Evaluation of Open Learning Scenarios

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.18.10

In September Roy Williams and I will be giving the keynote for this conference in Graz, Austria, at the invitation of Jutta Pauschenwein and her colleagues. The title of the conference for those who do not speak German is Evaluation of Open Learning Scenarios.

The title of our keynote is:

Surfacing, sharing and valuing tacit knowledge

This is the first blog post in a series that we hope to write between now and September 17th. The aim is that these posts will act as advance organizers. We know from experience that some of the ideas that we will discuss in our presentation need more time and reflection to take in than will be possible at the conference itself. We also know that we won’t have time at the conference to cover everything we have thought about in relation to this presentation and all the work we have done on the Footprints.

This is a small annual conference (usually about 100 people). Last year the conference topic was very popular – Learning with Videos and Games; 150 delegates attended.

Jutta has told us that this is the 13th year this conference has been offered. It attracts a loyal group of delegates – university teachers, school teachers and trainers of companies, from Austria, Germany and Switzerland, some of whom attend year after year. Jutta has told us that unlike many of the German speaking conferences, which focus on scientific articles and presentations, this conference takes a more pragmatic approach and attracts an audience who ‘want to know how to do something’. Jutta has therefore invited us to speak about how we use our work on Footprints of Emergence to evaluate learning in open learning environments. She herself has been using our Footprints of Emergence drawing tool extensively since 2012.

Jutta and her colleagues recently used the Footprints for an assignment in their MOOC – Competences for Global Collaboration (cope14) and have often used them in their work in the past. Jutta blogs about them and has, with her colleagues, written articles and presented papers at conferences that make reference to the Footprints.

The conference presenters will also submit papers for review. Here is the programme for the conference – Programme for Graz e-Learning Conference

….. and here is the Abstract of our paper:

Surfacing, sharing and valuing tacit knowledge in open learning

Roy Williams

Jenny Mackness

Abstract:

This paper is situated within the paradigm of open, emergent learning, which exploits the full range of social and interactive media, and enables independent initiative and creativity. Open, emergent environments change the way we experience learning, and this has implications for the way we design and manage learning spaces, and describe and analyse them. This paper explores the ways we have engaged with these issues, as participants, designers, researchers, and as facilitators, and how we have reflected on, visualized, shared, and valued the rich dynamics of collaborative discovery. In particular, we explore how emergent learning can be enabled by using uncertain probes rather than predictable outcomes, by emphasizing tacit rather than explicit reflection, and by seeking ways to give the learners back a real voice in a collaborative conversation about the value of learning and teaching.

Key words: probes, Footprints, emergent learning, tacit knowledge, MOOCs

This paper will ultimately be published along with all the other papers, in an open e-book. For last year’s e-book see the FH/Joanneum Website

I don’t know how often the keynote for this conference has been given in English. Unfortunately neither Roy nor I speak German, but we welcome comments on this blog in either German or English. Most of the papers for the conference will be presented in German, but Jutta and I will run a workshop at the end of the day in both German and English.

It goes without saying that we are very much looking forward to meeting Jutta and all her colleagues and are grateful for this opportunity to present our work in Austria.

Emergent Learning from thinking about Emergent Learning

On Tuesday of this week we ran our second webinar on Emergent Learning and Drawing Footprints of Emergence for the SCoPE community  and any one else who wanted to attend. SCoPe is an open community – with a wonderfully open and generous facilitator – Sylvia Currie – who not only offered us these opportunities, but in the second webinar volunteered to draw a footprint for us during the live webinar.

What is a footprint? Well – I’m afraid it’s too long a story to recount in this blog post – but you can ‘read all about it’ in this published paper  – or visit and explore our open wiki  –  or visit the SCoPE discussion forums  –  or listen to the recordings of the webinars – Webinar 1 and Webinar 2  – and I have posted an example of a footprint below.

From these experiences the learning for me is that is that there really is no quick and easy way to describe the work we have been steeped in for the past few years. Learning emerges from a complex, messy business, and we haven’t managed to find a way to make understanding  or describing it simple.

And drawing footprints of emergence requires a bit of effort – well more than a bit. First it requires engaging with 25 factors (arranged in four clusters) that may or may not influence your learning process. These are intended to represent the complexity of learning – but that does mean that you might have to ponder a bit about what is meant by factors such as liminality, ambiguity, theory of mind, cross-modality, hybrid modes of writing and so on.  For these SCoPE webinars we have worked on a more visual way of representing these factors, which you can find on our wiki, if you are interested (see Mapping Sheet for Visual Learners on this page of the wiki). But then I have wondered whether including images will influence the way in which the factors are interpreted. Hope I am not putting you off, but drawing and thinking about footprints is not for the faint-hearted, although it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it if you are really interested 🙂

All these thoughts have been pulled together by an interesting post in the forums this week (thanks Nick Kearney). The point made was that drawing footprints and thinking about emergent learning may be OK for academic researchers, but it will be difficult to inspire others outside this community to engage with this process and think about emergent learning. I really appreciate it when people speak their mind and come clean about what they think – and ‘yes’ – drawing footprints of emergence is not easy. Is this why we had only a small handful of people in the second webinar – was the thought of having to do some work during the webinar and not being a passive observer off putting?

It is harder to tell in the online environment why people choose to engage or not – but although we were small in number we straight away received one drawn footprint from Lisa Lane. This was heartening as it was her first experience of drawing a footprint and for me showed that it is possible to get this process across in an online webinar. We have only ever run face-to-face workshops before. So here is Lisa’s footprint which represents the design of her POTCert programme –  and here is her blog post about it.   And as I write this, there are more footprints coming in.

POTdesigner

But I think the big ‘Ah-ha’ moment for me in this experience – the emergent learning if you like – is that there is a tension between complexity and simplicity, between hard work and ease of access, which reflects the tension we have found between emergent and prescriptive learning. Learning is a complex business. Do we best serve it by trying to order and constrain it, or is it better served by recognizing and acknowledging its complexity, and by being aware that we cannot control it and that much of it will be emergent?

Emerging questions on Emergent Learning

scope-badge The SCoPE community discussion forums on emergent learning continue to be very stimulating – and in true emergent form are raising more questions than are being answered.  See the open SCoPE discussion forums for more information.

In tomorrow’s webinar (the second of two) we will be explaining how to draw footprints of emergence and sharing the contexts in which this might be helpful. From our perspective the footprints are particularly helpful for reflecting on learning in open learning environments such as MOOCs, but can also be used for more traditional courses.  We look forward to hearing what others think.

Here are the details for accessing tomorrow’s webinar.

Tuesday, 26 November 18:00 GMT  

Vicki Dale ELESIG workshop

This webinar will focus on drawing footprints of emergence and a discussion of the critical factors, which we use to describe and map out the learning experience. We will encourage all participants to draw their own footprints. In the following asynchronous discussion forum, we hope that you will share your footprints, so that we can critically reflect on the approach, and methodology, in order to improve it and to continue to make it accessible, available and relevant to the broader research and design community.

See also the Preparing for Webinar 2 discussion forum thread – which explains what documents need to be downloaded before the session.

Although we have run face-to-face workshops on how to draw the footprints, we have never tried this online before. We are looking forward to seeing what emerges from this session 😉

Questions about Emergent Learning

We had a great webinar on Emergent Learning on Tuesday, courtesy of Sylvia Currie and the SCoPE community at BCcampus. It’s really stimulating to discover others ‘out there’ who are as interested in emergent learning as we are. For those who would have liked to join us and couldn’t make it, Sylvia has posted a recording of the session.

There were lots of points made in the webinar that I could mention here and some are already being discussed in the asynchronous discussion forum that we have running this week and next (until November 29th).

But two have stuck in my mind:

1. Doesn’t emergent learning happen all the time? It has occurred to me that if our answer to this question is ‘Yes’, then why doesn’t emergent learning crop up very much in discussions about teaching and learning and why isn’t everyone who is interested in teaching and learning also interested in emergent learning?

2. Does emergent learning makes teachers redundant?

I will be thinking more about both these questions. For now I am trying to keep up with discussion!

Apart from the stimulating discussion we have been having, there was also quite a bit of interest in the webinar we will run next week on how to draw footprints of emergence – a tool we have developed to visualise the balance between prescriptive and emergent learning in any course, but particularly in open learning environments. This is a footprint of my experience in Old Globe MOOC. For further information about this see our open wiki

Figure 1 OG Footprint jpeg

…… and for more examples of footprints see here 

In next Tuesday’s webinar (Tuesday, 26 November 18:00 GMT, 10:00 PST) we are hoping that everyone will have a go at drawing a footprint of emergence. We will be talking everyone through the process.

If you are thinking of coming – to get the most out of the webinar, there are one or two things you might like to do beforehand.

1. Have in mind a course that you have designed, taught or experienced, that you would like to explore/reflect on in terms of its potential for emergent learning.

2. Have the following documents either printed out or downloaded onto your desktop. You can find these documents on our wiki here – or in the SCoPE site here.

  • Palette 2.0.1.png. This is for printing out and drawing by hand. It can then be scanned and either uploaded to the wiki or sent to one of us for uploading.
  • Palette new template 2. Docx. This is for downloading to your desktop and working on, on your computer.
  • Mapping sheet 2013. You will need to refer to this as you draw, but we will also talk you through it.

You may also find it helpful to watch the video that is on the wiki (8 mins) and embedded here.

If you have time to look at these documents before Tuesday that would be great, but don’t worry if you don’t have time. We will go through everything in the webinar.

Looking forward to continuing our discussion in SCoPE, or here in this blog, and seeing people again or for the first time in the second webinar on Tuesday 26th November.

Capturing the learner experience in ModPo and open learning environments

This is an invitation to all Modern & Contemporary American Poets MOOC (ModPo) participants, SCoPE community members, CPsquare members, ELESIG members, FSLT13 participants, POTCert participants, colleagues and friends, and the wider open network to join us in two open webinars to reflect on your learning experiences and discuss emergent learning in MOOCs and open learning environments.

Where and when?

SCoPE Blackboard Collaborate Room: http://urls.bccampus.ca/scopeevents

  1. Webinar 1 – Emergent Learning – Tuesday, 19 November 18:00 GMT
  2. Webinar 2 –  Drawing Footprints of Emergence – Tuesday, 29 November 18:00 GMT

See http://scope.bccampus.ca/mod/forum/view.php?id=9408 for further details of the Webinars.

In these webinars we will be sharing some thoughts about our experiences in MOOCs and other courses,  in my case ModPo, and inviting participants to do likewise. In particular, in the second webinar, we will encourage participants to reflect on their learning to draw a visualization of their learning experience – a Footprint.

This is a visualization of my reflection on my ModPo experience at the end of Week 10, the end of the MOOC.ModPo Week 10 Image 2

In these drawings (we call them Footprints) we consider the relationship between 25 different critical factors  that can influence the learning experience with particular reference to the balance between prescriptive and emergent learning. There is not room here to explain this in detail. We will do this in the webinars and further information can be found on our open wiki and in our published papers – which you can find here and here.

Drawing footprints is a way of surfacing deep reflection, tacit knowledge and understanding about learning in complex learning environments.

I have documented my ModPo experience over the weeks in this document in a series of footprints – see ModPo footprints and explanation 151113

This is how I have described my learner experience at the end of the course (the end of Week 10) which is depicted by the Footprint image above …….

My Learning experience in ModPo – End of Week 10

ModPo has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for me. I have lurched from being thrilled by it, to feeling excessively irritated, from marveling at the open minds of the poets to whom we have been introduced, to feeling that I do not have the competence to understand them, from being disappointed in aspects of the MOOC pedagogy to being really impressed with the way in which the MOOC has been run. This is reflected in the footprints I have drawn at various stages of the course.

Reflecting on my experience of the last week of the course, I find that my perception of the balance between emergent and prescriptive learning in this MOOC has once again shifted more into the ‘sweet’ emergent learning zone (The pale white zone on the footprint is the emergent learning zone. The darker central zone is the prescriptive learning zone. The outer darker zone is the challenging zone, moving towards the edge of chaos).

The footprint I have drawn shows that there are a number of factors that remain in the prescriptive zone. There isn’t a lot of ‘Risk’ in the ModPo environment, or opportunities for the course to be self-correcting or adaptive. There is limited variance in the learning pathways and not really any possibility that I could see of negotiating outcomes. My perception is that these constraints on emergent learning are a result of the design of the Coursera platform.

I also imposed constraints on myself by choosing not to engage in the forums and towards the end of the course I stopped watching the webcasts. For myself I had to balance engagement with the heavy load of poetry we were required to read and engage with, with the demands of engaging in the overloaded forums. I chose the former and instead to engage with the MOOC from my blog. I have blogged each week of the course.

The result has been a mostly sweetly emergent learning experience, i.e. ModPo has been a positive learning experience. I do not feel part of the ModPo community (it has been a ‘purple in the nose’ experience*), but I have found the introduction to poets and their experiments highly stimulating and relevant to my work in education.

*(A story from Etienne Wenger). I have tasted the wine and know there is a lot to know about the wine, but I don’t feel part of the wine-tasting community, I don’t understand their language (purple in the nose) and I don’t think I want to become a member of this community. I will remain at the boundaries of the community.

This is my experience. It is valid for me, but of course there is no way in which it could be said to be representative of the 36 000 ModPo participants. For that we would need many ModPo participants to draw a footprint and share it. Hence the invitation.

And the invitation is equally open to all interested in online learning experiences. We already have many examples of footprints from participants on a range of courses and would welcome more. The more we have, the more we can begin to unpick what it means to learn in open learning environments.

We hope you will join us in the webinars. Everyone is welcome.

Progress in Learning – lessons from painting and poetry

I am once again amazed by how I keep coming across poems (in the ModPo MOOC) that resonate with the research I am currently working on with my colleagues Roy Williams and Jutta Pauschenwein.

This week we have been discussing, in relation to a paper we are writing, how difficult it is to succinctly describe emergent learning and how difficult it is to capture it. (My last post relates to this). We attempt to do this through our visualization methodology – footprints of emergence  – but we are aware that each visualization is only a snapshot of a brief instance in time. (See our open wiki for examples of these visualizations).

We have found that if we tell our workshop participants that the footprint they have drawn of their learning experience could be different if drawn the next hour, day, week, month – then they question the value of the process. The idea that progress in learning can’t be pinned down is so counter-intuitive. But this week I feel I had confirmation of the constantly changing nature of student progress in learning from a number of sources.

1. In week 3 of ModPo,  we have been introduced to Ezra Pound’s poem ‘In a Station of the Metro’. In this he tries to represent what he sees in a moment and in so doing acknowledges how fleeting that moment is. I discuss how this resonates with me in my last blog post

2. A book chapter by Ray Land and Jan H.F. Meyer. I was trying to find out more about what we mean by transformational learning. On page xvii of the book (or p.18 of the PDF document) they describe a student’s progress along the transformational journey as like a ‘flickering movie’.

3. This reminded me of Eadweard Muybridge’s book – The Human Figure in Motion, which I have had on my bookshelf for about 40 years.

muybridge

Through his camera, Muybridge captured what the eye could not see as separate movements, just as the imagist poets sought analogy with sculpture, and just as educators try to capture the dynamics of the learning process and progress in learning, usually through assessment, but in our case through Footprints of Emergence.

4.  And finally coming back again to ModPo – Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, which was used to explain that with prolonged exposure motion can be captured in different frames.

Nude_Descending_a_StaircaseSource: http://www.marcelduchamp.net/Nude_Descending_a_Staircase.php

This painting is viewed in ModPo alongside William Carlos Williams’ poem, ‘Portrait of a Lady’

Williams tries to find the language to depict a portrait of a lady. He and Duchamp tried to rebuke traditional depictions. Duchamp attempts to depict multiple perspectives at different points in time and Williams shows how difficult it is to do this in words. Both Williams and Duchamp are saying that if you look at a portrait a 100 times you will see something different each time.

This is exactly the problem we have with capturing the meaning of learning, because it is in constant motion. Not only do we not have adequate language to describe it, but we also cannot fix it in time. These are the issues we are struggling with in our work on Footprints of Emergence, and what we mean when we say that a Footprint depicts a snapshot in time. For us the value in this is in a recognition of the dynamic complexity of learning and therefore the need to surface deep tacit understanding of the learning experience.

Emily Dickinson and Emergent Learning

Black-white_photograph_of_Emily_Dickinson_(Restored)Source of image – Wikipedia

I would never have suspected that two separate activities this week could come together so closely. At the beginning of the week I was at the ALT-C conference with Roy Williams, running a workshop on Emergent Learning. I have already blogged about this a few times. Attending the conference has meant that emergent learning, which we have been researching for a few years now, has, this week, been right at the front of my mind.

This week also saw the beginning of the ModPo MOOC (Modern and Contemporary American Poetry). I wrote a post about its start. I also dipped into the three Emily Dickinson poems we were asked to read and discuss and during the week have been watching and rewatching the videos in which the poems have been discussed.

I am amazed at how much these poems seem to relate to emergent learning. Al Filreis in one of the videos mentions that he uses the poem ‘The Brain within its Groove’ when he talks to businessmen. I think all three poems could be used to encourage educators to think about open learning as they encourage a shift from a didactic approach, to thinking in terms of infinite open possibilities.

I dwell in Possibility – by Emily Dickinson
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

The words ‘I dwell in Possibility’ and the idea that the sky is the limit, an everlasting roof, in relation to learning, were ringing through my head throughout the ALT-C conference.

‘To tell the Truth but tell it slant’ also relates very closely to be work we have been doing in trying to describe the factors that influence learning and may need to be considered for emergent learning to occur. We have found this very difficult. One person’s interpretation is different to another’s. Each learner’s experience is unique. I have above, briefly selected two ideas from ‘I dwell in Possibility’ to write about – but is this selection an example of slanted truth?  As Al Filreis has said, ‘Any power structure is encoded in the language we use’.

In the ModPo video it was suggested that we have an ethical responsibility for the way we use language, which also relates to the difficulties we have been having in our emergent learning research. Al Filreis describes words as ‘elastic’, but this is so counter-intuitive for many teachers and learners who want everything cut and dried and neatly packaged. With Emily Dickinson’s poems we have to work at making our own meanings more meaningful.

Tell all the Truth, but tell it slant – by Emily Dickinson
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

And finally ‘The Brain’ within its Groove. Emily Dickinson’s poem perfectly describes the move from the prescriptive zone (learning in the safety of a groove) to sweet emergence and beyond (being out on the multi-pathed plateau of an open learning environment). I have explained this further in a past blog post.  What is wonderful about this poem is the idea that once you have opened the floodgates (of learning), there is little chance of turning back. This must be what every educator, at heart, wants to achieve.

To quote Al Filreis:

This (MOOC) is open learning in the open about the meaning of openness and being open – opening the floodgates

The Brain, within its Groove by Emily Dickinson
The Brain, within its Groove
Runs evenly–and true–
But let a Splinter swerve–
‘Twere easier for You–
To put a Current back–
When Floods have slit the Hills–
And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves–
And trodden out the Mills–

In the same  previous post  I tried to explain why I am so interested in emergent learning – why, as an educator and learner, I have spent hours, weeks and months researching this. Al Filreis has captured it in the following sentences, far better than I have been able to:

With 30,000 participants you have to give up the dream of control, give up the dream of teaching people stuff that they will package and walk away with and be able to point to like a vending machine – with 30,000 people we are so far beyond a pedagogy of I know you don’t, I have you want, I give you take, I speak you listen.

In other words we must trust that learning will be emergent.

Footprints of Emergence – so what?

I anticipated that we would get this question at our ALT-C workshop, Learning in the Open, and we did get it. Or rather, we got the comment – ‘I can’t see the point of all this’.

I anticipated the question because it’s a question I have been asking myself, and Roy and I had a long discussion about it on Monday evening.

Having written a couple of research papers and run a few workshops on our ideas about emergent learning we know that this is not an easy question to answer. We also know that what we have been thinking about and discussing since 2008, is not easy to put over in an hour’s workshop.

So I will try and answer this question, ‘Footprints of Emergence – so what?’ in this blog post, as succinctly as I can.

For details of what we mean by Footprints of Emergence, see the Executive Summary on our open wiki.   Briefly, we see the drawing of footprints as a means of creating a visualization of a description of learning in any given learning environment.  Here is an example of one (click on the footprint to enlarge):

Vicki Dale ELESIG workshop

This description and visualization will tell us something about the balance between prescriptive and emergent learning. It is a snapshot in time, which describes the perspective on learning, from a learner or designer viewpoint, or a collaborative group viewpoint. In this process we are increasingly aware of the difficulty of describing the learning process.

So that’s the ‘what’ about footprints of emergence – what about the ‘so what’?

Imagine you have now figured out what we are talking about, you know what a footprint is and you know how to draw one and you now have one that, for you, describes your learning experience in a named learning environment or course. So what?

Roy and I have had to consider why we have invested so much time on this and continue to spend literally hours discussing it.

What follows is where I am up to with my thinking.

As was discussed at the ALT-C conference, we live in an age, where much of what we know about traditional ways of learning and teaching, is being challenged. As someone said to me at the conference, students know a lot more about social media and IT than their lecturers and always will, and they are no longer content to ‘sit in a VLE’ and do what they are told. They are literally all over the web, doing their own thing, in spaces of their own choosing, interacting with people far beyond the confines of their own course or learning environment. They have scaled the valley sides of the prescriptive learning zone of a traditional course and are out on the open plateau.

3D view of footprints

Source: Williams, R., Mackness, J. & Gumtau, S. (2012) Footprints of Emergence. Vol. 13, No. 4. IRRODL

In these complex open learning environments, it is impossible for the tutor to see or know about everything that is going on. Much of the learning is surprising, unpredictable and emergent. MOOCs in particular, which are designed as open learning environments promote a wealth of emergent learning. This emergent learning will have a profound effect on learner identities and their sense of who they are and who they are becoming. You only have to scan through the discussion forums of cMOOC to see evidence of this. Since more and more learners seem to be gravitating towards open learning environments, emergent learning can no longer be ignored. But how can we ‘capture’ and articulate its meaning?

This is what we are trying to do through the process of drawing Footprints of Emergence. The drawing process relies on consideration of 25 factors which influence the balance between prescriptive and emergent learning. 25 factors is a lot – so it is not a quick or easy process. It is messy and difficult, but then learning is messy and difficult. Determining how these factors influence the learning or design process requires careful thought and discussion and the surfacing of tacit knowledge and understanding. It is this surfacing of tacit knowledge and understanding that we believe to be the ‘so what’ of Footprints of Emergence.

To learn and work effectively in open learning environments, learners will need to have the ability to reflect on who they are and who they want to be. Depth of reflection is a skill that all learners need, and will increasingly need for professional development in an age when they can no longer easily predict their career paths. We believe that the Footprints of Emergence offer a process for supporting this development.

Emergent Learning at ALTC2103

ALT-C is in its second day. I am no longer there and am trying to follow what’s going on via the Twitter stream, but it doesn’t work for me. It’s like being in a crowded room and catching snippets of conversation, which are difficult to follow up or follow through.

But I was there yesterday and Monday evening and thoroughly enjoyed it for the handful of people I met and conversations that I had. I don’t need a room full. Just one meaningful discussion would have been enough for me, and I got more than one. Not least I had a chance to talk face-to-face with my colleague Roy, who I have worked with online since 2008, but I think we have only met face-to-face five times!

Our session – Learning in the Open – went reasonably well, but on reflection I think we could have done a more ‘out of the box’ presentation. It’s ironic that we were talking about emergent learning and the factors that might need to be considered to promote it, but we still fell into a fairly conventional way (a trap?) of running a workshop, even though the ideas we are working on and were presenting are, I think, far from conventional. As we have discovered in running these workshops, the idea that learning is messy, is difficult to control and is unique to each individual learner is as counter-intuitive as it is obvious for many who work in education.

So what about the conference itself? The title is altc2013 Building new cultures of learning – but how much does the conference design promote this.

I was only there one day, and I rarely go to conferences, but it seemed to me to be in a format not dissimilar to conferences I was going to years ago – keynote speakers, breakout sessions, parallel paper presentations, workshops, exhibition hall etc. This is not intended as a criticism. It’s a reflection. As I said above I enjoyed my day and feel that the handful of connections I made were well worth the time and money I spent going to ALT-C, but if I think about it in terms of emergent learning – did I have a transformative, surprising, unpredictable experience, then ‘No’ I didn’t.

Perhaps this is not the purpose of a conference, even one that is considering building new cultures of learning. I am familiar with ‘Unconferences’ – and have even attended one some years back, but that didn’t have the numbers that ALT-C has. How could a conference like ALT-C, with more than 450 delegates in a physical space, do it differently? Should a conference like ALT-C even consider doing it differently?

Thinking off the top of my head – perhaps the place to start, and thinking about building new learning cultures, would be to think in terms of ‘open’ learning environments and the factors which influence that. Which brings me back to footprints of emergence (for examples of what I mean see this page on our open wiki). My colleague Roy is at the conference for the full three days. Perhaps he will draw a footprint of the conference when it is over, and that might provide some further insights into conference design. And we would certainly welcome footprints from conference participants.

Thanks to the conference organizers and to Rose Heaney, our session moderator, for their hard work and support.

Footprints in Frankfurt – GMW2013

Jutta foto13gPhoto by Claudia Bremer – https://twitter.com/clbremer/status/375864881255170048

This is a photo of Jutta Pauschenwein at the GMW2013 conference in Frankfurt, where Jutta and her colleagues Gudrun Reimerth and Erika Pernold, presented a workshop on Footprints of Emergence.

Pauschenwein, Jutta; Reimerth, Gudrun; Pernold, Erika

Footprints of emergence – eine aussagekräftige

Evaluierungsmethode für moderne Lernszenarien

In preparation for their conference workshop Jutta wrote a comprehensive blog post, explaining how she works with the footprints.

Although this is all in German, and unfortunately I don’t speak German, I can get the gist of it from Google Translate.  She writes:

I have been using the footprints since the fall of 2012 and they have become a valuable tool for reflection on both the design of learning scenarios developed by me as well as my own learning processes…..

I have learned to read Footprints and draw conclusions from them. The interpretation of the outliers (factors with particularly high or low values ) are particularly interesting , but also the footprint as a whole in its graphical representation is meaningful.

The interesting thing is that Jutta ends her blog post with a footprint about her experience in MOOC Course Maker 2013, which ironically shows the course to be more prescriptive than emergent!

Jutta's mmc13-footprint

Jutta and her colleagues have done a lot of work with the footprints, and we look forward to further collaboration with them and learning more from them about how they use the footprints.

Thanks to Matthias Melcher who pointed me to Jutta’s photo and pointed out that the Footprints are travelling across Europe from Lancaster, Portsmouth and London, to Austria, Finland and Frankfurt!

Postscript 08-09-2013

Today I learned that Jutta, Erika and Gudrun won the best poster award at the GMW2013 conference – http://gmw2013.de/best-paper-und-best-poster-award/  Congratulations!

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 11.31.08