Testing, testing: Reviewing OERs for Erasmus+ project, EduHack

I was recently approached to evaluate some content for EduHack, which is an Erasmus+ project. The courseware will enable university educators to produce digitally-supported learning experiences, and experiment with innovative approaches and tools.

Though there were many options relating to my interests and my work, I ultimately decided to look at a lesson called ‘Create Digital Educational Resources’, which utilises H5p to create open digital resources.

In the activity, I was able to read about the tool, watch a tutorial video, and use H5p’s resources to create my own activity. I decided to use the H5P WordPress plugin, as I have to blog about my evaluation, so it seemed best to cover all bases in one space.

I’ve heard a great deal about H5P, but never had the time to sit down and try it out myself, which I now feel was a bit of a failing. I appreciate that it’s open, and that it prompts the creator to add an image description for accessibility and to add copyright information for an image. For my EduHack task, I could have created activities like:

  • Create videos enriched with interactions
  • Give instant feedback to essays
  • Create a questionnaire to receive feedback
  • Drag and drop image matching game
  • Create an image with a question and answer
  • Create a task with missing words in a text

Since I regularly use other tools to complete most of those tasks, and I wanted to create something relevant to my teaching, I created a quick image with hotspots to explain Bloom’s Taxonomy:

This is not my finest work. I’m a bit strapped for time.

However, I see the potential in H5P, and in the lesson I evaluated.  The lesson itself was straightforward – I was able to read, watch tutorials, follow the instructions and create a reusable resource. I was pointed to useful follow up activities, like the OU’s ‘Creating Open Educational Resources‘ MOOC. I felt like i was able to dedicate more time to creating than working through the lesson, and I was also interested in many of the others. It’s useful that the lesson itself will be an OER, points the user to an open tool, and helps users to in turn create OERs.

Having worked on a similar project, I know that educators can face ‘initiative/project overload’, but I found the format and brevity of each activity refreshing. Busy staff can quickly run through the ‘Read, Watch, Do’ format and build upon their skills from that point, availing of additional resources if need be. I also think that the variety of topics will prove useful for those that want to dip in and out, or visit topics when they have a specific need. I look forward to exploring the content in more dept, and playing around with H5p, too.

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It’s Nearly Time for Digital Pedagogy Lab 2018

Tomorrow I’ll begin travelling to Connecticut before heading on to Virginia for Digital Pedagogy Lab 2018. I’ve been looking forward to this event for some time, and while I’m excited to go, my mood is being slightly hampered by a recently broken wrist.  Just two weeks ago I tripped in a truly spectacular moment of failure, and fractured my wrist in four places. I am now the owner of a titanium plate, and have fashionably sported three different casts so far.

I had hoped to spend the quieter summer months completing my CMALT portfolio, but it was not meant to be. It’s looking like I’ll be furiously writing throughout August and September.

At DPLI, I’m going to be attending Jesse Stommel’s one-day ‘Tools and Toolhacking’ course, and Chris Friend’s ‘Introduction to Critical Digital Pedagogy’ for the remaining four days. I’m also going to give a lightning talk about All Aboard and Digital Champions. I’m even carrying some of our Engagement Toolkits for anyone interested.  However, I won’t be carrying much else!

I’m also excited to be curating the @femedtech Twitter account for two weeks starting Sunday. I signed up to do it while at DPLI because I thought it might provide more food, and more tweets, for thought and sharing. Do follow the #femedtech hashtag or the account if you’re interested

Before I broke my wrist, I booked the train from Old Saybrook, Connecticut straight to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Now the seven hour journey seems a bit more daunting. I’m going to try to use the time to read, and I’ve been putting together some playlists. Late Bloomer have just released a stunning new LP, as have the ever-so-catchy Dollar Signs. I also came across a rather gnarly Dublin group called girlfriend. that will surely make it into rotation.

I hope to blog throughout the week, but I admit that this short post has left me quite sore. Time for the icepack!

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A Reason to be Open

The ILTA EdTech conference got underway today in IT Carlow, and I was among a group of presenters speaking about the ILTA-ALT partnership, which is sponsoring ten Irish applicants for CMALT certification. My meagre contribution, though well-received, was my decision to openly share my portfolio.

But I’ll be writing about this decision in depth another time. The real reason that I’m writing a post in my hotel room is that I got some unpleasant, but not unexpected news late this afternoon.

I started working as a Learning Technologist in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at NUI Galway three years ago tomorrow. Don’t worry – I’m still going to be working there. I was lucky enough to receive a part-time permanent contract in November 2016, and had been fortunate enough to maintain full-time work under temporary contracts. As of tomorrow, I will be back to part-time. It’s not ideal, to put it mildly. My first reaction was to fight back tears, but with some effort, my vision cleared. Then I felt an odd sense of calm.

I had been a secondary school teacher in the United States and Ireland for most of my career. I loved my students. I still love teaching. I will always miss it. But I was not always encouraged or supported. I didn’t have many opportunities for CPD or professional growth. That’s not to say that’s ubiquitous across the sector, but that was my experience.

So, what does this have to do with open practice?

Just before I received this email, I was talking to one of the other CMALT applicants about my philosophy around open. Very simply put, I am not into self-promotion. I’m not entirely comfortable putting myself out there. However, I believe in being open as an educator. While we all have triumphs, we also make mistakes, and sharing and reflecting on these moments is worth sharing. It’s worth being proud of our practice. It’s because education matters. It matters a whole lot to me. We learn by sharing. I’ve learned so much from open practitioners that are willing to share their trials and tribulations, so why shouldn’t I do the same?

The reason I felt a resounding calm after receiving bad news is simple, it’s because I’m happy where I work. For the first time, I work for great people. I work with great people. I want to be there. I work with people who support me, who care about me, and encourage me. Maybe I can use this time to reflect more, to read more, to write more, to share practice more.

If I hadn’t started working in CELT, I wouldn’t be part of the CMALT cohort presenting at this conference. I wouldn’t have so many opportunities that are now available to me. I’m grateful, and I felt like sharing it with others. Sometimes it takes an unexpected jolt to help us recognise our privilege.

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