H818 Project Ideas

Creating an Education Object

Drafted 30 Oct. 2017

In my current Open University module, Networked Practitioner, we are tasked to learn what this means and how to create a professional online network. In the spirit of Open Education, I will attempt to document and share my progress as we learn how to structure our own project. We will be experimenting with Open Studio (Brown, 2017) peer assessment and critical reflection as we support each other in an open practice model.

We are to choose a project under one of three themes – 3 word to describe each



Demonstrate various useful apps for mobile learning on a smartphone or tablet in a multimedia tutorial presentation using Sway*  This has been inspired by my plan to study my Master’s Degree in Online Education “paperless” on my daily commute to work. It can take almost and hour and it is a great time to check in. I found it impossible. In my first module, 18 months ago, I ended up printing everything. The pages got ragged from numerous bus journeys and the scribble notes in the margins were not searchable or legible and usually not where I was when I was studying (downstairs in my bag, at work on my desk or I don’t know).

*(part of o365 – Microsoft’s version of Prezi) to create an animated multimedia to teach users and students what apps for study online work like. At the time of this writing it is free to individuals and can be downloaded for Mac and PC without all of Office.

I have used Sway once for 10 minutes and am hooked. I want to learn how to create teaching objects that are reuseable for VLE.  I find the text based model of the old material dumped as pdfs a VLE, treating it as a repository really really dull. It is a wonder anyone uses them when you consider the lack of human contact. Now as when  correspondence course and early computer-assisted instruction (CAI).

Anyone watching a few or the demo available from Microsoft will be impressed with how easy it is to use and fun! The output is a wonderful live piece of instruction that is flat or boring. Interactive content can be easily linked to google docs to include quizzes and video links from youtube. The first example I stumbled on in slideshare was a Biology lesson on disecting a cow’s eyeball. I was hooked!


Create QR Codes (waterproof) for the all the plants at the Botantical Gardens.

On a recent visit to the Botantical Gardens at the University of Oxford I was frequently disappointed that the signage for plants I was interested in were not available. It occurs to me that most of us carry the technology in our pocket to scan a QR Code linked to Wikipedia. I speicify wikipedia because it is open and with crowd-sourcing we could embark on adding and improving many entries.

I tweeted my first draft and attempt at using mindmap for this project last week. I am also new to Twitter so it was only tested on my small tutor group.

Recently I discovered Mindmaps (XMind and Open Source Freemind) that is ideal for my type of processing and learning. Like most mindmapping tools it allows you to draw out your ideas, link them and move them as needed. What I never saw before is the layering of notes and URLs on them which can be Exported to transform the map into an editable Word document! No staring at the blank white page frozen in fear. It is organised and ready to mould into a fully crafted essay or paper. This term will be much less fraught than my first 18 months ago.Botantical Gardens1


Maybe a little ambitious, an online textbook perhaps on art history crowd sourced material contributions using the Robin DeRosa project she describes on her website.  She started out with the idea to save students money and when the students got involved Open Pedagogy was also realised. And they loved producing meaning work and becoming credited authors.




Project Progress Reflection 7.2

Add comments and ratings as you did in Activity 7.2 but also consider the following:

  • How did you choose these resources? Reflect and make reflection notes (see 1.2 Introduction to reflective writing for guidance) on how you made the decision to explore beyond the forum entry or related descriptions and comments, which may be relatively brief.


  • What additional content or information would have made these resources more useful or usable? For you? For other users?


1. Does it supply what is called for? Content
2. Is it accurate? Does it demonstrate understanding? Content
3. Are the elements of the materials used appropriately to deliver the message or fulfil the purpose? Presentation
4. Stylistically, is it appropriate for the specified audience? Presentation
5. Is it at an appropriate technical level? Presentation
6. Is the message clear? Presentation

Task: Review and amend your project plan

  1. Retrieve and read your plan (submitted as part of TMA 01) and your presentation proposal in TMA 02 (abstracts and poster).
  2. Note the tutor feedback that you received on each of these assessment pieces. Review comments and suggestions that have been offered by other students and that relate to your plans or proposals to date. For example, read the comments made on your poster activity in OpenStudio and note development in those comments and your responses.
  3. Note how and why you may have changed your plan and proposal since this feedback was received.This exercise will allow you to identify any unintended drift or deliberate shifts in your plan and to create a plan that you can realistically expect to work to. If you have changed your plans significantly, inform your tutor of how you are intending to make changes and why.

Amazing watercolors – creating a Garden

via Garden Inspired Watercolor


With all the materials to hand and a hundred decisions made moment by moment as inspiration tells me where the next step is. As a result my office and garage are  a jumble of old fabric (old and new), jewellery, beads, computers, iphones, timber and bits of metal and glass that may be useful tomorrow. The process is never linear, instead a buzzing around the objective, in fits and starts, often limited by time or money and daylight.

Over 10 years I constructed a beautiful lush front and back garden. Originally to cover the ugly pebbledash render. The main limitation in buying an old fixer upper is the lack of cash. I had to be very creative and started with a colour theme of green and grey. Then each year choose one or two nice plants for impact and nurtured small sale plants and  cuttings given by friends.  Slowly I added structure with trellis, nice pots and old grey furniture. After 10 years the trees and shrubs are a jungle and the finishing touches this year provide splashes of amazing colour.

LJ – Learning Analytics – the Fog 29 June 2020

This will be a challenging topic. I don’t like statistics and don’t trust the simplistic nature of the way people habitually manipulate them to fit their needs. This article by Long and Siemens called

Penetrating the Fog: Analytics in Learning and EducationSiemens, George; Long, Phil; EDUCAUSE Review, v46 n5 p30-32, 34, 36, 38, 40 Sep-Oct 2011


stochastic/stəˈkastɪk/Learn to pronounceadjectiveTECHNICAL

  1. having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analysed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.


One minute blog – last Master’s course starts next month – H819

When I embarked on a Master’s course part-time through the Open University in 2016, it never occurred to me it would take 5 years to complete. However, working full-time, several job interviews and 4 new posts later, I do know why! Life offers new proverbial ‘forks’ in the road when we take the hard choice to learn! Trouble is we can’t see the road ahead and the good stuff waiting there – arrrrgggh.

Each new role at work offered an opportunity to use the skills I was learning in the e-learning degree called “Online and Distance Education”. It is a bit more heavy going than I imagined, lots and lots of academic reading (I expected video lectures and lots of technology in education and so disappointing). I made my decision rather abruptly over Christmas break and didn’t have much time to dither. I also learned, that I never learned how to write ‘properly’ meaning academically. After many frustrating hours I did some internet searching on the topic. I found that most people don’t learn this skill and foreign language unless their parents or older siblings bring it into the home! Phew – that was a relief and pride that I almost achieved a Distinction in the last one.

Now that was almost as good as actually receiving it since I was very very stressed (and crabby) throughout. It isn’t that I am an under achiever, far from it, it was just so daunting. Learning the structure, understanding the limits of the course design and the tutor’s lack of influence over it (basically they get to dish it out and can’t change old outdated and broken material in some cases) and criminally get paid £5 a week if you average it so many save the time for marking the papers. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for support, help with revising much less live sessions online for Q&A.

During the first 2 modules (they call each course a module made up of blocks or units) I decided I was going to be happy with a ‘Pass’. So the point of my blog today is that you never know where your effort will lead and what you are capable until you try, persevere through tears, pain and push push push! It isn’t what I thought I was signing up for (life often isn’t) but it has been brilliant. I see now that people at work gave me a chance because I took a chance and worked hard.

It is with a sigh of relief and a little dread that prepare for the last 30 credit module and September can’t come soon enough 🙂

LJ – H817 Collaboration and how I would design the course differently. May-June 2020

The last 6-8 weeks have been a blur but we have come out the other side with a successful Learning design collaboration prototype which can be viewed at the H817 Red Team website. The UNESCO site here represents my ideal (I especially like the e-book report half way down – wow, must investigate that someday).

I was a little prepared, it wasn’t my first experience with the method of being thrown in at the deep end previously documented in these pages for H818. It is nothing short of an emotional roller coaster, with highs and lows. Both modules have been very rewarding and achieved successful outcomes born out of shear determination and optimism (or fear of losing the tuition). Only the most committed learners would have the self-discipline to show up with respect and civility in confusing and stressful circumstances while coping with Covid-19 in our own lives. Many of our cohort suddenly had no childcare and were working full-time from home. I felt at breaking point a few times studying evenings while working full-time and even with the luxury of a home office and a supportive husband that cooks, energy has its limits. Many of us found ourselves sat in front of a screen all day and all evening too.

Personally the process was more of a catharsis than the learning journey I expected (Click Download to open the storyboard PDF) brilliantly illustrated by my classmate Mariano Gutierrez Alarcon in his project storyboard.

In his view a catharsis is part of learning, when we face something we don’t understand and struggle through the stages to mastery. In our case, throw five relative novices together to develop a topic with cryptic instructions on learning design and watch them sink or swim (that’s how it felt to us).

Working with 6 individuals I hardly knew was educational in itself. Each of us adopted a role for the project and I learned more than just how secondary teachers face emergency remote teaching in a hurry during Covid-19. I hope that was part of the course design, even if not explicit. I learned project management and organisational skills from our brilliant team leader, meeting prep and recording in Excel from our project manager; I learned teaching and activity skills from our teachers and editing skills from another. This experience created confidence in each other that would could have done at the outset and without it could crumble another. In hindsight, I see now that many of us work professional largely on our own and are used to being given a mountain of work. We are strong and creative and get on with it. Learning trust in each other to get the job done was the last piece in the jigsaw!

I decided to be pragmatic. The course showed me what to teach but perhaps not how. Maybe it is the model that Instructional Designer create the course and then walk away while in the real world tutors (paid very little) and students (paying a lot) try to execute it. Did they user test it on a few novices as we were instructed as part of our design?

I would present a few video lectures if live ones are not an option, by subject experts (which is in my storyboard created in free Padlet).

Made with Padlet

Lastly, I would also provide a Q&A session so everyone could benefit from the discussion instead of frustrated overlapping forum posts and emails over days and weeks until a few clever swots see the light and shined a light on it for those still had the will to live. How many did we lose? It is only visible to the tutors. I hope being ‘glad to see the back of an activity’ isn’t how my students leave a course. I hope they would be inspired by the experience and glad to be part of it rather than relived it was over.

‘Covid-19 Lockdown’ and getting fit

1 Minute Blog May 30 2020

How strange this time has been for some of us… suspended in a bubble of waiting, anxiousness, trying to focus on what is in front of us; one day at a time. Easier said than done. I have been fortunate not to have been touched by the virus, yet (no foreboding music please). For us it was good timing; in our life; our health and our fitness; which all played their part. We have the luxury of good health, great medical care – Thank you NHS UK! and a little green space to sit in. It has also been the nicest, warmest spring in living memory and that is a big deal in the UK 🙂

When I was a teenager I was very sporty and athletic. I assumed that is was part of my nature, not something I had to work at. Over the next 30 years I gained a little weight, nothing much, just the freshman 5-10 and then a few more. I despised the gym, thought it was for muscle builders, didn’t like to get sweaty.

Fast forward to 2012-ish. I slowly watched my parents who were only in their early 70s, slowing get ill and lose their ability to get around. In part because of the lack of general fitness. It lead to health issues that could have been avoided for longer by doing small things like walking everyday for 20-30 minutes. I NEVER saw them exercise, ever. As their life ended I became very motivated to get fit again. Lucky for me I remembered what fitness was like, and how slim felt. I had a the muscle memory and remembered the mindset, that it was possible to re-train and more importantly to get strong. I saw how we tend to think, “I will do that in the future, when I have more time, energy, money…” And I saw the point comes when it was no longer possible for my parents. You need a minimal level of health to start.

It helped that my husband found a good gym nearby but it was so expensive. How could we justify it, well a lifetime of being able to walk and ward off heart disease and depression makes it a worthwhile investment. I see now it is something really caring he and I can do for each other. Training is something we usually do together and egg each other on when we don’t want to go out on dark winter nights. Eventually I craved the release. I don’t get the famous ‘runner high’ but I feel less horrible, ratty and relaxed and it took 3 years to get to a place that I sort of liked it. Cleaning up my diet has also helped but it isn’t been easy and I still eat ice cream and cheesecake now and then.

Back to Covid-19, I had never heard of ‘lockdown’ or thought it was even a thing. And certainly I did not expect it would play a part of my becoming more fit. I work in IT and am able to work from home. I am also a post graduate student at the Open University which is also full-on, in all the waking hours I am not working. The stress of this effort and the psychological impact of the world dying in the thousands (daily) pushed me out the door every night for a 5K walk. Fortunately by this time I was aware how much better I would feel, even if I’d rather flop on the couch with a big bag of potato chips.

Recently I had a job interview, (I know crazy right, not busy enough, I had to add that to my plate! …but it was for Falmouth University, on the Cornish sea coast! It’s a 20 year dream and I had to try)! My personal development coach, Gordon Roberts, recommended that in the morning before the interview I go for a really fast walk or jog to get oxygenated and de-stressed. Nerves fill our nervous system with the fight or flight hormone cortisol, and it make us fill sick and unable to concentrate. It was such good advice and set the scene for the best interview I ever had. I felt optimistic, able to think and the hour flew by. Working from home saves me 1.5 hours in commuting and provided time to workout in the morning. It am getting hooked on pre-work, 2K fast walk with sprints called HITs (High Intensity Training). The air is cool and fresh, the birds are singing and the neighbours smiling or are they smiling because I am?

Unfortunately I didn’t get the job but I will be ready for the next one!

LJ – My PLN – Personal Learning Network Week 10 H817

In my first OpenU course we visited this topic. Coming from an Art and Humanities (in the USA) background that I found so much of what we study brand new. I had a hard time trying new things like Twitter and reluctantly tried blogging. (I don’t think the name ‘blog’ doesn’t help win fans 😉 ) I feel a bit grumpy about the antiquated modules; old content, broken links that show no one has looked after it and it affects my attitude about the activities themselves. I find sometimes I have to push myself past this inertia and get the best out of it.

So I made a commitment to try everything we were asked to do and eventually saw the merit in using social media for professional networking and learning. Fours years on and I now have the confidence to follow my heroes and am delighted when they follow me back. I have embraced LinkedIn more in the last year especially since it bought Lynda.com and rebranded it LinkedIn Learning. I am not thrilled about this ‘link’ I feel a little bit spied on and want privacy over my choices there!

The following represents my PLN in a bit more sophisticated format this time around.  It isn’t complete but ‘a work in progress’ like we all are I suppose. Informed by my classmates, I included social groups, mentors and all my learning channels.  I shared my original low tech attempt below that to show my progress – it was definitely was uncharted territory.

April 2020



This is made in xMind and it has a free trial which is installed on up to 5 Devices.  One great feature with xMind is that you can export your map with notes and images into a Word document which helps you start writing your assignment. I haven’t figured out how to move the blobs (or myriad of shapes and colours) and one can waste hours playing with it rather than actual studying! It would have been nice to have the Twitter and Facebook icons – maybe I will update it some time.

I am trying to decide between this software and another called one called Lucidchart which may be more convenient as it is online, has lots of templates – even for teaching kids. It will create an outline but nowhere near as good as xMind.

Here are a couple good linked to a more elevated point of view:
http://tiny url.com/yfdwre6 blog Gavin Dudeney

Elizabeth Tracheostomy’s writer blogger PLN is and is not

This is my first attempt in 2016 when I first learned about mind maps, what a revelation!

I remember being in a rush at the time and just grabbed some coloured markers.

Mindmap PLN sm.jpg


Below is the image Martin Weller shared of his PLE – it’s interesting to compare them over time and discover what your tutors use in real life.


PLE Weller EDTechie Compendium mind map  of tech apps.jpg




LJ – MOOCs all in one blog Week 10

neon signage
Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels.com

MOOCs made a big splash when they first appeared on the scene about 10 years ago. They were thought to be the answer to democratising education, especially in the developing world where there are not enough teachers, schools/universities, not to mention doctors.

As I write this entry, we are in lockdown due to Covid19 and the world has gone on hold and online learning and remote teaching are on all educators minds in a big way. It has had me very busy at work so and I am catching up on Week 10 content in one big blog.

I started off with a Good Practice podcast interview with Hannah Gore, who did her masters at Open University, on MOOCs.


The hosts have a light and informal manner while they chat with their guests that I find engaging. They joke around while dishing up practical suggestions and experience from their own work.

Points in made:

  • Hannah reported (and I am paraphrasing here) that many people dip into a MOOCs like we watch Nigella cook Naked Salmon. It is entertainment, we may never make it but enjoy the idea of it knowing about it.
  • Hannah also mentioned how importing “Step Titling” is in your topic headings e.g. instead of ‘Introduction to Diplomacy’, use ‘What is Diplomacy?’  Her research of 1500 MOOCs revealed the most successful ones formed each one as a question to hook people which she likened to social media ‘clickbait’. Very interesting… She proposed we are hardwired for engaging this way.

MOOCs and Open with Martin Weller 2012

I have paraphrased the highpoints

Martin recorded an informal and unscripted video chat with George Siemens, who is credited for developing the new learning theory called Connectivism, and Dave Cormier who is credited for inventing the name MOOC around 2010. (Dave quickly acknowledged iterations were around since the late 1990s).  Being from the USA, it was a nice experience to hear the voices of two Canadians who are very into open education.

Dave Cromier introduces us to the MOOC – (thanks Rebecca for the video).


One of Dave’s more salient comments was how much better he is with open practice. When he comes to a project with a conclusion all the participants focus on it and not on what else is possible. Transparency is a window into decision making and a process for ‘sharing half baked’ ideas and has more potential for surprise.

George praised large universities like MIT, Harvard and Stanford for dishing out loads of their content much of the developing world can use to improve their lives in a real way. Still, he was concerned regarding the ‘knowledge colonisation’ in that is it primarily represented by a western point of view and elite. This was also mentioned in our class discussion by some of my classmates and I found it very insightful and had not thought of the larger picture.

Veletsianos and Shepherdson (2016) confirm this concern. Their research study of MOOC literature found half of their sample were from the USA. 80% included the USA, Canada, Europe 27%, Australia 7.7% and China 5.4%. It provides an in-depth review of MOOC literature and sets out a really good summary of how to produce such research. Veletsianos and Shepherdson (2016), A Systematic Analysis and Synthesis of the Empirical MOOC Literature Published in 2013–2015.

This article and others mention concern as only 10% of participants get the certification. 10% of 5,000 seems a significant success if 500 learners finish and many more learned something. Many including George, my classmates and myself dip in, and out. George said he does the same and often finds useful reading lists and connections that don’t require actually completing the course to learn and benefit.

The other guest, Dave Cormier just started experimenting with having open events suggested the teaching model is not the same as a classroom and suggested that focus on the completion is misguided. We need to “rethink the habit of learning”. It is about connecting to the four corners of the globe, and the numbers magnify everything and break ‘the walls of knowledge’. George said it is a very ‘old lecture’ style echoing David Wiley’s comment.

Dave found that just meeting online didn’t make it happen without a date and a topic and a structure.

Martin liked the fact that an open curriculum, a MOOC could be spun up rather informally without lots of red tape and committees, reviews etc.

None of them saw MOOCs replacing HE. However, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if students could do lots of the preparatory work for a degree in the first or second year in a MOOC setting and then the face to face, labs, get experience with experts in person when prepared.

It occurred to me, sounds like a flip classroom on steroids (rather than each day or weeks lesson). This model could allow for more students to attend universities given the shortage of places predicted by John Seely Brown in the Mind on Fire the Long Tail.

Finding a business model is required to support the funding and at that time Robo grading and other AI/machine intelligence could provide some mileage there.

I also looked at DS106 – digital storytelling and being a photographer myself got lost in the posts and arty diversions and decided it must be time for a study break! It is really intriguing and I have been interested in U.MaryWashington for some time.  I was scrolling down the list of recent posts – only 4 from 2019 and stumbled on Rebecca Hobbs https://rebeccahobbs.com/2019/04/14/comparing-moocs-ds106-and-coursera/ brilliant comparison of DS106 and MIT. This was just a little bit spooking because it was shared in our Whatapps group for H187 2020 last week and I don’t know her yet. I am doubly impressed by the level of detail and brilliant writing has gone into her piece!

Compared to Coursera it is a bit of a fun mish-mash but I like both (probably the messy artist in me). Time allowing I would/will participate in both. I am registered on an Instructional Design MOOC with Corseara that started today and the platform is so fresh and easy to navigate – love it. Very formal and structured in comparison to DS106 and takes less time to find your way. However, I am there for a strategic reason – I need to understand more detail about the field I am planning to try to find employment in and if it is really what I want. At my uni. there is a lot of chat about ‘oh they are just trainers’ and don’t know pedagogy etc. and I want to be informed. MOOCs can be an excellent resource one can access anytime and free of charge – unless you need the badge. I may need to do it again and pay the $62 🙂

Lastly, I chose to read Peter Starkey blog on and ended up downloading 2018 Creative Commons and his new role as the Executive Director of Open Education Consortium. (His home page has a stunning image of himself standing in front of the Grand Canyon! I really love that about the person blended with the professional blogs allow and will take that up in making mine better).

BTW: In 2018 Peter was largely optimist about the world’s institutions becoming more open. Now I will go read the one on MOOCs with the videos which I find easier to digest. 

Stacey (2013), The pedagogy of MOOCs