Saturday, November 11, 2017

Week 6. Unit of Work

The following contains two sections from a complete unit of work. The first section contains a reworked version of an Open Education resource for Otago Polytechnic. The second section is original work.

Section 1

Activity: What is Literacy?

(From Open Polytechnic course: Literacy and Numeracy for Learning, Module 1, CC License)

Requirements: Look at some definitions (see links) for literacy and create your own definition based on your understanding. Write the definition below, then share your definition on the class wiki.


  1. Read p. 7 of Te Kawai Ora report by the Maori Adult Literacy Reference Group in 2001 to the Hon. Tariana Turia (A summary of this can be found on thisisgraeme – link: Maori Literacy Definition from Te Kawai Ora Including Executive Summary)
  2. Workbase – Adult Literacy
  3. Education Development Centre – Why Does Literacy Matter?
  4. Queensland Govt – Literacy and Numeracy Fact Sheet


Section 2

Assessment: The Whakapapa of Literacy and Numeracy in New Zealand

Your first assessment deals with the historical development of literacy and numeracy in New Zealand. There are three readings below. These readings contain all the information you need, to understand the relevant, critical, historical events that have led to the current status of literacy and numeracy in New Zealand.
Read about these events carefully. For the purpose of the assessment, select a date that is important to you personally. It may be that you had a grandparent who was punished at school for speaking his/her own language, it could be that your family came from another country speaking a language other than English as your first language, it could be that your aunt was taught to read using phonetics at school, or it could be that you had a good friend who was part of a rural community using correspondence courses to learn school subjects. You need to select someone to help you. You will need to interview that special someone and answer questions like:

  • Could you please tell me about …?
  • What effect did … have on your literacy/numeracy?

  1.  thisisgraeme – History of Māori Literacy and Numeracy: Key events and initiatives
  2.  ACE - Fifty Years of Learning: A history of adult and community education in Aotearoa from the 1960s to the present day
  3. Tertiary Education Commission – Getting Results in Numeracy and Literacy

Some events you could consider (this is just a sample of events and they are not in chronological order!)

  • Draft Tertiary Education Strategy
  • More Than Words: The New Zealand Adult Literacy Strategy
  • The first school in New Zealand
  • The Native Schools Act
  • The first adult literacy scheme established in Hawke’s Bay
  • Te Whare Wānanga o Raukawa was set up
  • Pathways Awarua went online
  • The Adult Literacy Achievement Framework (ALAF) was developed
  • Employment training schemes included basic literacy skills
  • The first Correspondence School classes began
  • The Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment was set up
  • The first kōhanga reo were established


  • Click on the Google Slides Link
  • Find your date on the Whakapapa Timeline
  • Check the date on the timeline – you may need to change it to show a month
  • Run the presentation
  • Click your event dot (N.B. only the little filled-in dots are links – large dots with a blank centre are time markers only!)
  • The dot will take you to the right slide – make sure you identify your slide number
  • Edit your slide
  • Check the date in the title is correct before you edit the slide!
  • You have three questions to answer about your event
  • There is room to add your video interview or voiced over presentation to the slide
  • Keep saving as you work – you do NOT want to lose your work
  • The interview requirements are listed below

If your date does not appear on the Timeline, please feel free to add a dot (N.B. if you add a dot, you must copy an empty slide from the end of the presentation and add it in chronological order. Then, you must also hyperlink the dot to the correct slide.) Dates on the Timeline are already linked to the correct slide.

Please note, if you feel confident with your level of digital skill, you can change the layout of your slide, as long as all the required elements are present.

*N.B. July 1997 has been done for you as an exemplar.
The video interview for July 1997 is also available on Youtube.

Interview requirements:

  • Find someone to interview who was personally involved in the event, knows about the event in detail from whanau or friends, or is very knowledgeable regarding the event.
  • Check the accuracy of the information before you publish your video/presentation.
  • The interview must not be shorter than two minutes or longer than six minutes.
  • You can use any media to create the video/presentation as long as we can hear the interviewee’s voice.
  • Make sure you have the permission of the person interviewed to use the video in a format that can be viewed by the general public.

Marking Criteria:
This assessment will either be marked Complete or Incomplete.
If you have excellent information, a good interview, and the presentation is professional, you can achieve a Merit.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand License.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Next Battle for Openness: Data, Algorithms, and Competency Mapping

I must admit to quite a remarkable change of heart after this week’s videos and readings. At the start of the week, I read “The Next Battle for Openness: Data, Algorithms, and Competency Mapping” and I had a moment’s panic! What do I know about any of those things? I may have a fairly good grasp of the science of learning, but I am only a novice instructional designer, and I know nothing whatsoever about being a data scientist or behavioural economist! However, I now understand so much more about learning analytics, and the collection and usage of learner data. I was introduced to the work of Candace Thielle and was blown away by her use of adaptive learning “long before it was cool”!
Stephen Downes, George Siemens, & David Wiley

I have followed the work of George Siemens and Stephen Downes for a number of years, and, since the start of this course, have a profound respect for David Wiley. I currently provide staff development. That is the work of the Tertiary Teaching Unit. My area of responsibility is that of elearning. I can imagine how incredibly valuable it would be to have a system that bundled up analytic information and translated the work of the underlying algorithms into real language that our lecturers could use and understand. I have worked with lecturers who have a profound knowledge of learning pedagogies and practices in some faculties, but I have also worked with lecturers holding multiple PhDs and/or years of work-place experience, in areas such as civil engineering and maritime logistics, who really have no understanding of learning pedagogy or practice. Many of these lecturers are faced with considerable barriers, including English as a second, third, or even fourth language.
My institution, Manukau Institute of Technology

Yes, the process of collecting learner information leading to efficient and facilitative learning environments, needs to be open. As Norman Bier (2017) indicated, “I think we are already in a world where data-driven approaches and materials are already being developed, adopted and embraced – by vendors, by schools, by foundations and by government. The future is already here”. Bier (2017) indicated that research has already shown lower costs, improved results, and the expedited understanding that leads to new pedagogy and innovative practice. Mention was made of ethical concerns. I appreciate these exist, but found so much that was impelling and inspiring, that I would rather leave the negative arguments for another discussion entirely.
Norman Bier

Bier (2017) warned against the learning analysis systems operating as business models offering subscription services. He saw this as counter-intuitive to the whole open movement. He cautioned about the urgency of openness in learning analytics as “proprietary solutions have made enormous inroads in claiming the data-driven space for their own”. He suggested full transparency to inform decision-making. He further suggested that transparency would facilitate the identification and remediation of biases introduced to the digital sphere by individual coders and developers. “And the transparency that’s inherent in the open approach is the best way that I know to ensure this work can happen” (Bier, 2017).
Candace Thiell

I was very grateful for watching the video recording of Candace Thiell and not just relying on the written article. Thiell was interviewed by EdSurge (2017) for the Thought Leader Interview Series when she was in attendance at the Arizona State University, plus Global Silicon Valley (ASU+GSV) Summit. GSV are a group of companies and entrepreneurs who are developing technology to transform the world of work and education. At 16 minutes, 30 seconds, the video includes a large segment that resonated with me (not in the article). She spoke about mindset and working with algorithms that used principles of mindset. As part of my PhD research, I have incorporated mindset analysis.

At Stanford, Thiell has worked with mindset guru, Carol Dweck. For an explanation of fixed versus growth mindsets, see the two, brief videos below.

Dweck’s growth mindset suggests that the brain is strengthened through struggle. Mindset interventions have been introduced into courseware. Before the introduction of complex problems, the courseware introduces “booster interventions” that educate the students on how the brain works. Data collected reveals that mindset intervention has led to students persisting for longer periods and achieving a greater amount of learning.

Another colleague of Thiell’s, Ryan Baker, has introduced affect detectors, picking up on the learner’s affectual condition. The introduction of timed mindset interventions when material is cognitively complex together with information on the affective state of the learner, seems to be a most effective, positive inclusion in to courseware. This is a most remarkable example of using the power of the algorithm to make a teaching decision.
Ryan Baker * affect detectors

It seems appropriate to end with some thoughts from Stephen Downes (2017) from The Next Battle for Openness. Downes always thinks outside of the box. He suggested that the challenges for openness may not be limited to the types of data but to the way that data will be used. He referred to George Orwell’s “thought crime” and whether we could be open with the way we think. He discussed the possibility of mind-to-mind direct communication. That is not such an outrageous suggestion. Back in 1982, when I was engaged in research into mutual hypnosis, I had evidence of telepathic communication under mutual hypnosis. So, how open will mind-to-mind communication be?
The future of communication? Open or not?

Downes speculated further about combining genetic and algorithmic data to end up with a hybrid human-machine language. Would this be open? Would it be ethical? Downes (2017) stated, “A lot of the issues of ethics and what it means to be a person and what it means to be a society are going to be challenged by the new possibilities of creating, manipulating, and sharing new kinds of information. And I think openness is going to be challenged by these things”. We really cannot conceive all the possibilities that we may face in the future. Whatever happens, progress in learning and education needs to be open, collegial, and shared, so that we can find solutions to problems that may yet arise, together.
Forward Woman Artifical Intelligence Robot

Friday, November 3, 2017

Research on OER Impact and Effectiveness

Most of the readings set for Week Five dealt with research into the use of OERs. A review was covered in a research shorts video from YouTube entitled A Review of the Effectiveness & Perceptions of Open Educational Resources as Compared to Textbooks (based on Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: A review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590) This review examined 16 empirical studies of courses where OERs had replaced traditional textbooks. The research studies focussed on either the learning objectives and success rates or on the perceptions of students and lecturers regarding OERs. Only one out of the 16 studies found a lower success rate for some students using OERs. The general consensus was that OER use was effective with higher test results and lower rates of failure and/or drop-out. It is noted that researchers appreciated the limitations of their studies and did not attribute direct causality in their conclusions.
Review of Hilton, 2016

The video narrative contained an instance of inaccurate reporting when it stated, “A sizable majority felt that OER were of better quality than traditional textbooks. About half said that they were of similar quality. And only a few thought that OER were inferior”. If you read the original report by Hilton (2016) the statistics are: 33% viewed OER positively, 50% saw OERs and traditional textbooks as of a similar quality, and 17% viewed OERs as inferior. There is no way you can call 33% “a sizable majority”, when a majority implies that it is over half! Still, the results do indicate that both lecturers and students were positive in their perceptions of OER: students valuing the “free” part of OERs, and lecturers appreciating the high quality and flexibility of OERs. My favourite question from Hilton (2016) has to be: “If the average college student spends approximately $1,000 per year on textbooks and yet performs scholastically no better than the student who utilizes free OER, what exactly is being purchased with that $1,000?” This is a question well worth considering.
What is being purchased with that $1,000?

Weller (2012) in a discussion of The openness-creativity cycle in education described the open scholar and the relationship between OERs and creativity. This article comes from the Open University (OU) in the UK. The mission statement from the OU is 'Open to people, places, methods and ideas'. The OU has long been renowned for its open access policies and has been the source of a lot of research into open access.
OU, 1969

Weller (2012) defined a number of related aspects of open education, but the one that was most meaningful to me was the open scholar. The open scholar combines the creation of digital artefacts with a socially oriented distribution network. The open scholar, in my opinion, represents the core of learning in terms of a connectivist pedagogy. I see myself as an open scholar. According to Weller (2012), the open scholar creates, uses, and contributes open content, self-archives, applies his/her own open research, shares, supports open learning initiatives, comments on others, publishes in open access journals, and builds networks. This is the direction in which I have been moving for almost a decade.
Lead educator of SLENZ - my workshop participants

Creativity is high in the list of characteristics of the open scholar. I consider the work I have done creative. I have open research data available on both virtual world projects in which I have taken a lead role. I was lead educator for the foundation build, part of the Second Life Education New Zealand (SLENZ) project. The initial results of this data are available at: Second Life Education in New Zealand: Evaluation Research Final Report The initial research for my literacy game, The Mythical World of Hīnātore, is available here: Literacy game in a virtual world Here are a few pictures of both builds. I have had very positive perceptions from both students and lecturers who have participated in my research. However, the research was not focussed on the aspect of openness but on either the gaming or simulation aspects of the builds. It would be interesting to look further into the impact both builds have made due to the fact they were both created using NZ 3.0 CC licensing. 
Koru SLENZ Foundation build
Literacy game, The Mythical World of Hīnātore

Having taught in an open entry foundation course for nearly a decade, I have always been interested in research into open entry, open access programmes. Dr Barry Hodges from the University of Newcastle in Australia reviewed research into open entry/open access courses (reported in a review I wrote (2017) in Mana Rangahau Issue 1). He concluded that the research evidence indicated that open entry/open access courses suffered from the challenge of four deficits: the challenge of achievement with high drop-out and low success rates; the challenge of academic standards, i.e. accepting failure or lowering standards; the challenge of student support – ““Opportunity without support is not access”; and, the challenge of multiple discourses, acknowledging students who are proficient in discourses other than the dominant. He suggested rejecting the deficit model and creating a dynamic university culture embodying a multiplicity of sub-cultures, each imbued with their own discourses, literacies, and processes.
Me surrounded by my wonderful students

The narrative approach to research must be as important as collecting a mass of statistics. It is incredibly difficult to indicate the effectiveness of an approach to education in terms of causality. There are so many factors that impact on our students and their learning. Switching to an OER may seem to make a positive difference to a group of students. But, it could also be attributed to the motivation of increased digital material and less reliance on the printed page. A number of my own students have conducted research into the use of little OERs (as opposed to big OERs – see Weller, 2012). Some have incorporated OER puzzles, games, and video content into their courses and found the students most receptive to the changes. However, perhaps the positive results obtained could be attributable to their own increased motivation and passion and how these characteristics have been passed on to the students. It is easier to identify causality when examining individual stories and how changes have impacted in particular cases. An interesting opportunity for research has been created by the new government in New Zealand, a result of the election held last month. Our new Prime Minster, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, has promised that all new tertiary students will receive their first year of tertiary study for free (see the video link below).
Jacinda Ardern, NZ PM (for video link, click the photo)

I imagine a priority for the new Labour Government will be to prove, through research, the benefits of instituting this policy at a national level. However, I tend to be sceptical of politically inspired research and believe that individual institutions should look at the effects in terms of their own students. Stephen Downes, in his video, Research on OER Impact and Effectiveness, made a couple of very important points. He questioned the actual meaning of research and the meaning of impact. Stephen recommends that the information that is needed yet not done, is research into how open resources help society. Yes! OEEs should have a long-term impact on a person’s sense of personal worth and their value to society. In Stephen’s own words: “I see research on grades and graduation rates and course completions and crap like that. And I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in how open resources help society”. I am currently working on my PhD in education, examining the effectiveness of my own literacy game. I have already conducted extensive research using numbers and quantitative data. This has all indicated a positive perception of the game and how it has improved sentence structure and grammar in student’s formal writing. Now, I am looking at narrative, and how the game has personally impacted on select subjects, both short and long-term. The results I have obtained are interesting in that the qualitative data supports the quantitative data. My game may not be a very apt example of seeing something change society but I have seen a game change a mother-son relationship, a son’s progress at school, and a student’s decision-making processes in areas unrelated to the original written literacy in the game. 
Comments on the literacy game - looking back