OLDS MOOC W4 problems and questions

Problems.

I have many motivations for participating in the OLDS MOOC. One of which is to experience a MOOC as a student and to see how a MOOC is managed.  I’ve previously mentioned in this blog my frustration with having so many communication channels (and this has been debated – some people like it).  Now I’m frustrated because I have posted questions relating to week 4’s Pedagogical Patterns Collector three times to the (Google) Open Forum only for the messages to mysteriously vanish.  What is even more frustrating is that there is no announcement on the OLDSMOOC announcement’s forum acknowledging an issue and nothing on twitter.  This is not a rant but an observation. I’m now thinking that it may be being explained somewhere else – maybe in CloudWorks which I don’t really see as a forum as such, but I suspect not.  The MOOC doesn’t have a central IT Support area for technical issues so it has left me high and dry.

So, I’ll post my questions here and signpost it via twitter. Not ideal but with the MOOC moving on relentlessly and week 5 starting today it seems important to tie up week 4’s loose ends asap.

Questions.

So, having looked at the Pedagogical Patterns Collector I have the following questions:

[Later edit in blue on 13 Feb with answers to my questions.  I thought it best to put the asnwers here rather than in a new post.  Thanks to Dejan
Ljubojevic (Linnaeus University, Sweden], Liz Masterman (University
of Oxford) and Diana Laurillard (The London Knowledge Lab.

What is clear is that I misunderstood the character of the PPC.  I had thought it was the result of a project to develop this software, whereas in fact it was a research project.

The LDSE project website has now been updated and has the PPC tool available for download – please follow the link below. https://sites.google.com/a/lkl.ac.uk/ldse/downloads ).

1. Sustainability and support. I can see that it was developed at the University of Oxford  London Knowledge Lab with project money from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Can you explain the sustainability of the project? A quick search hasn’t told me whether development funding has finished or how the application will be supported in future. These are important considerations for anyone thinking of using it.
Funding has ceased. It was funded from 2008 – 2011.
2. Open Source Community. The manual says it is open source but I can’t find any community outside the project team working with it. Has anyone else shown interest?

PPC does not conform to the Open Source standard – the source code has not been made available for lack of documentation, and the lack of documentation is due to the nature of the project – research. Lack of time was reason for the lack of documentation consistent with Open Source requirements. However, it is hoped that very soon the PPC installation package will be made available together with an Installation Guide.

3. Accessibility. Is there an accessibility statement from the developers?
Accessibility was not a consideration in prototyping what is essentially a research tool (a proof of concept tool) that explores the ‘teachers as designers’ phenomena.   
4. Distribution model. Do I understand the distribution model correctly? The developers want institutions to install it themselves rather than share a common installation?  Has anyone in the UK explored the possibility of hosting one for the whole of the HE sector? HEA? JISC?

The envisaged distribution model is to seed the PPC tool, each with a collection of User’s patterns/designs. The intention was to foster an environment for intra-institutional exchange. The second phase in the model would see the ‘pulling together’ of the institutions’ developed collections into one central one where moderators/researchers would catalogue and group similar designs and the developers would perform an inductive exploration on how to evolve the Pedagogical Pattern concept further.          

5. Flash. How far away is an html5 version as its use of Flash seems a little behind the times, especially for a new product?
If further funding can be found HTML 5 will be the platform of
choice for the redevelopment.
6. VLE integration. I couldn’t quite make out what is said at 12.18 on the introductory video – http://vimeo.com/36556386. It sounds as though there’s some sort of link up between the PPC and Moodle. Can anyone explain?

The 12:18 utterance is ‘provide the URL link to the Moodle forum we previously setup for the course.’  This was an example of how to link the activity design with the resource where the design can play itself out.  This link is just surface level, that is, the PPC does not speak ‘Moodle’ or any other VLE ‘language’, (the only exception being the Learning Designer (another tool developed on the LDSE project).

7.  Use. Has the PPC been implemented anywhere outside the project team’s institutions yet? I’m interested in hearing about how it was received. (I ‘d expect it to have been downloaded and installed for evaluation purposes many times but I’m really more interested in its roll out).

The PPC  was trialed at two of the partner institutions in the project, but it has been used ‘for real’ at the University of Hong Kong. See the following paper:
Law, N., Laurillard, D., & Lee, Y. (2011). Learning design as a medium for scaffolding teacher learning and collaboration. In Spada, H., et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Connecting Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning to Policy and Practice (pp. 526- 533). Hong Kong: International Society of the Learning Sciences.
It can be found in the PDF document of the proceedings at http://gerrystahl.net/pub/cscl2011proceedingsI.pdf (24.2 MB).

8.  Name and version. The download page talks about a product called the Learning Designer.  Is this the same as the Pedagogic Patterns Tool (mentioned on the same page) and also the Pedagogical Patterns Collector?  I’m confused because the downloads page says we can take a “sneak peek of version 3” (presumably of the Learning Designer(?) or “why not try our online Pedagogic Patterns Tool?” the link to which is broken.  (The link points to http://tinyurl.com/ppcollector3 which redirects to http://193.61.44.29:42042/ODC.html
The Pedagogical Patterns Collector (Tool) and the Learning Designer are two
distinct tools (although one of the research objectives was to enable patterns
created in the PPC to be opened and edited in the Learning Designer). The
correct URL for the PPC is now http://web.lkldev.ioe.ac.uk/PPC/live/ODC.html.
Thanks
Bob R-S
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3 comments

  1. Bob,
    I tackled your #8 first, Using your link I attempted to download the tool for Windows, (I have 64bit W 7). I also have the JRE (apparently). I extracted the files then looked in the bin folder where I found an Idsev3 app icon. Clicking on this successfully started the app. It is different than the PPC tool (but similar)

    How can tools and shared data survive? I think open sourcing and distributed adoption would help. If funding dries up for one server, the code still exists on others. Putting it on github probably would help, too. Where is a safe and free repository for shared data? I am not up to speed on all this stuff, but I think each user could feed their data via RSS to a central distribution server. If that center failed the distributed data could still be found via search and feed readers.

    Art

  2. Some more thoughts on distributed vs centralized. I was in the foemooc which was suspended when their centralized dependence on Google docs spread sheets failed under the load of 41,000+ users.
    If each user has their own learning environment (like this blog) and is discoverable via twitter (that is how I heard your plea), e-mail, RSS, or whatever, then failure of centralized centers does not prevent interaction between peer learners (peeragogy).

  3. Bob I replied in email last night to ask for your questions. Now I’ve found them, a lot to answer and all good questions. So they deserve proper answers. Problem is I’m away off sick for a couple of days with no Internet and only iPhone. Not easy to cover all that so will do it tmrw hopefully.
    But main point is that the PPC is not a product but a research prototype. Just got follow on funding to embed and make available in more sustainable way. Yes others using and IOE is hosting permanently.
    More to follow…

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