Report on usage of and recommendations for instructional modeling specifications
Our latest report as part of the ICOPER project relates to instructional modeling specifications. We have formulated recommendations on how higher education institutions can use specifications for instructional models in their teaching practices. We also show in the report the evidence on which we base our recommendations. Authors of the report are Michael Derntl, Susanne Neumann, Dai Griffiths and Petra Oberhuemer.
ICOPER Webinar: outcome-based learning opportunitiesMy colleagues Jad Najjar and Michael Derntl held a webinar together with me as part of the ICOPER webinar series on "implementing standards to develop interoperable e-content". Our webinar focused on planning learning outcome oriented learning opportunities, where some parts focused on the pedagogical setup and some parts focused on the technical aspects such as standardized description of learning outcomes. You can watch the recording of the webinar.
Report on using instructional modeling in higher educationMy colleagues and I have been working over the past four months on our report that demonstrates the results of our instructional modeling work package as part of the ICOPER project. Petra Oberhuemer is now performing a final spell check on the document, and I hope to publish a link to it soon. Our last report on the standardized description of instructional models was well received, for instance by Stephen Downes (whom we also managed to recruit as an external reviewer for our upcoming report), and was cited by Rita Kop, a learning design colleague with the National Research Council Canada.
Teachers' Understanding of IMS Learning Design: Yes they can!
Together with my colleagues Michael Derntl, Dai Griffiths and Petra Oberhuemer we published an article on an investigation into teachers' understanding of IMS Learning Design. This article will appear in this year's EC-TEL conference proceedings (Lecture Notes in Computer Science). Here is the abstract of the article:
In order to understand whether conceptual obscurity is truly the reason for the slow uptake of IMS Learning Design (LD), we have initiated an investigation into teachers' understanding of IMS LD outside of technological environments. Using paper representations of IMS LD component and method elements at levels A and B ("snippets"), 21 higher education teachers from nine countries recreated a prescribed textual learning design. Results showed that the teachers achieved an average conformity of 78% with a prototypical expert solution after watching a 45-minute IMS LD introduction. Despite successfully using IMS LD's elements, teachers reported having difficulties understanding the concepts environment, property, role-part, and condition. We conclude that the specification per se does not present an insuperable obstacle for teachers, and that from a usability perspective the calls for a new or modified LD specification might be premature, since most obstacles can be overcome with appropriate abstractions in LD tools.
IMS LD Report published in iJETThe International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning has published our report on the results of the IMS Learning Design Expert Workshop in its current issue. Please access the article! (Free registration is necessary to download the article)
GLM 1.0 now on sourceforge.net
Philipp Prenner has uploaded our latest version of the Graphical Learning Modeller (GLM) onto sourceforge.net. Currently, we have Windows and Linux versions available for download. You may also have a look at the source code, since this is an open source project. Version 1.0 of the GLM features copy & paste functionalities, an activity icon legend (we finally managed), and improved export error messages. You can still use all functionalities as before: Create your learning design in the graphical workspace and export it in a format that is conformant to the IMS Learning Design Specification. You can employ level B functionalities via "Add-ons" to activities.
Report on the Standardized Description of Instructional Models
It's been quiet on heyerlevel.de. So I thought I'd break the silence with an important report that we finished in 2009 as part of our ICOPER work package on instructional modelling. Specifically, this report captures our understanding of the status quo on the standardized description of instructional models. Next to introducing a framework for good teaching practice, we also describe an investigation into capturing teaching methods. We created a template for describing teaching methods, and evaluated this template with instructors from around the world in two phases: one phase for authors and one phase for readers of teaching methods. Based on the evaluation results, we revised the template. Last but not least, we translate the evaluated template into an (extended) LOM metadata schema that could be used to store teaching methods in a repository.
I am proud to mention that Stephen Downes thinks that everyone working "in this area" should read our report .
EC-TEL workshops: IMS LD & Web 2.0 and Factors of Teaching Method Application
Relating IMS Learning Design to Web 2.0 Technologies (Full-day workshop)
The workshop will investigate relations between IMS Learning Design as a specification for technology-enhanced learning, and learning/teaching approaches used with Web 2.0 technologies. Keynote speaker Bill Olivier will introduce the topic. The rest of the workshop comprises discussions and small group work. Workshop fees are paid by the PROLIX project! For more information on the workshop please visit http://ctl.univie.ac.at/index.php?id=53863
Factors Influencing the Adaptation of Generic Teaching Methods (Half-day workshop)
(listed as "Elaborating the Context of Generic Teaching Methods: Catalysts and Barriers" in the conference programme) The workshop takes a closer look at the factors that influence the successful adaptation of (generic) teaching methods to create specific learning arrangements. For more information please visit http://ctl.univie.ac.at/index.php?id=53864
Visualizing IMS LD level B
Last week, I attended the JISC CETIS Design Bash, which took place in conjunction with the LAMS conference. During the design bash, Dai Griffiths and I sat together to discuss visualizations for IMS Learning Design. Dai is currently working on concepts for the new Reload Learning Design Editor, namely, the ReCourse Author. ReCourse now features a visualizer (see figure on the right; screenshot taken from ReCourse site) that graphically depicts the structure of an imsmanifest including roles, activities, environments etc. In this regard, Dai and I discussed how we could visualize IMS LD level B properties and also conditions. The idea behind this is that the learning designer can more quickly grasp what property is being used where, i.e. where data is being stored, viewed and monitored while the unit of learning is running. If a visualization were available, it would be easier to keep track of properties and their use during the design phase.
The problem we ran into is that the list of properties in an imsmanifest quickly grows lengthy. Thus, visualizations of properties are numerous and may be distracting if there are too many. Another question that arose was whether some associated concepts of properties should be displayed as well, such as the property group that a property may be a part of, or the resource (xml file) in which the property is made available to the user, either to be viewed or to be changed. We definitely saw a need for visualizing the connection between the property being viewed or changed, and the activity or condition where this takes place. Dai will further ponder these issues and work with Phil Beauvoir, the main ReCourse developer, to integrate outcomes in a new version of ReCourse.
2009/07/21 add-on: Dai Griffiths has also reflected this experience at cloudworks.
Updated version of classifications for learning and teachingI have produced a slightly updated version (current version 1.0) of the classifications included in the literature review of classifications on learning and teaching. The link takes you to a PDF document that contains a table, where summaries, references and (if available) figures of the classifications can be found.
Paper on GLM evaluation accepted at ICWL2009
Last year, we performed an evaluation of the Graphical Learning Modeller (GLM) with twenty instructors at the University of Vienna. The results of this evaluation were described in an article we submitted to the International Conference on Web-based Learning (ICWL) 2009. The article was accepted and will thus be published in a forthcoming Lecture Notes in Computer Science book.
The article describes the GLM functionalities, i.e. how it is used to design units of learning that are conformant to the IMS Learning Design specification. It then describes the study performed at the University of Vienna. Results showed that almost all instructors were able to successfully produce units of learning with the GLM after only a limited introduction. We were especially surprised that 70% of the test users included level B elements in their units of learning -- a concept that was not even included in the short introduction. No other IMS LD editor has been reported to achieve such success rates in level B usage. Problematic regarding the GLM was that the instructors did not easily understand the concepts of the software (and perhaps the concepts of the IMS LD specification). One of the major problems may be that the editors to create units of learning (such as the GLM) are commonly separate from the runtime environment, where the unit of learning will be interpreted/played like in a learning management system. For unit of learning designers it is hard to imagine what consequences their actions in the editing environment will have in the runtime environment and whether the unit of learning works in the way that they want it to work.
IEEE "one unique author registration" hinders ICALT publication?
The International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies ICALT 2009 is held in Riga (Latvia) this year. Our team wrote two short papers for two workshops at this conference, one about the description format for teaching methods, titled "Towards a Unified Format for Describing Teaching Methods", and one paper on an evaluation whether the Graphical Learning Modeler supports visualization in instructional design processes, titled "Visualizing learning designs using IMS Learning Design: the position of the Graphical Learning Modeler".
ICALT is organized by IEEE's Computer Society and Technical Committee on Learning Technology. As my colleague Michael Derntl informed me, IEEE has placed the rule of "one unique author registration". This means that for each paper one presenter is registered, i.e. pays the conference fee. Therefore, I don't register for the conference as a presenter, but I register for each paper at the conference that I am going to present. That means if one person from our team flies to present both papers, IEEE demands that that person registers and thus pays the entire conference fee twice including dinners, coffee breaks etc. If you don't do that, the paper without an author registration will not be included in the proceedings. If you register and don't show, the paper will furthermore be removed from all places where access to the paper may be provided by IEEE.
This is unheard of, and I hope lots of people complain about this rule. What is the intent of IEEE? Generating more income? Getting authors to contribute fewer papers? Wanting more people to attend the conference? Wanting presenters to gain weight because now they have to eat twice the food since they paid for two dinners? Let's see what effects that has on the community who has contributed to IEEE conferences before.
Paper accepted for Pattern Workshop
Christian Kohls and Joachim Wedekind are organizing the E-Learning Patterns Workshop in Tübingen (Germany) in the beginning of March 2009. Our abstract "The Essential Structure of Teaching Method Descriptions" was accepted for presentation at the workshop and the corresponding article will be published in a forthcoming book. Other participants include but are not limited to Helen Sharp, Davinia Hernandez-Leo (who has worked with us in the IMS LD Expert workshop), Beat Döbeli Honegger, Andreas Harrer, and Sven Wippermann.
Criteria for Good Teaching Practice
In our new project ICOPER , we (Michael Derntl, Petra Oberhuemer and I) are investigating how good/best teaching practice relates to what IMS Learning Design has to offer. In this context, we looked at definitions from best teaching practice across the globe. Especially in the English-speaking parts of the world,there have been quite some efforts to define good teaching practice. We've looked at:
- Best Teaching Practice at Penn State University
- Fink's Five Principles of Good Course Design
- Guidelines for Good Teaching Practice at University of New South Wales
- High Quality Learning Designs by the AUTC Project, University of Wollongong
- Seven Principles of Good Teaching Practice by Chickering & Gamson
- Six Key Principles of Effective Teaching in Higher Education by Ramsden
Successful wrap-up of IMS Learning Design Expert Workshop
In cooperation with PROLIX, we organized an expert workshop for IMS Learning Design at the University of Vienna, which was held on November 20 & 21, 2008. The goal of the workshop was to bring together expertise from across Europe in order to develop solutions to common problems that had been experienced with IMS LD.
Twelve experts first worked out a vision of what IMS Learning Design could be ten years from today. They then brainstormed problems they have had when working with the specification. After having collected and grouped the problems, five main areas of problems emerged:1. Life Cycle (of a learning design): unpractical separation of editing and runtime environment
2. Adoption (of IMS LD): benefits and opportunities of an adoption vs. risks and threats
3. Interoperability: how IMS LD connects to other standards & technologies
4. Level B Notation: how to present level B functions in a user interface
5. Usability & Utility: interpreting IMS LD for teaching and learning practice
Each expert then decided which main problem he or she wanted to work on. Three groups were formed for solution development: One group for problem 1, and two groups for problem 5. The developed solutions were presented at the end of the workshop including concrete problem and goal statements, descriptions of the solution as well as estimations of the effort and barriers to the solutions’ implementation. The experts are now writing a report that contains the outcomes of the workshop. Publication is planned to take place in early 2009.
Determining high quality arrangements for learning
Within our new project iCOPER, we are investigating the concepts of "good teaching practice" and "best teaching practice". The idea to distinguish these two terms may be that good practice takes place whenever a group of people reuse a certain teaching method. This could, for instance, be the case when a certain teaching method has been traditionally used at an institution. The lecture is a teaching method, which has been commonly used at universities. It is an established method and may thus be regarded as good practice.
Best practice on the other hand, should fulfill criteria for high quality learning designs next to the repeated use of the teaching method. Criteria that could be used to judge this could be taken from Boud & Prosser:
- Engage learners:
Considering learners’ prior knowledge and their desires and building on their expectations.
- Acknowledge the learning context:
Considering how the implementation of the learning design (be it a one class session, over the period of a few weeks, or the entire subject) is positioned within the broader program of study for the learner.
- Challenge learners:
Seeking the active participation of learners, encouraging learners to be self-critical and supporting learners’ ampliative skills.
- Provide practice:
Encouraging learners to articulate and demonstrate to themselves and their peers what they are learning.
Thus, the use of a certain teaching method could be judged as best practice, when it fulfills the above criteria and is being used among a group of people.
Helge StÃ¤dtler successfully defends his dissertation
Helge Städtler has successfully defended his dissertation on Virtual Proxemics, i.e. how awareness of other people "near" you in a virtual learning environment may enhance your learning experience. Congratulations, Helge! Of course, there never was a doubt that you could make it!
Watch the slides of Helge's defense below (in German).
GLM version 0.4.7 available
Although this announcement is sort of late, I do not want to miss the chance to announce our new version of the GLM0.4.7, which is available for download from sourceforge. This version features a library of pre-configured templates of instructional methods (shown in picture below), which can be dragged & dropped onto the workspace and all related activities and roles automatically appear. Furthermore, version 0.4.7 includes improvements in the interface, which are based on the evaluation results we obtained from a study with instructors at the University of Vienna. It turned out that the biggest problems for the instructors were caused by the level B concepts (packaged under "Interactions" in version 0.4.6) and the concept of environment. We therefore changed these two concepts: Interactions became "Add-ons" to activities, and environments became "Tools & materials", since this term better expresses what is contained in environments. Added on 08/05/2009: We have also made available an instruction manual for the GLM.
Literature Review on classifications for learning and teaching completed
I have put together a chart showing all the classification systems, taxonomies etc. that I have looked at for my literature review. These range from the years 1825 to 2007. The chart shows references, short summaries, and the analytical data I collected. I originally categorized the classifcation system according to ten factors (found in the last columns of the chart). A factor analysis then turned out three orthogonal factors. In the forthcoming publication on this literature review, I will include some interpretative statements.
Classifications on Learning and Teaching (v0.1.2), last update August 26, 2008
New version of GLM 0.4.6 available on sourceforge
The team at the University of Vienna (Philipp Prenner, Stefan Zander, Petra Oberhuemer and Susanne Neumann) has improved the GLM (Graphical Learning Modeller, and IMS Learning Design modelling environment aimed at teaching practitioners) on feedback received from test users. There are level B functionalities (advanced learning design functions) now available for (what we hope to be) easy use. You may download the GLM version 0.4.6 at sourceforge. Please give us feedback!
We are also currently running several evaluation sessions with instructors from the University of Vienna, who are not knowledgable of IMS Learning Design. We let them design one prescribed learning design and one learning design from their own teaching context. A conversion of the units of learning created by the test users into the university's learning management system fronter (announcement on fronter's German webpage) is not possible, since fronter does not support IMS LD. Therefore, the GLM will most likely serve as a planning tool to the university's instructors rather than the actual creation and import of units of learning.
Additional comment on 2008/07/10: View the manual on how to use the GLM to find quick as well as detailed instructions.