In my not-quite-on-task state (while on hols) I have been reflecting, see above, on the process of ODS. Perhaps it is a bit like an assault on Everest, everything is planned and prescribed (down to the templates) and you walk beyond your sleeping height before partially retracing your steps. In the same way we frame our challenge, examine it, then refine. We evaluate case studies and frameworks, then use these for a crude design. Our design is improved through prototyping with the explicit intention of critiquing and improving it. Redoing and revisiting is part of the process, along with BOTWOO (building on the work of others).

Alrhought the process is involved (and complicated by 4 way communication), what is healthy is to hold things loosely, to accept that getting it right first time is unlikely, and to be prepared to be a critical friend to your own work.

Funnily enough is this not the heart of reflective practice?


I had a bit of a false start on this activity so it was just as we’ll that Nicola was on the right Cloud. I made my way back to Mayes and De Freitas (2004) and their review of elearning theories, frameworks and models. They helpfully state ‘pedagogical frameworks describe the broad principles through which theory is applied to learning and teaching practice’.

Our project focusses on building skills in reflective practice, so this exercise is to identify one of many frameworks to anchor and evaluate our design against. Reflective practice is very much an individual, cognitive task (although there may be some behavioural click this aspects to IT skills development) and it is therefore sound to look at models and frameworks that apply to the cognitive/constructivist zone.

Nicky has already considered Kolb and Jonassen. Kolb must surely be a good fit given the centrality of reflecting on experience. From my reading Jonassen’s model is commonly applied to problem based scenarios. Of the others, Laurillard’s conversational framework (and model too!) appeared worthy of consideration.

Central to Laurillard’s model is the dialogue between the tutor and the student, both in describing reflecting and refining concepts, and in enacting and feeding back on exercises and activities based on those theories/concepts. The tutor acts on feedback to reframe activities and offers support and resources where student perceptions and understanding are limited.

The conversational framework positions the tutor as expert and describes an iterative process in which the student learns from theory, practice and feedback. The video below shows a larger number of potential interactions:

The framework has been influential, but is not without its critics. It is not seen as suited to larger cohorts, to less motivated students and is significantly more complex for tutors than others, eg Kolb.

refs http://itol.org/uploads/images/articles/Use%20of%20conversation%20theory%20to%20underpin%20blended%20learning.pd


Requires a PC to tidy

Working out the context

Under Activity 10 I need to address 3 things so here goes:

Your contribution to the group effort of articulating the context.

I’m no expert on Reflective Practice so did not have an awful lot to say about where we chose to situate our digital diary project. It did not seem that relevant where it was, it just needed to be somewhere. So on that basis we went for a context close to an area of work for one of our team. This was initially framed quite broadly (a toolkit for business mentors to pass on to those they were mentoring). Nicola wrote a good piece setting out this project along with some early ideas on challenge etc. What became clear as we looked at our 8 personas was that our framework was a bit too broad – we had mentors assisting unemployed into work, and those who did not know anything about reflection. We identified this as an issue when we met Wed week 15 and agreed last Friday evening (all 4 in a hangout) to focus back on business mentors. The comments from our readers on design studio showed some support for this narrowing of focus.

What have I found challenging

  • Understanding the bigger picture of what we are doing
  • Coping with the pressures of group work and collaboration across differing working patterns
  • Handling the tension between task and learning. We can divide-and-conquer and complete the task (an individual co-ordinated approach) or learn more by allowing time to discuss and refine what we have done – but inevitably achieve less
  • The fact that this is an assessed piece of groupwork. Sadly this pushes all my buttons: a desire to do well, a desire to do my fair share (and not let people down).  Assessment adds heat to existing reactive forces above.

What have I learned from it?

It’s taken me a while to understand the rationale for the process we were being taken through. However, now out the other end I can see some benefits. The process of generating personas, and considering the forces acting on them does generate a deeper understanding of what the design needs to consider. Force maps are an untidy method of consolidating the overall picture. While I see these as messy – the act of creating them does help you to begin to see linkages and commonalities – the end product itself may not be useful but the “workings out” aid your understanding. Having said that I particularly liked the Force Map that Asanka put together for a different team project using our old friend Compendium LD. It seems to me that these diagrams and representations are useful as objects that stimulate conversation – and when worked on as a team help to give a common shared understanding of the project. Sadly the framing of this block and our lives-beyond-study have not lent themselves to having these useful conversations.

Letting the train go

Pendolino Virgin Trains - Runcorn

The day starts with a typical anxiety dream, I am at a train station, my train is leaving VERY SOON and I have all these things to do, time is tight, it is not feeling good.  A normal sort of dream, one I had regularly a couple of decades ago, but not one that has visited me for a while.  The daft thing is that this is all about an optional activity (study) that I invited into my life, that within this block has turned into a voracious consumer of my spare and non-spare time.

Sometimes there is a freedom in consciously deciding to miss the train and this is the leap I have made today.  There is some interesting material to be had in this block, but it is being crowded out by minutia of instructions,  pressure from unrealistic timescales and the understandable complications of negotiating differing schedules at a distance.   Stress and pressures aren’t good companions to creative thinking, nor learning.

So, having come down from my angry height (“what right H817 do you have to put me under this pressure?”), I have resolved to grab hold of my own learning goals and navigate  this block at a  sustainable pace.  Time to embrace the adult, self-directed learner within.  There’s another train behind, it may not arrive on time, but the journey will be significantly more tolerable, maybe pleasurable?

Bonkers – might as well join in

I’ve spent much of the last two weeks going “I just don’t get it”. This block has lacked a sensible introduction, started with the presumption that we all knew each other, and set us off on a packed schedule of interrelating activities as if we all did nothing but work full time on H817. I’ve been cross, not with the folk in my team, but with the way the environment and task has been structured. Add to that a few logistical and technical difficulties with meetings and you get stressed students. I don’t need this stress!

The Video log for this week is in two halves. A silly bit, followed by a more serious bit. Don’t take the silliness too seriously, it’s a quick recap of the last fornight with assorted cuddly toys.  I’ve spent the morning putting together a log of what we have all done so far so can see the many hours put into this group project already, Nicola especially, Anton (just in time) and Christina (catching up quick).   I’m respectful of your patience and willingness to even engage with the bonkersness that it block3.


14/6/2013 Sadly in order to move this from private to public I have removed the video. It’s a bit personal in terms of presenting my view of the situation and my humour could easily cause offense to our long suffering team. Perhaps I’ll make it public when a little more water has passed under the ODS bridge. Looking at it now I can see just how annoyed I was.

Persona Power


I’ve not gone this far describing actors or creating personas before, but it makes a lot of sense. My only real use of this technique to date has been to offer pencil sketches of users with specific disabilities as I attempt cajoule colleagues into thinking accessibly. I like the fact that we have filled out larger details of their lives, it makes them come alive a bit more. Next time I run a course you can expect to see a set fully laminated creations. (Sally lives in Gateshead with her guide dog Radar….)

I was amused to find that Nicola and I had described pretty much the same talkative, networking, buisinessman that had taken a sideways move into mentoring. If these two got together in a room it would be hard to get a word in. It’s been interesting to see that, in the main we have described older people, with only one person under 25. We have two returners to work, and some scarily dynamic people.

I’ve enjoyed reading the descriptions that the rest of the team have created, the level of detail helps them resonate with views of people that I know. Although we haven’t got that far yet I think it is going to be interesting to to step into their shoes and examine our design from their perspectives. We’d like them to be motivated, engaged and be completers – but they are quite different, some will want a slower confidence building approach, others will want to crack on and get to the content.

This is a sort of educational “market research”, but instead of interviewing we are imagining. Let’s hope that between us we imagine right!