MindMap Navigation for Online Courses

We’re now a couple of weeks in to a new course (T151) and whilst I’m wary of posting too much about it just at the moment, there a some spinoff thoughts I do want to capture here.

The course is, in part, based on a model of weekly Topic Explorations, where I pose four or five questions and then provide a list of resources for the students to explore, as guided by the questions. An 800 word or so piece then captures some of my observations about the topic.

The structure was informed by a model my colleague John Naughton had used on a different course, and also resembles that of David Wiley’s Blogs, Wikis and New Media course.

One of the questions that came up in a course forum a day or two ago was the course legacy, in terms of access to course materials. The resources I link to from each topic exploration are all web based resources, although some of them are authentication required subscription journal articles, with access provided via the OU Library libezproxy service (the links are also constructed around DOIs, wherever possible).

As part of the Week 0 activities for the course, I provided a quick overview of social bookmarking services, suggesting that students could bookmark those resources that were useful to them, with the advantage that these resource links would still be available once the course had finished and access to the course materials on the VLE withdrawn. (Why we can’t provide a Moodle export version of the materials for students to put in their own Moodle installation at the end of a course, I don’t know? Eg I think NineHub lets you import Moodle courses into their 1-click setup hosted Moodle installations?)

One idea I did entertain was just bookmarking and tagging all the resources so that they could be pulled into the course automatically via an appropriate feed, or alternatively pulled by students into their own space, wherever that might be. The feed powered approach would also make a WiggLE possible ;-)

That’s still possibly on the cards, but instead I began considering another possiblity: delivering the course via an interactive mindmap.

One of the advantages that this offers, also picked up in a forum post, is that it addresses the issue of how and where to take notes: you can take them on the Mindmap. That is, the Mindmap becomes a navigation surface, and a note taking service.

So for example, here’s a fragment of David Wiley’s course, mindmap style (created using Freemind) showing in particular the first week’s resources (see the orginal course material here):

The red arrows identify links – click on a link and the corresponding page will open in a web browser. The course can be viewed and navigated in a far more powerful way than a hierarchical website, becuase mulriple nodes at diffferent levels, and mutliple leaves of the tree can be viewed (or collapsed) at once. The mindmap tool also allows the user to rearrange the spatial layout to suit their own needs. And of course, if they are viewing the mindmap in an interactive mindmap editor, they can add notes as subnodes to any of the resources.

Over the next few days, I think I’ll do T151 in mindmap form, and maybe offer it up as a resource. After all, the course is going out in pilot form, so it’d be foolish not to… ;-)

Teaching Round the Issues on WriteToReply

No time for blogging properly at the mo – too much crappy crap “work” crappy crap to do – but looking through some recent comments on WriteToReply just now, I saw this one:

a trackback from a blog post – Money Programme – Media Revolution: Tomorrow’s TV – that reviews a recent episode of the Money Programme that “explains the importance of the formula in raising money and the reduced role of direct TV production funding as a proportion of costs”, an issue that is also touched upon in Digital Britain – The Interim Report.

The post links to the actual programme, which you can view (at the moment) on iPlayer: Money Programme – Media_Revolution: Tomorrows TV (on iPlayer)

(I’m not sure if this one is an OU co-pro, too?)

This put me in mind of Trackforward – Following the Consequences with N’th Order Trackbacks and Trackbacks, Tweetbacks and the Conversation Graph, Part I where I’d started thinking about the “link context” around web content.

So I’m wondering – would it make sense to have someone doing some “gardening” around the report, looking to see if there is content – such as the Money Programme episode referred to above – that could be linked to and used to help people make sense of the issues raised by things like the Digital Britain report, or “educate them” in the issues, even?!

That is, as well as using WriteToReply as a place where people can comment back on reports, could we also find ways of using it as a resource that helps people learn about the issues raised by the report, whether or not they want to comment back?