One of the MOOCs that I’ve signed up for is #OLDSMOOC. The focus of which is learning design. These are my thoughts on the first week and some initial thoughts about learning design. Right off though, I have to say that I’ve no substantive idea of what learning design actually is; is it a fancy name for something that I do already when planning learning activities, is it something quite rigorous and scientific that I’ve hitherto not been exposed to, or is it something quite new altogether – a response to the way technology is impacting teaching and learning maybe.
Any how, my major observation from week 1 relates to the OLDSMOOC learning platform (of choice??), Cloudworks. Well, it doesn’t. The objective of the week was threefold: in an area called Dreambazaar outline your dream learning design proposal, review the assemblage of proposals and then through discussion and negotiation form small teams around the selected project, and beyond that form into study circles. All of which constitutes a big ask in any body’s book, but the process was severely hampered by the functionality of the Cloudworks platform. It was ill equipped for such a large scale, intense, nuanced and interpersonal activity. It was just impossible to figure out the platform and track down all the people that you wanted to talk to, so after considerable effort and not getting very far, I decided to park myself under the cloud entitled “Digital Identity and Social Media” that had been started by Jane Challinor (@virtualleader) and likewise with the Digilit study circle cloud, again started by Jane Challinor (actual leader it would seem). I then pasted the links to these clouds into my Evernote account and proceeded to access Cloudworks from there. The Daily digest, with its series of links, kept me on track with all the rest of the day’s happenings and, together with my home pasted links, was how I was able to penetrate Cloudworks, cloudbusting if you like. For me, this incident highlights a lot of the issues relating to closed platforms, begs the question as to why an open system, or one sympathetic to open applications wasn’t used (like Canvas), and what’s more, demonstrates the merits of a personal learning environment (PLE).
I suppose the reason I dislike Cloudworks so much is down to its lack of agility in supporting conversations, which in turn makes it feel sterile and inhospitable (a bit of a current theme with me). It’s just so hard to get a sense of people in there. For me, this experience confirms that eLearning technologies can no longer be considered as tools rather they’re sites of practice, places where people go to learn (Goodfellow & Lee, 2007). In my mind, the idea of sites of practice somehow fits with the camping related conversation that sprang up on Twitter during the convergence session on Tuesday (“storified” here) and also links to not just personal learning environments (PLEs) but to many Web 2.0 pedagogies, none more so than rhizomatic learning, which partly triggered the camping conversation in the first place.
Returning to the the learning objectives of the week, I feel that I achieved those designed by the course team but I didn’t articulate any of my own. However, as the week unfolded, I decided that my goal was simply to hang on, because there’s no two ways about it, it was a difficult process to work your way through. Hopefully, things will be more straight forward from now on as I’ve emerged from week 1 with not just a fascinating project but a strong partner too. I’m looking forward to finding a learning design solution to Jane Challinor’s call of “let’s get digital”.
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vcp-bretten/1102756605/
Goodfellow, R. and Lea, M. R., (2007) Challenging e-learning in the university : a literacies perspective. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.