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Home Forums Induction ("Week 0") Small group reflection (Activity 0.5) Are you a learning technologist? Join this group

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    James Little


    As profession that often works at the interface between teaching, students and technology we could consider Activity 0.5 together:

    With one or more fellow participants, organise a period of reflection and discussion over two or three days and see if you can arrive at a shared view of

    * What can we tell about the range of experiences and preferences among ocTEL participants?
    * What challenges does this present for the course?
    * In what ways is a MOOC well or poorly suited to these challenges?

    James Little

    What can we tell about the range of experiences and preferences among ocTEL participants?

    As with many collaborative cross-education meetups (like conferences) there is a diverse range of background and contexts that participants are working in.  As a generalisation all participants have an interest or are inquisitive about learning, technology and MOOCs.  For some this is their first time participating in a MOOC, others this is their third or more.

    I notice there are some established names from the world of learning technology and plenty of people who are just getting started.

    Some participants have a specific subject-focus – others are more concerned with some of the wider questions.

    What challenges does this present for the course?

    I feel the challenge for any diverse range of participants is to enable the individual interests and diversities to be catered for – but this can lead to conflicting priorities and ways of engagement.

    In what ways is a MOOC well or poorly suited to these challenges?

    A MOOC can enable a large diverse group of people to interact.  The challenge is to both encourage individual responsibility for own learning and outcomes but also provide suitable and diverse facilities for people to contribute (or not) as they wish.

    For example, some people don’t like the deluge of e-mails but may prefer to read discussion forums or follow a twitter feed for information – there is no right or wrong method.

    Information overload is a definite potential problem from not only a MOOC but keeping up with modern flows of information on any topic.  Activities and tools available provided by the MOOC platform need to work well in order to enable participants to contribute when they want to and to connect with others.

    Differnt MOOC platforms that have emeregered have tackled this in different ways.  It would be interesting to compare the ocTEL facilities with those from Coursera and others.


    Thanks for your posting.  It’s nice to meet a fellow learning technologist!
    I agree with your description of the LT role that we work at the interface between teachers, students and technology.  I would add that the interface also includes administrators and we need to tailor support for administrators who increasingly are involved in all aspects of learning technology.
    I liked your comment that the challenges of the MOOC are the challenges that we face in our day-to-day lives – how do I keep up with this?  Which parts are worth keeping up with and can I learn to invest my time wisely so that what I am contributing is meaningful?
    Having participated in 3 MOOCS I think that from the point of view of professional practice, it is ‘good for me’ to feel a bit lost and a bit confused.  If I never have these feelings, how can I understand where my users are coming from when something changes, or doesn’t work as they would like it to?
    I also agree that it would be interesting to consider the different types of MOOC platform and course design.  My personal feeling is that giving me some home comforts whilst stretching me is the best way forward.  For example, I’m enjoying the fact that we have a 10-day window to get used to this course.  I also like the fact that this is relatively small.  The EDC MOOC I was on had 44,000 people, so this one at around 1,000 feels very pleasant!


    What can we tell about the range of experiences and preferences among ocTEL participants?
    I don’t think there is much difference between this cohort and any other cohort attending either a conference or a course that is face to face. The subject matter and the actual ‘experience’ of this course have brought this group together. In terms of preference it is difficult I think to get an overall view of who is using what on what participants are using to post and interact or the actually subject matter they prefer to actually discuss in this arena.
    What challenges does this present for the course?
    I’m actually interested to see what the groups that are facilitating the course have learned in terms of challenges as well as the participants. This cohort is potentially by their very nature (as interested in learning experience and technology) very demanding and may have preferences they may not voice here due to their awareness of the arena in which the course is being run. Personally I don’t understand why there isn’t more being produced within the forums? A forum to submit introduction and a forums for each activity would have been easier to manage and read from the point of view of participants. This course feels a little too experimental so far and I am personally worried it has put people off participating by using so many channels for participation, may that is the point? Feel free to give an opposing view to this one I’m interested in what others have to say on this.
    In what ways is a MOOC well or poorly suited to these challenges?
    I think jimjamyahauk is right to say that there is ‘information overload’. I think a MOOC is what you make it. I’m sure it is possible to limit the numbers on a MOOC but whether this would then still be a MOOC is debatable. It would I assume also be possible to subdivide the cohort into group with a defined area of interest, this would make it all easier to digest. Smaller discussions may however limit the learning and knowledge that is facilitated. However, if the MOOC is too large then as we can see with this course some people will be put off and just vote with their feet. I suppose it comes down to what is expected of the experience by the student. So what is this MOOC and what do people what to gain from this? Goes back to all the intros and big questions. Sandra (fieryred1)


    Hi Rachel

    I am interested in your experience in previous MOOCs I’d be interested in your expectations going into each one and what subject matters they were on? Would it be possible to give some details on this? The 44,000 one sounds overwhelming. What subject was that on and what do you think you were able to learn from this?

    Sandra (fieryred1)

    Joseph Gliddon

    What can we tell about the range of experiences and preferences among ocTEL participants?

    We vary!  Like in a lot of classes, however with no specific entry requirements & 1000 students I think we might vary more than most classes.  Some of us are very techy, some of us this is a first mooc and want to learn something/more about TEL.  Some of us have blogs and some of us want to talk somewhere outside the course (G+, facebook, twitter) instead of on the forums

    What challenges does this present for the course?

    If we go too fast that will lose some people, if we go too slow it will lose others.

    If people go off and do their own thing in their own areas they might end up somewhere too quiet.

    Some that havent used social media much before might get overloaded.

    Some might leave because of too much email

    In what ways is a MOOC well or poorly suited to these challenges

    Well = with so many people you can easily find a group that suits you, if you want you can engage just a bit, it doesnt matter much if people drop out (its free)

    Poorly = for those that struggle or are expecting a more traditional experience there is a real danger that they will struggle to find support


    What can we tell about the range of experiences and preferences among ocTEL participants?

    There is such a mixed range of skills, experience and knowledge on this MOOC it should lead to some interesting post/ discussion.  However I’ve noticed that people are forming groups based around a job role or organization role: that will stop others form contributing to the group straight away.  With the  viewpoint of ‘no entry requirements’ in large MOOCs it may be hard to form interesting, thought provoking discussion groups due to the scale of the MOOC.

    What challenges does this present for the course?

    Bluntly trying to keep up.  If people fall behind then they will drop out, hence the extremely high drop out rates of MOOCs.  Engagement through social media is also a big one.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to try a sign up method using Twitter/facebook so those who don’t have an account will quickly see the benefits social media can bring to a MOOC?

    In what ways is a MOOC well or poorly suited to these challenges

    Lots of interesting discussions going on both via social media and on the website.  However maybe too many sources of information for some people to cope with.  People could quite easily become overwhelmed at the amount of info in circulation.



    James Kerr

    * What can we tell about the range of experiences and preferences among ocTEL participants?

    Wildly variable!  As MOOCs go, this is relatively small and cozy, but in a course with 10,000+ participants, it would be more difficult to gauge the cross-section of participants’ experiences.  As the course progresses, active participation numbers will decrease due to attrition and dropout, but committed, active participants will enjoy more access to course coordinators.

    * What challenges does this present for the course?

    Challenges of scale remain, IMO, the biggest challenge for MOOCs.  The distributed nature allows organic separation into groups, or communities, of those with similar ideas/experiences/interests.

    * In what ways is a MOOC well or poorly suited to these challenges?

    Well suited as a sounding board for sharing ideas, brainstorming, and networking.  Peer-regulated activity can be a good motivator, and suits the nature of the MOOC.

    Niall Watts

    I am an educational technologist. I share your concern about multiple channels. The Course Reader may help. I put my own introduction in the forum as it seemed more appropriate than email. For the moment, I don’t have a big picture of what the course is about –  learning outcomes still have their place.

    This is my third MOOC. I was attracted to it as I am ALTmember.  I completed a MOOC with Stanford University. It was a great place for like minded people to exchange ideas. I wrote a review of it here. I also started a MOOC with the OU. I preferred the more Stanford’s more structured approach


    Niall Watts

    * What can we tell about the range of experiences and preferences among ocTEL participants?

    Where did you find the information about participant background. From introductions?

    I would agree with your comments about small specialist groups becoming isolated in the larger MOOC but they do allow discussions at similar levels of knowledge and experience. I’m not entirely clear on role of groups at this point

    I would hope to move on from discussing the MOOC itself

    Does anyone else miss the edit, preview and save features that I would expect in a forum


    Hi everyone,

    I’m a Learning Technology Officer at Abertay Uni who also completed the EdcMooc which was quite an experience. Interestingly EdcMooc alumni are still actively participating in Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook as way of continuing to share innovation and good practice from around the globe. Here are some stats from the EdcMooc
    EDCMooc Stats – these were posted as the official stats but I’m not sure how scientific they are but interesting nonetheless.
    Total Registered Participants: 42874Active Participants Over the Last 7 Days (“Active” is define as any contact with the EDCMOOC Coursera course site): ~ 17%EDC MOOC News (Blog Aggregator) Unique Visitors: ~10%Visitors to the EDCMOOC News page come ~65% from the USA and ~ 8% from the UK.Other stats about this MOOC:For about 70% of the group, this is their first MOOC. About half are currently enrolled on only one MOOC.About 24% of respondents from the USA, ~ 9% from the UK, ~ 6% come from Spain, and ~ 3% from both India and Greece.About 60% of respondents come either from “teaching and education” or report themselves to be “students”. Just over 60% of the entire respondent group have postgraduate level qualifications, and a further ~35% have a university or college degree.
    Currently taking Coursera’s Gamification MOOC so my presence on OcTel will be low key as I complete courework.



    Hi All,


    I am a Learning Technologist, I added myself for the Google group, as I am interested in investigating Google as an educational Tool.

    *What can I say about the TEL participants:

    Like some of you already mentioned I think there is a wide range of people with various Teaching and Learning and administrative capacities. The participants are here to share and gather knowledge.


    I feel that MOOCs are knowledge sharing method more than anything. It also allows like minded people to gather and discuss similar issues, while going through similar content. I think being able to access wide variety of resources, course delivery models is a great experience. As an educator it opens up different models that were locked, or available for a specific group of people (enrolled learners), now it is available to larger population!





    Hello. I’m a wannabe learning technologist trying to do the CMALT so I’d like to join this group if you’ll have me?
    I posted my “big question” and intro here:
    It was great of David to reply, and I want to thank all the team who are volunteering their time to provide us with this opportunity but… I completely disagree with him! A simple interface with options for complexity is a better default option than something which tries to immediately be all things to all people…

    Bold generalisation: most people do courses to shorten/avoid mistakes or approaches that do not work and only a few from boundless curiosity. Are MOOCs really a good way to learn if it’s all undirected and “whatever y’ere having yerself”?

    This MOOC has a likely audience of “head boys and girls” who are likely to conform, create and complete and so is not representative of average learners. Real learners are desperately time-starved, often have problems with the basics of the technology, and aren’t quite sure why they are doing their course unless it’s work or qualification related. This MOOC is probably made up of people with well developed professional ethics that are well suited to techniques like peer feedback and peer assessment. Real learners may need a lot more help…

    I also wonder if it is a mistake for MOOCs not to have progressive, structured assignments? Because the networking can become too unstructured when people are not considering the same issues at approximately the same time – discussion becomes cacophonous declarations echoing in empty halls, rather than focussed development of thought.

    It’s great that that many of the OcTEL activities aren’t password protected – I had no access to a login for most of the week yet I was still able to use the links and recordings. I thought the help pages were very useful, and the clear collection of links and activities, but I would like better indication of what resources are “core”.

    Secure passwords are a mistake – they are an absolute nuisance and a big entry barrier. If you must, make it really easy to reset them and guide users. I don’t know why the OcTEL platform default-linked to everyone’s twitter name and email but that was probably not a great idea either… how many people do you know who use twitter email?

    I’m unconvinced about starting with big deep questions when people are not yet oriented – intro content first! Another massive barrier to many learners, and one I personally found very off-putting.

    I know David is aware of the email problem and I’m sure he didn’t mean to spam our inboxes… they are very personal spaces. I do object to some of the snarky comments about using mail rules – I do know how to manage mail rules, but I don’t want that hassle or the feeling that the course has an unmanageable amount of traffic. The course reader/digest is a much better default option – I really like that approach, and would like to learn how it is being constructed.

    This forum is hard to navigate (constant redisplay of the original post, removal of paragraph breaks, difficulty moving forward and back through threads). It will restrict communication and I see some groups (the “mongrels”) already plan to decamp elsewhere as a result, meaning more time has to be spent by all us trying to keep an eye on the discussions.

    It would be great to see clearly the duration of webinar recordings (and all course resources) to help time planning. I have to dip in and out in odd five or ten minute slots. I’m sure many others do too. I would really prefer a progress-sensitive course platform that takes me straight back to where I left off and shows me what’s the next core task I need to complete.

    Elluminate takes forever to load. Why not edit the immense preamble from the webinar recording? or give instructions how to skip – not obvious. I thought it started at one minute 42 seconds, not one hour and 42 mins!

    A shame you have to separately download the slides if you want to cut and paste any information into your notes. Elluminate is hard to restart in the place where you stopped if you don’t have time to view the whole recording in one go.

    Here’s all I have learned so far which I regard as a very poor yield for around 4.5 hours but I’m hoping next week will be more productive:

    Diana Laurillard’s stratification
    – Acquisition
    – Enquiry
    – Discussion
    – Practice
    – Production

    Dave Cormier’s stratification:
    – Orient
    – Declare
    – Network
    – Cluster
    – Focus
    I think it would be interesting to understand more about the affordances of learning on this MOOC. I’d love to know how you are accessing the course in terms of:
    – length of typical access
    – device (desktop/laptop/mobile)
    – time of day (same time, scheduled time, erratic when you can?)
    – where from? the course reader, or going to the website directly, or links from emails?
    – what are you finding works or doesn’t work for you?
    All the best, Imogen


    Hey Alison I dropped out of EDCMOOC! What were the figures for people who actually completed the assignment?



    This is a really interesting discussion thread, as a Learning Technologist it is helpful to hear others insights into their previous MOOC experiences and how they compare. I have also participated in a couple of MOOCs and have deliberately chosen to try out ones on Coursera and Canvas to compare the differing approaches and platforms.

    Fieryred1 you mentioned limiting MOOC participant numbers, Canvas certainly appear to do this as I have attempted to enroll on a couple of different courses well before the start date only to find the course is full! I think the idea of limiting numbers is sensible and would be interested to hear if anyone knows if Canvas has a standard limit to the number of participants or whether I was just unlucky in choosing a course that had a predefined limit. I also took the e-learning and digital culture MOOC on Coursera which I really enjoyed, but I was also enrolled on Fundementals of online Education: Planning and Application (another Coursera MOOC) which failed rather spectacularly after only 1 week due to poorly thought out approaches.
    I think as Learning technologists we can learn a lot about MOOC design and student experience by experiencing first hand the frustrations and failures as well as successes of MOOCs.



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