#ocTEL Week 3

Take the perspective of a learner and spend some time using:

I looked at http://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/philosophy which was very clearly structured and, for as far as I watched it, maintained my focus with its range of different uses of  explanatory media (speech, image, media activity and so on).  Also, the post video interaction possibilities are designed to further engage the learner, offering opportunities for authentic discussion, and hence learning.


I selected this example: http://waterlife.nfb.ca/#/ and, actually, it is very lovely (well, with music by Eno what else could it be!) but, as a ‘user’, I was very passive.  It could do with working on aspects of its accessibility too!  Nonetheless, I can see that for some learners with cognitive impairments this might be a very good way to introduce a subject, or discussion around a subject.


I chose to ‘Play the Virtual Patient’.  We use this approach for some CPD at college and that, I think, is its proper role.  It is extremely useful for training (as opposed to learning) and generally popular with staff.  Although the user must make decisions along the way, ultimately, regardless of their decisions, all roads will lead to Rome, that is, to the required destination point.  However, when I have completed training of this nature, I generally race through the screens to get to the end, where I know I will find some summative testing – the sooner I can get that done, the sooner I’ve completed my ‘learning’.


Really … horses for courses!






#ocTEL Week 2


This week’s aims

  • Reflect on the nature of learning and fundamental differences in how learners undertake learning (see ‘If you only do one thing…’ below)
  • Distinguish between the different expectations and needs that individual learners can bring to learning and learning online, and explore the general implications for supporting effective online learning (Webinar, Activity 2.1, Activity 2.2, Activity 2.3)
  • Apply what we’ve explored in the above areas in the design of ‘authentic’ online learning activities that can engage learners in a ‘authentic’ learning experience (Be a TEL Explorer activities)

If you only do one thing…

Approaches to learning

Are you leaning towards one approach in particular on ocTEL, and if so why might that be? Perhaps you are employing strategies from more than one approach?

My natural approach to any learning which I decide to engage with is to take a ‘deep approach’ – anything else would be pointless.  However, that would always be in line with a ‘strategic approach’ – that’s only sensible!  But, in the case of #octel, there is a huge danger that I will veer mostly towards a ‘surface approach’ because of the limitations of time and circumstance in relation to my job role.  Also, I find the amount of time I spend trying to navigate the course also makes a huge dent in the time which is then left for actually acting on the course.  I do wonder if this is a particular danger of a MOOC …

Are learners who tend to take a ‘surface’ approach likely to learn more or less effectively online versus face-to-face?

Well … based on my own hectic schedule, it is much easier to take a surface approach to learning in an online environment where the immediacy and importance of the learning is far too easily pushed back behind other seemingly more imperative deadlines.  And this leads to a hasty scanning of material and pithy responses – such as this one!  I can much more easily be ‘invisible’ in this environment whereas in a face to face situation fear of public embarrassment would drive greater involvement.  And, ultimately, that will certainly result in less successful learning.

How might we encourage ‘deep learning’ in online contexts?

This paper (http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/e-jist/docs/vol8_no1/fullpapers/balancing_economies.htm) provides a really interesting discussion of these issues.  It suggests, for example, mandatory participation in interactive/contributory activities but I am achieving that, whilst still only really applying surface learning to what I am doing.  At this point in my life, I would not register for any formal accreditation because I recognise it is not the right time for me to be undertaking such work; however, for some reason I’ve yet to fathom, it seems that I do not count online learning obligations in the same way, and I am sure I am not alone in this!




#ocTEL Week 0

#ocTEL Reflections for Activity 0.1 Big and little questions
Whilst I am a qualified teacher, I rarely teach these days as my job role focusses on supporting others in the application of technology to teaching and learning. So I don’t have any explicit ambitions for using ocTEL to develop my teaching, but I do hope it will enhance my knowledge sufficiently that I am then able to share what I learn with those who may be in a position to apply it. However, even that is unlikely as I work in a specialist college where learners are largely unable, for a variety of reasons, to take part in much online learning. But all knowledge is good knowledge! And for a long time I’ve wished I had an authentic reason to immerse myself in a MOOC and experience it first-hand so that I might better understand it – ocTEL now provides me with that authentic reason. My questions are a long way from being ground-breaking, but they work for me, and I imagine that is what this is all about. So, they are:

Big Question? How to blend diverse modes of communication (different platforms/social media etc.)
Small Question? What is it like to be an active member of a MOOC?

My initial thoughts are that even as someone practised in technology use (it is a very large part of my job role) I feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of this site, of the amount of content, by the range of technological platforms, and all that it draws in through various feeds. Learning to navigate this may well take some time, or perhaps it would be truer to say that feeling comfortable in navigating it may take some time – we shall see! But I have already enjoyed seeing different uses of technology, for example the fantastic Twitter map, and this is exactly the kind of thing I want to learn more about.

I certainly can’t tweet all of this so I suppose I’m now forced into using the blog I set up years ago and have never really used! Still, a Friday afternoon reflective writing session …I like this! (So long as the day job continues to allow time for it!).


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#ocTEL Week 1 – Concepts & Strategies for Learning Technology


Activity 1.1 My Practice

I’m not sure it is always a good idea to shift quadrants. In fact, some of the least successful uses of technology that I’ve encountered have been because people have tried to squeeze technology use into a place where it simply doesn’t fit. So to use the quadrants to justify technology use seems to me to be ill advised. That said, using the quadrant to establish in which sector the activity naturally falls, and in what ways technology can then be used to support and enhance it is exactly what should be done. In this way, the learning aims and objectives take the lead role, supported by the technology. However, these days teaching is not something I undertake as part of my main job role. The closest I can come to it is the provision of some small parts of CPD training but then, of course, everything needs to be assessed individually.

Activity 1.2 reflect on a strategy relevant to your own context (and webinar)

As ILT Coordinator, I am currently writing the ILT Strategy to cover the next 3 years. Whilst its main focus is learning technology, this is always within the context of teaching and learning, that is the requirements for technology are driven by the needs of teaching and learning. Whilst the strategy is rewritten every three years, amendments are made as required, on an on-going basis. In my own job role, the strategy acts as a ‘Bible’ to ensure I’m meeting targets in a timely manner – these targets also include development and innovation. More widely, the document helps to ensure that people from a wide range of job roles are all aiming for the same end result. The following is a draft outline for the strategy, the executive summary will be no more than 2 pages long:

  • Influencing – A Culture of Excellence
  • Prospects – The Way Forward
  • Including – Access and Empower
  • Integrating – Technology in Living, Learning and Work
  • Innovating – Research, Development and Income Generation
  • Sharing – Training, Resources and Systems
  • Focus – Leadership and Management
  • Strategic Objectives Matrix (Operational Plan)


If you only do one thing…

Share your thoughts on practice and strategy from the first of this week’s activities (choose from activity 1) and join the small group discussion forum on strategies for Learning Technology. Comment on or contribute to at least three posts made by other participants, examining or comparing how your practice relates to theirs.

In my own job role, ‘the’ strategy acts as a ‘Bible’ to ensure I’m meeting targets in a timely manner.  More widely, the document helps to ensure that people from a wide range of job roles are all aiming for the same end result.  So I certainly go along with Kathy’s notion that it is a: global plan for accomplishing specific goals.  To a large extent, the way in which we interpret it is inevitably bound up with the particular part it plays for us, I think.  As someone who writes the LT Strategy, one of my difficulties is ensuring that I don’t write it as ‘The World According to Fern’ (yes, it does take the views and contributions of staff across college into account) which could well result in an assumption on my part that others will be reading it from the same mind-set that I applied when writing it.  For this reason, a shared and overarching ethos is essential.  http://octel.alt.ac.uk/2014/forums/topic/how-would-you-define-strategy/#post-13582


Great post and I love the ‘Gringott’s Bank’ notion.  However, in ‘MY’ world, the iPad is most definitely in the bank!  I work in a specialist college where learners make a lot of use of iPads, primarily because they are well suited to the personalisation absolutely essential to our learners, not only for cognitive purposes, but also for accessibility reasons.  That said, I think you summarise it neatly in your comment, “it is merely dependant on which vault we need to access and which treasure we value at the time”.  http://octel.alt.ac.uk/2014/forums/topic/must-we-choose-a-side/


My difficulty with pedagogy is that I am one step removed from teaching!  I offer advice and support on ways in which technology might be used to enhance learning but it is then handed over to the individual tutor and I have no way of shaping the way in which delivery takes place.  So with the best will in the world, something I design to be used in one sector of the quadrant may well end up being used in another!  http://octel.alt.ac.uk/2014/forums/topic/activity-1-1-dimensions-that-affect-teaching/#post-13593