Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thing 4 - Course Map

After completing Thing 4
  • You will know what the 'course map view' is all about
  • You will have tried applying it to one of your own courses
  • You'll know whether it can be useful for you

What is Course Map?

Our friends at OULDI have been developing ways of making learning designs more visually accessible.  The course map view is one of the simplest 'views' and is intended to give an at a glance overview in terms of the types of learning activities the learner is undertaking, how they will communicate and collaborate with tutor and peers, the guidance and support provided and the nature of any assessment.

The four categories have been carefully chosen to capture all the main elements of a course - setting them out in boxes is just a sort of visual mnemonic.  They may seem familiar to you - they're a lot like the headings found in course handbooks, and many instructional training courses use similar categories.

The bottom two boxes are there to help other people identify the course and place it in context.

How is it used?

If you're developing an idea for a new module, or reviewing an existing one, you could use a course map to create handy overview.  Course maps can be used as a sort of checklist: are all the elements in place?  They're also easy to share.  Being consistent, they can aid comparison - creating course maps for several modules in a larger course can act as an aid to reflection on the whole set.

Check out an example: the University of Reading's third-year Atmospheric Science field course

(c) ReadingLDI

Step by step instructions

  1. Grab a blank sheet of paper and make a course map overview of your own course.  It might help to have a particular audience in mind.  If you like, you can get an editable blank version from Slideshare (account needed) or via CamTools.
  2. You're done!  Just blog what you think.

Blog Thing 4
  1. What do you think of the idea of Course Map?  
  2. How does it compare with any other representations you have of your course?
  3. Filling out your own course map, did you find it illuminating or frustrating?  Are there any ways you would change it to better reflect what you do? 
  4. In what ways do you see this being useful to you as a course designer?

If you're interested..
  • Check out the thinking behind the course map on Prof. GrĂ¡inne Conole's blog e4innovation
  • Add your own course map to your blog post (hint: scan it in, save your PowerPoint file as a picture, or just take a screenshot in Windows or Mac and after that upload the image)
  • Look up 'course map' on Cloudworks (hint: use the search box, or just click here) and share your response directly with the OULDI team there

Monday, 28 March 2011

Thing 3 - the Learning and Teaching Support initiative

After completing Thing 3

You will
  • know what the LTS initiative is
  • have a good idea how its resources, events and networking opportunities can be useful to you

What is LTS?
We asked Alice Benton, head of the Education Section, what LTS is and who it's for:
"It's for everyone! It's for administrators and academics interested in teaching and learning provision. It's our way of trying to disseminate good practice across the University.
LTS lunches often discuss pedagogic concepts

There's the lunches, where we focus on a particular topic people have suggested to us as of interest, so if you have an idea for a topic let us know. The lunches are supposed to be helping networking as well - that's part of the philosophy behind LTS.

The database is a collection of examples of particularly innovative or effective ways that departments tackle particular issues, collected here in the office from periodic teaching reviews, things that have been highlighted by external examiners, and through our annual quality update exercise. There's a form on there for people to nominate examples of good practice, so if people are doing things that they think will be of interest to other people then please do let us know.

The Have You Tried guides - we're particularly keen to work on those - are where we've identified through our own internal quality assurance mechanisms topics that seem to be of particular concern to departments, and we've tried to draw together from our various sources, including the database, examples of how different departments have tackled things. They're exactly what they say - just ideas to try.

Then there's the newsletter as well, which goes out at least once a term, where we follow up on the lunch and we highlight issues that have been discussed in the University or topics that might be of interest to colleagues."
LTS Ideas and Examples page

A brief tour of the University
It might be helpful to have a picture of how LTS fits in the University. LTS was established by the Education Committee of the General Board (GBEC), the University's central body for educational matters. One of the things GBEC does is create a four-yearly Learning and Teaching Strategy for the University, in which the LTS features. The Education Section is GBEC's secretariat and amongst other things has a general interest in teaching, being responsible for making sure the University's programmes and processes meet the Quality Assurance Agency's requirements for UK higher education programmes.

Step by step instructions

Explore the LTS website

  1. Go to the Education Section's website and click through the link to the LTS pages (or go straight there).  You'll be presented with links to three further pages. Have a look around.
  2. In the Ideas and Examples section, click through "Enter the database". It sounds more ominous than it is; all you you should see is two drop-down selection boxes and a search box. 
  3. Click 'search' without typing anything.  You'll get 71 results - everything in the database! Select an institution or theme from the drop-down selection boxes to narrow them down.   Click through to look at some of the examples in more detail.
Blog Thing 3!
A usual we've got three questions for you, plus a specific one for this tool.
  1. What did you expect from LTS initially?
  2. Having explored the LTS resources, were your expectations borne out or were you surprised? In what ways do you see this being useful for your own curriculum designs?
  3. What would you like to see from the LTS initiative?
  4. How do you think about the model of peer-sourced support for curriculum designers? Is it comparable with other institutions you are familiar with?
If you're interested
There are three things you can do to get more involved with LTS.
  1. If you'd like to be added to the newsletter distribution you can email
  2. Let Katherine know if there are topics you'd like to see, for LTS lunches or Have You Tried? guides.
  3. Can you think of innovations and particularly effective practice in your own institution which aren't in the LTS database? Examples could be anything to do with teaching and learning, feedback to and from staff and students, assessment, student engagement, policy, organisation or transferable skills. Nominate them for inclusion using the online nomination form.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Thing 2 - Cloudworks

I don't like the look of this cloud!

Scott Butner 2008
Don't worry - Cloudworks is much less oppressive.

After completing Thing 2
  • You will know what Cloudworks is, and what 'clouds' and 'cloudscapes' are.
  • You will have explored the Learning Design Toolbox; a cloudscape of curriculum design ideas and resources.
  • You will have used Cloudworks to look for and evaluate tools, activities and resources that could be useful for your own purposes.

What is Cloudworks?

Cloudworks is a website for teachers in HE to to find and discuss ideas for learning and teaching, and share their own ideas too.

In fact, it's not just for ideas - people also use it to ask questions, share examples of how to do things, and announce events. Every one of these resources gets its own page, or 'cloud'. Anyone can make a cloud - all you have to do is create an account.

Go to the website now, if you haven't already:

Tag collections can serve as summaries
Its easy to find interesting clouds by entering keywords in the search box and searching their full text, but you can also browse clouds in several ways. Most clouds are "tagged" with several keywords or short phrases. Click on "tags" in the menu bar at the top of the page to see a complete list of tags. Clicking on one, "curriculum design" for instance, gets you a page listing everything tagged with "curriculum design". In this case you get three lists: 25 clouds, one user profile and several "cloudscapes", which are simply collections of clouds. Just like clouds, anyone can make a cloudscape (by going to the Cloudscapes page), and in this example one of the cloudscapes, called "Designing flexible curricula", is one I made earlier.  You'll notice some of the other cloudscapes have been made for meetings and conferences.

Clouds and Cloudscapes are the main concepts in Cloudworks - once you understand them the rest is pretty self-explanatory.  There is one more notable feature though: Cloudworks is "social".  In practice this means anyone can comment on clouds or respond to other comments, add tags, and even contribute extra material, links and references.  By default, anyone can add clouds to your cloudscapes too, but it's possible to turn this off if you need to.  It's also really easy to 'follow' practically anything in Cloudworks using RSS (new to RSS?), so you can easily keep up with interesting discussions and updates.

Once you've found an interesting cloud, look in the right-hand info pane to see what other tags it has been given and what Cloudscapes it has been included in; maybe they will lead you to other interesting clouds!

Hopefully that's enough to get you started.

Need more Cloudfacts?

Useful tips on what you can use Cloudworks for:

How to make your own cloud or cloudscape:

Here's a video introduction by Cloudworks' creator:

How do we think Cloudworks might help course designers?

People have posted quite a lot of ideas and discussion on Cloudworks already, all somehow connected to curriculum design - maybe you will find a useful resource or discussion.  You could make an account and 'favorite' some particularly interesting clouds, and you might decide to upload some ideas, examples or questions of your own.

Cloudworks is public and run by the Open University, but it is also an open source software project, which means Cambridge could have its own private version, as a place for lecturers to swap notes on teaching.

Step by step instructions

Explore the Design toolbox
  1. Go to
  2. Find the cloudscape called Learning Design Toolbox.  (Hint: use the search box, or click here if you're really stuck).  This is a collection maintained by our friends at the Open University.
  3. Read the description of this cloudscape.
  4. Scroll down to see a list of the clouds in the cloudscape.  In this case the list is rather long so the cloudscape's creator has broken it into categories (activities, methods, resources, templates, tools).  
  5. Look down the list of clouds to about item nine - if you came to our kick-off meeting it should sound familiar!  Click through to and scroll down to "extra content" to see what kinds of lists other people have made (Hint: if you're lost go straight to the "activity: how to ruin a course" cloud).  We've added yours too! 
  6. Go back to the Learning Design Toolbox cloudscape (Hint: click back in your browser or find it listed in the info column on the right).  Scroll down to the "cloudstream" at the bottom.  This is a constantly-updated feed of everything that happens in the clouds forming this cloudscape.  Why not see where the most recent discussion has been?
  7. Click through to some interesting-sounding clouds. Look out for comments and tags.
  8. Now you've got the hang of it, try find at least 3 things on Cloudworks which you might find useful.
Blog Thing 2!
  1. What is your impression of Cloudworks? 
  2. What three things did you choose?  How do you see Cloudworks being useful to you as a curriculum designer, as a place to find resources and ideas about curriculum design?
  3. What are your thoughts about using this to upload your own resources (ideas, tools etc) and getting feedback on them?
  4. Cloudworks is a public site run by the Open University, but it is also an open source software project.  Cambridge could have its own, private version of Cloudworks, for teaching staff to share and discuss ideas just within the University.  How useful do you think such a facility would be ?
Team Friday's ways to ruin a course.  All it takes is one misplaced post-it..

If you're interested

If Cloudworks seems useful, go ahead and explore further.  Are there more clouds and cloudscapes which are useful for you?  Create a user account so you can mark favourite items, post comments on them, and 'follow' what other people are adding and what they are saying.  If you happen across a fellow traveller, you can even follow them personally and see everything they post.  Feel free to create clouds and cloudscapes yourself - do add them to the "13 Things" cloudscape so we can find you.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Kick off!

We've just held our second kick-off meeting for 13 Curriculum Design Things Cambridge, bringing the number of participants we've seen in person up to 10 (out of 14) - all course designers in some capacity, and all interested in swapping notes and discovering technologies which might help them.

I'm embedding the introduction slides below.
13 things kick off presentation 18-03-11
We used the '10 ways to ruin a course' activity from the Learning Design Toolbox on CloudWorks as a warm-up to the programme.  The outputs are in the comments on CloudWorks, but I'm posting them below as well.
Curriculum design problem clusters: Friday 18th March

Friday's group flipped the list on its head so it became "top considerations for a successful course"
  1.     [understand] variety of backgrounds - widening participation, plugging gaps, identifying knowledge vs. ability
  2.     clear aims and objectives for all
  3.     using right mix of teaching tools + supporting tools
  4.     communication between teaching staff
  5.     consider range of assessment types and uses
  6.     staff/expertise availability
  7.     [find optimum balance between] content breadth vs. depth

10 problems of course design: Monday's group get to work with some post-its

Curriculum design problem clusters: Monday 21st March

Monday's group also decided to list do's rather than don'ts.  The discussion dived deep into educational philosophy for a while before returning to zip through this list in the last few minutes, so apologies if my note-taking falls short.
  1.     Define clear expectations and common goals - learning agreement with clear plan, 'rules' for taking part and learning objectives
  2.     Align assessment with learning objectives
  3.     Clearly communicate curriculum structure
  4.     Set up effective lines of co-ordination amongst teaching staff, especially between different departments
  5.     Create a sense of being part of a learning community (including online)
  6.     Crease a sense of progression: clearly communicate progress through the curriculum, or provide means for students to do that for themselves
  7.     Activities and tasks must align with content and objectives

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Thing 1 - Create your own blog & blog about curriculum design experiences and what you expect to get out of the programme

After completing Thing 1
  • You will have a shiny new blog to use throughout the programme to record your progress.
  • You will have tried out how to use a blog, to present yourself, but also as a learning tool.
  • You reflect on what way blogs can be useful for curriculum design, or as a learning tool in general.

What is blogging & is it relevant to teaching?
Check out the Wikipedia entry on blogging for a perfectly acceptable definition and brief history, then come back here.
There are numerous blogs and bloggers within the field of lectureship. Blogging puts a natural emphasis on reflection, and that's also why some teachers or lecturers use it in that way: to reflect on their professional experiences, to offer their opinions to other colleagues, to communicate to students or parents, or also as a tool to let students reflect on their own tasks or progress which can then easily be followed by the lecturers themselves. Not everyone is convinced by the advantages of using blogs in lectureship yet, but there are definitely some advantages that can help in certain situations.

  • Check out Damien Clark's presentation on how he uses blogs for teaching purposes.
  • Or have a look at his blog itself as he uses it in an innovative way with lots of teaching benefits.
  • It's also worth reading this article about how blogs could be used by students themselves to support their learning processes.

Blogging during 13 things programme
Blogging is a key element of the 13 Things experience which we'd like all participants to engage with. Every time you complete a Thing we ask you to blog about it. Your blog posts should aim to constructively evaluate each Thing, giving an indication of what you liked (or didn't like) about it. It would also be helpful to offer the reader an ongoing flavour of your experience of the programme. It's worth mentioning that any blogs which contain posts which say little more than 'Done Thing 3' will not be eligible for completion as that is neither entering into the spirit of the programme nor the purpose of blogging. If you want more information on what could go in your blog, it's worth checking the 'FAQ' section of this blog.

Blog platforms
We have chosen to give instructions on creating a blog on the Blogger platform as that is commonly known, very quick and simple to get going on, however , you may choose to use the other main free blog provider WordPress instead. Note that if you already have a blog, there's no requirement to create a new one for the 13 Things programme.If you'd prefer to use WordPress for your blog then you will find this comprehensive tutorial by Chris Abraham very useful: Wordpress: Step-by-step (From YouTube)
But having said that, you can just ignore this WordPress information if you would just like to follow our steps about Blogger below.

Step by step instructions

creating a google account
The first thing is creating a blog, and for that you need a Google account in order to be able to do that.
If you didn't know: Google is much more than just a search engine, as it can also provide you with a Calendar, Google Docs, Blogger and many more useful tools! But enough about that, the thing we'll be focusing on now, is Blogger and therefore you need a Google Account.
It's possible you already have a google account, so feel free to immediately jump to 'creating a blog' if that's the case. If not, just follow the steps described next.
  1. Go to
  2. Fill out the different fields in the form. The field 'Your current email address' means you're just registering yourself to be able to use the Google features. Therefore, this could be a Google email address if you already have this, but it could also be another email address you're already using, such as a Cambridge email address.
If you have problems with creating this, here's a tutorial describing how to create a new Google account (from YouTube)

creating a blog
Now you have your Google account, you're able to use many more Google features, including Blogger.
  1. Go to and sign in at the top right-handed corner with your Google account username and password. You could also just navigate to Blogger if you're already signed in (for example with your Google email address). This will bring you to a sign up for Blogger screen. Some of the information may already be filled in for you (depending on what you told Google when you signed up for your account) but you will need to choose a display name and to accept the Blogger terms of service.
  2. You now need to name your blog, and choose a web address (URL) for it. The address has to be unique so your first choice may not be available. As mentioned in the FAQ, we leave it up to you how you call your blog. If you want to use an acronym, that's entirely up to you.
  3. Now choose your preferred layout template for your blog. You can change this at any point for a different one.
  4. Congratulations, your blog now exists! Wasn't that easy?

Your first post
You now need to create your first blog post.
  1. Click on the orange arrow that says 'start blogging' (if you have logged out and are returning, then click on 'new post' by your blog's name on your dashboard - the screen you see when you log in). This will bring you to the posting screen.
  2. Enter a title for the post, and then type your text into the box. There is a toolbar at the top of the box which will allow you to format your text and add links and images.
  3. We want your first blog post (Thing) to be about 1) what your experiences are with curriculum design, and 2) what you would like to get out of the programme. Feel free to also add something about your experiences with setting up a blog, blog post and so on. You could do this in the same post, or in another one but don't forget to give each blog post a title, by also referring to the Thing you're talking about.
  4. Click the 'Publish post' button at the bottom of the screen, and your first post will be live.

If you would get lost at all at any point above, we could recommend this Blogger tutorial (from YouTube) .

Register your blog and explore other participants' blogs
You've already made your first post, congratulations! Now we want you to 'register' it so the programme team could add it to the list of participating blogs. This allows other participants to be able to view and comment on your blog easily.
All you need to do is visit this URL and fill in the details.
Once you've done that and other participants too, you should be able to see their blogs in the list of participants. Feel free to explore them!

Further reading
If you're interested in finding out more:

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Welcome to the programme!

Hello and welcome to the programme! First of all, thank you very much for showing interest in this programme and for taking part! During the next 7 weeks you'll get to know a whole range of interesting tools that could help you with your curriculum design.
We hope you'll enjoy the tools, but most of all, that you enjoy the programme and get out of it what you hope to get out of it!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Getting ready to blogroll

Planning and recruiting for 13 Curriculum Things Cambridge is coming along well.  You can find the signup sheet here:

Just one of many recruiting posters around the University

What's hot and what's not: choosing which 13 things to include isn't easy

Final draft of 13Things programme

The final 13Things programme