Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Open to Inclusion

I have been working with Prof. Shirley Williams, professor emerita University of Reading and Prof. Andrew Adams, Meiji University Japan on a book chapter for the past couple of months. The chapter is titled Open to Inclusion: Exploring openness for differently-abled people and it is for the book Ecologies of open: Inclusion, intersections, and interstices in education edited by Dr. Dianne Conrad and Prof. Paul Prinsloo.

Working with Shirley and Andrew is always a pleasure but this was more so as we had unfinished business of a paper on Open Educational Resource for Higher Education. So when I saw the call for proposals I wanted to make sure we utilize the work we have done already and build upon that using my recent experience of accessiblity work at UCEM.

Image showing an inclusive society
Inclusive Society
The chapter, explores the ideas of open and how they have been fluid over time: for example globalisation opening barriers for capital flow; Open Universities opening up educational opportunities. We show that though things have been progressing it is yet to be inclusive.

The chapter introduces fictitious learner personas of students with disabilities: Khalid, Sophie, Arun and Chamari and invites the readers to explore with them the obstacles they face in accessing open resources, the educational materials that are made available with permission for re-use and re-purposing.

Using our international experience of working and living in various countries, we investigate whether the difficulties these learners encounter may differ had they happened to live elsewhere in the world. In this, we look at five different jurisdictions including in both developed and developing countries: Ghana, Japan, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and USA. These countries have been selected to illustrate the diversity of legal protection for disabled individuals in different regions of the world ranging from strong protection to nominal protection.

The chapter presents the case for inclusion and accessibility, including legal considerations in selected jurisdictions. While highlighting the importance of raising awareness in enabling inclusion, the chapter explores the potential of open content to create “inclusive openness.”

The manuscript is under review and a copy can be made available if you are interested in this work.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

GDPR: Forget me (not?)

I have registered on the FutureLearn course Understand the General Data Protection Regulation offered by University of Groningen and as the course access, for me, expires soon ploughing through the activities.

I found the concept Rights to erasure and data portability in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) particularly interesting. This is stipulated in Article 17 GDPR and known as the right to erasure or the right to be forgotten.

forget me not flowers
Forget me not flowers
Is it a good thing to have this right? As in many cases the answer is not black and white; there are lot of grey areas.

The right to be forgotten is a good thing because by exercising this right one can get unwanted images, posts that may appear on Web about oneself to be removed. For example, in the late teen years it may be funny to upload images on pub crawls and of various silly activities one has taken part in, but it may not be funny anymore to have them attached to ones name on a Google search when they are professionals.

On the other hand, if some individuals exercise this right to remove historical data that are unfavourble to them, would this not impact adversely on other people? For example, suppose a person has historical convictions for fraud and under the right to forget requests all links to his historical offences are removed from search pages. Later on this person sets up a bookkeeping business. A potential customer coming for business may want to know the background of the bookkeeper. But because the links to the previous offences are removed from search sites the potential customer is unable to find accurate information about the background of the bookkeeper.

Can requests to be forgotten create a biased search with 'blocked' or 'filtered' results? Will this affect the freedom of expression?

Article 17 paragraph 3 of the GDPR states that there are exceptions:

(c) for reasons of public interest in the area of public health in accordance with points (h) and (i) of Article 9(2) as well as Article 9(3); 
(d) for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes in accordance with Article 89(1) in so far as the right referred to in paragraph 1 is likely to render impossible or seriously impair the achievement of the objectives of that processing; or 
(e) for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims. 

I've got more questions to think about than I started with - not a bad thing though

Monday, 13 November 2017

My thoughts of World Conference on Online Learning (3) - Remote Exams

This is the third of the series of posts I am creating on my thoughts of the World Conference on Online Learning.

Other related posts can be found here
My thoughts of World Conference on Online Learning (1) - Our presentation
My thoughts of World Conference on Online Learning (2) - Meeting the pioneers

I attended the presentation Online Proctoring: Experimentation of remote examination in E-learning programmes by Dr. Pierre Beust (Universit√© de Caen Normandie) and Associate Professor Sabine Bottin-Rousseau (Universit√© Pierre et Marie Curie) and I was very interested by their research.

At University College of Estate Management (UCEM), we have a large number of international students (about one third) and UCEM holds examination centres around the world. But still some of our students have to travel, find accommodation and face the stressful exam conditions in an environment (or even a country) they are not used to. UCEM is looking at ways of making online examinations possible; therefore this presentation was of great interest to me.

The presentation introduced two case studies;  ProctorU was used as the proctoring service. Some of the interesting findings were:

  • Success rate same as traditional exams
  • 4.9% technical problems (that blocked the exams !) - this is an issue because one student not being able to sit the exam is enough to give a bad reputation and much more work in preparing alternative papers, moderation, marking etc.
  • 3% students feel a kind of intrusion in their private life - it is like someone being in your home watching over you, the webcam will show everything that happens there. If the student has to share the space where they are taking the exam with family members (due to the unavailability of a suitable other place) especially younger children, their images will also be recorded on the webcam footage. 
  • 80% would take another exam or advise a friend to have home proctored exams - this means the students were happy to take anther exam in technical setting.
  • 89% are satisfied and prefer to assume the technical conditions than travel to exam centre - as I said before having to travel to a different country sorting out VISA, accommodation and other logistics can be an additional stress on top of the exam stress.
The challenges of introducing remote exams also manifest in these areas:
  • Legal issues (Data protection especially EU laws prohibit data being stored outside EU so need to have agreements with the service providers, Security, Privacy)
  • Technology issues – public low-cost wifi access not allowing applet communication ports to work
  • Language – use of chat facility (16 exams in French) - as UCEM provides education in English perhaps this may not be a big challenge for us.
There are many who oppose remote exams stating that the likelyhood of cheating is higher. But traditional exams are not cheat proof either. Cheating risk depends on feeling of cheatability of the system. If it seems easy to cheat there is more chance of students attempting it. But interestingly in the case studies it was found that
  • 61% feel proctored as effectively in remote exams as in classical exams 
  • Some feel more closely proctored because of the webcam 
  • Proctors of ProctorU can proctor max 6 students at the same time
  • Students thought they were in a one-to-one situation
I have already made connections with Pierre and Sabine and Pierre kindly shared their case study paper too. I am really looking forward to hearing more about their work and if you are also into remote exams a place to keep an eye on is OP4RE – Online Proctoring for Remote Examinations.

Monday, 30 October 2017

My thoughts of World Conference on Online Learning (2) - Meeting the pioneers

This is the second of the series of posts I am creating on my thoughts of the World Conference on Online Learning.

First blog can be found here My thoughts of World Conference on Online Learning (1)

I have cited Dr. Tony Bates in my work for years. ACTIONS and SECTIONS frameworks were very useful models in assessing technology for adoption. I used these models in my PhD thesis, Information Communication Technologies and Distance Education in Sri Lanka:
A case study of two universities, to make sense of the less than favourable (in my view failed) technology adoption in distance education back then.

It was a privilege to listen to Tony at the World Conference and I must admit I barely made it into the room for his first talk Teaching in the Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning 1. Wherever Tony spoke, the rooms were absolutely full with standing audience too. I often wondered why the conference organizers did not have these sessions in the main Ball Room where there was seating for a large number. Anyway, I hope the next conference organizers will remember to allocate a larger room for Tony's talks in Dublin.

I was also fortunate to get a complementary signed copy of Tony's latest book Teaching in the Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning, an open textbook. 

I really liked the way Tony approached the session by giving us a chance to think about what our thoughts on learning.
  • Learning as coal mining - to find the hidden 'truth', dig it and stuff it to learner's head
  • Learning as gardening - creating the right environment to encourage people to learn

But what was emphasized is that learning environment is necessary but not sufficient to create a great learning experience and I am sure if we look back at various courses either we offered or we took part it is evident that this is indeed the case.

In the third session of Teaching in the Digital Age series, Tony spoke about the use of videos. He talked about videos can made by tutors and what the audience thought of their quality? We have this at our institution where the media production team develop high quality videos and then there are videos produced by tutors, which in all fairness cannot achieve that quality (due to equipment and experience). However, I really value the final point Tony made "don't stop innovation". When tutors are trying to do something new, if we keep on asking for similar quality of videos to studio productions, the end result is easy to predict. 

So the 9 important steps to follow in teaching online course:
1. How do you want to teach?
2. What kind of course will it be?
3. Work in a team
4. Build on existing resources 
5. Master the technology
6. Set appropriate learning goals for eLearning
7. Design structure and activities
8. Communicate communicate communicate
9. Innovate and evaluate

Friday, 27 October 2017

My thoughts of World Conference on Online Learning (1) - Our presentation

This is the first of a series of blogs I am hoping to do on my experience of the World Conference on Online Learning.

The World Conference on Online Learning was held at Sheraton Centre, Toronto, Canada last week (16-19 October). This was the 27th biennial conference of the International Council for Distance Education.

This was 'the' conference I always wanted to attend and I was delighted when our proposal "Online, Flipped, Blended Approach to Apprenticeship Education: A case study of UCEM's Surveying Technician Diploma" was accepted to be presented at the conference. The conference theme for this time was "Teaching in a Digital Age: Re-thinking Teaching & Learning" and under this umbrella theme we went for Track 5 - Redesigned Institutional Business Models.

Our presentation was on the second day of the conference and was well attended. We had an engaging session with lots of interesting questions. I also created a sway presentation including some interview clips to give a better idea of our project. We are in the process of writing it up for publication.

Don't take my word about the success of the course. Listen to what a student has to say about our approach to apprenticeship education. Here is what students who have gone through the Surveying Technician Diploma has to say ...

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Online, Flipped, Blended Approach to Apprenticeship Education

I have been working with Nick Moore, Dean Learning and Teaching at University College of Estate Management (UCEM) on an exciting project, investigating UCEM's new online, flipped, blended approach to apprenticeship education.

The proposal we put forward to the World Conference on Online Learning to present our work was accepted and now we are getting ready for the presentation in Toronto (according to the conference website meaning “meeting place” in Huron Indian), Canada.

As we only have a few minutes to talk about our project, I felt it would be useful to give some background information on the project. Below is a sway presentation I created with some video clips. Here Ashley Wheaton, UCEM Principal, talks about the need for apprenticeship education and why UCEM took up this challenge. You can also hear Lynne Downey, Dean Online Education, talking about the pedagogy behind the approach UCEM took.

Looking through the draft schedule there are lot of interesting sessions with a whopping eleven parallel sessions on Monday afternoon alone! I am looking forward to participating in my first World Conference on Online Learning.

Please maximize the presentation before viewing.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Discussions in MOOCs: Should you have to post to view the discussion?

University of London and Bloomsbury Learning Environment is offering an interesting, 3 weeks course Get Interactive: Practical Teaching with Technology #getinmooc on Coursera platform. I registered on the course and was delighted to see @eileenkennedy01, @BLE1 and @architela leading the course.

I enjoyed the resources on the course and links provided to explore more. However, there is something about this course I am not comfortable with.

The course forums are closed until you make a post. In other words, if you wish to see what discussion happening in the forum you first have to post something to view it. To me this is very strange. If you are joining a conversation, in real life or in a forum, you listen or read what other discussions happening before commenting or giving your viewpoint. But in this course I was expected to give my comments BEFORE I had joined the discussion. 

For example, if this was a nasty conversation (which I am sure it was not) and I didn't want to be part of it, there was no way for me to know before I unlocked the conversion by posting. Basically, I come to a closed door (thanks @eileenkennedy01 for the simile) not knowing what is on the other side but have to open it to know what is on the other side - there is no peep hole. There could be a beautiful garden behind or a pack of hungry wolves!
Closed door
Closed door
Looking at Leave and Wenger's work on community of practice, they use the term Legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) to describe new comers to a particular community of practice initially participating in simple low risk task and taking time to become experienced members. 

The blog post From novice to expert by Prof. Steve Wheeler discuss the theory and how it can be applied in online learning. Below extract is from the blog post. 

"Where some might see lurking (being present but not directly contributing to discussions or online activities) as a form of social loafing or lack of engagement in the learning community, Lave argues that it is legitimate and can lead to fuller participation once knowledge and confidence has been gained." 

I tweeted about this experience and from the replies I received it is seems that expecting a learner to be confident to open the door without letting them have a feel for the conversation is not what the course leaders wanted.  

@Tharindu__: #GetInMOOC what do you think of closed forums until students post to unlock and see others contributions? @eileenkennedy01 @BLE1 @coursera

@eileenkennedy01: Replying to @Tharindu__ @BLE1 @coursera
Good question! Personally I don't like it. Feels like coming up against a big locked door when you were expecting it to slide open. V scary.

@Tharindu__: exactly my thoughts! It puts me off posting altogether. I like @FutureLearn style

@paigecuffe: Replying to @Tharindu__ @eileenkennedy01 and 3 others
Many need to see conversations modeled before they are ready to post. Plus active listening valuable too. Interesting convo - who's locking?

@Tharindu__: yes agree - legitimate peripheral participation

@SarahCrabbe1: Replying to @Tharindu__ @eileenkennedy01 and 2 others
I don't know - would nervous students want to post without knowing the standard and level of others work? #getinmooc

@eileenkennedy01: Posting in the dark doesn't sound very comfortable to me

You are welcome to add your thoughts...