Tag: active learning

This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Getting the right level of challenge

Continuing our series of featured contributions by ocTEL participants, here Nicola Whitton draws out some points from blogs and forums in the Week 3 activities (which she led). It’s good to see that several of the discussions from ‘past’ weeks

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#ocTEL MOOC (week 3 Webinar) Did the 3E framework inspire the design of the ocTEL MOOC? I wonder…

This week 3 webinar on “Activity design for online learning” was presented by Keith Smyth based on the 3E framework that he used in support to the improvement of the adoption of TEL at Edinburgh Napier University. Surprisingly the link with the three activities proposed by #ocTEL for this week 3 is not obvious and may be empty but at a very general level — that is the level of the word “activity”. It is not to mean that the webinar was not interesting, but one may expect more coherence between the activities in a MOOC.

The 3E framework is “based on a tried and tested Enhance-Extend-Empower continuum for using technology to effectively support learning, teaching and assessment across disciplines and levels of study”, explain the authors. Here is a view of the continuum:

Adopting technology in simple and effective ways to actively support students and increase their activity and self-responsibility
Further use of technology that facilitates key aspects of students’ individual and collaborative learning and assessment through increasing their choice and control
Developed use of technology that promotes learner autonomy and requires higher order individual and collaborative learning that reflect how knowledge is created and used in professional environments

In a way, I see that as a meta-model to frame the type of use of the technology one may want to adopt. This continuum seems especially relevant for adult education with the last stage coming closer to professional situations. Then within each of these levels we are left with nothing very tangible and operational to develop the design. We were left with 3 to 4 minutes to fill in the table with one example… a real challenge.

There is a lesson to be learned anyway, which is that whatever is the design a the level of actual student activity, there must be also attention paid to the higher level of design which is that of the course management as a series of activities and their evolution. In this respect the webinar was interesting and relevant. But, thinking about and learning learning theories was probably not the most relevant to prepare to it, something closer to curriculum development and/or course management would have been welcome.

Eventually… did the 3E framework inspire the design of #ocTEL? I wonder…

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#ocTEL MOOC (week 3 A33) Learning forward, designing backward

The third activity for this week 3 on Designing active learning is to design an activity and to review a learning activity. I didn’t design one specifically for this MOOC, but I am happy to share one which I designed for a Doctoral school a few years ago, it was about the design of learning game, starting by inviting students to play a game…

The idea is simple: invite students to play a game first alone against the teacher who manages to sometimes loose, sometime win. This the time to acquire the rules. Then the students play against each other, first alone, then in team with a spokesperson who will play the strategy of the team. There are two levels of debriefing, the first one specific to the game as such, the second to understand the structure and the function of the game as a learning situation. Eventually, students are invited to analyse a simulation game in epidemiology. The sequence closes with a more theoretical analysis of the role of games in learning.

The lesson learned from this exercise is that while learning goes forward from action to articulated knowledge, the design of a learning situation must go backward from the targeted learning outcome back to the optimal situation to engage learner in the process. This situation could be a game but not necessarily, it must essentially be a situation which allows learners to mobilise what they know, whatever it is, in order to make the first step towards the target. The sequence of situation is a journey allowing the construction of the required mental constructs, then language, then means to evaluate and ground the piece of knowledge which has emerged.  This is a quick summary, but the essential is there.

It is with this in mind that I reviewed two activities proposed by (@James Kerr), History of Educational Technology-A Collaborative Timeline Project, and (@ElizabethECharl), Webquest – a hunting we will go. In both cases, the difficulty is to figure out precisely what will be the learning outcome and how the situations are appropriate for this objective. Kerr activity is interesting as such, it could stimulated conversations on the history of educational technology and beyond on the role of technology in education. It is an open situation which could give ground at several different learning objective. Elizabeth activity is more focussed on information search on the net. It is a starter, and actually presented as such, which fruitfulness will depend on the follow up either by new situations or by the teacher — here a librarian. As a learner, I am now in standby in both cases…

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The (dodgy) foundations of technology enhanced learning #ocTEL

Ooh, this is sneaky. After three weeks, I’m jumping back into the #ocTEL MOOC. I’m fortunate in that this week the course comes to the end of Part I, the Foundations of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), so I’m just going to quickly post about the brief interactions I’ve had and the insights that I’ve gleaned […]

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#ocTEL MOOC (week 3 A32) While playing, one cant' help learning

The focus on this week second task is on game-based learning as the best example of good case of active learning. The reasons given are brief and clear: “It encapsulates many principles of active learning, such as engagement in an authentic context, learning by mistake-making and reflection, experiential learning, collaborative learning and learning by problem-solving”. Apart from the word “authentic” that I would discuss, I agree with the list. But is it enough? In my opinion: “no”, because the issue is not that some learning occurs but to be able to tell what learning occurs and, even better, that an intended learning objective has been reached. For this, it is not enough to engage the learners in an active play.

Let’s take the case of the proposed games, of which I tried two: the adventure game Lost in the City and the strategy game Westward.  After 15 minutes of play (recommended), I stopped, I stepped back and I tried to respond to the question: “What do you think you could learn playing this game?” The only response I could offer is that we could learn how to play these games and that it may take some time. Then what we could learn once being reasonably familiar with the game is not obvious, although there could be a general statements (I prefer to leave the floor to a knowledgeable other): “The game “Lost in the City” is interesting as an exercise in following directions and solving puzzle” (@James Kerr), “Westward […]  felt as though it wrapped entertainment around learning very well, and could present learning in an engaging way” (@James Kerr). Yes, but which learning? James Kerr refers to “The Oregon trail” as a similar game. If I got it well, it is both a role-play and a simulation game of a period in the history of the US (as a matter of fact, following a link from the wikipedia page of “The Oregon trail” one reaches “Westward!” and learn that it is an online adaptation of it  – but may be not to confuse with Westward – without an exclamation point).

So, before being lost (or loosing my reader, if one happens to reach this line), I must tell what I learned today from activity 3.2. The first thing is that I learned a bit how to play these games which I didn’t know before; and indeed, while playing, I cant’ help learning. The second thing is that one cannot say clearly and precisely what can be learned when playing a game; almost every learning is possible from learning how to play, learning some attitude, some skills and serendipitously some content or know-how which could have a meaning and a utility outside the universe of the game. The analysis is almost impossible.

Hence, the reasonable approach is to question the game from the perspective of the learning outcome one targets. I will come back to this point with the week 3 activity 3.3.

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#ocTEL MOOC (week 3 A31) Isn't learning always active?

“Designing active learning” is the theme of the week. This title surprises me since indeed learning is always active. Whatever they are, leaning requires activities, actions and decisions on the side of the learner. Indeed, these are not of the same na…

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