I wish I’d said that . . . reflections from #digifest17

You know how it is, despite how much you plan for a debate/live speaking situation,  there’s always something that pops in to your head on the train home that makes you think, “oh I wish I’d said that.”  Since last week’s digifest I have had several of those moments.

As I wrote about last week, I took part in the “do analytics interventions always need to be mediated by humans” debate.  I was defending that  motion. I tried to explain my thoughts in this post.  Richard Palmer from Tribal put up a strong case taking the other view. In the end, despite me claiming a Trump like spectacular, popular victory ( Many people said so), the final vote was pretty close.  Due mainly to the word “always” and Richard’s pretty convincing argument that there are some alerts and “low level” interventions  can be automated and so do not “always” need human intervention.

However, of course they do. The final intervention/ action from any alert, analytics intervention has to be mediated by a human. In the context of our debate that means a student actually doing something as a direct result of that intervention. I wish I’d said that. And if students just ignore the automated alerts/interventions – what then? Are we measuring and monitoring that?  And what if all the power goes off?  What about alerts then? What happens when a student challenges the alert system for allowing s/he to fail? Oh, I wish I had said that  . . .

We do already alert students in a number of ways and we need to ensure we are having a dialogue with students so that we all understand what are the things that are actually motivating, and keep being motivating so that any student apps/alert systems we do produce don’t just suffer from the fitbit syndrome where obsession doesn’t actually lead to motivation but to disengagement.

The other thing – well it’s actually a word – that I wish I had said was “praxis”.  Part of my argument was to (very quickly and I confess somewhat superficially as I didn’t have a huge amount of time to prepare for the debate) draw some comparisons with learning  analytics and Freire’s  seminal Pedagogy of the Oppressed.  I did want to get the notion of praxis into the debate but on the day it didn’t quite happen.  However Mahi Bali picked this up over the weekend and commented on my blog.

“great title, Sheila, and bringing in Paulo Freire inside it is an additional bonus! I love where you’re going with this but would love it if you had the opportunity to take it further into more of Friere’s ideas with regards to praxis, consciousness-raising and empowerment of the oppressed. . . .What I think is interesting is the thinking of Paul Prinsloo on how to decolonize learning analytics such that learners possibly hold more power/control over their data and how it’s used. This could be a third path…

I couldn’t agree more. I think it really is time to discuss praxis in this context. Which brings me back to the core part of my argument last week. We need to have more debate and dialogue around learning analytics and the theoretical approaches we using to frame those dialogues.

I know this is a sweeping generalisation, please forgive me dear reader, but I do worry that emerging design models, partly driven by more fully online delivery, are defaulting to the now seemingly standard: read/watch, quiz, bit of “lite” discussion on the side of the page, badge/certificate  and repeat.  They are easy to measure, to “alert-ify”.  But they are not always the best educational experience.

I missed LAK this year and only so a few tweets so I’m sure that there is a lot of work going on a much higher levels in the learning analytics community. However there is still the nagging feeling in the back of my brain that discussing bayesian regression modelling is still quite dominant. I know last year at LAK there was a concerted effort to work with the learning sciences community, to bring in more learning theory.  But reflecting on last week, it seems to me that behaviourism is going to become (even more) embedded in our systems, in our KPIs, without us actually realising it or having the chance to have a an informed dialogue with our practising teachers and students. A post from Doug Clow from back in 2011,  springs to  mind, is the sinister sausage machine here?

Learning analytics, at least in digifest terms, seems to be the current “future now”.  There were so many session with it as their main theme, it was hard to avoid it. On the one hand I think this is great to see. The debate, the dialogues I have been arguing for are being given a chance to begin. We just need to ensure that they are given enough critical space to continue.  And to that end I guess I should get my “butt in to action” and maybe take a bit more time to write something a bit more informed about praxis.  In the meantime here’s a short interview where Richard and I try to summarise our debate.

Time for Analytics of the Oppressed? – my starter for 10 for #digifest debate

Analytics of the Oppressed(1)

I have been asked to step into the breech so to speak for the learning analytics interventions should always be mediated by a human debate later this week at Digifest.

The structure for the debate is as follows:

The machine will argue they can use learning analytics to provide timely and effective interventions to students improving their chances of achieving better qualifications. Machines don’t forget or get sick; learning analytics is more accurate and not prejudiced; evidence for automated interventions.

The human will argue although machines can make predictions they will never be 100% accurate; only a person can factor personal circumstances; automated interventions could be demotivating; automated interventions are not ethical.

Fortunately for me I have been given the human side of the debate.  Unfortunately for the organisers,  Leanne Etheridge is no longer able to attend.  Leanne, I will do my best.

Preparation for the debate has started already with this blog post from  Richard Palme aka “the opposition”.  In order for me to get my thoughts into some kind of order for Wednesday morning’s debate,  I’m going to try and outline my reactions to the provocations outlined in the post by my learned colleague

Richard has outline three key areas where he believes there is increased potential for data driven system interventions.

  1. First of all, humans have a long history of believing that when certain things have always been done in one way, they should stay that way, far beyond the point where they need to be. . .  .If you look at Luddite rebellions, we thought that it should always be a human being who stretched wool over looms and now everyone agrees that’s an outdated concept. So, deciding that something needs to be done by a human because it always has been done by a human seems, at best, misguided.  

2. Secondly, people object that the technology isn’t good enough. That may, possibly, be the case right now but it is unlikely to be the case in the future. . . Technologies will improve. Learning analytics will become more advanced. The data that we hold about our students will become more predictive, the predictions we make will be better and at some point institutions will decide where their cost benefit line is and whether everything does have to be human-mediated.

3. Thirdly, how good do we actually think people are? Certainly, human beings can empathise and pick up on non-verbal or even non-data-related signals from other people, but when was the last time a computer turned up to work hungover? Or stressed or worried about something – or just didn’t turn up at all?. . . . Will a computer ever be better than the perfect person? Maybe, maybe not. But, let’s face it, people aren’t perfect. . . .We worry about computers sending insensitively worded emails and inappropriate interventions but we all know human beings who are poor communicators, who are just as capable, if not more, of being insensitive.

Where to start?  Well, despite us pesky humans almost falling at the first hurdle of not being able to be there in person – so unreliable!  We can pick up challenge and a thread from  where our colleagues have left off without the need for any additional programming.  I don’t know what Leanne was going to say, but I really like the 2 quotes for the 2 slides she has selected.  (I detect an air of confidence from only 2 slides!)

“ It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”  Albert Einstein

“Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way” George Evans.

Going back to Richard’s post I believe there is a truly  pressing need to challenge this apparently sensible, logical narrative.  The narrative that is being spun around data and analytics is becoming an ever complex web for us to break out of. But break out of it we must!  To paraphrase Paulo Freire  it is time for some critical analytics. It is time to seriously consider the analytics of the oppressed.

Point 1 – On humans “deciding that something needs to be done by a human because it always has been done by a human seems, at best, misguided.” I always worry when the Luddite card gets pulled into play.  The negative connotations that it implies, negates the many, many skilled craftspeople who were actually fighting for their livelihoods, their craft.  Audrey Watters explained this perfectly in her 2014 ALTC keynote Ed Tech Monsters.

“The Luddites sought to protect their livelihoods, and they demanded higher wages in the midst of economic upheaval,”

Sound familiar? It strikes me as uncannily similar to our current union campaigns for fair pay, to stamp out casualisation of academic staff contracts.   But it’s ok because the overriding managerial narrative is that data can help us rationalise, to streamline our processes. It’s been a while since  Friere wrote this, but again it rings true today.

Our advanced technological society is rapidly making objects of us and subtly programming us into conformity to the logic of its system to the degree that this happens, we are also becoming submerged in a new “Culture of Silence”

Point 2 – On technology not being good enough Technologies will improve. Learning analytics will become more advanced. The data that we hold about our students will become more predictive, the predictions we make will be better and at some point institutions will decide where their cost benefit line is and whether everything does have to be human-mediated.

Data about our students will be more predictive? Our predictions will be “better” – better at doing what?  Better at showing us the things we want to see? Getting our student “customers” through their “student success journeys” without any difficult interrogations, without the right to fail?  Or actually stopping someone actually starting/continuing their educational journey because their data isn’t the “right fit”?

The promise of increasing personalisation fits into an overwhelming narrative from ed tech companies that is permeating through governments, funding bodies, University leaders. Personalisation is the future of education. Personalised alerts are the natural progression to student success.  But are they just another form of manipulation? Assuaging the seemingly endless collective need to measure, monitor, fitbit-itize the educational experience?  The words of Fierre again ring true.

One of the methods of manipulation is to inoculate individuals with the bourgeois appetite for personal success. This manipulation is sometimes carried out directly by the elites and sometimes indirectly, through populist leaders.

Point 3 Just how good are people anyway? We don’t turn up, we get ill and we are biased. Well all of those apply to most systems I’ve ever interacted with. Our own biases are intrinsically linked to the systems we develop, to the interpretations of data we chose to accept.  As Fierre said

One cannot conceive of objectivity without subjectivity

I cannot agree that the downside of machine interventions are “no worse that humans doing it badly”. Surely we need to be engaging critically to ensure that no human or machine is doing anything “badly”.

The “system” should not  just be replicating current bad practice.  Data should provide us with new ways to encourage a richer dialogue about education and knowledge. Learning analytics can’t just be a way to develop alerting and intervention systems that provide an illusion of understanding, that acquiesce to not particularly well thought out government driven monitoring processes such as the TEF.

In these days of alternative facts, distrust of expert knowledge, human intervention is more crucial than ever. Human intervention is not just an ethical issue, it’s a moral imperative.   We need to care, our students need to care, our society needs to care. I”ll end now with the words of the Cassandra of EdTech, Audrey Watters

In order to automate education, must we see knowledge in a certain way, as certain: atomistic, programmable, deliverable, hierarchical, fixed, measurable, non-negotiable? In order to automate that knowledge, what happens to care?

Thinking about my own porosity, filter bubbles and twitter

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Image CC0 Pixabay

I’m hoping that this post can help me make sense of a number of things that I have been thinking about this week and actually for most of this year.  I’m not quite sure where to start, so I will just start at the beginning of this week and with the word “porosity”. What a lovely word, it’s even better when you say it out loud.

My blog, my twitter feed create a large part of my personal porosity. The porousness of my professional and private life  are really important to me. It’s how I connect, make sense, network.

I had a meeting with a few like minded colleagues about The Porous University event  taking place at UHI later this year.

The idea for this symposium arose out of a series of conversations and reflections on the nature of openness within Higher Education. It started with the observation that openness is increasingly seen as a technical question, whose solution lies in employing the low transaction costs associated with digital technologies with open licences to open up academic content to new groups of learners. . . . However, other questions also arise, what does it mean beyond releasing content? What is the role of open academics in dealing with problems “in the world”, how should staff and students become learners within community contexts, developing and negotiating curriculum based on those contexts? What would it mean for openness as a way to allow new voices into the academy, to acknowledge knowing and ways of knowing outside the academy, and where can and should our open spaces – both digital and physical – intersect?  If we are to advocate allowing learners experience and organisations to inform the academy how open should academics be to the influence of private capital?

As a self proclaimed open educator this event is “right up my street” and it chimes with my personal research interest around the nature of a digital university. However that’s not what this post is about.

I’ve been blogging for quite a while now, 10 years in fact.  Over the past decade my blogging has evolved from something I was told I had to do, to something that is now a habit. I often describe my blog as my professional memory. My blogging mantra has been If something significant (or even insignificant) happens – blog about it. Blogging has had a huge influence on my professional development, my professional reputation and has given me a voice (one that took a while to develop and is still evolving) and a platform.  It’s always been something that has given me pleasure, and a reason to write.  My blog is primarily for me, it’s not academically rigorous, and often a lot of rambling nonsense.

I try to post once a week, sometimes that doesn’t happen due to work/family commitments. However this year I have noticed that I am finding it harder to write blog posts.  Partly this is due to the fact that quite a bit of the work I am involved in just now isn’t really that exciting or at a stage where I have something that I actually want to talk about and share, and an underlying sense that actually certain parts of my institution don’t really want to share anything with anyone.  But more the bigger issue is that I am feeling more and more overwhelmed by what is going on in the world.  Brexit, Trump fake news – all things I feel I need to rally against  – but  what to say about it apart from WTF?

I am in an incredibly privileged position of having a voice, a platform a role (all be it a very small one) in helping to ensure that education is kept open, is always a place for debate for the extension and sharing of knowledge. So I do share all the amazingly articulate posts that many people in my network produce. I do share news items that question “fake news”, call out hypocrisy and my channel of choice for that is most often Twitter.

My engagement on twitter has always been mainly in a professional context. I have never felt the need to put the “my tweets are my own” disclaimer on my profile, as I have never felt the need or had the requirement.  I don’t work (yet) in a profession where there are statuary, professional body requirements around confidentiality and use of social media. Again, lucky me – long may that continue.

As anyone who follows me on twitter will know, the social part of social media isn’t lost on me. I’m probably better known for shoes and a penchant for a Twix every now and again as for anything meaningful that I may write in this blog.  Anyone who follows me will also probably know my stance on Brexit, Scottish independence, the orange one in the Whitehouse.

One of the things I have always loved about twitter is the feeling of serendipity it provides. I’m just thinking about something and someone tweets a link to a great resource about that very thing; I’m having a busy day writing deadly dull internal reports and up pops some people dancing their PhD . . .

This morning I spotted this post from David Hopkins. I think David really touches on something here about the evolution of twitter and how it is being used. I am conflicted because I agree with much of what David is saying – particularly around adverts and the need for more user control.

I am also aware that a my use of twitter is changing. Partly that is around needing to say something and not be silent – even it that something is just a retweet about the madness of the wider world, a link to encourage others to sign a petition. Partly,  it is again a feeling of being overwhelmed. Although I exist in a pretty “nice” middle class, liberal filter bubble, it is actually at times easier to dis-engage and get on with things.

Getting back to porosity,  I worry that it is getting harder for me to find a way to articulate the world around me, that the leaky moments are becoming fewer and further between.  I suspect I’m not alone.  I’m not giving up and I’m not stopping doing anything but I am re-considering my own relationship with open-ness, and something that I will be talking about in a panel session at OER17 next month. Which will give me something for me write about over the next couple of weeks.

ALT 2017-2020 Strategy Launch

Greater than the sum of our parts

Never mind the UK Government’s UK government digital strategy,  the most important strategy launch this week is the ALT  2017 – 2020 Strategy.

As Vice Chair of ALT I have been quite heavily involved in the development of the strategy. We have made a concerted effort to get input from our members through an extensive consultation process on their priorities . This has to form the basis of the work of the association.  Our Chair, Professor Martin Weller summarised this approach perfectly:

“As Chair, I’ve found the manner in which the strategy has been developed as significant as the strategy itself. ALT champions open practice, and the development of the strategy was an opportunity to ‘walk the talk’. The webinars, face to face session, and online form were all examples of how we seek to gather input from all members. The strategy itself provides a clear direction for the Association and positions it as a key voice in educational technology both nationally and internationally.”

The strategy itself is based around three key aims:

  • Aim 1: Increase the impact of Learning Technology for public benefit
  • Aim 2: Provide stronger recognition of and representation for Learning Technology professionals on a national level
  • Aim 3: Lead the professionalisation of research and practice in Learning Technology

and highlights our values around our members, participation, our independence and our commitment to openness.

What we value

This year we also worked with Mr Visual Thinkery, Bryan Mathers, who joined one of our Trustee meetings and produced a fabulous set of images which we have been able to incorporate into the strategy. The images, like the strategy document, are available to re-use through a CC licence. All are available here.

You can read more of my thoughts on the strategy and its developments on the official strategy launch blog post.  I am looking forward to continuing to work with and for the ALT membership in implementing the new strategy.

If the product works, but what about the people?

This is probably going to be an even more incoherent ramble than normal but I have been trying to write posts around a number of things for the last couple of weeks I’m going to try and merge them.

A couple of weeks ago, I read this post by David Wiley. At the time I tweeted:

I confess to a more than a bit of this sentiment, and not just in relation to OER,   “Much of the OER movement has a bad attitude about platforms.” I am always wary when the focus is on developing platforms and not developing the people who will use these platforms.

I was once in a meeting where I put forward the “people and process not platforms and products” case. I was told that what was being discussed was platform “in the Californian sense of platform”.  . .  I’m sure a classic WTF look must have passed over my face, but it was explained that this meant people as well as technology.  Geography aside, three years later this sense of platform doesn’t seem to be that wide spread or acknowledged. Maybe I need to go to California. But I digress.

Not long before the Wiley post I was reading the Pearson White Paper on learning design.  It caused me a bit of unease too.  Part of me was delighted to see learning design being recognised by, whatever might happen to them, a significant player in the education technology provider field.   Using learning design to help product design is a bit of a no brainer. Technology should be driven by educational need or as Pearson put it :

“Products and systems that effectively leverage learning design can deliver superior learning outcomes.”

One example in the paper referred to work they had done in social science classes

“we quickly recognized that students were easily distracted by conventional textbooks. This told us we needed to eliminate distractions: any extraneous cognitive load that doesn’t promote learning. Fortunately, our learning design work reveals many proven techniques for accomplishing this. REVEL segments all content into manageable pieces and presents it via a consistent structure. It provides strong signaling cues to highlight key material and places all relevant content on screen simultaneously to offer a continuous, uninterrupted experience”

Which kind of related to this point from the Wiley post:

“Our fixation on discovery and assembly also distracts us from other serious platform needs – like platforms for the collaborative development of OER and open assessments (assessments are the lifeblood of this new generation of platforms), where faculty and students can work together to create and update the core materials that support learning in our institutions. Our work in OER will never be truly sustainable until faculty and students jointly own this process, and that can’t happen until a new category of tools emerges that enables and supports this critical work. (Grant money for OER creation won’t last forever.)

And don’t even start trying to explain how the LMS is the answer. Just don’t. “

Well of course Pearson do try to explain that:

“As testing progresses, we can overcome problems that compromise outcomes and build a strong case that our design will support learning. The very same work also helps us tightly define assessments to find out if the product works in real classrooms”

Of course they don’t really touch on the OER aspect (all their learning design stuff has been made available with CC goodness) but I’ll come back to that.

That phrase “if the product works”, I keep coming back to that.  So on the one hand I have to be pleased that Pearson are recognising learning design. I have no argument with their core principles .  I agree with them all.  But I am still left with the niggle around the  assumption that the platform will “do” all the learning design  for both staff and students. That underlying  assumption that if only we had the right platform all would be well, everything could be personalised, through data and analytics and we’d have no retention issues.  That niggles me.

I was part of a plenary panel at the HESPA conference last week called “the future of learner analytics” where a number of these issues came up again.   The questions asked by this group of educational planners really stimulated a lot of debate. On reflection I was maybe a bit of a broken record.  I kept coming back not to platforms but people and more importantly time.  We really need to give our staff and students (but particularly our staff) time to engage with learning analytics.   Alongside the technical infrastructure for learning analytics we need to asking where’s the CPD planning for analytics?  They need to go hand in hand. Cathy Gunn, Jenny McDonald and John Milne’s excellent paper “the missing link for learning from analytics” sums this up perfectly:

there is a pressing need to add professional development and strategies to engage teachers to growing range of learning analytics initiatives If these areas are not addressed, adoption of the quality systems and tools that are currently available or underdevelopment may remain in the domain of the researchers and data analysis experts” 

There seems to be an assumption that personalisation of learning is a “good thing” but is it?  Going back to learning design, designing engaging learning activities is probably more worthwhile and ultimately more useful to students and society than trying to create homogenised, personalised chunked up content and assessments.  Designing to create more effective engagement with assessment and feedback is, imho, always going to be more effective than trying to design the perfect assessment platform.

In terms of assessment, early last week I was also at a Scotbug (our regional Blackboard user group) meeting, where I was in a group where we had to design an assessment system. This is what we came up with – the flipped assessment – aka student generated assessments.

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Not new, but based on pedagogy and technology that is already in use ( NB there’s been a really great discussion around some of this in the ALT list this weekend).   I don’t think we need any new platforms for this type of approach to assessment and feedback – but we do need to think about learning design (which encapsulates assessment design) more, and give more time for CPD for staff to engage more with the design process and the technologies they either have to,  use or want to use.  This of course all relates to digital capability and capacity building.

So whilst  we’re thinking about next gen platforms, learning environments, please let’s not forget people. Let’s keep pressing for time for staff CPD to allow the culture shifts to happen around understand the value of OER, of sharing, of taking time to engage with learning design and not just having to tweak modules when there’s a bit of down time.

People are the most important part of any  learning environment – next gen, this gen, past gen. But people need time to evolve too, we can’t forget them or try to design out the need for them for successful learning and teaching to take place. Ultimately it’s people that will make the product work.

Where Sheia’s been this week – codesigning next gen learning environments with Jisc

You may or may not be aware of Jisc’s current co-design consultation exercise with the HE/FE sector.  The co-design approach is a way to try and ensure that Jisc developments are supportive and representative of the needs of the sector.   Building on feedback from the first iteration of the process, this time around there has been a concerted effort to get wider sectoral involvement in the process through various methods, including social media, blog posts, tweet chats and voting.

Yesterday, along with about 30 others, I attended a face to face meeting to explore, review and discuss the results of the process and feedback on the six “big” challenges identified by Jisc.

  1. What does the imminent arrival of the intelligent campus mean for universities and colleges?
  2. What should the next generation of digital learning environments do?
  3. What should a next-generation research environment look like?
  4. Which skills do people need to prepare for research practice now and in the future?
  5. What would truly digital apprenticeships look like?
  6. How can we use data to improve teaching and learning?

You can see the results of the voting here too.

The voting process does need some refinement as Andy McGregor was clear to point out, and we really used it and the comments as a guide for the discussions.  Personally I found the voting process a bit cumbersome – having to fill out a google doc for each one. I can see why Jisc wanted to get all that information but I would have preferred something a bit more instant with the option of giving more detailed information. That might have encouraged me to cast more than one vote  . . .

I joined the next generation learning environments discussion. I had been quite taken with the pop up VLE notion but as the discussion evolved it became clearer to me that actually the idea articulated so well by Simon Thomson (Leeds Beckett Uni) of connecting institutional and user owned tech was actually a much stronger proposition and in a way the pop up VLE would fall out of that.

The concept is really building on the way that IFTT (if this then than) works, however with a focus on connecting institutional systems to personal ones.  Please, please read Simon’s post as it explains the rationale so clearly.   I use IFTT and love the simplicity of being able to connect my various online spaces and tools, and extending that into institutional systems seems almost a no brainer.

We talked about space a lot in our discussion, personal space, institutional space etc (Dave White has a good post on spaces which relates to this).  For both staff and students it can be quite complex to manage, interact in and understand these spaces.

We (teachers, support staff,  IT, the institution) are often a bit of obsessed with controlling spaces.  We do need to ensure safety and duty of care issues are dealt with but activity around learning doesn’t always need to take place in our spaces e.g. the VLE.  Equally we (staff) shouldn’t feel that they have to be in all the spaces where students maybe talking about learning. If students want to discuss their group activity on snapchat, what’s app, Facebook then let them. They can manage their interaction in those spaces. What we need to be clear on is the learning activity, the key interactions and expectations of outputs and in which spaces the learning activities/outputs need to be.  The more connected approach advocated by Simon could allow greater ease of connection between spaces for both staff and students.

Providing this type of  architecture (basically building and sharing more open APIs)  is not trying to replace a VLE, portfolio system etc, but actually allowing for greater choice around engagement in,  and sharing of,  learning activity. If I like writing in evernote (as I do) why can’t I just post something directly into a discussion forum in our VLE? Similarly if our students (as ours do) have access to one note and are using it, why can’t they choose to share their work directly into the VLE?  Why can’t I have my module reading lists easily saved into a google doc?

This isn’t trying to replace integrations such as LTI, or building blocks that bring systems/products  into systems. This is much more about personalisation and user choice  around notifications, connections and sharing into systems that you (need to) use.  It’s lightweight, not recreating any wheels but just allowing more choice.

So at  a university level you could have a set of basic connections (recipes) illustrating how students and staff and indeed the wider community could interact with institutionally provided systems, and then staff/students decided which ones (if any) they want to use, or create their own.  Ultimately it’s all about user choice. If you don’t want to connect that way then you don’t have to. It’s lightweight, not recreating any wheels but just allowing more choice

As well as helping to focus on actual learning activity, I would hope that this approach would helping institutions  to think about their core institutional provision, and “stuff that’s out there and we all are using” – aka byod.  It would also hopefully allow for greater ease of experimentation without having to get a system admin support to try something out in the VLE.

I would hope this would also help extend support and understanding of the need for non monolithic systems and get edtech vendors to build more flexible interaction/integration points.

Anyway hopefully there will be more soon from Jisc, and Simon actually has some funding to trying an build a small prototype based on this idea.  Jisc will also be sharing the next steps from all the ideas over the coming weeks.  Hopefully this idea is simple and agile enough to get into the Jisc R&D pipeline.

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Jisc R&D Pipeline

#BYOD4L reflections, adding another “c” to the mix – custodian v (re) designer

A large part of my last week was taken up with the Bring Your Own Device for Learning (#BYOD4L). Along with my co-organisers Alex Spiers and Neil Withnell, and our lovely team of mentors (couldn’t have done it without you guys).  I was connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating all over “t’interweb”. Well, to be more accurate I was actually active on twitter with a wee splash of periscope. I glanced a bit a google+ but it’s only really today that I have been able to make some time to reflect on the week.

One area we wanted to try and engage our community with this year was reflection,  the notion of developing their own (digital) stories of their experiences. You can see some stories here, and this blog post which explains our thinking in a bit more detail.

We really hoped that this approach might help share some of the conversations and practice sharing that take particularly in the tweet chats.  Also from a more pragmatic point of view, due to my departmental restructuring, I have had to articulate the value of my participation in the event and the value of running f2f drop in sessions during the week. Being able to describe how this informal learning experience can be valuable for formal CPD has been slightly higher on my agenda than on previous years.

It’s probably too early to say if/how this approach has worked, but both online and in our f2f session colleagues were talking about how they were going to try new  their own contexts. I’m certainly going to try mentimeter for feedback.

Looking at the google+ community I was taken by this post from Józefa Fawcett. Apart from really liking the format of the post.  It really got me thinking about my role in the event and some of the opportunities and challenges of taking over the running of an established open course.

BYOD4L was created by Chrissi Nerantzi and Sue Buckingham. They have published widely and openly about the underpinning pedagogical model they developed and used to design the course.

BYOD4L has always embraced a number of online spaces – the main site (which is a wordpress blog), twitter, google +, Facebook (though that community has kind of naturally come to an end).  This can be overwhelming and confusing for many, but for people like me ( a bit of a digital flibbertigibbet ) it’s not a problem, from the beginning I embraced the chaos challenges of communicating across multiple platforms.

This is the second year that Neil, Alex and I have been in charge of the event. And it strikes me now that we haven’t really ever had a big discussion about changing the design.  It’s not that we’ve not talked about it, we just haven’t haven’t had a big chat around the design and any potential re-design. We all, I think,  take comfort from the “if it ain’t broke . . .” adage. We are all also limited by amount of time we can spare to actually make any substantial changes.

Today I’m  wondering have we been subconsciously acting more like custodians of the event, the original learning design and web design.  Not wanting to change the original design in case we offended Chrissi or Sue by changing their design. Which is odd really as it is an open resource, we all claim to be open practitioners, and both Chrissi and Sue I’m sure would be delighted if we did.  Any changes, like adding daily periscope broadcasts, the idea of personal stories have maybe been more like tinkering round the edges.

One of the perennial challenges of getting people to use OERs is that of context.  Early studies such as the Good Intentions report highlighted that.  People can feel it’s almost easier to create their own resource than to edit an existing one.  For me, with BYBO4L it has almost been the opposite. The overall design works (despite some of the confusion that some people feel) so why change it?

Perhaps we should have made the time to really edit and update, in particular, the blog. But part of me feels like that is the history of the event which should be shared and I don’t actually have the right to significantly change it or archive it.  Or is that just an excuse for bad resource and archiving management on my part (aka laziness)?  I thought writing this post my help me with this conundrum, but I think I need a bit more time. If you have any suggestions or thoughts then I’d love to hear them.

Ring for Custodian