The Collaborative Project


Yobie. Collaboration available here  Capture creative commons

I’ve been away from blogging for the last few weeks, totally absorbed by a six week long collaborative online project (Block 3 of H817).

My team and I were tasked with building a resource using Web 2.0 technologies to support reflective practice using a digital diary in a vocational scenario. We followed the Learning Design Studio approach to work individually and collaboratively.

It’s been a difficult but rewarding time and the output is still being assessed so only time will tell how successful we have been in meeting the brief.

For now I feel a sense of relief that I am now on the final leg of my H817 journey – Block 4 Learning Analytics.


Collaborative working – first reflections


Thinker Mirror Reflection by Ted  Capture creative commons

So, here we are at the end of the first two weeks of working collaboratively. It’s been an emotional roller coaster frustration and worry at our (very) late start and elation at finally making some decisions and seeing our website come to life

We are a team of 4 and are working collaboratively through a learning design process with the objective of producing a digital diary for reflective practice to support professional development. We have decided to focus on a diary to support ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) accreditation.

In the first two weeks we have had to articulate the context, we are not quite there yet but it’s coming together and it is time to reflect on the process.  At this stage we have been tasked with answering three questions;

  1. Your contribution to the group effort of articulating the context.
  2. What you found challenging in this process.
  3. What you have learned from it.

So here goes…………

  1. Your contribution to the group effort of articulating the context.
    I prompted initial thoughts by suggesting 4 possible scenarios for our shared context – all workplace/vocational ranging from student placements to professional qualifications. They were fairly high level but I had stated the educational challenge clearly which became important when we later discussed and agreed our outline context.As project manager I have tried to keep the group on track and initiated and prompted action by
    – setting up the website
    – creating a Gantt chart for the group project
    – setting out agendas for meetings/discussions
    – writing up and distributing action points
    – creating joint documents in a shared work space  (Google Docs)

    I have supported my colleagues by being available to them online and on the telephone as we have worked through creating personas, establishing concerns and issues and distilling the relevant forces.

  2. What you have found challenging in this process?

    Time management
    We all have commitments and lead busy lives and so are available at different times. Using the communication channels we have set up has helped although I constantly feel there is something I should be doing, looking at commenting on.Managing my own emotions
    It is very tempting to look at how the other groups are progressing..and then panic! To help manage these feelings I made the decision during this phase to stay out of other forums and threads and just dip in occasionally to get a sense of where others’ are going and whether we can learn anything from this (yes we can!)

    We started late due to circumstance. At first I worried about this but I feel we have made great progress and our work is coming together.

  3. What have you learned from it?
    I feel we have a strong sense of our shared vision and are very clear who we are designing the digital diary for, this has been essential in keeping us on track.Creating personas has really helped to bring ‘our users’ to life for me as ‘real’ people. Whilst they are all different there are numerous similarities and I think this will help us with the core design of our solution. The differences highlight the real world differences we will experience and how we need to consider these within our design for it to be ‘fit for purpose’ They certainly reflect the different motivations e.g. career progression, accreditation, learning new skills. The unique qualities aspect of the persona is making me reflect on what our design will need to achieve for it to be accepted by our users.

    Reviewing colleagues personas has broadened my thinking about what our design has to ‘do’ and fulfill for our users.

    Having a design space where we work separately but together is useful in that we can present our thoughts without censorship, develop our own thinking as we review everyone’s contributions and the draw joint conclusions from this.

    I am learning to be patient and trust the process.

H817 Open University Weeks 14-15 Activity 8.


A first attempt at using VideoScribe

MOOC VIdeoScribe

Here we go…”write about an element of open education you have found interesting” – hmmm I thought I’d have a go at working out loud again and so I created my first VideoScribe video. It’s very simple and took an age to make but I did it!

You can see it here

Working out loud…………….. for real

Justin McGregor

So, I’ve talked about it enough and at the risk of winning the prevaricator of the year award I am reminding everyone that I talk about this …….alot!

Today is oficially a day of alisantics firsts

  • First Videoscribe ‘movie’
  • First voice over….do I really sound like that or is there a gremlin in the microphone?
  • First upload to YouTube
  • First share on WordPress
  • First real piece of Working out Loud!

Very simple………but as firsts go, very rewarding….after all I am very much ‘work in progress’

Block 2 Activity 25, H817



Blogging – half time reflections

Blog Capture

Jabiz Ralsdana Flickr.

I have enjoyed blogging far more than I had anticipated during the first half of the Open University Masters in Online and Distance Education module. I feel this is because I am producing something tangible with a purpose.

A notable development has been a lack of blogging when the module does not require it – this blog has been ‘silent’ for almost four weeks. Why is that?

  • I’ve been busy writing a 3000 word assignment – excuse or valid reason? We all lead busy lives
  • I deserved some time off after submitting my assignment – time off from what exactly? – do I see blogging as work/a chore?
  • My focus is on the next stage of the module which does not require blogging – do I need a reason to blog?

If I am to continue on my blogging development post this module these questions need serious consideration. John Stepper discusses creating habits and having regular blogging time each day.

I have to decide whether I see blogging as a fundamental part of my development and if so, make a conscious choice to create a blogging habit.

I am still very much work in progress and the jury is out on this one. Watch this space……..

Post script note: I have realised on re-reading this blog that I have an extremely inward focussed perspective here. Finding the image I finally selected to head up this blog has prompted me to consider I just might also be writing for existing friends and friends I have yet to meet….. More food for thought.

Exploring rhizomatic learning


This week I have been reviewing and learning about Dave Cormier’s rhizomatic learning.

My notes on Dave’s video are below – from this I have answered the following questions:

  1. Were you convinced by rhizomatic learning as an approach?

    Cormier’s first assertion that the ‘best teaching prepares people for dealing with uncertainty’ had some resonance in that the world is increasingly uncertain and that learners need to be able to negotiate this. I enjoyed Cormier’s heat metaphor and the question posed around ‘what are we teaching?’ i.e. that fire burns, that you should listen when people tell you something (don’t touch the fire) or that you might want to be aware of and check for hot things. This brought the concept of teaching to prepare for uncertainty to life, however I am troubled by the assertion that this preparation is ‘the best teaching’    I appreciate the use of the rhizome metaphor and can see the relevance to how people learn of an organism that can map in any direction, is not neat and tidy and grows and spreads via experimentation regardless of breakage and I can see how the learner taking responsibility for their own learning, via a MOOC for example, may exemplify this.
  2. Could you imagine implementing rhizomatic learning?

    Currently, probably not. I can see the relevance of rhizomatic learning in some contexts but see the challenge around being able to assess and measure learning for formal purposes e.g. professional qualifications as a major blocker to rhizomatic learning being adopted as a mainstream approach. Cormier’s assertion that effort, engagement and connection should be measured and that we should stop measuring learning as this is impossible to do is certainly food for thought given that organisational learning consultants are consistently asked to demonstrate ROI (return on investment) for their ‘learning solutions’. Even this language implies a focus on ‘fixing a problem by giving a learner something to learn’!
  3. How might rhizomatic learning differ from current approaches?

    With an emphasis on the community being the curriculum and learners taking responsibility for their own and their peers learning, rhizomatic learning has similarities with how we are seeing MOOC pedagogy developing. For example, FutureLearn relies on community discussion and debate and certainly some of the learning is intended to be developed in the forums and therefore within the community. However, the content is structured and is still ‘led’ by an instructor. The curriculum is very structured over a fixed timetable with freedom to move at the learners own pace but there is no student development of the curriculum.
  4. What issues would arise in implementing rhizomatic learning?

    My context: Organisational learning and development
  • Creating a space for a community
  • Lack of structure and freedom of the learner – barrier to meeting statutory training requirements as laid down by the governing bodies of the industries and the UK government
  • In a busy world, where learning is seen as another ‘task’ on the list, it is possible learners will take ownership for their own learning but unlikely they will take ownership for others’ learning
  • From an educator’s perspective requires thought and skill to set up the type of questions and activities that move scenarios from the simple to the complex.
  • Creating space for experimentation and learners in the workplace feeling safe to experiment rather than produce their completed and final work.
  • Culture change: the need to prove ROI currently focuses attention on learning outcomes/objectives and what learners are doing differently as a result of their taking part in a learning activity. There would be a need to refocus on and measure effort, engagement and connection. Culturally this is a significant mind shift

My (rough!) notes on the video

Rhizomatic Learning Dave Cormier activity 20



Cormier, D. (2010) ‘Community as curriculm and open learning’, Dave’s Educational Blog, 17 Jun [online]. Available at edblog/ 2010/ 06/ 17/ community-as-curriculum-and-open-learning/

Week 11 Activity 20, MA ODE

The role of abundance


This week involved exploring ‘a pedagogy of abundance’ Weller (2011)

Weller describes the following features of a pedagogy of abundance

  1. Content is free.
  2. Content is abundant
  3. Content is varied in its format (text, image, video etc)
  4. Sharing is easy
  5. Social based
  6. Connections are ‘light’’ – we make connections and build a network. These are easy to maintain as they don’t need one to one attention.
  7. Organisation is cheap – Clay Shirky (2008, 31) argues that the ‘cost’ of organising people has collapsed, which makes informal groupings more likely to occur and often more successful.
  8. Based on a generative system – affordances of the internet, specifically, unpredictability and freedom allow innovative developments
  9. User generated content emerges, ease of generation allows users to remix and develop content.

A key question to be answered in this exercise is:

“how do we best equip learners to make use of ‘abundance’?”

The following represents my reflections on this question

Search skills

The unregulated, unedited and unmonitored nature of the internet means anyone can publish anything. Developing search skills and understanding how to critically review sources is essential. The Michigan State University has published a list of resources to help evaluate online resources including websites

Knowledge of CC licensing

Ensure learners understand that not all content is free. Learners need to differentiate between free content and content that is subject to copyright, understanding Creative Commons licensing and how to apply it.

Knowledge of quality criteria

The ability to differentiate between high and poor quality resources is essential –knowledge of quality criteria such as that devised for Learner Generated Content by Perez- Matteo et al (2011) where a framework is laid out to assess content, format and process.

Online presence, confidence and being safe.

Learners need to be supported to develop their own online ‘voice’ and develop a presence in an online social space. If the pedagogy of abundance exists in the social space with light connections and is based on sharing and generating content then learners need to feel comfortable to share and put their work on display.  This also links to staying safe online and learners developing online boundaries.

Reuse and Remixing skills

Often resources are produced in a specific context and it may be difficult to remix and reuse in other contexts. Additionally, the lack of digital skills may prevent some learners engaging. Together these make it seem simpler to start from scratch or not to bother at all.


One last comment from me on motivation. All of the above makes the assumption that learners are sufficiently self-motivated to want to engage. There is probably more work to be done in explaining the ‘what’s in it for me?’ to the learner as currently a ‘pedagogy of abundance’ may seem overwhelming and just too much effort for too little a return.

Michigan State University. Assessing Online Resources (website)

Pérez-Mateo, M., Maina, M.F., Guitert, M., Romero, M., 2011. Learner Generated Content: Quality Criteria in online Collaborative Learning. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning 14.

Weller,M. (2011) ‘A pedagogy of abundance’, Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, vol.249,pp. 223-36. Available online at (last accessed 15 April 2016)

My PLN (personal learning network)

This week I have been reflecting on my definition of a PLN (personal learning network). In the past I have looked at my virtual learning network which consisted in the main of the various social media tools and web-sites I use to support my life long learning.

My PLN is similar but with two significant differences – an emphasis on the people I share and learn with in both a virtual and physical space. This led me to define my PLN as……

” a virtual and physical network of people and social tools for sharing, learning and mutual support and growth”



H 817 Week 10 Activity 16

Is comparing MOOCs like comparing apples with pears?


Image:Dimitar Nikolov

A comparison of DS106 Digital Storytelling, University of Mary Washington and two FutureLearn MOOCs,  Understanding Modern Business and Organisations. University of Strathclyde and Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World, University of Groningen

MOOC Module Overviews


“This course will require you to both design and build an online identity (if you don’t have one already) and narrate your process throughout the fifteen week semester. Given this, you will be expected to openly frame this process and interact with one another throughout the course as well as engage and interact with the world beyond as a necessary part of such a development.

In many ways this course will be part storytelling workshop, part technology training, and, most importantly, part critical interrogation of the digital landscape that is ever increasingly mediating how we communicate with one another.

The course objectives are rather straightforward:

  • Develop skills in using technology as a tool for networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression
  • Frame a digital identity wherein you become both a practitioner in and interrogator of various new modes of networking
  • Critically examine the digital landscape of communication technologies as emergent narrative forms and genres


Understanding Modern Business and Organisations. University of Strathclyde

“This course is all about developing your own perspectives on the world of business and organisations today. And we will also try to help you prepare for changing these perspectives as the world of business and organisations is changing tomorrow.”

Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World. University of Groningen

“This course will teach you the first principles of complexity, uncertainty and how to make decisions in a complex world.”

Future learn ds106 comparison

I began this blog by asking ‘is comparing MOOCs like comparing apples and pears?’ and I think the answer is probably ‘yes’. Each platform is so different and offers something different for the learner. Choose with care!

H817, Week 10 Activity 14




The MOOC approach – adoptable for learning in corporate organisations?


Attribution share alike  AJ Cann


At first glance and in theory a MOOC approach would be suitable for adoption in my world

  • Open access and freedom to learn something of interest to the individual which may enhance career opportunities and which in the traditional L&D sense may not be open to them now.
  • Supports lifelong learning and builds corporate capability
  • No obligation to complete so people may choose to dip in and out of MOOCs
  • Could improve collaboration – creating online social networks across the business
  • Create opportunities for educators to understand the appetite for learning outside the constraints of the traditional TNA (training needs analysis)
  • Will allow the organisation to gather Learner Analytics which may help the organisation to better understand learner online behaviour and which could inform the design of instructional methods across this and other elearning provision.
  • A MOOC approach may better meet the expectations of learners who increasingly expect to learn through social media

There are a number of considerations and challenges to overcome

  • How does the organisation measure learning and the impact on the business?
  • In a world where most organisational learning is centrally provided where does the responsibility for the learning sit? There are high drop out and low completion rates (how much does this matter?)
  • What is the value of expertise and the role of the educator? Does the MOOC model change the role of the L&D subject matter experts from provider to curator and what is the cultural change that this may require?
  • As a massive open course (MO of MOOC), how does the educator manage the mental stimulation that comes with the potential scale of interaction required?
  • What does it mean to be an active participant and how is this recognised and valued in the organisation?

So, a mixed bag. Are organisational ready for the MOOC approach to learning yet? Is anyone out there already doing it? If you happen to stumble across my blog and know the answer to this, please drop me a line. I’d be curious to understand more about how MOOCs can be adopted effectively in organisations.

Musings based on watching Cormiel, Siemens and Weller debate a number of issues concerning MOOCs and reading Liyanagunawardena et al. (2013), MOOCs: A systematic study of the published literature 2008-2012 and, MOOCs: What Motivates the Producers and Participants? (White, Su , Davis, Hugh, Dickens, KP, Leon Urrutia, Manuel and Sanchez Vera, Ma Mar, 2014) sourced from Katy Jordan’s MOOC literature browser (

H817 Week 10 Activity 12