Week 8 9 – A9 – Representing designs

Conole (2008), ‘The role of mediating artifacts in Learning Design’

“The chapter argues that this approach to learning design, which centres on the concept of mediating artifacts and their role in the design process, can be used as a descriptive framework for describing the dynamics, processes, and different aspects involved in learning design.” pg 187

“Today’s students are sophisticated users who appropriate the technologies to their own needs.” pg 188   <– is this truth full if compared with Block 1’s readings?

“A disappointing aspect of current practice when using new technologies is that it often seems to offer more of the same, replicating or mirroring existing practice in the new medium rather than exploiting the opportunities of creating a truly new learning environment and associated experience.” pg 188    didn’t we exactly do this replication in Activity8?

Learning design effectiveness? ;

  • skill level of the user?
  • representation is oversimplified or too detailed (thus difficult to understand and time consuming?)
  • how can the activity’s success/effectiveness be determined ?    (pg 189)

The Compendium example given in this article shows a ‘linear’ diagram. In the forum two main types of diagrams were developed ie linear and more complex ones. I think that such complex ones were too detailed thus making it difficult for another practitioner understand what the activity is about or even for its own author finding difficulty to use it in another context.

“There are several reasons why adopting such a learning design approach is beneficial (Conole, Thorpe, Weller, Wilson, Nixon, & Grace, 2007):
1. It can act as a means of eliciting designs from academics in a format that can be tested and reviewed with developers, or a common vocabulary and understanding of learning activities.
2. It provides a means by which designs can be reused, as opposed to just sharing content.
3. It can guide individuals through the process of creating new learning activities.
4. It creates an audit trail of academic design decisions.
5. It can highlight policy implications for staff development, resource allocation, quality, and so forth.
6. It aids learners in complex activities by guiding them through the activity sequence.” pg190

“Course designers use a range of these mediating artefacts (MAs) to support and guide decision making, ranging from rich contextually located examples of good practice (case studies, guidelines, etc.) to more abstract forms of representation which distil out the ‘essences’ of good practice (models or patterns).”pg 191

“The same learning activity (LA) can result in a range of abstractions:

• a textually based narrative case study describing key features of the LA and perhaps barriers and enablers to its implementation;
• a more formal narrative against a specified formal methodology such as a pattern (see, e.g., Goodyear, 2005);
• a visual representation such as a mind map or formalized unified modeling language (UML) use case diagram;
• a vocabulary such as a taxonomy, ontology, or an evolving folksonomy;
• a model foregrounding a particular pedagogical approach (such as instructivism, problem-based learning, or an emphasis on a dialogic or reflective approach)” pg 191

“The Mod4L Project (http://www.academy.gcal.ac.uk/mod4l/) identified a range of representations that practitioners use to present practice (Falconer & Littlejohn, 2006). … They concluded that use is complex and contextualised and that no one presentation is adequate.” pg195

1. What is your experience of using other people’s designs and activities, or sharing yours with other people?

2. How useful do you think the different forms of representation would be to people in your own working context?

These different forms of representation are surely useful in an educational context. The problem is to find or instill in educators the need of actually developing any such LA representations. I don’t know if its the same in other countries but here in Malta, teachers tend to develop their own material but tend to be somewhat unetusiastic in sharing any type of material even more sharing it online.

On the other hand by having available a textual or visual description of the LA, the quality of learning may be surely enhanced.  Actually through the use of such representation, preparation time will be reduced, teachers and students will alike have a clearer understanding of what the aims being sought are and how they should be moving about in such an activity.

3. Which forms of representation would you find useful, in terms of taking and adapting other people’s designs.

My preference is visual representations such as mind maps or UML diagram. This might be due to my familiarity with UML and my mathematical background. Such diagrams focus more on what the ‘actors’ need to do. Textual representations might lead to different interpretations due to the language being used.

The Compendium example given in this article shows a ‘linear’ diagram. In the activity dealing with this tool, two main types of diagrams were developed and discussed ie linear and more complex ones. I think that such complex ones were too detailed thus making it difficult for another practitioner understand what the activity is about or even for its own author finding difficulty to use it in another context. Thus I would find more useful simple sequential diagrams.

4. What are the pros and cons of textual and visual representation?

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