This post is trying not to turn into a rant…
… it combines my thoughts on activities 4.1 and 4.3 for ocTEL Week 4.
4.1. Compare some resources (Khan Academy, eLearning examples, iEthics game)
4.3. Look at tools for creating online learning resources (Xerte, Glomaker, Camtasia, CMaps, Screencast-o-matic)
It would be very difficult not to be aware of
with all the hype and plaudits and the money being thrown at it. On the
surface, it seems like a great idea - create thousands of videos and quizzes to
help people around the world to learn (as long as they have decent internet
connections). The Khan Academy ’s mission is “to
provide a world class education for anyone, anywhere.” This is similar to some
of the lines coming out of the xMOOC providers (e.g. Coursera: “We envision a
future where everyone has access to a world-class education that has so far
been available to a select few.”) The basic premise of giving access to
learning materials to people who might not otherwise have it, via the internet,
and perhaps helping them to improve their learning situation is admirable, and
when there is extensive research documenting the concrete improvements in
people’s circumstances brought about by these unaccredited learning paths, that will be something to celebrate. But I don’t think
we should get carried away and start talking about changing the world just yet.
After all, is it really true to say that a ‘world-class education’ can be had
simply by watching a few online videos and taking a few quizzes? Khan
Pedagogically, most of the material on the Khan Academy
appears to exactly replicate transmission-model chalk ‘n’ talk style lectures –
surely one of the strengths of the internet is that it offers us so many
different ways to access information, communicate and collaborate and
opportunities to break away from the more formal, lecture-based educational
|Khan Academy - Multi-step linear inequalities|
And if we’re trying to encourage our students to have a critical eye and learn to evaluate reliability and value of online sources, what does it say if we recommend they watch videos where we don’t even know who the author/speaker is, for example, this video on the French Revolution (maybe I just don’t know where to look?) Having said that, expanding learning opportunities to greater numbers of people around the world has to be a good thing. Also, it may well be useful to be able to point students in the direction of these videos as supplementary resources, as long as we’re also teaching them to question what they find and synthesise information from a variety of sources.
Next, I tried a few of the . Game-based learning has been the next best thing for a long time now. For example, look at the Horizon (HE) Report in 2006 and you’ll see ‘Educational Gaming’ – Time to adoption 2 – 3 years. Look at the 2013 (HE) report and you’ll see ‘Games and Gamification’ – Time to adoption 2 – 3 years. In my view, this underlines the fact that with a few exceptions, gamification of learning is something that is often talked about but rarely implemented in any coherent way (in Higher Education). Yes, it would be fantastic to harness the motivation and energy that people often experience when taking part in and completing games, or the social aspects of MMOGs, but creating quality gaming experiences generally costs a lot of money, something which isn’t exactly sloshing around in Higher Education at the moment.
The games available on the link we were given seemed to have little to do with education and I couldn’t work out what I was supposed to be learning by doing them. I tried something called ‘NYT brain games’ but none of them worked. I tried a dinosaur fighting game but this just involved pressing arrow keys and ‘z’ as fast as possible. I tried ‘The Creative Mystic’ and it turned out that it was designed to advertise a product. At that point I gave up.
For me, the iEthiCs simulation has more obvious value and I can see how it could be a useful tool for staff and students involved in medical ethics education. I have seen other examples of gamified learning which I also think are worthwhile: e.g. The WW1 Poetry Archive in SL , Inanimate Alice , or Preloaded – but these all take a lot of money, time and expertise to produce. Not quite the same as a Hot Potatoes quiz… With a background of language teaching, I’ve been used to ‘gamifying’ my teaching practice for many years – making activities competitive, quizzes, word searches and that sort of thing. The question for me is, how can we bring the positive aspects of game-based learning into our practice in relatively easy ways without needing to be a developer to do so? And is it really worth our while trawling through endless badly-produced and or irrelevant e-learning games in an effort to motivate our learners? What is the best way to find examples of game-based learning which we might actually want to use?
|WW1 Poetry Simulation in SL (Oxford University)|
In the final activity we were asked to look at various tools which could be used to create learning resources. I had already used some of these (Camtasia, Screencastomatic) and generally found them quite straightforward to use. I had a look at Xerte. If you want to create a learning object with all the bells and whistles this is probably an excellent tool to help you do that job. My one issue with this (and GloMaker which I’m familiar with) is that many lecturers simply won’t have time to develop the required skills to use these tookits properly. A combination of lack of time and lack of digital literacies means that these type of tools will probably only ever be used by a very small proportion of teaching staff. As an example, if we take an introductory paragraph about Xerte online toolkits:
“Xerte Online Toolkits 2.0 is a server-based suite of tools for content authors. Elearning materials can be authored quickly and easily using browser-based tools, with no programming required. Content can be delivered to all devices using HTML5.” Many teaching staff I know would look at terms like ‘server-based suite of tools’ or 'HTML 5' and say "Eh?". Also, as it says, the toolkit is designed for content authors – in an ideal world, teaching staff would work alongside learning technologists who could help them with this, but this isn’t always (often?) the case.
Apologies for straying off task, and raising more questions than answers.. ;-)