Category Archives: Learning Design

The LMS as a mixing panel for social learning

Photo by Sergiu Bacioiu, cc licensed on Flickr

Photo by Sergiu Bacioiu, cc licensed on Flickr

(This post is cross-posted from a guest blog post I wrote for Hazel Owen at Ethos Consultancy NZ community site)

I have a hard truth to share with you. Our learning management systems are letting us down. They are not getting the job done.

The slow rise of social learning

Over the last decade, the internet has gone from a primarily static content distribution system, to a social publishing, communication and sharing environment. As we’ve seen this “social web” develop, several social learning theoretical frameworks have been developed and tested, including connectivism, social constructivism and the conversational framework. These pedagogical models of learning remain at the periphery and have yet to achieve mainstream adoption.

That uptake will be slower in coming than some of us might wish, due to many stumbling blocks. I’ll mention just a few here:

  • our policies (both governmental and institutional) are slow to adapt because policy changes are not made at the speed of social media,
  • a “content is king” culture exists in learning and training that is hard to crack,
  • some long-standing organisational habits are not conducive to transformation (timetabling, lectures, a weighted teaching-research balance),
  • there are debates about what constitutes proof of learning; is it tests and exams or projects, group work and portfolios,
  • the struggle for investments needed for large IT projects in an age of funding and budget cuts,
  • digital literacy skill challenges of the parties involved,
  • and a persistent belief that nothing trumps face-to-face interactions.

I’m sure that there are gradations to which these stumbling blocks are present in your organisation and that there are others. And there’s no need to point fingers. These are large complex changes that affect every single part, process and person in our organisations. It will take time, new practices and some very hard thinking to adopt this new social learning. But it’ll be totally worth it. Continue reading

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Moodle Course Design: a high-wire act #mootnz11

Zippos Circus UK, 2008I was very pleased to be one of  a number of presenters talking about learning design at this year’s New Zealand Moodle Moot. Stephen Lowe talked about learning theories and Julian Ridden did an epic session on Game Theory which unfortunately I missed but he’s uploading an open course about it to MOOCH soon. But what was even better is that all of us were almost accosted by #mootnz11 attendees wanting to talk about this topic more. Learning design is back, baby! And it’s hot!

Below you will find the slides for my MoodleMoot New Zealand presentation with tips for the course design process, as well as our templates. Continue reading

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The ID Litany

Sand Patterns - background #2Working as an eLearning Advisor in higher education, a large part of my role is instructional design. In course design meetings with academic staff, I find myself asking the same questions over and over again. For each element of the course, I have the same questions. I thought I’d share it with you here, in an instructional design litany. (Yes I’m a geek. Used to love the Dune novels…)

The ID Litany

  • What will your students do?
  • How will your students know what to do?
  • How will you know what they’re doing?
  • How will your students learn?
  • How will you know what they’re learning?
  • How will your students get support?
  • How will you support them?
  • How will they support each other?
  • How will you & your students communicate with each other?
  • How will your students communicate with each other?
  • How will your students learn from each other?
  • Why are you using this activity?
  • Why are you using this resource?
  • Why are you using this technology?
  • How does this activity/technology/resource relate to their current or future work, learning and life?

If you work in an educational institution where the course design phase is often skimmed or skipped entirely, you may begin the Litany against Fear now.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer…

 

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The Epitome of #EdTech

Tomorrow I’m doing a show ‘n tell presentation at our institution about Blended Learning. I will demonstrate some courses, resources and learning approaches we have designed and developed at EIT. I’ll also show some work from other institutions. And then I’m keen to make my audience go: Wow! Show a few high-end examples, courses, resources or learning approaches, that show just what’s possible.

Currently I’m thinking about TED Talks, showcasing the sheer awesomeness of content already out there and available:

PhotonQ-Unveiling the Sixth Sense

 

Or maybe my own favourite teaching & learning tool, Twitter, as demonstrated in the Twitter Experiment at UT, Dallas, Texas. Continue reading

#iMoot – Moodle Course Creator Challenge – The Rubric

I’m greatly enjoying the #iMoot international Moodle conference (Moodle conferences are called MoodleMoots). Over the course of 4 days, a veritable “who’s who” of Moodle experts are sharing their  case studies, experiences and work. Topics cover all aspects of Moodle: teaching, course design and development, tools, Moodle development and the future of Moodle.

Swiss Army Knife

One of the great activities as part of the iMoot is the Course Creator Challenge. It’s the brain child of the amazing Gavin Henrick and I think we’ll be seeing these kind of competitions popping up at other Moodle events. Participants in the challenge have 4 days to create a Moodle2 course on Climate Change. They can get as creative as they like, and choose their own audience, but must adhere to a few requirements. How exciting!

Gavin has kindly invited me to be part of the star-studded panel assessing the courses which includes, Tomaz Lasic, Julian Ridden, Michelle Moore, Mark Drechsler and MoodleFairy herself, Mary Cooch. Haven’t felt worthy of that company, but boy did it rock to be part of the Panel discussion on Saturday (midnight til 2 am for me in New Zealand). It was well attended, wonderfully facilitated by Gavin and the topic was “What makes a good Moodle course?” If you missed it, it’s well worth going back to the recording…

A recurring theme was “horses for courses”, you choose what uses for you, for your students and for your course. And as @moodleman remarked:

#moodle is a “Swiss army knife”. Don’t try and use all the blades. Just pick the ones that meet the tasks you are trying to achieve.#imoot.

And as someone in the backchannel then added, if you try to use all of them at once, you’ll end up stabbing yourself.

Rubric

Although the Course Creator Challenge is limited to registered attendees only (and at AU$65 who could resist) and is still ongoing, I did want to share this rubric we’ve created to help us with the judging. Moodle course designers and teachers may find it useful, even when not part of the competition. Continue reading

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Looking for Interesting Examples of… Blended Learning

In my work as education technologist I’m often asked for examples of blended or online learning. “Just show it to me”. Not an unreasonable request, as it can be challenging for an educator (whether a teacher, librarian, manager or other) who has never had a blended or online learning experience themselves, to conceptualise the options available. Due to several factors, the number of our programmes that use blended learning are likely to increase in the short-to-mid-term. And so I anticipate that the “just show it to me” demands will increase as well.

Casting the net wider
Now, I feel that only showing educators what we are currently doing within our institution, on our Moodle, doesn’t give them a fair idea of the total scala of options. We need to cast the net wider so we don’t get the same meal every day. So I like to show them examples from other institutions as well, often sending people to one site for one course example, and then to another article, blog, journal or YouTube clip for another example. However examples vary: they focus on one course, an entire programme or just a learning activity. Descriptions are highly detailed in a 20 page journal article or a brief 3 paragraph snapshot in a blog post. It can be like comparing apples and oranges.

Blended Learning Possibilities catalogue
So I thought it might be useful to gather different examples of blended learning in one place, to create a ‘possibilities catalogue’ for anyone to flick through. Continue reading
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Visualisation – Exploratree & Periodic Table of Visualisation Methods

As an instructional designer some days you are more creative than others. I’m afraid that after a day of project planning or strategic meetings, teachers who meet with me about their online or blended course design run a particular risk of getting short-changed.

Coffee helps, but what you really want is a menu – a range of options to get you started. I’ve found that Exploratree and the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods are two inspirational sites which can help me break through ‘designer’s block’. Each provides a list of visualisation methods, which can provide the basis for a learning activity at any cognitive level from remembering through creating.

The Periodic Table created by Ralph Lengler and Martin Eppler, is a listing of 100 methods, including methods like the Cycle Diagram, the Evocative Knowledge Map or Mintzberg Organigraph (and that’s not the only one I’ve never heard of). On hovering over the method, an example appears in a pop-up. Chris Wallace has created an accompanying page which links each method to its Wikipedia page and a stand-alone version of its example.

Exploratree goes a little further. Although you can certainly use the ‘thinking guides’ just to spark ideas, with a free account educators and/or students can create, edit and save the thinking guides online. Users can share guides and so collaborate on projects.

The two sites above contain many methods that can help a teacher and students explore, critically examine, fully map or actively discuss almost any topic. And provide a kick-start for an instructional designer with designer’s block. Usually once I’ve created the first activity, it’s all downhill from there.

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