Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Thing 13 - The last post

After completing Thing 13
  • You will have reflected on the programme and the different Things
  • You will have...finished! Time to party!
cc Defense Images, Flickr

But first...

Take a moment to look back over the Things, here and in your own blog. Don't forget to check you blogged all 12 of them (and don't forget there's still this one to add)! Our Things have all been about curriculum design, but putting the Things themselves to one side, think also over the programme itself, and how you've engaged and interacted with it.

Blog Thing 13

About the Things:

  1. Which Things, or kinds of Thing, or just ideas, did you find most useful, or thought-provoking? Why those ones in particular?
  2. Which didn't you find useful (at all)?
  3. Are there any Things or ideas you think you will use in future?
  4. Were any useful enough that they'd be worth mentioning to other colleagues, or promoting or offering more widely in the University?
About the programme:
  1. Looking back over the programme, what were the good bits about it for you? Ideas, tools, dialogue, reflection, something else?
  2. What could have made it better?
  3. What do you think of the idea of an informal forum or network, for Cambridge staff interested in teaching and learning ideas? Is there a need? Would it interest you?
  4. If 13 Things were to continue, in some form, what should that form be?

Gather your thoughts together and make your last post.

If you're interested ... Pimp your last blog post!

We'd like to introduce Wordle. Wordle doesn't necessary have to do with curriculum design but it's a fun way to summarise documents or blog posts by showing what words got used most.

A Wordle word cloud of this blog

  1. Go to Wordle and click on "Create".
  2. Paste in the URL of your blog, click submit and watch for the result (this may take a few minutes, especially if you have posted lots). You can restrict the content to a single post if you prefer: just enter the specific URL of that post, rather than the general URL for your blog.
  3. You can play with the display using the toolbar at the top until you are happy with it, but don't navigate away from the page or you will lose it. If this happens, just re-submit the copy.
  4. When you are happy with your word cloud, simply take a screenshot of it, save it as an image format, and upload it to your blog.


You've survived the entire 13Things programme!

To celebrate we're organising a gala prizegiving ceremony with again lots of food, and prizes. All Cam13ers are welcome regardless of whether you've finished. Everyone who has finished qualifies for their Amazon voucher. To give everyone a chance to catch up the gala prizegiving will be a bit later; towards the end of May. We'll get in touch soon to organise when.


  1. Thing 13 is a look back over the programme. Partly it is about the tools we’ve looked at, mostly it is about the ‘hidden Thing’ of peer discussion that runs through the whole programme, and partly it is a question: why stop at 13?

    Assuming most colleagues were to make use of them, Socratic Investigations puts CamTools in his number one favourite tool position, followed by OpenSyllabus, followed by ... nothing! None of the other tools merit a place. mrj10‘s top three tools were Viewpoints, OpenSyllabus and CamTools, with OpenSyllabus being most worth sharing with colleagues, provided there is “University-wide momentum for syllabus standardisation, followed by Viewpoints, “if they were wanting some ideas.”

    “In general”, says Socratic Investigations in terms of tools, “I appreciate anything that helps make courses of learning more transparent than they would otherwise be, without turning them into digital labyrinths or webs. Simplicity (not narrow-mindedness or complexity in superficiality) is the KEY.” mrj10 preferred “simple things that structured curriculum design in a non-prescriptive way”

    mrj10 didn’t like “Over-complicated online tools with an implicit (and debatable) agenda”. Socratic Investigations similarly rejected any suggestion that students or teachers should be pushed down particular paths, or that courses might be over-specified to make them more ‘consumable’ or marketable, or controllable by ‘bureaucrats’. “The problem with most Things is excessive complexity betraying programmers' attempt to format courses of learning in vitro, as if what educators and students needed (today as ever) were pre-formatted ‘yellow brick roads’.”

    In terms of a community of educators, Socratic Investigations was keen on real-world meetings, but not so much online: “Genuinely useful tools are a function of dialogue; not the other way around.” While explicitly rejecting CloudWorks, Socratic Investigations values the idea behind it: “I should stress one more time that what would be helpful is a platform facilitating exchange (especially relative to bibliographies) between educators, and possibly for students to consult.” mrj10 was interested more in sharing ideas than resources: “I think there is a need [for an informal forum or network].  It is hard to innovate on your own and good to learn from others’ experience, but it is difficult to find the time and to coordinate on a University-wide basis.  This maybe reflects the general lack of priority to teaching compared to other commitments.”


  2. [Continued...]

    About the programme, both mrj10 and Socratic Investigations valued the opportunity to discuss ideas with their fellows. Overall, Socratic Investigations says “The programme was well organized. The problem was the quality of the material we set out to "test-drive" (esp. in relation to its purported utility).” In a dispiriting view of learning technologists, he feels he has gazed into the abyss, “gaining a glimpse of the inner dynamics of academic bureaucracy”. mrj10 would have given more attention to designing the ‘whats’ and less to the ‘hows’, more syllabus design and less curriculum design: “I felt that the definition of syllabus given in Thing 11 [an outline of topics to be covered in a course] was more what I was expecting than some of the e-learning material.” Overall mrj10 was simultaneously interested, disappointed and reassured by the tools.  “Even if they didn’t do anything for me it was interesting to see what is being offered in this area. I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t find anything very new, different or particularly exciting, but also reassured, in a way, that there is nothing I am missing out on.”

    If 13 Things were to continue in some form, Socratic Investigations would want it to be “Something recognized (officially) by departments and their respective chairs/heads.” mrj10 says “Perhaps if there were new Things, or updates of ones that we have seen already it would be good to be notified of these.  Maybe it would be better, though, if it evolved towards the sort of informal forum/network above.”

    So that's it for 13 Things, at least for the time being. There are a bunch more Things we’d love to tell you about but which we didn’t have time for, including eBioLabs [1] from Bristol University, Dynamic Learning Maps [2] from Newcastle University, Co-GenT [3] from the University of Gloucestershire, all in fact funded by the JISC.

    We’re going to take all this feedback and draw up some guidelines and suggestions for what kinds of Things could be worth offering to the University. Watch this space for our conclusions.

    Huge thanks to all our participants for their selfless contributions, especially to mrj10 and Socratic Investigations, who stayed the whole course and more than earned their Amazon vouchers. If we do anything like this again, we’ll make it shorter and lighter.

    [1] http://www.bristol.ac.uk/ebiolabs/
    [2] https://learning-maps.ncl.ac.uk/
    [3] http://www.pebblepad.co.uk/cogent