Mapping Learner Experience with a Sphere of Possibilities

GSS Tools: Thortspace: 10–30–2017, Updated: 02–17–2018

Datacamp offers numerous courses. There are over seventy courses in R. While we tend to focus on goals, we may not be able to establish SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realizable, and Time-framed) at the outset. As a teacher, creating a sphere of possibilities helps me organize my Datacamp experience.

Exploring Possibilities for Implementing Datacamp Courses

I created this sphere of possibilities in October 2017. I had finished teaching one course in Data Analytics to our graduate students in Accounting. During this time, several new courses were added. I want to explore some of them (e.g., Introduction to Tidyverse) for the next semester. So I decided to create the sphere of possibilities and update it as new courses were added.


Last year, our younger son decided to sign up for Datacamp. We have started using the sphere of possibilities to map our journey. As shown below, Datacamp has over seventy courses in R. We track our journey using the Growing Systems of Success (GSS) approach. Information about the GSS approach is available here.

Don’t know what I don’ know

The investigation of possibilities starts in a “don’t know what I don’t know” state. I don’t know what courses will work best for our son and for my graduate course. I don’t know what other courses Datacamp will add before Spring 2018.

Is this for me?

Planning tools are typically goal-oriented rather than possibility oriented. Since my focus is on possibilities, I created a possibilities sphere and listed all Datacamp courses in R in the sphere. I will also add Python and SQL courses to this sphere. I will also add Datacamp projects, projects, and other resources. Seeing the possibilities at a glance helps me consider possibilities and address the question: “Is this for me?

Last week, I saw the announcement for a project (Wrangling and Visualizing Music Data). Since our son is very interested in music, we decided to explore this project.

I also started considering the possibility of exploring skills tracks. Since we are starting with dplyr, I looked at the data manipulation track. I re-arranged the elements in my possibility sphere and categorized them according to skills tracks. Thortspace features for multiple arrangements and flexible re-categorizarizing information are very useful in using the sphere of possibilities!

Finding the fit

I will be exploring the courses marked in the sphere.We have already started the dplyr course. Finding the fit is a deeper investigation of the possibility to evaluate whether a course or project can be implemented and how it can become part of the overall experience. For example, we started with Tidyverse but moved to dplyr since that is a better fit for us at this time. We will return to Tidyverse later.

Will it work?

We have explored the dplyr course. We think pursuing the data manipluation track will work. Unlike a course setting, my son and I have greater flexibility in exploring possibilities and adjusting what we are doing.

Making it work

Once we check out the courses in the data manipulation sequence, wewill make detailed plans. This part of the process is goal-oriented. We will make decisions on how to organize our learning, and how to track our learning.


Access to networks is invaluable during the early phases of exploration. I am looking forward to resources and interactions in the growing Datacamp community. We also intend to play it forward by sharing our journey.