Half-baked thinking: Content and structure for popping the lid on #msloc430 course

Deering Library

Day 3 of #WOLweek.

I was walking home from campus today (I live a little over a mile from Northwestern University) after a pretty energizing day. But it is ugly cold for this time of the season and when I left the office about the only thing that I was aware of was the weather.

My walk takes me through some amazing parts of campus. The photo accompanying this post is of Deering Library. I took it in January last year. I walk past that building every day. It changes you as you walk past it.

And today – in a cold that was reminiscent of last January – I think I had an insight that started as I walked past Deering.

I have been thinking both about the pacing and the content that could be part of an open section of MSLOC 430. Half-baked thinking here but am sharing it in an attempt to define it, and to maybe elicit some feedback.


The course I teach is really an exploration of enterprise social networking for graduate students who are people-change-learning geeks (and I say that with the utmost admiration). If I am successful in this course, I am providing an opportunity to develop new language (about technology) and a point-of-view of how social technology fits into a more strategic understanding of people, organizational culture and organizational performance.

Because we bridge many disciplines in the way that we teach and try to understand issues of people, culture and performance, we value the innovation that comes from boundary spanning.

Here is how that plays out in regard to enterprise social networking (in my half-baked thinking during my walk).

Assume there is a connected, networked enterprise. Or extended enterprise. If we had that, what are the variety of models we can overlay on that network to see (and perhaps facilitate) value in different ways?

  • Communities of practice and networks of practice (emergent, social learning)
  • Communities of inquiry (communities with an intentional learning purpose)
  • Connectivist MOOCs (networked learning model that biases relationships over content)
  • Personal learning networks (self-directed learners, leveraging a networked environment)
  • Crowdsourcing (wisdom of the crowds innovation)
  • Open design (design process leveraging wisdom of the crowds – think Open IDEO)
  • Working out loud (structured serendipity)

I am beginning to think about selecting content that provides an introduction to each of these models of ways to activate the network. Some of it I already have – and much of it is already open.


I am starting by thinking about six weeks for the open section of my course. At two weeks per topic or question to consider, that gives me room for three big questions.

Wondering if I can structure the open section so that anyone participating in it takes a co-learning-inspired tour of the various models for four weeks (split into two, two-week sections). Each two-week section would include introductory content; community discussions; Twitter chats; etc. For me, this means adapting the structure of Exploring Personal Learning Networks.

In the final two-week section, we look at innovating using the models. How might we combine the models in innovative configurations to address organizational challenges? How might we apply models in different ways (i.e., connectivist MOOCs for idea generation)?

Need to sketch this out a bit more. Maybe on my walk into work tomorrow morning.

MORNING  UPDATE (Thursday, Nov. 20):

Mapped out during my walk, listening to this Ted Talk podcast: My Architectural Philosophy? Bring the Community into the Process – Alejandro Arevena.

If you participate in the open section of the course, you are presented with this as the  problem to address during the course:

By the end of the six-weeks, you must propose an innovative adaptation or combination of the models described above (e.g., community of practice, MOOC, crowdsourcing, working out loud) applied to a challenge of your choosing. An additional constraint is that the challenge (and resulting innovation) must somehow span the boundaries between internal networks and external ones.

For four weeks, we get familiar with the various models. The last two weeks are spent innovating out loud, with final proposed innovations shared openly at the very end of the course.

And yes – it is still cold. 19 F at the moment.

4 thoughts on “Half-baked thinking: Content and structure for popping the lid on #msloc430 course

    1. Jeff Merrell says:

      Awesome. Thanks for the feedback on the topics – just what I was looking for.

      So yes – my Northwestern University (enrolled master’s degree students) course begins the first week of January.

      I haven’t yet mapped out exactly how I might “register” people — if I do at all – who are interested in participating in the open version. But if I go with the model I am proposing in these posts, then sometime in late January/early February I would start the open learning activities.

      Bruno, you always have great input. What might you recommend? I am not really interested in creating any administrative overhead. Just getting people together to learn. One thought is I open up a Google community and just have people join it if they are interested in participating in the open section of the course. Then – in late January – begin some structured activities along the lines of #xplrpln. Maybe use the same blog site – http://mslocopen.wordpress.com/ – as an organizing point. Or this blog.

      Any thoughts welcome!


      1. Bruno Winck says:

        I see a benefit of reusing the same blog. peoplemay wander around and this will all add to the visibility of courses and discussion.

        Google group looks a good option. It will help if you ever want to have Google Hangouts or events. I found that neither LinkedIn or FB makes it easy. After they joined, you could always run a survey (http://www.google.com/forms) or a GoogleDoc to collect a few more information. Important to get tweeps twitter handles, full name that you may not have when they join the group. I’ve seen often a map (like this https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?ie=UTF8&msa=0&z=2&hl=en&mid=zbB7OoiNWoLI.kqXN115mST1s ) attached where people locate themselves on the map. I don’t remember how it is done but it’s easy. Just by assembling pieces like this I’ve seen people building amazing experiences. I wrote a tool last year for co-ideation in a DT process. I updated it recently to add instant collaboration: https://kneaverpad.kneaver.com It is one among tons of tools you can pick and assemble creatively.

        Unless you can really invest a lot of time in really good MOOC plateform (not so many IMHO). Did you try contact IntrepidLMS (http://intrepidlearning.com/preregister-corporate-mooc/ Judy is very helpful) and MoocPRO (http://www.moocpro.co.uk/, Sam is my contact) they have interesting solutions. Don’t know the conditions though. May be some cooperation to seek.


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