Wednesday, 27 February 2013

DQ's edcmooc final artefact

A final video artefact from David Quin for the Edinburgh University edcmooc.  Featuring video from inside the Chernobyl contaminated zone and making some observations about online education, dystopia and being human.

Does this mean I'm finished my second MOOC in a week? Not quite... But the edcmooc finish line beckons.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

David Quin - TEL Online Article Critique Assessment

David Quin - Technology Enhanched Learning - Online Article Critique Assessment

‘MOOCs and the AI-Stanford like Courses: Two Successful and Distinct Course Formats for Massive Open Online Courses’ (2012) by C. Osvaldo Rodriguez

February 21st 2013

Rodriguez, C. (2012) MOOCs and the AI-Stanford like Courses: Two Successful and Distinct Course Formats for Massive Open Online Courses. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning [Online]. Available at: . [Accessed 20th February 2013].


I decided to review ‘MOOCs and the AI-Stanford like Courses: Two Successful and Distinct Course Formats for Massive Open Online Courses’ (2012) by C. Osvaldo Rodriguez. The article was published on the site by The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. The article compares two types of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), concluding that the pedagogical models on the selected online courses differ greatly.


The first MOOC model described is what Rodriguez refers to as ‘Stanford AI’ (referring to a 2011 Stanford University course on Artificial Intelligence, CS221). The AI course operated on a ‘one to many’ model, using online video to convey the course content, and regular online exams to check student understanding.

The other MOOC model is what Rodriquez characterises as cMOOC, or connectivist MOOC. For the purposes of his study, Rodriguez examines four cMOOCs: Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08),  Personal Learning Environments, Networks, and Knowledge (PLENK2010), MobiMOOC and EduMOOC.

Rodriguez’s article clearly describes connectivism and does link to some excellent literature on MOOCs , the MOOC experience and on online learning. Rodriguez also makes some contentious observations about online learners. He makes clear distinctions between the two pedagogical models for online courses, concluding that one model is predominantly cognitive-behaviourist, whilst the other is connectivist.


The writing in Rodriguez’s article is rather cumbersome. I suspect it was originated in Spanish and the translation to English hasn't been kind. The article spellcheck has been unkind to Rodriguez too, leading to occasionally entertaining references...  'both types shear some common features' whilst 'tutors and facilitators bare very different roles' .

Rodriguez takes until page 11 (of 13) to describe the teaching and learning model for the Stanford AI MOOC.

“…the teacher or tutor played a very similar role close to that in conventional classes. In these cases tutors would give the lectures via video format, explain hints for the exercises, comment on the evolvement of the course, prepare the exams and using video read the questions and related hints. During what were called office hours, the tutor would answer selected question from a pool proposed and voted by participants. There was never a direct interaction of the tutors with the students.”

In contrast, Rodriguez defines the PLENK2010 model (page 4, para 7) as connectivist…

“materials and course content were defined by participants as the course progressed, rather than prior to the course by instructors. Though the course outline defined a set of selected topics, they only served as indications for an iterative process of search, practice and reflection.”

- Rodriguez's conclusion (page 1 para 6) is “…although they share the use of distributed networks the format associated with c-MOOCs, which are defined by a participative pedagogical model, are unique and different from AI. We further assign to the AI to a cognitive-behaviourist (with some small contribution of social constructivist) and MOOCs to connectivist pedagogy.”
Once again, I think it's important to frame the potenitals of DE models within what Rodriguez calls (page 1 para 5) 'a well-rounded educational experience'. The open models permit students to participate at many stages in their lifelong studentship, testing their reaction to pedagogy or to subject matter, bringing skills up to scratch or supplementing more 'conventional' learning.
Rodriguez offers some very useful descriptions (page 1 para 3) of the “explicit principles of connectivism (autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity) and on the activities of aggregation, remixing, repurposing and feeding forward the resources and learning”. On page 4 para 2, Rodriguez quotes Kop & Hill (2008) “In connectivism, the starting point for learning occurs when knowledge is actuated through the process of a learner connecting to and feeding information into a learning community. Connectivism stresses that two important skills that contribute to learning are the ability to seek out current information and the ability to filter secondary and extraneous information”.
Rodriguez is perhaps at his weakest in his discussion (page 2 para 8) of 'dropouts and lurkers'. I'm not sure that Rodriguez understands the deeply pejorative nature of both words, but especially of the word 'lurker'. The inference is that lurkers are socially dysfunctional, that they linger in the learning spaces, observing other students in a most questionable and unhealthy manner. In fact, the only true 'lurker' in this instance was Rodriguez himself, because he was participating in the online courses but was simultaneously observing the behaviour of other students for his research purposes. On page 8 (bottom paras) Rodriguez trots out his lurker definition. “Lurker is a term used to define a participant that just follows the course, looks at the recordings, and browses the available course resources. He is mostly behind the scenes waiting for some interesting event.”
He cites 'dropout rate' as one of the most puzzling issues for educators, pointing out that up to 85% of registered cMOOC participants and 40% of the AI course students fail to complete the online courses.
Curiously, all four of the cMOOCs studied by Rodriguez had online education or mobile education as their subject. One observation was telling (page 8 para 7) “Participants in c-MOOCs were mainly employed professionals in education, research and design, and development of learning opportunities and environments. They were teachers, researchers, managers, mentors, engineers, facilitators, trainers, and university professors.” This is borne out by my current experience on Edinburgh University’s (2013) Coursera edcmooc, where 50% of the participants are professional educators.
In contrast to Rodriguez's persistence with the pejorative 'lurker', I prefer Clark Quinn's (2012) ideas about 'solo' learning which are paraphrased on page 12 (para 2) “he clearly finds a distinction between the solo approach and the social approach to learning. He defined the Stanford AI course as a set of videos, some online interactive exercises, and tests, as being predominately solo. The learner works by himself with the material.”

Quinn continues “The connectivist MOOCs, on the other hand, are highly social. The learning comes from content presented by a lecturer, and then dialog via social media, where the contributions of the participants are shared. Assessment comes from participation and reflection, without explicit contextualized practice. The downside of the latter is just that, with little direction, the courses really require effective self-learners. These courses assume that through the process, learners will develop learning skills, and the philosophical underpinning is that learning is about making the connections oneself.”
This brings us back again to Anya Kamanetz's EduPunk ideas about online learners. ‘Being self-motivated and having good time management skills are absolutely essential for success along a DIY educational path.' As Clark Quinn says “As of yet, I don’t think that effective self-learning skills is a safe assumption (and we do need to remedy).”

Though his article is often cumbersome and makes some debatable observations about student lurkers and dropouts, Rodriguez must be commended on gathering a useful body of relevant research together. His descriptions of connectivist learning are very valid and he clearly defines the pedagogical differences between Stanford AI-style MOOCs and the more social and connectivist cMOOCs.

This is a useful article.


Kamanetz, A., (2011) The Edupunks’ Guide To a DIY Credential. Accessed on 200213.
McAuley, A.; Stewart, B.; Siemens, G.; Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC Model for Digital Practice. Retrieved from

Quinn, C. (2012). Blog Learnlets – Mooc Reflections. ). Accessed 200213.
Rodriguez, C. (2012) MOOCs and the AI-Stanford like Courses: Two Successful and Distinct Course Formats for Massive Open Online Courses. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning [Online]. Available at: . [Accessed 20th February 2013].
Siemens, G. (2012a). Blog Elearnspace - Massive open online courses as new educative practice. Accessed 200213.

Siemens, G. (2002 onwards) Accessed 210213.
Siemens, G. (2012b). Blog Elearnspace - What is the theory that underpins our moocs?


Bob Godfrey

Bob Godfrey dead at 91… In IADT, we were privileged to have had Bob as our DL041 Animation External Examiner for three or four years. He was a generous, perceptive, knowledgeable man, with a huge interest in our students. He was also a great great laugh! We spent many an evening in his hotel bar, listening to his stories of war, advertising and animation (probably in that order). Thelma posted this image of Tweedy, Bob, Thelma und ich on Facebook. I can’t remember what year it was taken. 2003? Me mind’s a blur…

As the Guardian obituary below says about Bob...

'His unfulfilled ambition was to make a feature film – it nearly came true with a project called Jumbo – but he was at least partly satisfied with Great, a half-hour cartoon on the Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, voiced by Briers'.

Strangely enough, Richard Briers also died last week...

Bob! A great man! Condolences to Beryl, Claire, Tessa and Bob's grandkids. We will all miss Bob.

First MOOC complete...

This morning I completed Steve Everett’s Emory University MOOC ‘Introduction to Digital Sound Design’. I’ve been critical of Steve’s pedagogy over the past few weeks and I’m glad to be done with this MOOC – very much in the behaviourist mode. Don’t get me wrong, I did learn on this MOOC (especially about granular synthesis) and I’m still impressed with Steve’s video resources (even if he used far too many videos). As a student, I still dispute Steve’s failure to ‘blend’ his teaching (and our learning) – he could have used pdf notes, a prezi resource or two, a few little competitions and artefact projects. I also think the failure to include no-stakes or low-stakes formative assessments (done through multiple choice) was naïve at least.

The multiple choice exam itself was terrifying as ever, almost a perverse masochistic student experience! As usual, I was 'tripped up' on several questions. This time I was watching for the trip ups. Despite this, I was snagged on a few of them!
I’m looking forward to the arrival of my completion certificate. I will be proud to receive it! Thanks to Steve Everett, Emory University and Coursera for providing this learning opportunity.

Animation Wins in HEA Report!

It’s official? Animation are the apparent darlings of Creative Arts Education in Ireland!

‘While we don't have detailed data, anecdotally, except for in animation where almost all of
our graduates go into employment in the field in which they trained…’
  (page 19 para 4)

Let’s not run away with ourselves… Things are not as rosy as they seem, even in the darling area of animation.

After a long wait and much anticipation, the HEA’s Dublin Creative Arts Review Report is finally out. At first, I was concerned that our discipline was singled out in the Report’s Introduction…

‘Due to a shortfall in NFQ level 8 places, bottlenecks are particularly prevalent in disciplines such as animation and film;’ (page 3 top para). The bottlenecks issue is revisited more critically in the Report’s 3.2.3 section ‘Small is not always beautiful…’

‘This is problematic if the size of the local creative industries sector grows or if the international reputation for arts training in Dublin were to grow. In either scenario, it seems it would be almost impossible to be able to quickly scale course offerings to meet levels of demand.’ page 45 para 4

In animation, we’ve been at this ‘impossible’ stage for years – running at saturation in terms of student numbers and without any permission, resources, funding or space to grow.  How can we scale up our operation successfully and how will we get to areas of animation education that we’re not currently reaching? All whilst preserving the potentials of our students and grads - ‘future-proofing’ our kids with strong basic, core skills?

But the Report was far more critical (almost damning) in its analysis of more general creative arts education, pointing out that many creative arts graduates are either unemployed, underemployed or living in poverty.

“Many artists aspire to make a living from the arts, though most cannot.”
“For the vast majority of artists their income is below the poverty line.”
(page 17 para 4)

And the relative complacency of the creative arts educators is pointed out too…

‘Courses in the arts are popular and easy to fill but this does not mean that there will be employment when the students finish.’ (page 19 para 5)

Whilst recognising the broader educational objectives, the Report focuses firmly on vocational aspects… ‘there should be a reasonable chance of employability at the end of the course.’ (page 15 para 4).

I’d disagree with the inference that all graduates need to ‘get a job’ in their discipline. In animation, this would suggest that we would ruthlessly train all of our students to ‘fit into studios’. Instead, our determination should be to allow all of our students to do what they want to do within our discipline, or within a related area. Graduates may choose to work in studios, they may want to setup their own studios or they may want to develop projects in related areas like illustration, internet video, transmedia or app development.

I like the Report’s realisation about what we’ve long called ‘future proofing’.  ‘It is likely that future art forms may rely on a student having a whole range of knowledge, skills and ways of working.’ (page 30 para 2) Get with the programme people! The creative arts and digital media have been this way for the past twenty years at least!

The Report is also more than a little naïve when it preaches about linkages with industry…

‘Internships and co-op arrangements are among the most effective ways in which to give learners the opportunity to experience not only the work world, but also potentially the professions that may enter. (page 45 para 2).

This is easy to say, but practically impossible to setup, without a really deliberate effort on the part of the industrial stakeholders. Desk space in studios costs money and studios don’t always ‘get’ (or care about) educational outcomes. To get line personnel from the studios is equally difficult. Don’t get me wrong – I agree with the Report. Internships and co-ops are the way forward. The practicalities remain challenging. We will persist.

I did approve of the Report’s dismissal of the supposed hierarchical stratification of Irish higher education as inapplicable to creative arts education…

‘This implies a hierarchy in which universities as located at the top and other providers further down. This view cannot be sustained within the creative arts in which individuals that undertake technical and practical training, and even those who are self-taught, can often gain greater professional status and more income than those with higher degrees.' (page 28 para 4)

The big news is on page 31 of the Report, where the ‘constituent college’ idea I’ve been preaching for an age gets a big endorsement.

‘There is currently a problem of scale. One way to overcome this could be to maintain the individual differences and histories of the various arts institutions but for them to become constituent colleges of a larger university organisational structure. In a constituent college model, the division of powers is balanced between the central governance structure of the university and its constituent colleges.

A collegiate model gives the constituent colleges a substantial amount of responsibility and
autonomy while still being structurally embedded in a larger and more cohesive overall university structure. A ‘constituent college’ model enables the richness and diversity of the offers to be maintained while having a more coherent structure in which to collaborate. A ‘college’ model also is less likely to lead to a homogenisation of offers where the ‘strongest’ may dominate but rather makes synergies more meaningful. A collegiate model also lends itself to effectively maintaining and marketing particular identities while avoiding undue overlap and internal competition.’

The other big news is in the Report’s Recommendations, on page 47...

‘It should be considered whether current courses could be consolidated into a three-year Model.’

I believe that, between a move to a 3:2 course model, with a big integration of postgraduate research (especially research by practice), internationalisation of our linkages, a more matrix delivery of course content, and truly flexible delivery (online material, part-time delivery, special purpose awards, real modular segmentation of our current courses), we can surge forward over the next few years. Add in the consolidation and rationalisations which will emerge from ‘mergers and alliances’ (or a ‘constituent college model’), as well as the considered integration of industrial stakeholders and I believe we have great scope for sectorial development. Such a flexible model is described on page 39 of the Report…

‘Delivery of higher education in Ireland must be characterised by flexibility. Higher education itself will need to innovate and develop if it is to provide flexible opportunities for larger and more diverse student cohorts. The nature of the learning community and the modes of teaching and learning are likely to change significantly over the coming years. These changes will be supported through innovative approaches to research-led learning, programme design, student assessment and a quality assurance system—all of which will emphasise nurturing creative and innovative minds.’

I do hope that HR are listening closely to the Report’s page 41 recommendations…

‘The current employment contracts for higher education teaching staff should be reviewed with a view to recognising artistic production and practice-based inquiry; community engagement; professional partnerships; reputation and standing; impact and teaching expertise.’

These are sweet words to the ears of people like me who've entered education from a discipline base. I do hope that our HR and RPL policies change rapidly to reflect the efforts of staff. Am I holding my breath? Curiously enough, I'm talking to HR this week...

I completely agree with the Report’s finding on page 43...

‘It is important that all levels of higher education do not educate for now. Education has to be about educating for the future. Education systems have to educate for future jobs that do not currently exist.’

I've been saying that forever!  We must try to be ahead of the curve! Yes!

This is an exciting Report, identifying many potentials for our specific discipline (animation) and for our broader third level sector in Ireland. There are exciting possibilities in this time of disruptive change, but we can't waste time, nor can we be complacent.

It's time for big-picture, future-thinking decision making!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sunday, 10 February 2013

First Coursera MOOC Exam

Terrifyingly, tonight underwent my first MOOC exam - a 60 question multiple choice affair for the Coursera - Introduction to Digital Sound Design. I got through with a 55 out of 60 correct answers. One of the my wrong answers was 'If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, is there sound?'. I said 'yes' and I was wrong! So, the birds and worms and snoozing leopards don't hear the sound? Whatever...

Some larger teaching, learning and assessment problems with this... First, we had to watch 22 video lectures (several hours content) before we were asked to 'do' anything, and then we were asked to 'do' a multichoice exam - hardly the greatest learning project... Also, the teaching style is hardly advanced or even 'blended' and is certainly not interactive... For hour after hour, we're watching Steve Everett, the tutor, talking to camera... As lecturers, we know we talk too much... Steve is no exception.

There were no low-stakes exams here - one could easily have been conducted after a week. And there was no advance indication of the exam's extent, duration or type. It turned out that it was a multichoice exam, with 60 questions, taking about 30 minutes to do - this could have been spelt out in advance.

A good course, with strong information. But it's delivered in a very monotonous manner. Just because it's video, doesn't mean that it's rounded teaching, learning or assessment.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Raise Your IQ Innovation Voucher

After a couple of months work, I've just finished as Supervisor on an IADT/Enterprise Ireland Innovation voucher for John Chambers at Raise Your IQ. The website is an IQ improvement site for children. Conor Finnegan developed 55 characters and numerous layouts for the site's simple gameplay. John says the first customers are already signed up and the website will develop over the next few months as the Conor's characters and layouts are populated into the engine.

Thanks to John Chambers, Conor Finnegan and especially to Dominic Mullan, IADT's Innovation, Commercialisation & Development Manager.

IADT Remote Access

IADT Remote Access starts from the link below...   Give it a few minutes - it takes a while for Juniper to load up.

Then Staff folder/QuinD...

Friday, 1 February 2013

Crumpled but Welcome!

It seems like a lifetime ago, but I set up this blog less than a year back, as part of a Level 9 DIT Personal Development Module (5 ECTS). Work was completed on the module in June 2012, and we've heard nothing until now...

Our DIT module certs have arrived! Rather crumpled and a little bit worse for wear but... They've actually issued us with real paper certs! I believe all LIN modules, large and small, should issue such certs on successful completion. I'm so proud!

Looking back, my PDP targets haven't changed - they've just been added to... Personal development is ongoing!

More on The MOOC Learning Experience!

The edcmooc MOOC themes are very broad – this isn’t helped when the course team broaden the discussion further to include disputed historical texts like Prensky’s 2001 Natives and Immigrants article. Education and digital media are both in a permanent state of disruptive change – we're Teaching and Learning in a storm! The lines of argument are not clear. E-learners are coming from very different perspectives, with variable experience and all are shouting to be heard. It is exciting, but a little frantic. I found it threatening at first. Now I just find it exhausting! Another difficulty is trying to juggle the MOOC learning with ‘all other activities’. For many of us, the MOOC learning is taking place in some ‘hidden’ hours, in spare time which doesn’t really exist?

E-learning course teams tend to over-strategize and over-direct the learners. It’s understandable – they feel they can’t start a course without sufficient content! They need to fill the perceived pedagogical vacuum. But sometimes it’s necessary to put a learning challenge to the students, to truly allow them to construct their own learning. Then the course team can ‘guide from the side’. I once proposed that e-learning for many students (especially for students with little or no access to software/hardware/broadband) seemed like looting – the students’ dived in, grabbed the resources they could and then ran away (presumably to learn). The online experience is noisy, competitive and accelerated. Speed is important! We have the library or the quiet study room in mind when we think of learning spaces. E-learning finds it impossible to slow down, to create space for reflection - ‘reflection is not the default setting’ (a quote from MIT’s Peter Lunenfeld).