#ocTel is over, I am now brilliant – just don’t ask me to prove it

In the final week of #octel we looked at evaluation and feedback and this was also a chance to look back at the course and see what we had learnt and if we had answered our big question.

Looking back over my Blog posts I feel that I have learnt a fair amount and have crystallised a few thoughts that I was playing around with, however looking back over the course materials I am not sure that what I learnt was always what the course had planned to teach me.

My question is – is that particularly a bad thing?  and then with brilliant timing John Graves posted to the octel g+ group this speech from Stephen Downes, which reassures me that no its probably not a bad thing.

Looking back to my Big Question – “How do we get staff to engage with and create a culture of TEL that improves learning” have I come up with an answer?  Well no I haven’t but I would be surprised if I did, I expect that question is likely to be my life’s work.  I do however think I have a few more fragments of the answer, so I will take that as a success.


As for evaluating the octel course itself, was it a success?  What about MOOCs in general how can their success be measured.   We were given a nice ocTEL badge to say how brilliant we are, but was that what I took the course for?

I wonder if there is a danger in mistaking the qualification for the learning?

notapipeThis is not so serious when its a course taken for interest such as ocTEL, but for a lot of education the stakes are much higher, as you will see from this article Riot after Chinese teachers try to stop pupils cheating, valuing the results much more than the process can cause problems.  This article by Professor Sugata Mitra about Allowing the internet in exams would sidestep some of the cheating issues and is more likely to measure what students can do (as a result of their learning).  So is the success the network – going back to the Downes speech earlier, I would say it probably is.  In which case ocTEL was successful for those that engaged, we formed a community and learnt a bit and then moved on (some brief engagement and brief learning, some longer engagement and more learning – most with some level of success).

This is a fairly rambling post, but that is because I had a number of ideas bouncing around left over from the course – and that (to me) is probably the most important success.


4 thoughts on “#ocTel is over, I am now brilliant – just don’t ask me to prove it

  1. David Jennings

    Thanks Joseph, for this and all your contributions to the course. The directions that you and your fellow participants have opted to explore are, in my book, as much a contribution to the character of this run of ocTEL as the original course materials and the intentions behind them. In that sense, I definitely think it’s a good thing that you learned different things from what we planned to teach. See, we (the course ‘authors’) were a raggle-taggle bunch – some of whom have still not met each other – and, yes, we tried to sequence some learning activities that had a coherent feel, but I doubt, if we really got down to it, all the authors would agree among ourselves on a specific agenda. Also there’s a tension inherent in a course that claims to be Open. This implies that we would not turn away learners with different agendas from ours (if we had a clearly articulated one). So we wanted to keep the plans and aims flexible. Yet the cultural expectations of anything that calls itself a ‘course’ are that it specifies learning outcomes and aims. We played along with that, even though it pulls in a different direction to ‘true’ Openness. I think that’s one – of several – contradictions baked into MOOCs like ours. Anyway, I’m a big fan of ‘learning against the grain’, learning lessons other than what teachers sought to teach (I picked up that habit at a very Conservative school), so more power to you.
    Disclaimer: my fellow course authors may completely dissociate themselves from these views!

    1. josephgliddon Post author

      Thanks David
      I have enjoyed the course and it has been nice to be on a mooc small enough that one of the tutors has commented on my blog more than once

  2. John Graves

    Stephen Downes and Salman Khan have both gone on the record expressing their surprise when the content they placed online found a much wider audience than expected.

    Before the global financial crisis I worked as a quantitative analyst and since the crisis I’ve worked on a PhD in computer science involving simulations of open source software development as a complex system. Whatever our intentions and motivations may be in this new world of globally accessible learning, the mathematics are revealing: content which used to be created for a few dozen, very similar students in a particular class is now being shared with vastly greater numbers of learners from very different backgrounds.

    The meta-lessons we are all learning about the power of this diversity and sharing are the real lesson, above and beyond the mini-lessons contained in the interactions around a particular topic (such as ocTEL). This is the message of this new medium and I believe it offers a new opportunity: socially responsible learning.

    Making Learning Socially Responsible

    1. josephgliddon Post author

      John – great slide speech, I have been enjoying a number of yours over the course and this is particularly good.
      “We all need to become smarter” – I couldn’t agree more. We have both a personal responsibility to make ourselves smarter and a social one to make others smarter


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s