Carpe Diem: the 7Cs of design and delivery

We are in the process of taking stock of the various interventions in the field of designing for learning in Higher Education. We are fortunate to have secured funding to review the main deliverables and lessons learned from the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI), Carpe Diem at Leicester and other interventions, such as Moderating Online Groups. As part of that process, Gabi Witthaus, Grainne Conole and I spent some time discussing ideas and concepts, out of which a new, embryonic framework emerged: the 7Cs of design and delivery.

As you would expect, in terms of blogging, Grainne beat me to it. But as you will see below, our ideas continue to evolve. The following diagram shows the current state of the 7Cs framework:

The 7Cs of design and delivery

The 7Cs of design and delivery

Each of the seven Cs has activities and technologies attached to it. For example, Capture has OER repositories as part of the resource audit; Communicate has Adobe Connect or Blackboard Collaborate (synchronous), as well as discussion forums (asynchronous); Consider may make use of blogs, etc. A later post will deal with this. In the meantime, we welcome comments and suggestions.

Dr A. Armellini
Beyond Distance Research Alliance
7 February 2012

Openness and learning design

In the last three years or so, the Carpe Diem learning design process has evolved – not only as a result of our own better understanding of it, but also as a consequence of the open educational resources (OER) agenda.

Carpe Diem is a creative, hands-on learning design process for academic course teams. It builds institutional capacity in learning design. It is not a ‘techie’ workshop on how to use certain tools. It has proven to be effective in the design and redesign of face-to-face, online and hybrid programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at over 15 UK universities and internationally. Carpe Diem delivers a blueprint and a storyboard for the course, a set of peer-reviewed and reality-checked e-tivities running online, a model for further development and an action plan. The planner used during the two days is available as an OER under a Creative Commons licence.

Developing a storyboard is at the heart of the Carpe Diem process – it’s collaborative, productive and fun. When we populate the storyboard with content (‘content’ is never our starting point!), participants usually refer to two ‘default sources’ of materials: previous versions of the course and new materials that the course team will have to ‘write’. We then introduce the concept of OER and show a few examples. While some colleagues are now more familiar with OER than three years ago, many have not heard of these resources, the repositories they are stored in or the licences they can be used under. They are often surprised by the amount and quality of open, free material they can access and incorporate into the course, with and without adaptation.

I usually invite course teams to conduct a resource audit under five headings: 1. course materials they already have and wish to reuse (such as materials from previous versions of the course), 2. material from OER repositories ready to use as is, 3. OER they can use with minimal changes, 4. OER that need repurposing before inclusion in the course, and 5. what they need to create from scratch.

The figure below maps curriculum design against OER design and shows the types of enhancement that can be achieved during the planning, development and delivery stages of a course. The top-right quadrant requires significant effort (and delivers accordingly), while the bottom-left one constitutes rapid, ‘opportunistic’ enhancement at a minimal cost.

Designing for openness

Figure 1: enhancing the curriculum with open educational resources

The development of a critical mass of OER worldwide and the awareness that the OER agenda has raised across the higher education sector have been critical levers in the evolution of Carpe Diem as a learning design intervention. Thus, Carpe Diem today does not only meet its original collaborative learning design objectives cost-effectively, but raises awareness of and disseminates OER and open practices across disciplines and institutions.

Dr Alejandro Armellini
Senior Learning Designer
Beyond Distance Research Alliance
University of Leicester

Seizing more days

The Beyond Distance team has delivered a number of successful two-day Carpe Diems in recent weeks. Three of them have taken place at Liverpool John Moores University, where over 60 colleagues in three disciplines (Health, Psychology and Built Environment) have taken a proactive approach to designing for effective learning and assessment. They explored creative ways of designing e-tivities that capitalise on the affordances of a range of learning technologies. Many of the designs made use of wikis and will be incorporated into the delivery of these programmes from September. In some cases, the new designs are already in use, as part of LJMU’s summer schools.

 At Leicester, colleagues from the Greenwood Institute of Child Health are planning a new distance learning programme in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. They joined us in the Media Zoo for a very productive two days. The Inter-Professional Education team, including colleagues from De Montfort, Northampton and Leicester, also took part in a Carpe Diem to prepare their new Diabetes online module.

Carpe Diem and other Media Zoo activities enable academic teams to design effectively and to deliver smarter. Colleagues learn to maximise the impact of stable and new technologies and ensure that students benefit from these innovations. As more colleagues continue to seize the day, Carpe Diems and Media Zoo activities will continue to ensure sustained enhancement to the learner experience.

Dr A Armellini
Beyond Distance Research Alliance
12 July 2010

Learning design, e-moderation… and an otter in between

As part of Nottingham Trent University’s staff development week, I was invited to run a two-hour workshop on learning design and e-moderation. I had a mixed audience today, including established e-learning practitioners and several academics who are considering dipping a toe in the e-learning waters.

I took participants on a brief journey of challenges, research projects and findings, pedagogical innovation and change. We discussed course design, e-tivities and assessment, before moving to the art of e-moderation.

Open Educational Resources (OERs) in learning design was part of my message. It turned out to be a very interesting part for my audience. During the break, I was approached by a number of participants who expressed an interest in OERs and their likely application in their disciplines. I decided to revisit OERs after the break and showed some more examples, which participants appreciated.

On an afternoon of design and delivery, an otter turned up to sow a seed. Watch this space, as the OER seed may grow at NTU, as it has done at Leicester and elsewhere.

Alejandro Armellini
29 September 2009

Learning through off-the-wall conversations

The Open University hosted a ‘CAMEL’ workshop last week for a cluster of participants in JISC-funded projects. (CAMEL is a great community of practice model for e-learning management. See Theo’s blog for a nice succinct description or the CAMEL website for more info on this.) Ming and I attended from Beyond Distance in our capacity as researchers on the Beyond Distance DUCKLING project.

It was a hugely inspiring day for me – there was a kind of energy and warmth in this group of people who had been thrown together for the day that is usually only found amongst friends who have known each other for years. Full marks to Peter Chatterton and Steve Garner for setting up this wonderfully nourishing event. (And the Chinese dinner afterwards played no small part in the day’s success!)

Andy Bardill and Bob Fields from Middlesex University set the scene for the day by telling us about a fascinating project they are doing with their Interaction Design students. Imagine a design studio in a well-equipped university, with a lecturer and six to eight students sitting around a large table, and one student showing his or her photos or drawings to the group for critique. The conventional way to do this is to have each student projecting his or her work onto the wall using a data projector, while the rest of the students comment and take notes.

Andy and Bob are not conventional teachers, though, and they felt frustrated at the limited interaction, as most of the students sat with their heads bowed taking notes on their laptops. Their solution was to ban laptops from the classroom (an initially unpopular decision), and to project each student’s work from a ceiling-mounted projector onto the table (an accidental, but very exciting discovery, as it happened) instead of the wall… They covered the table with flipchart paper to provide a sort of screen for the projected image.

The side-effect (literally!) was that students started writing their notes on the table around the edges of the projected image, instead of typing on their disallowed laptops. This immediately had the effect of making previously private notes public, and catapulted the group into deeper conversation. At the end of each session, students started spontaneously taking photos of the conversation on the table as a record of their ‘notes’. You can see some of these intriguing photos on Andy Bardill’s Flickr page.

The next development was to video the unfolding conversation on the table with a ceiling-mounted video camera, in order to have a record for later analysis of the learning process. No doubt we’ll hear more from Andy and Bob about what they’ve learnt from this as the project progresses.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that the simple act of moving the focus from the wall (‘out there/ away from us’) to the table (‘in here/ amongst us’) resulted in a change of perspective for the whole group. It enabled people to physically move around the image. Their interactions became focused on the centre of the table, as they gestured towards the central image while discussing it. A bit like the hub of a wheel that keeps the spokes together, this central point kept the participants connected in a way that a projected image on a wall cannot easily do. The popular literature from neurolinguistic programming also tells us that when we look down, we are drawing more on the emotional part of our brain. Perhaps there’s something in that too.

Thanks, Bob and Andy, for reminding us that technology on the sidelines (and on the ceiling) can sometimes be much more effective than technology on our laps or in-our-faces. We’ll be watching this space for more off-the-wall inspiration. (Just let us know which space, so we don’t get left behind staring at the table while you’ve moved onto the floor… or underground…)

Gabi Witthaus

Mice and Creativity

Given it’s April 1st, I woke up this morning with the powerful urge to post a BDRA version of Orson Welles’ radio show of 1938:

Now, after having played a few pranks to relatives, friends and colleagues, the practical joke impulse has been subdued somewhat. Still, it is Fool’s Day and one needs a lot of inspiration and creativity to come up with amusing (for one) and believable (for one’s victim) pranks, I decided that my post will be about bright ideas, creativity and insight.

I read yesterday the story of the invention and evolution of the computer mouse. It all started in the 1970s with the Xerox PARC mouse that cost 400$ to which an extra 300$ needed to be added for the interface connecting the mouse to the computer. A picture can say more than a thousand words, so just take a look at the image below and you will see why people were eager to improve the technology.


 Then, Steve Jobs from Apple contracted two young designers to come up with something 90% cheaper (he wanted the manufacturing costs to be no more than 25-30$), sturdier and more functional. This is where the story becomes fascinating. The two designers – Dean Hovey and David Kelley, found inspiration for the prototype of the mice we use today from the design of roll-on deodorants. In Hovey’s words:

“The first place I went was to Walgreens, and I bought all the roll-on deodorants I could find on the shelves. They had these plastic balls in them that roll around. Then I went over to the housewares area and bought some butter dishes and plastic things that were about the size I might need to prototype something. Over the weekend I hacked together a simple spatial prototype of what this thing might be, with Teflon and a ball. The first mouse had a Ban Roll-On ball.”

 I have been reading lots and lots of scenarios about the future lately. When discussing change in the future and where it may come from, very often the authors of these scenarios seem to believe that the more extraordinary, “unthinkable” and unusual the sources of change and its consequences are, the more authentic and believable and “expert” their scenarios will be. And yet, to me, the story of the invention of the mouse shows how often ground-breaking change happens when little, unnoticeable, everyday things are arranged by people or by chance into novel combinations, or used for innovative purposes.

Happy Fool’s Day!

Sandra Romenska, BDRA


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