Learning Design,  OU

Curriculum Business Models

I rarely blog about the day job anymore, so I thought I'd do a series of posts around 'what I'm up to at the moment', as I'm involved in a lot of projects that are interesting and probably relevant to other places as well. And also, just in case you thought I just sat around all day.

First up is the Curriculum Business Models project. I'm the academic lead on this, having taken over from Grainne. The project grew out of a lot of the learning design work at the OU, particularly the JISC funded OULDI project.

The name is a bit of a misnomer I feel, it isn't really about business models. It is more about trying to scaffold the course design process in a standard manner across the university. We have a number of tools to help this, the two I'm mostly focused on are the pedagogy profiler and the module map.

The pedagogy profiler aims to get course designers to categorise how they aim to teach each subject in their course, using six categories of learner activity. So, for example if I were creating a course around digital scholarship (now there's an idea), I might say 'I want to cover Boyer's work on scholarship, and to do this I'll get students to do some assimilative work (reading a chapter) and also some experiential work (categorising their own work)'. The aim, I feel, of this tool is twofold: firstly, there is a tendency when producing distance education courses to operate in a production mode, to focus on the stuff, and the intention here is to think about student activity first before moving to the actual implementation of this; secondly, by having six categories of activity there is an implicit suggestion that a balanced diet is required. If your pedagogy profile comes out as one massive block of assimilative, then it tends to make you go back and revisit this. It is not the case that a completely even split is always desirable, for example level 1 courses may have more assimilative (ie acquiring info from reading, watching, etc) and level 3 more communication, or vocational courses may have a stronger experiential element, and so on. But it does tend to promote a more pedagogically diverse course design I find, and I think that makes for a more interesting learner experience.

Having done a pedagogy profile you then move to a module map. This has four categories: Content, Guidance, Communication and Demonstration. So now you can start mapping those student activities onto a representation which says how you're going to deliver them. That group activity you decided to do, well now you map out that it will require use of the wiki tool in the VLE, which will hopefully trigger this.

This module map is a common representation that can be shared by different groups, and it can also drive an initial costing, where you can say 'you know that 3 hour video with George Clooney we were planning? It may be a tad expensive, let's revisit that.'

So that's Curriculum Business Models, we're currently in the stage of developing the tools so they look nice and rolling it out across faculties so it becomes part of the course production process. Wish me luck

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