Capturing the learning experience: footprints of emergence

(Post copied from Danegeld blog, 24 Feb 2015.)

At #altc 2013 I got a bit more to grips with footprints of emergence (examples), a visualisation technique for learning, which I first encountered on Jenny Mackness’ blog. At first sight it looked a bit onerous but an interesting idea, so I was eager to listen in on the Capturing the learning experience webinars, held on the SCoPE platform on 19 and 26 November.

19 November: emergent learning

  • recording (Blackboard) and materials | Jenny’s follow-up post
  • issues: is it possible to assess emergent learning? how do you ‘capture’ learning that is not expected? how do you measure or value it? are these the right questions or are they flawed? thread

26 November: drawing a footprint

footprint palette

footprint palette

Cut to the chase with Lisa Lane’s blog post.


  • the topography of the 2D palette almost makes sense –  it’s not necessarily a dichotomy (unlike Visitors/Residents?), rather a balancing act which may vary according to time, inclination, eg sometimes you may feel more warm towards the outer circle of chaos (Dante?) and risk, with its leanings towards innovation, while at other times this may feel too confusing, with too much information
  • a 3D version has prescribed learning as a valley in between ridges of emergence – both have a value
  • it’s a mapping not a scoring
  • it’s a palette not a template – not all factors may apply, new factors can be added
  • can be completed from two perspectives: learner or designer
  • learners: consider how each factor affected 1) you 2) your learning

The webinar participants seemed to struggle with the tech, making the whole process seem very very hard…some work defo still needed on this. Many of the factors are still opaque to me, use jargon and are just not clear to non edtech pple – it is hard to describe learning, but I’m sensing some over-thinking going on. The whole thing just doesn’t feel very intuitive. Would some writing for the web help and simplification make the process feel more engaging and inviting?

I’ve taken the MOOC approach to the discussion forum and not tried to read the lot : D but a post from Nick Kearney in the metaphors for emergent learning thread sums up the issues:

Footprints are a step in the right direction, in that they help to visualise the situation, but in the wrong direction in the sense that that serious engagement with them requires a whole new literacy. So, I see it as a great research tool but forget ease of use. Just a quick look at this makes me think I would hesitate to use it even if I could dedicate a couple of months to it:) It is very very rich, but there are more than 20 elements to assimilate in this particular version, and then the way the data is visually represented.

I would echo a question from Roy Williams’ response:  Is this an ‘app’, and should it be an app that can be downloaded and used in the first 5 minutes, or is it a new tool that requires two webinars and two weeks of discussion to use?

Can’t it be both? I’m really keen to apply the footprint approach to my latest MOOCs, in particular #kierkegaard with its implied special approach to learning, and to compare it with Jenny Connected’s #modpo experiences. I see it as an alternative approach to my lengthy blog posts, which may surface tacit knowledge and move my reflections on a step. Unfortunately, without Word this is not a straightforward process, but Jenny has offered to help out. We shall see how I get on! Answer: not too well, although I did present an alternative #kierkegaard footprint.

Update, September 2014: Jenny presented a new footprint platform at a recent conference.

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