Widget creation and learning design templates – re-use in action

Sustainability and re-use of project outputs is a perennial issue. However I was really heartened this week to see a great example of a project using and building on previously funded work from the WIDE project.

WIDE is part of the current JISC funded DVLE programme. It is one of three six month rapid development projects. “WIDE is a joint project between the Accessibility Research Centre at Teesside University, JISC TechDis and Portland College that aims to make online learning more accessible and inclusive for disabled students/learners. Our objective is to develop open educational resources that will improve or support the learning experience and can be shared and adapted by the community.”

The project has been developing widgets through a series of user engagement workshops. The workshops have adapted the learning design templates created the the RLO CETL a couple of years ago as part of their Sharing the Load project which was part of the JISC funded Design for Learning Programme. They’ve also created a widget storyboard template building from the original learning design templates.. Having been involved in the support of that programme as well as the DVLE programme, it is heartening to see re-use and progression of project outputs.

The WIDE project website has more information on the workshops as well as links to the widgets that have been built so far (28 and counting!), a tutorial “creating a calendar widget”, APIs, and lots of other great stuff. It’s well worth spending half an hour browsing resources – who knows you maybe inspired for some re-use too.

Learning for the future, TEPL SIG and George Siemens

Sometimes adverse weather conditions can work in your favour and our increasingly connected world is making it far easier to cope without being in an office. Yesterday, I was supposed to be in Oxford at a Sakai implementation meeting, but due to the weather I decided that it probably wasn’t the best idea to be venturing out on planes and trains. However, through the magic of twitter I spied that the talk by George Siemens at Glasgow Caledonian University was being streamed, so I logged in and was able to join the TEPL SIG meeting. Simultaneously, again through the magic of twitter, I was also able to keep an eye on what was happening in Oxford via the #sakaiuk twitter stream.

Formerly the Supporting Sustainable eLearning SIG, the Technology Enhanced Professional Learning (TELP) SIG has held a series of seminars around key challenges for learning; learning for work; learning to learn; learning for change and the topic George Siemens tackled yesterday – learning for the future.

As George talked about increased connectivity, the role of activity streams such as twitter feeds, and the notion of fluid centres of information coalescing around topics/communities at different times. I couldn’t help reflecting that this increasingly how my working life is lived (for want of a better word). In my context, being (almost) constantly connected, and having fluid information centres actually allows me to far more effective and as yesterday so clearly illustrated, almost be in three places at once. However, for traditional HE and in fact any level of education, moving from the traditional boundaries of the (almost totally teacher) pre-determined course to one that is more connected and fluid such as the Massively Open Online courses George runs with Stephen Downes and others is still a huge challenge. How can everyday teaching and learning practice adapt to use these fluid centres effectively?

George also spoke about the notion of the world of data, and how we need to recognise that all our online interactions are data too. Increasingly it is our data streams which define us and more importantly how others perceive us. I already find it scary how accurate some retailers are at customer profiling and sending me links to books I want to read before I know I want to read them. And of course, the recent twitter joke trial and the current situation with wikileaks are starting to draw new battlelines around freedom of speech, freedom of information and covert (and not so covert) government pressure on service providers and individuals.

However on a more positive note, George talked about the iKLAM (integrated knowledge and learning analytics) model, which looks at bringing together physical and locational data with online activities to improve personal learning knowledge evaluation. This could be a key transition point allowing the move from the traditional “bounded” course to a place where “intelligent curriculum meets analytics meets social network meets personal profile” which would bring more peer participatory pedagogy. A semantic curriculum could also bring around shifts in assessment allowing more augmented, peer related, and more engaging.

Of course, George did acknowledge that this shift was not a natural progression and our institutional culture is not going to change overnight. However I do think that we are starting to see changes in attitudes towards data, and more importantly the effective use of data.

In the JISC Curriculum Design programme, great leaps are being made by projects in terms of streamlining their data collection processes and workflows for course approval and validation and relating them to what is actually delivered. The Dynamic Learning Maps project (part of the JISC Curriculum Delivery programme) is an example of bringing a variety of institutional based information and allowing students to add/personalise their maps with their own resources. The LUCERO project at the OU is investigating use linked data for courses and Liam Green-Huges has just written an guest blog on his experiments with their linked data store, including using course data in Facebook. Well worth a read if you are interested in using linked data.

I had to delve into other steams in the afternoon, but the discussions continued and a top ten recommendations for future learning were created:

    1. Open up educational resources
    2. Widen out debate discussion on Connections, Clouds, Things, and Analytics
    3. Think of how to readically change professional learning/staff development in higher education to embrace these ideas
    4. Think about the skills/ compenetcies and minsets required of academics for future learning
    5. Move away from the ‘one size fits all’ IT model
    6. Change the mindsets of academics required for future
    7. Find ways to implement and use analytics
    8. Rethink assessment – not just content but the ‘form’ of assessment as well
    9. Make sure organisational change is constant (e.g. continual professional learning)
    10. Consider the necessity of digital literacies and what this means for the intelligent curriculum

George’s presentation is available on slideshare.