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I’m very much inclined to agree with Moore’s idea that the early majority are key to innovations really taking hold.

This reminds me of the repository project at my institution.  The early adopters are still using it successfully, however we never moved beyond this phase.  It has never, despite our best efforts, become more mainstream in usage because the early majority never got on board and moved it forward.  We targeted innovaters and early adopters, whereas perhaps we should have been targetting the early majority.  Interesting idea to keep in mind in the future.

A bit late in posting this but determined to catch up this week – perhaps even get ahead J

We were asked to summarise 3-4 case studies from the JISC collection on the tangible benefits of elearning.

1.  University of Edinburgh, Virtual Farm Project – a collection of technology based resources developed to enhance the learning experience of veterinary students.  Resources relate to two working University farms which due to location and time pressures are underutilised by students.  Provided access to the ‘Virtual Farm’ aimed to increase student knowledge, understanding and confidence sufficiently to optimise the use of real-life educational farm resources.

Benefits:

  • Significant improvement in student satisfaction with the learning process
  • Significant improvement in staff satisfaction with, and enthusiasm for, e-learning
  • Significant improvement in staff’s ability to deliver e-learning and any actual savings in terms of costs, time and resources
  • There are also tangible benefits to students in terms of personal development – IT skills, group working, communication skills, etc and to staff in terms of engagement with innovative teaching methods.

Disadvantages:

The only drawback mentioned is the time needed for the students to learn the software.  However, it is clear from the results that this time more than paid for itself in benefits to learning.

2. University of Glamorgan, Simulation Gaming in Business – creation of a simulation game allowing students to examine key concepts.  This offered the opportunity to use a case study in a non-linear form which unfolded over time in an interactive and dynamic fashion.  The team involved were keen to avoid the interactive spreadsheets used in financial courses and create a more authentic experience.

Benefits:

  • Students preferred the game as a method for absorbing a case study
  • Students felt is was at least as valuable to learning as tutorials and lectures
  • Students wanted further opportunities like this in other modules
  • Students felt is was a more active means of learning rather than reading texts etc.
  • Academic staff were enthusiastic

Disadvantages:

  • Development time and associated staff time
  • Student dissatisfaction from wanting richer information sources and game environment
  • Need for support in modifying the tool in the future

3.  University of Glasgow, Using Moodle to support active learning in Classics – the aim was to create opportunities for students to take a more active role in their learning and to become critical thinkers.  Classics had been taught in a very traditional chalk and talk way.  The aim was to integrate online and face to face learning through online discussion and posted reports.

Benefits:

  • Strong assessment performances from the students but not out of line with other departmental scores
    • At its best, there was genuine dialogue between the students and some challenging arguments developed through the discussion, both face-to-face and online. For some students, at least, there was a marked increase in their capacity for critical discussion through different media.

Disadvantages:

  • No significant time gains and potentially some time losses due to online interactions and assessment load
  • Problems with students feeling disorientated due to approach

Tweet-tastic!

Having just posted my last post on blogging I noticed a tweet from Tony McNeill with a link to this interesting post on his blog (I could probably use the verb post more times in the sentence if I tried really hard).  So anyone who thinks this is self-absorbed drivel, I’m not talking to you! 🙂

So somehow I find myself having finished H808 and in Week 10 of H800 – Technology-enhanced Learning.  Not only this but it appears to be time to resurrect the blog again.  I started back in September on H808 with all good intentions of blogging regularly, but never found it a very easy process.  The funny things is I love reading other people’s blogs and think that for encouraging reflection it is a great assessment activity for students, yet I’m struggling to do it myself.  Now I’m being encouraged to blog again on the new course.  So here we go…

I’ve been spurred on to dipping my toe in the water of blogging again by the article by Kerawalla et al from Week 10a, Activity 5.  I think I recognised myself somewhere between their first type of blogging behaviour (blogging avoidance) and their fifth (Anxious, self-conscious blogging just to complete the suggested course activities).  I’d like to say I wasn’t that strategic, but it would be a bare faced lie!

I’m also struck by their conclusions regarding the perceptions of, and need for an audience and community.  Perhaps this is part of why I’ve struggled too?  I’m not sure who I’m writing for, if anyone will read it, and do I want them to anyway! Having said that, I shied away from the hidden OU blog because it felt pointless.  If I’m going to blog then let’s put it out there and see what happens and it might even be good for me – like bad medicine?

Gabrielle’s post regarding her own experience of blogging on the forum made me think I was missing something too.  We both did H808 together, yet her experience of blogging sounds so much more positive.  She writes;

“I enjoy blogging, I have found that very often there is something about writing and formulating thoughts that moves me from one place to another. It might be about a new concept or theory I’ve just read about or it might be about understanding something new or different about myself. It also seems to help embed learning.”

So, here I am giving it another go.  Although my avoidance and anxiety is still present, I’ve only just posted this despite writing it a couple of weeks ago…..

Yikes, not easy!  Firstly, what is a professional?  I found the Warrior article really useful for clarifying my thinking on this subject.

Training, education and experience are important as well as the commitment to keep up to date with developments in their field.  Focussing on elearning, the individual also needs a sound understanding of good pedagogy and how technology can be applied to support this.  Whilst there is a need to be willing to experiment, there is a balance to be struck with not using technology for technologies sake.  I don’t think you need to be a subject specialist but I do think you need to understand the nuances of the subject you are dealing with.

So my current definition of an elearning professional is someone who uses elearning to support learning but this could change…

Unit 5 Core Activity 5.2

I thought the idea of a third social revolution based on the rise of the professional was interesting.  I can recognise the points that Perkin is making regarding the fall in manufacturing and the domination of ‘professionals’, both traditional and non-traditional.  It seems that knowledge and information becomes the main commodity and this ties in with the idea of the information society.  Professionals who can manoeuvre, possess and catalogue information become more powerful.  Linking this in further with the network society and is the ultimate professional the elearning professional?  Someone invaluable who understands and can share that knowledge with their students or clients?

It seems to me that Perkin is quite scathing of this world.  My job is all about knowledge and its transmission in various forms so I seem to be part of this post-industrial professional society.  Perkin warns of the dangers of this rise as it is not based on ideology but individual selfishness.  I can see this point but find it makes quite uncomfortable reading.  Sometimes it is hard to see the tangible benefits of what I do because much of it needs to be looked at long term.  This is quite different from a manufacturing role where it is clear what has been done on any particular day.  This can occasionally be quite discouraging but the bigger picture is more positive and progress is being made.  I don’t feel I’ve got the power to destroy the world but perhaps I can make it a little bit better…

H1N1 and H808

Core Activity 2.2: Reflection

It’s been a pretty tough couple of weeks.  Both my partner and I have had flu and I mean proper flu!  Back at work this week but every day has been hard, just absolutely dog tired by the time I get in.  Needless to say this has meant I haven’t given my all to the most recent unit.  I’m really disappointed that I just haven’t been able to contribute as I would have hoped to the group task on eportfolio drivers.  I’ve chipped in when I’ve felt well enough, but this hasn’t been nearly as often as I would have liked.  Still there are some positives…

I feel much clearer regarding eportfolios, or in fact portfolios in general and how we might look to use them in education.  I’m actually starting to think about how I might use the software available to me for a module I’ll be contributing to after Christmas.  As I began this unit I was very unsure as to how useful portfolios could actually be, but my ideas have really begun to change.  They’re still pretty fuzzy round the edges but the idea of a space to store evidence of personal development of both the individual’s learning and career is really starting to appeal.

As regards my own personal and professional development, this task has definitely contributed to the technology competency. My understanding of eportfolios and how they can be used has definitely increased, although there is still work to be done. I’ve tried to be as proactive as possible by adding the readings to the wiki, but this was definitely hindered by the flu.  It will also have influenced my practice as I’m starting to plan how we can use our own eportfolio in the module after Christmas.

All in all a little disappointed, but I did the best I could in the circumstances!