Despite the shadow of the lambsgate affair, the LAMS 2008 European conference was another bit step forward (imho) towards a consensus about the future development of learning design tools and the mechanisms for sharing designs. It seems that the pieces of the jigsaw are starting to come together and, from the cross section of projects in attendance, there was a genuine willingness to share best practice and not re-invent the wheel.
Grainne Conole has already done an excellent job of summarizing the conference keynotes from Stephen Downes, Helen Beetham and James Dalziel. Grainne’s own keynote gave an excellent overview not only of the work she and her team are doing at the OU, but also of the key issues researchers are faced with in the design for learning space such as just how/can design for learning help to exploit engaging technologies to create better learning experiences? Grainne highlighted some of the contradictions that they are finding through workshop and interviews with OU staff around design including:
*design as a process -v- design as a product
*the capturing of designs: when/what to concentrate on – the explicit or the implicit?
*representations: when to use textual or visual (or both)
*the life-cycle of designs: tensions between static and dynamic elements.
This mirrors the experience of the JISC Design for Learning programme. It was in a way re-assuring to see that even with the different production process that are in place in an institution like the OU, there is a commonality around the key issues in terms of capturing (and sharing) the design process.
One of the projects the OU is working on is a social networking site for designs called Cloudworks. In previous meetings Martin Weller has described this as a “flickr for learning designs”. The social networking aspect of the site could help move forward sharing of designs as many projects have found that the peer aspects of sharing are incredibly important to practitioners.
Grainne ended her presentation around the need to develop more simple widgets around the pedagogy of designing learning activities which could help to bring some more fun into the design process. The OU have started to develop some widgets and the ReCourse team is doing that too (as highlighted at the recent CETIS learning design meeting). An other example of convergence of development and exploiting of web 2.0 technologies for education.
My presentation focused on the sharing solution we (CETIS) as the JISC Design for Learning programme support project initiated. One thing we didn’t include was any form of social networking, so it was really useful was to catch up with the OU team and discuss possible ways in which we can work together to integrate outputs from the programme into their Cloudworks site.
BTW I think we now might have a theme tune for learning design events. Martin Weller created an animoto video of the conference and by some bizarre coincidence he chose the same music as I did for the video I made for the Design for Learning Programme Design Bash last year . . . spooky or just the result of limited choices of copyright free music 🙂