The course framework
I was responsible for both development and implementation of a 16-week online course with about 20 students in both fall and spring semester. The course has 8 ECTS credits and students are expected to spend about 8 hours a week studying it. Before the course started, I had to create a learning contract describing learning goals, content, implementation and evaluation. The teaching should be conducted in Moodle, but with the active use of Web 2.0 services. I was also told that all students had their own blogs on open sites such as www.blogspot.com and www.wordpress.com.
The picture was taken with the students who were present at my presentation at FuturaliaTask 1 - find, study and share materials related to the theme in a blog-based annotated bibliography
It was mostly up to me to choose the course content, but we agreed that I should make four study units around my presentations and publications on the three themes: The Theory of Cooperative Freedom, Online Teaching Techniques and Transparency in Online Education. Important parts of the content are discussed in the book Online Education and Learning Management Systems and the article Transparency in Cooperative Online Education. I also wanted to demonstrate what I mean by cooperative freedom and transparency by using it in these four week-long tasks in the three first course units:
Task 2 - produce a learning object related to the theme and publish it somewhere
Task 3 - write reviews in the forum on one annotated bibliography and one learning object published by colleagues
Task 4 - take part in a structured discussion on issues related to the theme
It was probably an unpleasant surprise for some of the students that the course was taught in English. They were used to read articles in English, but writing English was an serious additional challenge for several of them. Therefore I recommended them to cooperate on the written assignments and to develop learning objects in web2.0 services such as www.youtube.com, www.slideshare.com og www.toonlet.com in which the focus is not mainly on the written language. I further invited the students to develop bibliographies which included references to multimedia elements as shown in Juliana's bibliography on Online Teaching Techniques.
Cooperative freedom in a very transparent learning environment
The students published their bibliographies, their learning objects and various reflections and comments about the course activities in their blogs so that their work is available for everyone on the internet. This extreme transparency resulted in feedback not only from classmates but also from other colleagues and experts. In this way, the students had much freedom to learn in a network - without being dependent on someone in particular. This very open and transparent learning environment was probably as daunting and stimulating for the students as it was for me as the tutor. Mónica's final blog report is a good example which shows that very much information about the course and the students' coursework is available online.
In the spring course, Maria João established an index of the course work made by both classes in a wiki at http://ppel4.pbworks.com. In the fall course, Paulo and José made a Diigo group http://groups.diigo.com/group/uab-mpel3 including bookmarks for nearly 200 references the students made during the course. Sandra and Mónica initiated the open Facebook group Online Teaching in which the students' course work and reflections were published. The group soon attracted 500 members. Many of the students also used Twitter and Facebook actively in their learning process. I decided to accept invitations to become Facebook friends with the students and I found it fascinating to follow the Twitter-messages from Paulo.
It was interesting to see that the students were able to involve people from outside the class. Paulo and José, for example, made this interactive VoiceTread presentation about cooperative learning which includes both text and audio comments from several participants outside our class.
In our structured discussions we arranged role plays about online workload, debates on transparency and one-question-interviews with online education experts like Terry Anderson on Cooperative Freedom and Stephen Downs on Collaboration vs. Cooperation.
In the last unit, the students were asked to write final reports in which they should compile and improve their work, develop reflection papers an evaluate their work. Even though these are quite personal documents, several students chose to publish them on the internet. Sónia, for example, made her final report in Issuu.
Several of the web2.0 services were new to me, and I was impressed by the student achievements. Some of the students made interesting learning objects using GoAnimate and Glogster. Two examples are Carla's amusing GoAnimate cartoon and Helena's interactive Glogster poster about learning partners.
GoAnimate.com: Cooperative Freedom in Learning by elearninghoje
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!
Examples of course work in various web2.0 services
Below, I have compiled a list with some examples of the many interesting learning object the students have developed with various web2.0 services. It may be worth while to mention that the students are expected to spend about 8 hours developing these learning objects. I started this list with including links to the examples and continued by substituting the links with the embed codes I could find so that many of the examples are visible below.
- Toonlet: Cooperative Freedom
- Animoto: Online teaching techniques
- Yudu: Transparency in Online Education - Compilation of articles
- Diigo: Mestrado Pedagogia do E-Learning
- Facebook: Online Teaching
- Wikispaces: Online Teaching Techniques
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!
Issuu: Compilation of personal work
Cooperative Freedom in NKI
It was interesting, but work intensive, to follow the students' work because they were published in a number of different web2.0 services at various blogs and web-pages. It was also thought-provoking that everyone can observe what the students produce in my course. Neither teachers nor students are always doing good work, and in such transparent environments low quality work is easy to spot. However, maybe we therefore struggle a little harder to do our best?