Archive for November, 2017

The ICAP framework

Thursday, November 30th, 2017



Last week I did a keynote at the National Conference on Technology-Enhanced Learning at the National University of Singapore. One of the other keynotes was Michelene Chi from Arizona State University. She gave a really interested talk on the ICAP framework they have developed. ICAP stands for Interactive, Constructive, Active, and Passive. It defines cognitive engagement activities on the basis of students’ overt behaviours and proposes that engagement behaviours can be categorized and differentiated into one of four modes: Interactive, Constructive, Active, and Passive. The ICAP hypothesis predicts that as students become more engaged with the learning materials, from passive to active to constructive to interactive, their learning will increase. A useful paper on the framework is available online. Her talk was entitled: ‘Implications of ICAP: a theory of student engagement for classroom and technology-enhanced practices.’ This blog post summarises her talk.


Student engagement refers to whether students are:

  • Motivationally engaged (interest in content domain, pursue degree),
  • Behaviorally engaged (attend classes, do homework: broad behavior),
  • Cognitively engaged: (Not well-defined in literature, refers to use of strategies or to motivational constructs)

 She provided the following definition:

  • “Cognitive Engagement: We refer to it as what students do (or how Ss participate or interact) with instruction or the instructional materials once they are attending classes. We assume ”greater” cognitive engagement leads to “deeper student learning.”

She suggested there are four modes of behavior:

  • Attending mode (or passive mode): Students are paying attention, oriented toward & receiving instruction. But they are not doing anything else overtly, They are not producing anything. Examples: listening to lectures without taking notes, watching videos, observing a demonstration, reading a worked-out example.
  • Manipulating behaviour (active mode): Ss are paying attention and physically manipulating the instructional materials, but not adding any new information.  Examples: copying the solution from the board, underlining the important sentences, agreeing in dialogue, selection an option, moving a slider, measuring quantities, recording amount, pointing and gesturing, repeating definitions. Outputs include text markups of a subset of sentences etc.
  • Generating behaviours (constructive mode): Ss are producing some additional information that may contain (incidentally or intentionally) small (or large) pieces of knowledge that is not in the instructional materials. -Constructive does not mean that Ss are discovering knowledge/principles novel to the domain! We only mean that Ss are adding minute pieces of knowledge beyond what was presented in the instructional materials, literally. Cumulatively, they end up constructing an understanding. Examples: drawing, explaining, posting, taking in one’s words, providing, comparing and contrasting, evaluating, predicting, reflecting, monitoring. Outputs: concept maps, explanations, questions, notes not duplicate, justifications, similarities and differences, reviews, outcomes, insights of one’s own understanding.
  • Collaborative behaviour (interactive mode): Behaviour of working with a peer (commonly through dialogs): Taking turns, sharing attention. Outputs must be dialog pattern of each person generating and building on the other person’s contributions in a mutually-and reciprocally co-generative or co-constructive way. Sometimes this has been referred to as transactive dialogues. Examples: explaining jointly, debating with a peer, discussing. Outputs: elaborated peer’s explanation, challenge peer’s claim, provide example for peer’s justification, formulate peer’s point.

There are four knowledge processes: storing (new information), activating (relating to prior knowledge), linking (new information with prior knowledge) and inferring (a new piece of information). She then outlined ways in which the ICAP framework can be used to improve: lecturing, leading a discussion, designing worksheet activities, enabling co-constructive collaboration and using digital tools.


Lectures can be improved by asking students to generate new knowledge or asking them about what is unclear to them. In terms of a discussion, you can summarise what the students said and ask them if that is what they meant, or ask them to connect the ideas that have been raised, or ask them to critique another students viewpoint. In terms of designing activities, you can show them how a teacher-generated a worksheet. She argued that verbs were important. Some do not ask the students to generate new information, such as add, identify, choose, circle, copy etc. Others are generative/constructive verbs such as ask questions, brainstorm, connect, graph.  A small subset are collaborative/interactive verbs such as agree upon, debate, share.


She then provided examples of how digital tools can be mapped to the ICAP framework, below two examples are provided: tools for presentation and tools for discussion.




Current research on pedagogical patterns

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017



I’ve just attended the Social Learning conference organized by Open Learning at UNSW. It was a two-day event; I was one of five keynotes and also ran a Learning Design workshop. I was delighted to meet and have the opportunity to talk with the companies Chief Technical Officer, David Collien. It turns out that we have a lot of shared research interests. David described to me the work he has been leading on in terms of Pedagogical Patterns.


Patterns work originated in Architecture through the work of Alexander in the late seventies. Alexandra defined 250 patterns for describing and creating building and communities. A pattern is something that addresses a problem and presents a solution. A good starting point to explore patterns work is In the mid nineties Gramma, Heln, Johnson and Vlissides applied the concept of patterns to software architecture and developed 23 classic software design patterns.


David described a number of applications of pattern work such as:


  • TV tropes
  • FanFic
  • Field specific taxonomies (such as in Biology)
  • Medical

Work in the area of Education is still relatively nascent. Wikipedia has a good site on pedagogical patterns


Open Learning have been working on developing pedagogical patterns to underpin their online software platform. David described how Open Learning saw a number of benefits of using pedagogical patterns, to


  • help improve a course or activity
  • inspire creativity and experimentation
  • iterate, improve and evaluate best practice
  • map out a domain of knowledge and practice.

David has built an impressive online tool for articulating different pedagogical patterns. This includes a database of learning activities, examples include:


  • The lazy professor – where the teacher works hard to ensure the students are the ones doing the work rather than the teacher
  • Scenario play
  • Active learning
  • Reflective blog
  • Social learning
  • Talking head
  • The pool room – a very Australian concept, where prizes or trophies are put in the ‘pool room’, the equivalent in a learning context, is that the teacher puts examples of good practice associated with a course in the course ‘pool room’.
  • Three bears – where the students are asked to consider a concept from three perspectives extremes of the concept plus just about right.

He then shared a useful illustration of different forms of assessment, for each indicating how they mapped to various assessment tools. He argued that design can occur at a number of levels of granularity: Course, Module, and Activity. Ruth Crick and Nancy Law have been doing some interesting work on pedagogical patterns.



David said that in due course he will share the resource he has been developing, I look forward to exploring it. 

Learning Design and Curriculum Mapping

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017


 Image source



As part of some consultancy work I am doing at the moment I am collating tools and frameworks for Learning Design. This blog post provides a summary of what I have uncovered.


Improvement in course design and course review processes has elevated in importance at most Australian universities in the past decade. Learning Design and Curriculum Mapping have emerged as important tools to ensure that courses are designed effectively and map to both institutions and professional standards. Academics need support to design and map their courses.


Learning Design aims to help academics make pedagogically informed design decisions that make appropriate use of digital technologies. The Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design provides an overview of the emergence of the field and the underpinning philosophy.[1] The Larnaca Declaration outlines the following as factors of importance for the need to have more effective and robust design decisions:


Educators face many changes – such as expectations of adopting innovative teaching approaches, alignment of teaching to external standards, growing requirements for professional development and difficulties in balancing a complex range of demands from different stakeholders.


Government and educational institutions also face many changes, such as the rise of the knowledge economy and the need for different kinds of graduates, a shift from knowledge scarcity to abundance, and the impact of technology – especially the internet via open sharing of educational resources and massive open online courses (MOOCs).


In the context of these changes, effective teaching and learning in the classroom (and beyond) remains central. How can educators become more effective in their preparation and facilitation of teaching and learning activities? How can educators be exposed to new teaching ideas that take them beyond their traditional approaches? How can technology assist educators without undermining them? How can learners be better prepared for the world that awaits them?


A number of Learning Design tools and frameworks[2] have been developed to enable academic to make informed design decisions. These include:


The 7Cs of Learning Design framework, which has a set of resources and activities around: conceptualising, content creation, fostering effective communication and collaboration, consolidating (promoting reflection and students evidencing achievement of the learning outcomes, combine (looking at the design from different perspectives) and consolidating (implementing the design in a learning context).

The 8 Learning Events Model (8LEM)[3] which describes eight aspects of learning (create, experiment, explore, debate, practice, imitate, receive and metacognition).

The Hybrid Learning Model is an adaptation of the 8LEM and includes a set of cards and support guides. It aims to capture, describe, reflect on and plan good practice in teaching and learning.

The Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) is a tool for designing, managing and delivering online collaborative learning activities.[4]

The Creative Connections Cards[5] which is a practical tool to generate new concepts and visuals for any communication design challenge.

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the UK initiated a Curriculum Design programme and undertook a review of Learning Design tools.[6] It also has a comprehensive site, the Design Studio, which showcases JISC resources to support Technology-Enhanced Learning and Teaching practices.[7]

The Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE) helps scaffold teachers decision making from basic planning to creative Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) design.[8]

The Phoebe Pedagogical Planner is a wiki-based system for enabling academics to design learning opportunities.[9]

The METIS Integrated Learning Design Environment (ILDE) integrates a number of existing tools to create multiple Learning Design artefacts.[10]

RMIT has a set of cards to support course design.[11] Each card focuses on a particular type of learning activity, such as supporting group work or reflecting and demonstrating understanding. The reverse side of the card then details how this can be achieved and what tools might be used.

ABC Learning Design is a workshop where participants work in teams to create a visual ‘storyboard’ outlining the type and sequence of learning activities (both online and offline) required to meet the module’s learning outcomes.[12] It uses a paper-based format . Six common types of learning activities are represented by six cards: acquisition, inquiry, practice, production, discussion and collaboration.

The Learning Design suite of tools enables teachers to share their teaching ideas. It is intended to help teachers see how a particular pedagogical approach can be migrated successfully across different topics.[13]


The development of tools for Curriculum Mapping are more nascent. Most of the tools are paper-based or spread sheet based. There are very few examples, to my knowledge of online sophisticated tools equivalent to CourseSpace to do Curriculum Mapping. Some examples include:


The Curriculum Mapping tool at the University of Manchester.[14] This has two views; a list view and a map view, individual elements can be chosen and then the link to intended learning outcomes, activities or other aspects of the curriculum are shown.

Although primarily aimed at the school level, the following site[15] has a useful series of resources for Curriculum Mapping,

Also aimed at the school sector is the TeachHub set of resources.[16] The site states that a Curriculum Map can be built in a spreadsheet or using a tool such as Atlas Rubicon.[17]

Carnegie Melon University have developed an Excel Curriculum Mapping tool.[18]

The AMEE Medical education guide describes the process and components of Curriculum Mapping.[19]

The Indiana department of Education has created two Curriculum Mapping tools: tools for Designing Curriculum Through Mapping and Aligning and tools for Curriculum Development and Implementation.[20] The site lists a number of commercial vendors who have developed Curriculum Mapping tools.

The AG LTAS tool maps the curriculum against a set of user designed statements.[21]

The University of Wollongong has developed a Curriculum Mapping model.[22]

Deakin University have developed course maps, which are visual tools to help academics understand the structure and rules of a course.[23]

Weave Education has a set of tools to support accreditation management.[24]

Curtin University has developed a set of tools and resources for Curriculum Mapping. These include a Needs Analysis Tool which captures a 360 degree perspective from key stakeholders including current students, recent graduates, employers and industry experts, and benchmarking partnerships. The Needs Analysis includes two surveys: eVALUate Graduate and eVALUate Employer. A third survey captures the course teaching team’s self-reported capability to assess graduate attributes and employability skills in related professions.[25] 

The Subject Overview Spreadsheet developed at UTS SOS is a tool for curriculum mapping to plan for student graduate attribute development across a whole course.  It collects data for subjects, then produces a series of tables so that course teaching teams can view the types, weightings, and distribution of intended graduate attributes and assessment tasks. It may also be used to map features of the UTS Model of Learning such as research-integrated learning. The tables are used to identify ‘gaps’ or ‘overloading‘ in the assessment design so subjects can be adapted to provide a more appropriate balance for the students. This data can be provided to the Faculty accreditation committee to monitor assessment and assurance of learning across courses.[26]

MIT has an interesting visualization tool for Curriculum Mapping.[27] It provides a visualisation, showing links between accrediting bodies, pre-requisites, courses and disciplines. 

IdR has a similar visusalisation tool based on Adobe flash.[28]

A paper from Bond University provides an overview of current paractics in mapping graduate attributes in the curriculum.[29]

MyCourseMap from Curtin University is a visualisation tool to help make the curriculum more explicit.[30]

TOCDM is an open source Curriculum Mapping tool.[31] It allows flexible curriculum unit page customization.





[2] A review of five of the main Learning Design Pedagogical Planners is available This describes the key features of each tool.