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Sheila MacNeill's OLDS MOOC narrative (using STAR framework)

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Sheila MacNeill
3 March 2013

Situation

I work for a JISC funded Innovation Support Centre called CETIS.  We work with the UK HE sector and advise about the using of educational technology and standards.  My involvement with CETIS (first as a member or one of their Special Interest Groups and later as a staff member) began 10 years ago when the IMS Learning Design specification came out. At that time I was a Learning Technologist for a government Quango in Scotland called Learning and Teaching Scotland. I was designing online course for schools and was very interested in finding ways of sharing designs and practice. This interest is something which has developed as part of support activities for a number of JISC programmes related to learning design.

Task

Initially my main driver was to create an actual design. Working at CETIS I'm not involved in design of courses/teaching any more (though I do get to find out an awful lot about what others are doing).

 

Actions

Although I initially did have a plan for a leaning design and managed to link up with some like minded people and form a team.  My main activity has actually been around exploring the potential of Cloudworks to be a more useful personal learning environment for students. Some thoughts I had about using its social features and open API seemed to strike a chord with Tony Hirst ( an academic at the OU who does some fantastic experimentation around data visualisations using SNA (social network analysis) approaches).  So as the weeks went by and the team seemed to drop away  I focused more on that aspect, and my prototype ended up being a mock up of a potential re-design for the Cloudworks profile page.

Results

I think I have experienced several levels of outcomes:

1 - sticking with the course. I have managed to do something each week and more or less follow the week's activities.  I've found the badges far more motivating than I expected as proof of participation.  It's also been really interesting watching fellow student's work developing.

2 - trying out new things - I found the prototyping week useful as it gave me a chance to use a piece of software I hadn't used before.  Because of my background I had already used a lot of the tools recommended in the course.  So it was good to have an activity to try Balsmiq with.

 

3 - learning about /with fellow participants about being a student on a MOOC.  I think the biggest thing I'll take away from the experience is my own reactions/emotions and strategies for being a student on a course like this.  It has been quite a fascinating process, and I think I have made some really valuable new connections.

 

Reflections

I think I've learnt quite a bit about the practicalities of learning design from reflection on being a student as well as the course activities/content/collaboration. It's also been fascinating and motivating to here the thoughts of the course team each week as they have dealt with the "reality" of the course.

 

I've also realised the importance of context  - but more from a students perspective which is making me re-evaluate the whole notion of personal learning environments in the context of MOOCs.

 

MOOCs are challenging for students so confidence is key for a learner - both in terms of what you choose to do and don't do, and where/when/ how often you engage with your peers. There are a number of implicit digital literacy skills in that previous sentence. Being able to contextualise yourself as a learner online is something I see as being of upmost importance for a project based course such as OLDS MOOC.  You need to let go, try things, not worry too much if they don't go as expected, not feel guilty if you don't do everything, and share whatever you have found useful with others. 

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Art Oglesby
9:24pm 3 March 2013


Sheila,

I appreciate your shared links and reflections.
Your presence in the community is enriching.

Art

Sheila MacNeill
9:38pm 3 March 2013


Thank you Art. Sheila

Tom Reeves
1:46am 4 March 2013


SHEILA WROTE: “I think the biggest thing I'll take away from the experience is my own reactions/emotions and strategies for being a student on a course like this.  It has been quite a fascinating process, and I think I have made some really valuable new connections.”

This is something I really stress with the academic staff with whom I have the privilege of collaborating on course (re)design. I can’t imagine that very many, if any, successful novelists have written a novel without having read many of them beforehand. All academic staff have participated in various forms of traditional courses, but they really need to experience what it is like to be a learner in one or more online courses before attempting to design or teach such a course. It is a humbling experience, but it gives the instructors a much better understanding of the enormous potential as well as the limitations of online learning.  Well said, Shiela. Thank you.

Sheila MacNeill
8:51am 4 March 2013


Hi Tom

Thanks for that - glad it resonated with you too.

Sheila

Clare Gormley
9:23pm 5 March 2013 (Edited 9:25pm 5 March 2013)


Hi Sheila,

I have to say well done to you for sticking with the MOOC, managing to complete most of the activities, and getting stuck into the Cloudworks profile page redesign project . No mean feat and I'm in awe of your MOOCing and time management skills. As a complete MOOC novice (and sometime MOOC dropout, it has to be said!), it was great chatting about the MOOC experience with you back in those early weeks and hopefully we'll get to meet again sometime soon. Thanks for sharing these reflections and I reckon your closing line offers great advice to anyone starting out:  "You need to let go, try things, not worry too much if they don't go as expected, not feel guilty if you don't do everything, and share whatever you have found useful with others." Spot on.

 

Sheila MacNeill
7:38am 6 March 2013


Hi Claire Thanks for that, and lovely to hear from you and you were a great support in the early weeks and that experience is one of the biggest things I'll take away from the course. And yes hopefully we will meet in person at some point in the not too distant future. Re mooc skills I think pragmatism has been key.i'm also very fortunate to have a very flexible job so I can combine my PDP activities such as this course and work. At the google hangout yesterday we talked about the role of improvisation in teaching and learning design and I think it's also really important for students too. Improvisation has helped me no end here. Sheila

Paige Cuffe
2:16pm 11 March 2013


Sheila I'm copying the link to this cloud as I want to pop it into a forum for my tutor group, who are about to exit our forum to enter a MOOC and your clear description and suggestions - particularly coming as they do from someone who is familiar with the tools - will be useful for many, I'm sure. 

I think the notion of the MOOC as a space for individuals to experiment, without the usual demands for performance inherent in paid-for formal education, it an important one to discuss further as student motivation for undertaking a mooc and resultant retention figures are increasingly debated.

Sheila MacNeill
6:35pm 11 March 2013


Thanks Paige, glad you can see a use for this outside this course. Sheila

Joshua Underwood
10:45am 12 March 2013


Like this "You need to let go, try things, not worry too much if they don't go as expected, not feel guilty if you don't do everything, and share whatever you have found useful with others. " Probably good advice for (experimental) MOOC designers too.

 

Sheila MacNeill
1:35pm 12 March 2013


Thanks Joshua, yes I think there is a need for a bit of change of mindset both for designing and participating in MOOCs.

Sheila

 

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