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Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and delivering e-learning

Beetham, H and Sharpe, R. (2007) Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and delivering e-learning.

Notes from Kindle version on an iPad. Bias for H800 ECM with the emphasis on Forums and Mobile forms of learning.


Phase between ‘ICT-free’ past and its ‘ICT-aware’ future. L.289 Laurillard (2007)

Education is currently learning and adapting to the opportunities afford by information and communication technologies. Laurillard (2007) Laurillard (2007)

There are learning objectives, on the one hand, to be achieved by the student, but also objectives set by society regarding higher education: ‘personalised learning, higher attainment standards, wider participation and improved retention in further and higher education, closer relationships between education and the workplace, lifelong learning, a more highly skilled workforce for our knowledge economy.’ L.295. Laurillard (2007)

The problem is that transformation is more about the human and organisational aspects of teaching and learning than it is about the use of technology. L322 Laurillard (2007)


Laurillard, D. (2007) in Beetham, H and Sharpe, (6) ‘Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering’.

Chapter 1

‘Blurring of the boundaries between school and college, formal and informal education, learning for work and learning at work.’ Beetham & Sharpe (2007:01)

Do we want to teach students, or for students to learn ?

N.B. ‘Pedagogy before technology’ i.e. don’t use the technology for the sake of it. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:02)

What are the fundamental truths about how people learn?

New forms of literacy over ‘the acquisition of a stable body of knowledge.’ Beetham & Sharpe (2007:05)

Design involves:

· Investigation

· Application

· Representation or modelling

· Iteration

· Set clear expectations

· Provide engaging activities

· Key elements of practice, feedback and time for consolidation

· Assessment

· Simpler tasks prerequisites for more complex tasks

· Review

Beetham & Sharpe (2007:08)

Behaviourism = active learning-by-doing with immediate feedback on success, the careful analysis of learning outcomes, and above all with the alignment of learning objectives, instructional strategies and methods used to assess learning outcomes. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:16)

Not just activity, but ‘intellectual activity’ REFERENCE Piaget (1970) rather than by the absorption of information. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:17). NOT by osmosis, if on the periphery (Seely Brown) or learning ‘vicariously’ (Cox) it has to be with some level and kind of intellectual participation.

Rapid development of multimedia and hypermedia in the 1980s and 1990s.

Then delivery.

Since the Web, converged on communications ‘as a key-enabling construct’. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:18)

Situated and constructivist:

Learning must be personally meaningful. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:18)

Community of practice and the individual’s relationship with a group of people. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:18)

Learning as a cycle through stages with each cycle focusing on different perspectives. (Fitts and Posner 1968; Rumelhard and Norman 1978; Kolb 1984; Mayes and Fowler 1999) And iterative. Welford (1968)

As ‘Learning’ proceeds from novice to expert, the nature of learning changes profoundly and the pedagogy based on one stage (learning as behaviour, learning as the construction of knowledge and meaning, learning as social practice) will be inappropriate for another. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:21) Wherein lies the problem regarding use of technology, as students will often be at very different levels of expertise regarding the use of the tools.

Learners in the role of teachers of their peers. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:22)

Dichotomy: standardization through an institutional virtual learning environment (VLE) compared to empowering learners to take responsibility ‘to the point that they make their own design decisions’. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:21)

+Meaning through ‘engagements with the social setting and peer culture surrounding it’. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:22)

The internet gives every course in every institution a potentially global span. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:23)


Piaget, J. (1970) Science of Education and the Psychology of the Child, New York: Orion Press.

Fitts, C.J.H. and Posner, M.I. 1967 Human Performance, Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Rumelhard, D.E. and Norman, D.A. 1978 ‘Accretion, tuning and structuring: three modes of learning’, in J.W. Cotton and R.I. Klatzy (eds) Semantic Factors in Cognition, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Kolb, D.A. 1984 Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Mayes, J.T. and Fowler, C.J.H. 1999 ‘Learning technology and usability: a framework and usability: a framework for understanding courseware’, Interacting with Computer, 11:485-97.

Welford, A.T. (1968) Fundamentals of Skill, London: Methuen.

JV Assessment should be in line with the individual’s learning objectives. How many of us are learning to be the writers of academic papers? Most are practioners, many managers, I am a commentator. I want to be journalistic.

Chapter 2 Beetham




With the central importance of acitivity on the part of the learner.

‘Several decades of research support the view that it is the activity that the learner engages in, and the outcomes of that activity, that are significant for learning (e.g. Tergan 1997) REFERENCE Sharpe (2007:26)

Learners need opportunities to make a newly acquired concept or skill their own: to draw on their own strengths and preferences, and to extend their repertoire of approaches to task requirements. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:26)

A learning activity is an entity that is meaningful to the learner, given his or her current level of expertise. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:27)

JV You don’t hand someone, who has never played an instrument, a flute and put them in an orchestra. Nor do you take a Grade 8 qualified flautist, hand them a Kazoo and put them in a marching band, yet when students today are given the opportunity to bring the technologies they use into learning these disparities occur, with some having considerable levels of experience and expertise, while others may have only a passing knowledge if any at all.

Authenticity of the activity

Formality and structure

Retention/reproduction versus reflection/internalization

The role and importance of other people

Locus of control

INSERT CHART Beetham & Sharpe (2007:29)

Fig. 2.1 An outline for a learning activity

Loosely derived from Engestrom 1999

Learning outcome: some identifiable change that is anticipated in the learner.

Individual learning logs and e-portfolios allow learners to collate evidence towards broadly defined learning goals, and to reflect on their progress. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:30)

Problems with technology:

Frustration and alienation

Time management



First language

Tasks experienced quite differently based on the technology used and the social and cultural meanings these carry.

The main intrinsic benefits of digital resources are their greater flexibility of access, reproduction and manipulation. Simply being able to study at a time, place and pace to suit them can profoundly change learners’ relationships with conceptual material.

Beetham & Sharpe (2007:34)

Research tasks

Searching databases

Evaluatiung online resources

Comprehension tasks

Answering questions



N.B. No technologies should be introduced to the learning situation without consideration of learners’ confidence and competence in their use.

Beetham & Sharpe (2007:36)

N.B. Vygotsky (1986) argued that learning is a socially mediated activity in the first instance, with concepts and skills being internalized only after they have been mastered in a collaborative context.

At more advanced levels learners may prefer to learn alone. Beetham & Sharpe (2007:36)


Tergan, s. (1997) ‘Misleading theoretical assumptions in hypertext/hypermedia research’, Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 6 (3-4): 257-83.


Students are expected to use online discussion forum to work collaboratively on their answers before the next lecture, which is run in a question and answer format.

Conole and Oliver (2002) requires practioners to describe their own uses of technology (giving a situated and provisional account) and then formalizing this. Sharpe in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:44)

Sharpe in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:47) Design as re-design/

Engestrom, Y. (1999) ‘Activity theory and individual and social transformation’, in Y.Engestrom, R.Mittinen and R.-L, Punamik (eds) Pers[ectives on Activity Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 19-38


Encouraging students to be active agents in their own learning. Masterman and Vogel in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:58)

Social-constructive model of learning

N.B. Introducing a new tool has the potential to change the structure of the learning activity (cf. Vygotsky 19811a; 1981b; Saljo 1996) REFERENCE

Evolution not revolution, ‘step-wise adoption of new activities, which individually may not signify much’. Masterman and Vogel in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:60)

Engestrom (1999) the creative act, rather than the product of that act, is the key to an individual’s development.


Designing for learning is ‘creating a learner workflow’. Britain (2004) Oliver, Harper, Wills, Agostino and Hedberg in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:65) Well-designed workflows can cater for the needs of individual learners.

From Boud and Prosser (2002)

1) Learner engagement

Taking on what they already know and their expectations

2) Acknowledgement of the learning context

And the broader programme of study

3) Learner challenge

Seeking active participation of learners, encouraging learners to be self-critical and supportive of learners’ ampliative skills.

4) Provision of practice.

Articulate and demonstrate what they are learning.

Oliver, Harper, Wills, Agostino and Hedberg in Beetham & Sharpe from Boud and Prosser (2002) (2007:66) Also Sharpe and Oliver in Beetham & Sharpe (2007: Chapter 3)


Grainne Conole

The gap between the potential for technologies to support learning and the reality of how they are actually being used may be due to a lack of understanding about how technologies can be used to afford specific learning advantages. Conole in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:81)

Shift from a focus on information to communications, a shift from passive to more interactive engagement, and a shift from a focus on individual learners to more socially situative learning. Conole in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:81)

Littlejohn et al (forth-coming)

· Digital assets

· Information objects

· Learning activities

· Learning design

Conole in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:82)

Task types Laurillard (1993):


(read, view, listen)

Information handling


(modeling or simulation) (Water poured over sand)


(talk about it)




Laurillard in Conole in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:84)


Diagnostic, formative or summative in nature.

Kolb (1984)

Learning by doing:






Kolb,D. (1984) Experiential Learning; experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs. NJ; Prentice Hall.

Laurillard, D. (1993) Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the Effective Use of Educational Technology, London: Routledge.

Littlejohn, A., Falconer, I. and McGill, L. (forthcoming) ‘Characterising effective eLearning resources’, Computers in Education.


Show and tell

Case studies

Eruat (1994) and Knight (2002) both emphasise the importance of informal, social networks that allow for direct access to the tacit knowledge of colleagues.

Mutual accountability in a community of practice (Wenger)

Eraut, M. (1994) Developing Professional Knowledge and Competence, London: Falmer Press.

Knight, P. (2002) ‘A systematic approach to professional development: learning as practice’, Teaching and Teacher Education. 18:229-41.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter 14

Designing for mobile and wireless learning

Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and John Traxler in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:180)

Greater engagement?

More flexible?

Design for learning, which plays to the strengths of mobile and wireless technologies (learning that is essentially situated, spontaneous, personalized, inclusive, and so on).

Design of aspects of learning such as content, activities and communication.

N.B. matching the technology and the learning it is intended to support.

Market forces drive improvements in interface design, processor speed, battery life and connectivity bandwidth. Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and John Traxler in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:181)

Authentic learning using mobile around ‘content creation, data capture, location-awareness and collaborative working in real-world settings (Chen et al. 2003 and Hine et al. 2004 describe this approach in natural history).


Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and John Traxler in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:187)

Open-endedness – construct some content on location

Personalization – receive, assemble and carry around resources.

Time-critical – content updates

Portability – portfolios in your pocket

Measured delivery – little by little

Aural Medium – listening

Prioritizing – fresh content on the mobile supercedes other

Alternative medium – away from the desk

Naismith et al (2004) in Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and John Traxler in Beetham & Sharpe (2007:180)

Six different types of learning

‘Categories of Activity’





Informal and lifelong

Support or coordination

Spontaneous communication and collaboration, e.g. one-to-one or one-to-may by texting or mobile phones, by sending a message to a forum or blog while travelling.

e.g. Childhood journeys. Taking octagenarians home through mobile devices.


Naismith, L., Lonsdale,P., Vavoula, G. and Sharples, M. (2004) Literature Review in Mobile Technologies and Learning, Report 11 for Futurelab. Online. Available.

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