#ocTEL Forum Discussions: Week 0

As part of my attempt to “cluster” the material gathered during the ocTEL MOOC and also document my contribution to different discussions and groups, I have decided to group them here on a week by week basis. This organization could well change as the course evolves over the coming weeks.


I am already feeling a bit bewildered by all the information, exchanges, questions I have found here on the first day. I have been dabbling with TEL for quite some time (I began about 10 years ago) and I have continued to be interested in the whole area. Recently, things have started to take off and move into another dimension and I must admit that I’m having some difficulty keeping up (which is why I’m here). I have a feeling that things are going so fast now that we don’t even have the time to evaluate the impacts/results of some of the recent innovations and there seems to me to be an almost lemming-like charge forward – I just hope we’re not rushing towards the edge of the cliff.

One of my short lecture courses has recently been transformed into an “interactive online session” which was a very interesting experience as a lecturer to find myself being filmed in a studio, outside etc. and having to learn how to “sequence” the lecture and adapt it to the new medium. There are advantages for me in terms of being able to reach more students in more places, but the phase of getting the student feedback and assessing the learning outcomes is only now begininng.

I am convinced that there are some great things that can be done to enhance the experience of teachers and learners by integrating technology, and I’m also sure that there are some pitfalls that we need to avoid. I’d like to try and make sure that I am able enhance my experience and that of my students as much as possible by making the most informed choices and I’m counting on the exchanges during this course to help me be able to make those choices.

Looking forward to working and exchaning with you.

Hello Grant, I hear, and respect, your anxiety about “where all this is heading” and whether we’re in danger of getting swept along with it. I hope ocTEL will help you make sense of it – but it will only help you make sense of it; it won’t make sense of it for you.

It’s natural and OK to feel a little bit bewildered in the first few days. That’s what Week 0 is for – to help you find your feet. Please keep in mind theguidance in the handbook about being selective. You do not have to keep up with everything. In fact you would be silly to try.

Could you say more about the questions and issues that really matter to you? And what might it look like if this course could help you address them? If you can develop a picture of the help you’re hoping to get from the course, then you will have a clear direction you can pursue – and you can afford to be ruthless about ignoring the stuff that doesn’t help you.

Hi David,

Thanks for the advice and the encouragement. I’ve actually participated in quite a few on-line courses over the years but they all began with a f2f component, involved small numbers of participants and had very focused topics. They also only used one platform (Blackboard).

I have the impression here of having walked into a very lively party (festival?) where there are all sorts of things going on at the same time and it’s all just a bit of a blur at the moment. Anyway, I’m enjoying wandering around and just taking it all in and trying things out.

I have created a blog to “cluster” and have created a Tweeter account as it was starting to get embarrassing not having one (got the account and tried 3 times unsuccessfully to tweet here!).

I liked the model by Dave Cormier (Orient, Declare, Network, Cluster and Focus) and that also seems to be what you are suggesting so that’s what I’ll try and do.

I will think about your questions and post again later.

Hi David,

I have apparently caused a bit of confusion in some parts with my references to “Tweeter” – it is, of course, “Twitter” but it gets deformed here in France because of the pronunciation.

To go back to your questions. There are a few things I’d really like to be able to do with technology to enhance learning:

1)      Make my courses less teacher-centred and more focused on the student, perhaps by flipping them much more.

2)      Use technology to increase the amount of collaboration between students and between me and the students.

3)      Find ways to use the technology to make the learning more individualized and relevant to the specific needs of each student – basically to have things as much as possible tailor-made rather than off the peg.

4)      To find ways to allow technology into the classroom in ways that are relevant to the content and activities that we are doing – I don’t want to have to keep going through the ritual “turn off your computers and phones, you won’t be needing them in this class”.

All of this, of course, with the aim of improving the knowledge and skills of my students, increasing the interaction between them (and me) and building strong and enjoyable working relationships in an open and respectful environment.

Oh, and a final thought – it needs to be able to be done without obliging me to work evenings and weekends – because I already work these 😉


4 thoughts on “#ocTEL Forum Discussions: Week 0

  1. Hi Grant, really impressed by the thoroughness with which you’ve followed this through. I hope the four questions you’ve articulated here will guide your involvement in the rest of the course. Of course, you can alway revise them, prioritise them, and just focus on one or two. All the best!

  2. Thanks David, I think I will be forced to focus more as the course goes on as there is just so much material out there and so many discussions going on. My learning style is very much hands-on and I think what might work best for me is to use the MOOC to actually set up one of my classes next year as a protoype to see just exactly what I can do. And I think I might know just which course to use 😉

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