Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Category: oep

Repository – differences between Open Source and OER and implications

@OpenKuroko is lucky enough to be attending OER18, which got off with a bang on Twitter last night. This brief bit of thinking out loud explores the differences in understanding of the word repository by two different, but related communities, open source software and Open Educational Resources. It’s sparked by a combination of some recent work that has me returning to my open source software use/development origins and this tweet from @OpenKuroko. The tweet reports a comment from #OER18

there are plenty of #OER repositories, but no one outside academia knows about them’

Based on the following, perhaps there are some lessons to be learned by the OER/OEP movement from the open source software community about how to re-conceptualise and redesign repositories so that they are actually not only known about, but actually actively used. One lesson appears to stop thinking about the repository as a place to store and share resources, but reframe it as an environment to help a community engage in relevant open (educational) practices. At some level it echoes the “A way forward” section in Albion, Jones, Jones and Campbell (2017)

Open Source software development is often cited as an inspiration for the OER movement. If you mention the term repository to anyone currently somewhat connected to using or developing open source software than their immediate association is almost certainly going to be of a GitHub repository, defined in that intro tutorial as “usually used to organise a single project”. i.e. a GitHub repository enables and encourages just about anyone who wants to, to engage in a range of OEP around software development.

GitHub is based on Git. An open source tool for version control. Version control is a standard practice for software developers. Git was designed by an expert (open source) software developer (Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux) to be used by an open source project (Linux). It was designed to solve a number of known problems with existing tools. Git was then used by GitHub to provide a hosting service for version control. GitHub added features to support this task to make it even easier for people to engage in open (and not open if they paid) software development. As explained on the Wikipedia page for GitHub, GitHub provided additional support for standard tasks such as “bug tracking, feature requests, task management, and wikis”.

This combination was so successful that Wikipedia cites sources that have GitHub hosting 57,000,000 repositories being used by almost 20,000,000 people. In the Open Source software community, people know about and tend to use git and GitHub. If you’ve looked at a recent computing technical book then chances are that book has a GitHub repository that hosts the support code for the book and provides an environment where readers can ask questions and share problems.

Echoing the #OER18 comment, but does anyone outside of open source software development know about Git and GitHub repositories?

There are signs. If you’re a researcher doing work in Data Science with R or perhaps Python. Then chances are you are using GitHub to share your code and work toward reproducibility of research. The idea of using GitHub to host course material is increasingly used by computer science educators, but is also spreading further.

But it’s not all techno-optimism. This blog post from Dan Meyer is titled “Why Secondary Teachers Don’t Want a GitHub for Lesson Plans” and outlines a range of reasons why. Many of these reasons will echo with reasons heard by folk involved with OER.

While there may be some value in other communities (e.g. open educators) using GitHub, perhaps the bigger point is not that they should use Github. Git and GitHub provide repositories for software development. Git and Github were designed and developed by software developers to make the practice of software development (open or not) more effective. More interesting questions might be

  1. What would an environment/tool/system designed by insert profession (e.g. school teachers, historians, accountants etc.) and for the open practice of insert profession look like?
  2. What would this mean for the nature of practice within that profession?
  3. Is it even possible or desirable?
  4. What would such an environment/tool/system for the producers of OER look like? Any different from existing OER repositories?

Exploring more frameworks to understand OER/OEP

What follows is a continuation of an earlier exploration into extant “frameworks” to understand OER/OEP.

The OPAL OEP guide

A 2010/2011 project partly funded by the European Commission aimed “at establishing a forum which works to build greater trust in using and promoting open educational resources”.  Has a particular focus to move beyond OER to “focus on innovation and quality through open educational practices (OEP). Ehlers (2011) describes it in more detail and suggests that

Individuals (learners, professionals) likewise can use Matrix 1 to better understand OEP and to self-assess and position themselves to the extent that OEP constitutes part of their own learning/ teaching abilities. They can use the second matrix to analyse the OEP landscape in which they operate, which can be represented in the degrees of freedom to practice open education and the extent to which it is embedded in an open social sharing and collaborative environment. (pp. 6-7)

The diagram (Matrix 1) below show different stages of OEP using a combination of OER usage and learning architecture.  Coughlan and Perryman (2015) label this the OPAL open educational practices maturity model and use it to evaluate the practices of three global health projects. Coughlan and Perryman (2015) suggests that it

has been the dominant OEP analysis framework since its development in 2011 in connection with the Open Education Quality Initiative (p. 177)

So the OEP matrix consists of

  1. OER;
  2. Learning architecture aka pedagogical practice.

Stages of OEPs

OPAL (2011) offers the following example

field “H” could relate to “I am sometimes using OER for normal lectures”, field “B” would represent rather “I am using open educational resources in open seminars and learning scenarios”

OPAL (2011) offers the following explanations of the low, medium and high levels of learning architecture (p. 5)

  • Low” if objectives as well as methods of learning and/ or teaching are rooted in “closed” one way, transmissive and re-productive approaches to teaching and learning. In these contexts, the underlying belief is that teachers know what learn- ers have to learn and mainly focus on knowledge-transfer.
  • Medium” represents a stage in which objectives are still pre-determined and given, but methods of teaching and learning are represented as open pedagogical models. They encourage dialogue oriented forms of learning or problem based learning (PBL) focusing on dealing with developing “Know how”.
  • High” degrees of freedom and openness in pedagogical models are represented, if objectives of learning as well as methods (e.g. learning pathways) are highly determined and governed by learners. Questions or problems around which learning is ensuing are determined by learners (SRL – self regulated learners), and teachers facilitate through open and experience-oriented methods which accommodate different learning pathways, either through scaffolding and tutorial in- teractions (ZPD Vygotskian inspired approaches) or contingency tutoring (Woods & Woods strategies of re-enforcement, domain or temporal contingency)

Ehlers (2011) then offers “Matrix 2” in the following image. It’s intended to be used to “categorise, assess, and position the existing landscape of OEP within a context”.  Based on the freedom to participate and the involvement of others.

Diffusion of OEP

Ehler (2011) positions OEP as the 2nd phase of open. It has a focus on actually using OER to improve learning. A move that requires the combination of OER and open learning architectures.  The following bullet list describing phase 2 is provided by Ehler (2011, pp 3-4)

  • builds on OER and moves on to the development of concepts of how OER can be used, reused, shared, and adapted
  • goes beyond access into open learning architectures, and seeks ways to use OER to transform learning
  • focuses on learning by constructing knowledge assets, sharing them with others, and receiving feedback and reviews
  • follows the notion of improving quality through external validation because sharing resources is in the foreground
  • is about changing the traditional educational paradigm of many unknowledgeable students and a few knowledgeable teachers to a paradigm in which knowledge is co-created and facilitated through mutual interaction and reflection
  • strives to understand that OER has to contribute to institutions‘ value chain.

The last point is potentially questionable.  What is the institution?  If we’re focused on teacher education, is the institution our respective universities or the teaching profession?


However, Coughlan and Perryman (2015) found that

the pedagogy and object-focused OPAL framework is not sufficiently comprehensive to cover the open collaboration featuring in our case studies (p. 177)

And supplemented it with four dimensions from the OEP social configuration framework from Vrieling, Van den Beemt and De Laat (2016) and also Schreurs et al (2014). What’s missing is deemed to be more about the behaviour of those involved, they go onto argue that

that current OEP evaluation frameworks are not sufficiently comprehensive nor nuanced to capture all of these practices; indeed, the models reduce the three case studies to appearing very similar (p. 184)

Other weaknesses are identified, but I wonder how much of this is simply weaknesses inherent in all models (they are all wrong at some level/perspective). For example, the following from Coughlan and Perryman (2015)

For example, influential frameworks such as the OPAL matrix, with its language of teachers, courses and educational institutions, are overly narrow and do not map easily outside academia.

Open Educational Practice Maturity Matrix

OPAL (2011) the proceed to provide a maturity matrix to position an organisation re: uptake of OEP.  Three sets of questions based around: positioning the org in an OEP trajectory; creating a vision of openness; and, implementing and promoting OEP

Relationship between OPAL and Stagg

The last exploration of OEP frameworks was largely focused on Stagg (2014) who developed a continuum of open practice.   Stagg and most of the other frameworks covered in that earlier exploration have an institutional focus. They include consideration of what the institution can/should do to support OEP.

But what about moving beyond the institution? Integrating OEP into teacher education would seem to place some value on engaging with the professions, which is beyond any single university.  How does that work? What is required there?

Leaving behind those questions for now, what’s the connection between the Stagg, OPAL and other frameworks?

A continuum of practice - OEP

The Stagg continuum appears to be finer in the granularity with which it divides OER resources/practices, but at the same stage it isn’t as fine grained around pedagogical activities.  Hence the following mapping of Stagg’s continuum against the OER usage dimension of the OPAL matrix doesn’t quite work.  e.g. Student co-creation from Stagg doesn’t map against this dimension.

  • Low – no OER (re-)usage
    No equivalent from Stagg
  • Medium – OER (re-)usage or creation
    Equivalent’s from Stagg might include and other following, as long as the either/or relationship exists between usage and creation.

    • Awareness/access – there is a basic level of (re-)usage of OER
    • Passive remix – some level of (re-)usage
    • Active remix – a higher level of (re-)usage
    • Sharing a newly authored OER
  • High – OER (re-usage) and creation
    The equivalent from Stagg above is in the combination of both (re-)usage and creation.

Judith & Bull and OPAL

Judith and Bull (2016) analyse OER literature and identified a set of categories for strategies that can be used – each having “increasing levels of collaborative support involved in OER implementation”

  • individualised strategies;
    individual or small team.
  • programmatic strategies;
    Organised programs within institutions.
  • institutional strategies;
    Approaches more embedded within normal institutional activities.
  • networked or user-shaped strategies.
    This appears to be touching more on Coughlan’s and Perryman’s (2015) use of the social configuration framework, but perhaps that’s in each of them.

This is then converted into a continuum of openness that maps some aspects of the above.


Coughlan, T., & Perryman, L. (2015). Learning from the innovative open practices of three international health projects : IACAPAP , VCPH and Physiopedia. Open Praxis, 7(2), 173–189. Retrieved from

Ehlers, U. (2011). Extending the Territory: From Open Educational Resources to Open Educational Practices. Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, 15(2), 1–10.

Stagg, A. (2014). OER adoption: a continuum for practice. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 11(3), 151–164.

Vrieling, E., Beemt, A. Van Den, & Laat, M. De. (2016). What’s in a name: dimensions of social learning in teacher groups. Teachers and Teaching, 22(3), 273–292.

Exploring frameworks to understand OER/OEP

Some colleagues and are re-starting an exploration of OEP in Initial Teacher Education (ITE). A first task is an attempt to get a handle on what has been done/is known about OEP/OER. Yes, we’re looking for spectrums/frameworks/models etc that help map out what might be done with OEP/OER.  We’re interested in using this to understand what’s been done around OEP within ITE and also what we’ve already done.

The following is a summary of a quick lit review. No real structure and includes a range of strange notes.

OER adoption: a continuum for practice

Stagg (2014) offers the following continuum of practice

The proposed model seeks to acknowledge the complexity of applied knowledge required to fulsomely engage with open education by examining practitioner behaviours and the necessary supporting mechanisms. This conceptual model aims to be of use to both practitioners and also those responsible for designing professional development in an educational setting.

A continuum of practice - OEP

A Google Scholar search reveals some use this continuum.

Including Falconer et al (2016), which includes

We view our fourth category, enhancing pedagogy, as fundamentally different to that of producing high quality materials efficiently or cost effectively, in that it is underpinned by altruistic positions rather than a business model approach. It puts its emphasis on the value of the OER development process, rather than on the value of the OER content produced. (p. 99)

Through our analysis, some fundamental tensions have become apparent that will need to be resolved if the purposes of OER release are to be realised. (p. 101)

This limits imposed by a reputation-building motive are exacerbated at present as higher education institutions are encouraged to become increasingly competitive, elevating the importance of brand recognition. The consequence is a move away from risk-taking, towards a demand for predictable quality outcomes. This discourages innovation unless direct benefits can be proven in terms of new markets, student numbers, or shared costs of development and teaching. The benefits of OER in terms of institutional showcasing and attracting potential students, may prove attractive to institutional managers and gain institutional support for OER, but unless culture changes, they place inherent limitations on efficiency gains and the adoption of more open practices which are ultimately founded on a commitment to academic commons. (p. 102)

And develops some frameworks/continuums

Framework for assessing OER implementation strategies


A continuum of openness

Assessing the potential for openness

Stagg (2014) is also cited by Judith and Bull (2016)

While this literature has been significant in driving forward the open agenda, there has been relatively little published about the practicalities of implementing openly licensed materials in higher education courses (p. 2)

which raises the question of just how much more difficult the idea of implementing open educational practices are going to be. i.e. if sharing materials is hard enough.

OER engagement ladder

Masterman and Wild (2013) bring in the OER engaement ladder, which is talked more about in this blog post. (Interestingly the institutional repository URL for the full research report is now broken, but blog posts and slideshare resources remain)

OER engagement ladder


Falconer, I., Littlejohn, A., McGill, L., & Beetham, H. (2016). Motives and tensions in the release of Open Educational Resources: the JISC UKOER programme. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 32(4), 92–105. doi:10.14742/ajet.2258

Judith, K., & Bull, D. (2016). Assessing the potential for openness: A framework for examining course-level OER implementation in higher education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(42). doi:10.14507/epaa.24.1931

Masterman, L., & Wild, J. (2013). Reflections on the evolving landscape of OER use. Paper presented at OER13: creating a virtuous circle, Nottingham, UK

Stagg, A. (2014). OER adoption: a continuum for practice. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 11(3), 151 – 164. doi:10.7238/rusc.v11i3.2102

First steps in integrating LATs OER into Moodle open book

The following documents initial explorations into leveraging the two Learning Activity Types (LATs) short courses that have been released as Open Educational Resources (OERs) by Hofer and Harris (2016). As outlined in a prior post my plan is to use these OERs as a test case for the Moodle open book project. The aim being to

  1. Test and identify areas for improvement for the Moodle open book code using a real OER.
  2. See how/if this OER could be leveraged for the course I teach and related courses coming down the line.
  3. Eventually exploring how and if this work might connect with broader work around OERs, potential work here around Open Educational Practices and teacher education, and work to encourage adoption and adaptation of the LAT OER.

What’s been done

  1. The Elementary Short Course LMS package (IMS) has been successfully imported into Moodle (first image below)
  2. The Web-based Elementary course has been converted into a Moodle Book resources (second image below).
  3. The Moodle Book version of the Elementary course has been exported to GitHub using the Moodle open book tool (third image below).

All that was done quite easily. A couple of minor bugs to report, but nothing major.

Next steps are (not necessarily in order)

  1. Improve the structure/scaffolding of some of the pages with multiple videos.
  2. Explore if the video transcripts can be usefully integrated into the pages.
  3. Modify the Moodle book tool to produce a HTML version that is more immediately usable (e.g. a nice “book” interface, rather than a single long web page).
  4. Figure out when/if we might use this in EDC3100.

Random questions, outcomes, and future work

  1. Could a resource like this be integrated into multiple courses within the BEdu?
    Hofer and Harris (2016) suggest that this is a possibility with the LAT OER.
  2. How might the collection of student written lesson plans be more broadly contributed to and used?
  3. Can the experience students go through be captured, shared, and leveraged in some useful way?

What’s in the LAT short course OERs?

First step is to figure out the content and format of the LAT OERs to gain some idea of how and if it fit with the Moodle open book and my course.

The aim of the broader Learning Activity Type (LAT) work and the OER short courses is to help pre-service teachers develop the knowledge required to integrate digital technologies into their teaching. Learning Activity Types offer a taxonomy of learning activities that are linked to specific learning areas that are used during lesson planning.

One short course each for primary (elementary) and secondary pre-service teachers. Each  course is divided into eight sequential modules that includes videos and transcripts. Sequence is

  1. Reflect on prior experience with digital technologies in learning and teaching and what worked/didn’t.
  2. Select three lessons from a collection of lesson plans written by other pre-service teachers.
  3. Analyse these sample lessons and their learning objectives, learning activities used, student assessment, and use of digital and non-digital technologies.
  4. Given a single demonstration lesson plan, replacing learning activities that don’t match the objectives with those that do.
  5. Consider and explain the replacement of technologies in the demonstration lesson plan with others.
  6. Review portions of interviews with experienced teacher when making similar activities.
  7. Returning to the sample lessons, chose the LAT taxonomy that matches and explore.
  8. Use that to think about substitution of learning activities and technologies in the sample lessons, considering a range of factors and engaging in discussions.
  9. Create their own lesson plan based on a range of considerations.
  10. Evaluate their lesson plan with two self-tests called “Is it worth it?”

Related resources include

  1. Blackboard produced content package file – Elementary and secondary.
  2. Websites with the short courses – Elementary and secondary.
  3. Various media files – Elementary and secondary.
    This includes powerpoint, video, caption, script, sample lesson, and various student guide files.
  4. Instructor guide.
  5. Related share-alike materials.
  6. Collection of student written lesson plans.

Let’s try the IMS package

The LAT OER are provided as IMS packages, these should import directly into Moodle.  Not exactly what I want to do here, but worth a look.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.51.40 am.png

Well that worked quite smoothly.  Add the resource, import the file and there it is.

The layout/interface isn’t that nice (very subjective and I’m likely biased).  Starts with an introductory video with context/background on the courses.   The interface (at least in Moodle hides the “play” button.

Nice, video makes mention of instructor provided discussion forums.  Mmm, video play back issue, is the video remote or local?

Ahh, broken link.  The IMS version links back to Blackboard.  The equivalent web version has the open link.  That seems to apply for all of the pages.

Each page has a video. The transcript is available. Wonder if I can do integrate both and whether there’s any value in doing so.  I know I’ve probably prefer the text version.

The lesson design page is a bit busy

Tasks and questions

  1. Where are the videos located here? Part of the Moodle LMS?
    Perhaps same as the web site versions?
  2. Is the “hidden” play button a Moodle interface problem? Can it be fixed?
  3. Report the UMW Blackboard link for the sample lesson plan on “Analyse existing lessons” in elementary
  4. Do some form of automated link check etc?
  5. Can/should the various guides be converted into HTML?
  6. Might some of the pages (e.g. lesson design) be better scaffolded/labelled?

What might it look like?

Converting the two courses into a Moodle book looks like it would be fairly straight forward.  Each book could be integrated into the EDC3100 study desk fairly easily. One modification might be the integration of the script of the videos into each page to support those who want to read, but also to enable use of search engines.

Initial plan – straight cut-and-paste

Create a bog standard Moodle book with just the current content of the elementary course.

Provide a better feel for the content and how it goes in the book. Identify any issues and ideas. Provide a concrete version on github for later experimentation.

Add the video transcripts

Can this be done?

Did it work?

Straight cut-and-paste

Process is

  1. Use Firebug to copy and paste the content from the Elementary course.
  2. Import it into the Book module
  3. Link it to github.

Here’s the Moodle book equivalent of the above.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 11.05.59 am.png

Misc observations

  • HTML isn’t using headings.
    Welcome page changes font size.
  • Nor is it using paragraphs, lots of line break tags
  • The web versions and the IMS version use different titles for pages
  • Do I need to include the welcome? If so, need to fix the images for the college and license
  • Fix the warnings with the github tool.
  • Couldn’t create a folder with a space.

GitHub version

Background: The Moodle open book tool enables the Moodle Book module to export/import content to/from GitHub. Adding all the benefits of GitHub. It does this by combining all the pages in a Moodle book into a single HTML file that is placed onto GitHub. A file that can be split up again and used to modify a Moodle book.

The tool is still under development, but it does work.

Here’s the GitHub HTML file produced by the Moodle open book tool that contains the LAT Elementary course. It’s based entirely on the Moodle Book version of the course I created in the previous step. You can see the file as a web page via this link. The image below is a screenshot of that web page. You  can just see the second page (Identify existing lessons) peeking up below.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 11.26.17 am.png

LATs, OER, TPACK, and GitHub

The following is an attempt to think about the inter-connections between the paper “Open Educational Resources (OERs) for TPACK Development” presented by Mark Hofer and Judi Harris at SITE’2016 and the Moodle OpenBook project and my own teaching.

First, is a description of what the open courses they’ve developed and what the students do. Second, is some early thinking of how this might link to EDC3100 and the Moodle open book project.

Learning Activity Types as OER/open courses

The paper offers a rationale and description of the development of two short, open courses designed to help primary and secondary pre-service teachers use learning activity types (LATs) to develop their TPACK.

Hofer and Harris (2016) describe them this way

The asynchronous, online “short courses” for preservice teachers that we have created are divided into eight brief, sequential modules…Each module begins with an overview and learning goal for the segment, and is presented as video-based content that includes narrated slides, interviews with practicing teachers, imagery, and additional online resources. Each of the videos ranges from 2-8 minutes in length, and includes verbatim closed captioning.

In completing the courses the students

  • Reflect on examples of ICT and pedagogy they’ve previously seen.
  • Select three lesson plans from a curated collection of plans from pre-service teachers.
  • Analyse those lesson plans: objectives, standards, types of learning activities, how learning is assessed, and the use of digital technologies.
  • Practice replacing one ill-fitting activity types from another sample lesson with other types of activity type that better fit the learning goal.
  • Consider substituting different technologies in the sample plan and discuss reasoning.
  • Review portions of interviews with an experience teacher.
  • Use selected plans from before to choose a LAT taxonomy and explore that taxonomy.
  • Think about replacing activity types and technolgoies and discuss.
  • Create their own lesson plan.
  • Subject their lesson plan to two self-tests called “Is it worth it?”

Hofer and Harris (2016)

We consciously erred on the side of the materials being perhaps too prescriptive and detailed for more experienced and/or advanced learners, since we suspected that it would be easier for other users to remove some of the content than to have to create additional supports.

Moodle open book and my course

In EDC3100 we cover similar ground and the content of these short courses could be a good fit. However, the model used in the course is a little different in terms of implementation. The short course content would need to be modified a bit. Something thought of by the Hofer and Harris (2016)

This is why we have released the courses in a modularized (easier-to-modify) format, along with an invitation to mix, remix, and otherwise customize the materials according to the needs of different groups of teacher-learners and the instructional preferences of their professors. The Creative Commons BY-SA license under which these short courses were released stipulates only that the original authors (and later contributors) are attributed in all succeeding derivatives of the work, and that those derivatives are released under the same BY-SA license

My course is implemented within Moodle. It uses the Moodle book module to host the content. The Moodle open book project has connected the Moodle book module with Github. The aim being to make it easier to release content in the Moodle book out to broader audiences. To enable the sharing and reuse of OERs, just like these courses.

While the technical side of the project is basically finished (it could use some more polishing before official release) there’s a large gulf between having a tool that shared Moodle book content via github and actually using it to share and reuse OERs, especially OERs that are actually used in more than one context. The LAT short courses appear to provide a perfect test bed for this.

Hofer and Harris (2016)

For teacher educators who would like to try the course “as is,” we have developed the content as a series of modules within the BlackBoard learning management system and have exported it as a content package file which can be imported into a variety of other systems. With either no changes or minor edits, the short courses in their current forms can be used within existing educational technology and teaching methods courses.

I’m assuming that the content package file will be able to be imported into Moodle, and perhaps even into the Book module.  It would be interesting to explore how well that process works and how immediately usable I (and others) think the content might be in EDC3100.

If I then make changes in response to the context and share them via the Moodle open book and Github, it would be interesting to see how useful/usable those changes and Github are to others. In particular, how useful/usable the Github version would be in comparison to the the LMS content package and the current “Weebly” versions of the courses.

I suspect that while Github provides enhanced functionality for version control (Weebly offers none), I’m not convinced that teacher educators will find that functionality accessible both in terms of technical knowledge, existing processes and practices around web content, and perhaps due to the contextual changes made.  Also, while GitHub handles multiple versions very well, the Moodle open book doesn’t yet support this well.

Putting the LAT courses into the Moodle open book seems to provide the following advantages:

  1. Provides a real test for the Moodle open book that will reveal its shortcomings.
  2. Provide a useful resource (optional for now) for EDC3100 students and also potentially for related courses I’ll need to develop in the future.
  3. Enable the community around LATs and the short courses experiment with a slightly different format.

I think I’ve convinced myself to try this out with the secondary LAT course as an initial test case. Just have to find the time to do it.

SITE'2016: LATs, OER, and SPLOTs?

SITE’2016 is almost finished, so it’s past time I started sharing some of the finds and thoughts that have arisen. There’s been a (very small) bit of movement around the notion of open. I’ll write about LATs and OER and some possibilities in another post. This post is meant to explore the possibility of adapting some of the TPACK learning activities shared by @Keane_Kelly during her session into SPLOTs.

It’s really only an exploration of what might be involved, what might be possible, and how well that might fit with the perceived needs I have in my course(s), but at the same time make something that breaks out of those confines. I’m particularly interested in Reil and Polin’s idea around residue of experiences and rich learning environments.

Over time, the residue of these experiences remains available to newcomers in the tools, tales, talk, and traditions of the group. In this way, the newcomers find a rich environment for learning. (p. 18)

As most of my teaching and software development work has had to live within an LMS, I’m also a novice at the single web page application technology (and SPLOTs).

What is a SPLOT?


Simplest Possible Learning Online Tools. SPLOTs are developed with two key principles in mind: 1) to make sharing cool stuff on the web as simple as possible, and 2) to let users do so without having to create accounts or divulge any personal data whatsoever.

The work by @cogdog builds on WordPress, but I’m wondering if something similar might be achieved using some form of single web page application?

i.e. a single web page that anyone could download and start using. No need for an account. Someone teaching a course might include this in a class. Someone with a need to learn a bit more about the topic could just use it and gain some value from it.

TPACK learning activities

Kelly’s presentation introduced four learning activities she uses to help students in an Educational Technology course develop their understanding about the TPACK framework. They are fairly simple, mostly offline, but appear to be fairly effective. My question is whether they can be translated into an online form, and an online form that is widely shareable – hence the interest in the SPLOT idea.

Vocabulary target review

In this activity the students are presented with a target (using a Google drawing) and a list of vocabulary related to TPACK (though this could be used for anything). The students then place the vocab words on the target. The more certain they are of the definition, the more “on target” the place the words. This then feeds into discussions.

At some level, through the use of Google drawing it’s already moving toward a SPLOT.

What if the students are entirely online, and especially with a tendency to asynchronous study? How might this be adapted to anyone, anytime and provide them with an access to the residue of experience of previously participants?

One approach might be something like a single web-page application that

  1. Presents that target and a list of vocab words that the user can place as appropriate.
    This list of vocab words could be hard-coded into the application. Or, perhaps the specific application (you could produce different versions for different vocab) could be linked to a Google doc or some other source of JSON data. The application gets the list of vocab words from that source.
  2. Once submitted the application could allow the user to view the mappings from previous users. This could be filtered by various ways.
    The assumption is that the application is storing the mappings of users somewhere. The representation might highlight other mappings that are related in someway to the user’s map.
  3. View provided definitions.
    Having provided their mapping the user could now gain access to definitions of the terms. There might be multiple definitions. Some put into the system at the start, some contributed by other users (see next step).
  4. Identify the most useful definitions.
    The interface might provide a mechanism by which the user can “like” definitions that help them.
  5. Provide a definition.
    Whether this occurs at this stage or earlier, the user could be asked to provide a definition for one or more terms after/prior to seeing the definitions of others.
  6. Remap their understanding.
    Having finished (more activity could be designed in the above) the user moves the words to represent any change in their understanding of the words. The system could track and display how much change has occurred and compare it with the changes reported by others.

TPACK game

The second activity is a version of the TPACK game (or this video). A game that is already available online, but not as a flexible object that people can manipulate and reuse. Immediate thought is the following might help make a “more SPLOT” version of the TPACK game

  1. Provide a single web page application that implements a variety of ways to interact with the TPACK game.
    For example,

    • The current version has people trying to identify a third element of TPACK given the other two. Which appears to be the version used by @Keane_Kelly
    • Another version might be to show a full set of three and ask people to reflect on whether or not the combination is a good fit, one they’ve seen before, not a good fit, and why.
  2. Provide the capacity to provide answers to to the application that are stored and perhaps reused.
    For example, the two different versions of the game above could be combined so that if someone suggests a particular combination in the first one that has already been “evaluated” they could be shown what others have though of it and why.
  3. Provide the capacity to share and modify the values for T, P and C.
    The current online version of the game plus @Keane_Kelly appear to have their own set of values for T, P, and C. Kelly mentioned the need to keep the Technology updated over time, but there’s broader value in keeping a growing list of values for all.  As there is also for customising some.  e.g. some technologies won’t always make sense in all environments, but in particular the content might be something to customise, e.g. for a specific curriculum or topic area.

    If it were an online application that used some sort of shared data space, it could be grown through use. It should also be possible to modify which data store is used, to support customisation to a particular context.



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