Making massive learning social – the next big challenge for MOOCs?

Yesterday I attended the University of London’s annual RIDE conference. One of the keynote speakers was Mike Sharples, Academic Lead for the OU-owned FutureLearn. He mentioned that the design of the FutureLearn platform was based on principles from Laurillard and Pask’s Conversational Framework. One of the ideas behind the platform is that the interface should seamlessly integrate the content and the conversations around the content, so that learners can interact with one another effortlessly about each piece of content provided.

By way of example, he described the Forensic Science MOOC by the University of Strathclyde, which is based upon a reconstruction of an actual murder case. Each week, learners are given a bit more information about the murder via videos and text, and also another forensic technique to help them solve the mystery. There are no discussion forums; however, next to each video is a rolling comments feed, where learners will see the most recent comments from other learners and can add replies or new comments. In this comments feed, learners share their ideas in order to collaboratively solve the mystery. Because of the large number of learners on the course, it would be impossible for anyone to scroll through and read all of the comments (in one case, in a different MOOC,  17,000 comments were recorded next to one video!) and so there is a certain degree of serendipity at play as to whether the learner happens to see anything that catches their interest in the moment that they look at the comments. FutureLearn helps learners filter comments by means of three tabs at the top of the screen: “Following” (listing comments from other learners whom they have chosen to follow), “Most popular” (comments with the most “Likes” from other learners) and “My comments” (previous comments made by the learner).

My question to Mike in the Q&A session was whether feedback from learners indicated that there was a desire to be able to learn in small groups, and whether that would be technically possible to set up on FutureLearn. This question was predicated on a hypothesis I have that social learning is more effective in small groups where ties between learners are relatively strong, rather than in a massive global pool of learners where they might never interact with the same person twice. A recent study at Oxford University (described in “What are the limitations of learning at scale? Investigating information diffusion and network vulnerability in MOOCs“) addresses the issue from a networked learning perspective, based on an investigation into learner participation in the discussion forums on two Coursera MOOCs, and concludes that:

[…] when it comes to significant communication between learners, there are simply too many discussion topics and too much heterogeneity […] to result in truly global-scale discussion. Instead, most information exchange, and by extension, any knowledge construction in the discussion forums occurs in small, short-lived groups […]

So, when faced with the opportunity to interact with thousands of other learners, the learners in this study tried to interact in small groups. The fact that these small groups were short-lived might have been because the MOOCs did not provide a convenient way for learners to repeatedly interact with others in the same small groups throughout the course.

Back to the Q&A: Mike replied that the idea of enabling group work on FutureLearn is under active consideration. The barrier seems to be technical. I can see why FutureLearn abandoned threaded discussion forums – traditional forums might not be the best way to enable group interaction at scale. (I have previously commented on Gilly Salmon’s successful use of group-based discussion forums in the Carpe Diem MOOC, but I’m not sure how scalable that would be in a MOOC running into the tens or hundreds of thousands.) So, within the framework of FutureLearn’s approach, I’m wondering whether the solution would be to add another tab at the top of the rolling comments section, which might be called something like “Study Group”. This tab would show comments made by a relatively small group of learners, which would be generated by an algorithm based on information provided by learners in their profiles (a bit like the algorithms used in online dating sites, where members are matched with others who have ticked the same boxes as them) plus a randomly generated code. Codes would only be given to those participants who had taken the trouble to complete their profiles, as this is a sign of commitment to at least starting the MOOC, and each code would be allocated to a maximum of say, 40 participants, thus effectively creating a group of 40 learners. By clicking on the “Study group” tab, every learner would then be able to tap into the comments of only those 40 learners with the same code as them. Assuming that 25-50% of those learners who created their profile actually completed the course, we could predict that between 10 and 20 people of the initial 40 in each group would complete the course together. The actual maximum number of learners per group and predicted number of completers would need to be derived from participation statistics from previous iterations of the course.

Speaking personally as a learner who dropped out of a FutureLearn course last year because of the lack of a sense of coherent community, this would be a strong motivator for me to complete the next FutureLearn MOOC!

Posted in mooc | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Storyboarding OOC Week 3: learning outcomes and assessment

Week 3 of the Storyboarding OOC just ended. It was an interesting one, with an initial debate around the question as to whether learning outcomes are really necessary. There was general agreement that statements of intended learning outcomes are necessary and important for guiding the course design process, and that they also help in managing learners’ expectations. The discussion then focused on writing clear outcome statements, and describing the assessments that were being planned. Several participants shared the links to their storyboards (in Linoit, Popplet and Google Sheets), showing how the learning outcomes are distributed across the timeline of the course, and how they are aligned with any assessment tasks.

Meanwhile, a number of people who joined the OOC late have been catching up on the earlier activities, introducing themselves to everyone (Week 1) and selecting their storyboarding tools (Week 2).

What I am really enjoying about the OOC is the fact that the storyboard provides a visual point of reference for all the activities, as participants focus on a different element of their storyboard each week, gradually building it up in layers. This represents a more realistic use of storyboards, in my view, than when they are simply inserted into a course on learning design as one component of many. In real life, course designers will spend many hours on a storyboard, often spread over many days or weeks, especially if they are creating a new course from scratch. Also, working through the storyboard one layer at a time in the OOC enables course designers to focus on every aspect of course design, from the high-level design with overarching outcomes, and rough outlines of assessment tasks, learning activities and supporting resources, down to more granular descriptions of each of these elements. Course designers can keep returning to the storyboard and adding more detail, until they get to the point where they feel it has served its purpose. It will be interesting to see whether different participants on the OOC have different criteria for considering their storyboards to be complete.

This week we’re focusing on adding in the learning activities to the storyboard – in the first instance, just titles and purpose statements of the learning activities (using Salmon’s five-stage model to guide sequencing decisions), and later adding more detail, such as description of the task, response to other learners and timing. I’ll be back with the next update in a week’s time.

Posted in learning design, open education | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Storyboarding OOC Week 2: tools and processes for storyboarding learning design

It’s the end of Week 2 of the Storyboarding OOC, so it’s time for another update.

New participants

We now have 137 participants registered (23 more than this time last week). New participants include a handful of students on an Instructional Design course at the University of Mauritius and their teacher, who have said they are participating in the OOC as part of an international “benchmarking” process. We’re happy to have them on the course and will try to get some feedback from them about how the OOC has contributed to their learning when the OOC is over.

Question of the week: “When do you do storyboarding?”

One participant posted in the discussion forum:

One thing I found tricky to understand from the video was that the small flip chart/post-its prevented too much information and deliberation about the substance of the course – it seemed to me like you’d have to have done a lot of pre-planning and preparation to make the storyboarding effective. So one question – when is the best time to do the storyboarding in the course design process? After you got a really clear idea of learning outcomes, aligned activities/assessment, technologies etc. So the storyboard is really just to visualise and sort of organise all the prior work? Or can it be used as part of this deeper thinking about the course?

In my answer, I said that I think the demo videos (by Gilly Salmon and team and also the ones I’ve created about using Linoit and Popplet) are a bit misleading in terms of when to use storyboarding, because we have tried to encapsulate a process that is usually spread out over many days or weeks in a 10-minute video. Storyboarding is useful right from the start of the process, and ideally the storyboard should be built up in layers, with the course team adding more detail in a fairly structured way over time. You need to make sure you can keep adding more layers of detail, so if you’re using a flipchart, this may mean you end up with a series of sticky notes stuck on top of one another in parts of the storyboard. Storyboards often spill over onto several flipchart sheets as they develop and become more detailed.

The video I created on using Popplet for storyboarding shows a fairly early stage in the process. I had probably spent about 2 hours developing the storyboard for the coures on ‘Online Academic Identity’ before making the video, so you can see my ideas were still at a very formative stage. I did all my thinking on Popplet and did not make any handwritten or other notes. On the other hand, my Linoit demo is really a summary of a process that Brenda and I have been going through since October 2014. The storyboard on Google Docs reflects this longer-term process the best. You’ll see there is a ‘Brief version’ and a ‘Detailed version’. We worked on the brief version first. The detailed version is still changing as we finalise preparations for activities and resources for the remaining weeks of the course – and you might see this version changing before your eyes if you happen to go in while we are working on it.

Tips for brainstorming when creating a storyboard collaboratively: 

There were many great tips given by participants who had experience in creating storyboards, mainly using flipcharts and coloured sticky notes or similar paper and pen tools. Here are some of them:

  • visibility: not only size of the chart and liability of the writing; but mobility  and access to the chart; people can get turned if they can’t really see or follow the build up;  (as an alternative, “bricks” on a wall with sheets of A4 and blu-tak worked really well once with a group of 15 designing a large departmental programme)
  • trying to get (at least some) sticky notes on display before they go up on the chart  can sometimes be helpful:  it will get people engaged and get the sharing started more quickly
  • try to be open, and encourage everyone else to be open to ideas that come up; but at the same time ask people to clarify, check with people are saying the same things in different ways ;
  • see it as an organic process of review and re-shaping on the go, ,  let it flow
  • as a group look for places where ideas merge and overlap and come to a common agreement about re-shaping if its needed;
  • ensure you get some sticky notes up on display before the group activity starts, to encourage sharing.
  • try and model what you need on the flip notes – it might be better to have “Students practise w BP cuff”‘ than “Blood pressure” (i.e. being clear and descriptive)
  • make sure everyone’s voice is heard; take time to consider each contribution and see how it fits with the whole plan
  • we begin from learning objectives rather than from topics and units of time – although we get there eventually
  • use large post-its and, if you can, have one or two people with neat printing who actually write down what each person wants to contribute
  • start with loose groupings as you don’t want to shut down new ideas – I always have a “sidepen” for ideas that don’t really fit but may fit later
  • take pictures of the wall or whiteboard at significant points in the development of your course

Storyboarding tools

While many people had used flipcharts and sticky notes, most felt it was time to try online brainstorming tools for greater ease of use with distributed teams, and for greater ease of storage and version control. About six people said they liked Linoit, and we had the same number of positive comments on Popplet. Two people said they planned to use Google Sheets for their storyboard. A few are experimenting with Gliffy. There was some interest in Scrumblr, but this seems to have less functionality than the others. There was some frustration from someone who struggled to get access to Linoit (password not recognised and no immediate solution offered by Linoit), and several who noted that Popplet was erratic, often not functioning on a particular browser or being unavailable at a particular time.

There were also some questions about the terms and conditions of the various online tools for storyboarding, as well as whether these tools would work on mobile devices. These are obviously important issues, and I’ll report more on them in a later post.

What’s next

In Week 3 (starting tomorrow) we will focus on developing the learning outcomes and assessment for the courses being storyboarded. Watch this space for further updates 🙂

Posted in learning design | 1 Comment

Storyboarding OOC progress report: week 1

We’ve just started Week 2 of the Storyboarding OOC, so it’s time for the first progress report.

What we did in Week 1

Around 114 people signed up as registered participants, of whom over 30 have been participating actively. The discussion forums for Week 1 included conversation around many very real and challenging problems to be avoided in the activity called ‘Ruining a course’; some in-depth reflection on the concepts of ‘learning design’ vs ‘instructional design’, Salmon’s five-stage model and Anderson’s interaction equivalency theorem; and some very interesting descriptions of the courses that participants are planning to storyboard.

A diverse group

People on the OOC are participating from six continents (just missing that elusive participant from Antarctica to complete the map!) Many participants have a long history of designing courses in higher education or professional development contexts, while some are taking on this role for the first time. Some are old hands at online learning and teaching, while for others this is their first experience of an online course of any description. This wide range of backgrounds, skills and experiences is to be expected on an open course. I’m aware that it could make the experience of the course difficult for some participants, but I have been heartened to see the way participants are reaching out to one another across all the different kinds of boundaries that might create barriers, asking questions to better understand each other’s contexts and challenges, and providing encouraging feedback on each other’s posts.

The decision to create ‘groups’ for discussion forum activities

At the start of the OOC I mentioned that we were planning to divide participants into two groups for the discussion forum activities – learners were asked to join either the A-M group or the N-Z group, according to their user names. All forums were open to all participants, and anyone was free to switch groups or to participate in both if they wanted to. The rationale for this approach was to avoid having overwhelming discussion forums, while also giving participants choice and flexibility in how they participated. As it turned out, the approach worked very well, but the A-M forums had about twice to three times as many participants as the N-Z forums. This seemed a bit unfair on the people in the smaller group, and so we have decided to merge the discussion forum groups into one for Week 2. Watch this space for an update on how this new strategy goes…

What’s on the menu for Week 2

This week we are experimenting with storyboarding tools/platforms:

  • Traditional flipcharts, sticky notes and marker pens
  • Google Sheets
  • Other tools selected by participants (e.g. Prezi, Gliffy, Freemind etc.)

By the end of the week the aim is that everyone should have selected their preferred tool, and shared the rationale for that choice with others on the OOC – or on the Web for those participants who blog and/or tweet. (Watch out for #sldooc on Twitter.)

New resources available

For Week 2 we have created a few new resources (all available as OERs):

If you’re interested in joining in, it’s not too late – you can still enrol or view the course on CourseSites!

Posted in learning design, mooc, open education | Tagged | 2 Comments

Storyboarding for learning design OOC is launched!

Today is the start of the Storyboarding for Learning Design open online course (OOC). Brenda Padilla, Jeff Stanford and I will be co-facilitating it.

I promised in an earlier post that I would talk about how we are grouping participants on the OOC. Based on my experience on the Carpe Diem MOOC, I think it helps to group the learners in a highly interactive open course, with the proviso that learners can also see what is happening in other groups and can switch groups if they want to, without having to ask an administrator. Of course it all depends on the numbers enrolled – and the numbers that participate actively. As of now, we have 96 participants signed up. We have experimentally set up two groups in the discussion forums (divided into user names starting A-M, and N-Z). Participants in both groups can view the discussions in the other group, and can join in if they want to. We’ll see how this goes in Week 1 and I’ll report back here for anyone who is interested.

The course materials for the first week are now available under a CC-BY-SA licence in a Google Doc – Week 1: Introduction.

To log in or browse the course on CourseSites, click here. (You can also enrol from this link.)

Twitter hashtag #sldooc.

Posted in Storyboarding OOC | Tagged , | 3 Comments

2014 in review – a summary of activity on my blog by WordPress

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people…

The busiest day of the year was November 20th with 247 views. The most popular post that day was Good-bye Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Running a-MOC with false MOOC pollution – a reply to Stephen Downes

Just when I thought I could take a break for Christmas, Stephen Downes threw me a curved ball, saying that he doesn’t think the Storyboarding OOC that Brenda Padilla and I are planning to run in the new year is actually open. Here is my reply to Stephen.

Hi Stephen. It seems I gave you the idea that the Storyboarding OOC is closed. It’s not – or at least it’s not intended to be. There are three aspects of my blog post that could have created this wrong impression: firstly I noted that the OOC will be offered via the CourseSites platform, which requires participants to sign in with a password and enrol on the course. I agree with you that the fact that the course activities take place in a logged-in environment limits openness for the duration of this iteration of the course; however, as I explained to Wayne in a different post, we are going to great lengths to ensure that *all* the content of the OOC, plus as much content generated by participants as they want to share, will be available openly in all senses of the word. In fact, the content is currently being developed in the open via a series of Google Docs, which can be accessed via the storyboard for the OOC itself. (Warning – in the spirit of what Wayne calls radical transparency, the storyboard and related resources are work in progress and are changing/evolving daily.) I think this point probably deals with the heart of your criticism, and hopefully you are reassured now that at least the course content and the navigational pathway through the OOC are totally open.

Secondly, I said that the OOC is not intended to be massive. The reason for this is not because it is not open, but because as two academics acting in our individual capacities without institutional backing and without certificate-awarding powers, we don’t expect to attract masses of participants (although we would not mind if we did). We are doing this on an experimental basis, and we hope that after the first iteration, all the course resources, including the design of the course in the form of the OOC storyboard, will be reused by other open educators – including those with real MOOC-capacity. One way of looking at the OOC would be to see it as a pilot for future MOOCs. Of course there is a contradiction in trying to run a small pilot for a massive course, since a great many challenges arise when one has thousands of participants that would not arise in a smaller cohort, but by leaving that ‘M’ off the front of the OOC we are attempting to be honest about that.

Thirdly, the question about whether setting up groups is compatible with the spirit of open courses is an interesting one. Gilly Salmon and the Swinburne team experimented with the idea in the Carpe Diem MOOC. As a participant on that MOOC earlier this year, I can say that the structured group experience was helpful and motivating for me, although I was aware that there were issues for some people whose allocated groups did not work out, for a range of reasons. Brenda and I have had some lengthy discussions in the last few weeks about how to create groups that are clearly enough defined that participants to know that they have a “home base” to go to, but also flexible enough for participants to move between groups if they want to, or completely opt out of if they prefer. As it’s quite a big topic, I’ll make it the subject of my next blog post. For now, I’d just like to say that in the Carpe Diem experience, I did not feel that the course was in any way less of a MOOC because of being asked to join a group. This is an aspect of the OOC that we will be asking participants about as part of our research, and we’ll report back on our findings at a later date.

In conclusion, I very much appreciate the feedback and I do accept that there are degrees of openness. However, I hope for now that I have gone some way towards persuading you that by using the term OOC we are not “polluting” the concept of MOOCs. By using the term OOC we were simply trying to say that we are aiming for openness, and equally that we’re not aiming for massiveness. The first of these aims is an absolute principle, but the second is more of a prediction. If by some fluke we get thousands of participants on the OOC, we will be happy to rename it a MOOC, but I don’t believe it would be appropriate to rename it an OC or a MOC (without the ‘O’ for open) as you’ve suggested!

Posted in Storyboarding OOC | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Increasing reusability of open courses through transparent design

In my last blog post, I replied to Wayne Mackintosh’s question about how to design open courses for reuse. I focused on the technical aspects of designing open courses using closed (in the sense of password-protected) platforms. Wayne’s comment on that post has really got me thinking, and this post is a continuation of the conversation with him. In a nutshell, Wayne is asking whether there are ways of overcoming the technical limitations of transferring open courses from platform to platform, by ‘smart design’. This is a great question, and goes to the heart of the purpose of storyboarding, which is to create a visual representation of the course design so that all members of the design team can see, more or less at a glance, how the course is intended to unfold, and how each element of the course (learning outcomes, assessment tasks, learning activities, and resources for learning) will support the others. A further purpose of storyboards, which has been little discussed in the debates about learning design as far as I’m aware, is to enable a completely different teacher or course team to take an existing open course, and reuse it for a completely different audience. So the short answer to your latest question, Wayne, is that the storyboard itself is an ideal tool for the uptake of open education on a massive scale, in that it enables reuse of courses without the necessity for the original course designer(s) to sit down with potential new course design teams and explain what they had in mind.

We know from research into course design at the Open University that course design is a very messy process, and any attempts by administrators to impose template-driven structures on academics to try to speed up the process or make it more efficient tend to be met with either disinterest or disdain.  There is something very personal about designing a course, and something very exciting about being part of a team that develops a course (as I can attest from my experience of working with Brenda on developing the Storyboarding OOC), and asking course leaders to simply take a pre-packaged course designed and developed by someone else and reuse it has never been part of the culture of teaching in higher education. However, a range of tried-and-tested visual representation tools (not just storyboards, but also course maps and activity profile sheets, to name some other examples from the OU) exist for course design. It is my hypothesis that sharing these representations as OERs, alongside the openly licensed resources for course content, will enable other course designers to understand the spirit and context of the original design and quickly make decisions about which elements they want to retain ‘as-is’, and which elements they want to change. The ownership of the new version of the course would remain clearly in the hands of the new course team, but they would have enough guidance to redesign the course quite quickly and efficiently.

I would be very interested to hear of any experiences that other course designers have had in this regard, and whether anyone can either validate or discount my hypothesis. Wayne, perhaps when you remix the materials from the Storyboarding OOC for the OERu mOOC on Digital Skills for Collaborative Development, it will be possible to test the idea? Also, if the OERu is already using a visual representation for their course design then maybe it would be worth comparing the usefulness of different visual formats in facilitating reuse. I would be very interested in following any discussions around this topic.

Posted in Storyboarding OOC | Tagged | 2 Comments

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…

Posted in Storyboarding OOC | Tagged | 7 Comments

Storyboarding the Storyboarding OOC

Brenda Padilla and I are in the process of designing the Storyboarding OOC (open online course) which we will be running in the New Year, and since the starting point for designing a course is to create a storyboard, we have been working on just that, and we would like to share our work-in-progress with OOC participants and other interested readers. We plan to produce a few sample storyboards for the OOC using different online tools, in order to both illustrate a few of the tools that can be used for this purpose, and also to experience the ways in which a particular tool might influence the course design – for better or for worse.

The basic idea of a storyboard was developed by Walt Disney in the 1930s (see this Wikipedia page). According to Gilly Salmon, from whom I learnt about storyboarding for learning design, the spirit of storyboarding is big, bold, colourful and fun – and is best captured when working on a large sheet of paper (e.g. a flipchart) with coloured sticky notes and markers, as seen in the image below from Gilly’s Carpe Diem workshop in Berlin last week.

'Searching Faster Using Google' storyboard

Storyboard developed during Gilly Salmon’s Carpe Diem workshop at Online Educa Berlin 2014

Transferring the storyboard into an electronic format is ideally only done after one has done the flipchart version. However, as Brenda and I are in two different locations (Mexico and the UK), we have settled for going straight into an online format. Hopefully the OOC will not suffer too much for this – we will never know!

At the moment we are working on two versions of the storyboard – one in Google Spreadsheets and one in Popplet. (Warning – if you go into these links now you will see incomplete storyboards, or you may even see live changes taking place before your eyes!) The idea is to have the same information in each storyboard, with the only difference being in the format. These two formats lend themselves to quite different thinking processes – with Google Spreadsheets being rather rigid, forcing one into columns and rows, and the mindmapping tool Popplet being much freer, allowing one to add or delete ‘nodes’ anywhere on the page. I think Popplet captures the ‘Disney’ spirit of storyboarding better, and is more fun to work with, although it might be useful to eventually transfer the info into a spreadsheet format for ease of reference when you come to developing the course.

Other tools that could be used for storyboarding include LinoitPreziGliffy and Freemind. (Click here for an example of a storyboard on Linoit that was created for a course on Learning Design in the University of Leicester’s SPEED project in 2012-2013.) FreeMind and Google Spreadsheets are free, and the others have both free and paid versions. We’re hoping that participants in the OOC will try many different tools, and will share their experiences of using them. We are hoping to build up a bank of CC-licensed storyboards created for real courses, for reference and reuse by educators globally, so if anyone has any online storyboards that they would like to share already, please let us know – we’re watching this space!

In case anyone is wondering how I’m collaborating with Brenda in the preparation phase, it is through a combination of Google Hangouts for live voice chats (with a bit of video every now and then to show each other the various cats/dogs and family members that are in the background/ on our laps while we’re working), and Google Docs, where we develop our plans and will be developing and storing the e-tivities. Brenda is usually eating breakfast, and I’m usually preparing dinner while having our meet-ups, and we invariably end our real-time meet-ups when I become aware of the faint smell of burning from my kitchen, having become so absorbed in our conversation that I forgot to turn the oven off…

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments