Learning about Learning Design

As my doctorate is on the learning design of a journey, I have started my research with understanding how the learning design of courses is conducted at The Open University, to see how I could apply this methodology to a journey and what elements I would need to tweak or introduce to a journey-specific learning design. 

The concept of learning design was introduced within the OU in January 2013 with it becoming a required elements to the stage-gate course production process in March 2014. Even though the learning design process was adopted for formal for-fee content we have applied this process to the BOC (Badged Open Course) for-free initiative which I project manage. 

The use of learning design in informal content I feel is just as important as with for-fee or formal content as the learners need a cohesively designed course to feel that they are able to achieve the learning outcomes of the course and then if they decide to progress from learners to formal students then the pathways, layout, and design should feel familiar to them as they study our for-fee content. 

My theory (and this is one of the elements that I am exploring in my research) is that for a learning journey to be effective not only should the components within have learning design applied, but also the narrative that stitches all the component parts together. It can’t be expected that learners will know exactly what to do next after they have completed one part of the journey has this leads to confusion, loss in confidence and motivation, and eventually an increase in drop off rates. 

Anyway, enough of that for now (as no doubt you will be subjected to many theoretical ramblings as my research increases in this area over the forthcoming three years) and back to the learning design at the OU.

IET (Institute of Educational Technology) at the OU has a team of learning design specialists that work with course teams to identify the learning design of their courses, demonstrate the benefits of a good learning design, develop case studies for use, and help to identify the tools and resources that course teams require in the development of their courses. 

I started out developing my understanding of learning design at the OU by partaking in the learning design workshops for the BOCs (more about those in a future post soon) and from there I attended curriculum learning design training and now I am undertaking IET’s LD101: Introduction to Learning Design course, which is the first of a four part series of learning design courses by IET. 

I am hoping that this practical application, observation, reflection, study of their courses, and the development of my reading and research for my literature review will aid me to deepen my understanding of learning design in preparation for my application of the methodology. 

Right, less blogging, more studying of LD101 

For now, I’m still…

Doctor in Waiting 

The Story So Far…

So following on from my ‘about me, myself, and how am I here?’ section I think it best to update you with where I am to date and then promise faithfully to update my blog on a regular basis with my thoughts and findings as I progress through my doctorate to my viva, and hopefully post a few happy celebratory photos in the concluding installments on my journey to become Dr Gore (I know, I would have made for a great hammer horror style surgeon).

Following on from the feedback I received from Rebecca my supervisor on my proposal, I reflected on the amendments that I would make to get this proposal tweaked, tuned, and in tip top condition for my first progress report. I thought upon submitting my PR01 eight days ahead of schedule (I did say I was no ordinary doctorate student) that I had my research questions and plan in the bag. How wrong could I be.

Residential School was like a baptism of fire on my little brain. I had sparks, tangents, and lightbulbs flashing all over the place. After three days of sessions with my supervisor, I thought I had cracked it, and tottered home happy with mental exhaustion. Then I slept and thought some more. Then reflected on the thoughts, then thought some more. Now I have my doctorate.

Drum roll please…

Title: Effective Processes and Structures in Online Learning through a Social Paradigm

Aim: This research will investigate the delivery methods of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), the success criteria required in its pedagogical design, the structure of the platfom required delivering it, and the learning obtained in understanding the digital footprint of design an informal learning journey within a social paradigm.

Specific Research Questions:

1. What is an effective learning design of an informal learning journey featuring MOOCs?

An effective design is the foundation of a successful learning journey, with MOOCs being facilitated through third party platforms, which are beneficial to the social missions of educational providers, do come at the cost of delivering a disparate approach, segregating learners onto different platforms with limited aggregation to deliver community based informal/social learning. When registration numbers of MOOCs range from tens of, to hundreds of thousands, developing an effective learning design could impact upon the registration of formal offerings within The Open University.

2. What is an effective delivery of a MOOC within an informal learning journey?

At present there are two predominant types of delivery; xMOOCs which are online course provisions delivered through a broadcast method on a singular platform (such as FutureLearn), and cMOOCs in which learning communities are facilitated solely in third-party social platforms. The former provide structure but lack a connected approach as a learner journey, but the latter are too disparate in delivery and depend on learners possessing high digital literacy skills. Since the creation of these two strands of MOOC there have been further developments of versions of these:

  • TORQUE – Tiny, Open-with-Restrictions, focused on Quality and Effectivement
  • DOCC – Distributed Online Collaborative Courses
  • SMOC – Synchronous Massive Online Courses
  • SPOC – Small Private Online Courses
  • BOOC – Big Open Online Courses
  • Corporate MOOC – developed solely for the Continuing Professional Development market
  • MOCC – Massive Online Closed Couse

However, all these draw from the primary two types xMOOC and cMOOC. And none of them consider the informal learning journey in which they reside.

So there you have it in a nutshell, years of thinking has got me to this point, and the next few years of thinking will help me to shape these questions into answers.

For now, I’m still…

Doctor in Waiting