Narrative for H818 conference presentation

The following provides the planned narrative for each slide for the conference presentation.

A different font version is available as a pdf download which has been created using the open dyslexia font.
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Narrative for presentation using open dyslexia font

Open University: H818 Conference Presentation: February 2016.

Innovation theme.

“OpenTurf: The effective use of Web 2.0 technologies in creating a collaborative platform for self-determined learning”.

by Chris Gray, MSc(M:MT)(Open), 17th February 2016.

Slide 1: Presentation title

I’d like to welcome everyone to my presentation, which is on the innovation theme.

It provides an overview of the research for the project and insight into its development.

Slide 2: Introduction

I’ve divided the presentation to cover:

  • How the idea arose;
  • Why the project is relevant to today’s learning environment;
  • The three different threads I’ve explored to create the web platform, and
  • a graphic tour of the different parts of the platform that I’ve created.

Slide 3: Embracing change (1)

The idea arose from an identified need, and desire:

  • to encourage the learning process within my industry;
  • to provide a way to facilitate active learning and for owning a learning journey; and
  • to create a web platform that acts as a hub for social and learning connections.

Why though is there a need to embrace change, especially in learning?

Two key reasons:

  1. To keep your skills up-to-date, in order to develop what are termed 21st century skills, which Rahimi and others (2015), identify as:
  • critical thinking,
  • problem solving,
  • meaning making,
  • communication,
  • collaboration, and
  • decision making.

2. Digital technology has also been identified by the World Economic Forum as being a significant driver in the transformation of jobs and business activities and models (WEF, ‘The Future of Jobs’, 2016).

  • I have developed my idea using the new Level 2 Apprentice Standard (SFA, 2015) for a Sports Turf Operative to show how these needs can be encouraged in practice.
  • All of these are much in demand by employers.

Slide 4: Embracing change (2)

From a tutor perspective we need to:

  • Increase opportunities for life-long learning by embracing digital technologies in learning design (Blaschke, 2012), and
  • Use digital technology, in particular Web 2.0 and Social Media, to positively engage with and encourage active learning.
  • The positive impacts of appropriate digital learning are well evidenced. However, implementing them in a learning environment may be a challenge for some tutors. (Song & Lee, (2014), (Vorvoreanu, et al (2015), (Matzat & Vrieling (2015).

Slide 5: Web 2.0 tools: What are they?

To help set the scene a little we need to understand the meaning of the term ‘Web 2.0 tools’.

Essentially there are hundreds, if not thousands, of digital applications, or functions, that facilitate:

  • user interaction,
  • content generation and sharing,
  • ease of contribution to an online discussion,
  • and the development of a network or community.
  • Examples include Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, SlideShare, blogging tools, commenting features and many more.

Slide 6: Web 2.0 tools: Contributing to change

How do Web 2.0 tools contribute to ‘embracing change’?

Web 2.0 tools allow a web platform to be used for sharing and collaboration.

It is interesting to note that a big difference from Web 1.0 is that Web 2.0 includes much user-generated content (UGC), especially through the use of social media tools.

There is also a convergence in the use of:

  • Personal applications (for example, fitness, health monitoring, diary apps), to
  • Social applications (Twitter, Facebook and integrating findings from personal applications within these platforms), to
  • Educational applications, which may be formal or informal and which can influence, or inform, on personal and social behaviours.

Slide 7: Open Education: What is it?

The second connected thread is that of Open Education.

This was an important consideration to the project because I wanted to create a platform that:

  • had few, if any barriers, to entry,
  • was freely and easily accessible across different operating platforms,
  • was social, informal, disruptive, and
  • that facilitated digital learning.

Slide 8: Open Education: Why is it important?

So why is open education important?

This short quote captures the essence of the purpose of my idea: to provide a forward thinking learning space.

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow”, (Rice, 2013).

Slide 9: Self-determined learning (Heutagogy)

This now leads nicely onto my third and final thread, which is called self-determined learning (or heutagogy).

This approach builds on existing pedagogies but focuses on how tutors can encourage learners to take ownership of their learning. Tutors facilitate but do not manage the learning.

An emphasis of heutagogy is about encouraging learners to be “directly responsible for their own learning as an active rather than passive learner.” (Hase & Kenyon, 2015).

Slide 10: Self-determined learning: In practice

What does this mean in practice and why is it of interest and relevance to this project?

The subject matter of this project is that of an apprentice standard which is learnt within a workplace.

Apprentices (especially in the turfcare industry) are typically remote learners, often being very social media conversant and prolific users of Twitter.

This project offers them a platform to engage and collaborate with others, as well as utilising their digital skills in a way that they can help them determine and control their own learning journey.

In practice though this will typically be outside of, and complementary to, the institutional learning pathway which has been planned by their training provider.

Slide 11: Making connections (1)

This project was created to demonstrate one approach of connecting the three threads of Web 2.0 tools, Open Education and self-determined learning.

It is exploring how adult vocational education can be made more engaging and motivating for some learners, whilst at the same time creating an industry wide open resource which focuses on exploring working practices and understanding in achieving a defined end product, i.e. the apprentice standard.

Slide 12: Making connections (2)

I just wanted to show this slide to illustrate where a platform such as mine can sit within a more traditional approach to digital learning. In essence it can complement or stand-alone from a VLE.

{Note, but not part of the narrative: The CLE can have a structured approach, as in OpenTurf, with defined Learning Outcomes. It is flexible in allowing tutors to experiment with concepts and tools. This can be used as a mechanism for tutors to feedback into a VLE for improvement and further development. It can act as a complement to an institutions VLE, or as a stand-alone platform. If not tutor facilitated then some form of moderation will be required to ensure appropriate language and behaviours are practiced. The CLE is structured to encourage greater learner ownership of their learning journey, moving from self-directed learning (Andragogy) to self-determined learning (Heutagogy)}

Slide 13: OpenTurf: Online platform

What might a Collaborative Learning Environment look like in practice?

I have created this web platform by blending a range of Web 2.0 tools to achieve the intended outcomes identified in slides 3 and 4. The web platform has a comprehensive structure to help illustrate the concept, but little content as of yet.

Determining what features to include was based on the research of Song & Lee, using their Web 2.0 evaluation criteria, which looked at the technological aspects of a site.

They identify 8 evaluation criteria (coded W1 to W8), of which 7 of these are currently demonstrated in the OpenTurf web platform.

Slide 14: OpenTurf: User Generated Content

Criterion W1 is about harnessing the power of the crowd

This is a key feature of Web 2.0, and allows for learner reflection, collaboration and sharing.

The features I have at the moment including commenting facilities, a wiki and a forum. I also have my own blog linked to the platform which illustrates to other learners how they might engage with this type of application.

Criterion W2 is the use of enhanced data management such as tagging systems, which are not currently present.

Slide 15: OpenTurf: Using APIs

Criterion W3 covers the architecture of assembly

This is about providing a feature which remixes or integrates other content.

The platform has integrated an API (Application Programming Interface) from the National Apprenticeship service, which is filtered to select all horticulture industry job vacancies for apprentices in England.

Slide 16: OpenTurf: RSS

Criterion W4 is interested in the distribution of changed content

To help users be informed when content is changed on any page they are interested in, an RSS button is included. Users are therefore actively managing what is fed to them if they subscribe to this feature.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is “a standardized system for the distribution of content from an online publisher to Internet users.” (Source: Oxford Dictionary).

Slide 17: OpenTurf: Community building

Criterion W5 looks leveraging the long-tail

Web technology allows for cost-effective delivery of niche products and services.

This subject matter is a relatively niche product, focusing on Sports Turf Apprenticeships

Another technical aspect (criterion W6) identifies that of a platform accommodates evolving content.

Slide 18: OpenTurf: RIA

Criterion W7 looks at the use of Rich Internet Application technologies

Each web page can have many different containers (called divisions), with actions unique to that container, providing a seamless update to just that part of the page.

In this example a basic AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) powered contact form is illustrated.

Slide 19: OpenTurf: Social features

The final criterion, W8, considers social features and sharing online identities

  1. My platform includes some other useful content creation Web 2.0 tools are hidden but can be uncovered when a user clicks the plus sign.
  2. Quick links are available on each page for users to access social media accounts, allowing for easy linking to relevant content., which they may like to share.
  3. If interesting comments have been made within the OpenTurf platform a user can share this instantly with one of their social media networks (Facebook,, StumbleUpon, Digg, Google+, or Twitter are included).

Slide 20: OpenTurf: Open Education

The blending of the chosen Web 2.0 tools on this platform has created an open learning environment that is:

  • Social,
  • Informal, and
  • Collaborative.
  • It is also:
  • freely accessible,
  • disruptive in that it challenges paid for and closed platforms, and is
  • innovative due to the interconnected approach taken.

Slide 21: OpenTurf: Self-determined learning

The interconnected nature of the platform also allows a learner the freedom of choice to engage with and follow their learning journey.

The need to be active and reflective in user generated content all links back to my starting idea and the need to embrace change to develop 21st century skills, with the platform providing increased opportunities for lifelong learning.


Slide 22: Conclusion

To conclude then,

OpenTurf has:

  1. A good blend of interconnected Web 2.0 tools to promote active, collaborative learning,
  2. An accessible, digital, informal platform that reduces barriers to learning and promotes open education, and
  3. A structure which allows a learner the freedom of determining their own learning journey.

What next?

I need to

  • Add content,
  • Gather user feedback,
  • Promote more widely,
  • Add more features, and
  • Continually innovate.
  • Thank you & Any questions?

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