Week 2  focused on the relationship between context and learning design. It was introduced by Rose Luckin, and facilitated by Joshua Underwood, Yishay Mor and Katerina Avramides.

OLDSMOOC Facilitation

My hat goes off to the facilitators. A number of things stand out for me:

  • their superb daily summaries, without which, given that I am simply ‘observing’ this MOOC, I would not have been able to follow. It would be interesting to have a discussion about 1) their strategies for summarizing from such the hugely diverse resources generated by the MOOC – I’m sure we could learn a lot from them 2) the wisdom of going down the provision of daily summaries route in a MOOC… which leads to my next point
  • the hours of work they have put in. Josh Underwood highlighted a post by a Chris Basson  – saying he was exhausted – but I thought Josh himself looked exhausted in the Tuesday Google Hangout. I have noted that the design of the course (like many other MOOCs and online courses) doesn’t allow for any days off. There is something programmed for 7 days of the week, although the weekend activities are lumped together. I wonder if this pattern of expecting people to participate in what is effectively CPD work in their own time is the best way forward for quality learning
  • their subject knowledge and expertise
  • their openness to new ideas, different ways of working and even criticism. They have not sanitized the summaries and talk freely of the challenges they face in the Google Hangouts. Very impressive.

Week 2 content

Questions for the week were

  • What is learner context?  How to characterise it
  • How do learners’ contexts affect the ways they interpret and enact learning designs?
  • How can we use context in learning design?
  • How can we personalise designs to individual learner’s needs and contexts?

Participants were asked to use scenarios , personas , forcemaps and the Ecology of Resources  to consider how the designer’s context impacts on the learner’s context and how we can sensitize ourselves to important aspects of context. Do any of these methods provide new insights into learner design? Evidently Josh did not use personas, but did use the Ecology of Resources Framework in designing Week 2 for OLDS MOOC, but Yishay did use force-maps, personas and scenarios. How does the fact that in a MOOC it’s difficult to anticipate who the audience might be, impact on this?


Concerns about Cloudworks continue, although committed participants appear to have found ways of managing. The platform is thought to be very hard to navigate and a participant in the Google Hangout commented that ‘Cloudworks as a structure is falling over’.

From the facilitator perspective, Cloudworks is thought to be an excellent platform for sharing resources as OERs and for commenting on these resources (assuming you can find them), but has limitations and in this MOOC is definitely being stretched to a scale which hasn’t been used before.

One participant feels that Cloudworks is not sufficiently social. She can’t see people helping each other enough or feel a stream of conversation. She finds it a lonely place in need of some social glue. Some think this might be due to discussion being too distributed across the web. It was suggested that we approach the MOOC in the same way as attending a big conference, i.e. be selective about what to attend and who to connect with. And it was nice to see that one participant who appeared to feel isolated in Week 1 and was finding it difficult to form a team , seems to have made connections in Week 2

Some other interesting outcomes

  • A different approach to scenario creation – by Penny Bentley  (Click on the link to see the Slide Presentation) – But I did note that she has copyrighted her slides and this has made me wonder about the copyright implications of all the work that is being done in this MOOC.
  • Great thoughts about context by George Hobson –  In particular he writes – ‘There is a lot that we take for granted in schools. Context is one of them”. I wonder if this is true – or is it simply that after many years of teaching, context is integral to everything we do. Does that necessarily mean we take it for granted.
  • Finally I noted that David Jennings – whose original design intention interested me –  has had to change tack due to life circumstances overtaking him – see David Jennings Review of Week 2  –  I wonder how many other people this has happened to. I suspect that those who have a project that is directly related to their daily work will find it easier to see this course through to the end.

Week 3   is already half way through. Led by Gráinne Conole and co-facilitated by Rebecca Galley it is intended to introduce a range of representations that will help participant to conceptualise, share and critique their initial designs.