How to Build an Open Learning Course

Hey team–

One of our deliverables is a course/suite of materials on how to build an open & social learning experience. I recently drafted these slides and was keeping the deliverable in mind when I wrote them. Would love your feedback, in addition to the standard red / yellow / green, please answer:

a.) Would you use the slides?
b.) What’s missing?
c.) What questions would you have about getting started?

Looking forward to feedback from @Erika @thiemehennis @jane @coarsesalt (who is quoted in here) @bekka @pjt111 @PeteForsyth and @billymeinke :smile:

hi Vanessa, beautiful slides!
That was the compliment, now the (constructive) feedback :slight_smile: I was
wondering: who do you have in mind? Is it used to really present something?
Or to help someone online building a course? If the latter, I would rather
have something more dense, maybe article like, with a workflow or
visualization of all aspects of building an open learning course. Also,
when going through the slides, I found it hard to focus on three separate
instances of text.

a.) Would you use the slides?

possibly some of them - to share I think it needs to be a more
b.) What’s missing?

not sure for whom it is meant or the purpose of the slides, so don’t know
how to answer this question.
c.) What questions would you have about getting started?

what are the steps, and what are the options at each step? maybe something
like a simple decision tree.


These slides are, as @thiemehennis says, just gorgeous. Well done. Lots of moustaches…
And I really like the way the narrative progresses from slide #5 onwards.


  • It feels kind of thin on the ground at the moment. Without more explanatory text, I’m not quite sure
    that the “why” and the “how” of the issues are being fully addressed.

  • Also, the dinner metaphor is nice, but disappears after 4 slides - so maybe it’s not that helpful? A TV Dinner is a very US-centric reference. Perhaps not 100% culturally relevant to everyone we engage with? We have heat and eat food in the UK, but jargon can be alienating.

The quote about success meaning you’re never finished - I think quotes are only useful if they’re attributed. Even if the person is not “famous” - they should still be credited, and it adds to the story to have a name.

So, to answer your questions:

a.) Would you use the slides?
Yes, who wouldn’t, they’re lovely. But only if I had a bit more material. Are you imagining a booklet/pamphlet that went with it?

b.) What’s missing?
See above. Also, more connective tissue between the slides to explain some of the processes.

c.) What questions would you have about getting started?
Again, I’d need to know more about the materials.

Hope this helps!

A bit late to the party - wrote it and didn’t post, so excuse some duplication.


  • nice layout, it goes well on the eye
  • the overview is good


  • design for multiple ways to connect, does this imply mutliple ways in one course or different options for different courses?
  • TV dinner and potluck is cultural terms (I don’t have a TV and I don’t really know what potluck is)
  • We probably need to say a little more about success.


  • the third slide implies the biggest problem is that it is “boring”.

I think that most of these sections can link through to more detail.

I think we can write a complete guide like this from a tech perspective. Do you think that is something that should be separate or something that should be integrated?

All good feedback.

What is missing besides the tech piece?

Also wanted to share this newsletter on educational marketing / onboarding:

We also learned what people evaluating our product needed to see. Rather than continuing high touch conversations, we added videos attempting to answer the common questions people were asking. We also discovered an important fact: prospects who still wanted a phone call even with all the information on our site often aren’t good customers for us.

We doubled down on the things that worked for us:

great email support
comprehensive docs
informative videos
And got rid of the things that didn’t work.

Now when people are stuck in the product, there’s a big help link and they have ways to get answers and can see a lot of content to give them the confidence to move forward.

Great slides!

I agree with most of the comments, so no need to repeat. These slides focus on buy-in. They lack how-to.

These are great slides to talk around. The stories, details, additional information that you would talk about when you show each slide, is what we can work on as a next step - to move from slides to a resource that helps people “do”.

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What they said.

These are great slides for those of us who know the answers already and can talk to them. Don’t think they’re a great base for a how-to course.

However, big props for kickstarting this conversation properly - these slides have certainly done that!

While some of us are anti-checklists (:P), I think a good start for a how-to course would be our checklist of issues that have to be addressed/overcome, and for each our pithy lessons-learned on:

  • why it’s an issue & what to think about
  • how to overcome it (at least, how we’ve overcome it)
  • links to, ideally:
  • showcases that are our neatest demo of the issue/solution
  • any P2PU tech or we suggest
  • any non-tech resources we suggest (coz tech isn’t always the answer)

We can almost certainly present the content better than a list, but that would be my suggested starting point for internal development.

Yeah echoing others here. This is more an about and less concrete help for course organizers/volunteers who are looking to build a learning experience. Also, for volunteers with not that much extra time on their hands they don’tw want to deal with hassle of aggregating feedback/assignments posted to 10+ websites – they would rather have it all sit in one place so it’s easy for them and participants to go to. How to address this with encouraging the using multiple places on the web philosophy you mention above?

Just stumbled across this: while reading a blog from Karen. We should compare notes.

Hi - wanted to revive this discussion, following detailed conversation about this in last week’s community call (see I really like that discussion and personally have much clearer vision now of what we want to build. My understanding of next steps below.

Call for questions: is there anything still unanswered that we need to discuss before taking any further steps?

Next steps: My understanding: we should build something, for eg ourselves (fiction), IoT and a SoO person (billy?) to road test, tell us/contribute what’s missing, offer feedback.

@Vanessa - are you the right person to coordinate that? Do lightweight first draft, get feedback from us, then we build? Am imagining it could be a very lightweight draft - could leave topic headings empty for others to add to, etc…

Timeframe: how about 1 month: we aim for having something built on the website in 4 weeks. Doesn’t have to be featured, doesn’t have to be content-rich, but something to point IoT and other road-testers to. Am I completely off base here?

Detail: we should all commit to giving a couple of hours a week to this going forward (potentially forever right? If this is going to stay live content, and best single encapsulation of what we are about). @Vanessa if you’re coordinating first draft let us know how this fits in with your schedule (eg fiction MOOC). Noting the idea of doing this alongside fiction MOOC, we should be willing to slow down delivery of fiction a little if necessary to build this course alongside it.

Questions, further comments?
name - have we got that right? eg should it reference ‘peer-learning’ to flag that this about our core stuff?

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Here is a related discussion on the Learning Creative Learning community forum.

It gives us another possible test case, and it’s worth keeping an eye on the thread to see what people ask for / suggest.


Here are some thoughts on what the experience of taking a course on how to build courses could be like: