Implications of Abundant Content | How to Build a Natural Swimming Pond

How to Build a Natural Swimming Pond
Mary Ellis and Darin Faber

As an exploration of the implications of abundant content for lifelong learners, we were asked to partner up with a classmate and research a topic of interest. Upon completing our first meeting, reviewing a variety of different subjects of interest, we decided to research how to build a natural swimming pond. Neither of us has experience in the construction of natural swimming ponds. Environmental awareness is a hot topic, both in education and in everyday life. Building a natural swimming pond follows the theme of environmental awareness and is an alternative to the creation of a traditional swimming pool.

Sources of Digital Content

  • websites (personal),
  • blogs (personal),
  • commercial pool installers (opinion, FAQs and tips articles),
  • communities of practice websites,
  • complete portable doucment format (PDF) based manuals
  • (communities of practice websites),
  • social media (Facebook, Reddit),
  • photographs (Google images, Pinterest),
  • Youtube, Vimeo,
  • Wikipedia,
  • e-books, and
  • online university libraries (Royal Roads, Carleton).

Level of Abundance

In our original discussion, based on our assessment of environmental awareness as a hot topic in today’s world, we predicted that there would more than likely be a large quantity of material available on the web. This conclusion was accurate, as we culminated a collection of hundreds of sources on how to build a natural swimming pond.This collection included a multitude of do-it-yourself articles, videos, photographs, and documents. We also found several opinion-based articles on natural swimming ponds. However, these were mostly supplied by commercial pool companies.

The results from our searches, within and, showed that the majority of the resource-based learning (RBL) (Weller, 2011) material on building natural swimming ponds originated from the general public. While the RBL material does come from a variety of individuals, it is the amount of material that gives the learner ability to compare with the different instructions made available. As Weller (2011) states “the ability to construct appropriate and rigorous knowledge from a range of sources is even more relevant” (p.8). Some articles and videos were found within communities of practice that involve environmental awareness or the building and maintenance of pools. While not directly related to pedagogy, these communities of practice, as outlined by Weller (2011), do promote “self-direction, user-generated content and social aspect” (p. 9).

Equipped for Use

Weller (2011) suggests that a pedagogy of abundance be based on some assumptions, one of which is a generative system. Weller cites Zittrain’s (as cited by Weller, 2008) argument that unpredictability and freedom, essential characteristics of the internet, create innovative developments. We found this to be true in the user-generated content outlining various designs and systems for natural swimming pools. There were many competing systems and opinions on best practices and safety concerns. Making use of this abundance of online material requires the learner to be equipped with methods for the dissemination of such a large body of information. George Siemens (as cited by Weller, 2011) proposed the theory of connectivism in that “learning takes place within a network” (p. 9). Siemen’s principles of connectivism outline the tools necessary for the learner to make use of the abundant content on the web. Anderson (n.d.) summarized these methods as the ability to “access, process, filter, recommend, and apply information with the aid of machines, peers, and experts within the learning network” (p. 43).Learners also can also locate field-related professionals on the web. As Weller states “it is not only content that is accessible” on the web, the learner now has “access to social networks of peers, experts, and learners” (p. 5). Instruction can be shared and delivered from a variety of individual sources. As with the abundance of learning material, there are more field-related experts who are readily available to share their thoughts and ideas in blogs and on forums (Weller, 2011).

Teaching the Content

Without the first-hand experience of building a natural swimming pond, we both came to the same conclusion; we would not be confident enough to teach a course on the construction of a natural swimming pond without the experience. However, we could comfortably aggregate enough available information and instruction from the abundance of digital content available on the web to create an online step-by-step course. This online course would have to include a disclaimer, as the learner would be responsible for the construct of their natural swimming pond.


Anderson, T. (2016). Chapter 3: Theories of Learning with Emerging Technologies. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed). Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249, 223–236.

9 thoughts on “Implications of Abundant Content | How to Build a Natural Swimming Pond

  1. Thank you for the insightful post Darin and Mary Ellis!
    I am left wondering: Do you feel that you learned how to build a natural swimming pond after engaging in this exercise? If so, what does that tell you about the learning theories we studied? If not, what do you think is missing?

    P.S. I posted this comment on both of your blogs, but feel free to respond individually

    1. George,
      I honestly believe I did not fully learn how to build a natural swimming pool. To be clear, if I attempted the process of this type of construction, I would not feel confident enough with the end result. Personally, I require face-to-face experiential-based learning. I do not have the proper intrinsic experience as a constructivist learner to be able to complete such a project. I learn far better with a professional, or someone with experience there to help guide me through the steps. I find without the personal interaction of a knowledgeable instructor; I tend to question too much, which shakes my confidence.

  2. Hi Mary and Darin,

    I posted on the weekend on Mary’s blog but not realizing that it would be a good idea to post here as well 🙂

    very interesting topic and very informative. You stated that you don’t feel confident enough to teach the course without the experience but could create an online course. It is hard for me to separate the two. From my personal experience, I believe creating a course ( even an online one) requires more expertise that teaching. What factor gives you the confidence to be able to create the course?
    Thank you!

    1. May,

      Thank you for your feedback and question.

      In response to your comments, I think I would feel confident enough to create an online tutorial on how to build a natural swimming pool. Online material is abundant enough, such that, I could cross reference every step through the vast amount of photographs, video tutorials, articles, online blogs, and even peer-reviewed articles. However, I believe would take more time to accomplish this method of creating an online tutorial or instruction plan, versus having previous experience of building an actual swimming pool. The online tutorial would have to have the disclaimer listed below.

      IMPORTANT: This online tutorial of how to build a natural swimming pool is to be used with caution. The creator of this tutorial does not have the hands-on experience on how to build a national swimming pool.

  3. Hello Darin and Mary,

    I read your post with a lot of interest, I have wanted to build one of these things for a long time! In your reply to George, something caught my eye: “Personally, I require face-to-face experiential-based learning.”
    I have felt the same thing, generally speaking, but recently swapped the old hard drive from my laptop for a SSD completely from watching youtube videos. Any thoughts on where the line in the sand is between what we should/shouldn’t can/can’t tackle from online content alone?

    1. Todd,
      Personally, I think the line in the sand is a personal line to be drawn. There is no limit to what can or cannot be tackled from today’s online content. If there is an abundance of resources available, then it is up to the learner to decide on what to do with it and how to cross-reference and validate the information that is easily accessible. The sky is the limit on the web when it comes to OER material, and there are no rules to follow.

  4. Hello Mary and Darin,
    Your topic is totally original! I find the idea quite unexpected, and the research for information you did reveals how -almost for anything that comes to mind, there is always somebody else walking the path ahead of us.
    I wonder… what kind of information that you find at a commercial swimming pools business might be of use for a natural swimming pond?
    Nice job!
    PS. Darin, I miss the photos!

  5. Alphonso,
    The resources from a commercial pool installer usually come in the form of tips and recommendations on how to select an installer, maintenance tips (which typically links to products they may sell), and actual types of products to buy. There were no actual installation instructions found on commercial websites as they want to do the installation.

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