4. Communication and working with others

Supporting colleagues in MOOC design

Part of my remit when I started my current role was to increase capacity within the team to develop online CPD. The team are highly experienced in face-to-face CPD, so the focus of work was to explore the similarities and differences of online CPD to their current practice, and the pedagogical approach adopted by FutureLearn. I devised a series of workshops to support development of the first fully in-house produced online CPD courses. The approach is outlined in a presentation delivered to the FutureLearn Partner Forum in October 2017.


The ABC/FutureLearn learning design approach requires a high-level view of the course before looking at detail. However, I found that design discussions often produced many good ideas, and importantly raised questions about what we were trying to achieve. I had to be direct in keeping workshops focused, but at the same time felt that the structure of the workshop limited the flexibility for exploring specific issues, particularly with a new team. Whilst the ABC card-based design workshop has been useful as a starting point in getting discussions about what types of learning activity can take place online, I have had to evolve the course design process (arguably, de-evolve it) back to content mapping exercises.

Part of the reason is that thinking about activities in isolation from content can lead to a lack of narrative through a course, instead prioritising new ways of doing things for the sake of varied activities. This acts as a barrier to course teams, who may lose sight of the learning outcomes, and to the learners who are subsequently required to not only learn new ideas, but also learn how to learn through different forms of activities. In design workshops now, the sequence of content is established, followed by analysis of appropriate learning activities to both engage learners with the content and ensure there is a practical application back in their own context.

#LTHEchat participation

Whilst I have left the higher education sector in employment, many of the developments in learning technologies and learning design in HE are ahead of those in other sectors (some still clinging to e-learning and e-training). Participating in #LTHEchat on Twitter has given me scope to reflect on my previous knowledge, support others within HE exploring pedagogy and keep up to date with new perspectives.


Participating in #LTHEchat is a light-touch way to discuss concepts with other practitioners. In many cases I am drawing upon my own experiences from HE, but with a new perspective from the CPD sector. The discussion prompts act as a lens for me to rethink issues. One example is the chat on success measures, with two contributions highlighting ‘disruption’ and ‘failure’ as measures of success for technology-enhanced learning. Learning technology doesn’t have to be new to be disruptive or have risks attached. The application of established learning technology to new contexts often introduces risk, which is why supporting colleagues to embrace failure and iterate, rather than just abandon approaches is one of the ways I try to encourage effective use of technology-enhanced learning.

Online CPD Forum

When I started in my current role I didn’t have other online learning practitioners to discuss ideas and course design approaches with. To address this I set up an Online CPD Forum which met four times via webinar. The aim was to bridge the gap between my higher education network and possible non-education institution practitioners. I created a JISCmail list to coordinate activities and prepared for the web conference by selecting stimulus material for discussion topics.


Like many networking opportunities I found this approach valuable in discovering new approaches and resources, for example the FOLD guidance for online facilitation which has since been shared with my colleagues and the creativeHE community on Google Groups. The participation was still HE focused, and I have yet to discover the right networks for other online CPD in professional sectors. Part of this may be the difference between collaborative and competitive markets, with HE and learning technologists operating in a more open and discursive sector.

Next: Specialist Area 1. Accessibility


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