Ann's MOOC learning blog

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Ann Pegg
19 December 2012

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Launch of MOOC

Very interesting launch event yesterday.  Chose to go 'in the room' for reassurance as I was having problems with this Cloudworks on my ipad - seems to work from laptop - so will be working from here.   I need to find out how to 'connect' with others in the MOOC - not yet worked out how to find and follow....


Launch event clarified a few things and raised some interesting questions -  need to see Yishay's prezzi for the detail here  . 

So Yishay says there is a Design Science - is this a new discipline (or more likely interdisciplinary area) emerging for the 21st Century?   it seems so.   Learning design is a part of that - and he suggests that there are a couple of schools, one more complex and 'messy' than the other one, based somewhat in linear systems theory.  Yishay  didn't mention the term or words - complexity theory ' but it was in the air for me, and perhaps this area needs more exploration later on - certainly the reference to ecology of learning later seems to link back to complexity theory ideas.   I'm wondering about this lack of acknowledgement here - is this a new science trying to divorce/separate from roots?  or is it a claim to some new space for thinking, but either way some exploration of the borders between this design science and complexity theory would be interesting.

On design for learning , or learning design , this is being presented as a new paradigmatic approach.  I'm not sure - I can see the value in attempting to capture a process and allowing for the non-linearity of creative thinking, but asked a question about the difference between this an theories of learning and teaching, inparticular reflective practice, that many teachers will be familiar with.  The answer, from Y. is that this is a tacit sklll of teachers that needs capturing to teach other teachers....  well,  I still think that many teachers would disagree, and indeed writers about pedagogy in education have worked hard to ensure that curriculum design in not tacit and does have theory and thinking behind it - theories of learning and so on.   In particular, it strikes me that the approach of the Early Years practitioners to learning and curriculum design -  experiential, creating a learning environment that acts as the curriculum for children, designing the environment for learning, scaffolding, the different types of learning - experiential, observational, exploratory, schemas, physical, etc,  and how they fit into an emerging and designed environment as the curriculum as useful points to consider in suggesting that education as a discipline hasn't made explicit a process of curriculum and learning design.  

Of course, there are different languages at stake here, different disciplines making a claim to knowledge, and this new science more obviously relates to design for adults, using online technologies which themselves emerge from a systems (linear) background, but I hope that there is not dismissal of what can be drawn in terms of learning design from education - itself an interdisciplinary field.  

My aims this week:  to work out how to connect to others,  to choose a project,  to explore the differences in/between  OLD and early years approaches and workbasedlearning approaches to learning design. 


Sunday 13th Jan. 

about to start reading to catch up on what's happening.  So far have managed to scan activities, but that's hard whenthere is so much to read.  I haven't worked out how to search for comments that I will relate to so have got a lot of other stuff that feels far from my interests.   It's hard work to 'find' the group, design project, that I feel that I can contribute and connect to - and it seems from some of the twitter issues that one or two others are feeling like this too - but how to solve it?   rereading cloudworks instructions doesn't actually help ( need a fools guide to how to use at each relevant stage? ). 

It also seems that there are two groups,  one highly proficient and already 'into' learning design, and another standing back and looking at it philosophically, and probably even a third of readers who can't work out how to belong!     Using today to catch up and will try to join the relevant groups after re-reading intial Yishay ppt to try to get into it.  Enthusiasim currently low, but still trying to keep with the programme in the spirit of experiential learning and in the hope that all will become somewhat more manageable when the groups are smaller and more focussed. 

Ann Pegg
10:13 on 8 January 2013 (Edited 12:02 on 13 January 2013)

Sunday -  an hour later


So Frustrating!     cannot work out how to join a team, or study circle,.   Have been round clouds, cloudscapes, introduction and instructions lots of times now -  how do you search all these ideas? tried Tags, and that didn't help,   surely it can't be to read every one?   why are the ideas all over the place, which cloud are they supposed to be on?   there are only about 5 in 'teams' at the moment,  and I can't find study circles anywhere.  Signing off rather dissappointed. 

Ann Pegg
13:08 on 13 January 2013

Monday 14th 

well ,  I have added a comment or two and suggested a project.  perhaps a member of the learning journal team if no interest in institutional curricula, which is a bit vague and more of a study comment than a projet.  Couldn't yet see a study circle to join - does that mean people are using different media to link up with others, eg. facebook etc?  not sure.  

Interesting read of the curriculum manifesto and case studies - they are seeing interdisciplinary and 'real world' issues as central to the curricula.  How and when did university activities become so closely bounded that the work and study of the world became separate from the 'real' world, and what do people mean by 'real' world anyway. 

I am reminded of the book 'real world research'  and the issue I have with that - in what way is research not about the real world?  we all live in the world, of work, ideas, knowledge, community, politics etc - and saying that university curricula doesn't connect to the real world is a particular critique  - perhaps of teaching rather than research?  

need to think about that a bit more, 

Learning Design:  more thoughts on what that might be - and the issue of what is learning and what is design?  Should we design learning ?  does that detract from discovery and the socially constructed nature of understanding, after all if we 'design' surely we are proposing a path or shape on learning for someone else?  it seems we can only design with a consumer or end purpose in mind, and what might that be in the area of learning?    I think learning design needs to be careful not to take a deficit view of teaching and learning - and where did it grow from 'e learning' and open resources to all learning?  blog by George roberts very interesting on that issue



Ann Pegg
17:00 on 14 January 2013


very busy at work, no time to reply to an interesting comment by

Ann Pegg
16:48 on 15 January 2013

that was the comment by Hugues,  and the potential to form a study group.  Getting back to this tomorrow..

Ann Pegg
16:49 on 15 January 2013

Review of week 1

Well, I suppose that the first place to start is by reviewing the learning outcomes, and then adding my unintended learning outcomes to those!

  • Explore a variety of definitions of learning design

  • My review of learning design definitions has added to my knowledge about that exponentially!  not always in a way that has been easy to digest.   The very useful introductory video/talk by Yishay and the great wki that I linked to from my blog added lots of ideas and potential ways of defining learning design, as did some of the comments in the chat sessions.  For me there are two issues here,  we don't really have a secure/single definition of learning, or knowledge,   or it seems, design, so can there ever be a definitive definition of learning design when all the parts within it are subject to situation, debate, context and contest?

    Secondly, I think that I need to reflect on the morphing from Learning design for open education resources, some of the point of the MOOC, and learning design for online, and learning design for all learning, even as large as the whole curriculum according to some definitions that are included in the repository here.  People seem to be moving from one to the other of these things rather rapidly ( and without distinction) and I think that there is a need to consider what the boundaries between these different activities may be, and how permeable they are and how, therefore Learning Design, could apply to each of these. 
    • Initiate own learning/curriculum design project

    • I did manage to put up a post to this, but perhaps it was rather more a study issue than a design project.  Two responses, which was good, and certainly food for thought too.  Can Learning Design be at the level of a whole institutional curriculum?   can learning design work for workplace learning and with the student at the centre as an experiential learner?   Perhaps this comment should also be under Challenges! 

    • Define learning design, as a field of research and a practice

      I am not yet ready or confident to be able to offer a definition here, of the field or practice either (see below).  but for me the best definitions that I have seen are about the practice at the point of action for the student - an activity of discovery, problem solving, exploration, discussion.   I would like to see more on creativeness/creativity and student led actions/political actions in the sense of Friere, people learning about their own communities as a way to take charge of their own destinies.   Although many definitions assert that LD can be for the whole curriculum there don't seem to be many examples of this scale in practice,  but they may arrive as I look into this over the next few weeks.


  • Identify some of the grand challenges of using a learning design approach to the design of learning in the 21st Century

    For me this raises a really big question - in what way is using learning design any different to the way in which I normally/already design activities and courses - something I have called the practice of teaching or pedagogy?   and what is different about learning in the 21st Century?  Much has been made of digital literacy, information freedom/internet access to multiple information sources, collaborative learning and so on,   but I still have a question about how different is that in the 21st Century - are we talking about a wealth of more information?  does more meen that learning is different?  are we talking about unstructured learning?  hasn't some learning always been self-directed and unstructured?  are we talking about 'speed' of change of technology?  but does that actually impact on the way that people learn or is this just new tools?   
  • I hope that these are the questions of the MOOC, and certainly they are begining to emerge from the heteroglossic discusssion that this MOOC provides.  But as Bakhtin notes,  within the heteroglossia of discource there are always centralising forces, and is the move to create a 'field' of learning design research and practice a new profession for new technologies trying to secure a centralised place within the discussion on a world scale?   hmm.  I am not sure, perhaps the centralising forces will only emerge over time,  but structure and managing learning paths always seem to have some agenda and I would like that to be surfaced more in the discussion.  Who gains from the establishment of a field of learning design and practice?
  • Identify specific topics of interest for further exploration

  • Lots here,   many mentioned above.   Workplace learning design,  whole institutional curricula design,  what about immersive learning and individual learning ?  what of learning by observation?   I think I am best carrying on with a study circle to explore these issues.

  • additional learning outcomes:

  • Finally managed to use Cloudworks, to some extent.  Added to discussions and made comments.   Discovered that this MOOC took far more than one hour a day if one was to look at all things properly, so have begun to filter the information and restrict my own activities to enable me to keep going. Rather concerned by the public/private aspects of keeping this type oflearning journal/blog. Still haven't had an answer to who sees it, and how one can see who is reading it.  

  • Learnt -   I don't like on-line learning very much ( rather an issue for someone working at the OU!) it seems to be generating rather more information and quick comments than in depth knowledge ( unless comment provided by someone who is already an 'expert' but that's anothe issue),  but perhaps that is rather a high expectation for week 1 of a course ( rather like introductions in books, sometimes frustrating).   I doubt I have time to commit to a project except in a light touch way - happy to let someone else lead on that and join in as far as possible.  
  • not learned -  how to join a team (despite what seems like hours of trying) perhaps these teams are gathering elsewhere, but I don't have time to look for people.  I will join when that becomes clearer.  


Ann Pegg
14:53 on 16 January 2013

Week 2 Looks like far too much! Need to contain this nod not worry about not being in a fact Terry, Bronwyn,Hugues etc seem a sort of group, but no idea how to set up a group space and no time to do so. Hoping someone else will and I will join it. Aims for the week, Have a look at context through the three main tools for this, ecology, scenarios and personas. Maybe try to decide which one suits whole institutional curriculum design, or design led by student? Nb. Need to look again at Plymouth uni where students set their own learning outcomes, could that work in learning design terms more widely than selecting fro a list of graduate attributes?

Ann Pegg
16:36 on 17 January 2013

Snowy Sunday 20th Jan

Catch up Sunday again,  but that's OK. 

During the week I did browse the (somewhat fewer) senarios and team issues appearing.  It seems as though discussions are largely happening elsewhere - did catch up with some on twitter, and nice to invited to the 'lost' cloud.  Thought today that I would have a look at the issue of context and the different types suggested for this week, personas, force flow and ecologies of learning. 

First, on context. 

The issue of context is always problematic, and I revisited Richard Edwards  (2005,2006 and see below)  work from the TLRP (Teaching and Learning Research Project) for some of the debates that he looked at there - considering Wenger and situated learning, Actor Network Theory, Engestrom's ryzhomatic learning (not sure of spelling !) and the issue of techologies and learning where complexity and network theories abound.   I tend to agree that perhaps it is not really useful to separate out the 'person' from the context - the person probably is the context - a social practices type of approach - as the person only makes relevant to their context what they want to - even if it is provided to support their learning they may ignore it -  (as certainly I have here in not signing up to a facebook account to join a group!) .

Overall the most useful ideas seem to be to consider different 'strata' to prevent an attempt at mapping the whole world, which the ecologies network approach seem to move to in some places.  So strata can be workplace, home, study interest area (domain), university, school, social club, informal network of friends, etc   and this then focusses our attention on how permeable these strata may be and if, whether, there are links across these strata ( across boundaries) and how these are working.

So if a context is the person in a strata of operation then the context for learning is a 'frame' for learning about something within the strata,  the resources that might be drawn on to support or scaffold that learning then, I think, could be 'mapped', or at least in thinking about researching how learning is scaffolded, we could usefully map the way interactions with people and things take place.  Of course what is always missing in a 'map' is the issue of time and agency, people are always disruptive!  Another good reason for allowing the learner to co-contribute to the shape of any learning design as it takes place.

Ecologies of learning:   

The main issue for me here, apart from trying to 'map the world' is that Lucking says (p117)  'by definition a Learner -centric Ecology of Resources can have only one learner at its centre'   so how can learning design as an activity achieve its aims to be a broad enough activity to cater for the groups, university level curriculum design claimed for it at the start of this course as a new 'design' science?  I am struggling with this issue of 'teacher led design' yet putting students at the heart of learning, particularly when we have issues of mass education to consider. 

Personas though are even less satisfactory for me - they seem to be reducing the amount of recognition of the learner as an active participant and in some cases becoming close to stereotyping!  How would one deal with the many varied 'personas' within one group of learners in learning design?  with an institutional curriculum does this reduce to 'who are are customers?' and assumptions about their learning agendas and needs?    

None of these are easy questions to resolve  - and certainly the ecologies approach comes closest for me to what might be useful for a 'teacher' designing for another - scaffolding is good, and looking at resources seems valuable.  

I continue in my quest to see if a learning design approach can fit a 'larger' curriculum than one leaner, one learning activity........

On power

Hugues made an interesting point on teams -  and learning design being always centred on the knowledge and course initially designed by the professor.  If that is the case can we say that Learning Design is student centred?  it seems in the explanations I have read that the move from 'instructor' to learner centred is far enough for some -  student centred seems to imply losing control over the 'knowledge' to be imparted. And I think imparted is the key issue here -  because does LD always direct the learner to the 'right' answer - in some cases it seems so.   The more interesting examples of LD that avoid this are concered with empowering learning - say digital literacy, or design for a learner to design their own learning.......   so,  Does scaffolding learning always imply power -  Friere didn't think so, but that was learning from the heart - to support others,  not to support the financial and knowledge interests of the large institutions designing learning for others.... a problem Yishay wants to change from within.  

  •  R. Edwards, G. Biesta and M. Thorpe (2009) (eds) Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching, London: Routledge.
  • T. Fenwick, R. Edwards and P. Sawchuk (2011) Emerging Approaches to Educational Research: Tracing the Sociomaterial, London: Routledge.

Ann Pegg
12:15 on 20 January 2013 (Edited 12:19 on 20 January 2013)

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various learning design models

various learning design models

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