Blended Learning Course week 3

This week focused on three topics: VLE, Open tools and open educational resources (OER), and there were some interesting activities to help us learn the topics.

The first activity I’d like to highlight is giving an example of my learning activities through VLE tools and describing the impact it had on learners, and sharing the example on the VLE padlet wall; then critique another participant’s example from my perspective. This activity required us to practise many skills:

  • Reflective thinking on my own practice and pick a proper example.
  • Making online presentation. I decided to make a PowerPoint presentation through video as it is easy for people to follow my example. I could practise my presentation skills.
  • Publishing a post on Padlet, which is an easy-access open collaborative tool.
  • Awareness of public presentation and writing.
  • Critical thinking on my understanding of a topic.

Combining with some case studies, the exercise of selecting open tools to support learners helped me to rethink why adopt a tool. We encounter this kind of question a lot. People often ask us why we can’t use A, why we have to use B, Is B better than A, I cannot see B is better than A, etc. Apart from the elements of the service situation, it has to benefit users (especially learners) in the specific context. I need to help users to see the choices based on a thoroughly understanding of their use case. There are many open tools for different purposes (e.g., presentation, reflection, collaborative writing), personally I like Google tools, Vimeo, Audacity, Prezi, and WordPressSocrative as an interactive tool that allows users to answer questions, is new to me. I will have a look at it and learn the differences between it and Xerte Online Toolkits.

The third activity is that we had an online Q&A session on YouTube. It’s a good opportunity for us to interact with the educators, which reduced the learners’ isolated feeling when took an online course. It’s an excellent example that shows how technology is used to engage learners. Although I was late to join the session, I could read the chat history and watch the part I missed easily. One thing I noticed is that I couldn’t see how many other peers were watching it and on the Chat during the YouTube Live streaming. I learned a bit of how to broadcast with YouTube Live after the session.

I have a page in my blog which lists free online resources for educators. I haven’t updated it for a few years. The study in this week reminded me to keep such information up-to-date. They are on my to-do list now. I’m glad to refresh my knowledge about OER, and particularly like Neil‘s clarification about OERs and Open Access resources.

OERs should not be confused with Open Access resources: the latter also includes e-resources available on websites, but for these resources copyright and permitted usage is either unclear or not defined at all.

Like previous weeks, I enjoy reading comments, organising my thoughts and writing down, and learning from others. A few interesting conversations called my attention:

  • using Facebook in teaching and the inclusive issues for Chinese students in such scenarios;
  • discussions through forum in VLE or Whatsup, the differences?
  • advantages and disadvantages of OERs.

Inspec Direct

Inspec Direct is an enhanced search platform of Inspec, the world’s leading bibliographic database providing access to scientific and technical literature. As an online research tool, users are able to access to abstracts and citations to millions of high quality, relevant peer-reviewed articles, conference proceedings and technical reports, via a secure and intuitive interface featuring state-of-the-art indexing, search features and analytical functionality.  It covers subjects: physics, computing science, control engineering, electrical engineering, and information technology.

The Archive is available from 1898 to 1969.  Intellogist, Landon IP provides a brief introduction of Inspec Direct.

Lambert Academic Publishing – is it a real academic publishing?

Recently I received emails from Lambert Academic Publishing OmniScriptum GmbH & Co. KG.  I was surprised and happy that they came across a conference papers I wrote early this year. They were interested in my original work and publishing it to a book. Although it’s originally a working project report with me as a solo author, I knew I need to get agreement from the department first. With the agreement, I sent the report to the publisher as I’m also pleased to let people view my work and comment on it.

However, some thoughts I didn’t know why but occurred were warning me be careful. Within a week, my own instinct blows my overheated mind away.

  • There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Why my paper? why me?
  • They responded my emails quickly. By my experience, journal article reviewers will have at least two weeks to review an article. How can they read my whole report in three days without any comment and modifications required, and agree to publish it if I wish?
  • I accidentally delayed to register in their system. They then sent me another email to chase up.
  • Is it proper to publish my working report to a book?  I may need to get advice from professionals in this area.
  • I read their T&C carefully and found it sounds very easy to publish my own book and sale it on Amazon.  It seems all proofreading and quality checking are upon to the author his/herself.
  • My concerns were will people really buy the report if they knew they can get an e-copy from me directly. How many people will buy a report about popular technologies, especially we all know technology changes so fast.
  • I’m confident that my report is useful and good enough to distribute. However, what do I want from this publication? An academic credit? If so, why not go for a more well-known publisher? From academic people’s point of view, how brilliant the book will be? If it’s not good enough, it will add bad credits to my career, will it? For me, having a bad published book is worse than not having a published book.
  • I qualified in Information and Knowledge Management, The ideas such as “intellectual property”, “copyright” and “free information” are always in my mind. I searched online and found a handful of useful blog entries and discussions about this publishing service. It’s confirmed me to some extent.

Living Books About Life

Just found a series of curated, open access books about life, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), and published by Open Humanities Press (OHP)Living Books About Life.

The books were produced by a globally-distributed network of writers and editors, and were repacked existing open access science research by clustering it around selected topics with theme about life: e.g., air, agriculture, bioethics, cosmetic surgery, electronic waste, energy, neurology and pharmacology. The Series editors are Clare Birchall (University of Kent), Gary Hall (Coventry University), Joanna Zylinska (Goldsmiths, University of London).

Open textbooks

Funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, College Open Textbooks is a collection of colleges, governmental agencies, education non-profits, and other education-related organizations that are focused on the mission of driving the awareness and advocacy for open textbooks.

Flat World Knowledge is the world’s largest publisher of free and open college textbooks. is a free and open, not-for-profit, art history textbook. Part of the Khan Academy. It uses multimedia to deliver unscripted conversations between art historians about the history of art.

The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) is a joint effort by the OER Center for California, Foothill-De Anza Community College District, the League for Innovation in the Community College, OCW Consortium and many other community colleges and university partners to develop and use open educational resources (OER) and especially open textbooks in community college courses.