Thursday, 25 February 2016

How good is my MOOC?

The Business School accreditation body EFMD launched a new accreditation standard this week - EOCCS - The EFMD On-Line Course Certification System.  The standard adds to its whole school (EQUIS), Programme (EPAS) and Corporate offerings (CLIP) and focuses on the growing number of stand-alone and integrated on-line courses, including MOOCs.

See SHAH, 2014
Now in its pilot phase the EOCCS promises to sort the good from the indifferent in Business related on-line offerings in the hope that global consumers can make better informed decisions about on-line educational opportunities.

We also know that the EU is looking closely at ECTS credits offered on successful completion of on-line courses (could you even do a degree by simply accumulating ECTS credits without getting out of bed?)

Let us hope that the sensible folk at EFMD and the EU share their vision of high quality on-line education as widely as possible to ensure that good practice is propagated.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Scamper towards teaching innovation

In the business world innovation is often so simple that it is welcomed by the chorus (usually of derision)  "Well, I could have done that!" from frustrated innovators who didn't.

Teaching innovation is a much used and vaunted term in Higher Education and a previous blog post  has questioned whether today's innovations are not simply old ideas being given fresh paint.

The excellent MindTools website gives us another tool - this time for creativity - innovation if you will - the tool, another mnemonic, is SCAMPER - standing for:
  • Substitute - Use customers instead of staff to process their own banking transactions
  • Combine - Bundle complementary goods together - computers and software
  • Adapt - Use maggots to heal scar tissue
  • Modify - Make the Gramophone portable
  • Put to another use - Put NASA's non-stick coating on frying pans
  • Eliminate - Shop on-line and avoid the crush
  • Reverse - Unbundle package holidays and get travellers to choose and book the separate elements of their holiday
So, how could University lecturers use SCAMPER?
  • Substitute - Podcasts for (some) lectures
  • Combine - Lectures and workshops to link application and discussion directly to knowledge acquisition
  • Adapt - Lecture theatres to become flexible learning spaces
  • Modify - Thinking about how students learn (and when and where...)
  • Put to another use - Rework successful lectures as Distance Learning materials
  • Eliminate - Exams and use assessment that actually measures learning
  • Reverse - The trend towards TEF metrics for teaching and focus, instead, on effective learning.
Now that's innovation!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

What MoSCoW can tell us about better lectures

Don't mess with Putin!

That's the valuable lesson learned by Ukrainians, dissidents, opponents and competitors for Putin's cleptocracy.  But enough International Relations...

Picture courtesy of "Mr Norman" who actually went to Moscow to take it.

It is the MoSCoW developed by Oracle in the 1990's that this post focuses on.  MoSCoW is a simple mnemonic used to prioritise issues, features or components of a project.  The letters in capitals stand for features that a project:

  • MUST have (the project fails without these essential elements being delivered)
  • SHOULD have (elements of  importance that could be delivered in a second phase if necessary, when time and budget allows)
  • COULD have and ( wish list items - elements of good practice and "nice to haves" that are not absolutely essential to the project but add benefit)
  • WON'T have (desirable but clearly not part of the current project.  This helps to limit the objectives and outcome measures of a project.  These items can also be undesirable, perhaps detracting from the MUST, SHOULD and COULD haves).
So, let's apply this to the simple (sic) lecture in a University:

  • MUST have: 1. a clear purpose; 2. relevant structure (including breaks); 3. interesting "real world" content;  4. opportunities for interaction and reflection.
  • SHOULD have: 1. on-line support pre and post lecture; 2. links to or basis in key research in the area; 3. Lecturer enthusiasm; 4. Variety in presentation.
  • COULD have: 1. "War stories" that give the lecturer and lecture credibility; 2. debates that encourage learning; 3. pointers to further reading; 4. lecture capture.
  • WON'T have: 1. Too many slides; 2. students tuning out; 3. a focus on how brilliant the lecturer is; 4. poor communication.
That's 16 separate points but Cass Business School goes 23 better (well, they would wouldn't they) through the work of the late Shelagh Heffernan.

It is a privilege to be asked to lecture to and teach our future entrepreneurs, businessmen and women so let's take the lecturing part of the job very seriously.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Maximising student engagement

Lecturers lecture, lectures happen in lecture halls or theatres and students know that they have been lectured (because that's what their timetable told them was happening).

But how many students were learning? how many were engaged? and for how long?

Skinner et. al. (2008) - see above diagram - encourage us to think about the components of classroom engagement - and whilst their study was of schoolchildren there are aspects that transfer readily to HE.

So, how can we make sure that those events that happen in lecture rooms, in timetabled lecture slots and delivered by lecturers are designed to engage, rather than disaffect; impact not only the behaviour and actions of students but also their emotions?

Are my learning events (lectures) redolent with my own enthusiasm and interest? do I expect students to listen passively or to undertake actions, attempt problem solving and actually enjoy the experience?

Skinner E, Furrer C, Marchand G and Kindermann T, (2008), Engagement and Disaffection in the Classroom: Part of a Larger Motivational Dynamic? Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 100(4), pp 765-781