By David Wells, editor at Surviving the OU

David is hitting the theory hard in his latest two weeks of H817

The most recent activities are detailed below.

Week 3: Debates and theories in elearning

This was a solid week where we began picking in to elearning theories and ended the week working in pre-assigned groups. The learning objectives for these sessions were designed to help us develop:

  • an understanding of learning theories that are relevant to the field of technology enhanced learning
  • an appreciation of current debates around learning theories for technology enhanced learning.

We began by looking into the theory of elearning by way of a paper by Mark Nichols, where the author laid out 10 hypotheses or fundamental principles for elearning and we had to state which hypotheses we agreed with, paying particular attention to Hypothesis #4. I agreed with most of them and one thing that struck me was the age of the paper – 2003. This happened a lot on H800, many of the articles were way out of date technologically-speaking. I know that the basics may not have changed and the course tutors were planning on updating the module in the following year, but very old papers does tend to be a running theme.

In the next task (Activity 9) we were introduced to three theories: Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. I was familiar with two out of the three but after reading through the materials and watching the videos we were provided with, I found Behaviourism the most interesting, if not slightly limited in its outlook. See more on Behaviourism through experimentation in the video below.

Is our behaviour deterministic? Do we actually have Free Will? Yes, it all got very deep in Week 3!

In Activity 10 we were required to investigate a learning theory and we got split into three separate groups of about five or six students, charged with the task of looking in to one of the three theories. My group was looking at Constructivism and we had access to a table to list down the strengths and limitations and a Wiki to note down findings and thoughts. We split the work up between us and were able to communicate via the forums and Adobe Connect.

Finally we read over a 2005 paper by George Siemens on Connectivism. All of these isms are starting to fry my brain, but this one might some sense at least.

Connectivism is a learning theory promoted by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. Called a learning theory for a digital age, it seeks to explain complex learning in a rapidly changing social digital world. In our technological and networked world, educators should consider the work of thinkers like Siemens and Downes ~ Education-2020

Week 4: Innovation and its evaluation

Given that innovation is in the title of the entire module it would appear that we are really getting down to the good stuff now. Our study objectives this week were nice and simple: “evaluate a learning innovation”. Remaining in our groups from last week we have to imagine a scenario.

Imagine that your management team wants to use elearning to support a particular project. They have already drawn up a shortlist of innovative technologies that may address their requirements. They would now like your team to present your views about the suitability of one of these technologies.

Through collaboration, nomination and Doodle Polls we had to choose a technology to evaluate for the management team and discuss what sorts of evidence to collect about that technology.

Example of a Doodle Poll. I do hope they enjoyed their festive KFC!

We then produced a joint document with the findings after collecting all the evidence, asked our tutor to comment on the group’s report and released the information to the entire group, detailing at the end what lessons we learned about innovation. Due to different time zones and availability, this was a difficult task to complete but we managed to produce something at the end, which was good!

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