Had a meeting yesterday with the people from JISC, who are funding the D4LD project which I am project director for. Our colleagues from Liverpool Hope also came along and we had the OUNL on the telephone.
The main aim of the project is to improve our Learning Design player, SLED, and the underlying Coppercore Learning design engine from the OUNL. We are doing this in the light of feedback from Liverpool Hope who are using the system on real live students on four courses.
The improvements tend to fall in to three categories:
- Performance – this really degrades with a few users. We have found a few bottlenecks, probably in the database, but we are still unsure whether the performance issues come down to a fundamental architectural issue.
- Usability – there are a number of interface issues we need to address, but at the moment the performance one overshadows these.
- Bug fixes – the usual.
Apart from the LAMS system (which is not pure Learning Design, but is very usable) there aren’t really any other Learning Design players around (the effort seems to have gone into authoring systems). In trying to promote the Learning Design approach the barrier one often faces is its relative immaturity, and thus lack of good examples. Having a usable system, with learning designs from an actual course will make this job easier.
This is our third iteration of the SLED project, and it is still not clear that Learning Design is the way to go. I think a second strand of evaluation in this project is that of the specification itself. While I remain convinced that tools and a methodology that is focused around pedagogy and allows the exchange of designs is necessary in e-learning I am less sure that the formal IMS Learning Design spec is the way forward. I admire the very pragmatic approach taken by the James Dalziel and the LAMS team. In the Learning Design community the debate is often characterised as that between Learning Design with a capital L and D (Ie the specification) and learning design with a small l and d (ie a learning design type approach).