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Penny Bentley's Design Narrative #MOOCskills Project

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Penny Bentley
6 March 2013

Throughout OLDSMOOC I've been working on my MOOC Skills Project. Here's a presentation of this project which I created on my iPad with an app called SonicPics. It's a first draft, too long and unpolished but I was keen to submit something for this weeks plenary.

Unfortunately when it was uploaded to Google Drive the accompanying titles on each slide didn't appear.

Here's a text outline using the STARR Framework.

SITUATION: Where are you coming from? 

After teaching in secondary classrooms for over 20 years I decided to move into online teaching and learning, about 3 years ago. Over this time I've been facilitating webinars for the Australia e-Series, helping students online with maths tutoring, completing online PD, using social media to share and learn with peers...and so on. I've enjoyed several mentoring roles over this time and can see a need for developing and delivering a course, specifically for educators, around the new digital skill set needed for online teaching and learning. I've called it the MOOC Skills Project due to the high dropout rate of participants in MOOCs....people drop out for many reasons, one of them is the difficulties they face with the MOOC kind of online PD. I wanted to find a way to support MOOCers in their learning. It's a generic course though, based on the skills needed for open, connected learning of any kind. 

TASK: What did you hope to achieve?

I had no idea in the beginning, but in the early days of OLDS MOOC I became part of a group that formed to investigate online webinars. I'm not sure why, but things fizzled out before anything was designed. Perhaps it was too early to think about a project, but it did gave us a chance to network and build relationships. 
I went my separate way and thought more broadly about putting together something that could help others in their MOOC journey. I based my project on what I'm doing online now...connecting with educators from around the globe, presenting and organising my learning in a Personal Learning Environment and using a range of tools and apps to find information, create & share new knowledge.

I was hoping to help others build their own PLE & PLN and to develop the confidence to take on and finish a MOOC. 

ACTIONS: What did you do? What were the main events, interactions, practices and activities in which you participated? What were the obstacles - and how did you tackle them?

  • I  thought about why it's necessary for educators to develop these skills. There's a changing paradigm in education...student expectations are changing, enrollments are declining in some institutions and there's less money for quality face to face teaching. 
  • the rise of MOOCS...Massive Open Online placing pressure on educators to be part of a new movement, jump onboard, experience the new way of teaching and learning online. Many people don't have the skill set to cope with this fast paced style of open, independent learning. 
  • first step was to set up an online infrastructure (e-frastructure /course learning environment) to run the course out of, with cloud-based, mobile supported web tools we could share and use together. I wanted to model the active learning I'd like them to undertake while doing the course. 
  • Using the moocskills username I created the following accounts: on,, Flickr for photo sharing, Diigo for social bookmarking, Google Reader for RSS, Google Drive for collaborative documents, a Wikispace, Facebook Group and Page, @moocskills & #moocskills on Twitter. 
  • The MOOC Skills CLE being developed
  • MOOC Skills on Twitter
  • The next step was to crowdsource participants to see who was interested/what personas were interested to have a go at prototyping MOOC Skills . 
    Here's the Google Doc
  • Another announcement went out via social media and gmail to confirm participants to trial MOOC Skills using a new tool I was keen to try out.
  • I collected 10 MOOC Coping Skills into an image to kick off a conversation on
  • Trialed several tools/ways of delivering audio/visual media to participants in this course: 
    Enhanced Podcasting with SonicPics (created and shared using an iPhone 4S)
    Audio/video recording using iPhone 4S video-camera
    Podcasting using SoundCloud
  • Started our MOOC Skills digital library on Diigo
    Not finding someone to help out with graphic I used a pre-existing header created previously for my blog. 
    Project cut short due to family illness and time away from home...project now on hold while I'm thinking about where to take it from here. Don't want to toss it all away.
    Finding that, as a mobile MOOC Learner while I was away, I needed to rethink the mobile side of things. I found it hard to cope with OLDSMOOC on a mobile phone while away for 9 could I learn from this experience and change MOOC Skills design. 

RESULTS: What were the outcomes? Did you meet your goals? What went well, what didn't? What unexpected outcomes did you notice?

  • Outcomes: infrastructure for course mostly in place, course not planned (on "paper" that is) or trialed. 
  • Goals, as far as running a course, not met. Not enough time to achieve what I wanted to do. 
  • Trialing of webtools to deliver content went OK, continued with that while away from home.
  • I didn't communicate well with those participants who expressed an interest in protopyping the MOOC Skills course...I realise that now. 
  • Unexpected outcomes were: changing ideas when I was thrown into a position of being a mobile mooc learner, positive interest in the MOOC Skills Project from outside OLDSMOOC course, connections with others along the way

REFLECTIONS: What did you learn? What advice could you give others?

  • as a teacher I'm used to planning on the go, in a hurry and not putting ideas on "paper" or planning thoroughly. I now realise that, as a Learning Designer, this part is vital in the keep us on track and to "see" the boundaries we need to work within. I can't just keep tossing ideas in as they arise and expect them to slot into what's already done. Paying more attention to my constraints would have kept me in line. 
  • advice would be to start smaller, be clear about what you want to do at the beginning, be creative within loose constraints, get to know how to use a few tools well rather than many tools not so well, focus on skills not tools
  • that being a Learning Designer draws on a skill set that's way bigger than what I have, I'm thinking it's a collaborative role...particularly if we are talking about using great digital/rich media. So, don't think you can do it all yourself...bring in the experts.
  • this point goes back to my first one, that others don't necessarily see/understand the big picture you are carrying around in your head. Plan, brainstorm etc...more at the beginning. 
  • think about what you are doing in terms time, space and sector and communication....can it be applied to any educator, in any sector, at any stage in the course they are teaching and can they share it with others. 

I'd better finish rabbiting on here...but I want to say how valuable the whole experience has been. I suspect OLDSMOOC has turned me into a MOOCaholic & I'll be back for more :) This is way more exciting than doing "e-Learning" whatever that is...not sure anymore. 


Extra content

Embedded Content


Yishay Mor
11:50am 6 March 2013

Penny - check out MobiMOOC:

Diana Laurilllard
7:33pm 7 March 2013

A lot of careful thought went into your MOOC skills project, Penny. You say it was a lot of work, but good design always is.

So, I wonder to what extent (i) you were able to build on what was already available, and (ii) you and others will be able to reuse what you have done here, and save some development time in future?

Penny Bentley
9:18pm 7 March 2013

Thanks Yishay, I'll take a closer look at the wiki for some tips.


Penny Bentley
9:35pm 7 March 2013

Hi Diana, 

thanks for your comment.

I'm not sure what you are asking in (i). Do you mean what was already available on the web (in terms of similar courses other's had prepared) or what was available from the OLDSMOOC course? 

Re (ii) I'd like to continue with the development of my MOOC Skills project to the point of being able to offer it to an organisation as a Professional Development a self employed educator/wannabe learning designer, I need to earn an income. But, I've no experience in this area and have no idea where to start. I'm beginning to think this field of Learning Design is a collaborative one which also needs someone with business management skills.

This may be what you are looking for in (i)...the MOOC Skills course was my idea and created from scratch. I didn't draw on existing courses but used my personal PD experiences/observations over the past 2 years to come up with something I feel is greatly needed (especially here in Aus). I'm hoping it will end up being a generic design applicable to anyone wanting a bridging course from F to F teaching into connected learning environment...essentially what a cMOOC is. 

Joshua Underwood
8:41am 8 March 2013

Hi Penny,

Great to have a narrative in this format. 18 minutes is long for me to watch something online in the working day but having it downloadable (as you have) means I can watch it and/or listen to it when travelling, waiting or on a run - that's perfect for me :-) but it doesn mean I'll have to come back here to comment some time in the future. Again, this highlights a challenge I want to attend to better in future designs: how to help participants distribute course media to the times, places and devices that suit them while maintaing coherence in the narrative of their engagement with the course.

WRT to your MOOC skills project sounds timely to me, but I'm not business head and I definitely think you would need that to make fly. Did you look at the udacity 'lean start-up course', maybe that would be a way of contacting people with the right skill set and also a way of helping you think through how this might work?

Tom Reeves
1:58pm 9 March 2013

Penny, your MOOC Skills project is exciting. I think you are really onto something here. One way forward would be to link up with a learning design (or instructional design) graduate program. For many years, our Masters of Instructional Design and Development program here at the University of Georgia has been based on a Studio Model whereby students in our various courses learn by completing real world projects for real world clients. More information can be found here:

I know there are similar programs in Australia. You might want to contact Professor Jan Herrington at Murdoch University (  ) or Professor Sandra Wills at the University of Wollongong (  ) for advice on where to find possible collaborators. I envision these collaborators being an instructor and graduate students engaged in learning design and you acting as their client. Please let me know if you want further assistance in finding collaborators “down under” as I have had the privilege of working with quite a few people in Australia. – Tom Reeves

Art Oglesby
5:39pm 9 March 2013

 I'd like to continue with the development of my MOOC Skills project to the point of being able to offer it to an organisation as a Professional Development a self employed educator/wannabe learning designer, I need to earn an income. But, I've no experience in this area and have no idea where to start. 


Sometimes I think the best way to get hired is do what you want to do for free. Eventually your digital artefacts document you as an experienced authority in your domain. While funding and experts would be nice, reality is that you are by yourself initially and the only way to realize your dream is by taking steps toward that outcome. 

Owning your own domain (and hashtages, etc.) is a smart move in establishing your digital identity. You can even point that domain name toward different "learning environments" on better servers later on.

One thing I am beginning to appreciate are the digital footprints we are leaving behind. By following Shiela. Helen, and Janes's online activities, I realize I should put more time and quality into my digital artifacts (I chose ARTiFactor as my digital identity many years ago). They create evidence that can help you get hired.



Marie Arndt
12:45pm 10 March 2013

Hi Penny,

I was very inspired by your project, as I also would like to venture into LD commercially. I think Art's advice that you should offer something for free to get recognition, and maybe hired, is good. I bought a domain name last year, but due to too much teaching I haven't been able to keep it up as i would have liked to. The MOOC and lighter teaching load has given me more energy to take up where I left off.

I was very impressed by your project, and I think the key to your initial ability to muster interest is to have a circuit between different social media, so that there are different ways of reaching what you have to offer, which I think you have achieved, from what I can make out from your entry here and your video.  I would very much like to keep in touch with you.



Ida Brandão
8:45am 11 March 2013

Dear Penny, 

I wish to acknowledge your participation and sharing in OLDS MOOC.

I think it is quite daring what you are trying to do by yourself and I wish the best luck for the future implementation of your project. 

I started to watch your screencast presentation but I must confess I found it too long. I think it would be better to have up to 5 minute thematic presentations, (i) global aim of MOOC, (ii) learning outcomes, organization, duration, activities, (iii) tools to be used. 

I took the suggestion of Yishay to have a look to the MobiMooc, because of your concerns of designing your course to be accessed by mobile phones and I think it's worth exploring it. Inge de Waard has very good resources available in slideshare I have used before. 

I'm not enthusiastic about mobiles and though I've got a smartphone I decided not to use it with Internet, because of the communications bill and the fact that the screen is too small for extensive readings or writings. I must confess I only use the phone when I have to, never liked to spend much time speaking or text messaging. It's a very personal choice, I know people who spend hours hanging on the phone. I prefer email and other computer interactions. I like the camera feature of smart phones, because you can sneak it in museums and exhibitions to take photos or vídeo clips (a forbidden thing I'm tempted to do). 

I just bought a Samsung mini tablet which I've used in a last week meeting in Copenhagen. I was very happy to take it with me, there's free wifi in many public places in Denmark. Unfortnately that doesn't happen in Lisbon, you need 3G to be connected (and tablets with 3G cost a lot more). I was much interested to use the camera, its resolution is quite acceptable, better than my phone. I carried it to school visits and in my short promenade through Copenhagen Centrum, and was quite practical to use it. 

But Android needs to develop some apps to run things that run normally in a computer. iPad is a more expensive solution, that has all the proprietory stuff of Apple and I've noticed that when colleagues bring their iPads they usually have more trouble accessing wifi (in the premises of my Ministry) than other Android stuff.  I'm pretty pleased with it and to follow a MOOC with my tablet would be comfortable for me. 

I have also reflected to open the «OER module» to a larger audience (not a MOOC which implies an international dimension), but opening up to any portuguese teacher interested. However I'm afraid of the risks I may not control, since it's a project that has an institutional context and will have some formative assessment and certification. Even considering to expand to a team of facilitators I would have a central role at the final stage and it might turn into a burden to check every participation for certification. The alternative to reach more people might be to have local replicas, disseminating the course. 

Very honestly I don't think that a MOOC can be handled by one tutor/facilitator, it needs a backup team.

Jane Nkosi
9:21am 11 March 2013

Hi Penny,

I have enjoyed reading your narrative and watching the video.  You mention that educators need to develop MOOC skills which is a characteristic of 21st century learning. There is need for educators to change the way they think about teaching and learning. What I liked best is that you are not throwing them at the deep end but want to begin from where the educators are: the skills they already have.

Jane Nkosi


Helen Crump
8:58pm 11 March 2013

Hi Penny

Through your engagement with social media, you always seemed, to me, to be very present during this MOOC, even when family matters took you away from the course. However, it wasn't until now, having looked over your learning narrative and watched your presentation video, that I'm able to fully see the whole thrust of your project. I must say that I'm struck not only your vision but by your tenacity as well, seeing as you didn't set out to design MOOCskills in the first instance. Penny, you've achieved so much. Hats off to you, girl!!

Looking back over the coments that you've received and the future direction of the project, it looks like you have a choice of either collaborating with others, in order to make the project fly at scale or, like Art says, develop your skill set and offer so that your digital artefacts speak for themselves, sooner or later someone will want to hire you. I'm in much the same boat as yourself; I'ld like to develop my online identity and skill set, but  in terms of digital literacies and social learning, I reckon I could even help embed digital literacies into learning designs now too. Any way,  a recent blog post by Bernard Bull, called "How to Build an Online Teacher Network" has given me lots of ideas as to how I might go about this. It may be of interest to you as you decide how to take forward what you've learnt from the project.

And I agree with Marie, I'd very much like to stay in touch with you too.

All the best



Penny Bentley
4:59am 12 March 2013

Hi Josh, thanks for your comment. I've looked at and bookmarked your Udacity link. It seems like a good idea to look at further down the track, once I've fleshed out the design some more. Re distribution of media and maintaining coherence...I use my RSS feeds to help maintain sanity. Mr Reader is my preferred iPad RSS reader, it's ideal because I can respond to posts etc from within the app. I have all CloudWorks updates coming my way so can see which ones are relevant to me & then respond. I just need to get into the habit of checking it more often. My appologies re 18 min of video, my rush to submit meant no editing. 2 min is usually enough for me :)

Penny Bentley
5:43am 12 March 2013

Hi Tom many thanks for dropping by and leaving your suggestions of possible collaborators for my MOOC Skills Project. The idea of linking up with a Learning Design Graduate Program is appealing...thank you. Do you know of any scholarship programs available for further study in the area of Learning Design? I'd be keen to take on a research project....this new field of LD is so interesting from where I sit. Thank you, I will take you up on the offer of finding Australian collaborators. Regards Penny

Penny Bentley
6:01am 12 March 2013

Hi Art your digital identity ARTiFactor is such a great name, love it. I couldn't agree with you more about building our digital identity that documents us as experts in our professional areas. I've been working on's my Personal Learning Environment which you may have seen already, as I've linked clouds back it during OLDS MOOC. My concern is how long does one give their time and efforts away for free? I've been at it for over 2 years (while bringing in an income via tutoring and writing science content for an online tutoring company) and have reached a point where I'd love to be paid for doing online work that better suits my skill set. It's not only me that feels this way either, there are many generous educators here in Aus who tirelessly volunteer their time and skills to mentor others who are in paid work...we're no longer teaching in the classroom, are studying/learning at home & looking for work in a new field. It's a fine line between volunteering and exploitation for some. I don't want to sound negative but it's a harsh reality. The role of mentors to support Educators as they move into online teaching and learning should be taken more's the best way for them to learn, drip feed their PD :) I'll get off my soap box now Art.

Penny Bentley
6:05am 12 March 2013

Hi Marie, it seems there are a few of us wanting to move into the area of freelance LD. It's a much needed field and OLDS MOOC has given us a taste for it. Thank you for your kind comments, I'd also like to keep in touch :)

Penny Bentley
6:14am 12 March 2013

Dear Ida, I appreciate your comments very much. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my design narrative..yes I know, it's way too long for a presentation. Normally I would do a video of 2 to 3 minutes but I took this task to be something different...a story about what I have done. You've shared your ideas about mobile learning, it's such a new and developing area. I think we agree that a move away from text is much needed. Ida my MOOC Skills course isn't a MOOC...just a program/course for a much smaller group who need to develop the skill set for working online in MOOCs.

Penny Bentley
6:16am 12 March 2013

Thanks Jane, that's what I'd like to educators move from what they already know to the skill set they need to be productive & efficient online educators. Thank you for commenting :)

Penny Bentley
6:20am 12 March 2013

Hi Helen, the link "How to Build an Online Teacher" is amazing...just what's needed for me at the moment. A hearty thank you :) You know...I think between all us OLDS MOOCers who want to progress with LD projects...we should join forces. A global LD business, in my dreams. I've enjoyed your company during this MOOC and look forward to continuing our conversation on Twitter. Thanks Helen.

Joshua Underwood
10:38am 12 March 2013

Penny, your enthusiasm is fabulous & contagious :-)

I love your reflections. Here's some thoughts on those.

  • "as a teacher I'm used to planning on the go...", I understand the rest of this point but I sometimes worry whether we lose some of this responsiveness in LD and in particiularly when designs are deployed in digital environments. I would have loved to be able to re-design OLDSMOOC week2 on the fly to suit individual participants'  as their realities collided with the design.
  • "being a Learning Designer draws on a skill set that's way bigger than what I have..." I definitely feel this too and part of the skill set needs to be realising this, beign able to find (and finance ;-) the right collaborators, and distribute the work.
  • "...others don't necessarily see/understand the big picture you are carrying around in your head. Plan, brainstorm etc...more at the beginning." Yes, but particularly when you are trying to do something new and unfamiliar is difficult to understand with words, pictures and simultation. Sometimes, you need to prototype and maybe even experiment and try stuff out in authentic settings with participants with authentic motivations... (i.e. prototype and design in the wild). 

Great stuff. Thanks Penny & best of luck with becoming a paid Learning Designer!

Penny Bentley
6:11am 16 March 2013

Thanks Josh, I appreciate your comments and the time you have generously given to tutor us in this MOOC. Hopefully I'll see you around on twitter :)



Yishay Mor
5:30pm 22 May 2014

Hi Penny,

Would you care to add your design narrative to our colection?



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