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Shirley Williams:Will this help me learn?

helping learner's evaluate online resources/tutorials

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Shirley Williams
11 January 2013

Extra content

Your situation (context)

Our students frequently seek materials on the internet to help them learn something. What is challenging for the students is to know which of the plethora of resources is best for them to learn with. 

For example a student may want to learn how to set up a WordPress blog to support a university project. Googling “WordPress tutorial” returns millions of results, the first few pages all looking to be the right sort of the thing for someone wanting to learn WordPress, so how does the student choose which one to follow?   

The change you would like to see (challenge)

We want to see our students educated so that they make educated choices, and don’t waste time and effort on something which isn’t right for them. 

For example checking the tutorial is on the right version of WordPress, it suits the pre-knowledge of the student, it isn’t littered with mistakes etc.

How you might go about bringing that change

We need to know how students who are good at evaluating resources make the right choices. Alongside knowing why those who do not find the right resources for them are unsuccessful. 

Having worked the above out we can offer learning resources ourselves: Possibly running workshops, maybe making workbooks, maybe making online resources.


Shirley Williams
21:11 on 11 January 2013

Avoiding aggregators

One of the challenges for students searching the web can be the high ranking of data aggregator sites.  These can be further removed from attributable sources than most web information and can propagate misconceptions and misinformation.

Alastair Culham
09:25 on 15 January 2013

Embedded Content


Anne Bradbury
1:30pm 12 January 2013

I think this is a really important area, in terms of students generally or, indeed, for those thinking about getting involved in research.

This also sounds familiar from my work as a tutor on the OU’s MAODE (MA in Online and Distance Education) modules where many students (as elearning professionals) grapple with these issues in their everyday work contexts eg. working with teachers to produce material for online or blended courses, sometimes producing material directly themselves.

Would like to keep in touch on this one.


Lesley Shield
2:31pm 12 January 2013

Yes, I agree with Anne - this is a really important area. I recall when web browsing first became easy - there was an outcry amongst teachers that students wouldn't be able to evaluate the quality/usefulness of the materials they found. At the time, there were few suggestions that maybe it would be helpful to give learners the tools to make informed decisions (equally true for teachers, it seems to me).

The number of tools available increases daily - how to choose the most appropriate or 'the right tools for the job', is vital. Even within this MOOC, we might ask which tools, resources etc. might help us learn...

It's a very broad area, I think, but one which needs to be addressed. I'd like to stay in touch with this project, too, if I may.


Shirley Williams
4:58pm 12 January 2013

Hi Lesley and Anne

I had talked this through with my colleague Tharindu Liyanagunawardena who is also on the MOOC, and we felt that this is a problem we see many times and some of our students are much better at working out what is good and what isn't. So we are definitely going to go with this as our project and if you would like to join us that would be fantastic.

Best wishes, Shirley

Alisha Portolese
11:05pm 12 January 2013

Hi Shirley,

This sounds like a very valuable project. I recently worked as a teaching assistant for an introductory psychology course taught in a blended format and was a huge issue for students. There is lots of information out there, and so the new challenge really is about evaluation.

This is quite different from the project I proposed, but I would be interested to at least follow your work.



Cecilia Bernal
6:26pm 13 January 2013

Hi Shirley,

I find this like a really interesting project and would like to team up if possible. I don't have much experience on learning design, but I'm willing to learn, and I'll do my best to collaborate and generate ideas.

Thank you

Best regards


Shirley Williams
7:06pm 13 January 2013 (Edited 5:00pm 14 January 2013)

Hi Cecilia

that will be good, We need a collaborative cloud, but it will probably be tomorrow.

Best wishes Shirley

Shirley Williams
7:10pm 13 January 2013

Hi Alisha

Happy for you to follow and/or contribute.

I had a look at your project, it is a bit outside my area but looks interesting. My daughter teaches 7/8 year olds, which I guess is similar to Grade 3 and she has talked to me about some of the challenges she faces...

Best wishes Shirley

Christie McKee
9:21pm 13 January 2013

Love the topic! discrimination of information is a time-old has just made it more difficult!

Shirley Williams
9:44pm 13 January 2013


I have made a cloudscape for this project at

If you want to join us add your name there - or here and I can make you an admin on the cloudscape.

I'm not sure what we do next - but I'm sure it will become clearer.

Best wishes Shirley

Morag Giblin
12:49pm 14 January 2013

Hi Shirley

I would be interested in joining this group/team.  I teach in Initial Teacher Education (Primary Teaching) and I am interested in helping students develop their own skills and knowledge in evaluating online materials as well as how they would begin to teach young children digital literacy skills.

I have been doing this for a number of years now and am still shocked at the lack of knowledge our students have and, indeed the naïveté in their use of the internet.

We are currently rewriting our new programme and it would be great to explore ways of embedding some of ideas into our new course.

I have little experience of learning design.

Thanks and best wishes


Cecilia Bernal
2:49pm 14 January 2013

Hi all,

Scanning the rest of dreams, I found in some point this proposal is related to ArtiFactor's Digital Literacy dream.

Shouldn't we join forces or at least participate in a big study circle?

Best regards,


bronagh power
3:59pm 14 January 2013

hi Shirlye i'm really attracted by your pragmatic appraoch. At the end of the day if it doesn't help furtehr someone's learning what's the point. Have to admit that i'm a real novice to all this so really feeling my way around contributing meaningfully etc.


many thanks for stimulating my thinking:)

Kind regards


Shirley Williams
5:00pm 14 January 2013

Hi Cecilia

That sounds a good idea to create a study group with another project, could you set it up?

I haven't quite got my mind round what the study groups will actually do!

Nest wishes, Shirley

Shirley Williams
5:15pm 14 January 2013

I've put together an introduction to the cloudscape at

I've added as admins:

Tharindu Liyanagunawardena
Shirley Williams
Morag Giblin
Bronagh Power
Cecilia Bernal

  • Tharindu Liyanagunawardena
  • Morag Giblin
  • Bronagh Power
  • Cecilia Bernal
If anyone else would like to be on the team leave a message here or on the cloudscape and I can add you.

Cecilia Bernal
8:16pm 14 January 2013

Hi all,

Shirley, thanks for setting up the collaborative space!! 

I'm getting used to cloudworks and I'm still not sure how to set up a study cloud. Anyway, reading around the posts, it seems people moved to Google + . There are 2 Open Study Circles in Google +:

It's not all clear how study groups will function. I guess networking, hope have enough time to check every network! What do you think?


Shirley Williams
8:51pm 14 January 2013

I'm confused by the role of study groups.

I guess we would gain by sticking together - how about Cecilia having a go at adding a cloud to the study cloud inviting others to join us?

best wishes, Shirley

Deborah Thomas
10:24am 15 January 2013

Hi Shirley .. I am very interested in following your project and contribute where I can. I am a Learning Resources Development Officer at USQ (Australia) and I also see the importance of students finding the right resources to aid in their learning journey .. Deborah

Anne Bradbury
12:02pm 15 January 2013

Definitely want to keep in touch here - I can see lots of posssible study group links to other projects around this topic. Not sure how you manage that!

The link for Study Groups area appears to be:


Cecilia Bernal
2:06pm 15 January 2013

I joined Google + study groups because I think if we're in similar projects, it's important to swap ideas and content. No problem if we set up a cloud for this group, but I'm still getting used to Cloudworks and don't find it so dynamic as other networks.

It's good to see more people interesed in this project, I'm glad to see Anne and Deborah decided to join!

Best regards

Shirley Williams
2:56pm 15 January 2013

I've added Anne and Deborah to te cloudscape

Still confused about Study Groups... maybe I should just go and sit on the edge of one?


Morag Giblin
8:47pm 15 January 2013



Thanks for setting the cloudworks up.  I am beginning to feel that I have spent a considerable amount of time 'wandering in the wilderness' and am now desperate to start getting my teeth into something.  I know that there is masses of excellent stuff out there but unless we stay focused and disciplined we will achieve nothing (I feel).

Tharindu L
9:18pm 15 January 2013

Hi everyone,

I am Tharindu. As Shirley mentioned we've been talking about this project idea recently. It is great to see you all having similar interests and supporting this project idea. I am still finding my way around the MOOC but please count me in for the team.

Shirley Williams
7:58am 16 January 2013

Hi Morag and everyone

I am not sure what is happening next, but I think it would help if over on the  cloudscape each of us could add a story representing the probelms we see how students have with finding stuff that helps them learn, like the WordPress example at the start of this. I guess each of us could do this as a separate cloud we attach to the scape.

I'm busy all day with teaching, meetings etc - so won't get to it until tomorrow.

Best wishes, Shirley

Cecilia Bernal
2:44pm 17 January 2013

Hi everyone,

Tharindu, I found very interesting the content suggested by Bronwyn Hegarty in your cloud.

It could be a starting point, from where we can decide the topics we are including in the project.


Doug Holton
3:03am 19 January 2013

The students who do best in courses tend to be the ones who are best at finding supplemental learning resources and support online.

One related idea I had was to create an 'online tutoring support' site, with training for tutors, but also discipline/course specific resources to help students 'survive' tough classes.  My proposal was actually a combination of that along with an online, virtual 'center for teaching & learning' for supporting faculty

But here's an example tutoring site with course-specific resources.  Unfortunately many of the resources are DVDs, not available online:

Other services tutoring centers offer are more 'metacognitive' training for students, like study skills, time management, etc.


Shirley Williams
8:02am 25 January 2013

I guess everyone is busy, as there isn't action here or in the project space.

Hope you are all getting out of the course what you want.

Cecilia Bernal
8:31pm 28 January 2013 (Edited 8:41pm 28 January 2013)

Hi Shirley, Personally, I'm feeling overwhelmed by all new concepts and approaches. I find hard to finish tasks even taking "the short route". I think we all must be feeling more or less like that because as you, I usually check the project cloud and it's very quite. I'm an enthusiastic person, and I thought I would have more time to take an active role in this project but reality is being different. For the rest of the group, I'd like to ask: Anne, Tharindu, Bronagh, Morag, Deborah, what do you think? what's your situation? you feel able to go on? I wouldn't like just to leave it, let's come to an agreement please Best regards,

Shirley Williams
4:39pm 29 January 2013

I suspect that we just put our ideas ohold - and each will return at some time.

I think it is the very nature of MOOCs that one should feel un-supported and in many cases overwhelmed.

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