Design in eLearning

One challenge arising from the inclusion of digital resources into a course is the need for changes to the resource design process:

Beetham & Sharpe 2007, Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age pp 6–9)

NB importance of design

p. 7 Need for explicitness of design

The process of design involves:

  • Investigation: Who are my users and what do they need? What principles and the ones are relevant?
  • Application: How should these principles be applied in this case?
  • Representation or modelling: What solution will best meet users’ needs? How can this be communicated to developers and/or directly to users?
  • Iteration: How does the design stand up to the demands of development? How useful is it in practice? What changes are needed?

Teaching has always involved some element of ‘design’ in the process of preparation and planning. With e-learning, however, the need for intentional design becomes more obvious and pressing. Classroom teaching with minimal equipment allows us to tailor our approach to the immediate needs of learners. Tutors can quickly ascertain how learners are performing, rearrange groups and reassign activities, phrase explanations differently to help learners understand them better, guide discussion and ask questions that challenge learners appropriately. With the use of digital technologies, all of these pedagogical activities require forethought and an explicit representation of what learners and teachers will do. An interesting and unforeseen consequence of the greater reliance on technologies in education has been this opportunity for teachers to reconsider how courses and learning activities are structured: new technologies make visible aspects of their pedagogical practice that were previously taken for granted.


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