Archive for April, 2009

Representations of curriculum design

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

I’ve just been at a very productive two-day meeting at Strathclyde University. It was related to our JISC Curriculum Design project (see our main OULDI site and associated links). The twelve projects involved in the programme have been grouped into clusters of related projects. We are part of Cluster C, pharmacy along with Strathclyde and Ulster University. We have a shared interest in a number of respects: a focus on the pedagogical aspects of curriculum design, generic exploration of different types of representations and development of schema for thinking through the design process.

Each cluster has a ‘critical friend’ ours is Peter Bullen from Hertfordshire University.The aim of the meeting was to share what we have done to date in the projects and in particular to draw out a set of activities that it might be useful to do at the cluster level. We began by providing an overview of our projects, work to date and issues we had identified. One of the activities we are currently all engaged with is mapping our existing curriculum design processes and developing a baseline document of curriculum design which we can use as a benchmark of progress achieved on the projects.

A key issue for all of us is how to represent curriculum design – what representations might be useful, for what purposes and for whom? We spent a lot of the first afternoon sharing what we had done to date and some of the problems in terms of what representations might be appropriate. We agreed that representation at the level of learning activity was now fairly well understood. In our own work we have articulated a learning activity taxonomy, which describes the components that need to be addressed when designing at this level (such as the tools and resources involved in the activity, the kinds of task the students will do, the roles of those involved, etc.). Whilst some of these components scale up to the level of curriculum design, this level brings additional levels of complexity – how can you map across the design process, what are the relationships between the different components at this level and what are the interdependencies?The general conversation got me thinking and with jet lag kicking in I was wide awake early the next morning so took the opportunity to try and articulate my thoughts and issues with this through a series of Powerpoint slides, which are available from slideshare. I used the Powerpoint presentation as a starting point for the conversation on day two and then adapted the slides on the basis of our shared discussion.It seemed to me we needed first and foremost to agree a set of types of representations and then test these out in our different contexts. I put forward eight initial representations but during the discussion an addition two emerged – around mapping relationships/interdependencies and around mapping the flow process of design. Below is a description of each of these representations.

Textual summary and keywords

This representation provides a brief textual overview of the course (akin probably to what is already produced in course descriptions). In addition we would include keywords, which give an indication of the nature of the course. For us keywords might include a description of the type of course it is (in terms of mapping to some abstract model). At the OU we have identified six models: ‘OU classic’, bought-in, Web 2.0, wrap around, empty box, and disaggregated curriculum assets. In addition we would include a set of keywords that described the course generally, in terms of discipline, level and pedagogy (problem-based, dialogic, etc.).

At a glance map

This representation would list out all the components of the course. It would be possible to drill down into each component to find out more details about it – for example what tools are being used, when and for what purpose?At a glance


The timeline would distinguish between activities during the production phase of a course and those during the actual presentation/delivery of the course. In addition, a simplified student timeline (akin to what we in the OU in terms of the course calendar), giving a breakdown week by week of what the student has to do, along with key milestones such as assignment deadlines would be useful.For us for example each course starts with a Business Appraisal (BA), then there are eight ‘stage gates’ (SG1 – SG8) over the production and presentation of the course. Other key moments include drafts of material (from D0 a rough outline of content and activities through to D2 a final draft).timeline

In terms of the student view – courses are divided into blocks with each block consisting of a number of weeks; key deadlines include TMAs (Tutor Marked Assignments) and ECA(End of Course Assignment).

Content/topic/curriculum map

One way of representing content is showed below – where the content is organised by a series of themes and sub-themes.

Content map

Workload – overall, distribution, breakdown

The workload representation would need to identify the stakeholders involved in the course and an allocation of their time involvement/costing across the production/presentation of the course. This could be presented as a simple aggregate of time/costs or broken down into appropriate timeframes (weeks or months).


Principles/pedagogy matrix

This representation articulates the pedagogical approach being adopted by the course and the overarching principles. The example we provide uses a schema we have developed previously, more details are available in a recent Ariadne article. It provides a matrix which maps the principles of the course against four macro-level aspects of pedagogy. Principles might be generated/articulated by the course team (for example getting the students to reflect on experience and show understanding or incorporating frequent interactive exercises and feedback across the course) or might be derived from theory or empirical evidence (for example the 12 REAP assessment principles).

pedagogy principles

Furthermore we can then produce a set of ‘Course Design DNAs’, which can be used to compare the nature of different courses. Below is an example of two comparative DNAs. One for OpenLearn which is a repository of open educational resources and one for SocilaLearn which is an initiative applying web 2.0 tools and principles to an educational context.Variants on the matrix are also possible. For example mapping principles to course activities, or mapping the principles to a different set of pedagogical characteristics (for example Bloom’s educational taxonomy, the REAP principles or Laurillard’s conversational framework).



As with the timeline representation, cost would be broken down into production vs. presentation/delivery costs. As with the workload costs could be viewed across different timeframes.The people cost would be an aggregation of the workload representation discussed earlier, but in addition cost types include resources, media, assessment and administration.


Success criteria tick box

This representation tries to articulate what constitutes a ‘good course’, what does good mean? At the OU we have identified four broad criteria for good; good in terms of: pedagogy, innovation, cost effectiveness and fitness for purpose/context. For each of these it is then possible to list a set of sub-criteria or demonstrations/evidence of how the course is ‘good’ in terms of the four macro-criteria.

success criteria

Relationships and inter-dependencies

We didn’t really get onto articulating what this might look like but essentially this representation would show relationships and inter-dependencies at the course level. This might include a mapping of learning outcomes, topics and assessment for example, or a representation of media use across the course. Diana Laurillard’s London Pedagogic Planner has attempted to do some aspects of this, as did the Media Advisor tool we developed a few years ago.

media advisor

Process flow maps

Finally UML-type representations can be used to show the process of curriculum design – who is involved and when and an indication of data flow across the system.

In discussion around these representations, we clarified a number of aspects. Firstly, that clearly the representations could work at a number of levels of detail and for each it would be important to work at a level that was meaningful. In many of the representations, there are a number of ‘white boxes’ that are represented at a general level but could, if needed, be unpacked in more detail. This is particularly evident with representation two – ‘course at a glance’.

As with the learning activity level there is a differentiation between Curriculum designs as static representations vs. progression process vs. relationships/dependencies; indeed as representation nine begins to indicate this is even more an issue at the Curriculum level than at the activity level. We also discussed as a group the distinction between representations of the design of a course and particular instantiations of the course.We also considered the ways in which such representations might be used and how they might add value.

Six initial examples were suggested:

  • Guidelines for course design
  • Comparison between courses
  • Articulation of particular departmental, faculty, or institutional overviews
  • Deconstruction
  • Checklist
  • Course evaluation

As a to do list to take this work forward we suggested the following:

  • Set up a cloudscape for the cluster and populate with clouds describing the different interventions each of the projects is producing (tools, approaches, methods)
  • Work up/validate curriculum design taxonomy
  • Agree a set of principles mapped to good pedagogy (REAP, etc)
  • Brainstorm success criteria
  • Trial representations and compare.

I found it really useful to have the time to discuss in-depth some of the challenges each of us are facing in terms of mapping and representing at the curriculum level. I would really welcome feedback on these representations, are they useful? are there others we should be including? Below is a picture of us dining out at the City Merchant where the heated debates from day one continued!


TLRP TEL at the AERA conference

Sunday, April 19th, 2009


AERA presentation 
I’ve just got back from the AERA conference which was held in San Diego this year. I still can’t quite cope with the size of the conference - 15,000 delegates this year I understand! Eileen Scanlon and I were part of a TLRP Technology-Enhanced Learning symposium, in which 5 of the 8 projects funded under the programme presented.We focused in on three themes: Design, Interdiscplinarity and Transformation.We had a slight change at the last minute - Vic Lally was unable to come and so Margaret Cox presented on her project “Personalised learning with Haptics when Teaching with online media, PHANTOM”. It was a great session lots of interesting discussions afterwards and we have plans to do a follow up next year. Our draft paper relating to the Personal Inquiry paper is available here. We are planning to work this up and submit to a journal soon.  Here is the abstract for the session:

Innovations in design and methodology in technology-enhanced learning: findings from the TLRP Technology Enhanced Learning programme

Session submission to the

Advanced Technologies for Learning (SIG #7), AERA conference 2009

Chair: Professor Richard Noss

Discussant: Professor Sir Tim O’Shea 


Personal Inquiry (PI): Innovations in participatory design and models for inquiry learning

Eileen Scanlon, Gráinne Conole, Lucinda Kerawalla, Karen Littleton, Mark Gaved, Alison Twiner, Trevor Collins, Paul Mulholland, The Open University

MiGen: Intelligent support for mathematical generalisation

Richard Noss and Celia Hoyles, University of London

LSDE: Transforming teaching practice through planning and design

Diana Laurillard, Institute of Education, University of London, George Magoulas, Birkbeck College, University of London, Elizabeth Masterman, University of Oxford

SynergyNet: Innovative and immersion

Liz Burd, University of Durham

Inter-Life: Interoperability and transition

Victor Lally University of Glasgow


Technology continues to have a radical impact on all aspects of society and offers much for the educational domain. Information of relevance to learning is now available in abundance – through the Open Educational Resources movement and via a range of sites which offer ‘media-rich’ resources. This is coupled with the increasing impact of web 2.0 technologies characterised by user-generated content and social networking. At face value this might suggest that technologies are radically changing educational practice, however, in reality the impact in education of technologies has not being as profound as in other spheres of life. The reasons are complex and pose important technological, pedagogical and organisational challenges and dilemmas.

In the UK an ambiguous Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) programme (ca. $22 M over five years) is underway, funded by the EPSRC/ESRC, which at its core is about tackling these challenges of educational significance from an interdisciplinary perspective:

Technology enhanced learning (TEL) requires interdisciplinary collaboration across the disciplines of learning, cognition, information and communication technologies (ICT) and education, and broader social sciences… To achieve the highest ambitions for education and lifelong learning we need to exploit fully what new technology offers – for personalising learning and improving outcomes… for creating more flexible learning opportunities and for improving the productivity of learning and knowledge building processes. But to do this, we need a more explicit understanding of the nature of learning itself, both formal and informal, and the way it is responding to changes in society and the opportunities created by new technologies… This… will support innovation from both research areas, each challenging the other, to rethink ways of making learning more effective and to develop the new technology solutions to make that possible. Such interdisciplinary research is intended to help build new understandings of how technology can enhance learning.

The first phase began in September 2007; a second phase begins in September 2008. The symposium is structured around five of the projects in the TEL programme and will consist of thematically linked presentations.It will explore how the projects are tackling the challenges set by the programme and more generally on how to instantiate the rhetoric of radical transformation of educational practice through the use of technologies. In particular the objectives of the session will be to consider the following questions:

·      Issues of design: How can we design for innovation and adopt a more participatory, inclusive approach to design? What is the relationship between design and instantiation of practice?

·      Transformation of practice: How might innovative technologies lead to real transformation of practice? What are the barriers and enablers? What new forms of pedagogy are possible?

·      Methodological development and interdisciplinary inquiry: What are the methodological challenges and what are methodological innovations? What are the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary research? 

Rooted in the distinctive approaches and context of each specific project, we will address the issues identified above with reference to key findings to date.

Phase one – the PI and MiGenprojects

Personal Inquiry (PI) is designed to help school students learn the skills of evidence-based inquiry (Conole et al. 2008). The aim is to understand how effective learning can be enabled with technology across formal and informal settings. Our focus is on designing for evidence-based inquiry learning and we are developing an innovative ‘scripted inquiry learning’ approach, where children aged 11-16 carry out scientific explorations supported by a personal inquiry toolkit. This toolkit, running on an Ultra-Mobile PC provides ‘scripts’ in the form of dynamic lesson plans that guide the learners through a process of gathering and assessing evidence, conducting experiments and engaging in informed debate on topic themes of relevance to the secondary-level UK National Curriculum (Myself, My Environment, My Community). The aim is to encourage thinking and debate about issues that affect students’ everyday lives, such as fitness, diet and waste. Project partners include schools, technology companies that develop sensing and data-logging equipment, and museums, community resource centres and fieldtrip sites.

The project sees pedagogy and technology development as inextricably interwoven and the team have adopted an iterative, participatory approach to the design, development and evaluation of the scripts. We have conducted focus groups, design workshops, and discussions of the prototypes with teachers and learners, as well as with key educational experts, software designers, curriculum developers, curators of informal learning and discovery centres. Initial trials, carried out in Spring 2008, involved each site (Open University and University of Nottingham) working with local partners. These are being followed by a further iteration from September. Key questions driving the design and evaluation include, how:

1.      do students and their teachers adopt the technologies as tools for learning?

2.      does the experience of scripted inquiry learning assist and change learning activities?

3.      do scripted inquiry learning activities develop children’s learning skills?

We will report on the development and trial activities conducted by the OU team with local participants. It will detail our participatory design approach - which aims to involve true cross-stakeholder engagement in the design and enactment of innovative inquiry-based scenarios. We will report on the research findings of the first set of trials involving two school-based interventions, one a location-based inquiry learning toolset to support an eight-week Geography project on urban heat islands, which has been completed by 78 students aged 15-16 years-old, and a second with younger students on microclimates.

The work presented will draw on videotaped observations, the data students collected and the notes and products created by the learners and teachers in the trials. Video records of the stakeholder workshops involving teachers, pupils and others will also be used. Drawing on Engstrom’s (1999) analytic approach, we will explore how the outcomes of both the initial trial and the participatory design workshop have informed the subsequent design of activities and the associated personal inquiry toolkit.

MiGen aims to co-design, build and evaluate, with teachers and teacher-educators, a mutually supportive pedagogical and technical environment for improving 11-14 year-old students’ learning of mathematical generalisation. There is a clearly identified need to engage students in reasoning and explanation on the basis of recognition and articulation of pattern and structure. This challenging agenda has been well documented and theorised (Healy and Hoyles, 2000, Stacey et al., 2004, Mason and Bruning, 2004; Kieran and Yerushalmy, 2004; Kaput, et al. 2002). One fruitful approach has involved students constructing, evaluating and sharing their own computationally-based mathematical models (Noss, Healy, and Hoyles, 1997). Despite some successes, difficulties coalesce around the need for intensive, timely and appropriate pedagogic support from the teacher. In particular, the need to:


  • provide students with appropriate pedagogic support during the modelling process; and support the building and sustaining an online learning collaborative community.

We have developed a prototype microworld – the eXpresser – designed to promote the learning of mathematical generalisation through model-construction where tools have been designed that afford building with the general case, building with the specific, while the system provides an ‘eye to the general’. Our work adopts a “lightweight” strategy that focuses on supporting the individual without artificially constraining his/her explorations, and therefore renders unnecessary a large-scale complete learner model (Veermans, 2003, de Jong, 2006). 

We will present the eXpresser, its pedagogical rationale and the epistemological and pedagogical-design criteria and the ways we have sought to devise intelligent support. We will outline the architecture of the technical system and illustrate its operation in trials with students and teachers. The challenging issues confronted include:

·      What to model – knowledge in constructionist environments is not well-specified and often ephemeral;

·      Recognising correctness – in an exploratory environment, it is difficult to label strategies as correct or incorrect, without taking account of the contingencies of overall student goals, strategies and characteristics;

·      Accounting for situated abstractions – knowledge is not usually expressed in conventional abstractions, but rather within the tools and relationships of the system;

·      Attempting to characterise student strategies from student-system interactions;

·      Finding ways to represent student knowledge to the teacher, in ways that can suggest helpful intervention trigger-points and pedagogic strategies.

Phase two: the LDSE, SynergyNet and InterLife projects

LDSE is developing a ‘learning design support environment’, based on our analysis of the gap between current and potential best practice. ‘Potential best practice’ includes, for example, an informed analysis of the comparative benefits and costs of alternative learning technologies and realistic planning that exploits the potential of innovative technologies alongside conventional methods. LDSE includes a set of design support tools, links to relevant existing good practice documents and exemplars, and learning activity management tools. We will focus on the issue of how to transform teaching practice using interactive tools to support them in planning and design for the blended use of innovative learning technologies alongside conventional methods. The project adopts a design-research approach (Bell et al. 2004) with interdisciplinarity as a fundamental principle. It is through melding the knowledge and expertise of computer scientists, educational researchers and teaching practitioners that we can clarify the complex requirements of the learning design process and implement them in a computational form that is viable for teachers. Moreover, by engaging teachers in a more research-based approach to teaching as part of their everyday practice, we hope to accelerate the development of their understanding of how to engage more effectively with TEL. We will draw on previous findings (Masterman, 2008; San Diego et al., 2007), initial practitioner needs analysis, initial modeling of practitioner design decisions, and user evaluation data for the early prototype, completed in the first stage of the three-year project.

SynergyNet involves the development, operation, and evaluation of an innovative ‘Interactive Immersive Classroom’ in which advanced technology is introduced to provide high quality collaborative learning experiences.  Central to SynergyNet is a new form of computer interface (for both desks and presentation boards) that integrates a large built-in multi-touch surface that can detect simultaneous contacts by fingers or pens. Therefore, two or more students can operate the desk concurrently. Therefore a single multi-touch desk can operate both as a set of individual computerised work spaces and as a single large digital workspace allowing students to work individually or collaboratively on a task.  Our research involves capturing and analysing the learning experiences of students while they use the multi-touch equipment, and subsequently assessing how these differ from those learning experiences gained in more traditional classroom environments in primary, secondary and higher education settings. We are focusing on two broad issues: collaborative engagement through ICT and the impact of this upon knowledge and understanding. Our data-collection system enables analysis of the level of students’ cognitive engagement and achievement (Moseley et al. 2005) using Bloom’s revised taxonomy and considers any changes in the relational complexity of their contributions (using the SOLO taxonomy: Biggs and Collis 1982). This analytic work is complemented by microgenetic analysis of group discourse (Schoenfeld et al. 1993) and group solutions (Taylor and Cox, 1997).  

Inter-life is investigating the use ofICTs to support skillsdevelopment by young people to enhance their management of life transitions . It has developed a mobile and three-dimensional (3D)virtual community called ‘Inter-Life’.  Educational and social transitions have significant impacts on performance, motivation and identity formation.  Inter-Life offers the opportunity for participants to work together on transition activities in thiscommunity, whether they are logged in, or using their mobile deviceaway from the desktop.  It provides reflective and personal development tools and scenarios for transitions, to demonstrate theflexibility and robustness of the educational and technical designs.In particular, the research focuses on: user engagement, co-design, and development, identification of learning outcomes, processes, and skills acquisition, participant identity formation and development associated with Inter-Life usageand professional development of educators working in 3D-communities. The project uses mixed-method, technology-enhanced data gathering andanalysis. Phenomenographic techniques are used - analysing personalaccounts of participants across a range of settings. The project isinvestigating identity development from an Activity Theory perspective, viewing identity as individually and sociallyconstructed, rather than a fixed quality or ‘given’.


Bell, P., Hoadley, C.M. and Linn, M.C. (2004) Design-based research in education, in: M. C. Linn, E.A. Davis and P. Bell (Eds) Internet environments for science education (Mahwah, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum).

Biggs, J.B., and Collis, K.F., (1982) Evaluating the Quality of Learning – the SOLO Taxonomy (1st ed.), New York: Academic Press.

Conole, G., Scanlon, E., Kerawalla, C., Mullholland, P., Anastopulou, S. and Blake, C., (2008), From design to narrative: the development of inquiry-based learning models, Edmedia Conference, July 2008, Vienna

de Jong, T. (2006). Technological Advances in Inquiry Learning. Science, 312, 532-533.

Engeström, Y. (1999) Innovative Learning in Work Teams: Analysing cycles of Knowledge Creation in Practice, in Y. Engeström, R. Miettinen, and R.L. Punamaki (eds.) Perspectives on Activity Theory, Cambridge University Press

Healy L and Hoyles, C. (2000), ‘A Study of Proof conceptions in Algebra’. Journal for Research  in Mathematics Education, 31, 4, 396-428.

Kaput, J., Noss R. and Hoyles, C. (2002) Developing New Notations for a Learnable Mathematics in the Computational Era. In English, L. (Ed) Handbook of International Research in Mathematics Education. London: Lawrence Erlbaum. pp. 51-75.

Kieran, C., Yerushalmy, M. (2004) Research on the role of technological environments in algebra learning and teaching. In Stacey, K., H. Shick, H., Kendal, M., eds.: The Future of the Teaching and Learning of Algebra. The 12th ICMI Study. Volume 8 of New ICMI (International Commission on Mathematical Instruction) Study Series. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 99–152.

Mason, B, and Bruning, R. (2004). Providing Feedback in Computer-based Instruction: What the research tells us. Retrieved 2004 from MB/MasonBruning.html

Masterman, L. (2008). Phoebe Pedagogy Planner Project: Evaluation Report. Available at:

Moseley, D., Baumfield, V., Elliott, J., Higgins, S., Miller, J. and Newton D. P. (2005) Frameworks for thinking: a handbook for teachers and learning Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Noss, R. and Hoyles, C. (1997) The Construction of Mathematical Meanings: Connecting the Visual with the Symbolic. Educational Studies in Mathematics., Vol 33, 2, pp 203-233

San Diego, J.P., Laurillard, D., Boyle, T., Bradley, C., Ljubojevic, D., Neumann, T. and Pearce, D. (2007) The feasibility of modelling lecturers’ approaches to learning design, ALT-J, 16(1), 2008, 15–29.

Schoenfeld A. H., Smith, J. P., III, Arcavi, A. (1993). Learning: The microgenetic analysis of one student’ s evolving understanding of a complex subject matter domain. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in instructional psychology: Volume 4 (pp. 55-175). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Stacey, K., Chick, H., and Kendal M. (2004) The Future of the Teaching and Learning of Algebra. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Taylor, J and Cox, B.D. (1997) Microgenetic Analysis of Group-Based Solution f Complex Two-Step Mathematical Word problems by Fourth Graders. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 6, 2:183-226.

TLRP ESRC (2006), Announcement of forthcoming EPSRC/ESRC call for research on technology enhanced learning, (30/6/08)

Veermans, K.H. (2003) Intelligent support for discovery learning. Enschede, The Netherlands: University of Twente Press.


E-learning review

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

An excellent review of e-learning produced by the Institute of Prospective Technology Studies (IPTS) is now available online. The abstract provides an overview to the report.


This report presents the outcomes of the expert workshop held at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) on 29 and 30 October 2008 to discuss the impact of the social computing on Education and Training (E&T) in Europe.

The workshop aimed to validate the results of the Learning 2.0 study, for sale launched by IPTS in collaboration with DG EAC. The study explored the impact of social computing on E&T in Europe (in terms of contribution to the innovation of educational practice, viagra and to more inclusive learning opportunities for the knowledge society). It also assessed Europe’s position in the take up of social computing in formal educational contexts and - by identifying opportunities and challenges - devised policy options for EU decision makers.

The report offers a structured account of the debate that took place during the two day workshop. It reflects the discussion on the potential of social computing take up in organized educational contexts, ed focusing on innovation (from the pedagogical, organisational and technological standpoints), and on inclusion. It further discusses how, despite the recent emergence of the phenomenon mostly outside E&T institutions, its primarily experimental nature within formal E&T contexts, and the speed of its evolution, there are clear signs that it can transform educational practice and that a new schooling culture is called for. The report then presents the main risks that were identified by the experts and proposes a number of items for research and the policy agenda to respond to the educational needs of society as it is being transformed by the social computing wave. Finally, it summarizes the trends identified as likely to affect the future evolution of the learning landscape.

Cloudworks tips and hints

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

We have been making substantial changes to Cloudworks recently and there is more to come! Juliette Culver is on a roll! We have just commissioned a graphics designer so the site is to get a totally new look and feel very soon! Below are some draft guidelines on the site and tips and hints on using it. Would welcome comments.

An introduction to Cloudworks

·           What is it? Cloudworks is a social networking site for finding, sharing and discussing learning and teaching ideas and designs.

·           Core concepts. There are two key concepts associated with Cloudworks - the notion of ‘Clouds’ and ‘Cloudscapes’.

·           Clouds. A Cloud can be anything to do with learning and teaching. Each Cloud is ‘social’ in that it is possible to have a conversation around the Cloud. A Cloud could be: a short description of a learning and teaching idea, information about resources or tools for learning and teaching, detailed learning designs or case studies of practice or a question as a starting point for a discussion.

·           Cloudscapes. Clouds can be aggregated into ‘Cloudscapes’ associated with a particular event, purpose or interest. For example you can have Cloudscapes associated with a conference aggregating Clouds about conference presentations or tools and resources referenced. A Cloudscape can be set up for a workshop where Clouds might include workshop resources, tools or activities. Cloudscapes can also be more general for example to stimulate debate about a particular teaching approach.  Clouds can be associated with more than one Cloudscape.

·           Creating a user account. You can view everything available on the site, but if you want to create Clouds or Cloudscapes or if you want to add comments, then you need to create an account.

·           Navigating the site. The front page shows a rolling list of new Clouds added to the site on the right hand side, features Cloudscapes are presented in the middle panel and a list of Clouds that have recently had comments added to them appear on the left hand side. You can get a list of all the Clouds in the site by clicking on ‘All Clouds’. A title and brief summary for each Cloud is provided. Click on the link to get further details. Clicking on the ‘All Cloudscapes’ link lists all the Cloudscapes in the site, as with individual Clouds a brief description of each Cloudscape is provided. Clicking on a particular Cloudscape will take you into it and will show all the Clouds associated with that Cloudscape.

·           Setting up a profile. You can set up a profile and include some information about yourself. Your profile page automatically lists any Clouds you have created. You can follow both people and Cloudscapes. Your profile page indicates the Cloudscapes you are following, who you are following and who is following you.

·           Creating a Cloud. To create a Cloud clicks on the ‘create a Cloud’ link. Enter a short title and a summary - these will appear on the ‘All Clouds’ page and give an indication of what your Cloud is about. Then enter a description - you can include url links, images, etc. You can also provide a URL for more information. You can tag the Cloud in terms of ‘tool’, ‘pedagogy’, ‘discipline’ and ‘other’. Clicking on the tag list at the top will list Clouds according to how they have been tagged using these categories. You can preview to see what your Cloud will look like and then submit. A Cloudscape is produced in much the same way. Once your Cloud has been created you can add it to one or more Cloudscapes. You can also go back and edit the Cloud or delete it. Other people registered on Cloudworks are able to add comments to any Clouds or Cloudscapes you produce.

·           Finding content. Clouds and Cloudscapes can be tagged by pedagogy, discipline, tool and other and can be searched using these tags or via a search facility. You can also find relevant content by browsing All Clouds, All Cloudscapes or looking at the Clouds associated with individuals under their profile.

·           Your Cloudstream. All the Clouds created by the people and Cloudscapes you are following are aggregated under your ‘My Cloudstream’.

Tips and hints for effective use of Cloudworks  

1. Supporting conferences

·           Set up a Cloudscape for a conference.

·           Include a short clear description of the conference in the Cloudscape with a link to the conference website.

·           Agree and promote a hash (#) tag to be used for the conference, which can be used for Twitter, Blogs, Flckr etc.

·           Incorporate a dynamic twitter stream, blog aggregator, flckr stream using the agreed conference tag.

·           Promote the conference Cloudscape to delegates, via Twitter etc and invite them to follow the Cloudscape.

·           Live blog sessions and include as Clouds in the conference Cloudscape, keep entries short with succinct summarising, provide links to further information

·           Comment on relate Clouds in the Cloudscape that others have created.

2.     Supporting workshops

·           Cloudscapes can also be used to support workshops and all the tips and hints suggested for supporting conferences are also valid for supporting workshops.

·           Set up discussion Clouds that can be used as a basis for group activities during the workshop. Include a brief outline of the activity you want delegates to take part in and any associated questions you want them to address. Get them working in groups and entering their discussions as comments on the discussion Cloud. Encourage them to scan what other groups are entering.

·           Live blog workshop sessions such as plenary discussions and feedback sessions.

3.     Aggregating resources

·           Set up a Cloudscape to support a special interest group and input Clouds of relevant resources. For example Cloudscapes can be set up for particular cohorts of students, enabling them to share good learning resources, and discuss learning strategies.

4.     Sharing innovative learning and teaching ideas

·           Create Clouds on good learning and teaching ideas you have created or that you have seen or experienced. Keep your Clouds short and succinct; include relevant links to further information. Consider depositing further information in an Open Educational Resource repository such as Connections. Tag appropriately in terms of subject, pedagogy and tools.

·           Set up a Cloudscape to aggregate related innovative Clouds – for example those relating to mobile learning, problem-based learning, learning a language.

·           Enrich Clouds using the html functionality available in the editor. Hyperlink to relevant information.  Include illustrative images. Embed slideshare presentations, YouTube videos or Flckr images. Aggregate related tweets or blogs.

·           Search the site by browsing the tag Cloud, ‘All Clouds’ list, ‘All Cloudscapes’ list or via individual profiles or search using key words.

5.     Connect with others

·           Complete your profile details – include a summary of your interests and link to relevant websites. Provide details of your twitter name will enable any tweets with your twitter name on to be aggregated under your profile and will provide a means for other users of Cloudworks to contact you via twitter.

·           Follow Cloudscapes and people you are interested in, these will be listed on your profile and give others an idea of your interests.

·           Get creating Clouds! These will also be listed on your profile.

·           Engage in a conversation, comment on other people’s entries and Clouds.

·           Find others by name or institution.

6.     Keep abreast of new developments

·           Set up RSS feeds for Cloudscapes or people you are interested in keeping up to date with.

·           Browse the front page to get an idea of new Clouds and any new discussions around Clouds.

Papers on cloudworks developments

Friday, April 17th, 2009

I have been working on a couple of papers on our cloudworks site. They are here and here - any comments welcome!