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Kirkwood, Sharples, Ravenscroft and McAndrew

Notes from Monday Session 3 at CALRG 09

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Doug Clow
18 May 2009

[Crossposted to Doug Clow's blog.]

Adrian Kirkwood

Evaluating the OU Home Computing policy. First courses in 1988. A meta-project, an organisational activity.

Previously,provided students with computing facilities since 1970s - remote accessand at study centres etc.  Desktop computers entered the mass market. New Home Computing Policy required students - on a few, specificcourses - to arrange their own access to a PC.  Huge change inpractice, not just for students.

The Home Computer required: "an MS-DOS machine with 512K memory,disk storage, mouse, and capable of supporting graphics", "thetechnical strategy does depend on having an MS-DOS capability for under£500".

Courses: M205 Fundamentals of Computing - 'foundation'computing course. DT200 Intro to IT. Sent them a modem! M353Computational Mathematics - modelling tool.

Very high priority. Practical arrangements, additional costs, course completion impact?

Evaluationteam within IET - Tony Kate, Ann Jones, Gill Kirkup, Adrian Kirkwood,Robin Mason, short-term assistants. Interested in longer-termeducational and social issues associated with the change, not (just)the logistical and practical ones. Different ways of working all round.

Issues: Implications for course design. How it could enhance T&L andsupport.  CMC - very important for a distance education institution,big shift for OU. Many questions about access and equal opps,especially wrt gender and age - a 'yuppie' effect on recruitmentpatterns? Social and physical context - loss of control and knowledgeof the setup by the organisation. Institutional change.

Example - DT200 student read "when you receive your materials, copy your materials as a backup". Student took a photocopy.

Whathappened?  It wasn't a disaster in the first year, "we got away withit", senior management lost interest in those aspects. More courseteams added, wealth of information collected and alanysed for internalreports and external publication. Was it institutional research oracademic research, or both? It varied across a spectrum.

New,current, project - "English in Action" in Bangladesh - DfID fundingover 9 years.  Developing communicative English - spoken particularly -through technology-enhanced interventions.  Access there is still a bigissue. 

Mike Sharples

Was only here for two years"but it seems like a lot longer"; partly because keeps coming back butpartly because it was a very formative experience.  First proper jobafter PhD. Partly because job interview on 8 Dec 1980 and heard thatJohn Lennon had died, important transition time.  Partly because firstperson met was Liz Beattie, became partner.

CYCLOPS - in 1980- atelewriting system.  30 years ahead of its time. Had great help - apersonal PA, and resources of BT to redevelop it to his requirements.

Itwas to support OU tutoring - students in Regions - either had telephonetutorials or had to drive to the regional centre.  CYCLOPS meant theycould go to a nearby study centres - a few miles rather than fifty ormore.

Shared screen telewriting plus phone conference - like an OHP ata distance. Could write, pre-prepared slides, overlay, multipleinteraction.  True WYSIWIS. Up to 10 centres connected in a livemeeting.  Students preferred it to the other options.

So why notused now?  Framework for evaluation - look micro (HCI), meso, macro(organsitional) levels at each of usability, usefulness, efficiency,etc.

It worked!  Familiar system image (OHP), students operatedit with no training.  Opened a cupboard door, connect it up, get itworking ... and it was Ok. BT conferencing centres started off - BTconference operators weren't used to managing data connections, so hadto set up their own.  Suited lots of interaction.

Worked at mesolevel too - tutors adapted it to their teqaching style. Adoptedconventions - e.g. signing in with your handwriting at the start,identity.  Cyclops studio for pre-prepared illustrations - earlyPhotoshop facility.

At the macro level ... it worked forstudents, matched their needs.  Wrong business model - saved studenttravel costs but increased OU costs, for facilitator and line charges. Unacceptable transfer (and increase) of costs.

Fast forward ...to Smart Meeting Pro.  By Canadian company that developed SMARTboard. Meeting room and conferencing system with telewriting system. "See howto write over applications"

Will it work? Probably not.  Micro -over-complex, is an add-on.  Meso - integration and purpose (vs smartboards).  Macro - connections (critical mass required) and meetingsupport.  Which is a bit sad.

(Mike's lab do a lot of work with tech companies comparing/evaluating their tools like this.)

Fortechnology to really take off, it has to: appeal to the youth market,and fit in to their social life.  Mini car in the 1960s - part of the60s social life of London.  The CD-ROM - when marketed as serious CD-Ias educational tool got nowhere, took off when part of computer games. SMS and texting - small business market until teenagers discoveredsocial uses.

What would happen for telewriting with young peopleand social networking?  Perhaps the new Nokia 5800 - Facebook,touchscreen - 'tap here to write something'.  Combine Facebook (social)with telewriting.

Andrew Ravenscroft

Digital dialogues for thikning and learning.

Ideascame from conceptual change in science: collaborative argumentation keyin realising stable conceptual change and development.  So developeddialogue modelling work-benge (CoLLeGE), then dialogue games (CSCL),then more flexible, powerful and easily-deployable digital dialoguegame tools (InterLoc).

Learners in the 'social web' makes thiseven more crucial.  Worries about 'The Thinker', and Vygotsky. Greateremphasis on 'learning dialogue' but internalising what?  Home brew vsbrewed by experts - quick and inexpert vs long-run.  Homebrew intellectvs Grolsch intellect.

What are we designing, predominantly?  Newspaces for learning. Socio-cognative tools.  Improved semanticback-ends and knowledge networks.  Ambient pedagogies and 'experiencedesign'.  And 'deep' learning design.

Need to manage - orconstrain - complexit.  Intelligent 'anti-social' software - fromsemantic web to the intentional web?  Sensible computing?  Bouncers onthe door of courses.

Patrick McAndrew

Found hisinterview presentation from when he came to the OU.  Found a picture onhis current website taken well before the slides were written. Reanalysed it as a Wordle - tasks, framework, learning, course.  'Open'doesn't appear at all.

"Walter Perry told his new staff ... .todesign the teaching system to suit an individual working in alighthouse off the coast of Scotland" - Sir John Daniels (no evidencefound of whether Walter Perry said precisely that, but it was an ideain circulation)

Open then meant: contained, controlled, costed(course in a box) BUT ALSO available, accessible, all-inclusive,supported.  But that lighthouse keeper audience is shrinking.  Checkedthe quote a while ago, found a lighthouse keeper doing an OU course ...and keeping a blog!  So the audience is changing.  People's bagscontain 'too much technology', world is becoming much more connected.

Thereis still a digital divide, but it's not for us to solve.  If we assumethe problems people have, we'll get it wrong.  We should reach to theworld out there, other initiatives address the digital divide.

Wehave gone open with our materials - OpenLearn.  Have learning thatpeople are interested in the content, and the social connectivity.

Dida more current Wordle on last paper (with Grainne, Doug, et al) - OER,Learning, design, process, use, resource.  Getting Grolsch for free!

OLnetis about being open to the world in all sorts of ways, including ourresearch approach.  Openness is at the bottom of communicate, share,learn.

Need to move to a more open version of open-ness, free upthe control we have of the students. Accept that there is a free route.

Open now = unlimited, freed, free BUT ALSO available, accessible, connected, empowered.

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Patrick McAndrew
2:26pm 18 May 2009


Further notes:

Adrian looking at the Home Computing Policy - the OU asking students to have their own computer at home. This involved a detailed programme of evaluation looking at educational and social issues -  with initially a lot of management interest that faded once it wasn't a disaster.Then interest switched to the course teams and broader lessons about the wider context and educational aims. His latest project - English in action working in Bangladesh.

Mike Sharples looked back at CYCLOPS system for tele-writing. This used linked television monitors to provide remote tutorials. It worked well at micro and meso levels being simple and suiting the turos but not the macro level as it meant OU costs rose too much. Now he is looking at a rather similar system from Smart Meeting Pro - but he has doubts about it working as it is too complex. Rather for success technology needs to appeal to young people and their social needs. His example is the new Nokia 8500 (?) which can be written on to enter items on Facebook.

Andrew  has had a long focus on learning dialogue from his PhD through several projects. Leading into the way virtual and real environments should work through an "ambient" pedagogy based on a "deep" learning design. The idea being to "seduce" learners into being intellectual! His last image is whether we want bouncers on the open experience of learners.

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