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Learning Design: a framework for modelling (e-)learning activities?

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Title: Learning Design: a framework for modelling (e-)learning activities?


1
Learning Design a framework for modelling
(e-)learning activities?
  • Helen Beetham Programme Consultant, e-Learning
    and Pedagogy

2
This morning I will
  • Suggest a rationale for the present interest in
    learning design and modelling (e-)learning
    activities
  • Offer some working definitions
  • Consider learning design as an approach to
    modelling learning activities
  • Describe how this work is being taken forward
    though the JISC e-Learning and Pedagogy programme
  • Outline some of the challenges

3
Why the interest in learning design?
  • Widespread adoption of designed, standards-based
    learning environments and tools
  • Pedagogical issues appear to have been of
    secondary concern until now. JISC/UCISA (2003)
  • First generation VLEs do not obviously support
    innovative or diverse learning activities They
    are strongly based around information
    transmission .. with little consideration given
    to the activities that the learners themselves
    might engage in Britain and Liber (2004)
  • Convergence of pedagogical research and
    practitioner education around ideas of
  • learner-centredness, active, constructive
    learners, outcomes-based teaching with emphasis
    on relevant tasks

4
Why the interest in learning design?
  • Practitioner demand (from consultation)
  • curriculum design, practical examples of
    learning activities, designing activities
    within VLEs
  • (note the popularity of Salmons (2003)
    e-tivities)
  • a means of describing practice, a means of
    mapping theory onto practice a means of mapping
    activities onto outcomes, a common set of terms
    for all of this
  • E-learning strategy
  • Engaging teachers and lecturers through simple
    e-learning design tools would bring them closer
    to experimenting with pedagogical design DfES
    (2003)

5
Therefore
  • Learning activities are central to learning
  • Designing/selecting and orchestrating tasks
    (designing for learning) is a challenge
  • especially in computer-based learning
    environments
  • which focus on content and highly constrained or
    stereotyped interactions (access, post, submit
    etc)
  • where everything has to be represented explicitly
  • There is a need for conventional ways of
    representing activities and tasks, so
  • effective activities/tasks can be shared
  • practitioners can make informed decisions about
    activities and approaches (including e/non-e)
  • evaluators can compare outcomes of different
    approaches
  • practitioners, researchers and developers of
    systems can communicate about what is effective
    for learners
  • learners themselves can reflect more effectively
    and critically on their learning activities

6
At this point you might like to consider
  • What are the advantages of a conventional
    framework to describe (e-)learning activities?
  • Do we have one already? Is it any good?
  • What are the difficulties and risks of trying to
    develop (a better) one?

7
Existing frameworks
  • Theoretical frameworks (mainly explanatory)
  • systems theory, activity theory, situated
    learning, cognitive/constructivist, individual
    differences (learning styles) etc
  • Practice frameworks (descriptive/prescriptive)
  • CSALT networked learning model, Britain and
    Liber, Salmon, Laurillard, Peters, PangHung, ID
    protocols
  • Taxonomies
  • LTSN, DialoguePlus, CANDLE, SESDL, (Bloom,
    Reeves, Biggs etc)
  • Standards and specifications
  • technical standards e.g. IMS LOM, LD (may be
    hidden)
  • practice standards e.g. QA procedures, CPD
    frameworks
  • Useful accounts that dont fit neatly into
    frameworks
  • case studies, action research reports
  • project findings FDTL, TLTP, X4L, JISC, NLN
    evaluation, 5/99, ScotCIT, Europa, other EU
    projects
  • guidelines and staff development materials FPP,
    ELT, NetSkills courses
  • models in use, rules of thumb, non-articulated
    expertise

8
A pragmatic way forward
  • Descriptions/models should meet specific users
    needs
  • taking account of factors relevant to their
    activities
  • using appropriate language and conventions
  • Users in first instance are learning and teaching
    practitioners engaged in designing for learning
  • practitioner planning perspective
  • Needs to be complemented by (and ideally mapped
    to) alternative perspectives, e.g.
  • developer (designing standards and systems)
  • manager (planning the implementation of systems)
  • researcher (explaining outcomes, developing
    paradigms)
  • learner (reflecting on previous learning
    activities and planning future learning
    activities PDP strand)
  • Need to work with communities of practice
  • To encourage sharing, adoption, adaptation,
    evaluation and further development of
    descriptions (may be v local)
  • To help build bridges with other CoPs (may be v
    narrow)

9
Key tasks (from review e-learning models)
  • The e-learning and pedagogy programme will seek
    to define a range of practice models, i.e.
    distinct but comparable approaches among which
    practitioners, working in a specific context, can
    make an informed choice.
  • Any framework or terminology used must have a
    high degree of recognition and usability in the
    practitioner communities
  • The programme will be concerned with theoretical
    (explanatory) models insofar as these provide
    general frameworks for discussing, comparing and
    evaluating practice models (especially in
    relation to learner experience).
  • Where possible, practice models will be mapped to
    technical standards and specifications to ensure
    that future systems are compatible with the needs
    of learners and teachers.
  • The focus will be on learning activity/task as
    the basic unit of modelling
  • fits with conclusions from UKeU, CANDLE, Dialog
    and work at the OU (eLTN)

10
At this point you might like to consider
  • An effective technology-supported learning
    activity that you have experienced as a learner
    or a teacher.
  • How would you explain what was effective about it
    so that another teacher, working in another
    context, could decide whether to use or adapt it?
  • How you would describe the activity so that the
    other teacher could reproduce the important
    elements for his/her own learners?

11
What is Learning Design?
  • Broadly
  • The planning and ordering of learning activities
    in a course or session (vb)
  • A practitioner planning view on a learning
    situation, e.g. a lesson plan or a LAMS design
    (n)
  • In this broad sense, designing for learning
    will be the focus of our programmes work in the
    first year.
  • Narrowly
  • A new IMS specification for sequences of
    interaction between learners and system
    components (compare LOM for content, PDPs/LR for
    learner data)
  • A sequence of activities specified according to
    LD
  • Is Learning Design in this narrow sense a good
    candidate for the modelling framework we need?

12
Learning Design spec
  • Based on Educational Modelling Language (OUNL)
  • Specifies learning activities according to roles
    and resources
  • Activities are coordinated within an overall
    activity structure or learning flow, analagous to
    a workflow
  • Potentially allows expression of different
    pedagogical approaches as different structures or
    flows of activities
  • User-tested for both generality and
    expressiveness

13
theoretical approach
Levels of description (activity/approach)
(H.Beetham, Feb 04)
14
Approaches translated into activity
structures/flows (HB)
  • Problem-based learning (1) present problem (2)
    learner elaborates problem (e.g. through
    analysis, discussion) (3) learner seeks
    information (4) learner analyses and evaluate
    information for relevance (5) learner applies
    information to problem (6) learner presents
    solution(s)
  • Conversational model (Laurillard) (1) set task
    goal (2) describe conception of subject (3)
    learner describes conception of subject (4)
    re-describe in light of learner action or
    description (5) adapt task goal in light of
    action or description (etc)
  • Cognitive scaffolding (Piaget) (1) present
    content (2) learner engages in content-related
    task (3) test comprehension (4) present next
    content in scaffolded sequence (5) next
    content-related task (etc)

15
Advantages of LD
  • Focus is on interactions rather than on content
  • specifies collective as well as individual
    activities
  • Two distinct levels of representation
  • activity (specific interaction between users and
    system components) and use case (sequence of
    interactions)
  • Use cases can be expressed in machine-readable
    terms
  • an EML player and the LAMS software are already
    being piloted by practitioners to develop
    sequences
  • interoperable with VLEs and other standards-based
    educational software
  • Use cases can also be expressed in ways readily
    understood by practitioners (e.g. graphically)
  • Approachsequence escapes use of loaded and
    poorly-defined terms e.g. learner-centred,
    constructivist
  • Potentially enables re-use of activity
    sequences/flows with different subject content
  • NB this is what LD spec is designed to do!

16
Problems with LD as a framework for modelling
  • Most theoretical models use more than two levels
    of description for approach/activity
  • in fact the number of levels required may vary
    widely in different contexts (e.g. read this
    extract)
  • Sequencing sets limits on learner autonomy as
    well as practitioner improvisation
  • but without sequencing its unclear how the
    specification is an advance on existing schema
  • Terms used are unfamiliar to practitioners
  • Need an intermediary e.g. software tool
  • Activities are defined only thru interactions
    between users and content resources
  • How do activities support learning outcomes?
  • What are the specific relations between
    resources, tasks and goals (i.e. what makes
    interactions meaningful for learning?)

17
Activity interaction of learner with
environment, leading to planned outcome
A specification for learning activities
(H.Beetham, Feb 04)
18
Implications for modelling (e-)learning
  • Useful to differentiate learning activities/tasks
    from learning approaches ( sequences or
    clusters)
  • But may be variable no. of steps between these,
    e.g.
  • Approach activity structure activity
    activity
  • Philosophy approach strategy tactic (CSALT)
  • Activity cluster activity micro-activity
    (Dialog)
  • Approaches to learning may be described
  • in terms of sequences of activity (workflows)
  • or structures/clusters of activity
    (parallel/branching)
  • Activities defined as interactions between a
    learner and an environment with a planned
    learning outcome
  • May not be analysable into smaller components
  • Means there are an infinitely large number,
    poorly classified
  • May be difficult to re-use except in very similar
    contexts

19
Taking this forward current eLaP projects
  • Desk study (e-learning models)
  • Produce tool for describing learning activities
    and approaches in conventional terms
  • Suggest possible mappings to standards-based and
    to theory/research-based means of description
  • Provide examples and guidelines
  • Produce complementary tool for evaluating
    described activities (e.g. in relation to learner
    experience)
  • Research study (practitioners)
  • Describe forms of representation/representational
    practice relevant to e-learning practitioners
  • Assess which are most effective at supporting
    practitioner change
  • Recommend the form(s) that outcomes of the
    programme should take

20
Further projects
  • Develop series of described and evaluated
    instances
  • different learning activities and approaches
  • different subject areas
  • different educational sectors and learner needs
  • Develop representations of practice that are of
    proven value to practitioners
  • lesson plans/learning designs for different
    environments
  • representations (e.g. video) of different
    approaches in use
  • a toolkit or planning tool for practitioners
  • a database of activities indexed to learning
    outcomes or needs
  • re-usable activity sequences e.g. for use in a
    LAMS-type system
  • an online knowledge garden in which
    participants contribute, refine and link
    e-learning concepts
  • materials for use in staff development and/or
    reflection, e.g. integrated into FPP modules
  • new digital library/portal functions
  • other ideas??

21
Holistic view of eLaP (year one designing for
learning)
Developing e-learning models
Descriptive framework (modelling tool)
22
Your role
  • Please take part in the consultation exercise by
    filling in one of the forms available today
  • Return it to me now (Helen Beetham) or to the
    programme manager (Sarah Knight) at the address
    on the form
  • Visit the programme web-site and download some of
    the documents referred to
  • www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?nameelearning_pedagogy
  • Get involved via our email discussion list and
    ongoing consultation activities
  • Bid for funds under forthcoming invitations to
    tender!

23
An idea from activity theory
  • A model is rooted in a particular view of the
    world (discourse, paradigm, modelling
    language)
  • e.g. instructional design, systems design and
    engineering, activity theory, constructivism
  • certain aspects are seen as important
    (abstraction)
  • It also has particular affordances for use in the
    world
  • e.g. it can be used to structure future
    activities such as systems design, learning,
    planning, research
  • A model is both an artefact and a tool
  • As an artefact it is a product of the culture
    that made it (it is not true but constructed,
    partial and conventional)
  • As a tool it is a guide to future action, again
    in specific cultural contexts
  • We can develop frameworks for modelling either by
    making a commitment to a particular paradigm of
    production (likely to be contentious) or by
    determining how the models can best be used as
    tools

24
We need
  • Representations of (e-)learning
  • activities/tasks
  • overall approach (orchestration of
    activities/tasks)
  • that can be
  • shared
  • compared (including use/non-use of computer-based
    technologies)
  • generalised (to some degree)
  • applied to new contexts
  • within a common framework
  • e.g. taxonomy, modelling language, plain
    English etc

25
We might want to differentiate
  • What needs to be represented/modelled in
    e-learning systems
  • i.e. according to technical standards/specs
  • highly interoperable BUT representationally poor
  • conventions widely agreed by designers but hidden
    from users
  • What needs to be represented/modelled outside the
    system
  • i.e. according to shared conventions between
    people
  • richer representations BUT not easily
    generalised Which conventions (whose)? How
    widely accepted?
  • can be openly expressed, shared and critiqued
  • What cannot be represented/modelled
  • i.e. no standard or conventional terms exist
  • may need to be experienced for real, played
    out, given v rich (e.g. multimedia)
    representations

26
  • What is represented/modelled in e-learning
    systems
  • i.e. according to technical standards/specs
  • can be designed and formally agreed
  • likely to be hidden from end-users
  • What is represented/modelled outside the system
  • i.e. according to shared conventions between
    people
  • can be openly expressed and critiqued
  • But which conventions (i.e. whose)? How do they
    gain acceptance? How general are they really?
  • What cannot be represented/modelled
  • i.e. cannot be expressed in standard or
    conventional terms
  • aspects of learning interaction which may need to
    be experienced for real, played out, enacted etc
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