Learning Design tools and resources

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					        Learning Design tools and resources
This briefing paper provides a summary of Learning Design tools that
can be used to create learning activities. It also lists a range of
resources that are available to provide help and guidance in designing
activities. The resources are of four types: repositories of learning
objects or open educational resources, repositories of case studies or
designs, sites which provide further guidance on technologies and how
they can be used in teaching and different approaches to design.

Learning design tools
Learning design tools differ significantly in terms of how they are
structured and the way in which they provide support for the design
process. Some are based on particular pedagogic models or
philosophies; others provide structured templates to guide the user
through particular aspects of the design process. They also vary in
look and feel – many are predominately text-based, although there are
a few which enable the user to visualise their design process. Table 1
provides a summary, with links to further information and a
description of the key features of each tool.

Table 1 Learning Design Tools
DialogPlus is an online toolkit which provides structure guidance for
users to create learning activities, which are called ‘nuggets’. The
toolkit is underpinned by a taxonomy that attempts to consider all
aspects and factors involved in developing a learning activity, from
the pedagogical context in which the activity occurs through to the
nature and types of tasks undertaken by the learner. The taxonomy
is based on the premise that learning activities are achieved through
completion of a series of tasks in order to achieve intended learning
outcomes. A questionmark indicates that additional information and
support is available on a particular topic.
The KEEP Toolkit is a set of web-based tools that help teachers,
students and institutions quickly create compact and engaging
knowledge representations on the Web. Users can: select and
organize teaching and learning materials, prompt analysis and
reflection by using templates, transform materials and reflections
into visually appealing and intellectually engaging representations or
share ideas for peer-review, assessment, and collective knowledge
building, simplify the technical tasks and facilitate knowledge
exchange and dissemination.

LAMS is a tool for designing, managing and delivering online
collaborative learning activities. It has a visual authoring
environment for creating sequences of learning activities. These
activities can include a range of individual tasks, small group work
and whole class activities based on both content and collaboration.
London Pedagogic Planner
LPP is a structured modelling tool for design. It enables users to map
different teaching methods to five types of pedagogy (attention,
inquiry, discussion, practice, production. Users can links between
aims, outcomes, teaching methods, topics, assessment) and then
map topics and associated learning outcomes across blocks of study.
Media adviser toolkit
Media Adviser is a set of software tools designed to help with the
planning of pedagogically balanced courses that involve a range of
different types of learning technologies and media. Users can input
different teaching methods and decide the extent to which they
support four types of pedagogy: delivery, discussion, activity and
feedback. The tool then gives a visualisation of the methods and
pedagogies and their balance across the course; users can then
change the mix of teaching methods until they achieve the right
balance. Simple but effective.
Microsoft’s Grava
A set of tools to allow users to author, assemble, and present
content. In the early stages of development.
Phoebe is an extensive wiki of support and guidance on learning
design. Users can: create or modify designs, view shared
designs, browse Phoebe’s teaching and technology guidance
or manage a design template. The help system is context specific
and users can work with a predefined template of fields for creating
a design or create their own.
An editor for Learning Design, which supports the full IMS Learning
Design specifications for Levels A, B and C. Of primary relevance to
technical developers rather than teachers.

Learning design resources
There are four different types of resources that can provide further
help and information for users when they are creating learning
    Learning objects and Open Educational Resources
    Case studies or designs
    Information about particular technologies
    Different ways of thinking about the design process

Learning objects and Open Educational Resources
Early e-learning developments tended to focus on the development of
content or ‘learning objects’. Definitions range from the notion of
‘learning objects’ as simple, neutral ‘digital assets’ to ‘learning objects’
as whole course courses. More recently there has been increasing
interest in the development of Open Educational Resources (OERs).
Repositories of learning objects and Open Educational Resources
 Connexions
 GLOBE repository which is a meta repository of other repositories
   of learning objects
 OpenLearn
 MIT Open courseware
 MERLOT database of resources and associated support
 Reusable Learning Objects CETL

Case studies or designs
Case studies describe particular teaching practice. Many describe
particular innovations in how different tools have been used to support
technology. Case studies vary in the level of detail and what is
covered. Some follow a standard template, others – such as those
describing pedagogical patterns - are based on a particular
philosophical approach. In contrast designs focus on the components
of a learning activity. In some cases generic learning designs have
been extracted from specific contextual examples and can be used to
illustrate the essence of a particular pedagogical approach (for
example problem-based learning, role play, collaboration). Case
studies or designs include:
 The AUTC learning design website
 The e-Learning centre library of case studies (http://www.e-

   THE JISC effective practice with e-learning guide
   The JISC case studies of innovation
   The TELL pedagogical patterns book
   The OTIS repository of case studies (
   SchoolforEverything (
   LearnHub (
   The World Bank Institute has a website which includes a set of
    tools for learning design, these include tips and hints, a FAQ list and
    a series of associated resources

Information about particular technologies
Some sites specialise in providing advice and guidance on how tools
and technologies can be used in teaching:
 The EDUCAUSE 7 things you should know about series
 The OU Learn About guides
 The Phoebe teaching and technology guidance

Approaches to design
Design is a complex, messy and creative process and there are many
different aspects to it (writing learning outcomes, deciding on content
and resources, using different tools to foster communication and
collaboration, writing assessments, adopting particular pedagogical
approaches, etc.) A number of different ways of thinking about
different aspects of design are available. Table 2 provides a summary,
with links to further information and a description of the key features
of each approach.

Table 2 Approaches to design
8LEM flashcards
( A series
of flashcards are used to describe the learner/teacher roles for 8 core
learning activities. This provides a simple and transparent method of
articulating the interactions and activities of teachers and learners
using universal concepts and language to allow dissemination across
disciplines and institutions. It describes learning activities as a series
of understandable and universal set of learning events where the
teachers and students experience and roles are clearly defined at
each stage. The strength of this method is its transparency, use of
plain English and its potential in breaking down effective complex
learning activities into a generic, re-usable format so that good
practice can be disseminated, reapplied and evaluated easily.
Interpreting technologies in use
A nice 3-D visual tool for thinking about the relationship between
tools and pedagogy. The tool maps technologies along three
dimensions 1) isolated-social, 2) active-passive and 3) formal-
informal. Some of the examples he gives include a wiki as a
collaborative document, an RSS feed about a course announcement, a
blog as a reflective journal. What’s nice about this is the dimensions
bringing out the characteristics mapped to the use in situ – i.e. the
context will change where something is located on the 3D matrix.
Mapping pedagogies to tools
A 3D-matrix matrix illustrating the key characteristics of learning
(individual-social, passive-active, information-based-experience
based). Can be used to map tools in use against the three dimensions
or as a means of mapping different pedagogical approaches.
Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M. and Seale, J. (2004), ‘Mapping
pedagogy and tools for effective learning design’, Computers and
Education. Volume 43, Issues 1-2, August-September 2004, Pages