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My dream learning design project: practical learning design for PGCert/ peopl interested in trying out LD tools

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Sheila MacNeill
11 January 2013

I would like to design a short module (or perhaps series of short sessions) which provided some scaffolding for PGCert in Academic Studies (or similar) to combine the theory of course design with some more practical/pragmatic experience of using some of the learning design tools which are now availalbe e.g. LAMS, LDSE. This would hopefully encourage students to take their ideas and actually use (and share them). It would also be useful as a stand alone resource for anyone with a spare half hour or so.

Outline of exisiting course outline:

 Course (re)Design module:

Aim: to  provide participants with the necessary educational understanding and pracitcal skills to desing an effective coures in their discipline.

Objectives: course particpants will:

  • explore the thinking underpinnng teaching, learning and assessment with your discipline including drivers and opporuntities
  • Critically evaluate an existing design  in relation to current educational ideas drawn from research and practice
  • Design or re-design a course to effectively meet the needs of learners and to satisfy disciplinary and institutional requirements
  • Reflect on the quality and effectiveness of your (re)desing from both an educational and pragmatic perspective.

Assisgnments - 3 x written submissions ( 1 x 500 word outline, 1x 1500 essay word design and reflection on design, 1x 1500 essay design of learning task and crical reflection on its educational potential.

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George Roberts
12:06pm 11 January 2013

Very interesting project. Getting me thinking about what is implicit and what is explicit about the approach to teaching cojrse design that we take.

We "teach" two related approaches: Laurillard's "Systematic approach" and Biggs Constructive alignment.because the outcomes-led approach is so deeply embedded in the HE quality apparatus: from QAA benchmark statements, university QA procedures AND because as an approach it is a "good enough" place to start. This approach is embedded in a strong constructivist ethos (which is open to debate and inquiry). We try to illuminate these through critically reflective practice (Brookfield). We also encourage debate on the learning outcomes movement and invite critique of the outcomes-led approach through consideration of creative appropriation, emergent learning and communities of practice, among others.

It strikes me that LD tools start at a level below this and are about building the activities and making the architecture of their relationships explicit.In this respect, resources on LD tools would be really useful

Given that a PG Cert (or similar) needs to fit within an established framework of credits and hours and these have agreed "weights" of assessment, we find it hard to fit everything in.

Sheila MacNeill
12:17pm 11 January 2013

Hi George

Reason I am thinking about this in particular is that I was asked to lead one of the f2f sessions on the course last year. And I came away thinking about disconnents - in a couple of ways. Firstly although the course does asked the participants to focus on their own teaching, I got the impression that the assignment was just that 'an assignment" that was marked and then fogotten about - I'm not sure how much of the theory would actually be taken up and embedded.  Some of the "stuff" I talked about - particular some tools and activities did generate insterest, but yes, you are right there is just soo much to fit. So that got me thinking taht something that was a bit more pragmatic and at the activity level might be useful and something that people could return to.  The other disconnenct was that again despite trying to base the assessments in the context of "real" courses and instutional contexts, when reviewing students' designs some very basic info was missing - e.g. learning outcomes, times, where activities would take place etc. This is where I think LD tools can play a role as they make those things pretty explicit.



Lindsay Jordan
1:21pm 11 January 2013

Ooooh... this is getting a bit 'meta' isn't it?! Designing a course on learning design for a course on learning design...!

My project's in a similar vein; I'm designing a unit for our Masters in CPD (Academic Practice) on Open Educational Practice; the idea is to get teachers thinking about different Open Education practices - particularly the use and production of Open Educational Resources - and to undertake a project situated within their own teaching practice. Sheila, I agree it's really important that assignments on these programmes require the theory to be taken up and embedded in practice - or at least given a go! There's been a lot of hot air floating around in recent years about whether professional development courses actually have any 'impact', but if a unit actually requires participants to make an informed change to their practice and evaluate its success, then - bingo - you have impact built in.

Sheila MacNeill
1:33pm 11 January 2013

Hi Lindsay

yes it is a bit "meta" - but that's half the fun right:-)  I'm teaming up with Helen and Tracy (links to their ideas, fancy joining us? 

I also think that PGCert really useful community for the learning design development community to tap into so future developments can be linked to actual practice. I know where Yishay is coming from when he was talking about learning design as a science, but I do think that can be quite off putting for some practitioners too. If we talk too much about the theory and research of learning design we remove it even further from practice.




George Roberts
1:39pm 11 January 2013

... and thst is exactly what our assessment tasks are about: making informed changes to practice and evaluating it. One thing that is (meta meta) interesting about this opportunity is to discuss how to do this on a wider scale and online.

I would really like to look for ways to collaborate on PG Certs, recognising learning on modules (and "mini" modules) taken elsewhere. This is why our OLDS MOOC project is (or might be) about accrediting 10 CATS modules.

Lindsay Jordan
1:53pm 11 January 2013

Agree with you both :) 
(but then I *am* very agreeable)

Sheila - thanks for invite to your project team. I'd certainly like to poke my nose in here and there! Right, must get my project summary up...

Sheila MacNeill
1:53pm 11 January 2013

Absolutely - great to be able to have a space for these meta conversations.  I

Caroline Cash
4:32pm 14 January 2013

Hello Sheila, Lindsay and George,

This is a very interesting and relevant project. I'm also involved in supporting a PGCert programme and increasingly participants are challenging the outcomes-based notion on which our curriculum currently sits. I would gladly engage in discussion that provides opportunity for a more emergent, negotiated and interconnected pathways through learning and how to support PGCert participants in designing this into their own learning activities.

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