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Moving activities online with ABC – take it further

Clive Young21 April 2020

In the previous blog post Moving activities online – as easy as ABC? we began to look at how the six learning types used in ABC can guide us to consider digital alternatives to ‘conventional’ teaching and learning? and suggested some basic tools in Moodle. 

In this post we review the previous post and go to the next stage to think about some pedagogical uses of these tools. This post is based on an additional sheet of distance learning options we often use in the ‘classic’ live ABC workshop when working with wholly online courses. The original sheet can be downloaded here.

The original sheet can be downloaded here.

How can we use these learning types?

The ABC ‘storyboard’ (right) describes the learner journey through sequences and combinations of activities based on these learning types. This helps academic teams clarify the pedagogic components of the course in context and look for opportunities to move activities online. If such storyboarding is not possible (the ABC team are investigating online options), some components can still be applied. For example, academic teams can map the relative prevalence (usually in study hours) of each of the activity types. This often reveals opportunities for, for example, more collaboration, discussion or investigation, and helps teams prioritise areas for (re)development.

A complimentary framework under consideration is to use the well-known SAMR model. SAMR categorises four self-explanatory degrees of technology integration; Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. SAMR can be used by beginners as a step-by-step progression model or for experienced users as a menu of options.

Let’s review the six types in turn, adding to what we already know.

Acquisition

What learners do when they read books and articles, listen to lectures and podcasts, watch demos or videos. In this way learners acquire new concepts, models, vocabulary, models, and methodologies. Acquisition should be reflective as learners align new ideas to their existing knowledge. Conventional methods often include face-to-face presentations, demos and master classes.

Moving acquisition online: reading multimedia, websites, digital documents and resources listening to podcasts, webcasts watching animations, videos. Online quizzes can be used to check learner progress.

Take it further: more teaching and learning ideas

  • Guided readings (library resources)
  • OER resources (external)
  • Podcast (media)
  • Collaborate Webinars (virtual classroom)
  • Q&A forum (forum, where teachers answer student questions)
  • Video lectures (webcast),
  • YouTube videos (external)
  • Field/lab observations (media/blog/wiki)
  • MCQs – formative with automatic feedback
  • Portfolios (UCL MyPortfolio)/ UCL Reflect blog

 


Investigation

Encourages the learner to take an active and exploratory approach to learning, to search for and evaluate a range of new information and ideas. Students are guided to analyse, compare and critique the texts, data, documents and resources within the concepts and ideas being taught.

Moving investigation online: in many disciplines using digital resources and analytical tools are already part of students’ activities.

Take it further: more teaching and learning ideas

  • Web search (forum, wiki)
  • OER resources (external)
  • Literature reviews and critiques (forum/blog/wiki/RSS)
  • Field/lab observations (media/blog/wiki)
  • Action research
  • Authentic research / data analysis – write a paper
  • Lead a group project

Practice

Enables knowledge to be applied in context. The learner modifies actions according to the task and uses feedback to improve. Feedback may come from self-reflection, peers, the teacher, or from the activity outcomes. Practice often includes significant face-to-face components including labs, field trips, placements, practice-based projects and face-to-face role-play and groupwork.

Moving practice online: The most challenging of the six activity types, some activities are hard to substitute without losing important learning outcomes. Videos of methods, simulations, models, sample data sets, image and video banks, online role-play and case studies may be used to address some of the learning aims. Online quizzes can be used to test application and understanding.

Take it further: more teaching and learning ideas

  • MCQs – formative with automatic feedback
  • Online role play (forum, virtual classroom)
  • Reflective tasks – group or individual (forum)
  • Case studies (forum, lesson)
  • Rapid-fire exam questions (forum)
  • Advanced role play – you are the consultant etc.
  • Simulations – use of models and tools

Discussion

Requires the learner to articulate their ideas and questions, and to challenge and respond to the ideas and questions from the teacher, and/or from their peers. Conventionally this is achieved through face-to-face tutorials, seminars and class discussion.

Moving discussion online: There are a number of good online options, including Moodle discussion forums which can be real-time (synchronous) or run over an extended period (asynchronous). Online forums can be even more productive than conventional tutorials as more students may contribute. For a richer discussion, Blackboard Collaborate can be run as a synchronous session.

Take it further: more teaching and learning ideas

  • Interview an expert (forum/chat)
  • Webinars (Collaborate)
  • Model answers/examples of previous work (forum)
  • Analyse chat text (in course or uploaded)
  • Job/professional reflections (blog)
  • Group discussions on the topic, problem, reading (chat/blog/wiki)
  • Social networking – participate (external)
  • Reflective tasks – group or individual (forum)
  • Special interest groups – share on a topic (forum)
  • Lead a group project

 


Collaboration

Requires students to work together in small groups to achieve a common project goal. Building on investigations and acquisition it is about taking part in the process of knowledge building itself. Learning through collaboration therefore includes elements of discussion, practice, and production.

Moving collaboration online: Some parts of group and project working lend themselves to digital communication to help discussion and planning of project outputs. The practical elements depend on the discipline but in some areas it will be possible to build a joint digital output and complete the task entirely online.

Take it further: more teaching and learning ideas

  • Collaborative wiki – what do we know about …?
  • Develop a shared resource library (database/glossary/wiki)
  • Social networking – participate in Twitter etc (external)
  • Special interest groups – share on a topic (forum)
  • Mentor other learners

 


Production

How the teacher motivates the learner to consolidate what they have learned by articulating their current conceptual understanding and reflect how they used it in practice. Production is usually associated with formative and summative assessment and can cover a wide range of items; essays, reports, designs, performances, articles, models etc.

Moving production online: In some disciplines, digital representations are already common such as presentations, videos, slideshows, blogs and e-portfolios.

Take it further: more teaching and learning ideas

  • Interview an expert (video/forum/chat)
  • Literature reviews and critiques (forum/blog/wiki/RSS)
  • MCQs – formative with automatic feedback
  • Develop a shared resource library (database/glossary/wiki)
  • Shows/demonstrates learning (displays, posters, presentations)
  • Portfolios (MyPortfolio)
  • Case studies (forum, lesson)
  • Summarisation tasks (upload texts – individual or group)
  • Rapid-fire exam questions (forum)
  • Concept mapping (external)
  • Create video of performance (media)
  • Audio commentary of performance (media)
  • Collaborate ‘viva’
  • Make and give a presentation (external)
  • Video blog (external)
  • Write a report (external)
  • Make an analysis (external)
  • Case studies (report on or create)
  • Advanced role play – you are the consultant etc.
  • Action plan for workplace
  • Action plan for further study
  • Authentic research / data analysis – write a paper
  • Prepare professional briefing
  • Create podcast (media)
  • Work assignment (blog/report)
  • Interview professional colleagues
  • Lead a group project

ABC Update December 2019

Clive Young19 December 2019

ABC is the effective approach to curriculum (re)design, developed at UCL four years ago and now used widely not only at UCL but across the HE sector. Well over a thousand colleagues have now had a chance to participate in an ABC workshop. For those still unfamiliar with this ‘sprint’ approach, programme and module teams take part in an engaging hands-on ‘design sprint’ workshop, usually facilitated by UCL Digital Education. In just 90 minutes using a game format, teams collaborate to create a visual ‘storyboard’ outlining the type and sequence of blended and online activities required to meet the module’s learning outcomes. Assessment, cross-programme themes and institutional policies such as the Connected Curriculum can all be integrated according to the needs of the programme/module.

After running pilots in the 2014-15 academic year, ABC was launched as a service in 15-16 and has enjoyed steady growth in numbers of modules (re)designed per annum. As part of UCL’s 2016-21 Educational Strategy we committed to work with 250 modules by 2021. We have nearly reached this already, not counting workshops run by UCL academic colleagues.

Word of ABC soon spread beyond UCL especially as we provide workshop materials for free download. In 2016-18 we were funded by HEFCE Catalyst to both evaluate the ABC method and develop these materials onto a downloadable ABC Toolkit to help other institutions run their own workshops. We ran demos at several JISC Connect More events, ALT-C and international conferences and as a result ABC is now a familiar UCL ‘brand’ in the UK and beyond.

90% of ABC participants surveyed in the HEFCE project agreed their experience was positive and 71% that the workshop enabled them to enhance the curriculum. Many follow-up interviewees commented on the ‘buzz’ in the room and enjoyment of the workshops:

it’s just a fun workshop so it’s colourful, it’s paper based, you’re moving things around and you’re feeling things, people are excited, if there are tutors and there are many of those who actually have a fear of technology type things, well they don’t have to worry about it in a workshop like this, …  it’s alive, you can see it; people are talking and it’s great to see that….

In parallel we have run the workshops for 16 fellow-members of the League of European Research Universities, including at Edinburgh, Oxford, Imperial, Trinity College Dublin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and the Sorbonne. This networking led to the current Erasmus + project ‘ABCtoVLE’ (2018-2020) investigating both how institutions localise ABC and link it to their online learning environments. This year the UCL Digital Education team have also run workshops by invitation in Warsaw, Zurich, Geneva, Reykjavik and even as far afield as Auckland and Sydney.

The global interest in UCL’s learning design method is wonderful but hard to keep up with, so next year we will focus more on building a sustainable network.

ABC LD – the next steps

Natasa Perovic13 July 2018

UCL Digital Education has been awarded two year Erasmus+ funding to develop their well-known ABC learning design workshop with a 12 European universities. Since its inception at UCL only three years ago this unique ‘rapid-development’ approach to help academics develop high tech student-focused modules and programmes has had an unprecedented impact on the sector. Dr Clive Young, the originator of ABC alongside his Digital Education colleague Nataša Perović, gives the reasons for its success, “Most universities have aspirational strategies to develop future-looking digitally rich and blended courses, but few teachers have the skills, knowledge and time to redesign their programmes”. ABC is UCL’s response, a light touch team-based approach which co-creates a visual storyboard for a module in just 90 minutes. Over 75 workshops have been run at UCL with nearly 500 academics (and students) redesigning around 200 modules. The participant response has been overwhelmingly positive and ABC was soon picked up beyond UCL, and is now used at 20 other universities in the UK alone. The Erasmus project builds a strategic partnership between UCL, six other universities from the League of European Universities (Amsterdam, Helsinki, Leuven, Milan and the Sorbonne, with Oxford as an associate) and six innovative universities from Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland and Romania. The partnership will develop ABC as a downloadable toolkit that can be used globally by any institution in the sector.  More information…

Follow the project progress via twitter @ABCtoVLE @ABC_LD.

ABC LD resources in Norwegian

Natasa Perovic15 June 2018

Norwegian translation of ABC LD resources kindly provided byVegard Skipnes / LearningLab / BI Norwegian Business School (https://www.bi.edu/).

 

If you have any questions about the Norwegian translation, email Nataša for contact details.

 

Learning types cards

 

Tweet and shape

 

Storyboard worksheet

 

Action plan

ABC LD resources in Swedish

Natasa Perovic29 May 2018

Swedish translation of ABC LD resources kindly provided by Maria Sunnerstam, Pedagogisk utvecklare, PIL-enheten, Göteborgs universitet (www.pil.gu.se)

 

ABC LD resources in Estonian

Natasa Perovic10 April 2018

Estonian translation of ABC LD resources kindly provided by Linda Helene Sillat and her colleagues from from Tallinna Ülikool, Estonia (https://www.tlu.ee/).

 

ABC LD Learning types cards

 

ABC LD Additional online activities

 

ABC LD workshop facilitation plan

 

ABC LD action plan

ABC mini conference

Natasa Perovic28 March 2018

We had our first ABC conference!

Our ABC Learning Design Mini Conference was held at UCL Knowledge Lab on the 9th March 2018. The event was sponsored by the HEFCE Catalyst programme.

Morning session included:

  • Brief overview of conversational framework and learning types by Professor Diana Laurillard 
  • Full ABC workshop for people who have not participated in the workshop before
  • Discussion/Q&A

The Afternoon session was tailored for people who were more familiar with ABC and interested in institutional implementation of the method.

The session included

  • Talk by Diana Laurillard about Learning design and institutional change 

Followed by ABC LD, Perspectives from other universities by

  • John Kerr, University of Glasgow 
  • Adam Bailey and Nina Brooke, University of Reading 
  • Rosie Greenslade and Lynne Burroughs, Canterbury Christ Church University 
  • Suzanne Collins and Suzi Wells, University of Bristol. Very grateful for their blog posts about the conference, too (talk  reflections by Suzi and Suzanne,

We also formally launched the ABC UK community.

Big thank you to all the speakers!

Thank you to Dewi Parry for his reflection on the conference!

Thank you to all participants for the great day and lovely tweets!

 

ABC LD 2017 July – December summary

Natasa Perovic17 January 2018

The second half of the year was equally busy for ABC_LD.

in August, our Chilean colleagues @AprendizajeUAI from University Adolfo Ibanez facilitated workshops for 9 univerities in Santiago

Our Arena colleagues designed the Arena Two

 

We visited  UWS in Paisley

and Queen Margaret in Edinburgh

We went to ALTC 2017

to present

and facilitate ABC LD workshop

some of the participants  started using the method in the following week

Clive delivered keynote at ILIAS conference in Freiburg

and facilitated the workshop

Back in London we had a visit from  Danish collegues

 

New cohort of MRes students designed their RPD module

Colleagues  from Doha attended our workshop in London

colleagues at QMUL were playing with the ‘tool wheel’. Looking forward to seeing the QMUL version

University of Reading colleagues mentioned us in their talk at bbmoco

Eastman Dental Institute education day at Royal Free was well attended and very productive

At the same time in Italy…

Glasgow University used ABC_LD to design MOOCs

Kristy Evers presented her research work on ABC in Rome

BATJ teachers liked the method. Japanese translation expected in 2018

Colleagues at KU Leuven facilitated their forst ABC

Nick Grindle took ABC to Cyprus

While we worked in Wellcome trust in London

BEAMS

and SLMS

ABC got a place on the Learning Design family tree!

3 Arena two sessions facilitated for academics

another workshop at UCL Qatar

Clive and Natasa took ABC to OEB conference.

AOur colleague Vicki, mentions how ABC is used in Glasgow in this video

We released ABC version in French

Canterbury Christ Church colleagues ABC workshop looks well attended

Lincoln University colleagues share their thughts on ABC_LD

Where will we go next?

ABC LD resources in Flemish

Natasa Perovic14 November 2017

Flemish translation of ABC LD resources  kindly provided by our colleagues Sylke Vandercruysse, Delphine Wante and Sofie Bamelis from VIVES Hogeschool, Belgium (https://www.vives.be/nl).

About ABC LD workshop – folder

 

ABC LD cards in Flemish – ABC kaartjes leeractiviteiten

 

ABC LD graphs – ABC LD startblad

 

ABC LD storyboard

 

VIVES poster at ICED 2018 (https://www.iced2018.com/)

Teaching as design – Part 2

Natasa Perovic14 August 2017

In Teaching as design – Part 1 we describe Peter Goodyear, professor of education at the University of Sydney, as one of the inspirations for UCL’s ABC approach to learning design. In this post we explore how his concept of “teaching as design” aligns with many of our ABC activities.

In the 2013 paper “In medias res: reframing design for learning”, Goodyear and Dimitriades recognise that design s “becoming a more recognisable and significant part of the work of teachers generally” (2013:1) and felt it timely to “clarify” some ideas about design for learning as follows.

  1. Learning cannot be designed it can only be designed for – we cannot design someone else’s learning experience – hence “design for learning” rather than “learning design”. The latter term is more associated with classic notions of instructional design that require clear, discrete outcomes and compliant learners. The authors’ view of design is that it can only have an indirect effect on student learning activity.
  2. Design should be a core part of on-going educational practice, not project based i.e sustainable.
  3. Design often starts “In media res” i.e. in the middle of its lifecycle. It is rarely a blank sheet but comes from review and redesign or post validation, where many parameters have been set. Fixed project-based sequences of instructional design such as ADDIE run contrary to the cycles of normal educational development.
  4. The role of the teacher needs to be clear, especially at ‘learntime’  – i.e. when the course actually runs. If the teacher is present she can clarify and fill in the gaps on the fly; if not, as with much blended learning, careful design is much more important to identify  and pre-empt problems.
  5. “Design should look forward” – this means that adaptations and reconfigurations should be expected and accommodated, teacher support at learntime should be designed in (dashboards, activity data etc), evaluation data should be picked up and reflected on and finally this should encourage and feed into redesign.

ABC recognises all these points. In the workshop there is usually much discussion of what kind of activities can be used to reach specific learning outcomes. The “serving suggestion” of digital and conventional methods on the back of the cards indicates multiple approaches may be possible. The workshops occur by invitation and are planned for when the teams find them useful. This can occur at any time in the design and re-design cycle, but we have found “in media res” is often optimal as some preliminary thinking has already been done. ABC may be less effective with “blank sheet” course, which usually require some preliminary business case and value elicitation work to provide a focus (a “design brief”). The designers are usually also the teachers, but by storyboarding the student experience their role should become clear and is always open to cross-examination by colleagues in the  design team. We always suggest ABC designs could be used to record planned activity, identify and track changes, and benchmark intentions against outcomes. The idea of explicitly recording activity indicators is interesting and could be developed further.

The authors then proposed a ‘reframing’ of learning design theory around a number of points, including the following.

  • The focus should be on what the student does i.e. activity-centred design. The problem is one activity may span several learning outcomes, so there is no ‘optimal’ solution.
  • It is necessary to have a clear view of “that which has been designed”. Implicit activities should be avoided (e.g on-the-fly teaching) and design activity should result in the in the creation of “things” which can influence behaviour, activity, experience and learning.
  • The task impacts learning more than the mode, “it is the characteristics of the task, rather than the medium in which it is inscribed, that most influence the learning activity and its outcomes”.
  • Learning design is not only the design of tasks but the design of supporting tools and resources, the “learning environment”, and the social setting (e.g. organisation of students for group work).
  • Locus of control is always an underlying tension. Are designs explicit instructions or “just” recommendations (with implications for student autonomy) of tasks, tools and social organization? How much interpretation is allowed?

Activity-centred design is the core ethos of ABC, and the storyboard provides the “clear view”, an artifact that can be produced and discussed. The learning environment is addressed after the ABC workshop through suggestions of tools that can be used, and even a baseline of minimal provision, the UCL E-Learning Baseline.

The authors conclude; “support should be provided so that redesign may be performed as easily and fluently as possible and “good design acknowledges the fact that redesign is the norm, not the exception”. One of the challenges for ABC is providing the initial support for academic teams then maintaining a dialogue with them to encourage and support subsequent redesign. The locus of control issue is more challenging, but we have found in ABC the more experienced designer-teachers to be fairly pragmatic in how much flexibility the students can cope with.

In the 2015 paper “Teaching as design” referred to in the previous article Peter Goodyear elaborates these principles but makes it clearer what design is, and that “planning and design are not the same thing”.

Design typically results in the creation of specifications of some kind, rather than directly in a finished product. It produces blueprints, plans, sketches: inscriptions of various types, that guide the creation of an imagined end product”. This is very much what we intend with the ABC storyboards, they do not attempt to create the actual learning objects, that is intended to occur post-workshop. He reiterates, “design usually entails resolving tensions between competing objectives”.

Reframing the problem and running small-scale ‘design experiments’ are typical designerly responses.

In the 2015 paper Peter makes a forceful argument that

“… teaching traditionally—in the literal sense of teaching as one was taught oneself—is unable to cope with the changes now besetting higher education. Shifting resources towards design for learning, and adopting more effective design practices, is a credible strategy for improving the quality of higher education while managing with tighter funding”.

He thus presents both an economic and an educational case for supporting the design process institutionally and building capacity among lecturers and professional support staff.

Four drivers of change are identified, familiar to anyone working in the higher education sector that make, “teaching approaches that may have been the norm 20 or even 10 years ago no longer look affordable or appealing”.

teaching_as_design

Image  – Drivers of change: ‘teaching as design’ as a means of resolving conflicting forces shaping contemporary higher education (Goodyear 2015)

 

It is not hard to see how Peter’s arguments here align with ABC’s approach to learning design. Putting design at the centre of these clear challenges emphasises that,

evidence-informed, creative, design-based strategies will be needed if universities are to generate innovative repertoires of educational approaches to deal with, and ideally to anticipate, changes in their operating environments”.

He adds

“This assertion means much more than employing greater numbers of better-trained educational designers, useful though this should be. It means making universities more design-savvy; helping everyone in the institution participate in knowledgeable, design-led change.”

This is what ABC aims to achieve at UCL and beyond.

(The rest of the paper expands on the science of design and may be addressed at another time).

 

References

Goodyear, P. (2015). Teaching as design. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 2, 27–50.

Goodyear, P., Dimitriadis, Y. (2013). In medias res: reframing design for learning. Research in Learning Technology, 21(SUPPL.1), 1-13.