Maz Waite

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Introducing social media to colleagues- a culture change

In March 2013 I met Anne Osterrider a plant cell biologist and research and science communication fellow; we work in the same faculty.

We come from different disciplines and have very different research interests but we immediately connected over our interests in social media and the fact that colleagues had approached us both individually to get them going with social networking.

So last month  along with another colleague, Irmgard Huppe we launched the #hlsclub for our colleagues. We have introduced some to Twitter and scaffolded others with more confidence about the potential and use of Twitter.

Today was our second meeting and our objective was to demonstrate use of a Twitterfall and hands-on skills to tweet the highlights of a presentation for the benefit of other colleagues who joined the session virtually. The intention was to mimic and demonstrate how these skills could be used at a conference or to build more interactivity into a teaching session.

I did a short 10-15 minute presentation on open academic practice, which had been put together by an external colleague, Jenny Mackness for #FSLT13.

This worked very well in practice because it also demonstrated use of an open educational resource and authenticated potential open academic practice at the same time.

It stimulated some good discussion and by asking others to summarise the key points of my presentation as tweets I had an opportunity to review their understanding of key points. This shows great potential for teaching and learning and what Stephen Brookfield describes as getting into learner’s heads.

The challenge for Anne, Irmgard and I is to sustain the interest of our colleagues who are eager for a change in their practices and keep them engaged with the potential benefits. 

Next week Anne and I will be running a session on Blogging for research at our annual Faculty research conference. Anne will be demonstrating how blogging has supported her science communication role and I will be showing how blogs can be used as a source of primary and secondary research data and how I am using this approach as both a researcher and Phd candidate.


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Expert participants in a MOOC


On 8th May 2013 First Steps in Teaching and Learning #FSLT13,  the Oxford Brookes University new lecturers’ massive open online course (MOOC) will be starting. This is an introduction to teaching in learning in higher education aimed at new lecturers and PHd students.

This is the second run of this MOOC. From our research and evaluation of the learner experience of  #FSLT12 (Waite et al, 2013) it was evident that some participants had high levels of expertise in terms of MOOC experience and craft knowledge to offer to the target audience. Reciprocal relationships were formed, which  promoted active participation by others.

For #FSLT13, the facilitators George Roberts, Neil Currant and I have taken an approach to maximise the role of the expert participant.  Dave Cormier et al  (2013) have  suggested that expertise in an open online course can mean something different than in a traditional classroom. It need not be someone who has studied in that discipline but might be highly motivated within the social network of a course. This provides an exciting challenge to traditional notions of teaching and learning and blurs the boundaries of learner and teacher and fits with a perspective that in a MOOC everyone has the potential to be a facilitator.

Our approach for #FSLT13 has been to ask for expressions of interest to take on the role of expert participant. Our call has gone out to colleagues and PHd students at Oxford Brookes University, participants from #FSLT12 and connections within our own personal networks.

Expert participants have been invited to help facilitate and moderate discussion forums, support other participants in learning activities and assessments and facilitate peer marking. There are many unanswered questions about MOOCs especially in relation to the experience of participation. We hope our expert participants will gain a better insight into running a MOOC, build new networks an opportunity to reflect on their experiences. We will be giving them support in their roles with some online orientation sessions in Blackboard Collaborate.

We have had a good response to our call and they are shaping up as a diverse and interesting group. They are very welcome and have been generous in offering time and expertise and we look forward to working with them and all of the other participants for #FSLT13.


Cormier, D., Siemens, G., & Weller,M. (2013) Issues concerning MOOCs. Google Hangout H817_open accessed from

Waite, M., Mackness, J., Roberts, G., & Lovegrove, E. (under review 2013). Liminal participants & skilled orienteers: A case study of learner participation in a MOOC for new lecturers. Journal of Online Teaching


Filed under FSLT13

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Why I have signed up to #h817open

I have chosen to study #h817open in order to learn more about open academic practice.

I am interested in learning more about the concept of MOOCs, openness and personal identity and digital literacies.

I aim to participate for each of the 7 weeks and if I achieve that I will be very pleased. I am interested in the content of #h817open and am interested in how the expertise of others on the MOOC will enhance this.

I have some experience of MOOCs, I was a facilitator for #FSLT12 and tried to participate in OLDSMOOC and edCMOOC. I found OLDSMOOC hard to follow, edCMOOC was more straightforward but I was very limited in the time I could devote.

My background is teaching in higher education. I run the MSc Nursing Studies course at Oxford Brookes University, which is an online programme. I am always looking for ideas to innovate and enhance the programme and wonder what the possibilities might be with regards to openness. This is a further reason for studying #h817open.


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#FSLT 12 week 4 ‘Lecturing’

We are at the end of week 3 of #fslt12, I ashamedly have yet to blog unlike the remaining participants who have been vibrant and prolific within their blogging.

I think the subject for next week, which is  ‘lecturing’ is very timely and contrasts very nicely with previous discussions within #fslt12

Having listened to Rhona’s Sharpe’s  thought provoking “vid cast” on the subject I was motivated to reflect on what lecturing means to me.

Firstly and on a descriptive level it is in my job title ‘senior lecturer’ so this implies that it is an activity or  task, which I am responsible for. This is true. Personally I associate lecturing with large group teaching, which I regularly undertake within my discipline (postgraduate nursing practice) on campus in Oxford (in a lecture theatre, classroom or clinical skills lab), at the University flying faculty in Hong Kong and Online (in Blackboard Collaborate)

The feelings that I have about the activity is that is a highly emotive experience to deliver a lecture and there is a definite sense of preparing and getting into role and giving part of yourself to the audience. Gaining positive feedback on your performance is integrated with personal credibility within the discipline. Some  students do like lectures at a subjective level and critique about the knowledge and expertise of the lecturer in addition to the resources, which accompany or support the lecture. The fact that it is not necessarily a good way to learn (based on the  valid evidence, which Rhona presented to us) suggests that this might be an area where teaching and learning are not necessarily good bedfellows but I suspect we are a long way off from convincing the masses.

I also think our modern culture supports a rosy view of lecturing. The success that Oxford University has had with the” i tunes U” selection of podcast lectures is astounding and in the UK the annual Christmas lectures are a rare treat in otherwise banal festive television viewing.

So my question is where does lecturing fit on the continuum of small group teaching and communities of practice, which was discussed last week during #fslt12?

I am going to throw something else in here about the one of the seeming dichotomies of a MOOC. I was surprised to hear in the early planning stages of this MOOC that having live  guest speakers was considered to be  an important feature of a MOOC. So far our guest speakers, with all due respect have delivered lectures ( I realise that this is down to the constraints of technology) albeit excellently. So we have all been lectured to so far on this course, where does this fit into the learning within a MOOC?

Filed under fslt12

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Are you going to join #fslt12 ?

The #fslt12 team,  George Roberts, Jenny Mackness, Liz Lovegrove  and Joe Rosa met in Oxford on 26th March.

We enjoyed a very productive day indeed where we finalised our plans for the First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education #fslt12 The Open Line MOOC, which will run from 21st May to 22nd June 2012.

Sylvia Currie from BC Campus also joined us for part of the day via the Blackboard Collaborate Platform, which Sylvia has contributed and will be used for the planned synchronous sessions, which will take place during the MOOC.

During our whole day meeting we made significant decisions about the following

·       The platform, the WordPress Site, which will be the course homepage and Moodle for discussion forums

·       The Schedule

·       Evaluation

·       Plans for dissemination

 So who can join our MOOC?

If you have an interest in entering teaching and learning in higher education then the #fslt12 MOOC will definitely  appeal to you. This will be a great opportunity to practice and develop teaching skills and try out some new technologies.

People who work in higher education in student and staff support roles and where teaching skills are practiced will also benefit a great deal form participating in #fslt 12.

We also hope that experienced higher education teachers and educational developers will join us as part of their CPD and contribute their skills and resources in the spirit of a MOOC.

If you want to know what a MOOC is then the following link will explain

Meanwhile if you are interested in joining us check out our WordPress site, which is updated regularly for information about the course schedule, guest speakers and how to register your interest.

Filed under fslt12

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Developing the FSLT12 MOOC- synchronous audiographics

George , Jenny and I had our second meeting earlier this week to discuss the development of The First Steps Learning and Teaching MOOC, FSLT12.

The agenda was packed with lots to discuss and debate, (including a hash tag)

One of the questions that George posed was “should we offer audio graphics for all?”. The ‘all’ being 1000 or so participants, which we are planning for.

I have yet to participate in a MOOC (busy choosing one to join) but reflecting on  my job as a busy lecturer in higher education, audio synchronous interactions  with colleagues and students are ever increasingly part of routine practice.

A perfect connection happens sometimes and in spite of the imperfections we persist. Confidence with the technology grows, the technology will get better and the real time connectivity is key.  A very recent e-mail I received from a student conveys this well

Whilst Jane and I didn’t manage to participate in the collaborate session (I lost my connection and when I redialed, it was Jane and I on the call…not sure why), but we had a great chat and enjoyed connecting with another student”

Returning to the topic of the FSLT12 MOOC, our main concern is how many people can you get into an illuminate or online classroom at once? Jenny has the  experience of this in a MOOC situation and has been aware of attendance of 100+ and considers that we must offer the opportunity of audio synchronous sessions especially to provide interactivity between the participants and the guest speakers we are planning to invite.


Filed under FSLT12