e-learning,  eduglu,  sociallearn

An eduglu learning scenario

I was part of an ad hoc Flashmeeting recently with David Wiley‘s team, plus some of the edugluers (Jim, Brian, D’Arcy and Scott), along with the OU social:learners (Tony, Simon, Patrick and Stuart). We batted some ideas around about the idea of eduglu, loosely coupled apps, open courses, etc. There was lots of common ground, but we don’t want to tie it up in consortium or anything – so we’re going to work in the open, in a loosely coupled manner. And of course, anyone else is free to join.

We agreed to come up with some stories, or scenarios, as to what it might be like for a learner in eduglu land. This is my attempt at doing one:

Character: Ellen is a professional vet, living in Wales. She is married, with a four year old son, and is a fan of 60s sci-fi movies and is a keen skier.

Scenario: Ellen is called out to look at a sick Pot Bellied Pig. She is unsure of the symptoms, but thinks she has a diagnosis. She uses her mobile device to put out a call for help on her learner network. This is built on top of Twitter and allows her to filter tweets to groups, e.g. ‘vets’, ‘parents’, ‘friends’, etc. Dan, from Sussex is an expert in Pot Bellied pigs and confirms her diagnosis, sending her a link to a resource. She saves this to her study list in her learner profile, with the tags ‘vet’, ‘pigs’, and studying it is automatically added to her To Do list in Remember the Milk, so she will study it later.

Back home she gets a prompt to watch a programme on skiing on BBC 4, which is generated by an automatic tweetscan and schedule scan she has set up with filters. She won’t watch it live, but a link to the replay in iPlayer is automatically added to her To Study list, with the tag ski.

This is part of a content aggregator that finds content related to the learning goals Ellen has set up. Her current goals/interests are "To learn snowboarding", "60s Sci-Fi movies", "Blue Tongue virus", "Teaching children French" and "Harry Potter novels". Content related to each of these is found using data-mining, and social recommendations, building on 43Things. Recommended resources are then attached to each goal, with a score, and a category, e.g. ‘video’, ‘book’, ‘person’, ‘course’, etc. Ellen sees that there is a weekend snowboarding course running at the dome in Milton Keynes. She sees that one of her skiing contacts has taken the course and sends her a message asking about it.

She is doing an ‘informal course’ on 50s/60s Sci-Fi movies, created by an enthusiast in Oregon. The course is delivered through his blog, and is free to study. Today, having watched ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ yesterday, she reads the blog entry on it. She sees that John from Queensland is online at the same time, and they use Gabbly to chat around the topic, which is embedded in the blog. This is the last entry in this course, so she decides to have a go at the end of course quiz, which is delivered via a free MCQ engine. The score is automatically passed back to her profile, as authentication is handled in both by openID.

A suggested task for the course is to create a mash-up, which she has been working on. She has taken clips from Invasion of the BodySnatchers, Them! and The Blob all of which show women screaming, helplessly, and mixed this with a 1950s magazine article about how women should be protected from rock music. This is overdubbed with a PJ Harvey track, which she hopes makes the ironic point clear. She posts this on her blog, with the tag ‘DonsSciFi’, which means it will be pulled in to the resource pool for the course for future students. This also pulls it into her profile as one of her public outputs, and this action notifies her sci-fi friends via a tweet.

Purpose: I wanted to take some existing tools, and some imagined ones, and show how these could be easily combined for a learner. I also wanted to combine formal and informal learning, professional and private life.

Next: I’m going to try this as a mini-meme. Not because I want to be annoying, but because I think this is a genuine way of building up a set of scenarios that might inform what we want to do. I am keen to explore this open, distributed model of collaboration. So, if you want to be involved, simply write a scenario and link here (I’ll do a wiki later). The ‘rules’ are:

  1. It can be about teaching or learning (or both)
  2. It can be as long or short as you like
  3. Try and link to existing technologies
  4. It’s purpose is to show how loosely linked applications could make learning/teaching easy, pedagogically sound and fun.

I’m going to tag Scott next, as I think he has some ideas from the teaching angle. Take it away Scott.


  • Tony Hirst

    Whilst I like the idea of this, I think the execution is a little confused maybe? (hah – pot, kettle etc etc!)
    I think worked cases, showing examples of actual example uses/screenshots with real tools showing how to really plug them together would be interesting and maybe more useful? Certainly this is what I had in mind when we were chatting around app interop design patterns…
    As it is, statements like “She saves this to her study list in her learner profile, with the tags ‘vet’, ‘pigs’, and studying it is automatically added to her To Do list in Remember the Milk, so she will study it later.” confuse the issue i think? What is this study list and learner profile, how does it relate to other tools, does Ellen ever make use of it etc etc (the devil is *always* in the detail…
    eg 3 months ago you’d have built this around facebokk, now twitter is the core focus; we maybe all have pounce and friendfeed accounts, but what role do they play in everyday life? what role does the learning list play?
    If we try to build real worked though examples with real apps, we can maybe spot where apps or glu are missing? the ‘aargghhh – it would be so handy if i could….’ insights that we can use as itches to scratch in moving the sociallearning thing on…
    and those itches may either be real requirements for new apps – “we need this app, that does this, and this is when i will use it, and how i will use it” – or they may be operational issues wrt apps that already exist – “arghh – i know i should be able to do this with with current apps, but can’t see how to” or “arrgh – if only x had an rss output feed” or “arghh if y could only talk to z”
    The other technique we might use it to mark up tools on jane’s learning design list against the pedagogy principles/criteria for apps that grainne identified ( http://e4innovation.com/?p=165 ), and see if any apps could be strengthened by supporting additional prinicples in some way?
    This principles view could also be used to analyse any app interop use case patterns we come up with too, maybe?
    confused? I am … 😉

  • Martin

    Tony, I think it’s different strokes – I tend to use scenarios because they are non-techie and so more people can relate to them. But maybe for a techie audience they’re a bit ‘just so’ (or ‘so what?’). I’d love to see you do a narrative based around some of your mashups and tools. It would bring them alive and let us see how they fit in to a wider context and also as you say, where the gaps are.
    Fancy having a go?

  • Brian Lamb

    I see Tony’s point, and those kind of fully rendered ‘real tool’ uses that come so fluently from the Psychemedia universe are very important.
    But having said that, I see lots of value in this approach as an integral component to the task. When I get asked “what is EduGlu?” (which happens about twice a week, though half of those queries are just Jim Groom jokes) I find something along these lines is usually what gets the best response.
    That said, I don’t think I’ve ever spun a tale of demented syndication quite so perfectly rendered. Love the cultural markers you sprinkle in there… I’ll need to get mulling my own scenario lest I get tagged down the line.
    The idea of using a blog-meme to help flesh out a real problem is itself inspired.

  • Martin

    @Brian – thanks, looking forward to yours. I expect it to contain mashup skills being learnt/taught. I still don’t think I’ve got at what eduglu really benefits you in this scenario, so we need to build on this.
    @Alan – nice, give me hope Joanna! I would humbly point out that this is all formal ed, I’m keen to explore beyond these boundaries too (although that is more a cultural than technological issue).

  • Martin

    Which bit Alan? About it being a cultural issue? What I meant was that formal, proper, accredited learning has social currency – it is recognised. Whereas informal is much more difficult to guarantee and convey. So, if we wanted to help support and surface informal learning, it’s more than just technology, you’d need to find ways of having this assured and recognised, so it was worth doing.
    Is that the part you wanted unpacking? And if so, is that sufficiently unpacked?

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