ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Ich wurde eingeladen, bei der BNE Sommerakademie des Forum Umweltbildung 2017 eine der drei Keynotes rund um “Bildung On-/Offline: Digitaler Wandel als Chance einer Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung” zu halten. In der Vorbereitung dazu wurde ich durch einige Posts meiner Content-Strategie Studierenden zur Methode MUSE angeregt, mit der man eine Geschichte entwickeln kann. In diesem Blogpost sind meine Überlegungen festgehalten.

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As university teacher and head of an e-learning center I’m wondering how my job will change during the next years. Already now students are different, many of them know less maths and spelling rules and speak English fluently. In courses of university teaching colleagues complain that students are not engaged anymore. Instead of immersing themselves in university topics many of them aim at finishing their degree as quickly and easily as possible.

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Der Begriff Andragogy meint die lebenslange Bildung von Erwachsenen (wortwörtlich eigentlich “von Männern” – weil wir Frauen schon schlau genug sind?). Ich verstehe unter Andragogy Lebenslanges Lernen (LLL).

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In the BizMOOC project we will create three pilot MOOCs. Last week the project team met in Cardiff at Open University (OU). After doing research and collecting a lot of data for the MOOC book – which went online at the end of February – we are now thinking about our MOOCs. During the partner meeting we had a one day workshop about learning design for MOOCs together with experts from OU – Martin Weller and Ruth McFarlane.

In a sub-group five partners (FH JOANNEUM, AVL List,University of Economics Krakow and Hasso-Plattner-Institut) will develop a pilot MOOC focusing on business key competences.

The learning design word wheel

It was interesting that the experts of OU suggested that we start with the learning design word wheel of Open University and think about ‘meta-aspects’ of our MOOC. Should it be innovative, or demanding, or professional or supporting? This question was a hard one, how can we start to think about this meta-aspects without already knowing the content, the target groups, …

But they forced us to do it their way! As we will build a business MOOC I expected the group to decide for a ‘professional’ MOOC. But in a vivid discussion we chose the word ‘supporting’ which I like very much. In all my learning programmes I aim to support learners. As sub-words we agreed on ‘confidence’ and ‘encouragement’.

If you are interested in the learning design word wheel you can use it at OU website. It’s free to use but probably you have to register before.


In the second step we were invited to think about our learners and develop profiles. We had to find a name for our students, define the age, we discussed nationality, sex, occupation, educational background, experiences and motivation for the MOOC, as well as their study skills, strengths and weaknesses.

During the discussion we learned a lot about our future students and we got to know each of the team better as well. Christian from HPI created small avatars for our mooc / mock students which were fun.

Activity planner

The next step: we started to discuss learners’ activities in our MOOC. Should they be assimilative, finding and handling information, communicative, productive, experiential, interactive/adaptive or assessment tasks?

Ruth gave us this nice booklet to work with but of course you can find the information online as well. Also this task was not that easy because we had to find a common understanding about the meaning of the different activities and then agree upon the best mix. Of course we didn’t agree and the individual estimations about time spent on the different activities were different.

Real planning

In the last part of the workshop we started with the real planning of the MOOC weeks. Also this time Ruth provided a very useful excel sheet, which I didn’t find online and therefore cannot share in this post.

The first page in the excel sheet gives an overview of the MOOC based on the weeks. For each week we had to think about its title, a short summary and the learning objectives. Furthermore we had to estimate the hours our learners will spend in this week.

The next pages show the individual weeks. During the weeks we had to define the activities (communicative, productive, … – as mentioned above) and they are implemented (in a discussion, a document, a video …). Furthermore we had to decide how much time the learners should / would spend on each activity. The sum of the time spent on all activities in one week should add to the hours planned for this week.

Of course we didn’t finish all the planning in Cardiff but we built a useful basis for our future work on the MOOC design.


I’m experienced in developing MOOCs (for example and we developed a small MOOC how to create a MOOC. Nevertheless the learning design workshop, provided by Open University, was very helpful and I learned a lot. Mainly the approach of OU supported us – the team members of the BizMOOC – to get a common idea about our MOOC. In addition the very structured design was helpful to really work on the MOOC and produce the first week.



Nearly a year has passed since my last post about MOOCs in February 2016.

I have not been lazy in this year and I haven’t stopped thinking about MOOCs. For example:

  • In May 2016 together with Jenny Mackness I presented our work about Visualising structure and agency in a MOOC using the Footprints of Emergence framework at the tenth International Conference on Networked Learning in Lancaster.
  • I was and still am involved in two European MOOC projects led by my university: the AtLETyc project and the BizMOOC project.
  • In September, during the partner meeting of the AtLETyc project we decided spontaneously to create a small MOOC within a month to provide the partners with the MOOC experience on the one hand and to let them work on content for MOOCs on the other hand. If you are interested take a look at the AtLETyc MOOC camp.
  • And I did some really great MOOC learning in Matt Silady’s Comics: Art in Relationship MOOC. Because drawing Comics takes a lot of time I have spent less time writing about MOOCs ….

In the future my dealing with MOOCs will get more intensive as we will build one MOOC for athletes with useful knowledge for them with respect to the time after their sports career and another MOOC to provide business key competences to whoever may relate to.

In the BizMOOC project a common body of knowledge was collected which resulted in 14 discussion papers about MOOCS and online education, MOOCs initiatives, MOOC types, MOOC quality and MOOC pedagogy, drivers behind MOOCs, recognition of learning in MOOCs, business models for MOOCs, MOOCs and human resources, and useful online material for the BizMOOC.

Furthermore in the BizMOOC project we investigated needs and gaps with respect to business people, people in Higher Education and the society as a whole. I find the society survey on MOOCs very interesting. And I’m a little bit sad that according to this report face-to-face rather than online courses are still preferred by participants. There are so many amazing online courses out there in the web!

At the upcoming partner meeting in Cardiff this week we will work on the concepts for the three Pilot MOOCs focusing on life-long learning, business key competences and innovation & creativity. We will create a cMOOC, an xMOOC and a Hybrid-MOOC. I’m looking forward to our training session with Martin Weller, whom I got to now at the #change11 MOOC.

Lancaster University, one of the leading universities in the UK, has long experience of dealing with distance students and for a long time I have been curious about how their e-learning works. Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk to Karin Tusting, a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language, and pose four questions.

(1) How are the Courses Organised?

  • How do you organise your PhD distance courses?  
  • Are all the different modules in a PhD distance programme fairly similar (with respect to how they are organised e.g. how many online meetings, how many assessments etc) or are they very varied?

Karin answered my first question with respect to the PhD in Applied Linguistics by Thesis and Coursework, where after six modules of coursework the students will start their research work for their thesis.


The distance students can attend the PhD programme full-time (completing all the coursework in one year) or part-time over two years. The programme is organised according to a blended learning approach.  Each year it is compulsory for the students to participate in four face-to-face residential weeks – one induction week in January and three further weeks in July.

There are 5-15 distance students every year. In the induction week at Lancaster University they get to know one another, visit the library, and attend classes where all the courses/modules are presented. After this week they should know which courses they want to take. Part-time students have to select three modules in the first year and three modules in the second year (dealing with the subjects of both linguistics and research methodology). After the induction week the online phase starts.

During the online phase in one of Karin’s modules for example, the students have two units in the first semester which last three weeks each, where they have to read papers, work on tasks, hand in their results, reflect and give feedback. Each module is offered once every two years; therefore there are two cohorts of students in each coursework module.

In the residential weeks at Lancaster University the students attend four to six hours a day where they have to apply themselves to their learning, present results, and communicate with teachers and colleagues. In their ‘free’ time they still have a lot of other work to do. After these three weeks the students are ready to work on their final papers for the modules. They have to hand in the first paper in September, and the second and the third paper in November. In this period they also start to focus on their thesis, by collecting data for example.


During their work on the thesis (and I forgot to ask how long this would last) the students are supported by their supervisor who will be available for them once every two weeks (for full-time students) or once a month (for part-time students). There are no group activities for students and there is no common learning community. Some cohorts of students do, however, self-organise in online groups.

(2) Which Software is Used?

  • Which technical tools do you use on the courses? (learning platform, video conferencing tool, messaging software e.g slack, social media)

Karin told me that they work with Moodle extensively and that no other technical tools are used in the coursework modules. This means that the students are mainly working asynchronously and alone. Furthermore the assessments are all text-based. – This is true of the modules Karin worked on, but there are other modules on the same programme which could have different kinds of activities and forms of assessment

This is in contrast to the undergraduate and Masters courses where the students work individually and in groups, and where the teachers are experimenting with more diverse assessment methods at the moment based, on the Digital Lancaster strategy.

During the thesis period students and supervisors communicate one to one mostly via skype.

(3) How do the Teachers do their Job?

  • How do you train the teachers of the PhD distance courses to plan the courses, to implement their concept/build the virtual learning environment, to deliver/carry out the courses?
  • Do the teachers have help with the courses e.g. pedagogical help to plan their courses, technical help to build the environment, assistance when carrying out the course?

Karin told me that there is no particular training programme for online teachers. There is some technical support from the IT Services. With regard to pedagogical issues inexperienced teachers tend to learn from more experienced colleagues mostly in ad hoc team teaching situations. Once a year the department organises a Teacher Day where the teachers focus on a pedagogical topic with no special emphasis on online learning.

At PhD level there are no tutors supporting the teachers.

(4) How do the Students learn?

  • Do you succeed in building a learning community of students and how well does this community work?
  • What percentage of the students’ workload is group work or pair work or individual work?

The distance students mostly learn individually and alone. Group activities and interaction organised by the programme is limited to the face-to-face weeks at Lancaster University and occasional online discussions. Karin told me, that the students have usually bonded quite strongly as a group while doing face to face work, which affects how they engage with the distance bits. Online group activities happen on the initiative of the students.

A final question

Before I left, I asked Karin if she likes being an online teacher. She said that teaching online is demanding and that it needs more preparation and more time than f2f teaching. She admitted that time was an issue – as indeed it always is for online teachers. And she started to beam when she mentioned how much she enjoys it and how satisfying it is to watch students think and develope.

I would like to thank Karin for the interview and I’m sorry if have misunderstood anything – this blogpost is just my account of our meeting.

Im Dezember stand Phase 2 der Auseinandersetzung mit Twitter am Programm (zur Vorgeschichte). Die  40 #jpr16 Studierenden waren herausgefordert, die Qualität der Tweets und des Austauschs zu steigern, von einer Vielschreiber*in zu lernen und die eigenen Aktivitäten zu reflektieren.

Diesmal besteht die Herausforderung an mich darin jeder Person ein individuelles Feedback zu geben. Dabei gehe ich folgendermaßen vor:

  • Ich checke die Kontinuität der Tweets, gehe die Timeline entlang und lese so viele Tweets, bis ich einen Eindruck erhalte. Dann schaue ich mir unter Tweets&Replies die Gruppengespräche an und lasse das Twitter-Profil auf mich wirken. Ich besuche die ausgewählte Vielschreiber*in und mache mich auf die Suche nach der Reflexion, die in Tweets zu finden ist, in Google-Dokumenten, in einem Blog, in einer Twitter Message oder in einer E-Mail. Oft ist diese Reflexion auch nicht explizit irgendwo festgehalten.
  • Neben dieser bewussten Auseinandersetzung mit dem Tweetverhalten der Studierenden reflektiere ich meine persönliche Wahrnehmung: wie wirkt der jeweilige Twitterraum auf mich, gehe ich in Resonanz, nehme ich eine Person in der Fülle der Tweets wahr, erhalte ich Nachrichten, die mich ansprechen, werde ich zum Weiterlesen, Schauen, Hören, Schmunzeln verführt. Spricht mich das Profil an?

Jede Woche sollten die Studierenden 10 Tweets verfassen, das bedeutet mittlerweile haben sie um die 80 Tweets oder mehr verfasst. Ein Viertel der Studierenden (10) haben weniger als 75 Tweets verfasst, doch nur um zwei von ihnen mit weniger als 40 Tweets mache ich mir Sorgen. Mehr als ein Drittel (14) sind VielschreiberInnen mit zumindest 149 Tweets in den letzten acht Wochen. Das beeindruckt mich und freut mich.

Es ist durchaus legitim, dass manche Studierende noch auf der Suche nach ihrem Stil, ihren Themen, ihrer Twitter-Identität sind. Viele tweeten bereits recht professionell und es scheint ihnen auch Spaß zu machen.


Phase 3: Januar 2017 – Professionalität anstreben

In der letzten Phase bekommen die Studierenden nun den folgenden Auftrag:

1) Meine Feedbacks berücksichtigen und den Empfehlungen folgen, wenn sie für die Studierenden Sinn machen.

2) Ein bis zwei Themen auswählen und professionelles Tweeten ausprobieren (also wie beim Schreiben auch Recherchieren, Quellen auswählen und angeben, eigene Sicht schildern).

3) Werkzeuge rund um Twitter ausprobieren und miteinander teilen, wie etwa tweetdeck, Verbindung zu anderen Social Media, …