Archive for February, 2013

Weekend Funny – Not a fan of Valentine’s day, you’re not alone

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

anti valentines

See more here.

MOOCs that make sense in Australian Higher Ed

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

This kind of fits into my own idea of where MOOCs might fit in HE

“Academic Partnerships has collaborated with public universities to offer credit-bearing MOOCs as a first step and a free start toward earning a degree. Through this new initiative, the initial course in select online degree programs will be converted into a MOOC. Each MOOC will be the same course with the same academic content, taught by the same instructors, as currently offered degree programs at participating universities. Students who successfully complete a MOOC2Degree course earn academic credits toward a degree, based upon criteria established by participating universities.”

To paraphrase – Try before you buy, get your first unit free.  Do our MOOC and then, if you enroll in our degree course, you will get a credit.

This is being done in partnership with a commercial provider but the resources could be developed incrementally in-house as part of the conventional fee based on campus unit, then re-purposed for the MOOC.

As a marketing and recruitment strategy in tight market it makes sense.  I’m not sure what the rules are in the U.S., but there would have to be some rigour around the assessment, and some manual marking if we were giving credit.  Which means ongoing overhead and cost.   You’d have to do some thinking about your break even point, and I suspect you may have to apply some kind of cap (at which point it is no longer a MOOC but a LOOC? –  Limited Open Online Course*)

I think the logical first step is to not worry about giving credit.

I’d suggest we offer optional, prerequisite mini MOOCs for specific first year units.  The target would be units that have a mix of entry level skills e.g. a health related unit that doesn’t necessarily require a pass in VCE biology, or an accounting unit that includes students who didn’t do VCE Accounting.  Teaching these units can be a challenge for academics trying to forge a path between student boredom and bewilderment.

These would be of interest and use to the general public, but would be structured to ensure that students without the related VCE subject would at least have a working knowledge at the commencement of the course.  They could also serve as cost effective remedial resources.

They would still double up as marketing and recruitment tools by providing Monash ‘tasters’ for prospective students.   Of course the marketing aspect only works if you produce top quality resources, which means bringing in some designers and developers, which in turn means some reasonably significant one-off expenses.


*When does your MOOC stop being a MOOC?  And what does it become?

– MFOOC – Massive Fee based but still Open to all Online Course?
– RSMFOOC – if  access is also Regionally Specific
– LSOC –  Limited numbers Select entry OC?
– LSFOC – Limited Select entry Fee based OC?
– RSLFOC – Regional Specific Limited Select entry Fee based OC?
Have I missed anything?

Some videos to get you started with Moodle

Monday, February 11th, 2013


Weekend Funny – 20 things that happened on the internet in 2012

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Any guesses?

I think I see the Ikea Monkey.

Go to the site for hints.


The Horizon report is out

Friday, February 8th, 2013

As always the Horizon Report is not particularly useful for people in the field, but it does provide a good resource for planning and funding meetings.

This the Short List

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
Flipped Classroom
Massively Open Online Courses
Mobile Apps
Tablet Computing

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
Augmented Reality
Game-Based Learning
The Internet of Things
Learning Analytics

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
3D Printing
Flexible Displays
Next Generation Batteries
Wearable Technology

A couple of things stand out.

I think the rise of the notion of the “Flipped Classroom” is interesting, not because it is particularly new or innovative but it shows the value of packaging and branding when trying to change teaching practice.  I’m a firm believer that in Higher Ed we get better value for effort by presenting academics with a carefully selected, limited toolkit of strategies, rather than expecting them to become professional, ‘theory aware’ educationalists.

MOOCs are similar, in that there is essentially nothing particularly new about them, in fact in terms of teaching innovation they are a hark back to the 90’s.  Their rise seems to more related to their ivy league genesis and subsequent reporting in big name U.S. newspapers by uncritical and uninformed reporters.

Game Based Learning is again in its perpetual Bride’s Maid position of two to three years to adoption (maybe it’s time to say that it has arrived, but admit it’s only ever going be a niche technology).  I think Augmented Reality is destined for the same fate as Games.

All of the  four to five year items relate to hardware.  I’m not sure how 3D printing will impact specifically on Higher Ed, but it is looking like a potential world changing technology (and when I win Tattslotto it will be the second thing I buy – my wife gets first choice).

I’m not sure about the rise next gen batteries.  The tablet market will likely push this along, but at present most of the investment is in utility and grid scale storage.

Student acceptance of digital texts are at the tipping point?

Monday, February 4th, 2013

There are three comments I’d make up front

  1. This is a U.S study so may not be as applicable in Australia.
  2. 60% students still prefer print
  3. Given the falling satisfaction, uptake could plateau or even reverse slightly if publishers don’t change their products.

Having said that, my personal opinion is that print based textbooks are destined to be reduced to a niche in the text market, and if you critically analyse the activities of the big publishers you get the impression they might think so to.

“The popularity of digital textbooks may have hit a tipping point in 2012 as preference by college students climbed significantly, according to new research from the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)’s ongoing study of Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education.

The first installment in Volume Three of the study, powered by Bowker Market Research, shows that students’ preference for print over digital texts dropped from 72 percent in November 2011 to 60 percent in late 2012.

During the same period, preference for online homework systems (MindTap, MyLab, McGraw-Hill Connect, etc.) rose from 9 percent to 14 percent.

The picture isn’t entirely rosy for digital texts: satisfaction with these works declined in 2012, with only 26 percent of students citing they were “very satisfied” with their digital text, down from 30 percent in 2011.

I found this via Audrey Watters blog

Technology will revolutionize teaching (1954)

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Mike Caulfied has posted this video on his site

If you are all interested in MOOCs go to his site and watch the video.

“I really wish every person involved in online learning could watch this short video:”


“What we have to stop asking is “Why will this work?”.

What we have to start asking is “Why will this work this time around?”

The answer to that second question might be very plausible — the advances in technology have been incredible. We integrate social elements more seamlessly into technology than we used to. We are networked together. But it’s that question — “Why will this work this time around?” – that really needs to form the starting point of the discussion.”

Weekend Funny – pvc and duct tape bagpipes

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

I am in equal parts fascinated and appalled.

Part of me wants to race into the shed and make a set, but I’m also aware of another part that would throw rocks at anyone who tried playing this anywhere near me.

bagpipes pvc

This is what you get when you put real bagpipes in the hands of people who know what to do with them.

bagpipes (You can stop after about 3 minutes)

At the 2012 Edinburgh Tattoo the massed pipes performed the best version of Highland Cathedral I have ever heard, unfortunately the best I could find was this a slightly dodgy recording.

If it doesn’t send tingles up your spine then you don’t have a pulse.

Powerpoint tip 2

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Let me say upfront, I am not a big fan of corporate PowerPoint templates.

They usually look something like this, with a banner at the top and bottom, typically with a logo and the latest slogan. There’s often a decorative shape down the left hand side.

pp template

Basically the idea is to provide a decorative frame for a bunch of text, which to be blunt, is just putting a tuxedo on a pig.  (I will talk about how to use PP to support lecture notes in a later tip.)

PowerPoint should be used to reinforce the message you are delivering.  It is at it’s worst when used to show blocks of text (more than 6 words on a screen should be the exception rather than the rule), yet most marketing departments enforce a layout that assumes a text based model.

The other problem I have with them is they take up too much space.  Sometimes I want to use the entire screen.  Sometimes I want a plain background to provide a contrast with a single image or word.


Usually we can’t just avoid the template, nor is it advisable to go into the slide master and edit it, but what we can do is over lay it when we need to.

Go to the Insert tab and select Shapes.  Grab a square and drag it until it covers the entire slide.  Hey Presto- new background.

You will have to be a bit careful about the order of the layers when you are adding text and images.  If everything suddenly vanishes, right click on the background shape and select Send to back.

For most of your presentation you can go with the template, just think about how you can use the space to support your message, not just fill it with lecture notes.