I worked in collaboration with a lecturer to produce a bespoke Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SQCF) level 11 online Moodle module aimed at face to face, international and distance learners. This will demonstrate the learning design process involved when I developed the module and how these principals influenced the instructional design as well.
I had an initial meeting with the lecturer to assess they’re requirements and get some general information about the module, level and student background and experience. This was the first step of the ADDIE process which I employ in all module development.
After the initial analysis meeting it was important to understand the requirements of the module, the lecturer and I discussed what was required in terms of learning, activity, accessibility and pedagogy. The list of requirements can be viewed below.
Please note I have attached the initial analysis form from our meeting which shows our discussion of module and learning requirements.
Module and student requirements:
- Has to be accessible to face to face and distance learners
- Guide students through online module content
- Take into account, English may not be the first language of some students
- Consistent layout, language, terminology and navigation throughout module
- A single group project is the main focus of the module
- Encourage communication and collaboration between students
- Provide support and guidance for students, especially for distance learners
To ensure the students got the best possible module experience and it addressed the above requirements I used versions of Gagne’s nine steps of Instruction I adapted.
Below I will detail how I integrated Gagne’s nine events of instruction into the module, and list them above the corresponding paragraphs.
1. Gain Attention
During the first week of the module I implemented a online Big Blue Button session where students could introduce themselves and meet the lecturer. Within the module I also implemented similar drop in sessions throughout the subsequent weeks, so distance learning students could communicate with each and the lecturer. A general discussion board was introduced within the module so students would have a social space to discuss module related issues.
2. Inform Learner of objectives
The module learning objectives were presented in a welcome video by the lecturer of the module, other key information about the group project and what is expected of students was also covered. Student guidance was present throughout the module; supporting statements were present at the top of each module section. These over what would be covered that week and what progress the students should have made by that point.
3. Stimulate prior learning
Students who were enrolled on the module, attended a module before this which is part of the same MSc Programme. They used the group work and communication skills they developed during that module in their group based project within this module.
4. Present stimulus material
It was important to “chunk” up the module content so materials were easy to follow and read. Too much content in one area could have overwhelmed the students, this is why content was broken up using labels to identify specific items and follow the weekly module structure within the module. Links to up to date articles and case studies were provided for the students, so they could refer to relevant materials.
5. Provide learner guidance
Staff contact details were available to students, along with information and links to other key university services. Links to supporting references and glossaries were also provided to students. I also developed a series of tutorial videos for the students which covered how to use the software associated with the module.
6. Elicit performance
Tasks were set up during week 1, to get the students used to analysing a case study and enrol on Yammer (which was the software utilised during their group projects). This encouraged discussion, interaction and responsibility on the student’s part. Yammer was introduced as a means of allowing the students to collaborate in groups which they chose during the first week of the module.
7. Provide Feedback
It was important to give the students quick and meaningful feedback within the module in order to enhance their learning. This was tackled in a number of ways, simple well done or “congratulations” messages were included whenever a student posted within a discussion forum or completing the module survey. Big Blue Button within the module, was not only a means of communication for between lecturers and students but as an another method of delivering individual and group feedback. The feedback was delivered verbally after the distance learner students had delivered their online presentations via Big Blue Button. This also had the added benefit of being recorded as well, which meant the feedback given could be referred to. Finally Turnitin was used for the final group written case study submissions, quick comments to more detailed feedback could be given to the student submissions.
8. Assess performance, 9. Enhance retention and transfer
Student participation for the group case study project was monitored via the Yammer groups the lecturer set up. In week one student’s were tasked with setting themselves up into groups where they would choose either an existing case study or live project to be the focus of their group project. Based on the groups and case studies the students chose, Yammer groups were created which the lecturer could monitor for student engagement and contribution to the project. This would allow for an objective and accurate assessment of their contribution.
Making materials accessible to all face to face and distance learners.
A wide variety of students from different backgrounds and countries would be engaging with the modules online content, therefore it was imperative to ensure all the module materials and resources were accessible in accordance with W3C and Jisc accessibility standards. If these accessibly standards weren’t considered, the potential results could have been the students feeling isolated and lack of module engagement. A number of measures were taken to ensure the module, resources and activities were accessible to the students participating in this module:
- Include PDF transcripts for videos within the module
- Ensure all videos displayed the length of time they run for
- Enable student tracking in the module, so students can track what resources and activities they have viewed and participated in
- Display file type and size next to every applicable resource in module, to inform students in case they intend to download
- Ensure all images in the module and associated documents use ALT text to ensure those learners who are visually impaired are not excluded and can access the information through their Screen Reader
- Provide a table of content within Word documents and PDF’s, enabling quick and easy navigation
- Provide explicit instructions in every topic to guide students through the module and what is being taught during a particular session
- Ensure suitable colour combinations have been used in order to accommodate colour blind and visually impaired students. I used the following evaluation tool: colour combinations
I based the design and pedagogy of the module on the initial analysis meeting I had with the lecturer, which benefitted the learning and instructional design of the module as it catered as best it could for the target student groups. The module ran from January 2014 – May 2014 with a mixture of face to face and distance learning students. Based on the anonymous student feedback the lecturer received from the module surveys I implemented; the students liked the overall learning experience of the module and found it to be well structured and the materials organised and easy to access. They also felt they were well supported and all of the information regarding the module, assessment and learning outcomes was made clear to them.
Based on the module logs and Silver medal the module received, the students did engage with the module materials - however trying to get them to engage with specific online discussion activities proved to be more challenging. For example the introduction boards and focussed discussion around the Apollo 13 case study required external prompting from the lecturer in order for the students to engage with these activities. I also found the instructional materials (videos and documentation) I produced for using the software associated with the module had not been viewed often by students. Based on these findings I am considering to restrict access to module materials until the students have participated in discussion/activities and viewed the tutorial videos when the module gets rolled over for the next academic year. This does raise the question of; would this action take away from the student’s independent learning? Some may argue this could be perceived as ‘gamification’ within the module and by restricting access to materials you are encouraging the student’s participation with module resources and activities. I think a more balanced approach is required, I will propose to have the restrictions I discussed above implemented, but also have module materials released to students who do not participate 3 working days later. In Moodle 2.7 (which the university will soon have), you can have conditional statements for module topics and resources – this would allow me to restrict access to materials but not penalise those who choose not to participate. This would result in a ‘gamified’ experience but without the harsh penalty. Obviously I’m hopeful students will engage with the each other and the module resources, but it would not be fair to hinder and exclude a student as I believe this would damage their learning experience.
Lecturers receive a high volume of email questions from students. In most cases these questions are duplicates and relate to the module, programme or university. As a way of encouraging student engagement and to encourage the feeling of an online community I am going to implement in all my future modules a communal board where students must post all questions and queries (unless of a personal nature). This will hopefully encourage students to use the module facilities and communicate with the lecturing staff and each other. My hope is the students start to answer each other’s question and also begin to exchange knowledge.
Overall I think the existing module is good starting point, however in terms of student engagement in relation to activities and module material there is still some progress to be made. Before the next academic year commences I will be meeting with the lecturer so we can review and reflect on the module developed and implement the lessons learned:
- Encourage student engagement of module materials and activities by gamification
- Try to establish an online ‘community’ feel
- Ensure materials are up to date and still relevant