submit their impact narratives to OERRH the data can continue to grow iteratively and support the decisions made by educators, students, policymakers and advocates. Furthermore, open licensing of evidence records allows us to close citation loops and archive data more easily, and the relative ease with which open access research can be found helps it find it way into the evidence base.
It is worth noting that the combination of mapping and curation can be flexibly applied to other research questions in educational and social science. The code for OER Impact Map is available openly on GitHub, meaning others can use it build their own impact maps: or adapt this code to their own needs. The impact map is based on a JSON information architecture which supports multiple programming languages and flexible use of the data (like combining it with other datasets).
What our project illustrates is that the use of openness to solve challenges in the project can lead to innovation in approaches in understanding impact. The combination of mixed-methods research into hypotheses with mapping and data visualization techniques can be flexibly applied in support of traditional research activity.
OER Research Hub is funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Rob Farrow is a philosopher and educational technologist who researches open education at The Institute of Educational Technology, The Open University (UK). He blogs at openmind.ed and tweets as @philosopher1978.
What’s been happening at the Hub in July? It’s time for our monthly news round-up!
Open Textbook Bonanza
July kicked off with the release of a range of our research on open textbooks during the aptly named Open Textbook Research week. With contributors from all of our fantastic open textbook collaborators, this was a great chance to see what work we’ve been doing together. Beck (OERRH researcher) and Megan Beckett (Siyavula) co-authored a series of blog posts on the survey findings in South Africa, Clint Lalonde of BCcampus told us more about the Open Textbook Project Geography sprint in an exclusive post and we also released the revised OpenStax College educator survey findings, preliminary student survey findings and three educator interviews. Phew! With 11 blog posts in total there’s a wealth of research to explore.
If you missed out, don’t worry as you can find all of the…
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The video recording from my research presentation at OCWC 2014 is now available at http://videolectures.net/ocwc2014_farrow_oer_impact/. It’s not possible to embed here but they have a nice player on their site.
This presentation gives an overview of the OER Research Hub project, some of the methodological and epistemological issues we encounter, and how we propose to ameliorate these through the technologies we use to investigate key questions facing the OER movement.
OER Impact: Collaboration, Evidence, Synthesis
Here are my slides from today’s presentation: feedback welcome as always.