Thoughts in motion

11 06 2013


(Image: Keep the thought in motion – Olimpia Zagnoli)

Some strands from ocTEL are beginning to slice together today.  As a course team we are preparing for course planning next month.  We had a useful pre-meeting and have agreed to map out through all the modules of the course some key themes.

Three elements from the course are in my mind as I re-write my modules, reflect on the year and prepare for course planning:

Keith Smyth 3E continuum (week 3)

3E continuum

Gilly Salmon (week 6) ‘start at the end’ – stage 5 Development


Nancy White (week 7)

Nancy white

I seem to have developed a fascination with participation.  The last line of this slide ‘usefully participate’ is really how I see my end point, with my graduates usefully participating as a professional in the industry (in contexts of their choosing).  I have begun some explorations into how the course can extend to include alumni, professional bodies and local SME.  Something is beginning to take shape…

Power Law of Participation – Ross Mayfield

28 04 2013

I can’t get Howard Rheingold out of my head! His video ’21st Century Literacies’ seems to be on a loop in my head.

• Attention
• Participation
• Collaboration
• Network awareness
• Critical consumption

This is posting is loosely connected to ocTEL activity 2.1 about exploring colleagues readiness to engage with TEL. I haven’t done it as suggested but I did participate in a focus group this week on engagement with our VLE.  I didn’t consider it particularly useful to think  further about why people didn’t engage (lack of time and skill as a sweeping generalization)  but to spend time on what might encourage them to start. As earlier posting on motivation, purpose and mastery clearly have a place but I’m not sure that gets the T-avoider out of the starting blocks.  I am interested in the potential of participation as a motivator. This graphic shows a way this participation can build.  The social aspect may then encourage further participation to the point of collaboration.  Possibly over-optimistic but I like the fact that all forms of participation count.

More on Ross Mayfield’s blog here:


The graphic also illustrates the difference between collective intelligence and creating new collaborative intelligence – but one thing at a time…

Thanks to frangers – thoughts and connections now lost in forums and the ether

22 04 2013

Before I started week two I really wanted to gather my thoughts from the first two weeks of this MOOC.  I’m not sure one post is going to do it as there is so much going on.

In the induction week we were encouraged to get into small groups for discussions and this lead me to read quite a lot about participation in MOOCs. I hadn’t really thought about my participation / contribution up to that point and so my first musings were about expectations for participation.   As I tutor I would expect full-participation (I’m optimistic like that) but now I have a whole series of question:  what form would that take?  Does it matter if someone is lurking and not contributing?  Is it confidence or laziness?  Do we want quality or quantity when it comes to contributions?

As I haven’t answered any of those I can only say that I felt that my digital self should reflect my real self and that I would need to work hard to achieve this.  I picked up Twitter – happily reviewing a couple of times daily and tweeting (well, mostly retweeting so far) anything that I think is useful to develop a repository of thoughts over time.  Happy with these first steps…

Next to ‘replies’ and this is where I am getting into a bit of a knot.  I find some gems, have interesting things pop into my brain but then find it very difficult to maintain this.  For me it feels like finding the end of a thread in a tangled ball of wool.Image If anyone has any ideas for preserving the connections better I would be very grateful.  I would like to find some of these ‘frangers’ again (friends / strangers  – it’s taken from a post in the ocTEL forum somewhere…) or at least credit them and send others there too.

I think this connectedness is really important and therefore links to the first thoughts about participation.  I then remembered this light sculpture (Komisar) that uses Boolean logic to produce different interactions of colour and brightness as a visualization of interactions in an open system.  For me it is a visual metaphor of the interactions that a group of learners have / could have: Sometimes small, sometimes only dimly and occasionally shining brightly etc. but that each ‘worked’ in that moment…


Bob Garvey: ‘…a good learner is well connected with an array or strong and weak connection with each participant offering different perspectives, insights, skills and knowledge.  The learner draws on this network to further this learning but, in turn, they may help other members of their network to develop and change. There is a natural symbiosis here…’ (cited in Coaching and Mentoring (2009)

Happily this leads to ‘sharing’.  I think I have gained far more from the contributions and posts than I have from the course materials. I have been amazed at the generosity of the donated resources.  I have found that the webinar chat space is a particularly good resource – again thank you!

Finally onto just how disruptive to traditional practice will MOOC be?  I think this is more of a longer term change rather than an imminent seismic shift but that the ripples from its potential impact are worth working with now. Change is inevitable and we should be actively involved with this in our own contexts.  This reminds me of someone’s ocTEL big question – ‘how do we take the T out of TEL?’

Digital Visitors and Residents

12 04 2013

My twitter explorations lead to finding this today. So there’s a positive. I guess that I was searching for ‘motivations to engage with the digital environment’ in my musings over the meaning of participation whilst also wondering if I am too old to get to grips with this. I was inspired by Diana Laurillard response to a big question in the webinar yesterday about ‘reluctant’ staff – aren’t we all unskilled / time-short and lacking in confidence? This also linked with a later discussion on whether as teachers we could do this for ourselves – if we don’t it will be some bright spark from Computer Engineering that gives us what they think we need. That’s a rallying call to get involved or get lumbered! Love carrot and stick – works for me every time.
So from the work below I can see that I tick quite a lot of the visitor boxes – seeking out authoritative sources, thinking taking place offline – users not members…back to participation. But can definitely see some potential in the other side. Off to muse offline, obviously.
This table is from the JISC progress report 2012:

Activity 0.2 Initial Comments and discussion

10 04 2013

I think this will be Activity 0.2 part 1 as I think I may be going off on a tangent. Or off on a tandem as my son used to say!

I have been thinking about participation and discussion today. Also about the judgments we may make about level of participation. I stumbled across James Clay’s blog
today and on it was a really interesting Guardian article from 2006 about the 1% rule. I’d not heard of it but is a bit like the 80/20 rule in the extreme. Anyway I got to thinking about whether it matters? Yes, for a community to work perhaps we should all contribute but is a learning community the same? If people (and then extend to our students) are seemingly passive with the material should we be concerned? Yesterday I would have said ‘yes’ and would definitely want full engagement with something I had worked hard to set up but today I am wondering about that. Also how can we tell? What measure of engagement ‘counts’? When do we make an issue of it?

Related to this (somehow) is a wonderful Radio 4 program Four Thought on Nancy Lublin self-confessed oldie of concerned with 21st Century social activism . Basically she says that at the poles there are a small proportion of presidents and unfortunately slackers. In the middle are lots of vice-presidents and followers. That’s just the way it is. An in-balance of presidents or slackers would both cause a problem but not to worry about VPs and followers – they just want to be part of something and actually you need this for projects to have a continued life. She refers to it as leading from the middle. Well worth a listen.

Link to original Guaridan piece:
Link to iplayer:

Note to self – add learn how to embed links properly to to-do list!