In this session, we present the Learning Designer, a free open online tool to help teachers design technology-enhanced learning activities, and talk about the Design-Based Research (DBR) approach to its development as well as its underlying philosophy. Aside from supporting the design of activities, the tool also enables teachers to exchange their designs to allow adaptation and facilitate learning from each other in an attempt to improve the sharing of knowledge within the teacher community.
Our tool aims to support good pedagogy design and the sharing of effective design practice. To achieve the first goal, the tool is based on the well-established and widely referenced Conversational Framework (Laurillard 2002), which allows designs to capture and represent the full learning experience, including group and individual learning phases and, crucially, the time away from the teacher. While based on a constructionist philosophy, the Conversational Framework is able to represent all types of activities irrespective of the chosen learning theoretical approach, from behaviourist instructivism to social constructivist or connectivist networked learning. Historically, the tool emerged from two Jisc Design for Learning projects, the London Pedagogy Planner (Laurillard 2008) and Phoebe (Manton, Masterman & Balch 2008), and incorporates the learnings and theoretical foundations from these and related initiatives. The Learning Designer should therefore be flexible enough to represent every teaching and learning approach of choice and provides a visual overview of the learner’s likely experience, to help teachers refine their strategy.
The sharing of effective practice is achieved by offering a marketplace-type design exchange, where teachers can offer their designs for re-use and adaptation, or take inspiration or indeed direct copies of submitted designs. With peer evaluation options built in, we are able to build curated lists of designs under the headings of various categories, with the possibility to extend these to build sector-specific, domain-specific, or even institution-specific collections. An open approach encourages sharing as much as possible, in order to leverage creativity through inspiration across sectors, subject domains, age groups, levels or other separators.
To scale up the usage of the tool and evaluate its suitability, we ran international challenges that asked users to discuss design challenges and create as well as share their own learning designs, alongside peer reviews. This large-scale data from over 600 users allowed us to evaluate the tool quantitatively through questionnaires and analytics, and qualitatively through surveys, interviews, forum posts and blogs. The evaluation was recently published in the British Journal of Education Technology (Laurillard et al 2018). Key challenges for the future will be sustained take up and support of the tool, which we aim to achieve by for example linking the tool to existing complementary approaches such as the ABC workshops (Young & Perović 2016).
With the formal version 1.0 now released, we are on the way to creating a tool to reconceptualise teaching as a design science. Looking forward, we aim to enhance peer collaboration opportunities, consolidate the peer community, and use the Learning Designer to evaluate the effectiveness of learning designs on educational outcomes.
Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching. London: Routledge.
Laurillard, D. (2008). London Pedagogy Planner: Project Completion Report. Bristol: Jisc. Available at: www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/elearningpedagogy/llpfinal.pdf [Accessed 13 May 2019]
Laurillard, D., Kennedy, E., Charlton, P., Wild, J. & Dimakopoulos, D. (2018). Using technology to develop teachers as designers of TEL: Evaluating the learning designer, BJET, 49 (6). Available at: doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12697 [Accessed 21 March 2019]
Manton, M., Masterman, L. & Balch, D. (2008). Phoebe Pedagogic Planner: Project Completion Report. Bristol: Jisc. Available at: www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/elearningpedagogy/phoebecompletionreport.pdf [Accessed 13 May 2019]
UCL Knowledge Lab (2019). Learning Designer [online]. Available at: www.ucl.ac.uk/learning-designer [Accessed 21 March 2019]
Young, C & Perović, N. (2016). Rapid and Creative Course Design: As Easy as ABC?,
Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 228, 390-395. Available at: doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.07.058 [Accessed 13 May 2019]