Another website musings

I have to admit to being tardy in starting assignment 2. I have been feeling rather stretched thin lately and my usual organised self is beginning to shatter. So I have been reading David’s comments on assignment 1, reading blogs and trying to define a problem. In my new job a lot of effort is focused on creating program sites in Moodle as these will address the requirement to provide students with Program Learning Outcomes and so much more…

My new manager stated quite aptly the other day that “The answer to life, the universe and everything these days is a website!”

So this is where my thinking is heading towards a problem that exists in my context and where I can ask my colleagues and manager to discuss the problem as my peers. David suggested on one of my blog posts to look at the following journal article:

Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29.

I had posted some thoughts around McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message. How much this article turned my thinking around as it made me realise that learning can occur regardless of the medium (put very simply). It also clearly links in with Universal Design for Learning framework that I explored in a previous course. And fits into the website problem… As an online learning designer I have to help academics design websites that enable learning (regardless of whether that is a Moodle site or actual website). What happens most of the time is that the ‘website’ gets loaded up with information and information is not learning! So it is with these new Program Sites and many of the LMS course sites that are created … and I help create :/

Everyone is thinking if only I provide the information, students will learn! This does not take into account students’ personal learning journey. This is hard to emulate in a website. Talking about the design for a unit of study  Damien Clarke in his blog post, The reusability paradox – WTF? describes three approaches to deal with student diversity:

  1. Make the unit of study as abstract (decontextualised) as possible making no assumptions about learners or their backgrounds, and “teach the facts”.
  2. Design the unit to cope with the highest represented context (i.e. the discipline with the most students).
  3. Design the unit of study to address multiple contexts, in an attempt to make it meaningful to multiple disciplinary groups.

Damien goes on to say that these approaches are not the solution but David Jones directs us nicely (via Diigo) to an Edugeek journal article, Evolution of the Dual-Layer/Customizable Pathways Design,  that talks about designing your own learning pathway as well as having an instructor led design. I particularly like the idea of students being able to create their own story by selecting from the available material and adding their own.

My musings have not only help me to start on the problem for assignment 2 but also to reflect on who I might seek peer reviews on the problem from. I feel I can use blogs/readings by people with similar problems to validate my own problem as well as incorporating the peer review into my current work, starting with asking my manager and colleagues. How would they address this problem?

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