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e-Design template and Design Principles Database (Kate Evans

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Katherine Elizabeth Evans
15 April 2016

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Comparison of the e-Design Template and the Design Principle Database.




The e-Design Template analysis of the Healthy Eating lesson was easy to understand, with clear timings relating to each learning activity and a clear running order to the session.  It also identified the various interactions at each stage.  However, the point that it made throughout about assessment (‘NO assessment’) felt like a bad fit with this face-to-face lesson.  It’s my experience that in face-to-face teaching, teachers assess their learners and make adjustments throughout the session/individual activities, based on how learners are responding.  In e-Learning this process has to be built in as part of the design (requiring inbuilt assessments throughout), reflected in this analysis.  This use of ‘NO assessment’ for the classroom environment felt too black and white.


In terms of expressiveness – it felt quite stark, with some information given in an almost formulaic style: (e.g. ‘TS interaction’).  I got no sense of the topic, the classroom, learner levels, learning objectives etc. purely a (clear) list/running order of learning activities.


In terms of usefulness in communicating important aspects of the design, I would say it is useful (it outlines the learning activities), but would benefit from supplementing in the areas mentioned above.


The Design Principles Database analysis was readable at two different levels – the level of what was going on in the classroom (learning activities), and the deeper, theoretical underpinning of the activities.  This was very different to the e-Design Template, in that it filled in the details of the learning activities in quite a conversational way (including a lot more detail about them, although with no timings).  It also included the design principles, which was useful in terms of thinking about the lesson/the learning experience of the students.  It also did not include specific learning objectives relating to the topic.


I think it would be difficult to follow either of these ‘plans’ in isolation, and even together they don’t offer a clear picture.  However, I think both have points in their favour.  Understanding the theoretical underpinning helps structure a far clearer learning experience, and the database supports that, while considering the lesson in terms of learning activities, and using a framework which analyses learner interactions (the e-Design Template) is also very useful, being relatively easy to follow.


Using these representations for my own learning design


In expressing my design, I would want to do so in such a way that a substitute teacher/tutor could pick up my lesson plan, and teach the lesson.  I don't think either representation is adequate for expressing my design, because of the points raised above.  I found principles in the Design Principles Database that map across to elements of my lesson, but would want to add in more information to fully represent the lesson (including timings and learning outcomes).  I also think the e-Design Template would work well to break down the learning activities in my lesson, but, again, I would want more information included to feel it had been adequately represented. 


The benefits of using these representations for my design are as follows:


·         DPD provides theoretical underpinning - helping to clarify why I have chosen each learning activity/the purpose of each activity


·         Checking the rationale behind each activity in the DPD at planning stage would lead to a better thought out learning design


·         The more conversational style chosen for the DPD representation gives a clear indication of what each activity entails.


·         The e-Design Template creates a clear structure of the lesson, including timings and who is interacting with whom.


·         The e-Design Template plots the learner/learning experience within a defined pedagogical structure, leading towards the creation of a self-organised learner.  Overt awareness of this scaffolding process strengthens my lesson at the planning stage.


General notes about both resources:


The Design Principles Database and the e-Design Template


The e-Design Template is a framework providing a clear structure for creating/analysing e-Learning, while the Design Principles Database is a searchable online resource, containing definitions of meta-principles/principles of learning, linked to their theoretical background and to practical examples (‘features’). 


I found the e-Design Template far easier to understand, apart from the points about open and closed learning, which was not explained.  It made use of a clear diagram, illustrating the different learning levels and clarifying the way in which a learner would progress from Active Induction to Self-organised Learner.  It also clearly explained what types of learning interactions were involved at which stages.  I found it very useful to see this information portrayed as a diagram.


Using the Design Principles Database was far more complex.  It took a lot of time to navigate around the content – partly because there is so much content.  Having read the homepages, I went through the Database at meta-principle level, clicking on design principles to discover more about them.  In this way, I was able to recognise some design principles which applied to my own lesson, but it was a slow process.


I felt the information displayed was clear, and I liked the fact that the theoretical information only appeared if you clicked on it.  The resource is very science-based, which is not my context, so one criticism would be that I sometimes felt principles could have been better expressed in more general terms – it would have made them more generally applicable.


However, I found this a really interesting and useful resource, particularly with regard to the links to the learning theory behind the principles.  Often, when reading about principles, they included something/some aspect of learning I had not previously grasped in relation to them.




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