Category Archives: Kursus

Experimenting with Learning Layers tool

This autumn I have unique chance to be a teacher, not a researcher, who experiments with some technology in course settings. Usually when conducting such case studies, I’m researcher myself and part of the development team. But my colleagues from Learning Layers asked to agree with the experiment and sure, lets try.

The course is “Apprenticeship of educational technology”, where my students are at the practice place for eight weeks and try to get familiar with the role of the educational technologist in educational or other institution. They reflect weekly in their weblogs and perform some tasks that I give them.

This time we will experiment with the Attacher. Without being part of the development team and knowing exactly why this tool is developed, I could say that it supports learning in the community settings. Now besides the reflection-task, students are supposed to find theoretical materials from web related with practice tasks, tag them, share them, browse peers’ materials and reflect about the materials.

The first seminar went well, students agreed to be part of the experiment and lets hope the best for the research team.

Course about technology-enhanced learning at workplace – reflection

This term had I new problem-based course with the IT-management master students about technology-enhanced learning at the workplace. Students in that course work mainly in public institutions – ministries as a IT managers.

The initial idea of the course was to  to support the enhancement of the knowledge and skills of the students to plan, implement and evaluate the technology-enhanced informal learning in the organization. Technologies that would support the workplace learning were planned to be technologies developed in Learning Layers.

Following phases were planned for the course: a) Students conduct the survey for finding out what kind of technology-enhanced learning practices can be identified in their organization, what could be changed and what kind of challenges can be faced with the focus on implementing technology for supporting learning; b) Students  design the technology-based learning activities and possible scenarios with the technological prototypes in the organization; c) Students evaluate the technology-enhanced learning scenarios with the technological prototypes.

The reality was a bit different, mainly of two reasons: the planned technologies were not in the state as initially planned and secondly, the institutions, where students are coming from, are quite restricted, so planning any new technologies is like.. impossible. I was encouraging them to imagine and dream that if it could be possible, how would you do then..

Most of them chose the technologies that the organization is already using, but not purposely. Most of the employees in their organizations are knowledge consumers who read newsletters, follow intranet or e-mails and never contribute to the organizational level knowledge. So they designed their scenarios with the focus on knowledge sharing and documenting the professional practices. As a result it turned out to be really interesting. Some of the evaluations of the scenarios with their colleagues turned out to be really successful, because they took the scenarios into real plan for the near future.

In the end of the course we had short reflection about the course. The main thing what they said was that next iteration of the course should not be about designing and evaluating so much, because it is more “managers’ issue” and less “IT-issue”. But they are more “IT-persons”. They would like to hear more about concrete technologies that are used in different SMEs, larger organizations for supporting learning, knowledge sharing. Based on the different research results, I could introduce the learning and knowledge sharing practices that work in different organizations. So, lets see.

For myself the course was extremely pleasant experience. I’ve never had such a group of learners and I’m glad I had a chance to teach them and to learn from them.

Update – I wrote short description of the course to Learning Layers Open Design Library as well, can be found here.

 

I’m starting with LAK12 course

The first week of MOOC-type of LAK12 course is over. It is strange that in theory I have been strong when talking how informal learning should take place and how learning communities influence our development. Now when I should motivate myself to participate in informal course and find some time for learning, it is not that easy anymore.

I wanted to participate LAK12 course for two reasons. First the concept of learning analytics is gaining more and more importance in the context of (educational) research. Lot of people are talking about it and I just wanted to be sure what is it exactly in order to participate in discussions. But even more important is the fact that I should teach in next autumn the basics of learning analytics in Tallinn University master program “Educational technology” and I should expand my own knowledge before that.

LAK12 course defines learning analytics as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs”.

When I’ll try to put in my educational technology context, it means that we analyze different learning patterns in learning environments (open learning environments that are usually blog-based courses and closed LMS like IVA or Moodle). Such analyses may illustrate if the current learning activities, learning environment and materials support learners’ learning process. That is not the only potential of learning analytics, sure.

I have wondered, what is the difference or what is the relationship between data-mining and learning analytics. I read from the reading material that The Educational Data Mining community has defined educational data mining as an emerging discipline, concerned with developing methods for exploring the unique types of data that come from educational settings, and using those methods to better understand students, and the settings which they learn in.” The implementation areas of educational data mining and learning analytics are similar. I have to still work with this thought as currently I can’t perceive the thorough difference.

I liked the idea that I read from this material, said by Donald Norris, president and founder of Strategic Initiatives, Inc:
“Online learning without embedded analytics is like a car without wheels,” says Norris, who has written many white papers on the subject. “Embedded analytics turns online learning into an engine for both scaling access and improving retention, persistence, and completion.” Online learning courses are my area and so far no element of analytics I have used. Sure, my courses are small and just about 10 students are participating so I am not sure how efficiently the learning analytics could be used there. That takes me to my second hesitation, what is the real practice that can be studied with learning analytics. On one hand I can analyze the community aspect – how communicates with whom and do students comment each other. Maybe I could study if the learning materials are considered important – how many clicks on materials, comments and ping-backs. I could study the presence of student – how often does she visit the learning environment at all and posts assignments. But what else..? I hope to find an answer to it.

Doktoriõppe viimased kursused lõppemas

Mu hullumeelne semester, kus lisaks teadustööle ja õppetööle, võtsin endale ka veel kursuseid, hakkab vaikselt rahunemise märke näitama. Nüüdseks olen lõpetanud kaks kursust ära ja ühes tuleb esitada veel artikkel.

Üks kursus, praktiline teadusloome, oli mul veebipõhises vormis. Lugesin läbi õppematerjalid ning esitasin iseseisvad ülesanded. Tundub, et sellest piisab. Ma sain kaaslastelt tagasisidet, et tegemist on kursusega, mida tasuks võtta I kursuse jooksul, hiljem pole sellest nii suurt kasu. Ilmselt on neil õigus, samas pean kahetsusega tunnistama, et doktorandina olin ma kasutanud väga vähe erinevaid teaduslikke andmebaase oma töös, liigagi vähe. Praktiline töö, mis keskendus erinevate andmebaaside kasutamisele haris mind kindlasti, ma ei kujutanud isegi ette, et sellised võimalused on. Karta on, et ma võib olla lähenesin tööle pisut pealiskaudselt, kuna muus osas oli kõik ju lihtne ning ma ei saa salata, et sellest ainete blokist, kuhu aine kuulus, oli mul vaja mingi kursus võtta.

Tunduvalt rohkem kõnetasid mind kaks järgmist kursust. Ühe neist valisin, et teha endale väljakutse – osaleda kursusel, mis on ülesehitatud ebatraditsiooniliselt ning rühmatööde peale ning teise sellepärast, et see on mulle intellektuaalselt täielik eneseületamine.

Kursus kõrgkoolididaktika tekitas minus vastakaid tundeid ja segadust ja ma ei osanud seda esimese kahe kontakttunni jooksul sõnastada, miks see nii oli. Ausalt öeldes ei oska ka praegugi, aga see segadus on kadunud. Kuna kursus oli nii teistsugune – kasutatud oli väga palju erinevaid õppemeetodeid, kursusel oli kaks õppejõudu, palju oli rühmatööd ja rääkimist, analüüsimist ja peegeldamist. Kõik see, mida ma üldjuhul kardan ja pelgan ja võimalusel jätaks vahele. Kuna kursusel loodi ülimalt hästi rühmatunne ning lisaks olen ma osade kaaslastega ka ühes teises loengus koos, kadus mul hämmastavalt kiiresti hirm eksida ja olla rumal. Samas tundsin pikka aega survet pingutada, et näida rühmatöös aktiivne, sest kui ma ei räägi ja ei tee, siis teised äkki arvavad, et ma olen passiivne. Mitte, et ma kardan.

Teisalt kõnetas see kursus mind selles võtmes, et ma olen nii öelda tagant uksest sisse tulnud õppejõud, isehakanu, kelle kogemused on suhteliselt väikesed ning igasugused tõlgendused põhinevad kogemusel. Sel kursusel kogetu, räägitu ja kuuldu tõttu sain ma nagu teoreetilise aluse oma olukordadele. Ma sain täiesti selgelt aru, millised vead ma olen juba teinud (ja teist korda sel sügisel) oma juhendatavatega – meie kokkulepped nii töö protsessi, kvaliteedi, tähtaegade jms on täiesti tegemata, mis võib mind kevadel viia samasse olukorda, kus olime sel kevadel, et juhendaja on nördinud ja juhendatatav samuti, sest juhendaja ootas palju, aga juhendataval polnud üldse plaani esmaklassiline töö esitada. See on vaid üks näide sellest, et kui me tihti kipume mõtlema, et ma tean juba kõike ja ma õpin kogemusest ja nii edasi, siis tegelikult see nii ei ole. See kursus ei jookse mööda külge maha ka kõige kogenenumal, sest see paneb sind mõtlema oma töö peale, oma õppimise peale, oma õpetamise peale. Minu uurimisrühm ka räägib õppimisest ja teab kõiki teoreetilisi lähtekohti sellele, aga kas keegi ka vahel ka oma õppimise peale mõtleb metakognitiivselt?

Sama suure väljakutse esitas mulle haridusfilosoofia. See kursus on selgelt minu intellektuaalsele tasemele liig. Mul oli keskkoolis natuke filosoofiat, kuid üldiselt on mul lünk, eriti mis puudutab kasvatusteaduste filosoofiat. Ning kuigi mul oli võimalus mõni teine aine ka valida, tundsin ma, et ma vean alt, kui ma neist mugavusainetest ei loobu. Kursusel oli kaks väga rasket ülesannet minu jaoks. Esimene, kui ma pidin sõnastama, mis on minu doktoritöö filosoofiline alus…Ma ei tea, kas ma vastasin õigesti või valesti ja ma olen võimeline seda siia avalikku veebiruumi kirja panema.
Teine on artikkel minu doktoritöö teemal mingil filosoofilisel küsimusel. Õppejõu soovitusel kirjutan ma tehnoloogia vastasseisust ja kuivõrd põhjendatud see on. Kuna õpetajad minu doktoritöö raames on natuke tehnoloogia vastu ja seda on käsitlenud näiteks ka Heiddeger, siis ma peaksin 3-4 lk mahus seda küsimust arutama. See on raudselt minu doktoriõpingute kõige raskem asi ja irooniliselt on see mu doktoriõpingute viimane kohustuslik aine. Kiidan end, et ma seda kurusust 1.-2. kursusel ei võtnud, kuna siis ma poleks osanud seda üldse oma doktoritöö konteksti viia.

Seminar about professional learning with Karen Jensen

Today we had one of the most interesting seminars in Gothenburg University with professor Karen Jensen. She talked about professional learning, introduced the projects that she and Oslo University have been involved in and the general discussion took place.

Here I write down some interesting thoughts that were risen in seminar.

What is profession? – Does it include the ethical parts, by following the written and nonwritten rules and therefore become the professional of the specific area?

Standards need to be set to the professions. But who sets?

Coordination between subsystems of the organisation should exist. When all the doctors will move, then the collaboration between the nurses and doctors, will be low.

Where is the collective memory stored? Not just in university or not just in workplace, as both of those organisations shape small part of our lifelong learning nowadays.

There is so much knowledge in the world, that there is noone, who knows everything in his or her research field.

People do not trust the institutions (for example hospitals), but they do trust the persons (doctors), as the professions in those institutions. Paradox. System is based on a BELIEF that this doctor is same good as any other doctor. Personality does not matter, but profession (he is a doctor), matters. When I turn to doctor and he says, I know better than you, what disease you have, I BELIEVE him. And trust him. On the other hand, I will be sent to the operation, I don’t know, who personally operates me and I have to trust the institution (hospital) that everything goes right. It is a trust system, doctor never tells me hmm, I’ve never heard of such disease or I do not know how to treat you.

Society is changing quickly, everything is complicated, multi-culturality takes place etc, people have to be self-monitoring and -reflective in order to fit into the changing world.

We put the knowledge into some form and get back tool environment, object, text – it is mediation. When I learn something, I have to publish it. I take it in and give it back. But what about professional communities? They learn together, but how to give it back and by what means?

boundary object:

– there is one object that is differently interpreted and provides holding ground for communities, translations, standardisation of meaning;

– stable enough to enable coordination across communities of practice

– used in direct, cross-boundary interactions between multiple actors

technical objects:

– ready-to-hand, complete and unproblematic instruments

– static, fixed and stable tools

– concrete instruments are used by the expert subjects-functional role

epistemic objects:

characterised by lack and incompleteness; continuously evolving; laterally branch out.

– dynamic to enable knowledge work over time

– particular instantiations are used by the expert subject – have a binding role

Note. If you read articles, make small dramas of what one is saying and other certainly disagrees.

Interview is data? Or informed analysis?

Rather informed analysis, because: I ask teacher to analyse something. She does it, analysis herself, her work, reflects etc. It is not data, but analysis. Teacher gives her analysed reflection to me and I will analyse it for my self again.

Their project studied teachers from the professional learning aspects and:

– they have strong challenge to learn

– limited provision of profession-specific resources

– a break down in learning dynamics

– collegial advice are given precedence

Challenges to teachers’ profession are:

– priority given to personal knowledge and the sharing of experiences within local workplace

– the horisontal discourse takes precedence

Professional language of teachers, is low. Professional language involves the discourse of discipline, discourse of curriculum, discourse of assessment (tests etc).

These are the most important points from the seminar.

Me as a faciliator

Since November till January, together with Mart, we conducted the web-based e-learning course: “e-portfolio as a professional development tool”. It was the first course for me as a main facilitator, I have had several possibilities for being more like assistant, but this time I was 100% committed to this course. I decided to write a short reflection about the course as I expected from my students to do the same in the end of the course.

The course environment was koolielu. Each of the participants had individual blogs, some of them used external weblogs provided other services, but most of them used Koolielu’s internal blog. The center of the environment was community page, where the communication was conducted. Each week we provided learning material in wiki page, where participants had change to modify it. And the task was given in group forum, where often during the week, discussion took place. It made easier for us to see where are the problematic issues or questions arisen. All the participants were from universities – teachers and educational technologists, together 11 of them.

First week was the introduction week. Theoretical material focused on e-portfolio concept and practical task presumed developing the electronic CV with the most suitable tool or software. Most of them used LinkedIn, some of them created it like blogpost, one used local environment for researchers ETIS. We also asked them to present three “ideal” portfolios with short justification of selection.

Course started actively. There was lot of discussions on e-portfolio, what is it and what is it definitely not. Can someone’s blog be portfolio? Or static web-page? Somebody linked video from Youtube, which explains the nature of portfolio and this video was almost every week under the discussion, it became important learning material. I was surprised that participants went so deeply into the concept of portfolio, I had to often look for answers from web, as I did not everything. I learnt together with them.

As the course environment was new for all the participants and it was new environment as a whole anyway, we had some technical issues also during the first week. The participants needed quite a lot technical support. It made me feel sometimes uncomfortable, instead of focusing on course, they were in trouble with the environment. On one hand, it was new for all of us and every new thing is a discussion object, but still I sometimes thought during the first week that maybe some more familiar environment should have been better. Later I was more confident and the learning environment seemed better every day.

Next week we introduced competence-based learning in portfolio. Participants analysed themselves according to the pre-defined competencies individually. And later they analysed the competence document collaboratively – what needs to be changed, what aspects are important etc. Nice collaboration was conducted and help from us was not needed.

Third week focused on different e-portfolio solutions. We provided learning material of e-portfolio types, softwares, standards etc. And participants chose one environment (open source or commercial) and analysed it according to the needs of him/herself or his/her organisation. They were not supposed to register themselves nowhere, rather look at the existing portfolios, demos and read the features of the software. Some of the technical questions were challenge for me – installation or memory questions and integrations issues. But there was always someone that helped me and so I could help the participants. Activity of the participants was not very strong this week.

Then we continued with the social software. Learning material was about e-portfolio as personal learning environment. And the practical task was to integrate the portfolio with different social software tools – photos from Flickr, videos from Youtube, slides from slideshare etc. The most important question this week was about the advantages of twitter 🙂 Those, who had never used it, wanted to know the benefits, and those who had actively used it, provided thorough learning materials about it. It followed with the discussions that there are too many services and tools, therefore the selection of them is difficult to make. Unfortunately too often the services have been closed or turned to commercial and that made the participants a bit of unsecured. Also was pointed out that there are too many blogs/portfolios/twitter accounts that have not been updated for years. I did not know how to join the discussion. Should I encourage them to try as many tools as possible in order to find the most suitable ones? Or rather convince them that if you are okay with the existing tools, then there is no need to find something better? I actually believe that it is very individual. Some people enjoy keep themselves up with the innovative environments, rather others perform “good and old” things.

Next week focused on reflection in portfolio. Participants were expected to reflect in their portfolios about last two weeks in the course based on pre-defined reflection model. That was also nice week. Although some of the participants pointed that reflection should be individual and private process of professional portfolio. I understand that completely that reflection do not have to be visible to everyone, but that was just the task of the course.

The end of the course was close. During past weeks they had developed their CV, analysed themselves according to competency standard, integrate the portfolio with social software, reflected about recent weeks. Now it was time to finalise the portfolios and to present the story-portfolio for one certain target-group (job interview, accreditation etc). And to be honest, I was shocked to see the portfolios. Some of them were superficial, without any negative tone, developed as just a task. But others, excellent. I was happy and proud to look at them.

Last week they were supposed to evaluate each other portfolios and give the feedback to the course. The course feedback was not only positive. I understand that the environment was confusing, but still it is natural I wanted the course to be the best. Also they pointed that advanced level participants may had a bit too easy, on the other hand very beginners needed very much scaffolding.

Generally I expected that those participants who were more competent, would have been more active. I understand that if you know, how to integrate your portfolio with different tools, it seems too easy to do it in the course. But try something more, have tried to use slideshare? Or Flickr? Just try out. Or if the reflection seems individual.. you were just expected to analyse yourself during two weeks. So, I wish I had accomplished that everyone had at least tried to present all the tasks. That it would have been as game to them – building my own portfolio.

But it was the first time. Next time I would like to see more teachers in my course. And the same active participants who ask and ask and I learn and learn. And in the end of the course I would be amazed again to see the portfolios.