Online options for taking your data with you

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With greater access to educational resources online, learning will become a lifelong dedication for the majority of people. Sebastian Thrun, the founder of online course provider Udacity, describes the future of learning as akin to a “toothbrush technology”, one which you will pick up, twice a day for five minutes and not just confined to the walls of the educational institution.

If you’re a graduating student you need to think about the data that you have amassed and the resources you have created whilst at University, as it’s likely that you may want to reference it in learning contexts later in life. You may already be in the process of creating a portfolio of work developed during your studies, or thinking about setting up your online portfolio, so it’s important to take a backup of files that may be held on University machines or in Learning Space and also any data that your institution has amassed about you as a learner.

First up, you’ll need to backup your files. Online/Cloud storage solutions are offered by a lot of the companies you’d associate with the web, like Google and Apple, but if you’re concerned about privacy and long term availability (and a bit more technologically confident) you could set up your owncloud. Here a list of some cloud storage options  and the benefits of each.

In terms of backing up your data in Learning Space, such as forum posts, you might copy and paste the text/images into a Google Doc, which will immediately be available within your associated online storage. If you’re doing this through owncloud or backing up to a physical hard drive, you might look at pasting into a document that uses the Open Document Format or .odf extension as this is likely to be compatible with most ‘Office’ software in the future.

If you’re in the process of developing a portfolio, there are a range of online options that will allow you to upload images and text and display these publicly. Each one will have it’s merits and you might look to see which is popular within your area of professional practice. For example, Tumblr is widely adopted by the art community and WordPress by writers. Ultimately, it’s your decision so choose what best fits your workflow, but it’s advisable to pick an option that allows you to export your work, or at least keep an alternative backup so that you can remain flexible as the technology changes.

The two lists associated with this post are public and collaborative, so please add any more tools that you are aware of to:

Cloud backup/storage

and/or

Blogs/portfolio Services for staff and students

A Lens on… Open Education

In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and also at projects being undertaken within the wider HE sector. Our first looked at the process of Feedback and our second looks at Open Education.

The term ‘Open Education’ refers to the ethos and practices of removing barriers to, and providing and promoting new opportunities for learning. It is more about an approach and a mindset than a set of technologies or a way of teaching and is focussed around the learning community rather than the didactic teacher-student relationship. Catherine Cronin’s excellent presentation, Navigating The Marvellous which presents openness within the context of higher education and the social and technological practices of modern learners and educators.

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The last few years have seen the rise of ‘Open’ on the educational agenda, in part due to the buzz around MOOCs being a disruptor to education. However, most mainstream MOOCs have been institutionalised and bent to fit existing educational practices, so we’re seeing the buzzword become less relevant. Open Education and Open Educational Resources in contrast are becoming more so, as the worldwide Open Education Week site conveys . The affordances that technology offer Open Learning have been seized around the fringes by Open Educators that seek to exploit technology and challenge educational paradigms.

Open Educational initiatives like #PHONAR, Creativity for Learning in Higher Education, #RHIZO15 and the ability to remix other open courses on P2PU are examples of community or learner centred curriculums. These approaches put the web to use as it was originally intended, for the sharing of information.

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The conversation around Open Education is active in Scotland, with practitioners who have instigated Open Badges projects and in Wales where this years #OER15 conference is being hosted. The DigiLit Leicester project, who we talked about in our ET trends for 2015, also hosted the first OER Schools conference earlier this year, helping schools and colleges to further understand the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and how to create and promote their own resources.Cable Green’s keynote from #OER15 addresses the current and future state of OER and the benefits to education and society.

Whilst researching this post, I came across a previous project that took place at Falmouth a few years back called Openspace, which promoted sharing of Open Educational Resources and corroborates existing research into the field. It states that OER use can aid recruitment, enhance institutional reputation and catalyse collaboration and uptake of new technologies. The Openspace website is no longer active, but if anyone at the institution is interested in how technology can support Open Educational practice, get in touch with the team.

Open Source Tools that support a Digital Taxonomy for Learning and Teaching

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image by opensource.com

How Open Source supports Education

The Open Source movement grew out of the frustrations users have in proprietary hardware and software; technologies that enable barriers to use and models of development that alienate the user.

Eric Raymond uses the metaphor of the Cathedral and the Bazaar to talk about these opposing models of software development. In the Cathedral model there is top down control on the design and the implementation of the project (an analogy to the building of cathedrals in the middle ages).

The project is unveiled once built, whereas the bazaar model is much more informal, messy, open and relies on community participation. Open Education and Open Educational Resources share a similar ethos with Open Source with a focus on sharing and accessibility to learning.

A brief history of Bloom’s taxonomy for learning

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom, an educational psychologist developed a taxonomy of Educational Objectives, proposing that  that learning fits into one of three psychological domains; Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor and that learning objectives can be designed around these. Fast-forward to 2001 and student of Bloom Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl, revised the taxonomy to include the use of verbs rather than nouns for the categories within the cognitive domain and rearranging it as a progression from ‘lower order thinking skills’’ to ‘higher order thinking skills’:

So this…                                              Becomes:

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Creating a Digital taxonomy

On the Edorigami Wiki, Andrew Churches documents an update to Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy that accounts for the “new behaviours, actions and learning opportunities emerging as technology advances and becomes more ubiquitous”. This revision provides further granularity and suggests a taxonomy based upon the opportunities that technology provides:

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The Tools

Within the educational institution, we are often prescribed proprietary solutions to work with, such as Adobe’s Creative Suite and Microsoft Office, but there are a range of free and open source alternatives that help develop transferable skills and promote sharing and collaborating. So with this and Bloom’s in mind, here’s a freely available collaborative list of tools that support a taxonomy of learning and teaching verbs. Feel free to use, add to, comment upon and vote for your favourites.

Opportunities for Ed. Tech CPD in 2015

One of the fundamental affordances of web technology is the ability to connect with content at a time and in a place convenient to us and there are a wealth of online opportunities to learn more about how technology can support learning and teaching. Here’s an introduction to some of our favourites and some ideas for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in incorporating Educational Technology into teaching practice.

Conferences/Events

Many of the events that the team attend are relevant for all involved in learning and teaching. Some to note over the coming year are; BETT which looks at Educational Technology across schools, FE and HE, JISC’s Digifest15, the annual conference of the Association for Learning Technology and OER15 which focusses on Open Education.

Courses

There are also a huge range of self paced opportunities for professional development in the form of free and open courses, a great deal of which are listed over on the Open Culture website. ALT hosts an Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning each year for anyone working in or with an interest in Educational Technology. Connected Courses aims to join together open educators the world over and help them develop themselves and their teaching. Additionally, A big forking course looks at rhizomatic approaches towards learning, making use of P2PU’s ability to build a course in a box that others may reuse and remix as they see fit.

Twitter 

Deserving of it’s own heading, the international  educational community is huge on Twitter and it has widely been adopted as a tool for teaching and learning. Follow us @ET_Falmouth for regular updates from the team and if you are new to Twitter, get in touch to chat about it’s use in Education. Twitter lists are a handy way to manage your Educational Networks, you could create one with just Falmouth colleagues in for example, or with various educational news Twitter accounts.

Another useful feature of Twitter is the hashtag, a way of tagging tweets that enable others to search for them. Often used for conferences and module codes in education, here are some that the team engage with:

#LTHEchat – Learning Technology in Higher Ed. UK Weekly chat on a Weds eve. 8-9pm.

#ALTC – Conference hashtag for ALT, used to signpost items of interest to other conference participants.

#EdTech – Catch all hashtag for anything relating to Educational Technology.

#edtechchat Weekly chat, hosted by US educators on Mondays 1-2am GMT

#HEAenhancement hashtag for  the Higher Education Academy’s enhancement series of events

#BYOD4L an open course in mobile device usage in learning and teaching, reconvening for 2015 on 12th Jan.

Other online resources (blogs, sites)

Using a news aggregator like Feedly, helps create as a one stop source for news via blogs or any site that has an RSS feed. Your first visit  should be to  Falmouth’s Educational Technology Team site and associated Blog and Projects site. If there’s something relating to Educational Technology that isn’t already here and  that you’ve seen somewhere else, we more than likely have an opinion on it, so come and chat to us. Sussex University’s TEL team blog is another great place to pick up tips and the following web resources all provide insights into working in learning and teaching developments with technology:

 

Hack Education

Inside Higher Ed.

Times Higher Ed.

JISC

Research In Learning Technology 

Think Out Loud Club

Google Apps for Education

These links aren’t an exhaustive list and we will be adding a calendar of events to the ET site soon, so you can put dates in the diary. We’d welcome any feedback on other events and resources that people find useful, so email, tweet or drop in to the cottage for a cuppa whenever is convenient.

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