Tag Archives: Remote teaching

Microsoft Tools for Education⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

Having spent time thinking about the principles and approaches I will be taking with my teaching in the new semester, now I must move to thinking about the tools that I will be using.

Goodbye, Moodle

For the past 3 years, I have used a Moodle instance to support and communicate with students in preference to the University’s BlackBoard Learn. The main reason for this (there are several) is that Moodle is user-centric with features like search. Learn doesn’t have that, and is one of those systems that is designed for the designer, not the user.

Moodle has increasingly become more costly to sustain because of a series of ongoing bugs, most recently following the upgrade to 3.9, search has stopped working. Now, I’m a busy person and don’t have time to debug this right now, so I have decided that I need to use a more stable system of tools.

Community

One of the single most important aspects of learning is the community you learn with. Former students have continued to access their Moodle course for a long time after the PGDE ends. I don’t want to abandon them, or break that community, so I have set up a Slack workspace for former PGDE Physics students, including those more senior who did not have the Moodle experience. So far, they have responded well to the idea. I will be using Slack to connect to the new cohort, outside of the official channels which they cannot join until they matriculate in September. This will give them a head start on building community.

Conformity

There are a lot of people using Microsoft tools, and the university is no exception: we make increasingly consistent use of Sharepoint, Office365, OneDrive, OneNote, and the ever-present PowerPoint. Now, whilst there is a very good argument not to be suckered into the global brand domination of Microsoft, you can’t say that Bill Gates has kept all the money for himself, so there is a reason to go with the flow. The other, closer to home, reason is the perceived equity of the student cohort. Our students hate difference in experience, perceiving it to be somehow uneven or even discriminatory. It isn’t, and never has been. It’s good pedagogy to try to meet the particular needs of your learners, so teachers will always try to adapt and innovate to make things better for their own, very special, learners. That’s why I have operated a Moodle site outside of the mainstream experience for my Physics cohorts in the past 3 years.

I’m going to try to use the MS tools because the university has spent a lot of money providing them. Because it’s what the rest of the team are doing, and I might be able to offer support to my colleagues as we move forward into hybridised teaching together. Because the time cost of operating a maverick set is unnecessary, when I have the cost of conforming to bear also.

Getting ready

I need to skill up. So, I’m going to pick up an MIE, starting with the OneNote Teacher Academy course. I’m starting here because it’s where I need to begin in shifting content from the old VLE into something newer: not Learn, because it’s not fit for that particular purpose, but OneNote. Here we go.

Teaching online: so far, so good.⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

I wanted to note here some reflections on how I have been doing in my experience with teaching remotely during the COVID-19 “lockdown”, which came as the PGDE Secondary programme I teach on was in its final few weeks. I ignored the suggestion that we should only have a narrow focus for our teaching at this stage, being the preparation for GTCS registration, the final task for most of the students in my cohort of about 16 physics PGDE students.

At the same time as thinking about how it’s gone so far, and sharing some of the student feedback, I am also going to reflect briefly on one aspect of how to prepare for a “digital-first” or hybridised model of teaching when the next cohort arrives in mid-September, several weeks later than usual.

The values of near future teaching

The Near Future Teaching project ran between 2017 and 2019, with the goal to develop a values-based vision for the future of digital education at the University of Edinburgh. In planning for a different delivery, it is worth considering the four values1 the project identified:

  1. Experience over assessment

    Learning should not be over-assessed and instrumentalised. Teaching should share a focus on employability and success with an understanding of the value of rich experience, creativity, curiosity and – sometimes – failure.

  2. Diversity and justice

    Education should design-in meaningful diversity and real inclusion across all areas of activity. All near future teaching should further social responsibility and global justice.

  3. Relationships first

    Relationships, dialogues and personal exchanges between students and staff build understanding in a way that is not possible via transmissive forms of teaching. Teaching should be designed to provide the time and space for proper relationships and meaningful human exchange.

  4. Participation and flexibility

    The University community should cooperatively shape how – and what – it learns and teaches. Flexibility for individuals, fluency across disciplines and cooperative responsibility for curricula should shape near future teaching.

Now, we are not in a position to just tear up all that has gone before and begin with a new design. We must retain all that is good and work with what we’ve got: there are many reasons for this, not least of which is time and cost; but also the fact that our initial teacher education programmes are carefully and rigorously accredited by the GTCS. This means that we are not in a position to substantively alter content.

What we must do, therefore, is focus on the elements of delivery and overlay the changes imposed upon us by that, on our core material. This is hard to do, and much work is being done to anticipate the future and plan for equitable and valid experience on the PGDE as it will be delivered in the coming session. These four values are helpful to me in thinking about how I do my part of this, alongside professional learning, reflection and dialogue with colleagues. I like to think, and can show, that these values are already present in my teaching and those of my colleagues in initial teacher education: these values reflect those of the GTCS professional standards by which our product is measured. So, the future is now. Let’s get on with it.

How have I done so far?

In my online teaching, I have found that direct teaching, which has a place in the usual run of things, is significantly less effective. I have learned to move away from this towards a more student-focused pedagogy which makes frequent use of groups working together on a problem or question, and plenaries or discussions intended to draw out key ideas and actions, and which offer some form of formative assessment opportunity.

An example of this might be a stimulus question like this, which I used in the last tutorial they had as a group:

A tutor gives the following feedback to a student on an essay: “You assert without evidence that making shy young people do a presentation to peers will help ensure they become confident somehow. How do you know that?”

In groups, consider what specific advice you would offer next year’s PGDE students about this challenge from their tutor.

Which is followed by a well-signposted time of about 10 minutes for students in small groups discussing, and preparing to share their responses.

I asked the students to share their thoughts on how they thought the last online session had gone, compared to those in recent weeks. Here is a small selection of their responses.

On the structure of the session

  • I liked the breakout groups.
  • Breakout groups were good for engagement and keeping me interested in the discussion.
  • … today was the best, lots of breakouts, lots to do, didn’t feel like an hour and a half.
  • Thanks, good session today, good amount of content w/o overloading, and good balance of big group and breakouts
  • The later sessions have been more interactive and using the breakout rooms and mixture of chat and voice has been much more productive/engaging.
  • Yeah it flew by! Pace was good, lots to keep me engaged and interested
  • I liked the breakout groups and discussion on stimuli.
  • Nice wholesome session, Breakout sessions really make it interactive for us.
  • Enjoyed the frequency of the breakout groups today they seemed to come at just the right time and varied the pace of the tutorial.

On the stimulus

  • The stimulus for thought at the end was interesting, especially as there were different levels to engage with it.
  • Giving us a small stimulus and letting us get on with it worked well I thought.
  • Particularly liked the last stimulus and got me thinking reflectively as a learner and teacher.

Other remarks

  • Useful as always. Ideas for practical online delivery as well as things to think about.
  • And some reassuring chat about probations was appreciated

Reflections

So far, so good, but I have not discovered any solutions here. This model cannot be applied to the entire course, and like all good teaching strategies, has a place in amongst a boxful of others. It would become very dull indeed, if I used this formula every week. What is clear is that pace and variety are very much more important in the online context. The implication of this is that these sessions in the new academic year must be time-limited, well planned and tightly managed.

Does that seem obvious? It probably is, but I think I had to go through this with my last cohort in order to have that clear vision for my next.

Notes

  1. I’m thankful to my colleague and friend Val Gordon for sharing her perspective on this project, which was described by Professor Siân Bayne during her recent keynote at the University’s Learning and Teaching Conference. 

Virtual Physics Staffroom again⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

On the last two Fridays, I participated in two more of the IoP’s Virtual Physics Staffroom online 40-minute1 Zoom meetings. On the 22nd May, the focus was on practicals and skills development, and the 29th saw a session focused on the pedagogy of blended learning.

Practicals

The session was hosted by Jennie Hargreaves and began with a demonstration of the Marvin & Milo “Balloon in a bottle” activity by Allan Reid, who had been cut short in the last meeting by the Zoom time-out1. In breakout groups, we discussed ideas for doing practical physics, or at least, develop practical skills as far as possible in a blended or remote learning context. We shared ideas for resources to support this, including Colorado’s PhET, Marvin and Milo, and IoP Spark (there’s also ophysics).

It was recognised that parents should be involved if possible, and that pupil choice is given, rather like primary colleagues are doing with learning grids, in which a dozen activies are available to choose from, according to pupil interest and available resources. Risk assessment was also mentioned, and is clearly something that teachers should (as always) be including in their planning.

As always, collaborative development features strongly in physics education in Scotland and mention was made of the usual channels of SPUTNIK, TalkPhysics, and the resources spreadsheet2 which enables teachers to quickly find exisiting resources for each course in the SQA Physics catalogue.

Sustainable blended learning

This session was hosted by Malky Thomson and Martyn Crawshaw, with David Vincent managing the back-channel. This is an effective model for sessions like these, allowing the presenters to do that well, without missing pertinent and useful prompting and feedback from the floor.

Malky introduced the session and its aims, and gave us a definition of “blended learning”. I like this proper teachery approach, which quickly enculturates delegates who perhaps are new, or who have different interpretations of these terms, at the same time as adjusting variations in the herd to the common understanding.

Breakout # 1: engaging pupils

We were split into groups of about 4 or 5 teachers to consider a couple of questions.

  • Should we be using the same pedagogy, or flipped learning?
  • How to engage and motivate pupils?

Now, I think these could have been any questions on the topic, and the groups would have done the same thing, which is to share experiences and current strategies and frustrations with remote teaching experience so far. The post-breakout discussion had every groupd report back, and common features were reflected across the board: that some kind of flipped learning model is being tried with varying degrees of success in engaging young people. What is noted is that there are more pupils doing the tasks than are admitting to it, and this is evident from the synchronous sessions where progression in understanding, for example, is evident, through the quality of the dialogue and feedback.

The range of tools being deployed in the various online solutions includes the usual powerpoints, question and e-text books, video (either created by the teachers or found online), quizzes and so on. Heriot-Watt’s Scholar is clearly also in use, and some are making use of Isaac Physics with certain groups. The IoP’s TalkPhysics community resource is also greatly valued and appreciated by physics teachers across the country.

A huge concern for teachers is also their awareness of how the move to remote teaching is further disadvantaging the poor. This theme returned again in the second breakout and discussion.

Breakout # 2: next actions

Concerns exist in relation to inconsistencies in policies that have had to be drawn up quickly. Across the country, different schools and local authorities are implementing very different rules, for example, some have banned online synchronous teaching entirely. This can only be a super-risk-averse stance on child protection akin to banning playground use.

The calls from this session included:

  • asking for consistent, perhaps central, policy on online teaching and learning;
  • the SQA to make clear their intentions for changing course content or assessment in the coming session, and to do it quickly;
  • access to technology and infrastructure, especially for the poorer families;
  • training in the use of technology for learners;
  • training in the use of technology for teachers;
  • collaborative resources development

The latter of these is something the physics teaching community is very good at, and perhaps needs the IoP to help again in co-ordinating that effort in the same they have before. Malky Thomson dropped an excellent quote in our session:

“curate, not create”

This is a nice mantra to help teachers and educational leaders understand that it is a massive waste for teachers to duplicate effort in making resources, when a distributed effort will boost quality, increase availability of teacher time, and impact attainment across the country.

Notable points

It was clear from the breakout groups and discussion that there are huge differences across Scotland in the experience pupils are having. Unions are voicing concerns that teacher workload is no less than in normal circumstances and that to ask them to operate a full timetable once schools open, and then in addition provide online session is not reasonable. “Contact time” should include online teaching and be limited (for the same reasons) to the 22.5 hours in SNCT agreements.

Broadly, teachers are finding that they have about a third of their pupils engaging online. Whilst all of the issues are not known, some suggest that one significant issue is of pupils knowing how to use the technology. Another, surely, is in having access to it.

Child protection is a concern, and yet again3, nowhere in any of these online platforms do you see links to CEOP or other agencies to support children at risk.

Notes

The Blended Learning session was recorded. You can find it on YouTube.

  1. 40 minutes, because that is the maximum duration of a Zoom session using a free account. They unceremoniously kick everyone out once the meeting is over, and who can blame them?  2

  2. The link to that can be had from the community, on SPUTNIK or TalkPhysics. 

  3. I’ve mentioned this before

Children’s experiences of home school and coronavirus⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

The MH Online seminar for week 5 of the series1 examined the reported experiences of children who suddenly find that their parents have become their teachers, and their teachers have become faces on a screen during the isolation measures taken to counter the impact of COVID-19.

Home School from the child’s view

Introduced by Professor Judy Robertson, Holly Linklater brought some interview comments from children to get us quickly oriented with their perspective. These voices talked about the experience of using the online platform (Zoom). Children seem to be missing their friends although some of the activities seem to be useful. Face to face contact is a barrier for some, because some schools/authorities do not allow children to use video during online sessions.

It’s bad in a bad way, and good in a good way

Backchannel conversation brought stories from other delegates’ children which included a positive response from children to video their teachers had made - seeing their faces and recognising they were all in lockdown at their home helped the children to understand better.

Checking in every day is important to many, and being able to sustain their community: children seem to miss badly the familiarity of the school environment, a space in which they can have agency and that sense of belonging. Some are having their children sit on Zoom with friends and work together, making it feel a bit more like school.

Parents in the conversation suggested:

… the teachers are working miracles setting interesting, differentiated work that can be done without their direct input!

My own observations of primary and secondary teachers2 has been that they are working very hard for the children to offer engaging and interesting things to do, at the same time as making that rhythm of school life seem ever present, as a reassuring cadence of continuity.

Real concern has been voiced, that whilst some children have been able to access school life and community in a very real way using the technology they have available have been thriving, there are others who have not.

My child is able to FaceTime her friends and they are having some group chats which is fab but I really worry for the children who don’t have access to IT, in terms of their learning and their mental health.

The key message from the children has been that contact is very important for them, both with their friends and their teachers.

Data, digested

(Digital) Katie Farrell was invited to present some data (in graphical form) relating to happiness of twitter users, showing the peak of happiness in the past year as being Christmas Day 2019, a huge dip as the COVID pandemic hit, and very encouragingly, a steady recovery toward normal levels of happiness, as determined by automatic textual analysis of tweets. A proper feel-good message just when we needed it! It looks like Katie will have a regular slot in these sessions, and that is indeed something to look forward to.

The impact of isolation on parents

A report was given by Dr Hannah McNeilly on a research project that analysed parent perspectives in the early stages of the lockdown. Initial thoughts from the research suggest that parents are finding it hard to make decisions under extreme uncertainty, at the same time as having additional responsibility, including an expectation that they are confident in teaching their children. The uncertainty comes in part from the different choices made on policy by different governments. Is it safe to go out or not? Other impacts reported were less expected:

the main impact of the virus has been that I am here with the whole family, including my ex-husband-to-be.

Holly revealed that it was these stresses on the parents that led to the creation of her “Home School with Holly”. Parents who are teachers are feeling the pressures, too:

my child said they had the worst home school in the world.

Q & A

Questions and answers were brief but the back channel had been lively, with great resources being shared, including Scientist next door, which is

a small group of scientists aiming to bring together communities during the lockdown and homeschooling. We are here to share with children our passion for science, hoping more of you will find it as exciting!

Another hour well spent in developing greater understanding of the new world unfolding before us, in its messy, unpredictable way, and from which we all have an opportunity to learn new things about ourselves and what we do.

Notes

  1. Recordings of this and previous sessions in the Schools Online Conversations series can be found here.
 

  2. It seemed that today’s session was focused on the primary sector, although there were a number of delegates from secondary. 

Further Understanding of Remote Teaching⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

I reflected recently on remote teaching, in particular, thinking about community, cadence, asynchrony, and so on. Here, I am going to share thoughts prompted by feedback and observation from my current online cohort of PGDE students. I have been continuing to host online tutorials, or facilitate student-led microteaching sessions in which they get a chance to develop their skills in online delivery of learning.

Direct teaching overload

In my last post, I suggested that direct approaches aren’t the best experience for learners in the synchronous online space, and this is echoed by my students. Direct methods are hard, too, in these spaces, not least because of the detachment the teacher may feel from the cohort because assessment and feedback are more difficult to access.

keeping pupils engaged when simply talking online is very difficult. Even with a camera on the teachers presence is much diminished online.

Engagement is hard enough with direct methods, even when the teacher in the same room as the learners. That observation that teacher presence is diminished in the virtual classroom offers an explanation why learners feel more remote in such spaces. The disconnect from assessment and feedback might be the reason why teachers also feel more remote.

in a classroom you can’t just open a new tab over the teacher or turn your camera off and know you are free to be distracted with no punishment.

Younger pupils in the online classroom are getting smart.

zoom

Breakout

A way to mitigate the direct teaching overload problem has been identified by my students, which is for the teacher to chunk the online lesson using breakout sessions.

breakaway groups have seen a substantial increase in engagement

Advice from learners on how to make these effective include:

  • breakouts must be seen as purposeful.
  • a clear focus for the breakout session, perhaps a typed question1 as a starting point for discussion.
  • feedback from the breakout session, e.g. one person from each group will bring back a point to give further goal interdependence on others in the class.

Consider these ideas in terms of the intention (for the breakout); the activity; success criteria; and the plenary or resolution. These are the familiar characteristics of all good learning experiences. The inverse rationale underlines the point: arbitrary breaks with our purpose, where no responsibility lies with the learners, and no conclusion or outcome is shared, would all indicate poor experience.

The prep task

Some of the students have followed my modelling of setting a preparatory task for some of the online classes. As with all homework, the teacher must be sensitive to the individual pupil situation (known or imagined) and set such tasks that pupils are encouraged to participate in them if they can, but not to feel that attendance online is impossible for those who haven’t managed to do it. For me, this is one of the broader responsibilities of all good educators, to promote the intrinsic motivation of the life-long learner. The effort is the reward, the participation the privilege. Creativity is the secret, of course: repetitions are useful in building skills and have their place but the preparatory task is for engagement and motivation, and must therefore be inspiring.

Community, again

Students are sensitive to the community message from my last post, not least because they are feeling what perhaps all of us are feeling doing the COVID-19 isolation. That sense of continuity and coherence is therefore demanded in planning your teaching online.

Linking work to sessions connecting it as a fluid holistic whole is important too, link their work to the school community help pupils realise they are not alone and doing this together as a cohort. There is nothing more important in realising that you are not alone just now.

Is anybody there?

it felt very lonely and daunting speaking into the nothingness

When leading the online tutorial, I have from time to time found that there is a feeling of peering out from the stage into the lights, not being able to tell if anyone is there. Unlike the stage situation, in the online classroom you can’t use your sense of smell to know if your audience is still with you. Students have valued my occasional use of the “thumbs up” to check, by immediate straw poll, that they are still there, and still participating, if only passively. That act of positively asserting presence when asked can help the cohort sustain a sense of belonging.

a lot of the pupils were too worried to turn their microphone on and so you’d only get the feedback of them typing in the chat window at the side.

This quote from a teacher trying out online teaching and discovering that effective platforms offer tools that provide feedback channels such as “thumbs up”, a chat window, and the visible, live face of learners.

The responsibility falls on the teacher to decide when to use the synchronous online classroom. Which of your content really needs to be live? Are there real advantages to the recorded video segment, which can be paused, rewound and speed-shifted to suit the needs of the students? If you’re thinking video, should you provide a transcript? Closed captioning?

The grey wall

Different schools and authorities have taken a different stance on whether or not children should have their cameras on when participating in online sessions. I can see that there is a child protection concern in keeping the cameras on, perhaps when the child is participating from a bedroom, but something important to good teaching and community-making is lost when the online class presents as a wall of grey faces when the cameras are off.

Child protection

The online classroom, with its back-channels of text chat or concurrent social channels, is potentially a more dangerous place for victims of cyber-bullying2, and even a place in which child abuse is more possible than in the physical school. What surprises me is that I haven’t yet found an online platform that has built-in, a visible link to anonymous reporting schemes like CEOP. I haven’t much of these on school websites, either, nor video channels like YouTube, which are being used by schools to deliver much of their content. We need to do more than we are at present to protect people from online abuse, me included.

Are you worried about online sexual abuse or the way someone has been communicating with you online? REPORT IT HERE

Notes

  1. Other ideas for the breakout task include a calculation or few written lines of work. 

  2. Cyber-bullying seems to be such a dated term now. Shall we just call it bullying? 

Take your teaching online, part 1⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

Take your teaching online is a free, self-paced, online Open University course that runs for a nominal 8 weeks, 3 hours per week, and is designed to help teachers move from face-to-face teaching to more blended, flipped or online methods. I will be publishing a series of posts containing my own notes, reflections and links from the course.

Week Topic
1 Teaching online is different
2 Discovering the connections: principles and theories for understanding digital tools
3 Selecting technologies: what to look for and how to choose
4 The benefits of support networks and how to develop them
5 Finding, using, and sharing educational materials online
6 Supporting learners with different needs – accessibility in online teaching
7 Making a change in your teaching
8 Evaluating changes and enhancing practice

Week 1: Teaching online is different

1 Synchronous and asynchronous modes of teaching

The TL;DR is that teachers moving online should use a blend of synchronous and asynchronous teaching, and focus on the pedagogy at least as much as the technology.

(A)synchrony

The first concept considered is the contrast between synchronous and asynchronous teaching. Synchronous sessions seem to be good for drop-ins, seminars, or scheduled interactive opportunities for students to resolve issues. Teaching more formally online requires the development of new skills. Asynchronous teaching gives control and responsibility to the students to access materials and communicate together without the teacher’s specific instruction. Variation of media is important in this mode, but the benefits to the learner in greater flexibility, for example, are significant. In both modes, collaboration is a powerful pedagogy and needs to be facilitated, required and supported. A study1 of Canadian high school distance learners reported modes and benefits of synchronous and asynchronous online teaching. This paper is worth reading because it identifies some key elements of effective online teaching such as microphone control, the provision of social spaces, the use of collaborative tools like wikis, and so on.

Activity 1 Thinking about synchronous and asynchronous online teaching

… come up with three short examples that fit the following situations. These could be based on your own experiences of teaching or learning, or a situation that you can imagine:

  1. A situation where synchronous learning is appropriate and beneficial in supporting learning.

    The introduction of a new topic or course segment requiring the explanation or demonstration of an overview or concept. Interaction is the important part of this, and especially assessment of the student reaction and engagement with the new topic.

  2. A situation where asynchronous learning is appropriate and beneficial in supporting learning.

    Working through exercises or readings which either prepare for further study or rehearse and develop new skills, once they have been introduced. In this situation, students are working at their own pace, or perhaps in small groups together and need to be able to do this free of the pressure of keeping up with the class, or frustration of running ahead.

  3. A situation that combines synchronous and asynchronous learning to support learning.

    Students working independently or in groups on a project task, with regular check-in points to report on progress or discuss challenges or questions. These points can be optional for students, such that they become part of their support environment.

Interaction and student voice

In the discussion, gathering the student preferences is suggested. I am finding that listening to the student voice and responding to their needs and preferences is crucial when teaching remotely. Keeping opportunities always open for them during synchronous sessions to seek a break, a break-out, or to raise questions or diversions is important in sustaining engagement and making your teaching effective. Similarly, the input of the students is significant in engaging students in asynchronous contexts - this might be making sure that they can access resources and back-channels (such as a forum) whenever they need to.

Interaction is something to think about. I had been thinking that the synchronous sessions were important because of the facility for interaction, and then been disappointed in the interactivity of the students, who seemed to prefer to just listen: even when I polled them, they said they were happy with it. However, they seem to “light up” when I introduce break-out groups in which they can, perhaps in groups of 3 or 4, all switch the camera and microphones on and interact more freely in the same way they would in the teaching lab. I think this has been because I have taken more of a direct teaching approach with some of the sessions I have been running. The Murphy paper suggests a reason why:

“… it is not the media but the pedagogy that determines the interaction.” (Murphy, et. al, 2011, 589).

This may be true to some extent but the media are both the means of, and the barrier to, interaction. With online media platforms, synchronous interaction of the kind you’re used to in the classroom can come when the numbers are small group-sized.

Feedback

Giving students feedback on their work is no less important in the online setting, even if it can be harder to do in the natural way teachers are used to. This is why on online teaching, greater use is often made of peer feedback, related to collaboration. The cited paper, Gikandi and Morrow (2016)2 is particularly pertinent as it relates to teacher education. It provides a really nice discussion on how to provide really effective peer feedback opportunities in the online space. Their findings are no less applicable in the real-world teaching spaces, too.

Rita

The OU Rita character

The course has an online animated character, Rita, a cutesy co-delegate who is following the course alongside everyone else. She models a sort of generic, middle-of-the-road UK teacher, in a way that tries to make us all feel less isolated. I found it quite patronising at first encounter, but let’s see if I warm to the idea as the course develops. I think it’s fair to say that the OU are trying very hard to dodge any accusations that their courses are not for everyone, even if the animation seems tokenistic.

Notes and references

  1. Murphy, E., Rodríguez-Manzanares, M., & Barbour, M. K. (2011). “Asynchronous and Synchronous Teaching and Learning in High- School Distance Education: Perspectives of Canadian High School Distance Education Teachers.” British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(4), 583-591. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01112.x 

  2. J.W. Gikandi & D. Morrow (2016) Designing and implementing peer formative feedback within online learning environments, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 25:2, 153-170, DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2015.1058853