Designing the weekly ramble

Another weekend and I’m thinking about EDC3100, and thanks to an IT maintenance day bringing Moodle down I have the time to post here. The following is an attempt to conceptualise and describe what I hope might become the replacement for the lecture/tutorial model that is dominant in this course. It is informed by/borrowed from the work of many I’ve seen over recent years, especially the Siemens/Downes MOOC movement

The following describes the metaphor I’m going with and documents the design of the initial implementation of the weekly ramble. There are constraints in place which mean this won’t immediately leap to something really interesting, but hopefully it might evolve over time.

Don’t read this expecting anything insightful or complete. This is very much a work in progress and doubtful of containing anything world-shatteringly innovative.

The weekly ramble

The metaphor I think I’ll use is that of a ramble. Not the “long and confused or inconsistent speech” definition, rather the “walk for pleasure, typically without a definite route” understanding.

Reflecting at Silver Lake

I like this metaphor because while the students in this course will generally have the same broad destination – success with the course assessment/getting better at using ICTs and pedagogy (hopefully the same thing). The route, however, that is best for each student will be very different. Beyond individual differences as a learner, they are pre-service teachers in very different areas.

Rather than follow a single lecture/tutorial route, I really do want to encourage and enable them to guided in the discovery of their own path (not sure how close I am to this).

The design

The following is constrained by my understanding of the institutional context, the expectations of participants, and the available technology. Hopefully I can push back on these as time progresses.

  • The destination.
    This won’t be specific, but the aim of a ramble is generally to get somewhere. A fairly broad, but accessible, description of the outcomes/products of this week. The aim here is to encourage students to think about whether they should be heading as they ramble.
  • Suggested stops.
    A collection of resources and activities that students are recommended to “stop” at. Essentially the basic route. A minimal lecture might be part of this. This will be a merging of lecture, tutorial and additional activities.
  • Other points of interest.
    Those other special places (resources/activities) that provide the bit extra that makes the journey really worthwhile. Eventually this should be largely student centered/generated. This is where students in different specialisations (e.g. early childhood, VET) will break out on their own.
  • Reflections on the ramble.
    It’s not uncommon for ramblers to keep a blog/diary of their rambles. Reflection, at least for me, is essential for learning. This section is where the students will be encouraged to reflect.

The stops or points of interest on the ramble will be a collection of online resources, references to print resources (i.e. the set textbook), and activities. The activities will hopefully have the students creating and sharing artifacts.

Walking the walk, not talking the talk

If this metaphor is extended just a touch, then perhaps teaching staff should be giving a lecture (talk the talk). Instead, they should be walking the walk. i.e. rambling along with the students, engaging in the activities, modelling expected practice. Perhaps a good way to model thought processes etc…

Perhaps this might be what the face-to-face lectures and tutorials might become. A mixture of my rambling, the students observing and then rambling off on their own path. Mmmmm. We’ll see.


Currently working on the first ramble. It’s fairly easy to come up with stops, more difficult to brake the tendency toward a single path. i.e. to focus on creating alternatives paths for the students.

6 thoughts on “Designing the weekly ramble

  1. What about having a couple of prescribed trailblazers (the lecturer, tutors and possibly mentors) that set out a week early to lay sown some “typical” trails? That way you’re not fighting the urge to come up with potential stops just for the sake of branching out, but giving each trailblazer the freedom to get to the final destination in whatever way they choose. When the rest of the cohort comes through, they then have the option of following several different paths, mixing paths, or trailblazing out to find their own points of interest. I’d expect 5-10 trailblazers to give a good, broad selection of paths.

    For something like this, what may be missing is the ability to “follow” someone’s trail. Have a really, REALLY simple way to see how each person got from point A to point B, and also who’s currently at a certain oint of interest. Maybe a trail blog would be able to combine that with reflection, or a delicious / diigo link trail, or even a tagged twitter stream.

    Now I’m just rambling (in the incoherent verbal way)

    1. :) You may be rambling Tony, but I’ve been doing much the same thing around many of the same questions.

      Initially the rambles are going to be implemented with far from appropriate technology. Some of the ideas you’ve mentioned are things I’d like to do, but may have to wait.

      The trial blazing idea is also one I’m wondering about. In the time, yet more practice constraints may get in the way.

      Thanks for the thoughts.

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