The Open University Learning Design Initiative applies a design approach to teaching and learning processes with the aim of enabling practitioners to make more informed choices about their creation of learning interventions and better use of good pedagogy and new technologies. An approach which: Utilises a shared design language to both generate designs and as a mechanism for interpreting and discussing Uses a notational system which helps us remember and navigate designs, enables designs to take form and be shared, and helps us sharpen and multiply abstract design categories And recognises that different representations of a design are needed to articulate certain elements of the design, while ignoring others. It sees design as a conscious process which involves a dialogue both with and about the materials. It is seen as a creative and communicative process and an essentially social activity.
Project aim: “ Specifically, we need to shift from the traditional craft-based teacher-design (where design draws on belief-based practice and is essentially implicit) to a more systematic, explicit design approach, drawing on empirically derived and validated tools and methods for design”. Conole (2010)
“ Learning design is viewed as both a process – the planning, structuring and sequencing of learning activities; and as a product – the representation/s, plan, or structure produced during the process or created later”
Learn about... Learning Design guide (Cross and Conole, 2008)
Utilises a shared design language to both generate designs and as a mechanism for interpreting and discussing them (Winograd, 1996:64)
Uses a notational system which helps us remember and navigate designs, enables designs to take form and be shared, and helps us sharpen and multiply abstract design categories (Gibbons and Brewer, 2005:121)
Recognises that different representations of a design are needed to articulate certain elements of the design, while ignoring others
Designs should never be seen as static artefacts and are always dynamic and co-constructed in context . (Gibbons and Brewer, 2005:115)
How, when and who with The OULDI project sees ‘learning design’ as an all encompassing term to cover the process, representation, sharing and evaluation of designs from lower level activities, right up to whole curriculum level designs. We are interested in providing support for the entire design process; from gathering and sketching out initial ideas, through consolidating, producing and using designs, to sharing, reuse and community engagement.
Our methodology focuses on two areas of activity in parallel:
capturing and representing practice
supporting learning design
The empirical data informs the three main strands of our work:
guiding the design process
facilitating the sharing and discussing of designs.
Our work is underpinned by an ongoing programme of empirical work, aimed at getting a richer understanding of educational design processes. Empirical evidence has included the collection of user requirements, case studies, in-depth interviews, evaluation of workshops and focus groups and in-depth evaluation of holistic course design.
“ And again, like I said to you, it forces you...you know...it makes you think about the different components of the learning process in a way that is structured and it makes people address those issues and discuss them. On that day, you know, we had quite a lot of discussion about...you know...details about how we were going to run these projects: the things we could use; the technologies we could bring in.”
“ It’s a mode of thinking. CompendiumLD, and course design is a mode of thinking”
“ The appeal of Cloudworks is that the focus shifts away from sharing course resources (repositories) to representing teaching designs, practices, and resources in a way that is context rich and reusable by others. Moreover, members' contributions are open and available for others to build on in a number of interesting ways”.
Cloudworks user blog post
“ As the Multiliteracies moderator I am looking with interest on the changing shapes of clouds and wondering which will gain traction and carry us forward into the future. In [institution] we were thinking our Big Innovation this year would be Wave (last year it was Ning). But Wave is a bit complicated with the invitation hassle (at the moment). This one is quite simple. Unlike either of the other two, you don't have to be a member of the group to converse. You simply have to have a Cloudworks ID and you can say what you like anywhere.”
Complexity: designs are merely partial representation of much more complex, and multifaceted ideas in our minds.
Precision: there is a tension between the natural, fuzzy nature of real practice and tightly defined specification.
Formality and standardisation: terms and concepts, even well used ones, do not necessarily mean the same thing to us all.
Personal vs shared: designs can be created for personal use or can be designed to share with others. Designs only become public or sharable through negotiation and interaction with others. There is a tension between design and delivery.
Implicit vs explicit: there is a tension with designs in terms of how much they focus on precise presentation, specification and how much on the more aesthetic, visionary aspects of the design, between implicit, individual designs to those that are completely explicit with clearly defined terms and rules.