How can we best help our time-pressured academics design rich blended and online courses? Digital education team has developed ABC, an effective and engaging hands-on workshop that has now been used with great success across the institution. In just 90 minutes using a game format academic teams work together to create a visual “storyboard” using cards to outline the type and sequence of learning activities, (both online and offline), required to meet the course’s learning outcomes.
Our ABC method
ABC is a rapid prototyping learning design method, built on University of Ulster’s “Viewpoints” approach and based on Diana Laurillard’s notion of six “learning types” from her well-established Conversational Framework.
- Brief presentation introducing the toolkit elements and the pedagogical rationale.
- The first task for the teams is to agree on a tweet size of the module/programme and write it on the workshop graph sheet.
- The participants then draw the rough “shape” of their programme as they envisage it initially as represented by learning types on a spider and the envisaged blend of face-to-face and online.
- Next the team design for learning by arranging the postcard-sized learning types cards along the timeline of the module, represented by a large A1 sized paper ‘canvas’.
- With this outline agreed participants turn over the cards. On the back of each card is a list of online and conventional activities associated with each learning types and the team can pick) from this list or write in their own.
- Once learning activities are selected and agreed, participants identify opportunities for formative and summative assessment, represented by affixing silver (formative) and gold (summative) stars to the activities.
- By this point module/programme development team have a visual “storyboard” of the sequence and type of learning and assessment activities on the module/programme.
Benefits of ABC
By necessity this rapid-development approach focuses on a simple set of pedagogic principles. Rather than being restrictive this has been found to generate discussion about the fundamental purposes of the programme and foregrounds the student experience. The workshop itself is structured to encourage collective discussion with a focus on collaboration and consensus. An important aspect of ABC is the staged progression from broad abstraction to concrete activities. Storyboarding provides a visual narrative that teams find easy to work with and the paper-based format encourages creativity and reworking. The cards themselves act as an aide memoire of potential activities, helping to bring pedagogic diversity to the design. Assessment and feedback become a natural element of this form of activity-based design rather than driving the module structure.
Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. New York and London: Routledge.
University of Ulster (2012). Curriculum design workshop resources. Available online: http://wiki.ulster.ac.uk/display/VPR/Home Accessed 28 January 2016.
Young, C., Perovic, N. (2016). Rapid and Creative Course Design: As Easy as ABC? Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume 228, pages 390 – 395 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042816309843?via%3Dihub