OLDS MOOC W2D1 Dreams and Study Circles

Today week 2 of the OLDS MOOC begins and I find myself slightly behind.  Over the weekend and on Monday we were supposed to team up and form study circles. I was away on Sunday and Monday and although I posted my ‘dream’ in the Dreams Bazaar on CloudWorks I haven’t had time to contact others about their dreams and reply to their responses to my dream.

I’ve just taken a look and what is immediately apparent is that there is far too much information out there to read it all.  Obviously I can read about those who commented on my cloud and I found (I can’t remember how now) another cloud that looks interesting.  However, that cloud contains lots of comments and a study group has already been formed and limited in number (fair enough).

So where does this lead me?  My cloud in the dream bazaar was called “My dream: Quality Assurance for Online Courses” and this elicited the following responses:

Anne Bradburytutor on the OU’s MAODE (MA in Online and Distance Education) “Would be interested in keeping in touch on this and see where thinking (and experience on OLDS MOOC) takes us.”

CathyAnderson  (self employed)  http://www.cathyandersonblog.com/?page_id=680  “I would like to work with you on quality assurance in online education. Here is a link to some writing and research I have done in online education:”

Suzanne Aurilio (Director of technology-enhanced instruction and faculty support at San Diego State University) “I’ve been recently thinking about this topic as well, and my colleague has suggested a QA checklist approach. Conceptually it makes sense. The challenge isn’t the absence of the QA alone, but how the work of online course development gets parced out, and who is ultimately accountable for quality.”

Bill Steele (Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Development – University of the West of Scotland ) Twitter – uws_capd “This is an area that has also been taxing me lately as our University has decided that it wishes to expand into the international market and sees online delivery as a potential delivery mechanism. The suspicion is that insufficient thought has been expended as to the resources necessary to provide quality provision in this area and the change management that will be incurred.”

Jonathan VernonI’m very interested to see how QA experiences compare. Brand Guidelines, immediacy, appeal, complex dynamic of collaborative teams, team members coming and going on short contracts, language, style guides, time sheets and budgets, competitive, international, reversioned … and barely a passing thought for accessibility

Andrew Chambers  University of New South Wales I’m interested in this. I work on a post grad business program that teaches online. I recently completed quality matters training and also am involved in AACSB accreditation. QA is a tough one. We already survey students on their experience but need QA processes for design of courses. Would be interested on working on such a project…”

Helen Walmsley’s: Learning Design for Learning Design.

Helen Warmsley’s OLDS MOOC dream is called “Learning design for Learning design” and  her proposal was to “create a learning design for learning design. This might be a ‘runable’ tool, or a guidance template. It might be a series of learning activities, or it might be a tool to create learning designs for teachers based on their requirements.”

Although Helen doesn’t mention the word ‘quality’ it has much in common with my idea in that both seek to provide academics with help in creating good online courses.  Having read David Jones’ blog “Compliance Cultures and transforming the quality of e-learning” in which he argues against having a QA checklist I am now leaning towards an approach where we get academics to buy into the things that would be on a list if we had one and to educate them as to what they should be doing rather than policing it. Therefore I see a lot of commonality with Helen’s proposal.

Those interested in Helen’s proposal are:

  1. Tracey Johnson
  2. Sheila MacNeill
  3. Lindsay Jordan
  4. Niall Watts
  5. Oli Haslam
  6. Clare Gormley
  7. Anne Bradbury
  8. Lesley Shield
  9. Elise Fisher
  10. Ann Davis
  11. Geetanjali Soni
  12. Kristina Hollis
  13. Tore Hoel
  14. Bill Steele
  15. Deborah Arnold
  16. Juliana Elisa Raffaghelli
  17. Clare Gormley
  18. Santanu Vasant
  19. Daniel Scott
  20. Pauline Porcaro

Helen organised a Google Hangout meeting where they decided –

“to create a short online learning activity (30 mins) that engages university teachers (who are inexperienced in online teaching) in learning about online learning. Suggestions for specific topics:

•             Using learning design toolkits (eg Compedium)
•             Introduction to models of learning and online learning
•             Introduction to online socialisation and, in particular, online icebreakers

Our plan is to decide on one (or possibly 2) topics and then to create the learning designs.
There are 3 of us in the project at the moment, and there is probably room for 1-2 others. However, there are lots of other ideas for topics in this group, so perhaps a number of other project groups could set up similar projects on different topics? The learning designs could then be linked together.”

I think Helen is right to try to restrict numbers because collaborating asynchronously at a distance can be a slow process if you are constantly waiting for input from each other.

My new plan.

So I’ve decided to create a list of features one might expect to see in a good online course. I imagine that the list will pull together ideas from existing “Quality checklists” and also from the principles of good learning design that we will meet on this MOOC. 

There are existing lists but what I need to create, in order to persuade tutors at my institution to adopt these ‘standards’, is a list of features that are cross referenced to academic research so that they can justified.

I’ll create this list on a wiki and invite any of the above to contribute or just view.  Therefore my study circle will be an open one.  Even if no one else contributes I should have something by the end which I can work with.

I also hope to keep in touch with Helen and be allowed to see her circle’s output as her approach sounds more engaging than a checklist.

I’ll create the wiki later today.

[later edit – here it is: http://tinyurl.com/byu64s3 ]


  1. Heather Peters · · Reply

    Hi Bob,

    I’m really interested in some of the ideas you express here about how to communicate with teachers about learning design.

    My own experience is that a one-size-fits-all approach is sometimes taken. While I can see why this might be more efficient to take when transforming 100+ courses within an institution simultaneously I’m very concerned about relying too much on ‘Format A’.

    It doesn’t sound to me as if that is what you are suggesting. Instead, I am thinking that you mean there are a set of ‘things’ related to ‘good design’. Am I correct in that?

    I’m actually interested in your project of identifying the components that help ensure a course is well designed, mine seems a tad too ambitious for a 9 week course. I am coming from the teaching perspective and am wondering if, as what you are putting together is for teachers, if you might be interested in my joining your project as well?

    Can you let me know here or by commenting on my learning cloud: http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/7073


    1. Hi Heather,
      I’ll look at your cloud and comment there too but in response to your comment… You said, ‘I am thinking that you mean there are a set of ‘things’ related to ‘good design’. Am I correct in that?’

      Yes That’s it.

      It won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach as what I really want is buy-in from the teachers and to give them an opportunity to accept or reject items on the list according to their circumstances (students and discipline). So it may develop into an online quiz with feedback telling the teachers the consequences of their acceptance or rejection of certain items. That’s why I am interested in Helen Warmsley’s ideas. It looks as though she will end up with a mini course to educate her teachers about good learning design. I’ll have a look at your cloud later this evening.

      Thanks for your response.
      Best wishes,
      Bob R-S.

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