MOOCs won’t disrupt Higher Education, employers will

Last week I wrote a post on ‘students as customers’ in the context of a more corporatised, commoditised Higher Education market. It was interesting then to see another post today discussing the emerging trend of employers dropping requirements for degrees as part of their recruitment criteria, instead selecting candidates

based on merit, rather than credentials, often by assessing candidates with psychometric testing or other performance based tests

This caught my attention for two* reasons. Firstly, it returned my thoughts to the student as a customer, and the likely increase in their willingness to leave the Higher Education system (or not engage in it at all) if it is not meeting their expectations – in this case employability. Secondly, it made me reflect on the role of MOOCs, not as a replacement for a degree, but as a potential perceived indicator of merit in a landscape where a degree is no longer a necessity.

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How I lost my faith in the LMS (or ‘my journey towards LMS nihilism’)

It was a couple of weeks back now when I threw out a tweet asking what my next blog post should be, and as I should have predicted, it came back with the one that is probably the hardest for me to write.

Then, while all sorts of thoughts were rattling around in my head, Phil Hill’s post took quite a bit of wind out of my sails by articulating very neatly a lot of the stuff that I was mulling over. What Phil’s post also did however was to make me realise that my faith in edtech on the whole wasn’t the issue – it was far more my faith in the LMS.

What I did think was still worth doing in spite of Phil’s post was creating a bit more of a personal view of my own journey towards LMS nihilism, which is what I’m going to share here. First though, you’ll need to permit me to wander a little.

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Zen and the art of Learning Analytics

I was fortunate this week to travel to Dunedin on the South island of New Zealand to attend the ascilite 2014 conference, and one of the notable aspects of the program for me this year was the number of papers relating to learning/learner analytics in some shape or form. While there have been papers relating to this field dating back as far as the 1999 ascilite conference, this year for me was the year that analytics really emerged as one of the dominant topics of conversation. The most encouraging thing for me though was that the analytics conversations appeared to be shifting away from the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of analytics to the ‘why’, which is where the real interest in analytics (and most other things) really lies.

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eduMedia Watch – don’t believe the hype

Apologies for thieving this image from Delimiter without permission - I'll take it down if its a problem.
Jonathan Holmes not believing the hype

I have a confession to make. I used to be a Media Watch junkie. Back in the day of Jonathan Holmes, I’d subscribe to the Media Watch podcast and it would be my staple viewing on work flights, enjoying Holmes’ dry wit and the work of the Media Watch team as they critiqued some of the more questionable cases of media coverage in Australia. One of my particular favourites was when they would pick up on media airtime that had started with ‘a new report’ being released that had been used as a basis for many more follow up stories, but with one problem – the original ‘report’ was either unverified in terms of its independence, or it was just completely bunk.

This week, I’ve been playing eduMedia Watch.

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Edtech – look how far we’ve come…

cc licensed - thanks http://www.flickr.com/photos/oskay/9370932025/Nostalgia time.

Wind your mind back 21 years ago to 1992. The Cold War officially ended, Shane Warne took his first Test wicket, Miley Cyrus was born, and Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ knocked off Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ on top of the Billboard 200. Video discs were also gaining popularity, even though it would take another three years for an agreed standard to emerge.

Remember video discs? No – neither do I.That year I was an undergrad at Adelaide Uni, living in a share house and in my second year of a maths degree. Oh, and I had hair – sigh…

Allan Christie (my boss, founding father of NetSpot and former academic at UniSA) was however already forging ahead in 1992 into the brave new world of technology in education. He came across the document below discussing the new and exciting world of using video disc technology to support learning in the School of Nursing, and after a quick flick through I had to make a quick post to share it with the world.

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Linearity and learning

When I was a teenager, my stepdad taught me how to hit a golf ball. He was a humanities teacher for most of his career (and a bloody good one – speaking as one of his former students), and a single-figure handicap golfer (and still is). Being the impatient teen I was, I’d get frustrated with my perceived lack of progress as he taught me the techniques (physical and mental) that I needed to master if I wanted to get better. I’d feel like I was working as hard as I could, but that I wasn’t getting better. Then, every now and then, I’d ‘spike’, and my skill (or at least the measure of my skill, namely my scores around a course), would move to the ‘next level’ – dropping a few handicap strokes in a short time before plateauing again.

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Mahara – as a content repository?

As you may know, I’ve been a bit like a dog with a bone about two topics in particular over the past year or so.

The first has been Moodle’s new file management system since the introduction of Moodle 2. The second has been the use of Mahara in partnership with Moodle, and in particular the integration points (like I showed in my last post) that will make the combination more of a winner.

My focus with Mahara has usually (and predictably) been on using it as an ePortfolio tool – until now.

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Mahara in Practice 2 – Mahara Assessment in Moodle

Last time I posted about assessment in Mahara it was using Mahara’s somewhat limited capacity to act as an assessment tool. I got no problem with this, since I agree that things like a Gradebook really belong in an LMS rather than in an ePortfolio, collaboration and social networking tool like Mahara.

But what if you need to do a more formal assessment in an LMS like Moodle?

A single sign-on integration between Moodle and Mahara is nothing new, and has already provided a basic integration between the two systems, but there has never been a neat way for students to submit a selection of work from their ePortfolio into Moodle for assessment beyond copying and pasting links between the two systems…

…until now.

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Mahara in Practice 1 – Groups and Assessment

One of the least understood things in Mahara is the potential for using groups as an assessment mechanism. I think this is because of two reasons:

  1. The documentation about this feature on mahara.org is not great, something I’ll rectify shortly after making this post (if I can stay awake), and
  2. Those who sign up for a free demo Mahara account anywhere won’t get to see the feature, as you need an Admin user to set up the special group types that can be used for assessment.

For a while its struck me as a shame that this is the case as I think it is one of Mahara’s better kept secrets, so I have finally gotten around to putting together a presentation on how it all works, why you should care and what would make it better in future.

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