Despite the launch hiccup, OLDSMOOC  appears to be off to a flying start. There is a lot of activity in the Google group discussion forums and on Cloudworks.

These are the links I have so far gathered:

OLDSMOOC HOMEhttps://sites.google.com/a/olds.ac.uk/oldsmooc/home 

These are my observations so far.

This MOOC requires significant navigation skills, because discussion is widely distributed. There is plenty of help on how to navigate if you can find it.

The daily summaries are very helpful, but must require so much work. The team must already be exhausted – either that or they have a lot of people working on this MOOC to distribute the load, which of course raises the investment cost.

These summaries remind participants on a daily basis what they need to do, should be doing, and where they should be doing it and urges them to do it right, for example, to post in the right place etc.

A lot of participants are fully engaged and have completed the ‘dream bazaar’ activity – where participants are asked to

‘Describe a learning situation you are involved in, a change you would like to see in that situation, and how you think you can bring about that change.’

The next stage is for people to team up and work on design projects together, which might be difficult for those who have entered the MOOC as individuals rather than as a team, or alongside colleagues. As Helen Whitehead (@helenwhd) has tweeted:

No idea how to “form a team” in #oldsmooc. Feels like choosing sports teams at school! Be the one left over, lol

All this leaves me with a couple of questions

  1. Does this MOOC need the amount of prescription that is a significant part of its design?

Diana Laurillard has commented on my last blog post

‘….the basic MOOC is ok for CPD, but still needs some good learning design. It’s not really enough to say ‘here are the concepts, now go and discuss among yourselves’. I’ve just experienced a MOOC a bit like that, and it’s just not enough.’

And she distinguishes between ‘professional’ and ‘student’ MOOCs

‘an important distinction could be between the ‘professional’ MOOC and the ‘student’ MOOC. The former requires facilitation and can be lighter on design, but the latter definitely needs design as well as facilitation. The former is a good model for CPD, the latter would be more like an undergraduate course (which then needs an awful lot more learning design than the basic MOOC usually provides).

For me, it’s not a question of professional or student. My understanding of MOOCs (cMOOCs) is still that they are intended to exemplify the principles of autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness/interaction. Diversity means amongst other things, a mix of novices and experts (professionals and students) who learn from each other.

A cMOOC (or the original intention of cMOOCs) is about a personal learning journey – not about a required/intended/desired outcome – and in that sense I am interested to see the extent to which this highly structured MOOC, with a clear requirement for an intended outcome (a project design), supports personal learning journeys.

2. Which leads, community or curriculum – in this MOOC?

For me at the moment it feels like the curriculum is leading, in the sense that the ‘course’ is highly structured and this structure is very much in the control of the MOOC designers. It will be interesting to see how it develops as participants start working on their projects. If the MOOC is successful in facilitating the formation of teams, I suspect that that is where the negotiation of learning will happen and where the community will begin to lead.

These questions are of interest to me in relation to my work on emergent learning with Roy Williams and Simone Gumtau. See Footprints of Emergence for a discussion of emergence and prescribed learning if you are interested – and anyone is welcome to join our wiki  for further information and sharing of thinking/ideas.

Finally, a question that I am mulling over at the moment, and I don’t think anyone has discussed so far in this MOOC, but I have certainly not read everything, is

What is the difference between learning design and planning for learning?

I have spent many hours in my teaching career planning for learning, at macro and micro levels, but I have never thought of myself as a learning designer.

8 thoughts on “OLDSMOOC Design

  1. roy January 15, 2013 / 11:41 am

    hi Jenny, surely if you plan for learning, and curate the environment, the entry points, the resources, the tasks, the affordances for interaction and transformation, you are a learning designer?

    I think what ‘learning designer’ and ‘planning for learning’ have in common is that they are both distinct from ‘instructional designer’, because your focus is on making sure that what the learner does is good and useful (for them) rather than focusing on whether what the teacher does is good and useful (for you).

    Its reflects a difference in management style and metrics. ‘Instructional design’ is measured by ‘input management’ – did the planned ‘lesson’ get delivered? ‘Learning design’ is measured by ‘output management’ – did useful learning occur (sometimes because of the input of the lesson, sometimes despite it).

    The irony is that ‘outcomes based’ education is driven by ‘input management’ – or compliance with lesson plans, and hypothetically could be judged to be ‘excellent’ even if there was no-one in the class.

  2. roy January 15, 2013 / 11:46 am

    hi Jenny, love the way you phrase it: “at the moment if feels like the curriculum is leading”.

    Could be a useful way to approach it all – curriculum-led MOOCs v. community-led MOOCs.

    (Or: ‘structure and agency by any other name would smell as sweet / sour …)

  3. suifaijohnmak January 16, 2013 / 2:08 am

    Hi Jenny and Roy,
    I agreed with what Roy said, that you are a learning designer if you do all those things in a course, in an adaptive manner. What might typically happened is that instructional designers plan and design the curriculum, with multi-media and gamification in mind, trying to incorporate all the “essential” learning objects and artifacts to achieve the desired education outcomes (the learning outcomes, in the case of a course). The input management – or compliance with lesson plans are typically judged to be excellent when “all elements” of good instruction – like Gagne’s 9 steps of instruction are followed in a classroom environment, or that of mastery learning is followed, with sensory feedback and repeated drills and practice on the learners.

    I wonder if we need to separate instruction design from learning design, as the former relates more on instruction (demonstration and modelling), whilst the latter relates more on (practice and reflection) (based on Stephen Downes’ proposed connectivist model), especially when learning is structured under MOOC.

    I have been thinking about having learning design based on complexity science where:

    “Complexity science, with its focus on emergence, self organization, inter-dependencies, unpredictability and non-linearity provides a useful alternative to the machine metaphor.
    Complexity science suggests that the whole is not the sum of the parts. Emergent properties of the whole are inexplicable by the parts.” to study learning design, so each learning scenario needs to be re-modelled based on “grounded research” rather than a prescribed approach to the design of learning.”

    This might have a lot of similarities to your research on the footprint of emergence, though I think it really makes more sense when the teacher and learner shared their assumptions and frame of reference upon each learning tasks and experience, and thus making learning design a collaborative reflective experience, rather than a pre-determined learning pathway and learning outcomes.”

    This sort of emergent learning could be based on narratives that are exchanged through blog postings and sharing, or project-based learning, between peer-to-peer and student-to-instructor.

    Would that account for the differences between curriculum-led MOOC (typical for xMOOC) and community-led MOOC (typical for cMOOC)?

    Such MOOC would be similar to the model in the AST1000 Course though I have been thinking of having a community led MOOC, rather than a curriculum led MOOC.

  4. jennymackness January 16, 2013 / 11:05 am

    Hi Roy and John – thanks for your thoughts about how to distinguish between learning design, instructional design and planning for learning.

    John – your comment about learning design as a collaborative collective experience is interesting and has made me wonder about the extent to which the models of learning design that have already been discussed in OLDSMOOC incorporate the notion of a negotiated curriculum. I will have to have a closer look at them. I think I would see a community led MOOC as having a negotiated curriculum. Something else I will have to think further about 🙂

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