Thursday, 12 January 2012

A learning design process using social media: Brainstorming and Aggregating

Here are some reflections on using an online noticeboard tool and a collaborative bookmarking tool as part of a learning design process.

21st century tools for teaching and learning is the title of session I run a couple of times a year and I'm running it again on 7th Feb.  Its a workshop where teachers in London can come and learn about a various of internet-based tools which they use in their teaching.  What I'm doing is aggregating what's out there, making sense of it and then articulating what I've learnt for those in schools.  If you are reading this post then you are probably minded to go out and find these things for yourself.  However, this session is aimed at the majority of educators who do not have the time or the inclination to do this.  I last ran it in May, 2011 and reflected on it here.  Its really interesting to reread past reflections on teaching so that I can remind myself what worked well and how it felt about it.

My long term plan for this session is to break it up into1 hour long chunks and offer them after work so that there are easier and more managable for busy professionals to get to.  Anyway, that's for another time because this post is about the learning design process currently underway for the session.  For a session like this it's imperative that you keep learning in a fast changing world.  I'm not looking for cutting edge software instances of tool types that are quick and easy to use with clearly identifiable applications in education.

For the second time, I'm lucky to have Isobel Bowditch help me with the session.  Firstly, we decided to examine what we've got and brainstorm ideas for the different tool type we wanted to cover and roughly how we are going to cover them.  Looking at the previous session programme, we had some practical elements where we get participants to practice using an instance of a tool type.  The others bit are demo or me talking.  There is 4:30 hours to fill.  I wanted to visually represent what we have so that we can make sense of it and easily play around the various components.  I chose one of the noticeboard tools - and added a stickie for each element.  (Previously I've used  but I've found it to be unreliable on occasion.  The hard part is judging the timing and I've estimated 15mins for practical and 5 or 10 mins for demo/presentation elements.  We started by representing the existing programme. 

Then, there was a scoping exercise.

For this we used various sites/documents which list or describe different tool types. This is pretty unscientific process which I described in the post Choosing social media/web 2.0 tools for use in teaching and learning.  So that Isobel and I could aggregate what we found, I decided to use a collaborative bookmarking service. This way we could both add things as we found them and then review together. I used My preferred bookmarking service has swung back and forth from to a couple of times. The current delicious is good because of its simplicity. Its a pure bookmarking tool and adding something is very easy. Diigo's usability isn't great but it does groups which is what you need for this sort of exercise. So I created this group:

And we started adding things and putting our comments on their suitability for our session. This meant that when we got together for another brainstorming session we could review the diigo group, visit and discuss the different tools and edit the linoit noticeboard.  This is the finished product.  I've used yellow for practical bits and blue for demo/presentation bits.

The next stage is to start fleshing out the design of the session.  Some of the tools that make the final cut need to studied so that we can teach others about them.  Also, in some instances we've identified that we want to do a practical bit on a particular tool type but have yet to identify the most suitable instance of that tool to use.

Using linoit and diigo combined with face-to-face meetings we moved smoothly through the brainstorming portion of the learning design process in an organised and efficient way.  I can recommend both.   


  1. Thanks - interesting. I'm working on a similar project in northern Canada with the launch of a new K-6 ICT curriculum. The idea is to provide short (20 minute or so) interactive workshops delivered on a regular basis, and online.

    What really caught my attention at first was your graphic on this page. I'm using similar graphics purchased from an annual subscription site for a course we're running right now on communications. Did you build it yourself? N

  2. Hi Neil,
    Thanks for commenting. Really interested to hear about your sessions. The graphics are created using linoit which is free. I've turned them into mindmaps to use in the session itself.