ICT trends in Education
Slides also available.
For the ACS Branch Forum, 12 November 2013, Canberra, Australia.
These are the notes for the presentation using HTML Slidy. If viewing the slides you can press "A" to display these notes (and press "A" again to hide them). To advance to the next slide, press "page down", or click the left mouse button.
Tom Worthington FACS CP
- IT consultant and course designer for vocational and postgraduate university courses
- Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University (ANU) teaching ICT Sustainability on-line
- Tutor for the ACS Virtual College
- Canberra ICT Educator of the Year 2010
- Fellow, Honorary Life Member and Past President of the Australian Computer Society
Tom Worthington is an IT consultant and course designer for vocational and postgraduate university courses. In 2010 he was awarded Canberra ICT Educator of the Year by the Australian Computer Society, for his work on sustainable e-learning. Tom is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University. In 1999 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society for his contribution to the development of public Internet policy and previously worked for the Australian Government. He is a Past President, Honorary Life Member, Certified Professional and a Certified Computer Professional of the society as well as a voting member of the Association for Computing Machinery and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
- Education is moving on-line for schools, TAFEs and unis,
- Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) are not the future,
- eBooks and Social media are the future of education,
- Also: e-Portfolios, Cloud based LMS & Portable course-ware.
A quiet revolution is taking place in Australia's schools, TAFEs and universities, with education moving on-line. Award winning education designer Tom Worthington will provide an overview of the trends and its implications for education:
- Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS)
- Social media for education
- Open Source e-Portfolio software
- Cloud based Learning Management Systems (LMS)
- e-Book textbooks
- Portable course-ware formats
- Synchronizing Asynchronous Learning: Combining Synchronous and Asynchronous Techniques
- A Green Computing Professional Education Course Online
- On-line Professional Education For Australian Research-Intensive Universities in the Asian Century
What is education?
- ... the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university ...
- the theory and practice of teaching ...
- a body of knowledge acquired while being educated ...
- information about or training in a particular subject ...
- an enlightening experience ...
Before considering how ICT is applied in education, the wide range of forms and purposes of education needs to be considered. Education is the "the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university" (OED, 2013). Education can be practical training, or more general general "enlightenment".
In evaluating the effectiveness of ICT for education, it needs to be decided what the education is intended to achieve: are we training thinkers, or workers?
Wide range of terms used to describe using computers for education:
... multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction or computer-aided instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), web-based training (WBT), online education, virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE) ... learning platforms), m-learning, and digital educational collaboration. ...
E-learning, Wikipedia, 2013
Learning Together, Learning On-line
Exactly the same software (such as Moodle), is used to teach schoolchildren and postgraduate university students.
Pedagogy is the term use to describe the process of teaching. It literally refers to teaching children. Related terms have been coined to distinguish teaching of adults (Andragogy) and self-directed learning (Heutagogy). However, education, from primary school, to postgraduate university levels, is tending to emphasize the role for teachers in supporting groups of students learn for themselves.
The convergence in the approach to teaching is reflected in the physical design of teaching spaces, at schools and universities and in that the same teaching software is being used in schools and universities.
A similar approach of students working together, learning from each other, with the teacher as a guide, is used in schools and universities. This approach works just as well on-line, as in a physical classroom.
Just as eBooks are much like paper books, without the paper, e-learning works much the same way as traditional education, but without the classroom. It still requires trained teachers and well designed educational materials.
Technology for Education is Not New
- England had 45,000 university extension students in 1891
- Sydney University extension program started in 1886
- UK Open University started teaching via TV and paper mail in 1969.
Whitelock points out, that 1891 there were 45,000 university extension students in England, with Sydney University setting up extension program as early as 1886.
The UK Open University (OU), set out to provide a low cost education, with no academic limit on entry, using the information technology of its day (broadcast TV) in 1969. The debates at the time over the quality of such education are essentially the same as those now about e-Learning.
OU and similar institutions have been researching and refining their distance education techniques for the last forty years, adapting them new waves of ICT. While OU is well known, less well know is that its education strategy was in part derived from what is now the University of New England (Australia).
The ACS Computer Professional Education Program, uses a Constructivist e-Learning approach, derived from that of the UK Open University. Other e-learning courses, now being promoted as revolutionary developments, are based on this same forty years of work on distance education, many of the promoters do not acknowledge that heritage.
How I Teach On-line
Computers > electricity > fossil fuel > CO2 > global warming.
1.52% of Australian carbon emissions in 2007 due to ICT
Australian Computer Society (ACS) commissioned a course in 2008 on how to measure and reduce ICT CO2:
Computers and telecommunications (ICT) equipment is powered by electricity. If the electricity is generated by burning fossil fuel, this releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. The CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which traps sunlight, causing global warming.
A carbon emissions audit for the the Australian Computer Society (ACS), reported in 2007 that 1.52% of Australian carbon emissions were attributable to computers and telecommunications equipment. In response, the ACS, commissioned Tom Worthington to design an e-learning course in “Green ICT Strategies”, to train professionals in how to measure and reduce CO2 emissions. It was first run as part of the postgraduate masters level program in February 2009.
The course was first run by ACS, in February 2009 as "Green ICT Strategies" (later renamed "Green Technology Strategies"), with students who are working in the ICT industry. The course was then modified slightly are run by Tom Worthington in the graduate program of Australian National University (ANU) from July 2009 as Green Information Technology Strategies, COMP7310 (later renamed ICT Sustainability). A North American version of the course was developed by Brian Stewart for Athabasca University (Canada) in 2011 as "Green ICT Strategies".
Rationale and Format
Designed for the ACS Computer Professional Education Program
- 3 core courses and 1 elective
- All on-line
- Constructivist e-Learning approach
- 12 weeks per course
ICT Sustainability Elective
- Assess and reduce ICT carbon footprint
- Aligned with Skills Framework for the information Age (SFIA)
The course objectives and assessment items are based on the skills definitions for “Sustainability Assessment” and “Sustainability Strategy” at level 5 of the Skills Framework for the information Age (SFIA).
Use of Open Access Material
- Creative Commons open access license used for notes
- Learning Management System (LMS) eased distribution
- Standard institutional assessment information used
See: “Ideal Characteristics of an Assessment Tool”, National Quality Council
The course notes used by ACS students were released under a Creative Commons open access license. This allowed the material to be revised for use at the Australian National University in July 2009. This version was then further revised and used for ACS students in the next semester. This approach allowed the more rapid revision of material than would be possible with a a conventional textbook, and with more resources available than if the notes were just used by one institution.
As the notes evolved, it became clear that some of the administrative procedures would need to be separated from the subject content. As an example, different educational institutions use different assessment procedures, such as grading scales and proportion of marks for weekly work and assignments. The use of the Learning Management System (LMS) made it possible to remove the administrative detail from the course notes and rely on them being available from other documents in the system. This also removes some burden from the student to have to read through the same standard material for each course they are undertaking: if the student can see it is the same link from the LMS for all courses, then they need read it only once.
While it may seem useful to have requirements for an assessment to be as detailed and specific as possible, this may not be the case. Courses which are part of an overall program should have consistent requirements. Thus it should not be necessary to restate the details common to all assessment in every assessment item or in every course. This is particularly the case where a LMS is used. The National Quality Council's “Ideal Characteristics of an Assessment Tool” include the details of how assessment is to be recorded, which can be dealt standardised by the institution by using an LMS.
Published Course Notes
Course notes prepared in web format using Moodle:
- Separate weekly notes files consolidated into a course eBook after first course
- Moodle format allowed transfer between ACS, ANU and Athabasca, using Moodle.
- eBook exported from Moodle and published to web, Amazon Kindle, ePub eBook, PDF and POD paperback
- Notes in Moodle most popular with students and simpler to maintain
The course was originally prepared using the web based course authoring tools in the Moodle Learning Management System (MLS). The ACS, ANU and Athabasca University all use the same LMS, allowing simple transfer of the course-ware between systems, via the Moodle backup and restore function.
The first version of the course used a separate web document for each of the twelve weekly topics in the course. However, this created a maintenance burden and was confusing for the student. The materials were therefore all consolidated into one web based eBook, using the Moodle “book module” function, with one chapter per topic in the book.
The course content was exported from Moodle in HTML format and converted to Amazon Kindle and Apple and ePub eBook formats, as well as PDF, a standalone web site and a print-on-demand paperback book. However, provision of the notes within the LMS has proved more popular with students and simpler to maintain.
- Weekly forum contribution: 20% or 24% (varies by institution)
- Questions and answers to the online forum
- Mark and feedback each week from the tutor
- Written assignments: mid and end: 76% or 80%
- Students encouraged to produce a real report for their workplace
Assessment is by contribution to weekly forums and two written assignments: mid semester and at the end of the course. The weekly forum questions are at the end of each week in the course book. The assessment scheme, assignment questions and rubrics are in the assessment appendix of the book.
The tutor is key to this form of e-learning. In the introductory posting for the course, the tutor is required to point out where the assessment items are and explain that the rubric are based on the generic one of the institution: weekly forum assessment is a limited fail, pass, credit scale and the assignments the full scale. Each week the tutor should post each question for that week as a forum topic, so the students can post their answers in that thread of discussion.
In the weekly forum posting for the course, the tutor should provide an example of a good posting, suggest areas for general improvement. The tutor should also remind students how many weeks there are to the next assignment being due and that the weekly forum questions are designed to be used in the assignments.
In the weekly individual feedback to students (via the Dialogue tool of the LMS, not email), the tutor must provide a mark for that week and at least one example of a good posting by the student and one suggestion for an improvement to a posting. If there are no postings from a student for a week, they should be reminded by the tutor that participation is compulsory and after two weeks, the program supervisor should be advised.
The assignments are marked with reference to a rubric, first determining what grade is warranted and then the mark within the grade. Marks are not allocated to individual aspects of the work and no summation is carried out. The examiner can use a copy of the rubric as feedback to the student, with relevant comments indicated by highlighting phases in the rubric (this can be done with an electronic document returned via the LMS).
Students Pay Attention to Assessment
Students pay attention to feedback, if it is accompanied by marks.
A weekly mark of 2% is sufficient to have the students pay attention.
Conventional educational theory suggests that formative feedback should be provided to students to help them improve. This should be in addition to summative assessment for the final grading for a course. However, students pay far closer attention to marks than they do to tutor feedback. The practice experience of this course is that a weekly mark of 2% accompanying the feedback is sufficient to have the students pay attention to what they are being told by the tutor.
MOOCs: "open" e-learning by a new name
Massive Open Online Courses ( MOOCs):
- Massive: 100,000 students, or more.
- Open: No scholastic or financial barrier to enrollment.
- On-line: Materials delivered and students interact via the Internet.
- Course: One semester, one quarter full time student load (a US course).
Massive Open Online Courses ( MOOCs) have recently been widely discussed in education forums and this is now spreading to the business and general media. These large scale courses use synchronised asynchronous e-learning and a highly structured approach which can be used as an easy introduction to e-learning.
Some characteristics of an MOOC are:
- Massive: 100,000 students or more. Australia's large university has less than 50,000 students.
- Open: No scholastic or financial barrier to enrollment. Materials may also be open educational resources.
- On-line: Materials delivered and students interact via the Internet.
- Course: Similar in size to an Australian university subject of about a 12 week semester one quarter full time student load (a US course). But does not provide a credential on completion.
Because of the large scale a relatively small teaching staff available, MOOC design emphasizes carefully prepared and tested material, active involvement by students in their learning (including helping each other, peer assessment). Current MOOCs have a linear structure of course delivery and some use conventional textbooks.
MOOCs Are Like Books
Massive Open Online Courses are similar to books:
- Massive: Books can have millions of readers.
- Open: No scholastic barrier to accessing a book and small or financial barrier (none at a public library or free eBook).
- On-line: eBooks can be delivered via the Internet.
- Course: Textbooks provide structured course content. eBooks can have video and quizzes.
MOOCs have many similarities to books, particularly text books used for courses. Like MOOCs, books scale well: a book can have millions of readers. Books are "open" in the sense that anyone who has access to a library or the small purchase price can read a book. Access is not denied to books on the basis of existing knowledge. eBooks can be delivered via the Internet and use the same web technology as used for MOOCs. Textbooks are routinely used to provide structured course content. eBooks can now include video and quizzes. Also some MOOCs use conventional paper or eBooks as part of the course.
Academics are aware of the time, cost and discipline required to produce a textbook. I suggest that they think about MOOCs in much the same way.