Monday, 29 October 2018

My learning on Blended Learning Essentials MOOC #FLble1

This course has taught me many tips for producing blended learning. Some were straightforward ways to support learners, for example:

1. Use real life case studies or scenarios to teach
2. Publish PDF transcripts of any videos in a module. Or publish a one page summary sheet of key learning points that students can keep for future reference
3. Simulations. Use dummy sites or real life examples that students can work on in their own time.
4. Social learning - Include a case study or personal viewpoint when producing a help guide or video. Have a forum for peer to peer questions, or interview someone and publish it as part of the learning. This can help avoid isolation and can be motivating and engaging for students.

Others were more specific ideas to help make the most of the technology:

1. Have an online glossary if you are running a course online. It's simple to set up, easy to access, and ensures everyone is working from the same base level of understanding. Some considerations are where do you publish it? (PDF, wiki, web page?), and do you make it fixed or editable (so that users can submit suggestions or definitions?).
2. Give students simple instructions & tasks to complete - It could be as simple as "find the glossary and bookmark the page". It gives a sense of progress and accomplishment.
3. A "What do you think?" activity. In week 1 they asked what we thought blended learning meant. We were given 5 simple scenarios to read and then use our judgement to say whether they were blended learning interventions or not. Instead of a stark yes/no answer, it was more of a detailed answer explaining why it was a "yes" or a "no".
4. Surveys and Quizzes. You can set these up using SurveyMonkey or TypeForm, but what about asking a learner to create one? What questions would they set for a beginner user for example? This can flip your assumptions about what you as the expert think someone needs to know.
5. Open Learning. Encourage students to broaden their learning by researching educational resources like Khan Academy,, or YouTube. Can they share a particularly useful video they found?

Variety of material
How much do you want to guide the learner or let them choose their own path? It's hard to answer, but having a variety of material in different forms will help learners focus their attention and pick & choose their own path. It's similar to classroom learning where you would have a variety of activities for different types. (Videos, quizzes, online forums, articles to read, sandpits, peer to peer support, online assignments)

Blended learning can be good in theory, but is it appropriate for every student? How does material appear on different devices? Do all students have flash player or even internet access? If you offer online help as a tutor, when are you going to be there to answer it? (ie you can't be available 24-7). Have you accounted for any other access or learning needs? (eg visual impairment)

Ideas for activities 
  • Get learners to search the internet to find the answer to a very specific question before a f2f session, and compete to see who gets the best answer.
  • Ask learners to work in small groups to develop a slide to present to their peers, which explains what could go wrong in a procedure/technique/skill they have just learned about.
  • Ask each learner to browse YouTube to find a good video that’s relevant to the topic they are currently learning.
  • Prepare a multiple choice quiz using a question you have put to learners previously. Use their previous wrong answers as the choices, along with the correct answer, and ask your learners to pick the best one.
  • Create a video, "Introduction to the topic" to include with webinar joining instructions. Recap it at the beginning of the webinar
  • Keep activities short and collaborative (ie the learner is not passive, but is involved in the task)
DADDIE model

It's important to design a programme of learning before you start. It's equally important to offer a range of activities (eg quiz, self directed learning, open learning resources) and to say what these are, how your learners will use them, and for what purpose. The DADDIE model is very helpful to follow:
  • Define the intended learning outcomes
  • Analyse the learners’ needs, expectations and requirements
  • Design the course sequence, learning outcomes, activities and assessment
  • Develop the resources, learning activities, and tests
  • Implement them, making sure they are accessible, inclusive and usable
  • Evaluate the course with learners to check that it is effective in achieving the learning outcomes, and to discover any additional outcomes
Types of pedagogy
1. ConstructivismA constructivist pedagogy is based around learners constructing their own knowledge and meaning through experience. This includes learners engaging in real world activities, building on their prior knowledge and experience, developing relevant skills and competencies, developing self-awareness and independent learning skills, working with teachers as facilitators instead of instructors and using formative assessments to inform future learning needs.
2. Social constructivisma hypothesis that states that individuals learn as a result of social interaction and collaboration with exemplified by online courses, where learners can share ideas and knowledge in a collaborative space to increase their own personal knowledge.
3. Problem based learning - encourages active learning, use of real world scenarios, social learning and the application of knowledge to new situations. As well as being practical, solving a problem can give space for people to be creative. It's freeing and can allow a little idea to flourish, or help a question form

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Blended Learning Essentials MOOC #FLble1

I am taking part in this MOOC starting Monday 29th October.

My goals:
1. Study for 4 hours per week & complete the course by the end of November.
2. Learn about Open Educational Resources & try out 3 new digital tools.
3. Study examples of how other organisations run online courses  & pick out three methods that I can try in my job.
4. Learn two methods for assessing how people apply their learning online in real life
5. Find ten new people to connect with once the course has finished.

Saturday, 21 November 2015


Challenge - to turn my photos into postcard style images.
Why? - to learn how to use free editing tools online and to make my photos more interesting and engaging
I used Paint, PowerPoint, Picture Manager,, and to manipulate the original images. I liked the challenge because of the.
  1. Results - had wanted to do this for ages, had always put if off. Doing it was enjoyable and built its own momentum
  2. Surprise - Sometimes I surprised myself with an image I couldn't have imagined beforehand. I would never have got there had I not experimented
  3. Perseverance - not every image worked, I failed half the time, but I still produced ten images I was proud of. Lesson - failing is fine, you learn from it

An Edinburgh collage of Calton Hill, Arthur's Seat, and an Eduardo Paolozzi sculpture 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Fail succeed fail succeed

Plenty of articles and books are given over to "how to succeed", but I think the real way to to learn about anything is to do it.

This blog post is about what I learned from doing a new activity, capoeira - a Brazilian dance/martial arts.

Perseverance and practice are the ones that stand out most for me, as well as not being too proud to ask for help. I'd be interested to hear what lightbulb moments you have had when learning something new.

How I'm learning capoeira. 

Capoeira is a Brazlian martial art/dance that was originally practiced by African slaves as a way of maintaining their physical and mental agility. It combine dance, acrobatics, and music. I started with it by attending classes run by the University of Edinburgh's capoeira club. Once a week me and a few other beginners were trained by the group teachers. The above picture is me and my fellow beginners after we got our first cords. A cord is like a belt. Different colours denote different levels of ability. Even though I am still a clumsy beginner, it was a great feeling of accomplishment to have got so far. Capoeria is something that is outside my comfort zone and I often questioned why I was doing it. Here are 10 things I learnt from the whole process. I think these can be applied to lots of other things in my life. What do you think?

1. Practice
Practicing every day helped build skills and maintain momentum. I learnt moves like the ginga and au from constant practice at home. Try and fail again & again. Even at work I would try a move in spare moments to see if I remembered it. So not only practice at the designated practice time - always be thinking about it. I liked this table tennis video which shows exactly that in 5 minutes.

The Mestre at the Batizado got me to practice the negativa move twenty times in a row until I got it. It was embarrassing that I kept getting it wrong, but hard practice was the only way I got it right.

2. Put things in my terms
Sometimes the tutor’s explanation did not make sense to me. I had to go through it in my own mind and find my own way of remembering it. In the "Au" move, realising that you need to point your foot forward was my way of remembering the move. Also that the standing foot must kick hard to give you the lift.
In the meia lua de frente, my left was way better than my right. I realised that this was because they were like football free kicks. When I play football I am all left footed, so my left side must be completely dominant.
This helped me create my own mental picture of what I needed to do. For another person, they might have remembered it another way.

3. Perseverance
You cannot learn things overnight. For some moves I had to literally slow a help video down to a crawling pace to understand how they did even very simple things like mirror someone, or move from left to right.
At times it felt like I would never get it. Many weeks I felt like skipping class, but my mantra became "Just do it" and I always felt better for doing so

4. Praise
Even the tiniest praise works wonders. Even if you sense it is not really justified the fact that someone says it is a massive tonic.
1. Josh helping me out each week and being positive and friendly about it
2. Andreas wishing me well before the Batizado roda
3. Lara, Geo & the whole Senzala group creating a positive, friendly environment

5. Pride
If you do not understand it you have to say. Even if you seem slow or foolish. Otherwise you will slip under the radar sneakily and not actually learn the technique properly.
Too many times I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t get very simple things for fear of appearing silly. The result was I never learnt things properly. The longer you leave it the worse it gets, so admit you don't get it early on. There's no harm! Also, it might help other people - maybe your question is not as silly as you think?

6. Play with others
Practice at home is fine, but you have to be able to apply it. Too much thinking can be a bad thing.
1..Having a go in the rodas at the Batizado forced me to play with better people
2. Seeing better players was inspiring
3. Trying new things like handstands seemed impossible but throwing myself at difficult challenges was the only way to improve

7. Perspective
Ask other people what they struggle with or how they approach learning. Somebody described to me how they watched capoeira in Brazil and learnt a huge amount from immersing themselves in it. They also described how they made connections with other art forms like Shaolin monks, and even looked at how animals move. It was pretty enlightening to hear someone who had thought so deeply about it.

8. Learn around the topic
Sometimes it can help to do your own learning. For me, it helped to understand what the English translations were of some of the moves.
Meia lua de frente means "front half moon". This helped me picture the move as a half moon. When the instructor said "do a meia lua de frente", I pictured the half moon and knew what to do straight away.

9. Make connections
It’s fine to learn one move but it’s easy to forget it as well. What if you switch to another position? Suddenly you are very rigid and it’s like you have been reset and have to start again. Learning from Mestre Parente at the Batizado was incredibly hard but it helped to see how moves work together
You could apply the same principle to learning about anything. Seeing how things fit together can help you learn individual things by seeing them as part of the broader picture.

10. Music & Culture
Think about other things around the subject to help put it in context. This was motivating. Some examples from my experience were:
1.Watching capoeira videos on YouTube
2. Learning instruments like the berimbau and pandeiro in class
3. Learning a Portuguese song about fishermen bringing their nets in for a performance the group gave at an open day. We learnt the words to the song on a whiteboard in class. It helped me see capoeira in its broader cultural setting and increased my appreciation of it
4. The social side of the class. Meeting new people and getting a sense of the culture.

What activity have you learnt, and what helped you with this learning?

Monday, 24 March 2014

#edcmchat Twitter book group

The #edcmchat Twitter book group is one year old this month. That means we've been meeting online once a month to use Tweet chats to discuss a novel or short story. The  books have been based around the themes of utopia and dystopia that came out of the eLearning & Digital Cultures MOOC that we all participated in last year. Each month's chat usually veers off in lots of directions including education, human nature, technology, religion, psychology, politics, and philosophy. That's why it's so engaging - each person brings their own perspective or interpretation.

It started off as bit of an experiment, based on the original chat we developed in EDCMOOC, but has now carried on for a whole 12 months. I really look forward to the chats each month. It's a nice way to bookend each month - pardon the pun - and it's been great to carry on the momentum since the EDCMOOC course finished.

It's a bit different doing it via Twitter. Sometimes it's frustrating to not be able to say more than the 140 characters allows, but it's enjoyable none the less. It also increased our confidence in learning and connecting via a social media tool.

The overwhelming positive was the fizz and rush of ideas as you read people's questions and answers coming in. Each week someone new moderated the Tweet chat so it's also been a good way to learn how to use Twitter a bit more. As Kirstie says, "t's really opened my eyes to how social media can be used for personal dev and real virtual communities"

Tools such as can also help you gather tweets together and pick out common themes.

During the year, whole new imaginative worlds of ideas have opened up before our eyes. We've visited the utopian lands of William Morris and Aldous Huxley, and the dystopian nearly-worlds of Cory Doctorow, Phillip K Dick, and Alastair Reynolds. Then there have been the unexpected treats - EM Forster's immaculately written short story of an imagined future in "The Machine Stops", and Daniel Keyes' eloquent and moving "Flowers for Algernon". I have watched films, read articles & essays, and listened to podcasts I would never have discovered otherwise. It's been a great outlet for ideas & new thinking.

Rob, Kirstie, Ping, Rick, Linda, Anne. Stephane, Asta et al , it's been a pleasure. To celebrate our first anniversary, I've made a collage of some of the books we've enjoyed over the year below.

Join us at #edcmchat on April 5th for the next one - Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron". If you want to have a go at moderating or would like to recommend a new book, let me know!

Our Twitter hashtag feed
Our edmooc Good Reads group

Saturday, 30 November 2013

#StoryMooc 6 - Location Based Storytelling

This week was about location based storytelling. It was another fantastic week of subject matter. We learnt about Secret City, an interactive game/story/puzzle that takes place in real places in Berlin and which you follow via your mobile device. I have heard other examples of this before, such as Penguin's "We Tell Stories" from a few years ago, or Secret History which I talk abut below. As well as the story telling possibilities, think how good it is for your fitness walking around the streets reading stories like this!

I really liked the way they filmed the material outside on the streets of Berlin too. Both things made me think a lot about the possibilities firstly in a MOOC, and also secondly in storytelling - there are some incredible opportunities with technology and interactive media. I suppose the key thing is to make them work together without the story drifting away to nothing or the audience losing interest. A course member, John Love. had posted last week about a Google app called Google Tour Builder which lets you create a tour in Google Maps. As John says there is great potential for, "using a map or geographic structure as the framework for telling a story..."

The possibilities of location based storytelling left me excited. As soon as we got our creative task I had ideas popping in my head. I jotted them down on a sketchy sheet above (the ones by fellow course member Melanie Voß are miles better!), then I took a walk up the Royal Mile, and down to the Mound where the Christmas Markets currently are. I nipped into the National Art Gallery for a browse and voila I had my idea for a story. This week I let my friend Rudi Peters write it for me:
Finally. I want to give a nod to Gauwain van Kooten Niekerk for an idea I took from his story. Gauwain used Google Street View in his story this week, and I borrowed the idea for mine. It needed something to kick it off and I thought Gauwain's idea was great. Gauwain is from Utrecht and has been an active participant in this MOOC. I've enjoyed reading his blog which you can find below. I've also included some links to some other of the story/games mentioned in this week's topic

Gauwain van Kooten Niekerk
Secret City Berlin -
Can You See Me Now?
Ingress where city statues and landmarks come to life

And finally....what if you could guide Odysseus round the world now?

"...every time you touch a book, open it, talk about it or read it you are interacting with can explore your own adventure" So says Eli Horowitz  who has written a geo-location story in New York called "The Silent History". It's a good point. What are the implications of this? Could you use location based storytelling to explore existing novels for example? To make them "infinitely expandable" as Eli puts it? Could you imagine if the story of Dracula did not end on page 283 of the book, but carried on here and now in our day? And that you yourself could unpick the story like Jonathan Harker through an app or GPS? Or what about Phileas Fogg or Odysseus? Or how about students have to go outside and search for clues to reveal a famous local historical figure?

To listen to Eli talk about his geo-location story, there is a 10 minute interview here. You can skip to the 29:12 minute mark

PS - it was inspiring to see the range of participants in the MOOC as kindly tweeted by the course leaders this week. Well done to the team in Potsdam for creating such an inspiring and engaging course!

#storymooc week 5

What if the whole world is just a game? What if we are just a puzzle set by ourselves from the future that we are now slowly trying to work out? Each century we get a bit closer to the the end of the game, we get a new piece of the puzzle, till one day we will meet ourselves and say, "we solved it!! Now let's play again!". And the same game begins again,

Games are about stories, narratives, decisions, dilemmas, action, consequence, success, failure, working puzzles out, reward, location and so many more things. Well, that is just like your life story isn't it? When we think of the future of games as involving artificial intelligence, automated stories, characters who exist outside of the game, game worlds that react to the actions of the player, Google Glass, virtual reality etc it makes me think - when's it all going to be like Tron? Will we just end up creating our own universe online and existing there?

I enjoyed this week's module as it introduced a lot of these ideas and concepts. Games seem to have unlimited possibility for the story teller and the imagination. The more I thought about them the more exciting, creative, and revolutionary they seemed. They are also inherently fun because they are puzzles, and also have that spark of curiosity within them. I also was left wondering about games and eLearning. To be able to use that feeling you get in gaming of "I have to know what happens next", or "this next level is so cool it's beyond my imagination", or "I have to defeat this end of level boss even if I'm up till 3am!!". What if you were doing the same with your learning? eg a game that poses ethical, political, social dilemmas that you have to solve. This week I wrote my notes as an illustration whilst listening to the videos and doing laundry. All at the same time. I enjoyed the process. I was inspired by the way the excellent team on the MOOC have presented their own videos using speeded up writing. They also had a podcast lecture this week which was a brilliant idea. Learning on the go.

Apart from Sonic, Tetris, GoldenEye, Pacman, FIFA Football, and Mario I have zero experience in games beyond 1996 so I didn't do this week's creative task. Instead I preferred to focus on the futuristic possibilities of gaming as they tie in directly to my other MOOC on eLearning & Digital Cultures. And imagine a time when the following advertisement exists :

Introducing "Google Life". 
Where are you going on holiday this year? How about 19th century France to see the world through the eyes of Napoleon? Ancient Greece to walk in sandals alongisde Socrates? 13th century Italy to live inside St Francis of Assissi's imagination for 2 weeks?
In Google Life we have amassed all the writings, images, paintings, photographs, diaries, stories, and science that is on the internet. We have amalgamated everything together to let you literally see the world how somebody else saw it through their eyes. 

Using the sum total of all human knowledge and the collective mind, we aim to reanimate the life of every single person who ever lived on the planet. This is part of Google's ethical drive to ensure that every single person on the planet who ever lived was valued.