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Introduction to the course, the educators and your role

In this video, Professor Diana Laurillard, the lead educator introduces the aims of the course, and the teachers who contributed to it.
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Hello, and welcome to the blended and online learning design course. Although, actually, I do think of it more as a collaboration than a course. And this is because the teaching community response to the tragedy of the pandemic over the past few months has been to completely turn around their conventional methods of teaching in response to the sudden requirement to have to go wholly online. And so that means in this course we have to draw on the experience of teachers across all sectors who’ve been learning so much over these past few months about how to do good teaching in all these new digital ways.
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All these contributors have embraced this new kind of collaboration and have contributed to this course, sharing their videos, their case studies, their learning designs, and lessons that they’ve learned from all this kind of experience. As you work through the course, you’ll be doing a number of activities which provide opportunities to share and discuss what you’ve done, or what you’d like to do, your fears, your concerns, your expectations for the future with this new way of teaching. We can’t do this just as lonely individuals. And that’s why this is much more a learning community than just a course. We have to learn from each other now.
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We have to build this new knowledge of how to optimise learning, whether it’s blended, or wholly online. And we have to do that together. So that’s what the course is about, really. And I hope you’ll contribute to this sense of community and work with everybody to share these ideas. Most of all, I hope you enjoy the course.
The video introduces the educator and contributors to the course, and their hopes for what it will achieve.
The intended learning outcomes for this week are that you will
  • Become more aware of what is possible with digital technologies and online learning and teaching
  • Plan the rethinking of your teaching
  • Experience of some of the basic digital tools you will need: videos, screencasts, forums, shared ideas, polls, quizzes.

Working on the course

Recognising that teachers are very over-committed now the course is very flexible. You can work through the sequence of Steps and Weeks at your own pace, and in any order, using the navigation in the To Dos at the top of the page for each Week. But there is a natural sequence.
In Week 1 we look at the nature of learning design – this is what you have always been doing in planning your students’ work, but the shift to online means that you have to compensate for not being with them. Instead of thinking about teaching, we are thinking about what it takes to learn.
There is some theory behind this, many decades of research and writing on how students learn and how teachers can help. To make it more feasible for teachers to make use of this work it is distilled into a more manageable framework representing the teaching-learning process as a series of iterative cycles of exchange of concepts and practice between teachers and students. This has helped many teachers to think through how they teach from the point of view of how their students learn.
With this basis we move on to planning the conversion from conventional methods to online and blended (i.e. a mix of the two) methods. And to make the design process even more viable for busy teachers, we introduce the Learning Designer, a free online tool, based on the research-derived framework, to enable you to borrow, adapt, create and share your own learning designs, with a focus on moving online.
Week 2 offers a range of different types of learning designs to support different kinds of intended learning outcomes, many of which should be applicable to your own teaching, no matter which level or subject you teach. And here you can begin the design-sharing opportunities if you post your design onto a Padlet wall for comment, and later do a simple peer review process to review each other’s designs.
Week 3 moves on to a more collaborative approach to dealing with the extraordinary education crisis teachers have been grappling with, including an analysis of teacher workload.
There’s a lot to learn about teaching online, a lot of experimentation and innovation to be done, and it’s best not done alone. Our focus is therefore also on you as a member of the whole teaching community, all of us working together to build the new knowledge about teaching online. In the Week 3 you can do a peer review activity to offer one of your designs for submission to the learning design website linked to the course – beginning to build that community knowledge.
The course is further supported by some of the contributing teachers acting as Mentors for the course. They will join in discussions for different parts of the course:
Dr Yasemin Allsop MBE, Lecturer, IOE PGCE primary
Paula Ambrossi, Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education, UCL Institute of Education
Dr Cosette Crisan, Mathematics educator , UCL Institute of Education
Scott Hayden, Lecturer in Creative Media Production, Basingstoke College of Technology
Sally Jones , Assistant Head (Behaviour), The Manchester Grammar School
Dr Eileen Kennedy, Senior Research Fellow, UCL Institute of Education
James Mannion, Programme Leader, UCL Institute of Education
Ceridwen McCarthy, English Teacher, The Manchester Grammar School
Dr Marcus Pedersen, Learning Technologist, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
Jasmine Smith, Digital Pedagogy Leader, Milton Road Primary School
Anna Wicking, Assistant Head (Professional Development), The Manchester Grammar School.
For accreditation, the course has been mapped to the CMALT certificate, from the Association for Learning Technology, so you could submit your work on the course as a contribution to your portfolio for submission for the Certificate. This is covered at the end of Week 3.

It’s not just a course

The course is linked to the Learning Designer website, a unique feature of such courses. This is where we collect your learning design contributions and, if you wish, make them public. Here you’ll find inspiration for teaching and learning activities, and ideas for getting the best out of online learning.
The course runs every 6 weeks, and if you upgrade you will maintain your access after the usual end of availability. The Learning Designer website will always be available, even if you don’t upgrade. The combination of the course, the online tools, and the website means that you can continue to build on other’s ideas, adapt them to your context, share and review each other’s work, and then publish what works for you.
The best kind of collaboration is with your own colleagues, of course, because then you can plan teaching practices and digital resources together. We come to this in the final week.

Please note…

The course assumes that your students have adequate devices for learning, and a reasonably reliable connection to the internet. It is the responsibility of your institution to ensure that all students who are required to learn online as part of their normal study should be suitably equipped, or to make alternative provision for them if not. If your students do have an access problem, you may find it useful to consult the Learning Foundation for advice, guidance and services to help
Similarly, the course does not cover the issues of student wellbeing in detail. These are not so much about learning design as the duty of care that all educational institutions have. It is important for teachers to know about their students’ needs in normal times, and even more important during this crisis. The FutureLearn course How to Teach Online has some very useful advice and guidance on these issues, as well as insightful observations from the participants in discussions.

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