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Learning design frameworks

Professor Hughes introduces the theme of learning design.
Diagram of three interconnecting circles labelled teaching presence, affective presence, and cognitive presence.
© University of Nottingham

To make more informed decisions about the different dimensions of effective blended and hybrid learning design it can be useful to use a learning design framework. Such frameworks provide practical support and insights that can be drawn upon during the learning design process.

In their critical evaluation of what they refer to as ‘technology-enhanced learning design frameworks’, Bower and Vlachopoulos (2018) identify over 20 frameworks used by designers to enhance learning design and ultimately, improve outcomes for students in courses in which digital technologies play an important mediating role.

Some of the better-known frameworks they explored include the 7Cs learning design framework, The Conversational Framework, Carpe Diem and Universal Design for Learning TPACK (UDL TPACK). Other models that have proved popular amongst designers of blended learning courses include ADDIE and Backward Design (see step 4.6).

While it is beyond the scope of this course to delve into the details of these models in any great depth, there are a number of questions you might want to consider when selecting a model to use in your own design context. Again Blower and Vlachopoulos (2018) are instructive here. In their own comparative interrogation of the design models they asked the following:

  • what (if any) pedagogical values do they embody?
  • do they include explicit guidance for selecting education technologies?
  • is the model (1) procedural i.e. provides prescriptive guidelines that can be followed by the designer (2) conceptual i.e. identifies a series of design parameters to be taken into account during the design process or, (3) considers both?
  • is the context of learning taken into consideration?
  • what is the model’s locus? For example, does it foreground the task, module or course level or a combination of these?
  • does it incorporate an explicit focus on technological affordances such as interaction?
  • does it include examples and ‘vignettes’ to exemplify different elements of the model?
  • has it been evaluated?

In my own work, I tend to draw on two frameworks: Diana Laurillard’s (2002) Conversational Framework and Garrison and Anderson’s (2008) Community of Enquiry model. This is because of the extent to which they place interaction i.e with content, peers and teachers at the heart of the learning process. They also incorporate specific guidance on education technologies, which I find useful. In the case of Garrison and Anderson (2008), for example, they are particularly enthusiastic about the role that online discussion forums can play in fostering peer-to-peer written interaction in Higher Education.

What about you? Do you have any experience of using these models and frameworks? If so, which one(s) and why? Use comments below to discuss.

© University of Nottingham
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Blended and Hybrid Learning Design in Higher Education

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