Category Archives: MOOC

OCTEL check in

I was looking forward to Octel as I missed the last run, but although the course site looks clear it’s actually quite hard to figure out how to join in. So this is a test to see if this post gets picked up in the course reader


H817 week 1 Activity 4: Identifying priorities for research

“Imagine you are advising a funding organisation that wishes to promote activity and research in the area of open education. Set out the three main priorities they should address, explaining each one and providing a justification for your list…”

Almost two weeks late with this task as I’ve been away, though have been reading other people’s suggestions as they came through. Quite a few chose sustainability as a theme, though not really in the sense I’m used to, which would include all three domains of sustainable development, ie social and environmental as well as financial. These other dimensions are highly relevant to open education, though would need to be broken down further for meaningful research, and I dont have sufficient time here to do this aspect justice. So for now,  my three priorities would be:

  1. How MOOCs might improve access to education and professional development for individuals and groups unable or unwilling to access these through traditional routes. This aspect would need to explore  issues around availability and cost of equipment/ broadband as well as actual content and management of courses.
  2. Effective course design for MOOCs. Normally I would pair this with online teaching strategies, but where you have a really massive course, the role of the tutor once the course has started seems likely to be quite minimal. Without the chance to respond spontaneously to all student contributions and interactions,  the underlying architecture of the course has to be really carefully thought through in advance.  It may be true that ‘the community is the curriculum’ (Cormier?) but to maximise that potential requires subtle scaffolding from a distance.
  3. Accreditation or evaluation of learning and achievement. I am working with colleagues to develop online professional development courses (miniMOOCs) which will be free to members of the learning development community. There is no resource for staffing such a course, but we have a tradition of self help and peer support, so the work will be carried out on a voluntary basis which wont allow us to assess course work in any formal way. I am intrigued by the possibility of using badges to recognise people’s achievement instead.

Visual notetaking apps etc

Visual representation (and reflections on week 1)

Well I’ve been inspired, engaged and impressed by other people’s representations, and they’ve prompted me to think about openness in lots of different ways, as have all the discussions. But as my concept of ‘open’ has become more complex, and the digital options have multiplied, its just got harder to decide which way to go. And now I’ve run out of time (yes, there is a lesson in there somewhere – I should take the advice I give to students…) as I’m heading off to Plymouth tomorrow for the ALDinHE conference and need to finalise my presentation for that.

So instead here is one image that for me embodies lots of positive ideas about openness and creativity – freedom, movement, looseness, joy, a glimpse of new possibilities in the distance – but also practical and legal constraints on that freedom (tight image copyright restrictions mean I couldn’t use it in a MOOC about the history of 20th century art, for instance)


Open Window, Collioure by Henri Matisse, 1905.
Oil on canvas, 55.25 x 46.04 cm, 21 3/4 x 18 1/8 in.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney

Image accessed from, which includes the following warning:
“This image is in the public domain in the United States because it was first published outside the United States prior to January 1, 1923. Other jurisdictions have other rules…This file might not be in the public domain outside the United States and should not be transferred to Wikimedia Commons unless it can be verified to be in the public domain in its country of first publication, as Commons requires that images be free in the source country and in the United States….”

H817 Week 1 Activity 1

I’ve joined this MOOC as an independent learner, to find out more about how MOOCs can work from a student perspctive – and because I kept seeing intriguing tweets from people taking the Digital Cultures one and wishing Id enrolled in time.  So when I heard about the new OU one,  I jumped straight in – then sat back for a week and felt overwhelmed by all the notifications of posts and responses that came flooding in even before the course officially started.  (I’m used to being ahead of the game educationally and here I was being left behind – so some useful insights gained from reflecting on what that feels like).

My background: originally trained as a designer then art historian, and taught the history of visual culture for many years until shifting sideways into educational development.  Enthusiastic amateur as regards learning technologies, but run several websites and am currently exploring different ways to use online resources to support informal professional development among academics and learning developers. So I hope this MOOC will give me some practical ideas, make me reflect more critically on my current default preference for openness   – and oh yes,  get my first badges!

MOOC tasks week 3

Activity 9: Choosing a licence
Timing: 1 hour
For your blog content and other material you produce, consider which of the Creative Commons licences you would use, and justify your choice. You can post this in the forum or in your blog, remembering to use the tag #h817open.

Activity 10: Applying sustainability models
Timing: 3 hours
Read Wiley (2007), On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education .
Then look at the following open education initiatives, and for each one determine which of Wiley’s three models of sustainability you think they are operating:
Change MOOC
Consider the following:
Was the sustainability model for each OER initiative apparent?
Did Wiley’s models cover all approaches or did you think a different model was operating for one or more of them?
You can share these reflections in either the forum or in your blog.

Activity 11: The advantages and disadvantages of big and little OER
Timing: 3 hours
From the list below, either read the chapter or view the slidecast:
Weller (2011b), Public engagement as collateral damage (chapter).
Weller (2011a), Academic output as collateral damage (slidecast).
Write a blog post of less than 500 words on the benefits and drawbacks of big and little OER approaches. Remember to tag your post with #h817open.

3.6 Week 3 References
Common Craft (2013) Copyright and Creative Commons [online]. Available at video/ copyright-and-creative-commons (accessed 10 January 2013).
Geffrotin, Y. (2007) Creative Commons: Spectrum of Rights [online], slidecast. Available at gya/ creative-commons-spectrum-of-rights (accessed 12 November 2012).
Hales, A. and Lane, A. (undated) Creative Commons and The Open University, internal document, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Moller, E. (2005) The Case for Free Use: Reasons Not to Use a Creative Commons – NC License [online]. Available at Licenses/ NC (accessed 12 November 2012).
Weller, M. (2011a) Academic Output as Collateral Damage [online], slidecast. Available at mweller/ academic-output-as-collateral-damage (accessed 12 November 2012).
Weller, M. (2011b) ‘Public engagement as collateral damage’ in The Digital Scholar, London, Bloomsbury Academic. Also available online at view/ DigitalScholar_9781849666275/ chapter-ba-9781849666275-chapter-007.xmll (accessed 12 November 2012).
Weller, M. (2012) ‘The openness–creativity cycle in education’, Special issue on Open Educational Resources, JIME, Spring 2012 [online]. Available at jime/ article/ view/ 2012-02 (accessed 2 November 2012).
Wiley, D. (2007) On the Sustainability of Open Educational Resource Initiatives in Higher Education, Paris, OECD. Also available online at dataoecd/ 33/ 9/ 38645447.pdf

MOOC tasks week 2

Activity 5: The case for learning objects
Timing: 1 hour
Read Downes (2001), Learning objects: resources for distance education worldwide .

Note: Downes goes into detail on many aspects that are not necessary for this course. You do not need to read the article in detail – your aim is to gain an understanding of what learning objects were and why they were seen as important.

Activity 6: Criticisms of learning objects
Timing: 1 hour
Three criticisms of learning objects are given below: you should read/watch at least one of these:
David Wiley sets out what he terms the ‘reusability paradox ’.
Norman Friesen raises three objections to learning objects in this paper: Three objections to learning objects and e-learning standards .
In this 2009 video [Transcript] Brian Lamb describes his experience with learning objects, which addresses many of the reasons why they didn’t realise the aims that Downes and others envisaged for them. Brian Lamb also explains some of the problems he encountered.

Part of the problem of learning objects was that it often seemed alien to everyday practice, so that getting educators to share their content in learning object repositories proved to be a barrier. Unlike sharing research findings in published journals, or sharing teaching resources informally within an institution, there was no real incentive or established practice for sharing teaching material on this scale. And, as Brian Lamb points out, there was a tendency to over-engineer the systems required, with specific standards that had a language of their own.
You might reflect here on whether you have, or would, share teaching resources using the learning object approach. What do you think would be the main issues for educators and teachers?

Activity 7: Exploring OER issues
Timing: 5 hours
Last week you created a list of three priorities you determined for open education. This activity builds on that work, but is based on further research in the area of OER.
Read three articles of your choice from a suggested OER reading list on Cloudworks. (Some are quite lengthy reports so you may wish to read just parts of these, depending on time.)
Based on your reading, write a blog post of around 500 words, setting out what you perceive as the three key issues in OER, and how these are being addressed.
For instance, if you feel that accreditation of informal learning is a key issue then you should state why this is significant and link to some of the ways it is being addressed; for example through Mozilla badges or the Peer 2 Peer University .
Remember to tag your post with #h817open.
Look at the course blog and read the issues of other students. Comment on at least one other post.

Badge: Completing this activity will make you eligible for the OER understanding badge, as explained in Week 1. You will need to blog your solution to this activity, and then go to Cloudworks and the Apply for Badge page . (You will need to be registered and logged-in to Cloudworks for the Apply for Badge button to appear.) A member of the course team will then check the evidence, and issue the badge. Applying for a badge is entirely optional.

Activity 8: An OER course
Timing: 8 hours
Imagine you are constructing a course in digital skills for an identified group of learners (e.g. undergraduates, new employees, teachers, mature learners, military personnel, etc.). It is a short, online course aimed at providing these learners with a set of resources for developing ‘digital skills’. It runs for five weeks, with a different subject each week, accounting for about six hours study per week.
Devise a broad outline of the topics to be covered every week. Don’t deliberate too much on this; it should be a coherent set of topics but you don’t actually have to deliver it.
Now see how much of your desired content could be accommodated by using OER repositories. Search the following repositories and make a quick evaluation for each week of your course of the type of content that is available.
Rice Connexions
You can use the following template for your evaluation. In the final column judge whether the resources are good, medium or bad in terms of suiting your needs.
Week Topic Resources Suitability (G/M/B)
Alternatively, you can input your evaluation into the form below.
Week 1
Activity 8: An OER course

Week 2
Activity 8: An OER course

Week 3
Activity 8: An OER course

Week 4
Activity 8: An OER course

Week 5
Activity 8: An OER course

Write a blog post, using your evaluation as the basis. Reflect upon whether the use of OER caused you to change what you wanted to teach, and what time saving (if any) would be gained by using OER.
Compare your evaluation with that of other students and comment in the forum on any differences.
A note on accessibility of OER repositories
Repositories often contain material from a wide variety of authors, and repositories take different approaches to ensuring the accessibility of these resources. Some make accessibility a requirement, while others offer guidelines. The accessibility of resources drawn from a wide range of authors is another factor in the use of OER that you should consider.

2.6 Week 2 References
Downes, S. (2001) ‘Learning objects: resources for distance education worldwide’, IRRODL, vol. 2, no. 1 [online], index.php/ irrodl/ article/ view/ 32/ 378 (accessed 6 November 2012).
Friesen, N. (2003) ‘Three objections to learning objects and e-learning standards’ in McGreal, R. (ed.) (2004) Online Education Using Learning Objects, London, Routledge, pp. 59–70. Draft available online at papers/ objections.html (accessed 6 November 2012).
Lamb, B. (2009) Who the hell is Brian Lamb? (video), Barry Dahl blog, 26 October [online], 2009/ 10/ 26/ who-the-hell-is-brian-lamb/ (accessed 6 November 2012).
Wiley, D. (2004) The Reusability Paradox, Connexions [online], content/ m11898/ 1.18/ (accessed 6 November 2012).