#EL30 – Experience/Creativity Task

The penultimate week of the #EL30 MOOC, Experience.

The learning task as set by Stephen called for us to creatively represent our experiences of the #El30 cMOOC and to post about it:

Be creative! Using the medium of your choice, create a representation of your experience of E-Learning 3.0. Then post your creation (or post a link to your creation) on your blog.

Here’s a good example of the sort of thing you could create, by Kevin Hodgeson (who apparently also studied mind reading as he completed this Task before it was posted).

If you need inspiration, visit the DS106 Assignment Bank and select one of the assignments, and then interpret it in the light of E-Learning 3.0.


Be creative! No problem…!  Creativity has most often been something that has spontaneously come to me rather than something I felt I could tap into on-demand.

This was a tough one but enjoyable once I reflected on it . And the example given of Kevin’s work was incredible.

At this time of the year, I feel a bit like a pot that’s almost reached the boil and need a valve to be released. So it was fantastic to have the inspiration of other participants creative posts and the inspiration of the online exchange between Stephen and Amy Burvall to refer to this week.

Conversation between Stephen Downes and Amy Burvall

Creating a representation of my experience of E-Learning 3.0

To represent my own experience (in a festive way as it’s almost Christmas!) I’ve chosen to capture some pictures of a winter tree with lights and create a quick GIF. The representation I’ve chosen comprises some metaphorical elements which I will explain my interpretation of below.

With this image my intention is to focus on growth, the notion of emerging community, change and adaptation, decentralisation, a blend of both the natural (tree) and human (electrical lights), independence and interdependence, and the collective whole.

I did not create or plant the tree, which I feel is apt for this #EL30 experience/creativity task. I’m just capturing my sense of it by taking a snapshot, the view of it from my perspective.

The tree as a structure is always growing, ever-changing and adapting. It sheds its leaves at certain times and grows new ones. It is both a product of its environment and something that shapes it. Much the same can be said about the future of education and e-learning.

The root structure of the tree also serves as an interesting metaphor. The underground roots, not visible in the photograph, might well describe all that remains hidden on the #EL30 journey, nonetheless, the hidden roots are vitally important to sustain the tree’s survival and growth. Many details, messages and talking points from this iteration of #EL30 are likely being discussed and analysed in lots of physical and virtual spaces and places – blog posts and social media are but some of these spaces. These thoughts and conversations might be hidden but they are no less important to the future of education and e-learning.

The lights on the tree might represent more than one thing . Light is seen as something hopeful, something illuminating and good. The network of lights might be the modules and topics we have encountered during #EL30, the collective neural network of our posts, the ideas and creative learning artefacts which we’ve all contributed to #EL30, etc., etc.

But I prefer to think of each light on the tree as a person from the group of #El30 participants. The lights are all connected together by an electrical current, wires and cable (these vectors could all be metaphors of their own – I’ll let that up to you to decide) to form the graph or network structure of lights that are distributed in a decentralised way all around the tree. Perhaps it might have been better if the lights were all of different colours, or if some faded on and off, to represent the diversity of each of us, our interactions, our interests and our perspectives.

No node or light stands out as being the centre. There is an evident independence and interdependence. There is no light visibly larger or brighter than another, a concept I feel that Stephen has tried to bring across in this course – everyone can and should be encouraged and empowered to actively and creatively contribute to the decentralised community experience and to take opportunities to communicate directly with other lights.

Featured image by Free-Photos

Some things I’ve experienced so far on this #EL30 journey

The latest topic for #El30 was Community. Stephen set an open ended task for course participants to, as a community ( I believe this was meant in a loose way), come up with and reach consensus on a task, the completion of which denotes being a member of the community.

As a community, create an assignment the completion of which denotes being a member of the community. For the purposes of this task, there can only be one community. For each participant, your being a member of the community completes the task.


Further to this, Stephen added his own nice decentralised twist

This week’s task is deliberately open-ended. It requires the formation of a community, but only one community, with tangible evidence of consensus. How to do this? How to even get started? That’s the challenge…

Some people may ask, “What’s the point?” Well, as we discussed in this week’s conversation (also in this newsletter) it’s a challenge to create consensus without deferring to an authority – a trusted source, if you will. In a course like this, that’s usually the instructor. But not this time. This is – on a small scale – the same problem we have on a larger scale. How do we create consensus with no common ground?

This task is challenging on several fronts. Can a community be created at all? What if there are competing communities? How many participants can the community actually encompass? How do people join at all? The conditions for succeeding in this assignment are very simple – be a member of that community. But the manner in which this is to be accomplished is not clear at all.


Out of this challenge sprung some proposals in the form of blog posts on participants sites. I was delighted to see this as I had been puzzling for a short while on how we as a group of participants would manage to get started with trying to reach a consensus without a ‘central’ node that we all had access to – the actual MOOC itself probably being the only node I could think of, and none of the participants outside of Stephen can edit that directly. Anyone who completed the earlier task of subscribing to the course feed list through their RSS aggregator of choice would have been able to see the proposal posts for this task appear there. The first proposal I encountered on my RSS was from Roland

I suggest we all post about our experiences in this course. It would be a short or long piece about the content, the way it’s being organized, the way the learners did or did not interact with each other or how we reacted in blog posts and on social media.
Such a post seems like a natural thing to do, there are no good or bad posts, yet it would affirm our being together in this thing – #el30.


I really liked the idea of posting about our course experiences to date and commented on Roland’s post agreeing with his proposal as tangible evidence of trying to arrive at group consensus. I had seen that other participants had also expressed their agreement in the comments section of the post.

With that proposal in mind I will catalogue a brief synopsis of my experiences to date on the E-Learning 3.0 journey.

My experiences of this course

Researching, reading and writing takes a substantial time for me. I find it difficult. Derek Sivers sums me up perfectly when he writes

I’m a very slow thinker.
When a friend says something interesting to me, I usually don’t have a reaction until much later.

When someone asks me a deep question, I say, “Hmm. I don’t know.” The next morning, I have an answer.

I’m a disappointing person to try to debate or attack. I just have nothing to say in the moment, except maybe, “Good point.” Then a few days later, after thinking about it a lot, I have a response.


I could also add the word ‘reader’ to that.

In truth, this is the first cMOOC I have ‘registered for’ and participated in (as best I could at least; I have a lot of learning and practice to do to improve my overall participation online). I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It has been a challenge but a wholly worthwhile one. The content and conversation has been of a very high-quality.

I don’t think I would consider participation on #EL30 as the formation of a ‘community’. Despite that, in a way, I still feel some sort of connection to the group. A shared journey or the likes. Here I will defer to more knowledgeable participants who provide useful descriptions for what they believe it to be:

At most, I would compare it to the residence or municipality community which is defined by something like a common zip code (here, by using the hashcode el30), and whose residents have, in a certain limited sense, a common ‘fate‘ (again limited, to the 9 weeks).

Matthias Melcher (x28)

An affinity space is a place – virtual or physical – where informal learning takes place. According to James Paul Gee, affinity spaces are locations where groups of people are drawn together because of a shared, strong interest or engagement in a common activity.

Kevin Hodgson (dogtrax)

Much of the course content is still in flux in my mind. I often find myself mulling over it to see if I have understood it well or considering where it might be applied in my practice. I have found all of the topics to date very interesting, even though I have admittedly grasped some of them far better than others. I really enjoy both the technical and academic focus that comprises each topic.

Some of it sits quite easily with the work I am doing in higher education. More of it is a little like trying to stand still on shifting tectonic plates.

I agree with the original intent and premise that

the idea of the Internet – distributed, social, networked – influences the structure of education, teaching, and learning.


and subscribe to this in an ideological sense, however, the many ways that this might manifest in higher education remains to be seen. I suppose from being a reader and great admirer of Audrey Watters extensive work, I am a bit skeptical of anything that attempts to predict future trends of educational technology and of what drives that within higher education. Saying that, this experience has been different.

I love how Stephen used his own open source software (gRSShopper) to build the MOOC on, how he emphasised free use of an RSS feed aggregator to keep track of each participants blog posts on, and of how he highlights the importance of decentralisation versus centralisation of power and influence. This is all incredible and something I feel I also buy into.

I learned a huge amount from reading Stephen’s commentaries, the links provided to resources, and from all participants blog posts via my RSS aggregator.

As someone who actually created this website in order to be able to communicate and interact on #EL30, the major difficulty for me has lay in trying to keep apace with regular tasks and with writing something coherent.

Design of the course and Interaction

As someone who works in learning experience/instructional design of  online and blended programmes for postgraduate and professional education, I really enjoyed the explorative and reflective nature of the course. It was very clearly structured, module by module. I loved the synopsis for each topic and the links to further resources to aid expand upon thoughts, if you so wished to. From the moment I saw the course, I felt it was very intuitive. I thought the predominantly asynchronous nature of it suited very well. It allowed me time to

  • read about, reflect on and grasp complex concepts,
  • view weekly online video conversations between Stephen and guests in my own time,
  • review resources sourced by Stephen, other participants and myself,
  • keep an eye on the backchannel social media streams – Twitter and Mastodon,
  • generate my own ideas to write blog posts about them,
  • read and comment on fellow participants blog posts,
  • complete tasks and build competencies along the way.

Stephen certainly walks the talk of Open Educational Practices (OEP) with #EL30. Each week we are provided with a link to view the working summary article for that weeks topic. Not alone are we provided with just a link to view, we are always actively encouraged by Stephen to contribute to the document if we feel that we can – to post comments, suggestions, further resources. This is the first time I have encountered this and to be honest I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to contribute, even though I know it is possible. I tend to take a sneak peek at the end of topic article before it comes out on the newsletter as it is always extremely informative and detailed.

I see that some people live out a portion of their lives on social media. I am not one of those people. For some reason I find I have somewhat of a natural inclination to not post on social media platforms, even though I do have Twitter and Mastodon accounts. It’s not that I think sharing is a bad thing, I just often find myself self-questioning myself before making a post – “Is this really going to be valuable to somebody” or “will it make a difference if I post this or not”? Very nihilist of me! I’m probably a little bit independent and happy to be – engaging on social media doesn’t captivate me.

Some people participating on #EL30 are far more accomplished and prolific bloggers, writers, educators and names in their respective fields. It has been a pleasure and privilege to communicate and interact on some level with each of them.

A key take away for me from the experience to date is that I need to make more time to get my thoughts out and down – outside of participating on a MOOC – and to become more proactive about posting rather than reactive to what others are writing.

Featured Image by Anthony Tori on Unsplash

#EL30 – Recognition Task

I’m falling a little bit behind on #EL30 at the moment, hoping to put some time aside to catch up properly in the coming weeks.

For the ‘Resources’ module of the course, Stephen set the following task for us:

Create a free account on a Badge service (several are listed in the resources for this module). Then:

– create a badge
– award it to yourself
– use a blog post on your blog as the ‘evidence’ for awarding yourself the badge
– place the badge on the blog post.

To assist you in this, you can see this blog post where I did all four steps with Badgr. (I also tried to work with the API, with much less success).


I had previously created an account on Openbadges.me so I decided to use that badge service for this task. I’ve seen a couple of posts already from #EL30 participants that demonstrate how they created and issued their badges using Badgr, so this post will provide my experience doing it on a different badge service for comparison/anyone that’s interested.


There were 4 main tasks for me to complete on Openbadges.me in order to be able to successfully create and issue my badge on this blog post:

  1. Setting myself up as a badge issuer
  2. Creating or uploading a graphic to represent my badge
  3. Creating and Publishing my badge for issue
  4. Issuing my badge to a recipient (me! – but I can issue it to you too, read on ’til the end if you’re interested in adding this badge to your collection)

1. Setting up as a badge issuer

After logging into Openbadges you are presented with a dashboard area with a navigation menu to the left hand side. The main content area of the dashboard displays tiled flashcard-like blocks that each explain different things that Openbadges can be used for. The navigation menu on the left allows us to go to the areas of the site which will allow us to create and issue badges, so that’s where I begin.

Following Stephen’s useful blog post based on his experiences using Badgr, another badge service, I set about the first task – Setting up as a badge issuer. I selected the Preparing badges menu item and the Badge issuers sub-item. In the main content area I was presented with a pink button in the upper right-hand corner to “+ Create issuer”, as I hadn’t created issuers before. I clicked the button and followed the onscreen instruction to set myself up as a badge issuer, giving myself the permission to issue badges that I create.

Setting up a badge issuer
Setting up a badge issuer

2. Creating or uploading a graphic to represent the badge

As I didn’t have a pre-made graphic to use for my badge I decided to create one using the Openbadges Graphics library, which was accessible as a sub-menu item from the Preparing badges menu item.

Similarly, after selecting this sub-menu item I was presented with a pink button in the upper right-hand corner of main content area of the screen that prompted me to “+ Create graphic”.

The user interface was intuitive and allowed me to create and adapt a graphic of my own beneath 7 simple headings:

  1. Background
  2. Shapes
  3. Inner shapes
  4. Text
  5. Curved text
  6. Banners
  7. Icon
The Graphic builder interface

For my badge I used 3 of those headings – Shapes, Curved text and Icon. Once I was happy with the look of my graphic I saved it and was then able to preview it. The next step was to create the framework for the badge including the awarding criteria for someone looking to be awarded it.

3. Creating and Publishing the badge

It’s important to recognise that the graphic is only one component of the badge. Often, people can think that a badge is simply a .jpg or .png image, but it’s the metadata that we don’t always see that’s ‘baked into’ the badge  which is the most valuable aspect of it. This includes the criteria in order to be awarded the badge, any badge attributes (i.e. a badge awarded for completing 3 hours of CPD), the date of receipt, the date of expiry (if the badge needs to be renewed) the issuer details and the unique badge ID:

Adding primary badge details
Adding badge criteria
– the items that need to be accomplished in order to be awarded the badge
Adding badge attributes
i.e. An open badge can contain any number of attributes. For example, you may want it to represent 3 hours of CPD. To do this, you would enter the name as ‘CPD’ and the value as ‘3’.

I added the relevant details, criteria and attributes to my badge and also selected the graphic that I had created to visually depict it. I was satisfied with my badge so I clicked the grey ‘Publish’ button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to finalise my badge creation.

Importantly, a badge can only be published if it contains valid name, description, issuer, criteria and graphic and once you publish the badge you cannot go back and edit it easily unless you unpublish (withdraw) it firstly which remove all the details, criteria and attributes you have added to it. This is important to bear in mind so if you are not sure about your badge I would advise using the pink ‘Save Draft’ button before making the decision to finally publish.

My badge summary including auto-generated badge ID on the left-hand side

4. Issuing the badge to a recipient

With the badge created the last step was to issue it to a recipient, in this case, myself. I clicked the Issuing badges menu item and the Manual entry sub-menu option. There were other options available to issue it to groups, via API or through rules-based issuing, but manual was the easiest option initially when I knew I was only issuing it to one person.

The badge I had created appeared here and once I moused-over it I was given the option to ‘Issue badge’ via email. I clicked that option and simply entered my own email address in the space provided, clicked ‘Add recipient’ and finally ‘Issue badge’. I immediately received an email from Openbadges.me prompting me to click a link to download my badge.

Email issued from Openbadges.me

And here is what all the fuss was about!

My #EL30 ‘Recognition’ badge – awarded for completion of the task set out by Stephen Downes

For those of you who may be interested, Openbadges.me also provides reporting functionality to keep track of who has been issued the badge and when it was issued, which is accessible from the main navigation menu beneath Reporting:

Badge reporting

Want to be a recipient of my badge?

Just leave a comment on this post with

  • a link to your own badge (as evidence that you’ve completed Stephen’s task)
  • the email address you’d prefer me to send along your badge to

and I’ll email you a link to download it.

Featured image:
 “Open Educational Resources – OER Rocket Badge with Moon 360×360 PNG” by Eugene Open Educational Resources is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0