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Views on curriculum design

Dicussion cloud on curriculum design: perspectives, tools and methods

Cloud created by:

Gráinne Conole
31 October 2009

I have set up this cloud to gather views on different approaches to design in an educational context. This is in relation to the work we are doing at the Open University in the UK in terms of our OU Learning Design Initiative. As part of this work we have just undertaken a major baseline mapping of our curriculum design - procedures and policies, as well as different stakeholder perspectives. We would love to gather your views, some questions you might like to consider include:

  • How do you think pedagogy is fore-grounded within the work you do and within your institution?
  • How structured is the way in which you go about designing learning activites and resources for your students and how well it is integrated in the overall institutional production process?
  • How much focus do you place at the present time on pedagogic quality, cost-effectviness, innovation and fitness for purpose of the designs you produce?
  • What sense of comunity currently exists at your institution in terms of sharing and discussing learning and teaching ideas and designs?
  • What demand is there  for teaching and learning communiites, for space to share and discuss learning and teaching ideas and designs?
  • How do you think cloudworks might help in terms of supporting sharing and discussing of learning and teaching ideas and designs, to what extent do you think educators will be willing to engage with the site?
  • What are your views about current approaches to curriculum design? 
  • What tools and methods are you using to help you improve how you design learning activities and resourcs for your students?
  • What strategies are in place in your institutions to innovate and reform approaches to curriculum design?

Extra content

Might be worth adding some definitions for the terms here.

Under the JISC Curriculum Design programme, curriculum design is defined as follows:

‘Curriculum design’ is generally understood as a high-level process defining the learning to take place within a specific programme of study, leading to specific unit(s) of credit or qualification. The curriculum design process leads to the production of core programme/module documents such as a course/module description, validation documents, prospectus entry, and course handbook. This process involves consideration of resource allocation, marketing of the course, and learners’ final outcomes and destinations, as well as general learning and teaching approaches and requirements. It could be said to answer the questions ‘What needs to be learned?’, ‘What resources will this require?’, and 'How will this be assessed?'

In the OULDI work we 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 whole 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 better understand the design process as well as the development of a range of resource, tools and activities. There is a cloud which includes an evolving toolbox of learning design tools, resources and activities.

Also from the JISC site:

Consequently, it has been suggested (Dalziel, in press) that it is useful to make the following distinctions between:

  • Learning design as a broad concept
  • The instantiation of the concept in the IMS-LD specification
  • The realisation of both in software tools to support the process of creating and managing learning designs.

Despite its relatively recent appearance in connection with e-learning, this concept of ‘designing for learning’ is far from being a new idea. In a traditional face-to-face context, many teachers may consciously and reflectively engage in the process of learning design in this general sense as part of everyday lesson planning, whilst other teachers or lecturers may never have given it much thought, but nonetheless make subconscious learning design decisions every time they prepare a teaching session.

Yet, whilst they are hardly groundbreaking new ideas in education, the central ideas behind learning design represent new possibilities for increasing the quality and variety of teaching and learning within an e-learning context:

  • The first general idea behind learning design is that people learn better when actively involved in doing something (i.e. are engaged in a learning activity)
  • The second idea is that learning activities may be sequenced or otherwise structured carefully and deliberately in a learning workflow to promote more effective learning
  • The third idea is that it would be useful to be able to record ‘learning designs’ for sharing and re-use in the future

Gráinne Conole
19:01 on 31 October 2009 (Edited 19:04 on 31 October 2009)

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