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Please comment on my narratives - here in 'Jeff Waistell's Learning Journal'

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Jeff Waistell
14 January 2013

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Jeff Waistell
10:39am 14 January 2013

I have enjoyed week 1 - I met a lot of exciting people doing many interesting things with technology-enabled learning. Clouds were new to me but I am beginning to feel familiar with the new technologies within this MOOC. I am pleased that - only half-way through week 1 - we already have a small group of people who are interested in developing a MOOC on sustainability. Being Massive, Open and Online, MOOCs present a great opportunity to fuse education, discussion and campaigning within one group large group forum and to draw together a wide range of different stakeholders. Sustainability is, of course, a global issue - and a MOOC on this subject can draw together a large global group to help develop a more sustainable world. 

Sue Watling
2:20pm 15 January 2013

Hello Jeff

I’ve set up a DIY Multimedia for Teaching and Learning Google Group at!forum/olds-mooc-diy-multimedia

And posted on Monday’s task Learning design brainstorm inviting DIY Multimedia members to describe their own thoughts on learning design.

Please feel free to add a few thoughts on how you all approach learning design.

Also how are you all finding the MOOC? So far for me the Massiveness has been a bit overwhelming. I’m hoping once we are all in the same place then collaboration and communication may get a little easier!  

Sue Watling

Jeff Waistell
8:57am 16 January 2013

Hi Sue, 

Are you one of the moderators and, if so, do you want us to discuss at your Google group or within the MOOC? Given the concerns you mention in your last paragraph - is it better that we stay within the MOOC instead of diversifying the places for discussion? Currently, I am discussing in the MOOC and in another Google group set up by Yishay.

Best regards, Jeff

Jeff Waistell
9:01am 16 January 2013

Today I reflected on how a MOOC can be designed for an unknown audience:
-keep it simple - to allow for people from a wide range of educational backgrounds.
-moderate even more carefully to ensure that the diversity of participants is respected (bearing in mind the 'massive' in MOOC - this moderation role should be one that everyone is asked to sign up to).
-design to take account of different learning styles (e.g. those who like to listen to or those who prefer to read messages) but be prepared for learning styles that have not been taken into account previously (e.g. participants from different nations).
-allow for different types of technologies (different softwares and hardwares might be preferred by different groups).
-allow time flexibility for people who have different roles (e.g. carers, managers) and different lifestyles (e.g travellers, people working long shifts, etc.).
The list could go on - but the timeless principle of openness is one that can serve the perennial diversity of peoples.

Jeff Waistell
9:43am 16 January 2013 (Edited 6:25pm 16 January 2013)


My story is of a cloud that crosses the sky. The narrative and the learning appears to start and end with the horizons from which it emerges and then disappears into - but in reality learning is an ongoing process. Where the cloud comes from is uncontrolled by the learning facilitator (tutor) and where it goes is also self-determined by the cloud. The tutor can help the cloud to understand where it has come from (past influencers on learning) and where it is going to (in developing knowledge, how to use the knowledge, and why). The cloud morphs as it moves across the horizons and even beyond those horizons, across the globe - reflecting changes of understanding and being. Other clouds merge with the cloud - becoming one with it - and sometimes clouds break up into other clouds (the learning journey is shared with others, who also change, along the way - sometimes those clouds stay together, sometimes they don't). Clouds relate to each other in different ways - sometimes disconnected in fluffy cumulii across the blue sky, sometimes as a continuous stratus of grey sky (as I can see outside of my window in the UK right now!). Thus the clouds benefit from each other - but they are also affected by events - thermals rising, buffeting winds...the learner is shaped by context...but also shapes the context (covering the landscape with its shadow). Sometimes there is clarity - with clearly defined cloudscapes outlined by a blue sky. Sometimes understanding feels limited - inside the cloud, it feels like a fog. But the cloud felt it was all worthwhile when lightning flashes of understanding and illumination sparked, lighting up the whole sky and bellowing across all horizons, with world-shaking resonance. Observing these clouds from the ground was the tutor, wondering how this process could be facilitated - or even if it needed facilitating? [That will be my next story].

Jeff Waistell
10:04am 16 January 2013 (Edited 2:59pm 16 January 2013)


My second story is of moving through the clouds and sky (as before - as a cloud) but this time the story is of my experience of learning to fly a glider. This second story is important because it helps me to grasp the roles of the learner and facilitator. I really liked Bronwyn's argument that we need to throw away the theories and the models and begin afresh using a learner-centric model and that this would mean moving to a constructivist/connectivist framework.I will adapt Bronwyn's into my story. My flying instructor asked about my previous experience with aircraft, whether or not I drove a car (to determine transferable skills in manoeuvring vehicles) and to ascertain my confidence. Bronwyn highlighted the role of teachers as: enabling critical thinking, scaffolding metacognition and to guiding students in how to be self-directed and self-regulated learners - guiding students to develop their own strategies for learning, and to manage information. My instructor kept asking me why I thought he was asking me to do certain things (e.g. why not to stand on the bottom of the glider...because my feet would burst through the fibre glass). He referred to my previous car driving experience (don't expect a glider to react as quickly as a car - you twitch the controls and then nothing happens - you have to wait for a reaction - if you do not wait you keep over-manoevring, leading to the glider lurching from left to right to left, etc.). I was in control of the aircraft (although the instructor had a second set of controls, in case something went awfully wrong), so I was self-determining my own direction, height and speed (always subject to the events around me - encountering clouds, thermals...but hopefully not other aircraft...and definitely not hitting the ground other than in a controlled and skilful manner!). I was managing information - looking at the dials - my instructor kept asking me what they meant and what were their implications. In summary, I was developing my own learning, in a safe and reflective manner, encountering every new issue that the sky could throw at me. Slowly but surely I was meeting my own learning goal of safe and skilful flight. As Bronwyn said - I was taking the reins while the teacher facilitates the process.  This was not a lone encounter with a tutor in a 1-to-1 learning experience because we shared stories amongst other trainee pilots, back on the ground. By the way, even though I did not continue to take flying lessons, I never lost my knowledge and interest in flight - and I always retained the confidence of trying new and really challenging areas of learning and development. So now I am happy to glide amongst other clouds and cloudscapes - that are massive, open and online - again moving between fogginess and clarity - and sharing narratives with fellow learners....who I hope might develop this story?  :-)

Jeff Waistell
10:06am 16 January 2013

To anyone reading these narratives...please feel free to extend the stories/metaphors by commenting here. Many thanks. Jeff

john couperthwaite
2:43pm 16 January 2013

Beautiful narratives Jeff and truly inspiring.

Coming to the end of the first week I feel that my glider is still stuck in turbulence and my compass is broken. Occassionally I hear messages on my radio giving me instructions of where to steer a safe passage (thank you Yishay!) but these are mostly drowned out by the air as it rushes around this delicate shell.

This is my first time in a MOOC glider, so initial fears of orientation and multi-tasking have proven correct. Nevertheless, all the time I am still flying is giving me more confidence and I am learning all the time. I am even convinced there are some clear skies up ahead...

Jeff Waistell
3:01pm 16 January 2013

Wow, John, thanks so much for developing the story - so now it becomes a shared narrative - one that I hope others will share too?  :-)

Jeff Waistell
8:34am 18 January 2013

What is important about context for learning design?

Here I summarise my thoughts about context for learning design, drawing on this resource -

My research mostly focuses on metaphors and so was particularly interested in this resource, which applies metaphors to understanding socio-cultural human dynamics through technologies. Firstly, I reflect that old language (e.g. lecture theatre, seminars, etc.) does not do justice to our new experience of virtual presence, which is complex, distributed and fragmented (perhaps metaphor use breaks down here, simply because we have no known analogies for this new phenomenon - the nearest I can get to is 'the brain' - but then brains are connected - which takes us back to the internet - we can only describe it, not metaphorise it). Beyond the lecture and seminar room analogies, things have changed with online learning - particularly when it is massive and online - namely, the size of the network, the scale, and the speed of interaction possible. Furthermore, there is the new viral nature of communication  (the spreading of a virus is a useful metaphor here). 
Even closer to my current research is the application of metaphors derived from ecology, e.g. 'evolution' of networks, digital 'landscapes', 'colonised', 'survival of the fittest' technologies that meet particular needs and of users who co-evolve by adapting their practice to those technologies.
I particularly like the use of metaphors for learning: campfires as a place for teaching through storytelling; and the watering hole as a gathering place for sharing information (the English pub is known as a watering hole). I can think of other useful metaphors, such as the forest clearing (referred to by Heidegger), as a place to be and to gather with previously scattered others; and the ant colony as a site for massive interaction. We have even transferred human metaphors to the natural world, e.g. the school (in which humans learn) is applied to the gathering of a school of fish.

Anyone reading this - please share your own metaphors here...

Joshua Underwood
12:52pm 18 January 2013

This is great stuff Jeff :-) I hope you won't mind me pointing to these from related scenario  and context discussion forum threads. I'd like to draw attention to them.

How do these narratives about your own learning relate to scenarios for the project you are working on? What parallels might there be in stories told from the perspectives of participants in your sustainability course?

Jeff Waistell
1:35pm 28 January 2013 - this cloud unusually outlined how to ruin a course! The name and the content drew my interest - and the interesting approach of focusing on what fails certainly drew in many interesting posts. All too often we learn from best practice...understandably. However, we all learn from failure too - and this is a great and innovative collective learning of what does not work for students - and what lecturers must avoid doing in future. - I find the presentation offers a helpfu distillation of things we need to consider. Having said that, perhaps the linear structure does not really match reality - it is more a more messy and dynamic interaction between those elements, with systems impacts between the elements. Additionally, design is not always so rational and logical - what about organisational politics and power playing a part?

Jeff Waistell
1:42pm 28 January 2013

What are the benefits of visual representations? For me, they are important, as I am a visual learner - and so are many other learners, so visual approaches are always necessary. Essentially, they help articulate tacit knowledge so that it is more clearly 'seen' and understood. Visual representations also help to share learning with others - e.g. the 7 Cs of learning design supported a presentation on that topic to be delivered - and for participants to feedback their thoughts and what they had learnt. 

Jeff Waistell
8:42am 5 February 2013

Week 4

I correctly saved my own PPC but the software did not actually save it, losing my work.
I looked at some other examples. It was somewhat confusing, as some of the entries appeared to be unadapted copies of the OLDS MOOC Week 4 briefing. Some were barely adapted and lacked sufficient detail to understand the learning outcomes and purpose of the learning activities. For example, Joao Bourbon's PPC appears to be an unadapted OLDS MOOC week 4 briefing.
In this example - 'Relate theoretical knowledge to practice' - it is clear that this group had established clear timings. There was a good linkage between online questions posed to students, who were then asked to upload to their own portfolios. However, I think they could have defined authentic practice and explained its relevance to this activity. Coaching is mentioned in TLA2 but the context of this was not explained. Other aspects could be clarified (e.g. TLA3 and then the use of mobile phones in TLA4).


Jeff Waistell
9:31am 7 February 2013


This discussion followed my choice of the Animation Creation Tool - a feature that can enable my students to create animations, which they can play and edit. They are studying an MBA module on innovation and change. The tool can be used for both of these themes. It can help the students to visualise, articulate, represent and share their innovation. Equally, the tool can portray their change environment - e.g. the forces driving and restraining change, key stakeholders, and the outcome of the change process. The tool is important for helping to make students' thinking visible and to define the scope and boundaries of the change process. Creating animations rather than simply viewing animations can engage students, advance their thinking, and foster group debate. 

The question I posed was: what would be the adantages and disadvantages of this tool within your own educational setting?

It was agreed that an animation tool could help learners "visualise, articulate, represent and share their innovation" as well as the forces of the change environment. However, it was comment that some prefer text-based learning. So there would be winners and losers; some would be better able to represent their knowledge in this animated multimodal fashion and others wouldn't. In line with this point was another reply which confirmed that the Tool could promote student engagement, encourage reflection advance their thinking, and foster group debate. This respondent was a visual learner.

While people generally might struggle with an animation tool, it was commented that, given that a large propotion of my MBA students are highly motivated and from engineering and business backgrounds, using the tool should not present an obstacle to them. In fact, given that this tool is recommended for a middle and high school audience, it may not be challenging enough for MBA students. It may be worth considering the WISE Inquiry Map as an addition visual tool.

One advantage will be that it is interactive, so students will be engaged and curious. However, if the tool is not intuitive enough, then students may spend longer time in learning how to use the tool than exact learning point.

Another respondent proposed a concept mapping tool as more applicable to this scenario,  "to make students' thinking visible". As with theories, 2 or more are better than 1 - and there are different leaners' styles to consider also. So I would use both.

Jeff Waistell
8:46am 15 February 2013

For the 'seek and deploy' activity, I went to SCORE (Support Centre for Open Resources in Education) at

Inside there, I found Scitable - a free science library and personal learning tool by Nature Publishing Group, a publisher of science -

Then I clicked on the Ecology section of the Knowledge Project, a new initiative by Nature Education. The Knowledge Project works with the scientific community to build an open access library of peer reviewed educational articles. Each article is written by experts in their field and peer reviewed by other experts. The Ecology Knowledge Project currently contains close to a hundred articles across ten topics, from the basics of evolution to landscape and global ecology.

Inside there, I clicked on 'Teach Ecology' - - a great resource for my Sustainability project design, as it covers the most important concepts to communicate in ecology courses and the best ways to connect ecology to the lives of students. There is the Teach Ecology Topic Room, a collection of peer-reviewed educational articles.

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