Thursday, 17 May 2012

Bonk vs Anderson Interaction Compared

Dr Curtis Bonk's Week 3 session on #bonkopen was titled "50 Hyper-Engaging Ideas: Critical, Creative, Cooperative". Using the unique Bonk presentation style, he rattled through many useful ideas grouped, roughly, into developing critical thinking, creativity and cooperation.
This was the same week as the #change11 MOOC on Interaction Equivalency with Terry Anderson and I have written my notes on this in my previous post.
It was interesting to compare these two live sessions - Bonk's appropriately entitled "Hyper-Engaging Ideas" and Anderson's measured yet reactive sessions.
Both were Teacher-student interactions as defined by Anderson, both had Student-student interactions in the chat, and both had, I am sure, Student-content interaction going on as we kept up with a huge range of resources being thrown out by Bonk and the relatively more difficult material and concepts from Anderson.
The Teacher-student interactions:
  • Bonk fire hose in action engaging as many students as possible using polls and comments. It was interesting to note the change of pace when Justin took over whilst Dr Bonk suffered the effects of his constant drinking from his vitamin water-bottle.
  • Anderson with a measured tone and approach, relying on sound scholarship and reacting to the chat to adjust his presentation and explain where necessary.
What would have happened if the subject matter was reversed? If Curtis Bonk had to deal with Interaction Equivalency and Terry Anderson present many ideas for maintaining engagement?
The presentations would have been very different, of course - but, as Bonk himself said, little was remembered after a few minutes from the rapid fire presentation. He used polls constantly to maintain an interest and have students choose the take-away ideas, but his style suited the presentation of a huge range of materials.
I did remember the Anderson presentation better. I could take time to concentrate on some of the ideas because of the pace, and there was enough participation required of me to enable the ideas to stick.
Student-student: The chat was manageable on the Anderson presentation (30 or so participants), impossible on the Bonk one (200+ participants). There is a problem of scaling up on the chat which, if this type of platform is to be used, Bb will have to solve.
Student-content: I prepared, usefully, for both presentations, and this helped with my learning. It was more necessary in the Anderson one since I needed to learn some concepts first and read around for contexts.
Bonk has a great series of 10 minute video primers on e-learning and teaching, on an attribution share-alike CC license: 

Have a look at the video on Online Student-Instructor-Practitioner Relationships, Bonk's primer on exactly this subject - Online interactions. Here he gives a very practical approach with many suggestions on how to achieve good interactions and hence good relationships online.
So, very different methods, both achieve their goals.
What did I take away from this week on bonkopen?
  • Considering activities in terms of their Cost, Risk and Time - evaluating these in terms of the amount of each that you can give
  • What do students want? Asking early what students expect from the course and use the interaction to calm fears "we'll be doing that in week 3" etc, as well as increasing student commitment to the class.
  • Simulations to elicit discussion
  • Two heads better than one - posting individual summaries online and have them edit these into one
  • Reverse brainstorming - solve the problem with reverse conditions
  • Six hats - using de Bono for learning

Anderson finishing us off with Interaction

Week 36 on  #change11 and the end of a great journey. Will write about the MOOC separately but wanted to record my notes for Terry Anderson's excellent live session.
You can slice up how we look at learning and teaching in many ways. The concept of Interaction considers the process by viewing the interactions that exist between the three possible "players": the learner, the teacher and the content.
Moore described this in 1989 and this diagram shows the possible interactions:
(from the ALT Newsletter)
Other models of learning (for example, Friere and Glaserfeld) concentrate on the learner (and the teacher) but the Interaction model allows us to consider the actual tasks in the process of learning.
I did wonder about Content-content but I can give a very much up-to-date example of content acting on content to improve personal search in Google's Knowledge Graph.
The Student-teacher interaction is the obvious one but both Student-content and Student-student are viable and important interactions to produce "deep and meaningful learning".
Anderson added to this in 2003 by introducing the idea of Interaction Equivalence when discussing formal learning:
  1. Deep and meaningful formal learning is supported as long as one of the three forms of interaction (Student-teacher, Student-student, Student-content) is at a high level. The other two may be offered at minimum levels, or even eliminated, without degrading the educational experience.
  2. High levels of more than one of these three modes will likely provide a more satisfying educational experience, although these experiences may not be as cost- or time-effective as less interactive learning sequences.
 Bernard et al (2009) published research into this and showed the relative strengths of different interactions. In terms of achievement and combining categories, for example, Bernard et al found an increase in relationship between strength and effect size for Student-student combined with Student-content, and Student-teacher with Student-content. Could this suggest that both the social interaction AND the personal interaction (with content) is necessary for better learning?
In planning learning and teaching, it is likely that each of the three interactions need to be addressed. The pendulum of collaborative learning has probably swung too far and the needs of the more "introverted" learner needs to be taken into account too. I don't like the term but it has come to the fore with Susan Cain's book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking". By having interaction with content and with teacher/student in each of the two examples above, both intro- and extrovert learners are catered for.
Anderson also talked about the idea of a "no frills" university - can students be better served by less than the full university experience? This is happening and perhaps even necessary to happen so as to make education accessible to more people.
He asked whether it was necessary for a university to be heavily research focused to be a good teaching university? There is little evidence to support this.
With decreases in costs of content we could see a different approach to what the university provides - with, perhaps, good teaching universities maintaining the small group tuturial aspect for higher fee payers but opening up their courses to many more.
Some free universities: P2PU, University of the People and the OER University.
Thank you Terry Anderson for finishing these excellent 36 weeks so well.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

BYOD Issues - do we have the right infrastructure?

The first question for a school considering BYOD is "do we have the right infrastructure?"
A BYOD system will have a range and large number of devices connecting through the school's wireless internet system. We have played the catch-up game and are now reporting good access times with a 30Mbits connection (not quite dedicated but near enough).
So what else do we need?
Here is Fernando, our Sysman's, reply on what we did to prepare and what we have left to do:
"1. Increase our IP range: We migrated from a Network Class "C" (up to 256 nodes) to a Network Class "B" (up to 65,536 nodes) (node = client = PC, iPhone, tablet, iPad...etc). As you can see a network class "B" is a collection of 256 class "C" networks. On our school Network Class "B" we have enabled (are using) 5 of those class "C" collections. We have plenty of IP's available still (71% of the capacity just with those 5 enabled).

2. A couple of years ago we "increased" our Router/Gw capability (Fortigate 310B + Analyzer) in order to prepare and handle the demand generated by point #1. This is a device with highly capable/full featured QoS (Quality of Service) rules and such that prevent the bandwidth (internet) to be overloaded. Obviously this is nothing if you don't have enough Internet Bandwidth available. Big thanks for those 30Mbps!

Next steps:

1. Core Switch / Optical Fiber links: Not only to prepare our way for an IP telephone plant and video CCTV but to reduce the actual Broadcasting and collision domains effect due to the excess of clients per nested switch. This another technical requirement that must be added for providing BYOD in schools. There are several ways to reduce this problem, the must common one is the use of VLANs (Virtual LANs) something that we are already doing."

Friday, 11 May 2012

From Meta-research to Practice - John Hattie's Visible Learning for Teachers

John Hattie's new book "Visible Learning for Teachers" (2012, Routledge) follows on from the meta-analyses published in "Visible Learning" of 2009. The book is in hardcover and expensive ($126.57) but available on Kindle.
He proposes two major traits of successful teachers:
  • "S/he sees learning through the eyes of her/his students"
  • "S/he helps students become their own teachers"
Additionally, he lists several "Mind Frames" of teachers who bring about successful learning, here are some:
  • seeker of feedback
  • use dialogue more than monologue
  • have high expectations for all
  • welcome error
And a flavour of some of the others:
  • use learning intentions and success criteria
  • aim for surface and deep outcomes
  • set high expectations
  • create trusting environments
  • give and receive feedback
  • monitor and interpret my learning/teaching
Those two last aspects are key to improvement of learning and teaching, having a "passion for evaluating impact" as Hattie put it. "Know thy impact" - this is the central theme of the book.
Reading further....

Thursday, 10 May 2012

R2D2 - a good Bonk re-think before transferring courses online

The polls were well underway by the time of the official start of Curtis Bonk's second live session on #bonkopen. Again, this was a good way of getting involvement from 275 participants (later 324 or so), with a chorus of bonk-prattle where Dr Bonk picked out individuals,  perhaps mentioning their country and their response, in an endless stream of connection. Although there were repeated reminders, many continued to place their response on the chat stream, with the effect that this moved so rapidly that it was difficult to follow. But there was enough entertainment from Dr Bonk on the audio and video streams to make up for this.
Today's subject was the R2D2 model (or Framework).
I am confused about what it is. No, I don't think that it is a astromech droid/theromcapsulary dehousing asister, but whether it is a pedagogy.
Bonk stated that it was NOT a learning styles model (as a psychologist he does not believe in learning styles), NOT an instructional design, but a way to divide up what you do on online learning and teaching.
So it is an aide-memoir, a sort of checklist of good practices, particularly for engaging students with digital technologies, to cause learning. A sort of VAK (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic) approach but including reading and reflection - two prime assets/learning methods for online learning.
The R2D2 model was illustrated by this diagram from his slide show, again available before the session, so it was easy to follow and useful for those who reported delays in the showing of some slides during the actual session. I am linking the slides here but it is in the CourseSite so can only be accessed by password - a shame since the R2D2 model is hardly worthwhile without it.

I will try to expand on these bare bones from what was presented.
R2D2 Model:
My initial thoughts on the R2D2 aide memoir are that it is useful in the sense of insisting on a complete re-write and re-think when transferring from face to face class courses. Too often "instruction" is transferred from F2F to online without much thought. It NEEDS a total re-think and this is a good reminder of the ways that it can be done.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Framework for Flipping

Flipped classes have been around for some time (2001 is the earliest that I can find references to). The latest trend (craze?) can be attributed to several events including the establishing of the Khan Academy. The question that should be asked, of course, is - will flipping classes improve learning?
Flipteaching has produced a theoretical framework called "Explore-Flip-Apply" for use in the context of inquiry. It is based on the Karplus (1977) learning cycle of:
  • exploration
  • concept introduction
  • concept application
This was taken up by science teachers as a method of teaching (a framework) and a way of organising the curriculum.
Robert Karplus was a theoretical physicist who changed careers to do research on science and mathematics learning. He extended Piaget's ideas to older students, highlighting the importance of hands-on work in concept formation and learning.
Flipteaching's adaptation of this model into the flipped class situation is as follows:

They provide a link to a good comparison of models for conceptual reconstruction by Dennis W Sunal where Karplus' ideas can be seen in the context of contemporary writers of that time.
It is important to point out that Karplus was working in the area of the sciences and mathematics. For these areas, certainly, the model makes absolute sense.
But does the (non interactive) flip presentation substitute Karplus' concept introduction stage? I would think that it can form part of it but not all of it. The point about the explanation of a concept is that it should be dynamic, moving, changing, adapting to the needs of the learner. A static flip presentation cannot do that. But it can certainly form part of that process.
Should there be a check loop after the flip stage to ensure the foundations of the concept introduction stage?

Karplus, R (1977). Science Teaching and the Development of Reasoning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,  14(2), 169-175.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Bonk Show: "drinking from a firehose"

"This is like drinking from a firehouse, I am overwhelmed!"
This was one of thousands of comments that flew up the chat window as nearly 500 participants in the #bonkopen first session communicated. It was impossible to keep up with this speed-scroll and take in Dr Bonk's energetic and hyperactive presentation. But it engaged me.
The first week's theme was the TEC-VARIETY model for online learning and teaching. Summarised it is this:
  • TONE - climate, belonging
  • ENCOURAGEMENT - feedback, support
  • CURIOSITY - fun, fantasy
  • VARIETY - novelty, intrigue
  • AUTONOMY - choice, flexibility
  • RELEVANCE - meaningfulness, authentic
  • INTERACTIVE - collaborative, team, community
  • ENGAGEMENT - effort, involvement
  • TENSION - challenge, dissonance, controversy
  • YIELD PRODUCTS - goals driven, ownership
 Is this more than an aide-memoir of good approaches to learning and teaching, off- and on-line? Aren't all these labels what we would want in good lessons?
Perhaps. But the presentation helped to remind us of these and the particular importance that many of these have for on-line education. Take the 8 nouns approach (or 8 adjectives, or 8 verbs) - a good icebreaker and get-to-know session for setting the tone. Or engaging students under ENCOURAGEMENT - using screencasts, giving feedback, using polls.
And Dr Bonk certainly had this in great measure, with his 100mph presentation, toys, hats and, in particular, the polls. He ensured participation with poll questions such as "what time is it there?", "does this time work well for you each week?", "how fast is your internet access now?", "have you participated in a MOOC before?", "do you feel MOTIVATED to try any of this out?", etc.
Besides this, there was sound pedagogy before and during the presentation. The presentation was available BEFORE the session, there was a worksheet to note strategies, and a problems and solutions list for Motivation and Retention, this week's topic.
Compare and contrast the sessions on #bonkopen and #change11 this week: actually I enjoyed each one. Bonk was manic but engaged me, Veletsianos was scholarly and paced but made me think.
Still pondering on: is Bb up to the task for a MOOC? Can/will Dr Bonk keep this up (rather suspect he will - he was sufficiently self deprecating to be likeable)? Is it worth following a chat that overwhelms, where messages are lost?
Get a flavour of the Bonk Show from this introduction to the course: