Learning Design Methods:


The general framework we are using is the ADDIE model (Analyse. Design. Develop. Implement. Evaluate) – it is not well known or used in UK academia – for a whole range of reasons that are beyond the scope of this article. It is, however, super useful for our purposes as it provides a ‘process model’ i.e. a step-by-step guide to process of developing a course that uses EdTech. Each stage can be worked on separately if needed and repeated – it is intended to support iteration – it is not a linear model.

At the moment (Jan/Feb 2020) we are working on the first 3 stages at the same time (ADD) – the (software) Development process is informing the Design by giving an idea of the limitations of the delivery platform and the abilities of the software tools and services we are using. Also feeding into the Design stage is the Analysis process, where are identifying what learner activities from the F2F course we can realistically create in the Development stage with the tools we are using. The approach we are using, and the ADDIE model is also known as Instructional Systems Design (ISD). As an aside, in discussions of ‘Learning Design’ in academia in the UK, most of the activity seems to be concentrated on we would describe as conceptual models (Bloom’s Taxonomy, 3E, TPACK, SAMR, HLM, 8LEM, 7Cc etc.). These are all useful as general design thinking aids to reimagining things but not for an end-to-end production process of the kind ADDIE supports – which is what we needed.

Analysis & Design Tools

Originally, we were going to use the ABC-LD toolkit as a design tool. But at the early stages of the learning design process i.e. the Analysis stage, we found this was not really suitable –it is really for the high level design (D) stage of the ADDIE model – more than adequate for most academic course conversion to ‘blended learning’. It works well with a ‘normal’ academic course. But what we have here is an existing F2F course that is very different to a ‘normal’ academic course, with good documentation, that consists of intense F2F interactions using some very sophisticated techniques founded upon a clear methodology (synthetic phonics). With a large amount of ‘just-in-time’ customisations and adaptations in response to learner feedback in class. The ABC-LD is just not suitable for capturing and analysing this kind of activity but – it may well have a role later documenting in the process.

Task Analysis, Cognitive Task Analysis & Action Mapping

So, for the analysis phase (for the teacher side) what we need is a mix of Task Analysis (what the teacher does) and trying to understand what the teacher is doing and why  – what they are trying to achieve – a bit like Cognitive Task Analysis. For the learner side, things are little more simple – there are the outcomes specified in the documentation and using that and conversation with the tutor and a method like Cathy Moore’s action mapping at a ‘micro level’ for each learner activity we can help keep focus on the outcomes.

The big challenge in this process is that there is a lot of tacit knowledge involved in the F2F class activities, even though the documentation is thorough, and we need to ‘surface’ this tacit knowledge in order to see if we can realistically put it into an app.  So, A much more fine-grained discovery approach was needed. The methods we are using are class observation and talking through the lessons with the lecturer in reference to the course documentation. The existing documentation has been a great help in providing a framework to base our app on. Talking / walking through the lesson plans with the lecturer is proving most effective. This is done with a view to discover what elements of the F2F course activities can be implemented in the app environment. I anticipate this will (ideally) need several iterations, But, in the first couple of iterations we should get enough for the prototype. These kinds of methods are also used in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and are often called ‘knowledge elicitation’ – i.e. making expert knowledge visible and shareable in some way. The creation of the learning design documents for weeks 1 – 5 acts as a shared space that the team of people working on the project can use to negotiate meaning with each other from their different perspectives (expert, software developer, manager, evaluator, graphics etc). This kind of shared artefact for collaboration is called a boundary object by Etienne Wenger

Benefits for Future Tutor Training.

By creating this detailed analysis of the existing F2F course it may make creating a tutor training course easier – there is a lot for a tutor to take on here.

Benefits for Future Independent Learning

It is becoming apparent as we work through F2F the course there is more scope for independent learning than I thought. With careful course design, use of the Tutor voice I think that a ‘Taster’ course is indeed possible to prepare learners before attending a phonics class for adults. The more we have documented the existing course in these notes and become aware of the potential (and limitations) of voice recognition, AI and Chatbots and text to voice services the more realistic it now seems. Yes, still very ambitious, but worth exploring. Initially best framed as providing a ‘taster’ before attending a F2F course – to build confidence and motivation.

ABC-LD Toolkit

 The ABC-LD toolkit may be useful further down the line to summarise at a higher level the:

  • Structure of the F2F course and app design in a more shareable manner
    • This could be accompanied by a lower level of detail for each week or lesson
    • useful way of documenting our work (together with more granular descriptions for each activity) in a way that would make maintenance more easy over time and collaboration with new groups outside the current team (a boundary object).
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