The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

Archive for the ‘user group’ Category

Organising Principle for Patterns.

Posted by johnrg on December 12, 2008

Jakki, Andrea and I made an attempt recently to map some of the patterns held on the Planet Wiki against the time and decision based organisational structure put forward by Sally Fincher. We had some success and we also encountered several issues. Particular areas of difficulty arose from:

  • working with a dynamic timeline
  • identifying disciplinary based decisions

We also made a number of observations including:

  • the same patterns could be applicable at different points along the time line
  • the same patterns could be applicable to differing group sizes
  • there are evident groupings of patterns e.g. communication and team working

What did we learn?

There was considerable discussion between the three of us about where to place some of the patterns on the diagram. Similarly our understanding of the timeline varied because of its circularity e.g. at what point are you making decisions based on student module evaluations is it at the end of the time line or the beginning.

As a result of this exercise a variant on the decision based organising principle was proposed based on the idea that designing learning experiences can be modelled as a life cycle and that this can be represented as phases that may be sequential and iterative.  Another factor in seeking to represent things in this way was the view presented by  Sally Fincher that however we seek to offer patterns to staff it must be as close as possible to what staff actually do otherwise they are unlikely to make use any outcomes from the project.

In looking at this mapping activity it rapidly became clear that the number of factors influencing decisions arose from pedagogic, operational and administrative considerations and that while there may be useful patterns to be mined from each of these areas we need to limit ourselves to pedagogic patterns for the purpose of this project.

Another observation made relates to ‘groupings’ of related patterns. Looking at Sally’s structure there are also ‘groupings’ evident in this e.g. classroom activities, evaluation, reflective, project work and so forth. It seems to us that one approach here would be seek to collate patterns into groups and to identify appropriate points in the ‘life-cycle’ of a learning experience where such groups may prove helpful to academic staff. Clearly we need to understand what groupings might prove useful and we would need to evaluate potential workflows of such staff to see how they actually go about designing, delivering and evaluating learning experiences.



We identify a few active and amenable members of staff to talk to about how they create student learning experiences. We should seek potentially useful points at which collections of patterns could be made available, what form this might take and also what patterns might prove useful.

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Planet and the Semantic Web

Posted by johnrg on December 1, 2008

I had a meeting with Tony Linde (U&I Semantic Web) and Vania Dimitrova / Lydia Lau (AWESOME project – Leeds Uni) today where Tony looked at how the semantic web might be applied to JISC projects. With regard to Planet Tony suggested that there were opportunities to apply semantic Web approaches, particularly when we seek to make use of patterns in our pattern store and represent them to users who seek solutions /make decisions about various aspects of designing and delivering learning experiences. I think we should follow this up at the face to face meeting on Dec 15th.

One other outcome of this meeting relates to the AWESOME project and the fact that they have collected together a series of examples from both staff and students of things that worked across the various phases of writing a dissertation. Thisseems to present an opportunity to capture both a collection of case studies and abstract potential patterns for use within Planet. I suggest that we agree a way forward with AWESOME on how to achieve this.

Posted in patterns, related projects, user group | 1 Comment »

Try once, refine once: a handy pattern from Aliy Fowler

Posted by yishaym on November 19, 2008

Aliy Fowler from Kent is one of the participants in our formative e-Assessment group. She brought us a case story called String comparison in language learning. At the 2nd workshop of this group, we discussed this case, and identified a pattern, which she called Try Once, Refine Once. Aliy and her table posted the first version of this pattern, and we’ve been iterating on it for the last couple of weeks.

This pattern is far from complete. The discussions around it are still hot, and you’re welcome to pitch in. But even in its current form, it is worth a read. This pattern uses a clever grading scheme to promote students to make a serious effort to get the answer right, and then make good use of the feedback they receive.

try once refine once flow chart

try once refine once flow chart

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CETL ALiC meets Planet

Posted by Janet Finlay on November 7, 2008

On Tuesday John and I facilitated a second Planet workshop for the CETL ALiC (Active Learning in Computing) fellows – the intention being to help them identify patterns that are shareable from the wealth of material and experience they have been gathering over the past three years. Dissemination is vital to ALiC and the project is keen to develop a pattern collection to represent the findings of the project.

The Planet team have agreed on a three workshop model for supporting pattern collection. Workshop one will look at cases (stories) and seek to draw out the key elements: the challenge faced, the success factors, the solution. Workshop two will take protopatterns developed by the facilitators and review and revise them into (hopefully) more complete patterns. Workshop three will focus on use and will attempt to address challenges brought by contributors using the patterns through the organising structure.

We held a workshop one for ALiC earlier in the year. This first workshop considered case studies and led to a much richer understanding of the actual activities. However the cases proposed were very detailed and covered an entire workpackage, making it difficult to identify successful practice. In this workshop we therefore asked the ALiC team to identify specific incidents of successful practice within their cases, which were then discussed and mapped onto a pattern template. It is therefore probably best thought of as a “workshop one and three quarters” – beyond a “workshop one” but not quite into the full extent of a workshop two. Each group identified several protopatterns and started to flesh out the detail. John and I will now develop these further, looking for connections with existing patterns and other evidence, in preparation for our next workshop – a full workshop two – in December.

For me one of the most useful outcomes of this workshop was the feedback on the template which we used to scaffold the pattern elicitation. This was based on the proposed pattern form and included all elements together with some explanation of what was needed for each. Two observations were made. Firstly, although all the pattern elements were included, we only ever used a subset in the discussion and in a particular order: problem, solution, context, then name and diagram in either order, then evidence. None of the other sections were useful in the discussion. Secondly, the use of the “P” word in the explanations was unhelpful – the ALiC team were focusing on their case stories – they didn’t have a pattern yet – so they suggested rephrasing to focus on the story.

So the good news is the scaffolding worked really well – I will revise it in line with the observations made above and will make it available on the wiki for others to use.

Looking forward to the next workshop with this group!

Posted in uncategorized, user group, workshops | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

“language” attribute on patterns?

Posted by yishaym on October 16, 2008

Our cases have a “group / workshop” attribute. This is because we collect them from various communities, and the participants in these communities want to quickly find their peer’s contributions. We didn’t have a similar attribute for patterns, thinking that the whole point of patterns is to promote generality and knowledge transfer. Now, that is still true, yet on the other hand we can see several distinguishable (if not distinct) languages emerging. Patterns for e-Assessment are a cluster apart from HCI patterns etc. After all, this is the pattern language network.
So, should we add a “language” attribute to patterns? Should it be single or multiple choice?

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How to write a case study

Posted by yishaym on September 29, 2008

When we engage with practitioners, the first thing we ask them is for a case study. That seems to be an overloaded, somewhat obscure creature. We think we know exactly what it means, or at least what we’re looking for, but it turns out that the term is so widely used in so many ways, that it can go any odd way. Often people bring their personal statement of beliefs and achievements. In other cases, they will give a marketing presentation of their project or institution. All we really want is a good story. Believe me – that’s pretty close to the best place to start a discussion, which is what Planet is all about…

We developed the S.T.A.R.R template, which we provided as a powerpoint template and as an online form. That helped, but usually only after some verbal introduction. So here’s that introduction as a (hopefully) free-standing, self-explanatory slide deck:

Please let us know how to improve it..

(And if you’re struggling with the more technical issues, there’s the help page. )

Posted in case studies, help, slideshows, tools, user group | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

cheers, Daniel!

Posted by yishaym on July 22, 2008

Here’s a bit of feedback from Daniel, who participated in the Making Stuff Together workshop:

I have to say I was positively surprised by the workshop, as I told some of you it gave me an entirely new perspective for my own research and for design in general. I would be happy to work more on this (or be shepherded!), and I also think we could come up with some good stuff.

I didn’t have a case study with me for the workshop, but I have several years worth of “case studies” of online games in my head that shouldn’t be too hard to replicate given some time. As you might have guessed my area of expertise (if you can call it that) is really in games, and I would personally be quite interested in comparing the designpatterns for collaboration in games, to the patterns that designers currently try to use for creating collaborative online environments/programs. As someone mentioned during the workshop, the gaming industry are quite far ahead in many aspects such as collaboration and capturing the users interest.

Thanks Daniel. Good point about games – we should follow up on that.

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CETL ALiC Workshop – July 21st 2008

Posted by johnrg on July 21, 2008

Planet – CETL ALiC Workshop: July 21st.

Had a really good session with the CETL ALiC Teaching Fellows today. Lots of engagement and some excellent outcomes.

Observations With my Group.

It was interesting working with a group of staff who were very aware of each other’s work prior to the session. This had some drawbacks in that it meant that the early discussions were a little hindered due the publication of papers in which participants had drawn together different elements of their experiences into a common paper. However it quickly became apparent that the initial single case study was in reality two case studies and a third related case study also needed to be entered. Hopefully the existing case study will be modified and the two new ones entered soon.

One point of feedback early in the day focused on an enhancement to the Planet wiki; several of the case studies were the result of input by two or more people however only the person who actually entered the case study into the platform was able to edit it. A need for multiple owners with read / write access was established – Yishay how quickly can we respond to this?

Issues Arising.

The wifi signal in the room allocated for the session was extremely patchy and this disrupted the process of working on the live Planet platform to the extent that information was captured as word/text documents. We need to ensure that we are provided with better support for future sessions.

As the session developed I was surprised at how quickly the issues identified from the case studies moved away from their specific subject domain. Is this is something that others have observed in earlier workshops?

It is clear that everyone felt very comfortable identifying issues arising from the discussions of the case studies however taking these forward to propose proto patterns was more challenging. Some good patterns were proposed e.g. ‘What’sInIt ForMe’ however I think we really need to have some examples of the complete outputs starting with case studies and ending in patterns to help participants engage in our processes. Yishay suggested that we make our own pattern identification process into a pattern, if I enter the case study details can others develop the pattern(s) please?

What Happens Next.

It was agreed that Janet and I would take some of the identified proto patterns and enter them into the platform. Participants agreed to refine their case studies (where necessary) and assume ownership of, and hence continue to develop, relevant patterns [this is dependent on ensuring multiple people have read/write access to these case studies and patterns].

This session only looked at a couple of elements of some of the CETL ALiC activities so we agreed that further meetings to extend the range of activities covered should be held; late September was identified as a good time for the next workshop. Now that the ALiC Fellows have some experience of the process we have high hopes of generating some excellent patterns form their work.

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Planet makes stuff together

Posted by Janet Finlay on July 8, 2008

I had the rather rare but very welcome opportunity of acting as non-participant observer in yesterday’s “Making Stuff Together” Planet workshop at LKL. As we had started the day with a Planet project meeting we had a full complement of “staff” for the workshop so some of us stepped back to operate recording equipment and observe proceedings.

The theme for the day was “Making stuff together”, the aim to consider submitted case studies of teaching and learning in collaborative environments and tease out the elements that were successful in order to seed patterns. We had representatives from a couple of other Emerge projects on the day (APSTAIRS and MOOSE) as well as colleagues from elsewhere. It was a mixed group – some with particular interest in patterns and pattern capture, some with little knowledge of patterns but an interest in making things in MUVEs, others with interests in creative online collaboration tools. The potential for not finding commonality seemed high!

However we should not have worried. From the explanation of the first case study (of using Flashmeeting to support collaborative design activity) the group were engaged and animated, picking up connections relating to collaboration across a range of applications from World of Warcraft to Google! By lunchtime we had half a dozen potential “seed patterns” which were then taken up enthusiastically by the group in the afternoon and developed further. There is still work to do on these but the outputs of these labours can be found on the Planet wiki pattern page and feedback and comments are welcome from all (check the Created on 7th July ones – though comments are welcome on them all!).

As an observer it was also very interesting to see how the process worked and I can see some potential patterns emerging here as well. Group formation was certainly an issue both here and in our online workshop at the June Emerge event. Facilitation needs to carefully balance team and participant engagement and it is important to establish common ground in advance. Interestingly all of these were also highlighted in the discussions of making stuff together suggesting much similarity whether we are dealing with Second Life, face to face workshops, Elluminate or Google Docs. It is the human activity of collaboration which is critical, not the technology.

Thanks to all the participants for a really stimulating day – and to Yishay, Steve and Jim for facilitating it. Our next workshop is scheduled for July 21st in Leeds and is focused on one of our user groups, the multi-institutional CETL on Active Learning in Computing. We will be looking at experiences in assessment, project work, learning spaces and Web 2.0. Although primarily for this user group, other participants are welcome. Full details will be posted here as soon as possible but in the meantime if you are interested in coming along just let me know –

Posted in musings, user group, workshops | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Scoping a vision for formative e-assessment

Posted by yishaym on May 27, 2008

The centre for Work-Based Learning for Education Professionals, at the Institute of Education,  has been commissioned by JISC to conduct a study on Formative e-Assessment process modelling.  This study, based on a combination of desk-based research, case study building based on empirical data gathered from practice, will survey existing literature as well as sample practice in the field to identify effective models of formative e-assessment and the software tools to support them.

Formative e-assessment is understood as the use of ICT to support the iterative process of gathering and analysing information about student learning by teachers as well as learners and of evaluating it in relation to prior achievement and attainment of intended, as well as unintended learning outcomes.

The outcomes of the survey will combine theoretical and pragmatic resources, in the form of a literature review, case studies, and semi-formal models of tools and processes, to serve as requirements for software development.

The formative e-assessment project team has chosen the Planet platform and methodology as a central part in its framework. The team will use a a group space on the Planet platform to collaboratively author the literature review, and then use the tool provided to record their case studies and patterns, building on Planet’s methodology of Pattern elicitation workshops.

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