Tuesday, 9 December 2008

H809 for 2009

Advert alert! If you've just arrived at this blog, you'll want to know what the course is all about. Apologies to existing readers: you already know what's in this post. But tell your friends!

What do we really know about technology enhanced learning? There's lots of hype about Second Life, interactive whiteboards, games, video-conferencing, e-portfolios, integrated learning systems, mobile devices… But just how valuable are the latest technologies for education? What usefully engages the Facebook generation in learning? Where’s the evidence?

There's an online postgraduate course that aims to help: Practice-based research in educational technology (H809). It's run by The Open University, one of the world's leading distance learning universities.

We can't provide all the answers, especially as new technologies and initiatives are burgeoning all the time. But we can point to what is already known. And we can equip you with the skills to be able to critically evaluate new research that might apply to your own practice.

H809 is all about locating, understanding and evaluating original empirical research into technology enhanced learning. We plan to update the readings regularly, to keep at the cutting-edge. The course draws attention to the latest methods of data collection and analysis. It considers the links between research, policy and practice. And at the end of the course, there's an opportunity to apply what you've learned to a topic of your choice in the field of technology enhanced learning.

All the materials and discussions are online, making the course accessible from anywhere in the world, with the bonus of being part of a lively international community able to learn from one another’s experiences in different cultural contexts.

Registration is now open for February 2009. The course lasts 20 weeks part-time. It's suitable for teachers, lecturers and other education professionals. You should have some experience of reading and understanding academic literature.

H809 can contribute to a number of Masters degrees, including the OU's Masters in Education and its MA in Online and Distance Education. It can also be a stepping-stone to a PhD or EdD.

Feel free to contact me if you've got a query.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Reflections on the first presentation

'quiet I'm thinking' by Grant MacDonaldOn balance, the first presentation of the course went really well. We had a bunch of great students from a diverse range of countries and occupations, some terrific tutors, and better-than-average course results.

There were hiccups, of course. Firstly, I was off sick for many months, which meant that the course team had to collectively pick up the many crucial tasks of the course chair. My deep thanks to them.

Secondly we had some really bad luck that led to unfortunate chopping and changing of tutor groups for some students. My apologies to them. But everyone pulled together, ably supported by our experienced tutors, and some really interesting projects were produced.

We've also learned a great deal from our students, through the forums, blogs and the end-of-course survey. And thanks to them we've been able to cut down substantially on the reading required, we've made the assessment more straightforward, and we're re-balancing how the various online discussion tools are used. The 2009 cohort will see the direct benefits of this excellent feedback.

I know it's probably really bad form in a blog to blow your own trumpet too much, but when you're creating an innovative course like H809, you never quite know how it's going to work out. And we know, in any case, that research courses are hard work for students. So we were delighted that so many of our students had such positive experiences...
"What I really needed was THIS course. A very innovative course in methods and contents, truly inspiring, full of ideas, new solutions, readings from all over the field and the world, and so on. I am very happy indeed that this course was opened!"

"... a key ingredient, having started the course feeling like others apprehensive and intimidated, way out of my comfort zone, what has enabled me to face my fears much better is the positive and supportive environment that is evident in this course."

"I enjoyed it very much. It's a great course, great staff and great students, too."

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Some H809 posts from 2008

Actor Network Theory and Learning Contexts

This text divides approaches to context into positivist and constructivist. It was suggested today (by its author) in the Yahoo group for discussion of Actor Network Theory.

The text references Charlie Chaplin and Leonardo Da Vinci (not to mention Aristotle, Hegel and Wittgenstein) so I suppose that just about wraps it up for reality.

It proposes ANT as a way of interpreting, designing, and managing learning contexts.

John Kuti, 1 April 2008

Reconsidering Tolmie and Crook & Dymott

It was a pleasure reading Laurillard after Tolmie. Studies like Tolmie’s and Roschelle’s leave me wondering why would anyone bother. Looking at what Laurillard et al call the micro-level interactions, but without a broader frame to place it in, seemed of limited use. On reflection, though, I realised that as a teacher I do sometimes interrogate learning events at such a level if they don’t seem to be working. The wider view isn’t always necessary. What Laurillard et al offer, though, is the wider picture into which the micro-level works, including the students’ personal filters.

Jonassen and Rohrer-Murphy also address questions raised by the Crook and Dymott study. When thinking about how I would assess the students’ writing I would want to know first why they were doing it. Did they feel it relevant for them; did they have any interest in it; how did they understand the instructor's purpose and could they negotiate it in some way to meet their own purposes. What’s the point of writing without a purpose? And perhaps this might inform the use of the technology. These issues weren’t problematic for Crook and Dymott, but could be part of the analysis done with an Activity Theory approach.

Barbara Roberts, 8 April 2008

Thoughts on Reading 19 Egan et al (2006)

This was an interesting paper - not least because it indicates a context where an online research methodology could actually be more valid (giving direct access to the responses of survivors of TBI) than face to face interview methods - removing some of the barriers this group encounters as a result of cognitive-linguistic impairments when interviewed in face to face situations. The ‘richness’ of responses form the participants who had the time to reflect using this asynchronous method, was an unexpected outcome of the research.

Rosemary, 11 May 2008

Amazing Free Web Things Part 127: Wordle

Wordle allows you to create a very gorgeous word cloud from pasted text, blogs, feeds or del.ici.ous users’ stuff.

To hail Wordle, and to mark the submission of the H809 ECA, I fed my 4,000 word opus (minus bibliography) into Wordle and this very groovy cloud came out.

Nice (if unsurprising) to see that ’students’, ‘technology’ and ‘learning’ were the most prominent words.

Now, what’s next….?

eguinan, 24 Jul 2008


The final posting in this Blog is to say that my result is in and I have passed the course!!!!!

So - what do I do now?
I guess I'll have to make sure I archive this off somewhere so that I have a copy and then look for another course to do... I think it's going to be H807 - Postgrad: 'Innovations in elearning'

I would definitely recommend this Open University course (H809). Check out the course link on the main OU student website. Lots of intensive hard work, but it is well worth it. Great course team, excellent resources and the most helpful and knowledgeable Tutor (Dr. Rhona Sharpe).

Col, 19 September 2008

Friday, 11 January 2008

20 days left to sign up!

We've been delighted with the registrations for the course.

Those who've not studied with The Open University before might not realize that we recruit as many tutors as needed to keep the tutor groups small and friendly. And in our global online courses we often have student registrations close to the start date, so we're never 100% sure of the exact number of tutors we'll need until the course is underway. We've therefore got a talented pool of tutors on stand-by, ready and eager to guide course participants to a critical understanding of research in educational technology.

If you've been mulling over signing up for the course, you've got until 31st January to register. Here are the details. If you've got questions, there's help with registration here.