The School of Social Work at UC LIllebælt has had a distance learning programme for the last decade. While the programme was very much at the frontline of online higher education in Denmark when it began, we feel that both the didactic and the technological approach to the programme could need some updating. As more colleges have started online or distance programmes in social work, UC Lillebælt obviously faces increased competition so one aim in developing the programme is of course to keep UC Lillebælt competitive. It is not our aim to move students from the daytime to the online programme, but the tools available in ICT-based education may also give us a broader selection of didactic and technological tools in the daytime programme.
In terms of didactics, the distance programme mainly builds on a mix of in-house sessions every third week and individual and group-based work in between sessions. We should note that our students are expected to conduct their studies in groups of 5-6. Students then have the opportunity to receive feedback on papers and exercises delivered during or at the end of each period of home studies.
One issue is that teachers generally feel that they lose contact with their students between sessions as students are reluctant to use the means of communication available to then through the College’s LMC. Another issue is that classes during sessions take the form of traditional lecture-based instruction. This means that the selection of didactic strategies in the distance programme tends to be more limited compared to those used in the daytime programme. While both teachers and students see the possibilities of flexible studiespositively, teachers feel that a higher degree of structuring and a higher level of communication between teachers and students should and could be achieved.
In technological terms, the college’s LMS basically allows for the distribution of material – and sequential communication. This means that students tend to drift to other platforms where teachers aren’t or choose not to be presents.
So, what we (or rather: I) will be looking for is first and foremost discussions and introductions about didactic strategies which encourages students’ regular activity in online programmes which the concept of “flipped learning” or “flipped classroom” coming to mind. Last year, some of us were introduced to the concept of “storyboarding” online courses and while we for a number of reasons have failed to implement this so far (one issue here is that programme courses are given as cross-discipline modules involving 5-8 teachers during a 10-week module), a combination of storyboarding and flipping might be a strategy for turning focus away from classroom instruction and to more regular interaction between teachers and students. Just as last year, my focus will be less on technologies in their own right and more on possible ways of expanding the range of tools available in in-class and online teaching and learning.
Academic management and governance -> conducive to development of e-learning?
Middle management facing cross-pressures (a bit different in the Danish system where management is a career) -> teachers, senior management, students
Accountability, transparency Autonomy
Specific dilemmas triggered by e-learning? Technology vs. institutions as defining factor?
Distance courses in engineering, issue of on-site delivery
Supporting teams -> professor, converter, tutor, technological support, administrative support
Demands on online students: Work discipline (difference on-site, online), level of knowledge (differentiation of teaching)
Who are necessary for the course, what are their relationship with teachers, students?
Undergraduate courses as a specific field, decoupled from research?
Emergent forces of change in education, “change facilitators”
How does an institution capture initiative? Cultural gap – reculturing, “being off-balance is/can be a learning moment”
Facilitators (can change culture) Tools (cannot change culture)
Clash between formal/informal technological infrastructure. Formal structure used for assessment purposes, but not necessarily useful for communication
Nina Rung Hoch
Student-centric vs departemental frames? Specific strategies?
A bit too many presenters in this session. I would have preferred fewer cases in greater detail – the Brazilian case in particular
Patricia Manson European Commission
Contrast between people’s online life (proactive, creating, sharing) and behaviour in learning situations.
The idea of learners as citizens, consumers, producers of information.
Stephen Downs: Reclaiming Personal Learning
LMS parallel to Facebook: Students are not the customers but the product (should be education)
Interaction as the essential feature
Www.downes.ca -> The personal website as reclaiming ownership of information (I’ve had my own site since 2005)
LMS – as the giant silos of learning, students and teachers give away information
Personal (for and by me) Personalized (sold to me)
Learning as becoming rather than acquiring
This is on a high abstraction level but useful when we consider where our students are and how they develop their knowledge of the field of social work. Finally, consider how the connections between an institutional setting, students and future employers could and should be organised
US – “talk about students as consumers” Point?
Selfie as image: Ease of production and sharing (also: Images vs text, context vs. universal) -> the desire to produce
Expectations and availability of technology (but technology vs functionality -> eg. the PowerPoint as overhead)
(Fellow) Students rather than materials as incentive to participate -> Students as change agents/co-creators Can this fit with our national curriculum
Ola Rosling, Gapminder
Unlearning – human intuition
Visualization as tool for communicating data
Open data – ability to track and assess the quality of data
Fact-based world view most things improve
“Rich and poor” -> Normal distribution
“First rich, then social” -> First social, then rich (eg girls’ education)
“Sharks are dangerous” -> poverty is dangerous
“How intuition fools us” as an issue in education
take-home coming later
Note: Anne-Sofie and Anders were at the “Less Talk, More Action” session
Video -> from filmed lectures to open-domain films as starting-point for discussions
Teacher as “fellow node” – the power aspect of learning in groups
Broadcast pedagogy – Industrialised countries transferring education to developing countries
Not online version of existing courses
Teacher role not reduced to facilitation
Note the issue with enrollment and completion rates
“Mooc space” – marketed with traditional symbols of prestige universities vs the human element in the mooc (video as symbol for human)
Note the criticism of the “broadcast prestige institution” image of Moocs (popular w politicians)
Definition of “human interaction” – human/technology
Factors influencing completion rates
Note discussion about activities outside the Mooc, but also workload and structure of student work (group work/assignments) Remember we are talking moocs here – size of “classes”/groups
Hidden (technological) benefits of Moocs
Adaptive learning focus -> personalized learning toolkits – no clear leader
Collaborative technologies – small group collaboration
Big data about learning processes (open courses more attractive for experiments?)
Definition of success rates of moocs – comparison with campus-based programmes/courses, moocs as content marketing This is less relevant to people in public higher education where we are paid per graduation
Take-home: The discussions about the teacher role and human interaction. Lecturer/facilitator/feedback. Students’ expectation of feedback/interaction
Open innovation – involving external stakeholders into the internal development processes (for free…) -> formats
Forum for students’ proposals – and comments by other students
Uni Bonn -> review, comments
Reward system for activities -> suggestions to implementation;
Student involvement into development processes, platforms for discussion, experiences with services and curriculum design
Question: When do students (or other stakeholders) know what they need <- Expertise vs. demand
Students’ use of LMS -> limited
App (voluntary base), courses creating virtual patients, MD theses, guide course for the practical year in medicine programme
Cases from the floor -> tasks demanding student creation (note Danish teacher education)
– resources: time and financing
– group dynamics -> in medicine very dependent on previous knowledge (groups of 6-7)
Lecturers controlling/evaluating case quality
We do use a lot of cases in modules during our BA programme: Input? Assessment? Unrelated to elearning but have we evaluated the usefulness of different cases?
Take-home consideration: Student development of projects and cases
(Point of departure is an elearning-based campus course)
Subject covered in jargon and acronyms -> students have to learn a new language.
Have students try and unravel jargon in scientific papers -> Each student has to indentify and define a number of technical expressions, tutor comments on quality of definitions
Case: Using Moodle’s glossary module (uploading and distribution reaching the group of students). Peer pressure main driver of action.
Translation into tasks for the social work programme. Platform?
(Four presentations was a bit steep)
Big data – talior-made elearning (relevant if we know our student base?)
Cloud computing (in-house, out-house services?)
“New culture of learning”
-> institution vs learner-centrered (access, obsolete knowledge)
-> collaborative learning
-> social media
Our experience that students use forums etc outside of the formal course structure, LMS technologies used to questions rather than debate. What do we actually know about our students’ use of traditional and social web resources?
Physical environment – circle structure
Wikip/edia – learning curve for students in handling the platform? Documenting collaboration?
Self-learners vs. formal demands to professionals?
Financial constraints -> teachers are expensive, knowledge cheap
Demands on evidence in professions?
Student competences in handling web creation and publication (eg personal WordPress installations) -> as against Facebook or corporate servers
Realistic to expect that students have read the syllabus in advance?
“Big” as buzzword?
Policy interventions in the 20th C -> expansion of access to HE
Technology -> In effect a tool to continue to expand access? (OECD, developing world)
Quality issues -> Technology doesn’t lift learning games/outcomes (completion, employability, skills training issues)
LMS and digital resources levelling out?
Analysis/Assessment of developments at the point of learning
Innovation: Can we have a role beyond scaling?
Interplay between technological delevopments and institutional frameworks
Assessment criteria -> Learning outcomes -> Storyboard
Question: Specific problems with assessment in fields dominated by practical, situation-specific knowledge? (-> phronesis)
Storyboard – high-level structure of a course or process (differences between programmes with 3.5 year-arcs and 10-week modules? -> Technology, groups)
Two questions: Do our present distance programme have implicit sotrybords? And to what degree should the programme have module- or programme-wide storyboards (we do not have an answer on that)?
Shorter take-home: Storyboarding could be a strategy for handling the complexities of a multi-discipline course and it could help put learning objectives more in the centre of planning. It would, on the other hand, also highlight that a lot of resources would have to go into planning an maintaining such course modules.
(Despite the headline, I’ll be covering all of Wednesday’s workshop here, it will be more of a messy notepad than a substantial post)
Not sure about the “magic” bit but two cases
1. Getting a student group to consider views on society based on a discussion between two teachers
2. Getting a group to reflect collectively on experiences from visiting a job centre
Themes here would be feedback, group discussion (peer-to-peer interaction, student-teacher interaction), collaboration, linking theory and practical observations in a professional programme.
How to transfer to a distance-learning environment?
-> the issue of discussion tools (we experience our students migrating from Fronter to Facebook, still the question of cooperation vs collaboration?)
-> peer assessment
Testing – adaptive tools (is that even possible in Fronter?)
Possible tools for interaction
– discussion forums
– mindmap (-> it this possible in Fronter)
– live chat
– wiki (-> same? Steep learning curve)
– blog (-> )
– collaborative writing tools
Journal – private (how could we use this in a portfolio-based exam?)
Note: Specific services vs. aims/uses. One point here could be to argue how aware we could/should be of specific services?
LMS/Web: When do we use the (open) web
– spontaneously: Students leave the LMS when it is too cumbersome or lacks functionality for them, user-friendliness and flexibility
– teacher driven (same)
– social interaction (which the LMS doesn’t facilitate)
(Consideration: Relationship between teachers/educators and IT-departments -> “Free” services)
Problems with using the web
– Technical challenges (access, future overkill)
– Loss of control
– private space
– possibilities for customisation
– grading purposes, feedback
– limit access for competitors
Consideration on experiences: Students opt out of LMC because of the ability to create closed groups plus familiarity with Facebook and Skype. Do we know what they do there and how it can be put to work in campus and online programmes?
Discussion forums – question: Teacher presence during courses? How, when, which subjects?
Cosideration on tools: The problem isn’t so much lack of tools – but a) our knowledge of the available tools and b) differences between tools provided by the institution and tools used by the students (eg UC Lillebælt has Adobe Connect, students and teachers use Skype)
If we assume that internet access (broadband) isn’t a problem, teacher and student skills (technical and didacticL) may be more of a hindrance,
– Which tools would be relevant, and why? (This also has to fit with the specific aims of the course/module)