The conundrum of creating an open course in a closed site – Storyboard OOC update

This is an update on the preparations for the Storyboarding for Learning Design OOC (open online course) that I will be running with Brenda Padilla from 12 Jan to 20 Feb 2015. Following on from my last post about storyboarding the storyboarding OOC, I want to share some of our latest thinking about the logistics of offering an open course. The post is mainly in response to a question from Wayne Mackintosh, leader of the OERu, a global consortium of higher education institutions aiming to enable millions of non-formal, open learners to achieve full qualifications by studying online.  Wayne’s question was as follows:

What are the design implications for developing MOOCs for reuse and delivery across multiple platforms?

In response, I would like to say that this course might not be the best test case for such a research question. We have deliberately used the label ‘OOC’ as opposed to ‘MOOC’, in order to dispel any expectations of massiveness from the start. We are just two individuals who want to share our experience of learning design with others. We are also very keen for the OOC to be a catalyst for the sharing of some real storyboards, produced for real courses, under open licences on the Web, for reuse and modification by other course designers around the world. We hope that the OOC will help bring together a community of practitioners who want to learn about storyboarding and are interested in collaborating with others in the process, and that the resources produced for – and as a result of – the OOC will be of value to the open education sector.

With that in mind, the infrastructure we are setting up for the OOC will be rather simple, but we hope, also replicable by other providers after the first iteration. Actually we would be delighted if the OOC (in part or whole) were to be reused in future open courses run by institutions with accrediting powers. We would also like the resources we create for the OOC (which will all be published as Free Cultural Works) to be made available to the wider public, so that even people who are not enrolled on the OOC can access them, and they remain available after the end of the OOC itself. We are therefore developing all the course materials in Google Docs – starting with the storyboard itself for the OOC (version in-progress available here – warning: this is changing on a daily basis at the moment!) All the activities and supporting resources will be made available as Google Docs and linked to from this Storyboard page, which will be evolving over the next few weeks.

The course itself will be offered via the Blackboard CourseSites platform. The reasons for this are that (a) it’s free, (b) the platform allows individuals (not just institutions) to create courses there, and (c) Brenda and I are familiar with it. We chose to use a platform that requires people to have accounts and sign in, in order to be able to set up and manage the groups effectively. (The question of groups in a MOOC/OOC is a separate topic – I’ll blog about it in another post.) The actual storyboards that participants produce will probably be created using other online tools, such as Prezi, Google Spreadsheets, Popplet, etc., and will be hosted on the servers of those providers. We will be encouraging participants to blog, tweet and otherwise publish the URLs to their emerging storyboards, and their reflections on the process, but we also wanted to provide them with a safe environment to develop their ideas in collaboration with peers on the course. We will also be encouraging participants to share the URLs to their storyboards via the Wikieducator wiki as a way of disseminating them within an existing open education community.

So, back to Wayne’s question: Wayne, if you were thinking of interoperability between MOOC platforms, we have not engaged with that question. The resources for the OOC will all be made freely available via the Storyboard itself, and this will contain a clear sequence and pathway through the activities and resources that it provides links to. Anyone who wanted to replicate the OOC (or offer it as part of a MOOC), would therefore need to manually set up the course on the platform of their choice. I know this isn’t the ideal solution, but to borrow a cliche that I think was originally said about politics, ‘OOC design is the art of the possible’!

In closing, as Brenda and I are both researchers, we would love to get suggestions for any research questions that we could focus on during the planning and delivery of the course. You can comment here or find us on Twitter (@twitthaus and @BrendaPadilla) – hashtag #sldooc. Looking forward to those questions…

About Gabi Witthaus

Open educator. Blogger at Art of E-learning. Learning design consultant at University of Birmingham. PhD student in HE Research, Evaluation and Enhancement, Lancaster University. Previously Research Associate at University of Leicester (Beyond Distance Research Alliance and Institute of Learning Innovation); Learning and Teaching Facilitator at Loughborough University; Distance Learning Manager at Bradford University School of Management. Qualifications: Masters in Training and Development (USQ, Australia); Masters in English Education (Wits University, South Africa), PGC in Mediation (Robert Gordon, Scotland), BA Hons in Applied Linguistics (Wits University, South Africa).
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7 Responses to The conundrum of creating an open course in a closed site – Storyboard OOC update

  1. Pingback: The conundrum of creating an open course in a closed site – Storyboard OOC update - e-Learning Feeds

  2. oerfoundation says:

    Hi Gabi,

    Kudos to you and Brenda for developing your storyboard for the Storyboarding OOC openly and transparently. Leading by example :-). I’m impressed with your progress so far and I’m planning to use a remix of these materials for the OERu mOOC on Digital Skills for Collaborative development. OER developers could put storyboarding to good use.

    At one level, designing for reuse across multiple platforms is a technical challenge relating to interoperability etc. At another level, reuse is a learning design issue and this is my interest with the question – how we overcome the technical limitations for maximising reuse through smart design. Your quotation of “design being the art of the possible” is very apt in this context. In other words, we shift the challenge of reuse from a technical problem to a design opportunity.

    So for example, if the learning pathways for a course (i.e. the resources which guide and scaffold learners) are published on the open web using open formats, this facilitates reuse at a simple level of a hyperlink (rather than embedding these resources within the delivery platform.). (There are more sophisticated ways to script open resources for integration into a variety of delivery platforms at a technology level – but I’m more interested in learning design approaches for reuse.) The advantage of having access to the core resources on the open web is that learners will be able to access the materials without the need for password. The approach you are taking to direct learners to develop their own Storyboard using open technologies on the web, is another good example of a design principle to maximise reuse for multiple delivery platforms.

    Are there other design guidelines to facilitate reuse? The hypothesis is that the easier it is to reuse existing open courses, the greater the uptake will be.


  3. Pingback: Increasing reusability of open courses through transparent design | Art of e-learning

  4. Many thanks for your comment Wayne. I completely agree with your suggestion of using hyperlinks on the Web as a way of showing the intended pathway through an open course, and I think a storyboard can be a helpful format for doing that. I have written a fuller reply in a new blog post: Thanks for initiating this conversation – I welcome your further comments, critiques or suggestions.


  5. I’ve been following this discussion with interest. There are so many layers! You mention your reasons for using a closed environment for discussions, but I’m wondering… would you prefer to be using an open environment that also has the features you need for setting up optional groups, etc? You’re welcome to host the course at SCoPE (Moodle –

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Sylvia. Many thanks for that offer – the SCoPE Moodle sounds like a great solution. I’m just not sure of the logistics of making a change of platform at this stage in our preparations, so I’ll talk this over with Brenda (who has better technology skills than I do!) and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible.


  7. Pingback: Storyboarding for learning design OOC is launched! | Art of e-learning

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