Reclaim Open Learning

better online learning for higher ed


September 21, 2013 by Claudia Caro Sullivan

Maren Deepwell, Association for Learning Technology (ALT)
Martin Hawksey, Cetis/ALT
David Jennings, DJ Alchemi Ltd
Rachel Harris, Inspire Research Ltd

ocTEL (open course in Technology Enhanced Learning) is a connectivist MOOC organised by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). ALT is a UK-based independent charity established in 1993. The course makes use of a wide range of openly licensed materials including ALT’s own repository of recordings of webinars, conference keynotes and papers in ALT’s Open Access research journal.

ocTEL is aimed at teachers in higher education and helps them understand better how to use technology to enhance their teaching practice.

The course materials are themselves available under a CC-BY licence. The materials were written, and the tutor support for participants was provided, by a team of volunteers who are themselves teachers in higher education.

The course hub uses WordPress customised with a selection of open source plugins and code. It features an innovative ‘course reader’ that displays aggregated resources created or shared by participants. Various other community spaces emerged during the course created by participants which were aggregated and shared in the course hub. The course is entirely open and a login is only required to comment in forums and to receive daily email updates.

ocTEL has been run once (April – June 2013) with just over 1,500 registrations. We are currently digesting the data and evaluation from this to adapt it for a second run in 2014. We already have a number of examples where ideas from ocTEL are being used elsewhere. ocTEL is proud to be powered by open.

Additional Resources:
This is the home page for the site, built in WordPress. It features a straightforward call to action, which enables us to direct participants to current features during the course. It provides ready access to all the course materials, different discussion forums, support resources, and latest blog posts about administration of the course.
Here are all the materials for the course, including texts, activities, links to resources and webinar recordings.
We believe the ocTEL Course Reader is a major innovation in enabling course participants (and tutors) to get a single, integrated view of all the contributions to the course, whether they are made on participants’ blogs, on social networks, shared bookmarking platforms, or on the course email list. The user interface is modelled loosely on the old Google Reader for maximum consistency with user expectations. You can filter the sub-categories of contributions using the links on the right of the screen, and each has its own RSS feed.
This profiles the team who have contributed to ocTEL so far. Those with photographs contributed to the design of the course and the writing (or review) of the materials. Those listed at the foot of the page provided tutor support for one or two of the weeks of the course. With the exception of the ALT staff (Maren Deepwell and Anna Davidge), project manager (David Jennings), technical lead (Martin Hawksey) and evaluator (Rachel Harris), all team members are volunteers.
This is the Google+ community that was originated, developed and managed by a self-organised group of participants. It features links to several of the course features and the contributions (193 in total) are categorised by course module.

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