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Thomas Ryberg, Lillian Buus, Marianne Georgsen, Tom Nyvang and Jacob Davidsen: Introducing the Collaborative E-learning Design method (CoED) …

Thomas Ryberg, Lillian Buus, Marianne Georgsen, Tom Nyvang and Jacob Davidsen: Introducing the Collaborative E-learning Design method (CoED)

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  • 1. Introducing the Collaborative E-learning Design method(CoED)Thomas Ryberg, Lillian Buus, Marianne Georgsen, Tom Nyvang, Jacob DavidsenDepartment of Communication and Psychology, e-Learning Lab – Centre for User Driven Innovation,Learning and Design, Aalborg University, Denmark – [ryberg, lillian,marianne,nyvang,jackd]@hum.aau.dkAbstractIn this paper the main aim is to introduce and explain the Collaborative E-learning Design method (CoEd),which has been developed through various project in e-Learning Lab – Centre for User Driven Innovation,Learning and Design (Nyvang & Georgsen, 2007). We briefly situate this method within the wider area ofLearning Design, where after we present the theoretical background of the CoED method. We illustrate themethod through discussing its concrete implementation in a recently finished EU-funded LLP-project(EAtrain2).IntroductionOur aim in this paper is to present the rationale and theoretical underpinnings of a particular method calledCoED (Collaborative E-learning Design). The method was originally developed by Nyvang & Georgsen (2007)as part of the Learn@Work project, and has since been further developed in other projects we have engaged inas a research collective. The method facilitates design of networked learning activities. It divides the designprocess in three steps and uses specific tools in each step. While it draws on existing methods, such as cardsorting, which is often employed within iterative design processes, we believe that it entails some novelelements. Firstly, it seeks to address the gap between theoretical models of learning and then actual learningdesigns. It does so by promoting negotiation and reflection among teachers by ‘forcing’ them to identify corepedagogical values, and maintaining a focus on that these are embedded in the actual design. Secondly, itspecifically supports collaborative design processes, where teams of participants (potentially with differentdisciplinary backgrounds) co-develop networked learning designs. In relation to this, it should be noted that themethod is rounded by and rooted in an educational model or system resembling the German “didaktik” tradition(Westbury, 1998), where the individual teacher have a high degree of autonomy in terms of deciding contentand pedagogical method. In this way, it addresses an educational tradition where there is little tradition for moresystematically defined (or centrally decided), structured and documented designs, and where the teacher has ahigh degree of freedom in terms of methods and in interpreting the curriculum (e.g. there are no instructionaldesigners acting as the mediating link between curriculum and teachers/tutor). The collaborative elementtherefore addresses an educational reality where teachers have acted as highly individualised, autonomousagents, but are increasingly asked to work as teams (e.g. to support cross-disciplinary teaching/learning,knowledge sharing and better support of project work). For example the method is currently being employed tosupport teams of university college teachers’ adoption of Blackboard, as a means to develop somewhat sharedpedagogical visions, practices and use of new tools (while respecting the autonomy of the individualpractitioners). Thirdly, an accompanying web based software tool1 makes it easy to re-design the cards used aspart of the method, which makes the method both scalable and applicable in different contexts. For examplecolleagues from another university recently applied it in a workshop for university managers, as a way ofgenerating future visions for the entire university.Initially, we locate CoED within the wider theoretical landscape of learning design, explain the theoreticalbackground to the method, and then how the CoED method works in practice. The latter we illustrate withreference to its application in a recent project called EAtrain2.Learning DesignVery broadly stated Learning Design is concerned with enabling educators to create, design and sharepedagogically sound, high-quality learning designs or effective practices. One common notion within this area isthe importance of learners’ activity or learning activities, as summed up by (Britain, 2004). Whereas early e-learning research tended to focus on the development and sharing of content and structure, the area of learningdesign signals a move away from an exclusive focus on delivering (digital) packaged content to students(Conole, 2007).1 Please refer to:
  • 2. Within the area of learning design there are many interesting attempts of mapping the relations between learningdesigns, learning activities, learning theories, pedagogical approaches, and the particular contexts they areenacted in. These relations are particularly interesting because one of the points of learning designs is to maketeachers more reflective about their teaching practice, and how to design for effective learning by providingthem with ‘frameworks’ for creating and describing learning designs. This also encompasses providing teacherswith theoretically informed models of ‘best practice learning designs’ to promote better fits between ‘theory’and ‘practice’ (Conole, Dyke, Oliver, & Seale, 2004). In this vein many theorists have worked on creatingimpressive mappings of the differences and similarities between various learning theoretical perspectives(Conole et al., 2004), but also more detailed schemes of how particular theories would entail differentpedagogical approaches and variations in more concrete learning activities (Fowler & Mayes, 2005; Mayes & deFreitas, 2004).As explored by de Freitas et al. (2008) more generalised frameworks and models can be useful tools insupporting practitioners’ design of learning, but at the same time practitioners need to remodel these to makethem useful and meaningful in their own contexts. Alternatively, such standardised frameworks run the risk ofalienating and marginalising practitioners (de Freitas, Oliver, Mee, & Mayes, 2008, p. 38). In the CoED methodthe point of departure is to let the preferences of the teaching practitioners play a pivotal role in the designprocess. Thus, a very important part of the CoED method is the negotiation and collaboration on establishing ashared pedagogical vision among practitioners. CoED, then, can be viewed as what Conole (2007) terms‘mediating design artefacts’ in the shape of ‘toolkits’ (a •–”—…–—”‡† ”‡•‘—”…‡ –Šƒ– …ƒ „‡ —•‡† –‘ ’Žƒ •…‘’‡ƒ† …‘•– ƒ ƒ…–‹˜‹–› ‘‘Ž‡ ’ ).History and introduction - Theoretical and methodological background for CoEDFrom the historical point of view CoED is a methodological framework developed with input from: • Systems development – because we design (for) information and communication technology (Dahlbom & Mathiassen, 1993; Larman, 2003). • Networked learning and collaborative learning – because we design for learning and learning as part of the design process • Facilitation, creation and representationThe systems development domain has drawn our attention to the fact that specification and design can beregarded as a form of collaborative or community learning. According to Wenger, a social theory of learningmust include community, practice, meaning and identity (Wenger, 1998). Learning in a community of practicethus involves negotiation of meaning which is a process of participation and reification. Within a team ofdesigners, which perhaps includes users, it is reasonable to expect participants to bring different knowledge andbeliefs to the process. This calls for a negotiation of meaning within the design team.This final source of inspiration is of a more practical and technical nature than systems development andlearning theory. Card sorting represents a powerful way of organising and creatively facilitating a targetednegotiation of meaning within systems development projects. Card sorting is a widely known technique forexploring differences and negotiating areas of agreement within systems development. The technique can helpindividuals explain to the designer how they think about a domain. With groups of card sorters the designer canfacilitate discussion and negotiation of priorities. For example through a series of steps, as will be exemplifiedlater in this paper, a group can arrive at a limited number of values all can agree on.CoED phases and principlesThe CoED method facilitates the design process in three phases.Phases:1. Focus the e-learning design process2. Identify overarching values and design principles3. Specify designIn the EAtrain2 project we used the CoED method and customized it in relation to the particular need in theproject (presented in Glud et al. (2010) and Ryberg et al. (2010)). The method was used in a face-to-faceworkshop aimed at helping teaching practitioners within the field of “enterprise architecture” to design onlinecourses building on Problem Based Learning and web 2.0 learning. In the following we describe how we usedCoED in relation to the specific workshop within EAtrain2.
  • 3. In phase I of the design process the idea is to focus the design activity in relation to the overall approach andunderstanding of learning, domain, and technology. In the particular workshop the coordinator presented theparticipants to key issues in pedagogical design of web 2.0 mediated learning. This was done to focus theattention on:1. The understanding of learning (and subsequently teaching)2. The understanding of the domain of enterprise architecture, and3. The understanding of PBL and web 2.0 technologies and the role they play in both the design and the learning process (Nyvang and Georgsen 2007: 8).The focus in the first phase related to the aim of designing for web 2.0 mediated learning and led the participantsto an understanding of PBL and web 2.0, as for them to further exploit these in the actual designs. However, thecontent and scope of the first phase is dependent on the specific context, and in other projects web 2.0 and PBLmight not be important issues, and e.g. inquiry learning could be the main issue.In phase II the goal is to identify the overall values and principles to guide the design. Following the CoEDmethod the participants in the workshop conducted a card sorting exercise, using cards with different statements about teaching and/or learning values or pedagogical concepts (further details can be found in Nyvang & Georgsen 2007; and Ryberg et al. 2009). For the purpose of the workshop, these were specifically designed to address tensions and issues relating to PBL and web 2.0. The participants prioritized the cards into groups of: 1) the most important, 2) the important, 3) the less important, and 4) the unimportant. During two rounds of card sorting, participants discussed the various teaching/learning values. This helped the participants sort out contradicting cards, and gradually agreeing on a set of core pedagogical values, that would shape their more concrete design in the third phase. They were instructed to finally choose five core-values for the next phase. In phase III the focus is to develop a detailed learning design guided by thevalues and principles prioritised in phase II (Nyvang & Georgsen 2007: 9). In thisphase the participants worked in two groups or design teams. Each group had afacilitator asking critical questions to support the group in formulating a design,which held true to the values and preliminary design choices. To guide the dialogueabout the more detailed design, participants worked with a set of cards illustratingthree factors relevant for pedagogical, technical and domain-related issues:Resources, activities and infrastructure (Nyvang & Georgsen 2007: 11) (and to verybriefly explain the relations: (Learning) Activities and (Learning) Resources arelocated in/take place in or across various Infrastructures). The cards were designed bythe facilitators prior to the workshop and were deliberately targeted to reflect web 2.0and PBL. Activities could be e.g. blogging, social bookmarking, lecture, assignmentor project work. Resources could be e.g. video, forum, case-description, blog,camera, survey-tool or facilitator. Infrastructures could be a LMS, Google Apps,Mobiles or Social Networking Sites. For a workshop specifically about Moodle orBlackboard the cards could be tailored to reflect the particular tools in those systems.The participants then used the various cards to create more detailed designs for their courses and used theposters’ space to represent e.g. temporal aspects of the course (top to bottom reflecting start/end) or by drawingarrows and relations between resources and activities. This prompted participants to discuss e.g. how totechnologically support a particular activity, or how e.g. a highly individualised technology would supportcollaborative learning and how their concrete design reflected their commonly decided values.Concluding discussionThis concrete implementation of the method did not generate very detailed designs of a course or particularlearning activities (nor was this the plan, as the work was to be continued in a subsequent work package).However, our experiences are that within a day, practitioners often manage to create relatively detailed designsand plans for activities within a course, while also negotiating a shared pedagogical vision for such a course(although they often find, that they have more different pedagogical values and beliefs than they would haveanticipated). Engaging participant from different target groups gives the dialog and negotiation a broader varietyof perspectives on the learning design process. Thus, the CoED method can be one way of engaging with
  • 4. practitioners on designing for networked learning and for practitioners to discuss their values, design concretelearning activities and designs, while representing these in a very flexible, yet structured manner. As mentionedin the introduction of the paper, this might speak particularly into educational traditions where teachers asindividuals are used to a high degree of ownership and control with content, methods and interpretation ofcurriculum. Therefore, it introduces a scalable design concept that allows for different levels of detail in terms ofthe resulting design, while maintaining a strong focus on the collaborative establishment or negotiation ofshared pedagogical core values.ReferencesBritain, S. (2004). A Review of Learning Design: Concept, Specifications and Tools - A report for the JISC E- learning Pedagogy Programme.Conole, G. (2007). Describing learning activities -Tools and resources to guide practice. In Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering E-learning (pp. 81-91).Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M., & Seale, J. (2004). Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design. Computers and Education, 43(1), 17–33.Dahlbom, B., & Mathiassen, L. (1993). Computers in context: The philosophy and practice of systems design. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers.Fowler, C. J., & Mayes, T. (2005). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study - Stage 2: Mapping theory to practice and practice to tool functionality based on the practitioners Freitas, S., Oliver, M., Mee, A., & Mayes, T. (2008). The practitioner perspective on the modeling of pedagogy and practice. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(1), 26-38.Glud, L. N., Buus, L., Ryberg, T., Georgsen, M., & Davidsen, J. (2010). Contributing to a Learning Methodology for Web 2.0 Learning – Identifying Central Tensions in Educational Use of web 2.0 Technologies. In Networked Learning. Presented at the Networked Learning Conference 2010, Aalborg.Larman, C. (2003). Agile and iterative development - a managers guide. Boston: Addison Wesley.Mayes, T., & de Freitas, S. (2004). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study - Stage 2: Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models.Nyvang, T., & Georgsen, M. (2007). Collaborative e-learning design method (CoED) (No. 12). e-Learning Lab Publiation Series (p. 25). Aalborg University. Retrieved October 31, 2009, from -learning_design_method_no._12.pdfRyberg, T., Georgsen, M., Buus, L., Glud, L. N., & Davidsen, J. (2009). An EA Active, Problem Based Learning Methodology (EU-Deliverable No. D2.1) (p. 159). Retrieved from, T., Glud, L. N., Buus, L., & Georgsen, M. (2010). Identifying Differences in Understandings of PBL, Theory and Interactional Interdependencies. In Networked Learning. Presented at the Networked Learning Conference 2010, Aalborg.Wenger, E. 1998, Communities of Practice - Learning, Meaning, and Identity, Cambridge University Press, New York.Westbury, I. (1998). Didaktik and Curriculum Studies. In B. Gundem & S. Hopmann (Eds.), Didaktik and or curriculum : an international dialogue (pp. 47-78). New York: P. Lang.