Tools of the Trade

In the online course of ICT and Learning the practical use of digital tools by the students are central, but in my various writings on the matter I have not gone into much description of this particular matter. Therefore, to rectify this, here is a list of tools my students in ICT and Learning have been using as part of solving their various obligatory tasks:

Tools within the LMS Moodle:

  • Wiki
  • Forum
  • Embedding of videos
  • Links, folders and information fields
  • Quiz
  • Gallup

These selected tools were part of the task of creating learning space within a LMS, focusing on chosen learning aims and outcomes connected to primary, secondary and upper secondary school curriculum.

Tools outside any LMS:

  • Blog
  • Dvolver Moviemaker

The students created learning resources focusing on a topic and an audience of their own choosing using these tools.  (For instance, English for primary school or ICT for pensioners.)

If I am to continuing with courses for ICT and Learning, I will select tools connected with smart phones and tablets, like QR codes and augmented reality tools, to get the students used to practical and pedagogical use of what is rapidly becoming important tools in Norwegian schools.

As for students from other courses, like the bachelor courses Game culture and collaboration technologies and Gaming Culture, I gave them tasks where they had to use Twitter, and SoundCloud in a professional way.


Finally an interesting MOOC! #edcmooc

I have joined a couple of MOOC’s, including two Norwegian ones, and so far I have to say I am not particular impressed. The educational content is of course impeccable, but the concept relies heavily on one or two videos pr. topic and masses of text with links. In other words not only “same shit” but also “same wrapping” as all other ordinary e-learning courses that has been in existing since time immemorial. Not that I am that much surprised , but still; one should have thought that at least heavy and innovative use of social media would be  an important part of these MOOC’s. But no.

It was therefore welcome news that University of Edinburgh‘s MOOC  “E-learning and Digital Cultures (EDCMOOC)” would not be taught via a series of video lectures but rather a selection of rich resources through which students can begin to engage with the themes of the course. EDCMOOC will utilise TwitterFlickr and blog, and encourages students to start using these services.

On EDCMOOC’s Coursera page they write that: “The course will explore how digital cultures and learning cultures connect and what this means for the ways in which we conduct education online. The course is not about how to ‘do’ e-learning; rather, it is an invitation to view online educational practices through a particular lens – that of popular and digital culture.”

This could be really interesting and I am looking forward to start this course 🙂


Online education is not for everyone

It seems that Harvard have discovered what all higher education institutions who have been doing e-learning and online education offers have known for years; online education is not for everyone. Before anyone signs up for any e-learning course, they should consider whether they are good at working independently, do they manage to work steadily on assignments and not put them off to the last moment, are they good at reading messages and information in a thorough manner and are they able to read texts carefully to catch the academic content, and last but not the least; are they able to function without being part of a physical student environment.

The Old Dominion University created some years ago a web page they called Distance Student Orientation, and where it is possible to take a quiz to help students assess whether online learning is right for them. In my experience online education, even with smaller numbers of students and more individual coaching from professionals than what the MOOC idea entails, is definitely not for everyone.

This is quite frankly old news within the e-learning sphere and I am astonished that this knowledge seems to be something new for Harvard. I have to admit I find it slightly disturbing that this MOOC amateurism from elite institutions (including the Norwegian NTNU) seems to have “legitimized” online learning.

Multilogue workshop on Twitter

The other day I had the pleasure to engage with my 3d yr. bachelor students in a discussion around various topics related to video games on Twitter. Since I have flipped my classroom anyway I decided  to take one more step and move out of the computer lab and into the cloud for a work shop on video game ethics and culture.

We kept at it for almost 3 hours going through 9 questions I put forward, ranging from ESRB and PEGI-type ratings, Aristotle, Plato and Euripides on violence in video games, harvesting Little Sisters, how women are portrayed in video games and is it possible to play Walking Dead, Mass Effect and BioShock based on virtue ethics?


And the point of it all? A part from wanting to engage them in reflections on some of the main topics of my lectures (found in the lecture blog spo300), training them in synthesis (140 characters necessitates concise formulations), I also wanted to give them points to use in their ongoing work with an individual essay. The majority of the students found this experiment interesting and rewarding. As one said it: “Cool, surely  this class has been the most active as for discussing. lol.”

Can Twitter be a tool for increasing participation in class discussions?

An illustration of my use and development of learning spaces online


LMS for organising the online lectures, and registering and keeping track of students, and collecting and storing their e-Portfolios, using project based methodology, using Web 2.0 tools for creating openly availably lectures and lecture resources, Twitter as the only successful tool as for student – lecturer interaction and as a tool for students to produce a social media product.


//Nettbasert undervisning med YouTube, podcast, blogg, integrert i Moodle – og prosjektbasert…//, In the Forum for Distance Education, Theme Issue Web 2.0, No. 1 (In Norwegian), 2008 – This interview with me explains my use of blogs as tools for my lecturing in Social Informatics

The online classroom – Developing learning spaces using blogs, wiki and twitter

To find various ways of using Web 2.0 tools, or Social Media tools as they now are called, to deliver lectures have been an ongoing project for me since 2006. Through the stimulating exchange of ideas with my then colleague Tom Erik Holteng back in 2006, and later on my own and with even more stimulating discussions with my wife Beata, I have so far been investigating

  • The blog as supplement to other lecturing tools used within and outside LMS in distance education
  • The use of various Web 2.0 tools for distributing video, sound and written lectures in distance education
  • The use of real life projects in distance education
  • The use of blogs as learning space, both delivering lectures in various forms as well as engaging students in interactions with other students and the lecturer.
  • The use of blogs within the concept of flipped classroom
  • The use of Twitter and as tools for engaging students in dialogue and content creation

There are many different pedagogical methods and didactical beliefs that can make the use of Social Media a positive space for learning (Bower, Hedberg & Kuswara, 2010). In my work so far, the various blogs and Wiki have been mainly designed in accordance with the transmissive approach, as lectures were broadcasted to the students in various ways, aiming at presenting information so as to reach both visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic learning preferences. The use of Twitter and are meant to engage students in discussions and product development and were rooted in constructionist’s ideas.

A key feature of the wiki and the blogs developed for the various courses in both Nesna University College and Nord-Trondelag University College, was that they were all based on creating an asynchronous learning environment. The idea was to offer instructional assistance and learning activities that met the demands, pace and interest of individual students. For those students who also received class room lecturing, the resources gave them opportunities to either prepare them for an upcoming lecture or reflect on a given lecture afterwards. According to Mandernach (2006) asynchronous environments allows for prepared, individualised, thoughtful interactions that are free from the constraints of time. Therefore all activities that would have demanded synchronous attention from the online students, like webinars, or online meetings via Skype or Adobe Connect was avoided. Also the use of Twitter was meant to be based on the individual students own pace and attendance, even if synchronous discussions did appear in some instances.

But what sort of conclusions can be drawn from my work, you may ask. And I would answer that I am very glad you asked that question, that the question should be asked, and that it is precisely such questions one should ask, and what was the question again?