OLDS MOOC Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum

OLDS MOOC   is due to start in January 2013.

The course has been funded by JISC as part of a benefits realisation programme and is intended to build on the success of the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) and other JISC funded curriculum design and delivery projects.

I am struck by how very prescriptive this MOOC seems to be – a far cry from CCK08, for example.

On the page about how OLDS MOOC works and where it is described as ‘semi-structured’  even ‘Your Space’ appears to be prescribed and on this page where Week 1 is described , we are told that…

During this week, committed participants will also initiate their own learning or curriculum design project in their domain of practice.

…. and then given activities  for each day.


You can complete this MOOC on your own, but we believe your experience will be much more fruitful if you have some friends for the journey. We strongly encourage you to form a local study circle. This could be based on your project team, a group of participants in your institution, or participants you identify as having similar interests or living nearby. You can use services such as http://www.meetup.com/ to set up your local study circle. Please list your circle at: http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2456 (or join an existing one).

The course  is structured to reflect a proposed process for design, and combines a number of design thinking methodologies (see http://www.ld-grid.org/resources/methods-and-methodologies/ideo-toolkit and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_thinking), inquiry learning (see http://www.pi-project.ac.uk/) and educational design research (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design-based_research).

My interest in Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum is from the perspective of ‘open’ learning environments and emergent learning (see Publications on Emergent Learning).

The question for me in relation to what I have read so far about OLDS MOOC is just how much prescription is needed to facilitate emergent learning, or indeed, any learning.

11 thoughts on “OLDS MOOC Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum

  1. suifaijohnmak December 16, 2012 / 2:18 pm

    Hi Jenny,
    I am with you, on this. I think I have now become a practitioner of emergent learning, rather than just a theorist. If we are to look at what actually happens in the open learning spaces – the COPs, the networks, they are all so vibrant, so fluid, & adaptive. Even the xMOOCs are moving along that trajectory, IMO, as many professors like Kevin has done. Many MOOCs educators have co-designed and co-developed their MOOCs based on the changing needs and responses of the participants. I hope more researchers and scholars could appreciate why a networked and emergent approach towards designing a curriculum is both necessary and important for its sustainability. I have composed a blog post sharing what a just in time approach would be like, based on a connectivist approach. I just think the more autonomy a MOOC allows for the participants to experience and experiment, the better would be the outcome of learning. Aren’t we trying to encourage all these participants to experiment with the state of the art – cutting edge technology? Your papers on emergent learning provide a rich resource for such curriculum design. John

  2. suifaijohnmak December 16, 2012 / 2:49 pm

    Should be Keith Devlin, not Kevin, sorry for the typo.

  3. jennymackness December 16, 2012 / 3:41 pm

    Hi John, thanks for your comment and the reference to Keith Devlin.

    >> I just think the more autonomy a MOOC allows for the participants to experience and experiment, the better would be the outcome of learning.

    This is something I am still thinking about and trying to tease out, i.e. just how much autonomy is needed for learning to be effective. We know that some MOOCs are experienced as completely chaotic by participants, but I’m not sure that swinging to highly prescriptive is the answer.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this MOOC design is experienced.


  4. Scott Johnson December 17, 2012 / 4:47 am

    Hi Jenny, thanks for the links to the OLDS MOOC. Some of the resources look useful to our design group where our job is limited to doing the best we can repackaging content to appear current without upsetting anyone or pushing any boundaries. Sadly, this looks like just another “road-map to innovation” type exercise where everything has been settled in advance. This essentially what we do all day–a sort of race to the familiar and back to the safety and comfort of sameness.

    I’m not sure I entirely understand the concept of emergence only that somehow at the end of a fruitful learning experience something should be noticeably different. Increasing the speed or efficiency of getting there is a matter of infrastructure and we seem to be stuck in building paths to attractive destinations of ready-made discoveries. Seems to me we need some chances to not just be better at where we were but to not want to go back. If people aren’t allowed into this process as participants they will remain unchanged by learning and that’s not much of a goal, to be better but unchanged (is it even possible?).

    One thing I’ve noticed in courses with fixed outcomes is they are always overloaded with content as this one seems to be. Never a moment to yourself indicates an unbalanced teacher/learner relationship which isn’t a good sign.

    Thanks for the link to this MOOC, gotten me thinking about how to design without being intrusive or overly prescriptive. Sometimes I think it might be better to lead people into a state of confusion and then respect whatever decision they come to resolve the situation. The moment of that decision carries a lot of power.

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