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Interests: VLE, LMS, open source, educational technology, e-learning, football, running, soccer, spurs, cinema.
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@ David - thanks, knew I'd seen the iceberg somewhere. I was joking by the way when I said I think I'm the first person to ever use an iceberg metaphor, in that it's the most over-used metaphor there is. @Penny - thanks, that's interesting. I still think for a lot of teachers they don't want to care about the whole open education movement, and I don't blame them, they're busy. They just want good resources they know they can use without hassle and they can find easily. @Dave - yeah you're probably right, but I think resources are the route in. Give a teacher an open textbook and they start to think "I can alter this". And then "I could share back my modified version" and then "I could create my own stuff", etc. @Peter - yes, exactly. If policy switches to the secondary and tertiary levels then it might do something like create a global OER brand to rival TED, in order to get uptake here.
@dominik - hi, I hadn't made that connection with knowledge retention, so thanks. I do think this is different though. Although you are right, lots of knowledge isn't retained, a lot of the more nebulous, generic skills are. I remember being told "long after you have forgotten all the papers we give you to read you will remember how to be a scientist". My point was more that if we have good stuff in the later parts of MOOCs, people simply aren't getting to see it, so we should reconsider their design if we think that stuff is important. @Alan - actually I was talking about activity rates, which is just turning up, although people do have different definitions of completion. Sadly people just aren't turning up for those later weeks. And it would be ok if it was a different 10% in week 7 than it was in week 3 (as Stephen seems to suggest) but it isn't, so people aren't picking and choosing the bits they like best. I agree about Alec's course, and I think that illustrates that if you want the newspaper type model then you have to rethink design quite radically.
Toggle Commented Jul 8, 2014 on MOOC completion rates DO matter at The Ed Techie
Hi Gabi, I think that is true for many but would depend on what the purpose of the MOOC was. Some MOOCs might be run with the intention of helping people update skills, or be part of a community. There is no further product as such that they are trying to sell eg there are MOOCs on becoming a student. These are aimed at people who are already signed up to start at uni, and it's about helping them make that transition. So it's not really an advert, more an additional resource.
Toggle Commented Jul 4, 2014 on MOOC completion rates DO matter at The Ed Techie
Thanks Jim - you make the acknowledgements again, that's two books in a row. You'll be getting royalties next.
Toggle Commented Jun 3, 2014 on How long should a book be? at The Ed Techie
Thanks Carl - even the internet didn't seem sure, can you imagine? I always thought it was Anthony Burgess, but I probably just heard him quoting it.
Toggle Commented Jun 2, 2014 on How long should a book be? at The Ed Techie
@Xolotl - yes, you're absolutely right about the negative connotations, which is a shame because otherwise it fits very well. Interesting list - I think it would depend on the topic, and that's obviously a very UK centric list, but you're right, one or two significant retweets can change the dynamic of how something is shared. @Sheila - you are on of my favourite viruses! I think persistence and also an undogmatic approach are important. In a virus analogy maybe it's easy to resist the big surge (ie the evangeliser), but more difficult the persistent strain.
Toggle Commented May 15, 2014 on The Open virus at The Ed Techie
Hi Chris - thanks for this. It's really interesting to see your perspective, and I can see how from a slightly different angle it doesn't look like a robust change at all, but rather more fragile. Maybe that's true of 'real' revolutions also, they are vulnerable just at the moment of their victory, in that things are unstable. I think what might mitigate against the backslide to closed systems is the efficiency (rather than the altruism) argument for openness. It's simply a better way to operate a lot of times, for example the open access impact advantage. I liked your emerging soldier analogy, perhaps I'll be the foolhardy charge of the Light Brigade.
Toggle Commented May 2, 2014 on Whadya mean "openness has won"? at The Ed Techie
Hi Peter, I wouldn't want to go down the 'which OA route' is best argument really. I think if you can afford to pay (eg you have a research grant from one of the councils and fees are built in), then that's fine. If not look at other journals eg IRRODL, JIME. I think you're right about the impact, but that's the price here, you can't have your open cake and eat it. Part of the reason people will cite your paper or publish it is because openness is of interest. It has a 'market' value - so we shouldn't let people get that value without sharing back is my view. That's just the price of researching this area - accept it or go and research multimedia in classrooms or something. I'm quite strident about it - I don't care quite so much about other aspects of openness, I understand that people may not use open source software, or sign up with Coursera etc, I don't think there's one way to do openness. But sharing research about openness openly is non-negotiable for me.
Hi Gina, I'm glad it provoked discussion. I don't have answers to your questions (and I would be wary of anyone who did). I think it is a matter of being willing to engage with them and try things out. The work of Lone sounds interesting and reinforces the point I was making about the importance of online identity and how social media underlies this. Good luck with this discussion as it progresses.
Hi Kevin & Dominik - I can't have made my case very clearly. The point I wanted to make was that there is often an assumption that ethics don't apply when you're using data that people have made available openly about themselves because "anyone could access it anyway". But by adding a layer of interpretation in a way that the original party could not have predicted, that can (not always) bring an ethical question to bear. In that sense it becomes more like conventional research where you would consider the ethics of data you were gathering. Like you, I'm in favour of open approaches, and heaven knows wouldn't want to make open/guerrilla research be as constrained as conventional research, but I was trying to demonstrate that just because you're using pre-existing information, that may not make it an ethics free zone.
@Frances - yes, of course I know people have been through austerity before (my wife grew up in South Wales during the miner's strike for one). My point was that it's unusual for a generation to be worse off than their predecessors as they are predicting this one will be. I was just interested in what that does to their psychology and attitude to money really. @David - just a silly joke to make the point about the downward pressure on all professions. Yes, I do know I'm not really near the precariat. There was a study recently though that far more people hover just above the precariat than before (not OU profs), and this has an effect on people's psychology and outlook (they feel less secure about life and the future). My point was I wonder what this means for today's youth after generations of general upward trends.
Toggle Commented Mar 17, 2014 on Pity the austerity natives at The Ed Techie
@Phillip - thanks for the links - I'd read some criticisms of TED, but not this one. You're quite right, TED is part of the whole silicon valley 'solutionism' of which MOOCs are just one part. @Mark - I really disagree with the education is broken meme. It's dangerous and lazy. People never say what exactly is broken - sometimes it's funding (in which case we should debate models of higher ed funding, but they never want to do that), other times it's pedagogy, where they offer a couple of anecdotes (eg the don't go to school brigade). As Mike Caulfield says, broken frames it as a crisis (and therefore we need outsiders to come in and fix it) whereas if you frame it as opportunity, then it's more about working to make things better. To stress - being against the education is broken meme is not the same as saying 'everything is fine'. Indeed that's part of the problem, this meme wants to frame it as a revolution, so you're either with us or you're one of those old dinosaurs. And disruption is an almost entirely bankrupt concept in my opinion, that doesn't want to be useful, it just wants to sound sexy.
@Graham - thanks, yes good point, I haven't really put badges into the mix. @Ghaff - you may be right, but I think that argument would struggle to stand up looking at openlearn. I wasn't really arguing whether MOOCs or OERs are better (although that would play into media coverage I agree) but more about how readily the media were to basically reprint PR leaflets from the MOOC companies in a way they didn't with OER. It appealed to something in their cultural perspective, I would argue. @LNM - yes, in fact the chapter I pulled this from quotes Neil as well. I didn't know about Scott's work, that sounds fantastic, and so much better than my 5 minute study. Any results from that anywhere, would love to include it. Thanks for the article link, I'm not sure I have seen that. What a useful comment - that's why it's worth blogging stuff as you go along!
Thanks David and thanks for the dodgy link spot, now fixed. Yes, I have read Morozov's piece - he crops up a couple of times in what I'm writing elsewhere, which is why he isn't in this bit, but as a standalone piece then he probably should be (the dangers of culling blog posts from longer pieces). And thanks for the list of articles I used for the word count exercise, saved me compiling a set.
Glad you made it back to the UK Simon. You're undoubtedly correct - as I said, I couldn't quite put my finger on my unease. Maybe they were just younger, smarter and more privileged than me so I got all angsty. I think Mike's post gets at it better than mine. I guess having seen data people 'discover' lots of stuff this year (see my The Year of No Shit Sherlock post), I get a bit nervous that new people wash in with no regard for existing knowledge. But that sounds overly defensive and protectionist. I welcome our new data overlords :) No, I think it is exciting to have this kind of evidence finally in place, I just want to make sure we walk together hand in hand.
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2013 on The iceland of Dallas at The Ed Techie
The CPOM model is a good one. What you say about not including those who don't complete the core in retention statistics is exactly the subject of my next post. I'm not sure CPOM would work for all subjects eg for stats there are just things they have to know. Also, students aren't always in the best position to know what it is they need to know. But I like the approach.
Brian - thankyou for extending my Neil Young analogy further than I had thought. You're right about not selling out - Mind you, now Downes has his 19M grant perhaps we'll see him driving pimped up limos and wearing bling. No, not likely is it. Clint - Scott took slight umbrage to that remark when I posted it so I ought to stress I really was just joking then, but I was quite serious about the Neil Young comparison. My heart will go on.
I hadn't seen that one Clint - pure gold. I'm so glad these hot-shots are there to tell us where we've been going wrong all these years.
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2013 on The year of no s**t Sherlock at The Ed Techie
@Seb - what you say is interesting. We were talking about building diagnostic tools for potential OU students recently and I was making the case that perhaps the best diagnostic was the material itself, ie here are the first 3 weeks of the course, what do you think? So in this respect building pre-course assessment for MOOCs seems a bit self-defeating, the openness of the course fulfills that function. But you may be right, if people sign up for a MOOC and drop out that can be damaging to their confidence. Also by merely getting them to do the pre-course material may increase commitment to the course. @Maha - hi, yes, some MOOCs make everything available on day 1, it would be good to see if this has any effect on completion, or on satisfaction rates. It certainly allows you to dip in more, but isn't quite the same as designing for someone to take any piece in any order, it will probably still be a linear sequence. The book angle is interesting, you're right maybe it plants a seed that germinates later.
@Luis - we got the data from what was publicly available. I'm not sure it does give that kind of breakdown - as you'll see only 13 listed gender, so 1st language or location of student might be even rarer data, but location of MOOC would be different. There is a MOOC map so one could presumably try and find the open data for MOOCs listed here from different countries? I think, as you suggest, it would provide another interesting angle. @Tony - yes, open2study do stand out. I think their shortness and perhaps the badging may well be significant. See my next post about design responses - getting people through those first 2-3 weeks seems important and badges may help here. Thanks for the link.
Toggle Commented Dec 17, 2013 on Completion data for MOOCs at The Ed Techie
And why wouldn't it be? Courage bitter, mmm
Toggle Commented Dec 13, 2013 on Find time for courage at The Ed Techie
@Jay - you make some good points. This data can't really answer them, it's more of a broad brush picture, but I would like to see more on this. We know at the OU that the more people pay then the less likely they are to drop out, but of course that defeats the object of MOOCs. But if people were studying MOOCs for a real-life outcome (say to get a job) I'm sure you'd see bigger retention. My next post is about design responses to completion data, which covers some of the points you raise. @Simon - yes there is some evidence that way, I'm not sure we have it in this data though. I think there is a bit of raiding, but generally people drop out by week 3, they're not getting to later parts. I'll talk about this in the next post
Toggle Commented Dec 13, 2013 on Completion data for MOOCs at The Ed Techie
@Peter - i take it you mean the enrolment figures, not length. My feeling on this is that when you get high enrolment numbers you get a lot of people signing up just for the sake of it. They're not very interested in the subject - this may have been an artifact of early MOOCs where people were taking them just to experience a MOOC. With smaller enrolment numbers I'm guessing you're getting more focused people. But as you say - more work needed. Re the assessment data I think there was significant variation between types (auto grading and peer, with auto being higher) but I didn't include that here, just to keep it to blog length. @Ghaff - I think you're overthinking it :) the point is if you have a general background noise of factors that can cause dropout eg illness, family life, work commitments, then the longer a course goes on the greater the chance these will have of impacting upon someone. So if you run a course for longer, you get a general dropout factor. Just as the longer people live the more chance they have of dying! So, we need to separate out this general time effect from a causal one
Toggle Commented Dec 12, 2013 on Completion data for MOOCs at The Ed Techie
Hi Jenny, thanks for the comments. In terms of 1) completion and active users show the same pattern (active users being anyone who accesses a resource), so whether you consider completion in terms of certificate or active users doesn't really make any difference (there are lots of definitions of completion btw, and there is a graph for that which I didn't include). Point 2 is interesting. I don't know - if we assume for now you want people to complete then is it better to have 2 x 10K enrolment courses or 1 x20k? I don't know. But if you do want people to complete then it seems that more focused courses may be better. 3) Yes, this is causing lots of angst over on twitter. I'm not saying completion is the only metric, or that people don't get what they want after 2 weeks. Just that here is the data as far as completion rates go, which I think help informs the debate. As I say, if completion is important then MOOCs probably aren't the ideal solution, BUT if completion isn't such a factor, then they may be a good approach.
Toggle Commented Dec 12, 2013 on Completion data for MOOCs at The Ed Techie
Hi Rebecca, good to see you made it out of Dallas safely :) yes that's exactly what I have in mind. Not necessarily doing an exact map for each course but choosing from 5 or 6 idealised patterns to give an indication as to what kind of mooc it is (or indeed any course, it doesn't just apply to moocs).
Toggle Commented Dec 12, 2013 on The Learning Design of MOOCs at The Ed Techie