Professor Direct: an alternative to MOOCS

Professor Direct is run by a company called Straighterline, a host of self-paced online courses.

Professor Direct allows instructors to establish the value of the course they offer, by establishing the size of the cohort, the services they will provide and the price point for these services. The company charges a base fee and instructors add their price to this. StraighterLine also offers instructors commissions for attracting students.

Read more about it in this post from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Learning Design Support Environment

The Learning Design Support Environment 

is an ESRC/EPSRC funded Technology Enhanced Learning project.

The online outcome of this project, a tool called the Pedagogical Pattern Collector, uses technology to engage teachers in play – in ways that help them make decisions about pedagogy and practice, and focus on what is important in their own teaching practice.

About the project:

(from the YouTube video The Learning Designer, featured on the project site)

Professor Diana Laurillard, Professor of Learning with Digital Technologies at the University of London Institute of Education, and Principal Director of the LDSE project mentions that this tool was developed to encourage teachers to be innovative in helping their students learn. It is designed for teachers and lecturers to allow them to think about teaching practice, learning design and curriculum components, whilst modelling different kinds of teaching and learning activities on the computer canvas.

Patricia Charlton, a researcher on artificial intelligence, cognitive science and technology enhanced learning at the London Knowledge Lab, and Research Fellow of LDSE, describes how the system they have developed expands and grows through the interaction between the system, individual teacher users and the community of users.

Dr Liz Masterman, who leads the pedagogical research and evaluation activities, explains how useful the tool is for making the transition from face-to-face learning to online learning, where you need to redesign what is delivered and accessed online.

Professor Laurillard makes the point that the system actually captures pedagogy. It provides opportunities to map how teachers will teach and to visualise learning design. She affirms that use of the tool generates a reflective, iterative process where teachers adopt, adapt, test, reflect and publish  – a cycle of reuse and change that supports innovation.

How teachers use the PPC Browser environment

  • Select a pedagogical pattern
  • Insert elements related to specific learning outcomes
  •  Adapt the pattern to create a customised teaching session or unit of work
  • Specify and sequence the activities related to outcomes and even link to online sites and forums etc
  • Monitor the ratio of time spent of individual learning activities
  • Save and export templates to hard drive
  • Open the PPC Designer, where the adapted template can be customised and developed to create a new unique learning design
  • The PPC Abstractor can be used to modify and abstract specific elements in the outcomes and save a generic template of this design so it can be shared with other users of the tool.

Collection of pedagogical patterns included in LDSE

  • Effects of system input on output
  • Evaluate multiple interpretations
  • Predict observe explain
  • Guess my x-process-object reationship
  • Teach to learn
  • Understanding authentic practice
  • Customising procedures
  • Learning concepts through contrasting cases
  • Understanding critical factors in system
  • Evaluating practical implications of theoretical perspectives
  • Collaborate to overcome limitations
  • Evaluate design using theory
  • Research based approach to practice