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Using Learning Designer to enhance a module or programme

Sarah Warnes (Teaching Fellow) and Matt Smith (Learning Technologist) discuss how it can provide a quick way of evaluating the learning activities on a module or programme.

15 June 2015

Sarah Warnes (Teaching Fellow) and Matt Smith (Learning Technologist) in the department of Management Science & Innovation discuss the UCL Institute of Education web app Learning Designer.

What is Learning Designer?

Learning Designer is an online tool which allows teaching staff to quickly evaluate planned learning on a course. By breaking down the learning by activity type (e.g. Collaborate, Produce) and duration users are able to see, via a pie chart, how their course breaks down, allowing them to better ascertain the learning opportunities available to students.

As part of their redesign of Sarah’s undergraduate module Understanding Management Sarah and Matt used Learning Designer, finding it to be a great tool for reviewing the course. Along with a student developer, they looked over each of the 10 teaching weeks to check that the types of learning they had originally planned for had been achieved during the course design phase. The tool allowed them to quickly see this was the case and to map the progression of teaching over the duration of the course.

Although the results were as Sarah and Matt expected, they found the process to be very valuable, as explained by Sarah: “I feel the actual process of going through your teaching and breaking it down by activity type to be extremely worthwhile. I really recommended working with someone else however, preferably someone not directly involved with the course. By doing this the discussions that arise can be really valuable. It gives you a different perspective on your course and allows you to see whether your expectations, as a teacher, match up with the reality. I highly recommend that others go through this process, and I’ve found Learning Designer to be an effective way of facilitating it."

What are the benefits for staff?

  • A tool specifically designed to see how your module, course or programme breaks down – you can then  compare this data with previous and future weeks (and other courses). This can be very useful for ‘before’ and ‘after’ comparison when redesigning a course. 
  • Enables you to check your expectations of pedagogies with the reality of your course. The pie chart shows you a statistical breakdown of the teaching types within your session or module.
  • Learning Designer encourages you to think about course content and take time to consider the expected success results of using different teaching and learning methods.
  • Gives clarity and uniformity to pedagogical terminology.
  • Encourages discussion with other colleagues – by showing them your breakdown of data or seeing theirs it may begin a useful conversation about teaching activities.
  • An easily navigable system which allows you to keep all your course designs in one place.
  • A flexible tool that offers in-depth information or a quick overview depending on how it’s used.

What are the benefits for students?

  • A learner-centred tool which places emphasis on planning and variety in teaching for well-rounded learning.
  • Creating a well-balanced module, or programme allows students to maximise in- and out-of-class study time.

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