DEHub/Research Themes/Curriculum design

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Research themes
1. Theories and models
2. Globalisation of education and cross-cultural aspects
3. Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics
4. Professional Development & Faculty Support
5. Learner support and development approaches
6. Curriculum design
7. Interaction and communication in learning communities
8. Distance teaching systems and institutions)
9. Research methods in distance education and knowledge transfer
10. Quality assurance
11. Innovation and change
12. Costs and benefits
13. Management and organization
14. Educational technology
15. Learner characteristics
16. Open Education Resources (OERs)

Curriculum design

This research area focuses on issues of educational design processes for learning and course development. Special emphasis will be placed on pedagogical approaches and how learning is achieved and assessed; the design of culturally appropriate learning materials; and opportunities for development of new educational technologies and new media.

Guiding question

What design methodologies are effective and efficient for the design, development, implementation and evaluation of effective teaching and learning for social media-enabled environments?

Research questions

  • Map the transition of Instructional design to learning design and acceptance of social constructivist mythologies. (?methodologies?)
  • What factors determine the most effective mix of technology in a given distant teaching situation?
  • What issues impact on linking of appropriate assessment to curriculum development?
  • What strategies for assessment support life-long learning pedagogies?
  • What forms of assessment integrate well with mobile and other learning technologies?
  • What assessment strategies provide adequate formative feedback to encourage life-long learning processes?
  • What assessment strategies are appropriate for personal learning environments? How are these monitored? …accredited? …accrued?

Highly Recommended Priority Links


Enhancing learning through technology (2009). The publication presents a summary of some of the resources for enhancing learning and teaching through technology that are provided by the organisations and agencies that make up the Collaboration Network.

Managing Curriculum Change, 2009. This brief document outlines a process for Transforming curriculum design and delivery through technology.

A four-year JISC programme, Institutional Approaches to Curriculum Design, is investigating how processes involved in the design of programmes of study can be made more agile and responsive through the use of technology.

Institutional approaches to curriculum design (2009). This link provides access to range of further documents on curriculum design, summaries to funded projects on curriculum design across a number of UK universities. It also provides access to the publication Managing Curriculum Change.

e-Assessment As software suppliers and test developers become increasingly involved in producing e-assessment tools and content, so JISC is bringing the issues associated with this increasingly complex area to the attention of the communities that it serves. There are also links to a range of other documents on e-Assessment.

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

From Open Content to Open Course Models: Increasing Access and Enabling Global Participation in Higher Education, Vol 10, No 5 (2009) by Tannis Morgan and Stephen Carey.

The authors propose that adopting open course models in traditional universities, through blended or online delivery, can offer benefits to the institutions and to the open education movement itself, in particular with non-Anglophone students. This paper describes the model and an implementation with undergraduate students in Canada, Mexico, and Russia.

Peer-To-Peer Recognition of Learning in Open Education, Vol 10, No 5 (2009), by Jan Philipp Schmidt, Christine Geith, Stian Håklev and Joel Thierstein.

This paper makes the case for a peer-based method of assessment and recognition as a feasible option for accreditation purposes. The peer-based method would leverage online communities and tools, for example digital portfolios, digital trails, and aggregations of individual opinions and ratings into a reliable assessment of quality.

e-learning & distance education resources

Reports and articles on e-portfolios for learning. The site is managed by Tony Bates and provides reports and articles on e-portfolios. Additional pages are available on many topics to do with online and distance education. A site well worth the effort to browse.


Learning Technologies Catalogue This site is for teaching staff who want to learn how to use learning technologies effectively in their teaching, and e-learning teams who design online programmes.
This was an collaborative project between Epigeum, based at Imperial College, and 18 universities from the Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Holland. ‘Learning Technologies Online’ is a series of seven interactive, media-rich online courses developed for academic staff who want to exploit the potential of learning technologies in their teaching.....The project took two years to complete and was delivered with the help of a host of eLearning experts including Profs Diana Laurillard (IOE), Geoff Crisp (Adelaide), Mark Brown (Massey), Ron Oliver (Edith Cowan), Rhona Sharpe (Oxford Brookes), Terry Anderson (Athabasca), and Larry Ragan (Penn State). The courses are now available on general license to universities and colleges around the world. (DE Quarterly, No 3, Summer 09/10)


Visual and pedagogical design of eLearning content, 2009, by Olimpius Istrate. Quoting from the Summary:

The present article tries to point out some elements regarding the visual and pedagogical design of learning materials in the digital environment, focusing on content design principles such as page layout, visual arrangements, use of illustrations and colours. In order to develop effective eLearning, the conversion of educational resources into e-content should be carried out following generally agreed rules.

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

An absolutely riveting online course: Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching, V34(1) Winter, 2008 by Jim Henry and Jeff Meadows.

....the authors compiled a list of 9 principles to provide direction in the search for online excellence. The principles include: the online world is a medium unto itself; sense of community and social presence are essential to online excellence; in the online world, content is a verb; great online courses are defined by teaching, not technology. The list is not intended to be an exclusive set of principles or a comprehensive guide to online teaching. Rather it is a collection of important ideas and suggestions for teaching excellence in the online world.

The value of eJournals to support ePortfolio development for assessment in teacher education, V34(3) Fall, 2008 by Susan Crichton and Gail Kopp.

The originality of this work rests in the importance of establishing an eJournal to accompany the ePortfolio. Based on our findings in this action research study, we challenge and add to the existing ePortfolio literature around such issues as ePortfolio project design, process vs. product, the use of templates, social software, and documentation.

Also see the Special issue on electronic portfolios, V34(3) Fall, 2008.

Instructional Technology and Objectification by Bekir S. Gur and David A. Wiley, Volume 33(3) Fall / automne 2007. Quoting from the Abstract:
The authors argue that objectification increases bureaucratic control over the teaching process and deskills teachers; and by which teachers are proletarianized. The authors conclude that instructional designers should create structures in which a care relation and dialogue between students and teachers can take place.

Assessment Futures

Assessment Futures. This website is about an important additional purpose for assessment. It is about equipping students for the learning and assessing they will need to do after completing their course and the challenges they will face after graduation.

Evaluation Paradigms for Instructional Design

Chapter 10 Established and Emerging Evaluation Paradigms for Instructional Design This chapter by Thomas C. Reeves puts the case for a "mixed methods" paradigm for evaluation in education. The chapter outline the three major paradigms:

  • the empirical-analytic;
  • the hermeneutic;
  • the critical theory or praxis

and the mixed-methods paradigm, which seeks to integrate selected aaspects of the other three inquiry paradigms.

The chapter comes from the 1997 text Instructional design paradigms by Charles R. Dills and Alexander J. Romiszowski, editors.

Open Learning

Rethinking distance learning activities: a comparison of transactional distance theory and activity theory, Volume 23, Issue 3 November 2008 by Haijun Kang and Allan S. Gyorke. Quoting from the Abstract:

Despite its invaluable guidance to distance education development, transactional distance (TD) theory is not seamlessly synchronised with current field practice and lacks a social component. After it has provided over 30 years of guidance, there is now a need to re-appraise TD's propositions about distance learning activities. The social-cultural aspects of the distance learner need to be highlighted because social learning is prominent in today's practice. To address this concern, we compared TD with a social science theory - cultural-historical activity theory. This cultural-historical activity theory provides a different lens for us to explore distance learning activities - a social lens. We compare the major concepts of the two theories and illustrate some areas of compatibility. We explore the contradictions that arise from the collision of these two theories and recommend future directions for research.

Distance Education (ODLAA Journal)

Learning Design, special edition,Distance Education, Volume 30 Issue 2 2009. This Issue has five articles and two reviews of Handbooks on learning Design.

US Department of Education

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, 2009.

A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size. As a result of this screening, 51 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis. The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.

Other sites to explore

Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)

Study on the Impact of ICT and New Media on Language Learning. Edited and compiled by Anne Stevens, The Open University UK in conjunction with Lesley Shield, e-learning consultan. The study, which was carried out between June 2008 and May 2009, aimed to assess the current situation concerning the use of ICT and new media for language learning, and cast light over future developments in this area. It concentrated particularly on identifying trends and practices beyond schools and universities, in working life and in personal life, including the use of ICT and new media in formal, non-formal, and informal language learning.

The study followed a four-stage plan of development, which is reflected in the four Annexes:

  • A comparative study ‘on the potential for the use of ICT and new media for language

learning in eight European countries (Annexe I)

  • A quantitative survey of the use of ICT and new media for language learning purposes

(Annexe II)

  • A qualitative survey on current trends in ICT-supported language learning and possible

developments in Europe and beyond (Annexe III)

  • A set of case studies that serve as examples of good practice of the positive impact ICT

and new media on language learning (Annexe IV).

Orange Grove Text

The Theory and Practice of Online Learning: 2nd edition edited by Terry Anderson. Topics covered are:

  • PART I: Role and Function of Theory in Online Education
  • PART II: Infrastructure and Support for Content Development
  • PART III: Design and Development of Online Courses
  • PART IV: Delivery, Quality Control, and Student Support of Online Courses

As can be see from the headings to the four Parts of the book these are all vitally relevant to Distance teaching systems and institutions in the 21C.

EDUCAUSE Quarterly

A Special Issue on Learning Spaces, Volume 32, number 23, 2009. This issue not only looks at physical learning spaces but also examines virtual learning spaces.

Toolbox or Trap? Course Management Systems and Pedagogy, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 2 (April–June 2008), by Lisa M. Lane

The default design of commercial course management systems limits instructional creativity and pedagogical approaches, particularly for novice users.

Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET)

Essential books in the field of instructional design and technology, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 2009, 25(5), 731-747.

Quantifying the reuse of learning objects, 2008, 24(2), 137-142. "This paper reports the findings of one case study from a larger project, which aims to quantify the claimed efficiencies of reusing learning objects to develop e-learning resources." The authors claim that "a threefold increase in time to develop the Diabetes project using new objects in comparison to reuse" of learing objects.


A surprising effect of feedback on learning Learning and Instruction, Volume 15, Issue 6, December 2005, Pages 589-602. Available in pdf. A research study into the effects of feedback on student motivation and performance. Two mediating variables were measured in order to investigate the process of how feedback influences learning: (1) strategy systematicity, and (2) motivational state.

In accordance with our cognitive–motivational process model and empirical findings we derived five hypotheses. Receiving feedback increases (1) the subsequent use of systematic strategies; and increases (2) positive motivation (motivational state). This led to the next hypothesis, that (3) knowledge acquisition should differ after receiving feedback: the feedback group should gain more knowledge than the no feedback group. As the feedback group gained more knowledge, (4) they should perform better when they had to apply their knowledge. Finally (5) we expect that the two mediators, strategy systematicity and motivational state, would mediate the effect of feedback on final performance.

e-learning & distance education (Tony Bates's blog)

So: is e-learning really failing in higher education? An answer, November 9th, 2009. This Tony Bates's response to the Canadian Council on Learning’s report on 'The State of e-Learning in Canada.' His purpose in the series of blogs, available on the site is:

Basically, I’ve been trying to do the job that the Canadian Council on Learning ducked in its report: to examine why, despite widespread adoption of information and communications technologies, there has been no systemic change in our post-secondary institutions, what could be done to encourage systemic innovation and change, and how to achieve measurable benefits from e-learning through systemic change.


More related sites can be found at the DE Hub Delicious site.

Alan Wylie 06:11, 19 November 2009 (UTC)