LATs, OER, TPACK, and GitHub

The following is an attempt to think about the inter-connections between the paper “Open Educational Resources (OERs) for TPACK Development” presented by Mark Hofer and Judi Harris at SITE’2016 and the Moodle OpenBook project and my own teaching.

First, is a description of what the open courses they’ve developed and what the students do. Second, is some early thinking of how this might link to EDC3100 and the Moodle open book project.

Learning Activity Types as OER/open courses

The paper offers a rationale and description of the development of two short, open courses designed to help primary and secondary pre-service teachers use learning activity types (LATs) to develop their TPACK.

Hofer and Harris (2016) describe them this way

The asynchronous, online “short courses” for preservice teachers that we have created are divided into eight brief, sequential modules…Each module begins with an overview and learning goal for the segment, and is presented as video-based content that includes narrated slides, interviews with practicing teachers, imagery, and additional online resources. Each of the videos ranges from 2-8 minutes in length, and includes verbatim closed captioning.

In completing the courses the students

  • Reflect on examples of ICT and pedagogy they’ve previously seen.
  • Select three lesson plans from a curated collection of plans from pre-service teachers.
  • Analyse those lesson plans: objectives, standards, types of learning activities, how learning is assessed, and the use of digital technologies.
  • Practice replacing one ill-fitting activity types from another sample lesson with other types of activity type that better fit the learning goal.
  • Consider substituting different technologies in the sample plan and discuss reasoning.
  • Review portions of interviews with an experience teacher.
  • Use selected plans from before to choose a LAT taxonomy and explore that taxonomy.
  • Think about replacing activity types and technolgoies and discuss.
  • Create their own lesson plan.
  • Subject their lesson plan to two self-tests called “Is it worth it?”

Hofer and Harris (2016)

We consciously erred on the side of the materials being perhaps too prescriptive and detailed for more experienced and/or advanced learners, since we suspected that it would be easier for other users to remove some of the content than to have to create additional supports.

Moodle open book and my course

In EDC3100 we cover similar ground and the content of these short courses could be a good fit. However, the model used in the course is a little different in terms of implementation. The short course content would need to be modified a bit. Something thought of by the Hofer and Harris (2016)

This is why we have released the courses in a modularized (easier-to-modify) format, along with an invitation to mix, remix, and otherwise customize the materials according to the needs of different groups of teacher-learners and the instructional preferences of their professors. The Creative Commons BY-SA license under which these short courses were released stipulates only that the original authors (and later contributors) are attributed in all succeeding derivatives of the work, and that those derivatives are released under the same BY-SA license

My course is implemented within Moodle. It uses the Moodle book module to host the content. The Moodle open book project has connected the Moodle book module with Github. The aim being to make it easier to release content in the Moodle book out to broader audiences. To enable the sharing and reuse of OERs, just like these courses.

While the technical side of the project is basically finished (it could use some more polishing before official release) there’s a large gulf between having a tool that shared Moodle book content via github and actually using it to share and reuse OERs, especially OERs that are actually used in more than one context. The LAT short courses appear to provide a perfect test bed for this.

Hofer and Harris (2016)

For teacher educators who would like to try the course “as is,” we have developed the content as a series of modules within the BlackBoard learning management system and have exported it as a content package file which can be imported into a variety of other systems. With either no changes or minor edits, the short courses in their current forms can be used within existing educational technology and teaching methods courses.

I’m assuming that the content package file will be able to be imported into Moodle, and perhaps even into the Book module.  It would be interesting to explore how well that process works and how immediately usable I (and others) think the content might be in EDC3100.

If I then make changes in response to the context and share them via the Moodle open book and Github, it would be interesting to see how useful/usable those changes and Github are to others. In particular, how useful/usable the Github version would be in comparison to the the LMS content package and the current “Weebly” versions of the courses.

I suspect that while Github provides enhanced functionality for version control (Weebly offers none), I’m not convinced that teacher educators will find that functionality accessible both in terms of technical knowledge, existing processes and practices around web content, and perhaps due to the contextual changes made.  Also, while GitHub handles multiple versions very well, the Moodle open book doesn’t yet support this well.

Putting the LAT courses into the Moodle open book seems to provide the following advantages:

  1. Provides a real test for the Moodle open book that will reveal its shortcomings.
  2. Provide a useful resource (optional for now) for EDC3100 students and also potentially for related courses I’ll need to develop in the future.
  3. Enable the community around LATs and the short courses experiment with a slightly different format.

I think I’ve convinced myself to try this out with the secondary LAT course as an initial test case. Just have to find the time to do it.

SITE’2016: LATs, OER, and SPLOTs?

SITE’2016 is almost finished, so it’s past time I started sharing some of the finds and thoughts that have arisen. There’s been a (very small) bit of movement around the notion of open. I’ll write about LATs and OER and some possibilities in another post. This post is meant to explore the possibility of adapting some of the TPACK learning activities shared by @Keane_Kelly during her session into SPLOTs.

It’s really only an exploration of what might be involved, what might be possible, and how well that might fit with the perceived needs I have in my course(s), but at the same time make something that breaks out of those confines. I’m particularly interested in Reil and Polin’s idea around residue of experiences and rich learning environments.

Over time, the residue of these experiences remains available to newcomers in the tools, tales, talk, and traditions of the group. In this way, the newcomers find a rich environment for learning. (p. 18)

As most of my teaching and software development work has had to live within an LMS, I’m also a novice at the single web page application technology (and SPLOTs).

What is a SPLOT?


Simplest Possible Learning Online Tools. SPLOTs are developed with two key principles in mind: 1) to make sharing cool stuff on the web as simple as possible, and 2) to let users do so without having to create accounts or divulge any personal data whatsoever.

The work by @cogdog builds on WordPress, but I’m wondering if something similar might be achieved using some form of single web page application?

i.e. a single web page that anyone could download and start using. No need for an account. Someone teaching a course might include this in a class. Someone with a need to learn a bit more about the topic could just use it and gain some value from it.

TPACK learning activities

Kelly’s presentation introduced four learning activities she uses to help students in an Educational Technology course develop their understanding about the TPACK framework. They are fairly simple, mostly offline, but appear to be fairly effective. My question is whether they can be translated into an online form, and an online form that is widely shareable – hence the interest in the SPLOT idea.

Vocabulary target review

In this activity the students are presented with a target (using a Google drawing) and a list of vocabulary related to TPACK (though this could be used for anything). The students then place the vocab words on the target. The more certain they are of the definition, the more “on target” the place the words. This then feeds into discussions.

At some level, through the use of Google drawing it’s already moving toward a SPLOT.

What if the students are entirely online, and especially with a tendency to asynchronous study? How might this be adapted to anyone, anytime and provide them with an access to the residue of experience of previously participants?

One approach might be something like a single web-page application that

  1. Presents that target and a list of vocab words that the user can place as appropriate.
    This list of vocab words could be hard-coded into the application. Or, perhaps the specific application (you could produce different versions for different vocab) could be linked to a Google doc or some other source of JSON data. The application gets the list of vocab words from that source.
  2. Once submitted the application could allow the user to view the mappings from previous users. This could be filtered by various ways.
    The assumption is that the application is storing the mappings of users somewhere. The representation might highlight other mappings that are related in someway to the user’s map.
  3. View provided definitions.
    Having provided their mapping the user could now gain access to definitions of the terms. There might be multiple definitions. Some put into the system at the start, some contributed by other users (see next step).
  4. Identify the most useful definitions.
    The interface might provide a mechanism by which the user can “like” definitions that help them.
  5. Provide a definition.
    Whether this occurs at this stage or earlier, the user could be asked to provide a definition for one or more terms after/prior to seeing the definitions of others.
  6. Remap their understanding.
    Having finished (more activity could be designed in the above) the user moves the words to represent any change in their understanding of the words. The system could track and display how much change has occurred and compare it with the changes reported by others.

TPACK game

The second activity is a version of the TPACK game (or this video). A game that is already available online, but not as a flexible object that people can manipulate and reuse. Immediate thought is the following might help make a “more SPLOT” version of the TPACK game

  1. Provide a single web page application that implements a variety of ways to interact with the TPACK game.
    For example,

    • The current version has people trying to identify a third element of TPACK given the other two. Which appears to be the version used by @Keane_Kelly
    • Another version might be to show a full set of three and ask people to reflect on whether or not the combination is a good fit, one they’ve seen before, not a good fit, and why.
  2. Provide the capacity to provide answers to to the application that are stored and perhaps reused.
    For example, the two different versions of the game above could be combined so that if someone suggests a particular combination in the first one that has already been “evaluated” they could be shown what others have though of it and why.
  3. Provide the capacity to share and modify the values for T, P and C.
    The current online version of the game plus @Keane_Kelly appear to have their own set of values for T, P, and C. Kelly mentioned the need to keep the Technology updated over time, but there’s broader value in keeping a growing list of values for all.  As there is also for customising some.  e.g. some technologies won’t always make sense in all environments, but in particular the content might be something to customise, e.g. for a specific curriculum or topic area.

    If it were an online application that used some sort of shared data space, it could be grown through use. It should also be possible to modify which data store is used, to support customisation to a particular context.