A Framework for Academic Volunteers International: Dec 5-16, 2011

Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Vasi Doncheva -
Number of replies: 20

Big thanks everyone for your valuable ideas and contributions so far.

In this tread we can continue the focused discussion on the role (s) of AVIs that emerged from the initial feedback and / discussion.

It was suggested that AVIs are a resource that a learner could contact before, during and after beginning a course of studies, throughout the learning lifecycle - Don and Wayne

Main categories/ types of support:

Specialists providing:
- subject / content specific advice = equivalent to academic tutors (provide clarification in areas where a student might not completely understand a concept/ subject specific) - Ellen and Wayne
- special support for disabled students - E.A. Draffan

- non-native English speaking students ( writing, listening to lectures, participating in academic seminars/presentations and effective reading strategies in the particular content area the student is studying) - Alannah

Generalists providing:
- non course specific advice ( general questions on how to enroll as OERu learner, or how to use the AVI system, or support on digital literacies, personal online orientation, clarification on how they would seek credentialing) Joyce, Ellen, Anil  and Wayne
- learning support ( help students set up a method for the collection of artifacts of learning for assessment , encouraging students to collect and reflect on their learning - Ellen, Joyce and Anil

- facilitating online gorups and group work - Nick Bowskill

Are there any other types of support needed? Which category do you see them fall into ( or do they need a  new category)?

Please reply to this thread to continue the discussion that will help us identify what kind of support will be needed and critical for OER learners to succeed in particular at the initial stages ( year 1 and 2 level of University study). We hope as a result from the contributions to be able to define the AVI role(s) and provide some frame of reference what are the expectations that will be communicated at recruitment stage so AVIs can self select the right role for them.

We really appreciate your help and support.

Vasi and Wayne

In reply to Vasi Doncheva

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Valerie Peachey -

jsut another thought re: types of support learners may need:    explaining the expectations in writing academic papers, using APA or other styles;  assistance in basic writing; assistance for non-native english speakers;

I also think it will be important to be very clear with the student as to what eaxactly they can expect from the person provding them with support.

cheers,

Val

In reply to Valerie Peachey

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Alannah Fitzgerald -

Thanks, Val, this is relevant to the post I made earlier about non-English speaking students which I've also posted there. Will repost here - a bit on the long side but I'm trying to propose something a bit more progressive for Englilsh for Academic Purposes (EAP) for the OERu so we can lead in this area.

----

Yes, it would be good to offer EAP support in the form of a paper assessment as there is a big writing focus in academic work but support will also be needed with the other skills e.g. listening to lectures, participating in academic seminars/presentations and effective reading strategies to build up academic vocabulary and awareness of genre and writing techniques in the particular content area the student is studying.

The other area of proficiency is related to understanding the expectations of the awarding academy, so to follow on from Valerie Peachy's comment in 'clarify the roles of AVIs', clear criteria about communicating effectively in academic English will also be needed. I think this can be inclusive of both native English speakers and non-native English speakers as English speakers don't necessarily learn this stuff either.

My experience tells me that writing for an academic context albeit a foreign academic context is a complex task due to the different academic conventions of specific subject domains. Yes, there is a lot of guidance content on the web for e.g. APA but this will only mislead those students for whom it is not relevant e.g. those studying for the hard sciences. This is a common problem with EAP f2f teaching whereby a lot of the teachers who come from a social sciences or humanities background trasfer their subject knowledge to students due to ignorance of and not working closely enough with subject matter experts in the fields that their students will actually be studying in. For the OERu I would recommend that subject specialist AVIs work with language support volunteers and OERu learners using open tools for analysing/mining text for e.g. specific academic vocabulary, writing and referencing output styles and looking at specific discourse types in different subject lectures etc. Because of my background in corpus linguistics and OER I can build OER for EAP using open corpora from Google and Wikipedia collections which OSS developers have been busily building to get around the problem of proprietary tools and copyrighted language corpora. It would be great if we could build EAP pedagogy around open access publications and creative commons lectures in the different subject areas. Being able to hack into an OA text still needs rights clearance as there is a difference between gratis (able to access and read) and libre (able to rework into an OER) OA so more work is needed in this area. This is a unique opportunity for OERu to do EAP better than the conventional f2f models with the use of OSS technologies for language learning and this is what motivates me and my colleagues in particular.

Most non-English speaking international students are led to believe that a certain score in IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is sufficient to succeed on a degree programme at an English-medium university, however the assessment types are vastly different from the stock 250 word essays you are required to write in one of these exams. People pay a lot of money to take these exams also so once again I'm not convinced that this benchmark in English proficiency would be the best way forward for an OERu learner/student. This is something worth thinking about for the 2012 prototype and the types of students that will be recruited if we want to ensure that these first 100 students are representative of the types of learners who will want to benefit from OERu in future. In most cases, EAP courses are bridging courses leading to a degree or supporting those non-English speaking students who are already on a degree and in the later case they are voluntary. At the Open University in the UK, all EAP components are optional and there is diagnostic work involved in determining what the learners' needs are for doing well on their destination programmes.

Anyway, I hope this gives you a clearer idea of what I'm proposing for OER for EAP with the OERu.

All the best,

Alannah

In reply to Alannah Fitzgerald

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Wayne Mackintosh -

HI Alannah,

The OER Foundation would welcome the development of an EAP course and we can certainly integrate this into the AVI model.

I do agree that IELTS and TOEFL are not necessarily the best measure of proficiency. Moreover, I would love to see more open alternatives. At the moment the current system is closed and I think it fuels mononopoly behaviour on the testing side. The costs for many learners are unafordable.

The OER Foundation has lots of experience in navigating the challenges of closed proprietary resources and we are more than happy to offer support and guidance in how to overcome these challenges. 

Why not start a collaborative project in building an EAP course -- if its not ready by the launch of the 2012 prototypes, thats OK because it would be available for the official launch of the OERu in 2013.

I say that we should go for it!

What do you recommend as the first steps?

 

 

 

 

 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Alannah Fitzgerald -

Great, let's go for it!

(Sorry I've been in transit the past couple of days as I make my way down to Aotearoa by way of Vancouver). Really great input from the group for this planning meeting as I catch up with it now.

When is the OER prototype 2012 launch going to be? We'll do our best for that or the official launch in 2013. In order to get started with OER for EAP for the OERu we'd need to know what courses are going to be on offer and how we can embed EAP into these for supporting students with subject content and assessment types. Reading lists would be helpful for starters, also. We can build in other OER and OSS for text analysis around the specific course material to support with EAP.

Yes, I totally take your point about the monopoly of English language tests and the expensive textbook resources and cram schools that feed off of them. There are so many substandard published EAP resources out there endorsed by some of the big names. Another thing I have talked to my EAP colleagues about is reviewing these published resources alongside publishing our own via open publishing models to push back and shape the market, perhaps in collaboration with some of the same said big names.

Lots to think about - exciting times!

 

Alannah

In reply to Alannah Fitzgerald

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Vasi Doncheva -

Thanks Alannah,

I have added your recomendations under 'non-native English speaking students' in the specialist category of support.

Vasi

In reply to Alannah Fitzgerald

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Christine Horgan -

Alannah:

 

Just in case it's useful, here's a link to the Canadian Language Benchmarks Assessment http://sait.ca/pages/cometosait/internationalstudents/pdf/CLBA1107.pdf

Unlike TOEFL-type tests, this test covers reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I'm far from an expert with this product, but it's one we use at my institution as a benchmark. Just a guess: other countries have something similar. You're right: a documented ability to function in a language is only part of the picture....

 

Cheers, Chris

In reply to Valerie Peachey

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Valerie Peachey wrote,

Just another thought re: types of support learners may need: explaining the expectations in writing academic papers, using APA or other styles;

That would be a great resource and could feed into the EPA course! Anyone interested in starting to assemble an OER online tutorial on referecning styles?

 

 

In reply to Wayne Mackintosh

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Prof. Supten Sarbadhikari -

Hi Wayne, I'd be interested.

Is there any guideline for assembling an OER online tutorial?

Regards

Supten

--
Prof. Suptendra Nath Sarbadhikari, MBBS, PhD
Founder and Director, Supten Institute, Coimbatore, India
Visiting Professor in Health Informatics, Bangladesh Institute of Health Sciences, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Email: Supten@Supten-Institute.org
Editor, ACM SIGHIT Record [2011]
Associate Editor: Network Modeling Analysis in Health Informatics and Bioinformatics [Springer, 2011-2014]
Associate Editor: International Journal of User-Driven Healthcare (IJUDH)
Former Editor-in-Chief, Indian Journal of Medical Informatics [2007-2010]
Chair, and, Chair-Education Committee,  HL7 India
Supten Institute Supten Institute e-Learning site Supten Institute Wiki Personal Home Page

In reply to Prof. Supten Sarbadhikari

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs - referencing

by Dick Heller -

There are a number of OERs for referencing, such as Referencing your work with Harvard from the University of Nottingham - although not on the resource itself, it is published under a cc by nc licence. There are also a number of open source reference managers such as Mendeley.

In reply to Dick Heller

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs - referencing

by Prof. Supten Sarbadhikari -

Thanks Dick.

Wikipedia lists and elaborates on the Referencing Styles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citation#Citation_styles

Also, Purdue Online Writing Lab has a lot of relevant resources.

The Vancouver / ICMJE style is extensively described by NLM.

Parenthetical Referencing is also well described in Wikipedia.

So, should we list all these resources in one page?

With warmest regards

Supten

In reply to Prof. Supten Sarbadhikari

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs - referencing

by Dick Heller -

Dear Supten, As you say, there are many useful open resources for referencing (although the Purdue resource seems to be copyright). I would have thought that it will be better to stick to one style and not confuse the students with multiple options. The trick will be to create an appropriate context for a few selected OER which make the main points, and help students understand and use references.

Best wishes.

Dick

In reply to Valerie Peachey

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Vasi Doncheva -

Thanks Val,

I can see what you have suggested fitting well under the – learner support aspect of the Generalist category.

Vasi

In reply to Vasi Doncheva

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs - "OTHERS" ...

by Kathleen Zarubin -

This should probably be ‘somewhere else’ (sorry) – but sort of related to the “Golden Gurus’ & ‘UN Vols’ idea of ‘other places, programs, people etc “like Us” or ‘related to our concept or ‘maybe we touch base with them .. I am suggesting we have a ‘working’ page (?) / Discussion / Area (sorry do not know the terminology..) to ‘record or drop in … well .. ‘other places, programs, people etc’  - For Example I just stumbled across the following – http://www.gcflearnfree.org
  FB
group = http://www.facebook.com/GCFLearnFree.org#!/GCFLearnFree.org?sk=info
 

 

No idea if they are ‘good’ or not (whatever that means ??) – but again sort of building on the idea  of having a place to ‘flag’ … ‘Has anyone heard of ‘this / them / it’ …

Obviously NOT a place for self promotion and not all that might be listed may be ‘good’ .. but just rather a way of pointing out things that could be ‘of value’ in some way? (also being mindful I guess of not 'saying bad things' about others??) ...

 

Feel free to move or re-move this post

 

In reply to Kathleen Zarubin

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs - "OTHERS" ...

by Vasi Doncheva -

Very good suggestion Kathleen,

I’ll start a separate discussion thread – how do you think I should name it?

e.g. Do you know of..?

so people can post useful projects, organizations, frameworks, research that they have come across that may be useful to our AVI discussion.

Vasi

In reply to Vasi Doncheva

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs - "OTHERS" ...

by Kathleen Zarubin -

Ok cool (pleased it is of value ) - will you post the links to here?

 

In reply to Vasi Doncheva

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Betty Hurley-Dasgupta -

Nick Bowskill shared a model in the Getting Started area that I think introduces a slightly different category.  It's under "specialists," I guess, but it would be volunteers working with learners in teams on a common project, where the volunteers benefit from the exchange and the learners get an opportunity to demonstrate their knoweldge as part of the credentialling process.  Maybe the category is "team mentoring?"

In reply to Betty Hurley-Dasgupta

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Wayne Mackintosh -

Betty Hurley-Dasgupta wrote,

I think introduces a slightly different category. It's under "specialists," I guess, but it would be volunteers working with learners in teams on a common project, where the volunteers benefit from the exchange and the learners get an opportunity to demonstrate their knoweldge as part of the credentialling process. Maybe the category is "team mentoring?"

I think to some extent we are alreadly modelling this approach for the design and implementation of the OERu, for example:

Prospective volunteers can self-select according to interests and experience. In time the number of projects / activities required for each of the intiatives for the logic model will increase, They are coordinated on the planning portal for the OERu.  We have established a number of communication channels and protocols for volunteers.

As the OERu project matures we will be able to implement a team mentoring category to assist with the various planning components leading to the implementation of the OERu. 

Onwards and forwards!

 

 

In reply to Betty Hurley-Dasgupta

Re: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Vasi Doncheva -

Have added to the Generalist category rather than specialist as it could apply to any area of study (in my opinion correct me if interpreting it incorrectly) – facilitating online groups and group work.

 Thanks Val and Nick

In reply to Vasi Doncheva

Wrapping up discussion: Clarify the role(s) of AVIs

by Vasi Doncheva -

Great job everyone and thank you for all your contributions. I think we have a quite clear picture of what the possible roles of our AVIs could be.

Wayne has done a great job summarizing and transferring the inputs so far into Wikieducator AVI planning space. Here http://wikieducator.org/OER_university/Planning/User_stories_for_AVI_system_design#Definition_of_AVI_roles you will find the main definitions of the AVI roles that come out of our discussions so far.

I think we are ready to move on with drafting the AVI proposal and recommendations for the OERu anchor partners. Here I have set up a forum where we can post suggestions and discuss ideas.

And please continue to contribute to Who are our potential AVIs, how can we attract them and reword them?

Big thank you again

Vasi and Wayne