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Darren’s Design narrative

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Darren Gray
27 March 2013

Title Sharing stories of practice


I was responsible for the development a professional development programme for teachers. As part of the programme, we needed to find a way for teachers to share examples of practice on an ‘open’ non-scheduled course.


Our challenge was to find ways to ‘connect’ learners and help them learn from each other on a ‘personalised’ programme which had no defined timeline and no opportunity for scheduled synchronous or asynchronous ‘events’. Research showed that teachers valued the experience of other teachers more than ‘top down’ exemplars of practice. We were developing a customised ‘Flash’ interface for delivery of the programme via their LMS.



As stated above, our goal was to try and encourage teachers to share practice through an online tool.



We began by exploring the tools available in the LMS. None of these were suitable as the interface was too clunky and was not in-line with the integrated interface through which we delivered the programme. We decided a custom developed solution was appropriate.


We piloted the tool on paper, working with learners to see what kinds of questions would elicit responses. We saw that vanilla questions would only elicit short replies whereas if we framed provocative questions, we would get much more in-depth responses. The paper prototyping allowed us to:

  • Refine the interface through which learners could submit and view answers.
  • It also gave us content to ‘seed’ the tool with some sample responses, (otherwise the first actual users would not be able to see others responses to the questions)


We then built the tool and integrated it into the programme.



The results in the live programme were better than expected. Feedback from users showed that they really valued the stories and ideas which were shared. A side benefit of the approach was an increasing database of stories of practice from across the UK which, in turn, influenced the next stage of content development for the programme.


We also learned that users wanted to be able to search the database to find examples which were most appropriate to their own context so we designed a version which allowed the user to ‘tag’ their contribution with the phase (primary, secondary, etc) and context of their school, (small’ large, rural, urban, etc).



It brought home to me the power of participation and the value of enabling learners to author the learning. We got more examples of practice than we ever would have been able to gather as part of the course development process.

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Louise Worsley
11:27am 17 April 2015

I am involved in a group to share project management success stories in South Africa.  We started up by interviewing people and seeding the blog sites with stories - these stories were are also used to promote learning.  We would like this year to encourage PMs to contibute their stories directly.  You can see some of our early stories here

Would it be possible to see the kind of stories you are getting and what prompt questions you are using?

Great work!

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