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Alan Clarke Scenario

Cloud created by:

Alan Clarke
17 January 2013

Adult and Community learning Scenario - Returning to learning


This work by the OLDSMOOC Week 2 team is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.




Actors: (who is involved?) Margaret, 35 year old single parent with two children aged 15 and and 11, working part-time as a receptionist in a local community centre but also reliant on benefits.

 Goals: (why?) Margaret has always regretted that she did not do better at school. She left at 16 to work in a shop. Adult educators want to encourage adult learners like Margaret to return to learning. The funders (probably government or lottery) want to get more people back into work with skills in order to reduce dependency on benefits.

 Settings: (where & when?) Most of the action happens in Margaret's home and at the community centre which is used by adult education providers to offer classes.

 Objects: (what things are involved?) Smart phone, children's laptop

 Actions:  (what do actors do?) Margaret notices a poster in the community centre advertising a free online course from the local adult education provider for people who want to return to learning after a break. It says you don't need any qualifications to joing in and only access to a smart phone and/or a laptop for a few hours a week.

 Events: (what happens to actors?) Margaret signs up for the course which starts with her posting a message in a forum introducing herself to the other students. She is helped with e-mails from her tutor.

 Results: (what is achieved?) Jane slowly gets involved with the course and gets a certificate to show her success. She gained in self-confidence and esteem so that when the tutor recommended to continue on another online course she quickly agreed.

 our design: (what role does your design play?) The design supported Margaret to overcome her doubts and build confidence and study skills.


 2) Develop a narrative scenario/s

Introduce actors and goals, describe the settings, put the events in order...

 Margaret notices a poster advertising an online course to help people return to learning. There is a website mentioned for further information so she visits it and it interests her but she has doubts she caould cope. She talks to people in the community centre and her daughters who offer to help witht he computer aspects. Margaret enrols on the website and recieves an e-mail message welcoming her and giving her details of when the course will start.

A week or two later she gets an e-mail telling her that the course is starting and that her tutor is Linda who will contact her. Linda sends a friendly message explaining her role and what she needs to do first - introduce herself. Linda provides examples and encourages her to have a go. Margaret posts her introduction.

Margaret notices that many of the other students are like her - nervous and left school at 16 without any qualifications. The first task is to read a document and write a short piece giving her views which she posts on the forum so that they can all discuss it.

She is then asked to work with some of the others to learn about how government spend the taxes they collect and to jointly produce a list of key points that everyone should know before they vote in the next election. This is quite difficult and not everyone contributes but Linda, the tutor keeps helping with suggestions until they succeed. Each group share their work and Margaret is plaesed to relaise that her work is as good if not better than the others.

Margaret is keen to try the next activity.


 3) Scrutinize your scenario & revise as necessary

I am claiming that:

1. That a learner with limited self-confidence will participate with only e-mail support

2. That learners will be able to discuss in a forum for the first time

3. That learners will be able to take part in a group activity early in the course

4. A simple group activity will motivate learners to join in 

I suspect that I am under-estimating the challenge to motivate returning learners to participate. The nature of the activities will be vital to motivate the learners - not too simple or too challenging and interesting to the group.

The design will support and motivate learners while not assuming IT or study skills. It will asist them to develop IT and study skills.

The important features of context in our scenario are:

1. Returning to learning after a long interval

2. Limited self-confidence and self-esteem

3. Limited IT skills but possible support from children

4. Need for support at all stages




 4) Invite others to comment on your scenarios

Please feel free to comment on the scenario



Extra content

Another student..


Actor: Ram is a 55 year old married man with no children.

Goals: Ram saw the advert when visiting the local library.   He had no qualifications and few IT skills.  So far, he’s had manual work in a variety of factories but was recently laid off.  Factory jobs were getting hard to come by and in any case, his health meant he could no longer hack the manual labour.  Office jobs always seem to ask for computer skills. He thought this course would be a good way to start to learn IT skills but he was scared as his written English was not that good, he could get along fine talking to people. 

Objects: He did have a smartphone although he didn’t know how to use all the functions – he’d bought it off a friend because he loved gadgets.  His friend helped him set it up and showed him a few things. He could now use it to call and was finding his way round sending emails and texts.  He thought his friend might be able to get him a cheap laptop – it would have to be cheap as he didn’t have that much spare cash. 

Events: He talked to the librarian about the course who encouraged him to join up and said he could use the computers at the library.  The librarian spent a long time helping him sign up and contact the tutor.

He went back to the library when the tutor, Linda, emailed him because he didn’t understand the forum thing.  The librarian showed him how to use the forum, then left him to it for a while.  It took him a long time to write the message about himself that he felt happy with and finally post it. It was only a couple of sentences and although he was pleased with himself,  it exhausted him.  He thought he might quit but Linda emailed him again, thanking him for his posting and welcoming him to the course again so he didn’t want to let her down.  In any case, he felt he was being a bit of wimp and told himself to get a grip.

However, the next task really threw him.  Read a document and add his views to the forum – how long was that going to take him!  And he couldn’t keep asking the librarian. Linda was trying to be very helpful though he felt pressurised under the constant stream of emails saying he needed to get the task done by the following week.  He’d managed to read the document and had a few thoughts but wasn’t confident to post them for others to read.

Sandie Gay
13:18 on 21 January 2013 (Edited 13:21 on 21 January 2013)

Embedded Content


Sandie Gay
10:01pm 18 January 2013

Participating in forums can be extremely challenging as everything you post can be revisited and picked at. Trust is required and needs fostering between the learners.. You must be allowed to say things without fear of being belittled. Also, confidence in own opinions and thoughts which many returning learners lack. The teacher needs to be present, part of the discussion, help moderate dominant learners, encourage shy learners, provide input and examples of their own experience whilst at the same time help learners to move on with their learning. Similar to face to face learning, I suppose but easier for learners to hide and be lost perhaps. Agree that confidence comes through easy wins in activities but musn't be too simple or childish, particularly if being helped by own children.

Alan Clarke
1:26pm 19 January 2013

Hi Sandie

Many thanks for helpful comments they need to be added to scenario



Sancha de Burca
8:49pm 19 January 2013

Sandie, I agree with your points. It isn't just new or returning learners that feel these things when faced with a forum that lays bare your comments. I'm an experienced and almost continual learner (as well as tutor!) and yet feel very nervous when faced with any new here!! I lurk much longer than I would in f-2-f situations. Perhaps experience of forums - and all their drawbacks and "threats" - can make you as nervous as a newbie.


Alan Clarke
11:48am 20 January 2013

Hi Sancha

Thank you for your comments - you are quite right we all feel a degree of anxiety when faced with a new forum



Juliana Elisa Raffaghelli
3:12pm 20 January 2013

Hi Alan, Sandie and Sancha,

Having read Alan's scenario, this morning I was just thinking about the same problem you pointed out in your messages. In my personal experience, adults with low educational attainments are or reluctanct, or shy, or experience difficulties with the communication channel offered by an online forum.  The motivations are several, from "I'm not good at writing my thoughts";  "I never did things like that"; "I write on my facebook but this is a *serious thing* -relating to the bad experiences at school, where you pay your mistakes and you participate only if you are sure about your intervention-. Last, but not least, the virtual learning environment impose a cognitive load (reading messages, analyzing them, finding the right place to answer, etc.)

Could we think about adding something to the scenario, Alan?

Here is my idea:

"Margaret is not really confident with her IT skills. Happily, the school at the community, is working together in a project with the training provider/institution (*); the school has trained a groop of voluntary teens aged 13-15 that will work as eTutors. These kids will help adults with the virtual learning environment of the eLearning course. They are really motivated: their activity will consist in being available 2 hours a week at school, (or at the adults' training institution) to receive adults doing the course, and to spend some time together browsing the virtual learning environment, and other social media of interest of the adult.

They are expected to support adults in tackling with the difficulties related to exploring a virtual learning environment. But the space given to this activity will be also part of the teens learnign. In fact, the school is interested in promoting the achievement of civic and social competences as well as improve their own narrative/written skills. The teens will have to elaborate a journal on the experience, and will post on a blog their experiences (protecting the adults' name; works will be filtered by teachers); they will choose between written assignment; a manifesto for better intergenerational relationships; a leaflet with a message to the community on how to improve intergenerational dialogue"; a video explaining how intergenerational relationships can improve the life of adults and young people. 

What do you think? Please let me know: I could design the force map (only by Tuesday)


Juliana Elisa Raffaghelli
3:22pm 20 January 2013

Another thing Alan...

Can I use your scenario for an adults' trainers course? I liked the description and I think that this is a more authentic representation than a scenario that I could design for them as template

Here is the page: www.alice-llp-eu

And here is the platform (Educational Environment) --> www.alice-llp-eu/virtualspace 

I will use the link to your cloudwork, so it is clear who's the author and the context of creation.



Juliana Elisa Raffaghelli
3:58pm 20 January 2013

Me again :-P

I was reading Alan's Cloud "Team Overview":

There are a range of challenges some of which may also be solutions such as:

  1. Utilising the learners ownership of devices such as smart phones?
  2. Deciding what are the good habits that adult learners need?
  3. Deciding what are the good habits that adult tutors need?
  4. Deciding what are the minimum learning design skills that will help tutors succeed?
  5. Overcoming the lack of resources through use of open education resources and open education applications and tools?

I think the elements I added to this scenario complicate things!

However, I suggest the following additions to the scenario, in order to follow Alan's challenges:

The school and the adults training institution have been collaborating recently with very good results. The teenagers are keen on teaching about the adoption of tablets and smart-phones to adults (sometimes the same parents, like is the case of Margaret and her 15 years old son).

The roles in the "education team" are not simple. The school teacher is concerned on scholar activities and the curriculum, so many things have to be negotiated. Adult tutors need to understand how to follow this "new collaborators" (teens) as part of the education team. Fortunately, an excellent team working between the adults' training institution coordinator, and two teachers, is supporting all the steps of this complex approach:

  1. Preparing adults' tutors to work with teens as collaborators
  2. Introducing the project at school
  3. Training teens to undertake the adults support
  4. Further work with teens to analyze and reflect on activities (this is the part carried out by the teacher)
  5. Using open educational resources to support activities 1 to 4 (example: moodle book /videos/templates, if that platform was used, to help the teens in understanding and explaining some principles of the platform).

I guess that the "good habits" need to be discussed during the step 1, and then introduced during the step 2 and 3.

With regard to the tutors' "minimum learning skills", I think we should add the idea of being able to conduct intergenerational learning activities and work in team with teens; they should be aware that they are also coaching teens to be their supports. (Is this too complicated????)

Ok, this in the case the idea is accepted by you.


Alan Clarke
5:09pm 20 January 2013

Hi Juliana

Please use the scenario if it is useful - I am just thinkig throug your proposal. My mind is full ofxam marking so I need  an hour or two away from it to focus on yur thougt



Alan Clarke
10:14pm 20 January 2013

Hi Julianna

I rather like your ideas for using teenagers to help adults with poor IT skills. I think you should go ahead. It does add complexity but I think it is important to explore the ground so I suggest you go ahead.




Sandie Gay
1:22pm 21 January 2013

i guess we need more learners....

Alan Clarke
5:02pm 25 January 2013

Hi Sandie

Wonderful new learner - I am sure I have met him 

Best Wishes


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