Monthly Archives: July 2015

Week 1 of the 11.133x MOOC – tick.

MOOCs often take a little while to ramp up but the MITx 11.133x Implementation yada yada – I’m going to stick with 11.133x for now, that’s a long title – MOOC feels like it’s just about right.

There has been a fair whack of the standard common sense in the videos so far – have a purpose, don’t choose the technology before you know what you want to do with it. stakeholders matter etc – but it has been well presented and by a range of different people.

There has probably been more emphasis on looking at ed tech for K-12 schools rather than higher education than I like but I guess it is a larger chunk of the audience. The ability to form/join affinity groups in the forums has at least let me connect with other uni people around the world.

In terms of practical activities, it has really REALLY helped to come to this MOOC with a project in mind. I’m looking for a live student response/feedback tool (most likely web/app based) that can be used in lectures (large lectures 350+) to poll students about their understanding of content.

This fed well into our first two activities, which involved looking at the context that this project will occur in and considering whether it sits in a general or specific domain and whether it will change procedure or instruction. (I’ll post my responses to both below)

Responding to other posts – you need to respond to at least three to complete the module – helps to clarify some of the concepts. I have a feeling that this isn’t a huge MOOC either – there aren’t hundreds of pages of responses in the forums to each question which is often kind of hellish to process.

Profile your implementation context

Target environment
I work in the College of Business and Economics in a leading Australian university. We’re relatively well resourced, so buying new tech generally isn’t an issue within reason, which allows me to focus on the suitability of the tool. We have large numbers of international students in our undergraduate cohort. The majority of students are comfortable with mobile and online technology. At an undergraduate level, the students tend to be young adults.

The college is comparatively conservative in some ways – although fortunately our leadership understands and supports the value of innovation. There is an emphasis placed on the seriousness and prestige of our brand that I need to factor into the look and feel of college associated tools.
There is a range of acceptance and engagement with learning technology from academics in the college, from enthusiasm to resistance to change. (Last week I had a long conversation with someone about why he still needs an overhead projector – we’re getting him one)
Our largest lecture theatres can hold up to 600 people (which is big for us) and the college wi-fi has recently been upgraded.

Key stakeholder

Recently one of our finance lecturers contacted me – I’m the learning technology person for the college – and asked what we have in the way of live student response/feedback systems. Tools that will enable her to post survey/understanding questions on screen during lectures and get real-time responses from students via mobile/web apps.

She is relatively new to the college and lectures to a group of 350+ students. (This is relatively large for us although some of our foundation subjects have 800+ students). She is keen to enhance the interactivity of her lectures but is also concerned about finding the right tool. She really doesn’t want any technology failures during her lectures as she believes that this will kill student trust in this kind of technology. She would also prefer not to trial multiple tools on her students as she is concerned that experimenting on students may diminish their educational experience.

Potential for the technology
There has been a lot of ongoing discussion at the university in recent years about the effectiveness of lectures. Attendance rates are around 30% in many disciplines, due to student work/life commitments, recording of lectures and a host of other reasons.

The lecture format itself is questioned however it is deeply ingrained in many parts of the culture so finding ways to augment and enhance the lecture experience seems like a more effective approach.
Student response/feedback apps can be a powerful way to instantly track understanding and engagement of material in lectures and I am keen to see what we can do with it. While some students may feel confident to ask questions in a lecture, others may feel uncomfortable with this from cultural perspectives or due to English being a second language.

The lecturer has already been in contact with a supplier of a particular platform, however I have some reservations as on a preliminary investigation, their product appears to provide much more functionality than might be needed and may be unnecessarily complicated. However, I’m hoping that this MOOC will help me to work through this process.

Domain / Approach Chart


This seems like a bit of a cop-out given that the example given was PollEverywhere but if you check myprevious post, you’ll see that I’m looking for a tool to use for live student feedback in lectures.

Socrative is one of several tools that considering to meet this need. It is a basic, online tool that enables a teacher to create a quiz/survey question, show it to the class through a data projector and then get the students to respond to (generally multichoice) via an app on their phone or a web browser.

Of the ones that I’ve seen so far, it’s easy to set up and seems to work fairly well. (I blogged a comparison between it and Kahoot a while ago)

I’d say that it is Domain General because it can be used widely and it is more about changing an approach to procedure, because without it, a teacher could just ask for a show of hands instead. (This I think will get a better response though because it is less embarrassing)

My main concern with Socrative for my project is that the website says that it is best used with classes of 50 or less and I am looking for something that supports 350+

Wrapping up week 0 of the 11.133x MOOC

So far so good in the MITx 11.133x Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology MOOC – I’ve just finished Week 0 which I guess is like the O (Orientation) Week of MOOCs.

A bit of “here’s how to navigate the platform”, a bit of “introduce yourself” but also a dip of the toe into reflective practice with a small forum post about an experience we have had with educational technology. I dipped into a recent story about me designing a course in Moodle that I thought was cool but quickly realised that I had designed it for me and not the needs of my learners. We then made 3 responses to other posters.

The three required responses were simple enough but I couldn’t resist responding to an additional post that may not have made me so many friends. Tell me what you think – was  I unreasonable?

This is the original post:

In 1989 I was teaching ethics at a liberal arts college in the U.S. A friend and colleague was teaching ethics the same semester at one of the military service academies in the U.S. We decided to create a Usenet newsgroup for our 2 sets of students and require them to interact with each other to collaborate on assignments and discuss readings.

It had mixed success. Many of the students had not previously used a computer and, worse, believed that they were entitled to take an ethics class without having to use a computer. So a lot of the students were grumpy and resentful about what they considered to be a frivolous, extraneous and irrelevant requirement (you can probably imagine what the teaching evaluations looked like). Some students really enjoyed it and became avid collaborators and participants, but others just groused all the way through it and gave us really bad teaching evaluations.

Our intention was to have our respective students explore various ethics topics with other students who were very different demographically from their classmates. It was also to get them to use computers to interact with others at a distance (remember — this pre-dated the World Wide web or Listserv, and Windows did not have much of a GUI, as I recall).

For those students who jumped in and ran with it, I think it went quite well. Unfortunately there was also a large number of students at both institutions who resisted it all the way, and that made for a difficult classroom dynamic for both of us. Many students were downright angry that they were required to use computers in an ethics class (they believed computers were only appropriate in math and science classes) and gave us really devastating teaching evaluations that, in part, led to both of our departures from our respective institutions.

There was a selection of short, sympathetic responses to this and then mine:

Thanks for sharing your story – sorry to hear that it pushed you away from that teaching job.

I’m going to go against the flow here a tiny bit and sympathise a little with your students. Was it clear in the course outline that there would be an online component? Did you explain to the students how using Usenet would enhance their learning experience? (Did it provide a better experience than could have been provided if the course was wholly face-to-face?)

Obviously I’m here in this MOOC because I believe that technology and digital literacy are vitally important in education but I also believe that the education part has to be the prime focus.

If students (as autonomous adult learners) were signing up for an ethics class and then were suddenly told that they needed to learn computer skills, I’m not surprised that they were unhappy. They were suddenly taken to a place where their ignorance was on public display and they had lost a degree of control of their education.

I have no doubt that you acted from the best of intentions but this story speaks to me a lot about the need to bring our students (or the teachers that we support in my case) along with us on the journey and that they have to believe that we are meeting their needs/interests foremost.

I think it’s all well and good to use technology in teaching and learning (obviously) but we need to be mindful about how much we are designing a course for ourselves vs our students.

Was I wrong?

I swear this MOOC is going to stick

Completion rates for MOOCs are ridiculously low – and my completion rate specifically is appalling. I did successfully complete Kevin Werbach’s Coursera MOOC on Gamification (which I can recommend although it is business not education focussed) but aside from that there has been a long string of MOOCs that I have signed up for and then slunk away from after a week or two. Most recently this includes ANU’s Edx MOOC on Ignorance. Why did I sign up for that? No idea.

The new MITx (Edx) MOOC however seems like it was made for me. Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology.  It starts today, so if you’re interested, there’s still time to get on board.

Edx course title screenshot

This is a MOOC that ties directly to my work as a learning technologist and for which I even have a learning outcome / project in mind. I’ve been asked to find a good in-class instant response system (polling/multi-choice) to get better live learner feedback in lectures.

I’ve also read the research indicating that people who pay a small fee are far more likely to complete a MOOC than average participants, so I’ve signed up for a verified certificate.

Now I think I might try to find some study buddies to ratchet up the pressure a little further.

How do you stay motivated in a MOOC? What is your complete/abandon ratio like?


Free Moodles for everyone with MoodleCloud

Well this seems like kind of a big deal – Moodle HQ announced MoodleCloud this morning at Moodle Moot AU 2015.

They may not be the first LMS provider to make their platform freely available (ad supported) – Blackboard did this a while ago – but honestly, who wants to use that?

For your money (zero) you get a full Moodle install that can support up to 50 users and which includes 200MB of data storage. It also includes the Big Blue Button virtual classroom tool.

Signing up was a breeze and is cleverly linked to phone numbers rather than email addresses.

You get access to the new shiny Moodle 2.9 instance but are restricted to the core set of plugins and themes. (Which are still pretty great)