Can SocialLearn Be Built As Such? Plus an OU Jobs RoundUp

A tweet from Scott Leslie on Saturday alerted me to the fact he had a major post brewing…

And here it is: Planning to Share versus Just Sharing.

Do yourself a favour and go and read it now… Then come back and finish reading this post… or not… but read that one…

Here’s the link again: Planning to Share versus Just Sharing.

‘Nuff said? Here’s one thing it made me think of: Planning to Build versus Just Building.

Speaking of which, I wonder if we have any more SocialLearn planning meetings this week? ;-)

On another tack, it looks like the OU’s recruiting to some interesting posts again:

  • Director of Research and Enterprise, Research School, Strategy Unit: “The Open University plans to increase the range and volume of research of international quality and to expand its knowledge transfer activity at national and regional levels. We need an experienced, proactive and forward looking Director of Research and Enterprise who can help us achieve these ambitions.” I’d personally argue blogs like are in the KT business – if you get the post, feel free to buy me a coffee and vehemently disagree;-)
  • Online Marketing Manager, Marketing and Sales: “In this role, you will contribute to the new media strategy, setting strategies to achieve the online objectives to achieve student targets. You will manage the implementation and evaluation of PPC, affiliate programmes and third party partnerships and manage the development of existing and future marketing websites.” = you will spend lots of money with Google. Just beware Simpson’s Paradox
  • Development Advisor – Collaborative Tools, Learning & Teaching Solutions (LTS): “Collaborative tools are a key part of the online learning experience of Open University students. You will play a key role in both promoting the effective use of collaborative tools in new OU courses and the introduction of new collaborative tools across existing courses.” IMHO, don’t even think about mentioning Second Life, unless it’s to advocate the use of flamethrowers ;-)
  • Programmer/ Web developer, The Library and Learning Resource Centre: “Would you like to contribute in a key role in the development of the Open University’s Library systems, services and products to support all its business processes for both customers and Library staff? You will be providing technical input to projects and service developments, in particular maintaining and developing new services for the Library website.” Far be it from me to say that any Library website redesign should be informed by at least a passing familiarity with what the Library website analytics have say about how the site is used… And if you persuade them to dump Voyager, I’ll buy you a pint of whatever you want…
  • Broadcast Project Manager, Open Broadcasting Unit (OBU): “we need an additional Broadcast Project Manager to work with OU colleagues, the BBC and others to develop and manage detailed project plans for TV, radio and broadband commissions and associated support elements (e.g. print items). You’ll have your own group of projects and opportunities to contribute to process developments.” Tell ’em you watch OU programmes via the “OU Catchup Channel” on MythTV – the panel won’t have a clue what you’re talking about, so you could maybe follow up by suggesting a quick project that would produce a Wii front end for the the OU CatchUp Channel;-) (Hint condition: steal the BBC iPlayer Wii interface and ask Guy to make ice from it ;-)
  • e-Learning Developer, Learning and Teaching Solutions: “We are looking for an experienced e-learning developer with a web/software background. Working as part of a project team and in close collaboration with academics and other media specialists, you will play a key role in developing effective OU distance learning materials for delivery online or via disc.”
  • Research Fellow – SocialLearn, Knowledge Media Institute (KMi): “your responsibility will be to use your understanding of learning and sensemaking online to improve the SocialLearn platform.” I have no idea what this post is about? Maybe trying to think about ways we can mine the platform for data. I can offer you the 5k user records we have on Course Profiles to get started with, and suggestions about how to scale that app in terms of numbers and the data it can collect, but to date no else seems to think this is in anyway relevant to the data/insight that SocialLearn will collect, so maybe that’s just a red herring…;-)
  • Web Developer –, Knowledge Media Institute (KMi): a Cohere hacking post. IMHO, Cohere isn’t yet what it may turn to be useful as…. (My attempts at grokking a simpler, more literal version of it, are Linktracks? Trackmarks? Linkmarks? and Doublemarks!)
  • Publicity and Evaluation Officer, Personalised Integrated Learning Support (PILS), Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning: “in this new role we are looking for an experienced secretary to support one of our PILS managers and our Publicity and Evaluation Manager. You will be required to use your IT, written communication and numeric skills to support the production of publicity and evaluation materials, and to update our websites.” Personally, I’d look to appoint an evangelist to the Open CETL, but I suppose we still have to service the old-fashioned markets (that aren’t so amenable to social network leverage) somehow?;-)

As ever, I have nothing to do with any of the above…

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

7 thoughts on “Can SocialLearn Be Built As Such? Plus an OU Jobs RoundUp”

  1. Hmm, bit below the belt Tony. I’ve really tried to reduce the number of planning meetings, and make each one have a specific focus and output. I really want to get to the just build it stage, as I struggle to deal with abstract principles, I need to see examples. So if you can get going with building, please do, I’d love to have different things to react to.

  2. @martin apologies if i spoke out of place… (and the smiley appears to have disappeared? I did put one there… hmm – will replace it…) I’m sure that everyone working on SocialLearn full time is living and breathing it, but I’m way too impatient and still not totally sure what it’s gonna be or how people will actually come to use it… ;-)

    Related to this, it’ll be interesting to see how plays out when it finally launches? Just out of curiosity,I also wonder what timeframe Platform was developed over, how it was scoped, and to what extent it might inform and be informed by SocialLearn?

  3. Nevertheless, Scott’s point strikes a chord with me too – don’t talk about it, just do it. The way to build SocialLearn is the continuous beta model?

  4. Yes but Scott also says:

    “In my experience, a ton of time goes into defining ahead of time what is to be shared. Often with little thought to whether it’s actually something that is easy for them to share. And always, because its done ahead of time, with the assumption that it will be value, not because someone is asking for it, right then, with a burning need.”

    I think Scott is saying be agile, work openly and do what works for you. Other people will likely be doing things in similar ways and from there a network grows. That’s hopefully easy for most people in their personal work to acheive. Institutional projects often have broader goals, a broader user base and need for sustainability so institutional projects need to think more about user design and what users want and need. If these things drive the project then a just do it approach will move you forward, but they are often given little priority. It’s not that planning isn’t needed – it’s useful, agile, focussed planning that can be missing.

    That’s what struck a chord with me.

    P.S. I should add I’m not talking about any specific projects or institutions here – just my general experience.

  5. “Institutional projects often have broader goals, a broader user base and need for sustainability so institutional projects need to think more about user design and what users want and need.”

    Yes – but then who is identifying those needs [i.e. user needs] and how? For example, in the Broadcasting Review, was the “technographic” profile of the people involved in the review the same as the profile of the audience we want to attract? (It may well have been… I just want to suggest that maybe user needs have to be, at least in part, defined by users – or at least people with a similar “technographic profile”).

    An agile approach helps deliver an increasing specification, that is informed in part by the way in which people use what’s been built already (perpetual bets) or as the people who are defining the system actually appreciate what it is they are asking to be built.

    For me, every meeting would have as an output a requirement for something to be mocked up and built out of string and glue in time for the next meeting. (Okay, maybe not every meeting, but you get the gist?;-)

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