Featured post: mixing it up and making new links
11/05/2013 in Course information
We’re going to experiment on ocTEL by featuring a few of your contributions to the course each week. These may be posts on blogs, forums or any of the discussion spaces that we track in the Course Reader. These will be contributions that point to new directions or linkages between different parts of the course. We’ve had to design ocTEL as a linear sequence, but there are many cross-cutting themes, as well as new connections — sometimes latent in the material — that you may spot as learners in a way that we as course authors may have missed.
Our first featured post, Jim Pettiward’s thoughts on Week 4, combines Jim’s thoughts on two of the weeks activities, and has a sceptical vein through it:
look at the Horizon (HE) Report in 2006 and you’ll see ‘Educational Gaming’ – Time to adoption 2 – 3 years. Look at the 2013 (HE) report and you’ll see ‘Games and Gamification’ – Time to adoption 2 – 3 years. In my view, this underlines the fact that with a few exceptions, gamification of learning is something that is often talked about but rarely implemented in any coherent way (in Higher Education)
Jim then goes on to root his critique of gamification in his own experience and practice, as well as making implicit links to the Week 3 themes of designing active learning:
With a background of language teaching, I’ve been used to ‘gamifying’ my teaching practice for many years – making activities competitive, quizzes, word searches and that sort of thing. The question for me is, how can we bring the positive aspects of game-based learning into our practice in relatively easy ways without needing to be a developer to do so? And is it really worth our while trawling through endless badly-produced and or irrelevant e-learning games in an effort to motivate our learners? What is the best way to find examples of game-based learning which we might actually want to use?
And also to Week 2 on understanding learner needs:
We also need to beware of making assumptions about what learners want. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon by saying we need to build in elements of game-based learning to make engaging and effective learning materials, but when did we last stop to ask OUR learners what they find engaging and effective?
This kind of synthesis and linkage, both within and beyond the course, is one of the key means by which learning takes place and ‘sticks’.
Not only that, it can be a useful shortcut if you’re feeling ‘behind’ (I use the inverted commas because there’s no such thing as ‘behind’ on ocTEL). Jim’s post is focused on Week 4 activities, but I might equally well have featured Helen Crump’s post at the start of this week. Having taken a short break from the course, Helen ‘sneakily’ jumped back in with a single post that takes three weeks of the course together in one thoughtful essay. Well, Helen may have thought she was being sneaky, but I’d argue that she is practising what she describes as ‘designing her own learning pathway’. In so doing she’s forced herself to make new links.
There’s a lesson here: don’t always follow the course instructions to the letter. Or, in the words of the song, ‘Take my advice, don’t listen to me’. That’s a more poetic way of expressing the advice we gave at the start:
This is a professional development course, and its designers trust you, as a professional, to make your own judgements about what learning activities are useful to you and which you can skip. The reason there are so many options and alternative ways of spending your time is precisely to give you choice and control over selecting a path that feels right for you.
Postscript: Going back to Jim’s post, isn’t it quite neat that, within just a few hours of making the post with its critical comments about the Xerte website, the Xerte webmaster replied with a note about the changes he’d made?
Post-postscript: I’ll buy a drink at ALT-C for the first person to identify the song.