Activity 23: Use of educational data


  • As a starting point for your investigation into the use of big datasets outside education, read at least two of the online stories listed below:
  • Now extend your reading by searching for “big data” (if you use Google, double inverted commas will show that you are looking for the phrase and not two separate words) and the name of a large company that you use regularly, such as Google, Facebook or Starbucks.
  • In each case, note as many reasons as you can for the use of big data. Also note who benefits from its use in each case and what the benefits are.
  • Write a blog post, or an entry in your learning journal, about your positive and negative reactions to the use of your data in these ways.
  • Post your reactions, or a link to your blog post, in the discussion forum and read other people’s reactions.

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Activity 22: An open education technology

Write a short blog post suggesting one additional technology that is important for open education, either from the role of a learner or a provider. The technology can be one that has been significant, or one that you feel is going to become increasingly relevant. What you include as a technology can be quite broad: for instance, it can be a general category (such as social networks), a specific service or a particular standard.

In your post briefly explain what the technology is, and then why you think it is important for open education. The emphasis should be on open education in particular, and not just education in general

My chosen technology is iTunes U course manager.

We have looked at various different platforms through this course and iTunes U may be something that people already know of but few realise the benefits of iTunes U course manager. Teachers can put together a course of their choice using all the resources they require from apps to photos, text and more. Assignments can be set and students can interact with eachother via discussions. It is the ultimate tool to a paperless classroom and all student activities are available on the device.

The big advantage is that it can be both open and private. A teacher may choose to have that individual course viewable by their own students or publish it for the world to see. All courses are free and accessible for people to view. It is a valuable lesson because you can learn from the comfort of your home or bring it out on field trips. Last summer along with over 300 other educators I visited lagoons and climbed mountains in San Diego. We had an iTunes U course on our devices and it was all we needed for the trips. Until this I never really got how important open learning was. Sure I was told and nodded and smiled but this really taught me.

I have since used this to create my own courses (both private and public) and Apple recently published my course on Non-Verbal and Visual Communications so now educators and students around the world can take part in it.

The big advantage however is that it’s use is limited to those with iOS devices but I duplicate the posts via moodle so no one is left out.

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Activity 21: The chicken and egg conundrum – technology and pedagogy inter-relate

What is your own experience and view? 

When I started teaching the focus was all on the technology. Teachers were being given macbook and iPads, classes were being fitted out with new computers there was no real budget if you justified a need for it you got it. As previously mentioned however people asked for all kinds of tech that was never used simply because the skills were not there to put them to use. We ended up with an eLearning platform which four years on is only used by the original team who created it, the same with devices. We have lots of fancy stuff that is now quickly becoming out of date. We are now backtracking and trying to do it right this time but it makes me wonder what use is technology without pedagogy.

Do you regard either pedagogy or technology as more significant than the other?

I regard them as somewhat equally important but while pedagogy can exist on it’s own technology isn’t really much good without pedagogy.

How do technology and pedagogy influence each other?

Technology makes pedagogy better but requires pedagogy to be beneficial otherwise the value is lost.

Do you have experience where either technology or pedagogy has been given more weight than the other?

As discussed above i was in a situation where tech was seen as the answer to all problems but actually ended up causing more in the short term.

While some of that may sound negative I am grateful for VLEs, ePortfolios and online assessment. Technology has meant by classroom has been 100% paperless for the past 3 years. Students have devices (majority are now BYOD) and I have found that the use of tech over pen/paper has lead to an increase in grades and decrease in drop out rates. Personally I feel technology is important but needs to used correctly.

Activity 18/19: Theory of connectivism and its critics

Take the description of the short course on digital skills that you developed in Week 8 and recast it, so that it adopts a highly connectivist approach. Or, if you prefer, you could take this ‘Open education’ block as an example and recast it in a more connectivist model, or another course you have familiarity with. You should take each of the principles set out above and state how they are realised in your course, either as a general principle or by giving an example activity.

I found (and still find) the idea of connectivism quite complicated. Essentially I believe it is just putting a name to something i already do because I don’t really teach in the traditional sense so it would already apply to all my courses which are created with the idea of leading on to further learning.

The course I explored in week 8 had 5 sections.

1. Photo-editing

2. Video-editing

3. Social Media Marketing

4. Mobile Marketing with QR Codes and Augmented Reality

5. iBooks Authoring.

Below is a more details description of my course it describes how each topic can be used after it is initially taught. Each topic is also connected. For example a learner can later set up a digital marketing campaign and use the skills they learnt in photo editing to create some advertising, use those same skills to edit photos in preparation for the video-editing section and again in the iBooks author section. The digital marketing skills can be used to market the iBook.

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Activity 17: The role of abundance

Read Weller (2011), A pedagogy of abundance. In the conclusion two questions are posed: ‘The issue for educators is twofold I would suggest: firstly how can they best take advantage of abundance in their own teaching practice, and secondly how do we best equip learners to make use of it?’ This article discusses the different phases of new teaching methods or practices and explores the implementation of such practices including the phases of introduction which include: Discover, Integration, Application and Teaching. Anyone working in a learning environment would be familiar with these and they are processes my institute has been through during several introductions from iTunes U, Moodle, paperless classrooms and 1:1 iPad learning. The questions posed are how can they best take advantage of abundance in their own teaching practice, and secondly how do we best equip learners to make use of it? For teachers to understand they can best take advantage of abundance in their own teaching practice they have to first be shown how. This can be done a number of ways. You can preach to them and tell them it is good, tell them it will make things easier, show them statistics or you can show them teachers just like them who are best using these new practices. These would be tried and tested examples and should be of relevant subject matters to the teachers. For example english teachers may be more motivated towards using iPads in a 1:1 environment after watching this video of New York based educators Larry Reiff who uses the iPad to teach Shakespeare The second question is how best do we equip learners to make use of it? The only answer is training. The number one failure for implementing a new technology in education is lack of training. Hand a teacher an iPad or ask them to create a MOOC and they will probably agree before realising they don’t have the skills to do this. Some teachers may take the challenge but many will back away and do something else leaving the technology type or idea to gather dust. When introducing iTunes U into our college 4 years ago we kept hearing the excuse “I get paid to teach not to do this’ and it’s the truth educators lives and students lives are so busy that sometimes you have to just stick to your job description and do what you are paid to do. This all comes back to the first question if you show them how it can be done and how they can benefit in the long run then this might be a game changer. For example telling a teacher they have to post all their notes online and create a MOOC may face some resistance. However, tell them they will save 3-4 hours per week by not having to print, photo-copy and stable and this might be all they need to hear.

Activity 16 – Examining a definition

Part 1: Now you have a definition of PLN, the question you need to answer is:

  • ‘Does this offer anything new?’

In terms of innovation, can we say a PLN is truly innovative, or merely a rebadging of existing practice? As with many new terms in educational technology, some people find a PLN usefully captures a new development, while others say it is simply a new term for an old practice.

Part 2. Now do the following: 

  • Create a visual representation of the tools, resources and people in your PLN. Post this on your blog.

    Scott Leslie has a collection of PLE diagrams (they tend to focus on tools so do not include people and resources), which you may find useful.

In terms of PLNs I guess they can be informal or formal. Within any workplace there is a learning network of people learning from each other and this would essentially be informal. The same exists in education where students would learn from each other.

In terms of the more formal structure of a PLN this was a concept that was new to me a few years ago but now is one of those everyday phrases. I have a PLN on Twitter, on Facebook, I have informal PLNs at work and also without the education community.

A couple of years ago when I was chosen to become an Apple Distinguished Educator Apple had us form PLNs with fellow ADEs who had similar skills with us. Together as a PLN we then worked on projects. One way that Apple helped us with chosing our PLN was their networking task. We also received an “ADE Passport” and a set of stickers. The task was to fill up our books with stickers of fellow educators. To get a sticker we had to first have a conversation with the educator after which we would each exchange stickers. We were like kids in a playground trading stickers but it worked.

My visual representation of a PLN is of Team Blink as we called ourselves. Since 2013 we have been working together on a set of multimedia projects and books. I used our stickers and combined them with photos of the technologies we use to communicate and create and created my visual representation of a PLN.

Of course this is not the only PLN and we were never restricted to that. We also have an EMEIA one for teachers in that region, an Irish one for Irish ADEs, and last year we also had team green for those of us who travelled to outings on the ‘green bus’.

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Activing 13+14: Comparing MOOCS

Compare either DS106 or Connected Courses with offerings from Udacity, FutureLearn or Coursera.

Connected courses was unfortunately not working at the time of doing this so I choose to look at DS106. I chose to compare it to Coursera as this is a platform I am already familiar with. For extra practice I also added in Udacity

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Activity 12: Background to MOOCs

Briefly consider if the MOOC approach could be adopted in your own area of education or training. Post your thoughts in your blog and then read and comment on your peers’ postings.

Working in FE I have been creating online digital content since 2011 through iTunes U and took my first MOOC (Google Power searching by Google) in the summer of 2012 so have seen the benefits of being able to learn online.

When first starting to create MOOCs I came across a lot of criticism from colleagues who figured that no one would come to my class if they could just get it all online so I had to come up with a balance. As they currently stand anyone can take any of my courses for free online, however, if you want accreditation you have to take them in person at one of the colleges I teach at. Creating resources for MOOCS has allowed by classroom to become a paperless classroom which has been a massive benefit to me. Not only do I no longer have papercuts but I save an average of 2-3 hours per week on photocopying and stapling time not to mind all the paper I save.

In terms of students I find that this is working take for example the below three subjects.

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Having these MOOCS has in no way affected the number of ‘bums on seats’ as is often a cause for concern.

Reading the reports I get the impression that they are suggesting that the MOOC model is not suitable for FE but I don’t see any reason why not. A lot of people are interested in CPD and quite often if working which a lot of my FE students are then online CPD is either the preferable or the only option. In my personal experience all my learning is done online with the exception of a few weeks CPD a year (at Apple institutes) it means that this learning is more accessible also.

Activity 10: Applying sustainability models

This activity requires us to read Wiley (2007), On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education and look at the three models of sustainability and then look at 4 platforms and determine which model they use asking the questions

  1. Was the sustainability model for each initiative apparent?
  2. Did Wiley’s models cover all approaches or did you think a different model was operating for one or more of them?

From reaching Wiley (2007) I learnt that the three models were

The MIT model

This model offers all courses created by MIT, costs of production is high, there is a high degree of quality control and it is suited to a large organisation.

The USU model

This model is suited to a small-medium organisation, cost is not as much as the MIT model, there is less control and some courses but not all are featured

The Rice model.

The rice model applies to courses featured anywhere, there is no control and no cost and is best suited to smaller organisations.

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While I found it easy to determine whether or not a platform used the RICE model I found the differentiation between MIT and USU less clear. Openlearn could have been either.