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  • 1. State of the Art report on training teachers, blended learning & eLearning Gráinne Conole, The Open University, UK 4/2/10 Status: Draft for discussion Executive summary..................................................................................3 An overview of e-learning: promises and challenges.....................................5 Introduction – the emergence of e-learning........................................................5 Examples of best practice for teacher online collaboration ..................................7 How you motivated and encouraged teachers to participate................................11 How to promote a culture of sharing and collaboration amongst teachers............15 A review of Learning Design research ......................................................19 The emergence of Learning Design as a research field.......................................19 Approaches to sharing and promoting good practice.........................................24 Learning objects................................................................................................24 Case studies.....................................................................................................25 Open Educational Resources............................................................................26 Support centres and professional communities.................................................27 Representations............................................................................................29 Toolkits and pedagogical planners...................................................................31 Pedagogical patterns......................................................................................35 The OU Learning Design Initiative...........................................................36 The OUDLI methodology...............................................................................38 CompendiumLD – a tool for visualising designs...............................................40 An update on CompendiumLD..........................................................................43 Cloudworks..................................................................................................50 Methodology.....................................................................................................52 Theoretical perspectives...................................................................................54 An overview of the Cloudworks site..................................................................56 Key concepts....................................................................................................57 Principles..........................................................................................................59 Some statistics and use of the site....................................................................60 Evolving theoretical framework.........................................................................62 1
  • 2. Staff engagement and support........................................................................63 The OULDI Toolbox..........................................................................................64 Workshops .......................................................................................................65 Conclusion........................................................................................................69 Engagement with the OU university community................................................69 Related initiatives at the OU...........................................................................70 The JISC Curriculum Design Project.................................................................71 Course Business Models project.......................................................................72 OLnet................................................................................................................74 A Framework for Preparing Teachers to Teach with ICT...................................76 Perls in the Clouds............................................................................................78 OPAL (Open Educational Quality Initiative).......................................................80 Other collaborations and international work......................................................81 Building on OULDI in 2010 and beyond at the OU............................................83 Conclusion.............................................................................................83 Acknowledgements.................................................................................83 References.............................................................................................84 Appendix A: The Learning Activity Taxonomy..........................................89 2
  • 3. Executive summary The purpose of this ‘state of the art’ review is to provide a foundation for the work being undertaken as part of the ‘framework for preparing teachers to teach with ICT’ (the EUPT3 project). The review will help contextualise the work being undertaken in the project and ground it in the broader research literature and other initiatives of relevance in the field. The review in particular will provide a summary of the work undertaken to date as part of the OU Learning Design ( It is anticipated that the tools and resource OULDI has produced which form a core foundation for the EUPT3 project. The review begins by describing the emergence of e-learning as a distinct field of enquiry and in particular the theoretical and methodological approaches which help define the field. It describes some of the ways in which technologies are being used to support learning, providing a critique of the positive affordances of modern technologies. It articulates some of the challenges with effective uptake and use of technologies in education and summarises some of the strategies used to address these issues. It then focuses on learning design as a new field of inquiry that has developed in recent years as a potential means of addressing these issues and in particular bridging gap between the rhetoric around the potential impact of technology and its actual use in teacher practice. It describes four main approaches that have been used to promoting sharing of good practice: learning objects, case studies, Open Educational Resources (OER) and support centres/professional communities. It then describes some of the work that has been done to explore the different ways in which designs can be represented and in particular the use of visualisation. Toolkits and pedagogical planners designed to provide support and guidance to the design process are then described. Finally related, but highly relevant research on pedagogical patterns is mentioned. The final section focuses on the OU Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) and 3
  • 4. particular the work on the development of a visualisation tool for design (CompendiumLD), a social networking site for sharing learning and teaching ideas and designs (Cloudworks), approaches to fostering staff engagement and support and finally related initiatives at the OU. 4
  • 5. An overview of e-learning: promises and challenges Before focussing on the substantive area of learning design and more specifically the work of the Open University Learning Design Initiative, this section provides an overview of the wider context within which this work sits. Introduction – the emergence of e-learning Research into the use of technology in an educational context and indeed for the full spectrum of learning from formal to informal/non-formal contexts has become increasingly important since the birth of the Internet and the general increase of the impact of technology on all aspects of our lives. This is a fast moving area, with new sub-themes of research emerging constantly as new technologies arise and their implications/potentials are considered. Terminology therefore is problematic because it is also constantly changing as researchers try to use terms that give an indication of their particular perspectives and areas of interests. Terms over the years have included educational technology, computer-assisted learning, learning technology, e- learning, networked learning and technology-enhanced learning. For the purpose of this review the term e-learning will be used, as we believe this has the broadest scope and most closely fits with the areas of interest in the EUPT3 project. Conole and Oliver (2007) define e-learning as: The term most commonly used to represent the broader domain of development and research activities on the application of technologies to education. E-learning is now a well established and vibrant research area. A review of this scope cannot possibly hope to cover the full spectrum of research activities; instead the intention here is to focus on highlighting key research reports/books, journals and conference. A number of edited collections provide a useful synthesis of current thinking of the filed; Conole and Oliver provide an overview of contemporary perspectives in e-learning (G. Conole & Oliver 2007). Authors in the edited collection take a particular stance on different aspects of the field 5
  • 6. (pedagogical, technical and organisational), these positions are then critiqued by other experts in the field. A complementary edited collection by Andrews and Haythornwthwaite covers a broad spectrum of issues from both policy and practice perspectives, as well as associated theoretical and methodological issues (Andrews & Haythornthwaite 2007). Conole provides an updated positional paper on these issues as an initial trigger for a recent debate as part of the Networked Learning conference ‘hotseat’ series (G. Conole 2010). The positional paper is available from learning, the rich debate within the networked learning hotseat forum is available at In addition a parallel debate is going on in the cloudworks site., In particular the positional paper traces the origins of the underpinnings for the e-learning field, drawing in particular on perspectives from Oliver et al. (Oliver et al. 2007) who argue that there are a range of different epistemological positions adopted by researchers in the field and that these have profound implications for how the field will be researched. They argue that this is often explained in terms of the ‘paradigm debate’, and framed as a contrast between qualitative and quantitative methods; although go on to qualify that this is a rather crude distinction; i.e. qualitative data can be interpreted in a positivist way and quantitative data can be used to yield understandings beyond the specific numerical data. They argue that ‘We need to consider how different philosophical positions would interpret the kinds of data generated by particular empirical methods. ‘Methodology’ describes this relationship, and must be understood separately from ‘methods’, which are the techniques used to collect and analyse data (This will include things like interviews, questionnaires, observation etc.) Methodology determines whether the implementation of particular methods is successful or credible. Indeed, according to Agger, “methodologies can’t solve intellectual problems but are simply ways of 6
  • 7. making arguments for what we already know or suspect to be true” (Agger, 2004, p. 77). To do this, methodology codifies beliefs about the world, reflecting ‘out there’ or ‘in here’ positions. The view that knowledge is hard, objective and tangible will demand of researchers an observer role, together with an allegiance to methods of natural science; to see knowledge as personal, subjective and unique, however, imposes on researchers an involvement with their subjects and a rejection of the ways of the natural scientist. To subscribe to the former is to be positivist; to the latter, anti-positivist. (Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2000: 6) Such commitments and interests arise from historical, cultural and political influences, which collectively shape traditions of research that provide the context for current work (e.g. Conole, 2003). These have profound implications for the topics that people study and the kinds of conclusions they are willing to draw. (Oliver et al. 2007, p.9). The positional paper goes on to describe the breadth of ‘birth’ disciplines that e-learning researchers originate from and how this then translates into a rich set of epistemological positions, methodologies and theoretical perspectives. Common approaches that have been used extensively in e-learning include: socio-cultural perspectives such as Activity Theory, Actor Network Theory, Cybernetics and Systems Thinking and Wenger’s notion of Communities of Practice. However as the field is beginning to mature, researchers are starting to caste a wider network in terms of theoretical perspectives to provide new insights and understandings into complex emergent patterns of behaviour with new technologies. Examples of best practice for teacher online collaboration The section on ‘Promoting and sharing good practice’ describes the different strategies that have been used o encourage greater innovation in pedagogy and more use of technologies. Strategies have ranges from relatively simple provision of resources – such as learning objects or Open Educational Resources through to ore specific case studies describing practice or community-based support mechanisms and networks. This section points to some recent specific examples of reviews of the use of technology. 7
  • 8. In the last five years or so there has been an explosion of text-booked aimed at practitioners that provide advice and guidance on using technology, along with more theoretical grounded research texts. It would be impossible to provide a comprehensive overview of this work, so a select to illustrate the breadth will be provided. As outlined earlier terminology associated with ‘e-learning’ is in a constant state of flux. Different terminologies give an insight into the particular perspectives being focused on. For example in terms of collaborative online learning research around the sub-fields ‘networked learning’ and ‘computer supported collaborative learning’ (CSCL) are particular relevant. Steeples and Jones provide an edited collection articulating networked learning research and describing some of the main fields of inquiry (Steeples & C. Jones 2002). Koshman et al. do much the same for CSCL (Koschmann 1996)(Koschmann et al. 2002) and McConnell outlines research on Computer Supported Cooperative Learning (McConnell 2000). Jones et al. provide a useful summary of the development of this field and in particular the distinction between cooperative and collaborative learning (Chris Jones et al. 2007). Within these sub-fields extensive research has occurred since the early nineties on studying online learning environments, with a particular focus on asynchronous discussion forums. There is a general underlying constructivist and collaborative learning perspective associated with much of this work. The work has yielded insights into some of the barriers to successful online collaboration, as well as some of the strategies that have emerged. Salmon’s five-stage e-moderating framework is one of the most popular (Salmon 2000). It provides a simple to understand 5-stage framework for facilitating online collaboration. There have also been a range of books which take a more theoretical perspective – providing an overview of key research in the field. Laurillard’s ‘rethinking university teaching’ acted as a bit of a watershed text as it was published around the time of the birth of the Internet (Laurillard 2002). Of particular note is Laurillard’s conversation framework, which provides an elegant description of the interactions that occur between teacher and student. This has been extensively quoted and used as a basis for 8
  • 9. framing teaching interventions and guidance, see for example this interactive, visual representation of the framework More specifically in terms of e-learning the edited collection ‘Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research’ provides an overview of the field from a UK perspective. The book spans the different sub-domains of research in the field – divided into research focusing on pedagogical, technical and organisational issues (G. Conole & Oliver 2007). Andrews and Haythornthwaite provide a complementary text which provides a broader international perspective (Andrews & Haythornthwaite 2007). There are now a bewildering array of texts which provide more of a practitioner focus around e- learning (or the related term ‘blended learning). Because of the explosion of the filed, more specialised texts with a particular technology focus are also beginning to emerge – see for example Stefani et al.’ book on e-portfolios (Stefani et al. 2007), Weller’s overview of Virtual Learning Environments (Weller 2007) and Richardson’s book on some of the new web 2.0 tools (such as blogs and wikis) (Richardson 2008). Add to this reviews of the field and individual research papers results in a rich, but bewildering collection of information. Fortunately a number of professional bodies and specialised support services have emerged which act as filters and indicators of quality – some of these are discussed later. With the emergence of more socially orientated and participatory technologies, often referred to as ‘web 2.0’ tools, new directions of inquiry have begun to flourish. Downes gives an early critique of the potential of these technologies for learning (Downes 2005) and Alexander provides one of the first textbooks exploring the use of these for teaching and learning(B. Alexander 2006). More recently two comprehensive reviews have been undertaken by the Institute of Prospective Technology Studies (IPTS) surveying examples of the use of web 2.0 tools in education. Redeccker looks at learning 2.0 in formal educational contexts (Redecker 2008), whilst Ala- Mutka considers the use of these tools in non-formal and informal learning contexts (Ala-Mutka 2009). The reviews include a database of over 200 case 9
  • 10. study examples from across Europe. De Freitas and Conole consider the implications of these new technologies from the learner perspective and consider the ways in which the affordances of these new technologies can (or might) map to good pedagogical principles (collaborative, dialogic learning, inquiry-based learning, etc.) (De Freitas & G. Conole 2010). They give some specific examples (drawing on Redeccker and Ala-Mutka’s reviews as well as more broadly of how specific case studies give illustrative examples of how these technologies are beginning to be taken up. Table 1: Table reproduced from De Freitas and Conole Theme Case study Brief description of case Potential impact upon area study education Scaffolded VEOU (Willis et Virtual CPD and scaffolded Potential to change the ways in al., 2004) support for publication which professional CPD is delivered, offering more tailored, personalised and just-in-time training Open E-Bank – towards Access to open learning Democratisation of education in truly "Open materials designed to terms of content production and research”, (Cole support tutors and learners delivery. Wider access to et al., 2006) alike materials for casual learners and MITOpenCourse to support informal learning as a Ware ‘taster’ for formal learning qualifications Cumulative CCK09 An experimental course in What is the role of traditional (Siemens, 2009) - which both the content and educational institutions in a Education for expertise was free world in which content and free! expertise is increasingly free? Social Cloudworks Social networking for an Social networking applied to (Conole and educational context education has the potential to Culver, change the ways in which forthcoming) teachers exchange information; with the potential to lead to proactive sharing and reuse of educational resources Authentic environments WISE project – Authentic real-time Scope for training in new and (SecondReiff modeling environment in realistic environments. Aachen School of Second Life for Pedagogic models include Architecture); Architecture and medical exploratory learning (ELM), Stanford Medical students inquiry learning and problem- School based learning approaches simulations using Olive platform (cited in Ala- Mutka et al. 2009) 10
  • 11. inquiry learning Personal Inquiry Development of inquiry- Through independent learning Project based learning skills for approaches peer learning is Fostering (Kerawalla, et al., students to enhanced their encouraged and analytical skills 2009) understanding of Science may be fostered Enhancing life experiences Mundo des Young people in hospitals, The potential for these tools to estrellas (cited in interactive gaming, life support lifelong learning Ala-Mutka et al. swapping and sharing of opportunities and enhance life 2009); JISC experience; MyPlan project experiences MyPlan project providing tools for lifelong (de Freitas et al., career decisions and 2009) educational choices using visualisation of learners’ timelines ( yplan) Broadening access Notschool and Notschool for virtual home The impact of this includes Schome projects schooling for disaffected outreach to children and (cited in Ala- children and Schome excluded, talented learners. Mutka et al. project for gifted and Using familiar media based 2009) talented kids metaphors rather than traditional school based metaphors new learners may be reached New forms of CSCL Structured pedagogical Broader application of collaboration pedagogical patterns to support differentpedagogical patterns and other patterns forms of collaborative scaffolded forms of pedagogical (Hernández et al., activities have the potential to transfer forthcoming) good practice from research into practice in an effective way. Automation of such patterns can be embedded in pedagogy tools Co-construction of Wlker’s Collaborative co- Blurring research and teaching: understanding Wikinomics construction of examples of how the web can (cited in Ala- understanding of provide access to scholarly Mutka et al. Economics materials and give students the 2009), The opportunity to observe and Decameron Web emulate scholars at work ((http://www.bro nts/Italian_Studie s/dweb/dweb.sht ml) Aggregating and Wikipedia Co-construction of New tools provided for learners sharing content knowledge through at all stages, and interaction collaboration and iterative between learners and publication development of shared knowledge How you motivated and encouraged teachers to participate The previous section has provided a broader overview of some of the ways in 11
  • 12. which technologies is being appropriated in education. It paints a picture of an exciting, evolving rich technologically mediated environment to support learning. Indeed I have previously argued that the affordances of these new technologies seem to map surprisingly well to what is considers in modern educational research to be ‘good pedagogy (See Table 2). Table 2: Comparison of technology characteristics and pedagogy Trends in the use of technologies Pedagogical drive New Web 2.0 practices From individual to social Location aware technologies Contextualised and situated Adaptation & customisation Personalised learning Virtual and immersive 3D worlds Experiential learning Google it! Inquiry learning User generated content Open Educational Resources Badges, World of Warcraft Peer Learning Blogging, peer critique Reflection Cloud computing Distributed Cognition Despite this take up of new technologies has not been widespread, beyond basic technologies (Word, Email, Powerpoint, simple use of the Web, Interactive Whiteboards) harnessing the full richness of technologies remains the domain of enthusiasts and early adopters. The reasons for this lack of uptake are complex and multi-faceted, more often to do with cultural, organisational and pedagogical issues than the technologies per se. A number of more detailed critiques explore these issues in more detail (Hedberg 2006) (Zemsky & Massy 2004) (Davis et al. 2007) (Ramage 2001) (Russell 2001) (G. Conole 2007)(M. Brown et al. 2007), only a summary of the issues is described here. In reality making effective use of technology is complex and time consuming, there is no magic quick-fix bullet, indeed teachers are daunted by the sheer variety of possibilities (the volume is indeed immense as the pointers to the research literature in this review indicate). They don’t know where to start. They are concerned about failing. Despite the fact that technology errors are becoming less and less common as the tools and software improve and become more embedded in day to day practice, introducing a new innovation in a real-teaching context requires an element of a leap of faith that it will 12
  • 13. work, courage and assurance that support and back up will be available if there are problems. Even if the technologies themselves work, there is no guarantee that the intervention will be pedagogically successful. If there is one overriding message from the research literature it is that success is more about how the technology is used, in a particular context that is important. Furthermore devising such an appropriate and contextually relevant intervention means the teacher needs to research the possible options, adapt to the context, trial and evaluation. All of this requires both the skills to undertake these steps and the time to implement them. In short – time, skills and support emerge as the three factors most likely to have an impact on whether technologies are taking up or not. The above is not intended to be unduly depressing, but is intended to cut through the hype about technology and take a realistic stance on what is possible. These means we need: • To be mindful of the complexity inherent in design a learning activity – the components involved and multiple decision paths that can be taken. • Be aware of the set of new skills that are needed by both teachers and learners to make most effective use of new technologies • Articulate and address barriers to uptake. The complexity of the design process: A Learning Activity Taxonomy development by Conole (Conole, G. 2008), illustrates just how complex a learning activity is (See Appendix One). It was iteratively developed through working with a series of teachers as they worked through a learning design process. It shows the complex set of factors and decision points that need to be made as part of the design process. Experienced teachers, who draw on their wealth of expertise and knowledge and understanding of their students and the subject domain to devise effective learning activities, do much of this at an unconscious level. In essence they are drawing on a small sub-set of combinations of the taxonomy, treading tried and tested pathways through the 13
  • 14. options. Strategies for support group work, mechanisms for stimulating brainstorming activities, scaffolds for longer-term project work. The plethora of new technologies and how they can be used opens up the possibilities but now also means that they have to make their design practice more explicit and they have be grapple with understanding how these technologies can be used. New skills: Jenkins lists twelve skills which he argues are necessary to be able to take part in what he refers to as today’s ‘participatory culture (Jenkins 2009). They are play, performance, simulation, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, judgement, transmedia navigation, negotiation and visualisation. This list clearly shows the multifaceted nature of digital literacies. Jenkins defines participatory culture as being about involvement and participation, about being able to create and share work and about peer mentorship and support. He goes on to suggest that this has immense potential educationally; providing opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, diverse cultural expression, skills development across different contexts and a changing attitude to the notion of intellectual property. In his view and in the view of others like Seely Brown (J. S. Brown 2001) embracing this participatory culture is essential. If this is true we do need to ensure teachers have the appropriate time and support to be able to develop and use these skills Barriers to uptake: In a recent paper Conole considers the barriers to uptake of technologies, drawing on the broader literature on resistance to change and innovation (G. Conole 2010). She sites the following as commonly cited examples for lack of adoption: ‘I haven’t got time’, ‘My research is more important’, ‘What’s in it for me?’, ‘Where is my reward?’, ‘I don’t have the skills to do this’, and ‘I don’t believe in this, it won’t work’. Common resistance strategies include saying yes (and doing nothing) or undermining the initiative and/or the people involved. Depressingly classic mistakes are repeated over and over again: an over emphasis on the technologies and not the people and processes; funding for the technology developments but not use and support. A better articulation and understanding of these barriers will enable us to 14
  • 15. develop strategies to address them; to explore ways in which teachers can have the time to experiment, to look at mechanisms to support them and provide guidance and pointers to examples and to help them develop the new skills needed to embrace these technologies. How to promote a culture of sharing and collaboration amongst teachers Web 2.0 technologies - with their emphasis on sharing, networking and user production, seem to have immense potential to support new forms of discourse to support teachers. Indeed when asked what they would find most helpful to enable them to think more creatively about their teaching, most teachers say "give me examples, in my subject area" and "point me to relevant people I can discuss these issues with". However uptake and use of web 2.0 sites such as blogs, social networking and wikis by teachers for sharing and discussing practice has being marginal so far. The Cloudworks site (see later) is one example of a means of providing a shared collective space for teachers, harnessing the web 2.0 affordances of new technologies. This section provides a more generic overview of some of the broader themes around sharing. Teachers now have a multitude of ways in which they can communicate and collaborate through different technologies. Alongside the established communication channels of the telephone, email, forums and texting, the emergence of web 2.0 technologies in recent years has added blogging (and microblogging), wikis, social networking sites and virtual worlds but also free internet-based Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and in particular popular tools such as Skype which enable virtually free, internet-based communication. Similarly information can now be distributed in multiple locations, and packaged and presented using a range of different multimedia and visual representations. Sophisticated repositories now exist for everything from shopping categories to repositories of good practice and free resources. RSS feeds and email alerts enable users to filter and personalise the information they receive. Social bookmarking and tagging means that collective value can be added to digital objects, concept and mind mapping, 15
  • 16. tag clouds and data-derived maps are only some of the ways in which information can be presented in rich and multifaceted ways. Within this context we are seeing a number of trends: • A shift from the web as a content repository and information mechanism to a web that enables more social mediation and user generation of content. • New practices of sharing (see for example: images: flckr; video: YouTube and presentation: slideshare), and mechanisms for content production, communication and collaboration (through blogs, wikis and micro-blogging services such as Twitter). There are also social networking sites for connecting people and supporting different communities of practice (such as Facebook, Elgg and Ning). • A network effect is emerging as a result of the quantity of information available on the web, the multiplicity of connectivity and the scale of user participation. New possibilities for sharing and 'network effects' that are emergent from this new scale. Specifically in terms of new practices and ways of teacher interacting, I would like to highlight the following: • Peer critiquing – the ability to openingly comment on other people’s work. This has become standard practice within the blogosphere for instance and is being used in general society (for example many journalists are now active bloggers, traditional book writing is being supplemented by writers’ blog inviting potential readers to comment on the evolving plot), by academics (through self-reflective blogs on digital scholarship and research ideas) and in a teaching context (with students keeping their own reflective blogs or contributing to a collective cohort blog). Peer critiquing and self reflecting via blogs and e-porfolios is particularly useful for training teachers, as a space to reflect on and make sense of their practice and as a means of making explicit connections between educational theory and actual practice. 16
  • 17. Making these opening available (or available to a more limited peer set) means that others can comment on, provide advice and support, as well as correlate these reflections with their own experiences. 1. User generated content – there are now many different tools (many free) for creating content (ranging from those which are primarily text-based, through to rich multi-media and interactive tools), meaning that the web is no longer a passive media for consumption but an active, participatory, production media. Sites such as YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare facilitate simple sharing of user-generated content and embedded code functionality means this content can be simultaneously distributed via a range of communication channels. This has significant implications in a teacher context; not only are teachers now able to create their own content, but so potentially are learners. 2. Collective aggregation - hierarchy and controlled structures make little sense in an environment that consists of a constantly expanding body of content that can be connected in a multitude of ways. Collective aggregation refers both to the ways in which individuals can collate and order content to suit their individual needs and personal preferences, as well as the ways individual content can be enriched collectively (via tagging, multiple distribution, etc.). Social bookmarking, tag clouds and associated visualisation tools, tagging, RSS feeds and embedding code all enable collective aggregation to occur. This provides another means of harnessing understanding across a teaching community and a means of sharing the burdening of exploring and making sense of the waste wealth of information that might inform teaching practice. 3. Community formation – clearly the connectivity and rich communicative channels now available on the web provide an environment for supporting a rich diversity of digital communities. Boundaries of professional and personal identity are eroding and the notion of tightly 17
  • 18. knit Communities of Practice (Wenger 1998) are giving way to a spectrum of communicates from individualistic spaces through loosely bound and often transitory collectives through to more established and clearly defined communities (See (Dron & T. Anderson 2007) for a more specific discussion of collectives, networks and groups in social networking for e-learning). Harnessing web 2.0 technologies for teacher communities has immense power, as is discussed later in terms of the Cloudworks site. 4. Digital personas – each of us is having to define our own digital identity and how we present ourselves across these spaces. The avatars we choose to represent ourselves, the style of language we use and the degree to which we are open (both professionally and personally) within these spaces, give a collective picture of how we are viewed by others and can have unintended consequences. Both teachers and learners need to be aware that their digital traces cumulatively says something about how they are perceived and that this includes the use of social networking for non-professional or educational purposes. The blurring of the identity boundaries across these digital spaces challenges traditional norms of teacher as authority and learner as recipient. Returning to the heading of this section, namely ‘how can we promote a culture of sharing and collaboration?’ I think there are two main aspects. Firstly we need to be aware of the technologies and more importantly the different ways in which they can support interaction and communication (as outlined above). Secondly we distil lessons learnt from existing research that has tried to promote sharing and collaboration – what worked and what didn’t. Thirdly we need to combine these to create new interventions to support this and then trial, evaluate and improve on these interventions. This is at the heart of the approach we have adopted in the creation and use of the Cloudworks site, which is discussed in more detail later. 18
  • 19. A review of Learning Design research This section provides a summary of some of the key related learning design research, before focusing specifically on the work undertaken as part of the OU Learning Design Initiative (OULDI). The emergence of Learning Design as a research field Learning Design (or designing for learning) has emerged as a distinct field of research in the last five years or so. It’s origins can be trace back to research at OUNL in the Netherlands and in particular the work of Rob Koper and colleges on the development of an educational modelling language and the 1 emergence of a new IMS standard for Learning Design (Koper & Tattersall 2005). However the field has since broadened from this relatively narrow technical scope to encompass a much broader field of research, which is concerned with the development of tools, methods and resources for helping practitioners design educational offerings more effectively, with a desire to ensure good pedagogical practice and to encourage great uptake and innovation in the use of technologies for learning and teaching. Cross and Conole (2008) provide a simple overview of the field and also see Beetham and Sharpe, 2007 and Lockyer et al. for recent edited collections on the field (Helen Beetham & Sharpe 2007); (Lockyer et al. 2008)). As Conole argues (Grainne Conole 2010): New technologies have the potential to enhance the student learning experience significantly; offering new ways in which students can communicate and interact with each other and with their tutors. However, the shear variety of new technologies available now is bewildering. Those tasked with designing the learning experience need new forms of guidance to take advantage of the affordances of new technologies and to make pedagogically informed design decisions. Learning design as a research field has emerged in the last five years, as a methodology for both articulating and representing the design process and providing tools and methods to help designers in their design process (see Beetham and Sharpe, 2007; Lockyer et al., 2008 edited collections). The field emerged because of a realisation that there is a gap between the potential of technologies for learning and their actual use in practice (Conole, 2008a). Conole, Oliver et al. (2007) have argued that this gap between the potential of technologies to support learning and the reality of how they are 1 See for more on the IMS LD specification 19
  • 20. actually used and that this is due to a lack of understanding about how technologies can be used to afford specific learning advantages and to a lack of appropriate guidance at the design stage: Practitioners have a multitude of learning theories that guide the development of learning activities…. In addition, … there is a rich variety of ICT tools that can be used to support the implementation of these. Despite this, the actual range of learning activities that demonstrate specific pedagogic approaches (such as constructivism, dialogic learning, case- or problem- based scenarios, or socially situated learning) and innovative use of ICT tools is limited; suggesting that practitioners are overwhelmed by the plethora of choices and may lack the necessary skills to make informed choices about how to use these theories. (Conole, Oliver et al., 2007:101) Teachers lack the necessary skills to make informed judgements about how to use technologies and are bewildered by the possibilities. In a series of interviews with teachers, focusing on their design practices, we gained a richer understand of existing design practice (Cross et al., 2008). What is evident is that design is a creative, messy and iterative process. Teachers rely heavily on prior knowledge and experience in their design practice and rarely followed any kind of formal design method process. This isn’t problematic in situations where the teachers are working within known parameters, but is problematic when they need to derive new designs within an increasingly complex learning context, where there is an almost infinite number of resources and tools they can draw on. Indeed closer scrutiny of a learning activity reveals that it is made up of a significant number of sub-components, which need to be considered in the design process (Conole, 2008). These include the type of pedagogy being used, the context in which the learning activity will be enacted, the types of intended learning outcomes associated with the activity, the nature and number of tasks to be undertaken by the learner, the associated tools and resources they will use and any formative or summative assessment. Furthermore each of these sub-components have inter-dependencies; the kinds of pedagogy chosen will influence the tasks undertaken by the student; different tools have different affordances and will influence the learning experience, assessment is often a key driver in learning and hence the nature of the assessment has a significant influence on the way in which the learner will engage with the learning activity. The term ‘Learning Design’ in this broader connotation has been adopted in 20
  • 21. particular by researchers in the UK, but also researcher work emerging out of Australia. It emerged, in part as a means of address the perceived gap between the potential of technologies and their actual use in practice. This gap is due to a range of inter-connected issues including technological (immature tools, lack of interoperability etc.), organisational (barriers and enablers to uptake, cultural barriers) and pedagogical (lack of understanding of how to apply esoteric educational models or frameworks). More often than not, designers do not have the appropriate expertise in advance design methods or a deep understanding of the potential affordances of technologies and hence tend to primarily adapt existing practice. Case studies and other forms of guidance often do not provide much help, as they are often not presented in a format suited to the designer’s particular needs at that moment in time. Learning design research may provide a means of addressing these issues by providing a structured methodology for guiding the design process. It is seen as adopting a more holistic, ‘whole learning and teaching’ perspective, than the related field of enquiry on instructional design, which tends to be targeted more on the production of materials. Six reasons why adopting a learning design approach might be beneficial were identified (Conole, 2009): 1. It can act as a means of eliciting designs from academics in a format that can be tested and reviewed with developers, i.e. a common vocabulary and understanding of learning activities. 2. It provides a means by which designs can be reused, as opposed to just sharing content. 3. It can guide individuals through the process of creating new learning activities. 4. It creates an audit trail of academic design decisions. 5. It can highlight policy implications for staff development, resource allocation, quality, etc. 6. It aids learners in complex activities by guiding them through the activity sequence. 21
  • 22. Learning Designs seeks to design taking account of the whole learning experience and has an emphasis on activity-based rather content-based design. JISC supported a programme ‘Design for learning’: The vision for the Design for Learning Programme, was to bring the technical development and the effective practice strands of JISC e-Learning Programme together, ensuring that the conceptual and practical implementation of 'design for learning' is informed by what is known about effective pedagogic practice. ( .aspx) An important related term to Learning Design is the concept of a Learning Activity (Conole, G. 2008). Learning activities are those tasks that students undertake to achieve a set of intended outcomes. Examples might include: finding and synthesizing a series of resources from the web, contributing to a ‘for and against debate’ in a discussion forum, manipulating data in a spreadsheet, constructing a group report in a wiki or summarizing the salient points of a podcast. Beetham (in Beetham and Sharpe 2007) views learning activities in relation to the design process: as a specific interaction of learner(s) with other(s) using specific tools and resources, orientated towards specific outcomes. (Beetham and Sharpe, 2007: 28) Conole provides a detailed description of the components that make up a learning activity (Conole, 2008; see also Appendix One) and argues that: Learning design refers to the range of activities associated with creating a learning activity and crucially provides a means of describing learning activities. Agostinho (2006) describes it as ‘a representation of teaching and learning practice documented in some notational format so that it can serve as a model or template adaptable by a teacher to suit his/her context’. Learning design provides a means of representing learning activities so that they can be shared between tutors and designers. For example this might consist of illustrating learning activities in an easy to understand way (as a diagram and/or text) so that they can be a) shared between a teacher and a designer, b) repurposed from one teacher to another, c) serve as a means of scaffolding the process of creating new learning activities or d) provide the tools for practitioners to capture their innovative practice in a form that is easy to share so that they have ownership of the problem and solution. Such a scaffold might be in the form of an online tool to provide support and guidance to a teacher in the steps 22
  • 23. involved in creating a new learning activity – including tips and hints on how they might use particular tools. The JISC Designing for Learning provides a useful synthesis of the JISC- funded research projects and developments around learning design at that time in the UK ( Beetham provides a concise summary of the programme (H. Beetham 2008) and provides the following summary of lessons learnt from it: • Design for learning practices are very variable, depending on departmental and personal preferences and historical precedents • Educational design tools are rarely experienced by practitioners as pedagogically neutral or as flexible enough to accommodate their existing practice • There is a need for tools that support collaborative design, contingent/responsive design, and effective sharing of design processes and outcomes • Consultation with practitioners about the best ways of representing and sharing designs found conflicting demands for rich, narrative representations that could articulate complex educational intentions and outcomes, and for contextualised, bite-sized representations (e.g. learning objects, toolkits) that could readily be recontextualised and re-used • There is a need for focus on people and processes if design practice is to be transformed • Effective interventions in the educational process are likely to be: accessible, adaptable, contextualised for and owned by communities of practice, developmental (oriented towards professional learning), focused on designing for learning. • Models of teaching/learning can be broadly classified as associative, constructive (individual focus) constructive (social focus) and situative: approaches to design for learning can be mapped against these models Building on this programme, JISC are currently supporting a related set of activities around Curriculum Design: As part of their Curriculum Design 23
  • 24. programme, JISC provide the following definition in terms of curriculum (JISC, nd): ‘Curriculum design’ is generally understood as a high-level process defining the learning to take place within a specific programme of study, leading to specific unit(s) of credit or qualification. The curriculum design process leads to the production of core programme/module documents such as a course/module description, validation documents, prospectus entry, and course handbook. This process involves consideration of resource allocation, marketing of the course, and learners’ final outcomes and destinations, as well as general learning and teaching approaches and requirements. It could be said to answer the questions ‘What needs to be learned?’, ‘What resources will this require?’, and 'How will this be assessed?' Approaches to sharing and promoting good practice If you ask teachers what they would find most helpful for them to make better use of technologies to support their practice, the answer is invariably ‘give me some examples (in my subject area preferable)’. Over the past ten years or so a wealth of resources have emerged to support teacher practice. This review cannot hope to provide a comprehensive overview of this and instead will focus on providing an illustrative range of types of resources, as well as some examples of relevance to learning design. The resources are divided into four main types: • Learning objects • Case studies • Open Educational resources • Support centres and professional communities Learning objects Learning objects as a term gained prominence in the nineties (Wiley & others 2002) (Littlejohn 2003). The exact definition of a learning object is somewhat disputed (Polsani 2003) but for the purposes of this review it is termed ‘a digital resource which has some element of intentional learning associated 24
  • 25. with it’. The MERLOT database is probably one of the earliest available on the web ( Learning object repositories gained prominence over the nineties with the emergence of both institutional and national-level repositories, examples include: JORUM (, WISC- online (, and GEM ( (GLOBE ( provides a meta-search facility across other learning object repositories. The Reusable Learning Object CETL (http:// has a specific focus on the development and use of learning objects. They have developed a comprehensive RLO repository, along with a set of more generic templates that can be adapted. They have also produced a tool for authoring learning objects, GLO maker ( Case studies Teaching by nature is a narrative-based profession, we learn through dialogic exchange with others, through sharing stories. Therefore the use of examples of good practice has always been an important part of teacher professional practice. It’s use in an educational technology context can be traced back to the nineties when it was realised that the web offered an excellent medium to capture, categorise and share good practice. Harvey et al., describe the evaluation of three projects in the min-nineties aimed at supporting and enhancing teacher practice (Harvey et al. 2002). One of these, SoURCE, focussed on the development and population of a series of case studies of teacher practice ( The project gave considerable consideration to appropriate metatagging of the entries and each was based on a case study template and contributors were encouraged to participate via a fee. The vision behind SoURCE was to develop a national-level library of case studies and although in many respects the work was ahead of its time, it was an indicator of future developments as there are now a plethora of repositories of good practice, examples include: the OTIS repository of case studies (, the e-learning centre library of case studies (, and the series of effective practice guides and case studies produced by JISC which synthesise key features across their development programmes 25
  • 26. ( e.aspx). More specific examples for learning design include: the AUTC learning design website ( e.aspx) and the World Bank Institute has a website which includes a set of tools for learning design, these include tips and hints, a FAQ list and a series of associated resources ( e.aspx). Open Educational Resources The concept of ‘learning objects’ has on the whole been replaced in recent years by the term ‘Open Educational Resources’ (OER). Crudely the main different is the inherent indent that these resources should be made freely available and there is now a well-established international community of those interested in producing, using and researching OER. Commission by the Hewlett foundation, Two key reports provide a comprehensive review of the development of the OER movement, describing many of the major initiatives in the field and some of the key achievements (Atkins et al. 2007) (Hylén & Schuller 2007). Iiyosh, Kumar and Seely Brown (2008) through an edited collection, consider the wider notion of ‘openness’ and what it might mean in an educational context (Iiyoshi & Kumar 2008). As with learning objects the exact focus of the term is contested, but for the purposes of this report the OECD definition will be used: digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self- learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research (OECD, 2007:133). MIT, with their OpenCourseWare initiative ( are credited with being the first university to declare that they were going to make a significant amount of their content freely available, resulting in a swath of rhetoric about the importance and potential of OER (Caswell et al. 2008) (M. S. Smith & 26
  • 27. Casserly 2006). In 2006 the Open University, UK followed suite with its OpenLearn initiative ( Funding and support for these types of initiatives has been support in particular by the William and Flora Hewlett foundation and also OECD and UNESCO. More recently, the UK, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) have initiated a large-scale call on the development of OER, building on existing initiatives such as JORUM and OpenLearn. According to OECD (2007) over 300 universities worldwide are engaged in the development of OER with more than 3000 open access courses. There are numerous initiatives and consortia involved in this area; examples include: the OpenCourseWare consortium ( The China Open Resources for Education (CORE) consortium ( ), the Japanese OCW Consortium. ( ), the ParisTech OCW project. ( and the Irish IREL-Open initiative (http:// Support centres and professional communities The final category I want to touch on is the emergence of support centres and professional communities that have a specific role to provide advice and guidance to teachers on using new technologies. The variety of organisations and initiatives that have at least a partial remit concerned with ICT in education is extensive so this section intends only to give a flavour of some of the examples. Although the names differ, many institutions at tertiary level now have individuals or indeed centres that cover this remit (educational technologists, instructional designers, educational developers, learning technologists, etc.). At the school level it is common to have an ICT appointed coordinator responsible for ICT policy development, who often acts as the point of contact for ICT developments in the school. In addition many countries also have national level centres or organisations. In the UK BECTA is the agency 27
  • 28. responsible for covering ICT developments in Schools and Further Education Collages, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) covers the tertiary sector. Both organisations commission research studies and projects related to the use of technology in education, host events and seminars and in the case of JISC provide a number of support centres and advisory services. The HE academy in the UK also has a strand of ICT-related activities, as well as a series of 24 subject support centres. In America there are a number of professional organisations, which promote and support both research and practitioner activities in the field. These include Educause (, the Sloan Foundation ( and AECT ( In the UK there is a professional body called ALT (, and in Holland an equivalent organisation SURF ( combines many of the functions of ALT and JISC. ASCILITE ( in combination with the ALTC-exchange ( performs a similar function in Australasia. In mainland Europe through the framework programmes in particular there have been a range of networks and initiatives, the most recent is STELLAR (, a network of excellence that sets out to strengthen the capacity in technology-enhanced learning research across Europe. In addition IPTS ( is one of seven scientific institutes across Europe, which produces reports and policy perspectives on ICT in education. In addition it is worth mentioning that a number of projects and initiatives have specifically focused on support community build. Examples include LeMill ( a web community for finding, authoring and sharing Open Educational Resources, European Schoolnet ( which aims to show how information and communications technology (ICT) can support change in teaching and learning, teachernet ( an education site for teachers and school managers, teacher TV ( a video channel for teachers and Web 2.0 for teachers ( a web site of tools and resources for teachers. 28
  • 29. Representations One of the fundamental issues in learning design research is how to represent the curriculum; what representations might be useful, for what purposes and for whom? A major area of activity in the field has been work exploring the different ways in which learning and teaching ‘practice’ can be captured and represented. The JISC Pedagogical Vocabularies project review pedagogical vocabularies in use within the UK post-16 and HE communities (JISC Comms n.d.). As part of this work Currier et al. produced a report on the review of pedagogical vocabularies (Currier et al. 2005), categorising them as: controlled vocabularies (consisting of a “prescribed list of terms or headings each one having an assigned meaning), flat lists (lists the terms without making any relationships between them explicit), glossary (a list with explanations of abstruse, antiquated, dialectical or technical terms), subject headings list (similar to thesauri in that they list terms for indexing resources for the purpose of discovery), taxonomy (monohierarchical classification of concepts), classification scheme (arrangement of concepts into classes and their subdivisions to express the semantic relations between them; the classes are represented by means of a notation), thesaurus (controlled indexing language formally organized so that the a priori relationships between concepts (for example as “broader” and “narrower”) are made explicit), topic map (organized around topics, and each topic is used to represent some real- world thing), ontology (a model for describing the world that consists of a set of types, properties, and relationship types), and folksonomy (allow users to assign their own natural language indexing terms to resources (in this context known as ‘tagging’). The system organises its interface by clustering the terms and/or the tagged resources.) The Mod4L project ( identified a range of representations that practitioners use to present practice (Falconer & Littlejohn 2006). These included taxonomies and matrices, visual presentations (flow diagrams, mind maps), and case studies or lesson plans. They concluded that use is complex and contextualised and that no one presentation is adequate. 29
  • 30. Representation at the level of learning activity was now fairly well understood, and consensus is beginning to emerge about representations more generally across the curriculum. Conole (Grainne Conole 2010) provides an overview of recent thinking on representations, categorising representations into three levels: the micro-level (referring to learning activities - typically a few hours worth of activity), the meso-level (referring to aggregations of activities or blocks of activities - weeks or months worth of activity) and the macro-level (referring to whole curriculum designs). She then discusses seven common representations across the three levels: 1. Textual summary and keywords 2. Content/topic map 3. The Task Swim-line representation 4. Design method: Pedagogy profile 5. Design method: Principles/pedagogy matrix 6. Component-based map 7. “At a glance’/Course map The first two of these are standard representations that have been used in the design and representations of courses for a very long time. Representations 3-7 however are new representations emerging from recent learning design research. Aspects of these are discussed in more detailed under the section about the OULDI work. In addition see the ‘Describing the Curriculum’ cloudscape on the cloudworks site ( She also argues that representations can have different formats, can be used to describe different aspects of the design lifecycle. Firstly representations can be based on different formats. These can include different types of text- based representations (e.g. case studies or narratives), visualisation representations (e.g. node-link types representations, design schema or metaphorical), numerically focussed (e.g. pie or bar charts based on underlying numerical data), representations based on other forms of media (e.g. audio or video) or representations can be a combination of the above. 30
  • 31. Secondly, representations can occur at different levels. Designs can describe small-scale learning activities (which might describe a few hours worth of learning) or scale up to a description of a whole curriculum (across a three- year undergraduate degree course or a one-year masters course). Thirdly, representations act as filters or lenses foregrounding or hiding particular aspects of the design. For example, the focus might be on the nature of the tasks being undertaken and associated tool and resources, on the overarching pedagogical principles, mapping different components of the design or relating to specific data (such as financial or student performance data). Toolkits and pedagogical planners Not surprisingly a significant amount of interest has been around the development of tools to instantiate learning design. These range from those closely aligned to the more technical IMS LD specification to those that are more focussed on providing support and guidance to practitioners in terms of informing their design decision processes. A selected are described here; focus on those that give an indication of the range of types of tools and including those that have been used and reference to a significant degree. Britain provides a useful overview of Learning Design focusing primarily on the more technical use of the term and associated tools (Britain 2004). Britain provides a useful comparison of the tools available at the time for implementing IMS LD. These included: include CopperCore, Reload, EDUBOX, LAMS (see below), EduPlone, and Lobster. For the purpose of this review the focus is more on the user-orientated tools for guiding learning design practice, and specific examples are described in more detail below. One of the earliest examples of a tool for supporting learning design was the visual tool, LAMS (Learner Activity Management System). It is described as: LAMS is a revolutionary new tool for designing, managing and delivering online collaborative learning activities. It provides teachers with a highly intuitive visual authoring environment for creating sequences of learning activities. These activities can include a range of individual tasks, small group 31
  • 32. work and whole class activities based on both content and collaboration ( Two distinct advantages of LAMS are i) it’s visual interface – which enables a practitioner to sequence the learning activities the students are going to do, ii) that it is a fully functionally runtime environment. A limitation of the LAMS system is that because it is a runtime environment the core objects a designer manipulates are tool-focussed and hence do not take account of the fuller set of factors that need to be considered when design a learning activity (the pedagogical approach, the learning outcomes, the types of tasks the students will undertake, etc.). Nontheless the LAMS system has attracted considerable interest and has a worldwide community of users. Another early example of a tool that was designed to guide practitioner practice was the Dialogplus toolkit (Conole and Fill 2005, Fill, Conole and Bailey forthcoming, Bailey et al., 2006). It was designed to provide the user with support and guidance, so that they adopt a more reflective approach to design and hence produce more pedagogically informed learning activities. The toolkit is underpinned by learning activity taxonomy (Conole, 2008) that consists of three main components: • The context within which the activity occurs; this includes the subject, level of difficulty, the intended learning outcomes and the environment within which the activity takes place. • The pedagogy (learning and teaching approaches) adopted. These are grouped into three categories – associative (acquisition of skills through sequences of concepts/tasks and feedback), cognitive (construction of meaning based on prior experience and context) and situative (learning in social and/or authentic settings). • The tasks undertaken, which specifies the type of task, the (teaching) techniques used to support the task, any associated tools and resources, the interaction and roles of those involved and the assessments associated with the learning activity. In particular the types of tasks which a student might do as part of the learning activity 32
  • 33. are described in detail and grouped into six categories; assimilative (attending and understanding content), information handling (e.g. gathering and classifying resources or manipulating data), adaptive (use of modelling or simulation software), communicative (dialogic activities, e.g. pair dialogues or group-based discussions), productive (construction of an artefact such as a written essay, new chemical compound or a sculpture) and experiential (practising skills in a particular context or undertaking an investigation). Figure 1 shows a screen shot from the toolkit. Users are guiding through the components of a learning activity that they need to consider. These include generic details such as subject, level of difficult, pre-requisites, teaching and learning methods and environments. They then describe in detail the sequence of tasks associated with particular learning outcomes. A disadvantage of the tool is that the interface is not very intuitive and to be really useful it needs more expansive help and guidance resources. In addition, the linear nature of the design of the toolkit does not align with real teacher-design practice, which is messy, iterative and intuitive. Figure 1: Screenshot from the DialogPlus toolkit As part of the JISC ‘Designing for learning’ programme, two pedagogical planners were funded: Phoebe and the London Pedagogical Planner. Developed by Liz Masterman et al., Phoebe adopts a similar approach to DialogPlus by attempting to provide a comprehensive online resource of tips 33
  • 34. and hints to support decision making. It is wiki-based and provides a valuable set of guidance’s on the different components of a learning activity. The following text available from the JISC website provides a summary of the tool ( Intended for practitioners working in FE, HE and ACL, the Phoebe tool brings together the key components of a learning design (or lesson plan), prompts teachers' thinking, allows them to record ideas and requirements, and makes it easy to cross-reference components as they design the activities that make up a learning experience. It offers both flexible and guided paths through the planning process, and provides access to a wide range of models, case studies and examples of innovative learning designs. Phoebe has similar disadvantages to Dialogplus, in terms of a non-intuitive user interface and a linear, sequential navigational route for the design process. The sister tool, developed by Laurillard et al., the London Pedagogic Planner (LPP) instead adopts more of a modelling perspective through mapping tasks to resources and attempting to align the design with specific pedagogical approaches. It is attempting to adopt a user-orientated approach and plans to integrate the tool with the LAMS tool, described above: This development of the pedagogy planner begins, therefore, with lecturer's needs, in order to bridge the current gap between the technical origins of the 'learning design specification' and the reality of the teaching context. This means it must make use of an existing learning activity design environment, populated with existing support tools, so that collaborating lecturers have the opportunity to test it against their current practice, and engage in further specification of their requirements. Engaging lecturers at the start should help to secure their longer-term involvement and a sustainable product. This iterative approach to user-oriented design should then produce a working model, as well as clear requirements for further development of the learning design specification and its implementation in support tools for lecturers. The modelling approach underpinning restricts to some extent how the tool can be used and the results that are returned. In initial versions of the tool many of the parameters were ‘pre-configured’. The planner also focuses more on helping to plan formal, ‘traditional’ learning activities – with an emphasis on timetabled and sequential work. Both these pedagogic planners and the DialogPlus toolkit consist of a combination of examples and supporting text to guide practice. However, they differ not only in the specific content and examples but also in their underpinning approach. The lessons learnt from the development of Phoebe and LPP are now being taken forward in a new TLRP TEL-funded research project – LDSE (Learning Design Support Environment) ( The project is based on four key assumptions: i) teachers will be required to use progressively more TEL; ii) the teaching community should be at the forefront of TEL innovation, and not cede responsibility to other professionals; iii) the development of new knowledge, in this case about professional practice, should be carried out in the spirit of reflective collaborative design; and iv) the same technologies that are changing the way students learn can also support teachers' own learning in new ways. Computer-supported 34
  • 35. collaborative learning has long been established as an important form of TEL for students; we believe it is equally applicable to teachers' professional development…. We are working with practising teachers to research, and co- construct, an interactive Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE) to scaffold teachers' decision-making from basic planning to creative TEL design. Pedagogical patterns A closely aligned but distinct area of research is work on the development of pedagogical patterns. As discussed earlier, case studies provide rich contextually located exemplars, which are valuable in that they describe the details of a particular pedagogical intervention. The drawback is that precisely because they are so contextually located they may be difficult to adapt or repurpose. Pedagogical patterns provide a specifically structured means of describing practice building on the work of the Architect Alexander (1979) by presenting the design in terms of a problem to be solved (C. Alexander & Language 1977)(C. Alexander et al. 1977), see for example Goodyear (P. Goodyear 2005) and the Pedagogical Patterns project ( Goodyear and Retalis provide a recent edited collection of research work in the field (Goodyear & Retalis, 2010) and an evolving set of resources and links is available from the Cloudworks site ( In terms of making a more explicit connection between the learning design and pedagogical patterns work, Conole and Jones describe a case study that is represented both as a pedagogical pattern and a visual learning design (G. Conole & C. Jones 2010). More recently, via the Olnet initiative work has been undertaken to explore the connection between linking OER, learning design and pedagogical patterns (Dimitriadis et al. 2009)(G. Conole et al. 2010). There are a number of hypothesis we are testing out with this new work (Figure 2). Firstly, that application of methodologies from Learning Design and Pedagogical Patterns research to the design and reuse of OER may help to increase uptake and use of them. Secondly, that OER have implicit designs and that if these are made explicit, they can be shared (and hence repurposed) more easily. Thirdly, that active representation of the design process through a visualisation tool (like CompendiumLD) that draws on existing resources (such as Open Educational Resource repositories) and 35
  • 36. design methods (from learning design and pedagogical patterns research) can help guide and inform the design process. The outputs of the design process (an OER and an associated design) can then be shared back into the community via appropriate repositories and social networking sites. Figure 2: Illustration of the design cycle for OER The OU Learning Design Initiative The OU Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) ( started with institutional strategic funding in 2007. The original work focused around two key questions (G. Conole 2009): • How can we gather and represent practice (and in particular innovative practice) (capture and represent practice)? • How can we provide ‘scaffolds’ or support for staff in creating learning activities, which draw on good practice, making effective use of tools and pedagogies (support learning design)? Underneath these top level questions are a number of sub-themes: • Can we develop a new methodology to describe learning activities? 36
  • 37. • Can we develop a range of tools and support mechanisms to help teachers design learning activities more effectively? • Can we agree a shared language/vocabulary for learning design, which is consistent and rigorous, but not too time consuming to use? • How can we provide support and guidance on the creation of new learning activities? • What is the right balance of providing detailed, real, case studies, which specify the detail of the design, compared with more abstract design representations that simple highlight the main features of the design? Since then, the initiative has been developing a methodology for learning design. The aim is to produce a range of tools, methods and approaches to help teachers make more informed design decisions. Tools produced include CompendiumLD, which is a visualisation tool for design and Cloudworks, a social networking site for sharing and discussing learning and teaching ideas and designs. The work is underpinned by an ongoing programme of empirical work, aimed at getting a richer understanding of educational design processes. Data collected includes interviews, surveys, observations, web statistics, focus groups, as well as gathering data at workshops and other events we run. The empirical data informs the three main strands of our work: representing pedagogy, guiding the design process and facilitating the sharing and discussing of designs. Conole (2009) describes the origins of OULDI. Conole, Brasher et al. (2008) describe CompendiumLD and how it can be used to help make designs more explicit. Conole and Culver (2008) describe the design and evaluation of the Cloudworks site. Related to this work is the OLnet initiative (, which aims to provide a global network of support for researchers and users of Open Educational Resources (OER). An important strand of OLnet’s work is to apply learning design and pedagogical patterns research to an OER context. Initial findings from this work are described elsewhere (Conole and McAndrew, 2009; Dimitriadis et al., 2009; Conole et al., submitted). 37
  • 38. In terms of the OULDI research work, we define learning design as: A methodology for enabling teachers/designers to make more informed decisions in how they go about designing, which is pedagogically informed and makes effective use of appropriate resources and technologies. This includes the design of resources and individual learning activities right up to whole curriculum level design. A key principle is to help make the design process more explicit and shareable. Learning design as an area of research and development includes both gathering empirical evidence to better understand the design process as well as the development of a range of resource, tools and activities. We see ‘learning design’ as an all encompassing term to cover the process, representation, sharing and evaluation of designs from lower level activities right up to whole curriculum level designs. In previous work (Conole and Jones, 2009) we identify three levels of design: micro, meso and macro, drawing on Bielaczyc (2006) and Jones (2007). In our terms, the micro-level refers to learning activities (typically a few hours worth of activity), the meso- level to aggregations of activities or blocks of activities (weeks or months worth of activity) and the macro-level to whole curriculum designs. The OUDLI methodology We are adopting an iterative methodology focusing on two areas of activity in parallel: a) capturing and representing practice - through user consultation and case studies and b) supporting learning design – by gathering relevant resources and ideas about design, through the development of online tools for visualising and guiding design and through a series of associated workshops offering participants the opportunity to explore the resources and tools we have developed. Our approach to the development of a learning design methodology is characterised by four overarching principles: • Development of a Learning Design (LD) methodology to help guide teachers in the creation and reuse of learning activities • Identification of appropriate scaffolds to support the design process and mechanisms for deploying these through appropriate channels (which might include staff development guidelines, LD workshops or 38
  • 39. integrated help within an adaptive LD tool) • Articulation of different forms of representation to articulate the design process • Development of a shared language and set of representations for learning activities so that individuals or small teams can discuss and share ideas or interrogate repositories of good practice and case studies. Empirical evidence has included the collection of user requirements, case studies, in-depth interviews, evaluation of workshops and focus groups and in-depth evaluation of holistic course design. Forty-four case studies were captured through in-depth interviews with course leaders. The focus was on the pedagogies used to achieve specific learning outcomes and the use of tools (blogs, wikis, e-assessment, etc.) to support learning activities (Wilson, 2007). A structured template was used to capture the case studies and guide the interviews, this was derived from a previously developed learning activity taxonomy (Conole, 2007), which articulates the different components of a learning activity. Interviews were semi-structured around a number of core themes: contextual data (level, subject, etc.), details about the learning activity being described and the sub-tasks involved, pedagogical approaches adopted, and barriers and enablers to the creation of the activity (both technical and organisational). Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysis; a visual representation of the learning activity being described in each case study was produced, along with a narrative case study account based on the structured template. These diagrams and narratives were then validated with each interviewee and collated into an internal website. More recently we have carried out a series of interviews with teachers/designers to gain a better understanding of the ways in which they go about designing learning activities. We deliberately choose to interview a wide range of teachers - from those who have shown an explicit interest in adopting a learning design approach to those who have to date experimented to only a limited (or in some cases no) degree with using technologies. 39
  • 40. Whereas the case studies Wilson gathered focused on tools in use, the interviews with teachers were more concerned with the process of design. The interview focussed around five themes: How do teachers go about the process of design? How do they generate ideas and what kinds of support do they use? How do they share their designs with others? What are the barriers to design? How do they evaluate their designs? The interview protocol is given in the appendix. Interviewees were selected to give a representative sample across: subject disciplines, level of experience of use of technologies for teaching and learning, experience of using CompendiumLD, and covered a range of levels of expertise in teaching. Data collection occurred over a three-month period. Each interviewee was initially approached by email and then a time was chosen for the face-to-face interview. The interviews lasted around an hour and were transcribed and were analysed for emergent themes and compared with the data collected from the case studies. Cross et al. describe the early results of analysis of this data (Cross, et al., 2008). Analysis focused initially on looking for relevant data around the five main themes of the interviews outlined above. Interviews were read and reread and emergent themes identified, and then later consolidated, representative quotes were selected. CompendiumLD – a tool for visualising designs One of our core software tools to date is a tool for visualising designs, CompendiumLD (See Figure 3). This is an adaptation of an existing mindmapping/argumentation tool developed by KMI in the OU UK (Compendium). Brasher et al. (2008) provide more detailed information on the tool and associated technical development; only the salient features are described here. 40
  • 41. Figure 3: Screenshot of CompendiumLD The existing tool offered a good basis on which we could work with and a robust working prototype with which to try our thinking on visual representations for design. Compendium supports the creation of a range of visual mapping techniques, including mind maps, concept maps, web maps and argumentation maps (Okada and Buckingham Shum, forthcoming), which we felt offered the potential for a range of flexible approaches to the design process. Compendium comes with a predefined set of icons (question, answer, map, list, pros, cons, reference, notes, decision, and argument). The creation of a map is simple; users drag icons across and drop them onto the main window thus creating a node. Relationships between the nodes are built up by dragging between nodes thus creating a connecting arrow. Each node 41
  • 42. can have an associated name attached and displayed; if a more detailed textual description is associated with the node an asterisk appears next to the node. If the user hovers their mouse over this the content inside the node is revealed. Other types of electronic files can also be easily incorporated into the map such as images, Word files or PowerPoint presentations. The reference node enables you to link directly to external websites. Icons can also be meta-tagged using either a pre-defined set of key words or through user generated terms. Maps can be exported in a variety of ways from simple diagrammatic jpeg files through to inter-linked websites. Compendium provides a utility by which users can create and share new sets of icons, for use as nodes. These sets, know as 'stencils', contain 'items' where an item defines certain properties of a potential node such as its image icon and label. In the standard version of Compendium, each item inherits the behaviour of one of the standard node types. These standard node types are node which has an icon, text label and other descriptive textual information, link node which links from a node to another node, and view which is a collection of nodes and can be displayed either as a map or a list. There are several different mechanisms by which a user can interact with nodes. These include drag and drop (e.g. to instantiate a node as described in the preceding paragraph), double-clicking (e.g. to display and edit details of a node including its text), right-clicking (to display a menu offering actions and operations to apply to the node), left-click (to select a node, or allow other menu driven operations to be executed on the node). We adapted Compendium to make it more explicit in terms of its use for learning design and this version of the tool is referred to as CompendiumLD – it includes additional functionality such as tailored LD stencil sets and in situ help. In CompendiumLD, behaviour specific to learning design has been implemented for these modes of interaction as explained in the next few paragraphs. The following text describes recent developmental work for CompendiumLD. It is adapted from text provide by Andrew Brasher (lead technical developer for CompendiumLD) for a recent OULDI report. 42
  • 43. An update on CompendiumLD A fully tested version 1.0 of CompendiumLD is now available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Key features include: • The development of three stencils specifically to support design of learning activities conforming to this conceptualisation. One contains the core learning design nodes for modeling learning activities. Another contains nodes to demarcate the swim-lane framework and a template for laying out an activity according to this framework, the third contains nodes to add conditions to activity designs. • Functionality to add information about expected time to be spent by students and tutors on learning activities has been refined and extended. • Refinement of the functionality for importing and exporting learning designs has been refined • Context sensitive help on aspects of the learning design process. The Core learning design stencil loads automatically with CompendiumLD. It comprises of the following nodes (listed in alphabetical order): 1. Activity: CompendiumLD’s Activity node is based on Compendium’s Map node. Double-clicking a map node reveals the map’s contents. Learning design specific functions provided by Activity node’s include a specific menu available via a mouse right-click and a display of timing information. 2. Learner Output: The Learner Output node is intended to represent material that a learner creates during a learning activity. When the user creates a Learner Output node they are prompted to choose the way it will be assessed from: ‘formative’, ‘summative’, or ‘other’. 3. Learning Outcome: The Learning Outcome node is intended to represent a learning outcome, and be linked to a leaner’s task or activity. 43
  • 44. 4. Resource: The Resource node can be used to represent a document, video or any other object that the learner utilises during a learning activity. It is intended to represent resources which do not yet exist, but which the designer plans to implement. If a resource does already exist in some form at the time the activity is being designed (e.g. a draft Word file or Image) it may be dragged and dropped onto the Activity instead of using this Resource node. These existing resources will be represented on the Activity map by a standard icon e.g. for Word files or for PDF files. 5. Role: The Role node is used to represent actors (e.g. students and tutors) who play specific roles in the Activity being designed. When the users create a Role node they are prompted to choose from: ‘Student’, ‘Tutor’ or ‘Other’. The ‘Other’ role may be used to model practice based support roles for example. 6. Stop: The Stop node is used to represent the point the activity finishes for a particular role player. For students, all the learning outcomes linked to the activity should have been addressed by the time the student reaches this node. 7. Task: The Task node is used to represent an action performed by an actor (usually either a student or a tutor). 8. Tool: The Tool node is used to represent a tool in a learning activity. Tools are utilities which actors use to create outputs or to interact. When the user creates a Tool node the are prompted to choose one of ‘Blog’, ‘E-portfolio’, ‘Forum’, ‘Instant messaging’, ‘Podcast’, ‘Simulation’, ‘Virtual World’, ‘Wiki’ or ‘Other’. Typically a tool node will be used to link a Task performed by one actor (e.g. a student) with another Task performed by a different actor (another student or a tutor), and/or with an Output node. 9. Help on menu which selects tool type: Prompt user with information about appropriate tools as user selects tool. 44
  • 45. The sequence/swim-lane stencil comprises icons used for the heading of each of the ‘lanes’ in the sequence map, in addition to a template for a map with them pre-arranged and a ‘clock’ icon for showing time. The Conditional stencil is intended to express conditions of the type “if X then Y else Z” within a design, as a means of including different learning pathways within the design. There are three icons in this set (listed in alphabetical order): The Condition node is used to express a condition that affects a student’s path through a learning activity. It can be used to show conditions that must be true or false, typically expressed as a question e.g. “Student passes formative test?” or “Student prompted to redraft essay?” Compendium’s Question or Issue node ( ) has not been used to express a condition because a CompendiumLD condition needs a precise answer, either true or false, whereas a Compendium Question can have many alternative answers. The design of the Condition node has been made similar to that of the Question node to reflect that a Condition may be regarded as a special case of a Question. The false node is used to show the path that is followed if the condition is true. The true node is used to show the path that is followed if the condition is true. 45
  • 46. Figure 4: Timing function The timing functionality can be seen in use in figure 4. CompendiumLD allows the user to specify how long they envisage a task will take for a particular role- player (e.g. student or tutor) to complete. CompendiumLD keeps running totals of the time for all tasks assigned to each role player, and these times and totals. In the current version of CompendiumLD, the total time for task sequences does not included times for tasks which occur after a Condition node. Compendium provides many different options for exporting data including Jpeg image files, HTML versions of nested maps, and XML encoding of nested maps. The XML options allow users to exchange multilevel nested map data. However, the XML export option requires the user to make several decisions before an export can be completed. CompendiumLD provides all the options that Compendium provides, but has an additional export option preconfigured for exporting learning design files which means that the user does not have to make any decisions during the export process. There is a corresponding import learning design file option. The menu item for exporting a learning design zip file is shown in figure 5. 46
  • 47. Figure 5: Export function As things stand, a CompendiumLD learning design zip file or CompendiumLD xml file can not be imported into the standard version of Compendium. This is because CompendiumLD exports will usually contain data about learning activities (e.g. timing data, and whether or not to display this) which is not handled by the standard version of Compendium. However, a standard Compendium zip or XML file can be imported into CompendiumLD. During the course of the OULDI code to generate context sensitive help was developed for two particular contexts within CompendiumLD. The first context is one in which the user is adding and specify a task for a learner, the second is one in which the user is adding a tool to a learning activity map. The context sensitive help for the first context, when a user is adding and specifying a task, may be generated by right-clicking on the node and selecting the ‘LD help’ menu option. An example of the help window generated for a particular task is shown in Figure 4. In this example, the user has typed ‘Discuss’ into the task label, and then selected the menu option ‘LD help’ prompts the application to pop up a window showing tools to support discussing and existing activities that include tasks which include the word ‘discuss’. The set of tools shown in this help window are selected using a verb-to-tool look-up table based on verbs within a task taxonomy similar to that described by Falconer et al. (Falconer et al., 2006); the set of activities is generated by searching the database maintained by CompendiumLD for activities including 47
  • 48. tasks with ‘discuss’ in their label. Further help is provided by the ‘About..’ buttons. These buttons initiate a customised Google search of selected web sites ( coop/cse? cx=000971387191123125524%3Alworuyth0qs). The web sites were chosen because of the quantity and quality of the information they provide about use of tools in learning and include sites such as, and Cloudworks. We adopted this pragmatic approach for a number of reasons. To create our own hand crafted text would not only be time consuming but would suffer from quickly becoming dated. However the alternative of a free Google search arguably produced a daunting and untargeted set of resources. The middle approach we have adopted enables us to focus in on a small set of quality assured sites, which we have checked for relevance and which are likely to be sustained and updated in the near future. An aim of using a customised search external to CompendiumLD was that the search can be modified and used independently of CompendiumLD. One disadvantage of using the Google search is that potentially relevant resources which reside on the intranet (e.g. the learn about guides or OU Case studies) are not currently included in the results returned. Help related to tools that the designer drags and drops onto the window may also be shown. Although the context sensitive help are not particularly sophisticated, in that they do not make a great deal of use of the contextual information available. For any task or tool within an activity, there will often be additional information available via the other nodes it is linked to. This additional information has not been used in the current implementation because there was not enough developer/designer time to extend the functionality to make use of it. Two features from the Compendium 2.0 alpha code base have been included in CompendiumLD. The first is the functionality which hides some of the less frequently used menus and menu options from the user as illustrated in figure 6. This has been included with the aim of enhancing the usability of CompendiumLD. 48
  • 49. The second is a partial implementation of the externalization of strings. ‘Externalization of strings’ means moving text that is used in the application’s user interface out of the code and into external text files. This means that any user may edit these files for their own installation and hence change the text used in menus and other components of CompendiumLD’s user interface. In addition, if versions of the files in different languages are generated, CompendiumLD’s interface will be available in all languages for which there are corresponding files. Storing the user interface text in external files will facilitate both internationalization of the application, and the creation of institutional specific versions. The work carried out to date towards externalization of strings has been to integrate the language file reading code from the Compendium 2.0 alpha code base into CompendiumLD, i.e. CompendiumLD now has the capability to read text from external files and use this text in its user interface. In addition a fraction (about 15%) of approximately 2000 text strings used in CompendiumLD’s interface have been externalized in Englishso far, including all those for the menus. Changes have been made to the way CompendiumLD draws links between nodes. In the standard version of Compendium the link start or end point is a point on the rectangle which contains all components of the node on the user interface. The node components are its icon, its text and the property indicators such as detail, tag, items and transclusion indicators. Throughout our consultations, there has been a strong demand for effective resources to support the uptake and use of CompendiumLD. Consequently, a series of resources have been created to support the use of CompendiumLD: • Tutorial guides that take new users step-by-step through the first stages of designing in CompendiumLD (Simon Cross, 2009) • A screen cast explaining how to ‘Get Started’ with CompendiumLD (Andrew Brasher, 2009) • A video-cast showing how the process of designing using 49
  • 50. CompendiumLD can be used to iteratively build, evolve and question a design (Paul Clark and Simon Cross 2008/2009) • Two, 2 page support and reference guides for using CompendiumLD (Brasher 2009, Cross 2009). Installers have been created and tested for the Windows and Mac platforms. These installers use a platform specific GUI to guide the user through the installation process. CompendiumLD has also been tested on the Ubuntu distribution of Linux and a zip archive has been made available to install it on this and other Linux distributions. All three of these installation options are available from the download page of the CompendiumLD website. Cloudworks One of the overarching findings from analysis of the empirical evidence we have gather to date to how practitioners currently design their teaching interventions and what would help improve their practice is the desire to have examples from others and to have access to a network of practitioners to share and discuss ideas. The cloudworks site was developed with the intention of addressing this need. We wanted to harness the best of web 2.0 practice for use in a learning and teaching context. This section provides an overview of the site, key associated concepts and work to date. The site is attempting to address three inter-related issues: • The lack of uptake of technologies for learning and teaching (despite the fact as outline above that they have immense potential) • The new skills needed for engaging in a participatory digital landscape • When asked the question ‘what do you need in order to make better use of new technologies in your teaching?’ teachers invariably say they want examples and they want to be able to share and discuss their ideas with others. Cloudworks has been developed to attempt to tackle these issues and to bridge the gap between the potential of technologies and their actual use in 50
  • 51. an educational context. Our overarching research question is: Can we harness web 2.0 practices to foster better sharing and discussing of learning and teaching ideas and designs? Development of the site began in February 2007 with a vision statement of what we were trying to achieve: We plan to develop a website to foster the growth of an evolving set of user- contributed learning design tools, resources and examples of learning activities. We aim for the site to be used by Open University course teams who want to collaborate on aspects of the design of their courses as well as by people outside. We want to promote the community-based aspect of the site both as a place for people to showcase their designs and related work, and also as place to obtain inspiration and share advice when creating new designs. We believe that different people will want to use a variety of different tools for designing learning activities in different contexts and at different stages of the design process, and therefore that the site should not be tied to any specific tool but allow people a choice of formats for design (such as CompendiumLD maps, LAMS sequences and text-based formats). Three principles have guided our work. Firstly that it was essential that the ongoing development of the site should be user-centred. This is because participation in web 2.0 environments is still very much in its infancy. Patterns of user behaviour are constantly changing, as users and technologies co- evolve. Therefore we need to also co-evolve the site; to focus on how users interact in Cloudworks and to watch and analyse emerging patterns of behaviour. Secondly, we began with a clear theoretical underpinning to guide our developments. We reviewed existing web 2.0 technologies and distilled out the fundamental patterns of behaviour. We looked to research commentary in educational technology on the changing nature of digital spaces, as well as more broadly at relevant socio-cultural literature. Thirdly our approach is ethnographic in nature. We want to gain a holistic understanding of the use of the site, in situ. We are part of the evolving development of the site, acting as both researchers and participants. Critically reflecting not only on the way others are engaging in the site, but also in the way we ourselves are using it and what our associated perceptions are. 51
  • 52. Methodology Our methodology is essentially rich evaluation with elements of virtual ethnography, which we are currently terming ‘participation-based adaptive development (Culver and Conole, forthcoming). In terms of the development of the site we are adopting an agile development approach (Cockburn, 2001). The site was initially developed in Drupal, a content management system (, but in June of this year it was completely rebuilt using a PHP framework called Codeigniter. To date we have undergone three design phases. Each has been associated with a series of design decisions. Further information on this and on the associated evaluation of each design phase is available in a recent Computers and Education paper (G. Conole & J. Culver 2009b). Table 3 summarises the design decisions for each phase, along with highlights from the evaluation. Table 3: Design decisions and associated evaluation for Cloudworks Design decision Key evaluation points Phase 1 1.1 Cloud metaphor • Issues around privacy and provenance of 1.2 Initial content population of the site content on the site 1.3 Include social features • How is the site going to become self 1.4 Tagging within categories sustainable? What will motivate people to use it? 1.5 Low barrier to entry • Insights into some of the barriers to sharing, 1.6 No private content people were reluctance to add in their own 1.7 User profiles designs 1.8 Cloud types • There was little evidence of spontaneous use of the site, it was essentially acting as a content repository Phase 2 2.1 Amalgamate cloud types • Still a lack of spontaneous used, but more 2.2 Increase social features evidence of activity when the site was used 2.3 Cloudscapes for a specific event such as a conference or 2.4 Follow functionality a workshop 2.5 My cloudstream • Navigation of the site was becoming a real issue • There were still concerns about how the site was going to be quality controlled and managed 52
  • 53. Phase three 3.1 Add RSS feeds • Beginning to see new patterns of user behaviour 3.2 Integrate streams from other web • Still divided views on adopting an open approach 2.0 sites • Cognitive barrier to getting use to and then using 3.3 Merge the tag categories it 3.4 Make the home page more visible Significant increase in use of the site as a result of new look and feel and increased functionality In terms of data collection we are using a rich set of data to capture the experiences and patterns of behaviour occurring on the site. This includes web stats across all the activities occurring on the site (total number of registered users, number of clouds, number of cloudscapes, number of links, references and embedded content added, and number of comments posted. For each of these we differentiate between the activities we as a research team have created and activities generated by other users of the site. This enables us to track the extent to which we are directing site activities. Ultimately the aim is to achieve self-sustainability on the site, such that on going user is directed by those others than us. Encouragingly we are see positive evidence that this is indeed happening. In addition to the stats we generate ourselves about specific features of the site, we are also using google analytics. Amongst other things this enables us to track usage of the site over time, as well as the total number of unique visitors, pages visits and requests made, and the origin of those using the site. At key points in the development of the site we have undertaken interviews and focus groups around specific themes and also run a series of specialised focus groups, which we term ‘cloudfests’. These are sessions where users evaluate existing clouds in the site and then discuss barriers and enablers to getting greater uptake and use of the site. We are using the site extensively at a range of workshops and conferences and using feedback from these events to improve the site. We have a critical friend group who meet with us once every six months and a broader expert group of peers who we bring together periodically to discuss some of the wider challenges with trying to do this type of research. Our own use of the site and critical reflection on this use is also 53
  • 54. an important part of our overall strategy. We keep detailed observation notes and reflective diaries to capture this aspect. Theoretical perspectives Our approach is fundamentally socio-cultural in nature. We see cloudworks as a valuable mediating artefact to help guide discussion and sharing of learning and teaching ideas. Adopting a socio-cultural approach also helps clarify that we recognise the importance of the situated nature of use and ongoing evolution of the site. It emphasizes both the context and constraints associated with the site. Initially we drew on two theoretical insights to help framework this work (See (G. Conole & J. Culver 2009a) for a more detail account of this. The first is the notion of ‘social objects’ put forward by Engeström. We wanted Cloudworks to be object-centred rather than ego-centred, i.e. that the focus should be on the topic/the learning and teaching idea or design rather than on people. This is in contrast to ego-centric sites such as Elgg. Engeström (2005) argues for the need to adopt an approach to social networking based on ‘object orientated sociality’. He focuses on the notion of social objects, arguing that: The term 'social networking' makes little sense if we leave out the objects that mediate the ties between people. Think about the object as the reason why people affiliate with each specific other and not just anyone… Engeström contends that the definition of a social network as ‘a map of the relationships between people’ is inadequate. The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They're not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object. He argues that this can be used as a basis for understanding why some social networks are successful whilst others fail. He provides examples of successful social networking sites built around social objects – such as Flickr (photos), (bookmarks/urls) and sites such as ‘Eventful’ ( where the objects are events. He puts forward object- orientated sociality as a mechanism for helping us to identify new objects that 54
  • 55. might be used as the basis for developing new social networking services. The second is the work of Bouman et al. who have developed a design framework based on sociality. We are using their work as a means of supporting user engagement on the site and long-term sustainability. They argue that sociality cannot be designed but only designed for, and offer the framework as a checklist for guiding the design process. Core to their approach are a number of assumptions. Firstly, that the system needs to accommodate both the evolution of practices and the inclusion of newcomers. Secondly, that individual identity is important so there needs to be a mechanism to enable the development of identities. Thirdly they argue that people are more inclined to use software systems that resemble their daily routines, language and practices than to adopt whole new concepts, interfaces and methods, which suggests that metaphors and structures that mimic real life practices are likely to be more successful. The framework is based on four design domains: enabling practice, mimicking reality, building identity and actualising self. In the realm of enabling practice, a designer is faced with the task to create facilities that enable the support of a practice that exists or could exist within the social group that is the intended audience of the social software system. In the realm of mimicking reality, a designer faces the challenges of finding or creating metaphors that relate to the empirical world. In the realm of building identity, the designer’s job is to provide the user community with the mechanisms that allow for the development of an online identity. Finally, in the realm of actualizing self, a designer needs to create the mechanisms that allow users to tap into the collective wisdom and experience and use it for their own benefit, learning processes and actualization. (Bouman et al., 2007: 14) For each of these domains there is a set of design criteria, principles and parameters. For example in terms of enabling practice the design criteria are based around the fact that users value social software that adds value in terms of enabling or creating practices that are important to them. The design criteria for mimicking reality are about use of mechanisms and metaphors 55
  • 56. associated with ordinary real life. For building identity social criteria are important – in terms of building trust and creating a sense of belonging. Finally for actualizing self it is about aligning with individual interests, addressing the question ‘what does this software do for me?’ They also suggest that there are associated design dilemmas for each of the domains, for example whilst it is useful to mimic existing practices and use real life metaphors, there is also a need to shift and change practice. This is particular pertinent to our work. An overview of the Cloudworks site Having described our methodological approach and theoretical basis underpinning Cloudworks, this section will give a brief overview of the site. Figure 6 shows the homepage of the site. In addition to the navigation panel at the top there are four main areas. On the right hand side active ‘clouds’ (Clouds are the core of Cloudworks, a Cloud can be anything to do with learning and teaching; key concepts associated with the site will be given below) are listed. These are topics that have been particularly active in the last two weeks, with lots of discussion or addition of links and resources. You can see that the list of topics is wide ranging from the role of backchannels such as Twitter at conferences to a description of an icebreaker activity. Below this recent postings to the Cloudworks blog are listed, this include articles on current development activities, as well as accounts of how the site is being used. On the left hand side there is a section called ‘Featured Cloudscapes’ (these are groups of Clouds around a particular purpose or community interest). Underneath this is the activity stream for the site. This shows the latest activities on the site, new clouds or cloudscapes, recent comments or links/references which have been added. The navigation panel at the top includes links to a browsable list of clouds, cloudscapes, tags and people. Underneath this is a red box. If the user is logged in this has their name on it. This enables a user to edit their profile, set the level of email alerts they want to receive from the site and access their own personal activity stream. 56
  • 57. Figure 6: The Cloudworks homepage Key concepts There are four key concepts associated with the site: • Clouds are the core objects of the site. A cloud can be anything to do with learning and teaching. So it might be a short description of some teaching practice. ‘Last week I had my students working in a wiki; the aim was to collectively produce a report. Each student researched different aspects of the topic and then they came together collectively to produce the report on the wiki’. This kind of short description mimics the ‘coffee conversations’ that is such a core part of teacher practice. Sharing ideas, short snippets of practice is a very valuable way that teachers get new ideas and develop their practice. A cloud could also be a more detailed case study or design. It could include some form of formal representation such as a visual learning design or a pedagogical pattern. A cloud can also be a description of a resource or tool and how it can be used in learning and teaching. For example at the moment there are a lot of clouds in the site about Twitter and how it 57
  • 58. can be used in teaching. When the Google Wave invites were circulated a cloud discussion on first impressions about Google Wave and how it might be used in teaching quickly emerged. Finally a cloud could be a question or a problem. This might be in the form of a problem someone is seeking answers to or a more general statement opening up debate. Clouds are social, they can be commented on. Clouds can be collectively developed in a number of ways. Firstly anyone can add additional content or embedded content (such as YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations or Flickr images) to the core cloud. Links and academic references can also be added and the cloud can be improved through the descriptive tags associated with it. So clouds are social, collective and cumulative in nature. • Cloudscapes are collections of clouds around a particular purpose. This could be associated with an event – for example a conference or a workshop. Alternatively a cloudscape might be around a particular community of interest – a research theme, a student cohort or a course team. Clouds are mobile, so a cloud can belong to more than one cloudscape. For example, a cloudscape might be set up for a conference on mobile learning. A cloud might be created and added to the cloudscape on a session at the conference where someone is describing how they are using say iphones with students. Someone else might set up a cloudscape for a workshop on mobile learning and add this cloud. A third cloudscape on issues to do with researching mobile learning might also include the same cloud. So the same object appears in three different places, serving different purposes. But all the collective intelligence associated with the cloud travels with it; i.e. all the comments, embedded content, links and references. • Activity streams are dynamic filters of new activity. There are four types of activity streams. The first is the public activity stream, which is shown on the homepage of the site. This lists all recent activity on the site. There is a tab view of the activity stream so that you can see everything or just the latest activities around a particular aspect of the 58
  • 59. site (i.e clouds, cloudscapes, comments, links, references and extra content). The second type are the activity streams associated with cloudscapes, again these are tabbed and they show all the latest activities associated with a particular cloudscape. The third type are the activity streams associated with an individual and their latest activity on the site. These appear on a user’s profile page. The final type is an individual personal activity stream, this shows any activities associated with things (cloudscapes and/or people) that a person has chosen to follow. • Follow and be followed – it is possible to ‘follow’ both people and cloudscapes, this has a duel function in terms of acting as a form of peer recognition in the site and also technically anything a user follows is added to their personal activity stream. We want to ensure that the site can be tailored to an individual’s personal preference but also want to encourage serendipity, the accidental coming across things. In terms of filtering or personlisation there are a number of mechanisms for achieving this. Firstly there are RSS feeds associated with both people and cloudscapes. Secondly it is possible to set up different levels of email alerts, ranging from being emailed when there is anything new on the site to being alerted to changes on clouds you have created. As described above the different types of activity streams are another way of filtering what you look at on the site. We have included four mechanisms for encouraging serendipitous engagement with the site. The ten most active clouds are listed on the home page. These are clouds that have had the most activity in the last two weeks. They give an indication of what are current topics of interest. We also include feature cloudscapes on the homepage, these are picked based on areas of the site that we know have a lot of current activity and/or interest. It’s also possible to browse around the site – to browse clouds, cloudscapes, tags or people. Finally content can be found via a simple search box. Principles In addition to our original vision statement discussed earlier there are a 59
  • 60. number of principles and a particular culture of participation associated with the site. These have helped to shape our focus and give the site its own distinct identity. Firstly, we adhere strongly to the notion of openness, there are now closed, private spaces on the site, everything can be viewed by anyone, without them even having to log into the site. We believe this is important if the site is to truly harness the full potential of web 2.0 practices. We also feel that there are already numerous mechanisms for having private debate – forums, password protected blogs and wiki, etc., so why replicate these spaces in cloudworks? We started with the notion of the site being object- rather than ego-centred with clouds as our core social objects. This is probably the most fundamental design principle associated with the site. Coupled to this is the idea of clouds growing and being collectively improved by the community. So clouds are social, cumulative and intelligent. We have intentionally built the site around the notion of ‘communities’ or ‘clusters of interest’ with the cloudscapes functionality. This enables clouds to be aggregated together in different ways for different purposes. The cross- boundary nature of the site is we think one of its distinctive features – we are seeing dialogue occurring across different ends of the educational spectrum and between different disciplines; the duality of filtering and serendipity helps develop this cross-boundary behaviour. The site is designed to be dynamic and evolving (and hence self-sustaining). It’s used around both real events as well as virtual ones is particular valuable in this respect. And finally although we are seeing a variety of different types of activities and uses of the site (some of these will be discussed below), it is encouraging to note that the generic focus of these fits with our original vision statement, i.e. that the site is a place to share and discuss educational ideas. This focus has emerged naturally, we do not have to police or monitor the site in any way. Some statistics and use of the site We have over 37, 000 unique visitors to the site, with 1790 registered users from an impressive 156 countries. Users come from across the educational spectrum (K-12, the tertiary sector and independent). They include teachers, researchers, educational technologists, support staff, policy makers, researchers and learners. As is typical with other social networking sites there 60
  • 61. is an inverse exponential curve of use; the majority of users lurk (and may not even register with the site), the next level of participation is creating an account, the next adding links or comments, then creating clouds and finally cloudscapes. Table 5 provides a snapshot of some recent statistics for the site. Aspect Everyone Team Non-team Cloudscapes 175 72 103 Clouds 1684 1085 599 Comments 2714 886 1828 Links 2331 1464 867 Table 5: Some statistics on use of the site Use of the site has really taken off since we launched a new design in July 2009 and included a whole set of new functionality (such as the ability to add links and academic references and the various activity streams). Over the past few months we have started to see really interesting new patterns of user behaviour emerge. There are four in particular I will draw out here: • Events: conferences and workshops. The use of cloudworks around events has been a strong feature of the site for some time, but has really picked up in recent months. A nice example is the cloudscape that was set up and used for an Educational Technology User Group (ETUG) Learning Design workshop ( The th- st workshop ran over two days (20 21 October 2009). The cloudscape was used as a pre-conference space to aggregate workshop resources and provide shared space for the presenter and the organisers to co-construct the workshop. It was used extensively during the workshop, to live blog sessions, summarise discussion, answer questions around workshop activities, aggregate resources and summarise the reflection evaluation of the workshop. • Discussions: Flash debates. Since September the site has been used to support what we are terming ‘flash debates’. The first of these was a cloud ‘Is Twitter killing blogging?’ This was set up following a tweet on this topic. 61
  • 62. Quickly the cloud became a shared space for people to discuss the topic and to aggregate resources. Many of them then went to their own personal websites such as blogs to write more individual reflective pieces, posting links back in the cloud. So cloudworks acted as a valuable connector between twitter and individual blogs and seem to fill a new niche space to complement other web 2.0 tools. A cloudscape of flash debates has now been set up and there are a number of very interesting discussions, including one on the changing nature of conferences ( and another on backchannels at conferences. • Eliciting expertise and open reviews. People are also beginning to use cloudworks as a space for undertaking initial desk research. A recent example is a cloudscape that has been set up around a literature review of Web 2.0 use in Higher Education ( The research focus for the review has been outlined and individual clouds set up for each specific aspects. The cloud owner uses the space to add relevant references as she finds them, but others are also adding references and some rich debates are also happening around some of the questions. • Aggregating resources. In a simple way cloudworks is also being used as an alternative social bookmarking tool, as a space to aggregate relevant resources around a topic. See for example the cloudscape on ‘Personalising formal learning with technology’ ( Evolving theoretical framework As a result of the emergence of these new patterns of user behaviour we have returned to our theoretical basis and although the concepts of ‘social objects’ and ‘the framework for sociality’ are still proving useful we have found that we want to explore additional theoretical perspectives in order to gain a richer insight into what these patterns of behaviour mean. Recently we have submitted a paper to next year’s Networked Learning Conference (Alevizou, et al. n.d.) that is exploring three theoretical perspectives in particular: 62
  • 63. • Ritual performance (Goffman, 1974). In the paper we argue that Participants within Cloudworks come to the site through a range of communicative tools (IM, twitter, blogs, institutional sites, public and private mailing lists), and interact in several physical and virtual spaces (workshops and conferences). While examining the detail of the media ecology that promotes ‘traffic’ and supports development within the site is beyond the scope of this paper, here we would like to draw attention to possible directions that could analyse the ways in which participants frame their communication based on their perceived audience, contexts of interaction/contribution and the dynamics of specific situations. • Collective intelligence (see for example Lévy, 1998). In the paper we argue that: The idea of collective intelligence (CI) as a social pool for mobalising the sharing of resources, perceptions formal and informal knowledge(s) is also seen as an alternative source to the power or mainstream media, both in terms of interpretation and production: Inspired by Lévy, Henry Jenkins, the new media and digital literacies scholar, argues that collective intelligence involves ‘consumption as a collective process’ – a process that involves ‘learning to use that power through our day-to-day interactions with convergent culture’ (2006: 4). Most importantly CI is part of a new set of critical literacy skills for navigating and participating in digital networked landscapes. • Expansive learning (Engeström, 1987). As outlined above we adopt a socio- cultural perspective. In the networked learning paper we are beginning to explore in particular how Engeström’s notion of expansive learning might be applied to cloudworks. Specifically we think this could be helpful in terms of explaining how cloudworks is being used in ‘learning events’ such as workshops, conferences or the use of the site specifically for formal learning contexts. Staff engagement and support The following section is an adaptation of a section of a recent OULDI report on this topic (lead author Rebecca Galley). Over the project lifespan we has 63
  • 64. adopted many strategies in the engagement and support of staff. We have ensured board stakeholder engagement through a variety of channels, for example hundreds of staff have been involved in consultations, feedback and surveys, and have shown how valuable this has been to informing the development of our software tools and visual approach. This activity has also helped raise awareness and visibility of our work. This section summarises some of our key approaches. The OULDI Toolbox A key output this year has been the consolidation of the tools and resources we have been developing and trialling into a more comprehensive toolbox. The toolbox is available as an evolving cloudscape ( The aim is to provide a pick and mix toolbox to support a range of learning design events and activities. Each tool or resource is available as a cloud. These are primarily drawn from the OULDI work but do also include related useful tools and resources produced by others working in the Learning Design field. The toolbox consists of 49 clouds to date across the following types: • Resources: Useful sources of support and advice related to learning design. For example the ‘Learn about Learning Design’ guide ( • Tools: Learning design tools, such as CompendiumLD, but also the pedagogic planners produced as part of the JISC Designing for Learning programme. • Methods: These are clouds on different design methods or schema to help guide thinking in different ways. For example one helps users map tools and how they are being used to three different dimensions of learning ( • Activities: These provide outlines of ideas for running activities in learning design workshops or can be used directly by individuals. An indication is given for each of how long it is likely to take to do the activity. 64
  • 65. • Templates: Skeleton structures for running different types of events mixing the LD tools, resources, activities and methods. For example one template cloud outlines the steps involved in running a Learning Design challenge workshop ( The toolbox has already been used very successful in preparation for a number of events and workshops run this year, including the Blended Design Challenge at Brunel, a Learning Design workshop at the Ascilite conference and a two-day workshop held in Vancouver. It is proving useful in three respects: • For the workshop organiser, it provides a means of seeing at a glance the full set of LD resources and making informed choices as to which are appropriate. • In negotiation with planning events, as a means of guiding through and discussing which tools and resources might be most appropriate to suit a particular delegate audience. • For workshop attendees to be able to see an evolving workshop cloudscape in advance of the event. Two related cloudscapes provide a set of design tips for learning ( and a toolbox specifically around pedagogical patterns tools and resources ( Workshops Workshops are a popular and useful means to raise awareness and help staff acquire important skills and understandings. We have presented workshops within the University and also many workshops to external audiences. Each has enabled us to reflect on how workshops can be successful and the challenges in terms of ‘learning about learning design’ they present. Similarly, each has helped us hone ideas about what structures work and what useful workshop objectives and key themes could be. Three example of tailored workshop interventions are described here: i) work with OUBS in the Open 65
  • 66. University, ii) a blended learning design challenge with Brunel University and iii) a Learning Design workshop with the ETUG community in Canada. The OUBS MBA course team, The Open University, UK Two workshops run during Summer 2009 with representatives from the new OUBS global MBA programme. The format and shape of the workshops were agreed through a series of meeting with key stakeholders in the faculty. The first session provided an overview of tools, whereas the second session focussed on aspects of the LD work that the team were particularly interested in, such as use of visualisation for mapping designs. It also provided an opportunity to explore mechanisms for making more effective use of existing OER and incorporation of more collaborative approaches through the use of pedagogical patterns. The second workshop also provided an opportunity to trial out the representations being developed as part of the Course Business Models work. A cloudscape for the first workshop was set up ( with a total of 10 clouds covering different resources, tools and activities. As might be expected views are mixed, with different individuals taking different things from the workshop, but overall the views are positive and the general consensus was that the workshops provided a useful way of thinking differently. These workshops were instrumental in helping developing our thinking on the shape and format of the LD toolbox. The ETUG community, Vancouver, Canada In October 2009 a two-day workshop was held in Vancouver for members of the British Columbia Educational Technology User Group (ETUG). The focus of the workshop was agreed in conjunction with the workshop organisers and a skeletal cloudscape set up ( In the month or so running up to the workshop the cloudscape was populated and shaped in conjunction with local representatives. A number of simple pre-workshop exercises were set up – including a cloudscape challenge ( and an ice-breaker activity ( Clouds were set up to reflect the 66
  • 67. different kinds of interactions, including activity clouds, resource clouds, talk clouds, discussion clouds and evaluation clouds. As part of the evaluation process delegates were asked to list three works that described CompendiumLD and Cloudworks ( An impressive mass of activity was generated and captured during the workshop and feedback from the workshop was very positive – both in terms of use of the OULDI tools and resources and use of Cloudworks as an environment to support workshops. The Blended Learning Design challenge, Brunel University, UK As part of the JISC Curriculum Design OULDI work, we are working with four UK partners (Brunel, Cambridge, London South Bank and Reading universities) to explore how transferable the OULDI tools and resources are. As part of this work we have been running a series of interventions over the past year in negotiation with the partner sites and their needs. As part of this th an event was run with Brunel University on 9 November 2009. Rebecca Galley from the team led this work. Brunel currently have a strategic drive to implement a blended learning approach. In negotiation with the OULDI team, Brunel wanted to set up an event, which focussed around use of the OULDI tools and resources to explore innovative approaches to design blended learning offerings. They were interested in exploring the use of CompendiumLD to visualise designs, as well as some of the more specialised design views (such as the course map and pedagogy profile views). They were interested in adapting the ‘Design Challenge’ workshop outline for this purpose. It was agree that Cloudworks would be used as a co-constructed space to set up the workshop, and as a space to facilitate activities and aggregate resources during the event (see the Brunel workshop cloudscape - In all 28 clouds were created or added to the cloudscape. These included clouds for each of the activities, clouds for relevant resource and additional information and clouds as output spaces for the products from the teams working during the day. A collective flckr account was set up to host designs produced from CompendiumLD and the Course Map and Pedagogy Profile views. A screenshot of the outputs from one of the teams is shown in Figure 7. 67
  • 68. Figure 7: Outputs from the Brunel Blended Design Challenge 68
  • 69. Conclusion The breadth of workshops we have now run both internally and externally have helped us develop and refine our ideas. We are even more convinced now that a pick and mix approach of offerings is the most appropriate one, but also recognised that this needs to be done in negotiation with relevant representations of the intended audiences, so that the offering can be tailored and contextualised. Design is a complex process; there are many inter-related factors that need to be considered. It is an on-going and iterative process, a pain staking sequence of development and evaluation. Our aim with the Learning Design work is to provide support for practitioners, to provide them with easy to use tools and resources. However there is a tension here in not presenting an over simplified view of the domain, whilst also being cognisant of not overwhelming individuals with a sheer variety of options. Our toolbox already has 49 objects, but these by no means provide a complete comprehensive set to support all aspects of the design process. Identification of the appropriate mix for a particular context in conjunction with an informed representative of the community is likely to be more effective than simply pointing individuals to the full suite, although some exemplar walk-throughs of combinations of LD objects for different purpose is likely to be of use. Engagement with the OU university community We have provided support and resources to several course teams. For example: we have contributed a two-week unit of learning on Learning Design to IET’s MA in Online and Distance Education course H800, including resources associated with the CompendiumLD software and Cloudworks; we have written and produced a 20 minute introduction to visual mapping in Compendium for students and tutors ready for use on the new L185 course (first presentation February 2010); we have offered advice and guidance on visualisation to several course teams in early stages of course development in FELS and Arts; and had course team members making contributions on Cloudworks. We have also continued to develop a wider engagement with the university 69
  • 70. community. For example, we also presented a stand at the 2009 Learn About Fair (the accompanying guide we wrote for this has, in the ten months since, been one of the highest viewed Learn About guides in 2009) and we presented a poster at the CALRG conference. The e-learning community is an obvious channel to share and discuss OULDI activities. As members of the community are drawn from across the university, it also provides a useful onward dissemination route into the faculties and other central units. Members of the OULDI team have participated in a range of e-learning events, provided updates on different aspects of our work. In addition we have had specific discussions with Chris Pegler about ways in which Cloudworks might be used to support sub-sets of the community. As part of this the OULDI team met with representatives from the mobile learning special interest group in September 2009, to explore how Cloudworks might be used to support their community needs. A cloudscape was set up ( which has had 239 unique views to date. The cloudscape has 6 clouds associated with it and a total of 36 comments. The cloudscape did generate some initial interest and activity but have not been very active recently, despite the fact that mobile learning is a strong them of interest more broadly across the Cloudworks and elsewhere there is evidence of active engagement and discussion on issues around mobile learning. See for example this search result for ‘mobile learning’ in Cloudworks One of the key issues is that, as with any social technology, there needs to be some ownership of the space and some degree of facilitation if engagement and interest is to be maintained. Related initiatives at the OU The OULDI work is linking to a number of related projects within the OU, the variety of projects and the strong international consortia demonstrates the impact the OULDI work has had internationally. This section is taken from a recent OULD report and provides a brief description of this, highlighting specific alignments in each case. 70
  • 71. The JISC Curriculum Design Project Since September 2008 we have had funding from JISC as part of their Curriculum Design programme, th project runs from September 2008 – May 2012. The project complements the institutional strand of work and aims to extend and apply a new learning design methodology, which adopts an evidence- based, multi-faceted approach to support innovative approaches to curriculum design. The project is enabling us to explore the use of the tools and resources we have produced in OULDI across a number of institutional contexts. Institutional strategic support for the project was a key success criteria for the JISC programme and so the project is closely aligned with the OU's course business model project, along with related institutional aspirations concerned with the application of emerging technologies (such as roll out of the VLE, reuse of Open Educational Resources building on OpenLearn and the application of web 2.0 technologies through the 2 SocialLearn project). The project is enabling us to carry out a series of in- depth case studies within the OU and case studies at four other institutions (Brunel, Cambridge, London South Bank and Reading universities) and across two pan e-learning contexts (the Moodle and LAMS communities). The aims of the project are: To apply our learning design methodology across a range of institutional contexts and to capture the barriers and enablers to this process. To review existing curriculum processes and then pilot, document and evaluate the roll-out of design innovation at the curriculum level across the OU and in 4 other institutional contexts. To capture, build and promote communities for the sharing of knowledge within the context of web 2.0 technologies and develop sustainability post project. This will include work to pioneer and establish a community of users of our innovative new social networking site for sharing designs (Cloudworks) 2 and 71
  • 72. and situate this within a range of different community contexts. To undertake necessary technical developments to adapt our tools in light of feedback during the project on our community tool, Cloudworks (and associated interactive design widgets) and visualisation tool CompendiumLD and building institutional ‘installs’ of these. To build our body of evidence and evaluation by following selected teams longitudinally through the entire course development process, thereby delivering descriptions and models of the curriculum design process, reflective logs, case studies and evaluation reports. Working across 5 institutional settings and 2 pan-communities will give us a rich insight into the transferability of our approach. The project is progressing well. A brief summary of some of the highlights from the project are provided here: • A number of activities have been initiated with the partner institutions, including a reworking of the Design Challenge in workshops with Reading and Brunel Universities (in September and November 2009 respectively) and similar workshops are planned for London South Bank and Cambridge in the New Year. • Internally workshops have been run with the Business School and a number of communities are now using Cloudworks, including the Mobile Learning research group, the OLnet research team and Design course team. • Gráinne Conole and Paul Mundin are core members of the Course Business Models project. See separate entry for more on this work. Course Business Models project The Pro-Vice-chancellor’s for learning and teaching and for Curriculum are both the sponsors of this project, which is led by the dean of Business. The project builds on previous work and aims to: • Move behaviour from heavy-duty and expensive “OU Classic” course development model. 72
  • 73. • Open up range of alternatives to “OU Classic” by surfacing and increasing awareness of the cost implications of course development choice, so that alternatives can be followed without undue quality compromise. • Cherish and apply “OU Classic” selectively where appropriate. • Instil reflective practice in course development. • Change behaviour at the point at which behaviour is being formed. Work so far includes: • A four-view framework developed for capture and sharing of current best practice in form of exemplars and for articulating new course designs and proposals. These are: pedagogy profile, course map, cost effectiveness, and course performance. • Faculty/unit and cross-faculty/unit consultations and updates held • Initial development of support mechanisms and tools/resources to support implementation (e.g. templates, Flash widget for ‘Pedagogy Profile’ view and training materials) • Draft proposals developed to integrate framework into business as usual processes (via Stage Gate processes) • Framework and integration developed in parallel and with reference to JISC Curriculum Mapping initiative • Plan in developed for implementation and embedding • Exemplar capture underway Analysing courses using the framework enables/supports the capture of key aspects of courses – structure and performance measures, insight without too much detail, sharing of practice, comparison and debate, and the modernising of approaches to course design. In developing the framework we have tried to achieve a balance between detail, function & accessibility. We are currently collecting exemplars from across the faculties, around the following criteria: Pedagogical effectiveness, innovative, high levels of student satisfaction and performance, cost effective and strong alignment with one or more Strategic 73
  • 74. Objectives (OU Futures). Further information on these representations and how they relate to the representations we have developed in OULDI can be found here ( OLnet As a follow on from the OpenLearn initiative we have now received funding of $3 million from the William and Flora Hewlett foundation for a joint project with Carnegie Mellon – OLnet ( The project began in March 2008 and runs for three years. The director is Patrick McAndrew. The Open Learning Network (OLnet) aims to evaluate the impact of OERs on teaching and learning and to facilitate transformative educational practices. This will be achieved by developing the links among the design, use and evaluation of OERs. OLnet will provide the infrastructure and build capacity for a community concerned with improving OER design and applying methods for assessing robustness of OERs. Through its activities OLnet will encourage adoption of evaluative techniques to provide evidence on the effectiveness of OERs in use. The driving research question behind OLnet pinpoints what we see as the next evolutionary step in the OER movement, namely: How can we build a robust evidence base to support and enhance the design, evaluation and use of OERs? This high level question is refined into three sub-issues: • How to improve the process of OER reuse/design, delivery, evaluation and data analysis? • How to make the associated design processes and products more easily shared? • How to build a socio-technical infrastructure to serve as a collective evolving intelligence for the community? The project has a strong learning design flavour. One of the key areas of focus in the first year is a Learning Design sub-project and both Cloudworks and CompendiumLD are core components of the OLnet socio-technical infrastructure. The focus of the Learning Design work in OLnet is to apply the Learning 74
  • 75. Design methodology developed in OULDI to the design and use of OER. Learning design is an approach that considers learning materials as having a final product, the educational resource, and a design that captures the intent of the product. This design is often implicit and has not been valued as a product in itself. OERs challenge that position as it becomes important to communicate why material has been developed so that users can make best use of the material and also see the designs as shareable in themselves. Designs matter both to educators, to understand potential reuse, and to users to help them select material relevant to their context. The design is a key part of the effectiveness cycle. In this project we will establish collections of designs linked to available OERs. Professor Yannis Dimitriadis was appointed as an OLnet professor in April 2009 for four months. Yannis is based in the University of Valladolid and is an international expert in the development of Collaborative Pedagogical Patterns. Since April we have been working with Yannis to explore how the Learning Design tools and resources can be used in combination with the pedagogical patterns his research team have developed. Two particular approaches are considered; first to make the inherent designs in OER more explicit; and, second, to see the designs themselves in the form of pedagogic patterns as potential Mediating Artefacts. A pedagogical framework has been developed, with three hypotheses: • Every OER has an inherent design; in order to deconstruct and repurpose the OER it is valuable to make this design explicit • Practitioners have a range of potential Mediating Artefacts which they can utilize when they are repurposing OER • Mediating Artefacts may help both with the articulation and representation of the design process, as well as guiding the process itself 75
  • 76. A series of workshops were run (at the EDEN and CSCL conferences, at the Open University with educational technology experts and as part of a workshop with the Business school). Preliminary evidence coming from the workshops shows that a small set of patterns drawn from a collaborative pattern language together with other mediating artefacts, such as visual representations of Learning Designs, may be inspirational and effective in repurposing existing OER. Further research is currently under development that builds on the current successful workshop format and involves practitioners in face-to-face and virtual workshops. This new set of experiences aim to analyze the effectiveness of the pedagogical patterns and other complementary mediating artefacts, in a large set of practitioners that may exploit the great potential of OER in the framework of the Open Learning Network (OLnet) project. In addition to the workshop a number of other outputs have also been produced to date, including presentation and papers at conferences and two book chapters. A Framework for Preparing Teachers to Teach with ICT Funded through the EU Leonardo Da Vinci programme, the project aims to use and evaluate the OULDI tools and resources in three contexts; within a teacher-training programme in the UK, at institutions in Greece and at institutions in Cyprus. The purpose of the project is to advance teachers’ skills and competencies to better prepare them in integrating ICT in teaching and learning. Specifically, the training aims at: 1) preparing teachers to teach with ICT, and 2) advancing 76
  • 77. teachers’ lifelong learning skills by building a community of teachers for sharing, discussing/debating, and improving instructional activities and learning designs. Partner organizations include CARDET (lead institution) (Centre for the Advancement of Research and Development in Educational Technology), the Open University UK, the University of Piraeus, the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute, the International Council for Educational Media, and INNOVADE LI Ltd. Project outcomes will include: transfer of innovation from the OU Learning Design Initiative a teacher training and learning framework that will guide the design and development of training modules; face-to-face and online teacher training modules; an online portal with a community of teachers. The modules will include curriculum development, instructional materials, online portals, learning environments and tools, and teacher handbook. Reports will also be produced on the evaluation of the training implementation, as well as on the dissemination and exploitation of the results. The short-term impact of these outcomes includes reaching out to at least 500 teachers through workshops, trainings, and conferences. The long- term impact will be to advance the training and education offered by partner countries to various groups and serve as a project that will better address the needs of EU citizens. Furthermore, the integration and extension of the transfer of innovation from partners’ previous projects will enable us to create a dynamic and robust framework that will empower Europe to become a leader in teacher training, as well as online and blended learning, with an emphasis on lifelong learning. An initial kickoff meeting was held in Cyprus in mid-October. The project will provide valuable evaluation feedback on the use of OULDI tools and resources across three different countries. A key feature of this project is the creation of a Greek interface for Cloudworks. Once we have done this technically we will be able to make the site available in other languages and given the very international nature of the users of the site this will be very valuable. Internally having the site available in French, Spanish, German and Chinese will be useful for our language courses. This state of the art review forms a key deliverable for the project and will form the basis of scoping out 77
  • 78. the local interventions in each of the three countries. Perls in the Clouds Sub-titled Patterns and Evidence: translating Research findings to practice and Learning: Evaluating the use of the social networking site Cloudworks for linking design research to practice We have received funding from the HE Academy to undertake a case study evaluating the use of Cloudworks to support evidence-based practice. The aim of the project is to carry out a detailed case study evaluating the use of the Cloudworks social networking site for supporting the use of evidence about learning and teaching, which could include published research, teaching ideas and learning designs. The project aims to provide a proof of concept of the application of new forms of social practices possible with web 2.0 technologies to support evidence-informed practice in Higher Education. It aims to demonstrate how these technologies can be used to foster greater communication and collaboration in learning and teaching and in particular how these tools can be used to provide mechanisms for educators to share, find and discuss evidence relating to learning and teaching. The case study focuses on use of the site to support a particular community’s needs and is producing guidelines of good practice on application of web 2.0 practices within an educational context. There are three main aspects to this work: a review of educational technologist, a review of web 2.0 technologies and work with the OpenExeter OER project. • Review of educational technologists. This was initiated in August and is now complete. Rebecca Galley worked closely with Tom Browne on this. She helped him set up a cloudscape to support the open review and provide advice and support in a number of ways. We have monitored the development of the cloudscape (we have a range of qualitative and quantitative measures we are using with the site), Rebecca has kept a reflective log and all interactions with Tom, she also plans to interview him in the near future. We plan to write this up 78
  • 79. as a mini-case study. Cloudworks appeared to work well to support the 'open review', it seems to complement but be distinct to alternative means of eliciting this information (for example Tom did email a members’ mailing list but didn't get as much rich feedback as was received via Cloudworks. Using Cloudworks meant the review was seen by a far broader audience than expected (we have ca. 24,000 unique visits now from 140 countries), there was evidence of unexpected contributions from outside the UK Ed Tech community. The mix of discussion and aggregation of resources worked well. The ability to add academic references rather than just links seemed to be important for this type of cloudscape, although Tom did comment that he would have liked to have been then able to automatically save in something like an Endnote format. There is of course a trade off here in terms of ease of entry (one box) vs. interoperability (multiple field entries needed). Helping people understand how the site can be used and hand-holding takes time - these are issues we will report on in the case study. Also we wanted to explore more what are the needs of different types of users of the site and what support they need. The cloudscape is now a useful archive for the topic, would be interesting to explore/see if this is picked up by others in the future • Web 2.0 review. This is being lead by Giota Alevizou. Giota has set up a cloudscape for the review which she is using both to aggregate relevant resources and to elicit broader feedback from the community. See This has had 538 unique views for the cloudscape, plus some users are going directly to the individual clouds. There is evidence of active engagement from the broader community. There are a total of 20 clouds in the cloudscape, these are a mixture of specific clouds that Giota has set up around the topic and others on the site that are relevant that she has copied. There are a total of 199 comments across these and lots of links and references (see for example the lit review cloud We are in the process of working through this and writing up the review. 79
  • 80. • OpenExeter OER community. The third area of activity was to explore the use of Cloudworks as a ‘pedagogical wrapper’ to support dialogue and sharing of OER as part of the OpenExeter project. Exeter seems to be relatively slow in terms of getting there OER project off the ground. Nonetheless we pushed to get an initial workshop with the community to explore use of Cloudworks as a 'pedagogical wrapper'. We held two workshops on the 17th November in Exeter. See the cloudscape which was set up for the event view/1921. There was good attendance (ca. 40 people in all) and broad interest in exploring how Cloudworks can be used to support the community. Some attendees were also interested in using Cloudworks for other aspects of their work. One slight concern I have with this aspect of the work is the timing in terms of the OpenExeter work and our work for you in this HE Academy project, given that they don't yet seem to have got their OER developments significantly off the ground. We have invited them to continue using the space to explore how to take this forward and will follow up in January. OPAL (Open Educational Quality Initiative) We have received funding from the EU under the Multilateral Project, Lifelong learning-Program for new project, OPAL, which began in January 2010. The project “Open Educational Quality Initiative” will foster the use of OER by establishing a European Quality Environment for OER through a variety of activities promoting a multi-stakeholder consensus, bringing together actors, networks, initiatives and organisations on a European level to discuss practices, mapping out methods and agree on quality tools and practices on a European level. The project will thus work for a shift of cultures and practices in organisations towards a mainstream use of OERs by building trust and forming an OER quality environment on a European level. In particular the project will • study and map quality approaches and methods, aggregate indicators, methods and processes for quality in order to provide them in a validated 80
  • 81. form as the European Handbook for Quality and Innovation through OER in HE and FE, • launch a European Consultative Group for Quality in OER to promote use and trust of OER in a European level (liaise with existing networks) • set up a European Clearinghouse for Quality of OER in order to quality check OER and practices which will serve as a European register in order to form a community of organisations subscribing to the use and promoting innovation and quality through openness and sharing, and • develop a European Award for innovation and quality through OER in HE and FE. The project has a strong consortium and is led by University of Duisburg- Essen (UDE). Partners include: European Foundation for Quality in E- Learning (EFQUEL), International Council for Distance Education (ICDE), Portuguese Catholic University (PCU), UNESCO and Helsinki University (DIPOLI). A kick off meeting for the project was held on 17-18th January 2010 in Germany. Gráinne Conole is project lead and Paul Mundin the project manager for this work. A state of the art review of OER and OEP is now underway. Other collaborations and international work The OULDI work has attracted considerable interest from the international research community as the number of invited keynotes, talks and workshops testifies (See Appendix 5). Strong links have been established with a number of related research groups and communities and in a number of cases these have resulted in securing successful funding. These include: • The Pedagogical Patterns research group at the University of Valladolid. This included Gráinne Conole participating in a workshop at the University of Valladolid and Professor Yannis Dimitriadis working at the OU as an OLnet professor from April – August 2009. • Participation in a Pedagogical Patterns/Learning Design seminar series organised by Professor Peter Goodyear from the University of Sydney. 81
  • 82. Other participants included Diana Laurillard, Roger Saljo, Sue Bennett and James Deziel • Connections with the Learning Design team at the University of Wollongong. Sue Bennett was a visiting researcher at OU and helped facilitate the first FELS Design Challenge in September 2009. Recent work has included a joint Learning Design workshop at Ascilite 2009. • The LAMS community. James Daziel is involved in our JISC Curriculum Design programme. We hosted the LAMS International Design conference in July 2009 and a pedagogy planner symposium at the OU. • The Moodle community. Martin Dougiamas is involved in our JISC Curriculum Design programme. • The JISC CETIS community. We hosted the CETIS Design Bash at the OU in July 2009. • The CARDET research group at the University of Nicosia. This included Gráinne Conole delivering a Learning Design work in April 2009 and has resulted in the successful funding for a new project, ‘A Framework for Preparing Teachers to Teach with ICT’ as described above. • The EDTUG community in Canada. This included running a two-day Learning Design workshop for the British Columbia community in October 2009 and a VirtualCloudworks Fieldtrip to the associated community ‘SCoPE’ (Online Community to Support Individuals Interested in Educational Research and Practice. • The Canadian educational research community. Following on from an invited keynote via Eluminate last year, another invited talk and workshop at the Tech it up conference in Kamloops • The international OER community, including participation in an OER conference in Monterey and use of Cloudworks to support the conference. • The JISC Curriculum Design and Delivery programmes. Through participation in the Cluster C activities (with Strathclyde and Ulster universities) and broader programme-level events. 82
  • 83. • The Pedagogical Patterns Planet research group – who were involved in the OLnet Learning Design/Pedagogical Patterns workshops run in June 2009. • Invited keynotes, presentations, and workshop in 11 countries (Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, France, America, Canada, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Poland) Building on OULDI in 2010 and beyond at the OU An international showcase of OULDI work was held at the Open University on th 29 January 2010. A cloudscape was set up for the event (, which was designed around the notion of an interactive poster session (See view/2877 for more information on this). Summarises of the discussions are available from the relevant clouds. The work was broadly endorsed and the aim is to roll out and embed OULDI work across the University through a series of case study interventions. The OULDI work will be a core component of the newly established IET Research Programme ‘Learning in an Open World’, which Gráinne Conole is heading up from January 2010. An initial vision statement for the programme has been developed ( and a consultation exercise is in progress within the university. Conclusion This state of the art review acts as a baseline report for the EUPT3. It helps contextualise the work in evolving e-learning research and development activities. It highlights key initiatives, some of the challenges of integrating technologies in education and some of the strategies and approaches that have been used to address this. It concludes by providing an overview of the OULDI work which which the EUPT3 project intends to draw on to achieve its aims. Acknowledgements This report provides references to work cited below, but draws heavily on 83
  • 84. work undertaken as part of the OULDI and Olnet teams. In particular I would like to acknowledge the following people. The OULDI team: Andrew Brasher, Simon Cross, Paul Clark, Juliette Culver, Rebecca Galley and Paul Mundin. Members of the Olnet team: Giota Alevizou, Patrick McAndrew and Prof. DimitriadiS (visiting Olnet fellow April – August 2009).I would like to thank the OU for strategic funding for aspects of the OULDI work and also JISC as part of the Curriculum Design work. Olnet is fundedby The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to the OLnet initiative. References Ala-Mutka, K., 2009. Learning in and from ICT-enabled Networks and Communities. Final report of the study on Innovations in New ICT-enabled Learning Communities, Seville: IPTS. Alevizou,, G. et al., Ritual performances, collective intelligence & expansive learning: theoretical frameworks for analysing emerging activity patterns in Cloudworks. In Aalborg, Denmark. Alexander, B., 2006. Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning. Learning, 41(2), 32–44. Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S. & Silverstein, M., 1977. A pattern language: towns, buildings, construction, Oxford University Press, USA. Alexander, C. & Language, A.P., 1977. Pattern Languages, Oxford Univ. Press, New York. Andrews, R. & Haythornthwaite, C., 2007. The Sage handbook of e-learning research, Sage Publications Ltd. Atkins, D.E., Brown, J.S. & Hammond, A.L., 2007. A review of the open educational resources (OER) movement: Achievements, challenges, and new opportunities. Report to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Beetham, H., 2008. Review: Design for Learning programme phase 2, London: JISC. Available at: beethamreviewphase2.doc. Beetham, H. & Sharpe, R., 2007. Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital age: Designing and Delivering E-Learning New edition., Routledge. Britain, S., 2004. A review of Learning Design: concepts, specification and tools - a report for the JISC e-learning pedagogy programme, London: JISC. Available at: 84
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  • 89. Appendix A: The Learning Activity Taxonomy Context Learning outcome, subject, discipline, level, learner characteristics, pre-requisites, time to complete Pedagogy Tasks and supporting assets and outpu Approaches Techniques Tasks Tools Resources Action research Buzz words Analyse List Bibliographic software Powerpoint Annotated bibliog Active learning Crosswords Apply Listen Blogs Project manager Content in blogs Case study Drill and Argue Manipulate CAA tools Search engine Content in wikis Collaborative practice Brainstorm Model CD/DVD Simulation software Course informatio Conceptual Exercise Calculate Negotiate Chat Spreadsheet Course reading Constructivist Experiment Classify Observe Concordancer Statistical software materials Dialogic Fishbowl Compare Order Database Text image audio Discussion forum Enquiry-led Game Construct Organise Digital audio or video viewer content Experiment Ice breaker Create Practice Digital video Video conferencing FAQs Field trip Journaling Criticise Predict Discussion board VLE/LMS Interactive CD RO Goal-based scenario Pair dialogues Critique Prepare Electronic library Virtual worlds MCQ Problem-based Panel Debate Present Email Voice over IP Previous cohort Procedural discussion Decide Produce Graphic package Voting system resources Project-based Peer exchange Define Question Instant messaging Wikis Schedule/course Reflective practitioner Puzzles Demonstrat React iPOD/MP3 player Word processor calendar Resource-based Question/answe e Read Image software Peer-generated Role play r Describe Recite Memory stick resource Vicarious learning Rounds Design Refine Mind map Peer-recommend Scavenger hunt Differentiat Reflect Modelling sites Snowball e Report NVIVO Subject-based we Structured Discover Research Online assessment sites debate Discuss Resolve Podcast Template Tutorial Draw Review Research journal Web search Evaluate Search articles Experience Select Grey literature Explain Simulate Explore Solve Gather Specify Generalise State Hypothesiz Summarise e Synthesise Identify Test Illustrate Translate Infer View Interpret Vote Interview Write Investigate Judge 89
  • 90. Justify 90