Design Alchemy


Over the past few months I have been working on the development of a framework to guide the transformative design of online education at my institution. To date the institution has been using a Learning Design model that focus’ on backwards design which is a neat and elegant approach for the design of online courses. Yet, Learning Design models are pedagogically neutral, and omit the art of teaching and learning (pedagogical principles and approaches), and the roles of the players (students, educators, community). Our transformation is from a largely transmissive approach to a  participatory approach that puts the learner at the heart of what we do. Moving from content-based to outcomes-based ensures our assessments reflect the skills and knowledge students need for the workplace, and they will learn through solving problems, generating knowledge, inquiry, critical thinking and application of concepts. They will be given opportunities to work collaboratively and contextually, bringing their experience of the world into the modules they studying and undertaking tasks and reflections in the world as part of their learning activities. It is essential to build a clear pedagogy within our framework, and give attention to how educators and students are present and active online. In doing so we will be able  to design in a way that is current for our time.

This is where the alchemy metaphor comes in. We need to blend a variety of elements to create a design framework for developing an institutional education experience. It’s not a term that’s new to the field of learning design, and I’m happy to reuse it here as an appropriate way to describe how we can turn our base metals into metals of more value.

The framework we have arrived at can be found on the UCEM Online Education Blog, it will no doubt evolve as we go through interactions of implementation. I thought it would be interesting to post some of my workings on how we got there below:

Annotation of the Learning Design Conception Map (from the Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design) was a starting point:

Thinking about the elements we needed to blend with our Learning Design model:

The point at which we felt we could implement the framework through design sessions:


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