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David Jennings
25 January 2013

Well.... I missed Week 2, pretty much completely. A combination of snow disruption, two full-day meetings (one 200 miles away) and work deadlines meant there was always something more pressing than OLDS-MOOC. Sorry, but it happens.

Past experience of MOOCs has taught me not to try and catch up by working through all of Week 2. Instead I've spent an hour or so skimming some of the texts on Personas and Force Fields. Fortunately, having a background in Human-Computer Interaction and User-Centred Design in the '80s and '90s means that I'm fairly well versed in the mindset of describing Contexts of Use (as we called them in those circles) and scenarios.

(Incidentally, the other thing that was all the rage in User-Centred Design circles 20-25 years ago was Participatory Design. No mention (that I've caught) of that on this course, yet, which is faintly troubling.

Meanwhile it's clear that my dream project is destined to remain in dreamland, at least for now. Deservedly so, since it lacks focus. I'll let it gestate on its own timetable.

Switching tack, I'm going to concentrate on an immediate pressing work issue I have, and use this as my personal project for the remainder of my work on this course. 

The project is to develop some resources to support learned societies coming to terms with "Gold" Open Access publishing. These are not billed as 'learning resources' as such, but it's clear that, if they are successful, people will learn from them.

I wish we applied more learning design to everyday objects to liberate their potential for getting people to explore and rehearse new behaviours, and new ways of being.

Conversely, my experience this week reinforces my wish that we applied less learning design to courses.

If I remember correctly, there's a passage in the first chapter of Rose Luckin's book about lines of desire. There's certainly one or more passages in the OLDS-MOOC public blurb that stress the potential for participants just to dip into parts of the course they find relevant and 'remix' it to suit individual purposes.

Thus I am baffled by what seems to me to be an over-designed specification of activities, day-by-day and almost hour-by-hour. I think this has several unfortunate design consequences:

  • firstly it's not practical for anyone who isn't a lady/gentleman of leisure
  • if you take it seriously, it creates stress, because I'm always a day behind by day 2 of every week; and if you don't take is seriously, what's the point of it
  • it sets up a rigid instructor/instructed relationship which is not the one I understand, from other sources, to be the intent of the course designers.

Slipped into a bit of a rant there — sorry.

Back to my practical project. How to take a set of 15 documents, diagrams and spreadsheets and apply learning design to them.

If I'd done Week 2, I'd have written out Personas for a bunch of characters in different learned societies, and I'd have articulated in Force Fields, perhaps, some of the pressures that are pulling them towards or pushing them away from learning more about Open Access. But I didn't, so those remain tacit for now.

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