The rise in the number of MOOCs in the past year has been nothing less than astounding. Perhaps even more surprising is the uniformity of the structure used by 99% of these offerings: videos of lectures posted within a very traditional looking LMS along with a discussion board and multiple choice quizzes. It seems strange that an innovation deemed to be so disruptive would follow such a traditional pedagogical model.
Having a course that is entirely open and online certainly presents some unique challenges. The large numbers of students in these courses is no doubt the reason why their creators followed traditional lecture models. However, along with these challenges come opportunities as well. Their scale allows them to participate in large real world projects, alternate reality games, and simulations. This opportunity to engage the real world is especially valuable for the foreign languages.
For as long as people have been learning foreign languages, access to native speakers and authentic materials have been valued. As a result, educators have taken advantage of each new development of the internet. At first teachers used the web as a source of authentic reading materials and later multimedia. As the web became a communicative platform, teachers connected their students with native speakers as part of a language exchange, first via text and then via voice and video. A MOOC in the foreign languages should not follow a model whereby increased enrollment is inversely proportional to the opportunities for feedback and communication available to the student. Instead, it should embrace the open aspect of the course to foster partnerships among language learners, allowing each student to be a tutor of their native language.
With the Mixxer I have already created such a community. Over 100,000 users already use the site to find language partners as part of a mutual exchange for conversational practice. Some of them, including our own students, are enrolled in a traditional course. Most are independent and non-traditional learners looking for an opportunity to communicate that otherwise would be unavailable. For both of these groups, it would be very helpful if I could provide lessons that progressed from beginning to intermediate level grammar and vocabulary and integrated the language exchanges. In many cases, the grammar and vocabulary portion already exists on open content sites produced by universities or governments. I’ve begun creating these lessons using content from the BBC and Voice of America for English and the Cervantes Institute for Spanish. I’ll use these lessons to launch a combination Spanish/English MOOC in the summer. However, to extend these lessons and MOOCs to other language combinations that I do not speak, I will need additional support.
Thank you for considering my proposal. I’ve created a very short video which I will use to help publicize the combination of MOOCs and language exchanges below. It provides a view of the Mixxer website to give a better idea of how the MOOCs can be created within the language exchange community and describes the role ACTFL and other foreign language standardized assessments can play in the future of open language learning.
MOOCs for languages can connect language learners and native speakers
Google Earth and an Introduction to Spatial Literacy – Overlay maps with data or other information, this can be historical data, significant places in literature, etc. Google Earth is simple and easy to use. For more advanced projects Jim Ciarrocca in Academic Technology with introduce you to the ArcGIS software.
Visualizations – Includes networks, timelines, and word trees. Newer tools allow anyone with a basic understanding of Excel to create effective visualizations.
Scholarly Communication – Introduces changes in scholarly publishing and communication. Pay especial attention to Zotero at the end of the notes.
Copyright and Open Content – What rights do you have for re-purposing content on the web, and where to find resources that provide more generous rights to educators.
I only specified the source, target and date fields. Just click the Next for others. Note, it lets you specify the format of your date, mm#dd#yyyy.
That then creates a graph file that can be opened by Gephi. Download and install Gephi. https://gephi.org/
Open Gephi and import the .gexf file you created.
You network will probably look like gibberish at first. To untangle and made sense of it, choose a Layout and click the Run button. I’ve seen Force Atlas 2 mentioned, but I had the most luck with Fruchterman Rheingold. You can then use the hand to tool to move nodes around. Check out the other tools as well, especially the Heat Map. Click the T (text) button on the bottom of the main window to see your labels. The top box on the left is how you determine if weight is displayed by size or color. Click the ranking tab. I set my Nodes to Degree and then chose the color wheel. Choose the diamond to have the node labels size be a reflection of their weight.
When your happy with the structure, click the Preview tab at the top. This is where you’ll make it look pretty, or try. Nodes are the dots, edges are the connecting lines. You’ll probably want to check the box for Node Labels, and note the Proportional Size check box as well. Play with colors, labels, and opacity. If you have a time field, you can also enable the timeline. Important note, you have to hit the Refresh button to see your changes.
While several campus organizations such as WDCV and the college farm use Facebook as a way interacting with the community, Dickinson faculty make greater user of Twitter. Some of our favorite examples:
Ed Webb – Professor Webb’s personal Twitter feed focuses on the Middle East. By continually engaging with a wider audience he’s able to bring his students into a wider discussion with other users from around the world.
Dave Richeson - Professor Richeson uses Twitter as a way of interacting with colleagues with news and questions about math and teaching.
Dickinson College Commentaries - The official Twitter feed of the Dickinson College Commentaries project maintained by Professor Francese includes discussion on the classics, digital humanities and updates from DCC.
The worksheet walks you through step of a creating a historical scenario in Civ IV. It starts with the capabilities provided by the World Builder GUI interface then moves into editing XML files to create new civilizations and technologies. It finishes with a brief introduction to python generated events.
The ini file is a config file for the mod you’re going to create, and the Age of Conquest zip contains the example mod I created for a course.
This semester we lent Sony Readers to a senior seminar in German to see if students would find them useful. It was a small class of only 7 students. In addition to the size, we chose them because the professor had mentioned to me that they seemed to be having trouble understanding the readings despite the fact that they were in the senior seminar and had all studied abroad. It sounded like a good use of the e-readers and the built-in dictionaries.
Last week, I went to talk to the students and hand out very brief surveys. The responses varied, but were generally apathetic. Note taking was more difficult, so most preferred the physical texts. I asked about the dictionaries, and while all said they saw and knew how to use them, they didn’t see any need. Having been abroad so long, they explained, they gathered the meaning of the word from context. This of course belies what their professor had told me about their reading, but I would have been skeptical regardless. I’m pretty sure my reading level in German is well above the average student in the undergraduate course, and I appreciate having the dictionary immensely. Even when the context allows me to either recall or understand an unfamiliar word, checking the official definition helps me refresh and hopefully cement the word in my consciousness.
Otherwise, the only other point on which they were in general agreement was cost. If the savings that came from downloading books for free from the public domain outweighed the cost of an eReader, they would consider purchasing it on their own.
I plan on trying again in the fall, probably with a lower lever class. An introductory literature course may be better since students face a rather large jump in reading from the last language course. Hopefully their need for additional vocabulary will be a nice fit with the dictionaries, and I’ll have to consider suggesting strategies for note taking as well.
I’ve been seeing a lot of interest and examples of data visualization coming via the blogosphere. Stanford has released Data Wrangler in alpha, open source Gephi is in beta, and Google is not allowing users to upload their own data to their visualization tool.
It’s also interesting to see the artistic bent of many of the popular visualizations. Check out the comments below the Facebook visualization, for example. There are also entire sites with a definite artistic bent to the data visualizations. Two of my favorite are infosthetics.com and datavisualization.ch.
For us, this seems like a great potential cross disciplinary project for students in sciences or courses with a stats component to work with art students in order to make a visual argument. I know we already have a large number of science classes who make posters each semester as part of their presentation. Art is a little trickier since we don’t have a graphics design course. While the digital photography students certainly have applicable skills and knowledge, it’s hard to imagine a final project that would fit into their course.
I’ll be co-presenting the introduction of the gaming portion of the Horizon Report at ELI 2011 with Libby Evans from UNC. I’m posting the notes here so everyone will have access to the links of examples. I’m sure I’ll update this again before Monday.
I’m just going to run through a quick series of examples of games used or created in education. These don’t even include those mentioned in the Horizon Report, and I’ll have a link at the end to my notes that includes these games and many others, so don’t worry about catching links as long as you get the last one.
Games as sims – One of the great educational benefits games and simulations have is to demonstrate in a practical manner a problem with a multitude of variables. Players need to first demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of the problem before they can advance. We see many of examples of these in business/economics and with environmental simulations, particularly global warming.
Games are especially effective at promoting understanding and empathy by placing the player in a situation in which they are unaccustomed. Ian Bogost has categorized many of these types of games as “Persuasive Games”. They can be designed to express a political view, desire for social change, or promote a charity. Great for introducing a class to current events, especially those not well covered in the new.
Alice and Kev – Student game designer Robin Burkinshaw set up characters in Sim 3 without money or a home then shared their stories from the game. Also a great example of games, even single person games are social and use social media to connect games, in this case, blogging.
Alternate Reality Games – These games have the real world as their environment. Clues or the story is usually distributed via the internet by a game master then players work together and play in the real world until the puzzle is solved or the story is complete.
Games as creation tools - We tend to think of games as being something that comes pre-packaged and played. More and more games, however, are being used as a creative resource to alter the game itself or to create a new medium. In order to extend shelf life, many publishers (think LittleBigPlanet, Sims, Civiliation) now include tools to make it easier for players to create and modify within the game.
Machinima – creating movies using video from a game.
Skits in foreign languages – Sims comes with camera icon, just click and saves action from game as an avi file. Subtitles and audio can be added via IMovie or any other video editing software
Civ IV Mod - Both Civ IV and now Civ V come with tools to modify any variable in the game including maps, technologies, governments, social policies and populations to create historial scenarios. This mod was created for a class at Dickinson College for students to play the role of Montezuma or Cortes. Discussion focused around the importance of variables not included within the game.
Inform 7 – Is a platform for creating text games (MUDs) aka Zork type games. Keep in mind, even though it’s simplified programming, it’s still programming. Creators layout spaces based on the direction and description then write “if then” statements based on what the player may type. We had students create a scenario based on their research of life under a fascist regime of their choice.)
Scirra – A free and open source platform for creating games. While the user doesn’t need to know a programming language, the logic is the same. Objects are created, then each user action (clicking etc) must correspond to an event (player moves forward, block changes color, etc). Has the look and feel of visual basic. The creation of the game itself is an intellectual undertaking. Would make a for a fascinating intro to programming course. Be sure to check the forum for starting tutorials. Also keep in mind .99 is permanent beta, they’re skipping to 2.0 due to memory issues.
The Moonbase Alpha isn’t used in a course I’ve found, but it’s a good example of industry working with the government to develop an educational game. It’s multiuser and requires collaboration, according to the NASN blurb.
Finally, the MIT game suite looks terrific… except they’re just prototypes, so there’s no link to the games. The descriptions for each game are really well-done and can provide a guide for how to think about games and learning.
Easy to make badges. Email those who earned it (can't just provide a link after they accomplished something) Works with BadgeOS (sp?) plugin on WP. Looks like also Drupal modules. Make sure anything works with Mozilla Backpack. That's like the storage location that will allow you to put them in, and users can display elsewhere. […]