FutureLearn is a massive open online course (MOOC) platform founded in December 2012 as a company majority owned by the UK’s Open University. It is the first UK-led massive open online course platform, and as of October 2013 had 26 University partners and – unlike similar platforms – includes three non-university partners: the British Museum, the British Council and the British Library.

from: FutureLearn – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I’ve signed up for and started the Creative Coding course at FutureLearn. It looked like an interesting course and I was interested to try out the FutureLearn platform.

The Platform

Unlike some MOOCs I’ve dipped my toe into FutureLearn is based on its own platform. FutureLearn is in beta and they are developing new features and evolving the offer. They have started with the smallest feature set that they though they could.

The webpages are extremely clear and it is easy to follow the course.

The course I am doing is split into 6 weeks.

Futurelearn Creativecoding Overview

The week view gives an overview of a number of tasks to be carried out in the week.

Futurelearn Weekview

The colour of the wee square letting you know if you have completed the ‘task’.

Futurelearn Tasks Done

Each task is laid out rather like a blog post, with content at the top and a place for participants to comment. On a wide screen computer the comments appear at the side, but on my 1280 macbook they are below.

Futurelearn Post

There are already 100s of comments on most of the week one tasks.

The course encourages you to post your results to Flickr: The Monash Creative Coding Pool and to use #FLcreativecoding. The links to images can then be added in the comments. Folk are also posting images to other places, tumblr, dropbox etc.

Learning Processing

There is a fair bit of interaction going on in the comments and quite a lot of folk helping others. I’ll be interested in seeing any signs of community growing in such a large class.

The course has been very easy to work through so far as far as organization goes. Each task is clearly set out, the videos have be of good quality and very clear. As I have been doing most of this on my commute I’ve had a few problems when the Scot Rail internet connection is poor (Falkirk!). The system works very well on a technical level. If fells like reading and responding to a series of blog posts. I am sure you could do something similar on a smaller scale with a blog. I’ll be interested to see what new features FutureLearn add as time goes on.

This has been quite good fun so far. A fairly gentle introduction to the application and some basic principles in the first week. The videos and handouts have been clear. Some of the folk taking part are obviously experienced coders and it might be a bit daunting to see some of their work others seem to be taking their very first steps in programming/coding. I’ve had enough experience with baby steps to keep me going this week. I expect I might hit a trig wall at some point I had a quick look at the khan videos suggested for getting up to speed with trig but there looked like too many to watch in a reasonable time.

The Course suggests that you need at least three hours a week to keep up, I think that would be a pretty bare minimum I am guessing I have spent five or more hours and could have done with a few more to really get the week one lessons in my head.

The course is certainly not one you could drop in and out of, it seems to be pretty linear and even in the first week you would find it hard to skip many tasks unless you already had some knowledge.

So far it has got me more interested in processing that I have been and I hope I can find the time to keep up for the next few weeks.

I’ve just Joined Teach the Web:

Teach the Web: a Mozilla Open Online Collaboration for Webmaker mentors

May 2 – June 30

Learn how to teach digital literacies, master webmaking tools, develop your own educational resources, and take what you learned back to your communities and classrooms.

from: Teach the Web

The first task is:

MAKE Project this week: Introduce yourself @Webmaker style by using Popcorn Maker, Thimble or the XRay Goggles and sharing your make with #teachtheweb.

from: Teach the Web

Which smells quite like the #etmooc first task, so I decided to remix and recycle my Hello #ETMOOC youtube video with popcorn.

Popcorn Maker has evolved a lot since the last time I looked at it, Playing with Hackasaurus and popcorn, back then I gave up and used the Popcorn.js javascript files and edited by hand. At that time, I found popcorn maker really slow and klunky on my equipment. Since then it has really taken a jump (and I am on a better box). I found it really easy to use, and would say it would now be very usable in a classroom.

One of the things I am lookingfroward to finding out about is how folk fit webmaking into classrooms, as opposed to afterschool or out of school activities, but that is for later. Now I’ll jsut try and see what is going on in the #teachtheweb community.

MOOC! by AJC1 Attribution-ShareAlike License

A bit before Christmas I signed up for #ETMOOC:

#etmooc, an open, online experience that is designed to facilitate & nurture conversations around the thoughtful integration of educational technology & media in teaching and learning.

from: Introduction to #etmooc | #ETMOOC

What is a MOOC

A massive open online course (MOOC) is a type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in the area of distance education, and a progression of the kind of open education ideals suggested by open educational resources.

Though the design of and participation in a MOOC may be similar to college or university courses, MOOCs typically do not offer credits awarded to paying students at schools. However, assessment of learning may be done for certification.

from: Massive open online course – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I’ve mooced a little before

I at least started a few mooc-like and other online learning things last year:

I found it quite difficult to stick to these ‘courses. ds106 and edtechcc being the easiest to hang in due to the social elements. The MechanicalMooc did have social stuff hooked up but just keeping up with the lectures and exercises took up more time than I had.

I was releaved to see this tweet from the course organiser:

What I am hoping to learn

Apart from the Topics & Schedule it looks like #etmooc with have a few valuable experiences:

  • There is a #etmooc Google Community where folk are introducing themselves, I’d kind of forgotten about Google plus, but this combined with a Scottish Education – Google+ group and a new iOS app will give an opportunity to look at Google+. I find it a lot easier to evaluate tools when using them for a real purpose. After the edtechcc course I understood a bit more about facebook groups. (I still do not love facebook but can see how folk would find it useful).
  • Alan Levine is helping organise the course, he is blogging how he is building the blog hub using FeedWordPress ( Building the ETMOOC Blog Hub (part 1) and Building the ETMOOC Blog Hub (part 2)). I am really excited about FeedWordPress, Charlie has built it into glew blogs and I really hope it is going to be available to Scottish pupils and teachers as glow evolves. (Still waiting for an announcement if we get to keep wordpress or move to sharepoint blogs).
  • There are a ton of folk signed up to etmooc, some I know, some I’ve heard of and some not I’ve already read some interesting stuff in the google group looking forward to lots of serendipity.

Getting Started

Hopefully I’ve fill in the form correctly and this post will get pulled into the ETMOOC Blog Hub | everything everyone publishes about ETMOOC. Next up is creating an introduction post:

Create an introductory post, video, podcast, slideshow, etc., of yourself. Tell us a little bit about yourself – perhaps, where you’re from, what you do, or what you want to be when you grow up – and let us know what you’d like to gain from #etmooc?

and the first #etmooc T0S1: Welcome & Orientation on Blackboard Collaborate. Not sure how that is going to work in with my time and work schedule, I hope they are recorded.

A while back I joined the Mechanical Mooc with a two fold intention, one to further explore MOOCs in a practical way and two, to learn a bit of python. I am afraid I only managed to stay the course for two full weeks. This was in part due to my underestimate of the time involved. I probably spent five or six hours a week over the first two weeks and would have been better taking seven. I don’t consider the time wasted, I learnt a minuscule bit of python and had a fair number of interesting (to me) thoughts about my approach to learning and online learning in general. I also began to pay a little attention to posts about python that turned up in my browsing and reading on the web.

Recently I’ve seen a few posts about a iPad app Pythonista

Create interactive experiments and prototypes using multi-touch, animations, and sound – or just use the interactive prompt as a powerful calculator.

I read a few of these but didn’t plunk down my £2.99 until I saw this, Automating iOS: How Pythonista Changed My Workflow and The Power of Pythonista 1.2, both blog posts show how to use pythonista, on the iPad, to get things done as opposed to playing or learning. I found I learn how to do things better as part of a ‘real’ task rather than playing. This is not to say my learning is not playful. Often there will be simpler or better ways to do things but I learn something for taking a DIY approach. For example most of my recent posts tagged dropbox are about ways I’ve figured out how to do something that could be done in many other ways.

One of these Dropbox posts is about Blogging via Dropbox, which I am doing with this post. At the time I posted that I had no way to upload images. I do now thanks to macdrifter whose post has code for pythonista to take an image copied to the clipboard, resize it, upload the resized image via FTP and finally copy the URL of the uploaded image to the clipboard.

It was simple enough, even without understanding python to alter the script with my FTP details, change the size and produce jpg files rather than pngs.

drift twigs

To produce upload this image and show it I had to:

  1. Switch to the photos app
  2. Find a photo, press on it and copy.
  3. Switch to pythonista chose the script and press the run button
  4. Switch back to nebulous lite and paste in the image link.

This seems as a simple as uploading a file through the blogs web interface.

In School?

There seems to be a few schools using python in computing. I wonder if this app would be useful. Some of the examples involve games or graphics, which I found off-putting and difficult, these may be just the thing to engage pupils (who possible have less interest in resizing and uploading graphics).

Recently I was discussing the various mobile projects running in Scotland with a friend, they mentioned that they though that iPad projects relied too much on Apps that make things to easy for the learner, iMovie trailers being one example, and compare this to a ‘richer’ learning environment provided by scratch. There is a whole other discussion waiting there but I see several interesting and powerful ways of coding developing on the iPad, Pythonista being one. Codea – iPad and ScriptKit – Drag and Drop Programming for iPad. another two. These two use The Programming Language Lua.
ScripKit looks interesting because:

ScriptKit is a touchable programming environment for building simple mobile prototypes on iPad using native iOS UI components and social media APIs, available via an intuitive drag and drop interface.

The social media APIs is exciting cause it means access to Dropbox, Facebook and Instagram. ScriptKit comes with some nice example but needs an in app purchase at £7.99 to edit the scripts. I am not ready to use it so have not bought it yet.
And Codea

Codea for iPad lets you create games and simulations — or just about any visual idea you have. Turn your thoughts into interactive creations that make use of iPad features like Multi-Touch and the accelerometer.

Back to Pythonista

For me it is early days I just bought the app yesterday, I already appreciate its design and have had hints of its power. It might just keep my python learning curve moving ever so gently upwards.
It is also becoming more apparent that iPads are not only good for creation as well as consumption they are good for tinkering too. As someone who like tinkering this is a positive turn compared to the idea that Apple, and others, are making tools that are increasingly locked down.

David Baugh points to Pinnacle studio iPad video editor.

I was delighted to find a more feature rich video editor for free in Pinnacle Studio and even better – for now it is free.

from: Learning in Touch » Blog Archive » Free Video Editing iPad App from Pinnacle Studio with multi layer video David has a great Digital Storytelling page too.

I’ve mostly though about MOOCs as cpd , but…

So, what does this have to do with K-12? Everything. Or at least a lot. If this is the wave or a wave of the future of learning and teaching then this is something that we need to pay attention to. If the job of parents, K-12 educators and the public school system is to prepare students for the environments they will be expected to work and learn in, then we ought to pay very close attention.

from: What is a MOOC? The Canadian Connection.

This and the others in the Honest Logos set made me laugh, but perhaps an interesting take on the design a logo activity?


image Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported — CC BY-NC 3.0
from: Honest logos on the Behance Network

Classroom ideas

I want all the children I teach to develop a love of learning, not for ticks, badges or scores, but for the buzz of learning.

from: Robert Drummond » Blog Archive » 20% time Robert is giving his pupils free learning time in the same way Google developers get to follow their own interests, I am looking forward to see how this goes.

Here is the exam. Write your own questions. Write your own answers.

from: Seth’s Blog » Blog Archive » Tyler Cowen’s Unusual Final Exam I guess it would take a bit of work to get this going in class, but echo the 20% for me.

When you click on ‘Sign in with Glow’ you will be taken to the Glow login page. Here you can login to Glow using your usual username and password. At Glew we won’t know these details and they stay secure with you.

from: Using Glow to make a Glew Account | Charlie Love makes Glew an even more interesting choice. If I was in class I’d give it a go.

Online learning

Mechanical MOOC” – a free and open introductory course in the programming language Python that weaves together existing resources (content, Web-based study groups, quizzes and so on).

from: The Mechanical MOOC Audrey Watters point to this new MOOC, No degrees or credits or certificates or letters of achievement will be awarded, if I though it would only involve a couploe of hours a week I’d join up.

Mozilla wants to create a generation of webmakers.

from: What we’re up to with Mozilla Webmaker (Open) badges. | Doug now works for Mozilla Foundation. I am all for making more webmakers, and am interested in how badges play out, less sure of badges effectiveness (see the first quote in this post). I suspect badges need to be augmented by personal or social media, I didn’t find codeacedemy badges much of an incentive. I am looking forward to seeing Doug speak at eAssessment Scotland this Friday.

An introduction for new programmers
So easy your human companion could do it too!

from: JavaScript for Cats looks pretty useful, I think I am involved in an intro to HTML, CSS and baby steps JavaScript for computing teacher later this year.

Odds and Ends

Alan O’Donohoe who has produced some great AudioBoos (some of which he kindly tags EDUtalk), is looking for donations to get a pro account:
Audioboo Appeal « Teach Computing.

What I am questioning, however, is whether the logic of Capital and private enterprise should be applied to the institutions of our state. Some things, after all, are public goods.

from: Some thoughts on time, performativity, and the State. | a good question.

Tuttle SVC: Should Teachers Consider TED a Reliable Source? Why, Exactly?