Sunday, August 26, 2012

An introduction to Open Badges

Tuesday August 25th at 10 am EST and again at 8 pm EST I will be hanging out in Google+ and discussing Open Badges. I am going to use the following slide deck to prompt discussion. If you are new to open badges or want to listen in on an introductory discussion on open badges, message me. This hangout will also be live broadcast on YouTube and can be viewed via my Google+ profile.

You need to be in one of my Google+ circles to view the slides and engage in the discussion. So please go to my Google+ Profile and add me to a circle, I will reciprocate. Again, if you don't have an invite you can still watch along as each session will be broadcast via YouTube.

I have also added the audio track from the first Google+ Hangout to this slide deck. So if you have an hour of time please take a listen.Or just quickly take a view of the slide deck to get a sense of the session.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Open Badges Case Study 1 - Wikiversity, part 3

This case study is the last in a series of case studies created to help people learn about open badges. This case study describes the manual issuing of Mozilla Open Badges from within a Wikiversity course. This screencast discusses the claiming of the badge, and how it is stored in the earners backpack.

Reflective Activity: What needs to be similar in both the open badges backpack login email address and the json file?

Open Badges Case Study 1 - Wikiversity, part 2

This case study is the second of a series of case studies created to help people learn about open badges. This case study describes the manual issuing of Mozilla Open Badges from within a Wikiversity course. This screencast discusses the technology required to implement the manual issue of the badge. It also describes how the criteria and evidence to manually issue badges can be stored and assessed.

Reflective Activity: Do you understand enough programming to hash the learners email address with the salt value? If not, where would you get access to this resource or skill?

Open Badges Case Study 1 - Wikiversity, part 1

This case study is the first of a series of case studies created to help people learn about open badges. This case study describes the manual issuing of Mozilla Open Badges from within a Wikiversity course. This screencast discusses the scenario for the case study and touches upon how to design a badging system. It also describes how the criteria and evidence to manually issue badges can be stored and assessed.

Reflective Activity: What would you consider the best way to issue badges? For milestones within a course or for the course as a whole? Or would you issue both? What are the strengths and weaknesses for each approach?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Open Badges, LRMI and OER

Over the last few months I have immersed myself in Open Badges. As I explore this technology I can't help but reflect upon my past experiences as an educational technologist, software developer, OER content creator, project lead and solutions architect. And yes, all these apply as I fold LRMI into the mix. My reflection points include;
  • Open Badges as educational resources
  • I believe that the criteria and evidence attributes of an open badge can also be learning resources. I see the badge as the destination, where the criteria and evidence are the learning journey. Exploring a badges criteria and, many earners, evidence can provide valuable learning resources.
  • Everything online is an OER for the independent learner
  • I've spoken about this for years... the Internet is the platform and as an independent self directed learner all Internet resources should be considered educational resources. Particularly, when you consider fair-dealing / fair-use.
  • LRMI is an important standard for educational resources
  • Great search results increase access to learning resources. The faster you can get to the resource, the better. Particularly, if the resource is close to within the learning context you are working. LRMI is going to help greatly with increasing access to educational resources, especially when search facets allow for resource exploration clustered around a search term (or context).
  • The vocabulary is as important as the schema
  • The vocabulary populates some of the fields of the LRMI schema. These fields describe the resources user role, type, etc. Take a look at the LRMI specification if you want more. Having a consistent and well thought-out vocabulary will help greatly in putting learning resources into context. It is the vocabulary that will classify resources and allow the building of search facets.
So how do I see Open Badges, LRMI and OER working together?
  • The OER should include metadata to increase searchability (LRMI works well here). OER should also be referenced within a course outline, learning challenge, book, course material, badge criteria, etc, etc...
  • OER search results should provide a listing of learning resources, assessment resources, and accreditation resources (open badges works here). The search facets should cluster around subject domains, themes, keywords, available taxonomies, etc. The facets should also include assessment and accreditation resources related to the keywords / subject domain of the search.
  • The criteria and evidence resources found within the json attributes of the open badges specification should point to educational resources and it should become a best practice to embed LRMI within these resources. 
  • The LRMI vocabulary should include "badge" as a learningResourceType. This would also assist in building the search facets. The badge, and its criteria and evidence, also needs to expose this attribute to be picked up by search indexing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Webmaking and telling stories

Today we had our first webmaking session where we are developing the skills to create a documentary about community food production. On Bowen Island we have a week long event called BowFeast, the idea is you eat locally grown food wherever possible. It is an event that really brings the community together and celebrates all the gardens and people who grow their own food. This week of BowFeast also culminates in the farmers market.

Our first webmaking session was mostly a discussion of storytelling, citizen based journalism, interview techniques and the privacy issues around interview, photography and video. All good!

From a scaffolding perspective this first session was quite non-technical and really got into interviewing using a camera and the way to ask open questions, follow (and lead) a thread of discussion during the interview and how to close it all down and summarize, give thanks.

For further inspiration we all watched the popcornified video about urban farming in Oakland, California. This is a great video, for it tells a great story, provides a historical perspective and also investigates food production.

Monday, August 13, 2012

WebMaking on Bowen Island

Two main themes to my webmaking over the next six weeks. Citizen based journalism with youth involved with localized food production and the creation of a rock-umentary with my teen daughter and her friends.

Citizen based journalism
The localized food production webmaking event got some local publicity in the island newspaper, which was great to read and increased my excitement about this event. It is likely this event will span three workshops where the first two will take place in the island information centre (shown in photo) and the last one in the community school. The first two sessions are mostly about skills development for journalism. Interview skills, videography, photography, storyboarding, music selection... that kind of stuff. The last session is going to be building all this into a small documentary with the Mozilla Popcorn Maker.

My teen daughter and her friends are totally into music, photography, and video production. So I set a challenge for them to create a rock-umentary about Ana Rose's music career so far. And when we are done it will be fully enhanced using Mozilla popcorn maker or maybe just popcorn.js. Looks to be an exciting six weeks...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

formative and summative events, popcornjs, and screencasts

Another round of enhancements and the addition of summative events completes step 0 of my open badges step by step guide. I have been building a step by step guide for open badges where I have been creating a number of open educational resources. All this work (and other peoples contributions) is destined to become a part of the School of Open Badges on the P2PU. One of the main elements I have been working on is how to enhance screencasts for learning. Just watching a video screencast can be good for learning, particularly when you think about having the ability to stop and start the screencast to view something more than once. The main enhancement I have been working on is to add formative events to the screencast, so the learner can focus on important information and have immediate links to the subject being described. This allows the learner to pause, read deeper, reflect, and then continue with the screencast.

click this image to view the enhanced screencast.

Formative events:
Formative events enhance learning by providing further opportunities to learn during the overall learning experience. The formative events are immediate and occur as skills and knowledge are forming. The idea of formative events is often used with the idea of a formative assessment, that is in-lined with the learning module and the assessment become a part of the learning. Within my enhanced screencasts I have used popcorn.js to inject links, popups and learning outcomes while the screencast is running. When the learner clicks the link it is opened in a new tab or window, this allows the screencast to continue (or be paused) and the learner to further explore the concept via the linked information (this is not possible with current screencasting technology). The popups highlight important pieces of information. The learning outcomes identify during the screencast.

Summative events:
The summative event(s) are via a link once the screencast is complete. It provides a complete summary of the screencast with links to the following;
  1. the youtube instance of the screencast
  2. the popcorn.js enhanced version of the screencast
  3. a listing of all this links presented during the screencast
  4. a listing of the learning outcomes identified during the screencast
  5. a reflective activity to deepen learning
The idea of the summative event is to provide something to go back to and use as an educational resource to reflect and deepen learning. Feel free to enjoy and learn from the growing repository of these enhanced screencasts made specifically to learn about and implement Mozillas Open Badges.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

School of Open Badges

Over the last couple of weeks a lot has happened with Open Badges and the Peer 2 Peer University. First off I was collaborating with Leah MacVie around what is the follow-on to the P2PU Open badges 101 course. And I was wanting to move my work of putting together a step-by-step into the P2PU as the platform for peer learning around badges. Leah had also done a bunch of great work in developing the first 101 course and had an outline for another... we were wondering how all this would fit together.

I was inspired by Leah's work so I drew on the outlines she had created, added my step-by-step guide outline into the mix and thought a lot about what would be a comprehensive Open Badges curriculum. I created a nine course curriculum and created really brief course descriptions and cane up with a course leveling (beginner, intermediate, expert, and master) approach and gave the courses numbers like 102, 103, 201, 202, etc... I took this work to the Open Badges Community Call to gather feedback. The feedback was outstanding and exemplary in relation to badge systems design, the two highlights were;
  1. Don't create a prescribed type journey (get away from beginner, intermediate, 101, 102, 201, etc...) each badge should stand on its own and the related learning should be scaffolded into the single badge challenge (or course). I commented on how difficult this would be as often learning requires previous learning. The feedback persisted and they community challenged me to put down the spoon and think way outside the box. So I did...
  2. Creating a nomenclature for naming the courses, but they really don't have to imply any kind of leveling or achievement, they are just names. This made sense to me and as I was reviewing my proposed nine courses I jokingly said... "like a flower with nine petals".
With this feedback I edited the table and leveraged the flower analogy to the point where I fit different parts of the flower into the matrix. And to a small extent I fit the part definitions into the course themes. all good.

A description of this matrix will be in a subsequent post.

To use the flower analogy even further I tried to create a graphic of a nine petal flower. Where each petal represented a course. What I ended up with was quite computer science like... but it worked. And fortunately, I was able to get assistance from Leah and she did her magic and turned what I had created into a beautiful flower. You can view the two versions here, and I'll let your guess who did which.

Version 1    Version 2

The most meaningful parts to all this are threefold; first, we ended up with a really nice looking curriculum design graphic; second, we determined the p2pu open badges course matrix; and third, we ended up with a working example for badge systems design.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Creating Online Learning Communities

Thank-you Bill Pusztai
My recent work has taken me back to thinking about and discussing the effective creation of technically focused online learning communities. Learning online is something I have been doing for a while. And given both my pedagogical and technical background, I often get into the nuts and bolts (or bits and bytes) of building online learning communities as well as the actual building of the community. Much of my recent reflection has been about engaging and building learning communities, particularly technology (or digital literacy) focused learning communities. This post is mostly about the engagement and pedagogical side of this community building. Another post about the technical side of building online learning community may come, but is well articulated in this slideshare from a while back;

I believe some background information on where I am coming from in my thinking is important. There have been a number of experiences (professional and otherwise) that have set my thinking about building technically oriented online learning communities.
  • Being a software developer and working extensively with lean and agile teams - what is important: most developers are self-directed life-long learners and they owe a lot to their peers who have contributed to what they are reading and learning.
  • Being an enterprise architect and encouraging enterprise2.0 thinking - what is important: collective intelligence and learning/teaching is knowledge management. being patient.
  • The musings of Zuckerberg vs. Poole - what is important: anonymity encourages contribution, nuf said, read my post;
  • My time as a early contributor to WikiEducator - what is important: recognizing contribution, doing it in the open, monetize activities wherever possible, and governance can be done exclusively online and in the open. love your volunteers.
  • Implementing seven major projects in three years with CLEBC - what is important: open approaches work in closed shops. API's allow distributed approaches. recognizing areas of practice (or communities of practice) is important. Video resources can be long-tailed. love your volunteers.
  • My graduate studies were exclusively online - what is important: face-to-face and blended opportunities are worth every moment and should be encouraged if you want greater depth to learning. This may seem against the creation of online learning communities and favoring traditional learning environments, but the point I am making is that if the opportunity to get together in the same physical space with any community member presents itself, seize it!
  • Communities can be built in many places by many people - what is important: often communities can fracture into other communities, or seasoned contributors will disengage, move-on or start other communities. Be supporters of this action for it increases the overall size and reach of the subject and its growing content.
  • Authenticity can be community policy - what is important: based on an articulated policy the authenticity of the dialogue can be increased. While anonymity can create contribution and authenticity, the community can also set and enforce policy to encourage authenticity.
Engagement, engagement, engagement
Contributors are the MOST valuable resource, they are the community! Yes, lurkers are also a huge part of any growing community, and lurkers sometimes convert into micro-contributors. The people who are, or see themselves as, stewards of the community need to engage often and with reckless abandon. They also need to encourage the stewardship to be a shared activity. Engagement should be across social media, and where possible use tagging to bring it all together.

Freedom (without scholarly egos, well... all egos)
Its the micro engagements that grow into macro engagements. If people aren't given the freedom and support to make small contributions they will rarely make the larger contributions. And once a contribution has been made facilitating discussion should come from elsewhere (not the contributor themselves) with great encouragement and recognition being given to the initial contributor. An amazing community is grown with many small and meaningful events. People should never be made to feel badly about their contribution... and don't feed the trolls.

Small is beautiful
Encourage contribution in small chunks, build discussion and shared understanding around these chunks. Allow the chunks to coalesce into larger works. Trying to complete a larger works without community engagement, ends up teaching the creator. And the online community becomes passive...

Facilitators are stewards (and need to be tech savvy)
Online learning communities that are technical in nature need to be facilitated by the technically savvy, if they are not this is quickly noticed and the community will lose credibility. The facilitators must eat their own dog-food and be exemplars in engagement and encouragement.

Reaching Out Its all about love!
I know it sounds smoltzy, but building a great online learning community is an activity of the heart... finding people who are deeply committed to the subject matter of the learning community is essential for longevity and depth of learning. People quickly get a real sense of a community (online or otherwise) and if it is not genuine people will recognize this.

Building successful online learning communities has a lot to do with reaching-out and encouraging others. And for technology focused learning communities this includes drawing in people who make small technical contributions who often contribute in small and quiet ways. Surprisingly, it is often these small contributions that have the biggest impact.

Friday, August 03, 2012

1/2 finished posts have been chosen

A month back I was musing about my > 20 half-finished blog posts, I decided to put it out to vote. After three weeks the poll was closed and my next few posts have been chosen. The immediate blogging with cover the following six posts; with injected posts from my work with open badges, building online learning communities, popcorn.js, and other pedagogical subjects I am inspired to write about. The poll results can be found within the original post, and my next few posts will include;
  1. Computer Science taught as an art (33% voters)
  2. Learning is Knowledge Management (33% voters)
  3. Traditionalists, Reformers and Outliers (28% voters)
  4. Not everyone is social (28% voters)
  5. Learning Platforms for People (28% voters)
  6. Using smart phones within a connectivist approach (28% voters)
As of the poll closing day, 21 of 204 viewers voted. And the final results were different than those a week after the poll had opened.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

wrapping screencasts in popcorn.js to enhance learning

My work over the last month has been to create screencasts for the Mozilla open badges initiative. I am building screencasts to provide online tutorials describing the different technical aspects of the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI). There are many scholarly articles discussing the effectiveness of screencasts on learning; a google scholar search on "screencast learning" provides a good listing if you would like further reading. One aspect of the screencasts I have been working on for a while is how to deepen the learning around the screencast. In a number of my previous projects, including CLEBC and AIM language learning, we enhanced screencast learning by including; chat, discussion, in-lined formative questions, and links to related resources. All of these enhancements helped in creating a more complete learning module by providing multi-modalities to learning.

What I believe is the most important is the clustering of resources into a succinct module. The idea being that the screencast is "surrounded" by many resources specific to the subject and contents of the screencast. Another technology currently being released by Mozilla is popcorn.js. This technology allows screencasts to be greatly enhanced by adding resources and screen elements as the video progresses. Popcorn is well described on the related Mozilla site;
"Popcorn.js is an HTML5 media framework written in JavaScript for filmmakers, web developers, and anyone who wants to create time-based interactive media on the web. Popcorn.js is part of Mozilla's Popcorn project."
What popcorn.js provides is the ability create a comprehensive learning module where a screencast is clustered with other related resources. These additional resources can be explored while the video is in progress or referenced after the video is complete. The main point being the resources are available through links and are presented within the context of the progressing video.

To view the use of popcorn.js to enhance learning visit this growing repository of popcorn wrapped screencasts;

Related readings: