Friday, 25 January 2013

#oldsmooc #digilit Week 3: Let's put our our heads together

image: Jane Challinor

My most recent design experience was designing a 20 week blended learning module in Public Sector Leadership for a Masters in Professional Practice. The starting point was the module specification and course curriculum map which had already been validated and specified the Learning Outcomes to be achieved. There was also an agreed template for the VLE learning room and balance of activities which had been designed by learning technologists and which was going to be used across the whole course.

There were therefore quite a number of parameters to work within, but this is normal in an institutional setting where there are certain givens (contact hours, delivery patterns, timetabling restrictions, staff availability/expertise).

The next stage was to try to envisage who our learners would be, what they would already know about the topic and what added value they would be looking for from the module. This whole course was a new venture and as a course team I felt we had little guidance about our target audience or market.  I based my thinking on previous experience of leading post graduate modules in this field.

The assessment was also a given - a 5000 word report on the leadership of change - so working back from this, a colleague and I began to brainstorm the sort of things students would need to know to be able to meet the learning outcomes, then the sort of activities that would a) help them to learn those things b) be appropriate for a mainly on line module, c) would develop their skills and knowledge over time (scaffolding).

Finally, we rummaged around in our own toolboxes for things we had made earlier and could be adapted, then looked for new resources that would fill any gaps.

To complete the design I drew a form of story board on an excel spreadsheet which week by week sketched out what students would be doing and estimated how long it would take them.

From this the final set of learning materials or study guides were written and returned to the learning technologist to be checked, formatted and uploaded to the VLE.

The process, now I think about it, was very similar to the design process involved in the development of a blended learning leadership programme for the NHS that I project managed some years ago. The difference there was that the market intelligence was excellent as the employers and even some potential students were involved in the design. Consequently there was much greater confidence in the CONTENT of the course, although the delivery METHOD was new (to the employers, not to the institutions designing and delivering it).

Looking at the design activities in week 3 of OLDSMOOC and reviewing some of the tools has brought home to me how little conscious designing actually goes into thinking about new or revamped modules in my current organisation. At present our whole School is being asked to go through a "Portfolio Review" which for some courses is involving wholesale redesign of modules, even courses. We have been given parameters but really no tools for thinking about design.

I have an opportunity next week to discuss the changes with the course team and I am wondering whether there are some tools here that could help us to try and see the wood for the trees.

I thought the OULDI Course Features cards and the Learning Score tool looked really useful and could see how we might use or adapt these to help our thinking. (Going to add the Digital Literacy facilitation cards into the mix and see how that goes...) will probably use both to develop a Course View Map. Anyway - that's the plan!!

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