Tony Bates #change11 – post 1

I’ve lost track of the weeks already. Not sure now whether this is week 5 or 6. Anyway it is the Tony Bates week.

Well I didn’t know about the webinar on Sunday, so I missed it. I’ve subsequently listened to the audio file provided by Stephen. I’m not a fan of revisiting the actual webinars; I find the interfaces rather clunky for that, alright to participate at the time but not afterwards. The accompanying slides are available (as a pdf). And there’s also a blog post by Tony.

Tony’s thoughts raised some interesting questions with me, which I’ll try to weave into the notes I made as I listened along.

Notes & observations

Tony’s work involved examining how technology was integrated within institutions. From those sampled, institutions were ranked as to how technology was integrated into the teaching. It was identified that the main goals for institutions were to

  • put in an IT infrastructure; lecture capture technology, wide-band wi-fi, etc.,
  • improve administration,
  • enhance classroom teaching (the classroom teaching is good, we just want to make it even better).

Fully online courses tended to be separate and different to the on campus courses, and made up 10-20% of enrolments. Most technology institutions were using (apart from clickers and so on) were learning management systems (LMS). Conclusions were that institutions were very conservative in their goals for leaning technologies. What they were doings was adding cost without demonstration any measurable benefits to learning as measured by better outcomes or the same outcomes at a higher level.

At institutions where learning technology was integrated well, the senior management were all singing from the same hymn sheet. This included from the admin side. They had all bought into the idea that technology was core to the future of their institution. They had a shared vision across the management team as to where the institution was to go, and how technology would fit into that, they had set measurable strategic goals, they were beginning to put into place more effective governance mechanisms, i.e. working out how decisions were to be made about the use of technology.


  • Enhance 21st Skills including independent learning, entrepreneurship, etc.
  • Embed technology into subject discipline is critical.
  • Cost effectiveness – measurable benefits.
  • Senior management communicate goals, develop plans, and fund those plans.
  • Decisions need making at all levels, particularly at programme level, but also faculty and institution level.
  • Strategic thinking rather than just planning.

In several institutions L&T Committees had little power, they were advisory rather than decision-making. Often their advice was ignored even though they were the loci of where expertise about technology was concentrated. There was a rapid growth of learning technology support units. This in part is due to faculty not having the pedagogical skills to use technology effectively. There were cases of central expertise being under used and faculties hiring in experts for a limited period with that expertise being lost at the end of that period.

A possible model for managing resources better and enabling students to grow their own learning was suggested. When students first come into university there might be higher levels of dependent learning and greater levels of face-to-face might be appropriate. As they move through their learning programme they should become more independent and the level of online learning might be more appropriate.

So one of the questions Tony asks of us is whether universities can change from within or if new institutions are required for the 21st Century. Unless there is a disjuncture then there is no incentive to change. The system seems to be self-perpetuating. The training (or apprenticeships) of research graduates to become the next generation of lecturers and academics in the same ways as previously is at least partly responsible for this, as are the pressures for advancement through publication in closed, peer-reviewed journals. (This links into previous weeks from Martin Weller and David Wiley.) In addition, the driver for continued status quo of assessment and ratification of qualifications is increasingly driven by employers. I recently heard the argument for ePortfolios being used as a means of demonstrating knowledge to employers as a nice idea, but in reality employers aren’t in the business of assessing the intellectual ability of candidates, that service is provided by universities. Can change come from within? I’m not sure it can at the moment, not unless strong external influences apply appropriate pressure to make things change.

Interestingly, Tony’s findings showed that there was little work undertaken by institutions to actually calculate the costs of delivering teaching in different ways. There was anecdotally driven beliefs that online learning courses were cheaper/more expensive/just the same cost as face-to-face delivery. A current task I have is to look at the actual uses an installed enterprise solution collaboration suite is being put to for learning and teaching in academic departments across a UK university. I’ll attempt to document this objectively and analyse whether other solutions exist that might provide the same or superior facilities and the costs involved with each.

Some years ago, I analysed how the functions of a LMS where being used across the institution. There wasn’t a cost put on this usage, in fact the question wasn’t even asked. Instead of thinking, everywhere else has one of these, students will expect it, we should have one, maybe we should be analysing the individual cost and usage of such systems, and working out whether they provide added value to the learning experience or not.


David Wiley #change11 mooc week 5 – post 4

On Friday I managed to develop the first iteration of a proposed email to send institution-wide about convening an Openness Community and passed it on to my departmental director and assistant-director for review and comment. I’m hoping their comments will come back favourably and I can move forward on this. If all goes well I’ll post it here.

Over the weekend I have been considering another issue. Is it possible to successfully practice openness in your work without the honesty and integrity of colleagues? If you work in an environment where you have to be seen to be doing the ‘right’ thing by the ‘right’ people in the ‘right’ places it can be tempting for others to use your work without attribution, particularly if they are better at playing the ‘game’ and publicizing themselves than you are. So without the reputation or big enough exposure for your work, there is a danger that others could profit from your endeavours or even corrupt your purpose if you can’t develop the stage quickly or early enough. I think that the practice of openness is the right way, certain for me, however, I do worry whether I can create the stage and get the message out in a coherent way and quickly enough without corruption.

David Wiley #change11 mooc week 5 – post 3

A couple of years ago I had a discussion with Martin Weller about ‘openness’ spanning his blog and mine. Over the past couple of days I’ve been considering this area again, with reference to David Wiley’s work.

For some time I have been licensing my work under a Creative Commons license a CC BY-SA 3.0 or a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. However, I’ve always wrestled with this choice. My dilemma isn’t the one of many of my colleagues about not wanting other people to use my material in ways that I might not like. No, my continuing struggle is with the fact that I am requiring acknowledgement for my contribution in whatever small way to human knowledge and endeavour. But should this really be a motivation in my efforts for openness or should I be more altruistic and publish using CC0 as Public Domain? Do you have to develop a reputation for your work first before you can adopt a more altruistic stance? Or is it just a product of the current norms in society that a reputation is required? I don’t know the answers, but any input would be appreciated.

David Wiley #change11 mooc week 5 – post 2

This week’s topic has inspired and energized me into revisiting notions I’ve had for a few years. Unfortunately, I’ve found that whenever I try to take them forward there is such inertia from within the institution that they never get off the ground or they falter shortly afterwards. One area that I have found particularly frustrating has been trying to get institutional buy-in to the development, production and use of Open Educational Resources (OERs). There just doesn’t seem to be the interest or passion at the top level. However, the efforts David has made and continues to make are inspiring.

David Wiley: iSummit ’08 Keynote Address from isummit 08 on Vimeo.

David wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, as he outlined in the video. I should also learn from my own past ‘failures’ (for example the disappointments expressed in my previous post) and use them as a springboard to try again and achieve more.

To this end I’ve decided to develop a grassroots community approach to openness within my institution. To achieve this I’ll need to put together a convincing argument that senior management will allow me to take forward. I wonder if members of MOOC Change11 will help me to develop this argument throughout this week (week 5)? Here are some potential questions I need answers to.

  • What points do you think would be useful to make? Are the following useful for a community to discuss?
    • What technologies would be appropriate for the community members to use to produce & host OERs?
    • How can we promote the use of Open Journals for publishing research?
    • How can the reuse of OERs be encouraged within the institution?
    • Can we aggregate appropriate subject specific open content as a community for within the institution and beyond?
    • How can we promote the sole use of open content and open textbooks within a course?
  • How can I convince management that a grassroots approach would be appropriate?
  • Would it be sustainable as a venture?
  • Would it have any direct benefits for the institution?

I look forward to any input or advice you can give. Many thanks.

David Wiley #change11 mooc week 5 – post 1


Due to a medical problem I’ve drifted in and out of MOOC Change 11 over the past two weeks. (It’s amazing how difficult it is to keep up with the continuous flow under those circumstances. As a result, I’m going to try a new tactic and do a thought dump for the beginning of David Wiley’s week. I’ll try and catch up with the work I’ve got in the tube for the previous weeks as and when I can.

I’ve been following the work of David for a while now (a few years). I remember back in April last year when he wrote about Sal Khan’s Khan Academy and his frustration about it not being open content, and over the next few days how this turned into a success story with Sal displaying a CC License on the Academy homepage and making all content freely available.

Looking back through associated links in my bookmarks, I’ve rediscovered some links which might be useful to fellow MOOC Change11 participants:

David’s TEDx talk in his blog article (that includes the text).

David’s opening to the 2009 Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology.

And so on, you get the idea. My Diigo bookmarks:

However, by reading through Davids MOOC Change11 post I’ve found out a whole lot more today.

One thing that particularly interested me was the OSOSS pdf on the Open Content website. Though it’s from back in 2002 when it was published David A. Wiley & Erin K Edwards, Quarterly Review of Distance Education, Vol 3(1), pp33-46, 2002, IAP, I still took relevance from it. In fact I wish I’d read it three or four years ago. At that time I had the idea for an institutional project to improve the digital literacy of our student population and get students participating in the sharing and using of more of the freely (as in beer) available online services (loosely termed web2.0) to enhance their learning processes. (A relevant blog post from that time.) The project was taken up by the institution, and I worked with a handful of students to get things up and running. The environment used for facilitating the community was a self hosted social collaboration environment, which was also newly rolled out within the institution (which possibly wasn’t good to get things started with). However, even though I put a great deal of effort into kick starting the concept, with the anticipation of stepping back once things were running successfully, I never saw the level of engagement or critical mass required to make it self-sustaining.

I’d be interested in your views on how this could have been more successful. I’ve seen a forum run by Howard Rheingold that didn’t really take off either. How do you get the required levels of engagement to develop a successful self-sustaining community? I’ve got other Open Education projects I’d like to develop along community lines, but want them to be more successful.