• E-Mail in the Cloud: An Open University Survey

    Windows Live Mail mailbox in Redmond, WA

    Windows Live Mail mailbox in Redmond, WA

    I joined the Open University (OU) as an Associate Lecturer (AL) back in May 2000 to teach the university’s T171: You, Your Computer and the Net course, the university’s first large-scale foray into online teaching. As one of hundreds of new ALs, I was thrown into the world of FirstClass, the university’s chosen platform for collaboration and discussion in its courses, and among its students and associate lecturers. If you haven’t already heard, the death knell for FirstClass has been sounded. I believe the transition away from FirstClass for courses is expected to be complete by October 2010. As part of that transition, our e-mail accounts need to go somewhere, but where?

    Sample Google Mail Spam Folder

    Sample Google Mail Spam Folder

    If you’re a student, you may already be using your own personal, non-OU e-mail address at the university. If you’re an associate lecturer or other academic/support staff, having a .open.ac.uk e-mail address is an important part of your professional identity. According to David Wilson, director of strategic planning in LTS, a choice is being considered between Google Apps Education Edition and Microsoft Live@edu and should be made shortly (in Snowball 36 – November 2009). It will definitely be put into place for students, but it may extend further than that. The decision has not yet been made, so we have a very small window of opportunity to provide some input as to our preferences. I’ve constructed a very small, unofficial survey at SurveyMonkey to do that.

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  • OER and a Pedagogy of Abundance

    Martin Weller gave a 30-minute presentation last week for George Siemens’s CCK09 course on an idea he called “the pedagogy of abundance.” The key idea was that teaching in the past had been based on a scarcity model. I interpreted this as meaning knowledge was scarce (or closely guarded) and educators (the “talent”) were the scarce high priests on high–classic sage on the stage. He likened it to the music industry, which doesn’t strike me as too far off-base.

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  • The 2008 H810 Interview Presentation

    Title Slide

    These are my slides for my August 19th interview presentation. I was given the remit of presenting a five- to ten-minute presentation on the “Challenges Affecting Disabled in E-Learning”. The interview was for an associate lecturer position on the new H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students postgraduate course, part of the M.A. in online distance education. Each slide has been annotated based on my presentation preparation notes. A downloadable version is available.

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  • Photo Published & Cashing Cheques

    Here’s a picture of me (and 6 others) who were recently honoured with the first teaching awards ever available for associate lecturers at the Open University in the United Kingdom. In the picture, I’m wearing a black suit and a salmon-coloured top on the far right of the picture. A version of this picture just appeared in an article the May-June edition of Open House, the OU-wide newspaper for staff of the Open University.

    In previous years, the awards were only open to support staff and full-time central academic staff which is reflected in the headline for the article of “AL’s honoured at last.” Alas, while I am mentioned by name in the article, they don’t say very much about any of us. For example, about me. all they said is “Winnings [sic] ALs pictured are … TT280 and TT281 tutor Michelle Hoyle.” Yep, that’s it. We all had a few words in the article.

    The Ein At Teaching Awards Day

    The cheque arrived in the most recent pay advice and I’m busy plotting what “personal” and “professional” self-development use I can put it to. I’ve started with a new pedometer and a new scale (waiting for the bank transfer to clear and that to be shipped still), and am trying to justify one of those new AirPort Express portable wireless stations with support for streaming to my stereo. I was also considering retroactively including the cost of my rather expensive Rosetta Stone language learning software for German; that’s definitely personal development.

    Oh, the agony of deciding!

  • Fame & Fortune

    From this week’s Bulletin, newsletter of the University of Sussex.

    A part-time DPhil student in the Informatics department has won a national Associate Lecturer Teaching Award from the Open University (OU). Michelle Hoyle started teaching in the OU’s Faculty of Technology in May 2000 and delivers internet technology courses, primarily online. The award will be presented on 20 April at a ceremony in Milton Keynes and comes with £1,000 to be used for personal and/or professional development.

    It’s also on the front page of the Informatics web site at the university. It’s my 15 minutes of fame this year. (-:

  • Bulletin Bravada

    I spent part of today working on a 100-word statement that the Open University wants to put on their web site closer to the time of the award presentation ceremony. I find it ironic that, after writing two pages about myself in order to apply for the award, I have to write another 100. I find it even more ironic that I also had to suggest a sentence to put on the certificate. For the certificate, Stephen and I eventually settled on “for outstanding dedication and excellence in on-line teaching.”

    That still left the hundred words to be written. I reviewed my original award application material and put together the following:

    Michelle focuses on Internet technology courses delivered primarily on-line. In TT280/TT281 (Design, Development, and Management/Client-Side Scripting), she provides extensive guidance through the development of supplementary course materials, in-depth FAQs, and a strong breadth of knowledge. She is a passionate communicator about technology, believing technology is sometimes only as difficult as people make it. Therefore, demonstrating a belief that students can achieve is a key to student success. In computing and technology, where women are scarce, she is a visible role model that women can succeed well in these traditionally male-dominated fields even if they have tangible weaknesses to overcome.

    Once I had that out of the way, I decided I might as well go whole hog and e-mail the The Bulletin as suggested by Thufir. Not being familiar with the publication and what information they might require, I probably went overboard.

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