Monday, 27 May 2013

Summary of #SP4Ed introduction to Scenario Planning

What an interesting first session it has been getting to know some of our mOOC’ers and their first views on scenario planning (over 45 registered from around the world). Many have significant expertise in online learning and communication. While that is an unusual for a MOOC, it is really helpful for our OERu pilot! Wayne and I thought that a brief summary of what we have gathered thought the interactions might be a useful facilitation strategy, so that is the purpose of this Blog post. It might also be helpful as a short-cut to anyone trying to catch up as we move to on to 2 managers’ perspectives.

A key reading was Sir John Daniel’s (2012) Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and PossibilityJournal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME) and it will also be useful in a later session where he is one of the thought leaders who help us to identify drivers of change.
Microblogging about the major events in education was sparse, but Mark hit the nail on the head with his excellent Blog post about glacial but fundamental change in education as he drew on the Drucker (1998) reading that ‘The future that has already happened’ and participatory student centred approaches are growing. I’d like to challenge this, but we are not ready for that yet. We also recognised the challenges that are holding back change include management, e.g. “I have been disheartened by our faculty's lack of willingness to move from closed to open publishing, our institution's decision to use Moodle Rooms and therefore Blackboard rather than free Moodle, and changes in upper management that make it constantly necessary to re-grow relationships” was contributed by Joyce McKnight in the USA. But let’s not get too critical of specific people or roles as we strive to make and use predictions of our uncertain futures.

What will happen much more engaging and 3 themes occurred in the many posts:
 Internet, Access, and Openess including OER. 
Some posts brought these themes together: “OER and Web 2.0 will change education because this will ensure access, reach, advancement and open participation.” And “I agree it can change education by enabling more open, free, anytime-anywhere, self-directed, collaborative learning.” (@kevinmulryne) However, overgeneralistiaon is likely to remain a problem so I tempered this with “Internet access also reflects underlying chaotic processes in societies; people are falling off the Internet as well as access increasing. Terms drawn from the Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS) analysis that might aid exploration of this key uncertainty, e.g. digital exclusion, digital choice & uptake of online learning opportunities.” Wayne also prompted refinement of views to clarify key uncertainties.

Key uncertainties are an important piece for us later so 4 are identified below:
  • Population increase along with mass accessibility is a major uncertainty in educational sector – contributed by Kanvaria  @vinodpr111 in Dehli, India.
  • I agree, openness is a key uncertainty, e.g. the ability to take others’ work and remix and develop using CC licences creates new uncertainties and risks. Other aspects too? @Anil Prasad
  • The power for people and ideas to network in new ways. @paz11uc in New Zealand
  • A cultural / cognitive / emotional shift to life-long learning as a key driver of change - Joyce
  • The demand for educational change from the learner is going to be the greatest visible change in the "near future". Don Beadle  @Don100k
We worked on 'Defining SP' and this is the definition I like best a the moment: A process of positing several informed, plausible an imagined alternative future environments in which decisions about the future may be played out, for the purposes of changing current thinking, improving decision making, enhancing human and organizational learning and improving performance (Chermack & Lynham: 2002[9]) I wonder how many noticed that the Wikipedia entry on SP requests more editing, we might go back and help after the mOOC! 

Reflections on SP included:
  • SP is a creative, logical and daring approach. Kanvaria  @vinodpr111
  • SP is different because it helps envision more than one different futures. Acknowledging uncertainties becomes a strength. Pinelopi Zaka  @paz11uc
  • And Wayne clarifies for Dr Jai, that he thinks it is important to emphasise that scenarios are NOT predications of the future. They offer alternative views by asking: What would happen if ... ?
Finally, it has been delightful to see brief declarations of a few of our participants’ dreams, which are about increasing equity. E.g.  Joyce McKnight said “there is a paradigm shift from education as commodity to education that is coupled with a switch from globalization to a combination of local/global mutuality...that's my big dream.”

And so the last word must go to our shared dream for OERu. P Anil Prasad  expressed what might be echoed by a number in this pilot, which is likely to be stated with too certainty, but it is a comforting thought, “OERu will change education because, it can address the socio-economic-cultural-climate change issues that go against the spirit of inclusive education.” So we can expect this theme to continue and, as Wayne has noted, we hope that the scenario collection that forms our final activity will include OERu.

In conclusion, while there appears to be few students who have completed all of this section’s final assessed activity (as expected), the engagement as the first session is better than I could have hoped. I can sense who we are as an emerging learning community, and I hope that you can too. We are ready for the next section that attempts to take a manager’s perspective and, as one of those managers, I am looking forward to expanding my view through your eyes.

Thanks to all mOOC particpatns for your contributions and energy,


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Our SP4Ed community is coming into view

Welcome aboard to the growing participation in OERu's first mOOC SP4Ed as we pilot these 'unchartered waters' with our 'fleet' of participants coming into view from many parts of the world.

I need to tell you that we could not have a better 'pilot' leading us. Our lead pilot and designer is Dr. Wayne Mackitosh and, already, I have learned many things by working alongside and supporting his design and construction of this MOOC and its contents.

One thing that was difficult for me to envision was how our pilot MOOC could wake up come alive - as it is doing even as I write. I have been an online and blended teacher/facilitator for decades (see e.g. Correia & Davis 2008) but the innovative nature of a first MOOC was knocking my confidence that we could facilitate the development of a community. I feared that we were simply designing content, albeit more open that most with OER. And I should note that I am not accustomed to designing in an open education format, so that is also an innovation for me!

John Daniel's (2012) paper on MOOCs clarifies that the first emerged with a community philosophy so he used the abbreviation cMOOC. However, more recently behaviourist approaches that deliver content and assessment without the development of a learning community have emerged that he termed an  xMOOC. As I read his paper in my preparations to facilitate this pilot MOOC I feared we might be building an xMOOC. Today that fear has evaporated, for now at least! :)

The Blog posts by participants are indeed providing the 'social presence' (Kehrwald 2007) needed to indicate that a community is forming. As we have found in the past, previous experience in learning online is helping to set a style, e.g. posts by Pinelopi and Waleed, so I hope that we will see many more posts that identify individual perspectives, contexts, and individual ambitions for our SP4Ed mOOC. You already have mine in my welcome video, so I will not repeat it here.

So I will end by saying thank you to all participants and tell you that I am looking forward to reading as many Blogs as I can, but I encourage you to only read as much as you find helpful!



Correia, A.-P., & Davis, N. (2008). Intersecting communities of practice in distance education. Distance Education, 29(3), 289-306.
Daniel, J. (2012). Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility, Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from 
Kehrwald, B. (2007). The ties that bind: Social presence, relations and productive collaboration in online learning environments. Proceedings of ASCILITE, Singapore. Retrieved May 23, 2013 from