Curriculum design – notes from the reading group

Exploring curriculum design approaches (report by Suzanne Collins)

Suzanne talked about her work exploring curriculum design approaches (separate blog post) where she looks at looks at methodologies such as ABC, Carpe Diem, CAIeRO and ELDeR.

ABC Learning Design (notes by Suzi Wells)

ABC learning design is a rapid design / review methodology developed by Clive Young and Nataša Perović in 2014, and drawing on Laurillard’s ‘Conversational Framework’.

The method is centered around 90 minute workshop, during which participants:

  • Describe their unit in a tweet
  • Map out the types of activity, currently undertaken or planned, against Laurillard’s six learning types
  • Storyboard the unit using the ABC cards

In the DEO a few of us – Roger Gardner, Suzanne Collins, and I – have trialled this approach. Initially this was with a small number of academics interested in redesigning their credit-bearing units. We made much fuller use of it when supporting the design of the FutureLearn courses, following which Suzanne and I presented on this at a UCL conference in 2018: our presentation on using ABC at Bristol.

One advantage of the methodology is that you could run a single 90 minute workshop looking at an entire programme, allowing potential links between the units to become apparent. The short length of the workshop gives at least some chance to get everyone from the unit together in one place.

The cards are Creative Commons licensed and have been widely adapted, adding in activities and terminology that is more relevant to their context. On the ABC site you can download ABC cards for MOOCs designed for FutureLearn and EdX. At the conference we heard how people have used stickers in the storyboarding stage to surface things that they are interested in: employability skills, alignment with the education strategy, and university-wide themes (such as Bristol’s global citizenship, innovation & enterprise, and sustainable futures themes).

Obviously a 90 minute workshop is not going to give you time to finalise many details but ABC is quick to learn, very adaptable, and sparks good conversations. It’s remarkable how much can be done in a short time.

Beyond podcasting: creative approaches to designing educational audio (notes by Chrysanthi Tseloudi)

This paper talks about a pilot that aimed to encourage academics to use podcasts in their teaching through a tool in their VLE. The pilot included initial workshops and various types of support for the 25 participants that decided to try it out. All participants used audio, apart from 1 team, which used video podcasts. 9 of them shared their experience for this paper. They had produced various types of resources: videos about clinical techniques (nursing), audio based on research projects which also received audio feedback from the academic (sport), “questions you’re afraid to ask” (art & design), answers to distance learning students’ questions to reduce the sense of isolation in the VLE (communications), etc.

Academics enjoyed using audio for learner-centred pedagogies, but they also encountered some barriers. Expectations for high quality may be a barrier for both staff and students, while assessing student work in this format is time consuming. Not being familiar with the technology can be frustrating and impeding for staff, as they would rather not ask students to do something they didn’t feel confident they could do well themselves. Students are not necessarily more confident than them in using this technology. Following the pilot, the institution’s capacity to support such activities was evaluated and some solutions to support staff were devised.

This was a nice paper with a variety of ideas on using audio for teaching. I found the point about voice on the VLE increasing connectivity and reducing isolation particularly interesting, and would love to see any relevant research on this.

Suggested reading

Approaches to curriculum design

Related articles

Leave a Reply