Educational triage in higher online education: Walking a moral tightrope

Summary of our recent paper neatly borrowed from the LACE blog (with thanks):

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#EDEN14 Virtual collaboration in the built environment

Mark Childs, Loughborough University

Students collaboratively work on a project brief, design a building for a specific site, submit a report and reflect on process. Learners constrict meaning through the act of design. Meaning is constructed jointly by the community. Students liked the process as it was authentic and so motivating and transferable. Challenges were commitment, trust, cultural differences, digital literacy, lack of socialisation, etc. Issues harder to resolve online with no easy mechanisms for fixing problems of trust, failure to complete tasks in time, lack of professional ethos etc. Social media not used to create working bonds but as a means of sorting minor admin such as meeting times. Meetings were synchronous and could be recorded. Could see a gradual improvement over time in online meetings, improvement in IT skills, greater understanding of the task, scheduling, agenda setting, developing presence in online meetings etc. However, inauthenticity of virtual connections and lack of socialisation remained issues. Students opted not to show themselves to create social bonds. Move toward developing presence, cover online etiquette, ‘don’t tell, show’, doodle, keep the conversation on screen, not offline, get the technology right (mute the mike when not talking) etc.

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#EDEN14 Digital storytelling as a effective practice tool in a community of professionals

Corrado Petrucco, Univ of Padova

The human brain seems to manage to understand stories rather than logical processes, but stories but still follow some rules. A good story can be used as the basis of an argument to convince others. Stories are the way we understand the world but good stories are also made of emotions. We get the sense of a story that describes the actions of a hero who is trying to achieve something. Emotions are needed to support decision making. If the emotional part of the brain is damaged, it affects ability to make decisions. Storytelling as an active element which conveys the real content of society. It can be used in organisations to support problem solving, for example, eg Xerox has used it. ‘War stories’ are used to convey problems and solutions. Trying to formalise stories leads to a loss of meaning: emotion and context.

Research into the use of digital storytelling in a group of healthcare professionals in N Italy. Research qu, how can it support training and reflective practices? What are the perceptions of using storytelling in the workplace? Participants undertook a short course, then worked in small groups, choosing a work topic to explore, then told ‘war stories’ of challenges in the workplace and difficulties to be overcome. An excessive level of emotion in the story can damage cognitive performance. Participants wanted to help each other to find effective solutions. They generally found it quite easy to use stories to explain the issue but needed to include their tacit knowledge and also felt a little exposed about revealing too much about their own professional competences. They found it helpful in communication and in training of service users, also helpful for helping them to reflect on their own practice. Benefits in generating resources that could be used again.

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#EDEN14 Success factors for virtual mobility exchange on open educational resources

Airina Volungeviciene, Vytautus Magnus University

Virtual mobility allows international, collaborative teaching and learning experiences. Not to replace but to enrich and enhance physical student mobility. Aim to identify success factors for implementation. Designed an international course with input from 6 countries. Focused short course with shared curriculum design, international online student groups, needing to complete weekly collaborative tasks supported by weekly synchronous meetings facilitated by moderators. Learners were issued with certificates of completion which identified learning outcomes. Student feedback suggested they wanted more input from moderators with clear roles, more task and topics, greater time to complete the tasks/course (although this balanced against concerns about greater chance of dropout), international groups need a minimum number to ensure success of synchronous meetings due to student dropout.

Second project to integrate into a formal qualification. Students encouraged to engage socially before module start via Facebook etc, completing learning agreements 

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#EDEN14 badging for informal learning

Andrew Law, Patrina Law, Open University

OpenLearn Informal learners mostly older and in full time employment – free online modules, starting to create digital badges which recognise achievement by creating an online record of engagement. Cloud based system that is open to load badges into. Ran pilots based on unsupported online courses and evaluated. Participants were motivated by getting a badge as a means of recognition even though there is no formal accreditation associated. Pilot students were less likely to have a degree already, more likely to be working and more likely to declare a disability.

Moving toward a focus on employability and skills development for both formal and informal learners. Benefits seen to be building skills and confidence for informal learners to help them move into more formal learning opportunities.  Badged learners will now need to have read certain content and pass certain assessment criteria to earn their badge. Badges can be stored in their My OpenLearn profile, visible to others. Evaluation strategy will look at short terms and longer term, did it help students to move into formal learning and were they more prepared? Does it help with future employment prospects?

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#EDEN14 Smarter training for smart manufacturing towards the 4th industrial revolution

Fabrizio Cardinali, keynote speaker day two

The industrial revolution clock, rapid progress provided over recent years. The digital disruption triggered by the internet moving us toward the 4th industrial revolution. New players, new stakeholders, new accepted models of producing and consuming, eg the digital marketplace, 3D printing as accessible to consumers, developments in robotics, development and commercial use of drones. Potential to be astonishing. Most growth driven by the US, how can we mirror this success in Europe? Cardinali feels it is possible – educators must play a part, need to react to change, recognise genius,…. But do it fast

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#EDEN14 Interesting work and open education

Alan Tait, keynote speaker day two

Challenges of work in life: context of increasing unemployment across Europe, country average of about 11%, range is between 5 and 27%, particularly bad for 18- 25 year olds.

Threat from unemployment: this is not normal and is deeply shocking. Can we imagine the time bomb of unemployment, impact on families and crime etc. Closely linked to lower educational attainment. The threat and promise of machine intelligence revolution: much routine brain work will be computerised. Middle income jobs could hollow out further. Thee will be a tiny group of winners at the top and a vastly larger group struggling below. (Martin Wolf, Financial Times). The impact of unemployment is vast: anxiety, depression, bad health habits, increased suicide, increased general mortality.

Poor quality work: 40 % of employees are ‘not engaged’, leads to general unhappiness and impacts on productivity and innovation. The best rated components of work are to have authority, a role that supports others, income level, skill and stability. The lowest rated components are lack of autonomy, no care for people, low social respect, lower wages, short contracts, unpleasant working conditions.

The Precariat: the working poor. Low security, low wages, job not career, disposable, flexibility in a negative sense (Guy Standing). This category is increasing across the working population.

More of the same? The moment to rethink.Two core issues, increased routes to livelihood and change the nature of work. Europe as sustainable for employment in the world economy, need skills and knowledge and work that supports health and well being.

The obligations of educators: what is the vision for work in the 21st century, what are the responsibilities of educators to move from work as an unfulfilling process to something more meaningful? From workers as objects to workers as subjects, making decisions about their lives and societies, with lifelong learning and with sense of purpose.

The potential of the open education movement: what can the digital world do to help? Issues around scale are more easily addressed with online learning, more potential for flexibility, from informal to formal learning, from paradigm of short courses to much shorter courses, pedagogic innovation, mobile learning. The open education landscape is values led, anti commodity, ‘free’, inclusive and has the potential for radical disruption. MOOCs and OERs as new models for learning. Set against background of continuing high passion and demand for learning, current HE models as unsustainable, low completion rates, price vs value, technology and online learning could offer different solutions. Expecting significant impact in traditional campus based teaching.
Advantages not disadvantages: learning in life and work, virtual team working, management of online discussion, curating of e-resources, ICT supported presentations. Has radical potential: making learning and work compelling, only education can work at scale, learner success, skills for personal lives.

Can no longer just be about the ‘salariat’ and their children.


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