Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What elements of elearning need to be made accessible?

According to Seale (2004)
The resource should be accessible from any environment
Does this mean it should be accessible offline? If so, perhaps an online resource has to be made available for download or in print.
Barriers to participation and engagement should be removed i.e.discussion and chat forums should be accessible to allow learners to collaborate. multiple editing is tricky as the content is in flux and learners have different access requirements. Perhaps clearly defining what each learner has to contribute to a shared resource e.g. wiki or Googledoc could help to avoid unwanted changes. The track and undo changes functions could be useful for that.
Consistent and clear functions applies to teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), especially for learners with different writing systems (Arabic/Chinese), who may be put off by extensive amounts of text. Seale refers to this as using white space judiciously. Colour contrasts can be used to make headings/links more recognisable.
Provide explanatory text on screen i.e. hyperlinks should include a description so learners know where they are going. A menu heading should also be constant to assist navigation back and forth and monitor progress.
Limit non-text elements (images/audio/naration/animation/video). This is a challenge considering the predominance of multimedia. Perhaps the solution is to differentiate assessment so learners have a choice of how to present their work i.e. in text format or as a video/podcast. Captions should always be provided for visual/auditory material. This is beneficial for non-native speakers of English. WebAIM apparently is working on providing real time captions.
Sound transitions should also be used to help blind students to navigate a resource.
Built in magnifying tools and listen to this page option.


Activity 15.1 Specialist assistive tech

I have been investigating ‘sound sentry’, which is available from the windows acccessibility menu. It makes the screen flash to represent different sounds generated in Windows. This could be useful for important reminders, but like some of the warning tones, could be a little annoying unless users are able to tailor them to their needs.

A more exciting discovery was the ‘Lumisonic’ experiment: This is an attempt to visualise sound, to help deaf people to recognise patterns and possibly to speak. I thought this could be useful for language learning, as sound patterns can represent where the stress should fall in sentences or words.

H809 Activity 11.10 – Peer review podcast

Peer review is usually carried out by academics of a similar standing within their field. It is not usually rewarded financially and may be carried out by a team of editors/assistants/reviewers/action editors. Journal editors often select a range of reviewers.

How does one learn to peer review?

There is no formal training involved, just reliance on the expertise of those who have been working in a specific field. Journals may provide guidelines for reviewers e.g. rating scales for relevance.

Reviewers may look at the bibliography to see who has been cited. Some authors may cite their own work to get kudos, or it could be simply as to help situate the research in relation to previous work.

Blind review (i.e. the reviewer does not know the identity of the author) is supposed to avoid bias The name of the author can be taken away (also from the references), but it may still be easy for reviewers to guess their identity.

Authors should not submit the same paper to two different journals at the same time, but can submit to an alternative journal if it is rejected. They can choose to amend their work based on reviewer feedback. This can become a process of dialogue and the article will be enhanced by the right amendments. This can be extended by engaging in detailed critique and encouraging an ongoing debate.

Authors may vary their approach to research for different readerships.

Empirical research may be needed, which is time consuming.

H809, Activity 11.1 – Analysing paper based/electronic surveys (podcast)

Podcast 11.1 discusses the pros and cons of electronic surveys.

The obvious advantages are that they are fast, cheap and wide ranging. Also, using more sophisticated tools can shift the research to a public sphere and link the response to the respondent i.e. allowing respondents to add to or synthesise their answers, opening out the research process and making the researcher more responsible/accountable. The use of avatars/photos/video e.g. of researchers can influence responses.

Equivalency – is the sample/ population of respondents the same? Different ‘norms’ are applicable for on and offline surveys. Since the answers produced by online/paper based surveys may be different, they need to be analysed differently. How does people’s behaviour change online? Respondents may be more honest or candid, but may be suspicious of digital data and whether they will remain anonymous.

Statistical artifacts – relational patterns may be the same regardless of the media used. Means may be higher or lower e.g. socially desirable behaviour may be lower online (people more honest). Which is more valid?

Context: respondents are often students or specific groups, e.g. educators, who may complete surveys with a specific audience in mind. Where was the survey completed? Alone? Were the respondents influenced by the psychology of the institution?

H809 Block 3, activity 11.2 – categorising the studies met so far

Hiltz & Meinke

non-interventionist: qualitative classroom observations/ quantitative data e.g. amount of online activity

semi-interventionist: interviews to gauge student experience

Wide range of subjects/courses for validity

Same exam taken by online/ftf sts. No significant difference in results

Anonymous students no more candid than those using real name

Wegerif & Mercer

non-interventionist: codification of concordance data

‘Pre to post Interventionist’:

children were coached in debating skills

reasoning test delivered before and after intervention

Presumably children knew they were being observed. It is unclear whether this had an effect on the findings

Greenhow & Belbas

Non-interventionist: reading through discussion forums and concentrating on areas of disagreement between participants

Back to the grindstone

Christmas is over and it’s time to make a serious start on the end of course assessment. After a 10 day break (partly enforced by a dodgy stomach), it is pretty hard to drag myself back to the course, but at the same time, this was a useful period to reflect on a few things, particularly the motivational factors affecting participation and how this translates to my own practice.

Apart from the obvious distraction of Christmas (which incidentally is not celebrated here, so no Xmas hols for me), I put my lethargy down to two things. Firstly, the forums ‘dried up’ and suddenly, there was no-one to talk to. Of course, the ‘professional learner’ within me dutifully persevered with reading through the tasks and making notes about podcasting, but the drop in motivation due to lack of interaction was a reminder of the importance of ‘social learning’, and the need to include as many opportunities for collaboration as possible in my own teaching.

Having to take the initiative and ‘make the learning happen’ was the other factor that held me back. When I read through the instructions about making a podcast, all my previous experience of experimenting with Audacity and Podbean sprang to mind, but thinking of something useful or interesting to tell people proved elusive. Again, this reminded me of why, when I ask my students to record things, even with a very clear structure to build on, they are so reluctant to record their voices and rarely submit anything that goes beyond the basic requirements of the task. This, of course, is related to issues of self-consciousness and confidence with using technology, but also to the need for the content to relate to their existing knowledge so that they have something familiar to talk about.

Recently, I asked my class to work in groups and make a Powerpoint with narration on one of the themes of the course. Predictably, this was fraught with all the usual difficulties of group work: time management, group cohesion, equal participation etc, but, for those who managed to finish, the end result was a triumph, not only from the technical point of view, but in terms of communication skills, as it provided evidence that they had taken on board the ‘Tell ’em, Tell ’em, Tell ’em‘ presentation ‘formula’ I had been trying to enforce.

As with the group project on H808, the amount of information retained by the audience was by no means proportionate to the amount of effort put in by the group, highlighting that during such projects, ‘deep’ learning by individual members of their sections is secondary to the learning experience that results from the task process.

Employability and the move to competences

Note to self: here’s an article that may come in handy