Alisha's Learning Journal

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Alisha Portolese
10 January 2013

This will be my learning journal for OLDS MOOC "Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum" 2013.

Extra content

Introducing Myself
(originally posted as a comment Jan. 10)

Hi everyone!

I am very excited to begin this MOOC adventure with you all! I am still on the learning curve for using cloudworks but I am looking forward to discovering more of its potential.

I am currently halfway through my Masters of Learning Science and Technology at the University of Sydney, Australia. I am in the Research Stream of the program and I am currently working on a dissertation about productive failure under the supervision of Dr. Michael Jacobson. I am based about two hours north of Sydney in the city of Newcastle, Australia.

I am originally from Toronto, Canada and have recently completed my Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada with a thesis in the field of music cognition.

I became interested in the learning sciences working as a teaching assistant at McMaster University's Introdutory Psychology course. The course is taught in a blended style and I taught a selection of the face-to-face sessions. Under the guidance of Dr. Joe Kim, all of the teaching assistants concurrently participated in an educational psychology seminar - here we had the opportunity to discuss relevant research in the field and relate it to our weekly teaching practice.

I have also enjoyed a variety of teaching experiences, including teaching piano, volunteering at an educational summer camp at a museum, and working with children with autism in alternative classroom setting. I've been a domestic, international, and exchange student at various points in my academic career, and I've sampled in-person, blended, and fully online courses. All of these experiences, combined with my current studies at the University of Sydney, have led my interests to include:

- professional development and lifelong learning

- blended and distance learning

- collaboartive groupwork and collaborative writing

- curriculum design

- productive failure

I am mostly looking forward to participating in this MOOC as it will be my first! I am hoping to connect with others internationally who have similar interests. I am also hoping to learn more about different perspectives in the field and to learn how to make better use of the various open educational resources available online.

Looking forward to connecting with you and learning about your educational dreams and passions!

Alisha Portolese
19:13 on 17 January 2013 (Edited 19:14 on 17 January 2013)

Learning Objectives for Week 1:

(originally posted as a comment Jan. 12)

1. As I am already a bit behind, I realize now that I must physically schedule in when I will complete the activities that I aspire to complete.

2. The big goal of this week is articulating my idea for my learning design project that will form the basis for this course. I believe this step will be complete when I can comfortably engage in the "elevator talk test" which I learned about when I wrote my undergrad thesis. Basically the test is that if an interested (or semi-interested) stranger came into an elevator, you could easily explain your project in lay terms in 2 minutes or less. I was taught to have 30 second, 2 minute, and 5-10 minute versions. I think this is an extremely valuable skill - it is so important to be able to share our ideas ... not just to promote ourselves but to also connect with relevant people.

3. I would like to research and reflect on what learning design really means.

4. I would like to connect with others more in the course ... possibly through Cloudworks, twitter, or reading others' blogs.

Alisha Portolese
19:15 on 17 January 2013

OLDS MOOC Week 1 Reflection

(originally posted as a comment Jan. 16)

It’s been a great first week of the MOOC, but it has also been a roller coaster – some ups and downs and lots of unexpected turns!

Initially I was very excited just to participate and experience a MOOC first hand, and to be amongst what I knew would be great discussions about learning design. However, I was new to Cloudworks and some of the other platforms used, so there was (and perhaps still is) a bit of a learning curve involved. I’m glad I spent the time watching Grainne’s slideshare introducing me to the basics of Cloudworks, and I’m also glad I spent time reading through nearly all the projects posted in the Dreambazaar. But these also took a lot of time, and I was worried I was going to get behind quickly or take too much time away from my dissertation. I wasn’t sure if I was spending too much time on the wrong things, or to what extent there were “wrong things”.

When we had to post a project idea, I felt that I had a bit of a dilemma. I knew that the focus of the course was on higher education, which I am very interested in. At the same time, I knew that if I wanted to actually try out a project hands-on, it would have to be in primary education where I currently have a connection with a real teacher in a real classroom. (I am a full-time Masters student.) I took the leap to take on the course through the lens of a realistic project on the periphery of the course versus a theoretical project closer to the centre of the course – I suppose I’ll see at the end of the course if the leap was worth it, but I am already optimistic.

I commented on a few other projects but I wasn’t able to find any connections through Cloudworks. I wasn’t interested in going it completely alone, so as a last resort I reached to twitter (which I am still new at) and was happily surprised to connect with another project that way. We now have a study circle: http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2764. I also now have a new appreciation for how simple and powerful twitter can be.

Looking back at my first learning objective (scheduling my time on the MOOC), I’ve decided that I may not necessarily go for all the badges so that I can spend the time on the activities that are the most relevant and rewarding for me. It can be hard for me to put down a great piece of writing in the field, such as the Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design (http://www.bibsonomy.org/bibtex/2583f256b2a0a714836b0749b96529912/yish). But in order to keep a balance with my other commitments, my goal is to budget about one hour a day – considering the depth I like to engage in readings and activities, I know that means I won’t be able to do everything.

My second learning objective was the “elevator talk test” for my project proposal. I’ve had the chance to sit in on a elementary math professional development day this week so I was lucky to get lots of chances to try this out as I chatted with various teachers. My 30-second version goes something like this:

I’m interested in developing collaborative writing skills in children and adults. True collaboration is a challenge for everyone - sometimes we can be successful in finishing a job by dividing the tasks, but this is co-operation. When we collaborate, we need to produce a unified output that we have all worked on together. This is a critical skill in our modern world. I’m interested in creating engaging learning activities that can facilitate the development of collaboration skills. With practice, any child or adult can learn to collaborate without thinking about the process.

My third learning objective was to reflect on what learning design really means. I loved working on this goal because it got me out of the important yet tiring process of the “how” of the course. It was great to engage with some real content. After reading through the Google groups discussions, watching to Yishay’s video, reading Dalziel’s (2012) Larnaca Declaration, and reflecting, I came up with this understanding:

Learning design is about thoughtful and purposeful educational practices. It is about an educator considering how a learning activity interacts with the material being taught, and how both connect with an educator’s and student’s learning goals. It means that everything has relevance. Whether students are working in groups online, trying a challenging problem before being taught how to solve it, or listening to a lecture face-to-face, they are participating in a considered cycle where every step has a meaningful place in the collage of the final objective.

Finally, my fourth objective was to connect with others in the course. I have begun to follow some projects relevant to my own work (or otherwise just very interesting). I look forward to finding more people to follow on twitter and Cloudworks. I believe this is an ongoing goal that stretches beyond week one and perhaps even beyond the course.

Thanks to the OLDS MOOC team for your time developing what we’ve experienced in the course so far and for everyone who is passionate about education and has shared their perspectives.

References

James Dalziel. The Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design. 2012. URL

Alisha Portolese
19:16 on 17 January 2013

Learning Objectives for Week 2:

I was originally planning on using the "short route" for this week as I have a busy schedule; however, upon listening to the introductory video by Professor Rose Luckin I felt immediately drawn to the issue of context. It seems to be such an important and relevant topic and it is something that I have not yet thought about deeply. Therefore, I aspire to engage as much as possible this week, but we will see how far my limited time can stretch. This will be an interesting balance for me.

Looking at the Design and Learning outcomes, my objectives this week are:

1) To consider my current understanding of context, and then expand it through participating in (or at least observing) others' discussions about it within the MOOC, and reading at least one piece of academic writing on the topic. My current understanding, based on my own initial reflections and by watching Rose Luckin's intro video, is that:

context is about how one's environment influences one's learning. This environment can be an intrapersonal environment, including our feelings, reactions to events, judgements, expectations for ourselves, interpretation of past experiences, and expectations for other people. This intrapersonal environment interacts with the external world - the peers we interact with, educators, tutors and teaching assistants, and various learning objects such as textbook or any other resource which may exist online or in person.

2) To explore how context relates to my design challenge. I look forward to learning about different approaches to context that I see are ahead in the weekend activities. I will reflect on whether any of these approaches are appropriate for me to consider in my design challenge, and hopefully apply one of the contextual approaches to my project. I hope this application will put some new theoretical ideas into context :)

Alisha Portolese
19:35 on 17 January 2013

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Alisha Portolese
9:45pm 10 January 2013


Hi everyone!

I am very excited to begin this MOOC adventure with you all! I am still on the learning curve for using cloudworks but I am looking forward to discovering more of its potential.

I am currently halfway through my Masters of Learning Science and Technology at the University of Sydney, Australia. I am in the Research Stream of the program and I am currently working on a dissertation about productive failure under the supervision of Dr. Michael Jacobson. I am based about two hours north of Sydney in the city of Newcastle, Australia.

I am originally from Toronto, Canada and have recently completed my Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada with a thesis in the field of music cognition.

I became interested in the learning sciences working as a teaching assistant at McMaster University's Introdutory Psychology course. The course is taught in a blended style and I taught a selection of the face-to-face sessions. Under the guidance of Dr. Joe Kim, all of the teaching assistants concurrently participated in an educational psychology seminar - here we had the opportunity to discuss relevant research in the field and relate it to our weekly teaching practice.

I have also enjoyed a variety of teaching experiences, including teaching piano, volunteering at an educational summer camp at a museum, and working with children with autism in alternative classroom setting. I've been a domestic, international, and exchange student at various points in my academic career, and I've sampled in-person, blended, and fully online courses. All of these experiences, combined with my current studies at the University of Sydney, have led my interests to include:

- professional development and lifelong learning

- blended and distance learning

- collaboartive groupwork and collaborative writing

- curriculum design

- productive failure

I am mostly looking forward to participating in this MOOC as it will be my first! I am hoping to connect with others internationally who have similar interests. I am also hoping to learn more about different perspectives in the field and to learn how to make better use of the various open educational resources available online.

Looking forward to connecting with you and learning about your educational dreams and passions!

Alisha Portolese
4:31pm 12 January 2013


Learning Objectives for the Week:

1. As I am already a bit behind, I realize now that I must physically schedule in when I will complete the activities that I aspire to complete.

2. The big goal of this week is articulating my idea for my learning design project that will form the basis for this course. I believe this step will be complete when I can comfortably engage in the "elevator talk test" which I learned about when I wrote my undergrad thesis. Basically the test is that if an interested (or semi-interested) stranger came into an elevator, you could easily explain your project in lay terms in 2 minutes or less. I was taught to have 30 second, 2 minute, and 5-10 minute versions. I think this is an extremely valuable skill - it is so important to be able to share our ideas ... not just to promote ourselves but to also connect with relevant people.

3. I would like to research and reflect on what learning design really means.

4. I would like to connect with others more in the course ... possibly through Cloudworks, twitter, or reading others' blogs.

Alisha Portolese
5:35pm 16 January 2013 (Edited 5:38pm 16 January 2013)


OLDS MOOC Week 1 Reflection

It’s been a great first week of the MOOC, but it has also been a roller coaster – some ups and downs and lots of unexpected turns!

Initially I was very excited just to participate and experience a MOOC first hand, and to be amongst what I knew would be great discussions about learning design. However, I was new to Cloudworks and some of the other platforms used, so there was (and perhaps still is) a bit of a learning curve involved. I’m glad I spent the time watching Grainne’s slideshare introducing me to the basics of Cloudworks, and I’m also glad I spent time reading through nearly all the projects posted in the Dreambazaar. But these also took a lot of time, and I was worried I was going to get behind quickly or take too much time away from my dissertation. I wasn’t sure if I was spending too much time on the wrong things, or to what extent there were “wrong things”.

When we had to post a project idea, I felt that I had a bit of a dilemma. I knew that the focus of the course was on higher education, which I am very interested in. At the same time, I knew that if I wanted to actually try out a project hands-on, it would have to be in primary education where I currently have a connection with a real teacher in a real classroom. (I am a full-time Masters student.) I took the leap to take on the course through the lens of a realistic project on the periphery of the course versus a theoretical project closer to the centre of the course – I suppose I’ll see at the end of the course if the leap was worth it, but I am already optimistic.

I commented on a few other projects but I wasn’t able to find any connections through Cloudworks. I wasn’t interested in going it completely alone, so as a last resort I reached to twitter (which I am still new at) and was happily surprised to connect with another project that way. We now have a study circle: http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2764. I also now have a new appreciation for how simple and powerful twitter can be.

Looking back at my first learning objective (scheduling my time on the MOOC), I’ve decided that I may not necessarily go for all the badges so that I can spend the time on the activities that are the most relevant and rewarding for me. It can be hard for me to put down a great piece of writing in the field, such as the Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design (http://www.bibsonomy.org/bibtex/2583f256b2a0a714836b0749b96529912/yish). But in order to keep a balance with my other commitments, my goal is to budget about one hour a day – considering the depth I like to engage in readings and activities, I know that means I won’t be able to do everything.

My second learning objective was the “elevator talk test” for my project proposal. I’ve had the chance to sit in on a elementary math professional development day this week so I was lucky to get lots of chances to try this out as I chatted with various teachers. My 30-second version goes something like this:

I’m interested in developing collaborative writing skills in children and adults. True collaboration is a challenge for everyone - sometimes we can be successful in finishing a job by dividing the tasks, but this is co-operation. When we collaborate, we need to produce a unified output that we have all worked on together. This is a critical skill in our modern world. I’m interested in creating engaging learning activities that can facilitate the development of collaboration skills. With practice, any child or adult can learn to collaborate without thinking about the process.

My third learning objective was to reflect on what learning design really means. I loved working on this goal because it got me out of the important yet tiring process of the “how” of the course. It was great to engage with some real content. After reading through the Google groups discussions, watching to Yishay’s video, reading Dalziel’s (2012) Larnaca Declaration, and reflecting, I came up with this understanding:

Learning design is about thoughtful and purposeful educational practices. It is about an educator considering how a learning activity interacts with the material being taught, and how both connect with an educator’s and student’s learning goals. It means that everything has relevance. Whether students are working in groups online, trying a challenging problem before being taught how to solve it, or listening to a lecture face-to-face, they are participating in a considered cycle where every step has a meaningful place in the collage of the final objective.

Finally, my fourth objective was to connect with others in the course. I have begun to follow some projects relevant to my own work (or otherwise just very interesting). I look forward to finding more people to follow on twitter and Cloudworks. I believe this is an ongoing goal that stretches beyond week one and perhaps even beyond the course.

Thanks to the OLDS MOOC team for your time developing what we’ve experienced in the course so far and for everyone who is passionate about education and has shared their perspectives.

References

James Dalziel. The Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design. 2012. URL

Niall Watts
5:17pm 17 January 2013


What is productive failure? It sounds like an interesting idea. We all learn more from our failures than our successes

Alisha Portolese
10:29pm 17 January 2013


Productive failure is a very interesting idea indeed and I'm focusing on it for my Master's Dissertation.

The term was coined by Manu Kapur about five years ago. The basic idea is that students are given a complex problem to solve, typically in small groups, before being taught how to solve it. Michael Jacobson uses the phrase "zone of proximal failure" to capture the idea that it is critical that students are given a problem that is the right level of challenge - something that they have enough background knowledge and skills to attempt, but something that is just outside of their reach to solve. It is called productive failure because students are likely to "fail" in their initial problem solving, but it is "productive" because after receiving a lesson following this initial problem solving, research has shown that students seem to have gained more than they would have had they not experienced the initial problem solving struggle, or experienced both but in a traditional (reverse) sequence. There is also research that discusses and investigates the idea that part of what makes these failures productive is the process of students producing multiple representations of the problem as they perservere in solving it.

If a traditional learning environment involved the formula "Lesson + Problem Solving = Learning", research on productive failure has been demonstrating that the formula of "Problem Solving + Lesson = Deeper Learning".

While there is growing research on productive failure, it's still a matter of heated debate.

Here is a cloud I found on it: http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/625

You may also be interested in the special issue of Instructional Science on Productive Failure (Volume 40, Issue 4, July 2012): http://link.springer.com/journal/11251/40/4/page/1

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