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Alisha's OLDS MOOC Week 1 Reflection

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Alisha Portolese
16 January 2013

It’s been a great first week of the MOOC, but it has also been a roller coaster – some ups and downs and lots of unexpected turns!

Initially I was very excited just to participate and experience a MOOC first hand, and to be amongst what I knew would be great discussions about learning design. However, I was new to Cloudworks and some of the other platforms used, so there was (and perhaps still is) a bit of a learning curve involved. I’m glad I spent the time watching Grainne’s slideshare introducing me to the basics of Cloudworks, and I’m also glad I spent time reading through nearly all the projects posted in the Dreambazaar. But these also took a lot of time, and I was worried I was going to get behind quickly or take too much time away from my dissertation. I wasn’t sure if I was spending too much time on the wrong things, or to what extent there were “wrong things”.

When we had to post a project idea, I felt that I had a bit of a dilemma. I knew that the focus of the course was on higher education, which I am very interested in. At the same time, I knew that if I wanted to actually try out a project hands-on, it would have to be in primary education where I currently have a connection with a real teacher in a real classroom. (I am a full-time Masters student.) I took the leap to take on the course through the lens of a realistic project on the periphery of the course versus a theoretical project closer to the centre of the course – I suppose I’ll see at the end of the course if the leap was worth it, but I am already optimistic.

I commented on a few other projects but I wasn’t able to find any connections through Cloudworks. I wasn’t interested in going it completely alone, so as a last resort I reached to twitter (which I am still new at) and was happily surprised to connect with another project that way. We now have a study circle: I also now have a new appreciation for how simple and powerful twitter can be.

Looking back at my first learning objective (scheduling my time on the MOOC), I’ve decided that I may not necessarily go for all the badges so that I can spend the time on the activities that are the most relevant and rewarding for me. It can be hard for me to put down a great piece of writing in the field, such as the Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design ( But in order to keep a balance with my other commitments, my goal is to budget about one hour a day – considering the depth I like to engage in readings and activities, I know that means I won’t be able to do everything.

My second learning objective was the “elevator talk test” for my project proposal. I’ve had the chance to sit in on a elementary math professional development day this week so I was lucky to get lots of chances to try this out as I chatted with various teachers. My 30-second version goes something like this:

I’m interested in developing collaborative writing skills in children and adults. True collaboration is a challenge for everyone - sometimes we can be successful in finishing a job by dividing the tasks, but this is co-operation. When we collaborate, we need to produce a unified output that we have all worked on together. This is a critical skill in our modern world. I’m interested in creating engaging learning activities that can facilitate the development of collaboration skills. With practice, any child or adult can learn to collaborate without thinking about the process.

My third learning objective was to reflect on what learning design really means. I loved working on this goal because it got me out of the important yet tiring process of the “how” of the course. It was great to engage with some real content. After reading through the Google groups discussions, watching to Yishay’s video, reading Dalziel’s (2012) Larnaca Declaration, and reflecting, I came up with this understanding:

Learning design is about thoughtful and purposeful educational practices. It is about an educator considering how a learning activity interacts with the material being taught, and how both connect with an educator’s and student’s learning goals. It means that everything has relevance. Whether students are working in groups online, trying a challenging problem before being taught how to solve it, or listening to a lecture face-to-face, they are participating in a considered cycle where every step has a meaningful place in the collage of the final objective.

Finally, my fourth objective was to connect with others in the course. I have begun to follow some projects relevant to my own work (or otherwise just very interesting). I look forward to finding more people to follow on twitter and Cloudworks. I believe this is an ongoing goal that stretches beyond week one and perhaps even beyond the course.

Thanks to the OLDS MOOC team for your time developing what we’ve experienced in the course so far and for everyone who is passionate about education and has shared their perspectives.


James Dalziel. The Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design. 2012. URL

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Clare Gormley
4:25pm 17 January 2013

Very nice reflection and I like how you describe learning design as a "considered" approach. I also agree that the time management aspects of this MOOC are challenging - I spent way more time than I envisaged during Week 1 but will have to get stricter with myself about the time allocated to it. As you say, it's important to get down the "real" content of the course rather than the mechanics of it. Spending 1 hour a day sounds about right so I think I'll give that a go. (Now I better go, my time for today is definitely up!!)

Thanks for sharing,


Alisha Portolese
10:11pm 17 January 2013

Thanks for the positive feedback, Clare! I must say that I am still struggling with my goal of 1 hour a day ... I tried the narrative activitiy today and it took me over an hour just to do that! Hopefully I can get stricter with myself too.

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