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Category: Learning Design

OERs: need a licence to thrill #oldsmooc

This week #OLDSMOOC looks at the principle of the open licensing of online content and the relevance of Open Educational Resources (OER) to curriculum and learning design.

Open Educational Resources [OER]
Open Educational Resources [OER]
Although the introduction to this topic gave us plenty of places to source OERs, SCORE, for example; I think that one very simple method was overlooked. Namely, that a great way to find OER resources is often through your PLN. This is how I found the resource, “Syllabus for Social Media Literacies” from Howard Rheingold. Having been previously signposted to the resource by a member of my PLN, I already had the resource bookmarked because I knew it would be useful to me at a later stage. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth tagging and bookmarking potentially useful OERs as and when they crop up. In this way you can develop your own archive of searchable OER resources and you’re not starting a search from scratch as you already have a bank of resources, which have been vetted by your peers.

Nonetheless, as Dave White acknowledges in the OLDSMOOC blog “it’s not as easy as it first appears though, many of the participants […] have been discovering that often resources are free to use but that they don’t have a proper open licence”. Indeed, on closer inspection the situation relating to OER licensing does seem to be a little murky. In the case of the Howard Rheingold resource, the following permission has been given by the author: “please feel free to use, modify, and share this syllabus. Reorder the modules, add or subtract required or recommended texts and learning activities. Use your own assessment methods”. However, I can’t find any indication as to the existence of an open licence, so consequently, at this stage, I’m not as confident as I was initially about using the resource.

Dave White explains “it’s […] likely that the author has uploaded their material with the expectation that it will be used and modified as this is the generally accepted ‘culture’ of the web i.e. if you put it online you accept a certain loss of control over the use of your work(?). It’s interesting to reflect on how the inherent principle of the web is based on sharing and how this is in tension with legal issues that are still largely modelled on physical world paradigms”, without a doubt!

All in all though, this has been an interesting introduction to the topic of Open Educational Resources (OERs), and to its complexities.

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Simple and effective approaches for prototyping elements of learning design #oldsmooc

At first, this week’s topic and activities relating to prototyping (testing) elements of learning design within OLDSMOOC looked quite tricky. However, after a little perseverance,  the aim of prototyping, together with a few “simple” prototyping techniques, became clear. It also became clear that an aspect of design that would be useful to test would be something that helped me understand “how learners want to interact with the functionality” of the course or module.

Here, I was reminded of a comment from Ko and Rossen, “in the online classroom, students will seize upon your syllabus as if it were a map. Students will want to know how to proceed and where everything is located. So, one of the first things you must do, whether through the syllabus or in an introductory message, is to explain the ‘geography’ of the course” (p.20). Therefore, to best design for the navigational aspects of the course syllabus, namely the hyperlinks, taxonomies, drop down boxes etc, and to ascertain how students would like to interact with such functionality, I can see how a paper based prototype tool, as demonstrated by Diana in slides 5-10 of her presentation, can best serve this purpose.

Having undergone the exercise and designed the prototype, I would then get a group of students to undertake a “trial run” and collect their feedback on their experience of the design.

A further activity in the prototyping phase is to carry out an observation. This way you can learn something of how students actually interact with elements of the course design. At the moment, it’s not possible to conduct an observation related to my prototype, so instead I decided to conduct a general observation in order to discover how students go about conducting an online search.

The observation: I asked a current undergraduate Social Care student to locate an article on the Guardian website. However, the details of the article were deliberately “vague”: viz. can you find the article about Social Workers’ use of social media and it’s implications for their professional practice, it’s on the Guardian website, probably in the section dedicated to different professions and it was probably published at the end of 2012.

The results: by undertaking this simple observation I was able to observe the difficulties, lack of strategy and the extent of the student’s perseverance in undertaking this task. The exercise was really eye-opening because it exposed not only the complexity of a search task but also the fragility of not just an important underpinning academic skill, but also an important life skill, which searching the internet undoubtedly is.

So despite this week’s topic looking daunting at first, it actually turned out to be quite straightforward and very very useful.


Ko, Susan; Rossen, Steve (2010-03-03). Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, Third Edition. Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

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Tweeting and blogging for students: puts spotlight on design principles and pedagogical patterns #oldsmooc

This week OLDSMOOC takes a look at the “teacher as designer” and looks at the teaching pattern (or pedagogical pattern, or learning pattern, or lesson plan, or teaching plan – take your pick!) as the object of reusable design knowledge. A primary aim being to create a “pedagogical pattern” that builds on the work of others; in this way you might reach a better design than if you’d started from scratch yourself. We were also tasked with “pair tutoring on a design principle”.

With regards to tutoring on a design principle, my design partner, Jane Challinor, and I decided to look at “encouraging reflection” and posit this in relation to the use of student blogs.

The principle of encouraging reflection states that “when learners reflect they make their thinking visible to themselves, monitor their progress, and reach new insights. The pattern of conducting an exploration and then reflecting improves inquiry projects”. However, the principle only states that reflection “makes their thinking visible to themselves” yet typically a blog is published on the open web, which not only makes learning visible to the individual but to the wider world as well. Furthermore, it also invites comments from that wider readership as well. Consequently, we asked:

“What are the dangers, or pitfalls, of asking students to post their learning reflections to a blog?”

The context implicated here is an undergraduate Research and Professional Skills module, with the key principle being reflection – namely, is reflection altered when encouraged on the open web and, if so, how is it altered?

Blogging for Reflective Learning

The activity generated good discussion (see here), which Jane summarized as follows:

There doesn’t seem to be any argument with the principle of making thinking visible, only with the use of blogs. Some pitfalls to design for:

  •     accessing, editing and publishing a blog on line
  •     our digital identity and professional practice
  •     privacy settings and online safety
  •     netiquette
  •     giving and receiving feedback
  •     writing for an audience

Now, returning to the idea of “pedagogical patterns” and building on the work of others, we were introduced to a tool called the Pedagogical Pattern Collector [PPC].  Currently a research prototype, the tool has been devised to collect examples of pedagogical designs and make them available for adaptation by others and across disciplines.

I actually wanted to create a pedagogical pattern of my own based on the learning outcomes identified for our project in last week’s activity. That is to say “demonstrate the ability to use a variety of online contacts and social networks to find out information”, and I wanted to use Twitter as a case in point.  However, I couldn’t find any relevant buttons on the design screen once I’d pasted in my learning outcome, so I was forced to adapt a design within the PPC.

This is the link to my Pedagogical Pattern. You will then have to navigate to the “Browser” > “User Generated Content” > “Demonstrate the ability to use a variety of online contacts and social networks to find out information [Digital Literacy Level 2: Understand and Engage in Digital]”. I now realise that the title is too long/explicit to be useful within the PPC User Generated window because all you can see is “demonstrate the ability”.

However, I’m reasonably happy with the design pattern, for a first attempt, although the time allocated for the activity, 1440 minutes, reflects that the activity is to be conducted over one or two semesters. I don’t think that this aspect is obvious in the PPC.

The PPC is definitely a handy tool, but it’s still too clunky. There’s no simple back button and I just couldn’t find any way to develop a pattern from a learning outcome of my own. It’s early days, I guess, but I wonder how many teachers see it as being useful to them in their work. If anyone wants to investigate the Pedagogical Pattern Collector for themselves, here is the link to a PPC demonstration webinar that Diana Laurillard of the London Knowledge Lab gave at the start of the week and a link to a short guide.

It would be interesting to see how others get on and to see what more people think 🙂

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