Monthly Archives: October 2014

Designing DDLR & DDeLR – (Over)Structuring activities

I’ve been a bit caught up preparing for this course and consequently this post has been sitting in the draft section for a while now. I ran the first class last Friday (17/10) and it seems like a good idea to share some reflections.

I’m going to leave the pre-class post up as an interesting contrast.

(Before running the class)

As I continue to work on the Design and Develop Learning Resources and Design and Develop eLearning Resources subject (can anyone explain why an eLearning resource should not just be folded into an expanded definition of Learning resource?), I am now at the point where I need to work out what we will do each week.

Previous work on this has led to the development – well, adaptation really – of an assessment structure that should hopefully work well. I’m trying to incorporate as much assessment into in-class activities as possible and also get the learners to take ownership of some of their assessment by having them design the assessment criteria (while still ensuring that all the necessary assessment items are addressed). This also lets us get a flying start on the process of learning about designing and developing resources by working together on one in class. I’m thinking that using a TPACK (Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge) framework to evaluate learning resources seems like a solid base at this point.

The course as it has been delivered previously seems like a very rich opportunity for our teachers to learn about using our LMS (Moodle – called eLearn here) but the more I look at the elements of competency, the more I have to wonder how relevant some of the material really is. Refocusing the course on designing and developing learning resources will have to be a priority. Topics on designing assessments and forum activities and using our learning object repository are undoubtably valuable but not relevant in this specific instance.

(After the class)

One of the things about having a more theoretical approach to teaching is that it can be very easy to get excited about trying a load of new things and using a lot of ed tech (Moodle to be precise) without really thinking through the limitations of the class.

I spend a lot of time researching approaches to teaching with technology and providing 1-to-1 support for teachers at their desks. I also run semi-regular workshops for small groups of teachers about using specific tools. What I haven’t done is taught a full subject in a proper class setting over a number of weeks – well not in the last ten years anyway.

The first week is always going to be a little bumpy – learners turning up to class who haven’t enrolled yet (or properly) and thus have no access to our eLearning platform. The other thing I sometimes forget – but really shouldn’t – is that few teachers have the same level of skill, enthusiasm or experience in using our LMS as I do. So designing the lesson for Week 1 as primarily a series of sequential activities in Moodle in the first week is probably not the ideal approach. Actually, there’s no probably about that.

Furthermore, getting learners to use new online tools that seem perfectly straightforward (Padlet) can and will take much longer than anticipated.

On top of this, I decided that it would be fun to try to gamify the course. Not hugely but using a 12 sided die to randomise the process of calling on learners to answer questions and making use of the activity restriction function in Moodle (you can’t see one activity until you complete the previous one) really does complicate an already messy session unnecessarily.

Something else that I’d decided (based on sound pedagogical principles) was that getting the students to create a resource that can be used to identify criteria in their assessment would be a useful way to engage them with the content and get them to think more meaningfully about what is important in designing and developing learning resources. On reflection, I guess creating a resource that can be used to measure the quality of other created resources gets a little meta and might be overly complicated. I should’ve also considered that these teachers would be far more interested in developing workable resources for their own students and not for themselves and their classmates.

All in all, I think I tried to do too much, too cleverly and expected far more of the students than I should’ve. I should’ve made more allowances for lower levels of e-learning and digital literacy and factored in the necessary messiness of getting everyone started.

So now I need to simplify and streamline this course. Several of the activities were successful and we did have a reasonably meaningful and deep discussion about what is important to consider in the process of designing learning resources, so I don’t consider the class to be a total wash. We also were able to identify specific learning resources that the students are interested in learning about – several of which (marking rubrics) were nowhere on my list of things to cover in this course.

So it’s back to it, I guess.


Designing DDLR – More work on assessment

Now the focus of this project on Designing the Design & Develop Learning Resources course is on pinning down the assessments. J’s assessments for DDLR 3&4 seem strong but I just want to see whether it’s possible to streamline them slightly – largely to allow learners to knock over the analysis (and design) components quickly. (Given that they should presumably have a decent idea what their students are already like and already design resources with this in mind)

After a couple of hours of looking over this, I’m wondering whether it mightn’t have been better to try to write up my own assessment ideas first and then look at J’s for additional inspiration. It’s quite difficult to look past the solid work that has already been done. I’m still mindful of the fact that the amount of documenting and reporting seems a little high and am trying to find ways to reduce this while still ensuring that the learner addresses all of the elements of competency.

One of the bigger hurdles I face with this combined subject is that the elements of the units of competency are similar but not the same. For the analysis and design sections, they match up fairly well, with only mild changes in phrasing but the development, implementation and evaluation components start to differ more significantly. Broadly speaking, both of these units of competency appear to be targeted more at freelance education designers than practicing teachers – the emphasis on talking to the client and checking designs with the client (when the teacher would clearly be their own client) requires some potentially unnecessary busy work for the teacher wanting to be deemed competent here.

I’ve tried to address the differences between the elements of competency by clustering them with loosely matching ones from the other unit of competency in this fairly scrappy looking document. I’ve also highlighted phrases that look more like deliverable items.

document listing elements of competencyThis made it much easier to look over the existing assessment documents and resources to firstly check that all of the elements were addressed and secondly to feel confident that I am sufficiently across what is required in this subject.

Broadly speaking, the existing assessment items cover these elements of competency pretty well, I only needed to add a few extra questions to the design document template to address some aspects that it might be possible for learners to overlook.

These questions are:

  • How does the learning resource address the element or unit of competency?
  • What equipment, time and materials will you need to develop your learning resource?
  • Where will you source content for your learning resource?
  • Who can/will you contact for support in developing your resource?
  • How will you review your work as it progresses?
  • Describe the type of learning design that your learning resource uses

So as it stands, I think I’ll be largely sticking to the existing assessment plan with only a few minor changes. (Largely because my predecessor knows her stuff, which has been tremendously helpful). I am still keen to find ways to address as much of this assessment as possible in class activities – being mindful of the fact that learners may not make every class and there needs to be a certain amount of flexibility.

Overall though – and clearly the dates will need to be changed, this is what the assessments look like.

assessment documentThe next step is to update the subject guide and add my amendments to the existing documents.  I do also need to devise a marking guide for the learning resources themselves – there is something appealing in the idea of having the learners create this as one of their draft resources as the unit of competency document does stretch to define learning resources as including assessment resources too. This seems like a great opportunity to get the learners thinking more critically about what makes a good learning resource.

Designing DDLR & DDeLR – Assessments

Today is all about pinning down the most appropriate types of assessments for this subject. Yesterday I think I got a little caught up in reviewing the principles of good assessment – which was valuable but it might also be better applied to reviewing and refining the ideas that I come up with.

For what it’s worth, these are the notes that I jotted down yesterday that I want to bear in mind with these assessments. DDLR Assessment ideas

Looking over the four versions of this subject that my colleague J has run in the last 2 years has been particularly enlightening – even if I’m not entirely clear on some of the directions taken. The course design changed quite substantially between the second and third iterations – from a heavily class-based activity and assessment focus to more of a project based structure. (For convenience I’ll refer to the subjects as DDLR 1, 2, 3 and 4)

DDLR 1 and 2 provide an incredibly rich resource for learning to use eLearn (our Moodle installation) and each week is heavily structured and scaffolded to guide learners through the process of developing their online courses. The various elements of the units of competency are tightly mapped to corresponding activities and assessment tasks – moreso in DDLR 2. (Image from the DDLR subject guide)

I have to wonder however whether the course provides too much extra information – given the relatively narrow focus on designing and developing learning resources. Getting teachers (the learner cohort for this subject) to learn about creating quizzes and assignments in Moodle is certainly valuable but are these truly learning resources? This may well be one of the points where my approach to this subject diverges.

The shift in approach in DDLR 3 and DDLR 4 is dramatic. (As far as a diploma level course about designing learning resources might be considered dramatic, at least.) The assessments link far more closely to the units of competency and all save the first one are due at the end of the subject. They are far more formally structured – template based analysis of the target audience/learners, design documents, prototypes and finished learning resources, as well as a reflective journal.

It does concern me slightly that this subject has a markedly lower rate of assessment submission/completion that the two preceding ones. That said, this subject is often taken by teachers more interested in the content than in completing the units of competency and that may just have been the nature of this particular cohort.

This new assessment approach also seems far more manageable from a teaching/admin perspective than the previous ones, which required constant grading and checking.

My feeling is that this is a more sustainable approach but I will still look for ways to streamline the amount of work that is required to be submitted.

The next step was to map the various elements of competency to assessment items. The elements for both units of competency are written differently enough to need to be considered separately (unfortunately) but they both still broadly sit within the ADDIE (Analyse, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) framework. ADDIE seems like a useful way to structure both the course and the assessments so I have mapped the elements to this. I have also highlighted particular elements that are more indicative of outputs that might be assessed. Working through the analysis process will be quite dry (and could potentially come across as slightly patronising) so finding an engaging approach to this will be important.

Photo of elements of competency mapped to ADDIE elements (I’m also quite keen to bring digital badges into this process somehow, though that’s a lower priority at the moment)

Finally, I had a few ideas come to me as I worked through this process today that I might just add without further comment.

DDLR / DDeLR ideas

Get the class to design and develop a (print based? ) checklist / questionnaire resource that might be used to address DDLR 1 and DDeLR 1 UoCs. Get someone else in the class to use it to complete their Analysis phase.

Can I provide a range of options for the forms the assessment/resource pieces might take?

Try to develop a comprehensive checklist that teachers can use on the resources that they produce to raise the quality overall of resources at CIT. (Again, this could be a student led tool – the benefit of this is that it makes them think much more about what a good resource requires – does this meet any UoCs??)

Convert the print based Analysis document into a web resource – book tool or checklist maybe? Also possibly fix the print based one first – from a deliberately badly designed faulty version. (Lets me cover some readability / usability concepts early)

How much of this subject is leading the learners by the hand? How much is about teaching them how to use eLearn tools?

Could one of the learning resources be about developing something that teaches people how to use a particular eLearn tool???

Need to identify what kinds of resources teachers can make. Good brainstorm activity in week 1.

Think about the difference between creating a learning resource and finding one and adding it to your course. (Still important but tied to the UoC?)

If I give teachers the option to use previously developed resources (authenticity issues??), they should still provide some kind of explanatory document AND/OR edit the resource and discuss what changes they made and why.

Need to consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various types of tools.

In-class feedback of learning resources to better support the evaluation and implementation based elements of competency.

One activity (possible assessment) could be for learners to gather information needed to do an analysis from a partner in the group. (and vice versa) Might lead to a more critical examination of what information is being sought. Learner might even provide suggestions for design/development?

Sample resources?