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Richard's B's review of e-Design and 4Ts representations

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Richard Banks
30 March 2017

 

4Ts Model

e-Design Template

Readability

Of all the example models provided in Activity 2a of H800, I found this the easiest to comprehend.

 

I also found the ‘swim lane’ diagram provided on ld-grid.org to be highly readable and easy to understand without prior knowledge.

 

The e-Design template is fairly readable, but it relies on a lot of small text to get its points across.

 

The x-axis could be less prescriptive about the passage of time (it could be days/months/chapters/sections, rather than weeks).

 

 

Expressiveness

The diagram with the four interconnecting circles (with Technology in the centre) doesn’t quite manage to express the nuanced dependencies between each of the four Ts, in my opinion.

 

For example, the Time required for the Task may increase with larger Teams (more people involved in the discussion) or decrease (many hands dividing up the jobs to be done).

 

The swim lane chart is an improvement, as it conveys the chronological sequencing of activities in the lesson (in other words, the ‘narrative’).  I would improve upon this by using different sized circles to indicate the size of the Team or Time required, thereby making it easier to see at a glance which are the most labour-intensive tasks.

 

 

I feel it succeeds in conveying the linear progression within an online course, where the activities require the learner to become increasingly self-sufficient.

 

This progression recalls a three-act ‘Discovery – Exploration – Reflection’ structure that I have used in online course design previously, but turns into it a four-act journey with clear development in the roles played by tutor and learner:

 

Tutor’s progression:

Instructor
  > Guide
     >  Coach
        > Facilitator

 

Learner’s progression:

Access
  > Extend
    > Adopt
       >  Integrate

 

The model (and diagram) could do more to emphasis these changing roles: as the learner’s confidence and domain knowledge grows, he/she becomes more self-sufficient and the  tutor becomes less and less active.

Utility

I don’t think the 4Ts diagram itself is particularly useful in communicating anything about a specific design, but the conceptual model makes it quick and easy to get started on designing a new lesion/activity/module by breaking it down into the four component parts.

 

I think the e-Design template is extremely useful for online projects based in a single technology environment over a number of weeks, where there is room for the progression of a narrative and the development of learners from novices requiring hand-holding into independent self-directed learners.

Adequate for expressing my own design?

It strikes me that the 4Ts model is useful for blended learning programs where there is a face-to-face element in which Teams come together to collaborate and the designers have the option to utilise a variety of different Technologies.

 

However, for a fully online course (SPOC) where the Technology is fixed – a single online platform will host the course – and there is no opportunity to work in different sized Teams, the model is less useful.

 

This model is very well aligned to the approach I took to my design.

 

The first section of the course I wrote about in A1b was quite instructive – the tutors needed to establish the facts and give all learners an induction to the basics of the new sales model to ensure they shared a common understanding on which to build. There was also a diagnostic self assessment early on to help the learner understand their current behaviour and skills.

 

In the second phase, the tutors guided participants towards a deeper understanding of the sales techniques, with case studies and discussion.

 

In the third phase, participants were asked to adopt elements of the new sales model in their interactions with customers and then report back, with coaching from their own manager, their peers on the course, and their online tutor.

 

Finally, having integrated the new skills into their standard practice, learners were asked to assess themselves again and re-evaluate their behaviours.

 

Benefits for my design

The emphasis on estimating the Time needed for each component part of the lesson is very useful to MOOC/SPOC designs, such as mine, especially as my design was for a time-poor, mobile user group for whom frequent shorter Tasks were preferred to fewer longer sessions.

 

This model would have been extremely beneficial when I was developing the course I described in my design narrative.  It feels like we unknowingly followed it when designing the online courses I described in A1b. 

 

Four week MOOCs are very common on FutureLearn, so I the four-part structure of this model could be very helpful when developing a short course where learners start out knowing very little and are expected to become self-directed by the end of the fourth week.

 

 

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