What is '13 things' and where does it come from?
The CourseTools 13 things programme is a programme where lecturers, course organisers, and people interested in improving planning and course design are invited to take part in. During the programme 13 tools (aka 13 things) get introduced over a period of about 7 weeks. When trying out the tools, the participants are asked to keep their records in a blog, which is also another tool they get introduced to.
Originally the idea comes from a programme called '23 things' which focuses mainly on introducing web 2.0 tools to librarians. This '13 things' programme is slightly different as it focuses on different tools and tries to reach another public.

What are the aims of the project?
The Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) and CourseTools, are both JISC funded projects that investigate and try to innovate in the area of curriculum design. The tools that we're offering during the projects, are tools that have been developed mainly by other curriculum design projects (most by OULDI but also others). As this was mostly at other universities, it would be interesting to find out whether they work for Cambridge University too. Any feedback on these tools would therefore be useful so they could improve.
Another aim is definitely to help Cambridge University lecturers, course organisers and so on by showing them these tools so that hopefully they are indeed useful and they could be used in the future too perhaps.

What do I get out of taking part in the programme?
Apart from load of experiences and knowledge about Curriculum Design (Tools) and the opportunities to exchange ideas with like-minded people, you'll also get the opportunity to enjoy free delicious lunches/dinners at the 3 meetups, and everyone completing the programme receives a £30 Amazon voucher. Even for people who can't attend the meetups, we hope this blog is still interesting if you want to find out more about curriculum design tools in general.

How long does the programme take?
The programme starts with a meetup so you get an idea what's expected and what it's all about (these are on Friday 18th March or on Monday 21st March). After the kick-off meeting, there are 7 weeks that follow where the 13 things get introduced. There's also a mid-meetup where you can again get some feedback and more insights, and the programme finishes with a meetup in style, around the beginning of May 2011. The programme should definitely be finished around the second week of May as we know exams start around the end of May.

How do I know which things to do and when?
This 13 things blog functions as a guidance. Every week we'll introduce you to 2 new things. These will be shown under the '13 things' section on the blog, where you should also see what week it's for.
We suggest you spend 20-30 min playing around with them a bit and sharing what you think by posting on your blog (which is the first thing). You have the time to explore the tools we are offering at your place and at your own pace, and depending on how you get on with each 'thing' you can go into as much or as little depth as you like.
There is also a section on the '13 things' tab on this blog where you'll find a list of 'extra things' to discover, in case you wanted to know even more!

How do I track my progress for each of the 13 things?
Each participant will keep a blog to track their progress (as described in the first thing).  Each time you complete a task, write a short blog post about it and give it a clear title so we know what's your blogging about, e.g. ‘Thing 12’ ...
Apart from these blogs per 'thing', you're of course free to blog even more, or to comment on other people's blogs.

What should go in each blogpost?
Obviously, you're free to describe what goes in your blog posts, but if you're not entirely sure, here are some basic questions which we're usually interested in:
- Have you come across this tool before the programme or is this the first time?
- What's your first impression before starting playing with it?
- What's your impression after playing with it?
- Was it easy/hard to understand?
- Would it be useful for your own curriculum design? Do you see yourself using it?
- Would you share it with other colleagues?
- What improvements could be made so it would be (even) more useful to you?

What do I do if I need help?
If you feel you need assistance with any 'thing', you are encouraged to be resourceful. You would be surprised how helpful Search Engines (e.g. Google) can be, and also forums can usually give you more insights on how to do things. If this wouldn't be helpful enough, we would also suggest you find a 'buddy'; this could be someone from the programme you work together with, or a colleague who would get interested in the programme too.  Reading other participants’ blogs can help as well. Since this programme is mainly self-directed and is being completed by other people simultaneously, you are encouraged to work with colleagues along your discovery journey.  You can also email Anne-Sophie (asd38 @ caret.cam.ac.uk or Amyas (amyas @ caret.cam.ac.uk) if you need help.

What about privacy issues?
Some of you may feel concerned about using some of the tools during the programme due to privacy issues. You are very welcome to use a screen name on your blog that does not identify you personally and you may even choose to use a pseudonym when registering for a specific tool.
Having said that, the 13Things team doesn't want to be prescriptive about this issue as we don't believe it is our place to be, but we would hope that you don't see the privacy issue as a barrier to completing the course and fully exploring all 13 Things.
How you choose to manage your online identity is one of the programme's learning experiences and you should gain an insight into what does and doesn't work for you personally as you work through the 13 Things.

Please note that one of the aims of the programme is to help course organisers, lecturers etc to learn more about tools to help with curriculum design. The more you share about it in your blog (and make less private), the more other colleagues might learn about it too.