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Chapter 15 pedagogical planners


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Chapter 15 pedagogical planners

  1. 1. Chapter 15 - Pedagogical planners Chapter 15 - Pedagogical planners...................................................................1 Introduction........................................................................................................1 The need for pedagogical planners....................................................................1 Examples of pedagogical planners....................................................................2 The DialogPlus toolkit........................................................................3 Phoebe.................................................................................................9 The London Pedagogical Planner (LPP)............................................13 The Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE)..............................17 Learning Activity Management System (LAMS)...............................19 Conclusion.......................................................................................................20IntroductionThis chapter will review and discuss the range of pedagogical planners that have been de-veloped in recent years, to guide and support practitioners in making informed learningdesign decision. It will begin by discussing the rationale and perceived benefit behind thedevelopment of these planners and then focus in on a number of specific planners;namely DialogPlus, Phoebe, the London Pedagogical Planner, the Learning Design Sup-port Environment (LDSE) and LAMS. It will compare and contrast these and concludeby considering where this area of research is likely to go in the future.The need for pedagogical plannersAs discussed elsewhere in this book, there is a gap between the potential of using techno-logies for learning and their actual use in practice. Practitioners are confused by the pleth-ora of tools that are now available to them and have difficulty creating pedagogically ef-fective learning interventions that make effective use of new technologies. As a resultthere has been considerable interest in recent years in the creation of pedagogical plan-ners that provide guidance and support to practitioners as they create learning interven-tions. The aspiration behind these planners is that they provide structured guidance andresources to help practitioners create learning interventions. They differ from some of theother learning design tools discussed elsewhere in this book (such as visualisation tools,Pedagogical Patterns and social networking sites) in that the focus is primarily on contentabout the design process. As will be evident from the examples discussed in this chapter,each tool differs in its design and functionality.Masterman defined pedagogical planners as being‘purpose-built to guide teachers through the construction of plans for learning sessionsthat make appropriate, and effective, use of technology’ (Masterman, 2008a, p. 210). 1
  2. 2. She argues that pedagogic planners are the direct equivalent of lessons plans, character-ised as: [descriptions of] how learners can achieve a set of learning objectives… how a series of lessons or a single lesson should take place… which activities learners and teachers must carry out, the order in which the activities should be carried out, the circumstances under which the activities will be carried out, how learners will be grouped and what materials or technology may be used (Van Es and Kop- er, 2006, quoted in Earp and Pozzi, 2006, p. 35).Conole et al. state that the purpose of a pedagogy planner is to offer a way of enablingteachers to exploit technology while creating pedagogically sound activities (G. Conole,Littlejohn, Falconer, & Jeffrey, 2005).San Diego et al. argue that the main functions of a pedagogy planner are to support: plan-ning, decision-making, progressive innovation, analysis, collaboration and administration(San Diego, et al., 2008).Cameron (2011) argues that such tools should emphasise the core elements that need tobe considered if a learning design is to be a success and that they should help users adopta clear, definable structure to their design process. Details include the characteristics ofthe students, pedagogical approaches, types of technologies and activities, the learningenvironment, roles and learning outcomes. She lists a number of uses of these tools:1.As a step-by-step guidance to help make theoretically informed decisions about the de-velopment of learning activities and the choice of appropriate tools and resources.2.To inspire users to adopt new teaching strategies.3.To provide design ideas in a structured way, so that the relations between design com-ponents are easy to understand.4.To combine a clear description of the learning design and offer a rationale whichbridges pedagogical philosophy, research-based evidence and experiential knowledge.5.As a database of existing learning activities and examples of good practice that can thenbe adapted and reused for different purposes.6.As a mechanism for abstracting good practice and meta-models for learning.7.To produce runnable learning designs intended for direct use by students.8.To encode the design in such a way that it supports an iterative, fluid process of design.Examples of pedagogical planners 4
  3. 3. The DialogPlus toolkitThe DialogPlus toolkit was based on an underpinning taxonomy containing the compon-ents associated with a learning activity (Conole, 2008). Each component had an associ-ated set of resources and advice to help inform practitioners in its use. It was developedthrough an extensive requirements specification through a series of sessions with practi-tioners as they articulated their design process. A range of practitioners were followedover a number of months and included an expert researcher creating an advance levelmodule on census data, a novice taking over a course and an established teacher repur-posing an existing module based on evaluation and feedback from students. We followedthese individuals through a series of decision-making processes over a period of monthsin terms of designing a new course, component of a course or individual learning activity.The focus was to elicit information on each practitioner’s thought processes as part of thedecision-making, and identify trigger points, support mechanisms and barriers to design.The intended outcome was to understand better the process of design and the types ofpresentations individuals used to facilitate their design process.The sessions consisted of a mixture of the ‘think aloud’ protocol, supported by a series ofprompting questions. Questions covered issues such as: What were the key aspirations in-herent in the proposed design of the course? What did they want the students to be able toachieve? How did they find information to support their design process? Where did theyfind resources? How were resources incorporated into the design process? Were there anyexplicit or implicit pedagogical models being used? What difficulties or issues were theyencountering at that point? There is a synergy here with the empirical evidence wegathered on design practices as part of the OU Learning Design Initiative discussed inChapter 8.The data collected us enabled us to gain an understanding of the way in which practition-ers thought through the design process. As was also evident from the OULDI interviews,it was clear that the design process is messy, creative and iterative; practitioners thinkabout design at a number of levels and oscillate between the different factors involved intheir decision-making. From these sessions the factors involved in design began toemerge and were used to develop an initial specification for the toolkit, as well as an un-derpinning taxonomy, which described the components involved in creating a learningactivity.At the heart of the toolkit is the notion of a learning activity (LA) (Figure 1), which isdefined as consisting of three elements:1.The context within which the activity occurs, this includes the subject, level of diffi-culty, the intended learning outcomes and the environment within which the activity takesplace.2.The learning and teaching approaches adopted, including the theories and models3.The tasks undertaken, which specifies the type of task, the techniques used, associatedtools and resources, the interaction and roles of those involved and the assessments asso-ciated with the learning activity. 1
  4. 4. Figure 1: The top-level components of the Learning Activity TaxonomyThe essence of a learning activity is that it must have one or more intended ‘learning out-comes’ associated with it. Learning outcomes are what the learners should know, or beable to do, after completing the LA; e.g. understand, demonstrate, design, produce, ap-praise. In order to achieve the intended learning outcomes there is a ‘sequence of tasks’that must be completed. Examples of tasks include: reading paper(s), discussing ideas,accessing databases, extracting or manipulating data, answering questions, making de-cisions. The task ‘type’ taxonomy is shown in Figure 2, with one of the elements expan-ded to show the full tree. Task techniques include: brainstorming, exercise, fieldwork,role-play, reflection and syndicates. We have identified almost thirty techniques to bestored in the toolkit so that advice can be offered to practitioners on which tasks might bemost appropriate in different contexts. Interactions possible include: individual learningactivities, one to many, student to student, student to tutor, group or class based. Whenundertaking tasks participants in the learning activity (both teachers and learners) are as-signed appropriate ‘roles’, such as individual learner, group participant, or presenter. As-sessment can include diagnostic, formative or summative assessment or no assessment atall. 4
  5. 5. Figure 2: Breakdown of the task component‘Resources’ include: web pages, databases, video streams or interactive maps. ‘Tools’ in-clude: search engines, discussion boards, spreadsheets, media players, blogs, portfolios,wikis and social networking sites. The tasks and associated roles undertaken to achievethe prescribed learning outcomes occur within a particular context with characteristicswhich include a description of the subject domain (e.g. Physical Geography), the level(e.g. introductory), the perceived skills which will be used or acquired (e.g. numeracy,critical analysis), the time anticipated for completion of the activity (e.g. two hours), andany associated prerequisites (e.g. first-year course completion, database skills).A central premise of this approach is that learning is centred on the set of tasks under-taken by the learner, that constitute the learning experiences that the students will engagein, either independently or collaboratively, in order for them to achieve the intendedlearning outcomes associated with the learning activity. In designing a learning activity a 1
  6. 6. teacher usually has a linear sequence of tasks in mind but, especially in an online learningenvironment, learners will not necessarily follow that sequence. Indeed an early projectexperience flagged up the need to enable learners to move easily around the resourcesand tasks.In addition to context and tasks, the toolkit includes taxonomies and models for learningand teaching approaches based on a review by Mayes and De Frietas (2004) whichgroups learning theories according to whether they are associative (learning as activity),cognitive (learning through understanding) or situative (learning as social practice) (Fig-ure 3).Figure 3: The pedagogy componentThe toolkit is available at Individual learningactivities within the tool are called ‘nuggets’. Figure 4 shows part of a learning designcreated using the DialogPlus toolkit. 4
  7. 7. Figure 4: A Learning Design in the DialogPlus toolkitTeachers can work through the toolkit in a linear fashion or choose their own paththrough it (Figure 5). 1
  8. 8. Figure 5: Working through the toolkitFigure 6 shows the tabs associated with a particular task. For each there is further inform-ation, mapping to the learning activity taxonomy components described above, as well asin many cases links to additional information and support. 4
  9. 9. Figure 6: The task panel and associated tabsThe toolkit was evaluated with Geographers involved in the JISC/NSF-funded Dialog-Plus project1 and also through a series of workshops with broader practitioners at confer-ences. In general evaluation of the toolkit was positive. Practitioners found the structureand guidance of the toolkit valuable and found it easy to use. The toolkit is still beingused and many of the designs are publically viewable. A potential drawback of the toolkitis that despite the fact that practitioners can choose which component to complete when,it still feels like a relatively linear approach to design, which doesn’t resonate with actualdesign practice. In addition, the format is primarily text-based, and hence doesn’t harnessthe power that visualising designs offer in contrast to tools like CompendiumLD dis-cussed elsewhere. More details on the development and evaluation of the toolkit areavailable elsewhere (Bailey, Zalfan, Davis, Fill, & Conole, 2006; Grainne Conole & Fill,2005; Fill, Conole, & Bailey, 2008).PhoebePhoebe adopts a similar approach to DialogPlus by attempting to provide a comprehens-ive online resource of tips and hints to support decision-making. It is wiki-based andprovides a valuable set of guidance’s on the different components of a learning activity.The following text available from the JISC website provides a summary of the tool:2 Intended for practitioners working in FE, HE and ACL, the Phoebe tool brings to- gether the key components of a learning design (or lesson plan), prompts teachers thinking, allows them to record ideas and requirements, and makes it easy to cross-reference components as they design the activities that make up a learning experience. It offers both flexible and guided paths through the planning process, and provides access to a wide range of models, case studies and examples of in- novative learning designs.There are four possible activities in Phoebe: create/modify your learning designs, viewshared learning designs, browse guidance or manage design templates. Figure 7 showspart of the screen for a newly created design. The page is split with a template for com-pletion on the right hand side and associated guidance for each of the boxes on the lefthand side.1 1
  10. 10. Figure 7: Screenshot of a learning design being created in PhoebeOne of the strengths of Phoebe is the considerable amount of information that is availableto guide the user through completing the various steps of the design. The guidance in-cludes information on: contextual information associated with the design, learning out-comes, assessment, the characteristics of the learners, possible learning activity se-quences, contingencies to take account of, reflection. There is also extensive informationon teaching approaches and techniques. Of particular use are the sections on ‘What tech-nologies can I use for a particular activity?’ (Figure 8) and ‘What can I do with a particu-lar tool?’. 4
  11. 11. Figure 8: Part of a screenshot of the What technologies can I use a particular activity?sectionIn addition, as with DialogPlus, users can choose to make their learning designs availableso that others can use them for inspiration or repurpose for use in another context (Figure9). 1
  12. 12. Figure 9: Examples of design for collaborative learningThe creation and revision of individual learning sessions appeared to be the most frequentlevel of granularity of learning design. There was relative consistency in the core com-ponents of the task, but a wide variation in the actual approaches adopted. This suggestedthat a pedagogy planning tool should be capable of supporting a variety of routes throughthe design, as well as supporting teachers’ underlying pedagogic approach, whether de-rived from a formal theory of learning (e.g., associative, cognitive or situative) or frompersonal experience and actual practice.However, Phoebe suffers from similar drawbacks to Dialogplus, in terms of a non-intuit-ive user interface and a linear, sequential navigational route for the design process. Evalu-ation of the tool (Masterman, 2008b) indicated that use of such tools are not enough tobring about changes in practice, it is too easy for practitioners to use them to simply mapexisting practice. Nonetheless many felt that it was a useful tool for reference and reflec-tion and that it might be particularly valuable for novice teachers to guide them throughthe process of design. The evaluation also found that Phoebe would be best suited for 4
  13. 13. practitioners who adopt a systematic approach to their design practice, rather than thosewho prefer to map out ideas visually.The London Pedagogical Planner (LPP)The pedagogic planner is closely linked to Laurillard’s Conversational Framework(Laurillard, 2002). It adopts a modelling perspective through mapping tasks to resourcesand attempting to align the design with specific pedagogical approaches. It is attemptingto adopt a user-orientated approach and plans to integrate the tool with LAMS3 a tool formanaging and delivering learning activities: This development of the pedagogy planner begins, therefore, with lecturers needs, in order to bridge the current gap between the technical origins of the learning design specification and the reality of the teaching context. This means it must make use of an existing learning activity design environment, populated with existing support tools, so that collaborating lecturers have the opportunity to test it against their current practice, and engage in further specification of their re- quirements. Engaging lecturers at the start should help to secure their longer-term involvement and a sustainable product. This iterative approach to user-oriented design should then produce a working model, as well as clear requirements for further development of the learning design specification and its implementation in support tools for lecturers. ingpedagogy/phoebeplanner.aspxThe modelling approach restricts to some extent how the tool can be used and the resultsthat are returned. In initial versions of the tool many of the parameters were ‘pre-config-ured’. The planner also focuses more on helping to plan formal, ‘traditional’ learning ac-tivities – with an emphasis on timetabled and sequential work. The aims of the tool are: i)to give educational practitioners support for innovating with interactive, adaptive, reflec-tive, discursive and collaborative learning designs, ii) to support lecturers and educationalpractitioners in building learning technologies into courses with tight budgets (Laurillard& San Diego, 2007).The LLP tool is available to download. The first screen invites the user to complete gen-eral information about the learning intervention. It is also possible to ensure that the top-ics covered, assessment and learning outcomes are mapped, i.e. constructively aligned.3 1
  14. 14. Figure 10: General module informationThe next section calculates resources, in terms of student and staff time involved. Theuser enters the amount of time to be spent by the students on the different types of activi-ties (lecture, tutorial, etc.) and hours are automatically calculated against Laurillard’stypes of activity (attending, investigating, discussing, practising and articulating). 4
  15. 15. Figure 11: Module resources for students and staffThe topics are then mapped to a calendar and the user can allocate the number of hoursacross the types of activities and the topics. 1
  16. 16. Figure 12: The LLP calendarThe final section enables the user to search the HEA case studies database ( for existing examples of good practice on their topic of inter-est that they can draw on.Laurillard and Masterman (2010b) describe how LPP was based on a model of the criticalrelationships among the components of learning design and aimed to support lecturersfrom the initial curriculum requirements, learner needs and resource constraints, throughto the TEL activities in which their students would engage (citing San Diego et al., 2008).The planner takes the user through a series of design decisions, displaying their conse-quences in multiple dynamic numerical and graphical representations of their learning de-sign. The LPP then gives feedback in terms of the likely amount of time each method willelicit the different kinds of cognitive activity on the part of the learner (attention, inquiry,etc.).LLP very much starts from existing practitioner experience, in that it focuses on topicsand allocation of time across a calendar. One of the drawbacks of this approach is that itis likely to lead to teachers replicating existing practice, rather than changing their prac-tice. A more activity-based approach might be better and it would be useful if the toolcontained more explicit examples of different types of learning activities and how thesecan be mapped to different pedagogical approaches, with examples of how technologiescan be used to support these. 4
  17. 17. The Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE)The lessons learnt from the development of Phoebe and LPP are now being taken forwardin a TLRP TEL-funded research project – LDSE (Learning Design SupportEnvironment).4 The project is based on four key assumptions: i) teachers will be required to use progressively more TEL; ii) the teaching community should be at the forefront of TEL innovation, and not cede responsibility to other professionals; iii) the devel- opment of new knowledge, in this case about professional practice, should be car- ried out in the spirit of reflective collaborative design; and iv) the same technolo- gies that are changing the way students learn can also support teachers own learn- ing in new ways. Computer-supported collaborative learning has long been estab- lished as an important form of TEL for students; we believe it is equally applic- able to teachers professional development…. We are working with practising teachers to research, and co-construct, an interactive Learning Design Support En- vironment (LDSE) to scaffold teachers decision-making from basic planning to creative TEL design.LDSE is based on the following principles: social constructivism, collaboration, construc-tionist learning and knowledge building (Laurillard & Masterman, 2010a). It is possibleto create a module, session or activity with the tool. Figure 13 shows the main sessionediting view. Users input general information about the module here, including: thename, start and end dates, elapsed time, learning time, number of students, topics andaims. It is possible for users to input their own aims or choose from an existing paletteFigure 13: The main session editing viewDesigns can be evaluated in terms of the amount of different types of activities they con-tain (acquisition, production, practice, inquiry and discussion) and the balance of person-alised and social learning involved (Figure 14).4 1
  18. 18. Figure 14: Evaluating Learning DesignsFigure 15 shows the session timeline where different types of activities are mappedacross the module calendar. A palette of different types of learning activities is availablethat users can choose from and additional information for each can be included, such asactivity notes and any associated resources for the activity.Figure 15: The design timeline 4
  19. 19. The project has also produced a library of existing patterns that users can download andadapt.5 Figure 16 shows one example of a pattern ‘Teach to learn’ where students work insmall groups to teach each other about activity theory.Figure 16: The teach to learn patternLearning Activity Management System (LAMS)LAMS 6 differs from the other tools discussed in this chapter in that it is both a graphic-ally based tool and provides a runnable environment for the design produced. However itis included here as it does provide a structure mechanism for producing designs and be-cause it has an associated Activity Planner tool. Dalziel provides an overview of the de-velopment of LAMS (Dalziel, 2003). It aimed to provide practitioners with an easy to useauthoring environment to create structured content and collaborative tasks (called se-quences) (Dalziel, 2007). The tool consists of a series of activities, such as small-groupdebate, grouping activities and reflective group response. Users drag activities onto themain design space and then connect them to create a learning activity sequence. Once asequence has been created it can be run with a group of students, as they progress throughthe teacher can monitor both group and individual activities. Sequences can be saved andexported and saved with others. The Activity Planner provides a set of templates based ongood e-teaching practices. Templates include advice on using and repurposing these tem-plates for different learning contexts.5 1
  20. 20. Figure 17: Screenshot of LAMSLAMS has two distinct advantages. Firstly it is an easy to use, graphically based tool.Secondly, it provides a runnable learning environment as an output from the design pro-cess. However the tool does not include structured guidance for the design process andbecause it is a runnable tool the focus is on a set of tools. It does not include details onother aspect of design such as learning outcomes, etc. and hence there is a danger that thedesign will be technologically driven.ConclusionCameron in her review of pedagogical planners (Cameron, 2011) concludes that: The complex task of learning design for the higher education environment might be improved with good guidance, inspiring examples, and supportive tools. The current range of pedagogical planners acknowledge these factors in their design, along with the potential to streamline the planning process with direct input from the university’s databases (such as learner records, timetabling) and learning man- agement system. The planners also provide an opportunity to share examples of good design practice, which can be tailored to meet the lecture’s particular requir- ments.Both the Phoebe and LLP tools were produced as part of the JISC e-learning pedagogyprogramme. JISC define ‘designing for learning’ as: Designing for Learning with a practitioner planning focus on e-Learning explores the process of designing, planning, sequencing or orchestrating learning tasks which may include the use of e-Learning tools. 4
  21. 21. The programme included a review of existing pedagogical theories used in e-learning andthe funding of the development of the two pedagogical planners. These were designed toprovide practitioners with the practical assistance they need in understanding how best todesign activities for their learners. Beetham provides a detailed review of the Design forLearning programme and the lessons learnt (Beetham, 2008).The first four pedagogic planners consist of a combination of examples and supportingtext to guide practice, whilst LAMS provides a graphical interface. However, they differnot only in the specific content and examples but also in their underpinning approach.Fill, Conole and Bailey (2008) argue that A key challenge in today’s technology-enhanced educational environment is pro- viding course designers with appropriate support and guidance on creating learn- ing activities which are pedagogically informed and which make effective use of technologies. ‘Learning design’, where the use of the term is in its broadest sense, is seen by many as a key means of trying to address this issue.However it is important not to underestimate the complexity and subtlety of the designprocess. As described in this chapter and articulated in the learning activity taxonomywhich underpinned the DialogPlus toolkit, pedagogy is contingent on many differentfactors, which means that assuming that a relatively linear and simple decision makingdesign tool will be suffice to scaffold design may be over optimistic. On the other hand itis evident that these pedagogical planners do provide valuable support for reflection andexploration, and help scaffold the design of learning activities.A key issue identified across the use of all these tools is the problem of practitionerssimply replicating existing practice. Individual beliefs about practice are deeply seatedand not always articulated or even realised. Donald et al. describe the HEART system,which aims to support teacher’s learning design practice by eliciting and depicting thepedagogical beliefs underpinning a learning design (Donald & Blake, 2009; Donald,Blake, Girault, Datt, & Ramsay, 2009). The system is based on thirteen belief/practicedimensions developed by Bain and McNaught (2006). These dimensions are used as thebasis for a questionnaire where teachers respond to a five-point Likert scale representinga continuum of teacher-centred beliefs to student-centred beliefs and technology-suppor-ted teaching practices. The results are displayed using a visualisation tool, Many Eyes(IBM, n.d.). The visualisation illustrates the pedagogical dimensions of the course orlearning design. Teachers are then encouraged to reflect on these, in order to better under-stand their inherent pedagogical beliefs.San Diego et al. (2008) list a number of issues which need to be addressed when design-ing; pedagogical issues, contextual and cultural issues, representation and visualisation is-sues, balance of control over data, flexible database design and ownership. They arguethat all of these need to be addressed in the development of requirements for a pedagogyplanner.A lot has been learnt about the design process through the use and evaluation of thesetools. In particular it is evident that whilst guidance and support needs to start from exist-ing practice, it is also important to provide a mechanism for changing practice and forgetting practitioners to focus more on the nature of the learning activities being created 1
  22. 22. rather than subject content. All of the tools have an associated library of existing designs,the aspiration being that these can be used for inspiration and as a starting point to repur-pose designs for new contexts of use. However, in reality there is little evidence of thesedesigns being repurposed. 4