Last Impressions of H817

OK so I submitted my final end of module assessment - fingers crossed. There’s no need for me to post this blog but I guess it’s a virtual way of me saying ‘Cheerio’ to the H817 experience (assuming I pass).

Where are my peers?

What I really enjoyed about the previous MAODE courses that I’ve done until this one, has been the constant interraction that I was able to get from people on the course and particularly those assigned to my tutorial group. Sadly for one reason or another that did not happen on this course. I did however, have a lot of interraction with one of my peers as we were the only ones remaining for the Module 3 learning artefact that we had to produce (thanks Steve!); so I guess what I missed on one sense, I made up for with a lot more interraction with one individual.

Somehow on the way OU decided tweaked my main correspondence address from the one that I’ve been using with them since 2006, to one that they assigned to me with an account (never used it, never even told that it existed) so I suspect that the more frequent contact that I had with my tutor  on the other courses, compared to this course, can be explained that way. Having said that, it’s pretty awesome that my tutor was able to offer an alternative personal email address and give me a mobile number that I could send text messages to (thanks Victoria). 



Practice what one preaches

I still find that the overall academic insight about open and distance education in the Open University to be very rich and deep, but it still drives me bananas that they cannot seem to put into practice, what they are actually preaching about. I mean for goodness sake they are a (justifiably) premiere open and distance learning institution, promoting specifically about the research and best practice about open and distance education but they still seem to be stuck in a practice that harks from the early 2000’s. For instance:

  1. Tutor group discussions are totally closed with no real ability to cut in outside code or sources to enhance or illustrate the discussion. This penalises particularly those of us that prefer a PLN/PLE and have set up our own blog sites.
  2. We learn about learning analytics and we are told that OU is using them, but we're not able to see the learning analytics generated by ourselves as individual students.
  3. there appears to be little incentive or promotion of having students comment on each other's discussion posts, or engage in a suitable discussion even though the research we're pointed to demonstrates convincingly that learning is significantly enhanced through interraction and discussion!


Overall Positive or Negative Impression?

Much of the course had me grinding my teeth, partly because I felt that the work and assignments were too formulaic and thus too restrictive. Much of the ‘innovations’ seemed like the course designers were reaching a bit too far and really there is nothing there at the moment. 

The Learning Design section I felt was a good example of doing something more or less for the sake of doing it. I understand the concept but in reality it’s only half baked and cannot be fruitfully applied to help programme designers, or evaluators to figure out whether real learning is or has taken place. I think the ‘modular’ approach to education has merits, but in the end does not work as well as a thoughtfully integrated curriculum and the learning design is the right idea but particularly in ‘soft’ subjects (i.e. not maths or physics), tends to be hard to apply. 

Learning analytics seems to be an ‘iffy’ concept that in the end works if we know (i) what real learning actually is and (ii) we can understand the science of real learning completely – neither of which we can. To say nothing of the idea that learning analytics is currently only working in a very tight virtual ecosystem, namely that of the learning management system (LMS) and I feel personally that much/most learning occurs outside of the LMS.


… I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now I think that I’ve been learning a lot from this course. Part of it is what ‘not to do’ but part of it has been because I’ve been forced to think about why I have objections to what has been proposed, suggested, enacted. I am forced to have an opinion, I am forced to consider alternatives - and I guess that’s part of the true learning.

However, I want to end with the things that I did learn, that surprised me and did delight. In particular the work on both OERs and MOOCs has made a big impression. The project that I did with the remaining tutee person (thanks again Steve) is something that I did learn from. And so of course the project was an overall positive experience for me. Thanks (as in the previous two courses) to my tutor for the help and assistance - very much appreciated.

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Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  -Will Durant