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Chapter 3 related research fields


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Chapter 3 related research fields

  1. 1. Chapter three - related research fields Chapter three - related research fields.............................................................................................1 Introduction......................................................................................................................................1 Instructional D esign.........................................................................................................................1 Learning Sciences............................................................................................................................4 Learning objects and Open Educational Resources.........................................................................4 Pedagogical Patterns........................................................................................................................5 Professional networks and support centres .....................................................................................8 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................................9IntroductionThis chapter describes a number of closely related research fields and how they have been used as ameans of promoting more effective teaching practices. The chapter looks explicitly at the ways inwhich learning and teaching innovations have been promoted and supported. It considers the strate-gies that have been used to scaffold teaching practice to ensure effective use of good pedagogy andto promote innovative use of new technologies. Whilst not intending to be exhaustive it aims to givea flavour and overview of some of the approaches, before introducing learning design as an alterna-tive approach. It is important to note that learning design as a methodology does not seek to replacethese existing approaches, but instead intends to draw on them using a theoretical framework whichfocuses on the mediating artefacts used in learning and teaching (Conole, 2008). Learning design isintended to be a holistic approach, covering all stakeholders involved in the learning and teachingprocess. The approaches discussed in are: ·Instructional Design ·Learning Sciences ·Learning Objects and Open Educational Resources ·Pedagogical Patterns ·Professional networks and support centresInstructional DesignLearning design is closely aligned to, but distinct from Instructional Design. Hohanson, Miller andHooper (2008: 6) argue that instructional design is guided by a range of theories, ideas, beliefs andassumptions, not least the perception of the practitioners own practice. Goodyear and Retalise posi-tion Instructional Design as a ‘rational, technical enterprise, concerned with optimizing learning andinstruction through the application of objective scientific principles (Goodyear & Retalis, 2010, p.18).Gustafson and Tillman argue that Instructional Design as an approach is useful because of the beliefthat use of systematic design procedures can make instruction more effective and efficient(Gustafson & Tillman, 1991, p. 3). They describe a general Instructional Design model as consist-ing of ten stages.
  2. 2. Reigeluth argues that ‘Instructional Design is concerned with understanding, improving, and apply-ing methods of instruction. It is the process of deciding what methods of instruction are best forbringing about desired changes in student knowledge and skills for a specific course content and aspecific student population. The result of instructional design is an ‘architect’s blueprint; for whatthe instruction should be like. This blueprint is a prescription as to what methods of instructionshould be used when for that course content and those students’ (Reigeluth, 1983, p. 7). Within thiscontext, Reigeluth and Carr-Chellman define instruction as anything that is done purposely to facili-tate learning (Reigeluth & Carr-Chellman, 2009, p. 6).Particularly influential in the Instructional Design field is the work of David Merril. He derived aset of instructional design principles having undertaken a review of the research in the field. A prin-ciple is defined as a relationship that is always true under appropriate conditions regardless of themethods or models, which implement the principle. Merrill’s five principles are: 1.Demonstration principle: Learning is promoted when learners observe a demonstration 2.Application principle: Learning is promoted when learners apply the new knowledge 3.Task-centred principle: Learning is promoted when learners engage in a task-centred instruc- tional strategy 4.Activation principle: Learning is promoted when learners activate relevant prior knowledge or experience 5.Integration principle: Learning is promoted when learners integrate their new knowledge into their everyday world.These have been used extensively to guide the design of learning interventions.
  3. 3. Instructional Design has a long history as an approach to systematically designing learning inter-ventions. It has been defined as ‘The process by which instruction is improved through the analysisof learning needs and systematic development of learning materials. Instructional designers oftenuse technology and multimedia as tools to enhance instruction’ (Design, n.d.). Reiser (2001a)defines Instructional Design as encompassing ‘the analysis of learning and performance problems,and the design, development, implementation, evaluation and management of instructional and non-instructional processes and resources intended to improve learning and performance in a variety ofsettings’. He identifies two practices that form the core of the field: i) the use of media for instruc-tional purposes, and ii) the use of systematic instructional design processes (Reiser, 2001b).Instructional designers design instruction to meet learning needs for a particular audience and set-ting. Learning design, in contrast, as described later, takes a much broader perspective and seesdesign as a dynamic process, which is ongoing and inclusive, taking account of all stakeholders in-volved in the teaching-learning process. Instructional Design tends to focus more on the designer asproducers and learners as consumer. A number of key features characterise or help define Instruc-tional Design as an approach.Van Merrienboard and Boot (Van Merrienboer & Boot, 2005, p. 46) describe Instructional Designas an analytical pedagogical approach. This includes the development and evaluation of learningobjectives. A key milestone was Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Anderson &Krathwohl, 2001; Bloom, 1956). In 1965 Gagné (1965) published his conditions of learning, de-scribing five domains of learning outcomes (verbal information, intellectual skills, psychomotorskills, attitudes and cognitive strategies). He argued that each required a different set of conditionsto promote learning. He also described nine events of instruction or teaching activities needed tosupport the attainment of the different learning outcomes, namely: motivating students, communic-ating the learning objectives, directing students’ attentions, activating related knowledge, providingguidance, promoting transfer (generalisation), eliciting performance and providing feedback.At the heart of the early Instructional Design work were three aspects: task analysis, objective spe-cification and criterion-referenced testing. Since this early work, Instructional Design has developedinto a significant field and numerous Instructional Design models have been produced and evalu-ated. It is now a recognised professional discipline, with established masters-level courses provid-ing a foundation on the fundamentals of the field. Instructional Design as an approach seeks toidentify learning goals and through analysis of these goals deriving instructional methods to achievethem. This involves the development of a set of rules for employing instructional strategies to teachdifferent content in different settings, with the rule set linking to conditions, instructional methodsand learning outcomes. Instructional Design is also in essence a systems approach to instruction andinstructional development, i.e. thinking systemically about instruction and seeing teachers, learners,content, etc. as components of a larger system.Of particular note in the field is the work of Merrill, who through a review and analysis of instruc-tional design theories and methods devised a set of first principles for design (Merrill, 2009, p. 43),namely that learning is promoted where learners: 1.engage in a task-centred instructional strategy (Task-centred Principle) 2.activate relevant prior knowledge or experience (Activation Principle) 3.observe a demonstration (Demonstration Principle) 4.apply the new knowledge (Application Principle) 5.integrate their new knowledge into their everyday world (Integration Principle).These were an attempt to identify the fundamental principles of good Instructional Design. Thecentral focus is on the tasks that the learners do, through activation, demonstration, application andintegration. The principles have been extensively quoted and many of the models that have beensubsequently developed explicitly map to them. In recent years work in Instructional Design has
  4. 4. shifted to attempt to take a more explicit account of constructivist and socially situated approachesto learning.Learning SciencesLearning Sciences is an interdisciplinary field that emerged in the mid-nineties (Sawyer, 2006). Itdeveloped in part as a backlash against traditional notions of education, focusing on instructionism(Papert, 1993 cited in Sawyer, 2006) as the principle paradigm, namely that learning is about ac-quiring knowledge which consists of a collection of facts and procedures. Sutcliffe (2003, p. 242)defines instructionism as ‘learning by telling and emphasizes delivery of content; in contrast, con-structionist approaches emphasize learning by doing’. New research on learning suggested that thisnarrow perspective of learning was incorrect and that there was a need to take account of a numberof additional factors: the importance of deep conceptual understanding, a focus on learning ratherthan just teaching, the creation of appropriate learning environments to foster learning, the need tobuild on prior learning and the importance of reflection (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000).Sawyer provides a useful edited collection and overview of the field, which is summarized here.Sawyer (pg 2) argues that Learning Sciences emerged as a field as a reaction against instructionism.Developed a consensus about the following facts about learning 1.The importance of deep conceptual understanding 2.Focusing on learning in addition to teaching 3.Creating learning environments 4.The importance of building on a learner’s prior experience 5.The importance of reflectionThe foundations of the Learning Sciences are construtivism and cognitive sciences. He argues thatthis has a number of components. Firstly, that intelligent behaviour is based on representations inthe mind, knowledge structures such as concepts, beliefs, facts, procedures, and models. Secondlythe importance of reflection and the recognition that experts are better at reflections than novices. Akey facet of the Learning Sciences is the belief that Information and Communication Technologiescan provide a means of supporting reflection and capturing expert knowledge. Thirdly, the impor-tance of adopting a problem solving approach to the design and delivery of learning. This dependson the teacher having a mental representation of the problem spaces, which contain beliefs andmental representations of concepts, specific actions, and the external world. Finally, the importanceof thinking and in particular the importance of higher-order thinking skills.Sawyer lists five key influences that underpin learning sciences: constructivism, cognitive science,educational technology, socio-cultural studies and studies of disciplinary knowledge. Learning sci-ences as a field is concerned with developing a scientific understanding of learning. This includesthe design and implementation of learning innovations, and an aspiration to improve instructionalmethodologies. The real value in much of the learning sciences work is the rich, rigorous empiricalstudies which have been carried out, which collectively give us a much deeper understanding of au-thentic, learning in real contexts. Learning Sciences draws on a number of related fields, including:cognitive science, educational psychology, computer science, anthropology, sociology, neuros-cience, and other fields.Learning objects and Open Educational ResourcesInterest in learning objects emerged in the early nineties, with the promise of creating digital re-sources that could be shared and reused (Littlejohn, 2003). The term is contested and has been usedto describe everything from raw digital assets up to whole integrated curricula. Wiley provides asuccinct definition: ‘Learning objects are educationally useful, completely self-contained chunks of
  5. 5. content‘ (Wiley, 2005, p. 2). They usually consist of three parts: educational objectives, instruction-al materials and an assessment component. Littlejohn et al. (Littlejohn, Falconer, & McGill, 2008)identify four levels of granularity: i) digital assets – a single file, raw media asset, ii) informationobjects – structured aggregation of digital assets, iii) learning activities – tasks involving interac-tions with information to attend a specific learning outcome, iv) learning design – structure se-quences of information and activities. A considerable body of research has been done into the devel-opment of tools for the creation and storing of Learning Objects. However despite the vision interms of their potential to development an educational exchange economy, the degree of actual re-use is relatively low.More recently a related field has emerged, namely the Open Educational Resource (OER) move-ment (this is discussed in more detail in chapter ten). Supported by organisations such at the Hew-lett foundation and UNESO, the vision behind OER is to create free educational resources that canbe shared and reused. Wiley & Gurrell (2009, p. 362) argue that OER are ‘learning objects whoseintellectual property status is clearly and intentionally labelled and licensed such that designers arefree to adapt, modify and redistributed them without the need to seek permission or pay royalties’.He goes on to state that OER have unlocked a new set of issues for design, namely those aroundhow to repurpose resources for different local context, taking account of linguistic and cultural is-sues. A number of centres for promoting and researching the use of Learning Objects and OER havearisen, as well as a host of online repositories. The Globe repository for example acts a gateway toother learning object repositories.( . The Reuseable Learning Objects centre( aims to design, share and evaluate learning objects and has produced atool, GLO Maker for creating Learning Objects ( With the rise of theOpen Educational Resources movement in recent years not surprisingly a number of support centresand community sites have emerged. OpenLearn (, alongside its reposit-ory of OER, created Labspace and provided a range of tools for fostering community engagement,such as a free tool for video conferencing (Flashmeeting) and a tool for visualisation (Compendi-um) ( The aim was to provide an environment for sharing of good prac-tice and promoting the reuse of OER. LeMill is a web-based community for finding, authoring andsharing open educational practices ( Similarly, Connexions provides a space foreducators and learner to use and reuse OER ( Carnegie Mellon, through its Open Learning Initiative (, adopts a more evidence-based approach. Finally,Carnegie Mellon and the Open University in the UK are developing a global network of support forresearchers and users of OER, through Olnet ( ).Conole and McAndrew provide a brief history of the OER movement (Conole & McAndrew,2010). However despite the wealth of OER repositories that are now available, evaluation of theiruse indicates that they are not being used extensively in teaching and there is even less evidence ofthem being reused (McAndrew, et al., 2009; Petrides & Jimes, 2006). As such some research hasbegun to explore the practices around the creation, use and management of OER, with the view thatif we can better identify and understand these practices we will be able to developed approaches toimprove the uptake and reuse of the OER. This is the central focus of the OPAL project (, work to date has included a review of 60 case studies of OER initiatives and fromthese abstracted eight dimensions of Open Educational Practice ( PatternsThere has been considerable interest in recent years on the notion of Pedagogical Patterns. Goo-dyear and Retalis state that ‘a pattern is a solution to a recurrent problem in a context’ (Goodyear &Retalis, 2010, p. 15). These are seen as one way of helping practitioners make informed decisions inthe creation of e-learning designs (Chatteur, Carvalho, & Dong, 2010, p. 183). Bergin states that apattern is supposed to capture best practice in some domain. Pedagogical Patterns try to capture ex-
  6. 6. pert knowledge of the practice of teaching (Bergin, n.d.). Similarly Carle et al. suggest that the ideais to identify teaching practice and record the in a format that facilitates a common vocabulary thatencourages repurposing (Carle, Clancy, & Canny, 2007). They describe the Pattern-AnnotateCourse Tool (PACT) which is a visual editor designed to unify a number of curriculum design tasksunder a common platform that pushes the user towards best practice in ogy.The concept of Pedagogical Patterns is derived from the work of Alexander et al. (Alexander,Ishikawa, & Silverstein, 1977; Alexander & Language, 1977). They define a pattern as somethingthat ‘describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describesthe core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million timesover, without ever doing it the same way twice (Alexander et al., 1977, p.x)’.Patterns are described in a set format and are part of a larger pattern language and have the follow-ing structure: ·A picture ·An introductory paragraph setting the context for the pattern ·A headline giving the essence of the problem ·The body of the problem ·The solution ·A diagrammatic representation of the solution ·A paragraph relating the pattern to similar patterns.Garzotto and Retails, S. (2008: 113) provide a critical perspective on design patterns for e-learning.Patterns originates in the area of Architecture and are defined as follows: ‘A design pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment and then describes the core of the solution to that problem in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice’. (Alexander, Ishikawa, & Silverstein, 1977)E-learning design experience is often shared informally in the everyday language of teaching prac-tice and arguably patterns provide a means of abstracting and representing good practice. Garzottoand Retalis (2008: 120) cite a number of key projects in the area of Pedagogical Patterns, these in-clude the design patterns in e-learning Pointer project,1 the ELEN project,2 and the TELL project.3Goodyear and Yang (2008: 173) also note the Pedagogical Patterns Project (PPP),4 which developedfour pattern languages around: active learning, feedback, experiential learning and gaining differentperspectives. Garzotto and Retalis outline a similar taxonomy for elearning design patterns, in termsof patterns about: human actors, Pedagogical strategies, learning resources, and technological toolsand services.Frizell and Hubscher (2008: 147) suggest that there are three benefits of design patterns: firstly thatthey can serve as a design tool, secondly that they provide a concise and accurate communicationamong designers and thirdly that they can be used to disseminate expert knowledge to novices.They also present a design framework for e-learning patterns (2008: 156), which consists of the fol-lowing: designing for interactivity, providing problem-solving activities, encouraging student par-1,html2 http://cosy.ted.unipi/gr/tell4
  7. 7. ticipation, encouraging student expression, providing multiple perspectives on content, providingmultiple representations of data, include authentic content and activities, providing structure to thelearning process, giving feedback and guidance, and providing support aides. In essence coveringthe full range of good pedagogical practice.Goodyear (2005) argues that Pedagogical Patterns can provide a useful mechanism to enable teach-ers to make informed design decisions about the use of technologies to support learning. He lists thefollowing advantages:•Provide the teacher-designer with a comprehensive set of design ideas•Provide these design ideas in a structured way, so that relationships between design components(design patterns) are easy to understand•Combine a clear articulation of a design problem and a design solution and offering a rationalewhich bridges between pedagogical philosophy, research-based evidence and experiential know-ledge of design•Encode this knowledge in such a way that it supports an iterative, fluid, process of designHe defines educational design to be ‘a set of practices involved in constructing practices of turningthese representations into real support for learning (materials, task specifications, tools, etc.)’. Heidentifies a number of layers and components associated with educational design: pedagogicalframework (philosophy, high-level ogy, pedagogical strategy and pedagogical tactics) and educa-tional setting (environment, tasks, organisational forms, student activity) and learning outcomes(Figure 4).Figure 4: Goodyears educational framework
  8. 8. A number of projects have focussed on the creation and sharing of different Pedagogical Patternsand languages. Of particular note at the Pedagogical Patterns project5 and the ELEN project6. Mag-nussen (2006) argues that the Pedagogical Patterns Project was based on the premise that ‘effect-ively communicating complex technologies is often a struggle for information technology instruct-ors. The goal was to create a method to document and share best practices in teaching and learning.Principles included that the focus needs to be on students, learning happens best in environmentswhere mentally active processes are supported and that students learn differently. He goes on to ar-gue that Pedagogical Patterns focus on practises that have been thoroughly tested and proven useful.Drawing on the outputs from the Learning Patterns and Pattern Learning Network projects, Mor etal.’s book (Mor, Warburton, & Winters, Forthcoming) provides a set of themed solutions for practi-tioners, including a set of case stories, patterns and solutions in the form of future scenarios. Thebook covers four types of patterns: learner-centred design as reflection and adaptation, learning ascollaboration, social media and assessment. A brief description of a pattern in each of these areas isdescribed below. Draft chapters of the book are available online.7Interactive lecture pattern: This pattern demonstrates how interactivity can be incorporated into alecture, through the inclusion of an electronic diary service, interactive spaces for team work andpersonal, as well as interpersonal reflection. Forces relating to the pattern include that: i) lecturersshould facilitate good learning in their lectures, ii) learners want to pass the assessment mode of thelecture. The solution focuses on achieving increasing freedom, responsibility and awareness of thelearners. The pattern includes i) lectures, ii) keeping a diary, iii) elaboration of a team project, iv)self and/or peer-evaluation and v) summative assessment.Course design as a collaborative learning experience: The internet enables people based in differentcountries to collaborate on course design and development, however there may still be cultural dif-ferences to overcome. It can be seen as a project-based learning experience where the course teammembers co-learn from each other. The course design process is iterative and should include timefor reflection and feedback.Online forum for e-learning: Learners need to communicate with each other about their course, howcan one design a forum to facilitate and encourage collaborative learning? Forces include: isolation,lacking of coaching, the need for socialisation, the need to stay on topic, a time for reflective prac-tice, the ability to have both public and private communication, and time constraints. Learners havetwo types of content: announcements and messages. The latter contain the bulk of the content andare the source of interaction between learners, including: questions and answers, information, point-ers to other information sources and rich media elements.Try once, refine once: This pattern is particularly relevant to the formative assessment of skills-based courses. Learners are set exercises that allow them to practice their skills and are then givenfeedback on errors. The pattern aims to provide learners with an effective incentive to correct theirwork. The pattern includes the following two components: try and refine.Professional networks and support centresFinally, it is worth mentioning that over the past ten years or so a range of professional networksand support centres have emerged, which have as part of their remit a role in promoting good prac-tice. Some have a specific focus on technologies (for example the Association for Learning Techno-logy - and ASCILITE -, others are either focusedon educational practices or subject disciplines (for example the Higher Education Academy subjectcentres - In addition it is relatively common now for5 http://www2, me
  9. 9. institutions to have some form of specialist unit concerned with promoting good approaches toteaching and learning practice and to helping practitioners think about how they can use technolo-gies more effectively. In addition to these support centres there is also an international network ofresearchers and developers interested in exploring the use of technologies in education. Many ofthese have associated journals, conferences, workshops and seminar series, as well as a range ofmechanisms for connecting members virtually via mailing lists, forums and social networking tools.These networks and support centres provide a range of mechanisms for supporting practice – facilit-ation of workshops and conferences, online events and discussions spaces, repositories of resourcesand case studies of good practice.ConclusionThis chapter has outlined a number of research fields that are closely aligned to learning design. Ithas described the origins of each and the associated theoretical underpinnings.