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Sancha's EOR3 - Re-evaluating Relationships

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Sancha de Burca
21 January 2013

Sancha de Burca EOR 3

Re-developing the relationships

I’ve had a bit of time to think over the EOR (1&2) and I am keen to evaluate and develop my plans. However, I am running out of steam a bit so this might be rather truncated! It is also more of an overview of my week too: perhaps a re-evaluation of MY relationship with my design idea!

I’ve had some feedback comments on the scenario and EOR1 which has helped. In both cases the emphasis has been on getting participants (or equivalents) to demonstrate their take on the learning design.

In the re-vamped scenario I would include a forum for learners to share experiences and trouble shoot with each other. Twitter was suggested as a good forum for this and I must say that I found my own MOOC experience eased by reading Tweets from people who were feeling lost like me. It also fed me lots of fascinating info about MOOCs in general (both good and bad). I like the idea of Twitter because it is a space not “owned” by the course/institution/organisation providing the projects. Even if I were to design in a purpose built forum I am sure the learners would sooner or later get together and start their own one (that has happened in my experience). Moreover, from the staff point of view a private forum often seems to garner (pointless?) complaints that you might feel the need to deal with; whereas an outside forum seems to give people the steam to deal with these issues themselves. Yes, that sounds like passing the buck but I’ve found that forums seem magnetic to people with axes to grind. OK, going off the point.

So, in my original scenario having a forum/Twitter space might have helped Zenab (mature returning student) to have addressed her fears about setting up the blog to start the project. It might also have been a place where Jessie’s mom (who withdraws him from the course) might have seen that others validated the course and she might have let Jessie continue. On the other hand, would Zenab have actually used Twitter? Would Jessie’s mom have allowed him to use it? That leaves only my confident persona, Laurie, romping away with yet another piece of technology and possibly doing more Tweeting than project work! But those thoughts aside, some kind of sharing place for the learners is paramount.

However, the asynchronicity of the projects might still leave participants wanting to know stuff that current learners might not know (ie specific questions about a particular project or activity). Perhaps, then a forum or space (a blog?) with both live and recorded FAQ.

Another point that cropped up was the need for guest speakers or contributors. These, I think, would have to be enabled through Skype or some sort of Internet conferencing. I wonder how many participants would have the equipment for that. But again, these sorts of opportunities would not only motivate and interest the learners they might also add to Jessie’s mom’s confidence in the credibility of the projects or the subject matter. Even a kind of open letter/article addressed directly to the learners from a guest contributor would be of benefit. If these were serialised then there could be a letter of encouragement from alumni to support new people like Zenab.

Doing the scenarios and the personas also threw up a challenge. I want the projects to be accessible to as many people as possible. Reading about the global lack of university places made me think that this kind of access/vocational distance course is needed more than ever. But some of the places where there would be interested participants – who could then disseminate the content – might not have internet. So a whole re-design would be needed for these kinds of places.  Perhaps I’m getting too ambitious anyway.

Although I mentioned phones as a tool for working on the projects and even for accessing them, I think I underplayed this. I was then reminded of research I carried out last year into design students’ use of blogging - and blogging would be the major site for my learning design. I introduced this with my uni students to help them move their identities from “student/passive” (sic) to “professional/pro-active” (again, sic). But I found out that convenience of the resource and contexts in which students found themselves was the driving factor for their willingness to take up blogging. Only latterly, with rising assessment grades and sharing did they begin to feel more professional. Being able to blog reflections and actual practical work on the train home or at the pub or in bed, made this resource so popular [].  So I imagine that my learning design students might be doing the same kinds of things, especially when triggered to go on a research fieldtrip. Hopefully my new scenario will include all three of my personas taking photos of typography in the street, packaging in the mall and friends’ book or CD covers and popping them on their blogs as part of their new learning/professional practice.

I also now feel that I left staff out of the context and just concentrated on the learners. The tutor/writer/facilitator’s context must be reflected in the situation. What agenda would I/we have in writing our materials? My idea is to help beginners and portfolio builders become more professional in their design thinking and concept building. But should these courses be more frivolous? Perhaps the design of the content (subject matter) could be developed with a focus group of potential learners. There is the danger in this that (probably young, novice) graphic design students will desire candy floss aesthetics and not want to know contextual or theoretical  issues that will help them communicate. So I’d have to balance the two sides effectively. I’ve read so much this week about the horrors of content-led curricula that I think I might be in the wrong for even suggesting this!

My initial scenario and EORs, I think, were quite obsessed with the start of the course and the challenges that this might throw up (reflection of my own start here), so I think I haven’t thought about other parts of it so thoroughly. Writing this is making me see that far from drawing conclusions now I’m almost re-starting the design thinking. Well, I think I’ll have a cup of tea before I begin again (is there a MOOC activity for helping you to stop…?). And I don’t think this write up is a “correct” EOR3 – but hey it’s a MOOC where you experiment, right?

Yes, please, any comments would be very welcome.

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