Learning Designs - Products of the AUTC project on ICT-based learning designs
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Learning Design

The Learning Design Construct
Learning Design Sequences

The Learning Design Construct

 

Learning designs refer to a variety of ways of designing student learning experiences, that is, a sequence of types of activities and interactions.

Learning designs may be at the level of a subject, or subject components. A learning design can be considered the framework that supports student learning experiences.

This project focuses on learning designs implemented with the use of Information and Communication
Technologies. Oliver (1999) argues that a learning design comprises the following key elements:

  • Tasks that learners are required to do.
  • Resources that support learners to conduct the task.
  • Support mechanisms that exist from a teacher implementing it.

Based on Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring strategies for online teaching and learning. Distance Education, 20(2), 240-254.

Thus the term learning design is used by this project to describe the various frameworks that can be used to guide the design and choice of these three elements in the development of a learning experience for students, particularly ICT-mediated learning experiences.

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Learning Design Sequences

 

Following: An example, How to construct a sequence, An early version

An Example of a Learning Design Sequence

The project evolved a graphical representation mechanism to describe and document the generic learning design foci in terms of the tasks, resources and supports that would be required in the learning setting. This mechanism was later applied to contextualised designs.

A 'Learning Design Sequence' representation uses the following graphical notation:

  • Squares represent Tasks.
  • Triangles represent Resources.
  • Circles represent Supports.

Here is an example describing one particular (contextualised) learning design. (Note that POE = "Predict - Observe - Explain"):

 

 

The project team considers the Learning Design Sequence construct could be a form of documentation to serve as a "standard"/"common" communication mechanism to explain and illustrate different kinds of learning designs. Most generic guides and exemplar descriptions housed within this website use the mechanism, supported by additional documentation. This support typically includes a description of key features of the learning design and the nature of the tasks, resources and supports required. The role of ICT in the implementation of the learning design is also explained.

How to Construct a Learning Design Sequence

Note: This section is also available in .pdf format: How to Construct a Learning Design Sequence (PDF).

Rationale

A protocol has been developed to illustrate a learning design in a temporal format to provide a standard form of communication to describe different kinds of learning designs and highlight the key features of each design.

The basis for this construct is informed by the work of Oliver (1999, 2001) and Oliver and Herrington (2001) that identifies the critical elements required in a learning design, particularly when ICT mediated. The critical elements comprise the content or resources learners interact with, the tasks or activities learners are required to perform, and the support mechanisms provided to assist learners to engage with the tasks and resources. This is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Components of a learning design

Sequence representation of a learning design

The sequence of a learning design outlines the components shown in Figure 1 as they are used over time. Thus, the sequence illustrates the learning activities, the resources and supports, plus the artefacts the students produce to arrive at the final component of the sequence which is the learning outcomes.

Representing learning activities: The learning activities are represented by a series of rectangles, arranged vertically. These activities represent the learnerís "journey". Each rectangle has a description of what the learners are required to do or produce. Activities that are assessable are distinguished with an asterisk (*).

Representing learning resources: Learning resources are represented by triangles to the left of the activity sequence. An arrow from a resource (triangle) to an activity (square) indicates that resources are available to the student when doing the activity. An arrow from an activity (square) to a resource (triangle) indicates that a resource is produced during the activity and becomes a resource for others to use later.

Representing learning supports: The learning supports are represented by circles to the right of the activity sequence. An arrow from a "circle" to a "square" indicates that support strategies are being used to assist the students in their learning.

Representing different combinations of activities, resources and supports: Resources and supports can be specific to an activity, they can be introduced before beginning an activity or when an activity is complete, or they may be available for the entire duration of the learning experience. To represent this graphically, the following convention is suggested:

  • If learning resources or supports are limited to particular activities, their availability is represented with a horizontal arrow to the specific activity for which they are available.

  • If a learning resource or support is available for multiple activities then the resource triangle and/or support circle is drawn once (where it is firstly introduced to the students) and a vertical arrow indicates the resource and/or support is available for period of time.

  • If students produce artefacts from a learning activity that are used as resources for subsequent activities, an arrow is drawn from the activity to the resource.

An example illustration of a learning setting in a temporal format is provided in Figure 2.

 

Figure 2: An illustration of a learning design employed in a fictitious
Educational Technology subject about Evaluation methods.

Where the activities are different for different learners or activities are concurrent, the activity sequence would be represented by parallel activity components for that section of the sequence. An example is illustrated in Figure 3.

 

Figure 3: Example of concurrent activities

References

Oliver, R. (1999). Exploring strategies for on-line teaching and learning. Distance Education, 20(2), 240-254.

Oliver, R. (2001). Seeking best practice in online learning: Flexible Learning Toolboxes in the Australian VET sector. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 17(2), 204-222.

Oliver, R. & Herrington, J. (2001). Teaching and learning online: A beginnerís guide to e-learning and e-teaching in higher education. Edith Cowan University: Western Australia.

     
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