(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me

#et4online: Reflections on Day One


It’s quite difficult to blog my reflections on the first day of #et4online in a way that’s useful for other people.

I am inspired by Len in two major ways:

1. Len asked on fb how we all know whether we’re learning and I said that I know I’ve learned when I feel compelled to blog it to capture it or test it out

2. Len suggested on Twitter that those of us attending conferences are sort of involving the others indirectly via twitter and facebook, and I’d like to do that in a more direct way for the benefit of others e.g. even at work (though they may never read this blog post).

So the last couple of blog posts were really egocentric in that I blogged about what I personally found most valuable – which has very little to do with the actual content. That’s not strange for me. It’s also how I teach: focus on process, not content. The content varies. Process is what stays with you and transfers more readily, I think. This sort of reminds me of a blog post I read reflecting on a recent Sugata Mitra talk – I need to get around to watching that talk… but the general thing I want to comment on is that even though we all know information is out there, accessible, kids can find it, teach themselves to find and use it, etc., this, in no way, negates the role of “teachers” or at least, more experience human beings, in learning. Digital literacy is something that, I think, requires reflection and questioning. It could probably be learnt over time and with experience, but can probably be learnt more deeply and more quickly while learning with others.

I was reminded, for example, that my recent post on deep/surface approaches to twitter was inspired by other people’s writing and tips on that – I was reminded by it when I noticed on twitter that Jesse Stommel was giving an unstreamed workshop on Twitter at the conference – and during Jim Groom’s workshop, one (virtually attending) person said she didn’t use twitter and I sent her the handouts to that other session that was happening at the same time in another room. The affordances of virtual attendance were such that I was fully present in Jim’s session but with an eye over on Twitter at the same time, and was able to get her Jesse’s handouts right then and there (it’s funny it never occurred to me to share my own blog post on the matter!! Then again, a lot of what I learned about Twitter I learn from watching people like Jesse interact there, as well as his writing about his approach).

OK… back to my original intention. What kind of ideas have I learned y/day that I might like to share with others? (I won’t talk about Jim Groom’s workshop again – I’ve been talking about it too much already like here and here and here)

The first session I attended was the one on the reuse of MOOCs by Amy Collier & MJ Bishop (shame Mike Caufield couldn’t make it – I love his blog and missed it). I tweeted what I thought was the most important point of it (which created a valuable spinoff conversation which I now realize had little to do with the context of what Amy was saying at the time). The important point was the value of OER (though they insisted on talking about MOOCs, I think what they said applies better to OERs) is for people who do not have the resources to create their own multimedia, videos, etc, can manage to “innovate” by integrating already-existing resources into their courses (kind of like an assignment I gave my student-teachers earlier). I agree about OERs, not as much about MOOCs, but if the MOOC remains open, and the material is reusable and remixable, it has that potential with the added advantage that it’s an entire course, not one module of OER here and there. I got interrupted and could not finish the session, but the results they got from some people who tried to reuse MOOCs was that most people used parts of a MOOC and not the entire MOOC. Which makes absolute sense, as I would guess a teacher would need to integrate their own local context into their teaching.

Another session I attended was one on the gamification of faculty development. I had internet issues at the time so could not focus completely on the session, and I’m not the biggest fan of gamification, but three things struck me:

1. The presenters cared that only a small percentage of their faculty were attending their workshops (even though the numbers didn’t look that bad to me – which indicates something about our attitude here, I think!)

2. All the different ways one could use “badges” – not just for attending workshops, but making e.g. individual consultations count towards several badges. e.g. they mentioned if during a consultation that was initially about Blackboard, the conversation turned to talking about assessment, they’d include both badges.

3. That the faculty development unit giving out these badges kept a google drive worksheet to keep track of which faculty member got which badge for what – so simple, so useful. Why not?

So lots from that session to take back to my f2f context.

A criticism so far, that I have of the first day of Sloan-C is that I felt the talks might have been a little too technical and a little too surface? I’m still trying to figure out if this is definitely how I feel. I really enjoyed working with Jim on Reclaiming Domains and stuff and the interaction with him in itself was invaluable. I am glad we discussed reasons why one would want to do this, and his keynote talk later in the day discussed this more. Some of the best things that came out of the keynote y/day (pasting below some of the tweets I wrote or retweeted – twitter has become my short term memory):


More later – about to join an online session now…


Author: Maha Bali

Associate professor of practice, American University in Cairo

7 thoughts on “#et4online: Reflections on Day One

  1. Hi Maha, a couple of things aside from a big thank you for the mention 🙂 that brings a nice smile.

    I couldn’t help but think about this comment – “though they may never read this blog post” . That is my experience. I do stuff that people locally do not really care about. Maybe i need to reach out some more.

    The second thing that struck me is the idea of reusing MOOCs. That is exactly what we did with the NWOER Open Education course during Open Ed week. We took the p2pu Wiley’s open ed course and reworked it to fit a week. Was a good experience and one that i really support. I/we are currently writing up (autoethnography ?) our experiences from that. Nice experience.

    Finally, i dread the thought that we here at my Uni are about to go Moodle. I like it from the point of us having some space for student. I feel worried from the point that i think folk here believe Moodle will magically solve some of our current deficiencies. One way or the other, they have asked me (because i am a tech guy and Moodle is a tech thing – disaster) to do some training. Luckily i have some experience with online ed a bit. And Sarah is sharing some tips and contacts.

    The education world is a crazy place sometimes but fun space to be around.

    • Yes i learned so much from NWOER with both thr content and the approach – reusing the p2pu course was a good move and embodied the spirit of OER. But p2pu courses are more OER than Coursera, for example (i wrote this somewhere but not sure where; Coursera model is changing tho, as Amy told me on twitter).
      Re: moving to Moodle, i can also give u some tips (email?)

  2. is “handouts right then and there” supposed to be an active link? I hoped so but it’s not working — (as ever) I am in themiddle of several something elses (advocacy and community public service, both always priorities) butI was reminded ofwhat the callers say when spinning a roulette wheel (fate too), “round and round she goes — where she stops, nobody knows.”Serendipity…


    • Corrected it Vanessa – apparently i did not have the “http” at the beginning so it thought the link was within my own blog. Keep on spinning 🙂

      • thanks — much appreciated. some platforms publish them hot w/o “http” but still not all. I’d grouse but the price of uniformity too often ends up extending to content as well

  3. Love the emphasis on courses as communities rather than systems! Thanks as always for sharing. S

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