Designing learning for mobile: Theatre for a Change

7Cs of Learning Design Workshop with Theatre for a Change

7Cs of Learning Design Workshop with Theatre for a Change

Theatre for a Change (TFAC) is a London-based charity engaged in training teachers to give instruction to middle- and high-school age students about reproductive health issues. TFAC is active in African countries including Malawi and Ghana. Their courses have taken various forms including theatre workshops, art, and radio programmes. After reading about our work to help deploy our Criminology’s MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development with its iPad and app model, TFAC contacted us to help them extend their reach to students in more remote areas by transforming to a mobile learning model.

We held a 7Cs of Learning Design workshop with TFAC in May 2013, and helped them to storyboard a new ‘mobile’ version of the course. I recall at the time the above photo was taken, the group was discussing how to ‘chunk’ each learning unit in a way suitable for mobile phones, how to refer students to audio-recorded material, and how to include feedback and discussion through mobile methods. Since that workshop, I have helped with transforming the material into mobile-ready formats, and working on using social media as a simple virtual learning environment / learning management system.

This project is a great opportunity to create a different kind of mobile learning model, and we are very much figuring it out as we go along. It was great also to think about designing for mobile learning, from the beginning. Designing the learning for mobile, from the beginning, has got to be the key to mobile learning success. I plan to update this blog as the project rolls out, so stay tuned!

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

OU China visit to University of Leicester

A delegation of 28 scholars from the Open University of China are currently visiting the University of Leicester. They are spending one week with us at the Institute of Learning Innovation before moving on to the Open University UK in Milton Keynes. Below are some recordings from the sessions.

A group from OU China explains their course storyboard for their English language course entitled "This is English"

A group from OU China explains their course storyboard for their English language course entitled “This is English”

Day 1

Bernard Nkuyubwatsi – OER History from Media Zoo on Vimeo.

A brief history of distance learning from Media Zoo on Vimeo.

Day 2

1) Introduction to 7Cs of Learning Design:

2) Course Features:

3) Tools to Capture, Collaborate, & Communicate:

4) Course Map Introduction and Explanation

5) Introduction to the Storyboard

Day 3:
1) John Bond Forensic Science

2) Jeremy Turner – Making ePubs for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

New Institute of Learning Innovation papers at ALT-C 2013

The Institute of Learning Innovation will be well-represented at ALT-C 2013 conference: Building new cultures for learning.

Brenda Padilla’s full paper was accepted, with the title ‘Student engagement with a content-based learning design.’ Brenda summarises her paper: ‘While learning is commonly conceptualised as a social, collaborative process, in corporate organisations, online courses often provide limited opportunities for communication between people. How do students engage with content-based courses? How do they find answers to their questions? How do they achieve the learning outcomes? This paper aims to answer these questions by focusing on students’ experiences in an online content-based course delivered in a large Mexican organisation.’

A short paper by Terese Bird was accepted with the title ‘China is harvesting your
iTunes U – and other findings from researching how overseas students engage
with open learning materials.’ This paper will share findings from the HEA-funded iTunesUReach project in which the use of open educational resources (OER) by overseas students was researched. This project was represented at OER13 with the poster below.

A short paper by Ming Nie was accepted with the title ‘iPads in distance learning:
learning design, digital literacy, transformation.’ This paper will share findings from the JISC-funded Places project which is evaluating the use of iPads in two University of Leicester distance learning Masters courses.

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester

Tweets from the East Midlands Deanery VLE Development Day

On Friday 22nd March 2013, Rakesh Patel and I attended the East Midlands Deanery VLE Development Day, and delivered workshops which were timetabled against each other. Rakesh's workshop was E-Resources for Learning; mine was Using Rich Media in Teaching: Big ideas, simple steps. Ale Armellini started the day with a keynote: Foresight and choices for 21st century learning. The purpose of the day was to help the East Midlands Deanery (the institution in charge of postgraduate medical training) to ease into its new Moodle VLE. My workshop emphasised and began at with learning design, introducing Grainne Conole's 7Cs of Learning Design. Some delegates were not sure why a VLE is needed, and some were not sure what a VLE is, so the day was full of interesting conversations such as whether a VLE's basic purpose is to be a learning materials repository or to be a medium for communication between students, tutors, and all practitioners. Emerging issues included the tension between the need for online security and the wish to see each other's learning environments and courses and share some of these, and the tension between locked-down computer networks and the wish to use bandwidth-hungry multimedia learning materials. The day concluded with a forward-looking keynote on social media in #meded by Anne Marie Cunningham, who confessed that her first-ever tweet referring to 'medical education 3.0' was actually a typo! I also include here some of the storify archive of the tweets of the day, collected on the term #eastmidsvle. (I'm still learning how to use storify...)

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Research Fellow, University of Leicester

  1. Here are some bits and pieces which I think help show potential of social media in #meded… #ukmeded #eastmidsvle
  2. @amcunningham enjoyed your presentation at #eastmidsvle day today. Lots of food for thought 🙂
  3. Using rich media in teaching: big ideas, simple steps – my workshop presentation for #eastmidsvle… #elearning #meded
  4. this video has won NHS Innovation awards but YouTube still not accessible in the hospital it talks about… #eastmidsvle
  5. this video has won NHS Innovation awards but YouTube still not accessible in the hospital it talks about… #eastmidsvle
  6. #eastmidsvle @amcunningham gives a shout out to John and Ollie from @fgw great service and example of social media!
  7. Being shown Breakfast at Glenfield – The Educational Music Video about ACUTE ASTHMA #eastmidsvle <-made with phone
  8. “@alejandroa: Lurk > Launch > Learn (on social media), suggests @amcunningham [hangout, start out, learn] at #eastmidsvle
  9. Lurk > Launch > Learn (on social media), suggests @amcunningham [hangout, start out, learn] at #eastmidsvle
  10. #EastMidsVLE Fantastic day – Thanks to all of our speakers, poster presenters, delegates and team.
  11. “@alejandroa: Lurk > Launch > Learn (on social media) #eastmidsvle” good advice
  12. Lurk > Launch > Learn (on social media), suggests @amcunningham [hangout, start out, learn] at #eastmidsvle

7Cs update – the toolkit takes shape

Last Friday a group of us had a very animated discussion with Grainne Conole, in which we tried to map the 7Cs of learning design to the e-tivities and other tools that we have been developing and collating for most of the last year as a suite of open educational resources for learning designers. (See The 7Cs of Learning Design Toolkit, which is work in progress, mainly arising out of the JISC-funded SPEED project.) The result of our meeting was a very neat framework with four distinct phases – vision, activities, synthesis and implementation, which Grainne has shared on Slideshare.

The representation of the 7Cs has now moved from this:

The 7Cs of design and delivery

The 7Cs of design and delivery

To this:

7 cs update

… which makes it much clearer how the four Cs in the “activities” box relate to the rest of the Cs.


Grainne getting to grips with the 7Cs

I’m looking forward to using this revised version of the 7Cs framework for the structuring of our courses and resources on learning design. Our aim is to make all the resources available from a central point (a website), organised under the headings of the 7Cs.

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

How will teachers make a living in the future?

When I was ten years old, I had a brilliant, inspiring teacher. She used to ask us: “Why do you go to school?” After a series of answers, she would give hers: “To learn how to learn”. I knew Miss Blencow (I don’t know the spelling) was a good teacher, because I liked her and we did all sorts of interesting, creative activities. It took me until somewhere around the start of my PhD though to understand fully what she was telling us.

I was reminded of this today when I read a blog post by Damien Walter entitled “How will writers make a living in the future?”. The basic premise is that the increasing availability of free information on the internet is devaluing the written work to a possible future where writers will not earn money from writing anymore, with a comparison to the Dark Ages where reading aloud was a good career for “…the priest who read from the bible only he could translate to his Dark Ages congregation.”

As more and more information fills the internet a proportion of that is well presented and easily used for self-directed learning. It is becoming less and less necessary to go somewhere and be “taught”. Learning how to learn – the new learning to read.

So what future for teaching? The future, surely, must lie in teaching children how to be self-directed learners, and in inspiring, motivating and supporting them as they learn.

I do hope that Miss Blencow, once of Stimpson Avenue Junior School, is around to see the future she helped create.

Paul Rudman, BDRA

Learners as learning designers at the workplace

Prof. Betty Collis, a noted consultant in technology for strategy, learning and change in corporate learning and higher education at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, gave a great keynote address at last week’s JISC programme meeting. She ended with the following ‘provocative  thought’:

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the orientation that ‘Design for learning refers to the complex processes by which practitioners devise, structure and realise learning for others’. That does not sound to me like the way that learning is going on in organisations.

This ‘provocative thought’ was borne out by many examples  in Betty’s presentation of the way in which employees at Shell used technology – especially wikis – for knowledge sharing and informal learning. She commented on a trend from formal, structured training towards more informal, networked learning within the corporation: over time, employees preferred learning from information shared by their colleagues in a giant, company-wide wiki, than from formal, instructor-led training courses.

During the period that Betty was Leader of Shell-University of Twente Collaborative Project (2001-2005), a strong culture of knowledge sharing was generated in the organisation, with every employee understanding that they had something to teach others. Learning (and teaching) at the workplace became inseparable from getting things done (i.e. working).

This resonates well with the comment made by Jay Cross, Jane Hart et al in a recent article in eLearn magazine:

The accelerating rate of change in business forces everyone in every organization to make a choice: learn while you work or become obsolete. Nonetheless, we never use the word “learning” with a senior executive…

Companies don’t want learning—they want things done….

That’s why we talk about “working smarter.” More than knowing how to get things done, working smarter involves actually doing them.

It strikes me that the way assessment is carried out can have a powerful impact on the nature of learning, especially for work-based learners. One of Betty’s very practical recommendations for enhancing higher education courses was to gear  assessment tasks towards getting students to produce something that could be used as a learning resource by other students. One could take this idea one step further, by focusing assessment tasks on getting learners to generate something that is useful for their colleagues – this could involve sharing information, proposing a solution to a problem at the workplace, or carrying out an experiment to try to enhance workplace processes or outputs.

Those programmes that provide learners with the skills to apply their learning in innovative ways that add value to their own workplace contexts are likely to be the ones that survive the lean times ahead.

Gabi Witthaus, 20 Oct 2010

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

Making OERs sustainable – PLSQ framework

As interest in Open Educational Resources grows, one of the main challenges faced by the OER community is the question of sustainability of OER. Sustainability is a fact of life often associated with a healthy ecology. Translated into OER terms, a healthy OER ecology is a sign of healthy OER life.How OER life is sustained has been a subject of many debates at institutional, national and international forum. What do we mean by “sustainable OER”? Do we mean “justification” of an OER programme or “enablers” for continuous development and release of OER? For different players, OER sustainability means different things and here are a few from the literature, by no means exhaustive:

• funding to carry on producing OER
• sustainable technologies to support production and distribution of OER
• sustainable recruitment of students through OERs
• academic support in the development and release of OER
• institution and national policies that support mainstreaming OER

Last two weeks, at Leeds, OER sustainability was the focus of an event organised by the Support Centre for Open Resources in Education (SCORE) based at the Open University. The objective of the event was “to consult and share experiences of working with OER content and tools”. A major outcome was the Leeds manifesto. Here are a few things I picked up from the event regarding sustainable OER development:


o Work to change how people think about education
o Embed OER development into existing policies and practices
o Think about the size of your operation i.e. small or large scale
o Gather evidence of added value to teaching and learning

Learning design

o Separate learning design from content creation
o Design teaching materials from scratch with openness in mind
o Design for use and design for pedagogical effectiveness


o Have a support team built around existing teams e.g. IT services, research repository teams and copyright clearance officers
o Tie OER development with staff training and development
o Develop methods to engage staff e.g. departmental OER coordinators
o Develop tools that maximize benefits and minimize efforts in OER development


o Develop a toolkit of good practice e.g. processes for releasing OERs
o Have a mix of formal peer review and star user rating
o Keep resources alive through constant updates
o Develop “consent commons” where human subjects are used

PLSQ is the perhaps the key to a sustainable OER programme.

Samuel Nikoi (26 May 2010)

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