Archive for the ‘Learning design’ Category

Review: Lockyer et al., 2008

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Agostinho, S. (2008), Learning design representations to document, model and share teaching practice

Pg. 1 Academics are presented with many choices in how they can design and deliver their courses.

Pg. 3 six learning design representations; E2ML, IMS LD, Learning Activity Management System (LAMS), Learning Design Visual Sequence (LDVS), LDLite and Patterns

Pg.4  Learning design as a process of designing learning experiences and as a product ie outcome or artefact of the design process

A learning design can represent different levels of granularity – from a whole course down to an individual learning activity

E2ML three aspects: 1. Goal definition, 2. Action diagram, 3. Overview diagram

IMS LD documents the learning design in computer readable format

LAMS software which allows teachers to design and implement online learning activities – sequence of activities as a flowchart

LDVS A learning design consists of 3 parts: tasks students do, content resources and support

LDLite 5 elements: tutor roles, student roles, content resources, service resources and assessment/feedback

Patterns a way of capturing knowledge from designers and sharing them with practitioners. Consists of pattern name, context for the pattern, description of the problem, solution, examples and links to related patterns

Pg. 13 Conole et al. 2007 explain that practitioners use f arrange of tools to support and guide their practice Conole, Oliver, M., Falconer, I., Littlejohn , A. and Harvey, J. (2007) designing for learning in Conole and Oliver ps 101-120 Oxon: Routledge

MoD4L conducted focus groups concluded that no one single representation is adequate

Pg 14

1.     Pedagogical models – academic literature

2.     Generic learning designs – patterns and generic LDVS

3.     Contextulaised learning design instantiations – LDVS, LDLite and E2ML

4.     Executable runnable versions – IMS LD, LAMS

Falconer and Littlejohn 2008 Representing models of practice

Pg 20 Three challenges facing teachers: increasing size and diversity of student body, increasing requirement for quality assurance and rapid pace of technological change

Pg 21 little evidence that education has changed fundamentally

Pg 22 representations teachers use: module plan, case study, briefing document, pattern overview, contents table, concept map, learning design sequence, story board, lesson plan

Pg 23 Challenges of developing and using representations

Ownership of representations, different representations effective for different communities, number of different purposes a representation needs to fulfil

Issues from the focus groups: community and purpose, product vs. process, granularity and characterising representations

Pg 26 Purpose: be generic, detail sequence and orchestration and inspire teachers to implement them and hence change practice

Pg 29 Product vs. Purpose

Pg 30 most common level of granularity a lesson plan of 1-3 hrs

Pg 49 IMS LD Method – specifies the teaching-learning process, roles of learners and teachers, activities, environments – resources and services, conditions,

Garzotto, F. and retails, S. (2008), A critical perspective on design patterns for e-learning, pg 113

‘A design pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment and then describes the core of the solution to that problem in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice, Alexander et al., 1977Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S. and Silverstein, M. (1977) Pattern languages: towns, buildings and construction, New York: Oxford University Press

pg 114 Eleaning design experience is often shared informally in the everyday language of teaching practice

pg 119 concept of design patterns also applied to software engineering

pg 120 Design patterns in e-learning Pointer project,html


TELL http://cosy.ted.unipi/gr/tell

Pg 121 A taxonomy for elearning design patterns: patterns about human actors, patterns about pedagogical strategies, patterns about learning resources and patterns about technological tools and services

Pg 144 Frizell, S.S. and Hubscher, R. Using design patterns to support e-learning design

Pg 147 three main benefits of design patterns 1. They serve as a design tool, 2. Provide concise and accurate communication among designers, 3. Disseminate expert knowledge to novices

Pg 156 design framework for elearning patterns: design for interactivity, provide problem-solving activities, encourage student participation, encourage student expression, provide multiple perspectives on content, provide multiple representations of data, include authentic content and activities, provide structure to the learning process, give feedback and guidance, provide support aides

Goodyear, P. and Yang, D.F. Patterns and pattern languages in educational design, pg 167

Pg 168 Educational design is the set of practices involved in constructing representations of how to support learning in particular cases

Pg 170 educational design takes time it rarely starts with a clear complete conception of what is desired. The process of iterative clarification of the nature of the problem and its solution involves complex thought.

Pg 173 Pedagogical Patterns Project (PPP) worked on 4 pattern languages: active learning, feedback, experiential learning and gaining different perspectives.

Issue with patterns is that if they are too abstract they lack insight whereas if they are too specific they are not transferable

Pg 209 Masterman, E. Activity theory and the design of pedagogical planning tools

Pg 210 lack of uptake of technologies due to a number of factors: lack of awareness of the possibilities, technophobia, lack of time to explore the technology, aversion to the risks inherent in experimentation and fear of being supplanted by the computer.

Pg 211 Designing for learning – the process by which teachers – and others involved in the support of learning – arrive at a plan or structure or design for a learning situation (Beetham and Sharpe, 2007: 7).

Beetham and sharpe – learning can never be wholly designed, only designed for (ie planned in advance) with an awareness of the contingent nature of learning as it actually takes place (2007: 8)

Activity theory 212 an activity to work on some sort of object and transform it into an outcome. In a learning session the object is the learning session being designed for and the outcome is the pedagogical plan

Activity system consists of the object and the outcome, the human subjects, mediated by two types of tools – technical tools which mediate physical actions and psychological tools which mediate cognitive actions. The learning designs are psychological tools for helping teachers to think about their practice in new ways. Social dimension of an activity means it is carried out in a community which has a set of rules and division of labour. Rules include curriculum, timetabling and procedures for booking IT facilities. Division of labour determines how the task is segmented among the subjects and the other members of the community. An activity is constantly changing and developing in expansive cycles.

Pg 223 Phoebe pedagogic planner was designed as a tool that could propagate the principles of effective practice to as wide an audience as possible by allowing them to develop new pedagogical approaches while still using the planning tools that they were familiar with.

Pg 228 Harper, B and Oliver, R. Developing a taxonomy for learning designs

Pg 230 there has been little work to provide a means to classify and categorise learning designs

Over 50 exemplar learning designs were gathered in the AUTC Learning Design project. These were evaluated using an adapted version of the framework developed by Boud and Prosser (2002) Appraising new technologies for learning: a framework for development, Educational Media Internationals, 39 (3/4).

1.     Learner engagement

2.     Acknowledgement of the learning context

3.     Learner challenge

4.     The provision of practice

Types of learning design

1.     Rule focus – based on the application of rules

2.     Incident focus – based on incidents and events

3.     Strategy focus – that require strategic thinking, planning and activity

4.     Role focus – where the learning outcomes are based on learners’ performance and personal experiences


Oliver and herrington (2001) describe three aspects of a design: content or resources the learners interact with, the tasks or activities that the learners are required to perform and the support mechanisms to provided to assist learners to engage with the tasks and resources.


Types of exemplars:

1.     Collaborative focus

2.     Concept/procedure development focus

3.     Problem based learning focus

4.     Project/case study focus

5.     Role play focus

Kearney, M., Prescott, A. and Young, K. pg 263 Investigating prospective teachers as learning design authors

Pg 264 teachers often struggle to implement theory into practice Fang, 1996 A review of research on teacher beliefs and practices, Educational Research, 38(1), 47-65













Review: Botturi and Stubbs, 2008

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Hohanson, B., Miller, C. and Hooper, S., pg. 1 -17 Commodity, firmness, and delight: four modes of instructional design practice

Pg. 6 Instructional design is guided by a range of theories and ideas, beliefs and assumptions, not the least of which is a perception of our own practice

Pg. 7 Vitruvius advocated that architecture design must satisfy three discrete requirements: firmitas (strength – construction and physical soundness of the building. How media is used and how technology is applied to a solution), utilitas (utility – functional use and appropriateness, application of instructional methods, use of sound instructional theories and the structuring of the interface design) and vernustas (beauty – aesthetic or beauty of the architecture, affective aspects and the complete learning experience).

Pg. 19 A design language is what designers use to communicate designs, plans and intentions to each other and to the produces of their artifacts Gibbons and Brewer, 2005: 113)

Understanding visual representations is a learned skill Rose, G. 2001 Visual methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual materials, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE publications

Stubbs, S.T. and Gibbons, A.S. The power of design drawing in other design fields

Pg 35

In ID, visual representations serve two purposes. 1) used during design as part of the design process to represent some aspect of instruction before it had to be produced or represented. May be in the form of storyboards or flow charts 2) part of the content that is being produced.

Pg 37 Design drawing aids the designer by reducing cognitive load during the design process. Because design sketched are an external representation, they augment memory and support informational processing. Tversky, B (2002), What do sketches say about thinking? (AAAI technical report, SS-02-08), Stanford University

Pg 37 Another view of drawing is similar to Vygotsky’s description of the relationship of language to thought. Substituting drawing for words, Vygotky says: ‘Thought is not merely expressed in (drawings), it comes into existence through them.’

Pg 38 Languages in general provide advantages particularly useful in design. 1. They allow thought to be communicated so that good ideas don’t get lost, 2. They provide a focus of attention that permits higher-power processing and anchoring of thought and 3. They provide the ability to question and judge the value of the thought – to construct thoughts about thought. Jackendoff, R. (1996) The architecture of the language faculty, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Stages of design

1.     Sketches to try ideas out

2.     As design progresses the drawings become more formal, more governed by rules and conventions

Pg 41 Design drawings can be categorised by their form and purpose. Massironi, 2002 taxonomy of graphic productions. Distinction between representional (physical reality) and non-representional (abstract concepts) drawings.

McKim types of abstract graphic languages: venn diagrams, organisation charts, flow charts, link-node diagrams, bar charts and graphs, schematic diagrams and pattern languages.

Laseau 1986: bubble diagrams, area diagrams, matrices and networks

Pg 56 Visual languages serve several purposes 1. Communicate a message through a visual or functional language, 2. Provide a synthetic idea, image or metaphor of complex ideas, 3. Create a grammar or produce meaning for its use.

Pg 112 Botturi, L. E2ML A tool for sketching instructional design

Two types of languages 1. Finalist communicative languages – serve the purpose of representing a complete instructional design for communicating it to others for implementation, reuse or simply archival 2. Representative – help designers think about the instruction they are designing and support its creation. Ability to express an idea, allows people to better analyse and understand it and to make better design decisions.

Pg 381 Agostinho, S., Harper, B., Oliver, R., Hedberg, J. and Wills, S. A visual learning deisgn representation to facilitate dissemination and reuse of innovative pedagogical strategies in university teaching

P381 Uptake of the use of high quality ICT-based learning designs in HE has been slow. Factors include low levels of dissemination of ICT-based learning projects, lack of ICT-based learning examples to model, barriers: lack of time, support and training.

Pg 382 Oliver and Herrington three elements that comprise an learning design

1.     The tasks or activities learners are required to undertake

2.     The content resources provided to help learners complete the tasks

3.     The support mechanisms provided to assist learners to engage with the tasks and resources

Quality criteria

1.     Engage learners by considering their prior knowledge and building on their experience

2.     Acknowledge the learning context by considering how the learning experience is positioned in the broader program of study

3.     Challenge learners through active participation

4.     Encourage learners to practice or apply their learning through articulating and disseminating their understanding to themselves and their peers


Spector et al. review

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Handbook of research on educational communications and technology - 3rd Edition

Below are my notes on the handbook. Comments welcome!

Historical foundations, M. Molenda Pg 4 Educational technology as a field has developed through a series of phases as new technologies have emerged. Its origins are in the use of visual and audio-visual systems, then radio, television, teaching machines, the design of instructional systems, computers and ultimately the use of the internet for both storage/processing of information and communication.

Pg 9 Barriers cited for the lack of use for audio-visual tools in the 1940/50s were identical to those cited for lack of use of computers in the 1990s. accessibility, lack of training, unreliability of equipment, limited budgets and difficulty in integrating into the curriculum.

Paradigm shifts in the field due to new thinking around learning theories from behaviourism, through cognitivism and finally constructivism. These theories led to the development of particular uses of technology designed to support the underpinning principles of the theories.

Theoretical foundations, J.M. Spector

Pg 21 Foundations of educational technology: the psychology of learning, communications theory, human-computer interactions and instructional design and development

Pg 23 Dewey How we think argues that we need to understand the nature of thought to be able to devise appropriate means and methods to train thought.

Pg 24 All learning involves language Vygotsky

Philosophical perspectives, K.L. Schuh and S.A. Barab

Pg 74 Merrills principles of ID

·      Task orientated approach

·      Activation principle

·      Demonstration principle

·      Application principle

·      Integration principle

Computer-mediated technologies, A.C. Graeser, P. Chipman and B.G. King

Pg 212 Most students do not know how to use advanced learning environments effectively, so modelling, scaffolding and feedback on their optimal use are necessary.

Technology-based knowledge systems, I. Douglas Pg 245 knowledge communities – ref for cloudworks

The learning objects literature D.A. Wiley

Pg 347 - 348 Wiley

Many different definitions of learning objects and a number of metaphors

Lego metaphor: small chunks of content which can be combined

Molecule metaphor: small chunks of content that according to their semantic and structural makeup have stronger affinities for binding with some learning objects, emphasises the role and importance of context

Bricks and mortar metaphor: small chunks of content which need some contextual glue to bind them together

Pf 351 the reusability paradox – the more reusable LOs are, the less instructionally effective they are and vice versa

Outcome-referenced, conditions-based theories and models, T.J. Ragan, P.L. Smith and L.K. Curda Pg 383 Outcome-reference, conditions-based theories and models Ragan Smith and Curda

Competencies for the new-age instructional designer, R.C. Sims and T.A. Koszalka Pg 574 term instructional design should be replaced with learner/learning design (Sims, 2006)

Cognitive task analysis R.E. Clark, D.F. Felden, J.J.G. van Merrienboer, K.A. Yates and S. Early Pg 579 Cognitive Task Analysis uses a variety of techniques and observations strategies to capture a description of knowledge that experts use to perform complex tasks.

Change agentry, B Beabout and A.A. Carr-Chellman Pg 620 despite the promise of technology, we are not seeing it revolutionise education, see also Cuban 1986 Cuban, L. (1986), Teachers and machines: the classroom use of technologies since 1920, New York: Teacher College Press.

Design languages, A.S. Gibbens, L. Botturi, E. Boot and J. Nelson, Pg 633 Design languages

Pg 634 Design languages and notation systems hold great practical and theoretical significance for instructional design. Instructional designeres use multiple design languages in the creation of designs. Notation systems make design languages visible and document those solutions. Design languages provide the building blocks of  an evolving design.


1.     Improved design team communications

2.     Improved designer-producer communications

3.     Improved designer-client communications

4.     Promotion of design innovation

5.     More direction from theory and more applicable theory

6.     More nuanced theory integration with designs

7.     Improved design sharing and comparisons of designs

8.     Improved designer education

9.     Design and production automation


A design language is a set of abstractions used to give structure, properties and texture to solutions of design problems.

Pg 640 Barton and Tusting noted that ‘ reification entails not only the negotiation of shared understanding but also enables particular forms of social relations to be shaped in the process of participation’.  Barton, D and Tusting, R.M. (2005), Beyond communities of practice: language, power and social context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Systems design for change in education and training, S.L. Watson, C.M. Reigeluth, W.R. Watson Pg 693 Nelson and Stolterman noted that fundamentally, design is a creative act, resulting in the creation of something that has not previously existed. It focuses on making choices to create the best design for a very specific system.  Nelson, H.G. and Stolterman, E. (2003), The design way, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.



Introduction to designing for learning in an open world book

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Chapter 1: Contextualising learning design


In this book I will argue that in todays technologically rich context, where content and services are increasingly free, we need to rethink approaches to the design of learning activities and content. I introduce the concept of open design and argue that making the design process more explicit and shareable will enable teachers to develop more effective learning contexts for learners and help make the intended design more explicit and shareable with other teachers and learners. It will help learners to make more sense of their educational provision and associated learning pathways. I will provide a number of illustrations of adopting an open design approach, from a set of design representations through to the use of open, social and participatory media for sharing and discussing designs. I draw on the areas of learning design, pedagogical patterns and OER (Open Educational Resources) research to explore the creation, sharing and discussion of learning and teaching ideas and designs.

The Internet and associated technologies have been around for around twenty years now. Networked access and computer ownership are now the norm. As such the context within which todays students learn is radically different from the context for learning in the past. There is a plethora of technologies that can be used to support learning, offering different ways in which learners can communicate with each other and their tutors, and providing them with access to interactive, multimedia content. The so-called net generation has grown up in this technologically rich environment. There has been a lot of hype about how this generation is used to and comfortable with using a range of technologies to support all aspects of their lives (Sharpe & Beetham, 2010). However, these generic skills dont necessarily translate seamlessly to an academic learning context. Appropriation of these technologies for academic purposes requires specific skills (Jenkins, 2009), which means that the way in which we design and support learning opportunities needs to provide appropriate support to harness the potential of technologies. The diversity of offerings available to learners also means there is more potential for them to get lost and confused; more than ever before learners need supportive learning pathways to enable them to blend formal educational offerings, with free resources and services.  This requires a rethinking of the design process, to enable teachers (used in the broadest sense here, from those in K-12 through to tertiary education, as well as designers/trainers in more commercial settings) to take account of a blended learning context.

This new learning context also raises some thought-provoking issues. In a world where content and services are increasingly free, what is the role of formal education? What new teaching approaches and assessment methods are needed? How can we provide effective learning pathways to guide learners through the multitude of offerings now available? How can teachers develop new approaches to the design of learning activities and whole curricula that takes account of this new complex, technologically enhanced context?

The emergence of so-called web 2.0 tools has shifted practice on the Internet away from passive, information provision to active, user engagement. Many of the affordances of new technologies (user participation, peer critique, sharing, collective construction) appear to align well with what are considered to be the hallmarks of good pedagogy (socially situated learning, constructivism, dialogic and inquiry-based learning). However in reality there is a gap between the potential of these technologies and actual use in practice. Teachers lack the necessary skills to make informed decisions about how to use these technologies effectively in their teaching.  The term affordances was coined by Gibbons, originally in an ecological context. He defines them as:

All “action possibilities” latent in an environment… but always in relation to the actor and therefore dependent on their capabilities.

For instance, a tall tree offers the affordances of food for a Giraffe because it has a long neck and can reach the leaves, but not a sheep. This term is useful in a technological context because it infers that although technologies have an inherent set of characteristics or affordances (such as promoting reflection or collaboration) these are only relevant in relation to individual users own characteristics (such as individual skills and personal preferences and the context of use). Technologies and users therefore co-evolve.

The gap between the potential and actual use of technology is a paradox and this paradox is at the heart of the growth of a new area of research that has emerged in recent years. Learning design research aims to better understand this mismatch. It focuses on the development of tools, design methods and approaches to help teachers design pedagogically effective learning activities and whole curriculum, which makes effective use of technologies.

The book introduces learning design as a methodology for designing for learning in an open context. I argue that it is no longer possible for any one teacher to be an expert in knowing about all the ways in which technology can be used to support learning or be aware of all the latest innovative learning activities or resources that are freely available. Drawing on the research we have been doing in this area, along with related research in the learning design field and closely aligned research areas (in particular work on pedagogical patterns, OER research, learning sciences and instructional design), I will argue that there is a need for a more formal approach to designing for learning. Specifically, that we need to shift from the traditional craft-based teacher-design (where design draws on based practice and is essentially implicit) to a more systematic, explicit design approach, drawing on empirically derived and validated tools and methods for design (Figure 1).


Figure 1: The essence of learning design

I will describe the tools and resources that can act as Mediating Artefacts (MAs) to support teachers in making informative design decisions. For a fuller description of how the term mediating artefacts is being used in this context, see (Conole, 2008). I will show how the research we have been doing demonstrates the value of adopting a more open approach to the design process, to enable teachers to represent, share and discuss learning designs with each other and with students.

The book will draw in particular on the research work I have been doing as part of the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI).[1] However it will also locate this work within the broader context of design research from across the learning sciences and instructional design fields. I will articulate my position in terms of designing for learning, through a definition for the concept of learning design by introducing the notion of adopting a more open approach to the design process. I will situate the research work alongside related areas such as instructional design, learning sciences, research into the development and use of pedagogical patterns and Open Educational Resources (OER). The book will also describe the theoretical underpinnings to my work, which are essentially socio-cultural in nature(Daniels, Cole, & Wertsch, 2007; Engeström, Punamäki-Gitai, & Miettinen, 1999), through articulation of the range of Mediating Artefacts (MAs) that can be used to support and guide the design process.

Learning design as a term has being used in a number of different ways, the book will clarify these different perspectives, positioning the approach I take as being about designing for learning. I define learning design as follows:

A methodology for enabling teachers/designers to make more informed decisions in how they go about designing, which is pedagogically informed and makes effective use of appropriate resources and technologies. This includes the design of resources and individual learning activities right up to curriculum-level design. A key principle is to help make the design process more explicit and shareable. Learning design as an area of research and development includes both gathering empirical evidence to understand the design process, as well as the development of a range of resource, tools and activities.

The book will provide a rich basis for critiquing design considerations in learning and instruction. It will make clear both the distinctiveness of learning design as a research inquiry, but also demonstrate how it is related to and builds on other design work from the fields of learning sciences and instructional design. Highlights of work from researchers such as Diana Laurillard, Yannis Dimitriadis, David Merrill, Sasha Barab, Elizabeth Boling, Paul Cobb, Andy Gibbons, Peter Goodyear, Rita Richey, Donald Schon, and Kurt Squire will help provide specific concrete examples.


I see this book as marking an important turning point for research in this area. It will be of broad interest to a number of audiences given the increased use and impact of ICT in education. Thus its primary intended audience will be existing researchers in the field. In addition, a major second market will consist of new researchers, reached through the use of the book as a core text for postgraduate programmes (including PhD study) in this area. Finally, I believe that there will be interest in this book from a substantial third group, consisting of teachers and trainers, staff developers, learning technology practitioners and managers who would use the book to orient themselves to these new forms of learning and teaching in post-compulsory education.

The book sits at the intersection of a number of research fields and attempts to tackle one of the key challenges facing education – how can teachers design innovative learning experiences for learners in an increasingly technology-enhanced context? The primary audience is researchers in the field of technology-enhanced learning/e-learning. This includes those with a broad interest in researching the use of technology in learning and teaching, as well as individuals with more specialist interests, in particular the research areas of instructional design, learning design, pedagogical patterns, learning sciences and OER research. More broadly, the book will have appeal to researchers in a number of related fields such as computer science, education, information sciences and psychology. The book should be of interest in a number of fields, including: educational technology, learning technology, education, open and distance education. It is envisaged that it would be of relevance to a wide range of masters-level courses in this area and associated areas across Higher and Further Education (including programmes in e-learning, learning technology research, networked learning, educational masters programmes, etc.). There are now a significant number of masters courses concerned with the use of technology in education (ranging from specialized instructional design courses through to e-learning and open and distance education courses). In addition, I anticipate that it will be used as a reference text for induction programmes for new lecturers. It will also be of relevance to related masters in computer science, education, business studies and psychology for example. This will also be of value to consumers of research such as managers, policy makers, learning technologists and staff developers. In addition because the book covers both the theoretical and practical aspects of the subject, it will also be of interest to those with a support role in institutions, such as: learning technologists, instructional designers, educational developers and librarians.

A central argument that will be developed in the book is that effective and systematic approaches to design are essential in todays complex, technologically rich learning context. Teachers need tools and methods to help guide them to make informed decisions about their designs. As such teachers will also find this book valuable; in particular the description and case studies of a range of specific tools and design methods. The book is likely to be of particular benefit to new teachers, as part of induction programmes for new faculty.

Finally, the book will look at design from the perspective of different levels of levels of granularity (from the design of small-scale learning activities through to whole curricula design), as well as across the whole design lifecycle (from initial concepts through to evaluation). I will argue that in most institutions, current structures and processes are woefully inadequate to take account of the affordances of new technologies and that effective design using new technologies will require a radical rethink of the whole curriculum process. This has significant implications for institutional strategy and policy. As such the book is likely to be of interest to those in managerial roles within institutions as well as policy makers.


The book will be divided into four sections:

Section 1 – Content and theory

·    Context: providing a summary of the changing context of education

·      Society,

·      Technology,

·      Learning and teaching

·      Further trends

·    Issues: current barriers to using technologies in learning and teaching

·      Gap between promise and reality,

·      Teachers’ design strategies: summary of findings from a series of interviews

·      Learning design as a methodology to address these issues

·    Learning design: a definition and theoretical basis

·      Definition and historical origins

·      Contextualisation in the field – Critique of the concept of design, locating Learning Design in relation to design research work in the learning sciences and instructional design fields

·      An outline of a learning activity taxonomy

·      Theoretical underpinnings

·      Findings from the evolving empirical evidence base

·      An outline of the different facets of learning design

·    Related research areas and synergies

·      Instructional design

·      Pedagogical patterns

·      Open Educational Resource movement

·      Towards a process of ‘open design’ bringing together these different strands of research


Section 2 - Tools and methods

·    Representation: different ways in which learning activities and curricula can be represented

·      An overview of different forms of representation and how they can be used

·      Visualisation: the power of visualisation

·      Design Methods: An outline of different design methods and schema

·      Guidance: different forms of guidance and support for teachers

·    Types of guidance and support (in-situ help, templates, pedagogical patterns, pedagogical planners, events and activities)

·      Challenges in providing guidance and support

·    Sharing and discussion:

·      Barriers to sharing learning and teaching ideas and designs

·      Different forms of sharing and fostering dialogue

·    Metaphors for design

·      The limitations of current representations and discourse

·      Rethinking the design process and the role of metaphors


Section 3 – Application and empirical case studies

·    Application: A series of case studies outlining how the tools and methods described in section two are being used

·      Case study - representation: Making designs explicit through visualisation

o   Description of CompendiumLD

o   Evaluation of the use of CompendiumLD

o   Comparison with related visualisation tools

·      Case study - guidance: mechanism for guiding design

o   Review of different tools that have been developed to support the design process and description of the different strategies they have used

o   Mixing real and virtual – description of the design challenge event as a mechanism for structuring design workshops

·      Case study – sharing and discussing:

o   Review of web 2.0 practices and how they are being used in learning and teaching

o   Description of Cloudworks social networking site for learning and teaching

o   A taxonomy of new practices for sharing and discussion

·      Case study: OLnet: Bringing together OER, learning design and pedagogical patterns

·      Case study: Design across the whole curriculum, taking a holistic approach


Section 4 - Conclusion

·    Current research questions defining the field – in particular comparing this work with related efforts

·    Institutional change – strategy and policy directives

·    Challenges and the future

·    Implications for future research and development in the field of learning design and related areas

·    Looking to the future – reflecting on changes in how people might be learning and designing learning in 10or 20 years and considering the impact learning design and related research areas might have on this

·    Changing relationships; students as designers, make design open and explicit

·    A final relocation in the broader context of learning sciences and instructional design, what niche space does learning design occupy?

·    Future challenges for learning design research and the implications for learning and instruction



·    Reflections on the process of producing the book in an ‘open’ style

·      The production of the book will be accompanied by a continual ongoing reflective blog and invited questions and discussions in cloudworks.

This is building on an established area of research, which I have being involved with over the past ten years or so. In particular it follows on from the development of a Learning Design toolkit, called DialogPlus (, as part of a NSF/JISC funded project and more recently the OULDI work at the Open University ( Aspects of the work have been published in chapters and journal articles but this book provides a synthesis the work to date and provide a clear position/take on the field. In addition it aligns this work alongside related learning design research and more broadly research in closely aligned areas (such as instructional design, learning sciences, pedagogical patterns and OER research). The aim of the book is to provide a synthesis and coherent overview of learning design as a research area, within the context of an educational context that is technologically rich and increasingly open.

The process of writing the book

The writing of the book is intended to be adventurous, in terms of adopting an ‘open approach’ to the process of writing the book. This consists of an ongoing series of blog posts about the book on my blog ( These posts include initial ideas around the nature and scope of the book, articulation of particular issues I encounter as I am writing, fleshing out some of the ideas for the chapters and associated references. Coupled to this, periodically a series of clouds on the Cloudworks site (, invite the broader research community to participate in a discussion around some of research issues and questions that arise from the content of the book as it develops. Cloudworks will also be used as a means of adopting an open approach to the literature review associated with the book and the aggregation of relevant links and references. The blog posts and the clouds provide a rich set of associated resources alongside the book, as well as a continued space for ongoing discussion once the book is published.

The emergence of learning design as a research area

This is an important and vibrant research field and there have been a number of edited collections in the last few years (Beetham & Sharpe, 2007; Lockyer, Bennett, Agostinho, & Harper, 2008). The book also aligns with related research work in the area of Pedagogical Patterns (Goodyear & Retalis, 2010) and Open Educational Resources (Iiyoshi & Kumar, 2008). The Iiyoshi and Kumar book provides an over of the open content and knowledge movement, of which Open Education Resources research is one aspect. As part of the proposed book I intend to make a more explicit connection between the area of learning design, pedagogical patterns and Open Educational Resources. With colleagues I have recently submitted a chapter to a new edited collection on CSCL pedagogical patterns (Conole, McAndrew, & Dimitriadis, 2010), which describes initial work in this area. This has been submitted to a book edited by F. Pozzi and D. Persico Techniques for Fostering Collaboration in Online Learning Communities: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives” (see The Goodyear and Retalis book provides a useful edited collection of current research in the field of pedagogical patterns. In this book, I have a chapter, which begins to align the learning design and pedagogical patterns research, through the description of a learning activity as both a visual learning design representation and as a pedagogical pattern. The work also aligns with related research in instructional design and learning sciences (Reigeluth & Carr-chellman, 2009; Sawyer, 2006; Spector, 2008) for example:

To my knowledge the book would provide the first single-authored coherent overview of learning design. The work we are doing as part of the OULDI is at the forefront of research in this field. We have developed a range of innovative tools and design methods, which are generating a lot of interest in the field. We have an evolving Learning Design Toolbox (, which gives some indication of the scale of our work. The book aims to provide a coherent overview for this work, along with a theoretical underpinning and contextualization with related research in the field. The book also aims to provide a good balance of theoretical underpinning for the field, innovative tools and methods, and practical examples and case studies.

Design is arguably the most important aspect of learning and teaching; effective design enables teachers to make informed use of technologies and incorporation of innovative pedagogies approaches, which can meet the challenges of a complex modern educational context. However, design is complex and teachers need support and guidance to effectively incorporate new technologies, to think differently, to change their practice. This book outlines a means of achieving this, along with practical tools and methods. All of the tools and methods described are freely available. The book will also help clarify the relationship between learning design and related fields. It will provide an opportunity to align learning design research with pedagogical patterns and OER research.


Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2007). Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital age: Designing and Delivering E-Learning: Routledge %@ 0415408741 %7 New edition.

Conole, G. (2008). Capturing practice, the role of mediating artefacts in learning design In L. Lockyer, S. Bennett, S. Agostinhi and B. Harper Handbook of learning designs and learning objects: IGI Global.

Conole, G., McAndrew, P., & Dimitriadis, Y. (2010). The role of CSCL pedagogical patterns as mediating artefacts for repurposing Open Educational Resources’ in F. Pozzi and D. Persico (Eds), Techniques for Fostering Collaboration in Online Learning Communities: Theoretical and Practical.

Daniels, H., Cole, M., & Wertsch, J. V. (2007). The Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky: Cambridge University Press %@ 0521831040 %7 1.

Engeström, Y., Punamäki-Gitai, R. L., & Miettinen, R. (1999). Perspectives on activity theory: Cambridge University Press.

Goodyear, P., & Retalis, S. (2010). Technology-enhanced learning: design patterns and pattern languages. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Iiyoshi, T., & Kumar, M. S. V. (2008). Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge: The MIT Press %@ 0262033712.

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century: Mit Pr.

Lockyer, L., Bennett, S., Agostinho, S., & Harper, B. (2008). Handbook of Research on Learning Design and Learning Objects: Issues, Applications and Technologies: IGI Global %@ 1599048612 %7 illustrated edition.

Reigeluth, C. M., & Carr-chellman, A. A. (2009). Instructional-Design Theories and Models, Volume III: Routledge %@ 0805864563 %7 1.

Sawyer, R. K. (2006). The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences: Cambridge University Press %@ 0521845548, 9780521845540.

Sharpe, R., & Beetham, H. (2010). Rethinking learning for the digital age: how learnes shape their own experiences. London: Routledge.

Spector, M. J., Merrill, M.D., van Merrienboer, J., and Driscoll, M.P. . (2008). Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (Third ed.). New York: Routledge.




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An open approach to book writing

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

I have got a contract to write a book, try current title ‘Designing for learning in an open world’. It’s really a chance for me to consolidate the learning design work that I have been involved in over the last eight years or so, to try and articulate my take on this, locate it to other learning design research and also related fields (such as pedagogical patterns work, instructional design and learning sciences). So far I have been working on it in the background, refining the focus, deciding on the structure and content, doing the necessary broader literature reading to locate the content alongside other work. However I think it’s now time to go a bit more ‘open’ – seems appropriate given the focus of the book! So I am planning to post thoughts, rough drafts, ideas etc. here as I go along. I’ve not done this so explicitly before with a piece of research, certainly not for a relatively large enterprise that is likely to go over a fairly extended amount of time. Sure I have put up ‘ideas in the making’ as blog posts and even drafts of papers, but it will be interesting to see how the articulation of a more substantive set of ideas pans out over time. Goodness only knows what I will make of early postings and drafts and/or even worse what if I end up abandoning the whole enterprise?

I’m not sure yet what format this will take, but my thinking at the moment is to post here reflective thoughts, ideas about structure and order, drafts of writing, emergent questions the work raises, pointers to interesting readings and how I am using them, plus maybe some more general reflections on the process. The reflective blog posts are being aggregated in a Cloudscape on Cloudworks, which will also be a space for discussion and aggregation of related relevant references.  

Have others come across similar open approaches in our field and if so how effective are they? I know that some books have been produced and then ‘opened’ as wikis to invite broader contributions and of course that some commercial writings do keep reflective blogs, although I wonder to what extent these are marketing ploys rather than genuine invites to open up the process and invited broader comment? Of course, dare I say it, there is also the old chestnut about whether we should be publishing in traditional channels at all or simply going straight for completely open publishing routes, I know this is something my colleague Martin Weller feels passionate about.

So I post this first entry on this topic with some trepidation, feels like going into the unknown and a little out of my comfort zone… but hey if we don’t push the boat out occasionally life would be a lot less interesting ;-)

A taxonomy for Learning Design

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

We are running a Course Business Models workshop tomorrow at the OU to share with staff from across the university the work we have done to date in terms of representing courses. The Course Business Models (CBM) and the Learning Design work complement each other in the sense that the LD work provides the broader perspective and theoretical basis for the work and the CBM work a specific local implementation.

One of the things I will argue tomorrow will be about the benefits of adopting a Learning Design approach. In particular I will argue that it offers a design-based approach to the creation and delivery of courses, tadalafil along with a set of resources, hospital tools and activities to support this. It enables practitioners (and potentially learners) to shift from learning and teaching practices that are essentially ‘belief’ based (i.e. this is what I have always done, vialis 40mg this is my experience of learning and teaching) and implicit to ones based on design principles derived from good pedagogy and mechanisms that enable the design to be made more explicit. Adopting a design-based approach promotes a reflective and scholarly approach and facilitates the sharing and discussion of learning and teaching ideas and designs.

LD wheer

In our Design-Practice project (with Cyprus and Greece) we are identifying what innovations from our Learning Design work we can transfer to be applied in their local contexts. This has enabled us to take stock of the range of tools, resources and activities we have produced and put them into a more logical and meaningful framework. Rebecca Galley, Paul Mundin and I had a great brainstorm about this earlier this week and I think we have come up with a nice way of capturing and representing what we have developed. The LD-wheel shown provides a higher level picture; i.e. that our Learning Design methodology is composed of three parts: theoretical perspectives, collaboration and visualisation. For each of these we have developed a set of tools, resources and activities. So for example the CBM Excel templates we have produced for the views are examples of visualisation resources. CompendiumLD is an example of a visualisation tool and Cloudworks an example of a collaboration tool.

At the end of this blog post the full Learning Design Taxonomy underneath this that we have developed is presented.

 guided pathway

It is possible to take a number of guided pathways through the LD-wheel:

  • CBM awareness events (such as the workshop we are running tomorrow) – where the focus is on looking at and discussing the five CBM views.
  • An LD-lite workshop (for example ‘Using technology to support learning and teaching’) – where a selection of tools, resources and activities are used but there is no explicit mention of Learning Design. We are planning to run something like this with our Design-Practice colleagues.
  • Design challenges – using a range of the tools, resources and activities to support teams as they work through creating a course in a day. We have run a number of these both within the OU and externally with our partners on the JISC OULDI project.
  • A masters level unit – such as the one I authored for the H800 course.
  • A free format – where the user choose what they want to use and in what order.

I’m looking forward to the workshop tomorrow and getting feedback on aspects of this work and to seeing in the coming months how this work might be rolled out across the university.


Update on conceptual learning design tools

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

A number of things appear to becoming together - at least in my mind! - in terms of working towards a coherent set of conceptual learning design tools. I’ve blogged about lots of this before, but thought this post would be useful in terms of bringing some of this up to date. Interesting these ideas are currently spanning a number of projects/research work I am involved with. Clearly this work fits in terms of the overall ideas about adopting a learning design-based methodology and the associated tools/resources/activities to support this. Institutionally this work is currently being driven through our Course Business Models work. Externally aspects of this are feeding into the Design-Practice project we have with Cyprus and Greece and the X-Delia project on financial decision making. Below is a powerpoint presentation showing five conceptual design views of a ‘learning intervention’ - this could be something like an informal learning iphone app (as in this example) or a formal educational course or programme.

The five views are:

  • Learning intervention overview (or Course map view)
  • Pedagogy profile
  • Course dimensions
  • Task swimlane
  • Learning outcomes map

I talked about some of this in detail in a recent networked learning paper and associated powerpoint presentation (Cloud on Cloudworks on the seminar this was part of is here). I think what is exciting about this is that the five ‘views’ give you a means of thinking about a learning intevention at different levels of granalarity and different aspects.

We have particularly made significant progress in the last few weeks I feel on the course dimensions view. I had an excellent brainstorming session on this last week with Mick Jones (who is leading the next phase of our Course Business Models work), Barbara Poniatowska and Kevin Mayles (who are involved in a related project on e-learning data. We have an internal workshop with staff from across the faculty on Friday to get their views on the work to date, how it might be used/improved and how it can be taken forward.

I used the views this week in a brainstorming session with Gill Clough (who is the lead reseacher on our part of the X-Delia project)  in terms of trying to map a learning intervention for an i-phone games app about financial decision making. The views worked surprisingly well. The powerpoint presentation with the five views is below, thoughts welcome!

Health check game

View more presentations from grainne.

Using course dimensions

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Following on from my previous post I have done some more thinking about course dimensions and how they can be represented and used. To recap; there are four categories associated with a course and each can have a number of dimensions:
  • Content and Activity
  • Interactivity
  • Student-generated content
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Multimedia
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Web2.0 interaction
  • Collaboration
  • Peer communication
  • Reflection and demonstration
  • Reflection
  • Diagnostic
  • Formative
  • Summative
  • Guidance and Support
  • Student-centred
  • Peer supported
  • Tutor-guided

It is possible then to consider the degree to which each of these dimensions is present in a course, viagra 60mg using a percentage scale. This can be done at course level, try at block level (where a block might present a semester) or for individual weeks. So in the example below the course is divided into three blocks. Block one has 65% interactivity (35% non-interactive), 10% of the materials generated by students (90% made available via the tutor), 20% of the materials are OER (80% from the tutor) and 75% multi-media (25% print-based). The table can then be represented either as a bar chart or a spider diagram.

 Course dimensions 1

Alternatively these dimensions can also be used to give a balance across the categories. So in the figure below for example; in terms the Content and Activity category breakdown as 25% interactive material, 10% Student-generated content, 40% OER and 25% multimedia. This can then be represented as a bar chart.

Course dimensions 2

Course dimensions

Friday, February 26th, 2010

As part of our Course Business Models and Learning Design work we have been developing a range of representations (or views) for courses. I blogged about aspects of this back in June ( and there is also a cloudscape ( More recently I have had a paper accepted as part of a symposium at the Networked Learning conference that details some of the conceptual thinking. The representations range from views that are useful at the micro-level (such as individual learning activities), viagra cheap through meso-level (i.e. looking at a block of learning) up to whole course or programme level (macro-level).

Old course view

As part of this work Mick Jones and I had come up with a course map view some time back, generic which was based around 5 facets of a course. The categories were Guidance and Support, tadalafil Information and Experience, Communication and Interaction, Thinking and Reflection and Evidence and Demonstration. It seemed to work reasonably well but wasn’t perfect…. In parallel Niall Sclater, Barabara Poniatowska, Liz Burton-Pye and others in the Learning Innovation Office, as part of their development of a learning systems roadmap, had come up with a set of categories, which were tantalising close but not quite the same. For a long time we couldn’t see a way of reconciling this, but this week we had a breakthrough and I feel we now have a much better course view. Essentially we have distilled our five categories into four: Guidance and Support, Content and Activity, Communication and Collaboration, and Reflection and Demonstration. For Niall and his team there are two additional categories needed when taking a broader systems approach, namely Experience (i.e. all the factors that impinge on the students experience of taking their course and using the learning systems – i.e. accessibility, usability, personalisation, etc.) and Management (i.e. all the factors around managing and monitoring the learning process).

Spider diagram

The course view can also be used to generate a type of ‘spider diagram’ of the course. For each of the four categories it is possible to think of a set of dimensions and for each of these to consider them as a sliding scale from 0 – 100%. For example for Content and Activities there are four obvious dimensions – the degree of interactivity, the balance of course-team generated vs. student-generated content, the amount of Open Educational Resources included and the balance of paper-based vs. multimedia content. This spider diagram can be used when designing a course to make decisions about these different aspects or as a way of checking and comparing existing courses. The nice thing about this view is that it is also possible to have user-generated dimensions – for example you might imagine a Science course wanting to put in something to indicate the balance of theoretical versus practical lab work, or a professional course wanting a dimension on the amount of work-based activities there are in the course. So we are beginning to think about refining a set of core generic dimensions, along with some faculty-specific ones. This is very much fresh off the page thinking, so would really welcome thoughts!

Locating educational practices

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

One of the things I talked about at the CODE International Symposium in Japan last week was a framework for locating educational practices. The framework has two dimensions: teacher-centered vs. student-centred learning (i.e. where the locus of control is for the learning process) and content-based vs. activity-based learning. I then showed how this could be used to map different types of learning across formal, cheap non-formal and informal learning context. So in the lower left hand side fairly didactic approaches, such as a traditional lecture presentation are located. Here the control is very much teacher-centred and the main learning is via delivery of content. Adopting more activity-based approaches, but still within formal educational contexts, shifts to the upper left hand quadrant – i.e. approaches such as problem-based, case-based, scenario-based or inquiry learning. The teacher is usually still controlling the learning process and here the focus is around some specific context and is primarily activity-based in nature. The bottom right hand quadrant considers approaches that are content focused but student controlled. A lot of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) or skills-based vocational learning fit within this space. Finally, informal learning approaches which are based around activities and engagement with others such as for example amateur photography, just-in-time language learning, gardening etc. fit in the top right hand quadrant.Of course these are extremes, specific instantiations of these different approaches to learning will shift – a lecture might actually have some degree of activity or might be more student focussed, nonetheless it is useful I think to consider these different approaches along these two dimensions, particularly as much of the rhetoric around the use of new technologies suggests a shift towards learner,-centred/activity-based learning - would welcome thoughts!Educational Practices