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How to design learning using activity cards

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Fig. 1. Activity Cards for curriculum planning downloaded from JISC

I’m very glad to be doing this OU hosted Massive Open Online Course on Learning Design

I have a couple of weeks in hand and desperately wanted to make and do stuff. I’ve joined one Cloudscape where the aim is to design learning on DIY Multimedia. I have three projects of my own too – not takers from others as they’re rather ‘out of the box’ – ideas around lifelogging, augmented learning and virtual companions.

This exercise I recommend. Indeed, I think getting away from the screen and using bits of paper, getting on the phone, not relying on webinars … and meeting face-to-face all makes sense.

OLD MOOC WK 3 Activity 2 Course Cards

Getting off the computer and into an activity, ideally a collaborative one, is always productive. A carefully moderated workshop can reveal the unexpected, more importantly it is an informed way to prioritize issues and to use a the combined expertise of a variety of people. From the OU Course B822 Creative Innovation and Change I learnt the value of constructing a team of people to address a problem – from different backgrounds, with different responsibilities and outlooks, even someone to rock the boat. No one person’s voice is allowed to override the views of others. Such a group would achieve a lot with this OULDI pack. Though game-like it is a valid and valuable tool.

Working alone there were a number of hurdles to overcome:

A black and white printer.
The sheets were printed off then painted. Not liking the look of the purple these cards all become yellow.
Ideally they would all be spray-glued to backing card to make them more robust – at least so that they don’t curl up at the edges.
On the first sweep I got the 38 number of cards down to 26. This was gradually reduced in 2s and 3s until there were the requisite 16.



Fig.2. Used a pairs table the 16 cards were ranked

Using a paired-sets in a table I was able to rank these 16 – clearly the exercise of discussing these with colleagues would have been extremely useful and the process of deliberation brought up issues of budget, resources and time-scale, and even refined the project as it is conceived and visualised as a certain number of activities.

Fig. 3. In rank order a diamond was created with the chosen cards.

  1. Problem Based
  2. Applied Concepts
  3. Mentoring in work-place
  4. Collaborative
  5. Scaffolded learning
  6. Practice based
  7. Student generated content
  8. Day Schools
  9. Blended approach
  10. Authentic resources
  11. Practice placement
  12. Professional community
  13. Portfolio or e-portfolio
  14. Peer-support
  15. Active discovery
  16. Step by step instruction

Choose a maximum of 12 cards from the pack which define the key features of your course or module.

Step by step instructions Guidance and Support
Scaffolded learning
Mentoring in the workplace
Applied concepts Content and Experience
Authentic resources
Problem-based
Practice-based
Collaborative Communication and Collaboration
Practice placement
Day schools
Student generated content Reflection and Demonstration
Portfolio or e-portfolio

In terms of the module DIY Mutlimedia I become very aware of the value of learning alongside an expert, of being with skilled practitioners even – and very much the need to have a project brief to work to. So very much a hands on learning experience with authentic tools to create a real object or digital asset, or activity. This would also take the learners away from the computer screen, even out of the classroom into a design studio or agency. In fact the ‘Online’ card didn’t make it into the 16. Even though this is to develop skills in use of digital multimedia tools I felt I was organising a workshop for potters, painters and tapestry weavers i.e. there is a highly practical element to it and there’s nothing better than having a live guide at your shoulder … and if there has to be a compromise then it would be live or ‘as live’ instruction over the Internet.

My first career was in television – I got out of a graduate position in an advertising agency and became the ‘runner’ and ‘production assistant’ in a micro-production company. We were six and were down to three for most of the time. I learnt by latching onto an experience BBC Producer – so directing, producing and writing. Then on the job. In time I supplemented this with trade association workshops and some formal day or afternoon workshops. After four years I took a fulltime course. This exercise has made me see how much multi-media production is a craft skill – we may use keyboard and computer screens, but so do TV editors these days too. I’ve even used a broadcast video camera with iPad touchscreen like controls on the viewing monitor (nightmare!) … for someone used to buttons and knobs.

I have been hugely encouraged to get away from screens and be with people face to face despite believing in all things e-learning. Even major practitioners will talk about activities away from the screen, or phoning a friend or colleague … even expecting a phone call or a debriefing workshop. This is because those commissioning learning want results and will break away from the shoehorn of e-learning to do so … great for scale, great for compliance, but hardly ‘human’.

Perhaps the ‘e-‘ is coming detached from ‘learning’.

Learning is the thing, whether it is online, face to face, mobile or augmented. The ‘e’ has to stand for ‘effective’ – did it work! And student analytics and feedback will quickly tell you if you are getting it right or wrong.

VIDEO: How to design learning using activity cards

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