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Cloudworks and the OLDS-MOOC

posted Dec 19, 2012, 3:41 AM by Rebecca Galley   [ updated Aug 15, 2016, 6:41 AM by OLDS MOOC ]

Cloudworks ( is a social networking site developed as part of the JISC funded Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) project in the belief that one of the key challenges in encouraging more innovative learning design is getting teachers to share designs and ideas.

Cloudworks aims to support participatory practices (peer critiquing, sharing, user-generated content, aggregation and personalisation) within an educational context, and promote reflective professional practice and development.
The site has been through a number of evaluation cycles and user experience overall has been found to be overwhelmingly positive. It hosts a thriving, global learning design community and some very rich collections of resources and discussions that we will want to draw into the MOOC and build on. However, we know there are some aspects of the site that some people find difficult – particularly navigation (as you’ll see below it doesn’t work in the same way as a linear discussion forum). To manage this issue we are putting weekly study ‘spines’ or ‘pathways’ pointing participants to specific Clouds for discussion and reflection at key points in the week. Additionally, there is a Cloudworks help Cloud called ‘Navigating the site’ you might find useful if you want to go ‘off-piste’ so to speak (apologies for the mixed metaphor ;-))
Cloudworks is used extensively throughout the OLDS-MOOC, and if you intend to contribute to discussions, activities and resource banks you will need to register on the site. We have 1000+ participants signed up for the MOOC so we’d recommend that you get yourself registered as soon as possible to avoid bottlenecks.
If you do have any problems registering or using the site please contact the Cloudworks support team directly They’re ready to help!

Core concepts


There are three key concepts associated with Cloudworks: 'Clouds', 'Cloudscapes' and ‘Cloudstreams’

  • Clouds. A Cloud can be anything to do with learning and teaching. A Cloud could be: a short description of a learning and teaching idea, information about resources or tools for learning and teaching, detailed learning designs or case studies of practice, or a question for example “Have you any good examples of using mindmapping in teaching?” Each Cloud is 'social' in that it is possible to have a conversation around the Cloud and it is possible for you or anyone else to add relevant links, embedded content (like a video) or an academic reference.
  • Cloudscapes. Clouds can be collected together into bundles or 'Cloudscapes' associated with a particular event, purpose or interest. For example you can have a Cloudscape associated with a conference, pulling together Clouds relating to papers, workshops or conference themes. A Cloudscape can be set up for a workshop or event where Clouds might include workshop resources, tools or activities. Cloudscapes can also be more general for example to stimulate debate about a particular teaching approach. A Cloud can be associated with any number of different Cloudscapes
  • Cloudstreams. It is possible to view and follow all the recent activity on a Cloudscape or of a particular person. Cloudstreams can be viewed on Cloudworks or you can set up an RSS feed for the Cloudstream (just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the icon).

Sharing pictures, videos, documents and ideas on Cloudworks

The first thing to say is that Cloudworks is not a repository and you cannot upload your files to Cloudworks but you can easily link to files and content stored elsewhere on websites such as Flickr, Slideshare, YouTube  etc. These files can be shared by linking, embedding or added in the text as a hyperlink.

Text. To add text to a Cloud, either click on 'Add content' (if your text is informational) or add text to the 'Contribute' box further down (if your text is conversational).

Links. To link to another web page, just click on 'Add link' which can be found towards the top of the page. The links you have added will appear in the middle column beside the discussion.When you add a link you will be asked to give the link a title (so other people will know what it is) and the URL (webpage address i.e. http://www. cloudworks...).

Embeds. If you want the document, video or slideshow to viewed from the Cloud, rather than just linked to, you can add it by clicking 'Add embedded content''. Again, you will be asked for a descriptive title and the URL. A number of sites are supported by this embed function including: 5min Flickr Google docs Google Video  Hulu Metacafe  Revision3  Slideshare  Twitpic  Vimeo  Wikipedia YouTube Scribd .

Hyperlinks. Most links will be created by 'add link' as above, but occasionally it will be more appropriate to create a hyperlink in the text, for example if you want to create a link to help explain something you're discussing. To do this highlight a word or phrase while editing, and then click on the chain icon. You will be asked for the URL and whether you want the hyperlink to open in a new or the same window.  If you create a hyperlink the link will not appear with other links, only in the text.

Take the Cloudworks virtual field trip

Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights in Cloudworks

When you add content or comment all your rights are reserved by default.  However work linked to, hyperlinked to, or embedded will be covered by the permissions set on the ’host’ site i.e. Flickr, YouTube etc. It is important that you adhere to the permissions given on this site.  For example, if you embed a photograph from Flickr it must be your own photo, or one that you have permission to upload, or published under a Creative Commons license and properly attributed. When you refer to someone else’s ideas or theories then they must be referenced, or attributed as is appropriate to the work. Where appropriate and available create a ‘link-back’ to the original online source.

Evaluation reports

Summary Report for Cloudworks Development Phases-one and two, 52pp Galley, R. (2009).

Expert Usability Testing Report Phase-1 / Phase-2 /Phase 3 (February 2011

Accessability Audit Report phase-2 (see also the Word version

End of Phase 2: Cloudworks User Survey May to June 2010  Galley, R. (2009)

Case study: Using Cloudworks for an Open Review 

Case study: Using Cloudworks at Conferences