I am developing an online course in conjunction with the PLE@CQUni project. Following is an initial draft introduction for my learning design blueprint as part of my study of Instructional Design in Adult Education course.
My main concern with my plan is cognitive load, especially when learners have limited time. I am thinking an approach to helping with this is to space out the course so there is less time pressure. Hopefully this can be done in such a way that the learners do not lose their way.
Any feedback is most welcome.
Web 2.0 for Life Long Learners
Brief description and overall objective
The objective of this course is to expose teaching academics to social networking technologies, and to explore ways in which social networking tools can improve their learning and teaching practices through the lense of the seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education (7PGPUE).
This course introduces teaching academics of undergraduate and postgraduate courses to social networking concepts, technologies, and practice delivered online and supported by face-to-face classes. Initially, the learner is guided through a series of activities that promote collaboration and reflection on the very technology they are learning and using. Learners will then begin to reflect on the 7PGPUE and evaluate their own learning and teaching practices with an eye for how these social networking technologies may enhance their course designs. It is expected that learners will develop their own simple personal learning environment (PLE) as a product of the course, and will be able to introduce the same type of intervention to a small aspect of their own course.
Description of learners, their context and that of the instructors and institution
Learners of the course will be primarily teaching academics, mostly those responsible for course management and development in a university context. They will be of diverse ethnic backgrounds, attitudes to technology and teaching disciplines. Most learners will be located on a single campus, while a small few learners may be sparsely located over 9 alternate campuses scattered across the country. Learners are likely to have significant demands of their time in their day-to-day work commitments, and may need to dedicate some personal time to see the course through to completion. The course will be voluntary, so it is expected that learners will be largely engaged and motivated to learn. Technical skills will vary greatly among the cohort from laymen to experts. It is expected that all learners will have access to high-speed Internet access, at the very least from the workplace, though dial-up Internet will be sufficient for most aspects of the course. The course will be facilitated through web 2 technologies only, so despite the institution having an LMS, it will not be required for this unit. The instructors will have a similar context to the learners, also with varying technical and instructional design skills.
I agree that it would be better to spread out the sessions to allow time for learners to determine the pace of their own learning. Maybe this complies with the idea of PLEs being a process as well as a tangible product?
Regarding your interest in cognitive load and the spacing effect, there are a number of references I have found useful that are intended to provide instructional designers with guidance based on a modern understanding of how people think and learn. As I understand it, some concepts such as spaced learning have been known to be effective for a century or more, while others have resulted in unpredictable performance (inquiry, discovery learning). Fortunately, in the last couple of decades, a number of researchers have helped develop sound principles upon which effective instruction can be developed.
In the event you have not run across the following resources, I hope you find these useful.
– Learning principles (Robert Gagne): http://tip.psychology.org/gagne.html
– What is happening while learning is taking place? How to best implement instruction in a multimedia environment. Cognitive load principles: http://itls.usu.edu/wiki/foundations-2008/4cid
– How to systematically determine what skills and associated knowledge to teach: Four Component Instructional Design method http://itls.usu.edu/wiki/foundations-2008/4cid
– Spacing-effect and Spaced repetition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaced_repetition One research article recently found that repeating a lesson or series of targeted problems half-way, in time, between the initial introduction and the “first working use” (e.g., course test, final etc.) produced significant improvement over a single instruction instance.
Thanks very much Thomas for your most helpful feedback.
I’ll have a read through the resources and review our plan.