Research and Education
Careers advice is on "life support" in many schools in England with teenagers having little knowledge of the workplace, the director general of the CBI, John Cridland, claims.
New proposals to streamline the processes for businesses appealing a decision by an economic regulator or competition authority have today been announced by Business Minister Jo Swinson.
Business Minister Michael Fallon today named six new projects that will pioneer new ways for regulators and businesses to work together to support growth.
The Agency continues to ensure we operate a robust allocations and performance management approach so that funding supports the choices of learners and employers.
Confusion over an A-level maths paper set by exam board Edexcel is completely unacceptable, says the chair of the education select committee, Graham Stuart.
UK-wide codes of practice which protect consumers from poor trading practices and encourage businesses to showcase exemplary customer service have been welcomed today by Consumer Minister Jo Swinson.
The South East Physics network (SEPnet) and HEFCE have announced investment of more than £13 million in physics teaching and research at higher education institutions in the South East over the next five years.
A group of Warwick students occupy university buildings in protest at the £42,000 pay rise for its vice-chancellor.
UK-wide codes of practice which protect consumers from poor trading practices and encourage businesses to showcase exemplary customer service have been welcomed today by Consumer Minister Jo Swinson.
Nearly half the titles read by children in a national reading competition were consumed online, according to the charity Booktrust.
Funding and Consultations
Issue 163 of Update, the Agency's weekly round-up of business-critical information and news for the further education sector.
So why should universities devote effort to caring about application programming interfaces (APIs)? I work at Jisc as a programme manager and have recently been involved in work that could provide some answers as to the benefits of APIs.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are nothing new. In fact, Google web trends show searches for the term API have been on an increase since their records began in 2004. However, I would argue that there are still potential benefits to universities to be wrung from this venerable technology.
The simplest definition of an API is ‘an interface to a website or software that is designed to be used by developers not by end users’. It allows developers to access the data inside the website or software and use that data in other websites or other pieces of software.
Allows an easy transfer of data around your institution and with partners
The modern university has a mind-boggling array of software, hardware and websites. They also work in an increasingly collaborative environment. To ensure the smooth running of the university and for ease of collaboration, it is essential that data can flow between the systems that make a university tick. APIs offer a route to addressing the problem. Read some examples of how institutions have used APIs to move data between systems.
Provides automation for laborious tasks
Data sharing between systems can often be difficult and can sometimes require the manual processing of information to take it from one system and to another. APIs offer potential cost savings in the process of moving data. There will be an initial set up cost for the API, but in the long run they should offer a more efficient and more scalable option than manual data processing. This should not only provide cost savings but should also allow the exploration of new opportunities which arise when working at a greater scale.
Improves attraction and retention of students
Universities operate in an increasingly competitive environment; they need to attract students. A university's brand is an important element in attracting students. APIs could offer opportunities to ensure a university's brand is well represented in social media and other websites where potential students are likely to be looking. An way of using APIs to help with retention would be developing smartphone applications. These could make it easier for students to settle in to life at the university, for example the recently developed NewcastleUniversity App.
These are all big issues for universities and APIs offer the promise of big rewards. But big rewards rarely come easily. However, when thinking about APIs we are fortunate that there is a wealth of good practice in successful implementation on the web and in enterprises. The report which I have been involved in writing offers some useful case studies and examples that people can follow when implementing APIs. It also includes some practical pointers on management and planning issues that need to be taken into account if APIs are to be implemented.
So, while APIs are sometimes viewed as some kind of young web 2.0 upstart, I would argue that they are a mature technology with a long history of solving exactly the kind of challenges every university is facing. I’d love to hear how you are using APIs – please do tweet @andymcg or comment below I'd also like to hear if you think I've got it wrong and that APIs are in fact old hat with newer technologies emerging that can offer better ways of
addressing these problems.
Read Andy’s team blog
15 January 2013
The amount of requests received by universities and colleges under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, Data Protection Act and Environmental Information Regulations continues to increase year on year. And so, as a consequence, do the costs and time associated with responding to these requests.
I know that many larger universities and colleges, and those who have found themselves in the FOI spotlight, have already invested in their own systems to help them log and track the requests they receive. However, I’m also aware that there are many more universities and colleges out there for whom the business case did not stack up. They were unable to invest in specialist software, but are now finding that their existing, largely manual, processes are struggling to keep pace.
As part of my role at Jisc infoNet I have been working to develop a possible solution to the management of these requests. I’ve helped create the Information Request Register; this is an Excel based tool which has been developed in conjunction with FOI practitioners from a number of universities. The register offers assistance to universities and colleges, allowing them to:
- Centrally coordinate requests received under different access regimes
- Manage requests with limited staff resources, therefore reducing cost
- Automatically calculate the appropriate deadline of a request response
- View ‘at-a-glance’ visual prompts as to the status of each request
- Use readymade reports which enable providers to view the current state of requests or analyse them during a given period
- Customise the system to meet their specific requirements.
Lastly, another benefit of the register is that it provides information for the annual Information Legislation and Management Survey. The survey’s results are widely accepted as the definitive source of data about the impact of information compliance legislation on the sector, but it takes considerable time and resource for people to submit their data each year. The register collects the data needed for the survey as you go. So, rather than representing a significant body of work each January all that is required is for you to copy the relevant worksheets to a new file and email it to us, and the job is done.
Now that’s what I call a win-win situation!
I hope you decide to give the InformationRequest Register a try and do let me or my colleague Teresa Tocewicz know how you get on as any feedback would be appreciated.
Follow Steve’s blog
Tweet Steve: @sjbailey
Tweet Teresa: @TeresaToc
10 January 2013
Learners consistently give their experience of assessment and feedback lower scores than other areas of their learning experience. I think that technology can actually improve the assessment process for learners and the staff that teach them.
Of course, as ever, it’s not just about new technology, but considering how this technology can help give your teaching staff an opportunity to rethink their approach to assessment and feedback. Encouraging the implementation of appropriate changes could benefit your students, helping them to develop skills for the future.
Let me share with you the guidance, tools and tips emerging from the Jisc Assessment and Feedback programme which could help get your students ready for the world of work.
A top tip for getting started
A good starting point is to consider the purpose of assessment, and whether your assessments are encouraging and evaluating the key skills and attributes your course is aiming to develop in learners. This includes those skills which are attributes for success in the workplace, such as self-evaluation and critical thinking.
Top trumps example
There is a great example of technology being used successfully for this purpose is at The University of Exeter. The COLLABORATE project have developed a six-dimensional model of assessment for employability to support their staff in planning their approach to work-integrated assessments.
This model is backed up by a set of ‘Top Trumps’ cards, which help tutors to identify off-the shelf technology ‘winners’ for each area of the assessment process, such as the PeerWise tool which can be used to support learners to peer review each other’s work, a skill critical for the workplace.
Advice from the experts
To hear more about how technology-enhanced assessment and feedback could support your learners and help graduates get ready for the workplace I would suggest having a listen to our e-Learning radio show Jisc on Air.
The show explores the issues with traditional assessment and feedback practices, and introduces some of the ways technology is being used to deal with those issues, for example at Cornwall College, where they are redesigning their assessments to help develop transferable skills such as self-evaluation and reflection. The University of Exeter also introduces the practical tools they are using to engage staff with redesigning their assessments to better meet the needs of employers.
The panel includes:
- Michele Shoebridge, deputy registrar, University of Exeter
- Doctor Gwyneth Hughes, senior lecturer of higher education, The Institute of Education
- Adele Oakes, programme manager and Tony Harris, project manager of the FAST project, at Cornwall College
- David Nicol, emiritus professor, University of Strathclyde.
Practical guidance and tools
You can find more information in the Effective Assessment in a Digital Age guide. This provides an introduction to the application of technology for assessment and feedback; with accompanying case studies providing examples of technology-enhanced assessment practices.
The assessment and feedback topic pages on the Jisc Design Studio provide a range of information and resources to help you explore how technology can be used to tackle your assessment and feedback challenges. These challenges include supporting peer assessment, helping learners better engage with feedback and meeting employers needs.
If you would like to know more about how technology can enhance assessment and feedback I’d be happy to chat.
11 February 2013
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Advantages offered by the internet and current technologies are widely recognised and actively adopted in education. Students, for example, will often choose and be expected to use their own devices to share ideas, problem solve and carry out research. Despite the opportunities on offer, risks such as internet safety must be managed appropriately.
Colleges and universities are legally obliged to provide a safe learning environment for staff and learners. Reasonable steps must be in place to prevent foreseeable harm. What steps are ‘reasonable’ will, of course, depend on particular circumstances. The age of learners, any characteristics that make a learner more vulnerable in the online world, and the availability and accessibility of the environment are all likely to need careful consideration.
In my role at Jisc Legal I work closely with colleges and universities to offer relevant and practical guidance on e-safety. As part of Safer Internet Day, here are my top 5 tips to help ensure you meet your duty of care:
1. Be pro-active, don’t wait for something to go wrong
- Always consider risks and where appropriate, take reasonable steps to minimise them
- Establish and share fair rules of acceptable use, procedures and sanctions
- Raise awareness of good e-safety practice.
The National Education Network’s e-safety audit tool can help you to assess current practice at your college or university.
2. Make someone responsible for e-safety within your college or university
Arguably everyone is responsible for e-safety, but having a named person in place means advice will be readily available and activities and responses will be co-ordinated and consistent. Ideally, your e-Safety Officer should be a senior member of staff with child protection training.
3. Use Jisc Legal’s policy checklist and template to write your e-safety policy
Ensure your policy reflects current technologies and the use of social media. It’s important that it is clear, relevant and easy to understand for your learners and staff.
4. Respond immediately and fairly to any breach in policy
It is important that learners and staff understand the importance of internet safety. Any action taken in response to an incident, including an investigation or sanctions imposed, should be proportionate and documented in line with your procedures. Any criminal activity must be reported to the police.
Have a look at the Janet website for some useful guidelines on dealing with computer crime.
5. Support all your staff and learners to be e-safe
Regular training will help staff deal with concerns and reinforce good practice. Education on managing relevant issues, such as privacy, will help learners to safeguard their online presence. Bear in mind though that specific guidance for more vulnerable learners may be appropriate.
Training resources and other useful links are available on the Kent e-Safety Officer’s blog. The Information Commissioner’s Office also provides advice on how young people can protect personal information.
You can also read about how Jisc is supporting colleges and schools with raising awareness of internet safety standards.
I hope you’ve found my tips helpful. For further help, why not have a look at Jisc Legal’s Supporting Safer Internet Day page on our website.
5 February 2013
Discussions about the costs associated with responding to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act tend to generate strong emotions. For some, the transparency and accountability FOI brings is worth nearly any price; whereas others view every pound spent as a pound taken away from an institution’s core mission. Part of the problem is often the scarcity of any reliable data on which to base any such discussions. But now, by combining the results of two separate research projects we are able to go some way towards rectifying this.
Following on from the success of our Calculating the Cost of FOI research project early in 2012 we repeated the project, but this time capturing 100 requests over a five month period to give us a much larger and more representative dataset regarding the true total costs associated with responding to an FOI request. The richness of the data we have gathered allows us to assess a variety of factors: from records management maturity to institutional size and examine the impact they may have on costs. The results from this Phase 2 project, launched today, also allow us for the first time to see the impact of requests on different functions within the institution: revealing some interesting and potentially significant results. The headline figure, however, is that according to this research it currently costs £144.93 per request for an institution to respond to each request it receives.
This, of course, then begs the question: how many requests are institutions receiving?
Since 2005 Jisc infoNet has been tracking request numbers, plus a whole host of other metrics, via its annual Information Legislation and Management Survey. The results for 2012 are also being launched today and reveal an increase in the average number of FOI requests received for the eighth successive year, albeit with less of a hike than in recent years, perhaps suggestive of a potential levelling off of interest. Once again the full results are available for institutions to review and analyse for themselves but the main finding: that the average number of requests per institution per month now stands at 10.7, when combined with the costs data we also now have, means that it is possible to start to calculate some overall costs for the sector with a greater degree of accuracy than has hitherto been possible.
Combining an average cost per request of £144.93 with the average number of requests per institution of 10.7 gives us an average cost per institution per annum of £18,609. Multiply this by the 163 HE institutions in the UK listed in HESA data and you arrive at a figure of £3,033,268 per annum.
As ever of course, there are some caveats to bear in mind here: firstly the inherent dangers involved in using averages in what is a very diverse sector. Secondly: that we are relying on data provided by the 60 institutions that responded to the survey and have no way of knowing how representative or otherwise their experience is of the sector as a whole. And finally, we should not forget that the costs associated with the handling of requests do not represent the full picture: there are staffing costs associated with employing FOI and other compliance staff and any fees associated with obtaining specialist legal advice in response to particularly challenging requests. All of which will clearly add to the balance sheet, but in ways it is not possible to measure with any reasonable degree of certainty.
And as for the question of whether the £3m we estimate it costs the UK HE sector to respond to FOI requests each year represents good value for money? Well, now that we have provided the data we will leave you all to form your own opinions…
For further analysis and the full data from both the FOI costing project and the Information Legislation & Management Survey for 2012 please go to www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
4 March 2013
The Web is a place where someone is always watching what you do. I understand that... but there again, the Web is such a giant metropolis, how and why would anyone notice what one individual like me is looking at and which links I'm clicking on?
Then up pops Tom Barnett, the MD of a technology company that specialises in digital publishing, to tell me that ‘Google has a file the size of an encyclopaedia on everyone in this room.’ Hmmm… I start to feel a vague sense of paranoia. Then I think... pull yourself together, Neil! Google really doesn't care who you are. They just want to put things in your line of sight that are likely to get you to part with your wages!
These were the thoughts that occurred to me during an event called ‘Observing the Web’ organised by the Web Science Trust. The meeting included academics, industry players, technologists, funders, charities and a lawyer. It highlighted the fact that a global network of Web Observatories is emerging that will help drive new research into how people use the internet. The point of this ‘observing’ is not to take account of every little bit of information, but to understand how trends, fashions and changes of behaviour in relation to the internet might illuminate aspects of our society and culture.
This is of great interest to me and is highly relevant to some ongoing work that I am managing in my role as digital preservation programme manager at Jisc. Last year, working with the British Library and the Internet Archive, we created a large digital collection made up from snapshots of UK websites from 1996-2010. This includes all the UK websites that the Internet Archive managed to collect during that period and represents the world’s best (and in some cases the only) historic record of material that was once freely available online. This is, therefore, a valuable resource in its own right but also has a role to play in the global network of Web Observatories.
I am currently working with the British Library, the Oxford Internet Institute and the Institute of Historical Research to explore how this resource can be used for social science research. There is no shortage of ideas about what research might be carried out using the resource. One proposal suggests a study into the recent history of public health in local government, another on changes in the debate around Euro-scepticism. There are also new opportunities for using analytical methods across the archive: links between websites can reveal how online entities, such as governments, interact with other entities, such as the public. But there are also challenges: internet archives are necessarily only periodic snapshots of the web so significant gaps in the records could affect their usefulness for social science research.
It is early days for working out how we might most effectively use internet archives for research, but it certainly fits with the current trend for using big data to support decision-making and research and development. Even less clear is how we can effectively exploit academic analysis of both the historic and contemporary internet using the open, transparent and universally accessible tools and methods proposed by the Web Science Trust. Such methods contrast with the well-resourced, sophisticated and highly developed (but opaque) methods employed by the corporate observers, such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo etc. All of whom have partially or entirely built global-scale businesses on the back of gathering intelligence (at gigantic scale) about how we all use the internet.
In my mind the development of an academic global network of Web Observatories begs the following questions:
- How do we enable different observatories to work together (interoperability)?
- How do we get access to data: apart from Twitter, which of the big corporate organisations will let us use their data?
- What about privacy - will people feel spied upon?
- How do we sustain web observatories for the long term?
This is a fascinating and big topic and I can’t wait to see what comes together. I would also be interested to hear other people concerns and viewpoints on this subject.
There will be more discussion at the ACM Web Science Meeting in Paris in early May 2013.
If you would like to find out more you may be interested in some previous work that Jisc funded - Researcher Engagement with Web Archives.
Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilgrindley
1 March 2013
With recent news of a school in Bolton ditching pens and paper for iPads, is the e-learning ‘battle’ being won? Peter Shukie, programme leader of education studies at University Centre, Blackburn College, argues that, ‘whatever is being done with technology new battle lines should be drawn in our approach. It ain't what you use - it’s the way that you use it.’
I recently attended a Jisc Regional Support Centre Higher Education Conference and Shukie’s strong views and opinions on the use of e-technology got me thinking about how and why we end up using certain technologies for learning.
Shukie divides educators into two tribes: the standardisers and the creatives. The standardisers follow a system of hierarchy, of ‘masters’ of education. They dictate to learners not only what they should read, but now also the kind of technology they should use. He equates them to X Factor judges dictating how someone should sound and what they should look like. If we’re not careful, he thinks we will be using technology to create a one-dimensional learning experience when, as I believe, it could be used to share and grow the ‘ecology for learning’ in many new ways.
So, how do we ensure learning exploits technology and not vice versa?
Shukie believes that Prensky, internationally acclaimed speaker, writer, consultant, and innovator in the field of education and learning, didn't get it quite right with his Digital Natives concept. Shukie’s Digital Pioneers project, carried out with undergraduates in 2012, which were all within Prensky’s grouping, did not find that learners born into a digital age had different expectations of learning.
Shukie’s project asked learners to create a learning resource using any technology, any pedagogical philosophy and any learner group to explore the potential of technologies in teaching and learning in the 21st century. What Shukie found was that in almost every case, results were reflective of a ‘master’ teacher-at-the-front-of-a-classroom style of teaching. Only a handful of learners explored ideas that used technology to take learning to different places, both physical and online, or looked to provide learning at different times from different ‘leaders’. Shukie discovered that you can’t remove stereotypes that years of teaching from the front of the classroom create. That is still what people think education is.
His suggestion to get people away from this conception is to use a musical analogy to encourage educators to explore different approaches to the use of technology within education. This aims to avoid heading towards an ‘e-learning singularity paradigm’, where specific technologies are dictated by institutional ‘masters’ as the ‘proper’ tools for learning as a result of best practice research.
He recommends three other approaches that instead, allow learners to use technology to decide what is best for them and help link skills required directly with community and workplace needs:
Shukie cites the development of the small-scale COOC (community open online course) project as a better way of learning than a MOOC (massive open online course). His course is open to local communities with an interest in a subject, using online discussions to develop their own way of learning. Unlike MOOCs, the emphasis is on localised learning opportunities based on contributions from informal enthusiasts, who have limited (if any) formal teaching experience. He believes this will generate a wider discussion and progress learning beyond the usual academic suspects.
Punk, or EduPunk
This is an approach reacting against the commercialisation of education, where accreditation is generally unimportant, and where learning is self-generated with the community deciding the content. An example is the University of British Columbia's course "Wikipedia: WikiProject Murder Madness and Mayhem". The course involved creating articles on Wikipedia where student and teacher became peers. In its essence, learning takes place when learners feel inspired to discuss ideas, not at appointed times and places.
The principle of ‘open’ is important to fulfil this ambition. I think knowledge should not be bound within the confines of a costly journal, but should be publicly and freely available.
Folk, or Folksonomy
An approach to create knowledge through tagging, originated by people, not experts. Again this means that the interests of a community dictate course/learning content. A basic example could be Twitter, as only popular content is tagged and circulated within the community.
Today, you may see projects that crowdsource, asking the general public for their views and opinions. This method is being used more and more to expand our knowledge of a subject area. Used within an educational community this could help inform course content, themes of interest and demand.
Is Shukie a dreamer? He does recognise that we may have to wear ties on Tuesdays and have some learning dictated to us – otherwise, as he says, ‘who would choose to learn about fire safety training?’ But he hopes that if you enter the teaching profession, it’s your choice whether you become a standardiser or a creative. His belief is that learning and teaching methods are not just there to create consistency, efficiency, fiscal sustainability or even achievement. Education is about generating another set of voices for the future.
So, in summary Essa Academy in Bolton shouldn't put away the iPads, but make sure that those shiny screens do not outshine the minds of the people using them.
19 February 2013
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Cats Protection team award winners© MimasAll rights reserved
As very small children we are taught that it’s good to share and as adults, academics get lots of recognition when they do share their teaching resources openly. Initiatives like the HEFCE-funded UKOER programme, Open Education Week and OER13 all remind us of the positive outcomes that sharing can bring, and not to dwell too much on our own insecurities such as “Why should I share my resources? Or “My materials aren't good enough to share”.
I feel that educational establishments have been driving the development of OERs. The need to make quality education more accessible and flexible for all has led to the development of some highly creative, richly layered resources. And as the OER movement continues to gain ground, institutions will need to make sure they keep up – if they don’t make their resources available as openly as possible online there’s a real risk that other people will, hijacking the benefits of wider reach and enhanced reputation for themselves.
At last year’s United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation meeting it was interesting to see education experts meeting to discuss the potential of OERs. Their aim was to use them to expand the global knowledge economy and help re-ignite economic growth. And if OERs can potentially bring high quality, post-school education to the world’s able but disadvantaged, who knows what else they might have to offer in other areas?
I'm really encouraged to see how those outside of the academic community are making use of the rapid development of free online resources made available through platforms like Moodle. These make it much easier for people outside of our academic community, and perhaps with limited technical know-how, to start sharing too.
For a long time now, members of the academic OER community have been enthusiastic about discovering ways to make sure open resources can help the third sector. In my experience organisations working in the third sector and with adult learning communities have been quick to recognise that e-learning is a cost-effective and efficient way to engage and inform staff, service users and supporters. The resources help to retain interest and boost learning and development. The flexibility of the resources enables people to learn where and when they can fit it into their schedules, to work at their own pace, and to personalise their own learning experience.
With little or no budget to develop online resources progress in this area has actually been quite slow. But, with the availability of free tools and the increasingly widespread use of Facebook and Twitter these organisations are now able to develop effective and well-targeted resources, especially when working collaboratively.
Mimas’ Laura Skilton, our Jorum Business Development manager has recently been involved in what might seem like an unlikely partnership between Mimas and animal charity Cats Protection. She has worked closely with Cats Protection’s Lisa Barry and the charity’s veterinary team on developing an openly licensed online course called Understanding Feline Origins. This also involved setting up a Virtual Learning Environment called Cats Protection LearnOnline which was based on the Moodle platform.
Understanding Feline Origins offers authoritative, but accessible information on how and why cats behave as they do, and advice on how to treat and live with them optimally, following a pedagogically sound and user-tested approach.
The use of this type of technology is relatively new for the third sector and well worth a look. The project actually won a Charity Learning Consortium award for innovation at the end of 2012. If any other charities are interested in the work they can now explore ways to develop the model.
If you’d like to find out more about how e-learning can help third sector organisations to train staff and engage supporters try this Guardian article or this blog by Tony Coughlan, who is an Open University academic and a Fellow of the Support Centre for Open Resources in Education.
Watch the introductory video for Understanding Feline Origins:
14 March 2013
As a part of the evaluation and synthesis conducted around the UKOER programmes open education consultant Lou McGill has diligently teased apart the differing terms and concepts around open education. Her classifications around 'open courses' are a very helpful way to make sense of this ever-changing field. (You can see Lou McGill speak about the wider findings and implications of the UKOER programme evaluation, alongside Professor Allison Littlejohn of Glasgow Caledonian University and me, in an Open Education Week Webinar entitled What You Can Learn from UKOER).
Lou suggests xMOOCs, cMOOCs and Open Boundary courses as three distinct threads running within the wider weave of what might be commonly termed MOOCs. This is a much more sharply delineated version of the analysis of the space that I wrote about on this blog last year (Where there’s MOOC there’s brass?), but it rings true given the way that the enormous levels of hype have polarised the community.
xMOOCs are the ones you’ve probably read about: the Courseras and EdXs (and maybe FutureLearns) of the world. The classic characterisation of these involves a video lecture from a star professor, students marking each other’s work and maybe the option to purchase a certificate of completion at the end. But even within the walled garden that is Coursera’s bespoke platform there are variations, as individual lecturers attempt to design appropriate experiences to best support learning around a particular topic. But at their worst, xMOOCs can simply replicate the problems with existing mass higher education, such as insufficient direct contact between teacher and learner, and the demand that learners work at the institution’s pace, rather than their own.
cMOOCs were the first MOOCs, based around theories of connectivism developed by Canadian educationalists and MOOC pioneers George Siemens, Dave Cormier, Stephen Downes and others. These are characterised by an almost chaotic structure, with an emphasis on building and fostering a community, often making use of blogging and social media in place of a classroom-like learning environment. cMOOCs can offer a lot of benefit for more confident and advanced learners, but require a great deal of effort and understanding to penetrate.
Open Boundary (or open classroom) models differ from both of the above in that they are based on a traditionally delivered, in-person course at a particular university. Open students study alongside fee-paying students, with both seeing benefits from wider collaboration and access to a huge variety of resources. Jisc and the HE Academy are proud to have supported one of the first UK examples of this type of course with Phonar and Picbod from the Coventry Open Media Courses project.
Free access to higher education is understandably a popular idea – it is not so very long ago that our government guaranteed it to ‘all who could benefit’ from it. But free online courses can offer far more than just a limited replication of the offline experience. As the dust settles, and the venture capital moves elsewhere, it is the courses that offer the most transformative learning experiences that will flourish... and these may not be the names you have read about.
Image: CC BY-SA flickr/doctorow
The term Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) is increasingly being used generically – covering all forms on online learning at scale. But to do this makes a number of unsafe assumptions around intent and pedagogy – simply grouping everything by the price of the course is not enough. All MOOCs are not the same and all online learning at scale is not a MOOC!
13 March 2013