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Staff Portal

Learning Design


So what is Learning Design?

The 7Cs of Learning Design

When designing a unit, the implementation of the 7Cs of Learning Design places student-centred learning into practice. In this approach learner activity is critical to the learning experience and fosters students as active participants developing autonomy, responsibility and independence. The design process begins with conceptualising the nature of the learner – this is fundamental to explicating a coherent purpose and vision for the learning and provides a useful decision-making framework for the design.

Further steps, as shown in figure 1 following, (Dalziel, 2016), centre around the learning activities and are identified as ‘Capture’ (Create), ‘Communicate’, ‘Collaborate’ and ‘Consider’ following on from which learning activities are combined and then implemented.

7C's of Learning Design
Figure 1: The 7Cs of Learning Design Framework (Dalziel, 2016)

Learning Design Framework

Dalziel’s (2016) framework scaffolds over the rubric developed by Churchill et al setting out the holistic approach to course development. The rubric applies therefore at a more intrinsic unit level and it is clear that the central idea behind a learning design framework is that for full achievement of learning outcomes, the following is required:

  • Resources for learning including multimedia and tools to support learning activities in a variety of contexts and platforms;
  • Activity for students to engage in using resources and working on tasks such as experiments and problem solving leading through active experience towards achievement of learning outcomes;
  • Support to ensure that students are provided assistance and where possible, with tools to independently or in collaboration with other students, solve emerging difficulties; and
  • Evaluation to inform both students and teachers about progress and to serve as a tool for understanding what else needs to be done in order to ensure learning outcomes are achieved.

Technology-Enhanced Learning

Rapid technological development impacts learning design, delivery, interaction and assessment. In the module linked below, we examine how these drivers influence technology-enhanced learning. We consider TEL imperatives, theory, practice, frameworks and models. We also explore the affordances that digital tools and content may offer, and apply design thinking to the development of curriculum.

TEL Pedagogies and tools for Digital Learning Module

The TEQSA guidance note on Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL), takes into account the needs of learners and implications for teaching staff (TEQSA, 2019) ensuring:

  • Use of technology is appropriate and predicated on pedagogical principles rather than using technology for its own sake (TEQSA, 2019).
  • Intended learning outcomes are achievable and validly assessable in the e-learning environment (TEQSA, 2019).
  • TEL materials are appropriate to learning needs and educational level (TEQSA, 2019).
  • Learning and support of e-learners are understood and addressed (TEQSA, 2019).
  • Learners have sufficient opportunity to collaborate (TEQSA, 2019).
  • Learning tools and activities are supported within the university Learning Management System (TEQSA, 2019).
  • TEL materials are accessible to learners (TEQSA, 2019).

Source: Teqsa (2019). Guidance Note: Technology-Enhanced Learning.

Reflective Practice

Engaging in reflection offers opportunity for ongoing professional learning and seeks commitment to practice improvement. Through reflection, best practices can be identified and shared, needful changes identified, and challenges and monitoring of established practices undertaken. Reflective thinking is critical to learning design and the works of Schön (1983) and Kolb (1984) have provided useful principles and models that inform pedagogical focus.

Schön’s dual concepts of reflection in action and reflection on action allow for agile and responsive design during development, and for robust evaluation on completion of the development phase and after the initial delivery cycle. The opportunity for reflection supports quality processes, quality products and quality learning and teaching. Critically, reflective practices can act to harness trepidation and scepticism and develop staff as reflective practitioners capable of producing and challenging learning design mechanisms. Reflection is taken as a mechanism to develop the relationship of experience to knowledge – i.e. expertise.

Kolb (1984) emphasises the role of experience, reflection, conceptualisation and planning. Kolb’s model is particularly useful in the development of online units in allowing the design team to apply learnings to new areas. Additionally, reflective practice in the development of units for online delivery facilitates collegial peer learning through formal and informal professional learning opportunities. Peer learning has been highlighted as fundamental to learning and teaching effectiveness and each unit development adds to the body of knowledge and community of practice.

Online Unit Development and Guidelines

Online learning environments are developed and facilitated at Curtin to support teaching and learning in both hybrid and fully online learning settings. These environments reside within the Blackboard Learning Management System and may involve other enterprise technologies such as Echo360 Active Learning Platform and open source technologies. Curtin has delivered units/courses into the online environment since the mid-1990s and has gained much experience in this area.

Flexible approaches that enable students to customise courses of study to employment and/or knowledge needs based on previous learning, qualifications, aspirations, their jobs (current and future) and informal learning (life experiences, MOOCs) gives the student the opportunity to study what they consider important to their individual needs, desires and their life journey. Fully online units and courses delivered asynchronously afford this form of flexibility that is now increasingly desirable.

The principles that underlie the successful offering of online courses, include the appropriateness and judicious choice of:

  • learning design and pedagogy;
  • course material, learning objects and accessibility; 
  • teacher presence, clear communication and instruction; and
  • technology, delivery platform and media, in order to run an engaging, effective, quality online course.

This is evidenced in the design and delivery of units/courses/qualifications including the following:

  • a learner-centred approach;
  • online learning supported and scaffolded;
  • opportunities for collaboration (student-teacher, peer-peer);
  • active engagement of students;
  • alignment between learning objectives, teaching and learning methods and assessments;
  • clear learning objectives, goals, directions;
  • content easily navigated and presented in manageable segments;
  • content is made available via a variety of appropriate mechanisms;
  • media used is suitable for the purpose intended;
  • use of various tools encourages student engagement;
  • multiple opportunities for feedback to student;
  • how student responses to unit content are facilitated;
  • authenticity in assessment, tasks link to ‘real life’ application where appropriate and relevant;
  • course design encourages critical reflection and analysis;
  • meets accessibility standards and guidelines;
  • resources include a variety of cultural perspectives where possible gender and culturally exclusive terms are avoided; and
  • overall student satisfaction.