There are some really high quality, open textbooks out there.
For the most part, they’re pretty static and text-heavy though. For a while, I’ve been thinking remixing one of them into a more interactive, media-rich Moodle course.
I need a remix project to do as a part of my P2PU OER in K-12 class, so now is the time!
I’d like to work on something that someone would put to use once it was done. Message me or post a comment if you’d like to suggest something.
I’m also thinking about doing something with Marzano’s classroom strategies that work content. Obviously, that would be PD-focused.
I’m re-experiencing the excitement of the first week in P2pU courses! Introductions, goal-setting, comments, and posts flying around so fast it’s impossible to keep up. It’s really awesome.
Because I know the time will go by quickly, I want to get some quick, possibly random thoughts down on the P2PU School of Ed.
- We have had incredible initial excitement (social media, press, etc.) about the School of Ed. Clearly, this addresses some real need. That is gratifying.
- As in other P2PU courses (in my experience at least; metrics anyone?), our participants include a diverse group including many international folks and several non-educators. This is interesting in light of the fact that being a U.S. educator was a pre-requisite for all these courses. (This was a stipulation made in part because of our funding for the project. It’s something I had ambivalence about, and I’m glad that our enrollments have ended up such that we could include these folks. Our classes will be richer because of it.)
- We spent a lot of time on the “full descriptions” of these courses as a recruiting and information tool upfront. In hindsight, I’m not sure many folks read these.
- A question that is gnawing at me is about sign ups from participants who a) aren’t in the “target group” (educators), and b) don’t answer the sign-up questions, and c) don’t respond to requests to do so. If the class isn’t full, should everyone just be accepted regardless? I’m not sure.
- Otherwise in terms of enrollment, we’ve had significant groups of professional development providers and educators from non-traditional schools (primarily online ones). Statistics to come, but it seems to be an “early adopter” crowd. Not surprising, I guess, though several of our topics are not technology related. (This phenomenon is evident in OER in general as well.)
- We have had significantly more followers than participants sign up. (Is this typical? Don’t know. Need metrics.) I suspect that this is in part due to our courses’ relatively heavy workload and our request for a strong commitment.
- Many folks who signed up didn’t complete the sign up task. I suspect that’s due to a combination of factors, including confusion with the multiple layers of questions and long sign up tasks. (Possibly of interest: I didn’t experience this in my last non-ed P2PU class.)
- Surprisingly, we have not been flooded with more enrollments than we could accept (class sizes are good, but not oversubscribed). Again, this is different from my other P2PU experience. I suspect the reasons are many:
- Less than idea timing – The beginning of the school year (in the U.S.) is a busy time.
- General lack of time on the part of teachers
- Incentives – In the U.S., much PD is accompanied by payment (stipends) and/or formal credit. We offer neither at the School of Ed currently, and this is something to think about, especially if the goal is to attract more “mainstream” teachers. This is one of the things keeping me awake at night right now.
- The marketing aspects of all this has been fascinating. It’s been interesting to see things like a conversation on Twitter turn into enrollments from New Zealand and groups from one school signing up together.
- We are sticking with our enrollment deadlines (though stretching them out a bit until just after the courses actually begin), but I keep wondering if open and rolling enrollment could work, especially with less structured and collaborative courses than ours currently are.
Things I’ll be watching for as we move ahead:
- How participation proceeds, especially around the dreaded “week 3″
- Participation metrics correlated to sign-up task strength (In my past course, there was not as much correlation as I’d expected. That’s interesting, huh?)
- Use and effectiveness of various tools we’re using (both in and out of P2PU itself)
There’s much more, but I’ll be continuing to write as we go and hope that the other School of Ed facilitators and the P2PU community at large chimes in too.
I’m reading A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. I’m particularly interested in the part on peer learning and learning collectives.
This passage struck me:
[O]ne might be tempted to ask how we might harness the power of these peer-to-peer collectives to meet some learning objective. But that would be falling into the same old twentieth-century trap. Any effort to define or direct collectives would destroy the very thing that is unique and innovative about them.
This might be at the core of the tension I often feel when working in P2PU. It runs through everything from instructional design to system architecture.
I used to think it was my “old-school” teacher tendencies coming out, but I think it goes deeper than that. The very notion that perhaps peer learning shouldn’t be be structured, shouldn’t have learning objectives, and can’t be externally assessed simultaneously makes sense to me and is very uncomfortable.
This is in part because, at my core, I am an organizer. I see P2PU and its potential, and I want to build, organize, and disseminate. I want to make a School of Ed and to make it great.
Can the learning collective be both undefined and organic and also be focused and purposeful?
I’m reading on.
I am in the process of reading and compiling some research related to peer learning and staff development for teachers.
A bibliography is below, and here are a few quotes that exemplify to me what the P2PU School of Ed is all about.
“What everyone appears to want for students – a wide array of learning opportunities that engage students in experiencing, creating, and solving real problems, using their own experiences, and working with others – is for some reason denied to teachers when they are learners.”
“People learn best through active involvement and through thinking about and becoming articulate about what they have learned. Processes, practices, and policies built on this view of learning are at the heart of a more expanded view of teacher development that encourages teachers to involve themselves as learners.”
- Lieberman (1995)
“Teaching in collaborative settings puts front and center the tension between the process of student learning and content coverage.”
“As we become more involved in using collaborative learning, we discover what radical questions it raises. Collaborative learning goes to the roots of long-held assumptions about teaching and learning.”
“Not only is course content reshaped, so are our definitions of student competence. Because the public nature of group work makes demonstration of student learning so continuous, collaborative learning both complicates and enriches the evaluation process.”
- Smith and MacGregor (1992)
Garrison, Randy D. E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice. 2nd. New York, NY: Routledge, 2011.
Lieberman, Ann. “Practices that Support Teacher Development.” Phi Delta Kappan. 46.8 (1995): 591-596.
Smith, Barbara Leigh Smith, and Jean T. MacGregor. “What is Collaborative Learning?.” Collaborative Learning: A Sourcebook for Higher Education. (1992).
Sparks, Dennis, and Stephanie Hirsh. A New Vision for Staff Development. Alexandria, OH: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1997
“Standards for Professional Learning.” Learning Forward (formerly National Staff Development Council), 2011. Web. 26 Sep 2011. <http://www.learningforward.org/standards/standards.cfm>.
Thomas, Douglas, and John Seely Brown. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. CreateSpace, 2011.
So here we are. We’ve covered a lot of issues related to the challenges of an innovative, DIY educational initiative trying to work with more traditional, formal institutions.
What are the options for moving ahead? It’s a vast continuum of overlapping choices. Some may make more or less sense in different timeframes.
- Flex to meet credit requirements, which may mean compromising the core values of peer learning as we’ve envisioned it. (At the School of Ed, we won’t likely do that.)
- Flex to meet credit requirements while not compromising core values. (It’s not yet known if this is possible and under what circumstances. It will likely depend on how flexible and creative we all are.)
- Forgo credit for now and work hard on creative new models.
- Forgo credit and stay true to the letter of our core values. (Easy for us but a disservice to folks who need credit; may also limit the reach and impact of P2PU).
- Pursue becoming accredited as a credit-issuing institution. (Lots of time and money involved.)
- Pursue new models of issuing credit by working with policymakers, states, districts, etc. (Long term process, again with lots of time and money required, but the upside for learners could be huge.)
Most of this series has been written with PD and CEUs for teachers in mind. The issues get bigger and more complicated when you start thinking about degrees and actual university credit.
The P2PU School of Ed is still accepting participants. Classes will be starting soon!
If you’d like to help spread the word, here is a flyer that you can share with others. Thanks!
This is a guest post from Erin Knight, who works with Mozilla and P2PU on assessment in open peer learning environments.
Let’s face it – learning looks very different today than traditionally imagined. Its not just ‘seat time’ within schools, but extends across multiple contexts, experiences and interactions. It is no longer just an isolated or individual concept, but is inclusive, social, informal, participatory, creative and lifelong. People are learning new skills like digital literacies and 21st Century Skills, as well as learning through new pathways and channels such as through open education opportunities from providers like P2PU, through freely accessible information repositories like Wikipedia and many other destinations on the Web, and through each other on social media and other collaborative tools. Much of this learning involves critical job-relevant competencies that include the obvious hard skills and professional development, but even further, and perhaps more importantly, social skills like collaboration, teamwork and critical thinking.
And yet, much of this learning does not ‘count.’ Institutions still decide what types of learning if officially recognized, with little room for innovation, as well as who gets to have access to that learning. Their end products, the grade or degree, are the only way that learning is currently communicated and recognized within the system, as well as the larger society. Without a way to capture, promote and transfer all of the learning that can occur (and is occurring) across the wider spectrum, we are discouraging self-driven engaged learning, making critical skills unattractive or inaccessible, isolating or ignoring quality efforts and interactions and ultimately, holding learners back from reaching their potential.
This is where we feel badges can come in. Badges are digital emblems or symbols of skills, achievements, interests or affiliations. Badges can be aligned with assessments, like those mentioned in the last post, to provide meaningful evidence of learning that can be carried with a learner to demonstrate their skills. Badges can support innovation in assessment and be awarded for a much deeper and wider set of skills and achievements, including the often neglected social skills like collaboration and teamwork, and thus one’s collection of badges can tell a much more comprehensive story to potential employers, formal institutions and peer communities.
Specifically, badges can support:
- Capturing and demonstrating the learning path
- Signaling achievement and ability to key stakeholders like recruiters or peers
- Motivating learning and participation
- Adapting to and supporting innovation in learning and assessment
- Formalizing and extending reputation and identity development
- Fostering community and kinship
I am involved in a number of initiatives to explore the potential for badges, including developing a badge and assessment program for P2PU, specifically in their School of Webcraft which is a partnership with Mozilla. This badge program will offer credentials for web developer training and will ultimately provide pathways for learners to not only find additional opportunities for learning and skill development, but to find jobs and get real results. In addition to working with P2PU, as well as a number of other badge issuers, we at Mozilla are also building the Open Badge Infrastructure which will support a badge ECOsystem, in which there are many badge issuers, and any given learner can earn badges across experiences, collect them to a single collection and then share them out with various websites and stakeholders. The OBI provides the plumbing to extend the value of each learning experience and each badge.
Again, the ultimate goal of all of all of this exploration and momentum around badges is to support learning as it occurs all across the Web, keep each learner in control of her own learning and credentials, and allow people to share that learning and evidence of skills and experiences with anyone, thus adding flexibility and value to the system and supporting personalized learning paths.
As far as I know, no P2PU course has a grading policy. To my mind, it would be somewhat antithetical to give participants grades. It flies in the face of self-directed learning to have an external judge make the decision on whether a participant has met the goals (and which goals? the course goals? the participant goals?).
If participants didn’t need externally-validated credits (e.g. teachers and CEUs), we’d probably never even have this discussion.
On the other hand, I understand that official credit cannot be given absent a determination of whether each participant has earned it.
What then could/should be used to assess student participation and learning? Here are some ideas.
- Learner participation in discussions, collaborative projects, etc.
- number of posts
- depth of participation
- Contributions to peer learning
- Accomplishment of course goals
- as set by participants?
- as assessed by participants?
- as assessed by peers?
- as assessed by facilitators?
- as assessed by outside assessors?
- Completion of traditional assessment tasks, such as written papers, presentations, tests, etc.
- as assessed by participants?
- as assessed by facilitators?
- as assessed by outside assessors?
Only authentic assessments that reflect the achievement of course and participant goals seem useful to me. The challenge, I suppose, is coming up with assessments that meet both informal and formal requirements.
A popular suggestion is to use objective (“one right answer”) multiple choice questions to determine if participants have mastered course goals. These kinds of assessments have the advantage of being machine scoreable.
However, it is challenging if not impossible to create these types of questions to assess deeper learning.
How do you write multiple choice questions to assess these kind of learning objectives?
- “Define what it means to learn deeply via web 2.0/social media.”
- “Have a deeper understanding of what the Common Core State Standards say about writing to learn and writing in the disciplines.”
- “Explain pros and cons of different methods of engagement within different frameworks.”
This is a tough one. Maybe my imagination or knowledge of psychometrics is too small.
Perhaps a bigger concern is eating our own dog food. If we are trying to reinforce deeper learning and authentic assessment, we must model those practices ourselves.
I think the obsession with these kinds of tests (and especially the ones in place in K-12 that test absurdly isolated factual knowledge) is the root of a lot of problems in education. How then can we ask the teachers we are hoping will step out of this model to take a multiple choice assessment themselves?
(After I wrote this, I read this article: Professors Cede Grading Power to Outsiders. Wow — so much to say about this. Think I’ll leave it for a future post though.)
NaNoWriMo and P2PU are two of my favorite projects. And as promised, I am bringing them together with two new P2PU writing groups: NaNoWriMo Prep 2012 (Oct.) and NaNoWriMo 2012 (Nov. the writing month).
In addition to being excited about the meeting of these two fabulous projects, this may mark a turning point in my work with P2PU. This is the first course (writing group, really) in which I’ll be adopting something more like what I think P2PU is meant for — a true collaborative peer group. It won’t be leader-led, and in fact, I think there will be little for me to do except play along with everyone else. (I’m counting on that, actually. :)
My other courses on P2PU have been much more traditionally structured courses. They’ve had things like syllabuses and unit-organized content. I’ve tried to make these courses centered on peer learning and collaboration, but frankly it’s not always worked that great. Participants have wanted a “teacher,” and the courses felt like courses. Not that that’s all bad. Sometimes I think a course is the right structure. But still I’ve felt like it wasn’t the real way P2PU was meant to work.
For the NaNo writing groups, all that will change. Also, sign-up is unlimited and unmoderated, something I’ve not done in the past and for good reason I think, but for these groups I think it’s just right.
In the past, I’ve thought the whole MOOC idea was flawed. How can you build community or maintain any kind of quality learning experience with thousands of participants? But for this writing group…I can actually imagine how it could work. I hope we get hundreds of participants so we can try it out.
It might work or it might not, but it will definitely be a learning experience. And NaNo and P2PU are such fun anyway that how can we go wrong?
So if you’ve ever wanted to write a novel and have a little time in November, join us! It will be fun and rewarding. I promise.
I know you’ve all been waiting for this one. ;)
This is a conundrum online courses have puzzled over for a long time. How do you estimate how many hours per week a course might take? For a very organized and focused learner (or one who doesn’t apply himself), it might take less time. For a particularly inquisitive and extra hard working learner (or one who is just slow), it might take more time.
It is difficult to estimate and impossible to measure or nearly impossible verify after the fact. So most online courses take their best guess, and then credit is given for that amount of time.
A bigger question is should seat time be such an important factor in granting credit?
Some groups, like Western Governors University, have experimented with competency-based criteria. Have those models worked? Is it feasible to do this on a large scale?
For K-12, seat time is the rule. Kids attend x number of hours of school and then move on. Repeat. Repeat. The idea of competency-based learning in K-12 is a model many of would like to see. Stop constraining students to age-based grade levels. Let them move through content at a pace that works for them. Supported differentiation and elimination of pacing would be a real way to make sure no child was left behind.
For P2PU,the process is all about individual learning. It’s all about gaining competence in your chosen area in a way that you define.
Does issuing credit put a crimp in this? I’m not sure.