An educational FLAN

On Friday I went to the FutureLearn Academic Network (FLAN) meeting in Milton Keynes to present my work with Bath Mechanical Engineering graduate Simon Coton.

It was a very interesting day, with some great speakers. The work I presented, incidentally, was the use of statistical tests in SNA for MOOCS. My personal highlights are therefore biased towards the technical and include:

  • Analysis Techniques
    • Shi-Min Chua (Open University) used textual analysis to look at conversation types (and why some comments tend to ‘close down’ conversations) – ie looking at patterns of conversation and not just structural links.
    • A related paper by Tim O-Riordan (Southampton) looked at critical engagement (eg using Bloom’s Taxonomy) – including use of machine learning to do this.
    • Garron Hillaire talked about emotional engagement. I had not realised that there was emotional markup for text readers (text to speech); Emotion Markup Language (W3C standard)
    • Some great visualisations from Philip Tubman (Lancaster); word clouds and ‘people browsers’ to find relevant comments and people.
  • What is success for MOOCS?
    • Mirjam Hauck: MOOCS are massive – but does ‘success’ require some form of clustering? – eg participants finding (a relatively small number of) like minded people with whom they learn. I found this an intriguing thought and worth exploring further.
  • Future of MOOCs
    • There was great appetite to move from exploration to intervention (eg targeted response by a tutor based on analytics)
    • We discussed institutional drivers and barriers for MOOCS – are institutions starting to absorb the MOOC (blended learning)? See the survey on by James Little
    • MOOCs are no longer a prominent theme at mainstream conferences eg CSCW
      • Perhaps FLAN should put on a workshop at these conferences?

Some interesting comments raised in discussion.

The value in what I say is how you respond.

Rupert Wegerif

Open = I am invited to a dance. Accessible = I am joining the dance.

Garron Hillaire


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