My initial thoughts on FutureLearn

FutureLearn, and MOOCs in general, have of course been in the news a lot recently so I thought I would put my initial response here for my future record.  This is the response I gave to a colleague…

…Ultimately [it has seemed to me that] a lot of [Higher Education] management don’t ‘get’ the possibilities (especially the scale [the University of] Phoenix and others operate on) and have been slow to support online, others continue to be put off by the eUniversity experience.  That said, when institutions have had a branded offer (Ulster CampusOne for example) student numbers have been low so it might make sense to aggregate even if many institutions will see it only as a way to advertise/sell full courses … the OU might steal a leap and continue to take a bigger share of the pie through Apps and other innovations.

Personally, I think the key question is how many resources will be pooled here.  If it’s limited, they would be better opening up their existing course catalogues and online environments so courses are more discoverable via Google, etc.  The idea of creating a portal which people go to because of perceived quality all seems a bit pre-Google to me.

Jisc has announced they are supporting the idea of this but they are perhaps the only organisation which could encourage proper shared systems and resources.  I remember the JISC conference 6(?) years ago talking about this, in terms of SaaS, so it’s only taken half a decade.

… [Is there a] big fear that tutors would just go off and put something on Alison or build a MOOC – [when] there is a real trade off between reputations, publishing opportunities, salaries/bonuses and most tutors/experts actually enjoying classroom teaching beyond any other bit of their job[?]

Lots of great posts on this elsewhere, including:

  1. Donald Taylor (http://donaldhtaylor.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/what-price-moocs/)
  2. Gavin Henrick (http://www.somerandomthoughts.com/blog/2012/12/21/more-thoughts-on-moocs/)

I would also agree with the ALT members lists which seemed to come to the conclusion that the key element will be how the ‘1.0’ generation of MOOCs are evaluated and lessons learned impact on 2.0.

Capability models – useful structure in an unsure world

CILIP have recently published a new ‘Professional Knowledge and Skills Base‘ for uses including:

  1. Self-assessment tool for planning personal and professional development
  2. Demonstrating your skill set to employers
  3. Framework for in-house learning and development
  4. CILIP’s own course validation and standards processes.

CILIP are set to back this up with “some guides to different sectors” to show how the PKSB applies to different library and information roles across the various industries they appear in.

However, do such guides really help members identify their expertise or ignore the wider trend in a period of austerity and redundancies?

I would argue that these high-level guides are very useful to set out the areas involved in a professional identity, which can then be filled out with more detailed knowledge and skills specific to a job.  It should also help with the mapping of learning outcomes from development activities to ensure they are indeed improving knowledge or skills.

The problem may come with the proliferation of professional organizations as a result of disillusionment with the cost of professional membership against the independent opportunities available via social media and local activities.  The other issue is that as professional boundaries break down with new roles I would marry skill sets from, amongst others, CILIP, LPI and CIPD.  As such, perhaps the most interesting thing is the variation in approach between bodies.

Following conferences online: the good

It has taken a long time to get to this post – partly as I struggled to catch up with ALT-C online.  However, I thought I would comment after seeing Brian Kelly’s post on Does Sharing on Mobile Devices Hinder Real World Discussions?

I would agree with Brian’s points:

In reality, I would argue that use of Twitter at conferences helps to develop new links and strengthen existing connections.

But also stress the value in extending the scope of the conference beyond those physically there.

In many ways the ‘social’ elements of a conference (dinners, etc) can therefore become more important – tweet during the day, meet during the evening so to speak.

(I wrote that last point before seeing the tweet copied in Brian’s post: we are sharing and building through twitter and online but maybe next year we say no tweeting over dinner? #ili2012)

Following conferences online: the bad

One problem I have is that I have too many interests, it is a reason why previous blogs have failed to have much of a ‘flow’ and it impacts on me in other ways.  For example, I fail to keep up with my Google Reader feeds and personal blogging.  It also means that there are more events I would like to attend than I possibly could (unless I won the lottery and could afford all the travel and fees).

Yet if I miss an event I will try and catch up online as much as possible – live streams, recorded sessions, twitter feeds, etc.  However, I have increasingly noticed problems with this approach.

(1) Live streams – increasingly I miss the conversations around the sessions, I used to think attendance and reflection were key but the conversation and collaboration are really what you miss out on.

(2) Recorded sessions – YouTube digests no longer really come in a format which easily exposes all that is new.  This is probably to make sure you visit YouTube rather than just view the email but it is difficult to see all the videos from a channel in the one you once could.  One solution might be for channels to ‘drip-feed’ the release of recordings over time.

(3) Twitter feeds – using TweekDeck I can try and keep on top of Twitter feeds.  However, the combination of spam, endless RTs and the growth of Twitter are causing problems.  In the latter case if you are not quick the feed can become polluted – for example #BBW12 initially used for this year’s Blackboard World conference was soon hijacked by the Baltimore Beer Week.  Now, I’d image @BaltBeerWeek was probably more fun that BBWorld but wouldn’t the organizers check online for tag use first?  Or perhaps they did and it it is perceived that it doesn’t matter if its an old tag as the main use is for real time collaboration?  Whatever the case, I have always used Google to check on hashtag use before recommending them and had presumed everyone does.  Do you?  What would then be a solution?  Lists, which are there in Twitter but probably not used by many, might offer one solution.  Alternatively some kind of index or perhaps a TweetDeck system with more intelligence that  can store and save tweets by identifying attributes such as topic (via keyword) and event (by location or date).  Of course tweet archiving solutions do exist and there is, evidently, a need for me to become more of an expert in that area.

My next post should cover the ‘good’ of following the ALT-C conference this past week.

What I will miss about my online MSC #1

Now it might be very librarian of me to say that I will miss the library…but I will.

Once my access to the, easy to use single-sign-on, university portal ends I will not be able to access the various ejournals I have kept an eye on over the three years, many in areas such as business and health not directly related to the education/technology schools of my course.  In the form of non-Open Access journals the publishers are effectively helping the universities maintain a legacy control on knowledge from the pre-web era.

Certainly I opted for the course I did knowing I could use the excellent SCONUL Access scheme.  SCONUL Access allows students, at participating UK Higher Education institutions, to visit other physical collections.  However, it was the ejournals that were really useful for my general development even with some of the problems in trying to access materials across different vendor platforms.

Of course University libraries have supported Open Access for a long time now and hopefully this can continue so libraries are empowered to play their part in getting students attached to key information sources.  Students can then go on using and contributing to these resources, and other quality resources and peer reviewed activities, during the rest of their lifelong learning.  The possible death of publishing has been well documented elsewhere, all I would say is that the journals do not just need to be open/affordable but also as easy to use/access as any other thought leadership in the modern era.