MA ODE module overview: The networked practitioner (H818)

I took several modules at The Open University (OU) as part of my master’s degree. Before I began this journey, I always wished I could understand better how the modules were organized and what specific topics they covered, so I’ve decided to share that information for the modules I took. (Here are all the summaries.)

OU’s description of this module

Expanding digital opportunities for sharing knowledge and engaging with others are transforming the practice of educators and learners. Many use social media and open content in what Lawrence Lessig described as ‘read-only’ engagement. During this module your practice will develop into active and purposeful networked ‘readwrite’ activity. Working on a project, you will publish and share practice within an online Conference and our ‘OpenStudio’, producing module materials which explore and address a key theme in online and distance education. You will also critically assess and actively visualise your own engagement with online networks and open practice.

I would add…

In this course, you work on an individual project while reading about being a networked practitioner and working within settings and with tools that let you explore what this means. We could pick almost any topic for our individual projects, as long as they fell into the themes of openness and either innovation, inclusion, or implementation. We also could choose from one of three formats: we could write a paper or case study, or create a multimedia presentation, or design a workshop.

I chose to design a workshop introducing xAPI to decision-makers within corporate Learning and Development departments.

As we worked, we shared ideas on the OpenStudio platform, which itself has been used in research over the years at OU. Our conference was held in Cloudworks, which also has been a focus of research at OU.


There was no assigned book, but I read most of Teaching Crowds: Learning and social media to support my final paper. Beyond that, we read journal articles that were either specifically assigned or part of our research for our self-directed project.

Module outline

Part 1


Graded assignments:

This essay explores the wishes of Americans for more formal, non-formal, informal, and workplace education, and the immediate and future needs of corporations for an increasingly skilled workforce. It identifies current changes in the educational technology bought by corporations, and traces the progression of an older innovation to the need for a new one. That new innovation is xAPI. It will remove barriers to access to the education that American workers and employers want. In this way, it is a part of openness and open education.

I have chosen the theme of innovation and the specific focus on xAPI because I believe it is required to support social and collaborative learning, and upcoming learning technologies such as augmented and virtual reality.

Part 2


Graded assignments:

The details of my workshop and conference plans have been refined and improved through interactions with my peers and subsequent reflection and reaction to their critiques. This section outlines the changes, takes a closer look at example interactions that have helped progress my work, situates those interactions within the context of working in an atelier environment, and then outlines my next steps in working as a networked practitioner.

Part 3


Assignments (not graded):

Final paper

This paper brings it all together, in three parts: a review of your project; a review of your own conference presentation and those of two others based on a stated criteria; and a discussion about your development as a networked practitioner. Here is the first paragraph of each of these sections in my paper:

[Part 1:] I created a workshop for managers demonstrating the benefits of adopting xAPI. My project met the theme of openness because it focused on xAPI, which is an open-source specification that creates an open system for data about learning activities, ultimately making more open-oriented learning possible within corporate training programmes. I designed a workshop to help managers understand the benefits of xAPI, because xAPI is innovative (and thus less understood) in my context.

[Part 2:] The published criteria I found for evaluating content and presentation similar to what we created in this module focused on items such as whether the content met the course objectives, how well the material was created, and the speaking skills of the presenter (The Open University, 2017a; Sinclair, 2016). I felt a better set of criteria in this instance would instead consider the artefacts as social objects used while we learned about being a networked practitioner, and the presentation as an opportunity to extend our new skills into the near future (The Open University, 2017b). 

[Part 3:] Using Dron and Anderson’s (2014a, 2014b) typology, the H818 module existed foremost as a group. However, it offered the cohort a space in which we could practice and explore nets, sets, and collectives to expose us to the ways these different social forms contributed to a networked practice.

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