Archive for the 'short courses' Category

Churchill, Vikings and writing for teenagers

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Churchill bust

Viking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not my predictions for the next wave in teen novels, but 3 of the courses that still have places for this upcoming term.  We are just about to embark on our course launches for this January with nearly 50 options to choose from, and these are 3 of the most interesting.

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers  contains some amazing Google maps resources which you can access here: http://maps.conted.ox.ac.uk/vikings/index.php . In particular the tour of the viking presence in modern day Wallingford is worth exploring especially if you know the town.

Churchill had already had an amazing life before WW2 even began and Churchill: Soldier, Politician and Statesman will help you discover it. But one of my favourite activities is the one that helps you understand why he lost the election in 1945, this is a great example of what you can do with the fabulous primary sources now available online.

Lastly Writing Fiction for Young Adults will give you all the skills you need to be the next JK Rowling with hands on activities such as this one on getting to know your protagonist to help you go from thinking about writing to actually writing.

This term we are only launching 1 new course – Macroeconomics to give you a chance to better understand the economy at a global scale, for those interested in the smaller scale issues, the partner course Microeconomics will be available next term.

Churchill Image: 03-churchill / Jon Culver / CC BY-NC 2.0

Viking image:  Viking / erikki / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Garden history, biblical archeology and mysterious numbers.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
Martin Heemskerck Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Martin Heemskerck

 

Course launches have just completed and over 1300 students have embarked on another term of online learning with us.  This term we have launched 3 new courses: Archaeology of the Bible Lands The Number Mysteries and English Landscape Gardens: 1650 to the Present Day , and I am very pleased to have discovered an image which combines a biblical garden with a vaguely  Escher like (that’s mathematical!) ambiance.

Having been in involved in the development of all our courses, I do think that these are 3 of the most enjoyable courses we have ever created and the students on them are going to have a fabulous time.

Enrollments have closed for this term, but if any of these, or our other 50+ online courses look interesting to you, do come and visit to make your choices for January, when we will also have a new Macroeconomics course available to help you understand what economists think is happening to the world right now.

Image: Hanging Gardens of Babylon / Carla216 / CC BY 2.0

Link curation at scale

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
The weakest link

http://www.flickr.com/photos/darwinbell/465459020/

In our report OER: The value of reuse in education,  we focused our attention on the reuse of online resources whether licensed or not .  There was no doubt that making no distinction between licensed OER and stuff on the web reflects the experience of the majority of HE practitioners, who use “stuff” relatively indiscriminately in low risk contexts.

However when not writing reports we develop and deliver a large portfolio of online courses  where we make extensive use of online resources.  These are mainly from large institutions such as other universities, or museums, but very rarely cc licensed.  As a result we mainly link out to these rather than incorporating them into course materials, as clearing copyright at that scale is not manageable as we know from our Mosaic project.

We are currently launching to over 1200 students, something that brings home the value of open licensing in purely pragmatic terms.  50+ courses a term, with between 5 and 300+ links per course checked 3 times in the lead up to  a course run  = a lot of work. Obviously we have tools that automate this up to a point, but they only tell you whether a link is live, not whether it ends up where you expect, and then there is what you do when a link is broken……This is a major overhead and it is getting worse.  A colleague suggested this post should be called “This has been a *@#! term for links”

So yes licensing is complicated and we should not see it as the be all and end all of OER, but when open licenses are  in place, by letting us bring resources into our course so we don’t have to check thousands of links each term, they allow us to design and deliver better courses. Long may it continue.

Image: the weakest link / darwin Bell / CC BY-NC 2.0

 

Course launches

Monday, January 17th, 2011

It is that time of year again and we are in the middle of our online course launches for another term.  We are offering  43 courses this term including our new courses in Writing Fiction for Young Adults, Writing Fiction, Elizabeth I, and Right and Wrong: an introduction to ethics, many are full, but there are still places on a lot – so if you would enjoy some intellectual stimulation over the next couple of months and are interested in Archaeology, Art History, English literature, Creative Writing, Economics, History, or Philosophy do take a look at what is available.

Woruldhord, Ancestral voices, the Great War and more.

Monday, July 19th, 2010

One of the main conclusions from our Mosaic project (which developed an online course, ‘Ancestral voices: the earliest English literature’,  primarily from pre-existing content and made it freely available for reuse and adaption) was that the best way to get your OERs used is to make them as discoverable as possible, by putting them or linking to them from as many places as possible, and especially those places where your target audience are likely to look.  To this end, while we submitted the outputs of that project to JORUM as required by JISC, we also made them freely available through our Open Moodle site, and have been pursuing other opportunities to share and use these materials ever since.

Building on this we are now really pleased to be able to contribute the course to a new project here at Oxford, the JISC funded  Woruldhord project which “sets out to collect together into an online hoard, digital objects related to the teaching, study, or research of Old English and the Anglo-Saxon period of history”.

This project builds on the work of OUCS in community collections from the The Great War Archive and in OERs with OpenSpires.  As  we already use outputs from both of these in our courses,  it is really good to be able to contribute content back in the opposite direction.

As I type this I realise that it is all sounding terribly inwards facing, but while all the examples here are from Oxford sources, this is in fact indicative of the wider growth of truly excellent academic (and non academic) resources on the web and the extent to which our course authors are using them in their materials.  While we are still a long way from the vision of pervasive reuse that I suspect many had a few years ago, at least in our online courses authors are as likely to direct students to an image from flikr, a project database, an online text book, a digitised primary source, a Google maps mash-up or even a learning object, as an article in a journal or a textbook.  The process is slow, but reuse is growing and the more projects like these that take place the more compelling the reasons for reusing digital content is becoming.

Course launches

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Once again we are in the middle of our course launch period with nearly 40 courses launching over the next few weeks.  Our new courses for this term are Shakespeare, Globalization (which I blogged about here a few weeks ago) and Writing Drama.  these are all currently sold out but there are still places on English Poetry of the First World War, Philosophy of Religion, and Pompeii and the Cities of the Roman Empire among others.  To see the full list of available courses visit our online courses website.

There is also always next term, when our new courses will include Greek mythology, Henry VIII and Ethics.

Reuse in action

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Having been involved in several research projects around the area of OERs (especially OpenSpires) and more specifically the reuse of existing content (Mosaic and Cascade),  it is really gratifying to see some of this work enter our mainstream course production practice.   A major benefit of Mosaic was a real tightening up of our approaches to reuse, copyright and IPR across our entire short course programme and this is now starting to really pay dividends.

An example is the course we are currently developing on Globalization, available in May.  Among other things, this course is using podcasts recorded by the author Jonathan Michie with the OpenSpires team.  As we will be providing transcripts to make the course fully accessible we can make sure that these are fed back to enhance the original OERs – a virtuous circle.

Open Educational Resources at Continuing Education

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Among our other record breaking recruitment this term we have also launched the Ancestral Voices course developed as part of the Mosaic project for the 3rd time, with the largest cohort yet – in fact our maximum of 32 students.

I am sure this is not statistically significant, but for us it is our first example of freely available content, and students who are still prepared to pay for the full tutored learning experience.   Definitely a good sign for persuading the Department to do more with OERs.

Hurrah for repeat students

Monday, October 5th, 2009

We know we have always had a loyal following of students at the Department for Continuing Education, but what has been especially gratifying in recent years is to see this developing online.  On a purely commercial basis it is great, with about 30% of our students returnees each term it helps our recruitment, but as someone interested in  learning design there are a lot more plus points that this.  It is great to know we are creating something they like – our course designs work, but more importantly we have a group of students who have bought into this way of learning.

This is more significant then it might seem – our students are only a minority internet “residents” the majority are at best “visitors” (see our isthmus work on this) in addition we know they value traditional ideas of teaching and learning – when asked, they want an expert to teach them the course.

This means that online study based around a model of learning through activities, exploration and discussion, as much with each other as tutors, may make for good elearning, but does not meet their expressed preferences and is not  in their comfort zone. Yet it is working and it is our students who make it work.

Our repeast students are improving the experience of study for the whole cohort, by modelling the sort of behaviour that make these courses work best.  They want to discuss, they are happy to contribute (admitted some a bit too much!) and are prepared to support each other.  It is great to go into a course in the first few days and see new students being supported as much by thier peers as the tutor – and it makes our lives easier.

I do feel very strongly that you cannot expect all students to contribute all of the time (being a lurker is not intriscily bad) but this sort of learning does not work unless enough students are happy to join in – so it is great to know that you can rely on our repeat students as much as our expert tutors, wonderful academic authors, and excellent course design, to make courses that work.

Record breaking online student numbers

Monday, October 5th, 2009

This term we have  a record breaking 1000+ students taking our online courses.   This is especially good in the face of the current economic climate, and  may be a consequence of it.  However I also think it is a great testament to the quality of our courses and the work of everyone in the Department and TALL.

It is  particularly  gratifying to see the high number of returning students, clearly a lot of people are having a good experience on  these courses, and one which they want to repeat.

We are taking enrollments for January already and will be offering two new courses, Literary Theory and our first ever 5 week course, Introduction to the History of Medicine, with new courses in creative writing, economics, literature, philosophy and history coming later in 2010.