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Activity: 30 mins: OULDI Course Features

This activity is to be used near the beginning of the design/ redesign process.

Cloud created by:

Rebecca Galley
11 November 2011

Learning Design: create, share, import, test, exportThe aim of the activity is to help you begin to think about, discuss  and share the key features of your course or module.  This activity is best used near the beginning of the design/ redesign process but can also be used to review an existing course or module prior to redesign.

There is an introductory video about the activity a bit further down this page and the card pack is available to print off here (pdf)

 1. Cut up the cards and choose a maximum of 12 which define the key features of your course/ module (either existing or planned). Just stick the ones you don't want into a pile at the side.

 If you are just having a look at the tool and are not currently designing a learning event, you may wish to use the scenario outlined below:

 As part of your institution's widening participantion strand, you have been asked to design an optional 'Study skills/ preparing to learn' module. This module will be offered to all students approaching level 1 HE/ level 4 FE and 'strongly recommended' to those who feel themselves to be less confident about study at a higher level.

 The module will be worth 10 credits (100 hours of study) and will be delivered over the summer break using a 'Blended Learning' approach.

 Design problems include: potentially high student numbers, minimal IT support, students at risk of not completing, mixed experience of learning and technology, low learning confidence/ resilience...etc etc

 2. Once you have decided on 12, have a look at your cards. Are any colour of cards missing? If so, what might be the impact on student experience? Orange=Guidance and Support, Blue=Content and Experience, Green=Communication and Collaboration, Purple=Reflection and Demonstration.

 3. If you would like to, you can continue with your design by adding your key features to a Course Map template (Excel version), and begin the process of identifying the tools and resources that would best meet your design requirements.

Extra content

Embedded Content

Course features activity: introductory video

Course features activity: introductory video

added by Rebecca Galley


Cristina Neto
4:55pm 24 January 2013


Sorry, the Excel link  for the course map template doesn't work :(

Rebecca Galley
7:27pm 24 January 2013

Thank! Fixed now :-)

Alice (Xin) Huang
11:19pm 24 January 2013 (Edited 11:21pm 24 January 2013)

Hi Rebecca, nice video! really engaging! 

In this video, you are using the cards for course design, I assum this will apply to curriculum/program design as well?

We used Linoit for a new e-learning certificate course design using simillar approach, can you give us some adivse on what can be done differently? 


Tiffany Crosby
12:20am 25 January 2013

I like the consistent thought process that this imposes on course design. It's a very easy way to challenge the completeness of the design along the 4 key dimensions.

Gráinne Conole
8:47am 25 January 2013

Linoit is a nice tool we at Leicester have also usef it for this exercise. Really like the course features as I think they enable you to think about the essence of a course - what are the key principles etc.

Rebecca Galley
9:34am 25 January 2013 (Edited 9:37am 25 January 2013)

@ Tiffany this seems like such a simple activity but in combination with the Course Map dimensions and personas it is really powerful in terms of being able to get a 'vision' of what the learning will be like. You might be interested in the OLDSMOOC design teams use of teh cards in the early design workshop we held (all in the OLDSMOOC YouTube channel but scroll down for the earlier vids). The following two videos are from just one of the four workshop teams:

Video 1: Team 1: During activity

Video 2: Team 1: Summary 


Helen Crump
3:29pm 25 January 2013

Hi Team

Has the link to pdf cards stopped working? It worked yesterday. Today no go.



Rebecca Galley
3:41pm 25 January 2013

Just worked ok for me Helen. Or you can find it in the  JISC design studio - maybe that's a less tempermental link?? If you have no luck mail me and I'll send you the file


Kelly Edmonds
4:36pm 25 January 2013

Really like this simple but complexly-designed approach to design. It takes into account many levels of ID decision making and is a great starting tool for designing and developing a course. I think I will use this in a current problem!


ps. great modelling video and nice to hear your voice again, Grainne

Gráinne Conole
10:34am 26 January 2013

Thanks Kelly! I love these tools deceptively simple and easy to engage with but very powerful!! Great in face to face workshops the course features cards are fab! Hope you are enjoying the course! ps we need like buttons in here ;-)

Ann Davis
2:01pm 26 January 2013

Since most of the people that I work with are in different locations, I was trying to think of the best way to do this activity with them.  I think maybe I will send a copy of the pdf of the cards to the people I will be working with, and then set up a web meeting with them.  I'll have my web cam overlooking my cards on my desk so that everyone can see.  I'll just add/move/delete the cards as the group sees fit.

Gráinne Conole
11:53am 27 January 2013

Sounds like a good idea Ann! Alternatively you could set up your own Cloudscape and add relevant Clouds?

Helen Whitehead
12:17pm 27 January 2013 (Edited 12:21pm 27 January 2013)

Really great and I can see the cards being SOO helpful - but why do the cards have so  much black on? They could have been designed for more efficient printing!  Ink is so expensive. Will have to reproduce black on white ....

David Jennings
4:47pm 27 January 2013

The video says chose "approximately 16 cards"; the text says "a maximum of 12". Not a big deal, but just thought I'd point it out.

Totally agree with Helen W. In terms of toner/print cartridge usage the design of the cards is SUV-style wanton waste. I hand wrote my own instead, but would be great to have a design for people who pay their own printing costs ;-) 

Iwona G
7:39pm 27 January 2013

Thank you for the video. These activities look really engaging and I can't wait to try them with my team. I also want to thank Alice for sharing the Linoit board of their e-learning course design!

Tiffany Crosby
3:00am 28 January 2013

I haven't been able to access the course cards through the link or through the design studio.

Rebecca Galley
8:36am 28 January 2013

Hi Tiffany, Are you accessing via an institution? I wonder if the problem is that they are in pdf format? If you mail me at I'll send you the pdf file directly.  Rebecca

Gráinne Conole
9:04am 29 January 2013

Hi all 

Up to you how many cards you choose ;-) 

Re blank ones the idea is that the cards are just suggestions, you might want to add your own words/phrases. For example in a workshop in Oz recently someone want to include elements of serendipity in her course. Also a colleague Helen Keegan has done some interesting work using Augmented Reality Games in her course and there is definitely an element of 'risk' in this course. So feel free to be creative don't feel constrained! :-)

Jonathan Vernon
10:15am 29 January 2013 (Edited 10:16am 29 January 2013)

Great fun. Right up my street. Posted a blog here at my mind bursts.  (There will be several of these in due course). Also in in Linkedin group eLearning Global Network where I find myself having to try to be the educator rather than the educatee. Always a useful tactic! I think I'll go and buy a box of blank beer mats or some spray glue and card and produce a set with cards the size of place mats. Better still, stepping stones so that we can hire a gym, take our shoes off and build in a way that required physical activity and agility more akin to a game of Twister. See, it can be fun!




Niall Watts
3:23pm 29 January 2013

I'm planning to use the week 3 tools on a course next week - with real, live colleagues. Scary!

A few questions:

Is there any particular reason for selecting 12 cards initially? There is a total of 47 plus blanks. I would do two rounds of selection to get to a manageable number of cards.

What is meant by 'authentic' in authentic resources and authentic learning?

Rebecca Galley
6:25pm 29 January 2013

Hi Niall, 12/16 is a random number - really all that intends to do it get teams thinking about what is important/ key about their design. 12 works well if you then move onto the pyramid exercise. If teams can't get it down to 12, or prefer just 5 or 8 - that's fine too.

We spent a long time wondering whether to put descriptors on the cards and decised against it because we found that left to their own devices teams came up with their own context specific definitions which appeared to be a good thing. As with many of these concepts, there is no clear and agreed definition of what 'authentic' means in relation to education.

A colleague of mine - Simon Cross - did a literature review while working on a project looking at authentic assessment (for more see his blog post). he writes:

Early definitions include Wiggins who defines it as ‘[the extent to which] student experience questions and tasks under constraints as they typically and ‘naturally’ occur, with access to the tools that are usually available for solving such problems’, Newmann et al. (1996), and Torrance who suggests ‘[it is the] assessment tasks designed for students should be more practical, realistic and challenging than what one might call ‘traditional’’ and that it is ‘a generic term… to describe a range of new approaches to assessment.’

Sue Watling
5:15am 30 January 2013

Have downloaded the cards to try out - they look like a useful way to get people engaged with learning design.

Also, I liked the music to this video - pleasant but unobtrusive. Over in the DIY Multimedia Google Group!forum/olds-mooc-diy-multimedia  (shameless plug!) sourcing copyright free background tracks will be one of the areas covered - can I ask where you found this one ?


Niall Watts
5:46pm 30 January 2013

A few questions on the Course Features cards.

Are they at the Vision (Conceptualise) or Activities (Capture, Collaborate, Communicate, Consider) level? The activities seem to relate as follows:

•Communication and Collaboration (Collaborate, Communicate)
•Reflection and Demonstration (Consider)
•Content and Experience (Capture)

•Guidance and Support (Collaborate, Communicate)

Niall Watts
3:29pm 6 February 2013

I used the Course Features cards on a Design workshop with 11 university librarians this morning.I split the class into 3 groups and gave each a set of cards. We used the sample task on this page. I asked each group to select about 16 cards that they would use and then rank them in a diamond shape. Each group summarised its diamond on a flip chart. Interestingly, two of the groups chose very similar cards while the third was completely different. We then went on to complete a course map. This all took about 45 minutes. I could have spent longer on the course map.

I got a very positive response form the class. One minor negative - some participants found it difficult to distinguish the purple from the blue coloured cards.



Rebecca Galley
4:28pm 6 February 2013

Thank you for letting us know how you got on using these in the workshop - and thanks for the feedback on the colours. We can do something about that in the next iteration. We're there any issues with groups not understanding the terms used (eg Feed-forward, authentic etc)?

Niall Watts
5:01pm 7 February 2013

I had to explain both authentic and feed forward. There seems to be some overlap between terms eg Student choice and student autonomy are both orange cards and seem to me to mean much the same thing.

Blue cards (capture) cover pedagogy, delivery media and key principles perhaps these should be subdivided

Marie Arndt
11:25am 10 February 2013

I am late as I've been otherwise and elsewhere occupied. Just wanted to say that I find these activities very useful and also, as you say, good for teacher training.

Chris Gorman
3:21pm 20 December 2013

I appreciate the video for a way to organize collaboration. This is particularly useful when partners value different aspects of the lessons based on what they need their students to get from the lesson to prepare for advanced learning opportunities.   This approach will dovetail nicely with a different project...strategic planning.

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