OLDS MOOC W2D2(2) But I’m not the designer…

Last Thursday week two began and I although I have been awarded a badge for week one I didn’t feel I had really assimilated all that was said in week 1 yet.  Of course a lot was said and a lot was discussed simply because there are a lot of people involved.  So I allowed myself last Thursday to look back at some of the discussions.  In week one we thought about what learning design means and of course different approaches can be taken and I liked Ida Brandão’s piece about this where she gathered together various theories in one place.  What concerns me is how to assist academics who want to design and teach on online courses and how to ensure that what they produce meets certain standards of quality.

I am not the course designer, they are but they rely on me to facilitate their online course and to offer guidance and advice.  I’m wondering whether I can, or should, steer them towards any particular design philosophy.  And is this even practical?  Shouldn’t they be the ones on this sort of course (ie a course about learning design)?  It seems to me that I still need a checklist approach or a list of criteria to which they sign up.  They don’t have the time to study the contents of this MOOC and I don’t have the time to teach the contents of this MOOC.  So what am I looking for? A template?

My experience is that most academics transfer to their online courses things that work in their on-campus teaching. Maybe they modify things slightly with the use of forums to aid discussion and engagement and they may add more smaller assessment or self-assessment points simply because they cannot otherwise gauge how their students are doing, but overall the design is made instinctively by using materials they already have and by employing similar activities as would be done on campus.

My department (e-learning dept) is, more often than not, called on only to offer technical solutions for both staff and students.

In week two we will be looking at the learners’ context, how this needs to be taken into account when designing an online course and we can personalise the learning experience for the learner.  I’ll be thinking – if this is viable and desirable, how can I encourage academics to consider context and how might I add this consideration to my ‘checklist’ (if indeed I end up producing one).

[later edit] I have just found this discussion on the OLDS MOOC OPEN FORUM which is talking about roles in learning design.  https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/olds-mooc-open/FB__Ip5k2qQ

Placing the designer in the centre assumes there is a designer. My experience is that courses are often not designed but hastily compiled by tutors or put together on the fly.  This may not be the ideal but may be the reality when there are not resources to pay for course design per se.


  1. Joe Nicholls · · Reply

    Hi Bob

    I’ve been participating in the MOOC and asking similar questions of myself.

    I wonder if your role is simply to surface opportunity. To promote alternative ways of thinking and doing that may better facilitate learning. Because of your exposure and engagement with this MOOC and learning more about curriculum design, you will be better placed to present options and possibilities to educators along with the rationale for taking any particular approach. Your role isn’t necessarily to be prescriptive and say this is the best way to design for learning, but to have an informed dialogue and explore options. Presuming in your context that’s something you’re empowered to do. Both you and educators need sufficient time and space to be able to do this.

    I think what educators appreciate is being exposed to the art of the possible, along with a sound rationale and justification, because they may not have the time or inclination to seek out and explore themselves. You’re able to make them aware of potentially better practice. You can’t make them change what they do, but they wouldn’t get anywhere near doing so if you didn’t work to increase their awareness and understanding. Once they’re convinced, then you can take steps to work with them to realise the desired practice.

    I think the important thing to take from participating in the OLDSMOOC is it’s your opportunity to become more informed about curriculum design and thus better placed to make a positive difference with educators. And in this way I’m sure you will continue to fulfil a very valuable role. Worth doing I think.


  2. Hi Bob,

    You might not be the course designer, but it seems like you have another learning design challenge to deal with: how do you get the course team to see themselves as learning designers (rather than, as often happens, content producers).

    So, here’s a dare: can you, by the end of this MOOC, devise a 30 minute “introduction to learning design” activity for your academics, one that would seed a change in their professional practice?


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