ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Archive for the ‘BEtreat’ Category

Cleaning up my blog I stumbled upon a post of summer 2012 which I didn’t finish – and which remains interesting to me  until today. This post describes one discussion during the BeTreat workshop of Etienne and Bev Wenger. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally Gudrun, Erika and I finalised our “workshop-report” for the “ZFHE – Zeitschrift für Hochschulentwicklung –   a Journal for Pedagogy of Higher Education. We based our work on the concept of footprints of emergence (Roy Trevor Williams, Jenny Mackness, Simone Gumtau).

In the abstract we wrote that we are

approaching a method to measure learning qualitatively. Therefore not only teaching and learning achievements are considered. To a greater extent teaching settings are taken as a holistic object and the complex cooperation among teachers, students or participants will be illustrated. The used method is called “footprints of emergence”. First the method is going to be explained in theory and afterwards discussed with three examples.

In the introduction we wrote shortly about Weller’s pedagogy of abundance and about connectivism and MOOCs (Simon, Downes). Then we explained the concept of the footprints (as we understand it) and translated the clusters and factors of Roy, Jenny and Simon into German. These translation was not easy to do and we invested a lot of time re-translating the different terms.

Every author of our article brought her own case study:

  • Gudrun used her course “Introduction to Public Relations” – a traditional course where the professor talks a lot.
  • I reflected my course “EDV 4” for social work bachelor students, a course, which consists exclusively of exercises.
  • Erika reflected the pedagogical training of 3 semesters for teachers of our University of Applied Sciences FH JOANNEUM,  where large parts occur online with Erika as e-moderator.

In our discussions we learned that the footprint method is very subjective, there are no right and wrong answers. Everyone of us used the method in a slightly diferent way.

“Introduction to Public Relations”

Gudrun got 7 footprints of  30 students and in the footprint for the article she compared the maximum, medium and minimum of all footprints in one figure.

Fig. 1: Gudrun’s footprint (lecture)

We observed that the factors of Trust and Unpredictable outcomes (UnO) are in the area of  “sweet“ and „medium emergence”, which could mean that the students appreciated the tension between prescriptive and open scenarios.

With regard to the factors casual encounters/conversations (CC) and In/formal writing and inscriptions (InF) some students perceived a prescriptive learning environment whereas others perceived chaos. The factor risk is as well interesting for discussion, some students felt very safe in the learning environment whereas others didn’t feel well at all.


The students in my course worked in 5 groups, so I got 5 footprints and choose to discuss 2 of them.


Fig. 2: Jutta’s footprint (exercise, group RSS)

In the case of the “RSS feeds” group the students experienced a safe environment with nearly 9 factors in the area of “sweet emergence”, 14 factors in the area of “medium emergence” and 2 with the value “10” (which means that they are in the prescriptive zone but very near to the area of “sweet emergence”). Maybe this group didn’t experience enough challenges?

Fig. 3: Jutta’s footprint (exercise, group video)

These students experienced the factors ambiguity (Amb), co-evolution (Co-ev), self-organisation (SOrg) and casual encounters/conversations (CC) in the area of “sharp emergence”. They were challenged by the openness of the learning scenario and the affordances of collaboration.

In my opinion this group could have failed as well. Creating their own video is a demanding task and the students investigated a lot of time to analyze videos but didn’t start to work on their video. In one of the lessons I addressed this problem and asked if they will succeed to produce a video. In this conversation I told them that in my concept for this class the failure of projects is tolerable. Maybe this discussion gave them so much security that they felt a small risk in their learning approach.

Training “Hochschuldidaktische Weiterbildung” – pedagogy for Higher Education

Erika compared a footprint of a training participant with her footprint as e-moderator.


Fig. 4: Erika’s footprint as e-moderator05-HDW-participant

Fig. 5: The footprint of a training participants

In the discussion with the training participant Erika got new insights into the training. Factors as Liminal spaces (Lim), Disruption (Dis) and Solitude and contemplation (S&C) were evaluated (very) differently, which shows how the intention of a training design and the perception of the design can differ.

Future Prospects 

We are fascinated by the possibilities of the footprint method. On the one hand the clusters and factors are a helpful tool to analyze courses, trainings and learning processes, on the other hand they are very intuitive to use, they are beautiful and they make fun. We plan to use them in future.

In this article we didn’t address the ambiguity of our translation of the footprint concept.

We want to thank Jenny Mackness for our discussions and Roy Trevor Williams for the beautiful footprints (in our first version they were only ugly excel graphs) – and we want to thank Natasa for her contribution to our discussion in the ZML Leseclub.

At the end of July 2012 I attended the “Academic BEtreat” of  Etienne Wenger and Beverly Wenger-Trayner together with 8 f2f learners in California and 7 online learners (my posts about the BEtreat are collected here) – and today we will meet online to reflect:

“How are things unfolding since BEtreat ’12 – stories about what you have put into practice or not” (Mail of Bev + Etienne)

This post helps me to prepare myself for our online reunion. Looking back I remember that the experience of this BEtreat mixture of f2f workshop and online group helped me to get a deeper understanding of online and f2f processes.

After the BEtreat I continued to think about my booth focussing on: How could I integrate the online socialisation process into open courses?


I discussed this question with different persons at conferences and in working groups and I decided that I wanted to integrate the approach of online sozialisation in a rather small group with the challenge of an open course in a not so small group.

Before Christmas I developed a course design which will be tested during the next 5 weeks. In the course “Content strategy” the participants who were willing to register are invited into a facebook group to familiarize with each other and to develop a common commitment for the following open course on Google+. The phase of online socialization in fb will last for 10 days, the open course “Content strategy” with reading materials, questions and online conferences with experts will last for 3 weeks – in this open phase of the course I expect the participation of further participants. I’m very curios how this concept will work (and I’m happy that my colleague Erika will lead the moderation of the fb group).

After the BEtreat I wanted to read the material about the “Value creation framework” in detail and I planned to deepen my study of Wenger’s “Communities of practice” – but as life is short and all the time there is a lot of urgent work to do I didn’t succeed in doing it.

Last but not least I’m very happy that I got to know the article Footprints of emergence by Roy Trevor Williams, Jenny Mackness, Simone Gumtau – I’m in contact with Jenny and her team and at the moment I’m working on a paper about these footprints with my colleagues Erika and Gudrun where we want to discuss and analyze three of our courses with the footprint approach.

Overall conclusion: I’m satisfied with my participation in the BEtreat: I have a lot of new sparks of ideas in my head (chaotic and confusing but I hope to do a good debriefing in the next week). I appreciate Etienne’s sharing of his concepts and actual challenges and Bev’s efforts to support the group. In the last 2 days of the BEtreat I felt connected to nearly everybody and I got to know very interesting people!


To give a short overview over my development and learning process


Technology didn’t work and we needed a lot of time to deal technology, as sound was coming and going. Therefore there was not enough room for discussion and when there was a discussion I only understood glimpses because of breaking sound. At the first day I attended the BEtreat until after midnight, drinking a lot of coffee – and afterwards I was not able to sleep, and when I finally slept I had many dreams around the BEtreat!


I had nearly the whole Thursday to reflect about the BEtreat, continue to read in Etienne’s book – as in my time zone the BEtreat started at 17:00. I was so occupied with preparing and reflecting that I did only leave the house for 10 minutes to get some ice cream. Sometimes during the week Bev wondered why there were so many contributions of the onliners in the WIKI in comparison to the contributions of f2f people. In my case it was esay to explain: I had a lot of time to be online and contribute.

At the beginning of Tuesday the problems with technology continued – nevertheless Etienne and Bev did a good job of swapping computers, using different microphones, … and  finally for the last session we decided to only use audio and it worked – it was possible to listen to the discussion for 1,5 hours without problems. So I started to immerse into the  BEtreat experience.

With respect to content: it was planned that we reviewed / discussed nearly the whole book about Communities of Practice of Etienne Wenger in the first 2 days. And we finished doing this in the first session of Wednesday.


In the morning I reflected that I felt lost within the entire BEtreat group. It was not possible to see who is speaking, when the discussion was “hot”, f2f people forgot the microphones and nobody ever said his or her name before speaking. I wrote about it and developed a plan to change it – for further details take a look at my blog post: In the middle of BEtreat

So during the day I was very occupied  putting my plan into action and writing a lot of e-mails. Overall during this week I wrote and got 104 e-mails although the BEtreat was a synchronous event!

When we started on Wednesday 17:00 technology finally worked really well: it was possible to observe what was happening in Wengers’ garden via 2 webcams  in adobe and we had nice sound via skype worked well – the f2f people were sitting around a round table, they used the microphones in a better way and said their name as well. Furthermore we had a kind of informal discussion at the beginning, there was laughing and speaking of f2f people and onliners.

During Wednesday we discussed “Power and Identification” (chapters of Etienne’s book) and then Etienne and Bev shared their actual work with us and we discussed about learning landscapes and how the cooperation of different communities of practice could work. Bev brought an example from her work which gave us interesting insights.

Additionally on Wednesday started the work of the thematic groups as well, we were invited to work on our personal booths and bring them together in our thematic group. The last session was the presentation of two booths of f2f participants, as it was difficult to follow and it was very late, I stopped after the first booth.


As everyday until Thursday in the morning I immersed myself into the BEtreat – this time by writing the blog post Did I reach my objectives in the BEtreat? – but then for the first time during this week I left my house for entire 3 hours and spent nice time in the city, … telling my husband about the BEtreat.

When I returned to my laptop I finished my booth. At this day, the 4th day in the BEtreat my thematic group started 45 min earlier to plan our 3 hours. We did a good job and finished with a nice timeline, we planned to do our booths individually and then to create discussions in 3 separated groups about “What is an effective learning environment?”.

As technology worked well and I felt connected with the group I started to actually “say” something in the discussions as well – whereas until then I confined myself on writing in the chat. It is not easy to speak in a foreign language when it is not possible to see reactions in the faces of the listeners (and the video was of the whole group, not of single faces) – and when technology is not 100% available.

During the synchronous session I enjoyed the thematic group about the “Value creation framework”. I got a good insight in theory and practice and am wondering how I will use it in my future work.

Then it was time for the booths of our thematic group – and I was a little bit nervous how my booth will work which started near midnight. In my perception it went ok and afterwards I waited for Jenny’s booth and was fascinated by her approach of “emerging learning” and how to “measure” it with so-called “footprints”.  I’m looking forward to apply her scheme to my courses.


I didn’t go into the BEtreat during the morning and when I started I was relaxed and felt connected – until reading a comment in the critical friends page about “This morning very superficial … online offline thing is a total waste of time… “. I was shocked and hurt.

But when the BEtreat started – I felt connected with the group, it was nice and easy to listen to the reports of face-to-face participants from dancing during night in the  village and I could accept the critical comment more easily.

Our thematic group finished the session successfully and then it was time to reflect. Etienne and Bev asked us in which group we wanted to do the reflection: in the reading group, the thematic group or the leadership group – and I was astonished to discover that I was most connected with the thematic group 🙂

With respect to the Friday session I want to citate Jenny with her definition of openness which I like very much:

Openness is a way of being, it’s a stage of mind – willing to share a lot, expose oneself – openness is an inherent believe, confidence might develop as one grows by working in that way

The conveners of the BEtreat

It was interesting for me to listen to Etienne why he appreciates f2f work more than online work. I remember that he said: “I like to work with a tight schedule” (as we could experience in this BEtreat) ” and online discussions never end”.

In discourse with Bev I got the feeling that we see learning processes in a different way. I shared my experiences of asummer circus school with the group – where children are building a community of practice in juggling. I focussed on the freedom for learning and making mistakes and their being creative and inventing new juggling tricks all the time and nobody tells them how to do it. In my perception these components enable them to learn deeply and in a democratic way. After my story Bev told us  that she worked once in a circus school and that the children prepared for the big show at the end of school – and that this challenge was mainly responsible for their creativity. Also in my example there are 2 half days of show where every child out  of about 350 children has two appearances – but I forgot to tell everybody about the show as it wasn’t that important for my understanding of learning!

Probably my longest blog post ever!

To document the learning processes the Wengers are using a huge WIKI and all groups have their virtual room in the WIKI. In my case there are the WIKI for the social reporters (leadership group), the reading group and the thematic group: adult pedagogy. Furthermore each person has her or his personal booth to “online represent my context, project, stakeholders, challenges ….” and a learning journal  “to reflect and summarize what I’am learning (or not)”.

Last night Bev mentioned that the booths of the online participants are more refined than the booths of the f2f participants which doesn’t surprise me, as we “onliners” have the a lot of time during the day to collect and reflect, as the training starts at 17:00.

Yesterday I build on my booth, I tried to focus and name my challenge.

My experience with „closed“ online courses

  • Password protected virtual room for small groups
  • Gilly Salmon 5 stages: Access and motivation – Online socialization – Information exchange – Knowledge building – Development
  • Many different topics (e-moderating, …)
  • Approach used for the last 10 years, it always worked!
  • Important phases: Online socialization – building trust – negotiating identity as course members AND Information exchange – negotiating vertical power, everybody is expert for something!
  • If these phases work well participants start to build common knowledge and value their shared experiences!

My passion: concepts as in Change MOOC 2011

  • Massive open online course “facilitated” by Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Dave Cormier
  • Connectivism  Knowledge = networked and distributed, being connected in complex and chaotic environments, aided by technology
  • Connectivist principles for the MOOC: aggregate – abundance of material on website; remix – work with ideas, materials, create something new; repurpose – reflect! use it for in your own contexts; feed forward – share your ideas, reflections, learning process

My challenge

How to combine the benefits of the design of closed courses to open ones?

  • How can we get trust in an open course?
  • How do we socialize?
  • What is my role as moderator?

My questions for BEtreaters

  • What was necessary to get to know each other? What was missing?
  • What did we negotiate in this Betreat? ( a little bit unspecific, but …)
  • How did Bev and Etienne as moderator facilitate / hinder group building?

About answers … sound was not ideal … in California it was very hot … and in Europe it was after midnight …. Etienne mentioned that in the last years they used a world cafe to negotiate expectations at the beginning of the BEtreat. Duncan: the move into really small groups is key to getting “in”.

Nevertheless it was challenging to do a presentation without being able to check if the others are on the same slide as I was 🙂 And after my questions I saw vivid speaking but I didn’t hear anything. So being an onliner means less spontaneity!

It’s Thursday – the last whole day in the BEtreat and I want to reflect upon my objectives, expectations and the “real” thing.

What I wanted and what I got:

to experience a training provided by experts in the field of “social theory of learning” and to deepen my understanding

To satisfy my expectations with respect to this objective there were five theory sessions – one at Monday, three at Tuesday and one at Wednesday. Depending of technology I made it to follow the discussions or I failed. As English is not my mother tongue I’m lost if sound is swallowing half words. So my understanding sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t work. As my interest lies in the application of theories and not in theories itself I was sometimes lost when different theories, names, ideas where dropped without further detailed explication.

Nevertheless that the learning room wasn’t ideal I believe that I learned a lot. My head is full of sentences, half ideas, my nights are full of dreams about the BEtreat – how much I will finally get out of it will depend of my time I can invest into debriefing.


to experience how the integration of f2f and online learners could work mainly using synchronous learning

The training design is very challenging for online participants (I don’t know how it is for f2f participants). When I wake up in the morning I open my computer, check what was going on during (my) night, plan my BEtreat day, write in my personal booth, reflect in my blog. Additionally there is to do some “normal” work, at least check e-mails.

So when the BEtreat starts at about 16:30 I already did a lot of work. During the evening I’m participating, writing notes, trying to understand, sometimes make a comment, ask a question. And as I’m getting more tired when midnight approaches my competences of English and of understanding complex discussions diminish!

Yesterday technology worked well – there were the online participants with frozen pictures in adobe, a video of the group in California and skype for audio. It was possible for me to understand a little bit how the f2f participants are doing.

So, yes, I did experience a synchronous training with f2f and online participants – and got an understanding about it.


to get new ideas for my online training design – being at the edge to open up closed training scenarios

Starting with theory the most important aspects for me are Etienne’s “axes” – every aspect has to be negotiated, f.e. structure – action, identity – praxis, or the axes: vertical and horizontal power (maybe transverse power as well). And I want to integrate some of it in my trainings (I’m curios how I will do it).

With regard to the training design I’m happy to participate in this training but I would never adopt such a design. I feel that the training design imposes f2 schedules on online learners and does not give room for the potential of online learning, e.g for asynchronous processes or to support smaller groups of f2f and online learners.

When there is group work during the training f2f and online participants are separated. In my perception the f2f participants prefer discussions without online persons (probably is is much easier for them and there is the flow of discussing without anybody dropping in and out because of technology). (My perception is influenced by Jenny’s post where she described her experience as f2f participant in a BEtreat and how happy the f2f group was without online participants).


to build a group of learners (f2f and online) and to do work together

In my perception the building process for the whole group is at a very early stage. I have a good cooperation with the “onliners” – and yesterday the informal part at the start of the BEtreat session helped a little bit to get to know the f2f persons. But then I looked at the photos and couldn’t produce names to them.

There is not much contact between the f2f group and the online group. Etienne and Bev are eager to handle technology to bring us onliners in – but in this way the  f2f participants don’t have responsibility for us. So the buddy system of one online and one f2f participant doesn’t work and it is not necessary that it works.

At the beginning my leadership group of “social reporters” had some contact between f2f and online persons (which was very nice!) – but in the next days the group separated into f2f and online persons. The group wiki is filled with much more information of the onliners.

Furthermore I was in a mixed reading group and am now in a mixed thematic group. But as group building needs time  – which we do not have because of an overfull calendar – no groups are building. In the thematic group we have 3 hours for presentations, discussions, activities – but as we couldn’t find a common topic yesterday evening  we will do single presentations (and we have reserved some time for a joint enterprise, which we will discuss today).

So I’m very happy about the online group and a little bit disappointed about the performance of the BEtreaters group as a whole.

Today is already Wednesday in the BEtreat – and this night I slept well and long, having been online until after midnight.

Yesterday the technique worked well, but we were limited as we could only use Skype audio and Skype chat. We did a lot of theoretical discussions about Wenger’s chapters about: communities and learning, boundaries and scale and identity. Fortunately the participants contributed with practical examples as well.

Plan for today: read the chat protocols (Bev did a great job writing notes) and reflect (I’m curios if this will work).

Based on yesterday’s discussion and because it was the topic of my preparatory reading as well I’m thinking about identity and belonging in context with the BEtreat training:
  • I’m belonging to the BEtreat online group of course – we are 8 persons, but as Junko comes from Japan she cannot attend all sessions (for Junko we are starting at 0:00!)
  • And there is a sub-group of Jenny and myself as Change MOOCers – we have been in online contact during the last 10 months.
  • Then I’m in another sub-group with Cristina as she is Italian and living near :-).
  • I’m part of  another sub-group as well, of our leadership group. We are social reporters and according to the Wengers’ plan we are “responsible for creating a shared, internal memory” – but our WIKI is nearly empty, I’m strongly missing pictures of the f2f group working.
  • Probably I should be in a sub-group with my buddy as well (every online person has a f2f buddy) but as she didn’t enter skype once yesterday I’m without buddy.

Plan for today: urgently get in contact with the f2f group and my buddy!

I believe we in the BEtreat group have a serious time problem. The agenda is ultra full and as there are so many discussions the breaks are shortened and during breaks there are tech checks if necessary. After following an online discussion of 2 hours I’m happy to have a break myself as well. So I do not get in contact with others f2f – and as there is a bandwidth problem as well the f2f participants normally are not online as well.

If the objective of the training is to discuss theory and to listen to Etienne as much as possible yesterday /Tuesday with a full agenda and working audio was perfect.

As I’m a more pragmatic and applied person yesterday was ok but I’m looking forward to some development of the training – so I hope that today the theory review and preview will not need too much time.

Plan for today: Get in contact with the agenda activists and negotiate the agenda.

My interest is to build on Wenger’s theory of CoPs and to use his concepts to create our own CoP “here” in the BEtreat. This is a challenge as our CoP includes f2f AND online people.

In my experience an online group and a “mixed” group as well needs trust to learn well together. I want to get used to everybody, to have an inner picture of everybody. I have this inner picture of all online participants, I know the names and at least the skype photo (and I remember the Adobe video of Monday). But I don’t have this picture of any of the f2f participants … I only know some of the names.

To get this trust and confidence I tried the question about our favorite country which worked rather well (I will have to check who’s info is missing until now). But I would need more. I would want to get in one-to-one video conferences via skype – but not during the break but as part of the agenda! I want to speak personally to Angie, Diane, Jimmy, ….

Plan for today: Propose this idea (I’m wondering where?? Maybe I will get into contact with the community keepers).

Furthermore the f2f participants should understand what online participation means.

Plan for today: Put all the screenshots of yesterday into the social reporter wiki.

So – you other online BEtreaters, what do you think about these plans?

And you – unknown f2f BEtreaters would you like and are you ready to get in closer contact with us??