This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Action plan and case study activities: your feedback please

When we designed ocTEL we reasoned that anyone who was still with us in the three to four weeks at the back end of the course would, by definition, be fairly earnest and committed to Technology Enhanced Learning. Therefore we created activities that would give you the opportunity to relate the areas of study to your own circumstances and embed them in your practice. Hence the practical activitiesaction plans, case studies.

There hasn’t been much take-up of these activities so far (kudos to James Kerr for being the exception). Fair enough. We’d like to understand, if we can, a little more about why that is. A first hypothesis — with the benefit of hindsight, and a little of our own experience — is that anyone who is still with us in the three to four weeks at the back end of the course is, almost by definition, fairly tired and short on spare time…

Is that right? Are there other reasons? We’d really like feedback, especially from those stalwarts of you who have stayed the course, so that we can adapt the design of the activities if necessary. For example, is it the case that the action plans and case studies are interesting-but-not-urgent, so you might make a note to come back to them at a time when they’re directly relevant to a phase of your work? Or are these activities simply asking too much, so we should consider something simpler instead?

At this stage it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to make changes to this run of the course, but we’d love to know what you think so we can amend our approach in ocTEL 2.0, if there is such a thing (we are reasonably optimistic that there will be).

[Personal note: I’m having a routine operation later today, so if I don’t respond to any comments in the next few days, it’s not that I’m not interested or grateful, just that I’m recuperating.]

Consultant and occasional writer, based in London. Chartered Pscyhologist and CMALT. Overall co-ordinator of ocTEL.

10 comments on “Action plan and case study activities: your feedback please
  1. Hi David, I think you have nicely captured some of the reasons for my lack of engagement in some of the activities. Partly time, partly mooc flagging, partly not involved in actually designing a course, but later in the year will be making some changes to my course unit based on some of the learning here so far; and partly not wanting to embarrass myself to other students as well I think.

    I do like activities in courses, but I tend to engage more when they are relatively short and snappy, rather than ones that require more detailed and considered responses.

    At the same time, I am learning a lot from this course, and it has opened me up more to TEL, but whether opportunities then emerge for me to put these things into action is another matter.

    Hope all is well


    • Heather Dale says:

      I think Roger has summed up my thoughts pretty accurately. In the first weeks I did engage more with the activities but they seem to have got longer as time has gone on.

      My heart sinks when I see “watch this 15 minute video”. I barely seem to have time to watch 3 minute videos.

      I am quite a slow learner, so whilst I have taken quite a lot away from the course so far, it maybe that I will come back to aspects later, when I have digested the first parts more thoroughly.


  2. Roger Emery says:

    Being brutal about the non-engagement, for me it is simply that it does not matter, there is no point.
    Well there are many good *reasons* to engage, but there isn’t a penalty for not engaging. It’s not like I’m going to get a lesser grade or not make graduation. I can dip in and out as I please and it still makes sense and on that basis anything and everything finds itself higher on the priority list (except for this moment of dipping in at 4:30 on a Tuesday to check the time of the webinar)

    In the past free to access courses, activities and learning were found in books in libraries and I don’t get to visit them too often either. The carrot isn’t tasty enough and the stick isn’t big enough. And in the case of non-credit bearing MOOCs I hold both the carrot and stick in the form of my own self fulfilment. I do feel a little disappointed that I haven’t made the time to engage more with this course or activities, certainly nowhere near what I intended. However that disappointment is minuscule compared with how glad I am that I spent Saturday on the beach with the children instead.

  3. Alice Shepherd says:

    2 things David, one that you are spot on re lack of time – in recent weeks it’s been marking, so less time for lengthy activities, so I’ve been more choosy.

    Second being that some activities aren’t relevant to me/stage I’m at/role etc, I guess echoing what Roger is saying. So, with regard to this week, we’re in the early stages of a project, so I’ve taken some useful things from this week like risk log templates, but I’m not in a position to do a fuller case study. Also, I’m not sure that’s something I’d feel comfortable sharing in a public forum as it’s sensitive and confidential to my institution. I have made a conscious decision not to share on some activities because of this, but I’m still getting a lot from the course 🙂

    Get well soon

  4. ElizabethECharl says:

    Like Roger I am not in a position to design a course but I have learnt a lot and I am taking a huge amount from these sessions for future use in any one-off session that I may be asked to facilitate. My colleagues have benefited from my awareness of some of the readings and resources that have been timely for discussion and working groups. Timing has been very difficult in the last two weeks with little time to do lengthy pieces due to workload pressures. I agree with Ali that I am still getting a lot from this course. 🙂

    Speedy recovery – Elizabeth

  5. fieryred1 says:

    Hi David

    I hope your operation has gone well and you are recovering. I can echo the points made by Roger and Alice. I too am aware that this a public area and i cannot therefore share some of the points I’d like to discuss. I am aware also that I post, read others thoughts and the course content and hear absolutely nothing from anyone else on the course on occasion. The activities are therefore sometimes me essentially ‘talking to myself’ for everyone to see. Therefore it is sometimes reflection with no input apart from where I chose to read another post. I think that is often due to my lack of time not being able to read everything. I am not saying I am not learning anything. I am finding that I am enjoying this course as an area away from my work every week. In my current career position it is sometimes not possible to shape strategy and this course gives me a forum in which to think through my ideas and thoughts on this. 

    In terms of activities I think the time scales are a little too short either that or the activities are too long. This weeks risk assessment (9.1), I have a long list of project key failures, to list them all would be impossible to complete a full risk assessment.  The additional resources have been really really interesting and I’ve spent the time I’ve got this week reading them. The paper at the beginning was a really useful reflection on project planning. 

    In terms of projects how did you plan this one and what have been the risks associated with it?


  6. Jim Pettiward says:

    Hi David

    In my view, the activities have been well designed and meaningful, but quite labour intensive and I found them a little ‘isolating’. I know that we need to work on them alone because we all have different contexts, but I can’t help thinking that I’d have liked to try working more collaboratively on some activities, perhaps trying to build up a hypothetical project together with one or two other participants. I liked the Week 0 idea of getting into forum groups around areas of interest and maybe this could have been exploited and developed as the course went on and people within these small groups could have been encouraged to work on, share and review activities together? Another thought – perhaps if the webinar was at the beginning of the week a part of it could be used to talk about the week’s activity(ies) and somehow act as a catalyst to get people started on the activity or activities for that week. As it is, I found the long text describing activities quite daunting – maybe some video intros to the activities would help?

    Of course, time and MOOC fatigue also played a part in my not doing all the activities (or even most of them), but if they’d been a bit shorter and snappier, as Roger says, then I might have felt like doing more of them. Having said that, it’s entirely possible that you could run the same MOOC again the same way and get lots more engagement and participation in the activities…. 🙂

    Hope you’re recuperating well from your op


  7. imogenbertin says:

    Hi David I hope at this stage the operation is receding into memory and you are fully recovered?

    I think this course is a great opportunity that extends far beyond the 11 weeks. I have been copying and saving the course materials pages because there is so much on there that I would like to explore but cannot make time for at the moment. I want to come back to them and be able to “re-find” those resources when I need…

    There is just too much material to complete and I agree with a comment above. The very mention “15-minute” puts me off. 5 mins and I’ll probably watch it. I prefer text resources that I can skip and navigate unlike video. I am trying really hard to make time to watch the webinars and to carry out one activity each week which makes me apply the information to my own situation and try to analyse or synthesize in some way.

    This brings up issues about whether learning is still “recalling without prompting”. Or does the advent of “Google brain”
    require a different form of summative assessment? If you have knowledge requirements that are constantly volatile and obsolescent is there a need to know how to find and re-find and apply rather than recall? So I’m putting work into being able to reap the benefits of the massive effort you and the other OcTEL volunteers have put in when I directly need it, and in the mean time, just trying to have some basic understanding of the wider issues.

    I am not currently designing a project but I am storing all of this information for when I will be… and also hoping to use it with my CMALT portfolio if I ever manage to get that done.

    Thank you and thank all the ALT team for all the work you have put in.

    Best wishes


  8. imogenbertin says:

    Oops. I also meant to agree with another previous comment that it’s not realistic to go into detail about “what went wrong” on most projects on a public forum…

  9. David Jennings says:

    Thanks to everyone for these thoughtful and detailed comments – and for the good wishes (health good, thanks!).

    I won’t go into detail in terms of addressing the points now, because we’ll be publishing a fully considered report and response at some point over the summer. But some of the changes we might make in ocTEL 2.0, if there is one, include
    – a shorter course (maybe 6-7 weeks, but don’t hold me to that)
    – more than one week for each topic, possibly managed by overlapping topics, as has been the de facto position here with some people working on the current week, some on the week before and so on
    – webinars nearer the start of the week

    We’ll perhaps explore those and other points in more detail in the webinar tomorrow, but if you can’t make that, feel free to comment here.

    Roger E’s point about carrots and sticks is well taken (frankness is appreciated!), as is the one underlying a few comments about not being comfortable sharing details of “real life” issues, problems and risks in open forum. We’ll have to have a proper think about those, judging what changes would best address them. We also reserve the right to stick to our guns in some areas. At this level of professional development, I would argue that not everything should be convenient and bite-sized – setting challenges and encouraging some risk-taking is an appropriate approach, even if only a minority rise to take this on. (That’s my personal view, not an ALT position.)

    The final point I’d like to explore more, here or elsewhere, is Jim’s point about isolation and collective activities. Certainly the most collective activity was also the most popular in terms of participation. Do you think we could have achieved something similar in, say, Week 7 or 8, when general participation was much lower? I appreciate there could be a bit of chicken and egg about that, and I’d welcome further views and advice.

    Thanks again. Do come back on any of the above in tomorrow’s webinar if you can.