ALT-C 2013 Learning in the Open

Earlier today I attended the online platform preview webinar for ALT-C 2013. The platform is impressive and easy to navigate.

The webinar was useful because it prompted me to get organized and to blog about the workshop that Roy Williams and I will run on the first day – Tuesday 10 September at 3.00 pm. The title of our session is Learning in the Open

Here is a link to the Abstract for our workshop –

The session will be interactive and, if past experience is anything to go by, result in stimulating discussion about the balance between prescriptive and emergent learning in open learning environments, and visualizations (i.e. drawn footprints) of participants’ learning experiences in these environments. For an example, see the one below which was drawn by an OLDsMOOC participant, which shows that for this participant OLDsMOOC was for the most part a chaotic experience, but there is a lot more to be learned from this footprint. (Click on the image to see it enlarged).


We will be explaining how to draw and interpret these footprints in our workshop. You can also see many more footprints on our open wiki.

We have been working on the development of the Footprints of Emergence framework since the publication of our paper in 2012.  We believe this to be a unique approach to describing the complexity of learning in any learning environment (but particularly in open environments), which has already caught the attention of some bloggers and communities. See for example:

We’re looking forward to a lively session in which participants will not only take away ideas which stimulate their own thinking and work, but also that our own work and understanding will be developed through the questions and issues discussed

For further information about our ongoing work, see our open wiki – Footprints of Emergence

9 thoughts on “ALT-C 2013 Learning in the Open

  1. Scott Johnson September 3, 2013 / 9:23 pm

    Hi Jenny, sounds like an interesting workshop. Sharon Oviatt has a lot of material on diagrams in her “The Design of Future Educational Interfaces” from Routledge. Also hypothesis generation which I’d never seen as a demanding and creative process that leads to a viable and maybe self-supporting living idea.

    The college where I used to work is thinking of presenting a MOOC similar to Potcert and FSLT for new online learners. My first thought is of the total disaster a top-down organization could make of such a project–followed quickly by the glow of potential from the fires of emerging calamity:-) Is there space allowed in MOOC’dom for things that could go very badly?

    Will delve into the links ASAP.

  2. jennymackness September 4, 2013 / 4:19 pm

    Hi Scott – thanks for your comment and for the reference to Sharon Oviatt, which I shall look up. I look forward to hearing more about your College’s MOOC development. Total disaster seems to be a bit of a rarity in MOOCs. As far as I am aware there was just that one example of a Coursera MOOC that crashed and had to close, but that I think was principally a technology problem, i.e. it hadn’t been thought through enough. The other potential disaster is that no-one comes. Lisa Lane had this, in the very early days, with a history mooc that she wanted to run, but PotCert always attracts people and is very successful, although Lisa no longer calls that a MOOC.
    Good to hear from you.

  3. Barbara Berry September 11, 2013 / 5:09 am

    Hi Jenny,
    Would love to be attending your session this year. You have made great strides with the footprint! Will try to participate in SCoPE. I am still keen to try this with faculty in our design consultations. All the best! Barb

  4. jennymackness September 11, 2013 / 7:22 am

    Hi Barb – Roy and I were talking about you at ALT-C yesterday and remembering the really fun time we had at Stirling – so you were missed! Were your ears burning? Re footprints – we will be doing a webinar for SCoPE at some stage. We still have to fix this with Sylvia. Let us know if anything like that is of interest. Great to hear from you.

  5. Scott Johnson September 12, 2013 / 5:52 pm

    Will keep you posted on the MOOC project at the college. At the moment the place is in a kind of limbo as it absorbs the consequences of a huge staff reduction and program cuts. At the moment there doesn’t seem much potential in even imagining it could happen but organizations have weird bursts of energy and resources that occasionally line up.

    The more I read about complexity the less confident I am in deciding anything is unlikely–a definite improvement over the expectation of certain doom:-) Things have come out of the college that are quite brilliant and even though the trend is towards incomplete or “failed” projects the only real sadness is in not learning from them. In times of change there must be a huge increase in attempts that even with the best of intentions flame-out and it seems wrong to characterize them as “failures” or inconsequential when they represent honest effort that may have met a weak spot in development.

    Maybe there’s a foot print that captures both stasis and chaos in a tension of potential landscape?

  6. jennymackness September 13, 2013 / 6:43 pm

    Hi Scott – yes, do keep me posted on the MOOC project at College. I’d be interested to know how it progresses.

    Is there a footprint that captures both the stasis and chaos in a tension of potential landscape? Yes I think there is. I think you would find this if you drew one, from your perspective. If you are interested, then I have posted a wiki on our video, which explains how to draw footprints – see

    And I agree that there is sadness in not learning from mistakes – or not appearing to. For me, learning is, all the time, about making mistakes and learning from them – much as I hate making mistakes. Perhaps it’s that word ‘failure’ that is the culprit here.

    Thanks for your comment.


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