Archive for November, 2014

The Consider C chapter

Thursday, November 27th, 2014


So I am making progress on my new Learning Design book, albeit slow… I have been working on the Consider C chapter, i.e. looking at the reflective and assessment aspects of learning. A central tenet of importance is Bigg’s concept of constructive alignment, i.e. ensuring that the assessment elements cover all of the intended learning outcomes. A draft of the chapter is available on slideshare, comments very well. Would still like to find some more practical assessment strategies/designs, any suggestions very welcome!

Guidelines for completing the VMPass learning passport

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014


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As part of the VMPass project we are writing a set of guidelines for completing the VMPass learning passport. A draft of these is described here, sale along with an example of a completed learning passport. Comments welcome!

VMPass Learning Passport Guidelines 

The VMPass project is developing an accreditation framework for informal and non-formal learning through resources such as Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). The accreditation is achieved through completion of a learning passport. This consists of information from: the institution that provided the open learning material, the learner, and the accrediting institution. This document provides guidelines on how to complete the learning passport.

Section 1 needs to be completed by the institution providing the open learning offering. It begins with information about the institution and the offering, such as the type of institution the nature of the course, level, estimated number of hours required and the number of credits possible. Information is also needed on any quality assurance processes applied.  Learning outcomes are then listed in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes. A detailed description is provided of the learning activities, what the learner is required to do and the percentage of time spent on each learning activity. An indication is provided of how pedagogically open the course is, from low (i.e. a linear didactic approach) through to high (i.e. there is a significant amount of freedom in terms of how the learner can work through the material). An indication is given of how the credit can be used.

Section 2 needs to be completed by the learner; this includes their name and contact details, as well as an indication of how they plan to use the credit. The learning activities that the learner has completed are listed, along with evidence of achievement of these. It is preferable if the evidence is available online and a URL provided to link to this. 

Section 3 needs to be completed by the assessing/certifying institution. This is includes information on what type of institution along with a contact person. Information is then provided about the assessment and the learning outcomes assessed. Any quality assurance procedures for the assessment are described. The name of the certification awarded and the grade is given, along with an indication of what it is equivalent to.  Also this certification is mapped to the qualification framework used in the institution. The level and descriptions of the grading scheme is described.

An example of a completed learning passport can be found here.


Running a 7Cs of Learning Design workshop

Thursday, November 20th, 2014


Someone asked me today about how to run a 7Cs Learning Design workshop. Here are my suggestions.

  1. An ideal number for the workshop is 25 – 30, ampoule with participants working in teams of five. At the beginning of the workshop, price they need to agree a course or module to work on.
  2. Give each participant a handout with the outline of the workshop and associated resources.
  3. Give an overview of the 7Cs of Learning Design framework.
  4. Get the groups to work through the activities, get feedback from each group after each activity.
  5. Carry out an evaluation at the end: what did they like about the workshop? Room for improvement?  Three words to describe the workshop. Action plan as a result of attending the workshop. 

Validating the VMPass Learning Passport

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


The VMPass project is developing a framework for the accreditation of informal and non-formal learning, stomach a topical issue, which is generating a lot of interest at the moment, particularly because of the implications of learning through free resources and course, such as OER and MOOCs. A related project, OpenCred, has carried out a detailed review of accreditation of informal and non-formal learning, which is complementary to VMPass.

A key feature of VMPass is the concept of a learning passport. This consists of three parts: information from the OER provider, the learner and the accrediting institutions. We are currently validating the learning passport and are looking for volunteers to look at the learning passport and complete a short survey on their views on it. If you are able to complete this please email me at Thanks in advance! 

Blended learning – putting policy and principles into practice

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014


Picture via @epipeum on Twitter

As part of today’s EPIGUEM Blended Learning Meeting, thumb Mark Brown (from Dublin City University) gave a talk on blended learning. Mark will make his slides available on slideshare in due course. The focus was around three questions:

  • What do we mean by blended learning?
  • How do we translate the principles of blended learning into practice?
  • How do we ensure our staff stay at the cutting edge of innovation in blended learning?

He crafted his talk around a metaphor of dance, sales structuring his talk into three parts: let’s dance, dancing with purpose, and choreographing the best moves. He argued there was an analogy between design and dance, both based around a balance between art/craft and science.

Let’s dance

He argued that the problem is not making up steps but deciding which ones to key, quoting Mikhail Baryshinkovo. He quoted Garrison and Kanuka (2004, pg 96) who state that blended learning is the integration of face-to-face with online learning. He also quoted Vaughan’s definition (2012), which is around fundamentally redesigning for effectiveness, convenience and efficiency. But Mark argued it was important to ensure that blended learning was also about transformation. He quoted Sfard’s work on ‘adaptive blends’, i.e. that no two students are the same and that each have distinctive needs. He also quoted Barbara Means Meta Analysis of Blended Learning, I can’t find the link right not but will add later if I do find it. He argued that we need to be BOLD (Blended On-Line Digital) in our approach, and that we need to re-conceptualise campus-based teaching. 

Dancing with purpose

He stated that there were a number of elements that need to be considered when designing blended learning offerings, interactions between teachers-learners, learners-learners, and learner-content, as well as the place, pace and mode of learning. He suggested that there were four key means of learning and that all were important: listening (instructional), sharing (connectivsm), making (constructionism) and doing (constructivism).  He identified four ‘spaces’ for learning: on campus/in class, off campus/in class, on campus/out of class and off campus/out of class. He concluded by arguing that we need to blend with purpose for a seamless learning experience.

Choreographing the best moves

In the final section he listed three useful frameworks for effective design and quality assurance of creating blended learning offerings

He concluded by stating that a transformational learning design culture consists of the following elements:

  • Making explicit choices
  • Adopting a principled approach
  • Winning the hearts and minds of teachers
  • Providing the design tools for new pedagogies
  • Giving responsibility for quality back to the teacher
  • Building distinctive leadership at the programme level. 

EPIGEUM Blended Learning Meeting

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014


I gave a talk at an EPIGEUM Blended Learning meeting today in London. After an introduction by the CE Terry Sweeney, click David Lefevre (co-founder and chairman) gave an overview of EPIGEUM, viagra pharmacy it’s origins and focus of activities. This is an interesting business model for course production and delivery. Courses are designed by a team of experts and take up to a year to develop. Institutions pay a licence fee, which goes towards keeping the courses up to date. Course teams consist of authors, reviews, editors, technical support, etc. A list of current course offerings and people involved can be found here.  

Courses consist of a mixture of text, video and interactive material. They can be completed individually or it is possible to include peer to peer activities, tutor-led activities or face-to-face activities.

Building a course consists of four stages

  • An initial meeting about the curriculum plus comments and feedback to the authors
  • A one-day workshop with authors, reviews, editors and the technical team to scope out and work up
  • The teams then begin the process of writing up a paper-based version of the course, which is then reviewed.
  • Finally the interactive version is created and reviewed, followed by an implementation workshop.

The pedagogical approach is described as ‘rich, engaging and born digital’. The claim is that the courses are built around a proven pedagogically sound structure to form rich coherent learning experiences, interactivity is used as a tool for learning and the materials consist of rich multimedia content.

A new suite of seven blended learning courses is about to be developed. I will be working with Mark Brown and Norm Vaughan to oversee the development. Each course will consist of: 

  • 7 hours of interactive online material
  • 30 hours of independent research and reflective activities
  • 15 hours of peer-to-peer activities

A useful presentation providing an overview of the EPIGUEM approach is available on Slideshare.

A chapter on policy uptake for OER and MOOCs

Monday, November 17th, 2014


I am currently writing a chapter on policy uptake for OER and MOOCs, drawing in particular on research from the OPAL and POERUP projects. The current version of the chapter has the following conclusion:

As stated at the start of this chapter, OER and MOOCs are challenging traditional educational institutions and their associated business models. OER and MOOCs are an example of what Christensen terms ‘disruptive innovation’ (Christensen 1997). A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. It is about change, about something new, about the unexpected and about changing mindsets. OER and MOOCs are disruptive in that they are challenging traditional educational institutions, to rethink their business models and to rethink the ways in which they design and deliver courses. It is unclear what the future of OER and MOOCs will be, and whether or not they will have a fundamental impact on the educational landscape. But if they make traditional institutions rethink their values and distinctiveness and what is the learner experience of attending one institution other another then that is for the good. My feeling is that there will be a spectrum of educational offerings from entirely free resources and courses, through to the Oxbridge model of the one to one tutorial. This spectrum will offer learners a variety of possibilities to engage with learning, matched to their individual preferences and needs. 

The worlds largest flipped classroom

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

This is a special guest post by associate professor Carl Reidsema from the University of Queensland. Nice work Carl!

The Day the US President Dropped in on the World’s Largest Flipped Classroom at the University of Queensland for the G20 

There’s certainly a lot of hype and interest in what the world’s most powerful man, clinic Barack Obama, viagra order gets up to. Whether you love him or not, what he has to say and where he goes are all keenly followed. So imagine my surprise when I find out that he’s going to be paying a visit to my classroom at The University of Queensland while he’s here for the G20 in Brisbane, Australia!

So what, you say? Presidents drop into classrooms all the time because education is as vital as health, defence, business and the rest of his many portfolios.

Well, in this case the classroom that the President of the United States of America is visiting happens to be a space big enough to hold 2000 people bleacher-style but for 20 weeks of the year, I and my co-teaching academic colleague along with 3 of our most talented teaching assistants use it as an active teaching space for 1200 first year student engineers at 600 students an hour in what is arguably the “World’s Largest Flipped Classroom”.


There have been decades of unmet global demand to produce graduate engineers who can work well and communicate in teams with internationally diverse peers and respond creatively yet rationally to complex socio-technical problems. We create these graduates by providing our students with opportunities to engage in hands-on authentic design problems requiring fundamental knowledge and skills in both engineering and high tech simulation software tools. Beginning in 2010 with a year in planning and supported by industry partners ABB and Boeing Australia as well as the government Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN), UQ Engineering runs an intensely challenging course with absolutely no lectures as a Flipped Classroom.  Here students do their lectures online before coming to campus to collaboratively do their ‘homework’ in full hands-on mode facilitated by experts in professional practice.