Where am I studying?

Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) building at the DelftTU campus (from http://www.tudelft.nl/en/about-tu-delft/faculties/)

After watching the feedback Video on Assignment 1  I wanted to know more about the institution I’m studying ‘at’. I visit the website for the Delft University of Technology. There is a very nice promotional video in English – is all the teaching in English at this University?  I found English listed as the teaching language on one of the online course, but I’m not sure if that’s the case for on campus? I checked and most are taught in Dutch but a few are taught in English – I also notice that I’ve been directed to the English version of the website.  There was some interesting discussions in our DEGC blog about English Language and whether this had become a ‘de facto’ standard on global education? this discussion linked to Pickles (2016) article which says:

According to the German linguist Ranier Enrique Hamel, in 1880 there were 36% of scientific publications using English, which had risen to 64% by 1980.

But this trend has been further accentuated, so that by 2000, among journals recognised by Journal Citation Reports, 96% were in English.

I want to see what the campus looks like and I find a page about the various campus buildings. I decide that this course probably sites within the Faculty Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science – so that would be the building I’m ‘studying’ in if I were on campus. I wonder if the videos are filmed here?

It looks DelftTU are offering free MOOCs partly to promote their full online courses. They have a website showcasing Online Learning Options. I discover at the end of the course that they are offering a paid for follow up course to the Open Government MOOC, which looks into the subject in more depth.

Are you interested in a follow up course? > Professional Education in Data Governance
From October 2016, TUDelft will be hosting a 5 week professional education course on Open Data Governance and Use for professionals, administrators, policy advisors, developers and government officials.

Pickles, M. (2016) Could the dominance of English harm global scholarship? BBC NEWS Retrieved 11th March 2016 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35282235


I’m thinking about why universities want to run MOOCS?

Image: DelftX: OG10x Open Government  Delft University of Technology  CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Hosting a MOOC is a great way to get people interested a subject to view it from your point of view and to get them to read your research in this area – if you are being cynical could it be considered a tool for promoting a particular set of ideas (even indoctrination?). This course on Open Government has a political agenda as it is encouraging ‘open government’ through ‘open data’ with a more democratic process as a goal. In Janssen, M. Charalabidis, Y. & Zuiderwijk A. (2012) (the second mandatory reading) they say:

“Instead of reinforcing current processes, open data should result in open government in which the government acts as an open system and interacts with its environment”

Two of the authors of this paper teach on the MOOC –  so  it’s also promoting the research of the staff who are teaching on it and research projects they have been involved in (e.g. http://www.engagedata.eu/). It will be raising awareness of the projects and getting more people to read the work and in time may lead to more citations. It may enhance their reputation beyond their own institution. It may raise the profile of the institution that hosts the MOOC perhaps bringing them to the awareness of a new audience. 

ed/DelftTU are also getting interesting data from the participants which also be used to create a large data set of ‘citizen sourced’ data – for example in the week 2 activity where you submit your case study into a collection via a survey form.

de Freitas, Morgan & Gibson. (2015) link MOOCs to the global economic downturn and the related need lifelong learning. They also talk about the timely convergence of technologies that has led to MOOCs  “…online learning opening up ready access to digital media rich content and more recently mobile learning allowing us to change where we learn – anytime and anywhere”.

Salmon et al (2015) suggest the potential of MOOCs for staff development:

“…that MOOC’s provide an easily scalable and effective means of exposing university academics and professional staff to the experience of learning online, to research, collaborate and potentially to change practice on a wide scale”

They suggest that this may be where MOOCs prove a ‘game changer’ in education.

Ng’ambi, D. & Bozalek, V. (2015) say that while higher education institutions are facing global austerity measures and meanwhile being encouraged to increase intake, improve retention and widen participation and that they may:

“…see MOOC’s as one way of addressing these challenges: however the relationships between MOOC’s increasing and widening intake, and improvement of of throughput and graduation rates remains fuzzy”

During her Keynote presentation at the OER16 Open Culture conference, Highton, M. (2016) quotes University of Edinburgh Principle, Professor Sir Tim O’Shea’s response to the question of why does the University of Edinburgh do MOOC:

“for reputation, for fun, to try new ways of teaching, not for money”

So I am starting to see that different institutions may have a variety of reasons for starting to offer MOOCs.

de Freitas, S., Morgan, J. and Gibson, D. (2015). Will MOOCs transform learning and teaching in higher education? Engagement and course retention in online learning provision. British Journal of Educational Technology. 46(3): pp. 455-471

Highton, M. (2016) Keynote – Open with care. OER16 Open Culture April 20th 2016

Janssen, M. Charalabidis, Y. & Zuiderwijk A. (2012). Benefits, Adoption Barriers and Myths of Open Data and Open Government. Information Systems Management (ISM),29(4): pp 258-268

Ng’ambi, D. and Bozalek, V. (2015). Editorial: Massive open online courses (MOOCs): Disrupting teaching and learning practices in higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(3): pp. 451-454

Salmon, G., Gregory, J. Lokuge Dona, K. and Ross B. (2015). Experiential online development for educators: The example of the Carpe Diem Mopc. British Journal of Educational Technology. 46 (3): pp. 542-556

Feedback video on assignment 1

FeedbackVideoWk1I just watched a  feedback video that has been posted about assignment 1. It was presented by lecturer, Dr Anneke Zuiderwijk, she started by looking at the world map and says that currently there are approximately 3,500 participants in this course – so much higher than the numbers I estimated (though looking at the number of discussion posts I’d say there are in the hundreds for active users and many more lurkers/vicarious learners). She listed some of the cases that had been submitted in each category and I was pretty excited to see mine listed! Having read several other case studies I’d realised that mine was a more local small scale example and I feel I could have done better, so it felt good to have my contribution acknowledged!

The video is in the same style as those throughout the course, very professional and formal but it’s feels different to see, Dr Anneke Zuiderwijk, responding to the activities on the course, suddenly she has become a ‘real’ person to me, rather than a pre-recorded figure who could have nothing to do with the current proceedings.  

Week 2 – no longer a newbie

Screen shot of the Bookmarks page
Bookmarks tool – I’d worked out how to add them but then found the page of the collected bookmarks – super handy!

It’s easier to get started in the second week. I’m starting to find my way around the interface a bit better. I’ve just sussed how to find the bookmarks I’ve made and that should be a big help, as I kept losing pages last week!

I’ve also got a rough idea of how much time all the component parts will take. I started this week by watching the assignment video, then checking out the workload plan. Now I can work back from these.

This week’s assignment task is to complete a survey, still using the case study from the week 1 assignment – this will allow them to collate info from all the thousands of MOOC participants and share it back with us. It’s an interesting idea and it makes good use of the “massive” aspect of the MOOC. I’m not sure about thousands of participants? Judging by the number of submissions in the discussion boards I’d say closer to hundreds?

There’s a mixed message from the  T & Cs on the survey!

We would like to remind you that your participation in this survey is voluntary. You may withdraw your participation at any time. Your decision as to whether to participate however will affect 10% of your grade. Your answers here, combined with your edX course data, may be used in scientific research related to online education. This survey is in accordance with the edX Privacy Policy. All provided information will be treated confidentially.

So it looks like an aspect of this MOOC is about collecting data for a research project. Is this another way in which MOOCs are not entirely ‘free’ in that your labour becomes part of someone’s research project?

Week 1 activities and assignments

Week1ProgressThis week, over a couple of evening I watched all of the course videos, discovering that it was hard to keep my attention for even the 12 minutes required for the longest ones! I took notes and then completed the quiz questions for each video. I like this format, I like having the questions straight after the video so I can ask myself what I’ve understood. I did go back to the slides and check some of the details before answering. These answers are not actually saved (which is a bit confusing in the progress screen!). I then sat the real end of week quiz (6 out of 6 though I went back and checked before answering a few). I also read the course paper one morning, I’d printed it out and it was nice to have an off line task to do.

Another evening was spent completing the first assignment of this Open Government MOOC, you are asked to find and analyze an Open Government case to a set template and share it to the discussion boards for peer review. So here it is:

1) Open Data Scotland

2) A pilot website developed by open data company Swirrl for the Scottish Government  to show the potential of linked data and to encourage citizens to access and use the data.

3) Actors:

Primary stakeholder – Swirrl (http://www.swirrl.com/about) – open data company and developer of the website

Primary stakeholder – Scottish Government – website client

Secondary stakeholder – The National Archives -data provider (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/)

Secondary stakeholder – School teachers and students as the site encourages them to engage with open data

Secondary stakeholder – Journalists, statisticians and researchers – content/training is aimed at getting them involved

4) This website was developed as a showcase to demonstrate how linked data sets can be used to create visualizations. It demonstrates linking data from three data sets, The data is available in multiple machine-readable formats including JSON, RDF, Turtle and N-triples.

APIs are used and full technical documentation is provided.

Data visualization – Javascript

5) Geographical coverage – Scotland

6) References


Posted to Category 1: Data and Information Sharing

The discussion interface is horrible, requires multiple scrolling and I couldn’t get all my URLs to convert to hyperlinks! Otherwise it’s all okay and I manage to complete my first assignment.

After I’ve submitted my assignment to the discussion board and then all I need to do is click a button to say I’ve done it – and it gets added to my progress report (I’m now 13% complete) so it appears to be an honesty system.

The next task is to review 6 other submissions in two categories and to vote on your favourite. This I leave for my next session on Saturday afternoon.

I want to do the second part of the assignment but initially have some difficulty finding the correct assignment discussions. I finally find the discussion and set to work reviewing submitted cases. These three sites look particularly interesting and were the case info is complete and I add my vote to these:

http://search.politicalmashup.nl/ – a search tool to look up parliamentary debates that includes collections from Netherlands, Canada, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Begium and EU

https://openspending.org/ the objective of OpenSpending is to map, track, and analyse public financial information. Geographical Coverage: Worldwide (76 countries at the time of writing)

https://www.challenge.gov/about/ – Where you can look at  federal incentive prize and challenge competitions – described as a ‘Crowdsourcing competion for all”

My case has no votes! I’m a little disappointed but I also see that having picked a local Scottish project may have been of less interest to the global group of students – those which have been voted for (and those I voted for myself) are project with a broader or global datasetWhilst reviewing the case I note that I am not the only one who struggled with the formatting in the discussions. I complete this task by checking a box, and that’s me know completed 18% – I’m wondering where the 2% has disappeared too? It’s related to voting but I don’t know if that because no one has voted for my case? I certainly added my votes?

I complete the final task by  adding my case study to a world map.

Week 1 – MOOC first impressions

DelftX: OG101x Open Government – this a well constructed online course – it offers functionality to track progress, discussion boards and a wiki. It’s got nice features like a workload grid showing the estimated time for each activity. At first glance though the course seems very assessment heavy! With both a quiz and an assignment required each week. I’m assuming the quiz will be computer marked but I’m wondering how the assignment will be managed?

Grading Figure from DelftX:OG101X Open Government

Image from Delft University of Technology licensed under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0

Each week there is one required paper and one recommended paper so far fewer than for my DEGC course! As a learning technologist I am impressed with the use of the technology, the videos are short and clear with subtitles and the transcript displayed alongside with clickable links. A PDF of the transcript and a PDF of the slides can also be downloaded. There are also options to speed up or slow the video. The video’s are hosted on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMYd2nAMgdMBut accessed from YouTube you don’t have all the additional content and the extra video player options such as the speed adjustments. The video has a licence CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0  (as does all the course content) this is actually a slightly more restrictive Creative Commons licence because it can’t be used or remixed for commercial purposes (NC = Non commercial), and must be re-licensed under the same licence (SA = share alike) but it would let you remix or build on the video as long as it’s credited.

Getting started – registering

The MOOC I’ve chosen to undertake, DelftX: OG101x Open Government, is on the On edX Platform. eDX was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012 – so has a prestigious pedigree – and they work with partner institutions – this course is produced by the Delft University of Technology

Registering requires giving a name (which can’t be changed later?) I have an internal debate about whether to give my real name of not? I opt for an initial and surname so as not to give away my gender, but it’s already taken, so I end up just using my real name.

To register I also have to agree to the edX Terms of Service and Honor Code so I’ve had a quick look at them. I was interested to see what they would say about user postings:


License Grant to edX. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to edX a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, assignable, sub licensable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to host, transfer, display, perform, reproduce, modify, distribute, re-distribute, relicense and otherwise use, make available and exploit your User Postings, in whole or in part, in any form and in any media formats and through any media channels (now known or hereafter developed).

License Grant to edX Users. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to each user of the Site a non-exclusive license to access and use your User Postings in connection with their use of the Site for their own personal purposes.

So it looks like everything you contribute is licenced to edX. I wonder why they don’t just licence it into the Creative Commons?

Anderson & Simpson (2007) pick up on my concerns when they consider the”rights students have regarding privacy, informed consent and use of their work” they are concerned about the amount of data that learning management systems collect automatically and that tutors don’t need to actively request. They encourage tutors to ask for ‘informed consent’, which students will have, if they stopped to read the Terms & Conditions when they registered for edX.

The threat of “textual permanence” is also discussed by Anderson & Simpson (2007) as a new accordance of the  online medium -“to distribute easily and widely exact copies of messages” – that may be part of my concerns about whether to use my real name in this space?


I’m enrolled, but edX are very keen that I pursue a Verified Certificate for $50 – I opt to ‘Audit This Course’ which seems fundamentally the same without the certificate?

Anderson, B. and Simpson, M. (2007) ‘Ethical issues in online education’, Open Learning. 22(2): pp. 129-138.