A new Futurelearn MOOC is starting on Monday 23 March designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three-week course will explore practical ways to teach and support your students online.
Members of the UCL Digital Education team will be participating on this course and we hope the MOOC will stimulate ‘next step’ ideas for supporting our students..
To supplement the Futurelearn forums we have set up a UCL-specific Teams channel. Teams will be a place to discuss the ideas of the course from a UCL context and add a practical localisation to the UCL toolset. We hope you can join us.
Many colleagues will already be familiar with the ABC sprint workshops for programme and module (re) design. During the high-energy 90’ workshop, academic teams work together to create a visual ‘storyboard’ showing the type and sequence learning activities required to meet the module’s learning outcomes and also how these will be assessed. Over 1000 UCL colleagues have now participated in ABC workshops since we started in 2015 and report it is particularly useful for new programmes or those moving to an online or more blended format.
The storyboard represents the learner journey and is constructed from pre-printed cards representing six types of learning.
The learning types are derived from the highly respected ‘Conversational Framework’ model of adult learning developed by Prof Diana Laurillard of the Institute of Education, UCL.
Video: Prof Laurillard introduces the Conversational Framework (Only the title is in Italian!)
The ABC cards list ‘conventional’ and digital examples activity associated with each of Prof Laurillard’s learning types, but teams are able and encouraged to add their own activities to the cards. Extensive testing at UCL and elsewhere has showed the creative hands-on, analogue format of the workshop stimulates a wide-ranging discussion. This includes the purpose of the course or programme, teaching methods, alternative technologies and assessment methods and above all the student experience. Even if you are not able to organise a ‘full’ ABC learning design event for your team, the cards themselves can help you identify digital alternatives to current activities.
Image: Example activities from the ABC cards.
Video: Prof Laurillard introduces the six learning types (2′) Note: ‘Inquiry’ is used here instead of ‘Investigation’.
How can the six learning types guide us to consider digital alternatives to ‘conventional’ teaching and learning?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the ABC workshop, assessment is usually addressed as a part of the (re) design process. Online formative assessment can be included in the learner experience using many of the tools and approaches listed above, such as Moodle Forum and Moodle Quiz. Online summative assessment is more complex and separate guidance is being prepared.
As we focus on Teaching continuity it becomes increasingly important that our Moodle spaces are up-to-date.
Moodle is UCL’s main platform to access materials, to upload assignments and is the point of access for Lecturecast recordings and Blackboard collaborate. As the student experience moves more online, Moodle also becomes a key hub for communications and interactivity. It is therefore a priority to check courses against the the E-learning Baseline.
The Baseline encourages consistency in the student online experience and will help students navigate online learning activities. Attention is particularly drawn to the first five sections of the Baseline;
Students can share learning resources either individually or collaboratively using online tools (such as wikis, glossaries, databases and discussion forums).
Students are required to interact with online activities, such as online self-assessments, contributing to discussions and completing interactive scenarios, in order to maintain student motivation and engage them actively in the learning process.
More guidance on enhancing online elements in courses will follow shortly.
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.
The latest Innovating Pedagogy report from The Open University explores ten innovative trends in teaching, learning and assessment in eduction.
Aimed to inform ‘teachers and policy makers’, the annual report – this is the seventh – is free to download from www.open.ac.uk/innovating
The 2019 report was written in collaboration with the Centre for the Science of Learning and Technology (SLATE) in Bergen, Norway and sketches ten trends ‘in currency’ that they think have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice at all levels. These are listed below “in approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation”. Digital education features of course, “technology can help us to do new things, rooted in our understanding of how teaching and learning take place”.
Playful learning Evoke creativity, imagination and happiness
Learning with robots Use software assistants and robots as partners for conversation
Decolonising learning Recognise, understand, and challenge the ways in which our world is shaped by colonialism
Drone-based learning Develop new skills, including planning routes and interpreting visual clues in the landscape
Learning through wonder Spark curiosity, investigation, and discovery
Action learning Team-based professional development that addresses real and immediate problems
Virtual studios Hubs of activity where learners develop creative processes together
Place-based learning Look for learning opportunities within a local community and using the natural environment
Making thinking visible Help students visualise their thinking and progress
Roots of empathy Develop children’s social and emotional understanding
Some of these ideas will be familiar, others more novel so the short sketches provide a useful overview and update, with links to further exploration.