ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

As mentioned before in my contribution How to use comics to organize and reflect (online) learning processes I’m engaged in creating comics. My objective is to evaluate how to use comics in my teaching. You may ask:

Why should a teacher use comics in his or her teaching?

As I believe that learning takes place inside the head of a person and I cannot influence that a lot (constructivism) I’m looking for tools to nourish the curiosity of my students. My approaches are broad and diverse while I facilitate mostly online learning processes (connectivism, emergent learning).

Phase 1: In May of this year I started with Nick Sousanis Grids and gestures exercise which turned out to be a nice experience. I learned how to create abstract comics and use them for structuring and reflection. I even offered a comics workshop for my colleagues who liked it a lot. Stimulated by the comic making exercise I reflected the positioning of grids in a comic and considered the relationship between space and image.

Phase 2: At the moment I’m learning in Matt Silady’s Comics: Art in Relationship MOOC. This time it’s a lot harder because I have to draw „real“ comics. We are now in week 4 and I haven’t started yet with the homework of week 3! Until now I created a two pages comic about myself and 5 (!) comic diaries.

It’s amazing for me to discover that there is a lot of theory behind comics! And I love theory when I’m invited to apply it.


In the first week Matt defines comics as visual art in relationship and broadens the former definition of sequential art. He invits us to look for comics in our every day life.

In the second week he mentions three types of relationships in comics: visual art & visual art (image & image), visual art & text, visual art & cultural context (mainly used in comic jokes). He lists 7 image-image relationships (moment to moment, action to action, subject to subject, scene to scene, aspect to aspect, non-sequitur, symbolic) and 7 text-image relationships (word specific, picture specific, duo specific, intersecting, interdependent, parallel, montage/pictorial).

In the third week we think about time and space, which are one in comics, as Matt declares. The „gutter“ between one comic grid and the next can contain a different amount of time, one second, one hour, one day, a whole life, … And that’s the next assignment I’m thinking about at the moment!

Reflection: Drawing this comics I realize that I cannot draw … so I limit myself to stick figures and strange perspectives. On the positive side I  can imagine stories and I get ideas how to sketch them. During this time I moved from black&white images to colored ones.

In the back of my head I’m looking for ideas how to transfer comics into my teaching. And …. I already used some of my own comics in a presentation at a conference.


Today I’m organizing a workshop about the use of comics as Nick Sousanis describes it. I like his approach to combine pictures and words and I’m curios how my colleagues, mostly university teachers will evaluate this approach.

Part I: Nick Sousanis Approach

At the beginning I will ask people about their „relationship“ with comics (I never liked comics a lot). Then I will present some of Nick Sousanis ideas very shortly. In groups the participants will discuss the comic page Balanced between art and laguage to deal with Nick’s drawings.

Part II: Grids and gestures

The most important part of the workshop will be the part where the participants draw the shape of their days and discuss their experience. They should reflect how thinking about the day and structuring it in grids on the one hand and the drawing itself changes their perception of this day. We will discuss splashes cutting through the grid and the role of emptiness.

Part III: Transfer

At the end I will present the transfer of these ideas in my work: once I was overwhelmed with structuring a complex workshop – and drawing a comic helped! And I gave my students a voluntary comic exercise. Then the participants will work on ideas in their own context.

jutta's comic



Today I carried out a workshop in the school “Rainergymnasium” in Vienna, with 68 school students between 14-15 years and from three different classes. Their teacher Vera Kadlec invited me to support the students to reflect their experiences in an IMST project with special regard to the subject informatics.


The workshop was planned for two school hours. I started with a short introduction to emergent learning and the footprints of emergence. Then each student drew his or her individual footprint using a sheet with further information; the sheet contains a question for each factor and a picture which visualizes the factor.


As the weather was beautiful most of the groups worked in the open. Vera, her colleague Jochen Reichert and I observed the students drawing their footprints and helped them if necessary. During the process of drawing the footprints the students asked a few questions about specific factors. One student felt that the questions in the sheet need a “yes” or “no” contrary to the footprint template where there is a continuum for each factor.

After the first school hour many students had finished their drawings. In the second hour I started to discuss the footprints with groups of students whereas Vera and Jochen supported the others to finish their footprints as well.


Some observations of the footprints

Cluster Open/structure:

  • A student put the factor risk in the sharp emergent zone. She said that despite of learning a lot for the exam there are questions she cannot answer. Therefore she feels a lot of risk to fail.
  • Another student loved the possibility to learn in other places than in school (lim).
  • Many of them positioned the ambiguity factor in the sharp emergent zone or at the edge of chaos (amb). In the analysis of the footprints Vera will check if this result is related to the specific school class.
  • One student created a footprint with rather high factors of disruption and self-correction. He told me that in class he often cannot finish his work (high disruption factor) and he hates it. Then he has to solve the problem by himself after class (high self-correction) and he likes it. This was an interesting learning experience for the group, that sometimes we like to be challenged and sometimes not.
  • Many students spoke in a positive manner about different learning paths.


Cluster Interactive Environment

  • Many students gave the factor experiential a high value. With respect to this factor they reflected mostly their experience in the subject chemistry.

Cluster Agency

  • Many students were stressed because they often had to organize themselves and be autonomous. Some of them didn’t like this at all and put the factor self-orgainsation and autonomy into chaos.
  • In the discussions I was not sure if the students understood the factor identity. They see very clear and fixed roles of being students or teachers (alas a factor in the prescribed zone) whereas some of them put the factor identity into the (sharp) emergent zone.


Cluster: Presence / Writing

  • We discussed the factor solitude and contemplation (S&C) which was sometimes in the sharp emergent zone. The students said that if they do not succeed in finishing their work in class the professor allows them to finish it at home. But they find it hard and difficult to work alone at home.

After the workshop Vera and I discussed our impressions of the interaction with the students.


Altogether the students said that they are happy to learn within a structured learning environment and that they didn’t want more freedom in learning. Furthermore they stated that during the first semester the design of their learning space was more open and more closed in the second semester.

With respect to the workshop 68 school students were too much to deal with. Next time we will do a workshop with every class again.

I really enjoyed this conference. There was so much food for thought! The discussions around metaphors (for more detail see the blogpost of Jenny Mackness) added to my interest into more creative learning spaces.

Many years ago I started to develop more open learning spaces based on a gender mainstreaming approach. I reflected about the use of language (and metaphors of course) and aimed to use open wording/phrasing in tasks and online communication. From my students I learned to like smileys and in the creativity MOOC of Tina Seelig 2013 I got further ideas about creating and using artefacts in learning.

Before the #nlc2016 conference I stumbled upon Nick Sousanis ideas about unflattening the world and looking for more perspectives. So I responded to his exercise to draw comics about the shape of a day. I’m not brave at drawing but I liked to create a picture about my day as for example about Monday at the Networked Learning Conference.


I believe that we need as many approaches as possible to deal with the complexity of today’s learning challenges. Maybe drawing comics could be one. I plan to include the option for drawing a comic into the next task for my students which I’m meeting at London at the moment. And of course I will discuss aspects of networked learning with them.

The footprints of emergence framework is another possibility of dealing with complex learning scenarios. In my blog I collected information about the footprints and different options of drawing them.

The footprint of my experience at this week’s networked learning conference in Lancaster is rather balanced one.


My footprint is mostly in the zone of sweet emergent learning. Attending the conference was a pleasant learning experience for me. And I was challenged by all the networking experiences and by meeting so many other “minds”.

I’m looking forward to reading some of the #nlc2016 papers and surfing some slides. And it would be a real pleasure to attend #nlc2018 in Zagreb.


At the moment I’m sitting in this wonderful garden enjoying a splendid day in the Lake District. I’m told that normally it’s raining here all the time so I’m very lucky to experience already the third day of sun in the companionship of Jenny Mackness.


Of course we didn’t only walk and cycle and eat and chat – but were engaged in a profound discussion of our presentation about the footprints of emergence at the Networked Learning Conference in Lancaster – improving and finalizing it as well. Jenny believes that we could have invested more time and could have been more focused on the topic of our presentation but I’m confident about the power of emergent learning and our wandering around in the real landscape and in our inner landscapes.

Chatting with Jenny means to share experiences, to discuss believes, to get new ideas for collaboration, to get new books to read … and as we mostly meet online these face-to-face days are very valuable.


Jenny likes to learn in MOOCs and it seems that if she starts a MOOC she will finish it as well – which is not true for all the MOOCs I learned in. As I was in love with the Change11 MOOC (and did finish it!) my ideal MOOC would be an open and challenging cMOOC as well. But when I convinced people of my university that we should develop and offer a MOOC to get experiences about its potential and opportunities I had to acknowledge that nor our students nor my teacher colleagues would profit from a pure cMOOC.

Therefore we went for a hybrid design in the case of our Competences for Global Collaboration MOOC (cope15) with a weekly structure, learning materials including videos by experts and 2-3 tasks by week. Nevertheless I fought for a design as open as possible which challenges the learners by offering a lot of learning opportunities, encouraging them to look for further information about the topics and sharing them with other learners. And I gave them the opportunity to draw a footprint of emergence in the last week of our MOOC to reflect their learning process.

In preparing our paper Jenny and I investigated the footprints of the learners and the design footprint of the MOOC. We perceived a certain success of the design intentions and we liked the attitude of the learners engaged with the footprints. Of course further work analyzing footprints of emergence and relating them to learning scenarios and to individual learners has to be done.

Today my colleague Erika and I supported students of physiotherapy to draw their first footprint after completing their first placement. It’s fun to watch them struggling with the concept behind the footprints. 

Based on the description of the footprint terminology of Jenny Mackness and Roy Williams we translated the questions for the factors into German and adapted them for school and university students. We tried to use a simple language but keep hold of the complexity. That was no easy task at all! Furthermore we are using many of the pictures of Roy’s mapping sheet in the Footprint WIKI. But I’m not sure if they are free to use. Therefore I don’t share digital versions of our handouts. 

The students draw the footprints per hand using the German version of this template.


It’s nice when the students get new insights into their learning process at the placement.

I’m looking forward to discuss the footprints of emergence with you and Jenny Mackness at Lancaster during the 10. Networked Learning conference.

To Jenny’s post about our presentation

In knapp zwei Wochen, am Dienstag, dem 10. Mai werden Jenny Mackness und ich auf der 10. Networked Learning Konferenz über den Einsatz der Footprints of Emergence erzählen.


Die Networked Learning Konferenz in Lancaster ist eine bedeutende E-Learning Tagung mit hohem theoretischem Anspruch, was mich als Praktikerin etwas unter Druck setzt. Sie findet alle zwei Jahre statt. Im Jahr 2000 war ich bereits einmal dort und sprach über Networked Learning in Applied Science Education. Diesmal steht die Tagung unter dem Motto Looking back – moving forward, gar nicht so unterschiedlich von der Thematik unseres heurigen 15. E-Learning Tages im September, bei dem wir die letzten 15 Jahre kritisch reflektieren.

Jenny Mackness  lernte ich 2011 online kennen und schätzen. Wie ich liebt sie im Netz ihren Blog und twitter – oder zumindest sind das die Medien, durch die wir hauptsächlich in Kontakt sind. Der Austausch mit Jenny beflügelt meine emergent learning Prozesse – immer wieder regt sie mich zu neuen schrägen Aktivitäten an (etwa gerade eben verlockt mich ihre Beschreibung, wie sie Comics zeichnete) oder wir treffen uns in denselben Online-Lernräumen.

2014 hielt sie gemeinsam mit Roy Williams die Keynote an unserem 13. E-Learning Tag, in der die beiden über ihre Erfindung der Footprints of Emergence sprachen. Damals – in Graz – traf ich sie zum ersten Mal persönlich und nächste Woche fliege ich nach Lancaster zu unserem zweiten persönlichen Treffen. Ich freue mich schon sehr auf unseren Austausch und gemeinsame Spaziergänge.

In unserer Präsentation auf der Konferenz (siehe Abstract) werden wir von der Verwendung der Footprints of Emergence im Rahmen des Competences  for Global Collaboration MOOC erzählen- siehe Jenny’s Blogpost über unser Vorhaben. Die Visualisierung des MOOC-Designs als Footprint of Emergence war überaus nützlich für die Diskussion im Projektteam, das advanced assignment in Woche 6 sollte die Lernenden dazu verführen mit einem Footprint den eigenen Lernprozess im MOOC zu reflektieren. 49 TeilnehmerInnen beschäftigten sich mit der Methode und erstellten einen Footprint.

Ich bin schon neugierig auf die Konferenz, auf networked learning 2016 und freue mich auf einen spannenden Austausch.