Author: Tom

This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

iTunesU vs OpenLearn: packaging matters

iTunesU vs OpenLearn – the difference it makesocTEL speaker of week 8, Fernando Rosell-Aguilar, in his YouTube video, says:    –  iTunesU hasn’t led to much enrolment; it’s been great for the brand, though.    – By contrast, he…

Filtering Blogger posts

Filtering Blogger postsFiltering my blog by a label, in this case ‘octel’: my blog’s RSS feed by a label, again using ‘octel’ for the example of a label:http://elearningobservations…

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Response to the 'one thing' in ocTEL week 8

If you only do one thing… Week 8

Write down in short bullet point form a list of:

  • elements of the Saylor or xMOOC approach that you think could be applicable to your context (what you’re involved in teaching, to whom, with what goals and constraints), and
  • problems you might anticipate with the approach.


Q. What do I like?

A. Their clarity

Inspecting the structure of a document
They are strong on treating the learner as an adult, which to me means:

  • informing the learner, hence the importance of their clarity, and then
  • providing choices, as they do with their electives

which in practice means that Saylor are good at…

  • Clear, and clean, website design. Good use of icons to provide info, and great use of a key to decode the icons.
  • Even more clear in how it shows the structure of courses.
  • The electives are key, as you can pick with accuracy what fascinates you, so it will appeal more strongly to more people. The clarity mentioned above also helps with the accuracy.
  • Opinionated: To have a core is necessary, so it’s good that they do so, rather than provide simply a list of electives, i.e. a list of resources for you to take or leave. It is good, in summary, that they are opinionated and clear.

A. Their use of OERs

OER logo

  • As mentioned above, they make it clear that they look for OER first.
  • When they do make their own material, they seem to release it under a CC BY licence.

What we can learn from Saylor

  • Clean website design, uncluttered.
  • Put the structure of the courses upfront, as the first element.
  • Clarify the choices of study available.
  • Clarify the choices we’ve made for the students.

None of the above are likely to encounter large opposition, compared to the next item:

  • Use OERs as a first choice.
  • Release what you create under a CC licence.

Likely trouble spots

ocTEL describes Saylor’s achievement as, “they have developed 241 degree-level courses, available

  1. free of cost,
  2. free of accreditation and
  3. largely free of professors.”

For an existing UK university, it is unlikely that:

  • a university executive could universalise the first in the absence of a replacement business model for the current fee-based one.
  • students or employers would welcome the second, or
  • staff would welcome the third.


Q. What do I like?

The problem-based learning approach

  • Their aim to set students problems, rather than lecturing.
  • The use of videos that the students can refer to when they have made a mistake.

What we can learn from Udacity

  • Simple approach to filming works: a marker pen on an OHP transparency. It’s the explanation that counts.

Likely trouble spots

Plainly it would be easiest from the point of view of staff to simply capture lectures. Some would push for this approach instead.

Q. Where might efficiencies be important?

A. If you are:

  • Running a MOOC of your own.
  • Competing in developing markets.
  • Increasing the conversation within a course without a corresponding increase in staff time.

Credits: Written with StackEdit. OER image from Wikipedia. Magnifying glass image from:
Written with StackEdit.

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Viewing the 'one thing' in Octel's week 8

If you only do one thing…

Task: Watch

Option: 1: Saylor video

Michael Saylor:

“We’re reached an inflection point where it’s now cheaper to teach someone to read on a tablet computer than …on paper…. You’ve got this…

  • Profound,
  • Disruptive,
  • Egalitarian,
  • Utilitarian…

…tornado, that’s blowing through everything…”

“Our contribution is design” 12 Academic majors, including:

  • Art History
  • History
  • Psychology

The elective courses include courses that are always on, but which in a standard university may not be always on, but sporadic, “every four years”.
4:59 = Professor Consultants -> Course Outlines -> Open Education Materials -> 1. Content, 2.Form

Their flowchart for getting course material

Good bit now on OER.

  1. They make it clear that they look for OER first.
  2. Second, they look for copyrighted materials on the internet and then ‘reach out’ to the copyright holders to get permission to use them. “We now host over 1000 … resources from this process”
  3. Finally, if neither of the above works, they develop their own materials. The examples they offer in the video are made available by CC licence.
  4. They use Moodle to provide assessments.
  5. At 12:00 mins in, they discuss e-Portfolios.

Task: Watch

Option: 2: xMOOC model (Udacity) video

Watch… this 9 minute video about one MOOC model. I can see that this one features Sebastian Thrun from Udacity.

  • Good point at 0:53 (from ‘Ingrid’) that having control of the video may facilitate more social learning – you can ask your friend a question.
  • 2:30 “Rather than seeing a professor lecturing, our concept is all focused around quizzes”, and they way they do it is:
    1. Write up the problem, the hand with a marker writing on the OHP slide.
    2. the student programs it into an interface and is marked
    3. if they get it wrong, they can watch a video to see how they can get it right.
  • 4:00 People come up and say, “I know you from class”, which they see as restoring teaching to a first-class role.
  • 5:45 The scores are up compared to the classroom scores.
  • Around 7:00 discusses money for referring students to employers.
  • After 8:00 discusses how it offers a second chance to people, and that a good number are outstanding too.

Which learning styles do we support with e-learning?

Which learning styles do we support with e-learning?

Reflect on whether you accommodate these learning styles in your teaching practice.

Do the technologies you use help you achieve this? If so, how? Or do they hinder it?
What tools relate to the quadrants of the diagram? Does the situation change if the activity is accessed from a mobile, or done ‘in the field’?

What other types of technology works well with activities in these quadrants? For example, where do classroom clickers (mentioned in the Eric Mazur story in Week 1) belong? What about social media?

Source: Week 5 – If you only do one thing… 

To deal with one axis (of a Kolb diagram) at a time:

  • In education, we often work to a model of view-then-do.
  • On the other axis, in a traditional classroom style, teacher exposition provides the theory to be grasped while the experience is provided in exercises.