Monday, July 26, 2010

Instructional design and online learning

Sarah Stewart posted a comment on my blog recently:
I do not call myself an instructional designer but that seems to be part of my work these days. I am really looking forward to talking to you about how we design activities and events to engage people in the online environment. What would you say is a really important to take into consideration when designing online activities?

I guess in some ways that's what I hope to find out by joining the Facilitating Online course. Off the top of my head I'd say 'scaffolding'(if that's the right term) to be sure that people have the techie basics right before the course gets underway. I thought this was done really well in the online classroom session on Thursday - it was worth spending the time testing our sound and mics so that we knew what we were doing, even though it meant the session ran over time. I also think that you have done an excellent job of getting information out regularly via your blog, ensuring people are engaged and ready to roll with the course.
I spent this afternoon doing similar work (albeit on a much smaller scale). Our mid-year intake started today, and I spent a couple of hours with our second-year students showing them how they could use some of the Moodle tools to facilitate study groups and build their personal learning networks! This year, for the first time, I have allocated a class group their own Moodle page over which they have complete control. Usually they tend to be on the receiving end of course delivery, able only to react to forum posts and activities designed by either the lecturers or myself. This time, they have complete control over the course - they can upload resources, create and share forums, design activities, whatever takes their fancy. It will be interesting to see what the uptake of this is over the upcoming year.
Oh, and Sarah, although I call myself an instructional designer (mainly because that's what it says I am on my card at UCOL) I have to say that I still haven't quite figured out what I do. Like most of us in e-learning, I guess that I'm really a jack-of-all-trades... and hope eventually to be a master of (at least) one!

Image downloaded from Augapfel's photostream CC-BY-SA from


  1. How words are used fascinates me and this phrase is no exception. Instructional designer seems to imply a distinction from delivery and more than curriculum? Is it perhaps the 'how' to teach?

  2. Hi Jean,
    I'm also taking the FO2010 course. I'd love to hear about how things work out for the students who will have complete control over their Moodle page--what a great idea!

  3. Fantastic idea, Jean...let us know how this goes.

  4. Karen, yes, you're right. It is more about the 'how'... correctly or not, I guess I think of my role as helping to get learning concepts across effectively. So part of it would cover curriculum, a lot covers materials design, assessment and delivery. It's certainly fun!

  5. Wicked idea re: student centric Moodle page. Let them be the creators of learning material (or the type of material they would like to use to learn).

    As Sarah said "let us know how it goes"! An interesting way to get students to engage with their learning.