Posted tagged ‘professional development’

Constructive criticism of Coursera

23 November 2016

Well it’s taken me over 3 and a half years, but I’ve finally completed another mooc.

I use the term completed loosely, because while I consumed all the content, I didn’t submit any of the assignments. In other words, I completed the course as far as my personal learning needs are concerned, while still feeding the naysayers’ MOOCs-are-a-failure-because-their-completion-rate-is-low argument.

The mooc in question was e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age by the University of Illinois on the Coursera platform. I found the Australian accents of the instructors a pleasant surprise, and the quality of the content top-notch.

The course revolved around 7 affordances of e-learning “ecologies”, with 2 presented each week. I have put the word ecologies in inverted commas because I would have used the term “pedagogies” instead. Nonetheless, while most e-learning professionals would be familiar with (or at least aware of) each of the affordances, I found it worthwhile to review them in turn, which also provoked deep tangential thinking.

Speaking of tangents, one of the instructors supplemented his presentations with interesting vignettes about his educational heroes from history, which I found both informative and engaging.

Pulp fiction cover entitled Amazing Wonder Stories: Cognitive Reality: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and other stuff!

Despite my overall satisfaction with this course, however, I experienced yet again a couple of perennial bugbears. Accordingly I offer the following points of constructive criticism to Coursera.

1. Lack of instructor interaction.

I am sensitive to the “massive” in mooc, and appreciate the fact that the instructors can’t possibly respond to every contribution in the social forum.

However, I found their total lack of participation really quite odd, especially in the early days when I seemed to be the only one posting anything.

Given the subject matter of this course, it’s also ironic!

2. Obscure pricing.

It may be widely known among enthusiasts that moocs are free, but this fact is not widely known among the general population.

I’ve lost count of the number of times my colleagues have contacted me to double- and triple-check that the Coursera courses which I have curated for them are indeed free. Either the price (i.e. $0 or “FREE”) is not mentioned, or the effectively meaningless “Audit” is used in its place.

Coursera’s push towards paid courses – which, by the way, are not moocs – only serves to muddy the waters.

I don’t know if it’s due to Coursera’s genesis in Higher Education or for some other reason, but it’s evident they do not understand their prospective customers in the corporate sector.

Our secret world of learning

22 September 2016

One of my peers in Australia, Arun Pradhan, is developing an app to help us learn smarter, faster and deeper.

To gain insight on how we learn in the real world, he’s reaching out to L&D professionals, CEOs, entrepreneurs, actors and artists who have mastered complex skills, with the aim of uncovering our “learning secrets”.

Arun asks 4 specific questions and my answers are as follows…

Someone telling someone else a secret

Q1. In your working life, how have you learned effectively from experience, please provide an example if possible? (e.g. how have you used intentional practice, learned from failure, learned from ambitious projects and/or used reflection)

When I first got into e-learning, it was all very new for everyone. Of course computer-based training had been around for decades, but when the World Wide Web took off in the 1990’s, it transformed education.

When I assumed my first role in this space, I learned mostly through experience because there weren’t many alternatives available. I would learn what I needed to “on the go” or just in time, immediately putting it into practice and seeing how it went – whether that be the design of a web page by tinkering with HTML and JavaScript, or the production of a saleable product by getting onto the platform and just working it out.

Q2. In your working life, how have you learned effectively from people, please provide an example if possible? (e.g. how have you learned from project teams, mentors, coaches and/or broader social networks)

Over time I’ve realised that learning from other people is not only important but crucial to my professional development. Conferences get a bit of a beat-up these days, but I always learn something useful from seeing what other people have done. I also like meetups, and social media has taken my peer-to-peer networking to a whole new level.

I think it’s important to maintain relationships with people who are not only knowledgeable and experienced, but also open and generous; these relationships are two-way streets as you learn from each other. I also know someone whom I respect immensely and whom I consider a mentor; I seek his insight on matters that I’m thinking about, and I’ll bounce ideas off him to get his perspective.

So my recommendation is to actively engage with other people, utilising all the various means of doing so.

Q3. In your working life, how have you learned effectively from courses, research or investigation, please provide an example if possible? (e.g. how have you learned from reading on the web, reading books or attending conferences/courses)

It’s all very well to learn from experience and roll with the punches as you go along, but you have to beware not knowing what you don’t know.

When I decided to make e-learning my career, I went back to university to do a Masters in Learning Sciences & Technology. This course opened up my eyes to concepts that I would never have appreciated otherwise, such as learning theory, and raised my awareness of important empirical research.

Post-uni, I read lots of blogs and keep an eye on the academic journals. I also like to run my own “mini” research studies at work by trialling something new and seeing how it goes.

Q4. What’s your top advice for someone who wishes to develop faster and learn complex skills in modern workplaces?

You have to do it. Yes, read widely and talk to lots of people, but not at the expense of giving it a go. Only then can you gain the insights you really need and appreciate the nuances of real-life application.

The workplace is only ever going to get more VUCA, so by maintaining an experimental mindset you can be confident to take on whatever comes.

Blue dot   Blue dot   Blue dot

If you would like to respond to Arun’s questions, he invites you to do so here.

E-Learning conferences in Australia in 2016

5 January 2016

It’s only January, but already 2016 is shaping up to be a big year of PD opportunities for e-learning professionals down under.

The following list of conferences is an organic one, so keep an eye on it!

Perth skyline

Gamification Central 2016
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 18-19 February 2016
• More info: ARK Group

Learning Cafe UnConference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 25 February 2016
• More info: Learning Cafe

National FutureSchools Conferences
• Where: Sydney
• When: 3-4 March 2016
• More info: FutureSchools

iDESIGNX Live 2016
• Where: Sydney
• When: 16 March 2016
• More info: LearnX

National Blended Learning Conference 2016
• Where: Sydney
• When: 16-17 March 2016
• More info: Liquid Learning

Digital Disruption X 2016
• Where: Sydney
• When: 22-23 March 2016
• More info: IQPC

Connected Education Summit
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 19-20 April 2016
• More info: Connect Expo

CeBIT Australia
• Where: Sydney
• When: 2-4 May 2016
• More info: CeBIT Australia

AITD National Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 5-6 May 2016
• More info: AITD

EduTECH
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 30-31 May 2016
• More info: EduTECH

Education Nation
• Where: Sydney
• When: 7-8 June 2016
• More info: Quest Events

Online & e-Learning Summit
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 21-23 June 2016
• More info: IQPC

Forward Government Learning 2016
• Where: Canberra
• When: 26-28 July 2016
• More info: ARK Group

Emerging Trends in Learning & Working
• Where: Sydney
• When: 3 August 2016
• More info: Global Mindset

Learning Cafe UnConference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 18 August 2016
• More info: Learning Cafe

Leading a Digital School Conference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 25-27 August 2016
• More info: iwbNet

Blended Learning Conference for Emergency Services, Enforcement and Defence
• Where: Sydney
• When: 20-21 September 2016
• More info: Liquid Learning

Australasian Simulation Congress
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 26-29 September 2016
• More info: Simulation Australasia

2016 Eportfolio Forum
• Where: Sydney
• When: 28-29 September 2016
• More info: ePortfolios Australia

Australian Council for Computers in Education Conference
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 29 September – 2 October 2016
• More info: ACCE2016

MoodleMoot Australia 2016
• Where: Perth
• When: September / October 2016
• More info: MoodleMoot

LearnX Live 2016
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 18 October 2016
• More info: LearnX

mLearn 2016
• Where: Sydney
• When: 23-26 October 2016
• More info: mLearn 2016

Learning@Work 2016
• Where: Sydney
• When: 24-25 October 2016
• More info: Learning@Work

Gamification Sydney 2016
• Where: Sydney
• When: 25-27 October 2016
• More info: ARK Group

Digital Transformation & Emerging Trends in Learning & Working
• Where: Sydney
• When: 3 November 2016
• More info: Global Mindset

ASCILITE 2016
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 28-30 November 2016
• More info: ASCILITE

MoodlePosium 2016
• Where: Canberra
• When: 5-6 December 2016
• More info: MoodlePosium

If you are aware of another e-learning related conference in Australia, please let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

E-Learning conferences in Australia in 2015

3 February 2015

Here we go again with another round of awesome PD opportunities for e-learning professionals in the land down under!

While not all of these conferences focus purely on e-learning, the observant among us will discover components of interest.

Brisbane skyline

The Future of Learning in Higher Education Summit
• Where: Sydney
• When: 16-17 February 2015
• More info: Informa

The Learning Assembly Australia
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 17-19 February 2015
• More info: Ark Group

Learning Cafe UnConference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 18 February 2015
• More info: Learning Cafe

iDESIGNX
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 25 February 2015
• More info: LearnX

Intranets Strategy and Design Australia 2015
• Where: Sydney
• When: 4-5 March 2015
• More info: Ark Group

FutureSchools Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 11-12 March 2015
• More info: FutureSchools

Special Education Technology Needs Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 11-12 March 2015
• More info: FutureSchools

ClassTECH Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 11-12 March 2015
• More info: FutureSchools

Blended Learning Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 18-19 March 2015
• More info: Liquid Learning

Social Media in Tertiary Education Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 25-26 March 2015
• More info: Criterion Conferences

International Conference on Human Computing, Education and Information Management System
• Where: Sydney
• When: 27-28 March 2015
• More info: ICHCEIMS

Connected Education Summit
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 22 April 2015
• More info: Connect Show

CeBIT Australia
• Where: Sydney
• When: 5-7 May 2015
• More info: CeBIT Australia

THETA 2015
• Where: Gold Coast
• When: 11-13 May 2015
• More info: THETA Australasia

AITD National Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 13-14 May 2015
• More info: AITD

iMoot 2015
• Where: Online (Perth)
• When: 28 May – 1 June 2015
• More info: iMoot

Amplify Festival
• Where: Sydney & Melbourne
• When: 1-5 June 2015
• More info: Amplify

EduTECH
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 2-3 June 2015
• More info: EduTECH

MoodleMoot Australia 2015
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 6-8 July 2015
• More info: Moodle HQ

Forward Government Learning 2015
• Where: Canberra
• When: 23-24 July 2015
• More info: Ark Group

KM Australia 2015
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 4-6 August 2015
• More info: KM Australia

SimHealth2015
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 17-21 August 2015
• More info: Simulation Australasia

SimTecT2015 – Asia-Pacific Simulation Training Conference
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 17-21 August 2015
• More info: Simulation Australasia

Learning Cafe UnConference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 19 August 2015
• More info: Learning Cafe

Leading a Digital School Conference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 20-22 August 2015
• More info: iwbNet

Learning & Development Summit
• Where: Sydney
• When: 24-25 August 2015
• More info: Aventedge

LearnX 2015
• Where: Sydney
• When: 9 September 2015
• More info: LearnX

Moodleposium
• Where: Canberra
• When: 8-9 October 2015
• More info: Moodleposium

Blended Learning 2015
• Where: Sydney
• When: 26-28 October 2015
• More info: IQPC

Learning@Work
• Where: Sydney
• When: 27-29 October 2015
• More info: Association & Communications Events

If you are the organiser of one of these conferences, don’t forget to boil the backchannel…!

E-Learning events in Australia in 2014

14 January 2014

As another year dawns, another round of professional development opportunities beckon down under… Bonza!

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Australian eLearning Congress
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 11-13 February 2014
• More info: Ark Group

Learning Cafe Unconference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 20 February 2014
• More info: Learning Cafe

The Future of Learning Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 24-25 February 2014
• More info: Informa

Blended Learning Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 12-13 March 2014
• More info: Liquid Learning

FutureSchools
• Where: Sydney
• When: 12-14 March 2014
• More info: Association & Communications Events

iDesignX – Australian Instructional Design Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 19 March 2014
• More info: LearnX Foundation

eLearning Design Workshop with Tom Kuhlmann
• Where: Sydney
• When: 20 & 21 March 2014
• More info: B Online Learning

Special Education Technology Needs Congress
• Where: Sydney
• When: 1-3 April 2014
• More info: Association & Communications Events

Australian Government Social Media Best Practice Toolkit
• Where: Canberra
• When: 9-10 April 2014
• More info: Ark Group

CeBIT Australia
• Where: Sydney
• When: 5-7 May 2014
• More info: CeBIT Australia

AITD National Conference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 14-15 May 2014
• More info: AITD

Workplace Learning Congress
• Where: Sydney
• When: 16 May 2014
• More info: ElNet

iMoot 2014
• Where: Online (Perth)
• When: 15-19 May 2014
• More info: iMoot

Inclusive Learning Technologies Conference
• Where: Gold Coast
• When: 20-23 May 2014
• More info: Spectronics

EduTECH 2014
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 3-4 June 2014
• More info: EduTECH

The Australian Government Online Learning Toolkit 2014
• Where: Canberra
• When: 18-19 June 2014
• More info: Ark Group

Flat Connections Conference 2014
• Where: Sydney
• When: 18-20 June 2014
• More info: Flat Connections

Moodlemoot AU
• Where: Cairns
• When: 30 June – 2 July 2014
• More info: Moodlerooms

Slide 2 Learn
• Where: Sydney
• When: 1-2 July 2014
• More info: Slide 2 Learn

KM Australia 2014
• Where: Sydney
• When: 22-24 July 2014
• More info: KM Australia

Strategies for Developing Impact Measurement for Your Learning Programmes
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 14 August 2014
• More info: Ark Group

SimHealth2014
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 25-28 August 2014
• More info: Simulation Australia

SimTecT2014 – Asia-Pacific Simulation Training Conference
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 25-28 August 2014
• More info: Simulation Australia

schoolstechOZ
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 12-14 September 2014
• More info: iwbNet

Australian Computers in Education Conference
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 30 September – 3 October 2014
• More info: ACCE

LearnX Asia Pacific
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 14 October 2014
• More info: LearnX

Blended Learning 2014
• Where: Sydney
• When: 14-17 October 2014
• More info: IQPC

Learning@Work
• Where: Sydney
• When: 27-29 October 2014
• More info: Association & Communications Events

V2Conference 2014
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 6-7 November 2014
• More info: V2Training

conVerge14
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 20-21 November 2014
• More info: eWorks

If you are the organiser of one of these events, don’t forget to boil the backchannel…!

10 hot tips for moocers

1 April 2013

Now that I have participated in a mooc, I am naturally qualified to dispense expert advice about them. Lol!

Seriously though, one aspect of moocs that I think requires urgent attention is the sense that many participants feel of being overwhelmed. This was certainly the case for some in the EDCMOOC, and I fear I was too dismissive of the issue in my previous blog post.

Upon further reflection, I appreciate that what gave me an edge in this mooc was my experience in studying at postgraduate level. By that I don’t mean so much the knowledge acquired from the instructors, but (on the contrary) the skills developed in learning how to learn for myself.

You see, in postgrad you are left very much to your own devices. You are given a tonne of readings, and the most instruction you can hope to extract from the professors is “read this”. The theory is that the students will collaborate with one another, share their diverse experiences, and contribute to robust conversations. Too bad most of them are straight out of undergrad, inexperienced, and don’t have a collaborative bone in their body.

So if you actually want to learn something rather than skate through each subject, it’s up to you to do your prescribed readings, seek more from blogs and journals to enhance your understanding, reach out to your network to ask questions and gather feedback, and generally drive your own education.

The successful postgraduate student is highly motivated, autodidactic, connected, and participatory. I suggest the successful mooc participant shares these same qualities.

So what I’m really trying to say is: I’ve been there, done that. If you trust me, you may find the following tips useful as you embark on your own mooc voyage…

Tiny ship of order in a vast sea of chaos

  1. Before doing anything, ask yourself three fundamental questions.

    Firstly: “Why a mooc?” It may very well be the right mode of study for you, but of course there are many others to consider. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of this mode in light of your personal circumstances.

    Secondly: “Why this mooc?” There are plenty of them around, pitched at different levels and targeting different audiences. Analyse the pre-information of your chosen mooc to ensure it will give you what you need.

    Thirdly: “What do I want to get out of it?” Be very clear in your own mind about the WIIFM, then doggedly pursue that during the mooc.

    Having said that, remain open to new ideas that foster other lines of inquiry. Your goals may change. That’s fine; it’s called learning.

  2. Follow the sequence of the curriculum as arranged by the mooc coordinators. It may be tempting to jump ahead or even lag behind, but it’s wiser to pace yourself week by week.
     
  3. Read the mooc’s instructions! I’ve added the exclamation point in case you think words on screen are merely decorative. Sometimes they’re informative, so take notice.
     
  4. Prioritise the core videos and readings. At the very least, all these should be watched and read. The other stuff is a bonus if you get around to it.
     
  5. Participate actively in the discussion forum. This is your opportunity to share your understanding of the key concepts with your peers and receive valuable feedback from them.

    Don’t just talk at your peers, but rather engage with them. Reply to their posts, build upon their ideas and suggest alternative thoughts. Challenge them (politely) to clarify their position if they appear to be waffling.

  6. Blog. More specifically, use your blog to articulate your learnings from the mooc. Focus on the practical applications that you have drawn from the academic concepts.

    I found it helpful to use the discussion forum to post preliminary drafts of my ideas, refine them, then blog them.

  7. Concentrate your discussion activity on only one or two threads each week. You’ll go mad trying to keep up with all of them, so narrow your field of vision to what really matters to you.

    At the end of the week, abandon those threads. Again, this is about pacing yourself. While the conversation may be rich and rewarding, you can’t afford to go down any rabbit warrens.

    If you’re super keen, you can always continue the conversation with your new-found friends after the mooc has ended.

  8. Pick a social media platform to support your progress. I made the mistake of bouncing between Twitter, Google+ and Facebook in case I missed out on anything, but all that did was waste my time. Next time I’ll pick my favourite platform and stick with it.
     
  9. Do something daily. Whether it’s watching a video, reading an article, discussing an idea, writing a blog, liking something on Facebook, or mulling over a thought in your mind, it’s important to keep the momentum going.
     
  10. Think of moocing as informal learning. If you remember your WIIFM, it will ease the pressure that you put on yourself. You don’t have to finish the course. In fact, you don’t have to do anything. Assume control of your own actions, and become the master of your destiny.

In other words, be the tiny ship of order in the vast sea of chaos.

E-Learning events in Australia in 2013

14 January 2013

2013 has well and truly arrived. That means it’s time to plan your next round of professional development events to attend.

If you’ll be down under over the next 12 months, may I draw your attention to the following…

Man working on computer at the beach

ACE2013 – Australasian Computing Education Conference
• Where: Adelaide
• When: 29 January – 1 February 2013
• More info: ACE2013

Australian eLearning Congress
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 6-8 February 2013
• More info: Ark Group

Learning Cafe Unconference
• Where: Sydney
• When: 21 February 2013
• More info: Learning Cafe

E-Learning Summit
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 6-7 March 2013
• More info: Informa Network

iDesignX – Australian Instructional Design Conference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 14 March 2013
• More info: LearnX Foundation

Simulation-Based Training
• Where: Sydney
• When: 19-20 March 2013
• More info: Liquid Learning

Enterprise Learning Innovation Summit
• Where: Sydney
• When: 19-20 March 2013
• More info: Liquid Learning

THETA – The Higher Education Technology Agenda
• Where: Hobart
• When: 7-10 April 2013
• More info: THETA

AITD National Conference
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 10-11 April 2013
• More info: AITD

iMoot 2013
• Where: Online (via Perth)
• When: 23-27 May 2013
• More info: iMoot

CeBIT Australia
• Where: Sydney
• When: 28-30 May 2013
• More info: CeBIT Australia

EduTECH 2013
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 3-5 June 2013
• More info: EduTECH

Amplify Festival
• Where: Sydney
• When: 3-7 June 2013
• More info: Amplify Festival

Australian Government Online Learning Toolkit
• Where: Canberra
• When: 19-20 June 2013
• More info: Ark Group

National Interactive Teaching and Learning Conference
• Where: Gold Coast
• When: 9-10 August 2013
• More info: IWBNet

LearnX Asia Pacific
• Where: Sydney
• When: 10-11 September 2013
• More info: LearnX

SimHealth 2013
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 10-13 September 2013
• More info: Australian Society for Simulation in Healthcare

SimTecT2013 – Asia-Pacific Simulation Training Conference
• Where: Brisbane
• When: 16-19 September 2013
• More info: Simulation Australia

MoodlePosium 2013
• Where: Canberra
• When: 19-20 September 2013
• More info: MoodlePosium

Developing talent through technology
• Where: Sydney
• When: 30 October – 1 November 2013
• More info: Telesis Events

Learning@Work
• Where: Sydney
• When: 11-13 November 2013
• More info: AC Events

conVerge13
• Where: Melbourne
• When: 21-22 November 2013
• More info: eWorks

ASCILITE 2013
• Where: Sydney
• When: 1-4 December 2013
• More info: ASCILITE

This list is by no means exhaustive!

If you are aware of any other big e-learning events in sunny Oz, please let me know…


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