Digital Learning Spaces:
Lessons from the MSc in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh
Jen Ross, University of Edinburgh
Monday, April 15
Noon – 1:30 PM
Seattle Pacific University Library Seminar Room
Every course design is philosophy and belief in action. This is no less true – indeed it may be truer – in courses with a significant digital dimension. Online courses can be designed to invite particular kinds of participation, to take particular sorts of approaches to knowledge. But, like the physical classroom, they do more than embody the pedagogical values of the teacher – they are also greatly affected by the nature of the environments in which teaching and learning take place. In this talk, Jen will reflect on the experiences of teachers and students on the wholly distance MSc in E-learning programme, exploring issues such as how being at but not in Edinburgh affects students and how the values and educational philosophies of teachers on the programme impact, and are impacted by, the learning spaces they use and create.
Jen is the programme director of the fully online MSc in Digital Education programme at the University of Edinburgh, co-author of the Manifesto for Teaching Online, and co-organiser of the Coursera MOOC “E-learning and Digital Cultures”. Her teaching and research concerns digital education now and in the future, online identity, and how cultural and educational institutions are changing in the digital age. The evolving meaning of space and place is one of the most interesting topics in digital and distance learning at the moment, and Jen’s visit to SPU will focus on these and other issues relating to a broader theme of active learning spaces.
The Center for Global Curriculum Studies of Seattle Pacific University announces its Fifth Biennial Symposium: Educational Innovations in Countries around the World. The Symposium will be held on the campus of Seattle Pacific University and on Whidbey Island, located near Seattle on the Puget Sound. The dates of the Symposium are 1-3 July, 2013. Interested individuals are invited to submit proposals in the form of an abstract of 100-200 words in any of the following categories:
- Curriculum and Instruction
- K-12 Education
- Higher Education
- Educational Policy
- Educational Administration
- Comparative Education
- Global Education
- Educational Technology
- Distance Learning
Abstracts should be submitted electronically and are due no later than March 15, 2013. Submissions should be sent to:
Arthur K. Ellis, Director
Center for Global Curriculum Studies
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle Pacific University is located on Queen Anne Hill in the City of Seattle, Washington. Access to downtown with it world-famous Pike Place Market and other waterfront attractions is readily available through convenient bus service. Participants are invited to stay either at dormitory accommodations on campus or at any of a number of nearby hotels. Conference registration is $350, which includes dormitory accommodation and most meals. A cultural program is planned which includes a day trip by ferry to Whidbey Island with its pioneer settlements and beautiful ocean beaches.
This summer I have enjoyed using Google+ in place of Blackboard‘s Discussion tool in two courses that I am teaching. Students were able to interact with each other, chat with participants in another course, and even learn with real-world education experts like +Holly Rae Bemis-Schurtz and +Larry Ferlazzo. An LMS (e.g. Blackboard) “protects” students by letting them only interact with those who are taking the same course.
I relied on Google+ to communicate with students so much that I failed to notice when links to my Blackboard courses were accidentally deleted one morning due to a system error. I only found out when a student reported that she could not submit homework because the course was gone from her Blackboard listing. Would my students have even missed Blackboard had it not been for the fact that they needed to post links to their work in the gradebook? (Don’t worry, the IT folks were able to bring back my courses so my students were able to finish uploading their assignments.)
For years, +Steve Wheeler, +Graham Attwell, and others have discussed the death of the LMS, or as they call it in Europe, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). They see the LMS as top-down structure that stifles student and faculty creativity, and when the course is over everything is gone, including the community. In its place, they advocate for a Personal Learning Environment (PLE), where students control the digital learning tools they use. In a PLE, students control their own content and can continue to learn with their professor and peers even after the course is over.
Up until now I would have argued that many professors and students are not ready for PLEs. Instructors would struggle to keep up with the tools advanced students choose to use. Novice students would struggle to find ways to collaboratively construct knowledge with their technically advanced peers. However with Google+, I saw all students share articles, videos, docs, and their blog posts… pretty much anything they wanted from whatever tool they used to create it. Students gave each other feedback, and drew others into conversations, all without any coaching or training from me.
There is still plenty of room for improvement, such as an easy way to reference a previous post and a good home for static content. And oh yes, and we can not forget to include a secure place to access grades. As a professor, I think I could give up a lot of autonomy to students if we just agreed to collaborate using Google+. Heck, I might not need Blackboard at all. What do you think?
and we're going with it! We've been invited to run an afternoon 'unconference' workshop at the end of the Sloan-C/MERLOT Emerging Technologies for Online Learning conference in Las Vegas on 27 July. Jen will be there in person, and Hamish, Clara and Sian will be collaborating at a distance.
The workshop will be devoted to working with data crowdsourced during the formal part of the conference.
Demand for both effectiveness and flexibility in the delivery of course material becomes increasingly complex as the student population changes and as courses incorporate more online components. Instructors can use Camtasia Relay to easily record lecture material and make screencasts available to students anytime, in multiple formats (design). Instructors can increase teaching presence through recorded lectures (direct instruction), along with opportunities to interact on in-class assignments and provide feedback to students (facilitation). We’ll describe how faculty at SPU are using screen recording to supplement face-to-face lectures, how this technology can enhance blended learning courses, and how screencasts can be used to engage students in the online classroom.
Part 1 – David Wicks provides an overview of how to use Camtasia Relay. (12:39)
Part 3 – Geri Mason shares how she uses Camtasia Relay for blended learning. (13:40)
Report can be found at: http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/going_distance_2011
Each school year predictably begins with Seattle Pacific University professors asking me one of two questions:
- What new technologies are you examining? Or,
- How do you keep up with all the changes?
Professors who ask the first question usually follow up with a statement about how fun my job must be to be able to spend all day “playing” with technology. Professors who ask the second question usually follow up with a statement about how they were just getting use to the last round of changes and they have no idea how I can keep track of all the updates. I enjoy the challenge of helping both groups as they seek be successful in their use of instructional technology.
According to Smaldino (p. 1-2), instructional technology is the “integration of teacher and student use and knowledge of tools and techniques to improve student learning.” This definition encourages me to develop better workshops and one-to-one trainings and to continually search for new tools and techniques that can enhance learning.
So, what new technologies are we looking at this fall? Here is a quick table:
|eBeam||Mobile interactive whiteboard tool that allows professors to take the “Smartboard” with them to class.|
|StagePresence||LectureCapture tool that increases social presence by capturing presenter as part of the presentation. Presenter uses gestures to control presentation.|
|Edmodo||Private Facebook-like social networking tool used primarily by K-12 schools to communicate with students and parents.|
|CourseSites.com||Free learning management system (LMS) from Blackboard that allows professors/teachers to have up to 5 free online courses using the latest version of Blackboard Learn.|
|Instructure||New LMS that integrates Web 2.0 tools such as Google Docs and Twitter.|
|NookStudy||Electronic Textbook Reader that works on Mac and PC. Limited integration with Blackboard.|
|iOS 5 and Various iPad Apps including: Fuse, ScreenChomp, VoiceThread||New iPhone, iPad operating system has great features that eliminate need for home button. Fuse is for capturing video, ScreenChomp is a whiteboarding tool and VoiceThread is a reflection/asynchronous discussion tool.|
How do I keep up with all the changes? First and most importantly, I have excellent colleagues in Instructional Technology Services (ITS) who are dedicated to providing great services for faculty. Janiess Sallee, Dominic Williamson, and David Rither do such great work managing their projects that I rarely have to deal with workflow issues that may consume other managers’ days. We also have a great student staff who willingly learn new technologies and are able to explain the costs and benefits to us from a learner’s perspective. Second, I have a great personal learning network (PLN) of colleagues around the world through my relationships with MacLearning.org, MERLOT, Sloan-C, NWACC, and educators I interact with on Twitter. Finally, I have been encouraged to teach courses in the School of Education, which allows me to see first hand what works for those on the bleeding edge as well as those who want to apply instructional technology in a more conventional manner.
I consider it a joy and a privilege to serve the faculty and students of Seattle Pacific University. My department wants to help professors be successful with instructional technology, regardless of their skill level. And yes, it is fun to get to “play” with technology all day.
Smaldino, S. E., Lowther, D. L., & Russell, J. D. (2011).Instructional technology and media for learning. Boston, Mass: Allyn & Bacon.