OLDSMOOC was launched today and as you would sort of expect, Cloudworks crashed under the load of people attempting to join the event. I was fortunate. I got in early enough to be one of the 100 people who could view the OU hosted event – but those arriving later, or trying to get in via Youtube or Cloudworks were disappointed. Much frustration was vented on Twitter, which the OLDSMOOC team, to their credit, did their best to contain.

It’s worth noting though that this is not the first MOOC to start in this fashion. Change11 was the same and that turned out to be a very worthwhile MOOC from my perspective. So it is early days for OLDSMOOC, although I do wonder why they have gone for such a complex and prescriptive design. We now know from other connectivist MOOCs that simplicity is the key to MOOC design – or at least apparent simplicity for the participant, which is not easy to achieve. I know from experience with FSLT12 that it is certainly not simple from the designer’s perspective – and of course the more people you get signing up, the greater the risk of the system crashing. So hats off to Stephen Downes and George Siemens for managing more than 2000 participants in the first connectivist MOOC in 2008 (CCK08), when they didn’t even anticipate the numbers who attended. An amazing achievement looking back on it.

The OLDSMOOC Launch was presented by Yishay Mor – who spoke to this Prezi presentation http://prezi.com/b44jwdgvs8nl/olds-mooc-introduction/

OLDSMOOC is thought by the conveners to be different because it is a project-based MOOC. The intention is that participants will work together in groups to produce a learning/curriculum design.

This of course raises questions such as What is curriculum? What is learning? What is design? and the presentation took us through various definitions of design. Perhaps the most recent definition of design quoted was from Grainne Conole’s forthcoming book:


And another recent definition from Mor and Craft

Mor and Craft

A point worth noting for our US colleagues is that learning design is considered to involve different thought processes to instructional design, which is thought to be a more linear process. (09-01-13 See Update from Yishay Mor at the end of this post)

According to Diana Laurillard teaching should be seen as a design science….


…..which prompted George Roberts on Twitter to ask the question

What is a “scientist” in the sense used in ‘learning as a “design science”‘ by @yishaym in #oldsmooc launch? Broad, narrow, or commonsense?

There was only one comment made in the presentation that I felt I could strongly resonate with and that was by Yishay Mor when he said

‘Design practice helps teachers share their practice’

This makes sense to me in terms of the work I have been doing with Roy Williams and Simone Gumtau on emergent learning, where we believe that drawing footprints to describe the relationship between prescribed and emergent learning in any given course, helps to raise awareness of learning issues and establish a dialogue around those issues. For further information see Footprints of Emergence.

I will probably not be working on a project for OLDSMOOC. My interest in curriculum design at the moment is related to prescribed, emergent and embodied learning – perhaps there is some overlap, but I think we (i.e. Roy, Simone and I) are probably coming at curriculum design from an alternative perspective…….but I will be following OLDSMOOC from the sidelines and am interested to see how it works out in terms of its own design intentions as a MOOC.


090113 Re Instructional design – this is a message from Yishay Mor via Twitter

Hi @jennymackness, I actually claimed that #instrcutionaldesign is more linear, and #learningdesign more messy / iterative #oldsmooc

Grainne Conole’s questions

I have finally managed to listen to Grainne Conole and view the slide presentation (thanks Kristina) and was interested in her Slide 100 with three questions, which I have been thinking about.

1. How can we encourage a culture of sharing ideas and designs?

A lot will need to change in HE before a culture of sharing ideas and designs becomes truly established if it ever does. Currently the whole system is geared to promoting individual advancement, in research, teaching and management. I think Stephen has the answer when he says it needs to be done through modelling and demonstration, which is just what he and George have done with this course. They have shown that it can be done. It would be interesting to know how many of their colleagues at the University of Manitoba freely share their ideas and designs. And how many people on this course will go back to their universities/institutions and request to be allowed to start open courses with free access to their ideas and course designs. My experience is that you can’t even take your own work to a new job in another institution, as work done for an institution is regarded as the property of that institution!

2. Why has there been little uptake of educational repositories?

My feeling is that the answer to this question lies in what I was trying to get at in my last post – and here I want to thank Rodd Lucier for his comment.

Although there wasn’t mention of commenting on Cloudworks products produced by others, the use of a common template would make such projects easily recognizable, shareable and editable. I think that’s what makes the WebQuest model of rich project development such a useful framework.

Another benefit to the tool Grainne shared, is that it walks teacher-designers through a thoughtful process of building a lesson, unit, or course. Educators are forced to consider a relevant lesson components from expectations thru roles and activities.

I don’t disagree with anything Rodd has said, but his points don’t answer my original concern and that is that a teaching idea is only of use when it can be practically applied in the classroom and that that is context dependent. Having listened to Grainne’s talk and it seems that she considers Cloudworks to be a social network, but I can’t see on the site where the discussions are going to take place. I suspect they will take place off the site, which could lead to a site which people take from, rather than give to and take from. If there hasn’t been an uptake on educational repositories it’s because they don’t provide what people need.

3. Can we apply web 2.0 principles to an educational context?

I think this course is proof that we can, but there has been plenty of discussion this week about the gap between the web 2.0 principles and many educational contexts. I thought Stephen overstepped the mark a little in tonight’s Elluminate session when he all but suggested that Lisa would either have to be content with only applying web 2.0 principles to her own learning, or might have to choose to leave her job if she couldn’t apply them in her current situation. He did retract rather quickly after this (I wonder if he heard my sharp intake of breath!). Of all people Stephen will know that there is a big gap between our traditional education systems and the principles to which web 2.0 technologies aspire. This is not going to go away and I think it’s probably a preferable option to try and change a system from the inside rather than from the outside (although loads of politicans seem to manage it from the outside!). Stephen himself has said that teachers need to model and demonstrate and this makes perfect sense to me. We just take small steps to begin with, modelling and demonstrating in small ways what can be achieved and celebrating success as we go along and gradually things start to move, but it will be a slow process. Rome wasn’t built in a day – as they say!


Will ‘Cloudworks’ work?

Well, I haven’t managed to locate a recording of Grainne’s talk yet. In fact – this is an open question for anyone who can answer it – is there somewhere on the CCK08 site where all past recordings are stored? If there is, I haven’t yet managed to find it. It would be useful to be able to return to some of the presentations.

In the absence of having heard Grainne – I have read her papers and had a quick look at the Cloudworks site.

I have to say that I’ve got my doubts about how successful this site will be and I’ve been trying to sort out why I’ve got this ‘niggly’ feeling about it. The site looks great and doesn’t everyone want and need access to ideas for their teaching?

If I have understood this correctly, then the idea behind this is that people socialise and share around an object. We see this in Flickr (photos), Youtube (videos) Slideshare (presentations) – incidentally, I really don’t like slideshare much, but that’s another story – so the idea behind cloudworks is that people will socialise and share around ideas for teaching.

As I see it, Flickr, Youtube and slideshare work well because they share ‘finished’ objects. People don’t have to do anything with the photos, videos and presentations – only enjoy and appreciate them. Whereas an idea for teaching is of absolutely no use unless you do something with it and without the sharing of that process, then I think a resource of teaching ideas is of limited use.

I might have missed this, but although I can see the possibility for commenting on the teaching ideas uploaded onto Cloudworks, I can’t see any discussion possibilities. Of course, Grainne might have explained this is her talk (which I haven’t heard) or it may be that you have to be signed up to have access to discussion – but without the discussion I’m not sure how successful the site will be.

It seems to me that Cloudworks needs to incorporate both the sharing of objects idea from Flickr etc. and the sharing of discussion from social networking sites such as Facebook. Each teacher’s context is so individual that whilst a resource of teaching ideas can be a help and time saver, the resource still has to be adapted for the individual context and I suspect that’s where most of the help is needed and those are the ideas that most teachers would like to interact around.