Posts tagged resources
Over the next few months, Farzana Latif (School of Health Sciences) and I will be investigating the possible uses of OpenBadges at City. OpenBadges are based on the same idea as the ones awarded to Scouts: they are a visual recognition that a person has mastered a particular skill. Skills acquisition is a very important part of learning, but formal qualifications often mask these in favour of examination results, so we want to look at whether there would be benefits in introducing a badges-based mechanism to enable students to show their skills and competencies, in addition to their grades. This project is being supported by the Learning Development Centre as one of their Learning Development Projects for 2012/13, and would be interested in hearing from City staff and students who want to give us their views.
OpenBadges been developed by the Mozilla Foundation (makers of the Firefox web browser among other things) specifically with education in mind, and so have security and verification features built into them which mean that it very difficult for a student to fake their award. They can also be set to expire automatically, so could be used for other purposes such as limited-time authorisations.
Skills are acquired in all disciplines, some of them common to most, such as academic writing, and others specific to particular ones. The following is a list of example skills that badges could be used to expose and ‘certify’, and how they might benefit students and staff:
- A nursing student is required to learn particular clinical skills, but on completion of the module the specifics skills learned become clouded by the grade for the assessments. With badges, it would be possible for the student to build a public profile that showcases the specific skills he acquired during the module.
- A mechanical engineering student needs to have undertaken general safety training and a specific training session prior to being able to use a particular piece of equipment, and needs a refresher every year. With badges, it becomes possible to check whether a student has completed the necessary training before allowing them on the equipment. The badges would automatically expire each year and so the badges would always be current.
- Two computing students are on the same programme. One takes elective modules in advanced programming and the other takes electives on systems analysis. On completion of their modules the students are awarded badges that highlight their chosen specialism.
- A student is elected president of one of the student union societies. On completion of her term of office she is awarded a badge to ‘certify’ this fact.
- A supervisor uses badges to help identify whether a particular student has the necessary skills to undertake a proposed final project.
One institution that has already implemented a badge-based recognition system is Purdue University in the US. There, students can earn badges and then produce profiles which show of different combinations of them, so that employers can see the ones that are relevant to them.
There is growing interest in the use of badges to recognise informal learning and skills acquisition, and this project should allow City to make an informed decision about whether they are right for us. So please add any comments you may have below.
Earlier this month, the Mozilla Foundation announced an interesting new free online tool, Popcorn Maker.
Popcorn Maker is an online service that lets people take a video from YouTube, Vimeo or other online source and add layers of extra information. These can be simple things like text, photos and links, but the really interesting ones are the live, interactive ones, such as live twitter feeds and Google maps.
The original video is not modified and doesn’t need to be owned by you either, so you can re-purpose third-party materials to add new learning contexts. A nice feature is that any video edited using Popcorn Maker, can be easily ’remixed’ by others, so people can build on each other’s work.
The tool all runs in a web browser (Mozilla’s Firefox preferred, of course) and works like a very basic video editor. You simply drop elements onto the video timeline and configure them in a side menu.
It looks like a promising tool – imagine a video about a landmark event and being able to browse around a map of the location or read more on the related Wikipedia article, all as part of the video. It will certainly cause people to start to rethink the purpose of video for learning.
Today saw the unveiling of an online tool to help teachers and learning technologists to identify software to support particular pedagogic approaches, or to highlight the pedagogic uses of specific software. It currently has only 40 or so entries, but we will be working on it to add more and to include other features, such as case studies and help guides. There are several ways to filter the list of applications according to specific requirements, and we will be adding new categories as time goes on. We also have plans to create similar pages for hardware and Moodle functionality in the near future.
The tool was developed by me and two other City colleagues, James Toner (City Law School) and Farzana Latif (School of Health Sciences). You can find it at http://www.cityunihealth.co.uk/appsSimile/web2tools.html. We hope that this will become a resource that people can use to get ideas and share feedback about how specific software can help support pedgogic activities, we would be very interested in any comments, feedback or tool suggestions you may have.
Last week I went to the Science Museum to take a look at their recent Augmented Reality ‘tour’. This received a reasonably high-profile launch in the spring, mainly due to the ‘tour guide’ being Top Gear’s James May. It was a very underwhelming experience, though.
The Good bits
The technology is actually quite good and allows the user to view the ‘augmentation’ from 360 degrees, i.e. if you go behind the projected James May, you’ll see his back. This is impressive and could be useful in many disciplines, especially Engineering and Health, where it would allow artifacts to be viewed from any angle. For example, placing a virtual engine into a real engine bay and seeing where it sticks out or would interrupt aerodynamic performance from any angle, or seeing whether an artificial organ would come into contact with any other organs in the body.
The main selling point is that James May is the ‘guide’. This is great if you like James May and his presenting style – personally I find him and his strange cadence and emphases to be Jeremy Clarkson-lite, so this isn’t a selling point for me.
That’s all the good bits!
The Bad bits More >
The EdX initiative was started in 2011 by MIT and aims to provide free, certified, online education to anyone who is interested and motivated enough to take part in the programme. It is different from a typical MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) programme in that the tutors and the materials are the same as those on the equivalent on-campus course, rather than simply volunteers, and students will receive a certificate from the institution upon successful completion.
Following a highly successful test run last year with the Circuits and Electronics from MIT, the programme has been expanded to include the following modules from MIT, Harvard and UC Berkley:
I’m currently at a conference and have seen something that might interest staff in SEMS. Autodesk have been creating some extremely slick and engaging videos on Sustainable Engineering topics. These include videos, slides and other resources which can be freely used for education.
The resources are available at sustainabilityworkshop.autodesk.com and are well worth a look.