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Anne Bradbury: Unit 0

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Anne Bradbury
12 January 2013

Context and background: this arises out of the OU’s postgraduate MA in Online and Distance Learning Programme (MAODE). Modules are totally online and attract students drawn from all over the world who are working in the areas of education and training.

Students (as elearning professionals) grapple with both technological and pedagogical issues in their everyday work contexts eg. working with teachers to produce material for online or blended courses, sometimes producing material directly themselves. They come from a wide variety of work contexts including education, health care, voluntary organizations and the public and private sector, and a variety of roles (lecturers, teachers, trainers, support staff, educational technologists, media specialists, learning systems managers, librarians, learning centre advisory staff, etc). There are also ‘aspiring’ elearning professionals who are interested in working in elearning in the future but have limited current experience.

This results in students exhibiting a wide disparity in terms of background, experience and technological skills which impacts on the modules and the students, particularly at the start.

I would like to explore a ‘Unit 0’ which prepares students for studying on MAODE and covers some of the technological, pedagogical and social aspects which, typically, cause some concern to students initially.

It is hoped that by identifying existing relevant resources and other aspects which affect the students’ experience, the sometimes steep learning curve can be reduced!

There will also be considerations about whether this unit is for ‘for advice only’ (rather than be compulsory and assessed), about self-assessment and what duration it should be – and when it should be offered.

 ‘Unit 0’ - What prerequisites do students need? 

Based on a postgraduate course in elearning.

What do students need to know before they start?

‘Digital literacy’ - are there technological competencies they need to have? If so, which?

Are there attitudes they should be encouraged to have?

Are there working practices they need to be aware of?

How do they work together – and individually?

How do students know which will the best ‘tools’ for them? (They will always be experimenting/adding to the list but are there ‘basics’ to get them started?)

How can this work with PLEs – and students use of Web 2.0  technologies like blogs, wiki, Facebook, RSS Feeds, Twitter?

What basic safety issues should they be aware of (privacy/security)?

What are the best sites to help them improve their skills (eg. study skills, collaborative working, competency in certain technological skills/applications).

How can they assess where are the best places to look for information?

Potential resources might include (for example):

A useful link from OU library Services:


Extra content

Another valuable resource:

(Thanks to Katherine Reedy at the OU for this one)

Anne Bradbury
12:06 on 15 January 2013

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Lesley Shield
7:05pm 12 January 2013

Anne, I think there's a certain amount of overlap/synergy between our suggestions, though mine has moved into research methodology training (a study skill?) It might be worth looking at whether we could work on something together?


Anne Bradbury
7:15pm 12 January 2013

Where do you see the connection being, in particular? Are you thinking of the broad interpretation of 'researching', which would be interesting, I think.

Very happy to work with you! Thank you.


Lesley Shield
7:46pm 12 January 2013

Study skills, perhaps? Evaluation of tools, resources. Choosing 'the right tool for the job'. Academic (and other) writing... all fits into that broader interpretation you menton, it seems to me... 

Shall we form a study group?


Clem WIlkinson
10:18am 13 January 2013


I think this would be a very useful module; a common beginning, affording a smoother start on the other modules (regardless of the order in which they are taken).  I feel there are some interesting questions around whether it should be compulsory or not. There is certainly the subject depth to make it part of MAODE and perhaps other departments could use an ‘advisory’ module developed from it? Much in the same way as there are elements of full modules on OpenLearn. Great questions and I’d be happy to offer a (past) student’s perspective .


Anne Bradbury
11:04am 13 January 2013

Good to hear from you again, Clem - and thanks for your comments. I would be very pleased to have your insights on this.


Lesley Shield
12:50pm 13 January 2013

We used to have a Unit 0 on MAODE, Clem, though nothing like as detailed as this.  It seems to me that it's a really-needed item and it certainly would be usable (with or without tweaking) across the institution.


Catherine El-Bez
5:36pm 13 January 2013

Hi Ann, Hi Lesley

Leysley, It's good to see you here. I don't know if you remember me I was of one of your tutee on a module of the MAODE.

Dear Ann, Art Oglesby has created a cloudscape as a common space on Digital Literacy


Clem WIlkinson
8:30pm 13 January 2013

Hi Catherine,

There are a couple of others here that have also taken MAODE modules :) Certainly an intensive few months, and for me personally, this would also form part of a nice piece of reflective practice. It is of course nice to meet both Anne and Lesley again (and thank you).

Interesting to hear that there used to be a Unit 0. I think one of the potential challenges would be keeping it up to date (especially with regard to technologies). But then the opportunity, could be to make that part of the learning design? I've gathered a quick summary of related (Dig. Lit.) projects in this cloud (also in the cloudscape that Catherine refers to above). Some of these could form part of a larger study group (as I understand it in this MOOC)?

From how Cloud works is set up. It appears you would need a Cloudscape for this project and then clouds for each topic of discussion i.e. the questions above. One advantage over forums, clouds can be shared in multiple cloudscapes and thus so can the discussions, if desired. Seems like a long time ago but, It's interesting using cloudworks again.


Anne Bradbury
11:56am 15 January 2013

Hi Catherine,

Yes, noticed the Art Oglesby project and think there would definitely be some links there (and with others - yourself, Katherine Reedy, Shirley Williams, for example) - suitable for a study group, perhaps?




Anne Bradbury
11:58am 15 January 2013

Hi Clem

Yes Cloudworks lends itself to 'synergy'  - definitely keeping an eye on those projects mentioned above!



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