Archive for December, 2018

An augmented 7Cs of Learning Design framework

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018


 Image source

I have recently been looking at Learning Design frameworks to see if they can be combined to form a holistic Learning Design framework. This builds on UNESCO’s four pillars of education: (learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be). As well as Chickering and Gamson’s 7 principles of good teaching:

  • Encourage contact between students and faculty
  • Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students
  • Encourage active learning
  • Give prompt feedback
  • Emphasize time on task
  • Communicate high expectations
  • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning

The below is a collation of the various Learning Design frameworks, essentially this is an augmented 7Cs of Learning Design.



  • Resource audit

Communicate and collaborate




The plan is to trial the use of this augmented 7Cs of Learning Design framework in the retro-design of existing courses or the design of new courses.

Teaching and Learning Away Day

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018


Last week we had a very productive teaching and learning away day. The aim was to reflect on the current ways in which we design and support our DCU Connected students. A background document was circulated prior to the meeting, which collated various Learning Design frameworks. We identified two overarching themes to improving our teaching and learning:

  • New and more systematic design of online, open distance teaching and learning. In terms of thoughtful and explicit design, we need to 
    • Ensure the workload across modules in consistent
    • Set up either a week by week or month by month schedule
    • Indicate the indicative time needed to complete activities and content and assignments
    • Split content into core and additional (extension)
  • Supporting, and working with, online, open distance learners and teachers (learning students)

In addition, we identified 10 principles for online teaching and learning:

  1. Flexible learning: An accessible learning experience to transform lives and societies and enable widening access
  2. Teacher presence: Expert academic teaching, guidance and facilitation from specialist, passionate educators
  3. Foster belonging: Fostering a sense of belonging
  4. Meaningful interaction: Commitment to a deep level of meaningful interaction, where self-regulated learning is active, collaborative and participatory
  5. Students as partners: Surfacing the student voice and involving them to design decisions
  6. Rich learning resources: Universal design (accessibility standards); any device;
  7. Authentic and reflective assessment: Use a variety of assessment (and feedback) mechanisms to ensure that learning is: active, authentic and meaningful
  8. Personalised support: Student support personalised to the online distance learner: academic, pastoral, technical, and administrative
  9. Research informed teaching and learning: Commitment to cutting-edge, research-led approaches to Learning Design
  10. Open education practices: Practices, philosophy and co-creation

We then brainstormed how each of these principles might be realised.

Flexible learning

  • We have flexibility in terms of assessment submission and attendance
  • Consider moving away from synchronous contact (exams and tutorials), as this limits flexibility or mirror face-to-face with online
  • Encourage students to have regional, informal meet ups

Teacher presence 

  • Teacher presence is evident in the following ways
  • Tutorials (both face-to-face and online)
  • Having photos of the programme team, subject experts and tutors on all modules on Loop
  • Learning materials (as these are created by authors and hence embody their ‘presence’, and indicate explicitly how we teach)
  • Create short video introductions welcoming the students to the course and giving an overview of the module, these could be from the programme team and the tutors
  • Provide skills for using Loop and in particular Loop forums to encourage discussion
  • Encouraging students to attend the welcome day and live stream the event
  • Participation in forums
  • Create tutor bios indicating their background and expertise
  • Provide audio/video for assignment feedback and/or feed forward, or to explain an assignment
  • Provide audio/video on content students typically find difficult

Foster a sense of belonging 

  • Provide opportunities for students to socialise with each other
  • Include group work in the first assignment
  • Have second-year student acting as mentors to the first-year students
  • Create videos of current students, testimonials about the modules
  • Early opening of courses
  • Link to useful university services, including study skills

Meaningful interaction

  • List of useful tools (both Loop based and external ones) and indication of how they can be used
  • Ensure authentic and reflective assessment
  • Encourage students talk to each other, include an icebreaker activity where students introduce themselves and indicate what they hope to get out of the course
  • Encourage students to set up study groups
  • Articulate elements of learning: communicate, reflect, articulate, practice and apply to real-world contexts, and evaluate
  • Provide training for new tutors on how to support online learning
  • Provide skills for moderating forums
  • Provide a scaffolded learning approach, where a tight structure is provided to begin with and as students become more confident remove scaffolding and move towards more of a learning-centred approach

Students as partners

  • Enable students to indicate errors in text
  • Involvement students in programme boards and in the design of courses
  • Include student-led presentations
  • Create testimonials from past students
  • Enable students to find, share and discuss relevant resources
  • Set up opportunities for peer mentoring
  • Clarify the types of activities students can engage with
  • Include graduates as tutors

Rich learning resources

  • This links to meaningful interactions and Learning Design
  • Training for all staff to facilitate the Learning Design process
  • Clarify technologies and how they can be used
  • Create interactive resources
  • Use a variety of media (audio, video, text) and indicate the purpose of each
  • Create Moodle templates
  • Ensure courses are designed for any device
  • Ensure there is cohesion across modules
  • Include a variety of activities and interactions

Authentic assessment 

  • Programme-focussed assessment
  • List different types of assessment and indicate the value/purpose of each
  • Develop a bank of rubrics to share
  • Personalised support
  • Ensure learning adopts UDL principles/processes
  • Provide assignment and module choice
  • Provide pastoral care (student mentors, Alumni mentors, links to central support services)
  • Provide personnel support via tutors, admin staff, programme team
  • Monitor retention rates and be proactive in follow up

Research-informed teaching 

  • Ensure that research informs teaching and vice versa
  • Present at relevant teaching and learning conferences
  • Publish our research findings
  • Do research on our own practice and feed this back into our teaching
  • Staying current through reading, CPD, sipping point events and use of social media

Open education practices: Practices, philosophy and co-creation

  • Adopt an open pedagogy approach
  • Ensure that all resources are openly licensed

What really helped was that the away day was held in the Lego Lab on St. Patrick’s campus, a really fantastic space! It was a very creative and productive day, the challenge is now to translate this info practice.