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Month: March 2013

POT Cert Week 20: the “golden triangle” of pedagogy, ed tech and instructional design #potcert

Happy days: this week POTCert takes a look at educational technology and instructional design. I’m particularly interested in both of these fields because since starting on the Pedagogy First course, I’ve come to realise that both educational technology and instructional design are integral to the delivery of effective learning, and it seems that an online tutor would be well advised to understand something of each and to develop some of the respective foundation skills. I think that an understanding of the science and art of education, that is to say, pedagogy, combined with an understanding of educational technology and instructional design forms what I’d see as the “golden triangle” of online learning.

Already by week 2 of this course I’d developed a curiosity regarding instructional design, largely because I was unfamiliar with the term. Although Scott Johnson and Jim Julius explained the role of an instructional designer I was still unclear about the whole notion, probably due in a large part to the fact that I’d never actually met anyone who was an instructional designer. Even in January, when I went on to sign up for OLDSMOOC, an open online course in learning design, I still had no firm idea what it entailed, commenting:

I’ve no substantive idea of what learning design actually is; is it a fancy name for something that I do already when planning learning activities, is it something quite rigorous and scientific that I’ve hitherto not been exposed to, or is it something quite new altogether – a response to the way technology is impacting teaching and learning maybe.

Wikipedia offers the following explanation:

Instructional Design is the practice of creating “instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing.” The process consists broadly of determining the current state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some “intervention” to assist in the transition. Ideally the process is informed by pedagogically (process of teaching) and andragogically (adult learning) tested theories of learning

and, as more and more open and participatory learning opportunities became available, increasingly heutagogically tested ones as well, I’d venture.

Any way, looking back at my initial musings, it turns out that instructional design comprises all three of my premises.

By the way, I prefer to use the term learning design; I might explain that instructional design is the term more commonly used in the US whereas in the UK and Europe, it’s learning design.

In her book, Designing for Learning in an Open World, Grainne Conole explains learning design as “a methodology for enabling teachers/designers to make more informed decisions in how they go about designing learning activities and interventions, which are pedagogically informed and make effective use of resources and technologies”. It seems that in the field of education many are coming to see educational practice as the design inquiry of learning, after all “design science is concerned with how things should be” (Simon, 1969 quoted by Mor, 2013).

From my OLDSMOOC experience, I can now appreciate that learning design science provides both a rigorous method and a variety of tools to help ensure the development, and continuous improvement, of learning experiences. Here is a brief overview of the design process:

  • Initiate – proposal of a learning need
  • Inquire – inquire into the learning context
  • Ideate – sketch out a course design
  • Connect – develop learning activities
  • Prototype – test out aspects of the design
  • Evaluate – evaluate as part of the iterative process of learning design
  • Reflect – reflect and share learning or design narratives
    Learning design tools
    Learning design tools

If you want to leran more about the process of learning design I strongly suggest that you take a look at the comprehensive range of resources on the OLDSMOOC website.

In her explanation above, Grainne Conole points out that learning design “makes effective use of resources and technologies”. Wikipedia says that educational technology “is the study and ethical practice of facilitating e-learning, which is the learning and improving of performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources”, and furthermore, that the term “is often associated with, and encompasses, instructional theory and learning theory”. So, it seems that the three fields of pedagogy, learning design and educational technology are indeed bound inextricably closely together.

Although, the POTCert course has given me great insight into the use of technology, I’m aware that my knowledge in this respect is still quite superficial. So, like I mentioned in a previous post, seeing as I’ve a notion of “cobbling together an LMS”  of my own from a variety of web technologies, I’m keen to develop my knowledge and skills further in relation to educational technology. For that reason, I’m hoping to participate in the upcoming Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning offered by the Association for Learning Technologies in the UK. It’s all good fun.

Image source: catspyjamasnz


Mor, Y. (2013) Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum- A Massive Open Online Course. Available at:

Conole, G. (2013) Designing for Learning in an Open World. Springer. New York

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POT Cert Week 19: promoting self-determination with web-enhanced teaching and learning #potcert

This week POTCert moves on to consider Web-enhanced, hybrid and open classes, as discussed in Chapter 13 of Teaching Online: A Practical Introduction (Ko & Rossen, 2013). For me, this chapter, in what otherwise is proving to be a very useful textbook, seems somewhat nebulous and vague; I didn’t really connect on any great level with the material presented. The chapter seems awash with bland statements like, “when you make the Web an integral part of the course work, you automatically make it more relevant and valuable to your students and yourself alike” (p. 369). Maybe it’s as this week’s course introduction notes says, “we can barely agree to what these terms mean never mind engage in thoughtful conversation about how to explore, maximize, develop, enrich, investigate, scrutinize, and experiment with and upon these variations in online learning schemes”.

Web-enhanced learning opportunities

Having said that though, one section did manage to gain my attention and allow me to think, in part, of what might be involved in web-enhanced learning. The section in question was, “Using the Web as a Student Presentation Medium”. Reading this section put me in mind of a couple of instances that I’ve come across recently, instances that exhibit approaches in which learners choose how they’d like to present their learning and/or that encourage them to present their learning artefacts on the Web. Such approaches can be seen as helping promote self-determination of the learner.

Before I outline the instances that I have in mind, I ought to say that in my last post, I mentioned how coming to think of the Web as the learning platform, rather than the LMS, can support self-directed learning. However, I referred to self directed learning as heutagogy, which, as it turns out, might not be quite the right terminology. Heutagogy is seen as self-determined learning, whereas andragogy is seen as self-directed learning (Blaschke, 2012).

Anyhow, in relation to the Web and social media, Lisa Marie Blaschke explains that:

Web 2.0 design supports a heutagogical approach by allowing learners to direct and determine their learning path and by enabling them to take an active rather than passive role in their individual learning experiences.

A recent article by Fred Garnett, outlining a model called the “PAH Continuum” (pedagogy, andragogy & heutagogy), seems, to me, to provide, in the final phase, an ideal opportunity for learners to exercise self-determination and, if they so wish, use the web as their presentation medium:

Start with a known subject, the delivery of which a teacher is confident with (pedagogy), negotiate with the learners how they might study that subject in ways that motivate them (andragogy), and offer creative ways in which they might express what they have learnt (heutagogy).

The other instance that I can think of, of learners being allowed to exercise self-determination and present their work on the Web, can be found in the recent eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC offered by Edinburgh University. The course, in the first instance, for content gave learners access to resources on the open Web, and then for the final assessment, encouraged learners to submit a digital artefact created on a Web application of their choice.

All-in-all, this has been a tricky post to put together this week, not least because the term web-enhanced learning just seems so ridiculous to me. I mean, is there anybody in this day and age that does not use the web in some part to learn.

Image Source:


Blaschke, L.M (2012) Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning. Available at:

Garnet, F. (2013) The PAH Continuum: Pedagogy, Andragogy & Heutagogy. Available at:

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POT Cert Week 18: whether to take an off the peg LMS or cobble one together, that is the question #potcert

Essentially, this week’s POTCert task is to learn about a course/learning management system (CMS/LMS) “with which you are not familiar”. Well, in my case that won’t be difficult because in truth I’m not really that familiar with any of them. Not as a learner, and certainly not as a tutor.

In week 2, when I set out on this journey, I was asked to think about where I was in terms of getting started. At the time, I wanted the focus of my teaching, or facilitation, to be on discussion and on group activities, so I offered the following comments:

I’m investigating the types of social learning platforms that are currently available to me. I’ve seen Buddypress in action and really like how this could be used to support my project but despite Ko and Rossen avowing that you don’t need to be a computer expert, I don’t have the skills or technological capacity to ‘self-host’ it. I’ve also heard of Instructure Canvas, which can be hosted in the cloud, but again it looks like it’s designed for a bigger project than the one I envisage. Therefore, I’m going to have to explore how I can make it all hang together using a combination of familiar discussion and collaboration applications like Facebook, Blogger or WordPress and Google Docs. Wish me luck.

At this point, Ted Major jumped into the conversation and offered me his positive insights of using Canvas. So, I investigated the platform and went ahead and signed up for a free tutor account. Since then, I’ve made a start at getting familiar with the platform, and outlining the course structure and loading content.

I made the point in week 3 that I wasn’t coming from the position of “converting” a f2f course and that I wanted my course design to reflect my pedagogical goals; I was keen to avoid what Lisa refers to as “insidious pedagogy“. That is, where the parameters of the technology influence the pedagogical choices available. So, in this respect the Canvas platform seemed to offer much of what I was looking for, everyday web tools readily integrated into the platform along with a philosophy that claims to support “flexible pedagogy”.

So, to get a feel for the platform in operation, I recently participated in a couple of open courses hosted on the Canvas Network, Mooc Mooc and Social Media. The classes were entirely different in their approach, indeed it’s probably not really fair to compare them. However, if I recall this correctly, it seems that one was designed to be perceived as operating on the open web with Canvas providing the underpinning  course architecture, whilst the design of the other promotes the Canvas platform in the first instance and then looks out onto the web. Like I say, it’s not really fair to compare them, and for reasons that I’m not totally sure of, the Mooc Mooc course, for me, wasn’t a total success. Maybe it was over ambitious given that it was only a week long course, which at heart sought to represent something of the freedom found on the web. On the other front, I found the Social Media course to be somewhat claustrophobic. It seems straight-jacketed into the LMS, and despite advocating the use of participatory social media tools and allowing for some group activities, it’s pedagogy is largely tutor centred.

At this point, I might add that since the start of the course I think my pedagogical goals have altered somewhat and become more wide ranging. Initially, I declared that I wanted my focus to be on discussion and group activities and that I was investigating a suitable supporting “social learning” platform. However, thinking more closely, what do I actually mean when I say “social learning” platform. It’s here that I recall Harold Jarche saying, “social learning is how work gets done in the network era“. I’m increasingly coming to think of social learning as learning in networks. It’s probably why the following tweet caught my eye this week, and resonates so loudly.

In addition, the terms that I initially used, “discussions” and “group activities”, don’t now seem to be as network facing as the terms “conversations” and “collaboration”.  Consequently, I’ve arrived back at my original quandary in relation to the optimum choice of platform and I’m wondering if I might be better served as Miguel Guhlin suggests by using Google Apps, or any collection of web based tools, and “cobbling together an LMS” of my own.

Cobbling together an LMS
Cobbling together an LMS

Although this sounds a bit daunting, I can appreciate how such a move would serve to facilitate the new set of pedagogy required for teaching and learning on the web as well support the principle of heutogogy that’s necessary for the development of self-directed learning, which Miguel Guhlin also refers to.

Image Source:

Valentyna Sagan (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Lane, L. (2009) Insidious Pedagogy. How Course Management Systems Impact Teaching. Available at:

Jarche, H. (2013) Social Learning in Business. Available at:

Guhlin, M. (2013) Using GoogleApps as a Free #LMS. Available at:

Guhlin, M. (2013) Cobbling Together an LMS: Towards Self-Directed Learning. Available at:

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