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OLDSMOOC Learning Journal (Helen Whitehead)

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Helen Whitehead
10 January 2013

I am going to be using my Wordpress blog for OLDSMOOC posts mostly (link attached).

I'm Helen Whitehead and I'm a learning technologist at the University of Nottingham.  My interest in learning design is related to my responsibility for supporting learning design within the University as a consultant to different types of modules, courses, and learning oppportunities. I help, train and support staff and write documentation for learning technologies and how to integarte them in course designs. I specialise in Moodle, Rogo, Xerte Online Toolkits, Adobe Connect and social media for learning.

I'm thinking of using the OLDSMOOC to help me create some learning resources that can be used in self-study online course in e-assessment, to support face to face training in e-assessment and in training to facilitate MOOCs.  So I hope particularly to look at how MOOCs can be assessed where there is a mixture of types of attendees including some doing it for (different levels of) credit, professional development points, non-credit, or for interest as a MOOC participant.

Extra content

Week 2 

Journal post in blog

I’m a bit behind with OLDSMOOC, having been catching up after being off sick. 

Team Lost is going well, but we haven’t really started proper discussions.  I probably need to dust off those online facilitation skills and pull things together a bit.  Some really interesting people in Team Lost, and I am peripherally participating in two project groups, one about Sustainability MOOCs and one about webinars about webinars, both of which are particularly relevant to projects of my own.

Week 2 is about learning context - or the analysis of needs stage perhaps, of learning design.

We are asked to “Summarise your plans to your learning journal and comment on how you might assess your progress at the end of the week (example)”


I think these have become more actions than objectives – so hopefully that makes them Smart!

  • Get back on track and catch up
  • Decide whether scenarios are for me – I do use user cases, but not sure scenarios need to be quite so extended if my overall context (my University, and usually) is the same – perhaps most important is to articulate in what ways the particular learning project is different and how it fits with the context.
  • Explore the Personas & Force Maps and Ecology of Resources (EoR) Design Framework and try one of them.
  • Read and comment on at least 2 other participants' portfolio updates for week 2. I’ll choose people from Team Lost

How will I know I’ve achieved the objectives?

I’ll have at least an outline scenario, a context design of some kind, and be able to articulate in my end-of-week blog post what I’ve learned, I will have a contextual map of my project and have made at least two comments on others’ portfolios.

Helen Whitehead
12:59 on 20 January 2013 (Edited 13:03 on 20 January 2013)

Scenario cloud

Reflections on alternative ways to look at contexts for learning design

From the introduction to personas:

"In the design process, we begin to imagine how the product is to work and look before any sketch is made or any features described. If the design team members have a number of persona descriptions in front of them while designing, the personas will help them maintain the perspective of the users. The moment the designers begin to imagine how a possible product is to be used by a persona, ideas will emerge."

All my design is learner-centred. The importance of this has been borne in on me from experience, of course, and as aprt of my work for ELESIG.

I think personas are what I've been doing as use cases and I keep them before me at all times when designing learning materials, activities and assessments. Useful to look at the theoryu behind these.  And I can see how an extended persona or scenario helps one come up with objects and activities that need to be included in the course - visualising a learner's actual path through the materials even before they've been created.

I think that as a fiction writer as well as a learning technolgist all this is possibly much easier for me - I've been developing "fictional characters" for a purpose for a long long time now!

I used personas for design of websites too.  I was aprt of a project once to design a website in which the rest of the team refused to consider personas. The resulting product did not work and has now been replaced. Personas (I call them use cases) are SOO important.  You can also do it as

"What if..."

Helen Whitehead
14:42 on 20 January 2013 (Edited 14:47 on 20 January 2013)

Reflections on achievement at the end of week 2

Yes I think I achieved my aims but only just!

More pleased about Team MOOC - I feel a sense of belonging now and I hope my fellow Team Lost members do too, even if we don't talk a lot, we know there is someone there if we need them!

Helen Whitehead
21:26 on 24 January 2013

Week 3

I have reflected on my approach to week 3 on my own blog

I was a member of the initial team that developed the first Carpe Diem workshops at the University of Leicester. The 7Cs are a really useful development of the Carpe Diem

I want to add to my visualisation of course design:

  • A constructive alignment matrix (3As – aims, assessment, then activities)
  • Story Board
  • Extended session or course plan

Off to look at Course Features Cards, Course View Map page and Activity Profile to see if I want to add them to my toolbox.

I am involved in a couple of projects as well as applying these techniques to one of my own, so I may link to the group projects this week rather than  my personal plan.

Helen Whitehead
12:10 on 27 January 2013

Working with Course Features cards

My main project is MOOC assessment so here's design for a MOOC:

First 12 cards were strong on Content & Experience and Communication and Collaboration, which is right for a MOOC, but low on Guidance and Support – which is what is often wrong with MOOCs and low on Reflection and Demonstration (another thing people find difficult in organising MOOCs).

Some features can perform two functions – Conversation can also be reflective

And I’m going to add in Facilitation and tutor assessment which is essential for the credit bearing elements and Individual and personalised Choice because the students are responsible more for their own learning in a MOOC and Accessible because the student experience is so important.

So I seem to be happy with the Content & Experience and Communication and Collaboration but need to concentrate on assessment and guidance to give stduents a good experience. Usefult o know that as I continue the design.

And here is the diamond:

Helen Whitehead
13:15 on 27 January 2013

Here is the rest of my learning design visualisations for week 3 - well, as many as I feel like sharing anyway!

I also have the first draft of a storyboard for the MOOC, but it's far too big to post online!  It's looking really exciting though!

I have used the storyboard concept ever since I worked on the first Carpe Diems at Leicester and have evolved my own process using flip chart sized paper and post it notes in various colours.

Since I started planning mostly for Moodle I now have a way to shuffle those post-its into a Moodle format course design and assign Moodle tools to the activities.

Helen Whitehead
22:32 on 29 January 2013 (Edited 22:38 on 29 January 2013)

Week 4

I’ve managed to get a bit behind on this week’s activities – or at least on posting them.  I have been deep in the detail of a couple of courses -  trying to “mould those ideas into quite explicit descriptions of what you and the learners will be doing, hour by hour, minute by minute, on some part of the course” as the week 4 blurb describes it.

We were asked to: create a 'pedagogical pattern' that

(a) addresses a learning outcome

(b) provides a way of achieving that outcome, in the form of a set of teaching-learning activities or TLAs, and

(c) includes in those activities a way of enabling the teacher and learners to judge how well they have achieved the learning outcome.

I looked at the Pedagogical Pattern Collector (or an early form of it) during a workshop at ALT and thought it very useful, but that it takes a while to learn to use it, and it’s not necessarily applicable to all types of learning, e.g. the training courses I was writing at the time.  I hope in this second go at it, to take advantage of the latest improvements to the system and make a better job of writing a pattern.

I have adapted one of the Patterns available  - Teach to learn, into an exercise that also produces a collaborative artefact. In this case it’s designed for those undertaking MOOCs, particularly as facilitators and involves coming up with a collaborative definition of MOOC.

After attempting the exercise

This is an unfamiliar kind of exercise, and I think it would take far too long to describe every activity in a course in this way, but the exercise is useful in making one think hard about exactly what you are doing with an activity. As described “Teachers have commented that the process does make them reflect more carefully on what they are expecting their students to do” – definitely how I feel.  It puts the right kind of emphasis on constructive alignment.   

I did find it difficult to know how the classifications work, e.g., is producing a collaborative definition, e.g., on a table or in a wiki, Discuss, Collaborate or Produce? 

I do like the idea of using patterns for activities, and as I go through my plan of activities in the courses I design now, I will be looking at how they break into patterns which can be re-used.  I suspect that if the same patterns are re-used in a course, then learners will become familiar with them and get more out of them – so long as patterns are not used too often or the same one too close together.

The pattern I created would also work well with the study of a webinar - although thinking about it, possibly it would need to be halved in terams of time!

I didn’t have a partner to do the rest of the week’s activities with, but I have made an appointment to discuss with a colleague how tools like this might be made available to our colleagues.


Helen Whitehead
21:19 on 5 February 2013 (Edited 21:31 on 5 February 2013)

Week 5: Prototyping

I don’t tend to create course materials that require a lot of programming – the aim of our whole team at my institution has been to create tools to make the production of materials as easy as a prototype would be in the first place!

That doesn’t mean that I don't do prototyping.

This week I'm concentrating on a course I'm designing that needs and has reached the point of prototyping. In fact it's part way through an iterative process. The first two tryouts ("pilots", first with colleagues and then with two learners) were not as successful as I would like and threw out some problems so I am hoping that prototyping more thoroughly will help me come up with a successful final design.

The course is a two-hour face-to-face advanced course in Moodle.  The issues is in the online aspects of it - obviously the learners need to practice what they are learning in Moodle during the workshop - it's a very hands-on type of course.  The problem is that to get to the "advanced" tasks a series of preliminary stages need to be in place.

More in My prototyping cloud

Helen Whitehead
12:16 on 10 February 2013 (Edited 15:47 on 10 February 2013)

Results of prototyping

I am adding this a little late for the week, but I had an opportunity to do the prototyping (albeit a bit late).

I was prototyping a new type of exercise in a Moving on with Moodle face-to-face training course.

The difference was to give the particpants a clear steer int eh exercises

"In the row for demoaccount20 and the column for Coursework 1, tyoe the grade 67"

rather than using more general instructions - which take participants through the steps but don't give them values or whatever.  Most of our instructions are of this latter variety because they are mostly used as Help Sheets for anyone with a problem.

The new format wasn't a success for a number of reasons:

  • It was an ambitious, very intense course - two hours to cover material that could take two days.
  • As a result, people tend to want to concentrate on what they themselves need to know. This can be different for everyone, but where the class is very small (3 in this case) then it is possible to be flexible
  • One of the attendees was really at basic Moodle level, held upo tthe others and wasn't able to complete my exercises
  • They didn't want to complete the exercise because they didn't see it as relevant ("We don't use the grades feature in Moodle")
  • Although I had designed the exercises to give them a hands-on element , they were actually perfectly happy with the course being mostly demo and them following my on-screen actions.

I think the course as I am trying to design it isn't really possible int he time available.  I'm goign to use the two hour Moving on with Moodle to discuss issues and answer questions, and demo the features that people need most based on votes in the class on the day.  The more advanced elements will go into webinars and online training (the exercises will come in useful for that!)

Helen Whitehead
08:02 on 18 February 2013 (Edited 08:12 on 18 February 2013)

Thoughts on OLDSMOOC progress journalling

I find it very difficult to know where to record my prgoress.  Cloudworks is not appropriate if you have to attach a document, because there's nopw ay to do it, so once I have to upload a document, I might as well do my reflection in my Wordpress blog where I put the attachment.

Sometimes we are asked to create a cloud (like the prototyping one and add it to the relevant cloudscape (and where I actually started this reflection before realising it wasn't quite right to put it there...)

I hoped that a cloudscape would serve to link all my posts and clouds into one - a Learning Journal cloudscape BUT you can't put a cloudscape in a cloudspace so I am unable to link that to the cloudscapes for the weekly tasks. 

Cloudworks simplky doesn't work as a learning journal - specifically because you can't upload to it.  I don't want to have toi spread my attachments round slideshare, scribd and flickr and goodness knows where, where they will appear out of context unless you repeat the text of the reflective post  AGAIN!

Helen Whitehead
08:11 on 18 February 2013

Week 6 - OERs

Following on from the above comment about where on earth to do all this posting  - I have a cloud Moodle Training: seek and deploy (Helen Whitehead oldsmooc-w6) in the Seek and Deploy cloudscape on which Joanna Wild added some very good questions - do I answer them here or there?

She asked:

These are great results of your search 'elsewhere' i.e. beyond the local repository. Are you planning to adapt any of these for reuse in the Moodle training you've been designing? What kinds of adaptations do you think would be necessary? Or in other words, having looked at these OERs, how do you make a decision: adapt an existing resource OR create my own from scratch? What kind of criteria would you use to help you arrive at this decision? My question is triggered by a recent blog post by Apostolos where he reflects on the whole process of searching for, finding and adapting OERs and expresses his concerns about the amount of effort it can take:

To which my reply is:

There is a problem with the resources I have found which I touch on above (in my Learning Journal comment on last wee'k prototyping): that I have a very short time to explain the particular issues and thus the resources are too extensive and would take too long.  HOWEVER reframing the (short 2-h) session within a context that includes focused webinars for synchronous training and online self-study courses makes it possible to sue them.

I haven't had a chance to go through them in detail, however at a first glance they would be suitable straight out as extra resources in the self-directed online learning about Moodle Quizzes.  The only reason to adapt them would be to use screenshots of our own Moodle installation. In many cases our functionality is different from others and we'd have to extensively edit the resources, but so far as the Quiz goes, this isn't so much the case.

Looking further at how do I make the decision whether to use or adapt and use or not use, you can see some of the criteria in the paragraph above. One has to think about:

  • Will our users be able to relate to this material - does it look enough like what they're used to (e.g. the screenshots)
  • If it is very branded to another University then it will need to be explained.
  • Does it suit the context (e.g., online training, webinar, face to face training)
  • Does the content cover the learning outcomes and support moving towards any assessment?
  • Does the timing work?
  • Is there anything in the material that is incorrect so far as our context is concerned (functionality that is different, instructions that are confusing if not completely misleading when applied to our installation)

Prepare to Launch

My launch so far has been on a very small scale!   I've added links to the resources I found into our Help materials on Moodle Quizzes


Helen Whitehead
08:27 on 18 February 2013 (Edited 08:43 on 18 February 2013)

Week 7 - evaluation

Evaluation targets are here:

Helen Whitehead
13:44 on 26 February 2013

Embedded Content


Helen Whitehead
10:31pm 29 January 2013 (Edited 10:32pm 29 January 2013)

wrong place/

Joanna Wild
3:44pm 19 February 2013

Hi Helen,

Thanks for sharing this very useful list of criteria to support a quick vetting of an OER you found. It definitely seems to have helped you to come to an informed decision with regards to its reuse.

I have also posted a comment on your blog:


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