I’ve been on leave in Seville since last Thursday so have a day to “do” week 4.
This week has concentrated on something called the Pedagogical Pattern Collector (or perhaps the Pedagogic Patterns Tool or the Learner Designer – different names are used in various places).
This is an online tool which is supposed to help ‘teacher/designers’ design learning activities by allowing them to share and adapt each other’s designs. It encourages users to see their learning design as a pattern and to reuse and share these patterns.
I seek practical tools that will help academics at my university design online courses so was very interested.
I had a look at it and what struck me was that it is, how shall we say, a work in progress? And perhaps something developed by a small team. Nothing wrong with that, but perhaps not something I should be promoting yet. After digging about a bit this seems to be confirmed on the downloads page “We can’t warrant that it will work without defects and you should not use it for any work that you can’t afford to lose… You may encounter bugs while you use the software or it may behave erratically, as it is a prototype.”
I think what worries me is that we could spend time learning how to use it (it’s not rocket science but it’s not Facebook), spend time developing our installation (you have to install it on your own server) and then find it is not supported adequately. What I mean by developing our installation is creating learning patterns for it that suit our academics, students and academic subjects. My experience of other repositories of learning materials is that academics do not like doing this. Also, unless there is some sort of quality control then the resource can be poisoned by poor ingredients. As soon as this happens and new users are put off then its value has gone.
One reason SlideShare works is that it is completely open. There is a lot of dross on it but there are also good resources and users can follow and comment on authors they like. It appears to me (I may be wrong) that the PPC is meant to be installed on an institution’s own server and accessed only by those at that institution. In this respects it fails to provide open access and misses a trick.
In trying to understand what support is promised to those who do download and install it, I found that it was developed at the University of Oxford with project money from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. I’m not sure how long this funding will continue or whether having produced it as open source that’s the end of it and the ‘community’ can now run with it or not.
Anyway, I like the idea of the patterns, of reusable learning models that can be adapted time and again. However, on first sight I’m a little reluctant to promote its use at my institution – not yet anyway. I’ve only had bad experiences of getting people to share resources or to systematically tag resources they do want to share. However, there were lots of things I did like about the software (e.g. the way you could program in time allocations and student numbers and the way you could easily edit the pattern or flesh the patern out to make it a specific leanring object) and so I’ve asked a lot of questions on the OLDSMOOC Open Forum and will revisit again soon. I should have waited for the reply but time moves on relentlessly and week 5 starts tomorrow! This is my week 4 learning diary entry!