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This brief video (2'07") is a reminder of the structural support that intense learning outcomes provide to the course design process. Having an understanding of the need to align course/module outcomes with programme outcomes, and to differentiate these reassessed outcomes from non-assessed topic/weekly level objectives is important. It is important because well-aligned learning outcomes provides scaffolding to all students' learning.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

A brief explanation (2'22") of the central importance of designing well-structured intended learning outcomes for courses. Five domains of learning, details of which are available here: https://sijen.com/research-interests/taxonomies/ are all important in a balanced course. Structuring outcomes with an active verb, subject and context are also shared.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

Originally Posted to LinkedIn on Thursday 2nd April.
Visualisation of the SOLE model related to roles
SOLE model related to spaces

Change is often difficult. Actors who were adored as Vaudeville artists, glamorous or heroic, sounded unconsciously like clowns on the radio or looked clumsy and inarticulate on television. Many fell by the wayside, drifting into obscurity.

Does the current global shift into supporting learners online mean the end of some academic careers? Probably. Some will decide for themselves that they do not want to perform on this new stage, they will miss the smell of musty stage curtains and the face paint, the fever of anticipation, of adulation. There are many who will miss the lack of personal presence of their students enough to think it's a profession they no longer feel a part of. We, as leaders in tertiary education, whether as team leaders, Heads of Departments, Deans, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Proctors and others, need to understand this.

It is not just about 'shifting your content online', move your weekly lecture into a recorded version of the same or set yourself up with webinar software and substitute your seminar. The change that is being asked of many of our academic colleagues is profound. Most can transition into online delivery, and some will excel at it. Others will not. Both will need support. I want to suggest I may have a tool to help leaders talk through some of the challenges of changing roles with faculty.

A learning model: visualisation

Some years ago, 2011 to be precise, I produced a poster for a conference that mapped roles against a working learning model I had developed over the previous five years. The Student-Owned Learning Engagement model, SOLE for short (with apologies to Professor Sugata Mitra), is designed for course designers to map out their courses to ensure the curriculum is balanced, well-constructed and aligned. It also represents, I believe, an accurate picture of all of the facets of learning that a student should experience for that rounded education we purport to offer. Written on the assumption that courses reflect well-crafted intended learning outcomes across multiple domains of learning, the SOLE Model comes with an open Excel toolkit to support that process. The poster was a visual mapping of the SOLE Model against online and face-to-face spaces (and associated technologies), and the different student support roles that were required.

The details of the SOLE Model are available elsewhere, so I do not think it necessary to unpack it here. Suffice it to say, there are none elements that students need to have addressed in any course design, to varying degrees depending on discipline and level, but all are required. These are illustrated here;

SOLE Model:simple overview
SOLE Model: simple overview

Different spaces, different solutions

Traditional campus-based teaching has undergone a quiet revolution in recent years. Libraries have been at the forefront of developing social spaces, community forums, shared-working clusters, study pods and any manner of imaginative configurations. These designs have been a response to the belief that students want, and expect, to learn socially. Alongside this, there has been a steady number of lecture theatre refits that see u-shaped, parliamentary style, seating configurations rather than straight theatre styles. Seminars rooms are more likely to have reconfigurable desks, chairs on wheels, and writable walls. This has been in the belief that students learn better in cooperation with others rather than being 'lectured at'. My visualisation against the SOLE Model was about identifying the different types of spaces that support different forms of learning. It was designed to stimulate conversation at my institution about a ‘learning spaces’ strategy. Illustrated below, you can see that I used the SOLE Model to structure this classification of spaces. It is in no way presented as a 'complete' list of anything. It is merely a starting point.

Visualisation of the SOLE model mapping spaces
Visualisation of the SOLE model mapping spaces

Different roles

What is significant is that in thinking about the changing nature of learning spaces in the face-to-face world and the online environment, seen through the prism of the SOLE Model, it also became apparent that the same thing could be done with respect to those that support learners. Again, the SOLE Model was used to articulate a range of 'traditional' academic roles in their face-to-face context, mapped against each element of the Model, and this was then extended to the online world.

Visualisation of the SOLE model mapped to faculty roles
Visualisation of the SOLE model mapped to faculty roles

 

I would hope that some fairly apparent conclusions can be drawn from this exercise. The first is that in many institutions, the academic role is incredibly diverse. An individual academic may be course material author, lecturer, seminar lead, supervisor, pastoral carer, coach, marker and personal tutor. In other institutions some of these roles are subdivided and delegated, academics concern themselves primarily to inform-connect-engage, leaving others to assess-feedback. Yet others have groups of staff who support students to collaborate-contextualise-personalise and reflect.

The second thing that becomes evident is that the transition from any face-to-face role into its online substitute (and I carefully avoid the word ‘equivalent’ here) requires a whole range of particular skills to be developed. Going from producing your own in-class PowerPoints with no real concern about the ownership of images grabbed from Google to being a digital curator is for most a steep learning curve. There is no direct equivalency between running a face-to-face seminar from moderating a discussion forum, or between running an in-class role-play scenario and attempting to do the same online over the course of a week.

Yes, they are both teaching. There are still learners, and there is an established curriculum. But there is no smell of the musty curtains or the face paint. There is no bustling of the audience or the adrenalin rush when the lights go up. We, as academic developers, are not just helping people to ‘get their courses online’, we are helping them to redefine what it means to be a contemporary, agile, flexible and multifaceted academic.

If I see another VC or Pro-VC demand that their faculty, ‘just adjust’ and ‘get their courses online’, heckling from above, I am likely, Lord help me, lose it and storm the Royal Box.

You are not alone! If you are faced with putting an existing course online for the first time, see it as an opportunity to refine it, invigorate it, enhance the experience offered to your students. If it's a new online course there is all the more reason to make sure it's as good as it can be. This short video (5'30") suggests two partnerships you may want to factor into your design and development process, peers and students. Your peers will doubtless have ideas that can supplement yours, so now is not the time to 'practice the dark arts behind closed doors'. On the contrary, your online courses are likely to be more open for critique than most other forms of teaching and learner support. Embrace it. The second partnership worth forging is that with your existing or previous students (alumni). Both cohorts will be able to ensure your teaching materials, course structure and sequence, are pitched at the right level and will tell you if they are stimulating and meaningful.

#highered #learningdesign #id These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultancy for International Higher Education from Simon Paul Atkinson

This six-minute screencast (6'06") is a top-level set of guidelines for developing effective teaching materials. For some, it may feel like going over well-worn ground, for others it may provide pause for thought. Rationalising what constitutes learning materials seems superficially straight-forward but when one considers the different institutional interpretations of what represents 'direct' learning versus 'delf-directed' learning it soon becomes apparent that judgement is needed even here.

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Short vodcast (3'25") outlining four dimensions to the choices of media that IDs and academic faculty might consider as they make selections to support student learning. Originally a vodcast to accompany internal development it is long enough to provoke some reflective practice, short enough not to waste your time! It invites educational practitioners to think about how they solicit participation from students through media choice. #edtech #teaching #highered

These resources from 2013-2017 are being shared to support colleagues new to teaching online in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strategic Directions in Higher, Vocational and Professional Education: Exploring Contexts

Exploring Context

graphic illustrating the four themes this article explores

Institutional Context

Tertiary providers are increasingly expected to deliver 'work-ready' graduates. This is a challenge when we must acknowledge that many graduates will begin a career, in a year's time or in the three years, that does not exist today (Susskind, R., & Susskind, D., 2017). Identifying the competency frameworks within our disciplines and those of our professional colleagues is a good place to start (Atkinson, 2015). We can then identify a range of graduate attributes that will underpin our programme outcomes and inform the development of real-world assessment.

Challenging Our Assumptions

It is critically important to challenge our assumptions whenever we contemplate introducing any new courses or programmes into our portfolios.

Whether you are designing an individual course or an entire programme, it is important to ‘future-proof’ it to the greatest extent possible. To ensure that it is consistent and logical. If one sees individual courses as self-contained ‘units of learning’ with their own outcomes and assessment, you risk creating problems later on, for course substitutions, updating and student continuity

It is important to question all of our assumptions about the context into which our learning design is intended fit. Despite the fact that you may feel you know your learning context intimately the chances are there will be some contextual evolution. Take the time to go through these questions, if only to confirm your assumptions.

Regardless of whether you are charged with designing an entire degree-award, a programme or an individual course, you will be doing so within an institutional context. Validating learning is a responsibility of approved degree-awarding institutions in the UK and many countries too, although some have regional or national validation processes (www.inqaahe.org). Regulations vary marginally between contexts but they are remarkably consistent in their aspirations despite different levels of detail being required.

You should design your course or programme with reference to the academic regulations and policies and practices implemented by your institution. But, it is important to avoid copying existing learning on the basis that they will automatically be suitable for validation. The regulatory framework also evolves over time, it adjusts over time in response to the dynamic dialogue between innovative course designers and those responsible for institutional quality assurance. Never copy and paste!

You might want to convene a course team and ask:

Context Questions
Course / Module
  • What credit weighting is my course expected to carry?
  • At what Level is my course intended to be taught?
  • Is it intended to assess the same course at different levels?
  • Where in the programme sequence is my course intended to appear?
  • Is my course intended to flexible enough to be aligned to multiple programmes
Programme
  • Is my Programme divided into Stages, are there multiple exit points?
  • What are the naming conventions within my Programme?
Department
  • Where does the academic management of the learning sit?
School/Faculty
  • Which School will oversee the quality processes associated with this learning?
  • Are there graduate attributes at a School level?
University
  • How does this learning align with the strategic objectives of the University?

National Quality Assurance Context

Once you have a sense of how your learning design might conceivably fit into the institutional context, but before anything is regarded as fixed, it is prudent to review external contextual influences on learning design. One of the most important is the national, regional or state context.

In the United Kingdom, for example, this oversight is provided by the Quality Assurance Agency (qaa.ac.uk) or QAA. This section is illustrative of the kinds of questions you will need to be asking yourself..

The UK Quality Code for Higher Education is a web-based resource with printable PDFs (qaa.ac.uk) that provides a comprehensive structural guide as to how learning designs should be interpreted. It does not provide a design template, rather it functions more accurately as an evaluative framework. Part A of the code is the most pertinent to the design process at this moment. There are four themes that UK course and programme designers need to consider:

Themes Design Questions
Levels At what Level is the programme’s named award to be made (Graduation level)? In the UK these levels are defined in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications
Qualification Characteristics Broad guidance as to the distinguishing characteristics of specific named awards.
Credit Framework Convention determines that certain exit awards have a certain number of credits associated with them. Credit is often defined through the concept of ‘notional student hours’ which might, for example, suggest that 1 credit equates to 10 hours of study. This measurement should include everything the student does, including assessment.
Subject Benchmarks Disciplines, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, may have subject benchmarks associated with them. These provide valuable conventional guidance on what is anticipated to be learned by students under specific discipline, or subject, headings.

These may closely relate to professional criteria which is dealt with next.

Professional Accreditation and Employment Trends

Now you know your course or programme is going to fit into your institutional profile and you are assured that it will meet the quality assurance criteria, you need to ask yourself 'why would a student want to do this course'?

Given the design process is likely to take several months and it may take a year or two before you enrol first students; the reality is your Postgraduate students will probably be graduating in two years at the earliest, your Undergraduates students in 4 years; a great deal can change.

It is important to build into your design and review processes, some form of environmental horizon scanning. This may exist in your practice already but where it doesn’t it is worth instituting. Gathering White Papers from commercial partners or competitors, clients, employers as well as press clippings and exploring changes in the direction that your profession or discipline may be heading should be the focus of some course team debate.

For more on horizon scanning, you may want to explore this UK government resource.

There is clearly also value in sharing your early programme and module designs with representatives from the professions or disciplines that your graduates are intended to graduate into. It’s often a good idea to do this very early on in the process, not to ask for validation of your designs, but to capture the widest possible intelligence on future directions.

Here are some basic questions, but you should explore as a course team those questions that seem more appropriate to your evolving context.

Professional Accreditation

Competency Frameworks What competency frameworks (apprenticeship standards) and professional body guidelines exist in my discipline?

If there is no national guidance, what about international guidance that might be indicative of trends?

Ethical Standards Are there globally recognised ethical standards in my discipline?

What internationally agreed accords are under development?

Anticipated Changes Are competitors working on alternative offerings such as two-year degrees or new degree apprenticeships.?

Employment Trends

Globalisation vs Localisation How is my profession or discipline evolving over time, are there identifiable trends?

How important is language ability or digital skills?

Automation / Systematisation How much of my discipline or profession is data-driven, or knowledge-based, and therefore more prone to automation?

On the contrary, are there inter-personal or affective skills that distinguish my discipline that is likely to require personal presence?

Anticipated Changes What are the big ideas in my discipline?

Are there new Internet applications that take away part of what has traditionally been seen as a distinguishing feature of my discipline?

Scholarship Agenda

It is natural for course teams to be intimately familiar with the scholarship that underpins the ‘content’ that they intend to deliver to students. Harder for most course teams is to get some distance from their own practice and to take a ‘bird’s eye view’ of their design as it emerges.

Again, it is important to be sensitive to the evolving discipline landscape. The best way to do this is to establish some form of ‘environmental scanning’ or ‘horizon scanning’ processes within your design team. Avoid the danger of fixating on a competitor’s advantage, or a particular client’s requirements, by maintaining as broad a view as possible.

Here are four categories you may want to start with. Review sources in each category with the same question; “What does this source tell me about the evolving needs of effective learning design in my discipline?”

Academic Literature Academic Journals in your discipline

Academic Books and Book Chapters in your discipline

Academic publications in related fields that impact directly, or indirectly on your discipline.

Conference Proceedings Conference proceedings are very often very much current or future implementations of scholarship. A great place to get a handle on what is happening ‘now’ and in the near future.
Grey Literature The blogosphere is a great place to source original and innovative approaches. Once you have validated the sources (so that you know the writer has credibility) you may want to track their train of thought over time.

White Papers from software producers (most disciplines make some use of technology!) and publishers are also counted as ‘Grey Literature’. Some software companies have in-house R&D divisions that foreshadow major trends in your discipline.

Contacts Personal or Team contacts also provide invaluable accounts of practice that inform the design process. You may find out the difficulties, or advantages, of running virtual scenarios for example and correct your design accordingly.

Evaluating your Contextual Judgements

It is important to return to these questions as you go through the future stages of the 8-SLDF. You will want to revisit these questions each time you have a course team meeting:

  1. Has my institutional strategy or alignment changed in any way?
  2. Have any quality assurance regulations, guidelines or benchmarks changed in any way?
  3. Do I still have all of the external reference points (my horizon-scanning) established to be able to define Programme Outcomes?
  4. What contextual circumstances might suggest that I should do something different from the norm and what external support is needed? And if I’m not doing anything innovative, why not?!
  5. What issues has my horizon scanning produced that others in the School or wide University need to be aware of?

References

Atkinson, S. P. (2015). Graduate Competencies, Employability and Educational Taxonomies: Critique of Intended Learning Outcomes. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 154–177.

Susskind, R., & Susskind, D. (2017). The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts. OUP Oxford.

Colleague interested in designing modules and programmes that enable a full range of skills development across domains (cognitive, affective, psychomotor, interpersonal and metacognitive) will hopefully find this short video resource useful. Feel free to share with colleagues on PGCerts. It is designed to support a reflective question which is, "what are the tools that your graduates might be expected to master on day one in their first graduate job role?" and secondly, "how would you design intended learning outcomes to progressively enable your students to acquire such skills and to demonstrate them?" (to be assessed)

This ten-minute video (10'30") outlines the advantages of using a psychomotor domain taxonomy in designing learning outcomes for both vocational programmes and all tertiary disciplines. Simon Atkinson advocates the design of 'manual' skills in terms of computer software and tools used by graduates. He outlines two taxonomies from the 1960s and 70s, those by Simpson and Harrow (full references are on the main psychomotor domain page), but both of these are described as being more psychological definitional taxonomies, whereas Ravindra H. Dave's 1967/70 taxonomy lends itself perfectly to the articulation of progressive skills development in tertiary contexts. Simon also illustrates the scope of 'manual' skills applied to all disciplines regardless of whether arts, humanities, social or physical sciences.

While such taxonomies are clearly of interest to those designing vocational and adult learning programmes, it is arguably as important that university students also experience the progressive nature of intended learning outcomes. Writing, and assessing, such outcomes will support graduates' development of tangible 'physical skills', notably in the use of discipline-specific digital applications. Course designers should not abdicate the responsibility of such skills development to an extra-curricular programme of 'digital literacy, but incorporate their skills development in their mainstream courses.

See pages for the Psychomotor domain

I persist in being a fervent advocate for the use of a broader range of domains of learning, other than the cognitive domain (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001; Bloom, 1956), in course design.

Higher education must surely be more than just about acquiring content and intellectual skills. A broader student experience should be embedded into each course, module and programme design, beyond that of acquiring purely intellectual skills.

The 'graduate skills' so demanded by employers are rarely without reference to so-called 'soft skills' (S. P. Atkinson, 2015). These are interpersonal domain skills, conflict resolution, cross-cultural awareness, collaboration and communications are what most graduates need most (J. C. Atkinson, 2014; Bennett, 1986). Alongside these the skills, often assumed by employers, to make effective use of software pertinent to that profession are rarely taught and assessed despite being critical to be effective on the day one. These skills can be set out and assessed using psychomotor domain outcomes (Dave, 1967). Such non-intellectual attributes are often seen by faculty as beyond their remit, as are also those values, the affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1956) and the development of personal epistemologies using a metacognitive domain (S. P. Atkinson, 2014) which form part of the maturation process within students themselves. These cannot be 'taught' in the strict sense, but their facilitation is entirely within the capabilities of able faculty.

Given that we know students are more likely to take anything assessed seriously, it is essential to write assessable outcomes across a range of skills. So, it is beholden on course designers to include the interpersonal domain (communications, cross-cultural awareness, conflict resolution), affective domain (values), metacognitive domain (personal epistemologies) and the psychomotor domain (manual and dexterity skills). Each has its place in all disciplines. There is clearly a craft in designing ILOs that motivate and steer learning but which are transparent and assessable. There is guidance on how to do that under the 8 Stage Learning Design Framework 8-SLDF and I am always willing to share practice with colleagues in workshops when requested.

Bibliography

Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing : a revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Atkinson, J. C. (2014). Education, Values and Ethics in International Heritage: Learning to Respect. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Group.

Atkinson, S. P. (2014). Rethinking personal tutoring systems: the need to build on a foundation of epistemological beliefs. London: BPP University College.

Atkinson, S. P. (2015). Graduate Competencies, Employability and Educational Taxonomies: Critique of Intended Learning Outcomes. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 154–177.

Bennett, M. J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 179–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/0147-1767(86)90005-2

Bloom, B. S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain (2nd edition). New York: Addison-Wesley Longman Ltd.

Dave, R. H. (1967). Psychomotor domain. Presented at the International Conference of Educational Testing, Berlin.

Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Company, Inc.

 

 

Workshop aligned to UKPSF A5, K5, K6, V3

It may seem strange to design our evaluation structures before we have even recruited students onto our programmes. We need first to understand the distinction between assessment, feedback and evaluation. It is then important to explore both the evaluation of learning experiences and evaluation for-learning, which I will refer to as in-class evaluation for the sake of consistency.

The pages associated with this blog, stage 8 of the 8-SLDF, explores 5 basic concepts that underpin the evaluation of learning.

  1. Distinguishing between Evaluation, Feedback and Assessment
  2. Measuring Student Performance versus Teacher Performance
  3. In-class evaluation versus Post-Completion evaluation
  4. Learning Gain
  5. Progression: Access, Retention, Pass Rates, Grades, Completion and Destination

Explore the pages associated with the evaluation stage at sijen.com

 

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